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Buffing Improvements


Posted on 25-Mar-2004

Hunting in Asheron’s Call requires certain safety precautions: a skill that allows you to kill your foes, the defensive skills to avoid harm from your foes and powerful magic to lessen the damage that your foes can do. As we have added more difficult challenges and creatures to the game we have introduced higher-level spells and increased spell durations on critical buffs. These changes, while positive, did nothing to lessen the amount of time that was taken for hunt preparation. In fact, the inclusion of harder-hitting monsters and more powerful spells increased the amount of spells that some felt was necessary for hunting; as a result, Item spells were added to buffing queues and the wind up time on level seven spells lengthened the buffing process. Based on our analysis as well as player feedback, we’ve realized that something indeed needs to change. Thus, we have come up with the following document to present the future of buffing to all Asheron’s Call players.

Instant-Cast Self Buffs

The first major change comes in April’s update. Self-cast Creature and Life Magic spells have had casting timers shortened, they will now cast as if they were a level one spells at all levels. There are a couple of reasons for this change:

  • Increase the value of having the magic school trained.
  • Remove the tedium from buffing your character to start hunting.


This change is currently in testing for release in the April update.

While this change will decrease the overall time that it takes to prepare for hunting it does not address the need to go through the keystroke motions necessary to cast spells. Changes to reduce that tedium will continue to be worked towards for the future.

Fellowship Spells

The second big change is the inclusion of Fellowship spells. These will be released over time and will be a boon to players that enjoy hunting and buffing in groups. The current plan is to introduce Fellowship Spells for all Creature and Life spells, with the possibility of some Item spells as well.

The difficulty for fellowship spells is 25 higher than the corresponding non-fellowship spell. The base mana cost for each fellowship spell is the same as that of the corresponding non-fellowship spell, but each additional target costs an extra 10 mana. So if you cast a level 7 spell on a fellowship of 8, it will cost 140 mana (before conversion).

So how will I be able to learn these new spells? Good question.

Fellowship spells are slated to be released over time and will eventually include all Life and Creature Buff spells and possibly Item Magic buff spells, including portal spells. At the moment, the thought is to release these slowly through quests rather than include then as part of the random loot generator, as they are more specialized spells. They will all have unique names and will likely only be made available for level four through seven spells.

There is a possibility that we’ll also be introducing Fellowship healing spells at some point, but we need to take the proper time to balance such spells as they could have serious negative impact in Player vs. Player play.

Portal spells are also under consideration, though it is too early to tell what existing portal sending spells will be given a fellowship variant.

Multi-Stat Spells

Multi-Stat spells are spells that affect multiple character statistics at once.

With these spells it would be possible to increase up to three statistics at any one time. Thus you could cast a spell that would affect your Endurance, Strength and Quickness with just one spell.

Our current design includes these spells for level one through seven spells and is currently restricted to Creature and Life Magic schools. There are considerations being made for Item Magic, see the section on Item Magic later in this document.

The charts below show the proposed difficulty and mana usage for casting Multi-Stat Spells:

Multi-Stat Spells: Difficulty

Spell Level Normal Spell Difficulty Multi-Stat Spell (2 spells) Multi-Stat Spell (3 Spells)
Level 1 0 25 28
Level 2 50 75 83
Level 3 100 125 138
Level 4 150 175 193
Level 5 200 225 248
Level 6 250 275 303
Level 7 300 325 358


Multi-Stat Spells: Mana Costs

Spell Level Normal Mana Costs Multi-Stat Spell (2 spells) Multi-Stat Spell (3 Spells)
Level 1 10 15 20
Level 2 20 30 40
Level 3 30 45 60
Level 4 40 60 80
Level 5 50 75 100
Level 6 60 90 120
Level 7 70 105 140


The second hurdle with Multi-stat spells is that we need to group the spells together effectively. Do we create spells that affect Life Magic and Sword together in one spell? Or do we keep Sword grouped with Melee Defense? Conceptually we have several spells grouped already.

Here are some examples of our current design: (these currently only include Creature Enchantment spells)

Attributes

Multi-Stat Spell (2 spells) Multi-Stat Spell (3 Spells)
Strength and Endurance Strength, Endurance and Quickness
Coordination and Quickness Coordination, Focus and Self
Focus and Self


Hunting Skills

Multi-Stat Spell (2 spells) Multi-Stat Spell (3 Spells)
Weapon and Melee Defense Weapon, Melee Defense, and Missile Defense


Magic Skills

Multi-Stat Spell (2 spells) Multi-Stat Spell (3 Spells)
Life Magic and War Magic Life and War Magic with Mana Conversion
Creature Enchantment and Item Enchantment Creature and Item with Mana Conversion


Defensive/Secondary Hunting Skills

Multi-Stat Spell (2 spells) Multi-Stat Spell (3 Spells)
Melee Defense and Missile Defense Melee Defense, Missile Defense and Magic Defense
Healing and Arcane Lore Healing, Arcane Lore and Mana Conversion
Mana Conversion and Magic Defense


Because these are only being conceptualized at the moment there is still a lot of room for change to occur.

The second major question with Multi-Stat spells is the distribution and acquisition of the new spells. We want to see these spells integrated into world safely and quickly, we also know that players will want to craft their own spells for use. As a result we’re currently considering two options.

The first options would place spell scrolls into the loot system. These would be found as part of normal scroll distribution across all levels of loot. The second option is to place them in sturdy chests that currently have level seven spells. This option would give some value back to the Sturdy Iron Keys.

You’ll simply need to use the scroll after finding it and, if your magic skill is high enough, the spell will be added to your spellbook and you will be able to cast it yourself. Regardless of the distribution process, three-spell variants will be rarer than the two-spell variants.

Multi-Stat spells will be most likely be added sometime this year. They will probably be created only for self spells first, with the possibility of other spells in the distant future.

Item Enchantment

Baning. With the possibility of nine separate armor pieces to buff, ten if you have a shield, it is possible that you are casting eighty Item protection spells per hunting session. That’s a long time to be standing around and pressing a sequence of buttons over and over. So what are we planning on doing about Item Enchantment?

First and foremost, we want to curb the length of time that it takes people buff. To state that more clearly, we want to reduce the amount of time it takes for self-buffing players to complete their buff cycle. The emphasis is on improving buffing for those players with access to these spell schools. It is important to remember that this is the primary goal of buff improvements when evaluating this section, as the following improvements are all only considerations at this point.

Our first consideration is to make all Item Enchantment spells fast cast, as we are doing for Creature and Life Magic spells. This would go a long way to curb the length of time that people buff.

The second option is to extend multi-stat spells to Item Enchantment. This would allow players to cover several banes at once and therefore cut down on the number of spells that are being cast as part of their buffing cycle. While this option alone would not completely alleviate the length of time that it takes to buff oneself for hunting, it would be another avenue to alleviate the tedium.

Lastly, we are considering the option to allow Item Enchantment to spread to all valid targets on a player. This would mean you could target yourself, cast Impenetrability and it would spread to all of the possible targets on your character. This would cut the spell count down to eight, sixteen with a shield, and really speed the process along.

There is a possibility that we’ll combine some options together, when we solidify design plans we’ll let you know what options were chosen.

Conclusion

It’s going to be an interesting year. There are several changes that are coming to buffing and spell casting in general. The overall goal of the buffing changes is to allow players to get into the heat of battle more quickly, and with the changes that we currently have on our plate we think that we can achieve that goal.

Your feedback on these topics will be very valuable as we continue working on these designs and prioritize which ones will go into the game first. Which of these ideas do you like or dislike? Which do you like or dislike most?

Thanks for reading, and we look forward to hearing from you.


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