Monday, October 31, 2022

Ashes of Creation "New World is the gold standard of harvesting/gathering"

 I caught up with the recent Ashes of Creation live stream (I actually watched it via Asmongold's reaction video -- don't ask why; I just like watching Asmongold's reaction videos for Ashes updates).  

 In this update the Ashes team shows off the gathering system they are lifting directly from New World.  Every tree is now able to be chopped down (previously in earlier alpha tests it was sparse nodes across the world) and that will expand from there to other node types such as rocks, plants, and more.  Asmongold's quote to kick off the video was "New World is the gold standard of harvesting/gathering" which I'll agree with, but also as my comments will show there is room for enhancement.

 For anyone that has played New World this is very familiar.  New World brought this type of mechanic out of the realm of survival games and into an MMORPG.  Chopping down a tree is one of the most satisfying feelings in all of New World.  I can't imagine playing a future MMORPG that doesn't let me cut down every tree, break up every rock, and gather almost anything I can see.  I am all for games like Ashes lifting ideas from other games and this was the right idea to grab from New World.

 What can, or what will, Ashes do to improve on the system?

 First, they can add more variables to the system.  If there is a knock against New World's system it is that the node spawns are static and do not vary at all which means farmers and bots can camp them.  A great change for New World and where Ashes could improve this type of system is to randomize the spawn locations of the nodes.  Certain areas could still limit what type of node spawns so players know where to go to gather but the actual placement in that area could be changed up.  This would reward the often overlooked explorer play type.

 The good news is it sounds like Ashes is solving for this with their surveying skill which will allow players to find and learn about node spawns and if I understood it correctly it will allow players with higher surveying skill to find randomly placed nodes.  This brought back memories of surveying in Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) which allowed for players to locate and find unique resources and cash in on them before others showed up.  The key to the SWG system was randomization and time limited nature of where you could get the resources.

 Next the Ashes developers talked a good bit about how the materials you can gather will vary based on seasons, "node" (referring to their land parcel system), and other player actions.  It definitely sounds like to be a successful gatherer you will need to know the systems and the world as well as have leveled up skills.  The question is whether they can make the system where it rewards the average player and doesn't just become a system where the elite players lock everyone else out.

 In the Ashes stream Steven (the guy at the head of Ashes design/funding/everything) asked us to think about two areas when giving feedback and talking about this update so I wanted to oblige him.

Feedback Focus 1: Steven asked the community how we feel about the change to have far more resources available for gathering in the game?  A caveat was most of the increase in gatherable materials it would be focused on general construction and trade; not necessarily for making gear.

Answer 1: As I mentioned earlier in the post I can't see myself playing an MMORPG that doesn't have this sort of harvesting/gathering system.  Chopping down trees may just be a "minimum requirement" going forward for me to consider a game.  I think this was the right choice and with the surveying system it looks to improve on the system from New World.  The only concern I have is it may get too complicated.  There is a benefit to the simplicity of New Worlds system: see tree, chop tree, get stuff.  Adding too much more to that loop may make it less fun.

Feedback Focus 2: Thoughts on the visual fidelity of the gathering actions.

Answer 2:  I tend to not get deep into visuals in games these days.  They play a role, but not as they did in the past.  As long as it feels like it fits and doesn't take away from performance then I am fine with what I saw in the video.  Not necessarily visual, but the audio in the demo was not that great.  New World nails the sound of chopping and mining so feel like Ashes has some room on the audio end to improve.

 The Ashes devs also commented on group gathering.  This is a great idea and something that Crowfall had (probably one of the only things that game did well). I love the idea of having to team up to gather.  I love the idea of needing a second player to take the other end of a giant saw to go at a massive tree.

 Steven also asked about what players felt about the system where what is inside a node is only revealed when you take the harvesting action.  The example given was a rock that once broken revealed there was a crystal inside and a second harvesting action was required to gather the crystal.  I am fine with this but over time it may become irritating having to harvest nodes twice instead of just getting the internal materials on the first pass.  Will have to see how it feels when playing.

For those that need it here is the Ashes update embedded below.

