| Hey folks -|
So, it's been nearly 10 months since DR3 happened, and the spell preview still isn't over. Those months revealed a number of things that fell by the wayside as we scrambled to get spells releasable for DR3. While we've been working behind the scenes to try work out a lot of these issues, but it's become clear that many of the changes are significant enough that they need to be much more thoroughly tested than most bug fixes. Additionally, we want to make sure the player base is well informed on how their spells are supposed to function, so that people don't permanently choose spells based on the busted interim versions.
We're calling these changes Magic 3.1. This post is an effort to inform you of the many things that are changing in order to improve the balance of magic and combat, and also to build better niches for guilds to fill. The following is an unordered list of changes and thoughts.
Several months ago, we found a HUGE bug in the way magic experience works. Without going into the gritty details, it essentially broke every model we built to balance magic experience. Fixing this bug will affect how people train dramatically: the days of using an intro spell to train your many-hundred-rank skills with little mana are ending.
The damage of multi-shot TM spells has always been kind of a bad mix. Historically, multi-shot TM spells have been categorically the right or wrong choice for using in pretty much every case: either you got way more bang for your buck, or way less. To mitigate this, we are revising the way multi-shot spells work so that players have a more meaningful choice in how they deal damage.
Specifically, we want to give players the option of using a slower, more mana-intensive spell (the multi-shot option) which produces a higher amount of general damage, and a faster, more mana-efficient spell (the single-shot option) which allows for fine targeting. The cast time for multi-shot TM spells will increase as the amount of damage increases, so higher-mana casts will take longer. This balances the higher amount of damage by reducing the amount of damage being done per second (similar to the DPS balancing you see in other games). It provides a choice between slow, heavy, scattered hits (the shotguns of the magic world) and faster, cheaper, more specific hits.
Targeted spells have always dealt two or three types of damage. When we numbers we found that due to various resistances, spells with three types of damage were woefully underpowered compared to their two-type counterparts. We've decided to remove the third damage type of spells with three damage types, which compromises a small amount of the lore but prevents those spells from being strictly worse than 2-type spells.
This one will probably disappoint/upset many people. Cyclic spells, right now, are essentially free experience. Most everybody has the Raw Channelling feat, and it's basically the MU-only version of HUM. This is far from the intent of cyclic spells: they were meant to be rather unique in effect, and it should be a choice to maintain one rather than a default. As such, the experience gained by Cyclic spells will be reduced, and won't be as rewarding experience-wise to keep up for ages. Cyclic spells will begin by not granting any experience, and will ramp up to begin teaching. After a time, that teaching will fall off and diminish. This prevents the act of mindlessly keeping a cyclic up, and also saves folks from accidentally leaving it up and venturing in the realm of AFK gain.
Spell Slots and Power
When we started reviewing the cost of spells in slots, we realized that some spells were FAR more powerful than their cost implied. All spells will have their slot cost revised to fit with a consistent model. Additionally, there is a set of spells that are extraordinarily powerful, better than any single spell should be. These spells (we'll post a list of them later) are being changed to be more consistent and less overpowered. Some of their abilities may be shuffled into new spells, or merged with appropriate existing spells that are currently underpowered.
The syntax for AoE casting has historically been clumsy. We've streamlined it somewhat, to allow all offensive AoE spells to be CAST AREA/ALL, CAST ENGAGED, or CAST CREATURES. For beneficial AoE spells, you can CAST SELF, CAST GROUP, or CAST AREA (see the buffs section below).
The scroll drop system is very broken, as Raesh found out. He's worked up some fixes to this, which should make drops better and less crumbly.
Magic 3.0 has two possible caps: 30%, or 100 ranks. The problem is, this means that buffs stop getting more powerful once you've got 334 ranks. This ends up meaning that once you're above that rank cap, you need less and less mana to achieve the maximum effect, to the point where getting capped buffs left and right is a matter of course. This, in turn, makes the end game even more boring than it already is. To fix this, we're removing the rank cap, but reducing the percentage to 20%. This way, buffs continue to scale with percentages, which is how the rest of the game scales up. It also makes skill buffs worthwhile at the higher ends of skill levels again.
Another buff problem is that when we rewrote all of the spells, we ended up with two kinds of buffs: Let's call them General Buffs and Skill Buffs. These two kinds of buffs stacked: a General Defense Buff of 30% and an Evasion Buff of 30% gave you a whopping 70% bonus to your defenses. This broke the caps that we intended to implement with DR3 in a major way, leading to insane amounts of defense (or offense) at the fingertips of magic users. To counteract this, General Buffs are no longer being applied as long-term buffs as the effect of spells. Instead, they will be used to fuel special abilities/attacks and other situational modifiers. Spells that previously used them will now give bonuses in specific skills (defensive or offensive) or utilize a new Accuracy buff (which increases your chance to hit but not your damage).
Finally, with the glut of new abilities that buff others as well as the wider availability of scrolls, the number of buffs that are possible to acquire is very high. This makes individual guilds less important: everybody gets the buffs that anybody in the group can cast. Guild niches get muddied, and it's harder to draw out the interesting facets of each individual niche. To better highlight the focuses and benefits a guild has, we're making the following changes to casting on others:
- Casting on yourself occurs at an improved potency and duration compared to casting on others. A new feat, possibly named Team Player, will be added to allow granting some of this bonus with others.
- When casting on people in your group (CAST GROUP), the spell's potency is reduced as the group size increases. This penalty can be reduced by taking a new feat, tentatively named Group Support.
- Casting a spell at everybody in the room is no longer possible by default. To do this, you must take the feat Area Casting (tentative) and then CAST AREA.
After we release these changes, we will leave the preview on for a few more weeks so people can adjust. We will announce the end of the preview at least a week in advance so people can do their final tests to decide which spells to choose.
Thieves, Empaths, and Barbarians
What? In a magic post? Thieves, Empaths, and Barbarians all have good stuff coming in this release as well. Keep an eye on those folders for that information!
We hope to go into testing next week (after I finish a tiny project at my RL job). The timeline after that will depend upon the issues we uncover in our tests, but rest assured there will be ample time to test and play with the new stuff before we ask you to commit to anything.
We are making a lot of changes to the magic system, particularly around the way that buffs work. Many spells are being changed, and we will list those at a later time. Multishot TM spells are getting more clearly defined as "shotgun" spells. Spell experience, especially around cyclics, is also changing. Thieves are getting more awesomely supernatural. And you'll definitely have time to play with the changes before we make you choose spells.
Please direct discussions to the Responses to GM Announcements and General Discussions folders of the Abilities, Skills, and Magic board (Prime). I'll be reading and responding there, and probably not anywhere else so the discussions can be kept in one place.
Thanks for reading,