Posted on March 10, 2006
Some months ago, we started intensive research into ways that we could improve the PvP experience in Asheron's Call. PvP is an important aspect of the game and players who regularly engage in PvP combat make up a significant portion of our subscribers. The PvP experience in Asheron's Call isn't terrible by any means, but there is definite room for improvement.
We started by identifying the major issues with PvP based on player feedback. We quickly found that we could largely divide these issues into two broad categories:
- PvP fights can be much too long and tedious.
- PvP combat does not have a larger purpose in the world. In other words, PvP players want something meaningful to fight over.
These are both broad and complex issues and we wanted to make sure that we handled them carefully, not in a slipshod fashion. So we decided to start with the first issue and see what progress we could make there before we tackled the second issue.
We began our effort to make PvP fights less tedious by putting together a series of proposals things that we could do with our technology that might help the situation and then running those ideas past players for their feedback, both on our forums and elsewhere. After an awful lot of quality feedback from the PvP community and several rounds of tuning our ideas, we arrived at the following list of first-pass changes that will be going live with the March update.
First off, we will be increasing the damage on PvP-oriented quest weapons. This includes the Weeping weapons, the Phantom weapons, the Deadly Hollow melee weapons and the Hollow missile weapons. We have also added a system that allows imbued loot weapons to be much more damaging when used in PvP combat (both PK and PKL) without affecting their PvE effectiveness. This includes Armor Rending, Resistance Rending of all varieties, Critical Strike, and Crippling Blow imbues on all melee, missile, and magic caster loot weapons (except that AR can't be used with magic casters, of course). Together, these changes should allow all PvP combatants to do damage to their opponents more effectively, and should reduce the length and tedium of PvP fights.
There's more, but before we go any further let's have a word about these damage increases. Our methodology here was pretty simple. We increased the damage on the Weeping weapons by 10-20% (depending on weapon type), and then increased the damage on the other weapons until the ratio of their damage to Weeping damage was where we wanted it. We mostly preserved the existing balance between Weeping weapons of different types, although casters got a slightly smaller increase and staff and mace saw the largest increases. In general, Hollow and Phantom weapons are more effective than Weeping weapons in specific situations, but not as good in other situations. Imbued loot weapons are 5-15% more damaging that Weeping weapons in general, although in specific situations they can exceed those numbers (Crippling Blow critical hits, for instance).
But that paragraph hides an awful lot of complexity. When we were deciding how much to increase damage on weapons, we had to look at a variety of numbers. Some of the major indicators we used were: the damage on a critical hit; the damage on a normal, non-critical hit; and the average damage per second. For each of these numbers, we also looked at how they differed based on various opponents. For instance, how much damage was done against a partially buffed opponent? A fully buffed and baned opponent? A fully buffed opponent debuffed with Imperil only? Debuffed with Imperil and vulnerability spells? And of course we also looked at the effects of different base armor levels and compared these to the most commonly used equipment in PvP today.
It gets even more complicated when comparing different types of weapons to each other. For instance, a Phantom weapon ignores all armor and therefore is not affected by Impenetrability or bane spells but its damage is affected by life protection and vulnerability spells. So a Phantom weapon will generally be more effective on a heavily-armored opponent who is not at all debuffed. But against the same opponent debuffed with Imperial and Vulnerability spells, the Weeping weapon will often be more effective. In other words, many weapons are quite situational. We wanted to make those weapons superior in their given situations without making any one weapon always superior but at the same time make sure that all weapons were at least somewhat effective, and always more effective than before.
So, while we have given you very general ranges for how much we improved weapon damage, please understand that these can be very situational.
Now, in addition to the extra damage we also added some other interesting abilities. For missile combat specifically we've added two new character options: Lead Missile Targets and Use Fast Missiles. Both of these options are available to all players, both PvP and PvE.
The Lead Missile Targets option is on by default, so it matches previous missile behavior. When this option is on and you fire a missile launcher such as a bow, crossbow, or atlatl, the game will aim at where it expects the target to be when the missile arrives at the target. In other words, you will lead the target. When this option is toggled off, however, firing a missile launcher will fire the missile at where the target is now, not where the server expects the target to be in a few seconds. This will make it much harder to dodge arrows merely by gently strafing back and forth. And because it is a character option, it can be mapped to a key press. Then PvP archers can switch this behavior on and off at will to better react to the movements of their enemies.
The option to Use Fast Missiles is off by default, which matches the previous behavior for PvE. When this option is turned on, missiles do not fire from the launcher any more frequently, but once they are fired they fly through the air faster and with less arc. PvP players have seen this effect before on the PvP-oriented quest missile weapons. But now all players will have the option to turn this behavior on and off with any missile launcher. And because this option can be mapped to a key press, PvP archers can again switch this behavior on and off at will to better react to the movements of their enemies.
Finally, an addition to the Cells of the Black Book dungeon in March will allow players to make a loot weapon un-enchantable. An un-enchantable weapon will still benefit from any inherent spells, but can't be buffed or debuffed by any player or outside agency.
So, to sum up, in the March update we:
- Increased damage on PvP-oriented quest weapons.
- Increased damage on imbued loot weapons when they are used in PvP combat only.
- Added two new character options for missile combat that will help archers vary their attacks and make dodging missiles more interesting.
- Added an interaction to make loot weapons un-enchantable.
We wouldn't have been able to put these plans together without copious high-quality feedback from you, our players. Thank you. We hope that we can continue working together to make AC1 the best it's ever been.
And that's what we have in store in the March update for PvP! We will be carefully monitoring how these plans play out in real live situations, of course, and we'll be ready to make tweaks based on feedback from the PvP community. If this goes well, we will also start the planning and initial feedback phase for changes and systems aimed at giving PvP a meaningful purpose in the world.