Announcements - 2004/01 - Mirror, Mirror

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January 2004 - Patch Page

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Teaser Images

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Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/jan04_teaser.htm

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January '04 Teaser


Mirror, Mirror

The cold black walls were home. There was no other explanation for the warmth that spread through him. Since Kaedrix had made him aware that the Virindi were leaving the home of his Lord, the Mirror had wanted to see the halls, the halls of Bael'Zharon, the Hopeslayer, the most fearsome entity that this world had ever known. His Lord.

A thin black smile stretched across his shadowy face, and his children began leaving him. They pulled themselves from his body and swarmed along the walls, into the shadows and along the floor. The children giggled and danced and played, as all good children should. Finally, he was home.

The Virindi had not been to this depth. They had not violated the sanctity of the deepest temple. Here he had stood so long ago with his Lord and the other chosen, performing rites to call the black breath to scourge the world and bring about the destruction of it all.

The children suddenly stopped dancing and giggling. Playtime was done; now the air grew colder as the Mirror's eyes blazed and spilled red across the ebon floor. The thin smile turned to a dark scowl and the crown atop his head spilled shadowy fumes about him. The children gathered into a circle on the floor, sitting in silence—no, not silence, reverence. The Mirror made his way to an altar set into the wall. A basin filled with bubbling black blood was set within the stone and lit from above by some spectral form of crimson light. Here was the place it would begin again.

The children waited expectantly. The Mirror dipped a shadowy hand into the blood and lifted it to his lips. As he drank, strength flowed through him once more. Power flooded into his arms and his eyes burned brighter, flooding the cavern with radiant light he looked up to the ceiling…there, gathered and huddled in the darkness, were thousands of sleeping forms. The Mirror turned his attention to the children who waited, so patiently, such good children. They deserved a reward. They deserved a story.

"Such precious children, obedient and silent. You have earned a story, children. But this story is unlike any other I have told you, for you shall live it." His hand dipped into the blood again, but this time his fingers extended, etching symbols onto the wall behind the altar. "It begins before the coming of our new Lord, when the world was dark with rain and the Black Breath reached to cleanse the Lightbringer's blight. It was then that our Lord, our First Lord, asked me of children."

"Such a painful wound on the mind, heart and soul of our Lord, as his own son had been taken from him. But still he spoke to me of children, asking how to teach them and speak to them as I had done. How to love children as I did, and how to mold them in his own image." The Mirror drew the face of his master in the blood and then a smaller form beside him. The images took on a ghostly white sheen and began to move about one another. "My master could not have the children he wanted, so I made children from him and for him." The images danced and combined, then parted, splitting into several small winged outlines. The Mirror smiled. "Now it is time for Ler Rhan to revisit his master's children and wake them from their slumber. Would you children like to help?"

The small shadow forms nodded their heads in unison and Ler Rhan, the Mirror, smiled once again. Tendrils of darkness began pouring from his mouth and from the top of his crown. A web-work stretched over his children, reaching to the top of the giant cavern and touching the motionless forms.

"Such good children. Take his blood, take the blood of my master, and feed his children. We shall wake them and then we shall take what is ours."

The children clamored one by one, by the tens, the hundreds, then by the thousands to carry the black blood through the webs to the cavern's ceiling. There, they dripped the viscous liquid into sleeping mouths and fled to the safety of the floor below. Ler Rhan cast his red gaze toward the ceiling and marveled as the forms started moving.

"Good children, good." The tendrils retreated into his form and the children began clapping, leaping, dancing and playing again. The first Margul descended and landed before Ler Rhan. He bowed his head to the little creature and it spoke.

"Where is father?" It tilted its head to the side. "We awake and do not feel his call."

"Father is…resting." Ler Rhan responded and the children hushed. The little creature looked to the ceiling and his brethren. It looked back to Ler Rhan.

"We remember you. You are the Creator. You are the teacher, and despoiler. We shall serve as father wishes." It bowed low, pulling its wings about it as it did. Ler Rhan nodded.

"We have much to do." His shadowy children, staring in awe, began crawling toward him, toward the little creature. "These are my children. There are many others coming, children of the new master. They will arrive soon and then we take the land above and claim it once again."

The little creature bowed its head again. It let out a call and above Ler Rhan thousands of wings began flapping and cries echoed through the cavernous halls.

