One of the most fun things in Asheron's Call is the loot system. Randomly generated treasure has always been one of the cornerstones of our game, with the sheer variety of colors, statistics, and endowments which items may have leading to a sense of anticipation anytime a player is actively involved in seeking treasure. Many of us can recall the time we got that Celdon breastplate with just the right color veins, or that Major Bloodthirst max damage fire sword, or perhaps your favorite triple major crown. Treasure is, quite simply, rewarding (pardon the pun).
However, the current loot options have been available since 2004 – 4 years without a major update. There have been many forum posts lamenting the quality of loot distribution in an area where the best loot profile in the game is already available. Unfortunately, many players have mined the current treasure options to exhaustion, and are looking for better loot than what currently exists. It's time for us to introduce new loot options that will hopefully rejuvenate high level players' interest in loot.
The first question to answer would be, “How is new loot going to be available?” Currently, we have treasure profiles globally on most monsters and on most treasure chests. We're going to make a slight change to that.
We want to reward players who complete quests first and foremost. Therefore, the reward for completing a given difficult quest might be a key to a treasure chest using the new loot tier, as an example. We hope that this will improve the quality of the rewards from quests, while simultaneously maintaining our “loot items should be better than quest items” design belief.
We're probably not going to make the new loot tier available on monsters you can grind. We don't want to encourage more grind. Instead, achievement should be based on accomplishing great deeds. That's not to say that we won't ever have, say, a kill task where the reward is a key to a chest which uses the new loot tier – just that we don't want every single monster corpse dropping the new loot tier in addition to the kill task reward.
We're escalating the nature of rewards, but not necessarily in the same ways that you have become used to. For example, one radical choice we have made is not to increment armor levels that are available in loot, instead electing to increase other attributes instead.
Here's a small selection of things we are improving in the new loot tier:
Melee, Missile, and Magic damage – We'll be introducing souped-up weapons and elevating damage potential for all three playstyles. Weapons (and casters) are designed to hurt people, and so we'll try to help them perform that role more effectively.
Staff-variant Elemental Casters – As requested, we're going to see about adding an elemental version of these, to complement the current scepter option.
Epic Cantrips – Players have been able to access Epic cantrips on items for a little over a year now. The next step is to get them into the loot system. All your old Major favorites will be available in Epic form.
Armor Sets and Set Spells – In addition to Epic Cantrips, though, players will now have access to pieces of armor which grant additional bonuses (above normal spells and cantrips) if the proper set is worn. These will range in power and effect as the player wears more of a given set.
New Armor Types – We have plans to introduce four different new types of armor into loot. I won't say what they are yet, but I'll give one hint – two are based off of pieces that you've previously seen static, non-dyeable versions of before, and two are all-new types.
Base Armor Level Rebalance – Currently, the lower-quality material armors aren't just lower-quality – they're unusably low. We're going to set the AL spread to be much narrower than it is currently.
Components for Level 8 spells – Sometimes we on the dev team wonder if you guys have spy cameras in the building at Turbine. We've been seriously bouncing around ideas for the level 8 spells for months, but someone made a thread about them just last week. We're not going to be introducing an entire array of level 8 spells, but we will be introducing a significant number. We'll definitely be introducing level 8 war spells to keep mage damage on par with the other archetypes, for example. When I say components…well, I'll save that for the next section.
We'd like to see the economy of the game spike in popularity. We believe that several of the changes we're putting in will stimulate growth in the adventuring sector…alright, I'm not Bernanke and you guys don't want to hear economic theory. We think a lot of the changes to the loot system will stimulate trading in a few ways.
For one, completing your armor set is going to be difficult. Previously, you were looking for the right color on the right type of armor with the right dual major (well, OK – I've seen some of your armor sets when I've run live ops and some of you definitely don't care so much for the right color). Now you'll have cantrips, set bonus, AL, type, and appearance all to factor in. You can get functional quickly, but to be perfectly where you want to be is probably going to take a lot of luck or a lot of horse trading (obligatory disclaimer – no, we're not adding horses). But it can be done, and we think the process of doing this will increase player interaction.
