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On We Sweep with Threshing Oar

Goblins it has been a very busy October here at Goblinworks HQ. We wrapped up our 3rd major milestone and again we were on time and on schedule. Milestone 3 focused on polishing systems that had been implemented in the first two Milestones. We opened the pipeline and began to process a lot of new character models and clothing for those models. We also implemented a large amount of networking code that lays the groundwork for future work in distributing the load across multiple physical servers.

The Milestone deliverable included the first pass at our User Interface (UI) design, which is undergoing a lot of analysis and feedback. The UI will go through several iterations before we settle down to the final look of the game. For this Milestone, it was a big achievement to get basic UI elements like the action bar, the minimap, opponent targeting information, and the chat interface wired up and working in realtime.

We have been doing a series of internal playtests with Paizo at the end of each Milestone and we hosted them last Friday. The Milestone was so stable that (other than an unexpected power outage) we had no major server crashes during the playtest. The stability of the system compared to prior Milestones is a big reflection on the hard work the team put into the polishing for this deliverable.

We'll have more about our plans for Milestone 4 in an upcoming blog. And as always we're really interested in your feedback on the forums!

Today, Tork Shaw explains more about raiding outposts (as mentioned in the last blog update).

Going A-Viking

We have briefly touched on raiding in a number of previous posts and, while some of the fine detail is still in development, we thought it would be helpful to expand somewhat on how raiding works and what it is used for. As ever, we welcome your feedback on the system so far!

Raiding in PFO is going to be one of the most common events that initiates PvP. Raids are executed on outposts. As you would expect from the title, they are fast, destructive strikes by small groups of players. The intention might be to disrupt outpost production of bulk goods for a nearby settlement or to hijack significant resources for the raiders' own gain.

Outposts produce goods each hour, so every sixty minutes there will something worth stealing. Goods are produced even when outpost owners are offline and moving bulk goods to a safe location is more than a one man job. Thus, there may be some accumulation of goods left in an outpost for a well-planned raid. These goods are the low-hanging fruit for raiders and will be their primary target.

Initiating a raid is as simple as gathering allies, choosing an outpost, and timing your strike. Raiders must first kill any NPC guards at the outpost in order to gain access to the outpost's bulk goods container. They may then load up on its contents (an action that can be interrupted, just as any type of looting can be) and make off with the bulk goods. By default, outpost guards are few and far between. A settlement or Point of Interest (PoI) is able to dedicate some of their own NPC guards to the outpost, but hard choices will have to be made about how comprehensively to protect your supply chain. Do you weaken your major holdings to make your outposts harder to raid?

Although raiding doesn't necessarily require careful organization, there are benefits to be gained from better planning. Watching a PoI or outpost for a while to learn its collection cycles, making pre-raids to disrupt these cycles, or feinting to distract the defenders all might result in a better payoff for your main raid. As well as just building your team for martial might, it is also worth considering bringing along a player with some skill in cultivating the resource found at your target outpost. The more skilled your group is in cultivation, the better they will be able to take advantage of a process we call "strip mining."

Strip Mining

In addition to simply grabbing what you can from an unguarded node, it is also possible to bleed an outpost dry by rapidly harvesting all its crops, furiously butchering all its livestock, or recklessly mining all its ore. Such a process is extremely harmful to the outpost but allows you to walk away with a much greater bounty. If—after slaying all the guards and gaining access to the outpost bank—you can hold onto that outpost for ten minutes, you can begin strip mining. The resource production intervals for that outpost are reduced from an hour to ten minutes, producing goods based on the highest appropriate cultivation skill of a raider within the outpost area. Although this rapidly produces a large amount of goods, it also deals 10% of the outpost's maximum hit points in damage to that outpost with each interval, eventually destroying the structure.

Strip mining is both an effective way for a raiding group to ensure a good haul and a powerful tool for the disruption of settlement's supply chains. Upkeep requires a steady stream of resources; even a small setback could have a significant impact on a settlement with no reserves or back up. This makes raiding a great way to starve out a settlement ahead of warfare, hamper their ongoing military operations, or even artificially raise prices for an upkeep resource in a particular area.

Hostility

A lot of PvP complexity we were previously storing in flags is now summarized in the Hostile state. There are a variety of cases that can make a player appear hostile to another player (e.g., faction membership, being at war, criminal flags, etc.). If you see a player that is hostile to you, there is no alignment or reputation penalty for attacking or killing that player. Often, hostility will be reciprocal (i.e., both players appear hostile to one another because their settlements are at war or their factions are enemies) but this is not required. If hostility is not reciprocal (a player sees you as hostile but you see them as friendly or neutral), once you are attacked, your attacker now appears hostile to you as well. That is, you don't take reputation or alignment penalties for defending yourself, even if you were a sanctioned target for your attacker.

Attacking an outpost will make you and your group hostile to the members of that outpost's managing company (as well as the owners of the controlling PoI if that company has subcontracted outpost management). That means that they can attempt to stop you without penalties. Raiding does not automatically make you hostile to every member of the settlement that owns that territory, however.

To enable the whole membership to come to the aid of its outposts, a settlement might choose to make raiding a crime in its territory. In that case, initiating a raid will give all raiders the Criminal flag (making them more chaotic and making them sanctioned targets for anyone). However, like all crimes, Criminal flags from raiding may have a detrimental effect on the settlement; even lawful settlements may have to consider whether making raiding a crime risks that their enemies will steal their resources and increase their corruption from frequent raiding. Additionally, the criminal flag is always overcome by active feuds or wars, so raiding will be a legitimate action if you first declare a feud or war on the settlement, PoI, or management company associated with your target outpost.

Although this potentially seems complicated, the hostility system is designed and presented in game to simplify on-the-spot combat decision making. We will cover hostility (and related changes to PvP) in more detail in a later blog post.

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