Announcements - 2002/10 - Festivus

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October 2002 - Patch Page

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Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/teaser1002.htm?nc=1

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October Teaser


Festivus

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"Wilomine, another ale!" Caebyrn bellowed as he leaned over the bar.

"Patience, patience," Wilomine replied from the back of the tavern. "It's coming."

"Telling the tale of how I beat Gaerlan is tiring work!" Caebyrn bellowed back, then turned back to face the crowded bar. "Now, where was I?"

"Something about riddles," said a voice from one of the tables.

"Right, right, the Tribunal. So, the Tribunal posed a riddle to each of us. Of course, I had no problems."

A voice in the back of the room snickered, "Only because someone gave you the answer."

"You know Earnbil, if I were another man, I might have to take you to task for that comment," Caebyrn paused to reach around and pick up the pint of ale Wilomine had placed on the bar behind him. "Anyway, after I answered the Tribunal's riddle, it transported me into this long hallway. At the end there was this barred door; couldn't see any way through other than beating on it with my axe."

Caebyrn paused again and took a sip of his ale. "Then I heard the rumbling. I turned around and this huge ball of fire was rolling toward me. I just barely dodged it in time, only to see another roll out of the alcove next me. It was pretty close there."

"After a few of us beat on that door for a bit, it finally caved in and we made it through the other trials in the Citadel. We found that item that Asheron wanted. I gave it to him and then he sent us off to face Gaerlan."

"What's he like?" came a voice.

"Gaerlan?" Caebyrn took another drink of his ale. "He's a dolt."

"No, no. Asheron," came the same voice.

"Oh him. Seems like a nice fellow. I invited him by for an ale… Surprised he didn't show up," replied Caebyrn. "So, as I was saying, there we were, facing Gaerlan. He was muttering insults at us, swinging this huge flaming sword. People were falling down dead before him left and right. I barely dodged one of his swings."

"And probably soiled your armor in the process," called out the voice in the back, accompanied by a few snickers.

"Earnbil, if you don't shut that mouth of yours, I'll tell everyone about that time a Reedshark snuck up and bit your-" Caebyrn cut himself short. "Well there are ladies in the room."

"So," Caebyrn said, looking back at the crowded tavern, "Gaerlan is swinging that sword, summoning creatures, casting spells. Just about everyone around me is cut down by him, when I finally land my axe on him and he starts to fall. Then, just before he hits the ground--and this is something I'll never forget--Nuhmudira appears."

A few mutters of surprise were heard from the table, and Caebyrn continued, "Aye, I know! So Nuhmudira appears and suspends Gaerlan's body in the air. She goes on to say about how he tried to condemn her to an eternity of torment, or some such. Then she creates this filactrum… thallicum… phillatree…"

"Phylactery?" came from a table near Caebyrn.

With a snap of his fingers, Caebyrn continued, "That's it. So this phylactery grows up from the ground and Gaerlan's body disappears. I look into the thing and see Gaerlan floating around in it. I'll tell ya, he didn't look happy. Then when I touch the thing, a shield extrudes from its surface and I grab it."

A low noise of disgust was heard from some in the room.

"Aye, it was rather unnerving." He paused to take another drink of his ale. "But, I have to say, the shield is respectable. I carried it when I defeated the Harbinger-"

The room erupted in laughter.

"Psssh, if you don't believe me, that's fine." Caebyrn tilted back his head and finished his ale. "Queen Elysa's thanks was more than enough reward."

Wilomine appeared behind Caebyrn and picked up the now-empty pint. "Ok, ok, Champion of Dereth, now that you've saved us all, what are you going to do?"

"Me?" Caebyrn replied, "I'm going to the Festival Grounds!"

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/event1002.htm?nc=1

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October Event


Festivus

With Gaerlan defeated, the heroes of Dereth now enjoy calm and reflect on the dramatic changes they have seen in the last few months. Many are amazed when they think of the world as it was before. Martine, who had caused so much trouble, has redeemed himself and is now gone. Their Queen has stepped forward and taken a much more active role in the affairs of her people, something she had not done for years. Even the races formerly at odds have reached an accord unimaginable just a few months before.

