every year, as with most media, the gods of istaria have a year end message that reviews all the past year's awesomeness.
this year's review was released this morning, so i present it to you!
Greetings from Istaria,
I hope this letter finds you snuggled up by a warm fire with your favorite drink in hand, whether it be a mug of klava, mulled wine, or a cup of steaming hot chocolate. For those in a more southern climate, we hope you enjoy your beaches and picnics in the sun. We’ll be thinking of you as we shovel out from the latest winter storm!
As 2012 draws to a close, I’d like to take a moment of your time to look back at some of the many changes that the Virtirum team has brought to those who play Istaria. The year kicked off for us in April with an update that focused on a major overhaul of the Lesser Aradoth region. Lesser Aradoth is one of the first areas players encounter in Istaria and so our goal was to immerse players into the storyline of the game right from the start. We added many new quests to the area, but also revamped the layout of many of the monsters on the island to provide a more logical progression from Kion south to Sslanis. In the process, we also extended the level range of the island from a maximum of 20 to around level 25, so that there is some overlap with the Dalimond Peninsula. This is intended to make leveling a character easier by offering a variety of quests for multiple levels, as well as group sizes. In addition to Lesser Aradoth, we revamped many other areas of the world, such as Trandalar and Scorpion Island, to make content in those areas more readily accessible to players. The spring content release also saw an update to many of the player communities that had been previously untouched in earlier revamps. These areas now have larger plots and easier access. Oh, and lest I forget, we also introduced hats to Istaria! Sold by Sheila Jones in Bristugo, hats are meant to be worn to social occasions such as the festivals that our players are holding to celebrate the season even now. For more details on the Spring Content Update, see the post on the community website (http://community.istaria.com/news/?id=431
In the Summer Content Update, we focused almost exclusively on bug fixes and improvements to the Master-level Crafting system. While much of what was done involved numerous quest-related fixes, we also reworked the Burning Archer quest series to make it more player-friendly and to make it more widely available to players outside of the Elemental Archer school. In addition, we continued to work on expanding and fixing plots with the goal of ensuring that all plots will be at least 60x60 (most are considerably larger), and that the terrain beneath all plots are completely flat to reduce difficulties some players encountered while attempting to build on their newly expanded plots. For more specifics on what bugs were fixed and what else was changed, please see the post on the community website. (http://community.istaria.com/news/?id=448 )
We wrapped up the updates for the year with the release of our Fall Content Update that included many more bug fixes, but also new content. The long-awaited introduction of Dragon Broken Items to the loot tables for many mobs across Istaria was part of this. These items can be collected, traded and combined to craft dragon scales for players of all levels. They are designed to not replace regular crafted scales, but to be an alternative way for adventurers to gather components needed while they are out hunting. In addition, we made building a plot even easier and more straight forward with the introduction of new standard sizes for houses. Crafting material requirements, as well as experience given for building houses, were all standardized into basic categories ranging from a small house requiring just T1 materials, up to the most complex guild house available that requires a bit of everything in game. This is intended to make leveling a construction-based school a bit easier and to allow a more linear learning curve as players advance in level. Beyond the standardization of houses, we also updated the Design Preview window so that all items on a plot or in a lair will spin similar to items in the Item Preview window. Though this might seem like a rather minor update on the surface, it is one that has been long requested by players and will help them when designing their overall plot or lair. For further details on what the November Content Update contained, see the community website. (http://community.istaria.com/news/?id=465 )
That’s not all that’s new on the technical end of the Istaria spectrum. Earlier this year the game’s client was updated to allow Object Fading. Many of our players had commented on how structures and objects “pop” into the scene and this kept them from extending their view distance in graphic options. Now, with the new object fading system, structures fade into the scene at distance, allowing players to extend their view without experiencing popping. This system also lets objects load and unload from the game’s client in a gradual manner, which not only improves performance, but gives a more realistic appearance to the world.
New slash commands were also introduced this past year, including “/lasttarget”, which allows players to select the last entity targeted (resource node, machine, structure, monster, npc, etc), and “/cyclenearestcorpse”, (or /cnc) which cycles through nearby corpses to loot them. When macroed, these commands greatly simplify targeting objects in the game.
For a long time Istaria has had plain, circular shadows known as Blob Shadows. The latest game client introduced real shadows for the player, with the option to enable them for all world objects as well. This makes a huge difference in the game’s appearance, and with computers as powerful as they are today, it’s a minimal load for great visual effect. Along with these updated, and numerous other improvements to the client, most players report having a much more stable gaming experience while they play Istaria. The technical team will continue to gather feedback on these changes as well as other fixes and improvements regarding the game client’s stability.
In other exciting news, we have a new launcher for the game and have phased out the use of the website for starting Istaria. The latest download includes a Java-based launcher that allows players to fully manage the characters and view services on their account. With this new “Launcher 2”, players can easily see what version of the game they are running, control whether to patch or not, produce support logs, submit system specs for support, and link to any of our websites through the launcher.
We also brought two seasonal events back to Istaria this year; Pax Istaria in the summer and the Fall Festival in November. We’re looking forward to bringing back Gnomekindle in early 2013 to celebrate the season of gifts and giving with all of Istaria.
Gnomekindle is not all we have planned for 2013! This next year is looking to be one of the best ever for Istaria. We’ll start off the year with the introduction of Crystalshaper, a new crafting school for Dragons. This school is being designed to fill a niche that has long been empty, that of craftable crystals. It builds on much of what we’ve learned from other school revamps and while we say it will be primarily for Dragons, the products players make from it as well as the capability to contribute resources to it will be available for everyone. Our hope is that this will foster an even greater sense of cooperation between players of various levels, as well as provide dragons with a craftable, re-usable item that they can sell in the open marketplace. For more information on Crystalshaper, see the post on our forums (http://community.istaria.com/forum/showthread.php?26654-Crystalshaper-Guide ).
Once Crystalshaper is released in early 2013, the team hopes to continue building the storyline of Istaria by focusing on the next big content project; the revamp of the Barasavian Desert and the region around Tazoon. This region is considered to be Tier 3 (levels 40 to 60) and so most of the content will focus on players in those ranges, but as usual there will be plenty for everyone to do. There’s even plans in the works to introduce new monsters to the area, a race never-before-seen in Istaria, that should add quite a bit of excitement to the revamp. Be warned! The war against the Withered Aegis will be “heating up” as the temperatures warm this spring.
The coming year will also see the introduction of a new seasonal event in Istaria with a “spring” theme. The as yet named spring event will be located on one of the Resort Islands, like the other seasonal events, and will include new quests and artwork players can use to customize their appearance, as well as their plot. This will “round-out” the seasonal events in Istaria, with a new one coming in each quarter of the year, and we hope this will inspire players to add their own events to celebrate the seasons each year.
We look forward to spending another year with you in Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted. If you haven’t given us a try in a while, I hope that this letter encourages you to do so. For anyone who chooses to return to Istaria or give us a try for the first time between now and January 25th, 2013, we’d like to extend a special month long Free Trial Access. Simply contact us at https://support.istaria.com/ and ask about our special access for January.
If you'd like to join us on the forums, please visit us here:http://community.istaria.com/forum/showthread.php?27228
From all of us at Virtrium, have a Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year!
Istaria Development Team
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