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January 2006 - Patch Page

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Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/index.php?page_id=436

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Reprisals


Queen Elysa entered the royal Map Room to find a man in well-worn chain and leather armor standing by the table. He was old enough to be Elysa's own father, but he had the spare, leanly muscled build of a veteran who has survived innumerable battles. With his fearsome scars and an intense yet distant gaze, the soldier was a discomfiting presence.

As soon as she entered the room, the old man snapped to attention and bowed at a precisely correct angle. She nodded in response and sat at the head of the table. He took his signal to sit, and waited politely for her to speak first.

"Forgive my late arrival, Captain Tharnoch. I was delayed by another argument with the young Prince." She smiled as graciously as she could.

"That is frankly none of my business, Your Majesty," Tharnoch said, after a slight pause.

Elysa blinked, momentarily confused at the captain's stiffly correct rebuke. Then she recovered her composure and decided to get to business. "Captain, I have read a very brief report on the circumstances that led you from the Bellenesse lands on Ispar to the wilds outside of Silyun here, but I would like to speak in further detail about your experiences."

"As you wish, Your Majesty," he said.

"So let us start from the beginning. Please tell me what you and your soldiers were doing so deep in Viamontian territory."

"We had received information hinting at the rift between the House of Bellenesse and the royal house. I was given broad freedom in my command, and I figured that properly planned and targeted attacks on the borders between Bellenesse lands and loyalist houses would create the appearance of rebellion, forcing the Viamontians to bring at least some of their army home to deal with the problem."

"So you were, essentially, creating an appearance of civil war in order to start a civil war."

For the first time since she had met him, Captain Tharnoch smiled. "Yes, Your Majesty. I thought it was very poetic that we were killing Viamontians to make Viamontians kill each other."

Elysa nodded. "I see. And then... Prince Renlen's murder... We heard reports of all that from new arrivals..."

"Yes, Your Majesty. Bellenesse was already planning his own insurrection, and his daughter's murder of the younger Prince at that tournament provoked a true civil war. In a sense, Duke Bellenesse unknowingly accomplished our goals."

"So how did you come to Dereth?"

"The royal armies were recalled from Aluvia and Gharu'n, and swept through the Bellenesse lands. We did our part to bleed them as they went, but we were slowly driven toward the Duke's castle, hiding from both sides. We finally went to ground in an abandoned farmhouse near the castle, with the royal armies closing the circle around Bellenesse. We were preparing to, ah, sell our lives dearly in a last stand, Your Majesty, when a portal appeared in the barn."

"A portal that led you to the Halaetan Islands, along with all the Viamontians."

"That is correct, Your Majesty."

"So how did you survive all those years in isolation, without a way off the islands?"

"My soldiers were all highly trained for just that sort of situation, Your Majesty. I will not pretend that it was easy. Prince – er, excuse me, King Varicci's forces infested the islands. I had seen many terrible things in war before, but what we encountered in those long years in the wilderness..." He paused and met the Queen's eyes for just a second. In that moment of contact, Elysa somehow got a keen understanding of the kind of horrors that Tharnoch had been through, isolated in an unknown world, hounded across wild and desolate islands by Varicci's monstrous forces.

"Captain, I must tell you that all of the veterans of Isparian wars who served with you have only the highest praise for your dedication, courage, and skill. You bring with you a formidable reputation. And still I find myself amazed that you managed to survive that long, especially without lifestone protection..."

"As I said, Your Majesty, it was... very difficult. I lost half of the soldiers under my command. Brave and loyal Aluvians, every man and woman of them. All of us still alive were... changed by what we went through. But we did manage to survive, get off those islands, and finally make contact with your people. As for the lifestones..." The captain's gaze wandered, and he shivered. "I still have trouble accepting that such things could be possible."

