Yesterday's WarCry Dev Chat Commentary

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Okay, this adventurer finally has a moment to sit down and check out the dev chat from yesterday. I'm usually always a day late with these things because I find it easier to just read the transcripts, which usually come out the next day. I'll not be addressing every question in the chat, but the ones I felt were answered well or presented new information. I'll be truncating a lot of the answers to dig to the meat so do check out the link for the full transcript.

"Completely redesigning [the legendary item system], no... [I]n that regard, we're going to be making some solid changes. [O]ur main goal is to make it feel less grindy, to better maintain the feeling of advancement and progression. Will we be able to address all of your complaints? Nope."

I'm glad to hear they see the current legendary system as too grindy. I've been putting grind on one side of a line and epic on the other, where the two are mutually exclusive. If there is less grind in the future, I think we'll be getting a more epic feeling system, as promoted pre-Mines of Moria. And of course there's the requisite disclaimer that not every complaint will be addressed. Not every complaint is... doable. For example, let us pick our legendaries. That errs too far on the side of overpowering the weapons/players and diminishing the uniqueness garnered by a randomized system.

"One of the cool features we are working on for "the Future" is the ability to exchange legacies on Legendary Items."

Hmmm... this will be a toughy. One one hand, you don't want the player to have complete freedom to change his or her legacies to exactly what they want. As before, that results in a loss of uniqueness and too much power. Then again, the current system is very much like a casino... people win on occasion, the vast majority lose, and if you play long enough, everyone, even the winners, will lose.

"There will be a method to reset the legacy points on a maxed out Legendary Item very soon."

Nice. They already fixed the relics not being refunded, now to be able to redo legendary points will be another good thing. Perhaps you have a situation that calls for a different build and your legendary weapon is statted for something else. If you have the right legendaries, it would be great to reset the points for the new build. Couple this with however they manage to trade in legacies, and you have a nice customizable system like the traits. That would feel more legendary to me. Perhaps this can work after all...

"We definitely want to bring crafters into the LI system more than we have."

That's good to hear. I know many of us have commented on how crafting seems so pointless now with LIs and radiance gear. I did have a kinmate make me a Peerless Thain's Halberd which has 6 more DPS than my LI, but there's so many other bonuses on my LI that the crafted halberd would only be useful in situations that need something other than common damage.

As to crafting radiance gear, the devs did not comment on that portion of the question. Something tells me radiance is reserved for the raiding circuit, which has stepped outside of the realm of crafting. I don't see it coming, but keep on harassing them. I want crafting to be more meaningful too. Funny I say that though, as I don't craft all that much, except for food, which doesn't have any of those issues. It's always relevant as a consumable.

"We are working hard on Mirkwood at the moment... We plan on going to new areas after that, but that is a bit too far in advance to fill you in..."

As I've said before, I'd love to see an alternative advancement to the North Downs and the Lone Lands, perhaps by opening up another path south of the Shire, Breeland, and Lone Lands. Or even the Gray Havens? Not sure how that would fit in the current story, however. If it were anywhere, it would be either in conjunction with Rivendell (we saw that wasn't the case) or Lothlorien (we still have time here) because the elves are going west. There was a briefest glimpse in one of the elven starter area quest lines, but that's it. This comment only solidifies the expected pattern: Follow the Fellowship.

"As many know Book 8 continues our re-vamp plans and furthers them into Breeland. Breeland will now cover levels 14-22 and be the current, don't read into that too much, single track for getting to 14-22. The next stage is to get two tracks from 22-32, three from 32-42 and four from 42-52. More on all this as we move forward with these changes. But the long and short is that the Lone-lands and North Downs will bother service 22-32. Complete with more quests and a stronger version of the second Book of the Epic story."

Hmmm, so just a reworking of the levels of quests within the current zones it sounds like. Glad to hear they're working on cleaning up the progression. More polish, more polish. SoA was considered a very polished experience when it released. We'll be positively gleaming after all this, but still, I'd love to see new zones as progress options.

More quests... that's a good thing. Can't have enough quests, as long as they're well written. If the Ered Luin revamp is any indication, they will be. But that means me, as a completionist, will have to revisit these areas and do the new quests, just because. GAH! Hey, at least I'll have some more content to consume, despite it being vastly outleveled.

"When we get to Helm's Deep there will be some truly significant changes to the game. We cannot comment on what the players' role will be in the battle because we are not there yet, but be assured, we have done all we can to make the tale of your journey through the early parts of the War of the Ring very important and I think that we will continue to do this in all of our future content."

I like the sound of "truly significant". Rohan is a perfect place for mounted combat. Helm's Deep is a perfect place for implementing siege mechanics and epic army-sized warfare. It'll be hard to wrap the story of our own adventures into something so confined and explicit as the Helm's Deep sequence, but perhaps there will be a way around that. Turbine has bent the rules before (Rune-Keeper).

"I am a big fan of the general environment and the little surprises you come upon while questing. That being said, would there be any chance of having a type of treasure hunting quests, i.e. while fishing you "catch" a map and then have to go and find the location it leads you to claim your reward?"

