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Letter from the Producer - part 3

6/25/2009 by war-europe.com
In this 3rd and last part of this round of letter from the Producer Jeff Hickman wants to share the following with you:

Hello Everyone,

It is a time of change and progress here at Mythic. As we move forward, I want you all to know that our love of MMOs, our passion for our games, and our commitment to our fans is stronger than ever. Our studio’s strength has always come from its talented and dedicated team; Mythic is full of passionate, committed people who love MMOs and the games they make. I, personally, have been with Mythic for almost 10 years and look forward to what the studio will build and offer fans over the next 10 years!

We are committed to Warhammer, Ultima Online, and Dark Age of Camelot, and have solid plans for each game. I look forward to discussing our plans for all of these games with you in the near future. This month, as promised, I’d like to start by sharing some more details from our plans for Warhammer’s continued development over the upcoming months.

Over the past weeks, we've reached out to many individuals and guilds to share their thoughts and we’ve been digging down into all of the feedback we have received. As I stated last week, these discussions led us to five key goals which will act as our compass in the months ahead. Our five key goals for Warhammer are:

1) Addressing concerns related to crowd control and area-of-effect abilities.
2) Continuing to improve client and server stability and performance.
3) Strengthening and improving the Tier 4 experience.
4) Improving server population distribution – both in terms of overall population and Realm balance.
5) Improving itemisation and the overall distribution of “carrots” (fun rewards) throughout the game.

We're still working out the specifics and as always the details are subject to change, but we'll share several examples of what we're planning and will continue to do so as more details for upcoming features come together in the coming weeks. There's a lot to cover, so let's get started!

Those of you familiar with the higher Tiers in Warhammer know the impact that area-of-effect abilities and crowd control can have on the tides of battle. These abilities should help to shift the ebb and flow of combat, and when used skilfully, should help to even the odds and bring an extra dynamic to the battlefield.

It's clear that many of you desire improvements and changes to the way these abilities currently play out in-game, and we have heard your feedback loud and clear. In 1.3 we tested out many changes to reduce and focus the effectiveness of AoE abilities; many of which were well-received. After further review of your concerns and requests, we are moving forward with three notable changes to AoE abilities. These changes are:

- Reducing the radius of these abilities to account for the “buffer distance” we introduced in 1.2.
- Standardise these abilities to regular distance and coverage, based on the type of ability.
- And tweaking them to ensure that no ability’s power grows out of control.

As for crowd control, we are taking a very critical look at the effectiveness of these abilities and how they're used, and working towards ways to change them so that they remain effective utilities, yet are not overly powerful or frustrating. Some of the changes that you'll see coming up very soon include tweaking all Immunity timers to persist through death, increasing their durations, and merging Root Immunity and Knockback Immunity together into a single effect. Beyond that, we want to put some of the power back into your hands, so we'll be introducing a new ability available to all careers (which you can purchase as a Renown reward) that will make you briefly immune to all crowd control!

In addition to these changes, we're also working to release the next phase of Archmage and Shaman changes in the near future. We still plan on adjusting abilities to create more cohesive Mastery Paths and implementing new abilities and Tactics to make your efforts more rewarding. These will include the new and improved Path of Da Green and Path of Vaul layouts that you knew and loved on 1.3 Public Test, the new Energy of Vaul and Fury of Da Green abilities, and a handful of new and adjusted Tactics!

With these changes, Rune Priests and Zealots will be thrilled to hear that we'll be re-introducing the ability for your Oath Runes and Marks of Chaos to stack on your allies! All players will be able to have one of each type of Mark or Rune on them at a time, and higher effectiveness versions will simply overwrite lower effectiveness ones. This will make your Marks and Runes much easier to use, and a more effective tool in your toolbox.

This is just a brief overview of what we're currently working on to improve combat and careers. Career balance remains an important and on-going endeavour, as well as fixing bugs whenever we can. It's important, moving forward, that the changes we make are focused and easy to understand so that you have a clear idea of what to test and give feedback on in future updates.

Performance and stability are, and always will be, two areas that we constantly work to improve and maintain. We have already seen great progress in some areas; compared to the end of last year, server crashes have been reduced by 85% on average. But we're not stopping there – over the next several months, our engineers will be working on three primary areas: improving client performance and decreasing hitching, continued investigation into server lag during periods of high activity, and improving server performance during large-scale open RvR combat. Further advancements in these areas will make the game more accessible and, most importantly, more enjoyable for everyone!

