Announcements - 2004/02 - The Madness of Men

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Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbinegames.com/index.php?page_id=168

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The Madness of Men


Posted on 06-Feb-2004

“It’s the laughing, you see?” The guard was disheveled. His clothes were torn and bloody, his eyes set deep in their sockets, his skin covered with grit and his hair matted and greasy. He reeked of filth, and smiled to reveal teeth that were stained brown from neglect. He swayed from side to side in constant motion, eyes darting toward the walls of the hall and the shadows cast against them.

Elysa recognized him still through the grime and stench—Roderick Largent, once a member of her castle guard. He had been assigned to investigate the disappearances on Marae Lassel, went missing two months prior, and was found preaching in Zaikhal only a few hours ago. He stood before her now, flanked by two guards who watched him with wary eyes. She felt pity.

“Roderick, where have you been, what did you see?” she asked in a quiet and steady voice, trying to calm him down.

Roderick’s eyes locked onto hers. Now his demeanor changed—he stood tall and stopped shifting. No more laughter, no more smile, only ice-blue eyes staring through her. The room seemed to warp; sound and light bent in awkward directions as he began to speak.

“I have seen the end. I have seen the coming of a tide that shall scour the face of this world and wipe clean the prophecies of the golden age. There will be a call to children who were forgotten, buried and lost. Their wrath shall be barbed with poison that courses through the veins of the world, and all shall rot. Auberean is forsaken by the light and so it shall be consumed.” He cackled madly, but his lips did not move; his eyes still held hers in place and the room slowly turned dark. “First, there shall be a time of respite. The shadow will creep through its halls, falling silent but working, ever vigilant, while the warped souls of man are drawn closer to its call. The halls of the frozen city will be strengthened, a place of battle shall cull the weak from the land, Ispar will turn against Ispar. The heavens will break and a scream both holy and unholy will shatter a barrier that has long protected us all.”

Flames burst up behind Roderick, and his crazed eyes bore through Elysa like knives. The wound in her back throbbed and the sound of blood roared in her ears.

“You ask me what I have seen? I have seen the folly of sending the Lightbringer away. Now the darkness shall grow, unchecked, unabated. You are the architect of this world’s demise! Damned is your name!” The laughter began again and Elysa screamed in defiance.

*****

When she woke, Antius placed his hands on her shoulders.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Antius, recall all those investigating the Raven Hand.” She touched her hand to one of his as she tossed the covers aside. “I need reports from all the cities, I need to know of anything strange that has happened there, anything that is…not right.” She pulled herself out of bed and moved towards her armor. “Get anyone that we sent to that damned island back here!”

Antius rubbed his face and ran a hand through his hair, “Elysa, where are you going?”

“The city of ice.” She looked back at the bed, but he was no longer there. Across the room, he shouldered his armor. Elysa smiled, despite herself. “What are you doing?”

“Coming with you,” he said.

“No, I need you to get me those reports, and bring our scouts back home.” She strapped on one pauldron, then the other. “I’ll take a group of guards with me. Please, Antius.”

Antius nodded with resignation. There was no arguing with her once she had made up her mind. But even his confidence in her could not completely erase the worry. He—and Ispar—had almost lost her once. “Be careful.”

She smiled, “Always.”

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/feb04_rollout.htm

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Rollout Article


Posted on 23-Feb-2004

Four days without feeding, four days without wash and four days without any sign of his quarry. He drew a hand through his greasy hair and looked at the shreth beneath his boot. Hardly worth killing, true, but at the moment he would settle for a drudge. He spied the note on a corpse nearby, likely some poor sod who had wandered too near the pack of shreth. Kneeling, he caught the scent of crisp cold air. Snow was coming soon. The letter was odd, but it made him think of the witch. He smiled in spite of the aching pain within his soul and headed north.

*****

"What is it?" Wah Chon asked Ye Te. The two stood outside their shop doorways looking out across the town crossing. Snow fell, obscuring their vision.

