The basic system that we're going with as I'm sure you're aware of is the Archetype system. You pick a role or Archetype, and that serves as the foundation for what you're going to be doing in the world. It does the same thing for the spells. When you pick a caster Archetype, the spells you get are what we expect to be your base or essential spells. So if you're a healer or a priest the majority of your baseline spells of healing are going to be in the Archetype level. Then as you Class you'll get things that you're not necessarily better at, but more specialized in. Like a Cleric would get more powerful Instant Heals. Druids would get more powerful Heal-over-Time spells. Shamans will get the Wards, which are an absorptive rune sort of thing. Then as you Subclass it becomes more of a thematic type of thing. At the point the spells you receive, while still being powerful and part of your role, they're also more towards whatever the theme of your subclass is. For example the Warden is the good Druid. When we make the decision on what sort of spells he gets, the choice we'll make will lean towards the fact that he's beneficial, so his spells will be more beneficial to the party than harmful to the enemy. In contrast the Fury would get things more directly damaging to the opponents or directly affecting the opponents as opposed to helping the party. It doesn't mean we're skimping on what they can do for the party; it just means when you get to Subclass it's more of a theme. That's also pretty much how it's carried out with the Mages as well. Obviously the Priest's primary role in the adventuring world is Party Protection; healing, beneficial augmentations for the party, some damage, but really the focus is on how well they can protect the party from things that are trying to kill the party. The Mages are more about Control and Damage, doing bad things to the opponents, etc.
Another thing we're trying to do, at least starting out is a smaller amount of abilities, so you're not overwhelmed. You have very specific abilities that fit your role, and those will improve over time. But we're not just throwing tons and tons of abilities at your so that you're constantly confused and having to figure out which will work best in any given situation. You have a set of baseline, very identifiable tools at your disposal. As you go up to Class and Subclass you get more tools added, but it's never a huge amount. We're trying to go basically with, probably in the lifetime of the character, 20 or 30 tools overall. And then those have upgrades and improvements and variations. But those are the tools you know you will always be using.
With the expansion, you have mentioned that you plan on continuing to give improvements on your base abilities at the Archetype level, are these going to be noticeable improvements or are you going to start adding twists to them or is are they just going to improve by some set ratio?
It'll probably be a mix, obviously the baseline abilities we want to keep at the same ratio, because as the game scales we'll want the power levels to scale accordingly. We don't really want to release an expansion where these 5 levels or these 10 levels or even this one level, whatever the expansion adds; will throw the power way outta whack. We don't want you at 50-51 to be exponentially more powerful than you were from 49-50. We want that power increase to be incremental.
What about adding more utility types of spells along the way?
Oh definitely, we're going to be releasing new tools to use. The toolset we're giving you now is for 1-50. As we release expansions we will add new gameplay, new ways to overcome encounters, new ways for the opponents to make it painful for you, so we're going to need to release new tools for you the player to use also. But again we're probably going to be conservative about the number of new things we're going to throw at you as opposed to changing the abilities you already have; making them more powerful or more versatile.
With the expansion will you be adding more stuff to the lower levels, more content, or will you just keep concentrating on the next tier?
I can't really speak for content but as far as spells go the idea is that we're hoping that what we release with is what we're expecting your baseline toolset to be. We may add some things, but they probably won't be major things. If we release an expansion that does X, then it will be for that specific content. For example if we release new spells that let you fly, we probably won't throw low level stuff back in at the very bottom to let you fly too. It will probably be something specific to that area or that encounter. Because what tends to happen, at least in my experience with games, is whenever you affect what you've already done that is fairly stable and good, I guess predictable would be the word, throwing stuff back into the bottom tends to throw stuff out of whack. You can't really fly in Nectulos because it has never been built to fly in, so we really don't want you to fly there. So we would prolly make sure we wouldn't throw things back in and do things like that.
What about the opposition spell set? The Mob's spell set, are they going to share the same spells per level as the players? Do they share the same Archetype type spells and use them against you?
Basically any non-special mob, say a collection of goblins sitting there, will all have professions and they will have the same abilities that players of the same profession has. Obviously there are some we don't give them because they just don't make sense or aren't fun for the player. Group escape for example, it'd be kind of punishing to have the group of mobs escape from the player. Resurrection is another along the same lines. We initially were considering it but we looked back at some instances from other games and felt that it just wouldn't be as fun for the player.Are there any Mobs that are multi-classed to increase the challenge?
Absolutely, basically we can give any mob or any player, basically any character in the game abilities outside of their profession. Definitely named mobs or more important mobs will be able to do things outside of their profession.
So a good example of that would be earlier when I was playing, I just hit level 5 and received a Root spell. I was in the sewers of Qeynos fighting a Diseased Rotunga, and he used the spell on me before I could use it on him. It was the same exact spell, same animations and everything.