Furthermore, improving the end-game experience for everyone is of top importance to all of us. Starting off, we're focusing on bringing a little love to city sieges. RvR is the focal point of WAR, and as such it should be as awesome as it can possibly be! As such, we're approaching city siege improvements with the following two goals in mind:

- Bring RvR to every stage of the city assault.
- Make the city assault more engaging, exciting and fun.

To make these goals a reality, we're changing around the way city sieges currently work. During the Contested Phase, Stage One of the city-wide Public Quest will remain the same – kill enemy players, and capture and hold two Objectives. In Stage Two, we are creating two new victory conditions. We realised that the Public Quest boss was sometimes too difficult to do with enemy players interfering in the encounter, but he is doable in instances with little to no resistance. To ensure that everyone can benefit and have a chance to win, we are changing up things a bit. In Stage Two of the city siege, two additional Objectives will spawn within the city. Players must fight to control and defend three of the four Objectives by the time the PQ timer runs out; however, you can still kill the Lord to instantly win the Public Quest for your Realm.

If the attackers claim victory in the Contested Phase and move forward to the Pillage Phase, they'll see a few new twists. Firstly, defenders will still be able to defend their city! The streets of the capital will remain perilous throughout the entire assault. Secondly, both attackers and defenders will continue to compete to earn the rewards from the city-wide PQ, allowing those who need the gear to earn it while properly equipped players take on the two Warlords. (In addition, these encounters will now be instanced, allowing for a greater challenge and chance for rewards to those willing to pit themselves against them.)

Finally, should the attackers push their way to the gates of the palace and capture the city, they'll notice even more improvements in the final phase. Players will continue to be able to participate in the Warlord PQs and city-wide PQ to earn their rewards. We're also working to improve the loot of the contested-state city dungeons to provide a variety of ways to earn the gear you need to advance and challenge your enemy Realm’s King!

Defenders now have a chance to strike back, though, so attackers beware! Each time the defenders are able to win the city-wide PQ, they will claim back more of the city and reduce the time you have to defeat the King. If the defenders claim victory enough times, the attackers will be thwarted and the city will be reclaimed, putting it back into a peaceful state and resetting the Tier 4 campaign!

In addition to the changes in capital cities, all Keeps (Tiers 2-4) will be upgraded with two ramps leading to the second level from within the Keep’s interior. This gives attackers and defenders more choices and opportunities to make their stand. With area-of-effect, crowd control, city siege, and Keep improvements coming, RvR is going to change for the better, so be sure to keep an eye out when we start the next rounds of Public Test to check it all out.

And for those wondering about Fortresses, our goal is simple. Make them great, or remove the pain from the campaign. We're looking at our options and will let you know more once we have details to share!

Another area where we frequently receive feedback is population – whether in terms of Realm balance or overall server population, this continues to be a very important issue for us. We're looking at some fairly radical approaches on how to best bring the population together. We want to ensure everyone is having fun, but we need to do so in a way so that further imbalances aren't created overnight as we have seen in the past. There are a lot of ideas on the table, but your satisfaction is our top concern.

Lastly, we want to give you more incentives and rewards for playing the game. Slaying players and monsters is great, but equally important is treasure and glory. It's what keeps our engines revving and fuels the passion for exploration and conquering new challenges. We're looking at a variety of ways to keep your torches lit and your weapons drawn as we prepare for our future updates. Whether it's new Medallion rewards, Achievements during levelling or earning Renown Ranks, we want these rewards to be achievable and worth your time and effort.

Later this year, we'll also be improving the Renown Rank rewards you can currently train. Reaching the highest echelons of Renown should be very rewarding and add to the experience and challenges of RvR. We're still in the early stages of planning now, but expect to see more discussion about this in the autumn!

The past nine months have put us to the test, but we're beginning the second half of 2009 with clear goals and a determined direction. Our experiences have only made us stronger as we continue to bring WAR to the world. Earlier this year, we opened the gates to Russia, in July WAR will come to Taiwan, and afterward we're headed to Korea and all corners of the Earth! WAR will truly be everywhere, bigger and better than ever!

The Winds of Change are upon us, but the ship and crew remain the same. As I've said before and I'll say it again, from myself and everyone at Mythic: Thank You for your continued passion and support. We look forward to the many months and years ahead… WAAAGH!

See you on the battlefield,
Jeff Hickman
Executive Producer, Mythic Entertainment

WAR News

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