Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #203
Greetings Fellow Avatars!
Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:
Release 36 includes:
- Midras Ruins Rebuilt
- Graff Island Rebuilt
- Elad’s Lighthouse Rebuilt
- Malice and Spite Polish
- Magic Damage Types & Resistances
- Teachable Recipes
- Over 15 New Recipes
- POT Oveworld Population Indicators
- New Custom NPCs: Shogun Siranto and High Priestess Khasi
- Winter Holiday Content
- R35 Lot Deed Raffle Winners
…and much more
Check out the Release 36 Instructions update for detailed information about all the new content.
As part of Portalarium’s “attempts to provide more information about the reasoning behind why they make certain changes”, Chris Spears made a series of posts. The first was a broad list of the Major System Changes made in Release 36 and a brief description of why each change was made:
We managed to cram a LOT of changes into release 36 despite it only being 3 weeks long! While I strongly believe all the changes are good for the game, I’m also well aware that many of the changes will upset some individuals. Without a doubt the changes will disrupt some of the play styles that have been the most optimal way to play up until now.
First major change is one we have discussed for quite a while; the resistance system! Up until now, casters had the advantage of always being able to affect almost all creatures fully. There were only a few creatures that were resistant to anything. While this is great for mages, it is bad for the game. It means that players don’t have to adjust their play style based on what they are fighting. Many times I would peek in on what a party was doing and the party was all fire mage archers, stacking fire dots on enemies and stacking haste effects on themselves.
While this still might be a good strategy for some things, it will not work on everything. I tried to make the resistance changes as realistic as possible. For example, elementals are highly magic resistant overall, almost immune to their element and vulnerable to the opposite element. Thus, Fire elementals are immune to fire and vulnerable to water and somewhat resistant to everything else. Another example of a common resistance setup is being highly immune to all elemental magic while vulnerable to magic or vice versa. I’ll leave it to players to try and figure out the resistances of various things.
The resistances themselves are implemented through the attunement system and are effectively just a type of attunement that helps with defense vs magic but does not make your own magic more powerful. For R36, there will be some resistances available in crafting but I also hope to add skills with some resistances in upcoming release.
Next up, Defensive Stance is no longer a flat damage resistance buff and instead is a bonus to what armor gives you. Players wearing heavy armor might actually see a small uptick in how much this protects, but players in cloth or leather could see a drastic reduction. This is part of the ongoing attempt to help define roles based on armor. For a while, we have had a problem that the best tanks in the game wore cloth and just stacked a ton of defensive skills and spells. That was never intended but rather grew out of enhancements to magic systems and itemization.
Party Experience will now only be granted to people within 40m of the person dealing the killing blow. This is primarily for realism, but also to make power leveling other players a bit less convenient.
Fizzle for armor on Air, Fire, and Death schools increased slightly. The multiplier for armor penalty in most spells in those schools went up by either 0.1 or 0.2. This means that your armor has a base 30% fizzle, your fizzle chance for those schools went up by 3% or 6%. This was done to help differentiate light and heavy armor a bit more.
Interruption is working again in R36! During all of R35, spells couldn’t be interrupted at all; except by stuns and knock downs. That was actually a bug that has now been fixed. Additionally, while spell “Lock” times have remained the same, many spells now have a “Cast” time. For those unclear, lock time is how long from start of execution until you can do something else, like start casting another spell. Cast time is the time during which you can be interrupted and also when it shows the bar at the bottom of the screen. This has always been the intended design, that most spells would have cast times and be interruptible by attacks. Again, this is another change in trying to make sure that casters are not the best tanks in the game and also to give non-casters a way to be competitive with casters in PVP as well.
Ok casters, ready for some good news? For spells that are damaging or have negative effects, the targets resistance is now equal half their attunement plus their resistance instead of their full attunement! This means that players with no resistance gear will almost certainly be easier to damage with magic. This will primarily only affect PVP and the difference should be noticeable.
The max amount of decay accumulation has been upped to 12 hours. This means that if you have 1 million xps spent on skills and you die for the first time in a week, you’ll lose 1250 xps. If you die again 30 minutes later, you’ll lose 52 xps. Again, sounds trivial for most people and it is. Decay is not intended to slow the casual or new players down. It’s purpose is to create a soft cap for progression for the absolute most hard core. This will continue to increase slightly each release.
Several targeting issues resolved! First, the tab target system that I thought was just bad math was truly picking the very worst target on first use. That has now been resolved and I also changed up the math so it gives more value to closer targets than targets in front of you. Additionally, casting a beneficial spell with no hard locked target will now default to casting the spell on yourself. If you want to cast a heal on a party member you will need to select them by clicking on them or using the F1-F8 keys.
Spell effect stacking (not to be confused with glyph stacking) now has a system in place to limit the max number of the same effects on a target. The players who will probably feel this the most are the fire mages and blade users who stack rend. For most effects, no more than three any specific type effect will stack. So players can still have three fire bolt dots, three fire ball dots, and three rend dots all at once but more than that will overwrite the older ones.
