Dev Q&A - November 15, 2015
Will the herald be displaying Realm Points earned? (Zeaks)
John: In terms of leaderboards and realm war pages on the Herald that used to exist, yes. When the new website comes out, we’ll be having the full fledged features that existed on the old Herald in terms of RvR stats, weekly leaderboards for classes, against the odds, guild ranks; all that kinda stuff will be displayed. We’re looking at trying to get the website done by the end of the year, it might be a couple of months into the New Year, but shouldn’t be too long. We’re making some headway. 1.119 took a lot of our resources, but we’re getting back into that as soon as 1.119 launches
Will we ever get more emblems, patterns, colors for guild emblems? (Sovereign, Fugo)
John: Yes, we will be! A lot of the terrain textures you’ll be seeing in the game, and being shown on this podcast, as well as the existing zones we’ve retextured like Odin’s Gate, Emain, Breifine, etc., those are being done by a new artist and she’s actually going to be doing guild emblems after the terrain textures are done in the frontiers. And so we’ll have a whole lot of new choices for everybody.Great, will old guilds be able to change their guild emblems if they want to?
John: Maybe not to start when we get the new emblems in, but yeah that’d be something we would want to do. I think you can actually already change it, as long as the actual emblem combination is available but it’s really difficult, most of the time because the emblems are already taken.
We received a ton of questions regarding class balancing, which will pretty much need a podcast of its own in order give it the attention it deserves. Look for this dedicated podcast next year!
Can you give us any idea when class balance will be addressed? (Sovereign, Thebeev, BeefZerkee, Tincture, Kalodaemon, Mattswarden, Pilskaft, Dirtdirkwater, Solicfire, Getyousum, Bilalsparky, Fervar, Venimqq)
John: Sure, actually class balance is always ongoing, if there’s an issue that comes up and we need to change it we’ll put it at the top of the list ‘cause it’s so important to the end game. But we’re really looking at focusing on RvR with 1.119, doing a bug fixing patch at the beginning of this coming year, as well as focusing on any improvements we need to make to RvR after this 1.119 patch. We have a few of those and I can talk about them later. Then after that we’re going to be looking more at UX stuff and that’ll be the time we’ll also be on the content side, working on class balance. Probably late spring/early summer timeframe next year.Obviously with class balance it’s huge, it’s not just one class it’s gotta be all the classes in all the realms, correct? Like if you do one thing it’s gonna snowball or domino into the next thing, right?
John: Right, and just because we’re focusing on it for that one patch cycle doesn’t mean we’re going to touch every class, it doesn’t mean we’re going to only touch a couple classes, we’re going to try to do as much as we can but sometimes it’s better to do less, see how it works and then try to do another change later on so that we’re not turning too many dials at once. We’ll try to get everything in that we can for that patch in late spring/early summer and then continue to look at it for the rest of the year.
What are the future plans to improve RVR and address many of the concerns with it such as keep/tower sieges, relic-takes, siege, reduced-rps for kills, and its size? (Sovereign, Krakulf, Galie, Sixther, Kahzee, Bilalsparky)
How do you determine RvR special events – such as a Battleground weekend and can we have them more often? (Ravkeen)
John: I love the screen names you guys have, it’s great! This patch, 1.119, is kind of our first step, first stab, at really trying to improve RvR. We have a lot of other things left to do and some of the things you mentioned like keep tower sieges, that whole dynamic could probably use some improvements especially siege craft and how that’s working right now.
Relic takes are probably a little easy and we have one change in 1.119 going in where it takes 3 keeps now to open the relic gates, but we’re looking at other ideas in the future where maybe the relic gates become attackable and they don’t just automatically open and so the realm has to actually break the doors open and there can be a big fight at the relic gates. Again siege and reduced RPs is a popular question these days and we’re looking at that. Maybe we can get something in with the bug fixing patch. Can’t make any promises but we’ll look at it.
And the last thing is the size of RvR is really being addressed with 1.119 because this new zone, Ellan Vannin, is such a focal point for RvR that we’re hoping that the defacto state of RvR will be focused on that zone unless there’s a relic raid going on. When that relic raid goes on the RvR will kind of move with the invasion. So that should help, if not decrease the actual absolute size of the RvR zone, it will decrease the defacto playing space of RvR.
Now with the reduced realm points, I’m gonna just pull that one out of there, that’s something you’re looking at in the near future?
