Announcements - 2001/12 - The First Strike

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December 2001 - Patch Page

Contents


Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEdec01teaser.asp

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The First Strike


December 14, 2001

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"Why not destroy them all?"

Make him cease to be, open him up, discover his secrets. When he is liquid and meat you shall know everything. Martine was too tired to quiet the voice of the Virindi in his mind, so he let it ramble on while he tried to focus on the question. Sharpness hurts meat, the voice continued, it is a point. Meat knows nothing about a point, about how lovely a point is. You can make the point sing. We can sing together. No, the man still had his uses. There would be time enough to deliver the man to his minions. Once Martine had received his boon, there would be so much time.

"Forgive me, lord. I must have whispered too softly. I asked, 'Why not destroy them all?' Pardon my ignorance, but I don't understand why we didn't start with the one in the first settlement."

Holtburg, he would have called it a year ago. But Holtburg would not do now. Let the man be stupid. Holtburg was building a garrison. How could it be more perfect? Holtburg was building a garrison, and there was no need to destroy anything there. Quite the contrary.

"There is a new plan. A better plan. A. . ." slice and slice and slice and slice "We will still destroy some of them. Enough to cause fear. And leave a few to let them feel hope. Their hope is our friend. It makes them soft. Weak. The new plan is much better." The man, what is his name? Martine could not remember his name. He knew it once, what was it? slice and slice and slice The man did not speak anymore but he seemed content. Good, let him be content, let him be happy. Everyone was weak. Except him.

"So we shall do it here? This shall be the first?"

Martine nodded. He was tired. Tired of listening to the Virindi. The Virindi no longer listened to him. He had asked it to be quiet. He thought he had crushed it a long time ago. . . he thought sing and slice sing slice we will all sing and slice.

"My lord? What will we be doing?"

What had he said? Where was he? He looked around and caught sight of the tower looming before him, a large pyramid of stone illuminated by the flickering torches warding off absolute blackness. Hatred of the sight coursed through his blood, snapping his neck up as it bloomed in his brain.

In his mind, a small girl danced around his feet, singing. His daughter? Aritta? She paled. Her mouth went wide, frozen into a rictus. Her eyes were holes brimming with violet light.

You dare? He jabbed his thoughts into the place the Virindi whispered from. A horrible squealing, and it fled into the jumbled depths of their shared mind. Yes, go and hide for now.

"Silence." The man bowed. I am Martine. "Yes, this will be the first."

"Do you need time to prepare, lord? Do you not require. . . I know that you. . . that Isparians need focusing materials for the spells of great power. I have such a device if. . ."

"Need?" Martine was too amused to be offended. "I have desire. I have hate. That is all I need. It begins here."
Martine raised his hands.

(continue with the story. . . )

Unlike any other gaming experience, the world of Asheron's Call continues to evolve. Last month saw great prosperity, with increased housing sales and improved fellowships. Yet with the onset of winter, how long can such prosperity last? Join us, as The First Strike event opens soon.

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

Teaser 2

Original Link (now dead) - http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEdec01teaser2.asp

Click to return to Microsoft Zone Archive

The First Strike


Continued. . .

She would not allow them to see tears. There had been one time before, after Thorsten. . . and she remembered too well the problems that had caused. She was the Queen. She could not forget that. Yes, a Queen without a castle, a Queen whose subjects barely knew her, many of whom would as soon spit at her feet than declare her their sovereign.

She was their Queen nonetheless.

She had not wanted the responsibility. She only wanted to raise her son. But she had tried to turn her back on the world, and the world had almost taken that son from her. Never again, she had sworn. Let her people go through their lives either unaware or resentful of their Queen, unaware of her life, unaware of her duties. That is why she was there.

But this. . . this was almost too much to bear. The grim faces of the Council of Antiquaries around her were almost as disheartening as the news they bore. Nuhmudira was the surprising exception, a distant and vague cast to her eye. Gods, Elysa thought, if Nuhmudira is unhinged by this disaster. . . Elysa felt laughter burbling up inside. She stifled it. She wanted to release it if only to release some of her tension, but she was not sure she could stop it from turning into a scream.

It had happened in the midst of high night. Where once had stood eighteen proud and tall Empyrean towers, now only six remained. The rest were crumbled and aflame. They had burst from within. Without warning or apparent provocation, they had been rent by an instant inferno, leaving six towers standing.