This isn't a dev response, but rather the question. The dev who answered, Orion, took it as a desire to see more riddle type quests. I like those quests as well, but what I think this question is asking is more comprehensive: A Middle-Earth-wide scavenger hunt. Only problem is that it needs to grow as the game grows, so how do you make it expandable? Perhaps just make it an ongoing deed, with various parts as the game grows. The idea is awesome though and I'd love to see something that highlights certain places in the world.

"...[R]adiance certainly has a mixed reaction from the game populace. Many dislike this as it is a stiff gating requirement and certainly draws hard lines between the casual and hard core players... [W]e are making certain that we are cautious about the way that it is used in the future. For the Book 8 release I can confirm that the smaller instances will not require radiance and that diligent players can utilize a smaller set of radiance gear to enter the new raid. We still want to give the system some more time to shake out before we make any major changes to it..."

The gear check and radiance raid requirement has been a huge topic of discussion in the blogosphere as well as on the forums. I do not see in this statement that Turbine is going to go back to a more "casual raiding" seen in the Rift, for example. Never say never, however. Turbine has shown malleability in the past.

Why is radiance currently in the game? First off, it expands the hope/dread system to be more versatile for conveying the Middle-Earth concept of good and evil. It also, more mechanically, allows higher dread encounters with appropriate mitigation. The use of gear to mitigate the dread does play into the concept of epic encounters with amazing armor (mithril was a concept in the IP was it not?) but it turned into too much of a grind, like the legendary system, and erased the epic feel when it came down to actually getting the gear.

"We are very happy with the way the Warden has turned out. I think the Warden is very close to where we wanted it to be as far as class roles. The Runekeeper seems to be doing pretty good as well but has needed a few more tweeks to get it to the right place."

Good to hear that they're fairly satisfied with the two new classes. At least on the surface. "A few more tweaks" constitutes a DPS reduction. Not sure if that's "pretty good" but oh well.

"Are there plans in the works for a new PvMP zone?"
"I am going to be coy: Not in the immediate future, but there is something that is in the works that could lead to some very interesting PvMP moments in the mid to distant future."

This was something we expected, as the level cap was raised, so were the PvMP zones expanded. Perhaps giving some variety like WoW's battlegrounds. Seeing how much effort has gone into the current zone to balance it, creating a new one would be a major undertaking. And for myself, I don't feel that PvMP is the primary focus of the game. A fun diversion to those who enjoy that type of play. There's a lot of more pressing things to deal with, IMO.

"The Amarthiel events were a huge success and we had a lot of fun with them. It's certainly something we want to do more of but there are not immediate plans to do so. But I'd keep an eye peeled."

I'd love to see more Amartheil like events as well. That really helped contribute to the epic feeling of what was going on in Middle-Earth. It was an event, it happened, then passed. It gave the world a sense of history beyond the inherent design. The world feels lived in, but having immediate events that can be talked about from different perspectives (i.e. different players) is really great. Quests are the same for everyone. Live events are different for everyone.

"We would love to do more hobbies, and we're always bouncing ideas around about different things. Unfortunately, hobbies aren't the highest priority."

Oh, that reminds me. I've not yet finished leveling my fishing... guess that's why it's not so high a priority, if some of your players completely forget it exists. Still got the hobby skill on one of my hotbars though.

"Game stability and server performance is our number one priority at the moment. We've made some great strides in that direction and I'll think you'll see more of that when Book 8 is released."

Interesting that it's not expanding the content. Then again, what good is content that can't be experienced smoothly? Glad to hear they're really focusing on getting the servers to a more reliable state. I'd love to see a continued boost in graphical tweaks as well as the server side fixes. But I love me some eye candy.

"End game and the journey there, the journey around the journey there and the time that you spend with friends and the family that you make inside the world are all equally important. Playstyles vary from person to person and we must, as designers, do what we can to try to appease all different playstyles. Thankfully, we have time to try to get to as much as we possibly can to attempt to make everyone a little happy along their own journey."

I have to commend them for trying to make sure each part of the game is approached equally, journey and destination. However, I think the IP really points to the journey as the important part. It's what changed the characters, made them stronger, showed them their true hearts. The destination was just one place on that journey. A matter of perspective, I know, but too many MMOs neglect the journey (leveling) once so many of the players are at the destination (end game). There is evidence of journey love in Orion's revamping process, and I very much look forward to all that.

I hope my commentary was worth reading. The dev chat certainly was. One of the stronger ones to date. Do check it out and leave comments here or on the forums or both and let us all know what you think. Happy adventuring!

1 Responses:

Westnovote Says:

For some reason I really want, and have wanted for some time, a new Hobby.
I, like you, haven't maxed my Fishing out yet, and my skill is still on my hotbar, but I would like to see this system expanded.
How much work can it take?
Every time I walk past the Hobby Master in the 21st Hall I wonder when the next hobby is coming.