Update 7 Oct 2017

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ninjadyne
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Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by ninjadyne » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:03 am

* The creation sequence has been reworked in a variety of ways:
- Account points no longer govern what creation options are available to players.
- Surnames, trait selection, god selection, boon selection are available to all characters.
- Shuddeni, like ch'taren, now receive bonus karma when they create.
- Caladaran automatically receive the long-lived trait.
- Kankoran now automatically receive the cold-natured trait.
- Psionicist now automatically receives the endurance and timeless traits.
- The Qilarn recall point has been renamed, 'Eqiril Clanhouse' and is ethron-only.
- Ethron bandits may now create at the Eqiril Clanhouse.
* Some traits may no longer be chosen at creation:
- Heirloom
- Arcane touch
- Loyal retainer
- Pack horse
- Armored caster
* The linguistic trait has had its functionality substantially improved.
* The blacksmith trait has become the weapon maintenance trait, which fighters receive automatically.
* Some traits have been reduced in cost:
- Endurance
- Fleet
* Picking up items off of the ground during combat has become substantially easier.
* Encumbrance has been altered, allowing characters 97% of their max carry before it occurs.
* One handed weapons wielded with both hands no longer allow the use of held items.
* The Dolgrael god touch has new functionality to replace its prior implementation.
* Daily experience gain's math has been corrected, preventing extreme, unpredictable gains.
Last edited by ninjadyne on Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
ninjadyne
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by ninjadyne » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:04 am

The most important change with this update is a significant overhaul to the creation sequence. In a lot of ways, it works very much as it once did, although its output has changed. The difference everyone should be aware of is that account points no longer govern what features are available to players on creation. At this point, all players, new and old, on account or off, have access to the same choices during chargen. This means, for some of you, a return to features like additional languages, which was restricted a number of years ago. For others, features like the trait selector and religion designation are only things you might have heard about, or experienced during hero day. From this point forward, there are no more divisions between favored and disfavored players; everyone is now equal.

This is a thing that I have wanted for many years. When I first became a staff member, there was still institutional resistance to the idea of removing the stratification of players that account points provided. At the time, the best I could push for was an imperfect compromise; one in which the value of account points was reduced, but not removed. Now that we have moved to a different server and have had a significant break from some of the prevailing thought which governed the mid-2000s, it's finally time to be finished with this type of account point use once and for all. I feel that this change will encourage enforcement of rules or concerns to be more direct and less passive-aggressive, as well as make the penalties a player suffers for some manner of perceived misconduct to the character they are playing, rather than be an anchor around their neck until they "prove" their atonement.

As a player, I experienced first-hand what it's like to be serially disfavored by staff. I saw how much it made my own play less fun and more angry, but also how other players got caught in the collateral damage. My goal with the changes I've put forth in this update is twofold: to make Avendar more hospitable to veteran players who have felt excluded from the perks granted to an "in-crowd", and to make it easier for new players to experience what Avendar has to offer in its entirety. The second part is largely why I have redone much of the creation prompting in the way that I have-- I want it to be clear and concise insofar as it can be as to what decisions are being made and what they entail; also to not overwhelm people with too much information at once.

Just for the record, I don't think I'm finished refining the process. There is still polish which can be done on the trait selector and the display for the gods one can follow at startup. For the time being, I'd like to ask your patience with those inconsistencies, and know that I have every intention of making them fit with the rest of the general theme in future updates.
ninjadyne
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by ninjadyne » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:04 am

Relatedly, the handling of traits has changed in a few important ways. The first is that I am attempting to make traits more accessible without cost. Therefore, some races and classes now receive bonus traits which they did not receive before. I think this should allow some of the less-useful traits to see some additional use, and to give more races distinct advantages. It should, I hope, keep the races generally on par with one another in terms of desirability. That said, some traits simply were incompatible with continued use. The heirloom, arcane touch, and loyal retainer traits are no longer in play. I'll try to explain each individually.

Heirloom is a neat concept, and one that I am sure many players could like. But it introduces some serious mechanical concerns, in that the only class capable of effectively using an heirloom over a long period of time is a spirit scholar (by way of affinity). Other characters would be forced into a very conservative style of play, and would spend their time fearing that they lost 30 hp at hero to have made an item someone else had (in my experience, the person who made an heirloom rarely kept it for the long haul, due to PK or other issues).

