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Transcript of Asheron's Call Developer Chat, July 18th

On Tuesday, July 18th, the Turbine team met in the Zone Theater Chat Room to discuss current issues with Asheron's Call and the world of Dereth. With the release of July's update, "To Raise a Banner of Flame", players voiced concern about weakened mages, wands, and low dungeon spawning. The Turbine team addressed these areas, as well as providing insight on the topics of returning shadow armor, wand quests, and secure player trading; hints were also dropped concerning future top ten lists for highest level players.

The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

+MrQuazarr@Zone> Welcome to our Monthly Asheron's Call Developer's Chat. With us today is one of the Lead Designer, Eri Izawa and Producer, James Cowgill. OK, I will hand the floor over to Eri to introduce everyone else here today and then we will be off to the questions.

rei@Turbine> I'm Eri "reijin" Izawa, co-lead designer for Asheron's Call and general spec shuffler. With me today are these great flavors of the AC Team:

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

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

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

rei@Turbine> ...and introducing newest catchy flavor, James Cowgill, AC Producer.

rei@Turbine> Again, thanks for coming! Let's go....

Solamar> Hello! Thank you for such a cool game! One question. We really need some type of "Stash" for characters. Are thier plans for this? This would be VERY useful to Patrons and Monarchs. Not to mention those who love bartering with others as I do. Down with the mules I say! Maybe use an NPC and allow us to buy space at 10K per Pack? This would go hand in hand with the Secure Trading System many were hoping to see in this months patch. Thanks!

rei@Turbine> It's on our list of things we'd like to do, but there are no current plans for it, as we are hard at work on some other systems. Item storage has a host of technical issues and would require a LOT of time. In an ideal world we'd do it in a flash :)

jhaw> Hello. I noticed that monsters are allowed to cast spells with out the aid of channeling devices. Why are we not allowed to cast spells with a weapon in hand like shadows?

Crowley@turbine> Most of it simply boils down to complications with the animation data. I'm not totally up on the technical issues involved, but it's actually difficult to have monsters hold on to wands. As for in-game responses... Monsters are more innately magical...?

Kr0n1K> When will Lugian Hammers use "Axe" skill like they SHOULD instead of "Mace" skill which they currently feed from?, I mean, what is the point of a Hammer when lugians already have a mace and morningstar.., It should be easy so I hope it rhymes with must, i mean it would be a good olthoi weapon with def.

Crowley@turbine> It's a known bug, actually in my "to fix" queue. So Lugian hammers should start behaving normally soon. Unfortunately, I won't be rhyming tonight.

SirXavier1> Currently war magic is worthless at high levels, unless you have life magic. Why? Why must the most expensive skill in game require you to have life magic to be viable? War magic is not worth 16 to train or 28 to spec, even with the new spells...

SirXavier1> Something still needs to be done. Either give skill points back, 1 for trained, 3 for spec'ed so it won't throw anything out of balance, or new uber war spells that are not effected by life need to be added. Is anything planned?

Crowley@turbine> It has been somewhat acknowledged that War Magic is underpowered. However, don't expect to see a decrease or "giveback" on War Magic skill credit cost.

Crowley@turbine> We want to improve war magic's effectiveness, but as you can see, balance is a very tricky issue.

Crowley@turbine> Additionally, there are some tech issues involved. I saw Jesse bumping his head into some of our tech limitations recently.

Crowley@turbine> We haven't given up on War Magic, but I don't think you can expect any more War Magic buffing soon.

RESiSTANCE_JaS> Even though we just got Solclaim, are we getting any other worlds any time in the near future? um Snowreap? among others =)

+MrQuazarr@Zone> We are always looking at performance and concurrency on a near daily basis to ensure that we have adequate worlds for the current player base. When we see a trend, we will act on it. There is always a possibility of new worlds.

Cowgill@Turbine> Turbine and MS aren't finished optimizing the code or servers. We are always trying to both, increase the server load and looking at how many total worlds are needed.

wynterwolf> To expensive to have archers with atlan and hollow arrows but any plans for some new arrow heads? Race specific for PvP? Critter specific? Exploding to knock open those stubborn locked doors? I can think of plenty!