Lord Aerbax, the children of the Hopeslayer are wakened.

Excellent. Continue with your efforts and rend the land asunder, drive out those who cling to the ideals of the Quiddity, and loose my children on the world. Take back the home of your former master. Let me rest, the transformation is far from complete.

As you wish, Lord Aerbax.

"Go!" Ler Rhan commanded.

Through twisting tunnels and marred underworld, through darkness and dampness they flew. To the surface, spreading like plague. Seeking a singular prey with efficient cruelty unseen to this world in millennia. Claw, tooth, spell and breath ripped and shredded the remaining forces of the Quiddity. They delved into strongholds built over long silenced geysers and tunnels of flame. As the purge neared its end, Ler Rhan gathered his children close and brought them all back within his body, one by one.

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/jan04rollout.htm

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Rollout Article - January


Ayan Baqur saw it first, a black pillar billowing far to the southwest. It rose into the sky and threatened to block out the sun. The black pillar cleared and the ground shook as a wave approached the shore of the direlands. Water rose as the wave crashed just below the edge of the city and dragged the creatures on the western coast into the sea.

When the waves ceased to crash they saw them, teeth that rose toward the sky. The mountains of the island in the southwest had risen to be like knives. The island was changed and only the heartiest and most adventurous would dare travel there now.

While this transpired in the west, High Queen Elysa approved the work of the council in enhancing the methods of communications within monarchies. The work of months came to fruition as the whispers of all sworn to her could speak amongst themselves at last.

The Sho town of Shoushi saw the first of her improvements as a lifestone was anchored in the center of the town. Asheron and Nuhmudira remained apart from the endeavor. The work instead fell to Shoyanen Kenchu, Master of the Right Hand, who also completed the task of reworking the portal space beacon. The town saw an increased interest from the bestial inhabitants of Dereth, their curiosity piqued by the attention the town received.

The Ongoing Saga

The High Queen continues her work with the same intensity that she has shown since awakening from her coma. As the newly restructured High Council sits down to business, the eruption of darkness in the southwest reminds all that Dereth still has many dangers.

Now let's take a look at some of the changes coming in this month's event.

Content Revisions

As we've hinted at all month, the Singularity Caul and many of the quests associated with it have been revised. Hopefully you took our warning and didn't leave any characters logged off on the Caul, otherwise they may be in for a nasty fall, followed by an encounter with some of its new inhabitants.

In addition, we've revised much of the content around the starter town of Shoushi, rebalancing and tweaking where we felt it was necessary. Over time, we plan on retouching all of the older towns in this manner, as well as making other changes and improvements to make them more fun and valuable to spend time in.

Fellowship XP

In the December event, we made a change to the location of the Marketplace to prevent players from gaining fellowship XP while trading or idling there. In the December Rollout Article, we said, "We intend to fix the code that allows fellowship XP to be shared between players who are not in the same dungeon." This month, we've made good on that intention.

As of this event, you will no longer receive fellowship XP from fellowship members:

  • If they are indoors while you are outdoors, or vice-versa.
  • If you are both indoors but in different landblocks.


"Indoors" means inside a dungeon, or inside a building or cave on the surface. As almost all dungeons are in different landblocks, this means that you can no longer gain fellowship XP if you are in a different dungeon than the rest of your fellowship.

In addition, we have decreased the maximum distance between fellowship members at which you can share fellowship XP. In the past, you could be about 8 map units away from each other and still receive full fellowship XP. (8 map units is the distance between 0.0N, 0.0W, and 8.0N, 0.0W.) After that, the amount that you receive would decrease slowly. For example, you could be about 48 map units away approximately the distance between Lytelthorpe and Al-Jalima and still receive 50% of fellowship XP.

Starting with this event, you must be within a little less than 2.5 map units to receive 100% of fellowship XP. After that it will drop off quickly when you are more than 5 map units away from your fellows, your fellowship XP will be at 0%.

These changes are intended to reinforce the design of fellowships as groups of allied players, working together either in hunting or questing.

PK/L Radar Blips

We listened to the negative feedback that we received regarding the PK/L radar blip changes that were made in the November 2003 event. To improve the ability to correctly identify friend from foe, as well as determine the number of possible opponents, we're making the following tweaks:

  • Threat blips the X's have been made smaller so that they no longer overlap in confusing ways. They are now the same size as the standard blips.
  • Allegiance threat blips the X's on top of squares have been removed as they did not have the intended effect. Allegiance members are squares, no matter what their PK/L status may be.