She had ordered guard outposts built the month before in six locations. Those six locations happened to be the same as where the towers were that remained. The Arcanum had been reporting portal space disturbances around the Nexus towns for weeks. The lack of specifics was maddening, but when Nuhmudira and Celdiseth agreed on an issue, even if that issue could be no better described than, "something is wrong," Elysa knew that there was a problem. When even Asheron could offer no insight into the nature of the matter, Elysa decided to begin construction on only the six. Being a Queen to whom no one paid taxes did not place her in a position to spend greatly. And she thought she had more time.

Rithwic. Al-Arqas. Nanto. Every day more Isparians portaled in from their homeworld. Yanshi. Lytelthorpe. Samsur. And they would appear around the nine Nexus towns. The settlements had been built around these points, to welcome and shepherd new arrivals into a dangerous world. And in the blink of an eye, twelve of them had been taken away. There would be no new visitors to these towns now. Only Yaraq, Shoushi, and Holtburg remained. And who could say for how much longer those would stay? If the goal of their adversary was to let no new Isparian adult portal in to Dereth, if they wanted the entire world closed, that could only mean. . .

While she had been lost in thought, the Council had started arguing again. Some were saying that this was the work of Martine, others that it was the Hopeslayer come again. The theories had been endless. Perhaps the Virindi, no, the Dericost; Nuhmudira started in about the Empyrean again, but she did it so half-heartedly that even Celdiseth did not raise his voice in scorn. Shoyanen was speaking earnestly to Fadsahil, presumably about the deep philosophical motivations behind such an attack, but either she was too blind to see Fadsahil's growing impatience, or too nervous to care.

They need you. The voice came, gentle and resolute into her mind. She wanted to sleep. She wanted to cry. Thorsten should have been here. They need you. Were “they” Asheron and Borelean? The Arcanum? The Isparians? Yes. They need you.

"Enough." A soft word spoken into the tumult, but the voices of the Arcanum, muttered and raised alike, dimmed to silence. She had not chosen this path freely, but that was no excuse not to learn her role well. "I have heard the reports of the Arcanum, and what I hear is that we know little. Which is worse than knowing nothing. If we knew nothing than at least we would not be afraid!" She deliberately let some of her anger leach into her last few words. Sometimes it was enough to lead with kindness. Other times. . . She turned to each of the twelve of the High Council present, looking into their eyes for a few seconds. Only Nuhmudira did not look a touch ashamed, but she seemed not to notice Elysa at all. Pwyll take the woman! She could not fall apart on them now.

"Nuhmudira, Celdiseth." At this at least Nuhmudira came to, and looked directly at her Queen. "I task the two of you with leading the search for how this happened. How and why. There are edifices of stone that lasted for thousands of years, destroyed in a heartbeat. We will find who did this. Find them and stop them. Kerralon, double the guards at the existing outposts. Report immediately to me any further disturbances or news. The rest of you are at Nuhmudira and Celdiseth's disposal." They nodded. She let her silence be their dismissal. It was dangerous to pair those two old antagonists together, but she needed something to shake Nuhmudira out of her current lethargy. Maybe Celdiseth would be the proper catalyst.

She looked around the empty room, wondering whether she should check in on Borelean. Let the lad sleep, she thought as she turned to go back to her quarters. Aye, sleep would be welcome. A smile crossed her face, the first of this long night as she anticipated a slumber so needed she doubted she would dream.

Asaina al-Arqis, a Scholar of the Arcanum, burst into the room, gasping for breath and with hair clumped to her sweaty brow. "My Queen, forgive the intrusion. . ." Normally Elysa would once again have let Asaina know that such formality was not necessary, but she nodded for the girl to continue. What now?


As Asaina related the news, Elysa struggled to understand the import of this latest event. It bordered on the laughable, but still. . . "Get Jaleh back in here." As Asaina sprinted out, Elysa put thoughts of tears and even sleep far from her mind. Her people were under attack. She was the Queen. She began reviewing in her mind the lists of supplies requested by the outposts as she waited for Jaleh to arrive.

