Announcements - 2003/04 - A Gathering of Colors

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April 2003 - Patch Page

Contents


Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://www.microsoftgameinsider.com/AC1/teaser_0403.htm

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April Teaser


A Gathering of Colors

About the room a host of Lugians and Tumeroks exchanged wary glances. Their leaders had debated for four hours. Each had highlighted the goals of their campaign, their alliance with the Virindi, and their contempt for those that claimed regency over them. Their words had been laced with vitriol and at points it seemed the two sides would engage in open conflict. Eventually, the tensions drew the meeting to a standstill that had now lasted a full two minutes. The Lugian and Tumerok banners were still in the windless hall.

Then the silence was broken.

"A union, then." Muldaveus' voice was as deep as his face was stoic. The Tumerok seated across the table offered his hand.

"Agreed. A union." The two shook and rose to their feet. "We have been beneath the heels of others too long. Now, when the slave masters are occupied we shall claim this world for our own."

The assembled raised their voices as one. The banners fell and the forces of the renegade Lugians and the Dereth Tumeroks became an army.

*****


The stranger placed the crate behind Rah bint Khurdig. He took the trade notes from her hand and offered a wry smile.

"Throw them with care." The stranger said as he left her tent.

*****


"What is that?" Sherelle asked as her fellow Tolmic lifted a crystal from the fallen shard. It boasted a rich blue color and looked lustrous in the fading sunlight. Tolmic held it up and examined it closely.

"Don't know." His eyes widened as he moved the newfound gem near his breastplate. "That's odd."

"What?"

"It feels like it belongs in the breastplate." He looked down at the Celdon crafted by Alean only a moon before. "Should I try it?" He looked at Sherelle.

"What's the worst that could happen?"

*****


"…the tinker and his prize. The mug of ale, the drinking horn, jug of mead…" Ulgrim sang the tune lightly as he walked through the front door. A broad smile spread across his face. "Home."

*****


Home. Nearly six hundred years before he had left this place after a pitched and violent battle where many had fallen beneath the scythe-pincers of the Olthoi. He ran his hands along the stonework of the courtyard and looked up at the massive diamond behemoth that stood at the gates.

"Greetings Lord Master Asheron," it said. Asheron managed a grim smile, and the golem bowed. "Welcome home."

Scenes from the April Episode, "A Gathering of Colors":

Teaser 200304 A.jpg Teaser 200304 B.jpg
Teaser 200304 C.jpg Teaser 200304 D.jpg

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/AC1AprilDevNotes.htm

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A Gathering of Colors


"Overlord." The Tumerok stopped in his tracks and offered a salute to the Overlord. The Overlord responded with a simple nod of his head.

"The raiders are honoring the terms of the alliance," the Tumerok reported. "They have begun moving toward current Lugian holdings, though it appears that they remain fractured and hampered by those still loyal to Kresovus."

"What of our forces?" the Overlord asked as he thrust a dagger through a tender chunk of fire auroch meat.

"Our forces rally to the banners outside of Dryreach. The holdings there swell with more of our number by the moment; the eldest are joining the ranks of the militia while the youngest remain in the training facilities honing their skills." The Tumerok remained rigid and alert, never once meeting the eyes of his commander.

"Keep me informed of any movement against us, Captain." The Overlord ripped a hunk of meat free and dismissed the captain with a wave. The captain turned on his heels and left the Overlord's chambers.

*****


"Dryreach?" Elysa asked.

"Yes. Not truly much of a surprise; the residents of the town did say that there was an increase in the Tumerok population over the past lunar cycle," Antius responded. He sat across the table from her, flanked by two guards.

"See that a garrison is sent to investigate. I'll be damned if I'll allow Hea Tumeroks to make their homes in Derethian lands again." She met Antius' gaze and motioned the two guards away. As they left the room, she asked, "What of Asheron?"

