Saturday, November 14, 2009

Take care everyone - taking a real vacations

In preparation for upcoming Age of Conan expansion I am taking a break and going on vacations somewhere in Asia.
Remembering how great it was seeing Egypt last year and comparing everything to Stygia I am hyped out for this trip.
Since I am going to spent majority of time in capital city I will most likely have Wi-Fi to check on some aoc news, but for next 2 weeks - no blog posts. I hope you can manage without your "free enturtaiment" which I hope Assassin's hideout is.
Take care and keep pressuring FC into getting 1.6 on TL.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

[Guide] Broken or useless feats to avoid

With assassin's trees not revamped it is easy to pick feats that will ultimately gimp your survivality or damage output.
Here is a list of "oh-not-so-great" feats that all of you should not touch even with ten feet long assassin pole:

Accelerated - it lowers cooldown of slow death strikes, grim corruption, lethargy and impede life
reason: for 3/3 this feat does horrible job at lowering the cooldowns. It basically gives -1s for each point. It would be somewhat worthy if the feat cost was fixed at 1/1. You can do much worst than taking this feat, but then again - much better stuff lies deeper into the lotus tree.

Light footed: +25% resistance to snare
reason: it is either broken or the tooltip is missleading. You won't resist any snare that comes from melee character or a ranger. There are some unconfirmed rurmors (spreaded by me) that this feat will up you resistance but only to certain CC spells. The tests are inconclusive. Best to avoid.

Sabotage armor: destroys targets directional shielding
reason: slow hitting, very weak combo with long CD. Since directional shields stacking got nerfed in 1.5 series this combo is even more worthless than before. Best to avoid.

Soul prison: allows to capture soul shards at higher rate at the costs of your stamina
reason: not only this is 2/2 feat, but it also has 2m cooldown and costs you precious stamina. In other words: it does exactly same thing as Spirit of Night fall, but it is not passive and drains stamina. There are better feats to dump points into.

Relish in death: you capture soul shard when your team gains fataility buff
reason: this feat has awesome name and I am feeling sorry everytime I am skiping it. One soul shard for one fatality is just not a fair tradeoff.

Unholy soul: gives unholy invulvs.
reason: no one on earth would take this if it wasn't for the fact it is linked to soul strike. Waste of points unless you do nothing, but dueling necro, DT and corruption assassin exclusively and even then its a stretch for 3/3.

Soul strike: converts combo's damage into unholy damage
reason: if you also have burden to bear specced you will be gimping yourself by using Soul Strike because your target's armor rating will be lower than unholy invulvs. rating. (more damage dealt when your combo is not converted into unholy) Performs very poorly if you did not use Grim Corruption first, needs soul shard to be activated and most of all - its linked to unholy soul so you need to waste 3/3 first in order to get it.. Shame since it also has a cool name

Rapid striking: lowers Swift Strikes cooldown
reason: arguably worst-feat-ever! Swift Strikes on its own has very short CD so there is hardly a need for further upgrade.Also diffrent ranks of Swift Strikes doesn't share cooldowns. What does that mean? You can circle use 2 ranks of SS without any down time and save yourself 3 feat points.

Seeds of corruption: debuffs traget for healing, seeds explode when Grim Corruption is used
reason: the freak child of 1.5 era. Everything that could have been wrong with this feat.... is. The debuff it self is somewhat decent but its longevity and proc rate leave much to be desired. This hardly has any aplications in PVE so that leaves it purely for PVP. The damage that comes from the explosion is marginal at best and its only ticked off by GC. In typical pvp scenario assassin will want to open any fight with grim corruption for both the snare and the resistance debuff. That leaves your opponent with 20s (cooldown on grim corruption) of "safe time" when the seeds can't be exploded. As you know 20 s in pvp is an eternity during which all sort of things can happen including you dieing horrible horrible death. Want to save your GC for exploding seeds? Then you will have to face an unbuffed and snare-free opponent. With 3/3 feat cost this is not someting you want in your toolbox.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Horse poo balance - my response to Melee vs Ranged Balance

