Announcements - 2000/06 - The Paths of Destruction

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June 2000 - Patch Page

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Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://classic.zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ashenewspaths.asp

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An Odd Wind Blows in the Direlands


June 1, 2000

Jena leaned heavily on a table in The Smoking Axe. The soothing, sea-blue light of the floor lamps utterly failed to improve her mood. “Stout,” she called to Berkholt, the barkeep. “Lots of it. Keep it coming until I disappear under the table.” Across from her, Hendac looked up from a watery bowl of what passed for stew in Ayan Baqur, and quirked an eyebrow at her.

“It's bloody out there,” Jena grumbled. “There are bodies everywhere. If one more vitae-addled youngster begs me to cast a portal back to Arwic . . .”They had heard that sheets of portal-energy had rippled through the Direlands, bringing tougher Banderlings, possibly a new Shreth, and ripping open paths to long-hidden dungeons. Travelers from Osteth said that at the same time, some Shadow Spires began to drift across the landscape.

“I ran into skeletons today, Hendac; powerful types I've not seen before. They erupted from the sand and began marching northeast, as if summoned. The mage with me even claimed he'd seen new Drudges in the company of Virindi.” She shook her head. “He cast a spectacular new fire spell. He said something about a voice from the darkness whispering the formula when he camped one night in the south. These days, being able to kill from a distance must be nice. I tell you, I'm tempted to make one of those new bows and start fighting from a treetop somewhere. But somehow that seems . . . less rewarding.”

“It's those meatheads in Arwic, ”Ulgrim slurred from the bar. He pointed in their general direction, squinting blearily across the room. “Mark my words . . . All those portal storms -- they're destabilizing portalspace!” Over Ulgrim's shoulder, Berkholt smiled wryly, and twirled a finger at his temple.


Holding with our commitment to bring you a major, world-altering event every month, we will open "The Paths of Destruction" during the week of June 5th. A storm of raw portal energy has swept over the Direlands, re-opening long-lost paths to ancient catacombs and teleporting powerful new creatures to Dereth from other realms. Do the disturbances represent a natural magical flux in this sorcery-blasted region, or the work of the dark force that orchestrated the recent Shadow invasions? Even now, it is feared, this restless spirit works a new strategy for mischief, whispering magical secrets to travelers in the wilderness. Join us next week on the strange new paths to adventure!

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://classic.zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ashenewspaths2.asp

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Paths of Destruction


June 6, 2000

Reports are flooding into the new Direlands outpost of Ayan Baqur about the tide of portal energy that has flowed across the Direlands, depositing powerful new creatures on the landscape and opening portals to new dungeons. Heroes meeting new species of Drudge and Banderling have been at first surprised and then outright dismayed at their amazing speed and ferocity. Even more deadly, huge new skeletons -- perhaps the remains of ancient heroes -- rise towering from the plain and strike with a vitality that only the most potent spells of undeath could render. Lately, an unconfirmed rumor has it that a glittering monstrosity stalks the Obsidian Plain, a construct of sorcery so powerful that it can cleave a legion of heroes like a scythe on wheat.

Undismayed, Dereth's fearless adventurers make wider and wider sorties into the wilderness to explore the new catacombs, and some have returned carrying a remarkable new kind of bow that appears to be of surpassing quality.

So what has triggered these events? The Direlands have long been known as a region of unstable magic, but it appears that the wave of portal energy may be far more than a random flux. Travelers from Osteth report that the mysterious Shadow Spires, twisted floating citadels somehow connected with the Shadow invasions, have begun to drift across the land once more, and itinerant mages have learned new spell formulae at the whispering direction of an unseen force. Perhaps the entity responsible for the Shadow attack has returned -- inciting some dark new mischief even as it plays the role of a mysterious benefactor dispensing secrets and opening paths to wonderful new treasures.