"Gone." He leaned back in the chair and let out a soft sigh. "I made my way to his island as you instructed, but there was no answer when I reached the tower." He paused as he searched her consternated face, then asked, "Should I continue my efforts?"

"No—" she snapped. "No, I was just curious for my friend. He's been troubled lately. Besides, it's time we stopped relying on him and rely on ourselves."

Listed below are the changes introduced in our April 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

  • Ulgrim has returned to his home, and he brought his Phat Loot with him!
  • Bowyers in Dereth are now selling bow spike shafts, which a talented fletcher can craft into throwable spikes.
  • We have tweaked the range penalty for missile weapons. See the Letter to the Players for more details.
  • The Crystal Shards in the Direlands and other high level areas are occasionally leaving behind a new form of crystal, as are the Sentient Crystals that inhabit the Valley of Death.


Minor Details

  • Gambling tokens are now stackable.
  • Using a Shrine or gem will now transport you directly to Oolutanga's Refuge.
  • The inherent dispel spell on the Awakener buadren can now be cast on NPKs as well as PKs.
  • Some monsters are now more protective of their brethren.
  • Some creature weapons were dealing fire damage, but had the appearance of an electric weapon. These have been fixed.
  • Last month, as part of our ongoing efforts to further improve server performance, we increased the cache size of the allegiance pass-up experience cache. This caused some odd behavior to appear with vassal experience pass-up. This month, we have tweaked the cache size downward a bit to reduce the appearance of odd behavior, while still preserving the benefits to server performance.
  • Missile objects that hit the environment will now be destroyed, just as if they had successfully struck their target. This change should improve the performance both of the server and the client, especially in crowded situations.
  • Several very minor bugs affecting the distribution of experience in fellowships have been resolved.

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/lttp_0403.htm

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April Letter to the Players


Greetings one and all, and welcome to April's edition of the Asheron's Call Letter to the Players. The AC Live team was hoping that spring would be here by the time of this writing, but alas, there is still snow on the ground. This month's Letter may look a little thin; there aren't too many items we want to discuss, and the majority of the April update involves new content and quests that we'd like you to discover for yourselves. But there are a few issues that bear mentioning.

Rebalancing, Feedback, and the Missile Range Penalty
The monster rebalancing has resulted in a lot of player discussion, both positive and negative, and we want to thank everyone for all the feedback we have received. The AC Live team prides itself on its relationship with players, and the rebalancing process has really highlighted how important player feedback is to us.

The range penalty to missile attack skills serves as a graphic example of the importance of player feedback. As part of our rebalancing efforts last month, we adjusted the missile defense on a large number of creatures across Dereth. The new missile defense levels worked well at close range, but they highlighted a major flaw of the system that had never before been terribly important: the range penalty. Previously, a missile character at full range was operating at about 50% of their normal attack skill, which made hitting level-appropriate monsters from full range extremely difficult. This kind of percentage penalty is especially difficult to overcome at higher skill levels where 50% of your attack skill may mean 200-300 points of skill.

Player feedback made it immediately obvious that the old-style penalty just would not fly in the new, rebalanced Dereth, and so the penalty has been reduced considerably for the April update. Missile characters will still incur a penalty to their attack skill for firing at range, but the new penalty is much reduced: from approximately 20% at the absolute furthest possible range, down to no penalty at all at about half (outdoor) radar range. We will continue to monitor feedback about this change, of course, and may make other adjustments if they become necessary.

The April update will also see another addition of interest to some missile characters: a craftable thrown weapon that can be used with a shield.

Dark Heraldry
Every month one or two players will ask us what will ever become of the unfinished Tumerok Banner quest. We are overjoyed to be able to answer that question with the April update. Of course, you'll have to discover the exact changes yourself, but suffice to say that the military commanders have finally gotten their rewards in order-and just in time to meet a renewed menace!

