Data from the Fire Caverns Portal Network

Lately I have been asking myself this question – To Portal Network or Not To Portal Network

When @142857, @reapa11, and I started the Fire Caverns Portal Network we did it as an experiment to see if another network could compete with existing ones and to provide data to @james and the developers about some challenges around it.

From my understanding based on posts by the devs, portals are not supposed to be plentiful in the game. They were harder to achieve and keep running. The developers want us to use temporary warp conduit portals to move around more than permanent portal conduits. For those networks that do start up, they expect it to be more of a community type thing or smaller isolated networks that then connect to each other across the whole Universe.

Unfortunately, the community really seems to prefer to have permanent portals everywhere connecting things with large networks spanning each planet that are run by one or two people. Clearly these are two different directions in approach to portal management and uses in game.

One of the biggest things people want to do in Boundless is run a portal network especially since footfall income is so important in this game. Yet I haven’t seen much feedback given on the challenges and results… So here is some observations:

# Design: Currently we connect to every planet for a total of 18 portals across our whole network with almost every capital city covered as well as key places player gather. Here is a list of what we currently connect to: Eden (Berlyn), Excalibur Square (Therka), Knytefall (Elopor), Munteen Paradise (Munteen VII), Toxic Oasis (Nasharil), Unincorporated 1.0 & Oortians of the Lake (Vulpto), Karokendo Hub (Therka), Moebius Plaza (Therka), Aquatopia (Solum), PixelGate (Solum), The Hive (Epsilo), Alturnik, Gleams (Vena V), Andooweem, Septerfon City (Septerfon), Dragon’s Watch (Solum), The Shrine of Oort (Munteen VII).

Notes: We had additional spots to Voxel Plaza, a roof portal coming from Munteen Paradise, and one to Septerfon Tower that 142857 uses but I did not include those in my calculations since 2 of them we to spots very close to our Munteen Paradise portal anyway. Additionally, this doesn’t include the 2 portals I run in Eden, the multiple Reapall has at Kyntfall, and the few 142857 has in his houses, etc.

# Location The current planet we settled on was Munteen VII because we wanted to be in the lava caves and we found a nicer place there than others. Additionally, because Solum and Therka consistently have the most people in the game it made sense to be close to that. Lastly, of all the ring worlds Munteen VII and Alturnik are the best locations that do not have atmosphere problems like Nasharil and Vultpo. Since a hub really needs people to be able to see and not have atmosphere risks, this was the only place we could be.

Challenges from this location resulted in us needing a few larger portals to connect to farther planets. Additionally, we wanted to have as many connections as possible in a single room versus a network like @Jeffrotheswell has where you have to go through a lot of portals.

Changes needed related to locations We still feel that ring world connections should be on the starter planets and not hardest planets. This would solve the atmosphere issue as well as make it easier to connect key locations that give beginner players the best access to the Universe. While not every portal network will be in this situation ensuring ease of connection in any way possible for at least a key group of planets will help in access to as many planets as possible. In the future when atmosphere is of importance those trying to create portal networks on the safer planets will be greatly hampered by the ring world design in its current state if trying to create a more centralized network.

# Traffic The current state of the game has a very limited amount of players. The recent releasing of the game to pre-bought players and the Thanksgiving sale has brought in a rush of new people but still the attrition rate is pretty severe after the first 1.5 months. Trying to balance a portal network design so 3 people get a share of the traffic is not easy and ultimately some just get more than others. The income rate given for footfall is ok but overall due to the actual low player count in the game results in a much smaller than expected income stream.

I was unable to do a perfect survey of the income all three of us get per week from the network because there are no easy tools provided to track income per beacon as well as still no clear direction from the developers (that I could find) that showed exactly if friends give footfall or not. Also we don’t own all the spots on both sides of the portal so we lose some amount there.

In any event, Reapall and I did a basic average and figured that as a group we bring in about 16,800 - 23,100 coin per week. This can vary a lot based on where people using the network are going and doing. It has increased due to the recent rush of players to that higher end but still there are times it drops even lower than listed.