"I don't know. I don't think that I want to." There was a long pause. Wah Chon started moving cautiously down the hill.

"What are you doin'?" asked Ye Te.

"I want to know what it is." Wah Chon snapped, startled and nearly leaping into the air. "Stop yelling, you fool!"

Ye Te shook her head. "Remember the last statues that appeared in town. These could be the same," she chided her friend. "Best you wear your armor and prepare to fight."

Wah Chon waved a hand at Ye Te to show her displeasure and stepped closer to the small statue. Her face became pale as she turned to her friend. Ye Te took a step towards Wah Chon, who turned and ran, slipping up the hill. Ye Te spied glowing red eyes and black wings through the snow. She grew pale as well as she retreated into her shop and slid the door closed.


The Ongoing Saga
After the eruption of darkness on the island to the southwest, many adventurers assailed the transformed Caul in an attempt to discern its secrets. New horrors were discovered, as were new trophies and rewards. As the reformed Council tries to respond to this new threat, additional dangers seem to be found daily, some much closer to home.

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


Tuskers and Physics
After the January event, we began seeing a number of unusual server-side lag spikes, generally occurring alongside strange reports of invisible monsters and players who suddenly found themselves in total darkness, unable to move.

Over the course of this month, we have taken several steps to resolve these issues, such as temporarily removing all monsters from the most frequently affected dungeons and restarting the servers with increased logging.

With the February event, we believe we have resolved most if not all of the bugs that caused these situations. We have also added improved logging to help us stamp out any remaining issues.


Speedhack Auto-enforcement
In August of 2003, we enabled auto-enforcement of speed-altering violations on Darktide, in addition to the auto-detection which had been active for some time. This meant that if you tried to use a speed-altering program like Gear or Speedhack on Darktide, you would get booted on your first three offenses, and banned for additional offenses.

Since that time, we have made some improvements to the auto-detection and auto-enforcement system, and we are now prepared to activate auto-enforcement on the seven NPK worlds. The same rules will be used as on Darktide.

  • On your first, second, and third detection, you will be automatically booted from the game.
  • On your fourth detection, you will be booted from the game and given a one-day ban.
  • On your fifth detection as well as any further detections, you will be booted from the game and given a three-day ban.

We will be rolling out auto-enforcement in waves to ensure that there are no unexpected snags. Approximately a week after the February event, Frostfell will be briefly restarted in order to have auto-enforcement activated. The other six worlds will most likely follow in the March event.


Chat Improvements
This month, we've made some improvements and bug fixes to allegiance chat, as well as adding several new commands for general chat.

  • @filter allegiance no longer filters global allegiance chat. It still filters all @m, @p, @v, and @c messages.
  • You should no longer see text from characters that you have squelched in allegiance chat.
  • There is now an option in the Character Options panel, "Global Allegiance Chat." Checking or unchecking this option will enable or disable allegiance chat for your character. You can also toggle this option via the commands @allegiance chat on or @allegiance chat off. Existing characters have this option on by default.
  • You can now set allegiance chat as your default chat mode by clicking on the Chat button to the left of the chat bar.
  • Allegiance chat is now orange instead of pink.
  • When you type @r, the chat bar will now autoreplace this with @t . Now, if you receive a tell from a second player while you are typing your reply, it will go to the correct recipient.
  • We have added @mr, which will autoreplace with @t .
  • We have added @pr, which will autoreplace with @t .
  • You can now map keys to the following commands via the "Configure Keyboard" button in your Options panel: @r, @mr, @pr, and toggle allegiance chat.


Treasure in February
As we mentioned in the Letter to the Players, we are in the process of rebalancing treasure in much the same way that we rebalanced creature difficulty and experience last year. Our goals are twofold: we want treasure to be 1) useful and 2) interesting.