Crowley@turbine> Unfortunately, there's a lack of support for item creation within our code. It'd demand new tech, and we already have a lot of new tech backloaded.

rei@Turbine> There are currently tech reasons why we can't do critter specific, race specific, or exploding missile weapons....

rei@Turbine> We are still looking at bows & thrown weapons for possible future features, though.

rei@Turbine> As Davej said, we have a lot of new tech queued up in the schedule already.

Seifer_Rules> Why is it that the new dispell spells cost so much mana?

Crowley@turbine> Look at it this way. For each dispel you cast, you negate several spells. That's a deal. But the real answer to the question is that they have to be balanced. If they didn't cost as much as they did, balance might have swung too far in the wrong direction. We'll keep looking at the costs of new spells, but I don't expect to see them changing any time soon.

Kilmorx> First of all, great game, thanks guys. Now my question. With the new patch some interesting features have been introduced. But the one thing I am really missing are (not counting housing, storage, etc. *g*) some new spells like summoning of creatures or enchantments like charms or control spells, is there something up your sleeves or is that an impossible thing to hope for?

rei@Turbine> It's not an impossible thing to hope for....

rei@Turbine> We're seriously interested in that kind of thing, but it IS new tech, and as such is extremely expensive.

rei@Turbine> It's not currently scheduled anywhere, but like I said, we're interested in doing some of those.

PaladinsOfFate> With the introduction of hollow weapons, the use of robes with no AL is not a viable option for a mage any longer. For those who based their character creation on those variables and have no real strength for heavy armor, will there be robes with a base AL in future updates?

rei@Turbine> There might be some robes like that, but don't expect robes to be as powerful an asset as they were before.

rei@Turbine> i.e., they may have certain limitations, etc.

rei@Turbine> No, no specific robes are planned at the moment.

__MOO__> Is there a future for the skill of thrown weapons?.. will you even consider working on progressing the skill like what has been done with sword (rapier) and mace & spear.. i'm leveling from 53-65 in order to get the skill just don't want it to be a bust

Crowley@turbine> Yes, there are things being planned for thrown weapons.

Crowley@turbine> Historically thrown weapons has been difficult to improve because you can't enchant a stack of items.

Crowley@turbine> We are thinking up clever ways around this technological limitations. We have some clever plans. So clever you could put two pointy ears on them and call them weasels.

rei@Turbine> (or not ;)

Crowley@turbine> So soon (no rhymes, unfortunately, or specific dates) you should see some stuff that will make thrown weapons more fun and functional.

lagzilla1> When will there be a quest cestus?

Crowley@turbine> I think before we shower UA with more quest weapons, we need to address the questing needs of other weapon classes.

BYOB_SmackDaddy> Thanks for a game unrivaled in its class...Diablo 2 has an ending...AC will be a new game every month. I numbered things i would like to see changed and have only one question

BYOB_SmackDaddy> 1.) My question is about the greater skeletons/ bone lords ect. Im a 40th level archer with a bow skill of 260+i cant hit tusker guards for 90 hps non vulned and they are level 126+ but i cant hit a friggin skeleton for more than 10, unless i get a critical in which case i hit them for 120+ somethings not right there - are you aware of this?

BYOB_SmackDaddy> 2.)Monsters that can cast imperil/vuln combos should be nerfed. i dont mind the war or creature spells being cast on me to damage/weaken me but this is ridiculous!! skeletons arent worth the loot or xp for the vitae i take.

rei@Turbine> We've heard about the skeletons ... in the past we have upped loot and XP on occasion; that is a POSSIBLE solution for this situation. We will (and I know you have it when I say this) have to look into it.

_Zorlin> Greetings all, love the game btw :)... my question concerns the widening gap between high level mobs (ie vapor golem is a good ex) and player skills.

Crowley@turbine> People asked for difficult monsters. They got them.

_Zorlin> true... but I know I will never have 400+ buffed life/war skill. being a non-spec'd mage

Crowley@turbine> It gives you something to build up to. There's no thrill in killing easy monsters. We're trying to challenge our players.