Speaking of gathering; let me harvest your thoughts by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Saturday, October 29, 2022

New World Paladin Build (updated for Brimstone and not what you expect!)

 Wanted to share this New World Paladin build video I saw on Youtube.  If you have the PvP light armor set you are 75% ready for this build.  I am a couple pieces short and am currently playing heavy armor with warhammer/sword'n'shield, but looking to give this build a try with some other armor pieces slotted in.

Enjoy and leave a comment!

Friday, October 28, 2022

Nerfs NOT in the details?

 Yesterday I posted about the nerfs lurking in the details of the New World PTR (public test realm) notes.  One of the changes was to musket damage which at face value screamed "nerf!" but upon further analysis is not a nerf and when all changes taken together there is a buff to musket damage.  For anyone playing New World you can guess how the community is reacting.

 The net of the analysis so far is that the changes will actually bring a net 15% damage increase.  While there is some drop off on damage at longer range it is negligible.  Quoting PTR testers "The Ballistic Advantage 50% damage 'nerf' sounds big, but in reality it's more like a 0.5% damage decrease."

 The same testers are finding there is a net buff to musket damage and that buff comes in with the changes for Hit Your Mark passive.

Hit your Mark Passive:
Updated passive to apply to all hits and not just headshots and critical hits.

 As can be seen with the screenshot on the left this means longer range damage is now increased for all shots.  Sure there is drop off on damage at distance but as quoted from testers so far the drop off is not anywhere close to what is being gained from this passive change.

 Combine this buff with other changes that take away stagger from sticky bomb and muskets are encouraged to "sit on top of a rock and shoot people far away" and that is 95% of the problem with the weapon.  With that said I don't want another bow situation where strong ranged DPS weapon also gets a bunch of mobility.

 This whole situation just leaves me with questions on what the right approach to musket is.  At the heart of the matter is the fact that musket is a hitscan weapon in a game with no other hitscan weapons.  It also has no maximum range.  There is also the question of why is ammunition still in the game where a musket player has to buy, at a significant gold cost, ammunition to get their maximum damage.  It seems like hitscan, max range, and ammunition would be the logical things for the developers to focus on before getting too deep into balancing damage numbers.

 What are your thoughts on muskets?  Leave a long ranged comment.



Thursday, October 27, 2022

Nerfs in the details... New World patch notes

 Yesterday, I covered the general patch notes for New World's upcoming PTR (public test realm) but I missed the full patch notes posted to the forums.  There was some additional goodness (nerfs!) hiding in the details.

First a nerf to musket damage:

Ballistic Advantage Passive:
Updated passive to no longer remove damage fall off entirely, but reduce damage fall off by 50% after 50m.

 This is a needed change and I'd go so far as saying they could have gotten rid of the passive altogether.  There is no reason muskets should hit for full damage at long range -- the farther away the less damage; its that simple.  This is not a modern era sniper rifle; it is a musket!  As a long time musket fan it pains me to say the weapon is ruining the game.  OPR may be jokingly called BowPR but muskets are a far worse problem than bow.

 Another needed change (nerf!?) is coming to Shirking Fortification:

Adjusted issue where the base duration and max duration of the Shirking Fortification perk was set to the same value. Base value was meant to be lower. Reduced duration of fortify from 6s to 4s.

 This is a 33% duration reduction in most cases which is good. Shirking Fortification is a "must have" perk because of how strong it is.  This doesn't make it useless but brings it more in line with what it should be.  I'd still argue this perk should be for heavy armor only similar to how Shirking Energy is for light only, but I'll take this change over nothing changing at all.  3s instead of 4s would even be better!  Note: I am currently playing heavy with multiple Shirking Fortification pieces.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

More Goodness on New World PTR

 Another patch is dropping on the PTR for New World featuring some of the changes discussed in recent developer updates. 

 First the new mutated expedition that mashes up Amrine and Starstone Barrows will be available.  These are both lower level expeditions so I was curious if we'd ever see mutated versions.  It makes sense that they are being mashed up into a single mutated version as standalone they are both relatively light on mechanics and length.  Combined it should be a fun romp down memory lane (though I will admit I've never done Starstone Barrows!).