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEdec01rollout.asp

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The First Strike


December 18, 2001

Img swords.jpg

Rumbling over the mountains and pouring into the valleys, winter has come once again to Dereth. Snow thickly blankets the landscape in a lustrous white gloss, coating the trees, fields, and hills. In several towns across Dereth gifts have been left in the town centers, spreading cheer to all. Farmers report that their harvests have yielded an abundance of carrots, but their sales have increased threefold in the past weeks. Though they cannot explain the reason behind the rush on carrots they point to the new housing communities for more complete answers.

New settlements are crowded with homeowners, enjoying the “fruits” of the season. Many struggle to complete the snowmen that will stand guard outside their homes, while inside others enjoy the comforts of their new slippers and warm mugs of cider.

Yet the storm clouds that gathered on the horizon during the month of Leafcull have set High Queen Strathelar into action. She has moved to fortify the arrival towns across Dereth in reaction to severe portal disturbances. Dispatching her Royal Guard to each of the outpost towns she has managed to salvage three from the destructive forces of a new enemy. In Holtburg, Shoushi, and Yaraq, training academies have been established to welcome and prepare new arrivals from Ispar for the trials that will face them in this strange world. Bolstered by the presence of her troops and the assistance of the newest arrivals, these three towns yet withstand the onslaught of this new force.

As the enemy begins the first stages of its assault, adventurers set forth to meet this newest threat. Thrown weapons experts take up arm and shield to face the enemy wherever it may next rise, as the Isparians unite at last beneath the banner of High Queen Strathelar.

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 manner of things 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 features are not always listed here in their entirety.

Highlights include:

  • A revised new-player tutorial, combining new quests and the introduction to the new story arc of AC.
  • The bunnies are busy in Dereth.
  • What does the holiday season mean for players? It means free buffs!
  • Build your very own snowman, if you dare.
  • Thrown Weapons experiences some new dynamics.

Be sure to check the Developer's Notes for December, the Letter to the Players, as well as the State of the Network, to learn more details of The First Strike event. Join us as we continue the ongoing saga of Asheron's Call, and we'll see you in Dereth!

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEdec01build.asp

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Developer's Notes


December 18, 2001

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Here are just some of the additions made in the December 18 game update, The First Strike. The following list is comprised of detailed notes straight from the developers themselves. For a summary of things of interest, be sure to consult the official event article, The First Strike.





We appreciate your feedback and bug reports in helping to ensure that the world of Dereth is a stable and fun place to be. Please submit any such bug reports to http://bugs.zone.com.

New Functionality

  • Complete revision of “new-player” experience for beginning characters, with a new dungeon, new quests, and revised monster spawn around the three newbie areas.


Major Improvements and Changes

  • The bug where entire communities could lose all items in their hooks and storage has been fixed.
  • House owners no longer need to add other characters on their account to their guest list. This is now automatically done, and these characters will no longer appear on the guest list.
  • If an account owns a house, all characters on that account can now recall to that house with the command @house recall.


Miscellaneous Improvements and Changes

  • We identified and fixed a bug where players could duplicate their items. We log these types of duplication efforts, and players engaging in them risk all of their accounts being banned from Asheron's Call.
  • There was an exploit through which players could fire off a wand's spell many times per second. This was initially fixed in a Darktide-only hotfix, and later hotfixed on all the worlds.
  • Players can now use thrown weapons while wearing a shield.
  • Players with the Thrown Weapons skill now have a new projectile launcher to use: the Atlatl. There are also standard darts for these Atlatls.
  • 250 Cottages, 40 Villas, and 10 Mansions have been added to the world.
  • Previously, when a house was abandoned, all items in the house on hooks and in storage were deleted. These items now stay in hooks and storage and are accessible to the next owner.
  • The journal for the Palenqual Totem quest had erroneous text in it meant for the Aun Tanua quest. That text is now given out as part of the Aun Tanua quest. The intended Palenqual quest text, which had not previously been in the game, is now properly listed in Shimauri's Instructions.
  • There was a bug where fellowships did not correctly display the fellowship xp split from the new fellowship changes last month. This has been fixed.
  • The Elari Bow has undergone some changes in its spells.
  • The slide cast range has been increased very slightly to account for situations in which players have only recently stopped moving but still receive “Your movement has disrupted your casting” messages. These messages will still rarely occur.
  • Fizzled spells due to movement now use up only normal fizzle mana costs instead of full mana costs.
  • There are new player emotes:
  • Talk to the hand: *talk to the hand*.
  • At ease: *at ease*.
  • Play possum: *play possum*.
  • Sit: *sit down*.
  • Get comfortable: *cross legs*.
  • Get really comfortable: *sitback*.
  • Point left: *point left*.
  • Point right: *point right*.
  • Point to the left until you do another action: *pointing left*.
  • Point to the right until you do another action: *pointing right*.
  • Nudge left: *nudgeleft*.
  • Nudge right: *nudgeright*.


