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Transcript of Asheron's Call Developer Chat, June 15

On Thursday, June 15th, the Turbine team met in the Zone Theater Chat Room to discuss current AC issues as well as plans for future updates. Among the topics discussed were requests by players for housing, armor "painting", and the strengthening of certain artifact weapons. The Turbine team also dropped a few hints about what could be expected for July's events.

The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

+Chaos@AC> Welcome one and all to tonight's chat with our honored guests from Turbine, those wonderful folks who have brought us Asheron's Call. MrQuazarr@Zone, our regular emcee for these events, is away this week, and has graciously asked me to assist our guests this evening. That being said, I would like to introduce the Co-Lead Designer of Asheron's Call, Eri Izawa ! Take it away, Eri !

rei@Turbine> Hi all! With me today are:

rei@Turbine> David "Crowley" Javier, game designer, dungeon maker, and dialogue meister.

rei@Turbine> Jesse "Nei" Kurlancheek, game designer, scripter, general systems guy.

rei@Turbine> Chris "Stormy" L'Etoile, cranky game designer, story writer.

rei@Turbine> Dave "Sarneho" Namerow, Turbine-side Community Manager.

rei@Turbine> Sean Huxter, Lead Artist for AC.

rei@Turbine> And guest starring Jason Booth, artist extraordinaire.

rei@Turbine> To give you an idea of our schedule, we are already hard at work on the July event. So we can with some confidence answer questions about that material (though we won't give away all the secrets ;-).

That said, we usually cannot give you concrete dates or feature details for anything new beyond one or two months out.

This is because of many factors, including the experimental nature of events, schedule changes, and the fact that something that looks simple may turn out to be very complicated or even impossible!

In other words, promising specifics for many of your suggestions would be premature. We don't like promising things we might not be able to deliver.

Also, because we have so much planned, new requests on the boards or from here may not be implemented until some time after the suggestion is made.

But I want to assure you that we are listening! The spellcasting UI changes happened in large part because of your suggestions at a chat much like this one some months ago.

Ceazar_AC> My question regards the cooking skill. In May I would have my alchemist make oils and my cook would produce foods with those oils that were superior to potions in weight, cost and sometimes points returned. My question is this: Hopefully by July, Can cooking and alchemy produce REAL superfoods again - things that are worthwhile to make and carry despite the time and effort involved in making them? Please don't leave cooking as "that useless skill you need to make the composite bow". Thank you.

rei@Turbine> I don't know that there will be drastic changes, and certainly I don't think we can promise anything for July. But I'd like to make cooking more interesting and useful. (And add new foods down the road, too.)

jgoldshlag> As my mage gets higher and higher in level, I notice that I have to spend more and more xp on my strength to carry spell components. I don't want to make my mage into Hercules! Is there any chance spell component weight will be reduced? Alternatively component burn could be lowered and component costs could be raised.

nei@turbine> terribly unlikely since mages are already a very powerful group.

GrubbDawg> One minor question regarding enhanced user control. Game control (specifically while hunting) would be much more enjoyable if the directional pad on game pads/joysticks (i.e. MS Sidewinder) was integrated. Movement (all on x,y axis) currently is only accessible through the keyboard. Do you see this functionality being implemented to the game anytime in the near future?

rei@Turbine> There are no specific plans for that -- it would take considerable investment to fully implement that. Meaning, support for combat and magic and so on through a joystick. (Movement by itself I think would be easy.)

jason@Turbine> I think that time could be better spent on other UI improvements as well..

rei@Turbine> So, no, I don't see it in the near future.

nei@turbine> You can also bind the joystick to the keyboard... might help some.

MicroBorg> My question is about the thought process behind releasing the new spells. You were kind enough to add a step by step manual for the new bow quest yet expect mages to camp diamonds for days and waste scarabs on trillions of possible combinations for a spell. I do not want clues or hints. I would simply like to hear and understand your thought process on why mages are expected to randomly discover their quest while anyone who wants a Composite bow is given an instruction booklet.

nei@turbine> let me speak of a time before split pea and the ilk, there was a lovely thing that mages had to do to attain their power: research. Guess what? it's back.... 1 week and the boards are showing massive progress.

