Announcements - 2001/06 - Chains of Command

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June 2001 - Patch Page



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Chains of Command

June 6, 2001

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The air in the underground meeting hall was quite cool -- a welcome relief to Thane Tuomas and his scribe, out all day in the sweltering sun. “Take this down,” said the Thane, as the scribe dutifully raised his quill to the parchment.

“Court held tonight, sunset, in the Tufa hall. Bring any information you've been able to gather regarding the recent abductions. Mages, be here on time and well stocked with components. You've no more excuses to dawdle!”

The scribe wrote furiously, and nodded. “Aye, sir. They'll have this missive momentarily.”

This was more like it, so far as Tuomas was concerned. Communication had become a more pressing matter of late, yet here was finally an easy means of disseminating information. More like it, indeed. Organized. Like the archmages. Somehow those scatterbrained old chaps had been able to handle his request for components in record time. Yes, organized.

“Fault those Virindi for what you will, Landry, but they've got their chain of command in tip-top shape. Priorities, you know. There's no mistakes with the Virindi.”

“But, m'lord? The abductions? And the awful business in Ayan? Surely, you don't. . .”

Tuomas silenced his scribe with a glare. “No, Landry, I haven't lost sight of it all. Now, don't you have a message to deliver?”

The young man bowed politely and scampered away.

In the torchlight, the Thane pulled a mask from his beltpouch, watching as firelight played over the impossibly smooth surface. He thought about the words of the creature who'd given it to him. Tuomas pressed the mask to his face and cast his gaze about the hall where his subjects would soon come to gather. The more he thought about it, the more it made sense. There would be no missions to the northern or southern mountains. Let the hunters tarry with their freshly tanned hides, shells, and pearls. No need to interrupt the progress. Things were changing, and for the better. They were getting more. . . organized.

Unlike any other gaming experience, the world of Asheron's Call continues to evolve. Last month, as pyreals became weightless, players began to receive the coordinates for their corpses, and adventurers were able to quest for new titles. One can only wonder what additions, what changes -- and what dangers -- will be added when we open our June event, “Chains of Command.” For further hint of what's to come, be sure to read up on the new Component Buyer and Allegiance Communication features -- due to arrive with the June event!

Be sure to continue your part in this incredible ongoing story, and we'll see you in Dereth!

Rollout Article

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Chains of Command

June 14, 2001

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The sun has begun to rise, brighter, hotter, crossing the horizon with the burning fury of an Ivory Gromnie's smelting breath. The torrid days of summer have come at last. . .

. . . and with them comes another menace. Organized groups of marauding “Black Claw” Drudges have appeared in the northern and southern mountains of Osteth. Rumors speak of their involvement with a cabal of Virindi, whose hidden leader, known only as the Inculcator, is reputed to have been the true mastermind behind the takeover of Ayan Baqur. Perhaps the time has come to take the battle back to the Virindi.

For the effort to truly succeed, however, will require both sword and spell. To this end, human legions have instituted further improvements within their own ranks. Allegiances can now nominate designated speakers, who, along with their monarchs, are able to spread news among their every member with the speed of the wind itself. Archmages have long promoted the sale of spell components, putting the common good of all spellcasters ahead of the miserly hoarding of arcane secrets. Archmage vendors have proven even more cooperative of late, filling entire component buy lists instead of individual orders. And as the mystic geomancy of the land continues to fluctuate, more powerful creature enchantments have entered the School of the Left Hand; in addition, all lower-level enchantments have seen their durations increase, allowing enchanters an even greater role in aiding their fellows.

Yet beyond the crusade to strike back at the Virindi, other goals stand to be completed. For hunters, the changing of the seasons marks further chance to collect shed trophies of creatures. And with the end of spring, so comes a final gift of spring-cleaning. Inhabitants of Dereth will discover a fresher item in their wardrobes -- though they may wonder what became of their older, soiled garments.

Following is a list of the most interesting additions made to the game this update. However, please note that not everything has been included -- that would spoil the fun of finding out all that's been added or changed! As usual, though, 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 here in their entirety.

Highlights include:

  • A new component buyer feature now takes much of the tedium out of mages' already busy lives. Use @help fillcomps, or read the Details of Component Buying article, for more details.
  • New allegiance communication features include allegiance-wide broadcasts, messages of the day, and co-vassal chat. A full explanation can be found in the Details of Allegiance Communication article.
  • Further adventures have entered the world, including the chance to discover new Virindi strongholds and to do battle with the enigmatic beings in their own halls.
  • Lower-level buffs no longer evaporate so readily, as all level 1 to 5 buffs see their durations greatly increased.
  • Another season of the year means another season of critter hunting, with new trophies being shed.
  • Niffis, Tumeroks, and Crystals become less frustrating beasts to fight as monster rebalancing efforts continue.
  • It's true. Mom's gone shopping and bought us all clean underwear!

Summer days have brought new fashion and hunting trophies, heightened Creature spells -- and the sharpened sickles of the Virindi. In order to learn the full scope of June's event, “Chains of Command,” be sure to read the Developer's Notes, June. Continue your part in this incredible ongoing story, and we'll see you in Dereth!

