Friday marks the beginning of the second Closed Alpha test. It will begin at 12 PM (Noon) US Central Time and last for 24 hours. Here's a handy countdown clock:
If you're not already in the Closed Alpha, you can join by going to your My Account page and clicking on the Upgrade button.
We'll be releasing the official Patch Notes as we get closer to the main event, but here's a quick list of highlights you can expect since the last test:
- A re-worked server-side physics collision system which should provide better performance on some actions, such as the Warrior swinging their sword quickly. It also uses less CPU which should allow us to support larger numbers of entities in-game, and therefore more players per shard.
- A new quick-access belt system which allows you to equip certain "tools" (such as the Harvester) to your belt so that you can grab and use them in addition to your weapons. This is also how things like traps and potions will work.
- The prototype of the harvesting system. There will be plants and flowers in the game world that can be gathered using the Harvester tool, which will then appear in your inventory. There's nothing to do with these yet other than collect them, but in the next update you should find a use for them...
- A complete re-working of the Runemage class, including adding many new spells and a re-design of the Runemage runes, as well as the super ability, the resurrection ritual, and additional portal stones.
- A re-working of the XP system to its final form.
- A plethora of bug fixes both large and small which will be detailed when the Patch Notes are released.
- NOTE: Runemage skill levels will all be reset to Level 1, and all inventories will be reset for this test.
Wow, that's a lot of stuff for just two weeks! Exciting! Let's go over a few of the major changes in detail.
Perhaps the largest change to the game in this patch is the evolution of the Runemage class to something pretty close to its final form (at least mechanically). We've introduced a lot of new spells, re-worked the runes, and just generally fleshed out the class more. You can expect similar expansions of the other classes each patch until Beta.
During the test, you will have access to the base (Level 1) versions of all of these spells:
Fireball: The standard high-damage single-target spell, with a new look. Will have 3 different levels in the final game.
Frostbolt: The best spell to use if you want to slow down your target and give yourself time to attack. Will have 3 different levels in the final game.
Ice Lance: A lance of ice shoots from your wand, damaging all enemies in a line immediately. If those enemies are Slowed (by a Frostbolt spell), they will take greatly increased damage.
Arcane Explosion: A new spell which explodes outward from the position of the mage, damaging all targets in range. The Level 2 of this spell allows you to create a missile which you can control to choose where the explosion will occur at range.
Arcane Ray: A ray-based attack which works best when you're hitting 3+ enemies in a line. Will do more damage than an Arcane Explosion, but it's harder to line up enemies instead of just grouping them together.
Mana Shield: A protective spell which increases the damage resistance of a target for a period of time. Level 2 and Level 3 versions of this spell can add additional +Physical Defense or +Magical Defense properties for increased encounter-specific protection.
Decurse: A spell which cleanses the target by removing one harmful effect. The Level 2 version of this spell can remove multiple effects at once.
Affliction: A shadow-based damage over time effect which you can use to cause ongoing pain to your target. Features a Level 2 spell which does more damage for a longer period of time.
Note: The runes shown in the above video are out-of-date.
Polymorph: A special spell which allows you to transform enemies into chickens, taking them out of the fight temporarily. When you Polymorph a target, it will regain all health. In addition, there are diminishing returns on Polymorphing the same target repeatedly in a short period of time, and you can only Polymorph one target; attempting a second will cause you to lose your concentration on the first. You cannot Polymorph Players.
Pushback: A spell which does a little damage to a target, but also causes it to shoot backwards away from you. The Level 2 of this spell allows you to do the same thing as an explosion from yourself, pushing back all targets in range. Shares the same diminishing returns effect as Polymorph -- so you can't just repeatedly use it on the same target. You cannot Pushback Players.
Resurrection: A new ritual which allows you to bring back allies from the dead, as long as their spirit still remains in the area. Will eventually require a reagent to cast, but for now you can use it anytime.
Portal: A ritual which allows you to create a portal to far-off places. Locations and runes have been added to the Plains zone in addition to the starting zone, so there are now 6 portals you can create in the game. We also re-worked the portal system to be much more reliable in getting you to your destination.
Light: A cantrip spell which allows you to create a globe of light which will travel a short distance and then remain in place for a long period of time. Useful in dark places such as caves to illuminate the area for your party.
Fireworks: A cantrip spell that you can use to entertain nearby adventurers by creating a small firework explosion up in the sky. Level 2 and Level 3 versions of this spell will create more elaborate displays.