Elysa nodded knowingly. "In a just world, Captain, I would be able to offer you honors, titles, a grant of rich land, and a comfortable retirement to reward you for your service. But in this strange world, I am afraid I can only offer you more of the same: war against Varicci. You and your soldiers have so much knowledge and expertise, I am afraid we are going to have to press you into service with little rest. We have another unorthodox war to fight."

Tharnoch's eyes gleamed. "Your Majesty, I was born in Morain Province, right on the border with Viamont. I have lived almost my entire life fighting Viamontians, in the open or from the shadows, whether the local lord held allegiance to their crown or to ours. All I ask is to be able help carry the fight to this rabid dog who calls himself a King, and the opportunity to meet the end of my days with Viamontian blood on my blade."

"Your end of days may not come for a long, long time here because of the lifestones, Captain. Though there are exceptions..."

Tharnoch nodded solemnly. "I have heard tell of the death of one named Antius Blackmoor, Your Majesty. From what I have heard, it was a noble sacrifice. It was a good death."

She took some time to contain her emotions and said, "Antius was a great man, and he will be sorely missed. He provided good counsel, he was a courageous leader, and not least, he was instructing my son, the Prince Borelean, in the arts of war and diplomacy."

"I am no diplomat, Your Majesty, but there are several soldiers from my command who can educate the Prince in the ways of combat. And in subtler ways of fighting, as well. Ways that he might not have been able learn from a gentleman." The captain allowed himself another smile. "Yes, given what I have learned about the nature of the war you have on your hands, I think we can help you. I pledge myself and my soldiers to your service, my Queen."

"We have much to discuss then, Captain." Elysa looked for a long time across the table at the captain. This conversation had given her a clear sense of the rage that roiled beneath his courtesy and discipline. Not too long ago, the edge of madness that she sensed in him would have worried her. Now, she felt more hopeful than she had felt in a long time, just to have this proud, half-crazed old warrior on her side.

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=440

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Rollout Article


The old Viamontian woman shuffled across the room, cradling a bottle of wine in her hands. She brought the wine to the table and presented it to her guest, a younger Gharu'ndim woman dressed in blue Amuli armor. The younger woman inspected the label and sighed appreciatively.

"I never expected to see another bottle of Bonniduenne in my life," she murmured. "The grace of the Poet be upon you, Grand Mother."

The older woman laughed as she poured out two glasses. "Please, Hashina, you may call me Elgenia. And it is my pleasure to share one of my last bottles with you. I will also give you a bottle to bring back to your gracious Queen. I know that the grapes in this land are an inferior vintage to what we had in Ispar."

Hashina accepted a glass and raised it in toast. "To the success of our shared ventures, both public and private," she said.

Elgenia, the Grand Mother of Silyun, clinked her glass against Hashina's. "A worthy toast," she said, and took a long sip. "Though, speaking of sharing, there is one matter I wished to discuss with you..."

Hashina arched an eyebrow. "I must warn you that I am not empowered to discuss any other terms beyond those which we have already ratified, and the... informal cooperation agreement."

Elgenia nodded amiably. "As I expected. Call it a suggestion, to bring up with your Queen when you speak with her again." Hashina nodded, and she went on. "I think that the name of this realm we will forge together should be changed. I do not think a name like 'New Aluvia' is suitably inclusive of all Her Majesty's subjects, even before my people arrived here. It is, perhaps, best suited to region of riverlands and mountains that the Aluvians themselves claim in Dereth, but not to name the realm as a whole."

Hashina considered that. "Personally, I agree with you. We just never bothered much about names before. After our three nations escaped from the Olthoi enslavement, we were too busy with matters of survival to give it much thought. And those of us of Sho and Gharu'n were too happy to find a secure alliance to quibble much about names. Elysa did much to bring us together in the early days. And then there was all the trouble with the Hopeslayer, and then the Virindi..."