Change of the Season
Dereth remained draped in winter last month-it was so cold here in Massachusetts, we figured Dereth should be too! Actually, the survival of the snow was a small oversight, and with the April update the snow will recede and the spring flowers will finally appear. If only we could manipulate New England's weather so easily…

So, as we warned you at the beginning, there weren't many issues to discuss in this Letter. Life in Dereth forges on…and portents of dark times and hard choices throng about us. But that, of course, you'll discover on your own. Thanks for reading, and thank you for playing Asheron's Call!

-The Asheron's Call Team

Letter to the Players 2

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/letter0426.htm

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Letter to the Players: Hardware Upgrade


April 25, 2003

Hi all,

Beginning with the April update, we have begun to implement the initial steps of a plan where we will be upgrading some servers to improve the gameplay experience for AC1 players. What this means is that we will be moving all the information and resources for the game environments to new hardware that will carry us into the future. Old hardware doesn't improve with age like fine wine, so it's imperative that we make these hardware upgrades as soon as possible so we can guarantee that AC1 has a long and prosperous future.

We were in the process of starting this important process on Wednesday, April 24th, and staged the Solclaim world on new servers. We monitored its performance throughout the day and ran into several issues regarding severe lag. It was then that we made the decision to roll the world back to its original hardware so our Solclaim players could continue to enjoy their AC1 gameplay experience. It was important to us to identify these problems so we could minimize their impact on future rollouts and upgrades.

I would like to personally apologize to everyone for not clearly identifying that we were upgrading these machines and that with any hardware upgrade ran a risk of this sort of problem. You should have been informed of what was going on. So on to the future and the next steps of what we will be doing.

This weekend, we will be setting up a test environment that will be open to the public, meaning anyone with an active AC1 account can get on the new world and play until their hearts are content. We encourage everyone to do so, so we can get an accurate idea of performance implications of running AC on the new hardware. Remember: this new and improved hardware will be rolled out to all worlds very soon, so it's important for us to find out where the problems lie so we can make the transition as efficiently and smoothly as possible when the time comes.

That's where you come in. We need your help.

This public test environment will be open to all users with active AC1 accounts, but will mirror Solclaim player database, so there will be an established pool of characters on that world that are not just new characters. It was important to do this so that we could test the world under normal conditions.

We will be monitoring the progress of the public test server very closely and make our decisions based on what we see over the weekend. If we do not notice any severe performance issues that are detrimental to the gameplay experience, we will complete the transition and introduce the new hardware as the "new and improved" Solclaim on Monday. If we run into similar performance issues like those we witnessed on Wednesday, we will move Solclaim back to the old hardware.

In either case, we will let you know of our plans and make that information very open and clear, so everyone knows what is going on at all times and what these decisions mean to them.

We are looking forward to upgrading AC1 to our new hardware, which we feel will dramatically improve your gameplay experience and provide you enjoyment for years to come.


Ken Karl
Program Manager
Asheron's Call

ADDITIONAL NOTES

There are some important points to note about playing on Shadowclaim vs. playing on Solclaim:

Playing On Shadowclaim

  • Shadowclaim is a test world only. It is open to everyone that has an AC1 account.
  • Shadowclaim will go away on Monday, April 28th.
  • If you have a character from Solclaim, you will be able to play with that character on Shadowclaim. If you do not have a character on Solclaim, you will need to create a new character to play on Shadowclaim.
  • Any and all progress you make on Shadowclaim this weekend will be lost. This includes levels, xp, loot, items, etc.
  • If you play on Shadowclaim, you may get to see some cool stuff happen.


Playing On Solclaim

  • If you play on Solclaim all weekend, you will gain experience, levels, loot, items, etc. normally and your progress will be yours to keep.
  • There will not be any additional benefit to playing on Solclaim. It will purely be status quo, same as it ever was.
  • When we make the transition of moving Solclaim to the new hardware, all the information from Solclaim will come with the move.


Please note that once we get the important data we need from this weekend's test of Shadowclaim, we will make the transition of copying all the world and character data from Solclaim to the new hardware. We will notify you when we plan to make this transition so we can make this transition as painless as possible.
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