Announcements - 2003/01 - The Slumbering Giant

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January 2003 - Patch Page

Contents

Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/teaser_01-03.htm

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January Teaser


The Slumbering Giant

Teaser 200301 A.jpg Teaser 200301 B.jpg
Teaser 200301 C.jpg Teaser 200301 D.jpg
Teaser 200301 E.jpg Teaser 200301 F.jpg
Teaser 200301 G.jpg


If Aerbax were capable of a smile, as the meatlings understood it, it would be grim and taut, much like the smile that was permanently etched on his mask. He floated around his latest creation, another failure. The jaw of this Mosswart now lay exposed, deformed and clattering against the exposed bone of the upper palate as the Mosswart struggled for breath. Aerbax resigned himself to the fact that each failure was another step closer to success.

As he studied the creation, he was uncertain where the experiment had gone wrong. He trusted Puppet to be able to discern the moment in which the subject had been overexposed to the energy source and had begun to twist beyond the defined parameters. The Mosswart let out a deep, guttural burble that sounded like nothing ever heard on Dereth before. Then the jaws clattered shut again, bone grinding on bone.

Puppet cocked its head to one side as it listened to the inaudible commands Aerbax issued. Puppet nodded once it understood. Aerbax turned back to the Mosswart, his creation, his child, and rested the edge of his cloak atop the creature's lacerated and oozing brow. Aerbax forced a thought through the Mosswart's pain-ridden mind: "Soon my child, soon it will all be over."

He wheeled from the slab and floated through a nearby door.

*****


"No Ketnan, no center court… They call this Arwic!?" Lienne chortled as she polished the inside of a silver goblet. "I'll tell you what I think. Once these accursed walls were up, they ought to have moved us all out of town and sealed this place forever. Everything happens for a reason, you know, and we should never have tried to rebuild here. I'm only staying 'cause I trust that Strathelar knows what she's doing." She spit onto the rag and went back to polishing the goblet.

Her lone patron groaned in disgust as he watched the action.

"The ale kills whatever germs I may pass, you doddering fool. Besides, there are darker things at work in this town than I could possibly pass along." She harrumphed and turned her back on the drunkard, continuing to shine the goblet.

Her patron clapped his stein on the bar and tossed a few pyreals onto the countertop. He walked to the door and opened it wide.

He paused in the doorway and turned back to Lienne. "You know what you need, Lienne? You need to walk outside and see how beautiful the snow looks draped over the walls and the outlying area. You need a breath of fresh air." She turned to look at him with a scowl on her face. Shaking his head, the man pushed his way out of the tavern, into the shadows of the looming buildings of Arwic.

She did not breathe until the crisp winter air that blew through the door had passed over her and the feeling of warmth from the hearth returned. "There's something wicked here… Something not quite dead," she mumbled to herself.

As she placed the goblet on a hanging rack, the wind whistled the cracks in the wooden walls in a cacophony that almost sounded like the suffering of a great beast.

*****


It was a thing of legend. It wasn't real. It couldn't be real. Yet the sharp crack of Earnbil's jaw striking a rock as he fell was enough to tell him that this was no dream. As he tried to scramble back to his feet, he looked behind him. The trees he had just passed were now shaking violently, the low rumble of the shaking ground increasing in intensity and volume. He spat blood as he finally steadied himself and continued his panicked flight.

The Direlands were dangerous, but nothing like this had ever been seen before. Where had it come from; where had they all come from? About him he heard the shouts of his compatriots as they screamed in horror, fear, panic, or a mindless combination of all three. Clouds shrouded the sun as he saw Matthius try to escape into portalspace, only to fall dead on the ground, a heavy crossbow bolt lodged in his chest.

A roar tore through the valley and loose rock and snow shook from the tops of the mountains, knocking Earnbil off his feet again. As he desperately clambered to his feet, he chanced one more look behind him. The Tumeroks picking at Matthius' body slunk away into the cover of some nearby brush. Soon after, the trees parted and a tremor shook the ground. It shook Earnbil to his very bones.

"It can't be, it's impossible," he whimpered. "None have ever seen such since-"

His words ceased as his body crumpled beneath the weight of a tremendous force.

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/devnotes_01-03.htm

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January Dev Notes


The Slumbering Giant

The taverns are abuzz with tales of the creatures that have been seen. Those who had the misfortune to meet these creatures drown their sorrows in pints of ale, moaning that no one could stand before the creatures' immense power. A few even say they have sighted a threat not seen since the founding of Holtburg. Yet not all the tales are so dire. One adventurer brings back a tale of the immense wealth he found, a treasure hoard the likes of which has never been seen before. This one tale is enough to motivate many adventurers to scour the Direlands in search of the creatures and the hoards they guard, even though death surely awaits.

