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<Vosx> Frank "Kellion" Lucero is the Shadowbane Lead Producer, and Damion "Ubiq" Schubert is our Lead Designer. The topic of tonight's chat is The Rise of the Upstart Gods and Beyond. We will be accepting questions about Patch 2.0 and the upcoming Patch 2.5 We will also answer some general game questions about future changes, the acquisition, and a few other matters. Again - Welcome!
First I would like to bring out our Producer Kellion to say a few words to you guys
<Kellion> Hey guys, Glad to be here. Good to be a part of the Shadowbane team. I have recently joined the Shadowbane team back in August and am very excited to be a part of the Shadowbane community. I have been in the gaming industry about 13 years. Start in the early 90s at Sega, also worked with Origin, Midway and now most recently Ubisoft.
<Vosx> For our Shadowbane fans out there - tell everyone out there what exactly a Shadowbane Producer is, and what you do down in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Austin
<Kellion> As Shadowbanes Lead Producer, I am in charge of the development operations in our Austin office. This includes future planning, upcoming patch updates, etc.
<Ubiq> Hey there! As you might have noticed from our development notes, this is a very ambitious patch that should reinvigorate the Shadowbane experience, especially sieges. We're really excited about how they are shaping up, and are eager to talk to you about them today.
<Vosx> <Raibaru> When can we expect to see a detailed list of Shrine/Spire abilities as well a some documentation on how these things work?
<Ubiq> A fair explanation as to how these things work can already be found in the 'In Development' page on the Chronicles (http://chronicles.ubi.com). I probably need to take a gander at it - there have been some minor tweaks as we've learned how players use the system on Test
As for a list of what the shrines and spires are, I'm sure we'll get those up eventually, but right now, you can find a fairly good rundown of all of that data on the Test community boards, who have been documenting it fairly well.
<Vosx> <Saiith> "What do you plan on doing about the 'boon system' making the weak weaker and the strong stronger in major fights, considering good guilds will only build boons for good races / classes ?"
<Ubiq> The 'boon system' was designed to reward success in the shadowbane world - those who can build and maintain a successful city and series of political alliances.
In theory, this should help to encourage players to join nations to get boons, and dissuade players from errant play. However, at the same time, we have tried to size the boons so they aren't godlike
They are solid, and you'll definitely want that edge, but at the same time, a well-coordinated guild without boons can probably take down a sloppy guild with boons
<Vosx> Vosx: (From the Forums) Is the rumors true that next patch all Centaur Windlords will be deleted?
<Ubiq> We will not be removing all centaur Windlords. We will be putting in a speed cap which will prevent Centaurs from gaining much benefit from those windlords. That is in QA right now.
<Ashen_Temper> Just for those of you asking about what is coming, make sure you check out the In-Development section at: /About/In-Development.htm
<Vosx> <[MV]Halethrain> There's been mentions of guards being "fixed in the upcoming 2.5 patch. The general consensus I have heard is that too many barracks cause too much lag. What are Wolfpack's exact plans on guards?
<Kellion> It is true we plan on putting a much needed cap on the number of barracks that can built in a city. This is necessary for several reasons, some of them being much needed server performance improvements
Patch 2.5 main focus and goal is to improve "lag" and "client stability"
We don't believe hundreds of guards should be needed to defend a city. We believe improving the guards that currently exist would be a more viable solution
<Ashen_Temper> <Xiat> Can we get any more info about the upcoming Skinning and User Interface customization?
<Ubiq> We have had one programmer working in a back room on redoing our interface completely (we occasionally open a door and throw in some meat). The goal is to have an interface which offers better client performance and is easier for players to customize
As well as being easier for us, as developers to make feature additions and usability improvements. This is going to be a HUGE boon for the game, but a lot of it will be under the hood.
We're not ready at this time to talk about the specifics of this, but it will be largely XML based, and should reach you guys in the 3.0 patch (i.e. May/June timeline)
<Ashen_Temper> [SHAMELESS PLUG] Btw, if you're looking for a new skin, you can find the Minimal Skin created by me at: http://www.aerynth.com/phpnuke/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=53
<Vosx> I reworked a question from <Saint> What are you guys doing to improve the lag situation specifically with Patch 2.5?
<Kellion> As Ubiq just mentioned. Part of the reason we are rewriting the UI is so we can squeeze some client side performance to improve the players lag. Rewriting the UI will give us approximately a 20% increase in frame rate.
