May 2003 - Patch Page
Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/MayAC1Teaser.htm
600 Years Before
Winds laden with rancid spores assaulted the skyship, causing it to lurch to the right. Asheron gripped the gunwale and marveled at the sight of rats, desperate to find shelter, scurrying between his legs into holes in the deck no wider than the length of his finger. The winds abated in intensity for a moment, and Asheron made his way on unsteady legs to the door of Emperor Kellin's cabin. As he pushed the door open, the winds grew in strength again and the door swung open wildly, striking the wall of the cabin and startling the Emperor and his three advisors.
"What do you want, plague-bringer?" Kellin barked.
"Plague-bringer? Is that what you call me now?" Asheron spat back. "I am no more a bringer of plague than you are the cultivator of the disease, Kellin." His tone sarcastic, he continued, "Look about you! The ancient and glorious seaborne empire of Yalain has been shattered. There is no one here to impress save your attendants who still wag their sly tongues, reaffirming your value to the Yalain."
Asheron could see the rage building in Kellin, but too much had happened to waste time on pretense in their discussion. The threat of one of Nali Valind inquistions no longer had any power over Asheron; even had she not escaped to Ireth Lassel, Kellin simply couldn't afford to expose the secret of Asheron's long life. Asheron was the most learned among them and the only one who had any hope of stemming this tide of Darkness.
Asheron allowed a moment to pass in silence, then spoke firmly as he saw the Emperor about to say something. "I have come with a directive."
"You are in no position to make demands of the Throne, Asheron." Kellin retorted, attempting to save face. The advisors remained silent, seemingly in awe of the aged and wizened Asheron.
"Hold your tongue!" Asheron snapped back. "This ship must be taken to Knorr."
"Are you mad? Knorr? The place where the Olthoi first made their mark upon the world?"
"The Seat of Knorr houses my father's research," Asheron responded quickly. His barbed tone had not changed since entering these chambers. "That research is vital if I am to find a cure for the Olthoi plague. We must collect that information, and soon, else this world crumble and your Throne with it."
A long, tense moment passed. Finally, Kellin relented. "See it done, old one."
Once an example of the greatest works of the Empyrean, Arikas, the Warden of Knorr, was now but an abject reminder of a lost age. Once a glorious work of magical art with smoothly jointed arms and legs, hands with cleverly articulated fingers, and a finely carved face, Arikas was now only a misshapen, barely functional form. But though the long years had worn away the majesty of the golem, Asheron could tell that its mind was still very much whole.
"Arikas, are the conveyances intact?" Asheron asked, as he pulled the point of an Olthoi pincer free from the golem.
"Conveyances are functional, Lord Master Asheron, though the number of life forms categorized 'Olthoi' are great. Twenty-two conveyances from the seat of Knorr are functional, only four have been destroyed, Colleg—"
Asheron broke into Arikas' speech. "Thank you Arikas. You have done well here." He pulled another bit of pincer free from the Warden. "I am here to collect more of my writings. Perhaps, in another hundred years or so, we shall open the halls of Knorr again."
"That would be most welcome, Lord Master Asheron."
Aerbax shredded the cloak of the tainted Executor. Such a mutation could not exist. A flaw lay hidden in his methods and the subject had been altered in a manner unexpected.
Aerbax's thoughts emanated through the chamber. Puppet made its way to Aerbax and transferred thought.
"How long ago?" Another transfer, then, "Deliver obsidian fragment. Explanation enclosed."
Puppet turned away from Aerbax, ready to execute its directive.
"The Singularity has chosen its course. Now begins the discourse."
"You are sure?" Nuhmudira asked as she watered the sunflowers growing just outside the window of her cottage.
"He left," her guest, a man with a coy smile, answered with a shrug. "He went somewhere I couldn't track him. It must be very far away."
"Yes…" She motioned to the table, drawing his attention to a neat stack of newly drawn trade notes. "Where will you be if I need you?"
Original Link (now dead) - http://www.microsoftgameinsider.com/AC1/MayAC1DevNotes.htm
"Are you sure?" Elysa looked back over her shoulder at Antius.
"Yes, Elysa. It happened just the other day. The forts around Tethana have been bolstered by the arrival of new troops, I'm sure of it. They are building up for an offensive." Antius rapped his knuckles on the table.
"Then it's time we bring the fight to them." Elysa closed the curtain of the balustrade and started toward her armor...
Listed below are the changes introduced in our May event. We've detailed 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
- Grab an ale, a stump, and a sweet spot next to a watering hole. Check your progress as you would your chess ranking. But make sure you remember your bait!
- One of Nuhmudira's students has moved into Stonehold.
- An altar has been spotted near Glenden Wood.
- A couple of new terrors plague travelers in the Direlands.