February is only the first stage of our rebalancing, and although some changes you will notice are obvious steps towards our goals, the value of other changes will only become clear as the process continues. In particular, here are some areas in which things are not yet perfect:

  • Spell scrolls: The level of scrolls that you find on creatures is badly out of whack right now. Truthfully, it has been for awhile, but our other changes in February really emphasize this issue. We plan to have spell scrolls of appropriate levels dropping with the March update.
  • Wield Req. Weapons: The distribution of weapons with wield requirements at extreme levels (80+) is not satisfactory. We will be working on this aspect of treasure over the next several months.
  • Spells on Items: The distribution of item and creature spells on items at extreme levels (80+) is not satisfactory. We will be working on this aspect of treasure over the next several months.
  • Chests: February concentrated on creature loot; March will concentrate more heavily on chest loot. So during the February update you may run across some chests that are not yet properly adjusted for the area in which they appear.
  • Armor in general, and Covenant Armor in particular: We have some interesting plans for loot armor, but it is likely going to be many months before you see these plans come to full fruition.

So keep these factors in mind and remember that we're going to be working on treasure for the next several months. And enjoy the changes!


NPCs and Stacks
There are many NPCs who will reward you for items that can be stacked. In the past, if you had a stack of these items, you had to split them up into individual items before you could hand them in.

Starting this month, you can now hand a whole stack to any NPC that accepts an item that can be stacked. The NPC should take only one item off the stack, leaving the remainder in your pack, and then give you your reward.

Town Criers will still take whole stacks of items and dispose of them for you.


Fellowship XP and Trophies
Last month, we made a change to the way fellowship XP was handled with regards to player location. One aspect of this change that resulted in a great deal of feedback was the increased difficulty in sharing XP from trophies, such as the Olthoi Queen's head or the Olthoi Pincers. If a character in your fellowship happened to be standing outside Behdo Yii's house when you turned in an Olthoi Pincer, for example, he would receive no XP as you were indoors, and he was outdoors. Fellowship XP doesn't share between indoor and outdoor characters anymore.

Starting this month, XP rewards from trophy turn-ins are no longer subject to the fellowship restrictions. Those rewards that are shared among your fellowship will be shared no matter where any individual member of that fellowship is standing. So when you hand in the Queen's head, you won't have to worry about everyone in your fellowship having to crowd into Aun Hareltah's tent in Timaru.


Secure Trade Window
We've seen a number of complaints, both on the forums and in reports to the Admin team, regarding players who close the secure trade window in mid-transaction, in the hopes that their trading partner will accidentally hand them an item or drop an item on the ground.

To prevent this behavior, we have made the following change: if a player closes the trade window, the other player's trade window will not close automatically. Instead, the other player will receive the "The trade has been canceled" message and the trade window will stay open. The other player can close the window at his or her leisure.