Arcane touch, granting a bonus percent in wands and staves, saw its greatest utility for classes which didn't receive those skills. This led to a strange potential for half-multiclassing, such as a bandit using wands and staves for spells. While in general theory this might seem fine, it absolutely throws off some of the power balance of different classes relative to each other. It doesn't work for me, having other classes effectively gain scholar skills which were intended to grant them special functionality or flexibility that others don't have.

Loyal retainer, for those of you who remember seeing it in play, is possibly the most feast-or-famine trait. It was either insanely powerful (a retainer that always chose the perfect skill to use, rarely failed at that skill, and couldn't be lagged or disabled), or insanely useless (a retainer who does nothing and is a weak and ineffective charmie). Both of those are bad. But the biggest issue in general was granting a charmie to a class which was not built to accommodate one; a thief suddenly being able to circle all the time is actually quite unbalancing. The retainer also had other issues, such as obvious ways to circumvent the required death before calling another one. Ultimately, I have decided that for now, it simply is not going to be allowed to take.
ninjadyne
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by ninjadyne » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:04 am

Some other traits have remained in play but are no longer able to be chosen: armored caster and pack horse. Even as I write this, I can imagine the collective groans that I just elicited by doing it. Armored caster is intended for templars, something which makes them uniquely able to blend combat and magic, something which takes significant training to overcome. This isn't an ability which should be so trivially taken by scholars to become, basically, really powerful spellcasting templars who attack in melee slightly less. So at this point, only templars receive it.

Pack horse is one of those traits everyone loves, and none of the reasons for loving it are good ones. Avendar has a long history of hating "storage characters" from the perspective of staff; because of item limits, if one person is carrying tons of good items, no one else can have them unless the person carrying them gets rid of them or dies. Pack horse allowed some characters to gain a ridiculous amount of carry capacity, enough to lug around entire arsenals-worth of limited items which they intended to use or not. The trait remains in play-- for now-- with bandits, who received it automatically. The idea of being able to carry away more loot has a role-related function for them that other classes simply do not share.

Now, I'm sure a number of you would have liked to have stopped me before now to say, "but ninjadyne, the reason I love pack horse is because of encumbrance, and it makes it impossible to play my character". Don't worry-- I know this is how you feel. As a result, I have raised the threshold required to actually encumber a player to 97% of their max carry. This should allow characters the ability to carry items freely through the bulk of their carry weight without problems. Worn items still have the potential to encumber sooner than that, but that functionality has not changed. For those of you wondering why I didn't simply eliminate it, here's why: I didn't have the time with this update to properly evaluate what to do with the encumbrance system as a whole, and without addressing earth scholars, I don't want to entirely remove it. The change I have made here is a stopgap measure until I have time to figure out what the fate of encumbrance should be, and how, if at all, it interacts with gravity magic from the earth sphere.
ninjadyne
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by ninjadyne » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:05 am

Some traits continue to exist but have changed form, function, or cost. The most important change is that of blacksmith, which no longer reduces the damage incurred by items when you use them in combat. Instead, it gives players who take it access to the repair command, which allows them to improve the condition of metal weapons in their inventory. This trait has been renamed "weapon maintenance" and has been given automatically to fighters. I feel that this change should make taking this trait more desirable in general, and should shed the implicit questions that blacksmith raised (such as, "why can I not make my own weapons?" or "why can I not use a forge?").

The linguistic trait has been improved, in that now it actually should noticably increase the rate at which one learns languages. Without getting too thick into the details of how language learning works in-code, the general gist is that the improvement rate that was granted didn't actually offer a meaningful chance to get better at languages more quickly; it was effectively the same rate as it would have been before. That should be resolved.

