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Allegiance Experience Follow-Up

Posted on 30-Jan-2004

After our article on Allegiance Experience changes, we received an enormous amount of feedback, which we expected. In this article, we’d like to answer some of the most common questions and complaints about the new system.

If you haven’t read the first article yet, please read it before you read this one – otherwise most of this won’t make much sense.

Date of Birth

The players who complained about how we presented the reasoning for the Date of Birth feature are right: The message was phrased badly and we should have realized it would be insulting to some players. We certainly didn't mean to imply that players who used XP chains in the past were cheaters; with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, however, it is pretty obvious how that phrasing can be taken. In truth, we have been planning the DoB feature for a long time; this seemed like a propitious moment to implement it, since we had time on the schedule and it seemed to be important to the XP Chain issue, too. It looked like killing two birds with one stone to us. We should have been more sensitive in how we presented it, especially considering the polarizing nature of the issue.

So, to all of you: We apologize. We had no intention of insulting or offending you, and we apologize for our choice of wording in the article.

To be very clear: Those who may have optimized allegiance pass-up through chains in the past are neither cheaters nor exploiters. The system was what it was, and we bear no ill will towards those who found ways to best advance their characters with it. We don't feel that leaving the system in the game is in the best interests of the future of AC, but our wish to change the system in no way reflects any feelings towards those who used it.

Specifically regarding the date-of-birth visibility, we have been listening to your feedback. Taking that into account, we will be making the following changes:

  • The display of your character's date of birth will be on a toggleable option, defaulting to off. Your date of birth will only be visible to other players if you choose to turn the option on.
  • Because of this added functionality, we won't be able to introduce this feature in February as we had originally planned. Instead, an optional date of birth display (plus optional displays of other interesting character data, such as your age, chess rank, number of deaths, and fishing skill) will be added in March.

This way those players who wish to display this information have the option, and those players who do not wish to are not forced to.

Again, we apologize for our choice of words and any misunderstanding that this has caused.

Powerleveling Characters

A number of players came to us with concerns that, under the new system with optimized pass-up, it would be considerably easier to quickly get a character to high levels.

There are two responses to this concern. The first is that yes, it will be easier to get one character to high levels. However rapidly advancing dozens if not hundreds of characters simultaneously will be much more difficult. The old system created huge amounts of XP for almost all participants – under the new system, only direct patrons receive the largest benefit. We are not specifically trying to remove the ability to powerlevel characters through the allegiance system, but we are removing a system that provided, in our opinion, too much free experience to almost all participants.

The second thing to keep in mind is that achieving optimum pass-up is not trivial. To reach the maximum direct pass-up of 90% of earned XP, the following must all be true:

  • The vassal has capped his or her Loyalty.
  • The patron has capped his or her Leadership.
  • The time that this vassal has spent sworn to the patron, both in terms of in-game time and real time, is at the maximum.
  • The average of the times that all the vassals of this patron have been sworn (again both in-game and real time) are at the maximum.
  • The patron has at least four vassals.

"Capped" means that the skill has been raised to a point where no more experience can be spent on it. For Loyalty and Leadership, that will be 208 if the skills are trained, 236 if the skills are specialized.

Maximizing the time sworn modifiers will not be easy either. The two factors are multiplied together to get the final modifier. For example, if you have been sworn for half the time needed for the maximum of the in-game modifier, but only a tenth of the time needed for the real time modifier, you will only have 5% of the maximum time sworn benefit. (50% * 10% = 5%)

This factor will cause a number of the "rotating patron" schemes that we’ve seen described to be less effective than their designers may have hoped. The real time sworn takes a very long time to reach its maximum.

Trades Characters

Many players expressed concern that they would no longer be able to use small three-character chains to level their dedicated tradeskill characters. In the past, I could swear my main character to one of your characters, and then you could swear your character to my trades character. Because of the way the system worked, we could easily ensure that almost all the experience that I passed up to you was also passed up to my trades character.

On the one hand, this is no longer the case. The experience passed up to my trades character from my main will be considerably diminished. However, if your character is at all active, the experience passed up to my trades character from you will be considerably increased.

In addition, keep in mind that there are already a few quests for trades characters, and that many trophy items exist that can be turned into a collector in exchange for experience. (The casinos are an excellent place to find these trophies.) And we are always looking for new ways that trades characters can gain experience.

Time Sworn for Existing Allegiance Ties

In our original article, we wrote:

Existing patron-vassal relationships will start with the same bonus that they are currently receiving. For example, if you have been sworn to your patron for enough time to receive 50% of the maximum benefit, you will still receive 50% of the maximum benefit when the new system is implemented.

This is not entirely accurate. After the original article went out, we discovered that the system we had planned to use could not be implemented because of how the information needed is currently stored. Instead, you will receive the same bonus from your in-game time sworn. When you log in after the February event goes live, your in-game time will be adjusted to ensure that you receive the same bonus from it that you did before the event. There is one exception – your in-game time sworn can never be greater than the total age of the character.

For example, let’s say that my character has been in-game for 1 full day, and has been sworn to the same patron for all but 1 hour of that. Currently the time sworn is 23 hours. When I log in after the February event, the game will multiply those 23 hours by a factor to get the new time sworn bonus. However, because my character has only been around for 1 in-game day, the time sworn is capped at 1 day. When I log in, I’ll be getting a smaller bonus from in-game time sworn than I did before the event.

This may affect a small number of characters, but it was necessary to prevent strange situations caused by characters having an in-game time sworn that was longer than their total in-game time. You’ll see why this is necessary in the next paragraph.

Real time sworn will also be calculated upon first login after the February event. Because the real time date that you swore to your patron was never stored in a form we can use, we have to either start everyone from 0 real time sworn, or make a guess. So after the game recalculates your in-game time sworn, it will compare that time to the total amount of time you have spent online since character creation. That ratio will be applied to the total amount of real time since character creation to get a rough approximation of the amount of real time that the character has been sworn.

So, for example, let’s say that after the in-game time calculation, it sets my in-game time sworn to two weeks, and my total in-game time is a month. My in-game time sworn is half of my total in-game time, so my real time sworn is set to half of the total real time since the character was created. If my character were created a year ago, my real time sworn would be set to 6 months.

You may have picked up on the "upon first login" part of this. Unfortunately, we don’t have the information we need to make the adjustments until you log in. What does this mean for abandoned or inactive characters? Until these characters enter the game, their in-game time sworn is not adjusted and their real time sworn is left at 0.

One thing to keep in mind – this does mean that the pass-through from these characters will be drastically reduced. However, all pass-through has been drastically reduced. If you were relying on the XP passed up from grand-vassals through an inactive character, you’ll find that this XP will be greatly reduced whether or not this character ever logs in again.
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