The Queen and the Arcanum have continued to bolster their defenses for any threats to come. This is especially true in Arwic, which is now surrounded by a set of thick walls. In addition, the Arcanum, under the direction of the Queen, has created a special Marketplace that is accessible to all of the people of Dereth. Now with just a simple act of will, those in search of goods or services can be transported to the Marketplace, making it easier for everyone to find the materials they need to prepare themselves for whatever challenges lie ahead. Ciandra, head of the Arcanum, has also made a breakthrough in her studies of the gems uncovered by Nuhmudira. Those gems could allow one to change his or her body of knowledge and skills, but Ciandra has found a means to use them to change the base qualities that one was born with. While some mutter that this magic is horribly unnatural, most avail themselves of the chance to change any deficiencies they find in their makeup.

It may be that these projects are completed just in time, as the first signs appear that the quiet following Gaerlan's defeat is being broken. The Queen's scouts report that a strange new portal has been found on the Singularity Caul. Parties that have traveled through the portal report of a facility filled with all manner of creatures, most of them twisted by Virindi experimentation. Some even whisper that Shadows could be found therein…

Here are the changes introduced in our January event. Changes to game functionality and existing content are listed, but new content is up for you to find! Speak to town criers, barkeeps, and scribes for the latest happenings in Dereth. For more information on this month's event, please see this month's Letter to the Players. Please submit any bugs you come across to http://bugs.zone.com.

New Functionality and Content

  • Wealth! Wealth beyond the dreams of avarice!
  • Characters can now redistribute their base attributes! See the Letter to the Players for more details.
  • Nuhmudira's students are continuing their studies of the Lifestones.
  • Arwic has been fortified against future attacks.
  • The Marketplace is open for business!


Miscellaneous Improvements and Changes

  • The Harbinger's spirit has been more restless lately…
  • Life, war, and item magic spells have received a number of enhancements. Please see this month's Letter to the Players for the full details.
  • The Bane and Lure spells have been given new icons to better differentiate them from each other. This includes all variants of the Impenetrability and Brittlemail spells.
  • Ivory can now be applied to a number of additional quest items that are bonded to the character, making it so these items can be taken from the character's inventory and stored. In addition, a book is now on sale in-game that explains which items can receive Ivory. If you are unsure whether an item in your inventory can have Ivory applied to it, feel free to try a bag of Ivory on the item. If the item can't receive the Ivory, you can't hurt it!
  • The restrictions on portal use for Player Killers have been enhanced. The restrictions are now applied to both the attacker and the person attacked, but only if the attack was successful. If the attack was evaded or resisted, the portal restrictions are not applied to either party. In addition, the restrictions are only applied if a negative effect was applied to the target, such as a harmful spell or attack. It should be noted that casting negative Item spells does not cause these restrictions to be applied to the attacker or defender.
  • The corpse protection for monsters has been increased from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. During those 90 seconds, only the character that killed the monster, or a member of his Fellowship if Fellowship sharing is enabled, will be able to loot a monster's corpse. After that timer expires, anyone can loot the corpse.
  • The damage modifiers for the various Hollow and Phantom weapons have been increased. The changes to these weapons are shown below:


Type Previous Modifier New Modifier
Hollow Atlatl 100% 125%
Hollow Bow 100% 125%
Hollow Crossbow 100% 145%
Phantom Atlatl -45% -40%
Phantom Bow -45% -35%
Phantom Crossbow -45% -35%


  • The parts of Ulgrim's Scroll of Recall can now be given, in case you're just dying to know where Ulgrim has been recently.
  • New characters that have fletching trained at their creation will start with 30 Atlatl dart shafts.
  • New characters that have thrown weapons trained at their creation will start with a Starter Atlatl and 250 Atlatl darts.
  • The stack size for carved wood, copper, and obsidian hearts has been increased from 3 to 50 keys per stack.
  • In simplifying the code used to dye items, it became nearly impossible to have failed dyeing interactions result in pink or orange items. These failures have been restored. Now every time a dyeing interaction fails, the item will be dyed pink or orange.
  • To aid in many crafting interactions, you can now drag many unusable items to your hotkey bar. These items can then be selected easily as targets for a crafting interaction.