 Some tweaks to refining and crafting stations are included.  Nothing major but all good changes.

 Probably one of the biggest smallest changes in the patch is that players no longer are required to be in a faction to join a company.  The specific notes are:

Players no longer need to be in a Faction to join a Company, but Companies must still declare a Faction. Non-Faction-affiliated members may not become the Governor or participate in Wars.

 At face value this is pretty simple, but points towards more changes coming to not require players to join into the faction system.  I think this is an excellent change as being in a faction can bring some issues if you, like me, end up bouncing around companies.  I can now think about going factionless but still be in a company which I could not before.  

 The long awaited shell companies and war fatigue system are coming in this PTR as well.  I am not a war player but I have been around and in some competitive companies and the shell company game was truly exhausting and irritating.  I understand why the sweaty tryhards did it but it was a toxic approach so it is good these changes are happening. Hopefully this will open up wars and territory control to more companies and players.

 Leaderboards, the last item from their roadmap, is also included.  From data mining it sounds like there will be leaderboards for EVERYTHING (1500+).  For example; each fishing hotspot has its own leaderboard.  I think we have a lot more to learn about this but I find it neat that I may actually have a shot at finding a niche somewhere to make it onto a leaderboard.  Hopefully the bots keep getting whacked or the gathering leaderboards will be ... well ... bot infested. 

 New World keeps on delivering!  What are your thoughts?  Share a comment.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Call of the Wild: The Angler - THE CHALLENGER UPDATE, COMING 31/10

 Call of the Wild: The Angler has revealed its first major update set to release October 31st.  See the full details here. Here are my thoughts.

Two changes jumped out at me with this update:

  • Daily & Weekly Challenges: Put your skills to the test and earn XP by completing periodical challenges. Bragging rights included!
  • Activity Feed: Who caught that massive fish? With the activity feed, you’ll be able to stay up to date with the latest happening in your multiplayer session.

 We'll comment on the activity feed first. This was a clear miss for launch in my book.  Fishing is about bragging and the fact you couldn't see what others were catching in a multiplayer match meant you had to figure out other ways to share the info which most often meant you didn't share anything.  Now they just need to get around to adding chat so we can comment and brag in game.  Community supported in-game tournaments will be much more feasible now!

 The challenges will be a good addition as currently there is very little incentive for players to log in.  With that said the challenges won't solve the problem by themselves.  There are more notes in the update about how progression will change because of the challenges rewarding experience so will have to see how all the changes fit together.  I will at least log in the first few days/weeks to check the challenges out!

 There are also multiple visual improvements in the notes.  Boats will now react to waves, fishing line will look more natural, and water will look better (a constant challenge I think this game will face with every update).  Most important though: The animation of the fish is now more accurate to reflect the speed of movement.  Fish got faster in a recent hotfix but the animations felt off and this change should hopefully put that to rest.

 Looking forward to giving this a spin 10/31.  Are you planning a fishing trip as well?  Leave a comment.

Monday, October 24, 2022

New World October Dev Update

 New World has posted their October Team Update.  The video is embedded below and read on for my summary and thoughts.