Immolation has had its radius reduced by 20%. This spell was always intended to be a fire shield that does damage to things that hit you. Unfortunately, it was setup wrong and people got used to it be a massive AOE fire effect that was perfect for kiting. My plan is to reduce it each release for a few releases and then switch it to be a damage shield that only hits those in melee range but does more damage per hit.
For R36, we also have refactored our channel system. This is the system that controls which spells and effects can be active at the same time. With the update, we are now able to properly block certain spells and skills from playing at the same time based on channels. For R37, the two major changes are that Shield of Air will no longer stack with other shield spells and that Reckless Stance and Berserker Stance will no longer stack with Flurry.
We’re also trying out a few changes we’re just referring to as “Experimental”. These are changes we expect to tweak and are just looking to see how they impact some of our metrics. The first is that players who are flagged PVP and playing in multiplayer mode will receive a 25% experience bonus. The goal is to reward the extra risk that PVP players take since we still do not have systems in place for other measurable rewards in PVP. We’ll be looking to see how this impacts players playing in PVP and also multiplayer mode. My guess is this will change into something like a 10% bonus for players in multiplayer mode and 10% bonus for being PVP in future releases.
The last big controversial big change that went in for R36 is that subsequent COTO repairs on equipment will repair less and less max durability. Despite the numerous rage threads that will surely erupt on this topic, this was not about SOTA trying to extract more money from players. Repairs are not, and likely never will be, a significant revenue stream. This is a change that has been requested by those concerned about the economy and crafting to make sure that items are never really permanent. This does not mean that you shouldn’t invest tons of time and resources to build a +15 sword. It does mean that you should not use your +15 sword to kill bears and instead save it for the dragons and trolls or the PVP tournaments.
That’s it for the big ticket items! My expectation is that after reading this, some people are cheering and others only made it halfway through before starting their “How will I solo dragons and daemons now!” rage post. The overall goal for these changes was to make the end game more challenging without negatively impacting the low to mid game. It was also to help define roles a bit more so that caster types are more glass cannons. I think the changes made this release go a long ways towards achieving those goals and moving away from single optimal build.
The second post was an explanation on how Gold Crowns of the Obsidians work (aka COTOs) and why they believe they are ultimately good for the game:
It has been a while since I put in writing why we made certain decisions on the economy and our “premium currency” or COTOs. I’ve seen a number of people in the forums getting worked up about a few topic with a common rage element of “I REFUSE TO PAY MONEY TO DO X!”
Most games use a premium currency that can’t be traded in any way. I would say all games, but there are a few that have some limited trading. This means, you give the company money, they give you a premium currency that you can spend on stuff in games like unique content, large boosts to experience, or in some cases, even buying unique powerful items . Many of them also let you turn that premium currency directly into the in game currency.
Long ago, we made clear what our definition of “Pay 2 Win” was. It can be argued (and has extensively by a few players) that if you take ANY money in any way, you are pay 2 win. Even games that are subscription based are pay to win because there are benefits to having multiple accounts. I think the only way a game could qualify as not pay 2 win to those people is if it cost nothing to buy, nothing to play, and you just had an anonymous pledge donate button somewhere in game. We don’t believe an anonymous donation game was viable for ours or pretty much any large scale game.
Our definition of not being pay 2 win is if two players with equal skill and equal gear fight, it should come down to skill, strategy, and possibly a tiny bit of luck. Paying money might shorten the time it takes one player to get to that level, but it won’t make him better once he gets there.
So, back to the topic of COTOs and why we decided to make them work the way that they do… Just like Ultima Online, we wanted our economy to be completely open. We want it to be completely player driven and have players set the prices and determine the value of things. This is part of why vendors don’t pay much for things. We never want players to be crafting things purely to sell to merchants. As soon as we introduce a crafting loop that generates money, we are just begging for massive botting.
So, just like gear, we wanted players to set the in game value of COTOs. Currently I think vendors will buy a COTO for something like 50 or 100 gold if at all. That is intentionally to make sure players never feel like they should buy COTOs to sell to vendors. While that is what many games do, it creates a massive inflation problem. As soon as you can turn real dollars into in-game gold at even a modest conversion rate, you are inviting players to destroy the economy.
Our solution to let players buy gold with real money without causing inflation was to allow COTOs to be traded. This way, players who have more money than time can buy COTOs and put them up for sale on vendors. Then players who have more time or are better at making gold in game can buy those.
So instead of it being a $ to gold conversion that inflates the economy the system looks more like this. Players give us $ for a COTO, players sell COTOs to other players. Subtle difference, BUT it means that players set the price, not us AND most importantly, instead of it resulting in gold being dumped into the economy, the result is gold going from one player’s pocket to the other and no inflation in the economy. Since I know it will come up, technically COTOs can inflate the economy some because allow players to spend less money on new items or rent. We know, but we believe these are fairly small inputs into the system that are acceptable and not driving forces in market inflation.
