June Status Report

Here’s a bunch of info and design snippets that I’ve never gotten around to mentioning.

Rebalancing Efforts:
I’ve been working on fixing tons of bugs and data errors recently. Monster’s stats were a buggy mess of random numbers and weird stuff, so I did a lot of house cleaning. I tried to keep monsters at roughly the same power levels, but that wasn’t always possible. Hopefully it’s not too jarring! We’ll get the kinks out of it over the next couple of weeks.

Probably the biggest change is that the goblin dungeon is significantly more dangerous. That’s intentional — the first part of the goblin dungeon isn’t supposed to be soloable unless your combat skills are in their 30s! But it was soloable by pretty much newbies.

The crypt dungeon is supposed to be where newbies go first. But that dungeon is terrible for newbies — too short, too dangerous, bad loot.  So I’m working on a mega-update to the Crypt, adding a bunch of new areas, new sub-bosses, and some weird stuff. There’s a new skill or two to discover, too.

When the crypt is in better shape, I’ll touch up the goblin dungeon, expanding it a bit and adding some more activities. And then I can finally get around to the third dungeon, which is aimed at players with combat skills in the 40s. (There’s also a bunch of mini-dungeons that flesh out the level range.)

Power Regeneration

After the monster tweaks, monsters often take a bit longer to kill, which means that you can run out of Power more easily, so Power regeneration is really important.

The main way to regenerate power is eating stuff. You can have a “Food”, a “Drink”, and a “Snack” item all working at once, and their effects stack together. The game doesn’t bother to teach you this crucial tip, but it’s totally worth your effort to combine drinks and foods and snacks.

A good source of easy-to-obtain Food and Snacks is chicken. There are only a few Drinks right now, but more will be added soon. In the mean time, you can make Mushroom Smoothies with the mycology skill.

Appreciating flowers will buff your max power capacity. This also indirectly buffs your power regeneration, because players regenerate a base rate of 10% of their max power each update. So the higher your max Power, the more you’ll regenerate each time.

The Mentalism skill is so good at regenerating Power that it’s a bit overpowered, and will probably get toned down at some point. Battle Chemistry can give you a golem that regenerates a lot of Power too.

Using comfortable furniture will give you small regeneration boosts, but there’s not a lot of furniture in the game yet, so that’s not too easy to do. There’s also tons of potions and items that can regenerate various things, and many more to come.

Oh, also, a note about health regeneration: when I updated all the monster stats, I also fixed some player stats. Players now get a lot more Max Health as they level up. As a side-effect, the health-regeneration items are now underpowered. So those will get powered up soon.

Skill Caps: Most skills go to 50 right now, but eventually they’ll go higher. When the game is launched, you’ll be able to level most skills all the way to 100. But the skill cap is actually 125. To get the last 25 points, you raise other skills that give you “synergy bonus levels” in that skill. (Some skills can already go past 50 because of  synergy levels from other skills!)

I did it this way because I wanted to minimize the amount of grinding players perceive. Not necessarily the amount of playing you have to do… but how tedious it is. When you notice the grind, it’s because there’s too long of a delay between getting new abilities, or because you’re doing the same thing repeatedly for too long.

So that’s why I don’t let you just grind those last 25 levels of each skill. Instead, you have to go off and level other skills, which will feel less tedious because you’ll be able to see progress easily, and you’ll be getting new abilities all the way throughout.

(My plan is that there will actually be more than 25 synergy levels out there for each combat skill… but only the first 25 levels of each skill will count.)

Leatherworking: Let me describe leatherworking very quickly. There’s not a lot to it so it doesn’t need a dissertation: you put the leather into the recipe box, plus a gem or crystal, and you get out a magic armor. It’s kind of tedious to level right now, but that will get better as more recipes are added.

One of the interesting things is that you can put any gem or crystal into the armor. Most crystals are keyed to common treasure effects — if you put a moonstone in, you’re going to get Werewolf buffs, the same kind as if you’d found a random loot item with werewolf buffs. But there are also other crystals that have their own unique effects. There’s only one of those unusual crystals in the game right now, but I’ll be adding more and more.

By the way, it’s not at all obvious, but in the game’s fiction, you aren’t actually putting the crystals in your armor directly. You’re supposedly taking the magic out of the crystals and infusing that magic into the armor. The crystal disintegrates when that happens. But I neglected to mention that little bit of fiction anywhere, so if you just go by the recipe, it looks like you’re sewing diamonds into your shoes.

On Crafting vs. Loot: As I mentioned a while back, my plan for high-level crafting is that it will be able to augment treasure items. Basically, every treasure-effect comes in a number of levels. So a crafter will be able to “level up” one of the effects on your item for you. There’s always a chance the item will explode, killing everyone in town, though. (I kid. Well, I exaggerate…)

But while that little mechanic makes crafters valuable to everyone no matter what loot they’ve found, it isn’t very satisfying for crafters themselves, especially at low level. Nobody will care enough to get their Shoddy Terrible Hat of Worthlessness leveled up by a crafter. They’ll just find a new hat.