Dave@turbine> clap clap

Purrpetual> A suggestion, not my question: The world is turning into a sea of Matty Coat/Olthoi Helms and Greater Shadow Amuli/Gold Heaumes. It would be great to at least get some variety in color by having a skill by which the color of armor could be altered.

My question: Is there any hope for the poor Sword of Lost Light? It is universally considered a useless quest item, as by the time someone can meet the hefty sword skill and arcane requirements, they invariably have much better weapons (e.g. an atlan with self-buffs, since every viable swordswinger has item magic). Should I just give up on it and sell it, or do you have something nifty up your sleeves to rescue this poor abandoned stepchild of the atlan?

You guys have made great improvements to the game since release, by the way. Keep up the good work.

letoile@turbine> Expect SOLL to become uber once again sometime in the near future. It won't be immediate. It won't be obvious. It won't be easy. But ultimately you'll be able to wipe the room with it.

MxRacer_14> During these "scheduled" downtime for maintenance, I have noticed subtle changes in the game after the downtime. After the update, IMP VI on my robe used to make it 262, now its 258. Tuskers are beating the poop out of me, 1 out of 4 hits is a critical. 1 out of 8 is a super-crit. Are you tweaking things during these downtimes to cut down on the number of people in the dungeons? Can you please wipe Arwic and Qalaba'r off the map - those cesspools need to go!

rei@Turbine> The spell economy resets after restarting. That's probably what you're seeing.

jason@Turbine> I've wanted to blow up Arwic for a while now, but rei won't let me..

rei@Turbine> There's a time and a place for blowing things up. 'Sides, people would just find a different town to go to.

Genghis_Magnus> Axe and Staff have bludgeoning weapons which outclass Maces (lower burden, better damage varience), yet there's no difference in skill cost between Axe and Mace, and staff is a free skill. What kind of changes/quests can mace users expect to make mace worth 6 skill credits, and when will we see those changes?

Crowley@turbine> Mace and spear are filling my time right now. Expect it next month unless I prove to be totally incompetent.

sean@Turbine> And some of mine too.

Crowley@turbine> And Elliot's and Nei's time, to be fair, yes. As for teasers: It's not the cough that carries you off, it's the coffin they carry you off in.

paulen> Will there ever be any distinctive advantages of specialization aside from the point cost? e.g. weapons only usable by specialists, perhaps a bludgeon attack for sword specialists, spells only available to specialists, items only usable by specialists, etc. As it stands there is very little that distinguishes 1 mage from the next or 1 sword user from the next and it's commonly agreed that the point cost curve difference doesn't warrant the expense in points at character creation. Distinctive advantages would add to specialization and enhance the role-playing aspect of the game.

nei@turbine> we really don't currently have the tech to do much past numbers in relation to the skill curves... there are a few "maybes" but those are far off.

SpellSpoiler> My question is about diamond scarabs and how difficult they are to come by. Diamond golems seem to be the only place for me to obtain these. Adding to this difficulty, are the numerous taper combinations that are needed to even learn the new eye of the storm type spells. While most of the bright mages have already figured out the obvious powder/potion components of the spell, if they do learn it, the scarab components to cast it are not regularly available.

Is there hope that less difficult monsters like revenants, lightning gromnies or elder reedsharks will drop these new scarabs or that they would be available at a tough to travel to mage shop? Oh and a feature request for v2: Add a button for an XML (or html) dump from the enter game screen of our character information, such as stats and inventory including the value and numbers on our weapons etc. patron/monarch/vassals etc.

nei@turbine> The availability of the scarabs is one of those things I spend too much time stewing over. While I doubt they'll ever be for sale, they MIGHT have a chance of increasing the drop rate on the golems. Past that... *shrug*

Quadratic> Are the new trade skills still way back on the "to look at later" list, or have they moved to the "possibly look at doing" list now? Oh, and Chris, what do you think about fuzzles?

letoile@turbine> Uh...

rei@Turbine> *smack head*

rei@Turbine> (That was about fuzzles)

rei@Turbine> New trade skills ... would love to do them.

rei@Turbine> July is booked....

rei@Turbine> Maybe within a few months, but that's just a tentative maybe. So since we can't look at them now, they are technically on the "to look at later" list.

sean@Turbine> *Fuzzles Quadratic*

Leviathen1> There was only one identified trojan in the past used to steal account information from players, but that has been taken care of. The recent batch of hackings apparently originate from Zone secuity flaws. What steps does Turbine intend to take to protect their product from the deficient security provided by Microsoft?"</font?

rei@Turbine> We provide the best security we can for Asheron's Call itself.