Fleet and endurance now cost 1 train each, instead of 2. This is because picking up items off of the ground in combat is no longer insanely difficult. I compared the odds of picking up an item pre-this-update to the odds of doing the same in 2001, and it was 25% harder now than then. Even then, it was annoying to do. What I have done is reduce the odds of failure at item retrieval, making fleet less necessary. It continues to have the same function of letting you pick up items without failure that it does now, but the failure chance is so much less substantive that this isn't a huge gain. Endurance, on the other hand, was as expensive as it was because of the benefit it could offer to classes like psionicist. That is now a moot point, as psionicist automatically receives it on creation.
ninjadyne
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by ninjadyne » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:05 am

Many classes and races have gained automatic traits. Psionicist, which I previously mentioned, gains the endurance trait, and also gains another trait which was dubbed "timeless"-- basically a counterpoint to revenant, in that it is the ability of a mortal to resist (not remove) the ill-effects of aging. With their unique control of their bodies, the ability to suppress hunger seems like a given (to wit, I wrote about it in the lore of the founding of the Hakurah Monastery), and the ability to resist aging feels like a natural extension. Fighters, as I said earlier, receive weapon maintenance for free. They join many other classes in receiving traits automatically.

Races individually, following the example of the ethron with their wild traversal trait, now also gain some traits on creation. The caladaran receive the long-lived trait automatically; the kankoran receive cold-natured. While these are marginal benefits to those races, they come in addition to the perks they already receive (such as improved hand to hand damage for the kankoran, or faster mana regeneration for the caladaran). I believe this should make those races slightly more desirable, and in keeping with some of the bonuses other races already receive.

Finally, a few other creation errata. The Qilarn recall point has been changed to the 'Eqiril Clanhouse' recall, because, well, that's where it is. It's also now ethron-specific, because the location is an ethron stronghold and has been since the game's inception. Nendor's altar remains the go-to for other naturalist characters and races should they wish to recall outside of the city. Ch'taren, as I discovered from working over the creation process, received bonus karma for being ch'taren. The shuddeni, on the other hand, did not receive this bonus karma. Now they do, once again restoring the polar races to parity with one another.
Steve the Black
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by Steve the Black » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:55 am

Looks like a nice set of changes.

One thing that's always bothered me, as we are apparently looking at character creation. As far as I am aware, sharing accounts is illegal. As that is the case, why does the game ask me to create individual passwords for each character on an account? Haven't I already proven who I am by logging into the account?
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Kudrov
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by Kudrov » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:59 am

In theory, it's to give you an extra degree of security. If you have two separate passwords, it is a bit harder for someone to take your character for a joyride.
"I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth." - Mary Shelley
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neongrey
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by neongrey » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:36 pm

Looks like there's one missing that ninja forgot to notate:

The hardcore option is also gone. The problem with hardcore is that it really promotes a style of play that is in no way beneficial to the game-- ie, conservative with your one death, avoiding making enemies, low-investiture in roleplay because you know you're on a short timer, et cetera. We appreciate that there are people who found this option fun, but when we weigh it out, it's just not something that felt right to keep.

The other thing too is that hardcore was actually the original account point benefit, so it very much has that sense of 'uh, so we should give people some benefit for account points' and while I appreciate the early effort to make the account system something other than a player surveilance method, that need no longer exists.

God touches I believe now become broadly available with this update also-- the effects of these are not transparently documented yet because we're still looking over a lot of them and the vast majority are going to change (a lot of 5% damage reduction to narrow criteria here and there on the legacy ones) so buyer beware for now. We've also finally added some alignment checking to the god selector; previously there was nothing preventing a shuddeni from declaring as a Calaera follower, eg, lol. We're not interested in seeing these used as a 'hey sigil me i have a god touch' thing, but there are a lot of neat effects that might come up from having the direct influence of a god upon you.

Right now, the account system is basically vestigial; this is going to change, though I can't say how near in the future. We've got a lot of really exciting ideas for the future of accounts on the table, but nothing has been nailed down yet at all so I'm not comfortable teasing anything yet. But we really want to finally turn your account into something that is useful for you and not just a platform for staff to make backbiting comments about how a video game released a year after you rolled a character had a town with the same name as that character, thanks, Rystaia, I really needed that on my permanent record.
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neongrey
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Re: Update 7 Oct 2017

Post by neongrey » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:54 pm

Oh, and the patron-only luxury holding cell is finally in. Hooray!
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