We are also looking into methods that will reduce the amount of data the servers must keep track of thus reducing server loads.
Plans are also in place to work on more creative ways to handle server side message filtering so players can pick and choose options that will greatly improve lag.
There is also a few strategies in sieging that people use which is known as "stacking". Players like to bunch up to reduce their chances of getting picked off. The negative to this is it can cause a LOT more polys that need to be drawn to encompass that many players. We plan on improving the rendering performance so this will be more tolerable.
<Vosx> <Ghost> Are there any plans to improve the AI of the mobs in game? Or to improve the camps in general?
<Ubiq> We will be making some minor improvements to the AI in Patch 2.5 (such as making Draug less train-able . However, for the most part, most of our focus over the next couple of patches will be on improving siege play
As mentioned in my recent Development Diary, we believe that Sieging is our niche and we want to excel at it.
<Ashen_Temper> <Deuce[SW]> My Standard question - Are Feature Character events coming back?
<Ashen_Temper> As for the FC question... Why do you all want to make Baby Ashen cry?! Events will return at some point, but at the moment we have to take care of a few other things, like lag! The events that were the coolest used hundreds of players at a time, we have to handle some of those issues first. Events take a lot of dev resources, and right now we need them focused on the code.
<Ashen_Temper> <N0t-T> What is happening with general non-windlord centaur greaves, they can no longer be rolled on any player owned vendor, is this intentional or a bug?
<Ubiq> Re: Centaur greaves. They should be rolling, just not the suffix. Sounds like a bug. I'll pass it along to Lietgardis. She just yelled down the hall that it should be fixed on Test
<Vosx> <Raibaru> Will the shrines require a protection slot for cities?
<Ubiq> No. Spires take protection slots, but shrines are automatically protected. However, as the Tree of Life is knocked down in size to where it cannot support shrines, the shrine with the lowest favor will automatically be destroyed (and people can come by and loot it at that point)
<Vosx> <[MV]Halethrain> Will current barracks grandfather in, or will any reimbursements be given to guilds with more barracks than is capped, such as MV's city with 60 barracks?
<Ubiq> No, that would simply be too much of an advantage for elder guilds, and would not help the lag situation. Our current design WILL however give players the opportunity to fix the problem themselves (if they don't the game will correct it for them)
<Ashen_Temper> <FuGGer-of-FuGGington> This is probably far fetched and way off - but it there any thought to taking siege tools in a new direction, such as targeting players or causing detrimental effects to forces outside of asset damage?
<Kellion> We have plans in the works for allowing players to place Ballista on city walls to attack players sieging their cities. Its in the works now. = )
<Vosx> <Grumble|Sleep> I still get client side crashes in big battles, any word on the new code you put in to help find client crashes?
<Kellion> There have been several builds put up on the last few patches that are currently getting debug data for each and every crash that occurs to a player. In fact to my right is the list of the top sb.exe crashes that occur in Shadowbane.
Patch 2.0 addresses the top 3 crashes that account for approximately 25% of all SB.EXEs. The debug data from our last few patches has been extremely helpful in telling us where to concentrate out debugging efforts.
Patch 2.5 will continue down the patch of gathering debug data and eliminating our top sb.exe offenders
<Ashen_Temper> Just a rumor I heard... Gimpli is looking at a loosing season this year on Mourning... back to your regularly scheduled Dev Chat
<Vosx> <Malachi-OPP> What will the average benefits of getting boons be?
<Ubiq> This thread has them all pretty well catalogued by the players: http://ubbforums.ubi.com/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=sb_testfeedback&Number=1326116&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=&fpart=1&vc=1
We're still observing the results on Test, and will continue to tweak it based on feedback. I've set aside some time in patch 2.5 to tweak the balance based on what we've learned. That being said, keep in mind that Boons (a) last for a considerable amount of time (1-2 hours) and (b) CANNOT be dispelled.
<Vosx> <Terick> are there any plans to introduce dwarven architecture into the game? if so will there be restrictions on where they can be placed
<Kellion> Our current patch plan includes many zone improvements some you have seen IE the Northlands and others are coming in future patches. IE patch 2.0 contains elven architecture improvements. We do have plans to give our dwarf zones some loving in our up coming patches.
