Announcements - 2003/03 - A Perfect Paradox

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March 2003 - Patch Page

Contents


Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/0303_teaser.htm

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March Teaser


A Perfect Paradox

Queen Elysa Strathelar listened to the latest reports of guards reporting from the western Direlands. Celdiseth scowled and Ciandra sat quietly as the report dragged on. Lord Kresovus knelt at Asheron's right and Aun Hareltah at his left. Antius, the latest addition to this council, sat beside Elysa. Nuhmudira seemed thoughtful, her attention focused on the newcomer. Perhaps, she pondered, his inclusion was more for personal reasons.

When the guards had finished, Elysa looked toward Asheron. Seeing that he remained embroiled in his own thoughts, she dismissed the guards and addressed the gathering. "Lord Kresovus, you said that the Raiders have begun to move camps from around Linvak?"

Kresovus cleared his throat and stood. "Yes. We have been following their movements. Muldaveus, the commander who betrayed us and named himself Lord of the Raiders, has gone into hiding, leaving his commanders to hold the siege of Linvak Tukal. Whatever his reasons may be, the Raiders have abandoned their siege and have declared war upon all Dereth. They have been spotted near the housing settlements that your Arcanum established-"

"I... established the settlements," Nuhmudira interjected. Her eyes hardened, meeting the gray giant's gaze with no sign of fear.

"Nuhmudira, please let Lord Kresovus continue." Elysa did her best to chide the woman gently. Since her ordeal in the previous year, Nuhmudira had become even more the curmudgeon than Celdiseth.

But Celdiseth added salt to the wound. "Well then, that puts you in your place doesn't it now?"

"Celdiseth!" the Queen snapped. The brusque archmage recoiled from Elysa's glare. Nuhmudira noted this spark of strength and leadership. Asheron sat silently, seeming to ignore the outburst.

"I will not see this meeting devolve," Elysa continued. "We are here to ascertain the cause of these migrations and the fluctuations in the mana streams." She motioned to Kresovus to continue.

Kresovus looked ready to relieve Nuhmudira and Celdiseth of their heads. "Thank you. The raiders have spread like a plague through a battle-weakened force." He knelt.

Elysa nodded to Aun Hareltah to speak next. "Wharu is moving," he said. "Atua ngamaru's servants, the Hea, also move, but these are not efforts in unison." He fell silent.

"I've recently come from the Vesayen Isles," Antius began. "Kryst has seen hordes of Mosswarts crossing through the surf carrying round stones and ritual implements, pursued or aided by Moarsmen." He paused. "The Undead are also stirring. The emanations beneath Yanshi reveal that the Harbinger still bides within the earth, but its incomplete summoning has left it weakened. Something else is altering the flow of power throughout Dereth, affecting even the innate power of every living thing, including us. Some creatures are gaining strength, while others are weakening."

Noticing her discomfort during Antius's report, Elysa prompted, "Ciandra?"

The younger woman responded, "Asheron visited the temples in the north and south. He explained that his people had used these temples as places to rejuvenate themselves." She paused. "But the source of that healing power was always unknown."

Murmurs of reaction to this news quickly swelled into shouting until even Elysa could not silence it. Suddenly, Asheron separated his hands. A subtle magic filled the room, causing it to fall silent. All eyes, save Nuhmudira's, turned to him.

Asheron spoke. "I also said that your people would start to feel changes, benevolent changes. This has come to pass. I did wonder what the price of this benevolence would be. There is something out there, something that I cannot discern. Bickering will not help. You are all children on this world, called here by my will. You have always shown remarkable resilience in the things you've accomplished, thriving on adversity and strife. Change is inevitable. Without it you have only stagnation. Stagnation leads to apathy; and apathy is a void into which evil creeps." He paused. "Magic has not been altered, but I do feel a void. Do not turn upon one another now. Resolve your problems. None of you here is worthy of judging the others." He cast a pointed glance toward Nuhmudira.

A hushed silence filled the room as Nuhmudira rose and departed.

*****


"Director."

"Yes?"

"Are you prepared to receive your enlightenment?"

"Yes."

Puppet slid the slab forward. A sound of steel grating on slate filled the cavity near the energy source. Moments passed, then the observer emerged, changed. As it floated toward Aerbax, a black energy coruscated through the eyes of the mask.

"Do you feel enlightened?" Aerbax inquired as he floated closer to the Director.

"Harmoniously discordant," the modified Director replied.