Minor Details

  • A bug was preventing Vapor Golems from dropping Vapor Hearts. This has been fixed.
  • Winter arrives in Dereth.
  • Different types of arrows now have different colors when lying on the ground.
  • 75K trade notes from the ACDM Legionary Pincer quest now have a unique icon.
  • Amuli Coats no longer have an extra abdomen piece while lying on the ground.
  • The ACDM Railrea's Thrown Spear now has the correct description, looks distinct from the melee version, and no longer flies through the air backwards.
  • Timaru Collector now tells you he is giving 25,000 xp for Yellow Virindi Jewels instead of 15,000. The amount he actually gave was always 25,000.
  • The generation interval time for the note in Menacet's dungeon has been reduced from ten minutes to one minute.
  • There are new settlement signs.
  • Furniture vendors now sell some additional items.
  • There is a new animation for the house recall function that more closely mirrors the duration of the recall.
  • The Palenqual weapons had a bug in which they were unenchantable. This has been fixed.
  • Level restriction on Palenqual's Caverns portal has been removed.
  • Players cannot access Palenqual's Caverns for thirty days after receiving their Palenqual weapon.

Letter to the Players 1

Original Link (now dead) - http://classic.zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEletterdec1.asp

Click to return to Microsoft Zone Archive

A Letter to the Players


December 7, 2001

Over the past few days we have become aware of a bug that can be used to duplicate items in the game. We take this bug very seriously and expect to have a fix in place in the next few days.

In our investigation we have discovered over forty accounts that knowingly used this bug to duplicate items. All of these accounts have been permanently banned from Asheron's Call. Use of bugs to duplicate items is strictly prohibited by the code of conduct. We are able to log when this bug happens and items are duplicated. We will continue to permanently ban accounts that are intentionally using bugs to duplicate items.

We appreciate your patience in the upcoming downtime to apply the fix to the game servers.


--The AC Team

Letter to the Players 2

Original Link (now dead) - http://classic.zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEletterdec3.asp

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The Fallout of Duping - From the Zone


December 17, 2001

As most of you know, we discovered a bug that allowed people to duplicate items in the game without crashing the servers. We have been both actively working on a fix and banning those who engage in this activity. To date, we have banned over 200 accounts associated with duping. It is unfortunate that a subsection of the players felt it necessary to continue to duplicate items knowing that all of their accounts would be banned as a result.

The fix to stop duplicating will be in place with tomorrow's monthly update. We apologize that this took longer than normal to implement. It was an extremely tough bug to fix and we wanted to make sure we tested it enough so as to not introduce another bug.

With that said, now comes the question of what to do about the items that were duped. When we looked at this, we had three options: 1) rollback two weeks to ensure the majority of the duped items were gone, 2) look for items we can be sure were duped and delete them, or 3) leave things as they are.

Each had their pros and cons:

1) If we rollback, even by a day, this would punish every player in the game. The majority of our players did not dupe or even come in contact with duping. We felt, due to the amount of time we would roll back, this would be the most unfair option to the entire player base.

2) Delete those items we knew were duped. This would be nothing more than a small band-aid on the problem. Many people were duping items that got turned in for other things, which meant we could not detect them. This would be more of a punishment to people who may not have known the item they were getting was duped while letting those who did the duping off the hook. Further, not all items that have been duped are necessarily identified as such. While we could remove the majority of the duped items, we could not remove all of them, and we felt that a partial removal of items would merely increase the value of those duped items that remain thereby making the crime more profitable.

3) Leave things as they are. This would leave the economy on some worlds skewed considerably from the norm. This also has the effect of “punishing” those players who out of a sense of ethics did not trade or bargain for duped items, and who miss out on the availability of these items as a result.