Release Notes

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Developer's Notes

June 14, 2001

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Here are just some of the additions made in the June 14 game update, “Chains of Command.” The following list is comprised of detailed notes straight from the developers themselves. For a summary of things of most interest, be sure to consult the official event article, Chains of Command.

Detailed Notes for Builds 2528 -- 2539:

New Functionality

Miscellaneous Improvements

  • Peas are now spell components. They appear in the F6 panel in the client. Handy!
  • Wrapped frost, acid and lightning arrowheads can now be split apart.
  • Max stack size on Mnemosyne reward arrows has been raised to 250.
  • It's summertime! Seasonal trophies change once more.
  • Level 7 Creature Magic is in. ph34r.
  • All vendor buy/sell rates altered to prevent “money running.” It's no longer possible to make three million weightless pyreals in an hour by schlepping items to and fro.
  • Monster rebalancing continues! Crystal Fragments, Niffis, and Tumeroks have all been visited by the Sanity Check Fairy.
  • All level 1-5 spells have had their durations extended.

Minor Details

  • Danby's Outpost now has its intended Lifestone.
  • There are 3600 seconds per hour, not 3660. :) This was causing /age to display incorrectly.
  • Larry the Bunny Master isn't quite so shy anymore -- he shouldn't run away from visitors.
  • You can no longer recall to the Hieromancer Lyceum after going through the Trial Dungeon exit portals.
  • The low-stakes Sho Gambler was giving out Small Mnemosynes instead of the Tiny Mnemosynes he was supposed to. The pit bosses came down on him pretty hard.
  • The Casino Bosses have invested their winnings in some shiny new objects.
  • @r and @rp now map to @reply, while @rt now maps to @retell. @reply and @retell still work as usual.
  • Changed default state of status bars to on instead of off. No more clicking on those @#$%&*^ bars every time you login!
  • It took five years, but vendors now wear aprons to make them visually distinct from players.
  • Bug: No tribute to Douglas Adams in game. Bug fixed. All fish duly appreciated.
  • Underwear is now ivory/off-white. Let's never speak of this again.

A Letter to the Players

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A Letter to the Players

June 14, 2001

Over the past few months the use of speed-altering programs such as "Gear," have been on the rise in Dereth. The use of these programs has always been a violation of the Code of Conduct, specifically: "Hacking or deliberately using game bugs or loopholes to disrupt the game."

Unfortunately, without the proper detection code in our game, we would have been arbitrarily addressing the symptoms but not fixing the real problem. We wanted to find a way to reliably detect the use of speed-altering programs and always be able to take action against those who are using them.

So over the past few months our server team has been hard at work on a solution. This has been one of our most challenging fixes to date. We apologize for the delay, but we did not want to roll the fix out until we felt confident it would fully address the problem.

We now have the ability to detect players who utilize speed-altering programs and have rolled out the fix. For the first few days you will not notice anything. We have turned off the enforcement aspect while we gather data. We want to gather this data so we can be certain that people who are not using these programs will not be falsely detected.

If this data shows us what we expect to see, then at some time in the near future, without warning, we will be turning on the enforcement aspect of this fix. You will then be notified when we detect the use of these programs. Please note: Continual use of these programs will lead to permanent removal from the game. If you are using a speed-altering program, cease to do so immediately. If a player persists in using these programs, he or she will be banned.

While we feel strongly in our policy of not punishing players for mistakes in our game, we have also stated in the past that when players deliberately take advantage of exploits or loopholes to disrupt the gameplay of other players we will take appropriate action. Speed-altering programs fall into this area.

We want to thank everyone for their patience over the past few months while we have been working on this problem. We hope you enjoy the June update.

The AC Team

A Letter to the Players 2

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A Letter to the Players

June 15, 2001

As most players are aware, additional code was devised for the June event by which players who used speed-altering programs could be detected and removed from the game. When we launched the June event, however, we discovered a bug that resulted in severe server instability, which required that we take the service down overnight to work on a solution.

The most concrete solution for the short term turned out to be the removal of the Speedhack detection code, to be reviewed, fixed, and reinstated at a future update. However, while instability resulted, the detection code did accurately detect several players who were using speed-altering programs in violation of the Code of Conduct. Appropriate action has been taken in those cases, and we remind players that use of speed-altering programs can result in removal from the game.

We sincerely apologize for the extended downtime, and intend to reintroduce the detection code as soon as we can verify its stability. We thank you for your patience, and hope you enjoy the rest of the June event, "Chains of Command."

Thank you,

The AC Team

Questions About the May Patch

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Questions About the May Patch

June 20, 2001

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With each monthly update to Asheron's Call we receive questions regarding the thought process that goes into a monthly update. To provide some insight into the how and why of an Asheron's Call patch, here is a quick Q & A with the AC Team regarding the May patch.