Beyond these most obvious changes seen in the world, daily lives have been transformed. Cumbersome packs of spell components are gone, replaced by magical Foci. Weapons and equipment now possess power that was unknown before. And scrolls that all can easily comprehend have replaced the study of the arcane that consumed the time of so many. Although the people of Dereth know this peace will not last long, never before have they been so prepared to face the challenges that lie ahead.

In honor of this, the festival season promises to be especially notable. The various mask makers have kept their festival tradition and are providing new wares for everyone to enjoy. Many will find that they can use the needed respite to hone their crafting skills, taking advantage of the master crafters found outside of Glenden Woods.

Yet the season is marred by new dangers, some found on the twisted landscape of the Obsidian Plains, while others are found much closer to home...

Just a few of the changes made in October are noted below. To learn more of what is happening in Dereth, make sure you talk with town criers, barkeeps, and scribes!

Highlights Include:

  • New and enhanced tinkering effects!
  • Mana Conversion provides even more benefits for mages!
  • New regalia for the festival season!


The Developer's Notes for October and the Letter to the Players contain even more details about the Festivus event. Join us as the saga of Asheron's Call continues, and we'll see you in Dereth!

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/devnotes1002.htm?nc=1

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October Dev Notes


Thank you for your continued feedback and bug reports. They are a valuable tool in our pursuit of making the world of Dereth a stable and fun place to play. Please submit any such bug reports to http://bugs.zone.com.

New Functionality and Content

  • With Gaerlan defeated, the people of Dereth can devote themselves to enjoying the festival season!
  • Hollow and Phantom missile weapons make their debut. Get out your Hollow armor!
  • Three new Tinkering effects have been added, including the unique Ivory Tinkering. See the Letter to the Players for more details.
  • Mana Conversion now provides additional benefits as the character's skill increases. To complement this change, the treasure system will now be generating casting wands that provide a percentage bonus to mana conversion.
  • The benefits of skill specialization have been increased. For more details, please see our previous Letter to the Players regarding this change.
  • An additional 500 Residential Quarters are available for purchase and can be found in the towns of Khayyaban, Lin, and Samsur.


Miscellaneous Improvements and Changes

  • Gaerlan's fallen citadel has been modified, and players will find the quest easier to start. However, beware--some of the Citadel's challenges have been made more difficult! For more details on the changes, see this month's Letter to the Players.
  • Specialists in the field of crafting have founded a small community near Glenden Woods and have opened their doors to those who seek to enhance their trade skills.
  • The mask makers have expanded their abilities and are offering a host of new items.
  • Banderlings had been pestering us for an upgrade to their appearance. Well, they finally got it!
  • The Player Killer delayed logoff has been enhanced and changed. Player Killer characters will now log off normally unless another player has attacked them within the last two minutes. If a Player Killer character has been attacked, he/she will still go through the 20-second log off timer. In addition, if a Player Killer has been attacked in the last 20 seconds, he/she will be unable to use any portal or recall spell; however, the Player Killer will be able to use these again normally after the 20 seconds have passed.
  • Last month, a bug appeared that prevented hooks and storage chests in housing dungeons from being updated with the new homeowner information. This bug has been corrected. Any housing dungeon that was affected should now have the correct homeowner information.
  • Level 126 characters that had previously reached the maximum amount of experience possible in their level will find that they can now earn 8 million more experience points in that level. This is the result of removing the previously unreachable level 127 from the experience table. Players should see no effects on the amount of experience these characters can apply to their skills.
  • In the past, spells native to a casting implement--such as Heal Other 6 on the Healer's Heart-were not checked by the common spell--casting error routines. This omission allowed these spells to be cast in a number of unintended ways. We've corrected this imbalance, and the spells cast by wands and orbs now go through the same checks those found in your spell book do.
  • A host of existing Tinkering effects have been enhanced to be more effective. However, these enhanced effects are not retroactive, so existing Tinkered objects will not display these new, more pronounced effects. See the Letter to the Players for more information.