Suggestions related to traffic changes There is no actual “reason” to be a portal owner and footfall doesn’t ensure enough of a reason. Maybe as the developers look at different specs or jobs, there can be something that makes it more lucrative or interesting to be a portal owner. Maybe a skill tree that reduces portal costs. Or the ability to link portals together to create a different type of grouping versus traditional portals that lowers costs or increases income - kind of like you plan to do with the beacon towers and having a central one. Maybe a portal owner gets income for the actual passing through a portal as well as the footfall traffic. Right now with the current players numbers in game they do not create enough income or reward to fully support the hassle and challenges of running a portal network. If the developers want portal networks to exist then they should get something that makes it more of a reason to do it.

# Time Beyond initial setup and design, there isn’t too much demand on you to run the network beyond ensuring portals stay fueled and the time it takes to actually get the fuel. Otherwise it is just working relationships to get good spots and making areas that maybe other players can rent space to be added to your network. There is some burn out though and I can see many situations where portal networks will come and go since outside time issues with real life can affect things.

# Donations Donations were never expected by any portal network owner but clearly they are of low priority to people even when baskets are clearly shown. After the hunt today people were nice and I was given about 60 stones and a nice shard amount in our donation baskets but prior to that for the many weeks that the baskets have been there we had barely had any donations. Now I did have the baskets set later today to purchase stones at a cheap price and a few people were very nice and gave us a few hundred. I also know that 142857 has received some purchases and a while ago on like on our first hunt people were very nice and gave us some. Plus Prozee had given me a big donation after he left to support our network and I know @Spoygg gave Jeff a lot recently.

Suggestions related to donations I don’t think anyone wants to charge or expect donations. But, I think some ideas on making them more relevant need to happen. If not that then at least the ideas where people can submit shards to portals to keep them going or something (if the owner of the portal selects that) would be helpful. I believe portals should always be free for anyone but would like something to help keep the “helping out for you using it” more of an option especially considering the next section I am about to cover.

# Costs To put it simply running a network is very expensive. Currently with the portals I listed above it costs us 31 shards an hour to the tune of 5208 shards per week. This comes down to about 520 Oort stones a week not considering the mass craft shard bonus.

Now taking into consideration the actual going market rate on Oort stones, costs to make Spark, and the actual Mass Craft Bonus it costs us 10,901.08 coin a day to run the network. Per week it costs 76,307.61 coin. When you consider that we are only bringing in on average 20,000 coin a week from footfall you can see that we are losing a HUGE amount of money.

Since donations have been very minimal for us (which we completely understand why), it has only been because of our bi-weekly hunts that we are finding the ability to fund the Oort to keep the network alive. But, considering the recent nerf in Oort drop rates due to changes in how animals spawn in large player groups we are not even pulling together the Oort needed during the bi-weekly hunt to fund the network. This means we would need to move to a weekly hunt model or increase donations or start putting any cash earned into purchasing Oort to close the gap or put more pressure on the developers to fix the spawn rates for large group hunts especially related to Oort.

On a side note, remember that each of us have other portals outside this network that we keep open and pay for. I didn’t include those costs but it can easily add up to another 150 stones a week at least.

Suggestions related to costs Of course cost is based on your design and what places you choose to go to, but overall with all things being equal it still can get costly if you are going to cover most of this Universe. Whether you have a more cost conscious design like Jeff or the cool large design like @Havok40k some serious conversation should go into on what the developers think about the feasibility and support of Portal Networks. Especially considering that when 1.0 comes we will have maybe 10 times the planets it can be assured portal networks like we see now will not exist unless larger groups of people team up. With the current footfall and plot rules this can lead to some big challenges in team work and other problems.

If we are going to expect networks to be run by guilds then we do need tools to make it work for groups of people that maybe don’t want to be part of the guild. Something to help make it easier to manage traffic, plots, etc. Just like shops, portal networks need more tools and support. We should NOT make it so only guilds have the opportunity to run portal networks because it is too hard to do in a small group or as a single person. It wouldn’t be fair.

Final thoughts I must admit for me it has been very fun and I really enjoy providing a service to the community to help them out and make it easier for them to get from place to place cheaply instead of having to build their own network or use cash to jump via warp conduits. If I wasn’t teamed up with two other great people, though, it would be very hard to keep the network alive as a single person.

