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Free Realms Developer Blog

In Free Realms, players are free to do or be anything: Fight like a ninja, cook a tasty meal, raise a pet, battle goblins, set out on epic quests or connect with friends through a safe, social networking site. www.FreeRealms.com

Author: FreeRealms

Combat Updates

Posted by FreeRealms Monday December 21 2009 at 4:34PM
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We have made some pretty hefty changes to combat in Free Realms and we wanted to take some time and explain to you what is going on. The overall changes include alterations to monster population and mechanics within combat encounters, changes to items and player power. There is a lot to cover so lets get started.

First off, let’s talk about our reasoning for these changes and why the team felt they were needed:

Pacing and Feel
We felt that Free Realms combat wasn’t as exciting and fast paced as we wanted it to be. Combat felt slow and some of the longer encounter took a very long time to beat. We wanted a more arcade game feel, where you get in, engage in some fast paced and visually stimulating combat, get good rewards (more on this later) and get out, catch a breather and dive back into another encounter. Instead it felt like trudging uphill through mud.

Combat Job Balance and Fun Factor
Some jobs felt very underpowered, while other jobs (most notably the Medic) felt overpowered. Most combat abilities felt bland and the benefits to using them over auto attack where marginal. None of the abilities had the visceral flash that we wanted – Nothing made you sit back in your chair and say “Whoa! Did I just do that? Awesome!”

Progression
This was a big one. Both combat jobs and items didn’t progress in a meaningful way. There was little difference in a player’s power from items and abilities from level 1 to level 20. This made upgrades as players’ leveled marginal and it also tied our hands when it came to offering players truly awesome items as rewards. This also negated two of the traditional benefits of leveling.

Complicated Stats
It’s tough to have a level progression and items without having stats on those items – something to quantify the benefit of the item. Unfortunately the stats we had weren’t transparent enough for most of our players. We needed to make stats easy to understand. We also needed to be able to progress them in a way that wouldn’t eventually break the game, while giving the players a tangible increase in power as they leveled and got new items. This isn’t an easy task and most traditional MMOs don’t even try, instead opting for stats that aren’t easy to figure out, but do progress well.

What did we change?
• Larger Groups of Monsters - You will be fighting larger groups of monsters at a time with your new, more powerful abilities.
• Monster Spawners - Most combat encounters now have monster spawners placed at strategic locations. These will continue to spawn monsters until they are destroyed.
• New Improved Powerups - Defeating monsters can cause them to drop powerups, but unlike the old power ups some of the new ones give you powerful one-time-use abilities if you pick them up.
• No more Click to Attack - You no longer click your mouse button to attack. This is a big change, but we get some benefits from it. You can now run and attack without being stopped. You can use click-to-move and not have your movement stopped completely.
• All attacks are Area Effect - All your attacks now affect an area around or in front of you – no more single target attacks. No more beating on one monster while its friends hammer the back of your head.

Combat Jobs, Progression and Stats
• Combat Abilities now tied to weapons – All of the old job abilities (kick, rock toss, etc) are no longer part of the job. Instead all attacks come from the various job specific weapons. Each weapon has two attacks on it:
o A normal attack that can be used as often as you like without consuming energy. These always hit all of the monsters in front of you, if they are in range.
o A super attack. This attack deals an enormous amount of damage and will knockout any normal monster it hits. Super attacks consume all of your energy, but energy comes back pretty fast (instantly if you get an energy powerup!).
• Each combat job now has Traits. These are passive abilities that increase the player’s power. They are unlocked as the player gains levels.

Let me explain this –

When you get a weapon, like the wizard wand above, it will have two attacks on it. If you got a different wand it may have different attacks on it. Compare the above item to this item –

 

Items are much cooler now and it is very easy to figure out if one item is better than another. Stats are no longer a mystery. It is easy to tell what the weapon does because all stats are explained.