Fulfilling our commitment to bring you a world-altering event each month, we have opened the "Paths of Destruction" and invite you to explore. Summer has arrived in Dereth, heralded by the flowering of the birches, the increasing heat, and the perfunctory mating calls of once-raucous swamp frogs. Along with ease and warmth, however, summer is known for its storms, but instead of a dark froth of cloud marching across the waste, a shimmering veil of portal magic flows out from the Direlands, opening routes to new dungeons and delivering terrible new monsters to harry the citizens of Dereth. This event also presents a magic scarab that generates new War Magic spells, an artifact quest, an adjustment to specialized skills that makes them extra-potent for high-level characters, and much more. Read the new State of the Code and Build Notes, June 6th, to learn the full scope of the update. We'll see you in Dereth!

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://classic.zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ashenewsJune6build.asp

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Asheron's Call Build Notes, June 6th



Here are all the tiny little details of the game update that was made on June 6, 2000. This list is culled from "check-in" notes submitted by the game developers themselves. Things of greatest note are listed first.

Some changes are not in these build notes, because that would spoil the fun of finding all that has been added or changed! Some changes provide ways for players to drive our evolving story forward, and thus we don't entirely reveal them here. As usual, the Town Criers, Barkeeps, and Scribes may know the latest news! Also, the trades of crafting and selling are always in flux, so changes to prices and abilities of items are not always listed.

Detailed Notes for Builds 2350-2364:

  • In rare cases where monsters slowly are being killed while they are unable to counterattack, the experience points awarded will be reduced. See the special section at the end of this article for more details.
  • Added some new War Magic spells. There are some that are available for all levels of war mages as well as some that are reserved for higher-level war mages. We will be keeping an eye on their effectiveness and they may get more powerful in future updates.
  • Added a few new creatures. Variations on current monsters -- expect one nice, new sparkly one.
  • Specialized skills that are very advanced will take less XP than before to improve. Those with very high specialized skills may see those skills jump up a bit.
  • Many new dungeons have been added, for players of all levels!
  • Default keymap will no longer have “v” mapped to drop items. No more “Control-V” or “type 'vibe'" abuses with the default keymap! If you use a customized keymap, you should consider unmapping this key, as it can cause you to drop an item by accident or as the result of following unscrupulous advice.
  • Spellcasting bar now has new keyboard functionality, as requested! Here's more on the UI for spellcasting bars:


Players can switch tabs by clicking on them, or by pressing Next/Previous-TAB keys. These use the SAME keys as the player's currently mapped Increase/Decrease Power/Accuracy keys.

Also:

CTRL + Prev Tab = First Tab

CTRL + Next Tab = Last Tab

Now the Low-Attack/High-Attack keys are mapped to Previous/Next Spell when in Spellcasting mode.

Also:

CTRL + Prev Spell = First Spell in List

CTRL + Next Spell = Last Spell in List

  • Added a new spell component: diamond scarab.
  • Long sword damage variance fixed to match that of other swords!
  • The Direlands have become considerably tougher, as warned . . . Prepare to be assaulted by SWAT teams of Banderlings and Drudges!
  • Most problems with missiles going through walls were fixed.
  • Added patron title and name to character appraisal, under the monarch info.
  • Tomes, books, and parchment are bonded to the player -- not magic scrolls, pre-written books and so on, just the blank versions players can buy in shops.
  • You can no longer add yourself to your own @friends list. If you were there before, you'll be deleted.
  • Instead of the message "This character is still in the world," you will see "One of your characters is still in the world."
  • Reduced the chances of breaking the Atlan stones and tool.
  • Monster corpses are now locked for 30 seconds rather than 15.
  • Having the "frog mating season" last two months is long enough. Reduced the volume of frogs in the swamp a good bit.
  • Revenant was missing the key to high chest. This is now fixed.
  • Umbris and Panumbris were suffering from a serious bug in their AI settings, and have now been fixed.
  • Tutorial dungeon monsters now give 0 killing XP.
  • Monsters are now smarter about when they heal/revitalize/transfer . . .
  • Various problems with cliff edges -- while not all instances of problems on cliff edges were addressed, most of the obvious ones were.
  • Mountain in Direlands where portal-stormed people couldn't get off now has a way down.
  • An exitless pit in the Direlands was fixed.
  • Some monsters were producing too many keys, upsetting the economy. Fixed.
  • More jump/run/logoff exploit holes fixed
  • Vase placed under floor of tavern in Ayan Baqur has been moved.
  • Mana and other potion encumbrance reduced to 75 units.
  • A bunch of hitherto too-heavy and inexpensive treasure has been tweaked to be more worthwhile.
  • Birch trees now blooming. Smaller bush now has pink flowers. Welcome to summer in Dereth!!!
  • NPC Felscuda was selectable during combat -- this is fixed now!
  • In rare cases, generators such as chests would stop working. Fixed.
  • Kara shopkeeper sells Sho weapons and armor.
  • Removed treasure from broken fragment, fragment, and dual fragment so people can instantly find their trophies.
  • Rainbow tunnels portal is level restricted.
  • Lifestone protection starts after you've teleported to your lifestone, not exactly when you've died. Also, PKer's who get killed by monsters (and hence are still PK and not temporarily NPK) are protected by lifestone immunity.