Also, for those who were curious about the trends on COTOs in game I’m attaching a graph. We started the players with a fair number of COTOs and not much to spend them on so it has taken a while for the market value of COTOs to rise. We recently added in more COTO items in game in the form of some store items and houses and the price has finally started to rise as the excess COTOs drain out of the market. My belief is they will rise to around 3-4k value in the not too distant future.
So the TL;DR version:
- COTOs, our premium currency, are tradeable.
- Players set the price not us, as it should be in an open, player driven economy
- If a player has more money than time or just want to support the development of the game, they can buy COTOs from us, sell them to other players for gold.
- If a player has more money than time or is good at making gold, they can buy COTOs from players in game and never spend a dime but still get plenty of COTOs.
- COTOs do not inflate the economy because it is gold moving from one player’s pocket to another instead of us printing new gold every time someone gives us money
- COTOs can’t buy power, but they can save time and buy visual enhancements.
- The game can be played completely without spending a single COTO and most players play this way.
- COTOs drop in game and we will increase the drop rate as the vendor prices for them increase. Right now they are pretty rare, but we expect the drop rate to increase as we approach the end of the year and COTO prices approach 2k
Thanks for the read!
Now with the 2016 Yule Stocking all good and happy, of course the next bit of action will be devoted to some wrapped gift boxes/presents for folks to give to each other during the various holidays people will no doubt be celebrating in-game together. Unlike the stockings, which I made with the specific Yuletide season in mind (in all its various forms among our many cultures), for the gifts I wanted a more general approach to looks so that they could be used for a wider variety of holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays. As such, I’m not going with any specific color themes or decorations (with, perhaps, the exception of the use of general in-game symbology, such as the various virtues and such), and instead will create designs for the paper, bows, and ornamentation that will make them pleasing for almost any occasion! Of course they will all be quite festive, even the basic craft-able one for 2016, which you can see below!
These will behave like containers in the same way the stockings will, and you’ll be able to pile them on the floor and all over tables and such. And like the stockings, I’ll create a “family” of small, medium, and large gift boxes for this year as well, which will all have a similar “theme” to them. This year, at the suggestion of a visiting supporter of our game, I’ll be wrapping them in paper decorated with the symbols of Chaos, Spirituality, and Virtue. I’ll post more images of them as I create them, and place them in the game for you to see them all as well. I’ll just put together a fun little scene of them piled around one of our Yule Trees near a roaring fire!
Look for new images of them posted in this thread soon!
<imagine some back and forth in the thread and an internal discussion>
Oh hey,…and as something extra,…just before I left on Friday I spoke with Starr and Dallas about how the presents I’m making have been designed so as not to be limited exclusively to ‘Yuletide-themed” gift giving, and could be used for many other occasions throughout the year… They then realized that it might be a good idea, then, to have BOTH a general set AS WELL AS a set that was nicely Yule-themed for cool visual variety exclusively for 2016… That way, when these specific-holiday-themed versions were discontinued for that year, there would still be the multi-use ones available too! I’m sure they’ll be thinking more about how they want to approach the rest of the holidays, but at least for this pass I’ll be creating SEVEN different-looking gifts; three 2016-exclusive generic-themed gift boxes, three specifically Yule-themed boxes for 2016, and then one craft-able box (which you’ve already seen)… Cool, eh?
<imagine more back and forth in the thread and a few days of development>
And so, here we have the remainder of the gift boxes for this season, and for the year 2016!!! Within the limitations of time and number I could make, I’ve taken as many of the suggestions as I could for this year, and incorporated them in the final set. Below you can see the entire set in Max, and for the “general use” sub-set on the upper left, I figured I’d start with gift boxes decorated with the primary symbols of our game; Spirituality, Chaos, and the icon of Virtue itself! Spirituality is the largest box in warm yellow with multi-colored ankhs adorning it, the middle-sized box hosts a ribbon with the symbol of Virtue and swirling, joyful patterns on purple paper with a large pink bow (as requested by one of the fine folks on this thread), and the smallest box, with a shape hinting at bottles of the finest beverages, is appropriately adorned with the Chaos symbol, and has a color scheme that makes it perfect for also filling with coal, as requested by another! On the right is our Yuletide set of gift boxes for this year, each with a different Yuletide color and geometric pattern on the paper, and ribbons of varying configurations and hues, but all of them adorned as a single “family” with snowflakes! And, of course, the craft-able version for this year for comparison.
Once they were finished (as far as models and textures went) it was time to bring them all into the Unity Editor to apply and prepare their final materials to work well in-game. Of course, as with the stockings, the first step was to lay them out in a brightly-lit scene like a photo-shoot to make sure the material qualities could be properly tweaked, while simultaneously comparing them to other objects that would most likely be seen with them, to make sure brightness and contrast blended them well together.
Having gotten the materials settled, it was time to set up a real scene on a player lot to test them as decorations, and to see them under more “normal” lighting circumstances. While I was at it, I painted a bit of snowy landscape for the background, set up the sky to snow for me, and laid out a host of other Yuletide and holiday props made this year to help create a cheery little portrait of the perfect gift-giving scene!
Hopefully these will be as fun for you to use and give to others as they were for me to create!!!