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC1/feb04_devnotes.htm

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Developer's Notes


Posted on 24-Feb-2004

New Functionality and Content

  • All players now have access to Asheron's Call: Dark Majesty content, regardless of whether or not they had purchased the expansion pack in the past. Please see the Letter to the Players for details.
  • The Allegiance Experience system has been changed. For details, please see the following articles: Allegiance Experience and Allegiance Experience Follow-Up.
  • Two existing quests Frore and the Bunny Master have been updated.
  • The first phase of creature and chest treasure revisions has been implemented. Please see the Letter to the Players and the Rollout Article for details.
  • Several improvements to allegiance and general chat. Please see the Rollout Article for details.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • We have made changes to reduce and/or prevent the severe server-side lag and black screen client bug that were experienced after the January event. Please see the Rollout Article for details.
  • This month, we will be activating speed-enhancement ("speedhack") auto-enforcement on the NPK worlds. Please see the Rollout Article for details.
  • The opening splash screens now show the name of the monthly event.
  • Snow has stopped falling in most of Dereth, although the accumulation on the ground has not yet melted.
  • The Fellowship Experience changes made last month no longer applies to experience earned from trophy turn-ins. Please see the Rollout Article for details.
  • @day is now an option on the Character Options panel, and it is persistent across logins. You can still toggle it via the @day command as well.
  • All existing characters on Darktide are eligible for a one-time award of experience and items. Please see the Letter to the Players for details.
  • You can now hand a stack of items to an NPC instead of having to split one item off the stack first. Please see the Rollout Article for details.
  • One player closing the trade window should no longer automatically close the window for the other player. Please see the Rollout Article for details.
  • Removing characters from your house guest list or squelch list is no longer case-sensitive.
  • A bug that was preventing use of Vincadi's Harbinger portal has been fixed.
  • The collector at the Yanshi refugee camp should now give the same rewards as the other collectors.
  • The Listris Nefane should no longer drop its trophy 100% of the time.
  • All Nefane were doing too little damage with their tentacles, this has been resolved.
  • The Dolls on the Singularity Caul should no longer be casting level 1 debuffs.
  • The run speed of Marguls has been increased.
  • The highest level of Runed Chests should once again spawning on landscape.
  • You can now recharge Ulgrim's Casting Stein if it is wielded by using a full mana stone or charge on your paperdoll.
  • You can now use the Fish Stamp on stampable shields, if you meet the requirements.
  • The Sleek Dress should look correct when dyed.
  • The rings received from Darhy, Nuhmudira's assistant, are now ivoryable.
  • The Mace of Dissonance is no longer attuned.
  • The Quintessence Sickle now has a correct wield requirement. If you are wielding a Sickle when you log in, and do not meet the 325 base Axe wield requirement, you will unwield the Sickle. Please see the Letter to the Players for details..


Minor Details

  • The Nexus Town Information Guide handed out by Society Agents at each town has been tweaked to be easier to read.
  • Enchanted damage modifiers on missile weapons should now be properly shown in green in the ID panel.
  • Several buildings on the Singularity Caul have been tweaked to improve how they sit on landscape.
  • Scrum no longer casts war spells, but his debuffs have gotten nastier.
  • The NPCs in the Hidden Cavern are a little more talkative.
  • Your girth area should no longer flash when equipping a Rendeath Shreth Coat.
  • New Rendeath Shreth Coats will no longer have a white girth area when dropped or hooked. This does not change existing Coats.
  • You should no longer get stuck on the ledge above the cage in Oolutanga's Refuge.
  • The second guard in the Training Academy no longer repeats himself unnecessarily.
  • It is no longer possible to write in the untranslated Elemental Tomes.
  • Signs in Al-Jalima should no longer be on the ground.
  • The text in a Samsur town sign has been fixed.
  • The bags sold by the Candeth Keep tree vendors are now the correct color.
  • The Hieromancer's Gauntlets are now spelled correctly, as are Banderling Hierophants.
  • The Peerless Drudge Charm Necklace now has the correct name.
  • Tachis wielded by high-level Drudges no longer have an incorrect icon.
  • Several creatures have been tweaked for balance.
  • A typo in the Book of Quests for New Explorers has been fixed.
  • The Surface portal in the Unicorn's Grace dungeon no longer says "Exit to Sruface".
  • A typo in Samuel's speech has been corrected.

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbinegames.com/index.php?page_id=166

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Letter to the Players


Posted on 02-Feb-2004

Welcome to the February 2004 Letter to the Players! You may be a little surprised at how soon after the January event this letter arrived, and I don’t blame you. Several months ago we began planning to move our events to the second week of the month, starting in February. Combined with our need to delay the January event until the very end of the month, however, this means that there will only be about two weeks between the January event and the February event.

In Dereth, the full power and malice of Ler Rhan – Aerbax’s so-called mirror – has been revealed with the eruption of darkness on the Singularity Caul. While the populace looks fearfully to the southwest, High Queen Elysa Strathelar and the council continue working to improve the lives of all people on Dereth.

Now let’s take a look at some of the changes coming up in the February event.


Dark Majesty Unlocked For All
I’ll cut right to the chase: Starting with the February event, all players will have access to Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty content, whether or not they purchased the expansion pack. That means that all characters will be able to access Marae Lassel and all characters will have the ability to purchase in-game housing.