If there aren’t some adjustments I do think it will be harder to have a consistent network in the game and instead we will see ones coming and going as people find interest but then burn out or want to do other things. This is ok but certainly can lead to challenges for new users when new networks might not be as inclusive of planets and locations as the more established ones were.

I hope people find the information above useful and it does cause some conversations around whether “portal networks” should be a specialization like we are trying to do with shops, miners, etc. Just note that I did this for a data purpose, not to try to get people to feel they need to donate or do things to help. Obviously all donations are welcome and there is a basket in the fire caverns under the sign for them… but overall this data needed to be provided for the developers to really understand a players experience from running the network.


I honestly find this really interesting and a good anecdote of this in real life would probably be the train system in America (or at least in California. I’m not sure about other states). Commercial traffic through trains in Cali, especially passenger trains, are virtually nil. The government funds them and I have enjoyed riding them on occasion, but it is my understanding that they are extremely expensive and difficult to maintain and keep running, but the government does so anyway due a law that states that we require working train lines in case of wartime and/or lack of air-traffic or other large transportation losses.

And, I see the dilemma you guys have. It’d require an almost constant effort to keep those portals running and the little shards people do seem to get is hoarded and considered the most precious thing in the game. I’ve personally seen almost half a dozen portals go down in the towns of Elara and Aquatopia, and that’s just on Solum. I can only imagine the number of portals dropping across the universe, and considering the number of Portal conduits I find inactive, I can only imagine that they were once active before the owners stopped playing or they were incapable of maintaining it.

I’m honestly planning on building my own little city, complete with a portal hub, at some point, and it’s interesting to see that maintaining such a thing would require more than keeping the riff-raff out and making sure people aren’t putting lewd builds on their plots. I’d love to help you guys out by donating shards, but I’m currently working with @AmandaPan with his Hive and have little in the way of shards myself, which I do plan on saving for my own builds.

My final consensus then is that I think the developers should either increase the drop rate of oort crystals, or increase their lasting time on portals. Not by much, but enough so that it’s not impossible to maintain a few portals, three or four, on your own. I don’t know if the size of a portal affects the time it lasts (and I’m assuming it does). The community hunts are great, and I feel like Oort crystals should still be somewhat rare as to instigate these community hunts, as they’re a great way for everyone to get together and keep all the portals going as a community. However, the fact that oort shards are a physical necessity to hoard somewhat spoils the effect. Maybe the developers could add, instead of conduits, a sort of portal block, much like the warp conduit, except people pay to open in for a one time jump. They’re linked, like conduits, but do not require oort shards, but a single fee, again like warp conduits. This means that people could move between smaller locations easily and with minimal cost, while still making sure the owners aren’t constantly trying to upkeep them. In fact, the jumps would make them a decent amount of cash I belive. This then leaves portal conduits free to be built for portal hubs and major locations, still allowing an overarching series of connections without the large cost or difficulty.

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this might shake some things up when it comes to shard availability/$$$ =)

I must say, when I started playing, once I found a city and a hub I was surprised at how many portals were around. Like @Xaldafax said, I expected them to be semi-rare.

Then saying this, I currently have 3 running and 1 on standby. One links my house (Therka) to Therka Market (Therka), another is a Moebius Plaza (Therka) portal to my Air Ship Dock (Munteen VI) which see’s some public use, and a third in Aquatopia, which again is a same-planet hop.
These aren’t exactly expensive, but without the Hunt I couldn’t keep these open long with doing daily hunts myself, which I can’t really dedicate to.

If it comes down to having to keep one open, it’ll be my Home>Market one. Simply for convenience. Which I feel is the problem. Portals are convenient.

Is that really a ‘problem’? I don’t know, it’s a point for discussion which Xaldafax gave lots of information on already. Why don’t I use conduits to get to Therka Market? It’s a pita to do, I like popping back and forth.

(random jumble of thoughts seem random)

May I ask, how many portals do you have active at once normally at the Fire Caverns?

Thanks for effort on this post, @Xaldafax!