Exactly, he was a Mage archetype using the same exact tool set that you're using. But he also had more abilities than you do because of the Diseased tag he also had as opposed to just being a regular Rotunga NPC.
Will any of the mobs ever have any spells or abilities that no player can ever have? Basically stuff that doesn't exist in any profession's toolset?
Absolutely, and I'm sure everyone here will probably agree that that is a good thing. We definitely want to make the encounters interesting and challenging. Sometimes we just need to give the mobs that little bit of an edge, to make it so the players have to be more creative and smarter about how they apply their abilities.
With the spell animations, are all of the Heal lines going to look exactly the same, all of the Smite spells or Divine spells etc look exactly the same? Or will they somewhat vary in their particles and how they are displayed?
Basically the choice we've made right now, which may obviously change, is that if it is of the same line, for example Smite and then the next higher one Admonishing Smite, will use the same visual. But a different spell which uses Divine damage will prolly have a different visual. We're trying our best to make sure every distinct spell line has its own distinct look that is instantly recognizable and different. We're really kind of proud of the effects we have and we like the way they are so we're not necessarily just arbitrarily increasing the number of particles which flow out of the effect or how big the effect is as it goes up in level. We like the kind of distinctive effects. The level 1 Smite is probably going to look like your level 20 Smite, but it is Smite and you instantly know its Smite.
Part of that too is we're trying to keep your eyes in the game world. We want to make sure things are recognizable for getting information by looking at the world, not looking off some other way or looking down at your chat window to see what spell was just cast. We're trying to keep your eyes in the world as much as possible.
Another thing you might notice is that all the different professions have different base-casts. And those are by profession not by spell. As a Mage you notice you have this ring that glows around you as you cast spells, when you class off into a Summoner or Enchanter that ring does change. This way you'll be able to identify the different player's profession simply by the circle around their feet.
One of the mechanisms you have in place is the ability to upgrade the actual spell to any of 12 levels. Given that you're basically expected to be using the Apprentice 3 version of the spell, can you give us more details about this system?
Apprentice 2 is actually what we consider baseline. It's basically the same as if you played a Melee character, when you kill mobs you get equipment off mobs, but it's not that great. It's what we call common drop. The spells you get for free for leveling up are basically like that. We're encouraging the player to upgrade that spell at least to Apprentice 3 to be comparable to the average mob. We want you to improve your character through interaction with Crafters or ingame loot, etc.
How much actual change can an Artisan bring to a particular spell?
Significant amounts. As you adventure and harvest components from the world, there are differing availabilities and advancement of components. It's very easy to find things like Tin or Roots or whatever, but there are also more advanced materials like Bronze. And at each level range the same thing occurs, those more advanced materials make better and more powerful versions of the spells and items.
When you reach level 20 do you still receive Archetype spells or just Class spells?
Yes you continue to get upgrades on existing spells and new spells based on both your Archetype and Class.
Will you always get baseline spells through leveling and upgrade them through Artisans? Or will you be originally getting them from Artisans also?
Well the granted spells, the Apprentice 1 spells, will mostly be gained through leveling up. When you level you get the spell, then you can go and get the upgraded version of that spell from an Artisan. We do reserve the right to say that some spells may have to be quested for or you may have to find a component so an Artisan can make it for you. But for the most part, especially if it is core to your role, you will almost always get those as granted spells.
What is there to stop a level 1 Mage from scribing some Master level powerful spell that was dropped on some huge Dragon raid?
The ability to scribe a spell is dependant on what level the actual base spell is. So you couldn't scribe a spell that you can't use at your level. As for scribing say the 12th level of a spell that you can use at your level, that's entirely possible. If you've reached the level where you've been granted the Apprentice 1 spell, then you can definitely upgrade it to the Master 12 version. But it really wouldn't do that much at such a low level. Keep in mind that the version upgrade power increase, even at the maximum amount, is still within what we consider to be the tolerable levels for that level range.
What about pets? Can you give us a little info on the pet classes? Are the pets going to be full-time pets or more of a temporary pet such as the Theurgists in DAoC?
Our primary pet class is the Summoner and his two subclasses are the Conjurer and the Necromancer. No, the baseline pets we're creating as kind of the first line of pets for those guys, or the first line of tools for them if you will, are very much permanent parts of their characters. You can't zone into City zones with them but they pretty much stay with you everywhere else. They're going to be there in every situation, we don't want them to be detriments in raids and other similar situations. We may give pets to other classes but they'll probably be more of the temporary kind. Or the less controllable kinds similar to what the Enchanter had in EQ Live. The only class line which will have the really powerful and controllable pets will be the Summoner and its respective subclasses.
That wraps up our second installment on the Fan Site VIP Event. Check back tomorrow to read the third installment whichwill be all about tradeskills!