"My perfect paradox," Aerbax said, as he lightly ran his sickle along the mask of the Director.

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/devnotes_03-03.htm

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March Dev Notes


A Perfect Paradox

Nuhmudira looked to her new assistant as the crystal was placed into the matrix between the anchor points. The Lifestone hummed to life. Nuhmudira had completed the beacons not long ago and had had time to place only a handful across the lands. But this one at the base of the Marescent Plateau would prove to be the greatest accomplishment. She looked at the man and motioned for him to take his leave.

She was mindful of the eyes at her back, for her retainer had returned.

*****


The Overlord tore through the human's chest plate, exposing bone and felling him with a single blow. He howled in victory and called his troops to his side. The humans had come to the hall of the Overlord for the last time. No longer would the champion chosen by Hea Arantah stand by idly while invaders came into his home to steal his treasures. The time to show his throat was done. The time to tear out the throats of others was at hand.

*****


Olthoi swarmed all around in a rush of madness the like of which the battle party had never seen. Warriors, Nobles and Eviscerators dwarfed the newest breed, but proved to be half as stalwart and strong. The stench of decay filled the air, and acrid smoke billowed from places where ichor dripping from Olthoi maws struck the desert sand. The battle force locked shields as the archers loosed their volleys. Mages launched their spells but to little avail. The melee fighters felt the crush of the encroaching tide of claws. When the dust settled, the human force had survived though many had lost their lives.

Listed below are the changes introduced in our March event. We've spelled out specific changes to game functionality and existing content, but the details on new content are up to you to discover! Speak to town criers, barkeeps, and scribes for hints about 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'

  • A new style of Lifestone has popped up on the landscape…
  • Monster rebalancing is complete. Monsters' levels are more indicative of the areas where they live. Rebalancing involved the revision of melee, missile, and magical abilities and defenses, along with updating the weapons monsters use in combat. More information is available in this month's Letter to the Players
  • We've continued our updates of existing quests, so many quests will be more difficult and more rewarding.


Miscellaneous Improvements and Changes

  • The Fellowship panel, and the way in which the game manages the updating and display of fellowship information, has changed slightly. We believe these changes will make the Fellowship panel more useful and less likely to cause problems, but we will be monitoring feedback on the changes and possibly adjusting them if necessary.
  • The timer on picking up a skill alteration gem has been reduced from 21 days to 14 days. Remember that your timer starts when you pick up the gem, not when you use it, so you can keep several gems in your inventory at one time.
  • Shadow Hunter Armor is now repeatable. If you've already received a complete suit of Shadow Hunter armor, you can give another gem of the quality of armor you desire to one of the Master Armor Smiths. The Smith will let you know that you've completed that particular armor quest, but if you'd like to have another suit of armor made, the smithy will happily craft another for you. They will then return the gem. Handing it to the Smith again will restart the quest from scratch for you.
  • You can now use the four non-magic recalls (@lifestone, @marketplace, and the two @house recalls) to get yourself out of a situation in which you are stuck. For instance, if you get stuck bouncing around in a crevasse, try using @lifestone to get free.
  • Several interactions which were one-time-per-character are now repeatable. These include:
o Picking up the infusions for the Sword of Lost Light and the Sword of Lost Hope quests.
o Picking up the notes in Nuhmudira's Labyrinth.
o Picking up Martine's Mask and Robe.
o Getting the Trove Key from Josef, and picking up the Prismatic Stone.
o Various interactions with the Blind Snowman.


Minor Details

  • Some older portals have had their level restrictions modified or lifted entirely.
  • You can now drag your main backpack into the vendor window to sell everything in it. Remember to check your inventory before you sell; you don't want to lose those tinkered items!
  • A number of spells have new icons to better differentiate them from other, similar spells.
  • The spear version of the Ebon Spine Harpoon was originally intended to do both cold and piercing damage, depending on the power setting at which it was used. Unfortunately, the game does not support that combination of attacks, with the result that the spear never worked correctly. This spear now does cold damage at all power settings; note, however, that the damage remains hollow.
  • A bug that prevented the tinkering of treasure-generated fire spears has been fixed.
  • A number of existing items are now hookable and can be displayed proudly in your home.
  • Baby bunnies are back in Dereth. What more do we need to say?

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/lttp_0303.htm

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March Letter to the Players


Welcome to the March edition of the Asheron's Call Letter to the Players. The AC Live team, in between digging out of the snowstorms, has been extremely busy this past month. March will bring some long overdue changes to the denizens of Dereth. Although there's lots of upcoming content, there's really only one major change we'd like to tell you about before the patch, and that is Monster Rebalancing.