Max Mana Spells

There are several spells in the game that either increase or decrease a player's maximum mana. Many of these spells did not stack properly. This has now been fixed. Spells that increase or decrease your maximum mana should now stack based on the amount of their effect.

Here's an example of how things should work now: If you have two spells cast on you, one which increases your maximum mana by 50 and one which decreases your maximum mana by 20, your total increase should be 30. If you then had another spell cast on you which increased your maximum mana by 80, it would override the increase of 50, and you would have a total increase of 60.

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/jan04_devnotes.htm

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Developer's Notes - January


New Functionality and Content

  • Allegiance chat! See the Letter to the Players for details. Please note that the old allegiance broadcasts can still be done with the /allegiance command, just type /allegiance, . Don't forget the comma!
  • The Singularity Caul has been revised. Please see the Rollout Article for details.
  • Shoushi and its surrounding content has seen some revisions. Please see the Rollout Article for details.
  • Fellowship XP across distances, and between dungeons, has been adjusted. Please see the Rollout Article for details.


Miscellaneous Improvements and Changes

  • Radar blips for PK and PKL players have been changed. Please see the Rollout Articlefor details.
  • The color of direct tells has been adjusted. Tells that you receive are still bright yellow, but tells that you send are now a dull yellow.
  • The spells that increase or decrease your maximum mana now stack in a more logical manner. Please see the Rollout Article for details.
  • Signs in town can now be read simply by examining them no more need to double-click them.
  • Some NPCs in towns, particularly those tied to starter quests or the Explorer quests, no longer collect monster trophies.
  • The body parts for guises and masks have stopped dropping from creatures. Look for their return next Festival season!
  • The appearance of the sleek dress has been improved, particularly when dyed.
  • Poison is now house-hookable.
  • The translated Missives to the World Shaper are no longer droppable or giveable.
  • The trees on Aerlinthe have been decreased in number to improve graphics performance.
  • Belt pouches and baskets can now be purchased in multiple colors.
  • Baskets, belt pouches, and sacks now have the same value and burden as backpacks. Regular and small Tusker backpacks now have the same value and burden as the large Tusker backpack.
  • The new leather boots can now be tinkered and dyed properly.
  • The new leather gauntlets can now be dyed winter blue.
  • You will no longer see house guest or storage messages from characters that you have squelched.


Minor Details

  • The Tusker Obliterator and Olthoi Sentinel have been changed for balance.
  • Valley of Death creatures should no longer spawn in the extreme Direlands.
  • The Olthoi Abdomen Fragment should drop more reliably, and three of them should drop instead of just one.
  • The icon for Moderate Item Enchantment is now correct.
  • Last month's new housing tables should properly fall to the ground when dropped.
  • The Electric Weeping Axe now has the correct name.
  • The higher level of the two Koji's Beast masks is now called Koji's Fiend, and the crafter who makes them no longer refers to "Kojii".

Letter to the Players

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

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Letter to the Players - January


Welcome to the first Letter to the Players of 2004! This will be a very exciting and challenging year for Asheron's Call. Hopefully by now you've seen the announcement that Turbine is purchasing the Asheron's Call franchise from Microsoft. If you've missed that somehow, just check out the announcements on Turbine's Asheron's Call website.

One thing that you'll be seeing more of in the next few months is information from us. In addition to updates regarding the transition of services from Microsoft to Turbine, you'll be seeing more information from the Live Team regarding where the game is and where it's going. Some of these articles will be questions that we ask you, the fans, similar to our PK Lite request for feedback. Other articles won't focus as much on questions, but will be more like informal essays on our plans and goals for various game mechanics and content. We look forward to sharing our ideas with you, and we know we'll get a lot of great feedback either way.

In Dereth, things have been equally as busy. To the surprise of many, High Queen Elysa Strathelar awoke from her coma with a new drive and determination. The High Council has been restructured, and Nuhmudira is no longer a member.

Many have sought the identity of the High Queen's assassin and have been well-rewarded for their efforts. Meanwhile, the Undead fight the Olthoi deep in the bowels of Dereth.

It is a new year both in our world and in Dereth, and this new year brings many changes. We believe you'll be very excited about them, we know we are!