We'll release the runes for the base versions of all of these spells soon on the Wiki. The base versions of the spells are fairly "common knowledge" among mages and as such you would learn these while playing through the tutorial and quests of the game. The Level 2 and higher versions are "lost knowledge", and as such players will need to seek these out in ancient tomes and ruins, or through word of mouth from other players. Note that none of Level 2+ spell information is in the game yet for you to find, it will be added in a future update.
XP System Rework
Up until this point, OrbusVR has used a very basic XP system. In essence, if you attacked a monster at all, even dealing 1 point of damage, you would get full credit for the XP value of the monster when it died. This was never intended to be the final version of the XP system, and led to some rather unintended consequences, such as people gaining 4 levels almost instantly at the start of the test by simply grinding the same starter-area monsters in a giant mob. That caused us to have to turn off the 300% XP Bonus that we had enabled for Alpha testing to slow down these "roaming mobs", which in turn made small-group and solo leveling take way too long.
With this test, we're introducing the intended XP system that we will carry forward to the final game. Although I will discuss some of the specific mechanics of it, I think it's important first to point out the general goals. Because like anything in this game, if the result we're getting doesn't match the goals, we will change the mechanics.
The XP system should:
- Reward the highest XP/hour to players who participate in groups. Not massive roaming mobs, but 2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-player, coordinated groups.
- Make it possible for solo players to still effectively gain levels, although not as quickly as a well-coordinated group could.
- Reward serendipitous encounters; that is, if you see someone attacking an elite monster, the game should reward you for assisting them, even if you're not in a formal group.
- Not reward players who simple follow a massive roaming mob around, doing little damage and not contributing.
- Reward tanks and healers equally to damage dealers.
To accomplish these goals, our new XP system grants the total XP value of the monster based on the contribution to killing it of the people who have attacked it. So that means if you are 80% of the way through killing a monster when someone comes along and helps you finish it off, you would get around 85%-90% of the XP, and the newcomer would get 10%. What does that mean practically speaking?
- If you're playing as a solo player, basically nothing has changed.
- Tanks and healers get credit just like damage dealers, because monsters now consider things like blocking attacks and healing other players as 'contributions' toward killing it.
- If you're in a group, you get credit for everyone in your group. So that means even if you're a healer who didn't have to do much because it was an easy fight, you still get the same XP as the Ranger who did the damage. The assumption is that if you're in a group, you're working together. We also boost the XP you get in a group so that if you are in a 5-person group, instead of only getting 20% of the XP of a monster you actually get something like 60%. This, paired with the assumed faster rate at which groups can kill monsters, along with the XP chain bonus that is available when you're in a group, means that being in a group should be more effective than any other option. And you get proportional bonuses for smaller groups as well, so even a 2-person group is better than solo.
- Roaming mobs, or staying in one spot and farming an elite with 15 people, will not be very effective.
We look forward to seeing this in effect in the test on Friday. In addition, we have re-enabled the 300% global XP Bonus, so you solo grinders should have a much easier time.
As a pre-cursor to introducing the prototypes of our Resource Disciplines, we've added the ability to harvest certain key herbs and flowers to the game. This will later be expanded to include harvesting things such as ore and minerals as well.
As part of this, we've introduced the "quick slot" system, which adds two additional slots to your equipment manager where you can equip items that are "Tools." Right now there is one tool in the game, the Harvester, which basically allows you to gather herbs and flowers, mine ore and minerals, etc. Once you've equipped it, it will be available on your belt whenever you have a free hand. You can simply grab it, and then swing it to gather the materials. Once gathered, the material will automatically appear in your inventory.
We've also added support for stackable inventory items, although currently there's no way to split or merge stacks. Since there's nothing to use these materials on right now, we recommend trying it out and maybe learning the locations of the things you can gather, but don't waste time gathering 100's of items at this point since we may end up wiping the inventory before the next test.
Whew, well I think that's everything for now, see you all in-game on Friday! We'll release more detailed information like the Runemage runes on the Wiki as we approach the test, and update the Runemage Play Guide accordingly.
If you'd like to discuss this blog post, you can do so on our Community Forums: https://community.orbusvr.com/t/new-blog-post-alpha-test-2-preview-runemage-rework-new-xp-system-harvesting-system/1394?u=riley_d