John: Yeah, we’ll see how it still impacts RvR with 1.119. It might be lessened, it might be increased based on the amount of ports you can port to on Ellan Vannin. If it’s still a big problem we’ll definitely look at it. It’s not an easy thing to resolve just because of realm point farming, but we think we can come up with a pretty good solution for that.
Will there be any reworking of RR5 abilities and/or RA’s? (Aleinzz, BeefZerkee, Fervar, Gweniii)
John: We usually try to make it so that we have an event of some sort, doesn’t have to be a RvR event but just some sort of event, every two weeks. That’s been a focus of ours with the Campaign as you’ve seen over the course of the summer, we’ve had an event every two weeks ‘cause that’s how the Campaign’s cadeance has gone, except for this last one which will be a couple of weeks late based on how 1.119 launches. We try to do every couple of weeks, if there’s a PvE Campaign event on we try not to have a RvR Battleground event coincide with that weekend or week. We try to intersperse them and so with 1.119 we’re probably not going to do as many Battleground events in the near future, maybe we’ll do one right before it launches, but we want people to play in the new RvR area and give us feedback.
So yes, we can have more later, but not in the near future.
John: So kind of same answer as the class balance patch question. When we look at class balance, RR5 abilities and realm abilities will fall into that. I’m not going to promise that we’re going to look at those for the same patch as we look at class balance, but they’re always on the table. For the most part, we’re pretty happy with the RR5 abilities and I’m sure there’s a couple we could look at pretty hard. There’s always potential to have them looked at or revamped and tweaked.
Would it be possible to have a contest to update the loading screen tips and tricks and screenshots? (Kahzee)
John: That’s a great idea, yeah, absolutely. We could do that. Work with Carol after this podcast for that.
Is that hard to incorporate?
John: No it’s pretty simple!
Are there any plans to make an account bank? (Sovereign, Bethalin, Erlili)
John: Yeah that’s definitely on our wishlist and we’d love to get that in. It’s not in the near future because there’s a lot of technical hurdles we have to overcome to get it into the game, but absolutely we want to put it in.
Are there any plans to put DAoC onto Steam? (Jermz, Bilalsparky, Kefkka, Asyasha)
John: We’d love to get the game on Steam, it’d be great for the game. We’ve done all the work we can as s studio to get it on Steam, it’s actually in Electronic Arts’ hands at the moment, so we’re just waiting to hear back from them. When we hear something, you’ll hear something!
Any plans for real DAoC forums run by Broadsword (like Warhammer had, rather than the postcount forums)? (Angerman)
John: Yeah, we would love to have that! We have to figure out some technical hurdles again with that, tying it to the accounts and account login so that only active game accounts can post on it but anyone can read it. Once we have that in, we won’t be far off so look for that in the next year or so!
How do you you try to keep the game enjoyable for all types of game play – zerging, 8 man/small man and solos?(Aleinzz, Elderis)
John: Dark Age, when it came out, kind of did that. It’s a sandbox kind of RvR game and you can play so many different ways and that’s what’s kept this game so fun over the years. We just try keep that going and try not to mess with it too much. Providing opportunities and locations for players to play. That’s what this Ellan Vannin patch is all about. The island has lots of objectives and different types of sandbox elements. We try not to force players to do one thing over another, so it’s just about letting players play how they want to play.
Having this stuff, not just this patch but all the patches, up on Pendragon, when people go out and test this stuff, sending in feedback really helps you all, does it not? With determining whether something is just awful for solo players and great for zergs or whatever. Getting actual player feedback on Pendragon is really important.
John: Yeah, absolutely. The more feedback we have the more confident we are with the changes we’re doing, or the less confident we are which is also good to know if we’re misstepping, we need to hear it. Feedback is always, always, always, always important!
Is the newsletter on a specified timer, ie: every two months? Or sent out when a sufficient amount of news is accumulated? (Tyruchi)
John: He’s probably asking as there wasn’t one in October, we were just really busy with 1.119. We try to do it at least once a month, if not more often, but it’s a little bit of column a, little bit of column b. If there’s no news, we’re not going to just send out a newsletter that’s just blank, we need to have something. Aim is once a month.