If someone is a friend or not doesn’t matter regarding footfall. The will generate footfall like stangers.

What matters is if someone has permissions on that beacon. Or if someone owns a beacon in the same settlement. In both cases they will stop generating footfall.

So for example since I started a build next to the Shrine of the Oort (which is part of the same Village) you will sadly no longer receive footfall generated by me using the network, but previously you did.

The info is right at the start under # design

i even read that. im so stupid. thank you again kirinvar

@Spooky-952 Spooky all those 18 I mentioned run 24 hrs 7 days a week both in the Fire Caverns as well as those I mentioned at the other locations but didn’t add to the scope of the test.

@Kirinvar Thanks for the clarification. I couldn’t remember all the exact details.

@Jyanin Thanks for your details. I think with details from those running smaller networks and the time investments it can show very important other perspectives. I do really hope this post gave some good information for the developers to see if portals are too hard or too easy. I know there has been more than a few discussions on portals in previous threads but since we have had a few turn over in portal networks I figured this would be helpful.

Honestly I would love to see some numbers from @Jeffrotheswell and @the-moebius on their networks and footfall income. This is kind of the only way we can see the important data to discuss if there are changes needed before 1.0.


tomorrow I will look and see how much foot fall i have collected. the interesting thing is I have never collected footfall from any of my hub beacons so it should be quite a lot.


oh, my…

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Thanks for the hunt and the great information, Xaldafax. A few things:

  1. I dropped 250-300 shards in one of the request baskets before the hunt. Now that I have an alt spec’d for hunting, shards are pretty easy to get so I’ll try and donate a little each time I come by. Thanks for the portal network!

  2. I DEFINITELY prefer portals over warp conduits. Permanent portals are part of what makes this game so awesome and I think the current costs are fine.

  3. I agree 100% with your assessment that there is a lack of incentive to be a portal owner. Footfall doesn’t cover it. Here’s an idea: what if portals charged a small amount coin to use? Think of it like a toll road and fast passes. Players could set a budget of coin they are willing to spend on portal passage and whenever they step through a portal (a permanent one - not a warp portal) a set amount of coin is automatically deducted from their budget. Say, 20c or something per trip. I would happily pay that and it would provide some additional money/incentive for portal owners.


Maybe have it so you can charge portals with coin and shards that way you can use footfall to help power them.
Doing that would most likely make oort stones less needed so probably not a good thing or you could only use footfall coin and shards to power them.

A little thought here…

What if there were not only Conduits and Portals, but ‘Links’.
Thinking like -
Conduits as single use, as they are already.
Portals for inter-planetary, charged with Oort shards, basically current Portals.
‘Links’ which would be for intra-planetary only, these would be limited to 1 per 10 levels or something?

This way hubs would mean more I reckon. Tagging @Xaldafax since you’ve been thinking about this a lot by the sounds of it :slight_smile:

How much coin are you getting per footfall? The coin rate goes up 20c per settlement tier, which can add up very quickly. If your portal network was based in a large city like Therka Market or New Berlyn, would that extra coin per footfall make up the difference in cost, I wonder? Also, would the network possibly draw more traffic when attached to a busy city than t would as a stand alone hub?

I considered trying to get the hub to move to Munteen Paradise since it was the same planet but am not sure if that footfall change will help. What are the levels 20c for what tier and then how does it jump? Is it shown somewhere?

This was from a while ago but I don’t think it has changed since then…

dont take data but what would you prefer data from a week or each day intervals 24 hours ?
i got one beacon for plaza and one for aquatopia so it would be data for the hole area if ya like i can add you to the beacons and reset them
as i dont think i remember to check every 24 hours :smile:
oh and you can make numbers public i got no secrets :smile:

I would say a week is good. Just clear it one day and then come back at same time a week later to see what it is at.

Fire Caverns is in a Village. So that helps show actual traffic versus the income a bit more clearly. I forgot about the difference. Obviously, though, all hubs cannot be expected to be in a big town due to their nature and footfall still isn’t really enough incentive considering time investment unless it is a pure Oort purchase design.

Either way this is some great additional stuff for the developers to ponder…