Allegiance Chat

In the January event, we'll be introducing a feature that many of you have been asking about for some time server-wide allegiance chat!

Our initial implementation of allegiance chat is very straightforward if I am in an allegiance, and I type @a Hi! or /a Hi!, all the members of my allegiance will see [Allegiance] Ibn says, "Hi!"

If you are in an allegiance, you will be added into your allegiance chat channel as soon as you log in. If you aren't in an allegiance, you'll be added as soon as you swear to a patron, or have someone swear to you.

If you do not wish to see Allegiance chat, type @filter allegiance, just like any other message type. When you want to see it again, type @unfilter allegiance. If you @squelch a character, you will no longer see that character's speech in Allegiance chat.

There are a number of additional features that we plan to add to Allegiance chat as time permits. For example, currently there is no way for a monarch to remove someone from the Allegiance chat channel other than removing that character from the allegiance completely. We hope to introduce that feature as well as other options shortly.

We're very excited about other possible uses for this technology. Zyrca, srand, and Gator our server engineer worked very hard to make this possible, and it creates a number of opportunities. You should see more information from us on this soon.

January Event Delayed

So, those are two bits of good news... here's the bad news. You will have to wait a little longer than expected to get these two new features, as well as the rest of the great content we have planned for the January event. We are moving our event date back in order to allow for the AC1 server datacenter move, currently planned for January 20 through January 23.

You might be thinking, "Why not just make the January event live during the move downtime?" This is something that we did consider. However, we want to make sure that the worlds are running normally after the move before we make any changes to them. To that end, the January event is now currently scheduled for Tuesday, January 27.

AC1 ACCMTY Forums

As per this post, as of February 1, we'll be moving official support from the AC1 ACCMTY forums to the Turbine AC1 forums located here. We will not be doing any live team support on the ACCMTY forums after that. Update your bookmarks!

The Singularity Caul

Recent events have hinted at some major changes in store for the Caul. With that in mind, I bring you a warning:

DO NOT leave any characters logged off ANYWHERE on the Caul when the worlds come down for the January event! Not if you value their lives and death items, that is!

That's all for now. Remember, we've still got a long road ahead of us as the transition continues. We'll provide more information whenever we can. Thanks for sticking with us. I hope you're as excited as we are!

See you in Dereth!

-- Ibn

Allegiance Experience

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbinegames.com/index.php?page_id=157

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Allegiance Experience


Posted on 12-Jan-2004

For some time now, bringing up the topic of allegiance experience (XP) in an Asheron's Call discussion forum has been an excellent way of starting a flame war. There are those who have passionately campaigned for a change to the system, and there are those who have just as passionately defended it.

In this article, I'll be explaining why the Live Team believes that the system should be changed. I'll also be explaining what changes we plan on making as well as the expected impact of these changes on your characters and the community.

I'm sure that one of your first questions is, Why now? Why make a change to a key system of the game four years after release?

There are many reasons why we've decided to go forward with this change. The most important is that we believe it is in the best interests of Asheron's Call in the long term. Asheron's Call still has a long future ahead of it! There are some who might say, "It's too late for this change to make any difference." However if you look at it from another perspective, the last four years have been just the beginning of AC's lifespan.

We also believe that the recent creature rebalancing has removed a lot of the tedious "level grinding" in the upper levels. Allegiance experience used to provide a helping hand past these boring levels, but with more high level quests, better high level creatures, and more opportunities to earn appropriate experience rewards at high levels while actively playing the game, allegiance experience is no longer quite so necessary for this purpose.

In addition, as Jessica announced earlier this week we plan to open a new world in the Spring. This creates a great opportunity for us to open this world with the new system firmly in place.

Our plans call for this system to go live as part of the February event.

The Original Goals

When Asheron's Call launched, there were three initial goals for the allegiance system:

  • Create an incentive for high-level players to assist low-level players via the patron-vassal relationship.
  • Provide a framework for a social game experience.
  • Add to the atmosphere and background of the game.


A system of allegiance experience, or "pass-up", was designed to create in-game incentives to help meet these goals. As vassals gained experience, their patrons would also gain XP. The XP "passed up" was based on the amount of experience gained by the vassal, and modified by a number of factors such as the Loyalty of the vassal and the Leadership of the patron. The patron would then pass a percentage of this XP up to his patron, and so on.