"I understand how that could be so, and I understand that, if there were no, ah, competing kingdom in Dereth, the name would be moot. But you must understand that my people in particular might not be so enthusiastic to join a realm named after a country with which we have warred for centuries. How would you like, for example, to be sworn to the Kingdom of New Milantos?"

"I take your point," Hashina said, grimacing. "Though I hardly think Aluvia and Milantos are comparable nations, I will mention it to the Queen."

"Every comparison has its limits," Elgenia agreed. "But let us move on to other matters," she said. "I know you are eager to share intelligence on Varicci and the movements of his armies."

"Of course, but there are many other things my Queen is curious about. For instance, let us discuss these Fiun creatures and their unique trials..."

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=439

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Developer's Notes


New Content and Functionality

  • The Higher Resolution Textures have been activated for this month. They can be activated through the settings panel on your user interface. In oder to activate these textures you will go to your oprtions tab and scroll down till you see the Texture Detail dropdown menu. In that menu select the Very High setting. Please note that when you activate these textures you will need to restart your client. These Textures are only available if you have Throne of Destiny.
  • A new friends panel has been added to the game. This panel will replace the existing friends list that we currently use. We were not able to carry the old friends list over to the new one, but you will be able to enter the command @friends old and it will bring up your old friends list for you to see. In addition, your friends list can now hold up to 5o people on it!
  • New PK/PKL arenas have been added to the game. You must be PK/PK Lite in order to get to these arenas. You can recall to these arenas by typing the command @pkarena or @pklarena. These arenas will be updated as the months go on, based on player feedback.
  • The drop rate on Sezzherei's Lair Gem has been increased to 100%.
  • Recalling to the Marketplace will no longer have a mana cost.
  • Some changes have been made to inventory manegement. Here is a summary of these changes.
  • When you open a pack in your inventory panel, that pack becomes your 'preferred' pack. If you haven't opened a pack, your main backpack is your preferred pack.
  • When you add an item to your inventory in one of the ways listed below, the item first tries to fit itself into your preferred pack. If it won't fit there, it tries to fit somewhere into your entire inventory space, starting with your main pack and working down until it finds somewhere it can fit.
  • Stacked items will try to merge into an existing stack if they can in the same fashion.
  • This behavior applies to most of the default ways that you can add something to your inventory, such as:
    • Using the R key on something external to you that can be picked up.
    • Using the F key on anything, internal or external.
    • Dragging an icon of an external object onto your 3D avatar.
    • Making a shortcut to an object that you do not own but can pick up.
  • This behavior does not apply to ways of placing an item specifically into a certain pack, such as:
  • Dragging an item to a specific pack or place in a pack.Dragging an item onto the mainbackpack button at the bottom right of the UI.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • The allegiance ban list can now have up to 50 accounts on it.
  • Abug where players could obtain more than one Mace of Bitter Winter has been fixed.
  • Pack P now faces correctly on hooks and waddles in place.
  • Click to tell is now useable on the global chat channels.
  • In the Yanshi Tunnels, some of the Underminers would not fire their weapons properly. This has been fixed.
  • Some players have been misusing the ability to send colored text and text with line breaks in order to try and confuse other players and impersonate Envoy's. Because of this, we are removing the abilty for players to send line breaks or textthat appears as green.

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=434

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January: Letter to the Players


Welcome to the January Letter to the Players!

Last month we saw many changes to Dereth. With the passing of Antius Blackmoor, the people of Dereth quickly came to see that war was coming and that the time for action was upon them. This led to the people of Yanshi finishing their rebuilding process to once again become a vibrant town. But the question still remains... what action will the Queen take against King Varicci?

Last month we also unveiled the new timers for the Temples of Forgetfulness and Enlightenment. Although we were very pleased with the design, it appears there may have been some confusion on how the timers work. So in this letter we have decided to clarify how the timers work for those you who were unclear.