A summary of the update 

  • BDLG and Redbyrd visit!
  • Current roadmap is complete except leaderboards which are still a work in progress
  • December Winter Convergence Festival will be back
  • New expedition in December that is "pretty fricking cool" that is a combo of Amrine and Starstone (both lower level expeditions) for end game expeditions mutations
  • Updated road map in December
  • The sandworm in Brimstone will be a raid
  • Territory control changes coming in the next few months; changes to influence and how war is declared.  Bigger plans as well but not ready to talk about yet.
  • A springtime event is being worked on for next spring (which means all seasons have an event)
  • Cross-server Outpost Rush is coming!  This is their first step in cross-server content so they will look to learn lessons here and expand to other instanced content.
  • Gear sets and management system; taking slowly to make sure they get it right and expect long test period on the PTR
  • Two new expeditions featuring Varangian Knights
  • Group finder improvements
  • Transmog system is being worked on
  • Fresh Start Servers on track; slow roll out of worlds with multiple phases so you can plan when you want to jump in
  • Return to Aeternum community event (watch the video; its complicated but sounds fun)
  • Redbyrd and BDLG asked questions to the combat developers
    • Devs confirmed there is too much "escapability" in PvP so are looking to nerf the worst offenders such as the recent changes to rapier.
    • Musket was called out by Redbyrd (good for PvP but weak in PvE).  Changes for it are being tested with fall off damage for longer range and less stamina damage when blocking shots.
    • Firestaff flamethrower pain point; more mana consumption for using it vs the infinite flamethrower it is now
    • Armor balance; specifically blocking and light DPS meta was discussed.  Looking at stamina damage while blocking (reducing it mostly) and how blocking works in group situations.  Goal is to improve blocking viability.
    • BDLG asked what the ideal meta is for the combat devs.  Answer: more melee oriented than it is now; dev agreed it is too ranged dominant currently.
    • BDLG asked about PvP arenas. Answer: dev not happy about where arenas are at and talked about the recent update to split group and solo queues and gear score scaling.
    • Redbyrd asked about group finder for PvP game modes.  Unfortunately no immediate plans.  Bummer.
  • Territory control had a features section in the video
    • Talked about changes in recent patch
    • Distributing gold to all faction members from taxes is not being considered
    • War fatigue system in testing on PTR and focus to address shell companies and ensure more players can get into wars vs just the cool kids club as it is currently
    • Influence system change to drive players to certain zones during certain windows to drive open world PvP
      • BDLG questioned how they will combat zergs in this scenario.  Hoping long timing windows and having multiple hot spots will help spread out players.
    • Practice wars are something they want to do, but not on roadmap yet
  • Crafting section
    • Continuing to work out the pacing of gathering, refining, and crafting gear so that they line up (i.e. if you are a level where iron is common, then you are refining iron, and then are crafting with iron and thus keeping them all in pace).
    • Talked about crafting better gear; they want to give players more agency and control (i.e. more predictable outcomes).  Goal is to just taking smaller steps such as timeless shards and golden scarabs to get better outcomes from crafting so you feel rewarded for doing something out in the world and getting a reward like the scarab.
    • Talked up trade skills and how satisfying it is to chop a tree down in New World (which I agree) and how future trade skills need to bring something to the world (like music and how it brought relevant buffs)
    • BDLG asked about how you can't tell what recipes you have unlocked and those that may be out there to unlock.  No plans currently.
    • Depth of crafting
  • There was a section on Brimstone Sands questions
    • Can we fight the sandworm?  Already noted at the start of the video that it will be a raid.
    • Brimstone set new standards for content and world building for the team and thats the standard going forward
    • Brimstone is a large zone but is on the larger side of zones they expect to have.  More likely to see zones closer to Reekwater or Ebonscale Reach.

 First, I was stoked to see Redbyrd and BDLG from Studio Loot helping to host the update.  They have hosted the New World to Go podcast since long before launch and as far as I know are the only New World focused podcast that is still going post launch.  They are also all around good dudes and run a great site over at  Their presence gives me confidence that Amazon Game Studios gets how important community is in these games.

 The best part of BDLG and Redbyrd's presence, even though I am sure they were kept on a short leash, was that they spoke for the community and did it well.  You could feel the passion and love for this game as they talked with the developers.  I almost lost it when BDLG said "BOWPR" out loud (for anyone not hip to the lingo; bow is a very strong weapon in the OPR (outpost rush) game mode and it's to the point there is so many bows we just call the entire mode BOWPR). These two are the perfect ambassadors for the game.

 Next it was good to hear gear sets are still being worked on and that a transmog system was also under work.  These are key systems for a game that has as much variety of gear available and asks players to change gear as often as this game does.

 The comments on combat were all refreshing to hear.  They acknowledged range is a problem and that melee is getting the short end of the stick.  The discussion around blocking in PvP was well received (by me at least) and it will be good to get another avenue of play into PvP that isn't just damage or healing.

 I will save my thoughts on territory control for a future post.  In short; I still don't think they are headed in the right direction.  They need to stop making it a cools kid club activity.