More Details About the Experience Point Reduction Code In this update, we introduced this bit of code in a final form. A somewhat different, experimental version of this code was accidentally introduced for several days in May, then subsequently removed. It has now been refined, tested, and added back in.

The general idea is to lessen, but not eliminate, the number of experience points gained when you kill a monster that has tried many, many times to harm you but had no chance of doing so. Typically this happens if you slowly wear down a monster that is hung up on or blocked by some obstacle, such as a wall, slope, rock, building, or the like.

There are a few important points we want to make clear for those who are concerned about this change. Overall, we predict that very few people will ever notice the change at all.

  • If you like to strategically use the environment to fight foes that are a match for you, this should not affect you. If the monster dies rather quickly, the reduction code will not kick in. If you are fighting things that are of a level close to yours, you will likely not be affected. This code is designed to curtail only the killing of monsters that are far more powerful than you are, and that therefore take quite a long time to wear down and kill.
  • XP is not reduced if the monster is successfully attacking you but still being ineffective due to your high defense skills, awesome armor, protective spells, and so on. The reduction only kicks in if the monster does not even have the slightest chance of hurting you, because either it cannot attack or its attack cannot possibly affect you -- it is hitting an obstacle or is too far away. If you see combat messages that you are resisting or evading an attack, the reduction code will not affect you.
  • The reduction code does not even start “thinking of” reducing the XP a monster will give you until you attack that monster at least once. Just because it is trying to reach you, its XP will not be reduced -- you need to engage it first. This is different from the early, experimental version of the code.
  • Also different from the early version, the damage a monster does to you has no effect on how much its XP is reduced. Given the above, this is no longer needed.
  • While a monster is successfully running towards you, the code will not even “think of” reducing its XP. Like the archers of old, if you kill it before it reaches you, you get your full reward.


Before going into technical details, we should answer the charge of “nerfing” this code will bring. “Nerfing” is a term that is widely misused to refer to anything that seems to make a player's virtual life more challenging in any way. The more accurate, fairer definition is a change that changes the properties of a character, or something currently being used by the character, so that the character is less effective in the pursuit of wealth or experience points. Given this definition, we have stuck to our goal of not nerfing our players, with a very few badly needed exceptions. However, even by this precise definition, this code can be seen as nerfing those players who make a practice of gaining experience through slowly chipping away at monsters who are no threat to them. We admit it. We saw that some players were advancing much faster than their peers who did not exploit the . . . er, mental shortcomings of Dereth's nonhuman residents. This code is designed not to stop this practice, but to slow it to a degree that players who like this kind of play do not advance significantly faster than those who do not engage in it. Why did we do this? Because there are many players who like to compete with their peers in the advancement of their characters. These players should not have to feel obligated to stay competitive through use of a technique that most would find the antithesis of an exciting role-playing experience: staying in one spot, watching a monster grind itself uselessly against an obstacle and slowly die.

Thanks for reading this. Now, for some technical details of how the XP reduction code works. Unless you are keenly interested, you may want to stop reading here.

