It’s that time again for a little peek into what’s coming up for Age of Conan. As mentioned last time the major part of this Director’s Letter will focus on providing a first look at the details on the upcoming items and statistics update that will come in the next major update. With update 1.04 now live and players getting to enjoy the new content it’s the perfect time to kick-off the process of introducing the next major update.
Before I dive into RPG system changes though, a couple of things to note. We are preparing a lot of information for when the update is ready for the public test servers. This letter couldn’t possibly cover everything, and it won’t. The new gem system for example is an article all on its own, as are the balance changes that will be included in the update for every class. So those things I won’t be covering in detail in this letter, but we will be releasing detailed information over the course of the testing. So rest assured further information overload is coming! Consider this letter as an appetizer to the process that is ahead of us.
Revamping the RPG System
It’s also worth repeating why we have been working away on these changes in the first place.
After we looked at the feedback after launch we concluded that we had misjudged the importance of items and statistics to character progression. While the intention had always been to be less item-centric than other titles, we probably went a little too far in the other direction. Therefore we have set out to expand and develop the RPG system so that it offers better and more interesting character progression and customization.
So, now that the preamble is out of the way, let’s get rolling and take a peek inside the mechanics of the RPG system so you can start to understand where we are taking it. So, how best to provide an overview of the changes? At a basic level what we have done is add an additional range to the attribute budgets, this additional range comes from items and trickle down from your primary attributes. Mobs and encounters have been rebalanced to account for this increase. The end result is that items and trickle down now account for up to fifty percent (give or take a couple of percent variance here and there) of your overall budget for any given attribute. For comparison that contribution did not exceed twenty five percent before the changes, and ‘trickle down’ barely influenced it at all.
Our goal is that players in ‘average’ gear (if you will forgive the subjective nature of using the word ‘average’) will not feel a great change in the game, but will have the potential to get better by working up towards the higher end gear. Where you will notice a change is if you remove your armor and weapons and use lower level gear. The new system does incentivize keeping your gear up to date!
That’s not the end of the changes though. This is really just the ‘brief overview as it were. In order to achieve our goals in a good, solid way that gives us room for future development we also went through the attributes and statistics and made them meaningful, clearer to understand, and hopefully better laid out.
The new character statistics
The best way to demonstrate this in this first look at the new system is to go through the new character stat screens one by one and actually show you what your new character sheet looks like! The interface is now tabbed so that you can all your stats without having to scroll down by switching between tabs. It also means they are organized in logical groupings.
Firstly please note some of the numbers displayed in the screens are not what a player would really have, and are still subject to change through testing, but I really wanted to visualize it for you as it’s better than the text alone!
So let’s take each of these in turn and explain the new attributes and stats. On the first screen, the ‘General’ tab, you see the basics of your character. Most of this tab is self explanatory, but it does show the first of the totally new statistics – Armor. Your Armor rating is now what is used in the combat calculations to decide how much damage you avoid from a successful attack. This has replaced the old combination of resistances and invulnerabilities as the main source of mitigation of non-magic damage (we will get to magic damage shortly!).
You will still see invulnerabilities offered in some buffs, in those cases those are an additional mitigation above and beyond what the outcome of your armor calculation is.
Next up we have the Combat stats page that shows your new combat stats, both as a rating, which is what item bonuses will add to, as well as what that equates to as a percentage chance (or the percentage increase as appropriate). All of these new stats will have explanatory tool tips and we think moving to using ratings makes the system clearer and easier for you to gauge the relative worth of items.
Next we have the ‘Physical’ tab that lists your health and stamina regens and taps clearly.
Then we have the ‘Magical’ tab that displays your magic related skills, bonus spell damage and the next of the new statistics – your protections. These effectively replace the old resistance percentages and are displayed both as a rating (which again, is what appears on the item bonuses) and as the translated percentage that shows you how much damage that potentially mitigates.
Lastly we have the PVP tab that shows your PVP achievements and rankings as well as your PVP specific stats. Here as well you will now find the new PVP version of Armor and Protection that will be offered on PVP items.
Attributes and what they mean!
So what do the main attributes do now? As I mentioned above we have significantly changed how these attributes ‘trickle down’ into your actual performance. This should make the addition of stats in these areas much more visible. You will find that these are now a deal more important than before and now confer the following bonuses to your character:
Every one point of Strength
Every one point of Intelligence
Every one point of Constitution
Every one point of Dexterity
Every one point of Wisdom
Just the beginning…
In addition we have worked to make the item stats display better in the GUI and make the comparison of items better.
This is really just a teaser for the information that is to come. These changes have also allowed us to look at each of the classes and make changes to feat trees, skills and spells. Some of these changes were necessary due to the changes above (like the new Armor system) some for balance concerns and adjustments. A lot more information in this vein will be released as we prepare the update for the public test servers. In addition there is also a complete new gem system for crafting items that I haven’t touched on here that will also be revealed soon.
The items themselves, in particular those at high levels have received a lot of individual attention and tweaking to get the most benefit out of the system.
So as you can see there will be a lot to talk about over the coming weeks and months, which I expect, will start right about now!
Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison
Game Director Age of Conan
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