+Chaos@AC> For those who have concerns about Zone security itself, please email - security issues are being looked into.

bangui> This is a request from the posters at AC Stratics. I would like to see text filtering switches added. This would be a switch for each text type. Combat messages, spell words and NPC random speeches are the types of text that some of us would like to filter out. Some people feel that watching the health bar is sufficient in combat. Mages practicing spells annoys almost everyone. The Collector's speech gets old very quickly.

rei@Turbine> Is that a question? :) Anyway, my answer is: Yes.

rei@Turbine> There's stuff coming soon. I think it will answer most of what you're looking for.

smugs> hiya,if I spend time learning the terrain I'm fighting in time to get to know what I'm fighting planning out a battle that will could last a while casting vulns and debuffs to kill the monster in an heroic fight shouldn't I get more exp then killing something in one shot - why do you feel I should get less?

Crowley@turbine> Using terrain to your advantage, shoot and scoot, dodging, all this is different from wall-licking.

Crowley@turbine> The XP code seems to be pretty misunderstood. It ONLY affects people a monster cannot even get to, a la perchers and wall-drainers. Taking a lot of time to kill something, a long drawn-out battle in a fair fight with a monster, will not loose you any XP.

rei@Turbine> Plus it only starts AFTER you attack it.

SageMadHatter> First, Lillith (yes from CoD) and I would like to extend congrats on a great job done with the windmills! We only found out recently when lookup to the ceiling, that you can actually see the gears and sprockets turning in sync with each other! Great work.

All right, and now for the question/suggestion. Originally you guys had planned 4 heritage groups, for one of these heritage groups you have some concept art of a city (Rennaj City) Although the 4th heritage was drop... Could you guys look into perhaps in the distance future (okay, well maybe not years from now! but sometime...) considering bringing Rennaj City to life? :) It's a wonderful concept and I'm sure many of the fans would love to see a floating city :) Preferably a hidden secret floating city! I know I asked this before on the boards, but wanted to ask it in the semi-unofficial chat, who needs balance?

jason@Turbine> thanks..

jason@Turbine> if your gonna do windmills...

jason@Turbine> burn them..

letoile@turbine> More than four, in fact.

letoile@turbine> I'm not sure we could easily do the floating city in the current engine. Buildings themselves take a long time. In order to do this properly, we'd have to make the city a bunch of multiple floating buildings that all fit together. Jason, you want to add something to my fumbling here?

jason@Turbine> a large one would be hard, but small ones would just be a time suck.. perhaps one day, but I don't know when we'd have the time to work it in..

XWA_eeezee> I'd like to comment on how great AC really is! Your spell system is ingenious, graphics are remarkable, and everything else is just plain great! And bombing Arwic/Qual'bar would solve the world's problems!

And now for my question, What plans do you have for new spells in other schools of magic, such as Creature enchantment, item enchantment, and life magic?

nei@turbine> oh pooh... I have to be all vague now? there are plans... past that, um... erm... get down and boogie?

Dave@turbine> heh

Amusary> AC needs a skill cost cap. Once level 60+ is attained the benefits of fighting no longer seem worth the effort. At level 1-10 you advance rapidly. At level 20-40 you truly enter in your prime. However, after level 50 skills and stats begin costing ridiculous amounts and noticing any increase in fighting effectiveness is seldom. Leveling is nearly impossible after level 70 so you would think I would be able to raise lots and lots of skills each level.

Hell no, my strength costs over 2 million points to raise. Hmm, lets see, that's 4 points of strength per level. That's not much at all! One points of sword and an extra point of damage (maybe). Big deal and its only going to get worse as I level.