When a monster engages a single player, it begins to keep track of how many times it attacks the player and how many of those attacks succeed -- not how many actually do harm, but how many even have a chance of doing so. Upon the death of the monster, the system looks at a ratio of the number of successful attacks (plus a generous modifier, described below) to the total number of attacks. This ratio is then multiplied by the amount of XP a monster would have given, and then the result is given to the player. So the more a monster fails to attack you after a certain threshold, the less XP you'll receive upon its death.

A “successful” attack includes things like evasions, resists, and moderate misses with missile attacks. So if a Lugian is throwing rocks at you and you're sidestepping, those are still counted as successful attacks. If you're standing toe-to-toe with a Drudge and it keeps whiffing, those are successful attacks. If a lich is casting on you, but you're resisting, those are successful attacks. These do not affect the XP given.

The first several failures a monster makes, after you've attacked it once, are “free” -- we assume that the monster has gotten temporarily hung up, has chosen a bad attack mode, or that you are doing a bit of strategic use of the environment. The code does not count the first several failures.

Also, there is a cap on the percent of XP it's possible to lose-- you'll never get 0 XP due to this code.


That's it! We do think this is fair and largely inconsequential to the vast majority. If you still feel shafted after trying it out, we apologize. Balancing a game of this complexity is no easy task, and we have learned much along the way. We promise to serve you better in the future.

State of the Code

Original Link (now dead) - http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ashenewscodestate1.asp

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State of the Code


June 12, 2000

This is the latest installment of a frequently updated series of reports on "The State of the Code" for Asheron's Call. In this report, we keep players informed as to the state of some of the more technical aspects of AC, particularly bugs we are working on and technical limitations of which you should be aware. Look on the “News” page on the Zone for other articles about recent additions and changes to AC.

I am an archer, and while firing, I have been told I'm not a player killer, or I am hurting myself!
A recently introduced bug makes it possible to hit yourself with your own arrows or crossbow bolts when firing at a steep upward or downward angle. If you are a Non-Player Killer, it only wastes the shot. If you are a Player Killer, however, you can take damage. This will be fixed in the next major update. Meanwhile, please be careful when firing at these sharp upward or downward angles.

Minor game update on June 10
On June 10, in the early hours, we made a minor update to the game. This fixed the instances of duplicating-monster swarms seen in the Direlands. No other changes were made.

We no longer need reports of these duplicates; however, the reports you sent in were much appreciated! Thank you.

State of the Code Archive
Below are items from previous State of the Code articles. Some items have been retired from the archive below because we believe they have been fixed. If they turn out not to have been fixed, we will revive those items.

Minor game update on June 9
On June 9, in the early hours, we made a minor update to the game. This fixed problems people had with random disconnections, server downtime, and the Friends list. No other changes were made. More details follow.

Why was I getting disconnected recently?
After the update on June 6, some players experienced random disconnections from the server. We think we have addressed the major causes of this in the recent minor update.

One cause was server crashes (see below), which have been fixed. Another was a configuration error that overloaded part of the network serving Solclaim. This was fixed the morning of June 8.

As is the case with sudden disconnections or crashes, players may have “time warped” back to a previously saved state, or found that while their character was stranded in the world, it was killed by monsters, sometimes at a distance from where the player last saw the character.

We deeply apologize for the downtime and the setbacks. With the recent update, we think service will become much better. Please bear with us.

Why have some world servers crashed since the update?
The recent minor game update fixed a bug we found that could cause AC's login servers to crash. These crashes would disconnect many or all players, and the world would be out of service until we determined the cause and restored service.

I couldn't play with my favorite character for a few days!
The same bug that was crashing the servers (see above) sometimes did not allow the servers to “let go” of a character that was the victim of the crash. This locked out players trying to re-enter the world with these characters. Other characters made by the same player could enter, however.

Also, there was a bug that caused characters who had themselves on their own Friends list to “hang” and never fully enter the world. This was fixed in the recent minor update.

All should now be remedied, though a few cases may remain that we'll continue to investigate. We apologize for the loss of playing time this caused. If it happens to you again and you are locked out for more than five minutes, please create a new character and use “Urgent Assistance” to report the problem.