Level Locked Encounters and Encounter Progression

Just as our stats and player power used to be shallow, so was our difficulty progression through encounters. Now that player stats increase greatly over the 20 levels of progression our combat encounters have also increase in difficulty. Because of this higher level encounters will require that all players entering them be of the appropriate level. Encounters are broken down into tiers –

Tier 1 – Levels 1 to 4
Tier 2 – Levels 5 to 8
Tier 3 – Levels 9 to 12
Tier 4 – Levels 13 to 16
Tier 5 – Levels 17 to 20

A player can enter an encounter up to one tier above his current tier. A level 2 player can enter tier 1 and tier 2 encounters, but not tier 3. A level 7 player can enter tier 1, 2 and 3 encounters. Once a player hits 13 they can enter all encounters.

Gear also becomes very important. A player will need the gear from lower tiers to survive in higher tiers. If a level 13 player who has a tier 2 weapon tries to go into a tier 5 encounter they will find it very hard, if not impossible. Luckily, weapon drops are fairly common and shouldn’t be hard to get. You can also buy all the weapons at the coin store.

In summary we think that you will find combat more streamlined and easier to understand. At the same time it should engender the feelings of excitement and anticipation that come with an item and level progression. It will now be worthwhile to seek out those encounters that drop items you want because those items will now make a difference in how you play and what you can do while in combat.

We hope to see you in our groups as we race for level 20! We hope you have fun playing Free Realms Combat!

Darrin McPherson
Senior Game Designer
SOE

 

FREE REALMS SNOW DAYS

Posted by FreeRealms Friday December 11 2009 at 3:12PM
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The coldest days in Sacred Grove are almost upon us, and with the frigid air comes the start of the Snow Days, the Free Realms winter holiday celebration. The people of Snowhill have been busy prepping, and their efforts won’t go unnoticed. During the Winter Holiday, Snowhill will be transformed into a winter wonderland filled with food, fun, and of course – presents!

The Food!
No one in Snowhill knows more about the Winter Holiday than Candi Ivy! When she's not keeping a close eye on the Gifting Tree, she's baking dozens of cut-out cookies, fruit cakes and other delicious holiday treats for others to eat!

Those who visit Candi and follow the holiday quest line may have a chance to try all of her sweet holiday treats, that is, if you trust her baking...

The Fun!
Getting your friends into the holiday spirit is as easy as picking up a snowball from one of the many piles around Snowhill. From there, it's ready... aim... fire, and fun!

Pelt your friends with snowballs as you duck behind ice barriers in the Snowhill snowball fighting area. Once you've perfected your aim, speak to Calvin Coldcastle just inside Snowhill. He'll open up your very own snowball fighting arena, where your friends can battle it out team vs. team.

The Presents!
The Gifting Tree is the oldest pine in Sacred Grove. It was planted in the heart of Snowhill by Silversnow, the old pixie, back when he was just a wee boy. He claims the magical tree was a gift from his friends, the Elves, who are rumored to live just beyond the crystal barrier.

The enchanted tree comes to life during the coldest days of winter, and continues to bloom until all the presents have fallen from its branches.

In awe and appreciation of the tree, the people of Snowhill adorn it with brightly colored lights and glittering garland. They gather around its base every day while it's in bloom to receive magical gifts. To pick out your special gift from beneath the tree, visit Candi Ivy in Snowhill. Be sure to come back every day and see if the tree has grown a new gift for you!

Bah Humbug!
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with the spirit of giving. Some snowmen have been spotted running amuck around Snowhill, attempting to ambush the tree and snatch its presents! It's up to you and your friends to stop this thievery by pelting snowmen with snowballs

.

While classic tacky sweaters are a staple for the holiday season (remember the ones your mom always made you wear?), we'll also have bunch of brand new costumes and items to help you to show off your holiday spirit. You never know when you'll need the perfect outfit for a special holiday party!

Be sure to gather your friends, and head to Snowhill to enjoy all of the wintery fun! From the Free Realms family to yours, happy holidays!

Julie Burness
Associate Game Designer
Free Realms
www.FreeRealms.com

 

GONE FISHING!

Posted by FreeRealms Tuesday December 8 2009 at 9:14PM
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Hello everyone, Taylor Steil here, Free Realms game designer. I’m currently in the Sacred Grove Shallows with my good friend Reed Stillwater. He’s going to tell us about a new minigame that is being added to Free Realms in the next game update, Fishing!