Minor Details

  • If a housing chest or hook is a duplicate and not properly "attached" to your house, you will no longer be able to place items in it. If you try to place items in these duplicates, you will be given a warning message that it is a duplicate. It is important that you remove all items from the duplicate and then let the house reset. For more information on letting your house reset, please see our article on Double Hooks and Storage chests.
  • As mentioned in the Letter to the Players, we've tweaked the dynamics of the Gaerlan quest, which should make the quest, as a whole, much more reliable.
  • Players who have defeated Mowen in combat will now be able to receive the Tusker Paw from Oolutanga every three days, as was originally intended.
  • A bug that was causing some treasure items to be generated without racial requirements has been corrected.
  • Last month, armor that came from lower level treasure sources was being generated with armor values much lower than intended. This has been fixed, and newly generated armor from these sources will now have the intended armor values.
  • Occasionally if a chest was not closed properly, it would not regenerate its treasure. This has been corrected.
  • Although players were informed that turning in a Liberator Tusk would result in a 75,000 experience point reward, the NPC was actually rewarding only a fraction of that. The NPC is now giving the correct amount of experience to players.
  • The NPCs for the revised Neydisa and Bandit Castle quests introduced in December could break under certain conditions. This has been fixed and they should no longer break.
  • Ashbane, the sword found in Lady Aerfalle's treasure chest, can no longer be lost on death.
  • The Guardian of the Helm is once again leaving his quest items behind on his corpse.
  • The rate at which elemental weapons are generated by the treasure system has been slightly increased.
  • An item that has had its inscription removed will no longer show "--" as the inscription.
  • The log command has been modified to handle certain characters better.

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/letter_01-03.htm

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January Letter to the Players


The Slumbering Giant

Welcome to the January edition of the Asheron's Call Letter to the Players. The AC Live team hopes that you are enjoying the winter season, both in-game and out. The January update for AC is just around the corner. We're busy putting some of the final touches on this month's content along with taking some time to improve gameplay for our players. There's a lot to cover this month, so without further ado, here are the bigger changes that will take place in Dereth in January.

Life Magic Changes
In our examination of the magic system, we found that the previous changes to transfer spells helped us reach many of the goals we had set for these spells, but we also found that we could improve the magic system further. Moreover, we found that there were many other areas of magic we could improve upon at the same time. We think these changes will help mitigate some of the concerns our players have had with the previous changes, as well as introduce even more strategy for those who enjoy playing a mage.

The following chart explains the changes made to the Life Magic transfer and harm spells:

Table 1 - Transfer and Harm Range Changes

Spell Level Old Range New Range
1 5 10
2 7 15
3 9 20
4 15 25
5 25 30
6 25 33
7 35 35


The health transfer spells received some special attention, since these serve a unique purpose for many mages. The chart below explains the changes, but the concept behind the changes can be summed up rather easily: Lower level health transfers are geared for defense, while higher level transfers are geared toward offense. Remember that the changes below only affect health transfers; stamina and mana transfers remain the same.

Table 2 - Health Transfer Spell Changes

Spell Level Old % Drained New % Drained Old Max Health Drained New Max Health Drained Old Health Received Multiplier New Health Received Multiplier
1 10% 25% 100 30 1.0 2.0
2 15% 25% 100 50 1.0 1.6
3 20% 25% 100 75 1.0 1.33
4 25% 25% 100 100 1.0 1.0
5 30% 30% 100 120 1.0 1.0
6 40% 40% 100 150 1.0 .75
7 50% 50% 100 180 1.0 .5


One thing that has not changed in Life Magic is that you can only transfer as much of the secondary attribute as you need. So if you are completely healed, you still will not be able to transfer health from a target.
If Table 2 seems a bit confusing, we can provide two examples that may help clear things up:

Example 1 - A mage is taking damage and would like to recover some health quickly. Using the level 1 health transfer spell, he takes 30 points away from a monster attacking him and receives 60 points in return. He does this a few times to help keep him alive while he tries to make a speedy retreat.

Example 2 - A mage has taken some damage, but well within what she can handle. She targets a nearby creature that has quite a bit of health. Using the level 7 health transfer spell, she takes 180 points of health away from the creature, and receives 90 in return.

Another change to Life Magic revolves around the Life Bolts. Their travel speed has been increased so that their rate of travel is exactly between the speed of a War Magic Bolt and a War Magic Streak. Previously, the Life Bolts traveled at the same rate as a War Magic Bolt.