Untraining Skills
The first through fourth gems you can pick up instantly. That means you won't have to wait to pick up your first 4 untrain gems. To pick up your fifth through eighth gem you will have to wait one week per gem. On the ninth through the sixteenth gem, you will need to wait 2 weeks per gem. And everything after the 17th gem will require you to wait for 3 weeks per gem.
1st-4th gems: Instant
5th-8th gems: 1 week timer
9th-16th gems: 2 week timer
17th and above: 3 week timer


Specializing Skills

When specializing a skill, the timers differ from the untraining timers. The first and second gems you can pick up with no timer. The third and fourth gems you must wait one week each to pick up. The fifth through eighth gems are on a two week timer, which means once you are trying to pick one up you must wait 2 weeks to pick up each gem. For the ninth gem and above you will have to wait 3 weeks per gem.

1st-2nd gems: Instant
3rd-4th gems: 1 week timer
5th-8th gems: 2 week timer
9th and above: 3 week timer


Attribute Gems

The Attribute gems seem to be the part of the interaction that causes the most confusion. You can pick up your first eighteen gems, either raising or lowering right away. Not eighteen of each but eighteen in total. Then you must wait one week to pick up your nineteenth through thirty-sixth gem. That means for each gem in this span you must wait a week per gem, not pick up another eighteen gems. For the thirty-seventh gem and above, you will need to wait two weeks per gem.

1st-18th: Instant
19th-36th gems: 1 week timer
37th and above: 2 week timer


I hope this helps to clear things up for those confused about how this system works. Now, onto what is happening in the month of January in Dereth! Please keep in mind that this list does not include new quests, or all of the new content going in to the game in January.

New for January

Higher Resolution Textures

These textures will be available for use when the event goes live. You will be able to activate them in the same way you would change your graphic settings normally. Simply go to your options tab and scroll down till you see the Texture Detail dropdown. In the dropdown, there is now a Very High setting. If you have ToD, you can enable these textures. Please note that in order for the textures to be seen, you must restart your client after making the changes. Everyone who meets the recommended hardware requirements listed on the box should be able to run these textures with a minimal difference to performance.

Friends Panel

New to Asheron's Call this month is an interactive Friends Panel. With this panel it will be easier to add and remove friends.You will also have the ability to hide your online status.We were unable to transfer your old friends list over to the new Friends Panel. You can however, enter the command @friends old and you will get a listing of your old friends list in your main chat window. In addition, your friends list can now hold up to 50 people.

PK Arenas

After getting some feedback from players, we have decided to add in PK and PK Lite Arenas. These arenas will be easily recalled to by either typing in @pkarena if you are a normal player-killer or @pklarena if you are player-killer lite. You will need to be in the state of beingPK or PKL, respectively,in order to enter these arenas. For example, if you want to recall to the PK arena, you will need to be PK to do so. These recalls cost the player no mana. In future months, we will solicit feedback from our playerbase on how the arenas can be made better. The goals of these arenas are to not only give player-killers a place of their own to fight in and to also help get the combat out of the marketplace.

Billing Improvements

As most of you already know there was an extended downtime earlier this week. Part of what was being updated was the billing system. As a result of this update, you will now no longer need to contact our billing department in order to re-subscribe your account.

Darktide Server Crashes

Over the past several months there have been multiple instances where sub-servers on Darktide have crashed. We have tracked down the cause of this issue and resolved it. We will have more details on this in the coming weeks.

These are just some of the changes that will be taking place in the January Event, Reprisals.

In-Concept

These are some of the game changes we are thinking about for the upcoming months in Asheron's Call. We cannot guarantee when- or even if - any of these changes will be added to the game, as scheduling and priorities can change. These changes are in addition to the new quests, dungeons, and items we'll be introducing in each monthly event. Your feedback on these topics is particularly valuable.