Why not cap the skill and stat costs at 1 million and let us make some truly exciting characters that have nice high skill and stat levels (over 300+) to reflect our high levels more??!

nei@turbine> when I was playing with the spec curve, I started to look at all the other curves as well. At high levels, they become next to impossible to raise and we acknowledge that and in the vaguest way possible: and when things are not working well in-game, they have a tendency to be nudged and fixed...

letoile@turbine> Hey, CoD's lagging... too many mages at the Collegium Arcani?

treymule> With the addition of 'Searing Disc", Mages, already overpowered, are now overpowered and faster. Melee fighters, finally, after months of updates start to see equal footing with the other classes and now promptly get sent right back down to the bottom of the dung heap. Archers 'n their +110 +6 +6 BD V Bow Mast V (No drop) Railgun to kill Tusker Guards in 2 hits and now Mages can kill multiple Tuskers in one spell. A 320 sword skill cant even kill a Banderling Raver in one hit! Where are the Warrior's one hit kills (not including small bunnies and cows)??

nei@turbine> never seen Hell Hawk go nuts in the plains? ... see the above "melee gets some love" comments.

Crowley@turbine> Gee Trey, you could at least wait until people discover the new spells before going off about how they're overpowered.

_stroker_> The new creatures ( old creatures of a different color ) arrived with no real explaination ( no back story )So where is the story behind all these creatures?

letoile@turbine> Whoo, backstory Q! I get to be useful! *dance* The story is, portalspace is fluxing as a result of the Shadow Spires' influence. During the invasion, random portals spawned across the landscape. Now, some of them have connected across worlds... and that means new waves of critters are arriving.

Those darn Shadows...

Archemist> A level 6 Mire Wasp can hit me consistantly with Flame Bolt 3. I am level 61 and have a 167 unboosted magic defense. This is ridiculous! If a level 6 magic casting creature can affect me with spells of any type (war, life, creature) then that creature is ungodly boosted and should reflect so by giving at least triple exp per kill. Its bad enough trying to get millions of experience points to raise str, but to get only 40 exp from a creature that has the potential to kill me quickly is an insult.

Please we see a reflection in increased experience given by killing magic casting creatures?

jason@Turbine> That's because we flagged you character specially. It's all a big conspiracy..

rei@Turbine> It's a possibility to make some creatures provide more XP. Based on whether they cast spells or not. It's definitely something to consider.

jason@Turbine> seriously though, I resist them with my 105 or so magic defense.. not consistantly or anything, but I do..

StacyAnn> Thank you for taking my question - Can't wait for the Boston Gathering Its very very grey world in dereth - since there is only one color matty coat - Can there be shops where we can pay to dye our armor?

rei@Turbine> That's an interesting topic that's come up before. I can see many more color coordinated outfits if that happens, and perhaps it will take some of the fun away from collecting the pieces via combat. All I can say is we know people want it and it is on the list of things to consider.

Korenth138> With all the new MMORPG's to be released in the next year or so, what are some of your future plans(such as new lands, expansion pack etc) for Asheron's Call to stay competitive with all these new releases? You guys should really check out our Dev Center. It has a lot of great ideas that I think your whole Development team would enjoy.

rei@Turbine> You'll see some of our plans soon. We will continue to add new features, new content, new places to explore. We do it monthly for free, rather than as an expansion pack.

jason@Turbine> well, one, we give our expansions away in little installments each month called events - and we don't change you for them.

WetMajik> I don't think housing in the general sense will ever happen, it would change the game too dynamically.

nei@turbine> He meant "charge"

WetMajik> But could we have a First Level Spell (so not to discriminate) that would take us to A) a private dungeon or B) a private allegiance castle? This would be a quick solution (and frees up Arwic Traffic) ;) A private chest or placed items that don't dissapear would eliminate mule characters almost completely and if you are in an allegiance, you almost have to have mules and spart equipment.

rei@Turbine> I don't think it's as quick as you think it is. But certainly it's an idea to consider ... again, though, think about the number of private dungeons that would be.

letoile@turbine> One for each player on a world? 2500-3000? Ack.

rei@Turbine> Anyway, permanent storage is on the list of things we want....

jason@Turbine> ok letoile, get to work - I want them all different too ;)

rei@Turbine> But the technical hurdles are non trivial.

nhaskell> I really hate to be "That guy" who worries about other players quest items, but before this bow (with a terrible name), every single quest item has not really been worth using. I always thought that was a good thing, because I don't want us all to be using the same items. But the "Composite Bow with a handle" is equivalent to the very best bows in all of dereth.

rei@Turbine> (You see the in-game sun, though, right? Isn't that good enough?)

nhaskell> Why have you changed the way you design quest items, and can we expect updates to existing inferior quest items?

nei@turbine> On the bow: have you tried attaching the best string to the bow? it's no small feat. As to existing weapons/quests: yeah, they're getting some luv might soon.

