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Alpha Stress Test and Combat Updates

Alpha Updates for September 20th 2014

Our current plan is to update the Alpha with new features and functions this Saturday the 20th. That is our current plan but it is subject to change based on our results at completing the build and test processes in the meanwhile. We will update the community with any news regarding changes in this schedule if and when they happen.

We plan to add the following features for this update:

  • Banks (Storage) and Auction Houses
  • Changes to Ranged Combat (see below)
  • Various adjustments to resources and loot

The Alpha Stress Test

Following this update we are going to open the game (but NOT the forums - see below) to all players that have Open, Explorer, Early and Alpha access (and of course all the people who have received Alpha invites will continue to have access).  Our plan is to open the system to these new players on Monday September 22nd.

We need to test the system under the kinds of loads that we'll experience when Early Enrollment begins, but we also want to avoid a situation where 7,000+ people all try to log in at the same moment.

We will send an email via our MailChimp mailing system with details on how to access the Alpha Stress Test to all Open, Explorer and Early Enrollment accounts when the server has been updated and those accounts are able to log in. These emails come from customer.support@goblinworks.com so please make sure that address is whitelisted in your email system.

To manage load on the server we may stage your access to the system. Just because your friend has access does not mean that you have access simultaneously. Our invite process will likely be randomized and we expect to be able to get everyone access to the game within a window of a few hours. So we're asking everyone to please be patient.

Until you receive that email, you may not be able to access the download or the game itself so in the interest of keeping our customer support email clear for users having actual problems and the forums clear of threads about this timing, please wait until after you have received the email telling you your access has been activated before you start asking for help in getting access to the game.  The day after we have announced access for all account holders as being live would be the first day you should start looking for assistance.

You can check your Enrollment status by logging on to goblinworks.com and clicking the account link which appears directly below the Pathfinder Online logo (the link is in the form "username Account"). Your enrollment status will appear on the account page or you will see a notice saying that you do not have an active enrollment.

Open, Explorer, and Early Enrollment access can be purchased in the goblinworks.com/shop.

Problems with Forums

Many of you have noticed that the forums have been very unresponsive since last weekend. We are aware of this problem and are continuing to work to solve it. At present we have identified the cause of the slow response but have not identified the underlying problem. We are continuing to try and fix this issue but we cannot guarantee we will have a fix ready by Monday.

Until we fix this issue we are not going to expand forum access to new accounts and are instead going to fall back to relying on the forums on paizo.com for community interaction.  Until we announce that we have fixed this issue, please use the paizo forums to request help or information about the Alpha.  We are not closing Alpha forum access for existing users but we are going to try and focus our monitoring and response on the paizo.com forums until we get this issue fixed.

Changes to Ranged Combat

We have become convinced that the current system for ranged attacks (both bows and magical effects) is overpowered compared to melee attacks. This is primarily due to the fact that a substantial number of features that will affect ranged attacks have not yet been implemented.

Rather than continue to play with the game in its current state we are going to make a short-term change that we think will help rebalance these attacks.

Starting with the update scheduled this week all ranged attacks - from short bows, long bows, and arcane and divine spellcasting - will root the character in place while the animation of the attack plays. The result of this change will be that characters making ranged attacks will likely not be able to defeat large groups of NPCs by themselves and in PvP encounters ranged attacks will not be an "I win" button.

This is a temporary change and as more of the combat system is implemented it will be rolled back.

If we determine that this change does more harm than good we will roll it back with the update we are planning for the start of Early Enrollment on the 25th of September.

PvP In Early Early Enrollment

We have been thinking about how the very first weeks of Early Enrollment will work given the features we expect to have ready for deployment on the 25th and our overall theories about how the sandbox will launch with the Cold Start and we have been altering our planned commitment of resources based on the changes we announced last week to expand the map for the start of Early Enrollment.

We think that the currently planned 2 week gap between the start of Early Enrollment and the start of the War of Towers should be adequate to enable the economy to bootstrap itself given the kind of activities we've been able to observe in the Alpha Test.  During this period there won't be much meaningful PvP because currently there is no upside to such conflict.  While that's acceptable to us during the Cold Start, we don't think it's optimal beyond that period.

The team has decided to implement several features in conjunction with the War of Towers deployment which will add more value to PvP and transition us out of the Cold Start to something closer to the long-term game experience we want to foster. These features are still being developed internally and they are subject to change as we attempt to integrate them into the plan for implementation.

These are the changes we are planning on introducing to the test server on October 9 and to the live server with War of Towers on October 16.

Psuedo-Threads

The Threading system is a very complex feature that has a lot of moving parts and interdependencies and it will not be rolled out for some months. However we can simulate the Threads by implementing the following rule:

The Gear equipped on a character will always remain with the character through a death and resurrection. This simulates the normal case we expect where people will thread the Gear they're wearing. (Note, Gear will still take durability damage!)

Of course this only makes sense in the context of losing some inventory on death which brings us to the next change...

Looting of Corpses

When you die your corpse will transform into a Husk Node.  This will be a resource node just like the Mineral, Plant, Essence and "Junk" nodes already in the game.  Characters can click on this node to "harvest" it, and the harvest will be a part of the inventory from the dead character.

Our current plan is that 25% of your inventory exclusive of your equipped Gear will be destroyed when you die.  The remainder will be available to be "harvested" from the Husk Node.

Harvesting takes 3 seconds and is interruptible.

You can only take 1 stack of items from the Husk Node with each interaction.  (So you could take 1 individual item, or 1 stack of identical items).

The node despawns after 30 minutes even if there are still items in it.

If you harvest your own Husk Node you can take everything in it all at once.

We plan to add an icon to the minimap to help you find your own Husk Node(s).

This system is reasonably close to the full design for Husks. We will probably tweak the design quite a bit over time, but unlike the psuedo-threads described above this system should remain in game for the long term.

Resurrecting

One thing you can do with Threads is choose where you return to play after your character dies.  Since we won't have that implemented in 2 weeks, we're instead planning the following system.

When you die, you will have a limited time to choose to be resurrected at the nearest Shrine of Pharasma in the wilderness, or the nearest Shrine in a Settlement. This will let you avoid the problem of being repeatedly killed by PvP opponents camping the nearest Shrine.  The Settlement Shrines are protected by Thornguards so they should be safe.  The Shrine in Rotter's Hole is not protected by Thornguards and is not considered "in a Settlement" (nobody goes to Rotter's Hole unless they want to!)

If you don't choose one of the two options within the time limit you'll be respawned at the nearest Shrine.

We acknowledge that this creates a 1-way teleport system which effectively creates fast travel but we accept that as a minor drawback at this stage of play.  Since you won't be able to transport harvested resources by dying it should not disrupt the refining and processing stages of the economy, and you can only take 1 item of Gear in each slot on your Paper Doll, which will all take durability damage.

Improved Targeting

One of the largest and most useful feedback streams we've received from the Alpha involves targeting.  We know that we need to improve targeting prior to expecting a lot more PvP activity.

We are planning on making the following changes:

  • Increase tab and click targeting range to 80 meters.  You should be able to target anything you can see.
  • Tab targeting will include hostile player characters.
  • The system will autotarget anything that attacks you if you have no current target.
  • Shift+Tab will let you tab through player characters but not NPCs, monsters or resource nodes.

Updates and Communications

We will post messages on the forums if we have to delay the deployment of the update past Saturday.  We will also update the community if we are going to delay the start of the Alpha Stress Test.  

We're always interested in your feedback.  Discuss this blog here!