Minor Details

  • Through the use of certain quest items, characters had been able to raise their specialized skills above the maximum level allowed. We have corrected this bug. For more details on this fix, please see our previous Letter to the Players.
  • A few of the quest rewards given out by Gaerlan's Phylactery have been modified and enhanced. The Letter to the Players has more information.
  • Scarecrows and Pumpkins dot the landscape again.
  • The Aun Tumeroks of Marae Lassel have stumbled across a new Olthoi Hive.
  • A few trophy items can now be dyed. These items are old style Olthoi helms, new style Olthoi Helms, old style Mattekar Coats and Armoredillo Hide shirts. In the future, more trophy items may receive this upgrade.
  • Weapon damage is now displayed to two decimal places. This will allow a better display of the effects of Tinkering on these items.
  • Creatures will no longer drop components such as herbs, powders, and tapers as treasure. In place of these components, they will drop scarabs. It should be noted that those creatures that dropped as treasure component peas (of various kinds), still do so.
  • Items that cannot be enchanted by Item Magic will now display this property when examined.
  • We've corrected an error that prevented fire staves from being Tinkered. Players should now be able to improve these items.
  • Female allegiance titles are being displayed properly again. You can be a Duchess again!
  • The town of Xarabydun is more accessible to players of all levels.
  • The people of Dereth are evolving--they have thumbs now!

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/lttp1002.htm?nc=1

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October Letter to the Players


October 11th, 2002

First, thanks to all for the feedback we've been receiving on the boards at http://www.accmty.com and http://forums.turbinegames.com. It's been very helpful for us, and we appreciate the community's participation. Last month was quite exciting with the defeat of Gaerlan, and we received great feedback on this very unique quest. The month of October brings the traditional season of festivities to Dereth, and this year's will not disappoint! From new masks to new dungeons, this month has many exciting additions for you.

Before I address some of the content and changes this month, please read this important notice regarding Skill Level Changes; it's fairly detailed to give you the complete rundown. This has been posted for some time now, but in case you didn't read it, we wanted to include it in the Letter to the Players.

Skill Level Changes
Some recent changes to our internal systems have resulted in two changes involving skill levels that will occur with the next update. This letter explains these changes in excruciating detail.

First, we should give you some background. The level of a skill is made up of three different parts: the part that comes from your attributes, the part that comes from the experience points you have invested into the skill, and the "free" points that get added in on top of the other two parts. Note that the part from experience points includes both proficiency points earned by using the skill, character points that you spent on the skill, and some quest rewards (such as from turning in tessera). Also note that we have never previously used the third category, the "free" points.

Specialization Bonus

With this update, we are changing the nature of the bonus that you get when specializing a skill at character creation. This change will be retroactive-that is, it will apply to all existing characters with specialized skills as well as to new characters created after the update.

Previously, when you specialized a skill at creation, you were awarded 671 free experience points into that skill. That experience gave you 10 levels' worth of skill, but it also increased the experience cost of the next skill level. After the update, you will not receive any free experience for a specialized skill, but you will instead receive 10 "free" levels of that skill. These levels are added onto the levels from your attributes and the levels from invested experience, and therefore do not affect the cost of your next skill level.

Existing characters that have specialized skills will lose the 671 experience points (that they were given at creation) from that skill, but they will receive in exchange the same 10 "free" levels that new characters receive. Note that losing 671 experience points may drop your skill level one or more levels, so that you may not immediately be a full 10 levels higher in a specialized skill. Investing 671 more experience points into the skill, however, will make up this difference.

Also note that this change only applies to specialized skills. There is no change to the nature of the bonus you get when training a skill at creation. Training a skill at creation will continue to give you 526 free experience points in that skill, which is enough experience to purchase the first 5 levels of your skill.

Regarding Quest Skill Experience Rewards

As mentioned above, quests that reward you skill points, like the tessera and the Scroll of Dark Rain, actually increase the level of invested experience in your skill. Because of a flaw in the experience system, it used to be possible to use the rewards from certain quests to raise the level of a specialized skill above the maximum normal level. That is, you could invest experience points in the skill until it was at its maximum level from experience, and then turn in tessera to raise the skill another 1-5 levels. If you tried to accomplish this same goal with a trained skill, however, you would still use up the tessera, but you would receive no lasting benefit.