Each choice above has painful consequences. However, we decided the largest majority of our player base benefited from option 3. Additionally, for the last few months we have been discussing the options of resurrecting items such as the original GSA and the Hoary Mattekar Robe. With the advent of Asheron's Call Dark Majesty, and some of the refurbishing of the treasure system which will be taking place soon, we felt that these items could be reintroduced without the deleterious effects on the game economy and balance that they had before. The events of the last two weeks have further solidified this decision for us.

In February, expect a return of these items to be available to the general public. We are cognizant of those issues which made us decide to take these items out over a year ago, but we feel that the new implementation of the dynamic treasure system, as well as the nature of our changing game, make it a good decision to bring them back.

We will continue to be vigilant about duplicating offenses, and we will continue to ban those accounts that engage in this practice.

--The AC Team

Letter to the Players 3

Original Link (now dead) - http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEletterdec4.asp

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Letter to the Players


December 18, 2001

The December event, The First Strike, is now upon us. Before we delve into the content for this month, we'd like to discuss some of the content issues of last month.

One of the biggest and scariest problems in AC's history has been the item loss bug affecting house storage and hooks for the last month and a half. We committed our entire AC1 coding resources to identifying and eliminating this elusive bug. Finally, after weeks of searching through bug reports and server logs, we were able to generate a consistent reproduction of the bug and its conditions, and soon after fix the problem.

Our deepest apologies go out to those players who lost items permanently as a result of this bug. We are committed to ensuring a completely secure storage system for those players who own housing, and we expect that this fix, combined with our recent server stabilization changes, will have permanently solved the problem of item loss in housing.

If you experience a loss of items in your house, please make sure to either contact an in-game admin or send a bug report to http://bugs.zone.com. The quicker we get accurate reports of any such situation, the quicker we can respond to fix the problem.

Once we had solved the item-loss situation, we were then confronted with a potentially disastrous dupe bug. For the latest information on that situation, please refer to this page here.

Unfortunately, focusing on these two issues forced us to make the tough decision to cut some features that we had originally planned in December. The most notable of these cuts were our planned changes to the treasure system. However, we already have more than half of these changes in for January, so expect to see some improvements in this area soon. These changes will truly revolutionize the concept of what high-level treasure means to the Asheron's Call player.

What we do have going in for December is fantastic. First, in addition to a couple of oft requested housing features, such as allowing all characters on an account to recall to an owned house, and not making other characters on an account take up room in the guest list but possess entry privileges automatically, we are also adding an additional 300 houses for December. Further, because of the public demand for more housing, we are planning an additional 500 houses each for January and February. By this time, we are discussing alternate forms of housing to ensure that all players who want some kind of domicile may possess one.

Before we get to the main theme of the content, a few quick and scattered observations about some of the other content:

  • Thrown Weapons: It's what's for killin' stuff. (At least, it's a couple of steps in the right direction.)
  • Talk to the hand, baby. . .
  • The candy canes really do have a deeper connection to the lore and history of the game that shall be revealed anon. We're not lying. Really.

One of the dynamics that the team has been very excited about is the new content for beginning and low-level characters. While there had been general improvements to the content for low-level players over the last two years, this was the first time that we decided to try and redo the entire experience for the true newbie. The experience is now a lot more streamlined and “game-like.” We realize that these changes won't appeal to everyone, but we hope you take a look and create a new character to go through it and let us know what you think.

We also realize this focus on the newbie experience of the game has left a void in some of the higher level content. After December, we will be focusing on two main tasks: First, our next story arc. Some of you have commented on the difference in teasers over these past two months. This change has been intentional, and it reflects our commitment to this new story arc and the depth and breadth that this story represents. We wanted to make sure that all of our players have the opportunity to follow the basic story, and so we will continue to use these teasers as story bridges for the events. We think the events and content planned for this story arc will represent some of the best work that the AC Live Team has done, and we're excited to showcase it for you.

Hand-in-hand with that story arc, our other big focus will be to continue to revamp and improve upper-level content dynamics. New enemies to hunt, new strategies to employ to defeat them, new weapons, new armor, new spells. . . we want to continue to redefine what playing AC means so that it continues to remain fresh and enjoyable for all our players.

We have experienced some bumps on the road this last month. But we remain committed to providing you with the best online role-playing experience that exists today. As always, we're able to continue to create new stories for Dereth because of you, the players. We appreciate your support and feedback and encourage you to let us know what you think of the latest content.

Have a happy holiday season!

--The AC Team
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