  • Additional Allegiance Improvements
  • Player-vs-Player improvements
  • Additional High Level Hunting Areas
  • Story Driven Loyalty Decisions
  • Rares system changes/Login Rares
  • Title Management Tools
  • Chat Filters for Global Channels


The items that are included in this section are just some of the things we are looking at for future changes. As time goes on this list will continue to change and expand. As always, all in-concept ideas are subject to change with scheduling and priority changes.

Producer's Letter

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=433

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Producer's Letter


I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year as we enter 2006. I think we've got a good year coming up ahead of us. We have brought together a solid team that mixes crafty veterans with gutsy newcomers. The team is back in the groove of monthly content development, and we have plans on the board for some intriguing new features. We're in the middle of a rich storyline that mixes ancient lore and new arrivals, and promises to compel players to make meaningful decisions about their characters' true loyalties. I think there's a great deal for Asheron's Call players to look forward to, and we the devs are happy to have the opportunity to continue to work on this well-loved game.

I know that there are a number of specific issues that people would like to know our future plans on, so let's get into those:

PvP Enhancements:
PvP is a tricky issue. I don't think it is a good idea to make changes that would radically alter the way PvP works, or PvP balance. For every person who wants a dynamic changed, there are others who like the dynamic the way it is, and would be upset with any changes. With that in mind, we do have plans for additional PvP content. We have plans to give PvPs new things to fight over and new enhancements for PvP combat. One of the most common complaints about PvP seems to be that it simply takes too long to resolve a fight, because of super-high-health templates and equipment. One goal we are working on, and are debating solutions for, is to make PvP fights shorter and more exciting. Whatever we do is going to be based on feedback from the dedicated PvP community, starting with my recent "Looking for PvP Feedback" post on the PvP board.

Storyline:
The Viamontian Conflict storyline is going forward full steam. We've introduced new lore and killed off a major lore character. There seems to be a strong sentiment to have this storyline lead to meaningful character decisions. I agree that, in the midst of a story about civil war, characters should make hard choices. We plan to continue with the theme of opposed quests that we had in Throne of Destiny, where you could choose to undertake quests for Sanamar or Silyun.

New Features:
Our development schedule gives us some amount of leeway to work on new gameplay features or enhancement to current features. Each of these requires a good deal of work and testing, and often spread out over several months. While I cannot talk about specific features, the kind of things we are discussing are along the lines of expanding existing systems or offering new twists to existing content. We are not going alter the fundamental personality of the game, but add to existing elements to deepen or broaden the gameplay that is already available. The proposals we have on the table are pretty exciting. During the development of Throne of Destiny, we spent a lot of time overhauling the game engine, freeing us to do some things we were not able to do before. You've already been told about the new Friends panel that's coming in January. You can expect us to steadily add more great features like that in the months ahead.

High Level Concerns:
I know a lot of people were looking forward to Land Control as a new way to enjoy high-level gameplay. I was sad that we had to make the decision to shelve those plans, but the system just demanded too much tech and design work to realistically expect to be able to do it. When we developed the "booster pack" plan to implement Land Control outside of the development of Throne of Destiny, the plan was to have one engineer and one designer work solely on Land Control for six months to a year. Unfortunately, our current resource planning does not allow us to properly focus on a project of that size. We are very eager to improve the experience for our longest-running and most loyal players with content beyond high-level hunting grounds, and we have some intriguing proposals on how to do this. However, we will have to continue to be careful about the way we manage our resources.

Advertising and New Players:
Quite a few people on our message boards have expressed concern about the lack of advertising for Asheron's Call. For reasons I'm sure you can appreciate, our marketing team is focused on other projects. Our strategy for Asheron's Call is to rely on fan loyalty and word of mouth to grow the game. You, the players, can help by getting your friends to join you in Dereth, or to encourage friends who have left Dereth to come back and check out all the great stuff we've added. You've already been doing a great job with this. New players are still signing up, and we've seen even more players coming back. I realize people have had difficulty finding the game at their local store. To help fix this, we are working on making Throne of Destiny available via download.