Taylor: Hi Reed! What are you doing?

Reed: Hey there Taylor. Thanks for stopping by. I’m just gathering up my fishing gear. I have my fishing rod, a collection of lures, and my favorite fishing cap.

Taylor: Cool hat! So, how exactly does fishing work in Free Realms?

 

Reed: Well Taylor, that’s a good question. First, you have to find a fishin’ hole. My favorite is right here in Sacred Grove at the Sacred Grove Shallows. Then, you just walk up to the pond and cast your line. There are so many fish in this pond that you are almost guaranteed a bite!

Taylor: Is it hard to reel in the fish once you get a bite?

Reed: No sir, it’s easy! When you get a bite, just click your mouse. It’s as simple as that.

Taylor: Wow, that does seem easy. Can you catch anything else?

Reed: Yup, you can catch a bunch of extra stuff. You see, some robgoblins like to swim in this pond and they’re constantly losing things in the water. When you fish, you have a chance to hook those items and bring them up!

Taylor: That’s cool! How many different fish are there?

Reed: Well Taylor, so far I’ve caught about 30 different species of fish but who knows how many more are out there. There could be a new fish just waiting to be caught!

Taylor: That is a lot of fish! Can you catch them all just starting out as a new fisherman?

Reed: Nope, you’ll need to practice a whole lot and really get your fishing skills up to snuff before you can catch the more elusive fish.

Taylor: I see. Can you tell me about these lures you have in your tackle box?

Reed: I sure can. Lures help you catch a specific fish. For example, if you are looking for a Chipsen Fish, you’d want to use a Thorn Jig. The lure will last for 30 minutes and it will improve your chances of catching the exact fish that you want. All the information about lures is in your Tackle Box, which is a new ability just for Fishing.

Taylor: That sounds awesome! So, is there anything else you can tell me about fishing?

Reed: Yeah Taylor, there is one last thing I want to say about it -

IT ROCKS!

Well folks, it looks like Fishing in Free Realms is going to be a lot of fun so I encourage everyone to go to Sacred Grove Shallows, cast your line, sit back, and wait for a bite!

That’s all for me! See you next time!

Taylor Steil
Game Designer
Free Realms

www.FreeRealms.com

 

Free Realms Welcomes Players HOME!

Posted by FreeRealms Friday December 4 2009 at 5:44PM
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Hi, I’m Darrin McPherson, a Senior Game Designer on the Free Realms development team and I am here to give you some more details on an upcoming new feature– Player Houses! You heard me right! Players will soon be able to own their own homes in Free Realms. Meant to give you a little space in the world (or a big space depending on the house you buy) to call your own, player housing will allow you to get really creative with your interior and exterior decorating skills. You can also invite friends over to show off your new pad or throw a house party and go wild!

Our team has been working hard so that owning a home will be a fun experience for all of our players. Our artists have been hard at work building unique furniture and decorations so that you can make your house look just how you want it to. And, while our artists have been busy creating items, our programmers have focused on making it easy to place and move your items and decorations within your house.

Items for your home are not just about couches, desks and tables – that stuff is cool, but come on, where is the really cool stuff? A group of our artists and designers have been specifically tasked with creating a load of fun, extraordinary items that you can buy like a gumball machine, jukebox, aquarium or even a full blown fountain! Other “fun items” vary wildly, from a talking stone head to an enormous rocket ship that will launch when you tell it to.

You’ll also want to be certain to check out the Mega Dance Floor which is sure to be the center of any house party. And of course, no party would be complete without an AHSA (Automatic Head Size Augmenter) which makes the heads of all the players and pets in your home grow huge.

    

Everyone who plays Free Realms will get a free apartment that they can live in and decorate. Members also get a free two room house complete with a yard. There is also a deluxe house that can be purchased.

And this is just the beginning …We have big plans for the future of Free Realms houses, so stay tuned!

Darrin McPherson
Sr. Game Designer
Free Realms
www.FreeRealms.com