This behavior was never intended, and recent changes to the internal structure of the experience system no longer allow it. From now on, trained and specialized skills will behave the same way with respect to tessera: if you have already invested the maximum experience possible into the skill, then quest rewards like the tessera or the Scroll of Dark Rain will not benefit you in any way. We strongly recommend, therefore, that you do not attempt to receive a quest reward for a skill in which you've already invested the maximum amount of experience. Indeed, we have always recommended this.

Characters who have already used quest rewards to raise the level of a specialized skill above the normal maximum will lose the excess levels of that skill with the next update. For example, let's say that Bob has invested experience to get his war magic skill to 223. (Note that we are only talking about the part of his skill level that comes from experience here; we're ignoring the part from attributes.) Then he turned in 5 war magic tessera. His war magic skill is now 2 levels above the normal maximum from experience, or 228. After the update, Bob's war skill will lose those 2 excess levels, and his war magic skill from experience will be 226. Of course, since Bob has war magic specialized-and we know that he must, or he wouldn't have been able to get those excess points from tessera-he also receives the 10 free levels for having the skill specialized. Overall, his war magic goes up 8 levels.

Now, let's move on to the summary of the changes and additions for October.

Hollow and Phantom Missile Weapons:
Many of you have patiently waited, and now poppa's got a brand new bag... er, quiver. We created them, played with them, tweaked them, re-tweaked them, and now we're finally satisfied with their performance. We have added Hollow and Phantom missile weapons to the game! Sorry for holding off on them for so long, but we wanted to make sure they balanced well for both Player vs. Environment and Player vs. Player. The arrows are obtained through a quest similar to (but different than) the hollow melee weapon quest. Happy hunting!

New Tinkering Effects:
This month sees the introduction of three new Tinkering effects. The first uses Item Tinkering to increase the maximum amount of mana a magical item can hold. The second uses Magic Item Tinkering to increase the mana conversion modifier on magic casters-wands, orbs, staffs, and scepters. Note that this Magic Item Tinkering effect is not an imbue; it follows the same rules as normal Tinkering and not the special imbue rules.

Ivory Tinkering:
While this is not Tinkering in the strictest sense (as it does not require a Tinkering skill to apply and therefore you cannot fail), it does allow you to change a limited number of no-give/no-drop quest items in order to either store these items or give them to another character. Please note, however, that these quest items will only be wieldable by their original owner. The specific quest items that you can affect this month are:

  • Hollow Missile Weapons
  • Deadly Hollow Melee Weapons
  • Phantom Weapons
  • Gaerlan's wands and robes
  • Martine's mask and robe


We will be adding this feature to additional quest items as time goes on. Since it requires that we modify each weapon, not all will be immediately available. Look for more over the coming months.

Misc. Tinkering Improvements:
Several of the original sets of Tinkering effects now have a more pronounced effect. Here's a quick chart for your reference:

Tinkering Effect Old Benefit New Benefit
Burden Reducing - 10% - 25%
Value Increasing + 10% - 25%
Value Reducing - 10% - 25%
Slashing Resistance Increasing + 0.1 + 0.2
Piercing Resistance Increasing + 0.1 + 0.2
Bludgeoning Resistance Increasing + 0.1 + 0.2
Acid Resistance Increasing + 0.1 + 0.4
Cold Resistance Increasing + 0.1 + 0.4
Fire Resistance Increasing + 0.1 + 0.4
Lightning Resistance Increasing + 0.1 + 0.4
Tighten Damage Variance 0.2 20%
Speed Decreasing - 5 - 50

Note that the variance Tinkering changed from being an additive effect to being a multiplicative effect. Also note that these changes are not retroactive; items which have already been Tinkered will not benefit from the changes.