Shewanna> Some enigmatic dev dropped a hint about a mage wand quest? Does such a thing exist? Is it just as difficult as the portal spells quest? If not, some multi-part customizable wand quest would be really cool! - some hints would be even better.

Crowley@turbine> There is a wand quest in the game now.

Crowley@turbine> It's a toughie.

Crowley@turbine> No hints, though, sorry.

alecmuzzy> First off, I love the way that the new hollow weapons quest works. There is absolutely no camping! As a result, a lot more people are able to do this quest and enjoy it. You did your homework and came up with an A+! I hope you do more quests this way.

alecmuzzy> Why are there so many changes made to the game to balance PVP (removal of Mattekar Robe, Nerfing of Shadow armor) when less than 10% of the customers play PVP? It seems a little unfair to us PVM players who just feel nerfed as a result.

Crowley@turbine> There were *two* changes in July directed at PvP: wand animation slowdown and the hollow weapons.

Crowley@turbine> The Hoary Mattekar robes were never intended to be available for more than that one month.

Crowley@turbine> The shadow armor change was not because of PvP considerations, though those were part of the equation.

Crowley@turbine> As for numbers... It's more than 10%. PvP is not a majority, but they are definitely a significant minority.

Crowley@turbine> And while we do not think primarily in terms of PvP, we do have to consider them also.

Evil_Elvis_> Well, mages still rule all when it comes to damage, and continue to get stronger as they level. Melee now is the second best class, being cheap, doing good damage, and having that nice shield. Archery, however overpowered it is in the early levels, completely caps off damage-wise at lev 45 or so.

Evil_Elvis_> Considering the new monsters super-high melee skills, complete debuffs, and crazy high missle defense, it seems you've forsaken archery to be the woste class. You have to have fletching or a fletching mule, and then waste alot of time, just to do max damage. Evading the new monsters is NOT an option, seeing as after we're debuffed, we're one hit kills (and you'd have to be level 90+ to evade these things well at all). What do you have planned to make archery a viable class again?

rei@Turbine> We don't have anything currently planned for archery, though yes "we are always balancing things and looking at these issues" -- and frankly, we think archery is a viable class.

Sentinell> A large part of this game has been based either on or around allegiances. When will we see more contect directed towards them in the form of allegiance wars,quests etc

rei@Turbine> We have some ideas we'd like to see implemented for allegiances.

rei@Turbine> Right now our New Tech Queue is full-up, but actually allegiances are very high up on the priority list.

rei@Turbine> And we definitely know you want some easier means of communicating within an allegiance.

rei@Turbine> Allegiance Wars remain probably the most difficult, as any time you have a lot of people fighting a lot of people, you get a TREMENDOUS server impact.

rei@Turbine> (In case anyone remembers how April went)

rei@Turbine> But anyway, that's what the status is: high priority, but without a definite date we can give you.

Kain_Mendax> Just one little suggestion, and I want to know if you could look at it. I'm an archer with fletching. I have 500 arrowheads and 500 shafts. I fletch me some arrows. I find out that the fletched arrows are HEAVIER than the heads and shafts when they're separate, and pre-fletch. Uh, this doesn't really add up to me. When can I expect a possible fix to that? If there won't be, I'll deal by raising strength. :)

rei@Turbine> Originally encumbrance was a reflection of not just mass, but how bulky/difficult to carry something is - i.e., something light but oddly shaped would cost more in terms of load. Finally, consider that this is a BONUS to fletchers. You get to carry around relatively more in the way of raw materials.

JackTam_Z> When will staffmasters get a quest like Hamud's etc? We seem to be a neglected class, anything planned for the future, because we really need some loving! Perhaps bumping up variances or more damage types.