Assembling your magic spells will also take some economy management. Spell scrolls will no longer be found in chests. Instead, you'll get to craft them yourselves, using four different types of components. Some will be found in loot, some…well, you'll find out where those will be found soon enough. It's important to note that these tradeable components will be multi-use – you might use a Glyph of Corrosion to create an Incantation of Acid Blast or an Incantation of Acid Lure. Either way, you'll have two options on how to get these spells – looting the components yourself or trading for the components or scrolls you want. It's a way of introducing a smaller version of spell research while still making it accessible for those who don't want to bother.
We're pretty excited about the new loot system. It's a new incentive for the upper tier players to keep playing, to find that one perfect item, while still having a shot at useful items in the meantime. In fully discussing the new loot system with past and present devs, there's been an excited buzz – we think the new system catches a bit of the old spirit of the game, while still being accessible to newer players as well. We look forward to when we can unveil it to you!
As we fast approach the 100th content update we felt it was a good time to start detailing some of the key features that will be included in this major event. Working towards and on this event has been a pleasure for all of us and we sincerely hope everyone will enjoy what we have in store. So without further delay, lets discuss out first new feature, Societies and the new Society system.
As many will remember, we made a brief visit to Factions during the Grael story arc, where we let players choose sides. For the most part these Society choices were cosmetic and did nor have a real impact on gameplay. With this new system, players will choose a Society and their choice will have an impact on their game, both directly and indirectly.
There will be three Societies to choose from, The Radiant Blood, The Celestial Hand, and The Eldrytch Web. Each Society has its own ideals and beliefs as to what should happen on Dereth and beyond. Players will be given the chance to discover the principles of each Society and choose which group they want to join. But choose wisely, because changing Societies will not be something easily done. There are penalties for those who are not loyal.
In order to join a Society, players will need to have reached certain goals in Dereth. The leaders of each Society want only the strongest members of society. To that end, players will need to be level 180 in order to join a Society. Those who are below that level will be able to help out Society members on certain tasks, but they will not yet be able to join a Society. (This is not the only content being added to the game that players below 180 will be able to do).
Players will begin their journey into the world of Societies by speaking to one of the Society recruiters located in Hebian-to, Cragstone or Zaikhal. These recruiters will know if you have already joined another Society, so do not try to fool them. If a player has not joined a Society yet, the recruiter will send them on a task to speak to another. And thus the journey begins. The path to joining and gaining favor in a Society is not an easy one, but the rewards for doing so are well worth it.
Once a player is part of a Society, they will need to complete a series of tasks in order to gain favor with their Society's leadership. Each series of tasks will take place in different locations around Dereth, based on what Society ranking the player is attempting to acquire. When the system goes live, players will be able to ascend to rank five in their Society, but this process will take some time and effort. Gaining ranks in a Society not only unlocks more tasks, players will also be rewarded with things like pulls from Level 8 loot chests and unique Society based armor sets.
Players who join a Society (also referred to as Societies in-game) will also gain access to Society strongholds. These Strongholds are the hearts of their Societies, where Players will go to complete quests for their Societies, resupply, rest, and hang out. They are designed to be Society-specific hubs, complete with quests, Vendors and relevant Lore.
This is just a brief overview of just one of the new features coming with the 100th content update for Asheron's Call. There are more details and nuances related to this system which we will describe in more detail as we get closer to the launch of the event. We have many more features and updates that we will be discussing in the coming weeks as well as a few surprises.
Asheron's Call Nostalgia Blog #1: Allan "Orion" Maki
Asheron's Call Nostalgia Blog #1: Allan "Orion" Maki
One hundred updates, of those I contributed to forty-seven updates and portions of two expansion packs. Nearly half of the one hundred!
Where to start…they say that you never forget your first love – I am not certain who they are and how they know this is true, I have never been certain – they are right. Asheron's Call was my first and it is still an important part of the designer that I am now.
My first offering was Danby's Outpost located on the northern shore of the inland sea. It was a foray into something new, landscaping, npc creation, item creation and quest design. It was a colossal failure. Maybe not colossal to players but to those on the AC team it was more work for them from an armchair designer who meant to do well but had none of the knowledge of skills necessary to accomplish their goals. Without some serious assistance from Annuvin and Crowley it never would have seen the light of day. I learned a lot from that though. I learned that I needed to study the system to become a good designer. So I did.