This provided an incentive for experienced players to assist new players. The experienced players could provide the new players with equipment, advice, and aid, and would gain experience as their vassals advanced. As folks banded together under this system, they created allegiances and a whole social dynamic.

Simple, right?

Problems with the System

As the AC player base matured, folks began to figure out exactly how to use the allegiance XP system to get the maximum experience return. There were several problems with the initial system.

Skill Issues

To a casual observer of this system, going by the in-game documentation, it would appear that the best way for a vassal to increase pass-up to a patron is to increase his or her Loyalty skill. Likewise, the best way for a patron to increase pass-up from his or vassals is to train and put XP into Leadership.

However, as many of you have learned, this is not necessarily the case.

There are a number of other factors that contribute to a character's effective Loyalty and Leadership. The effective Leadership and Loyalty skill levels are the numbers that are actually used in allegiance experience calculation.

For example, it is possible to increase your effective Loyalty by spending more time in-game sworn to the same patron. Vassal-to-patron pass-up has no effective cap, but patron-to-grandpatron pass-up caps with an effective Loyalty of 175. If you're sworn for 10 days to the same patron, the base Loyalty required to maximize the pass-up from your vassal through you to your patron is only 88. Take into account level 7 enchantments, and you can see how there's practically no need to spend XP on the skill, due to the ease in reaching the cap.

Leadership is arguably worse off. In theory, you need to train Leadership and spend XP on it in order to get maximum results. However, effective Leadership is multiplied by two factors how many vassals you have, and how long they have been sworn to you, with the emphasis on the number of vassals you have. The effect of Leadership on pass-up caps at around 165 effective Leadership 83 base Leadership before the modifier.

The end result of this is that if you have two active vassals and you can get 10 mules sworn underneath you for an average of 5 in-game days, you never need to raise your Leadership beyond 83. Again, take into account level 7 enchantments and you can see why few people even bother training the skill. It's just too easy to reach the cap.

Clearly, these two skills should have value beyond what they have now.

And there is one other issue with the Loyalty and Leadership skills. As both of these skills are based on the Self attribute, and since magic-using characters tend to start with a higher Self and put more XP into increasing it, magic-using characters tend to have higher Leadership and Loyalty than other characters. When considered from the point of view of XP pass-up, the entire system appears biased towards mages.

"Chain" XP

This is generally perceived to the biggest problem with the system. To put it simply, the mathematics of the system means that multiple characters can generate an extraordinary amount of XP very quickly by maximizing pass-up and having all members of the allegiance sworn into a straight line from monarch to lowest-level vassal.

As an example, imagine a chain of ten characters. A is sworn to B, B is sworn to C, C is sworn to D, and so on up to J. All ten players have optimized their characters for maximum pass-up, something that is not particularly difficult to do, as I demonstrated previously.

In this situation, if A earns 1 million XP, B will receive around 440,000 XP. That's not a whole lot, really. But then C will receive around 400,000 XP, D will receive around 390,000, and so on up the chain. After the initial vassal-to-patron step, each additional step provides only slightly less XP than the step before it. After a full nine steps, J is still receiving over 300,000 XP. With only ten characters involved, the allegiance system by itself will create over 3 million XP in addition to the 1 million that A earned! This only increases as you add more characters to the chain. A chain of 30 characters can multiply that initial 1 million into an additional 6 million, just by existing! And, of course, these figures ignore the insane accumulation of experience that can result when all 30 of those characters are themselves actively earning XP.

This compounding of experience has a number of side-effects, the most obvious being rapid advancement. This makes balancing the game more difficult and can actually lead to boredom, as players level past content that should have kept them busy for awhile. In addition, many of our players see this rapid advancement as being unfair to those who do not use this system. They feel as though they are trapped between a rock and a hard place they must either use this system or be "left behind".

Side Effects

While many allegiances have chosen not to restructure to take best advantage of the XP pass-up system, the lure is always present. Many allegiances have lost valued members to the call of free and easy XP. Many (although certainly not all) "Chain" allegiances are XP-producing machines with none of the patron-to-vassal aid or other social structures of the allegiance as it was envisioned by the original designers.

In addition, the impact on player morale has been noticeable. Many players feel upset or cheated when they have worked hard to achieve a high level in the game, and others reach that same level on the back of an XP chain.

