Check out a short account of initial VD tests. Read about Valentine’s Day and Broken Ranks. You can’t miss our BR closed alpha tests report and information about the stage of development we are on – in short we are preparing for the beta!
In the previous blog post we talked about the changes to VD that we decided to test. Their initial version has already undergone initial checks. The tests were about completing instances – those that are bread and butter for the tester. They were to check how the new solutions play out in the endgame, in lower level instances, in pvp and solo play. So far the changes to Doll, Shadow Strike and Shadow Aura were praised. Most of our testers decided that the changes were needed – VD would be dealing more damage but thanks to increasing the share of piercing damage, it wouldn’t be too high in places where mobs have low mental resistance. At the same time Shadow Strike would not be a useless skill. It would still be great for when you want to change your opponent’s defenses to ranged. Shadow Aura’s effect and duration, according to our testers, needs to be nerfed. There were mixed feelings about:
- the changes to Face of Death (taking away physical and ranged part of the debuff, adding an effect that lowers mental resistances, decreasing chance to kill, duration and mana cost) – according to our testers these changes would have both positive and negative effects. On the one hand Depression now increases VD’s damage and chance to hit, on the other hand cutting physical and ranged parts makes the debuff less useful, most prominently on endgame bosses that have high resistance to it and especially because the chance to kill has been lowered. We’re thinking of lowering the resistance or changing it into something completely different.
- the proposed ability that increases survivability (transferring damage into mana) – in its initial form it proved to be too situational according to our tests. The mana cost was too big, especially on endgame bosses where regaining mana is more difficult. Using a shield was most of the time the better solution due to its low requirements. We’re going to adjust the values of the new ability as well as change the way Drain Soul works for the next wave of tests.
At the moment we are at the stage of analyzing the results, discussing and correcting the proposed solutions.
Under the previous blog post we had a lot of questions about changes to Barbarian. We’re going to work on this profession as soon as we are done with Voodoo. 😉
Valentine’s Day is coming very soon and with it, an atmosphere of positive feeling and values. Taern, as you know, is an MMO that promotes playing with others and requires cooperation and communication. Thanks to this, the game has created many bonds that have been sealed in real life and continue to this day. Isn’t it beautiful? 😉
We think that relationships between players are one of the most important factors that keep them in this magical world. It’s not the fantasy atmosphere created by the developers but the fantastic atmosphere created by you every day. I know that this holiday may be a bit controversial because of the aura of commercialization that surrounds it but we think that February 14th is a great opportunity to get away from your everyday duties and take some time off.
Valentinus will also arrive on the server with an offer of previous Valentine’s Day skins and a pants skin that you’ll be able to see soon (we’re working on it right now). We hope that you’ll like it. 🙂
As always, you can see all the events in the calendar.
Preparing for Broken Ranks beta
We’re currently preparing to release Broken Ranks closed beta. Closed alpha tests are fully in progress. We’re focusing mostly on the initial stage of the game. Beta tests will consist of creating a character from scratch and playing normally. Since the duration of the tests will be limited, we’ll focus mostly on content up to Khold and orc maps. That’s why we are also going to work on those maps in closed alpha but still the very beginning of the game (Trentis and its surroundings) will be the most important.
Testers, apart from reporting technical or graphics errors, will focus on two crucial things that contribute to overall gameplay quality: user-friendliness of the interface and controls, and new player experience in areas such as: the port, Trentis, Billy’s village, Fishermen Village, Swamps, Castle Grounds, Castle itself, Cross-Spider caves, Chieftain caves, Forlorn Village.
You may be asking us why we’re putting so much emphasis on this. After all, going through this part of the content takes only a day or two, fixing it is just a waste of time. From the perspective of an experienced player (and we’re sure everyone reading this is a Taern veteran) – maybe yes. But from the perspective of a new player – definitely no. It’s the part of the game that should accentuate the best parts of Taern so everyone who launches the game immediately falls in love with it. In 2D this stage has not changed for a very long time. That’s why now we’re checking different paths new players can take and all the content on the initial maps, comparing the appeal of each element and also testing leveling and gold earning speed. We want to correct the issues that have arisen in the current version of the game due to its expansion. Currently these issues are “hidden” due to the speed with which players leave the early maps, especially thanks to the main storyline quests.
In the current version of Taern the fact they leave these areas so quickly is fine because the starting areas are one of the oldest elements of our game and there’s really nothing to be proud of 😉 but in Broken Ranks everything has been redesigned: we have a living city, even more interesting quests and maps. There’s a lot of content there that we’d like players to experience. That’s why we want to slow down and provide more variety for leveling at levels 1-40 so that you can experience all the options that will also be available later. We want every type of player to find something for themselves and have time to explore and experience many elements of the maps they find themselves on before moving to new areas. The tests aimed to define issues and give us a direction of change.