PaladinsOfFate> What are the chances we can see some enhancements to fellowship/chat? Specifically, I would like something that works like fellowship, but without XP. This would allow us to hold conversations with groups of people regardless of their playing level.

rei@Turbine> That's actually a good idea. Something I've considered, though something as huge as an allegiance able to all talk together is probably not good for the server. Allegiance communication is something I'd like to see fixed too. So, I'll keep the suggestion in mind ... right now our dev time is booked for other things in the near future though.

suceava> Are items on monsters (including quest related items like matty horns, guts, etc.) assigned at spawn time or at death time? So if I run past a dual fragment, could I be passing by a crystal fragment, or is that only decided when the creature dies?

nei@turbine> trophies are assigned at spawn and treasure is assigned at death. Treasure being the random loot, trophies being horns, shards, etc.

Awake33> I have noticed that when you cast a level VI spell for example, that its duration determines the duration of all level VI spells (with the same possible duration, i.e. 12-21 minutes) cast directly after it. For example when you cast Armor VI, Bludge VI, Pierce VI, and Blade VI protections one after the other. When Armor VI wears off, 1 or 2 seconds later Bludge VI, then Pierce, etc. As you can imagine, having everything wear off at once can be very deadly. My question is this: Can the spells be made to last an individually random amount of time within it's duration?

nei@turbine> that's related to how the spell economy works. the economy works in phases, so given spells in the same "power" range will all be affected in the same way. ie since your lvl VI protects are all "flowing" through you, they'll all last the same amount of time.

beaud> The existence of the Olthoi queen has yet to be confirmed. Will you confirm that the Olthoi Queen is not currently in Dereth, and if she isn't, can we expect her to grace us w/ her presence in Rhymes with Cow Pie?

letoile@turbine> The Queen exists, but is not in Dereth... because our dear Elysa Strathelar, non-perching archer, smote her. ^_^

letoile@turbine> If another queen appears, you can bet it will be a very big to-do.

AFF_DaFuGiTiVe> Is there going to be anyway for spells to wear off quicker? Like the level VI debuffs the new monsters cast. A lot of people dont enjoy sitting around for 15 minutes doing nothing. Possibly where you lay down and they wear off faster or even a dispel spell?

nei@turbine> Another excellent time for a vague answer: "yes"

nei@turbine> Rooted in the mysteries of sausage no less.

Zakna> What is the spawn rate of Fragment pieces (crystal/tiny/small/cracked shards) and why does it seem so impossible to get even one?

nei@turbine> If you only want them for monkeying, I wouldn't want them for much longer but adding more race quests is on the plate, its just one of those funny things that takes awhile since the non-chosen race tends to get upset.

RMEU_TransGold> Great game guys! My question to you guys today is that everytime I'm in a dungeon, take for example the Lugian Citadel near Qalaba'r, and I go into a room with 10-15 other people in there, each of them a higher level or lower level so i'm not the highest or lowest level, and the minute I come into that room, every single monster that spawns there goes straight after me, the archer. What causes that? Is there like a hate list with my name on it or something?

rei@Turbine> I have no idea.

Crowley@turbine> Don't worry, I have that same flag.

rei@Turbine> I've seen some people with bad luck....

rei@Turbine> You guys should get together and see who has the worst luck.

rei@Turbine> Sorry, no clue.

Lilla_Sparveln> Will you ever restore the balance you broke with the Hoary Mattekar Robe with some kind of item which is equivalent? The Mattie Robe has made the game less fun for those who did not buy the game before you removed it.

nei@turbine> hehe... yeah..

nei@turbine> Balance will come once again!

joncrowl> Since I've encountered the diamond golem and various shadows outside of the dires. Is there any chance the we can see the more powerful lugians (forget the names) in the mountains east of Qual?

rei@Turbine> There should be an increase in powerful lugians in some areas. I'm not exactly sure which lugians you're talking about though. And it's likely monsters will continue to shift around for a while.