Our Goals

We had three goals in mind when considering this system for revision:

  • Increase the value of the direct patron-vassal relationship.
  • Reduce the sheer amount of experience produced by XP chains.
  • Make experience spent on Leadership and Loyalty more valuable.


The primary strength of the allegiance system lies in the direct patron-vassal relationship. While there is obviously also value in the vassal-grandpatron relationship, and particularly in the relationship between the monarch and all of the monarch's followers, we believe that the emphasis for experience pass-up should be the direct vassal-patron relationship.

The New System


Leadership and Loyalty

The largest change that we are making to these skills is that they will no longer inherit part of their skill levels from the level of your Self attribute. In fact, these skills will no longer be based on any attribute at all! The only way to raise these skills will be to invest experience into each skill directly.

Effective Loyalty will still be modified by the time you have spent sworn to your patron. Effective Leadership will still be modified by number of vassals and average time that they have been sworn to you, but the emphasis will be on the "time sworn" side and not on the "number of vassals" side. In fact, the vassals required to achieve the maximum benefit will be decreased from 12 to 4. This is to reduce the incentive to have non-playing vassals.

For both Loyalty and Leadership, the time sworn modifier will now be a factor of both in-game time and real time. Existing patron-vassal relationships will start with the same bonus that they are currently receiving. For example, if you have been sworn to your patron for enough time to receive 50% of the maximum benefit, you will still receive 50% of the maximum benefit when the new system is implemented.

Most importantly, Leadership and Loyalty will no longer "cap". That is, for every point you raise Leadership or Loyalty skills by investing experience into them, you will continue to see a benefit in terms of experience pass-up.

XP Pass-up

This is where we are making the greatest changes. In a nutshell, these are the new minimums and maximums:

  • Vassal-to-patron pass-up will have a minimum of 25% of earned XP, and a maximum of 90% of earned XP. Under the old system, the minimum was about 9% of earned XP, and the effective maximum was somewhere near 44% of earned XP.
  • Patron-to-grandpatron pass-up will have a minimum of 0% of XP passed-up by the patron's vassal, and a maximum of 10% of passed-up XP. Under the old system, the minimum was about 30% and the maximum was about 94%.


You will see that while the pass-up for grandpatrons and higher will be greatly decreased, the maximum pass-up for direct vassal-to-patron pass-up will be increased. This reinforces the basic patron-vassal relationship while reducing the amount of experience that is generated further up the chain.

Let's look at the example we had before, characters A through J, all optimized for maximum pass-up. If character A earns 1 million XP, character B will receive 900,000 XP. This is much higher than before! But character C will only receive 90,000, and character D will only receive 9,000. Characters H, I, and J will receive practically nothing. The new system will create 1 million XP over ten levels of pass-up, unlike the existing system which creates over 3 million.

The old system had only slightly diminishing returns as the chain increased. The new system will have drastically diminishing returns beyond the immediate patron of the character earning the XP.

Some of you will also want to know: Will we be removing previously gained allegiance experience from existing characters? However, that is not an option for us. The exact total amount of allegiance experience that a character has received over their lifetime is not recorded by the system.

What Do These Changes Mean?


Direct Effects

  • Patrons of active characters will see much more pass-up from these characters.
  • Patrons or monarchs with inactive vassals, but active grand-vassals, will see much less pass-up from these characters. Characters that are in XP chains will see the XP that they receive from these chains decrease.
  • Due to the changes in Leadership and Loyalty, the numerical value of these skills will decrease. However the new skill curves will take this into account. A patron who has put XP into Leadership may have a lower value in the skill than before, but they will be receiving as much or more XP from their direct vassals as before because of the changes to the system.


Additional Expected Effects

  • Those players who are most concerned with optimizing their XP over time will probably try to recruit 12 active vassals of the highest possible level. This will create a great benefit for the patron character, with less benefit for the patron's patron and no experience benefit for the vassals. The chain system, which benefited all members above the lowest vassal in the chain, will become much less valuable.
  • Monarchs of "traditional" allegiances, particularly those in old allegiances in which their direct vassals are no longer active, may see their received pass-up greatly decrease. If they are concerned with pass-up XP, they may seek to reorganize their monarchies.
  • It will become easier to "power-level" a secondary character by swearing your primary character to him or her. However, it will be much harder to power-level three or more characters with one primary character.