- Players can now choose to enable an optional charge modifier. This will move to a target regardless of their distance to the creature, though they will no longer gain the benefit of an increased sprint speed.
- PK players who were recently engaged in a PK fight will now lose a greater amount of greater amount of stamina when jumping.
Miscellaneous Improvements and Changes
- Trade notes have had the following changes made to them:
- They are now stackable.
- They now have a flat 15% mark-up price at initial purchase.
- There is no longer a penalty when selling trade notes to a vendor who did not create the initial note.
- Value is now displayed in the Trade Note Name.
- Casino rewards have changed, and as a result the dealers have upped the cost to play their games!
- Spawns that were too close to the Holtburg Casino LS have been moved back.
- Several quest Wands and Orbs have had been upgraded with new spells and/or art.
- Aun Hareltah has hired on some assistants to take the burden of collecting rubble from his weary shoulders.
- The animation of the Staff of the Nomads has been adjusted to use the poke animation on low power.
- The animation of the Assault sword now displays the proper piercing animation.
- Co-vassal and allegiance broadcast can now be filtered by @filter -allegiance, as you would expect.
- You can now craft Bloodletter, Fleshripper, and Soulrender atlatl darts. We've also tweaked all Bloodletter, Fleshripper, and Soulrender ammunition to be slightly better than it used to be. In addition, we've corrected a bug with the stacked value of this ammunition.
- The highest profile of loot, such as that found in Singularity Troves, has been upgraded in several small ways.
- A number of static landscape spawns have been upgraded to match the difficulty of the surrounding areas.
- Venomous Grievvers now drop the acid that their cousins do.
- A number of randomly spawning portals and NPCs have been moved to more level-appropriate areas.
- Spawns that were too close to the Guardian of the Temple of Forgetfulness have been cleared away.
- Various collectors will now accept hoary and plate spines and glacial, pyreal, and platinum golem hearts.
- Wrapped arrowheads plus wrapped spiketails no longer give Greater Spikes. We've also corrected a few bugs with the spikes, giving them the correct names and values.
- The Exit portal in the Tumerok Mask Clan dungeon no longer drops you outside the Shreth dungeon.
- Reinforced haft-dropping Tumeroks in the Reedshark dungeon now drop the appropriate haft for Reedshark banners. Clan Tumeroks are also casting spells more appropriate to their levels.
- Tumerok Banner Collector NPCs will now react to the notes you find!
- We have fixed a bug which would sometimes cause vassal experience totaling over 2 billion to be lost if it was earned while you were offline.
- Sentient Shards once again inhabit the Valley of Death.
- The Hollow Minion leader at the end of the Shoushi West Training Academy is once again spawning.
- We have removed certain undead-generating traps that had been added to the landscape accidentally.
- Champagne no longer crunches when you drink it.
- The Awakener can be turned in for attenuated versions (and vice versa).
- The bunnies have ceased their springtime philandering!
Letter to the Players
Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/MayLttP.htm
May Letter to the Players
Greetings, and welcome to the May 2003 edition of the Asheron's Call Letter to the Players. Our weather here in Boston has warmed up nicely; we hope that yours has, as well. Spring has sprung in Dereth–flowers are blooming, the bunnies are hopping (and still breeding like crazy, the little devils), and the future is looking bright. But there are hints that something is badly amiss, and dark signs behind the splendid flowering…
But before we get into that, let's discuss the major changes in store for May.
The Jump-Spin Maneuver
The jump-spin maneuver is one that most player killers are familiar with; it's a very simple maneuver with considerable impact on player vs. player gameplay. When a PK is being pursued by a melee PK and the pursuing melee is in "sticky" combat mode–that is, being dragged along behind the fleeing player and striking them in the back–the fleeing player can jump and spin in midair. If the fleeing player executes the maneuver correctly, the pursuing player's client will become confused, breaking sticky mode and often freezing up for a short time, thus allowing the fleeing player time to escape. Although there is an element of player skill to using this maneuver, we've found that the use of jump-spin negates too many of the other elements of PK gameplay in Asheron's Call. So we decided to do something about it.
The first thing we did was investigate why jumping and spinning in midair has this effect on the pursuing player's client. If we could prevent this effect, our problem was solved. Unfortunately, we found that the 'confused client' effect is a deeply embedded side effect of the way our client interpolates movement. In short, the server controls where your character actually is, but in order to reduce the effects of Internet latency the client makes a guess about where it expects you will be in the near future. During the jump-spin maneuver, the client becomes excessively confused about where your target is and thus about where you are trying to go, and locks up until it gets correct information back from the server. The code for this system is extremely complicated and not amenable to tweaking, so we realized that we would have to look elsewhere for a 'fix' for jump-spin.