During our debriefings, testing sessions and discussions we came up with a couple of changes that we’d like to implement:
- rebalancing experience and gold rewards – as previously mentioned, quests, especially the main storyline, allow you to skip a lot of content such as low level bosses, rares, tasks because you simply outlevel them by following the story. The same is true about gold and item rewards – they are too good compared to the rewards you get in other ways: by grinding or exploring the world.
- rebalancing gold gains – in 2D this issue is not as prominent mostly due to the point above. However, if we want players to stop for longer on the initial maps, we need to adjust how gold is gained. The difference between how much a low-level player and a mid-level player earns is too big. Because of this, Broken Ranks may be seen as P2W by new players. This is not something we want. Many of the solutions that once worked are now dated and cost-ineffective. It’s been a long time since players fished for cods or mined for halite. 😉
- rebalancing bosses, mobs and tasks – we want most of the mobs to be good kill targets. They should either provide good experience, high gold or be featured in an interesting task. We don’t want situations where one type of mob is being killed by everyone and another just stands there untouched. As for bosses we don’t want players to outlevel them so fast as is the case now (e.g. most players kill Chieftain only once to complete the quest). Apart from slowing down leveling, we want to increase level requirements for initial instances.
- equipment for low-levels in shops – the randomization of shops often causes them to be filled with a lot of things no one wants to buy. In the case of low-level players who level up more quickly than high-level players, waiting a couple of days for the shop offer to change is too long. That’s why we’ve begun working on reviewing and fixing the randomization system of shop items.
- pet availability – pets are a great help, especially at the beginning. We are going to decrease the price and not require platinum payment for low level pets. They lose their usefulness quite quickly and get replaced anyways so we don’t want players to have to spend a lot of in-game currency (or real world currency) to acquire them.
- marking activities clearly – we want players to use the game itself to find out what they can do instead of using the wiki. We’re going to implement a new map with extra features as well as clear markings on NPCs that give quests and tasks.
- marking the level of aggression and difficulty of mobs on the map – we want players to get a hint that a particular mob may be too hard for them. Currently in Taern choosing your death card is the only hint and it’s not very subtle. 😉
Broken Ranks – other areas:
- We’ve started the final tests of some sidequests (also called “new” quests because they were either written from scratch or completely remade). We have special people whose job is to check every possible way of completing them. Their comments are discussed with the authors and, after some fixes, the testers once again start working on “breaking” the quests. We hope that thanks to this we will eliminate most errors.
- We are refreshing and correcting the main storyline – we talked more about this in the previous blog post. We are currently fixing dialogues and mechanics, going further down the quest chain and also plugging the holes in assets – items graphics, mechanisms, the new island as well as new interiors in the Fishermen Village.
Here’s how the latter looks in the game:
Combat models and animations:
- Apart from regular reviews and finalizing combat models, we’ve started testing, reviewing and finalizing mobs on maps (so called 3px). We’re looking for errors, bad lighting, stance or textures. We’ve already done mobs on the following maps: bandit cave and Chieftain cave, Swamps together with Cross-Spider caves, Forest, Castle Grounds.
- A systematic review and addition of mob models. The most important things that we have been recently working on are: rock golems from the Geomorph instance, sentries and Construct, Garthmog and his servants – normal mobs found in the instance. Here are some concept arts. You can see Garthmog, Dragon Priest, Dragon Servant and a couple of proposed Dragon Claw visuals. In the end we chose the one with the most details in the presentations – the one with white background.
- Animations: one of the big things is a complete review, fixing and adding new animations for all NPCs on maps. In Broken Ranks NPCs can dance, sing, run, jump and whatever we let them do. Or rather what our quest writers need them to do to visualize our stories best. 🙂
We’ve started working on skills. No, not balancing them or creating new ones – you’re in the wrong part of the blog. 😉 What we mean is visualization. The scope of this work is everything related to how skills (both player and mob ones) are presented in the game. Icons, visual effects (FX). For a long time we’ve wanted to make our combat more clear and attractive so we’re happy we can finally sit down to it.
Here are concept arts of some abilities. Can you guess which ability is presented on which image? 😉
Blog posts frequency
And we have one more happy piece of news at the end. We know that it’s sometimes hard to follow when exactly a new post appears. We understand that our 28-day production cycle is not the easiest to remember and track but it was very convenient for us because it synchronized very well with our biweekly work cycles. That’s why, to make it easier for you to say if it’s the blog day or not, we’ve decided that you’ll be able to enjoy our posts on the first Tuesday of every month.
See you on March 2nd!