 No major updates for crafting this go around which feels like it is in a good place.

 It was good to hear Brimstone Sands is the standard going forward (as far as quality of content, not zone size).  I am still working through the zone and it's quests and having a blast doing so.  I will share more thoughts later this week.

 Over all another solid update this month and very cool to see the community be such a key part of this one as we crossed over the one year mark for the game.  I get more excited every time this dev team puts out an update.

Misery Monday

It's been a while since I've dealt with a Packers team with a losing record this far into the season. The offense is lost and lacks play makers or the ability to get the ball to the couple of play makers there are.  Special teams is a liability.  Defense at least is middle-of-the-pack, but lacks any form of consistency.

But at least I have /r/NFCNorthMemeWar to make me laugh.


Sunday, October 23, 2022

Sunday 10/16/2022 Post

 Yes this is a week late.  That's how much it hurts.  We'll see how this week goes.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Some Screenshots from Brimstone Sands

 I am away this weekend camping in the real world MMO.  Enjoy some of my screenshots from my brief adventures in Brimstone Sands!

And here we go... after unlocking the quest to access the zone.

SQUISH! Small scorpions get squished by running over them.

A cozy camp.

O_O This legendary rapier was a quest reward for one of the first quests!

More legendary quest rewards!

I swear there was a giant sand worm in this picture when I took it!

Amazing atmosphere in the desert.

A tower to explore (have not gone in yet!)

The main city.

A pool in the main city.

Amazing places to be found in every nook and cranny; or canyon in this case.

And last, and not part of Brimstone Sands, but this is the new facade for Monarch's Bluff

Friday, October 21, 2022

New World is so fun to play right now

 New World is so fun to play right now.  That's it.  Fun.  I love the Brimstone Sands update so spending time there instead of writing anything of length here today.  More comments next week on my impressions.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Brimstone San... oh shiny... New World Buddy

 I beat down the login queue, fixed my crashes (driver updates and a specific driver rollback), and enjoyed some of Brimstone Sands last... oh what is this shiny thing... New World Buddy!?  I will get to my Brimstone Sands impressions (probably next week), but I really want to talk about this tool.  It is very slick.

Oh shiny!

First there is the question "aren't mods against the terms of service?".  

No Games or Mods: sorry, but it's not okay to make your own game using our game content or to create mods. If things change for a particular game, we'll let you know.
Yes, mods -- as can be seen above -- are not allowed.  However, this tool is not a mod.  It does not interact with the game.  It is simply showing the same data that any of the New World websites such as New World Fans or NWDB are showing.  In fact I suspect many of it's data sources are the same as those websites.  

In addition to giving quick access to tons of information about items, crafting recipes, perks/abilities, and points of interest it also has an amazing feature for tracking gear sets.  When I clicked into the gear builder and started putting together my build for tracking I realized how slick this tool was.  You can select any gear and if it has set attributes/perks it brings them in.  If the gear has variable perks it lets you set them to what you have in game.  Then it has a screenshot tool that lets you quickly screenshot the build (see screenshot below - just me playing around to track a build so its not complete).

Output from screenshot tool on Gear Builder

There is also quick reference to information such as umbral shards required to upgrade, XP required to level, and crafting recipes (especially helpful this release with the introduction of Heartrunes and Runeglass gems that require a lot of materials to be collected).  On top of that there are various calculators such as gear score and access to crafting calculators with the ability to import prices from for your specific server.

Over all this is just an amazing tool for a community member who made it "because I got tired of tracking things in spreadsheets".   I absolutely love things like this coming from the community and it enhances my play experience with the game.  I understand why AGS had to crack down on things like the in-game overlay map tools that were being built because its a step too close to interacting with the game.  But this, this little buddy, is amazing and just brings information to your finger tips as well as giving a better solution for build tracking than using a spreadsheet.  I can't imagine AGS would have issues with this tool as it just a glorified website in an app.

Want to give it a try?  First; you do have to trust this developer as Windows will flag it as not trusted.  Proceed at your own risk.  See the info below (and there is a discord server linked on the site if you want to get more involved):

This is an open source windows application (electron app)