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For the 2.14 update, we have continued to work on improving the AvA system and Perceptors, based on the feedback from the players on the forums. In this update, our focus in the realm of AvA is to improve the “King of the Hill” (KotH) mode and address concerns about multiaccounting in the KotH system.

 

 

The way that the KotH system worked when it was first released led players to congregate on one map, surrounded by other members of their alliance in order to protect each other and make it difficult for any enemy that would dare to enter this map.  This informal “rule” of KotH tends to mean that there is not a lot of fighting, as the alliance that tried to try to attack another is an alliance taking a much greater risk than an alliance that consolidates their forces on one map and waits. Containing all of the fights and characters on one map is also quite chaotic, as players spend more time fighting against interfaces, performance issues, and hunting through other characters who are piled on top of each other than actually attacking their enemies.

 

In response to this current state of affairs, we have decided to make some changes to the system while maintaining the general idea of KotH. The calculation of numeric superiority will now be counted by the number of maps that an alliance has numeric superiority on, rather than collating all of the members of the alliance within an area. During KotH, alliances will earn a point for each map where they have more members than any other alliance, and the alliance that has the most points will be the alliance that has numeric superiority in that area.

 

This change will give low-level characters more importance in KotH, since they will now be able to contribute more to the control of maps for their alliance.

 

More importantly, this change adds important to the strategic choice of how alliances deploy their troops. Clearly, spreading an alliance’s members to as many different maps across the area as possible is important, but to protect those troops the alliance must avoid being too thinly-spread!

 

This change also increases the importance of the “Sentinel” role in AvA - characters that take this role can hunt through the maps of the area, attempting to overcome isolated groups in order to install their own allies in their place.

 

Our goal is to make KotH more dynamic and allow players who want to fight to seize the initative in a meaningful way.

 

Multiaccounting and King of the Hill

 

KotH mode is a numbers game, and the more characters an alliance has, the more effective that alliance will be.

 

However, many of you have pointed out that with the current state of affairs, multiaccounting players can add a lot of extra points to their alliance while not incurring much extra risk if they cluster on a single map with all of their allies.

 

This problem will be partially mitigated in the 2.14 update, with this new method of calculating numerical superiority that encourages characters to be distributed across different maps if their alliance is going to hold on to their dominance in an area.

 

However, we want to go even further in the 2.14 update to counter problems that arise from using multiple accounts in KotH.

 

After this update, it will no longer be possible to activate AvA mode on more than one character logged in from the same connection. This restriction was very complex to code and implement because it must take into account certain special cases that are not present in other multi-accounting restricted system (like Prisms or Perceptors). It was necessary to take into account the issues of characters connecting and disconnecting both inside and outside of KotH-enabled areas, in aggressions, in challenges, etc...

 

This is a restriction that we wanted to release in version 2.13, but we were unable to complete the project in time for the release, and could not test or verify that the restrictions would work. We apologise for the delay, but it will be added in version 2.14!

 

This change may result in a short-term reduction in the number of KotH participants, but we hope and believe that the changes and increased fairness in the system will be enough to bring back more single-accounting players and low level players.

 

A peaceful change for /a

 

We have added a right that will enable players to speak on their guild’s /a channel. This means that it will be possible for recalcitrant spammers to have that right removed if they can’t grasp the concept of not annoying others!

 

Beam me up, Mister Stok!


 

The change that many, many players requested is back... it will once again be possible to teleport to prisms!

 

To access this feature, it will be necessary to add a teleportation module (which must be crafted) to an existing prism. Once this teleportation  module is installed, that prism will be added to the list of available locations on every zaap in the game for all members of the alliance that owns the prism. It will also be possible to use the prism to travel directly to Zaaps - but only for members of the alliance that owns them!

 

And for those who want to adjust exactly which map their prism teleports to, it will be possible to replace an (undamaged) prism by summoning a new prism on a different map. Be aware that moving a prism in this manner will destroy the original prism and its teleportation module. You will need to add a teleportation module to the replacement prism as well.

 

This is the first step towards increasing the value of the AvA system and territory capture. We intend to add more features and bonuses gradually in future updates.

 

Looting the villages

 

The process of “looting” (entering a village while its prism is vulnerable) is only available to characters with their AvA mode activated in version 2.13. This feature is not very accessible to most players in version 2.13 either, because, due to the clustering phenomena discussed in the first section of this article, it is very difficult to enter a village gate when it’s properly defended.

