DevBlog: Changes for a Better Beta
Beta has been running for just over two weeks now and we've had an amazing amount of feedback. We're not just tuning and tweaking but making some real core changes based on what you've been saying. I want to highlight a few of the things we've changed already and some of the things we're still working on.
In Beta Now
Here are a few issues we've already started to address. Some are from the update that just went out, while others may not have been clear from a previous update: if you already tried beta combat and thought it wasn't for you, definitely get back there and try out the changes: we're definitely going to need more feedback and fine-tuning before we're really happy.
If you haven't been in the beta yet don't worry: members can drop in every weekend, and there may be chances for more beta testers in future.
Autoattacks vs. Abilities
This is a big one for a lot of people. We wanted a more exciting and dynamic system that rewarded player skill and engagement, and we got good feedback from players who were interested in that. We also wanted to provide a satisfying experience for those who wanted less engagement: we all like to kick back and do some training in front of the TV sometimes, and the new combat system wasn't really offering that choice.
In the latest beta update we've increased autoattack damage so that using them on their own is a satisfying choice. Best possible performance still requires good ability use, but autoattacking alone is more effective now than it was before, and throwing in an occasional ultimate will get you that special attack thrill on top.
Like many of you, we weren't happy with the way being stunned ruins your day. Freedom now works as the stun-escape we intended, and Anticipation now gives pre-emptive protection from stun. Remember that all the stuns share a cooldown, so with good timing you can resist the stuns of a solo opponent with minimal disruption (and I'll come back to multiple opponents later).
We were experimenting with a level cut-off that would encourage you to fight against monsters appropriate to your skill levels. After some feedback we removed this restriction from Slayer tasks, since you don't get to choose those opponents. After more feedback we decided to remove that level scaling entirely: stronger monsters are still worth more individually but you'll still earn the full amount from a below-level opponent.
We'll be keeping an eye on this: we'd still like you to fight things of appropriate level, so that you can feel a progression as the game advances and so that players of different levels aren't competing for kills. We've listened though and we understand that you appreciate the choice.
We still want to bring the corners of the combat triangle to an even level where each is equally attractive, and we know we're not there yet. What we have done so far is made changes to raise the damage potential of Magic and we're going to keep studying that balance as the beta goes on (and on into a live release).
What we'd like from you is your best constructive and balanced feedback. Loads of people want us to buff their favourite, but fair feedback is key so try them all if you can and tell us how you feel they compare.
We're going to keep looking at the issues above (and various other things we've changed): just because we changed it once doesn't mean we won't continue to review it. As well as those, here are a few of the things we've been talking about doing soon:
Single-Way Wilderness Worlds
Single-way combat provided an important niche for PKers and we underestimated how large that demand is. With improvements to the way monsters choose targets and changes to the multicannon we're happy that we can reach a good solution for PvM without single-way areas, but for PvP it's clear that we need a more drastic solution.
What we're currently looking into is having a small number of worlds in which the Wilderness is single-way. This solves the pile-jumping and group ganking problems without producing a situation in which players retreat to single-way to get out of fair group fights. It's not the only possible solution and I'm not promising it'll be the exact one that works in the end, but be assured that we understand the problem and are determined to solve it.
Putting on Armour
Armour now grants lots of bonus life points and we know it's annoying that they don't automatically fill up when you suit up. We haven't pinned down a fix for this yet (it needs to be a solution that absolutely can't be abused for unfair gain) but the current favourite is some kind of ‘safe zone' in which you will rapidly heal up. Stay tuned for further developments.
Dungeoneering has already seen lots of fixes and some important improvements, such as the way bound armour interacts with your life points. We've got lots more on the table, first in the beta to make sure that EoC didn't harm the gameplay, then as a further project afterward to make other improvements that have come up since it first launched.
Magic is suffering from some itemisation problems at the moment, so fixing that should do a lot to redress the balance. We're also hoping to have time to make some interim improvements to binding, although we've got a whole host of changes planned for the full project later.
Definite answers to all the questions that Summoning poses aren't ready yet, but it's in the same boat as Dungeoneering. We'll do what we need to make sure it works by the end of the beta, and we look forward to the opportunity for a thorough rework later on.
Presentation and Information
We'll be improving the presentation of the whole system, including targeting enemies, the daunting ability book, ease of understanding the stats on equipment, and so on. Many of our current problems stem from misunderstandings about the system, so explaining it better is a high priority in the short term.
The Bottom Line
What I hope is clear from what we've done so far is that we are listening and we are determined to make the best game we can. Some parts of the old system didn't survive the rework when they should have, but we've made such huge leaps forward in other areas that the right solution now is to find those weaknesses and bring them up to date or find something new to fill those niches. The best game we can make is the one that looks to the future, having an improved combat system but retaining the character of the game we know and love.
We need your help with that:
- Get into the beta, test the things you're worried about then give your feedback on the forums.
- When you don't like something, try and help us understand why.
- Don't be discouraged if we don't fix it immediately; there's always lots to do and we're already iterating faster than I've ever seen done in a beta of this size.
- Don't be discouraged if there isn't a Mod post in response to every thread; the people you really want to hear from have to split their time between telling you what we're doing and actually doing it.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for your continued help with a great beta.
Discuss this here.