War Magic Changes
With regard to War Magic, we felt the majority of people's issues revolved around one point: War Magic can do tremendous amounts of damage, but can be inconsistent over short periods of time. This inconsistency could lead to frustration, so we've made two changes to War Magic to try and address this. The first change involves increasing the damage dealt out by volley and blast spells, a class of spells that many war mages found ineffective in the past. These changes will bring the spells in line with the damage dealt out by Bolts and should be useful in crowded situations. The chart below breaks these changes down further:

Table 3 - Blast and Volley Damage per Bolt Changes

Spell Level Old Damage(per bolt) New Damage(per bolt)
3 8-15 10-20
4 11-20 16-32
5 13-25 25-50
6 21-40 33-66
7 40-80 40-80


The other change this month involves revising the damage and casting time of the Streak spells, as explained in the following chart:

Table 4 - Streak Damage and Rate of Fire Changes

Spell Level Old Damage Range New Damage Range Old Rate of Fire New Rate of Fire
1 4 - 8 6 -12 35 35
2 7 - 13 7 - 14 26 35
3 9 - 18 9 - 18 22 35
4 16 - 30 12 - 24 19 35
5 23 - 45 15 -30 17 35
6 32 -60 20 -40 17 35
7 40 -80 26 - 52 17 35


The figure for the rate of fire in Table 4 is an approximation of how many times the spell can be cast per minute. You can see that the damage has actually been reduced for most streaks. However, mages can now cast these spells significantly faster than they had in the past, providing mages with the ability to fire off streaks in rapid succession, or use them as a "finishing move" on a creature that is almost dead. We hope these changes will give War Mages more options in dealing out damage, depending on the situation they find themselves in.

Item Magic Changes
Item Magic received a slight change this month to two of its spells. Since the appraisal skills were removed, the Hide/True Value spells served no purpose in the game. In January, they will be reborn as spells that increase or decrease the mana conversion modifier on wands and other casting implements. This spell works a bit differently than similar spells, such as Heart Seeker or Defender. Instead of adding to any existing bonus, this spell multiplies any existing bonus. For example, casting Hermetic Link I on an orb with a Mana Conversion bonus of +10% would increase the bonus by 1.1 to +11%. This means that items without a mana conversion bonus do not receive a benefit, since the spell's effect is being multiplied by zero. Since these new spells replace the existing Hide/True Value spells, all characters who had Hide/True Value in their spell books will automatically receive the new spells.

Attribute Redistribution
Post-creation skill alteration is a good way to allow characters to adjust to ongoing changes in game systems, but it's sometimes not quite enough. Attribute allocation, after all, is almost as important as what skills you have trained. In fact, it is only at higher levels of play that the effects of the character's starting attributes are really felt. So in January, players will be able to adjust their starting attributes using a system similar to the skill alteration gems that appeared in November. We feel this is the last bit of flexibility you need to adjust your character as you see fit to deal with any past or future game play changes we might make. The exact method for changing your character's attributes is via a quest similar to the one introduced for skill sell-back, but for every point of one attribute raised, you must lower another by the same amount. To choose which attribute to raise and which one to lower, you will need to obtain two gems, one for the attribute to increase, another for the attribute to decrease. Combining these two gems will result in an attribute transfer gem. Using this gem will remove 10 points from one attribute and give it to another. Keep in mind that this works similarly to how attributes are handled at character creation; that is, the innate attribute amounts cannot be lower than 10 or more than 100. If the attribute is close to one of these limits, only the amount to reach that limit would be transferred. For example, if an innate attribute was 95, only 5 points could be transferred to it. Essentially this means that you can now redistribute the pool of 270 attribute points given to your character at creation. You can find out a character's innate attributes at any time by examining the burden panel. It will now list the character's innate attributes, along with his or her resistances and other important information.

Note that each gem used for raising and lowering attributes has its own pickup timer, so that one of each can be picked up every two weeks. This timer is not shared with the timer used for skill alteration. The combined transfer gem is not givable or droppable, but it can be saved for later use.