Last month appeared to be content light, but functionality heavy. What were the thoughts that went into last month's changes? (ie. De-buff times halved, stat buff increase, etc.)
We (or more appropriately, Jesse) had some bizarre late-night epiphany where he said, “Wait, there's a bunch of unnecessary stuff that is Not Fun in AC! Why don't we change these things?” And the rest of us thought it was a good idea, too, so we went along with it. Some months we crank out new content, and some months we put in much-needed gameplay improvements.

Why were pyreals made weightless, this has allowed for an exploitation of Money Runs and made the Casino's a place for tweaking newbies? Are there any plans to change the buy/sell rates to offset the burgeoning woes of the economy?
The weight on pyreals was another thing that we felt was an unnecessary annoyance. Nobody likes having to cash in four or five trade notes one at a time just to buy components. We didn't anticipate, however, the kind of impact that would have on money-run exploits. There'll be a fix for that soon, however.

The new titles are a cool new aspect of the game. Are there any plans to create new titles based on other skills, perhaps specialized skills, or attributed to character race?
There will be many more titles. The sky is the limit with new titles. The things we did for May are only an initial step. There will be advanced skill-based titles (so if you're really, really skilled at Axe, you will some day be able to get a more exciting title than “Axe Warrior.”) as well as more quest-based titles. We'll trickle out new title possibilities over the course of the next few months.

The new component buyer looks great. When can we expect to see this implemented in the game?
Should be ready for June.

Metal armor was given an enhancement with this latest patch. As a result some other armors have been affected negatively. Is there anything planned to rebalance quested items such as Greater Shadow Armor, or leather armor to return a level of usability to these armors?
Greater Shadow Armor will likely not be retouched. And leather armor was never supposed to be competitive in terms of protection with metal armors. All we did with that patch was make metal armors useful and more in line with the expectation that heavier and more expensive armor ought to protect you better than leathers.

Why were crowns not affected by the metal armor changes, they are still overly heavy and offer poor protections?
Crowns are treated by game systems as jewelry pieces, rather than as pieces of armor.

You removed much of the negative spell economy this month, but this further damaged the spell economy by creating a negative economy in other areas, when can we expect this to be fixed?
We're investigating it now, but we have no estimate on when it will be fixed.

The latest exploit allowed people to once again obtain items that could not normally be obtained, such as hilted weapons. How will this be addressed in the game?
This has been fixed.

When will Level 7 Creature and Life spells be introduced to the game?
Expect Creature in June. Life some time after that.

What is the mystery of the Golden Gromnie?
That would be telling. Wait and see.

Will the Lugians assist in the rebuilding of Arwic or Tufa, now that they have taken the time to reach out to the Isparians? Or are we just helping them without any return investment?
I feel obligated to point out that the Lugians have been systematically and bloodily hunted down by humans ever since the first adventurer in the mountains picked up a lightning weapon. That being said, having Lugians help with town rebuilding is an interesting idea?

Will Casino's become any more user friendly or interactive in the future?

We're not done with casinos. It's certainly possible that there will be more improvements in the future, but they're not a high-priority item right now.

Pages from the Producer

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Pages from the Producer

June 13, 2001

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I usually take a little bit of time each day to read what's being discussed on the AC fansites and message boards to better understand current trends, opinions, etc. While doing so a few weeks ago, I encountered a sentiment that took me rather by surprise. In response to what seemed a fairly reasonable suggestion, someone replied that it was “too late to change something like that.” I thought about that one for a while, asking myself whether it is ever really “too late” to make a broad change to a world that's been around as long as Dereth. The conclusion I drew is that perhaps we've been overlooking some fundamental improvements that could be made on the grounds that it was “too late” to do so -- an outlook that may have been a mistake at times.

So we went back to the basics. What did people complain most about and what could we do to improve those things, ruling nothing out as being too late? Magic is an integral part of AC, but spell durations and component shopping are, at times, a royal pain. So, we made a few fundamental changes in May, making pyreals weightless and extending the duration of some spells while shortening the duration of harmful spells. To take it one step further in June, we're introducing an automated component-buying command and increasing the duration of low-level spells.

We're also taking a balancing measure that was long overdue, and perhaps it was vetoed in the past in part because it was perceived as too late to fix. Weightless pyreals amplified old problems with the pyreal economy, and June's update will bring with it wide-scale balancing to Dereth's vendors. Like any economy, Dereth's changes in response to supply and demand. We wanted to make sure there were no cases by which one could profit from running supplies from one vendor to another, but at the same time we also needed to make sure that supplies were readily available and affordable. Many towns will now have more favorable vendor rates than before, while others will see their vendors' purse-strings tighten. While this might be a bit disorienting at first, a few trips around the portal rings will again reveal where the bargains are.

We've enjoyed being able to make some technical enhancements to Dereth (with a few more surprises yet to come), but we're as eager as many of you to get back to focusing on the ongoing story that Dereth is famous for. Thanks for playing, and keep the feedback coming!

Nik “Azeraphel” Davidson
Producer -- Asheron's Call
Turbine Entertainment Software

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