A few months ago, we hinted that we were aiming to get Phobos beta-ready by the end of the year. With regret, it is clear now that that is not going to be possible.
The problems with creature targeting that we have mentioned before turned out to be a symptom of a much larger problem. And as many of you have noticed by lack of updates in the to-do list, working on this has meant that programming progress has been halted. It's going to be another few weeks before this problem is properly cleared up.
Right now, we can only apologise for this. Even if we didn't officially 'promise' a beta server this year, we did say that we were aiming for it. And pretending that that wasn't a promise of sorts would be insulting the incredible support and patience that so many of you have shown us. Again, sorry. As soon as this problem is sorted out, we will let you know.
Teaser – Creatures
We discussed last month how important it is to have a solid and enjoyable combat system, especially for the purposes of PvP. We’ve not neglected PvE either though. Our resident creature/outfit artist, Alenius, made most of the 65 creatures and several bosses that we have. We will be showing off just a small selection of these in this teaser.
The first part of this thread will discuss the current situation. The rest should describe our vision for PvE combat and creatures in the future.
Once the server programming problems are sorted, the basic AI system required for beta should be pretty much working. What that means is that non-hostile creature will try to keep away from players, close-combat creatures will run towards you, and distance/magical creatures will stay at a distance and shoot. This is a simple system for beta, but we'll definitely be looking to expand and improve it in the future.
There will be bosses at release. And they will be strong. So strong in fact that to defeat most of them, you’ll have to fight in a party, and be well organised. Of course, in the beginning, bosses will have basic AI. But again, we will be looking to improve that in the future.
Apart from just improving the way monsters fight individually, another possible future direction for improving AI in many creatures would be to change the way creatures fight when in groups.
Of course, this should effect different creatures in different ways. Zombies may 'swarm' to attack a single player; with the combined effort of several zombies much increasing the chance of incapacitating a player with a poison debuff ability, before they try to do any real damage. Wargs may keep their distance and surround a player before going in for the kill. Intelligent creatures may have a basic battle strategy, may heal one-another, or may protect the magicians or weaker distance shooters... just like players would.
One possible future AI addition is groups of Wargs encircling a lone target before attacking.
We don't want bosses to be just normal creatures with some extra health and stronger attacks. Boss fights should be dangerous, varied, but also very rewarding.
Most liches were once great shamen who craved power. Whilst pursuit of power is only natural, to pursue it blindly, beyond the boundaries of mortality, is to surrender yourself to the dark arts of necromancy.
A dynamic world... but with some persistence (!)
Our dynamic world concept means that it is inevitable that some creature spawn locations may change slightly over time. But don't worry, not all areas will be affected by this, and many changes will just be temporary (although that will often depend on the players' response).
Minimise the appeal of cave bots
You’ll all be familiar with the way that experience works in most MMORPGs: kill a small creature, get a little bit of experience. Kill a big nasty creature, get a lot of experience. Well, that’s a good concept, but it neglects to consider the influence of automated levelling tools such as cave bots (or farm bots). Last month we gave you a few of our thoughts on discouraging aimbots. Of course, we have also considered how game design might be used to discourage the use of cave bots.
What makes these bot tools so successful is that most MMORPGs reward players for
completing simple, mindless repetitive tasks, again, and again, and again, and again, and again,
It will work like this: the amount of experience you gain from killing a creature depends on your level. So, the higher your level, the smaller the amount of experience you may gain from low-level creatures. For example: killing a spiderling (a level 5 creature) would usually provide 35 experience points (you cannot gain more experience than that for killing a spiderling). However once you get above level 11, the experience you may gain from spiderlings quickly drops.
The idea is that this will discourage a large amount of cave botting. Of course, as this doesn’t affect loot dropped, we do expect that there will be players who use bot programs to ‘farm’ gold on secondary accounts. But nonetheless, this should decrease the usefulness of cave bots and will certainly encourage players to hunt in areas suitable and designed for characters of their level. And you can bet that we’ll be keeping a particularly close eye on any players who still regularly hunt creatures well below their level.
We aim for these features to ensure that PvE combat is diverse and challenging. And that we are able to minimise the negative influences of cheaters where possible, so long as it doesn't damage the experience for fair players. As with many features, the exact details will be experimented with during beta, and we'll be looking to you to help us get it right.
As usual: over to you. What do you think? Do any of these plans worry you? Do you like the sound of bosses who can only be defeated by teams? What are your thoughts on lowered experience for creatures much weaker than your character?