I started contributing directly to the game in December of 2001, small bits at first little items of quest bits here and there; in February of 2002 I began work on the Gaerlan Arc. After moving to design full-time I earned the illustrious task of handling much of the main story. Over the course of the next 7 months, I drew the story to a close with a massive battle between the beloved character, Candeth Martine and Gaerlan at the top of the latter character's citadel. When the portal to Ispar was discovered, players had a choice to make; did Martine live and escape through the portal, or die saving Auberean from Gaerlan's misguided plan? At the ACPL that next year, I think the question of what happened to Martine was the number one question that I was asked. To anyone who is a fan of The Sopranos, the choice is still up to you.
That first year concluded with Oolutanga, also known as Bobo, and my homage to Planet of the Apes. Has anyone ever given Brighteyes mushed nanners? These were the fun days, the early days, and though I cannot go back there I can still hold them as dearly as I do. At the 2002 ACPL I met a great many friendly people, all of them playing Asheron's Call and all of them happy or inquisitive of what we were doing next where we were going. I knew where I wanted to go and in the winter of 2002 with an uncertain future before us we moved to an episodic story arc. This changed into the Olthoi Arc ending with the defeat of the Olthoi Queen from Knorr.
It was a year where the failures of the previous land invasions were learned and we built out the new invasion of Olthoi. We introduced massive assaults overrunning sections of land and making the deus ex machina nature an infirmity as his power was countered by his greatest foe and failure. Paralyzed by this fear, Asheron was removed from the equation and Elysa needed to step forward and become a leader. I remember this very well; I was cornered at the 2003 ACPL and asked why the female characters were so weak. It was a valid question; Elysa has always been a difficult character for me, personally. She was strong, surely, surviving against the Olthoi and struggling through when her husband was killed and the leader of the first people of Ispar to arrive on Dereth. The players were a different sort though, they were not those initial subjects and Elysa was distant from them. Every effort to empower her was met with difficulty. But then there was Nuhmudira.
My intention all along was to re-imagine Elysa, not kill her. When Nuhmudira hired Oswald it was with the intention of assassination, but Elysa was too strong-willed to die. Nuhmudira on the other hand was my favorite lore character next to Antius Blackmoor (who was, in a sense, an extension of me) and I loved writing her fall to Falatacot practices. Nuhmudira was, I feel my strongest character, she had goals and dreams and would stop at nothing to reach them. Plus, she also enabled me to write my favorite quest ever: The Noir Investigation. Forgive me, but this is a nostalgia piece.
The words drip from my fingertips like moisture ringing a glass of cider over rocks in a smoke-filled room on the fringes of Lytelthorpe. Outside of the bar, I hear the discussion ebbing to the posters outside of all major settlements across Dereth, there is unease in those voices, concern over where they come from and who this Dame that needs help is. Dame Brinna O'Shea paid me well to place the signs and keep my mug full and my mouth shut. I sip the cider slowly and watch the throng grow. They'd figure out soon enough that the Royal Guard had the 4-1-1 and then be off to speak to the Dame. With any luck she'd need my help again and then I'd have a few more pyreal to line my pocket.
I still love that quest and the next ACPL, I remember asking the woman who the previous year mentioned weak female characters, what she thought of them now and she said that I had done much better. That made me smile, that is what designing AC was all about – now what designing LotRO is all about; making people smile.
I ended my run with the Burun Arc, tying pieces of the lore of AC1 and AC2 together. It was a fun run, a fun time and Asheron's Call is still one of my favorite games of all time. I miss it and love it and let me just say thank you to all the folks still working on the game, playing the game and all those who have come and gone. Asheron's Call reaches a milestone at 100, the first 100, 100 and going strong.
Congratulations Asheron. You done good.