********

We stated a few months ago, when the decision was made to bring the team back to Boston, that we would have a smaller team and, as a consequence, the updates would be smaller. This has not changed, but Turbine is still looking to grow the team a bit more. It is difficult to find strong talent, and especially difficult to get people to come to Boston in the middle of winter. I fully expect that, as we add talent, and as team members become accustomed to new roles, we will be able to create more content for our updates. As you can imagine, it's not a quick process to ramp up to work on a game as complex and with as rich a development history as Asheron's Call. In my time on the original Live team from 1999 to 2001, I was learning new skills until my last day.

I recognize that some of our players are dissatisfied with the size of the content updates and with the postponement or shelving of previously announced plans. I can assure you that none of the decisions we made were made lightly. I can also assure you that we are doing our best to keep improving this game with new and entertaining content.

I was pretty sure we were going to get some negative feedback on the statement about Land Control in Frelorn's January 4 update. While the news was unwelcome, it was also honest information, and I hope that people will recognize the spirit of honesty that drove it. I didn't want to make vague promises of future goodies, but to instead tell you, in a straightforward manner, what was going on. I will continue to be as honest as I can, and to avoid making big promises that we won't be able to fulfill.

As for our plans for Asheron's Call, I'll reiterate that there are no plans to turn off the servers. We as a team are committed to continuing to develop our ongoing stories, provide entertaining content, and add cool features to the game. We have some fun and exciting ideas that I think people will enjoy.

I'd like to thank everyone for their continued support and feedback. Asheron's Call is a labor of love for every team member here. We're excited about the future of the game, and we hope you are looking forward to questing and adventuring with us.

Developer Comments

PvP plans for February event and the future

Jan. 26, 2006 - Link

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to give our dedicated PvP players a heads-up on the changes we've planned for February to start to address PvP balance issues.

Based on what we've seen on the boards, there are a few balance issues with PvP combat, which I spelled out in my earlier "Looking for PvP Feedback" post. The first issue we plan to address is the difficulty that melees have a difficult time hitting mages with Melee D tinked wands. This does not mean that it's the most important issue, but it was the issue we were most readily able to work on.

What we're planning to do for February is to introduce a quest that allows PK players only (not NPKs or PKLs) to acquire an object that provides a temporary 10% increase to their weapon's Attack Mod. This increase will be stackable with Heartseeker and existing Attack Mod cantrips. This is similar in mechanics to the way the Rage of Grael gems worked -- you will be able to temporarily boost your chances to hit an opponent in melee combat. The dungeon where you can acquire these items will have multiple entry points and multiple spots to collect the items, to help alleviate camping concerns. The items will be on a timer, so you won't be able to stockpile huge amounts quickly. This new enchantment will not be usable on Weeping Weapons, for reasons explained below.

Please keep in mind that this is simply the first and simplest step we could take towards addressing your balance concerns. This is by no means the end of our plans to help PvP players. We still intend to take more steps to make fights shorter and more exciting and to make melee players more competitive. Our current plans are to find ways to make loot weapons viable in PvP combat, rather than tweaking the balance on Weeping Weapons. Addressing loot weapons seems like a richer and more complete fix than fixing one class of weapons. I won't go into specifics on our solutions to those issues, but you can expect to see some more specific information on those ideas in the coming weeks. We will most definitely address damage balance with whatever fix we do. I know a lot of people would prefer that we work on damage first, but again, a properly constructed balance solution is more complex than this relatively simple Attack Mod bonus.

We also know that PvP players want something to fight over. There are a few ideas on the board for that, as well, but our primary concern is to address balance. This doesn't mean that we're not going to touch the "what to fight over" issue until after we've worked on balance – but I wanted to give you some idea of where our priorities lie.

Please let us know what you think, and you can rest assured that we'll keep coming back here for consultation, especially on the more complex balance issues.

Thanks

Turbine Icon Crowley
AC1 Live Producer
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