Gaerlan Quest Changes:
The quest to face Gaerlan has gone through some significant changes to make the quest more accessible and to address the bugs that were found after the release of the quest. Overall we are pleased with the results of the quest, but there were some areas that we found were a little too harsh (or too easy), and the difficulty has been adjusted accordingly. Additionally, some of the rewards were found to have bugs with the spells, damage, variance, and restrictions that were placed on them. These have been addressed and rectified. Here are the primary changes:

  • Start points for the quest have been moved to the places where the essences once lived. A unique creature there will begin the quest when it dies. Be warned it will take a while for that creature to appear.
  • The access to the valley should now be impossible. If you do find an area of the landscape that is still passable, please send a report to bugs.zone.com or post a thread on the accmty.com website.
  • The golem will now know if you belong in the valley. This means that those of you that find any passable landscape will be unceremoniously expelled.
  • The golems within the ziggurats will now be there 24/7/365.
  • Gaerlan's rewards will now be given to all players that take part in the fight against him.
  • Gaerlan's sword has been buffed for the High and Extreme levels.
  • Rolling Death now places you in a safe spot upon entry. But you should still be very careful when you enter because something has changed about the dungeon.
  • A portal to the Citadel Library has been placed in Eastham for players that are killed by the aspect of Gaerlan.
  • Gaerlan should no longer spawn after being killed. Be considerate when you kill him, move along, nothing more to see here.
  • Raudaloi now does Slashing on High power and Piercing on low power.
  • Raudaloi now has a variance more on par with other swords.
  • The four versions of Taulandoi now have Moderate War Magic Aptitude. The mana rate has not been changed.
  • Saelgauloi now has a 225 Missile Requirement and can be dropped. This should make it as usable as the shield.
  • Dauloirae has been given Blade Protection 5, and has had its protection against blade raised slightly.
  • Palauloi has had its damage bonus increased to 140%.


PK Logoff Changes:
After reviewing the recent Player Killer logoff delay, we've decided that some changes are necessary to prevent escaping instantly during a PK fight. For all you PK'ers out there, after you are attacked by another player, you'll find that you will not be able to use any portal or recall spell for the next 20 seconds. In addition to this, if you have been attacked by another Player Killer within the past two minutes, the 20-second logoff time will be applied to you; otherwise, Player Killers will logoff normally.

We hope you enjoy this festive month in Dereth. Next month's update is taking form, and it's shaping up to be some good content. We'll see you next month, and thanks for playing!

A Summary of Life Magic Tweaks

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/lifemagic1002.htm?nc=1

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A Summary of Life Magic Tweaks


After reading feedback from players, we have isolated a number of problems that life mages have been having since we made the changes to transfer magic in July. Some of these problems we have already addressed (as you'll see with the October update), and some are going to require further action. Based on your feedback--and I want to stress here how important your feedback has been in this process--we are planning to implement the following tweaks to drain spell mechanics. (Note that, with two exceptions, we are only talking about offensive drain spells here. The exceptions will be highlighted below.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: None of these plans are set in stone either in terms of scope or timing. We're going to try to get them done quickly, but we may need to change our plans, and we may need to push them back a month or more. Now, keeping that in mind, this is what we have planned:

First, the ranges for all drain spells will be increased to 20 meters, which is the current range of level 7 drain spells. We believe that this will alleviate the problems with the limited range of drain spells. This change also applies to Harm and related spells (this is the first of the exceptions mentioned above).

Second, the travel speed of life bolts will be increased to make them comparable with war magic bolts of the same level. Please note that life bolts are not meant to be the main offensive strategy for life magic, but this change should make them a little more fun to use. We will also consider some other changes to the dynamics of life bolts, but don't look for those immediately (this is the second exception).

Third, the percentage that is drained by the lower level spells will be going up slightly, and the absolute maximum cap on how much you can drain will be adjusted at all levels. We present these two together because they are really intertwined, but let's pick them apart so we can see what's happening.

Before the Transfer changes, all drain spells drained 25% of the target's health (or mana or stamina). In July, this percentage changed depending on what level of spell you were casting, so that level 1 drains drained 10% and level 7 drains drained 50%. In November, no level will drain less than 25%. This means that the percentage drained by the lower level spells will be increasing, but the percentage drained by the higher level spells will remain unchanged. The following table illustrates these changes. We believe that this will help increase the effectiveness of drain spells at low levels.