Are there plans to increase players personal vault space and if not, could you explain why? (Thor, Grilletto, Luvly, Bethalin, Erlili, Arthwyr, Larian, Larian and did I mention Larian)
How do you determine credit for a PvE event? For example, some parts of Otherworldy campaign are group credit and other parts are BG/Area. Is there a reason for the different types of credit? (Solicfire, Raymoundo, Luvly)
John: Good question, we try to be pretty consistent. I think by now all the boss encounters, we might be missing one or two, on the Otherworlds Campaign, are area credit, at worst BG credit. I know one example, and probably where this question is stemming from, is the Otherworld Chapter 7 quest which as you kill 60 mobs and that is group credit. That is intentional, we wanted to have players have to go off on their own and not just be able to steam roll it with a battlegroup. We didn’t want it to be easy, we wanted to create a barrier at ch7 for good reason; the Otherworld ore is available after Chapter 7 so it takes a bit more commitment.
Typically we try to keep the actual boss encounters, the difficult encounters that require a battlegroup, we try to make them area credit. The only reason they’re not area credit in certain places is usually because of the way it was scripted or the way it was setup, and we’re trying to change that so that’s more consistent, so going forward they’re always area credit if it takes a battlegroup.
I’m going to sneak this in here, what about older encounters like in the labyrinth that are group credit, is it possible to get that changed at all?
John: Yeah, we can look at that eventually. It’s not going to be a top of the list kind of change, but we can go back at look at that credit. One example of why we might have a battlegroup credit instead of area credit, is if all three realms are fighting over a boss, and we only want to give credit to the realm that kills the boss. We can’t give an area credit ‘cause then the realms that didn’t kill the boss would get credit and so that’s one example of why we use battlegroup credit over area. We’re trying to use are credit everywhere we can now.
We have seen changes to some dungeons - does Broadsword have any future plans for the unused pve zones in the works, such as updated loot tables, new gear etc.? (Everz, Solicfire, Kalodaemon, Whayne)
John: We did a revamp of Darkness Falls last year around this time, and this year we’ve decided to do new content, and so probably over the next year we’ll look at kind of revamping some old content and having a combination of new content as well. There’s a lot of space in the game. We’ve tried to direct players to the classic world in recent years because the art looks great and it’s a familiar area and it kind of harkens back to the core part of the game with the Celtic lore, Norse lore, and the British Knight Arthurian lore, so that’s been a focus of ours. I know a lot of people love the Shrouded Isles expansion, but the art in the Shrouded Isles expansion isn’t up to snuff to the rest of the game, so we wanna really tackle that first before we direct players there with new PvE content.
So when you’re doing something like that, using SI as an example, would you redo the artwork first and then do the content? From a Producer’s stand point, what would you do?
John: Ideally, yeah, we would get the art in first. We have tons of other options to look at before we get to Shrouded Isles and so, in the near term it’s probably going to be things like Catacombs or even just a new dungeon or something like that, rather than spend the time to revamp an entire expansion worth of zones. Shrouded Isles was a huge expansion, so getting that art in would take a long time. Even revamping the content would take a long time, it’d have to be almost a re-release of the expansion, just to do that.
Oh I just saw in the stream, Wyan69 was clarifying that last question was more like Spindelhalla and Varulvhamn getting an overhaul like the other three dungeons have got – in 1.119 we revamped Varulvhamn, Catacombs of Cardova and Treibh Caillte, so Spindelhalla, Barrows, and Coruscating Mines will all get revamped in the next patch. We’re going to go all the way through on the classic dungeons and revamp all of them.
Can we expect the addition of new PvE content to continue? (Bilalsparky, Kalodaemon)
John: 1.119 ends the Otherworldly Campaign which has been the focus of the new PvE content and restarts the focus on RvR, so we’re going to see how RvR reacts to 1.119. How the meta game changes, how the dynamic of RvR works in relics, sieges, and all of that stuff. Then next patch, we’ll have the bug fixing patch and we’ll also try to squeeze in all the RvR tweaks and improvements we need to make based on the 1.119 patch and those changes. That’s the near term timeframe so probably not going to be expecting any new PvE content for then, but going forward from that point yes, we will always continue to add new PvE, or at least revamped PvE, content to the game.
I think people are really enjoying that, especially with the great loot that they’re getting – redoing templates and everything. Throw in the Legendary Weapons and I think this Otherwordly Campaign has been great.
John: Thanks, we had a lot of fun making it!
And we liked the glowies!
John: Well that’s good, ‘cause you might be getting some more soon! Hint, hint!
Tubbyman on the stream just said, “Apart from the cloak, what was that about?” Just to comment on that, we probably didn’t hit our mark on that cloak and we’re looking at providing a revamped reward for that when 1.119 comes out. No promise, but we’re gonna try.