 

In 2.14, we have decided to make this “looting” process more accessible (or at least less dangerous). Now it is no longer necessary to have AvA activated to enter a vulnerable village. This means that character without an alliance or a character who had decided they don’t feel like turning on AvA can still enter a vulnerable village and snap up all the goodies they can grab until the village is resecured. It’s up to the village’s owner to protect their villages from becoming vulnerable if they don’t want intruders to be able to plunder their booty!

 

 

The thunder of cannons

 
 


The new system of calculating numerical superiority in KotH could give a huge advantage to these village owners as well - simply by controlling the entrance to the village, they could drive out invaders at the gate, leaving their weaker characters to control the maps inside. Not very sporting, is it?

 

To avoid this problem, we have decided to introduce several other means of entering these villages when they are vulnerable... in the form of cannons! Now near every village, a cannon will be available, and will allow you to choose one of the two possible landing spots inside the village. This service will only be available when a village is vulnerable, of course. You will not need a helmet or wings, these guns are powerful enough to shoot any type of artillery, be they stone, metal, or flesh! The cannon owners may ask you for a few kamas before sending you on your flight; someone has to pay for all that gunpowder, after all.

 

War of the Ponies

 

We also took advantage of the 2.14 update to improve on the function of Perceptors. Now these pretty, pretty ponies will not be limited to only collecting resources on the map where they are placed - they can gather resources from the entire area where they are deployed.

 

But, this means that all of the Perceptors in an area will share the resources that their Perceptor powers generate when players fight in their area.

 

When there is a fight in an area, resources will be generated (based on the average Prospecting of all the Perceptors within that area) and will then be distributed to the Perceptors in the area in proportion to their Prospecting (for example, a Perceptor that represents 10% of the total Prospecting of all the Perceptors in that area will receive 10% of the resources generated collectively by the Perceptors for each fight in that area).

 

We have made this change because we want to strengthen the relevance and interest in placing Perceptors in low-traffic areas, or less profitable areas. This new system should greatly improve the performance of areas with only a few Perceptors, as these lonely Perceptors will generate a great deal more resources than before.

 

With this new system, the Perceptors of other guilds within the same area as yours will have an impact on how many resources your Perceptor receives. This means that attacking the Perceptors of other guilds within that area will increase the amount of resources that your Perceptor will receive!

 

This system will also be present in dungeons, which will be managed as if each dungeon is its own small area. This will make the last room of a dungeon slightly less vital and upgrades the interest in placing Percs in earlier rooms.

 

The method of placing perceptors will also be changed. Now they will be places like Prisms, using a potion that is created by Alchemists.

 

The Future

 

We have not been able to improve every area of the AvA system in this update that we want to. Not only was the production gap between 2.14 and 2.13 shorter than normal, our production teams are working with reduced crews, due to the summer holidays. We do force our development team to expose at least 85% of their skin to the sun once a year, although it does take some poking with a pointy stick and there is usually some defensive hissing involved.  In the same vein, we crate up our art team and drop them off on a deserted island about this time every summer for a few weeks. We find that the isolation and lack of internet sharpens their minds and paints on a fresh layer of that creative insanity that constant exposures to showers, computers, and modern society tends to scrape off during the year. That’s how we keep them fit and hungry! It’s a system that does have its downsides, the devs often come back from the beach mumbling ideas for “sandbox” games, but we have medication to reduce those side-effects.

 

All of this to say that this will not be the last modification to the AvA system. However, in order to keep up with our planned production schedule for 2013, we may not have as much time to focus on this system as some of you would like, but this does not mean we have forgotten it or you. We also want to give the system a little time to breathe after this update, so we can observe how these changes are affecting the social ecology of our servers.

 

And although we do want to improve this system, for the moment, we are very encouraged and pleased with many of the initial responses to the AvA system. Players seem to be paying more attention to other players, making new friends, interacting more often. This objective is very important to us; the AvA system should not be reduced to a system that is responsible for generating PvP fights, it is also vital that this system should unite players through building and sustaining alliances and that it should help to create a richer and more interesting community.

 

Of course, the system is still lacking in bonuses and rewards for certain types of players who we want to get involved. This is a key aspect of the AvA system that we want to improve in future updates. More options, more bonuses, higher stakes, these are our long-term goals. And as we get closer to those goals, we’ll have more devblog articles to keep you informed!

Category: Community - Game design