We have decided to do this for a number of reasons. The first reason is... well, because we like to give things to you, our fans, who have stayed with us and made our purchase of the franchise possible. Those who don’t have ACDM will now be able to access that content and adventure with their friends who have ACDM currently.

We are also very aware of the current problems with obtaining new copies of AC:DM and we are doing this to help those who only need it to upgrade existing accounts. We also know that our recent announcement has sparked a lot of interest in older players who are looking to return to the game, some who may have left before the expansion pack was released, and we want to give them more incentive to return.

In the meantime, we are working hard to make copies of the game available to new players. We want new players just as much as we want previous players to come back! This is just a quick fix to one part of the issue. As soon as we have a solution to availability in place, we’ll let you know; we’re working on it as you read this.

Incidentally, this change is being handled by the game servers themselves and not by the billing system at the MS Gaming Zone. Because of that fact, this will not change your listed subscription, nor will it change which lobbies you use to enter the game. If you currently use the non-Dark Majesty lobbies, continue to do so. You will be able to access Dark Majesty content even when entering the game via these lobbies.


Allegiance XP Changes
The February event brings with it sweeping changes to the means in which the allegiance system creates and passes-up experience.

Please refer back to our article on these changes. We’ve also posted a follow-up article with some changes and clarifications.


Treasure Changes
February will see the beginning of a rebalancing of the treasure system in Asheron’s Call, similar to the monster rebalancing that was done last year. Some of our goals for the treasure system include:

  • Creatures in a particular level range should drop loot that is useful to characters in that level range.
  • More creatures should drop items that have been modified in some way by the treasure system. There should always be a reason to check a creature’s corpse.

As with the monster rebalancing, this is a process that will take several months. This month, you will see small to moderate changes in the loot dropped by almost every creature, as well as that found in many special chests.


Darktide Award
As referenced in this article, this month we will be providing all characters on Darktide with an award as an apology for the downtime and rollback a week and a half ago. Starting on the day of the February event, all existing characters on Darktide can talk to a town crier for the following one-time award:

  • Two random pieces of high-level loot.
  • Enough experience to gain three levels. Characters who are level 126 will receive three times the experience required to go from 125 to 126. This XP will not be shared in fellowships and will not be passed up through the allegiance system.

This award must be claimed before the March event. Make sure you leave two empty slots in your backpack!


Quintessence Sickle
The updated Quintessence Sickle has an activation requirement of 325 Axe. This was intended to be a wield requirement, and this has been fixed for the February event.

If you are wielding a Quintessence Sickle when the worlds come down for the February event, and you do not have a base Axe skill of 325, the Sickle will be moved to your backpack when you enter the world after the event. If your backpack is full, it will drop on the ground.

To be safe, we recommend that those players who do not meet the wield requirements not have the Sickle wielded when the worlds come down for the event. Content Revisions

We’re continuing our plans of retouching outdated content. In February, you’ll be seeing the return of one of Dereth’s most elusive citizens, as well as an update to one of its oldest and most legendary quests.


The Future
We’d like to let you know some of the larger tasks that we’re working on for the next several months. These include:

  • Additional updates to treasure, such as more mutations for wands and bows and improved damage over time balance.
  • A focus on player vs. player gameplay, including general improvements and resolutions to known PvP issues.
  • Some magic additions, such as fellowship spells and improvements to the buffing process.
  • An assortment of quest and town upgrades.
  • Asheron Call’s next story arc!

We’ll be providing more information on many of these changes, especially PvP, long before they enter the game. We know you’ll have a great deal of feedback for us on these topics.

In addition to all of this, we’ve got some exciting new content lined up for February. See you in Dereth!

- Ibn

Envoys and the Code of Conduct

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbinegames.com/index.php?page_id=181

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The Envoys and the Code of Conduct


Posted on 27-Feb-2004

From Katahdin, our Customer Support Manager.