The next approach we tried was to change the behavior of "charging." (There are more details about what charging means below, under "Optional Charge Attacks.") During testing, we noticed that when jump-spin was used, the pursuing character would usually see the "You have charged too far!" message just as their client became confused and froze up. Perhaps, we thought, if we could change the charging behavior we could avoid the client confusion. Unfortunately, playtesting showed that although modifying the charge behavior sometimes works, it more often causes even more client confusion, sometimes locking up the client for minutes at a time. On the other hand, the modified charge behavior was pretty handy for player vs. monster play, and so we retained the change as an option as outlined below in "Optional Charge Attacks." Please note, however, that we do not recommend turning off charge attacks during PK gameplay because of the increased risk of jump-spin client confusion.
So, if changing charge attack behavior didn't solve our problem, what would? We next examined a suggestion that had been prominent in player feedback on this issue–increase the stamina penalty for jumping during a PK battle. Initially we felt that this type of solution was no more than a band-aid that did not properly address the underlying problem, but the more we thought about it–and the more feedback we read from PK fans–the more we felt that this could be a viable counter-measure to jump-spin. Through extensive play testing, we determined that this extra penalty should range from 100 stamina for a little hop to 200 stamina for a full-power leap. In addition, this increased penalty only applies to PK players who have given or received a successful PK attack within the past 20 seconds. Notice that this is not a "fix" for the jump-spin maneuver; rather, it is a counter-measure that we believe will moderate the use of jump-spin and other jumping maneuvers in PK combat, and indeed increase the amount of strategy involved. We will be monitoring the effects of this change very closely and we will tweak it or remove it altogether if that seems appropriate.
Optional Charge Attacks
What is a charge attack? When a player executes a melee attack, they first move towards their target until they are within range to attack. This movement is a charge–it is much faster than the character's normal movement rate, but because of that speed it can only be sustained for a very short distance. If, at the end of the charge, the player is still too far away from their target to attack, they will stop the attack and see the message, "You have charged too far!"
As mentioned above, we were fiddling with the behavior of charge attacks while looking for a solution to the jump-spin issue. During this process we added an option that allows players to turn off charge attacks. When charge attacks are turned off and the player executes a melee attack, they move toward their target at their normal movement speed and they don't stop until they get there. (Actually, they will stop eventually, but the movement allows enough distance to reach anything within range of the radar.) This turned out to be so handy for PvM gameplay that we retained the option for all players. To toggle this option, look in your Character Options panel for Use Charge Attacks. This option is on (checked) by default and provides the old "charge" behavior. Unchecking the option provides the new "run until you get there" behavior. Note that neither of these behaviors affect ranged attacks.
The Weapons of Palenqual (a.k.a. the Rubble Quest)
With the May update, we are streamlining the mechanics of the rubble quest–the ACDM quest that rewards players with the Stave, Hoeroa, or Kalindan of Palenqual. The rubble quest is intimately tied into the Olthoi Queen's quest; originally, these two quests together were meant to provide an avenue for players to dynamically control a portion of the world. Players who were working with the Hea Tumeroks could break the menhir rings, strengthening the Olthoi, while players who were working with the Aun Tumeroks could gather rubble to repair the menhir rings. If the Hea-allied players succeeded in breaking all the menhirs, the Aun-allied players would then need to go and defeat the Olthoi Queen.
That, at least, was the theory. In reality, because there are interesting rewards associated with each quest, players rarely role-play the opposing factions. Instead, they work together to schedule both quests so that everyone can get the rewards. This sort of cooperation is always heartening to see in an online community. Unfortunately, even working together there are many obstacles and annoyances in the path of anyone attempting to complete the rubble quest and so until now that quest remained fairly unpopular. We hope, however, that the May modifications will renew interest in this quest.
The existing mechanics of the Queen's quest and the rubble quest are not changing in any way, so players who do wish to dynamically control a portion of the world through role-playing may continue to do so. If, however, you merely wish to get your weapon of Palenqual without torturous quest scheduling, you can now give the various tokens and bits of rubble to new student Tumeroks in Timaru without affecting the progress of the Queen's quest. In addition, the quest becomes repeatable in May, and the rewards have been upgraded slightly.
The Story: May and Beyond
May also marks the beginning of our next major story arc: A Time of Chaos. Although the ongoing story that sets Asheron's Call apart has continued since the end of the Gaerlan arc last September, it has perhaps not been as clear and obvious as players had come to expect. However, with the beginning of this new arc, the truth can no longer be hidden, and the machinations of a number of major actors–villains and heroes alike–are about to come to light. But more ominous than any threat in Dereth are the rumblings beneath the surface, the rousing of a menace we thought we had defeated…