So that’s why you can also craft random gear, much like you’d find in random loot-drops. Crafted random items have two advantages over loot drops: you get to decide what skill you want the item to focus on (based on what crystal you use), and you can access unique effects that never show up in loot (by using unusual and rare crystal types).

 Earning Favor With Random Gifts: Right now, you can give NPCs just about any high-value item and earn favor with them (unless they actively hate the item). Things that they like will be worth more Favor, but any random stuff will work.

This is temporary to help you test the content. A lot of the items aren’t in the game yet, so it’d be tedious otherwise. For instance there’s an NPC who loves seeds… and he will be amazingly happy if given rare seeds. But there’s no rare seeds in the game yet, and the existing seeds are too common to be worth much as gifts.

Eventually, giving NPCs random stuff will not earn you very much favor at all — maybe 1/4th of what it does now. You’ll need to focus on the stuff they like. That will mean that some NPCs are much harder to curry favor with than others — and that’s intentional!

Exactly How Gifts Work: Usually, the Favor from a gift is based on the coin value of the item. If they “like” an item, that means you’ll get up to twice its value in favor. If they “love” something, you’ll get 2x to 5x its value in Favor.

If they don’t care one way or the other about something, you’ll get 100% of its value in Favor, but that’s temporary. Eventually you’ll only get 25% of its value.

There’s one more key detail: some items have different values for different categories. For instance, there’s a junk item called “Elven Verse”, which is worth just 20 coins. Give it to an arbitrary NPC and it’s a 20 dollar gift. But this item is also tagged as being Poetry worth 100 coins. If you give this gift to a poetry lover, they’ll perceive it as a 100-coin item (and then double or triple that value depending on how much they love poetry).

I’m explaining all this so that you can help find bugs during development. If someone says they love gems, but they don’t give more favor for a gem than for a random item of the same value, that’s a bug! Eventually, though, all this stuff should be opaque to players. They won’t care about the formula, they’ll just give the poetry to the guy who loves poems and be done with it.

Monster Vulnerabilities: they’re not very fun. I suspect the current approach is a dead end. Either there are too many possibilities and it’s too hard to plan for it, or else there are too few possible vulnerabilities and it’s easy to plan for — letting you do 300% more damage routinely. Or the third option is that they’re boringly predictable but don’t do much extra damage. In which case, meh, why are you bothering?

The goal of the Vulnerability system is a good one: I want it to add a little bit of spontaneous quick-thinking reaction to combat. But I don’t want it to be totally mindless (as in “push the X button when X is on the screen”), because that will get too repetitive in an MMO that you play for hundreds of hours. It needs to require a little bit of thinking. Not a lot… just a second’s worth.

It also needs to be complex enough that I can tie in abilities and equipment to it. So… lots of goals, which is kinda deadlocking my creativity here. I’m gonna just ignore this topic for a month or two to let my subconscious percolate on it. But in the mean time, if you’ve got an idea for a fun reactionary mini-event that takes place during combat, I’m all ears!

Teleportation Bug: Until tomorrow (Jun 2), don’t use Teleportation circles to go between areas in the same zone. If you do, you’ll get stuck teleporting forever, unable to move, until you log out. This is a very embarrassing bug, but if you think of it as a Transporter Malfunction, it’s a lot cooler.

Feedback: I’m sorry if I haven’t replied to your feedback! I try to reply to six or 10 of them each day, but some days I get a whole lot more than that, and I just don’t get to it. But I am reading them all, and reacting to them all as best I can. Please keep feedbackin’, it’s one of the main reasons I’m able to make as much progress as I am.

Thanks, and will talk more soon!

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4 Responses to June Status Report

  1. sunnder says:

    Wow, you have a lot of your plate!

    On the topic of monster vulnerabilities: I didn’t get far enough in the game to actually see what the current system looks like, but maybe you could take a page out of Mario RPG’s timing-based critical system where each ability (not monster) has its own specific timing for hitting whatever button to earn bonus damage. I’ve replayed Mario RPG dozens of times and that system never seems to feel repetitive.

  2. Sandra says:

    If you have any questions at all about what kind of game this is, this sentence may help: “Appreciating flowers will buff your max power capacity.”

    (I have to admit, sometimes Eric amuses the hell out of me.)

  3. TP says:

    Good work as usual!

  4. Dreadz says:

    This game is awsome. Its one of the first games that you actually have to pay attention to everything you find. As for the feedback. your amazing at returning messages. All mmo’s take 24 – 48 hours to reply you send a reply within 12 hours 99% of the time and 24 hours 1% players can’t ask for anything more. Also Very glad you put out very detailed patch notes this helps find bugs and it also lets new players know the developers are here to help and they actually listen to players.. Keep up the awsome work.