Asheron's Call Nostalgia Blog #2: Matt Elliot
Note: the title of this article was formerly Asheron's Call Nostalgia Blog #2: Cardell Kerr but was corrected later.Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=593
Asheron's Call Nostalgia Blog #2: Matt Elliot
There are very few games, as I look at them in retrospect, that have had significant, lasting impact on my life. Thief: The Dark Project was my first experience being fully immersed and scared witless in a video game. Final Fantasy 7 displayed just how much power and emotion a cut scene can have. But for me, one game stands out on its own – as it not only had a profound impact on my grades in college (for the worse, I am sad to say) but I also wouldn't be here, doing what I do for a living and writing this article, were it not for this one game. I am speaking, of course, about Asheron's Call – the game that I feel in love with and helped me to become an embodiment of Turbine's motto (Powered by Our Fans).
In March 2001, I was nearly at the end of my second term in college, working part time at a Software Etc and trying to figure out what my next game purchase would be. I had beaten Half-life and was becoming tired of Team Fortress Classic and Counter-strike. I wanted something new and different. It was then that my manager introduced me to Asheron's Call.
While it wasn't the best looking game on the shelf, I had never played anything like it before! I could make my character the way I wanted to make it. I wasn't bound by classes or the conventions of fantasy. Sure – there were creatures that were analogs for the fantasy mainstays but the game didn't dwell on them being analogs. It marched forward and developed the characters and cultures to the beat of its own drum. There was always something new to look forward to. Each month, my roommates and I would patiently wait for the servers to come up (despite the mantra of “Never Play on Patch Day”), ready to devour the new quests and dungeons we were certain would be there waiting for us. Each month, the story of Asheron's Call grew – I had never seen the story of a game evolve like this before. I had never seen a game where the players impacted the course of events.
I got a call the week of Christmas, 2002. It was Turbine and they wanted to interview me for a position on one of their art teams. It wasn't for Asheron's Call (some no-name project called Middle-earth Online or something) but it was my foot in the door and the beginnings of my time here at Turbine. Eventually, I found my way onto the Asheron's Call Live team and was put in charge of art. And during my time on the team, was probably one of the most prolific artists AC1 had seen.
In total, I have contributed to over 25 live updates. I've created over 10 unique monsters and countless variations of existing monsters. I have generated scores of weapons and armor. And, I've even done a little bit of quest designing. If I hadn't played and subsequently fallen in love with the game, I don't think I would have thought to apply here at Turbine. As AC1 has grown over the years, so too have I. I've moved on to other projects – over loves. But I will always fondly look back at the time I spent working on AC1, for all you fine folk in the community.
MMORPG.com News Manager Keith Cross caught up recently with Andy Cataldo, the Community Manager for AC. In the interview, Cataldo talks about the game's 100th update, an expansion-sized update to celebrate the occasion.
Let's see...according to this, it says that the majority of life and creature buffs will be self only, and that they will have a duration of 90 minutes (before augmentations).
As for the mechanic for creating the spells, what I put into the previous document is all we're giving out - in a way, it's a sort of research, so you'll need to experiment around with the various components. Yes, eventually people will have them on spoiler sites, but that's fine, and we don't think the mechanic is going to be so difficult as to require a spoiler site to figure out.
Q: I know everyone is loving on the self only, but as a 1 school melee I'm certainly a bit upset by this. No way they could put limits on targets for the spells like lvl 180+ and rank X, Y or Z within their faction?
If it is researched based I hope at least some of the comps are quested for and tradeable, otherwise melees/archers will be spending big $ on weapons while mages just buy comps and mess around with orders.
A: We're actually not necessarily trying to limit the spells to certain levels as much as increasing the value of the schools in which the buffs reside, particularly Creature. Level 8 spells will drop on weapons and armor, though, so an Arcane Lore Melee (or, really, anyone who chose not to get Creature) should have limited access to the new buffs - just not complete access.
I thought I mentioned this in the treasure document, but all components in the new research system will drop from loot except for the scarabs. Ideally, these components will become items in the economy just as much as top-tier weapons and armor.
Q: Does that mean we are going to mkae room for more comps ? I thought we only need those to research the spells. 1 more type of scarab will not be a game breaker , but another pack of comps sure would be bad.
A: Sorry if I was unclear - the new components are for crafting the spells only.