Additional Improvements


Visible Player Information

On one hand, you will no longer be able to view the Loyalty and Leadership skills of a player by ID'ing him or her. On the other hand, you will be able to see when the character was created, and in particular whether the character was created before or after the new allegiance XP system was implemented.

The first change should foster more social interaction when seeking new vassals. No longer can you ID every player you see and immediately try to recruit the one with the highest Loyalty!

We are implementing the second change because we understand than many players are very competitive and enjoy comparing their accomplishments against those of their peers. To this end, players will want to know if a character was leveled to 126 in the "old days" when chain XP was effective, or under the "new system".

While we'd really love to be able to show you exactly how much allegiance XP a character has received, we unfortunately can't do that. We felt that this was the next best thing.

Monarchy Improvements

We understand that many monarchs may see this as a "nerf". Pass-up XP was one of the tangible benefits of running an allegiance, along with the ability to purchase a mansion and other smaller benefits.

We have plans to add a number of benefits to monarchs and monarchies in the future. In the short term, you should be seeing limited allegiance chat in the January event, as we stated in the Letter to the Players. We also would like to implement a number of organizational tools for monarchs, including the ability to permanently restrict a character or an account from swearing into an allegiance.

Summary

The changes described in this article will enter the game in the February event. These changes will reshape many allegiances along new lines, with stronger direct patron-vassal bonds. Those players who want to benefit most from allegiance pass-up will put XP into their Leadership and Loyalty skills, and the benefit they see will be commensurate with the experience they invest.

In the end, we believe that these changes will greatly benefit Asheron's Call. As I wrote at the beginning, we plan on sticking around for a long, long time to come. We do expect to see a lot of heated feedback on these changes, both from those who feel that we should not do this, and those who feel we are not doing enough. During this time, we will do our best to answer your questions about this new system.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and we'll see you in Dereth!

- Ibn

http://forums.turbinegames.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=812 Comment on this article here.

Allegiance Experience Follow-Up

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbinegames.com/index.php?page_id=162

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Allegiance Experience Follow-Up


Posted on 30-Jan-2004

After our article on Allegiance Experience changes, we received an enormous amount of feedback, which we expected. In this article, we’d like to answer some of the most common questions and complaints about the new system.

If you haven’t read the first article yet, please read it before you read this one – otherwise most of this won’t make much sense.

Date of Birth

The players who complained about how we presented the reasoning for the Date of Birth feature are right: The message was phrased badly and we should have realized it would be insulting to some players. We certainly didn't mean to imply that players who used XP chains in the past were cheaters; with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, however, it is pretty obvious how that phrasing can be taken. In truth, we have been planning the DoB feature for a long time; this seemed like a propitious moment to implement it, since we had time on the schedule and it seemed to be important to the XP Chain issue, too. It looked like killing two birds with one stone to us. We should have been more sensitive in how we presented it, especially considering the polarizing nature of the issue.

So, to all of you: We apologize. We had no intention of insulting or offending you, and we apologize for our choice of wording in the article.

To be very clear: Those who may have optimized allegiance pass-up through chains in the past are neither cheaters nor exploiters. The system was what it was, and we bear no ill will towards those who found ways to best advance their characters with it. We don't feel that leaving the system in the game is in the best interests of the future of AC, but our wish to change the system in no way reflects any feelings towards those who used it.

Specifically regarding the date-of-birth visibility, we have been listening to your feedback. Taking that into account, we will be making the following changes:

  • The display of your character's date of birth will be on a toggleable option, defaulting to off. Your date of birth will only be visible to other players if you choose to turn the option on.
  • Because of this added functionality, we won't be able to introduce this feature in February as we had originally planned. Instead, an optional date of birth display (plus optional displays of other interesting character data, such as your age, chess rank, number of deaths, and fishing skill) will be added in March.


This way those players who wish to display this information have the option, and those players who do not wish to are not forced to.

Again, we apologize for our choice of words and any misunderstanding that this has caused.

Powerleveling Characters

A number of players came to us with concerns that, under the new system with optimized pass-up, it would be considerably easier to quickly get a character to high levels.

There are two responses to this concern. The first is that yes, it will be easier to get one character to high levels. However rapidly advancing dozens if not hundreds of characters simultaneously will be much more difficult. The old system created huge amounts of XP for almost all participants – under the new system, only direct patrons receive the largest benefit. We are not specifically trying to remove the ability to powerlevel characters through the allegiance system, but we are removing a system that provided, in our opinion, too much free experience to almost all participants.