Crowley@turbine> If we put in a staff quest, I doubt anyone would use that staff instead of the Atlan staff.

rei@Turbine> (I've got more'n enough)

Crowley@turbine> However. I'd like there for be at least one quest item for each weapon class. Mace got a quest this month, hopefully in the future, schedule permitting, I/we will be able to put in quests for the other melee weapons. I can't promise any kind of time frame, though.

x_bLaZe_x> Only 3 things to mention, first MIDDLE MAN NPC!!!!(for trades), < second- a new sword, maybe a huge sword bigger than overlord sword(hey it looks cool :), AND a bludgeon sword...pllleeeazzzz< third-can u make some new staff art?

rei@Turbine> Uhhhh, lots of that sound cool, though we'd rather go with a Secure Trade UI than a middle man NPC, and as for staff art....

rei@Turbine> Yes, we can do new staff art, though it depends on what new staff material is going in, and eventually we're likely to put in new staff quests.

Crowley@turbine> Sarky comment: a bludgeoning sword is a baseball bat.

LuckyCerridwen> I have noticed since the two most recent updates that 1) Mages (life and war mages in particular) are getting far less exp as opposed to there warrior type counterparts. I'm not speaking of draining through walls - life mages- , I'm referring to life mage who go toe to toe with Gigas. And get bunkus for exp And 2) Sword users seem to be doing significantly more damage these days. I am a lvl 34 axe user and I have the quest item Crimson Silifi with BD VI, Coord VI and Def VI activated. And sword users 5 to 10 levels lower then me with significantly lower stats are getting these kills over me. Is there an explaination for either of these occurances? I am at the point where I HATE sword users and refuse them as Vassals and even Friends. Will something be done about this in the near future Something that rhymes with bust?

Crowley@turbine> We haven't done anything to life mages' XP, aside from the "drain behind the wall" code from some time ago.

Crowley@turbine> As for swords... Sword mechanics haven't been touched since they got the variance bonus months ago.

Crowley@turbine> I hate to call this observer error, but there certainly haven't been any changes in the data that would account for this.

Crowley@turbine> So no need to discriminate against sword users. You might want them in your allegiance if they're kicking butt.

rei@Turbine> (It also depends on what monster you're fighting, obviously.)

Brando__187> Ok first off, thanks for the hollow weapons. Finally us mages have a challange PK, was getting boring fast, oh and heres a small Suggestion, maybe make flettching / Alchemy be able to enchant Throwing weapons...

Brando__187> Question: Can you make a tusker that casts spells? *cackle*

Crowley@turbine> We could. Don't think it's not a tempting idea. There are in-game reasons (backstory and such) that Tuskers should be nonmagical. Some month, if we're feeling puckish, there could be spell-lobbing Tuskers. But don't count on it.

andy_beardsley> Are there Plans to fix the Collier Mines Quest? The key you get from the banderling up top says collier Mine on it, yet does not work on anything in the dungeon, and the High chest next to the Baron is 700 Difficulty and there is no key?

rei@Turbine> There are plans in the work for the Colier Mines....

rei@Turbine> err, in the works

rei@Turbine> Can't give you a specific ETA, but hopefully you'll see your concerns addressed.

Reprisal_X> Recently, there has been a revelation on many of the message boards that people have been exploiting a duping bug to duplicate large numbers of items utilizing a bug when the servers are reset. Apparently, the bug was thankfully only used by a small group (some whom have apparently even sold duped items on E-bay making a RL profit) and although it appears it is harder to do now it is still exploitable. Question: Are you aware of this situation? If so, what have you/are you going to do to deal with it?

rei@Turbine> We are aware of the situation....

rei@Turbine> Basically there were some problems a little while back that made this easier to do; hopefully it should be much harder now.

rei@Turbine> If you continue to see major problems please do point it out. Thanks!

corbitt12> do you guys keep track of the highest level people? and if so, what is the highest level person currently on all the servers? and, i still feel like melee warriors are being striped of their potential. will that change soon?

+MrQuazarr@Zone> Top players in each world is something we track. Until recently, we really didnt have an effective way of report that though. We are working on some things for the web page that will report those type of statics. Keep your eyes out for it!