Over the past few months, we've been looking at every single creature in the game in terms of their relative difficulty vs. reward (in both XP and loot) and found that many were unbalanced for the game as it is today. To give you an understanding of what the issues were in examining this problem, we've written a brief Q&A.

Monster Rebalancing

1) What does "rebalance" mean?

Rebalance means adjusting the skills of the creatures to be more indicative of their level of difficulty.

2) Why rebalance monsters?

While it may not have appeared that monster difficulty was broken, through the years of Asheron's Call development we realized that, at any given time, one class of character would be more pronounced and able than the others. This has been due to an imbalance in creature defenses. We are adjusting this to bring a more acceptable level of difficulty for creatures.

3) Is it true that you are adjusting creature levels to mirror player levels more closely?

Yes, in a sense, but not in a restrictive manner. We are not looking to create cookie cutter levels. We are trying to give a more adequate representation of the creature level. For example, in some instances levels will be geared only toward an archer of that level; in others, a mage or melee character. The level is now just a more useful tool for you, the player, to gauge what you can or cannot fight.

4) I've heard that you are "nerfing" missile characters. Is this true?

No. We are doing nothing to missile characters directly. What we've stated is that the skill being adjusted for most creatures is their missile defense. This will alter, in some cases, the creatures that missile characters were hunting; however, the most relevant cases are those characters that were hunting creature far above their level.

5) I like/hate the new monster spawns. Why did you do this?

During the Virindi story arc, the monster redistribution was a result of Virindi influence over the world. Now that the Virindi are no longer influencing the land, some creatures have begun a natural migration while others make their way across the lands for their own dire purposes.

6) Are the new creatures (Drudge Bloodletters, Banderling Scalpers and Predators, Sclavus Lords, and Olthoi Warriors) balanced?

Olthoi Warriors are right where we want them. The Bloodletters, Scalpers, Predators and Lords are very close, though not perfect.

7) If you are adjusting creature levels, how am I going to earn experience with the XP reduction code?

Every effort is being made to ensure that leveling does not become a tedious measure of diminishing returns. To that end, we are giving creatures designed for a certain level of player a generous buffer in which the creature is still worthwhile to hunt. This does not mean that players will feel it necessary to hunt one grouping of creature until they level. (For example, Gardok has hunted Olthoi Soldiers as his main source of leveling creature from levels 40 to 50. He now finds that the Soldiers [Level 61] have become simple, yet still yield good experience. He had attempted to hunt Nobles before, but often found that he could hit them reliably enough to earn the same amount of experience as he could off of Soldiers. With the new rebalancing complete, he decides to test Nobles out again and finds that he is earning more experience on them now than he was on the Soldiers.)

8) Are you adjusting creature experience?

Yes. Creatures will reward you based on their level of difficulty. For most creatures, you will see an increase in the amount of experience that they yield, but for some you'll see a reduction. The goal is to stop the feeling of a leveling treadmill after level 80.

9) How is experience calculated?

While we cannot give you the exact model for this, we can give you some insight into how we are calculating creature experience. We first determine the level of character for which the creature is designed, then determine whether the creature is designed with deadlier skills than others (e.g., does it have War Magic?, is it Hollow? does it have a breath weapon?). If the creature does have deadlier skills, an enhancement modifier is added to the creature. We then determine how many characters would ideally be suited to face this creature. That number influences the experience yield as well. The final determinant is the creature's skills. The higher these are, the better the experience.

10) Are you taking away solo advancement?

Certainly not. We are well aware that one of the draws of Asheron's Call is the fact that a player can advance through levels alone. Creatures may be better suited for combat by multiple players, but they are still very defeatable solo. Of course, a group may increase significantly the amount of experience that you can earn over time, but this has been the case for a while.

11) What about the offensive skills of creatures?

These are being adjusted as well.

12) If you are adjusting creature skills, is there hope that player skills like Melee Defense, Missile Defense, and Magic Defense will have more use?

Yes. Part of this rebalancing action is to give credence to the skills to which players have chosen to pay attention.

While that's not all that's coming, the Re-balance is the only thing we wanted to give you a heads up on. As usual, for any updates on content, you'll just have to go adventuring. Thanks for reading, and thank you for playing Asheron's Call.

-The Asheron's Call Team
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