The second thing to keep in mind is that achieving optimum pass-up is not trivial. To reach the maximum direct pass-up of 90% of earned XP, the following must all be true:

  • The vassal has capped his or her Loyalty.
  • The patron has capped his or her Leadership.
  • The time that this vassal has spent sworn to the patron, both in terms of in-game time and real time, is at the maximum.
  • The average of the times that all the vassals of this patron have been sworn (again both in-game and real time) are at the maximum.
  • The patron has at least four vassals.


“Capped” means that the skill has been raised to a point where no more experience can be spent on it. For Loyalty and Leadership, that will be 208 if the skills are trained, 236 if the skills are specialized.

Maximizing the time sworn modifiers will not be easy either. The two factors are multiplied together to get the final modifier. For example, if you have been sworn for half the time needed for the maximum of the in-game modifier, but only a tenth of the time needed for the real time modifier, you will only have 5% of the maximum time sworn benefit. (50% * 10% = 5%)

This factor will cause a number of the “rotating patron” schemes that we’ve seen described to be less effective than their designers may have hoped. The real time sworn takes a very long time to reach its maximum.

Trades Characters

Many players expressed concern that they would no longer be able to use small three-character chains to level their dedicated tradeskill characters. In the past, I could swear my main character to one of your characters, and then you could swear your character to my trades character. Because of the way the system worked, we could easily ensure that almost all the experience that I passed up to you was also passed up to my trades character.

On the one hand, this is no longer the case. The experience passed up to my trades character from my main will be considerably diminished. However, if your character is at all active, the experience passed up to my trades character from you will be considerably increased.

In addition, keep in mind that there are already a few quests for trades characters, and that many trophy items exist that can be turned into a collector in exchange for experience. (The casinos are an excellent place to find these trophies.) And we are always looking for new ways that trades characters can gain experience.

Time Sworn for Existing Allegiance Ties

In our original article, we wrote:

Existing patron-vassal relationships will start with the same bonus that they are currently receiving. For example, if you have been sworn to your patron for enough time to receive 50% of the maximum benefit, you will still receive 50% of the maximum benefit when the new system is implemented.

This is not entirely accurate. After the original article went out, we discovered that the system we had planned to use could not be implemented because of how the information needed is currently stored. Instead, you will receive the same bonus from your in-game time sworn. When you log in after the February event goes live, your in-game time will be adjusted to ensure that you receive the same bonus from it that you did before the event. There is one exception – your in-game time sworn can never be greater than the total age of the character.

For example, let’s say that my character has been in-game for 1 full day, and has been sworn to the same patron for all but 1 hour of that. Currently the time sworn is 23 hours. When I log in after the February event, the game will multiply those 23 hours by a factor to get the new time sworn bonus. However, because my character has only been around for 1 in-game day, the time sworn is capped at 1 day. When I log in, I’ll be getting a smaller bonus from in-game time sworn than I did before the event.

This may affect a small number of characters, but it was necessary to prevent strange situations caused by characters having an in-game time sworn that was longer than their total in-game time. You’ll see why this is necessary in the next paragraph.

Real time sworn will also be calculated upon first login after the February event. Because the real time date that you swore to your patron was never stored in a form we can use, we have to either start everyone from 0 real time sworn, or make a guess. So after the game recalculates your in-game time sworn, it will compare that time to the total amount of time you have spent online since character creation. That ratio will be applied to the total amount of real time since character creation to get a rough approximation of the amount of real time that the character has been sworn.

So, for example, let’s say that after the in-game time calculation, it sets my in-game time sworn to two weeks, and my total in-game time is a month. My in-game time sworn is half of my total in-game time, so my real time sworn is set to half of the total real time since the character was created. If my character were created a year ago, my real time sworn would be set to 6 months.

You may have picked up on the “upon first login” part of this. Unfortunately, we don’t have the information we need to make the adjustments until you log in. What does this mean for abandoned or inactive characters? Until these characters enter the game, their in-game time sworn is not adjusted and their real time sworn is left at 0.

One thing to keep in mind – this does mean that the pass-through from these characters will be drastically reduced. However, all pass-through has been drastically reduced. If you were relying on the XP passed up from grand-vassals through an inactive character, you’ll find that this XP will be greatly reduced whether or not this character ever logs in again.
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