Changes to the Gaerlan Quest
As promised, January will include changes to the Gaerlan quest. We've removed the dynamics that were causing it to not work as intended from time to time. Below are the changes that were made:

  • The Guardian portals are permanent fixtures at the various Essence ruins.
  • Guardians within the dungeons will reappear once every hour. This means that one group of players can be ahead of another group by one hour at any stage of the quest, but overlapping quests shouldn't present a problem.
  • The Platinum Golem outside of the downed Citadel will no longer be event-driven; rather, he'll now be a permanent spawn. Beware though; if you've bypassed any section of the quest, the Golem will now return you to Eastham when you speak to him.
  • The Platinum Golems within the Ziggurats will also be a permanent spawn.
  • Activating or failing to activate the Platinum Golems in the Ziggurats within the allotted time no longer controls whether Gaerlan appears or not.
  • Five portals will now appear in the Citadel Library. These portals consist of four dungeon portals, for the various level breaks, and a portal into the final reward/prison chamber. Players that are killed by Gaerlan and recalled to the Library will be able to rejoin their fellowships.
  • When you kill Gaerlan, he will no longer summon a portal into the reward/prison chamber. Rather he will summon a portal back into the Library.
The above changes should be all that are needed to remove the possibility of malfunction on this quest. If there are issues, we will address them.



The Marketplace
Since the inception of Asheron's Call, trading and other services have been informal, player-driven affairs. However, these player-driven dynamics can have a huge impact on how much enjoyment players get from our game, since equipment and spells are necessary to survive in the hostile island of Dereth. To facilitate these dynamics, we are introducing a new Marketplace to Dereth in January. This Marketplace is essentially a modestly decorated dungeon. It contains a small foyer where players will appear, and four hallways leading off to four distinct wings. There are no chests or monsters in this dungeon and there are no portals into or out of the Marketplace. Players can only get there by using the new "@marketplace" command, which works in the same way as the "@lifestone" command. Of course, instead of taking you to your lifestone, "@marketplace" takes you to the Marketplace!

Miscellaneous Changes

  • New Ivory Targets: There are new ivory targets this month, and merchants who sell the tinkering books now carry a book that lists all the targets available for ivory tinkering.
  • Ashbane: Ashbane (the trophy sword from Aerfalle's Chest) used to drop on death, but starting in January it will no longer drop on death. If you have used dropping it on death to get it on a secondary character, you may want to consider shifting it back to your main character before the January prop.



New Patch Day
As you may have noticed, last month's patch and this month's patch are being delivered one week later than usual. To allow both Microsoft and Turbine to give AC the attention it deserves, we have decided not to update both AC and AC2 the same week. In that way, if an issue shows up in either game, it won't distract from the other.

That's it for the big changes coming up for January. Of course, that's not all that we have in store for you in the future. But for any updates on content, you'll just have to wait and see… As always, enjoy the game, and thank you for playing Asheron's Call.

-The Asheron's Call Team

State of the Code

Original Link (now dead) - http://www.accmty.com/ASHEnewscodestate1.htm

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State of the Code


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 at the News page on the Zone for other articles about recent additions and changes to Asheron's Call.

Specialized Credit Limit
When we initially introduced the post-creation specialization quest in November, we limited the number of credits that any character could invest into specialized skills to a total of 50. Basically, this meant that post-creation specialization did not give you access to any specilized skillsets that you could not normally select at character creation. We instituted this limit because we like to start out conservative -- we wanted to watch the effects of skill sellback on game balance before allowing for more specialized characters. We did, however, discuss the possibility of increaing this limit, or lifting it all together, sometime in the future.

We were working on a small increase to the specialization credit limit for February with the intention of increasing the limit for all characters, but hadn't fully implemented this feature. For this reason, certain skillsets are now possible that involve more than 50 specialized credits. Although this was not intended behavior for January, we will not be taking the servers down to do a special rollback of this bug in January because we don't want to penalize our players with lost progress due to a rollback. Some characters may be able to benefit from this bug slightly in January, but in February everyone will be able to benefit equally from the changed dynamic. So don't panic if you see a new template in the Marketplace -- you'll be able to do that yourself (if you choose to) soon.

Warehouse Annex
When you are exploring the Warehouse Annex this month, please be thorough. If you leave the Annex without the Valara Crystal, you may be unable to reenter the Annex to get the crystal and your progress on the quest will be stalled until next month.

Marketplace
We expect a high volume of traffic in the Marketplace once it is live in the world, as many people will rush to put their trade bots there and others will simply be curious. For those of you playing on older machines, we recommend not rushing to see the Marketplace the first day of the patch and waiting for the high volume of initial curiosity seekers to level out.

Arwic
The wall around Arwic may cause reduced framerate on some systems. We will work on ways to improve this.

Gaerlan

The Gaerlan quest dynamic has been changed in many places to make it more robust. Hopefully, this should allow all Derethians their chance to kill Gaerlan in a more timely fashion.
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