Horde_Nest_Lag> The olthoi horde nest was laggy before, they slowed the spawn rate down and yet the lag still continues. Did you ever take into consideration that the lag is cause from the Olthoi's extremely large sense of awareness? I have them come from up to 3 times the compass distance to attack me. You should try and cut this way down and see if that helps with the lag. Also move the spawn rate back to where it was at. Why does it take so long to solve these kind of problems? Lag has become very bad and should not be tolerated.

rei@Turbine> If the problem is with DT dungeons in particular, there were some particular DT server problems recently.

rei@Turbine> If it's in general, I believe (and I could be misremembering?) it wasn't just the Olthoi dungeons... but I'll have to check.

rei@Turbine> We're looking at lag issues AND the respawn in the dungeon issue as well.

ShadowSkylark> I Know You Probably Wont Give Me A Straight Answer But: Do You Have Any Plans Of Bringing GSA Back?

Crowley@turbine> Shadow armor is coming back in a different, improved form. We would not have removed the old armor pipeline without plans for a suitable replacement.

Crowley@turbine> Will the new stuff be as powerful as pre-July armor? Apples and oranges, I can't really say.

Crowley@turbine> Keep tuned for our shadow armor improvements.

Crowley@turbine> And it'll look different too.

johnmers2> My Suggestion: Make alchemy easier by allowing spell comps in the numbered shortcut bar, and please autostack items...

johnmers2> My Question: does the char you play, have ANYTHING to do with what a creature drops EVER? If so can you cite examples...

rei@Turbine> The character you play does not have anything to do with what the creature drops.

tjmax> Are you intending to increase the players abilities to become more powerfull (stats, spells weapons and armor) and ballance it out PvM so they can attempt to play the new area's with out loosing all the best equipment they have gathered for the past 9 months or possably introducing area's that are actually playable for high level players? a suggestion...

tjmax> Maby have a @body command to retreave you body taking another 15% vitea if you cant find or get back to it. People HATE loosing 9 months worth of gear hunting in a single swipe and would much rather take the penalty, even 40%

rei@Turbine> Are we intending to increase the players abilities....

rei@Turbine> If necessary.

rei@Turbine> Balance is ongoing... I've long been interested in tuning higher level play.

rei@Turbine> However, it must be done very carefully.

rei@Turbine> A level 30 player can get one-shot killed by a level 100 monster....

rei@Turbine> A level 70+ player can also get one-shot killed by something equivalently tough.

rei@Turbine> Again, extending higher level gameplay is something we're interested in doing, but it will require some serious analysis first.

Qmann> Hi, a suggestion first, can u pls post some more "technincal" info about the working of the game, like the explanation u did about the XP reducing code, examples would be to explain how the spell economy works, or why do we still take damage during lag without doing any damage...

Qmann> My question is why did u reduce the spawn rate in the Horde Nest? it is unbearable now! u should rename it the "abandoned" nest. If it was because of lag, then at least make it something in between!

Qmann> BTw I kinda like it that u nerfed the GSA because evryone was starting to look alike!

Crowley@turbine> People don't seem to believe it when we tell them this, but the BSD and the Horde Nest were causing problems with the servers.

Crowley@turbine> Not just in-dungeon lag, but they were actually causing a strain on the entire server farm.

Crowley@turbine> The lag wasn't the only reason involved in the reduction of spawn rates, but it was the strongest reason.

Crowley@turbine> We're trying to figure out ways to bring back the experience of being cornered by a dozen angry Tuskers, but there are technical issues we have to dance around.

Crowley@turbine> So we'll probably keep tweaking the Horde Nest and the BSD. Hopefully we can find a happy compromise between play experience and server load.

feebz> quick question: how hard would it be to integrate CAPES into the game? This game is FAR FAR better than UO, but i liked the cape wardrobe element of that game at least

rei@Turbine> Capes are difficult.

rei@Turbine> Unfortunately.

rei@Turbine> Trust me we all wanted ones for ourselves :)

rei@Turbine> Can't tell you about next month's event, but we will be trying to address some long-standing concerns (then again, we always try to do that).

rei@Turbine> (Hmm, sorry it's vague; it can't be helped)

+MrQuazarr@Zone> Great. I want to thank everyone for coming out this evening, and thank Turbine for another great Dev Chat!