Go ahead and read Craig Morrison On Melee vs. Ranged Balance. Sadly this is nothing more than "theorycraft" and "blah blah blah" bullshit coming from a man who has never played his own game. I am not first to say this and won't be the last. Mr Game Director has never engaged in PVP that we all experience in day to day minigames. You really have to face a caster premade to know your stuff before opening your mouth on "PvP issues". The evidence is before you: this is the same man who approved 1.5 going live with casters afterwards being able to steamroll every class for several weeks. What were you thinking?
Our balance in that respect probably isn't quite there yet and we acknowledge that and work on it, but it also isn't as far away from being well balanced as a vocal hardcore player would have you believe
I don't know how about you, but that alone screams to me "its fine, l2p". What was the point of that article? It contains no new information, it basiclly tells old time players to "go fuck themselfs" while trying to do what? To convince new players to come and try PvP? If a game is in such state that Game Director has to go out and write articles on "how fine things are" then you can bet your ass that said game has some real issues.
So if you were to ask someone active on our forums who is part of the dedicated community they will most likely tell you that it is quite a severe imbalance between melee and casters due to that, but on the flip side, melee classes make up all of the top four most played classes in Age of Conan so it also doesn't effect things to the point where any kind of majority feel compelled to 'reroll' as the easier option, even if the acknowledge it is easier.
Melee classes make up all of top most played classes (assuming thats even true) because this is HYBORIA, the savage world where people supposedly lived by the sword. What comes to your mind when you think "Conan"? I bet battle axes, rolling heads and steel clashing against steel..or perhaps robes, good tea, magic wands and pointy hats? The second sentence is even better: our game is not broken to the point that people resort to rerolling casters. Well good on you, hope you are proud of that.
The players that provide us with the most feedback clearly see that it is easier to maximize the potential of a casting class rather than a melee class (due to the mechanics aspects as I mentioned earlier) and that is the case. It is easier, and offers and easier option, but the other side is that melee is still very viable and in skilled hands equally powerful at what their role is on the battlefield, the issue is that with two players of equal skill the caster is easier to master.
Melee in skilled hands...What the hell does that even mean? Perhaps this is a little reply to Feedback on Stamina thread where US community took Morrison to school on mana vs stamina usage (one of core problems right now). As I type this the article from MMO is getting quoted in that thread. I expect things to get nasty. Even the mmorpg comments are getting some juicy replies.

If FC is going to tweak (what a wonderful word to use when describing horrid task of re-doing whole stamina/mana system) the casters overtime then fine, that tells they are aware of the issue and willing to act accordingly.
Silirrion has a tough job - no doubt about it. It is not time to for writting smart-ass articles on balance theory (this is no longer beta, remember?). Just play your own game not in a friendly "pizza party" office enviroment, but on pvp servers where the vitual metal meets the meat (or atleast it would meet that meat if it wasn't for the fact that owner of that metal is geting CCed back to stone age by casters).

I don't expect things to change overnight and yes, it will take time. However what I am not DOWN WITH is going out in public and then pissing on players backs and telling them it is raining.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Night of the lost souls - spooky in "oh noes!" kind of way

So the first event in the history of Age of Conan is coming to an end.
How was it? Definitely a step in a right direction. There is hope that FC will add more of these seasional events to spark up some server activity. The server was booming when patch went live and you could instatly find group to explore new quests. Nowadays...not so much.
The patch itself basically broke the game in terms of FPS performance, latency and stability, but that is a whole different story. Lets get down to the nitty griddy core of halloween event:

The story
The story is cheesy at best. No one expected anything epic in terms of lore. It goes down to cursed book rutine and you uncovering some secrets. It is standard halloween stuff. I think it was fine.
The rewards
Rewards are social items...and they should be since this is purely a social event. The big big problem is that everyone doing the quest line (which is SUPER easy BTW) will get same rewards. After 2 hours the server was full of people in bandages or drunk with fermented brain juices. Quests replayablility? You guessed it: zero ! Most obvious and rational thing to do would be making the social rewards drop from the Bosses (and the quests had quite few of them). People would run the quests several times to get those rewards (hell, I would!) and some would half-kill themself infront of their computers to get demon pet reward. Instead FC decided that everyone will get same rewards and by doing this they allowed the players to burn through content (which BTW probably took weeks to put together) in an hour and made all the rewards less "valuable" because it takes zero effort to collec them all. No epeen to show off in the years to come :(

The zones
FC cleverly used old content with a hint of some new stuff like "corrupted villa". Not only we could revisit old and long forgotten places, but also see well known ones with a nice twist.
Check out the screenie featuring corrupted villa - now that is some nice work FC!

- first event...ever!
- nice social rewards,
- new corrupted villa,
- both solo and group questes,

- zero replayability,
- same rewards for everyone,
- no challenge at all,
- very short,
- the boss that gives the pet reward was bugged and keept restarting after going low on HP.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Assassin's hideout podcast - ep.7

show notes:
-Slith is back to AOC with his tail between his legs,
- my short experiences with other mmos (WoW, DDO, Lotro, EVE)
- hopes for the future
- see the original post on assassins boards

title of the post is a link to the podcast.