There have been many questions regarding how the Code of Conduct will be enforced by Turbine Customer Service. As Customer Service Manager, I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some of those questions:

  1. The CoC is not changing right now. As I said in an earlier post, I’d like to enforce the rules as they are written now, to get a feel for whether new rules are needed. Changes could be made to it later this summer; we will see if they are necessary.
  2. Bans will now be across all servers. For example, if you get banned on Thistledown for profanity, we will ban your account on all the other servers for the same length of time as the original.
  3. From now on, 3 strikes and you are out. 3 bans for any combination of CoC violations will suspend your account for one year. For particularly abusive behavior, we reserve the right to ban you for a year without 3 strikes. As we will be keeping a database of the number of bans on accounts, if we discover on review any duration of a ban is actually your third, we will re-ban for the year.
  4. UCM – The UCM test will be administered in much the same manner that it is today. Why? Because it works. Let me clarify a few points:
    1. When you are the subject of a UCM test, you are put into limbo, where you can neither take any damage, nor give any.
    2. The AC client itself suppresses combat messages from your chat window. We cannot make any accommodation for the ‘spam’ you receive from either fellowship, allegiance chat or any third party plug-ins.
    3. The steps in the UCM test are for a reason, not because we find them entertaining or are trying to embarrass a player. You are asked to do a number of steps because each of them is important. Very few unattended combat macro’s can perform each step of the UCM test; some can only do a few, some can do more, but none of them can do all of them. Your failure to repeat the string of characters or the short sentence within the time allowed (30 seconds) constitutes a fail of the test. If you pop in at 34 seconds or, for that matter, 1 minute and some spare seconds, it does not change the fact that the time allowed was exceeded.
    4. If you refuse the UCM test, or fail any section, you will be banned.
    5. If you log out during a UCM test, you will be banned.
    6. UCM will be enforced on all servers. No exceptions.
    7. Mages – if you are vulning for another player, your character is subject to UCM tests too.
    8. Duration of bans:
      1. First offense – 3 days all servers
      2. Second offense – 7 days all servers
      3. Third offense – 1 year, all servers.

        I know the above reads harshly, but UCMs are a top problem; they hog areas and deprive characters playing legitimately of a level playing field. You can count on the fact that we’re going to be doing a lot of UCM checks. If we happen to pick you in error for a UCM, please bear with us; we’re trying to make the game better for us all.
  5. Profanity – Profanity, hate speech and vulgarity are violations of the CoC. Using this type of language in open chat is a violation and we take these reports seriously. If you are getting /tells which contain objectionable language and an Envoy asks you to squelch the player, please do so. We are not trying to ignore your request; we are trying to force the chat into the open. Yes, we can get logs of all chat in the game; however, it takes time. We would rather deal with the situation at that moment and could use the assistance of person who reports the problem. Please don’t argue with the Envoy over this; we need your assistance to clean it up. Allegiances and Fellowship who report profanity or hate speech on their channels will be asked to expel the player from the allegiance or fellowship. These are voluntary relationships and if you object to it, then you have the right to leave or to petition your monarch to clean up your ranks.
  6. Racist remarks and hate speech will not be tolerated. If an Envoy observes this behavior, no warning is required. You will be banned.
  7. Appeals. You can appeal bans. You cannot appeal bans on any of the forums, through in-game support or through any employee’s email at Turbine. You must use a link that will be found on the Asheron’s Call home page and provide the appropriate information.
  8. Offensive names – We are looking into this and as soon as I have more information about how we will proceed, I’ll let you know. For now, characters that are under level 20 will be asked to delete the character. If you refuse, you will be banned across all servers and it will count as a strike. Characters over level 20 may be asked to voluntarily rename the character. If you refuse, we have the option of renaming it for you or simply deleting it.

    That said: Please don’t panic. If you are over level 20, I want to work with you, because some players have been allowed to have offensive names for years through lack of enforcement. However, some of the names simply have to go, so we’ll work with you to pick an appropriate name.
That’s it for now; I think I hit all the big ticket items. In closing, I want to say that we are thrilled to be bringing player support home to Turbine. We love the game, too, and want it to be a great time with a level playing field for all players.
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