<Ashen_Temper> <Golgotha> Are swords going to get any improvement upcoming patches?
<Ubiq> Yes. It's too soon to tell what from Sword Love will be, but it is on Lietgardis' list in patch 2.5.
<Vosx> <Grumble|Sleep> Any plans you can speak of to make city maint easier? Like a consolidated console where you can manage all your assets?
<Kellion> Absolutely, other than some client side performance this is another reason we wanted to take another look at our interface system. The UI rewrite will make it much easier for the team to make changes like this to our UI and give players more ability to manage and maintain their cities.
<Ashen_Temper> <Masta> Do Shrine/Boons work for the Nation/Guild/Characters bound to said tree? Or can I sneak into an enemy town and use there boon?
<Ashen_Temper> The boon ONLY works for the guild that owns the city, i.e., only members of the guild who placed the Tree of Life and Shrines.
<Ubiq> I suppose if your enemy was an idiot and had an open tree, you could do it.
<Ashen_Temper> <Errandir> What about spears and staves? Are they going to be getting any love anytime soon as well?
<Ubiq> Yes. In 2.5. Next question?
<Ashen_Temper> Also, on the Boon, as Taco Kisses pointed out, any time a member receives a boon, a guild message will display telling everyone online they used it.
* Ubiq grins.
<Vosx> Eddard: Humans are now one of the least desirable choices for most classes, not being able to excel in anything, while specialty is highly desirable. Will changes be made to make humans the most populous race on Aerynth again? Or to at least boost them in competitiveness with the other races?
<Ubiq> We are currently thinking of giving Humans an extra skill point per level (capping at level 59, which equates to 58 extra skill points, or a power and a half). Hopefully this would result in Humans being more versatile compared to other classes. We are also examining the concept of Subraces of humans, which would essentially be human-only trait runes. If we move forward on these plans, they would happen in patch 2.5
<Ashen_Temper> Just for all three of you Gimpli fans, you do realize that he is actually Patron from the old TCE (The Crimson Empire) Beta Guild, no?
<Ashen_Temper> <Grumble|Sleep> Are the server migrations / consolidations coming to an end soon?
<Kellion> We have no more plans for server migrations. We believe that after the next migration our players will be quite happy with the populations on their servers.
<Vosx> <Kith> Could we please incorporate PVP into shrine favor gathering more than just getting lucky and killing someone with an offering before they bank? Perhaps a system where you can loot an ear off your victim and donate it? We'd need a system to curtail abuse though.
<Ubiq> Patch 2.0 built into the game the core mechanics of the Divine Favor system - the first layer of the cake if you will. We are looking in the future adding some PvP distribution mechanisms to the system. For example, in the future, "SuperOfferings" will spawn and, when they do, announce their creation to guild leaders, Thus encouraging small guilds to clash over these spawn points in little mini-conflicts
We are hoping to get this particular improvement in patch 2.5, if the programmers can get enough time in between fixing lag.
<Vosx> <Grumble|Sleep> Are the class defining powers of Doomsayers being looked at? I don't know of any doomsayer that trains any of their high level debuffs.
<Ubiq> Yes, that's on Lietgardis' 2.5 list. Too soon for details though
<Vosx> <casca> When is the time this patch will be released?
<Kellion> You are probably refering to patch 2.5 but I will give patch 2.0 and 2.5 just to be sure. ; ) Patch 2.0 is currently in testing and doing really well. We expect its release within a week.
Patch 2.5 has a lot of technical changes that address lag, client side stability, server performance so it is currently schedule for release at the end of April / early May
<Ashen_Temper> <Naflem> What are the dev's beliefs on how shrines and spires will change thing as far as the way that guilds, cities and nations are made up
<Ubiq> I just went to look at a list of our goals for the Shrines system. Here are some of the goals of the Shrine system when we originally devised it:
"Give players a statistical bonus for belonging to a successful city, in order to discourage errant players and guilds, PKers in newbie guilds, and trash trees that players dont care if they lose."
"Use huge, visually impressive shrines to make cities cooler."
"Give players a good reason to recruit newbies (more potential favor finders), and a means for newbies to help out their guilds without engaging directly in PvP (while still not changing the focus from this being a PvP game)."
"Create goods in the game which are beneficial to one guild but worthless to another, in order to create a meaningful trade economy (and give theives something worth stealing)."</o:p
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