With regard to realm loyalty, what is your position on loyalty bonuses and realm timers? (Kahzee, BeefZerkee, Thor, Murmerz, CDPL, Solicfire,, Krakulf, Neikath)
John: Realm loyalty is something the team has discussed and gone back and forth on several times over the past few years. We would love to have a system in place that would reward people for staying in one realm without it feeling like it’s a penalty if don’t do that, and that’s kind of the crux of the problem. We’re trying to come up with a solution, we’re always open to feedback on that. If we can come up with a good solution, and we can fit it into the schedule, then absolutely we would add something like that to the game.
For the realm timers, pretty against that at this point based on feedback from the past and how we’ve tried having a long realm timer, we’ve tried having short realm timers, and shorter is just the way to go.
In the past we had patches every 4-6 weeks, but now it seems like the patches are much further apart. Is it possible to have bug fixes more often and if not, could you explain why? (for example a hot fix versus having to take the servers offline) (Tyruchi)
John: I don’t know if we’ve ever been able to consistently have a patch come out every 4 weeks. That’s a pretty quick turnaround, but maybe 6 weeks would be good. It was never usually longer than 8 weeks. We’re trying to get there.
This year we’ve done four patches in a year, 1.116 came out the end of last year, so it’s about every 3 months and that’s kind of a good sweet spot. We’re trying to get it down to about two and a half months, but in terms of having to develop it and test it, it takes at least 2 months to make a solid patch.
In terms of hot fixes, if a fix is hot fixable, which means we don’t have to take the server down, we try to fix it rapidly. You’ve seen a lot of hot fixes over the past year for everything that we could fix without server downtime. So that’s why we try to avoid having tons of server downtime because that’s no fun for anybody, just to fix two or three bugs. If they are serious bugs, we obviously have to take the server down, but we try to wait until the patch to fix the less important bugs.
What UX / UI improvements can we expect in the future? Things like a compass that follows the camera or increasing the max camera distance, etc. (Gnusong, Shilea, Tethys)
John: UI/UX is a big focus. We were trying to get a custom UI into 1.119 it just didn’t work out, but we’re going to continue to work on that. We also have some UX improvements that we’re gonna focus on, things like: right click inventory, so you can just right click an item and it’ll be equipped rather than having to drag it and drop it. Tool tip improvements, quick bar improvements…rather than having to shift+ right click to remove an ability or if you drop an ability on the quick bar you can’t move it after it’s dropped, you have to place another ability on it…fixing all that and modernising all that…housing market explorer, housing in general…so a lot on our plate for UI/UX in the next year or more. We’re really trying to modernise the game and get all that in.
Things like a compass following your camera is a good idea, it would have to be instituted in a way that probably doesn’t remove the way the current compass works, so we’d have to figure that out. Increasing the max camera distance is something we want to look at to go along with the bigger monitors and stuff. I know that it seems really zoomed in when you play on those. That might be an option we can do. We’d have to balance that with zooming out really far on smaller monitors and smaller resolutions. In tandem with the bigger monitor issue, UI scaling is a problem where a lot of the text is a little small to see now on those monitors. So we’ve a lot on our plate for UX/UI going forward.
Any plans to revamp the consignment merchants? (Thor)
John: That kinda ties into the UI/UX answer above. We are going to look at housing, hopefully this year, and the CM is the smallest part of the market explorer improvements we would want to do. Being able to buy cross server, having a more robust search system where you can search for all the bonuses and such, and potentially improving the platinum cap on CM’s and how they’re listed and not listed on the market explorer, based on the CM being full of plat, etc. So yes, there are plans.
Any plans for allowing cosmetic changes, ie: names, and perhaps races? (Thor, Zeaks, Bonbon, Asyasha, Galie)
John: This is one of those long standing questions as well – we would love to do that. Again it takes a couple of technical hurdles to hook it into our account management system and then hook it into a purchasing billing system. So, yes, we’re just waiting on that and at least for names and some cosmetic changes, race respecs are a little more difficult because of some coding issues with that as you have the stats you gain as a particular race as you level up, and right now you can’t just change a race and those stats just stay the same even if you respec your race. We would like to fix that before we give race respecs to players, but if we can figure that out then yeah, for sure. One thing I should mention is if we did any of this kind of stuff, it would probably have a cost to it. I’m not going to name a price, but some sort of real money value to do that.
What is being done to increase our number of players? (Dragonoffire, Raymoundo, Bethalin)
John: Well right now we’re really focusing on just improving the game, players will come. We also have been trying to market the Otherworld Campaign a little bit more and you’ll see that going forward with our new content for next year and our continued support of the patches. Things like this are a great way to get the game’s name out there. You guys are probably the best way – word of mouth is the best way to get players to play so tell your friends about Dark Age! Tell them how you like it, how it’s still populated, and still fun!
