Monthly Development Update – January 2011
With the Dreamworld update now very close I wanted to shift focus onto what comes beyond that in a little more detail.
We have mentioned in previous letters the top level details of the new content that is coming your way. Part of that content is a series of new solo instances for players to enjoy. The solo player hasn’t had much in the way of dungeon style gameplay over the last year and we wanted to address that. The team instances are great, and a lot of people enjoy them, the same goes for raids, but there should also be a place for some content that caters to those who want to have something else to do alone that is a little more concentrated and dynamic than outdoor questing.
The new solo instances
This was an area that people have been pretty unanimous about – that some solo options in addition to things like the villa, and then something more interesting at level 80 – would be great additions to the game, and we wanted to deliver on that. So let’s take a look in a little more detail.
The Refuge of the Apostate
Let’s start with the level 80 solo instance, called the Refuge of the Apostate, and is found from Kara Korum. The story ties into events linked to the Scarlet Circle and the Last legion and centers around a potential extremist member of the Circle, Tian-Bai. There are a series of quests available that link in to the content for this dungeon. With two faction neutral quests that anyone can do, and special quests for both the Scarlet Circle and the Last legion, everyone will have good reason to seek out the adventures within the Refuge. We caught up with designer Peter Lavoie Massicotte and scripter Jean Pellerin for some insights into what you expect in this dungeon.
“We wanted to provide a challenge for solo players, that wasn’t just a case of beating down on some mobs and the occasional boss,” Peter explains, “we really wanted to make it interesting, and try and use some different mechanics so that the experience doesn’t really fall foul of having to cope for every class. Tian-Bai is an illusionist and has built something of a labyrinth in the refuge. That meant we could make some more environmental challenges that will test you regardless of your class. There are three unique encounters, although one is more an area than a person or a mob, as well as those environment challenges, and it should take around thirty to forty minutes to complete.”
“Maybe not that fast on the first run!” Jean warns though, “The first few times it might take longer until you learn some of the tactics and tricks needed to get the better of Tian-Bai’s traps and minions.”
“That’s probably true!” Peter confirms, “This is intended to be a challenge, and it also changes subtlety every time you play through, so while it won’t require constant re-learning, it will require that you stay alert and don’t think you can coast through.”
So what about rewards?
“That is an area we really think people will be pleased with, and we have tried to listen to the players and give them what they have been looking for in that regard. The dungeon has a twenty hour lockout, so can be done once per day, and that, coupled with the fact it isn’t a walkover, meant the system’s team allowed us to give some nice rewards. As well as some new items, the dungeon also offers esteem tokens and up to a dozen Marks of Acclaim, and the final boss fight rewards you with a Rare trophy each time you defeat it…and there is a small bonus chance of a second Trophy if you are lucky. So hopefully there is a good reason to want to run the dungeon on a regular basis!”
The Breach and The Forgotten City
The two ACG (auto content generation) dungeons can be found in the Gateway to Khitai and provide dynamic content that scales to your level between level 40 and 80. This time designer Tim Gottschalk joined Jean to explain a little more about these areas.
“Each of the areas has three quests that can be done on each run.” Tim starts, “There is a main story quest to each quest, and that is then replaced by a daily repeatable version after you play through the first time. Then there are two other repeatable quests that go along with that.”
“The Breach tells the story of a firebrand Hyrkanian who has declared himself a Khan, and decided that they need to try and attack Khitai through the breaches in the wall. The real Khan, Menudsjin Khan, who players have already met in Gateway, asks the players to go and try and disrupt the upstart’s plans, as he fears that an outright attack on Khitai would be foolish.”
“It is a really cool location because, while it is an instance, it is an outdoor type of area. I think that allows for some nice variation, as it isn’t an interior location as you find in the other solo instances.”
“The Forgotten City takes you into a newly discovered area of this lost city that has previously been buried. The players will find themselves amongst some long lost souls who have discovered that perhaps immortality isn’t all it was cracked up to be.”
“We have tried to a few of the things that we were taught, finding ways to add a little flair to repeatable content,” Jean elaborates, “so while the dynamic areas aren’t as heavily scripted as some instances, we have managed to do quite a bit, and then added a few little touches or flourishes, like using the occasional camera path, or very brief cut-scenes, as they all combine to make things a little more varied.”
“Each of the Dungeons has those three individual encounters,” Tim confirms, “and we have tried to make them a little more interesting as well. Take that kind of approach Jean mentions, and use what we can to break things up a little. You will always face that challenge with repeatable content, so you try to find ways so that it isn’t a pain to repeat, but also isn’t too boring after a dozen runs.”
“With the Villas already there, these dungeons will give players more great locations that they can do once a day if they want to take a break from the general questing.”
So if that is the content side, what have the system’s folk been up to this month? Primarily they are in the middle of a lot of thought about the crowd control systems in the game.
“The analysis has been done,” System lead Einar Forselv explains, “and we are now hard at work on making a serious of changes to these systems. We really want to improve the fun factor there, with a particular view on how they all fit together in PVP, and make them more of a dynamic tactical option rather than have them operate in the ‘lock down’ manner they do right now. The idea is that we can get these changes out for testing on the public test server as soon as the Dreamworld integration update is done, so we will reveal all the details when we have those changes ready for the test server.”
That’s about it for this month. This time next month we will, with a little luck, be in the midst of deploying the Dreamworld integration and setting the stage for this great new content, as well as the new team instances. We will also talk a little more about the next focus for PVP content in addition to the system changes mentioned above. Now that the new mini-game and queue is out and settled in we are in the progress of assessing where we look next on the PVP side, so we will talk more about that in next month’s edition!