Invisible trees?!?
In the June update, some trees in Dereth came into delightful bloom. Wonder of wonders, one species turned completely invisible, apparently due to a fear of Phyntos Wasps looking for its pollen. You can run into these invisible trees, and must scoot around them. The tree will go back to normal in the next major update.

Major game update on June 6
On June 6, in the early hours, we introduced another major update. Our ever-evolving storyline continues as the Shadow Spires shift and adventurers from the Direlands report a surge of monsters, including incredibly dangerous new variants. In response, a mighty new bow and new spells for War Mages have been invented. The update also fixes a number of bugs. Look for News articles on the Zone that tell you of the changes made.

My “v” key doesn't drop my item anymore. It makes it harder for me to mule. What happened?
New players to Dereth were sometimes welcomed by a seemingly friendly player telling them of a great way to duplicate something: simply hold the item and hit the “v” key (or CONTROL-V). Unbeknownst to the new players, that key was actually mapped to their keyboard as “drop item.” To prevent players from tricking others into inadvertently dropping valuable items, we have changed the default keyboard map, and the “v” key no longer has any command mapped to it. You can go in and add it back. From the Character List, select the keyboard button. From the next list, you can change your keyboard configuration to fit your needs.

Over the last several weeks the servers have been brought down for “maintenance” a lot more than normal. What is causing the downtime?

We have been experiencing a problem where a backup procedure fails to terminate cleanly. When this transaction does not complete, it causes the hard drive space to fill up rather rapidly. Right now, the only solution we have for fixing this problem is restarting the worlds. If we didn't take this step, the consequences would be even more severe. The good news is that no data is being lost. The bad news is, this tends to cause “maintenance” downtimes. We will attempt to keep these “maintenance” windows to times when our population is at its lowest; however, from time to time it will be necessary to perform them during peak hours to prevent the hard drives from filling up.

Entirely fixing this problem is one of our top priorities and we should have it finished soon. We have tried a few solutions which unfortunately have not been effective, but we are working on a new solution which is almost certain to fix this problem. Meanwhile, please know that we take this downtime very seriously and are doing everything we can to eliminate the need for it.

I was told that my character was still “in the world” for a long time.
We are experiencing a relatively new bug where a part of the world loses its connection to the rest of the world. This “strands” characters until that part of the world is manually reset. Other characters used by the same player can still enter the world, however.

If this happens to you and you are locked out for more than five minutes, please create a new character and use the “Urgent Assistance” option to report the problem. Please tell the Online Team where you were stranded in the world

I went right to my corpse soon after dying, but my corpse was gone, or it was empty!
Keep in mind that your corpse will not stay there for very long. It will vanish after a number of minutes equal to five times your character level.

Also keep in mind that you can only have a limited number of corpses in the world at the same time. If you are over this limit, you will not leave a corpse when you die. Instead, your items will end up on the ground, where they will quickly vanish.

In rare cases, you may die in such a tight and crowded place that your corpse cannot be properly placed, in which case your objects will simply drop to the ground (if they can be placed).

If you are a Player-Killer and killed by another player, that player can loot the items from your corpse. After any items are taken, that corpse will quickly vanish.

If you are in auto-run mode and you lose your connection to the server, your character will keep running for some time until you reconnect or the server times out. Until this happens, your character will keep running without your seeing it, and can get killed by monsters. Your corpse will be in the direction you were running when you disconnected, at some distance away.

Still, all this does not seem to explain some anecdotes we have heard. We are looking carefully into them to assure there is not a bug. Please use the “Urgent Assistance” option to alert our Online Team if you are sure that your corpse is unjustifiably missing.

My character is gone/has items missing!
If something strange has happened to your character, such as a location change, missing items, or items having disappeared entirely, you may be the victim of account stealing. This can be done by a few methods, each of which you can prevent. Please refer to our Security article on the "News" page for more information.

I am trying to sign into the Zone, but it says I have the wrong password. I know I'm typing it in right!

Those who are the victims of account stealing (see the previous section) may find that they cannot sign in. This is because the thief has changed the password to your Zone account. Please refer to our Security article on the "News" page for more information.
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