Why do I still see EA for my account/payment? Are there plans for Broadsword to have its own account management website? (Jokuu, Yukiihime, Teddie)
On a trial account, being a new player is extremely difficult because of restrictions in the Broadcast channel. Are there any plans to change the set up of trial accounts to make the game more enjoyable for new players? (Cthullu)
John: We were actually working on an entire new account management website earlier this year, and unfortunately some hurdles got in the way. We weren’t able to launch it. We’re going to try to add in a lot of the features we wanted to add in to the existing account manager website, but there’s no timeframe on that right now. The reason you see EA on that for your account and payment is because EA actually has a relationship with Broadsword in letting us run DAoC and UO. They handle the backend billing side of things, and it’s actually more beneficial for us to keep that relationship going rather than build our own due to the risk involved so there’s no plans to really change that right now. In terms of the account management website, yes we want to make improvements to it and can probably expect to see those towards the end of this next year.
And Broadsword is a separate entity to EA, correct?
John: That’s correct.
Are there any changes coming to update the graphics? (Renqhuist)
John: Trial accounts are something that we need to look at, in probably the near term. Right now we have to strike a balance with trial accounts based on abuse of trial accounts where players can log on and create a trial account real easily and exploit or whatever. That is completely detrimental to the game and we don’t want to allow that and so that’s why we have all these strict restrictions. On the other hand, as this player is pointing out, they are strict and sometimes new players are like ‘I can’t even talk to people I want to talk to,’ so we need to look at that and try to find a better balance there.
John: That’s one of those really, really long term kind of future plans and yes, we would love to do that but the resources to do a whole graphic revamp are so massive, so what we’ve done is try to improve it as best we can, so things like the retexturing really helps with the graphics, I think. There might be some other small things we can do that’ll help, with lighting and shadows, and that kind of thing, but a major update to the graphics is not on the cards at this time – sorry guys!
What is Broadsword’s stance on Macro groups/teams? (Tailn, Dreamscape, Imselfish, Kalodaemon, Abadnote, Dondemipantalones, Minucon)
John: Macro groups have been a popular topic for almost the entire life of Dark Age of Camelot. Our stance on them right now is the same as it has always been; if we can determine they are using a 3rd party program to do it, we action them. It’s really that simple, it’s a violation – we don’t want it.
The one caveat to that is if macro teams are using free trial accounts, the burden of proof required by us is much less, so the chances of them getting actioned is much higher. We simply do not want to ban or suspend legitimate players so we have a rigorous investigation process that must determine beyond all doubt that the appealed macro team is in fact using a 3rd party program.
So in that vein, we’re continuing the work on creating better detection methods so less groups fall through the cracks. We know this is a popular topic, and again it has always been a popular topic, but rest assured we are working on a solution.
Now that we have seen the changes to RvR and Ellan Vannin, are there any teasers or other upcoming changes you would like to share with us?
John: First of all let’s do a plug for my new video on the Island showcasing the ins and outs, it’s similar to what Carol’s showing on the podcast stream right now. I fly around and talk a lot about the mechanics so check it out on the Herald [link here]. As far as any new improvements again we’re looking at the relic game and how easy it is to take a relic. I mentioned earlier about the gates being siegeable so instead of when you open a gate, it wouldn’t be opened anymore just flagged as attackable. You would then have a battle over the gates to break through it. That’s something we’ll maybe look at doing next patch.
We’ll look at the need for the PK’s like Berk/Crim/Nott – we’ll look at the need for those going forward after 1.119. We’ll see how they’re still contributing to RvR, if they’re still needed, so potentially reverting them back to normal keeps.
We’ll look at the ruined keeps themselves to see if they’re still a popular destination. Maybe we can move their gameplay style to the island itself but probably keep the maze rubble etc there. None of these are for sure things, but we’re looking at that kind of stuff depending on how 1.119 is received and played.
We might be adding back more towers to the whole realm war map. We removed towers in 1.115, I think it was, from just about every keep. Most keeps went from 4 towers to 3 towers, with the ruined keep losing 2 towers and the relic keep losing only one. So maybe we’ll look at adding back in some towers throughout the frontier, or rather moving one of the towers close to the keep further away from the keep.
So yeah, we’ve a lot of things that we’re looking for RvR that may not make it into 1.119, but could potentially make into the next patch.