Boney_Jellyfish> Do you think you could make shards/motes/bow pieces no-drop? A bunch of people (like me) who have no shards whatsoever have no chance at getting anything good. I would like to have a trade system like "the good old days" when you couldn't trade a scint gem for a matty robe.

nei@turbine> no, the component pieces aren't going to change since they've formed a sub-economy and that's something to be fostered, not taken away. there's still a healthy trade market, but the currency has become pieces instead of pyreals.

Kung_Fu_Monkey0> My character has the bug mentioned on the "State of the Code" where his corpse instantly decays upon death, and all of his death items fall to the ground. This character is level 19 and this problem has been on me for about 4 months now. I've already gone through the normal channels of sending emails to and have posted messages in the Bug area on CoD. But there has been no reply to me at all from anyone as to what the progress of fixing this bug is. I know there must be others out there who have my problem. Is there any chance my character will be fixed any time soon? I really miss him.

Dave@turbine> not

rei@Turbine> Fascinating. I'll grab your info and send out some email. No promises, though. Sounds like a very rare occurrence.

Dave@turbine> KFM zm me, and I'll see what I can do.

rei@Turbine> Yes, if it's consistent, it's that much easier to fix. (There are many bugs out there that are rare and very hard to reproduce... that makes them hard to track down and fix. Consistently reproducable bugs are much easier to deal with.)

shFlyer> My question is on the fragment pieces. I have amassed all the dark matter, but have been entirely unsuccessfull in getting the fragment pieces. 1 full week of doing nothing else, I've hunted broken, frags, and dual frags, and gotten for my effort one cracked shard. Any thoughts about making this quest a bit more attainable or at least increase the drop rate a bit to make it possible?

rei@Turbine> It is unlikely that we will be making that quest easier in any way. Perhaps there might be some balancing later. (Hmm, can't really put to words what I'm trying to say.)

keldon2> OK this is more of an idea than a question. A good way that you could make people that want houses and castles and banks would be to create large castles for monarchies with large amounts of followers. They could all live in small houses inside the walls of this castle and keep there stuff inside chests that can be locked and only you have the like. I know there are a lot of details that need to be addressed before something like that could be done but I think it would work out very well and make everyone happy. So tell me what you think and if it would be possible to do.

rei@Turbine> Yes, that is definitely part of what a Housing Solution would entail (if we went that far). But you'd want to guarantee your equipment isn't lost. You'd want to make sure you could control who goes in. You'd probably want to kick out people who sneak in. That's a LOT of new code. So, yes, we'd like to do it, but it's not trivial.

Dave@turbine> Hey gang if you want to meet the Dev's in person, check out the link for the Boston player gathering----- thanks to Crossroads of Dereth!

General_Sun_Zoo> How about telling us what you can do and will do in the near future.

rei@Turbine> Well, we are NOT going to give you the specific quests going into July. That would be ... wrong in many ways. Expect new monsters. We are further along on Secure Trade. Expect some new squelch functionality soon, hopefully July. (In fact, it SHOULD be July, but things can always go wrong.) There are some specifics.

Crowley@turbine> Expect some melee stuff too!

GreyHawk01> I, like most people absolutely hate bringing up the map as we are dying, or trying to find a specific travel point. I would like to see our coords up on our displays, such as just below the radar screen in the top right hand corner of the screen. Maybe a small black box with white Coords so that we can see them without them being lost in the background of the graphics. This would help ALL of us out a lot by being able to find our bodies, travel, etc.

rei@Turbine> Interesting suggestion on the map coords.

+Chaos@AC> Thank you all for attending and asking some great questions tonight!

+Chaos@AC> Special thank you to all our guests from Turbine for taking the time to meet with us all!

+Chaos@AC> See you all at the next chat!!!!!

rei@Turbine> Thank you all very much.

Dave@turbine> thanks all

sean@Turbine> Thanks for comin' out, folks.

sean@Turbine> See you in Boston in July!

rei@Turbine> And big thanks to Chaos for hosting!

+Chaos@AC> Aww thanks Rei, my pleasure :)

letoile@turbine> *waves to Nik and Jamie*