Table 1: Percentage Drained by Spell Level

Spell Level Previous % Drained New % Drained
1 10% 25%
2 15% 25%
3 20% 25%
4 25% 25%
5 30% 30%
6 40% 40%
7 50% 50%


Now, in tandem with this change, we will be adjusting the absolute maximum amount that you can drain with each level of spell. Previously, this absolute maximum was 100 for all spell levels. In the future, this maximum will depend on what level of drain you are casting. The following table summarizes this change.

Table 2: Maximum Drain Amounts

Spell Level Previous Max Drained New Max Drained
1 100 15
2 100 25
3 100 35
4 100 60
5 100 90
6 100 120
7 100 180


Note that this absolute maximum is still overridden by the amount of health (or mana or stamina) that the caster has space for. In other words, if you are only down by 5 health, you will only be able to drain 5 health from your opponent no matter what level of spell you cast. But if you are down 150 health, then casting a level 7 drain would allow you to drain up to 150 health from your opponent. Casting a level 6 drain would allow you to drain a maximum of 120 health from your opponent.

We believe that these two changes together--an increase in the percent drained at low spell levels and the adjustment of the maximum amount drained--will allow for more effective draining at all levels, without allowing low level drain spells to become as unbalanced as they had been in the past.

So these are the changes to drain spell mechanics that we are planning to implement in the coming months. There are three other changes which are not specific to drain spells or even to life magic, but which deserve a mention here as they will help alleviate some of the problems that all mages face.

First, in the October update we introduced changes that increase the average effectiveness of mana conversion at high levels. This--plus the mana conversion modifier on magic casters and the ability to increase that modifier through Tinkering--should help all mages with the important task of mana management.

Second, we will soon be raising both the natural rate at which projectile spells land critical hits, and the effect of using a magic caster imbued with Critical Strike. This will help both war mages and life mages who use life bolts.

Third, we will be introducing a way to "sell-back" skills that a character no longer wants and to specialize skills after creation. This will be accomplished by completing a quest. This quest will be restricted to players of level 25 or higher and may only be completed once every two weeks. Each time a player completes the quest, they will be given the opportunity to unspecialize a specialized skill (i.e., knocking it down to trained), untrain a trained skill (i.e., making it untrained), or specialize a trained skill. Please note that you still need the required amount of skill points to specialize a skill this way, and that you cannot untrain a skill which was given to the character for free at character creation (e.g., Jump or the racial skills).
When specializing a skill that is already trained:

  • The character must have enough available skill credits to specialize the skill.
  • The character will be awarded 10 "free" points in that skill.
  • The character keeps all the experience they have already invested in the skill, but the level of the skill that comes from the invested experience is recalculated using the specialized experience curve.
  • The skill is set to specialized status.


When unspecializing a skill:

  • The character is refunded all the experience invested in the skill. This is added to the character's available experience.
  • The skill loses the 10 "free" points for specialization.
  • The skill is set to trained status.


When untraining a trained skill:

  • The character is refunded all the experience invested in the skill. This is added to the character's available experience.
  • If the skill is not a free skill from creation or a racial skill:
  • The character is refunded the trained cost of the skill in skill credits. These are added to the character's available skill credits.
  • The skill is set to untrained status.


Note that you can "untrain" a skill that was given to the character for free at character creation (such as Jump or a racial skill) in order to be refunded the experience invested in that skill. However, you will not be refunded the skill credit cost of the skill, nor will it actually become untrained.

We are also introducing one small system change to support this quest. Previously, any creation skill credits that were not spent during character creation were lost to that character entirely. Now, any unspent creation skill credits will carry over and be available after creation.

We hope that these tweaks and proposals will improve the experience of playing a life mage, and indeed improve the experience of Asheron's Call all around. As mentioned above, your feedback has always been extremely important to us in identifying the rough spots in the game and in formulating the solutions. We look forward to your continued feedback about these proposals.

--The AC Team
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