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Updates on the game balance adjustments and newbie user features included in the latest Das Tal patch. As our big July alpha test approaches, we're trying to get things just right for a great first-time user experience.

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We’re generally working on changes to Das Tal in two week long iterations. After two weeks of working on new features and internally testing them we send a game build off to our staging server where it’s being properly tested by Eric who runs our QA. Then a couple days later the patch makes its way to our live server for development supporters. That server conveniently runs on a two-week schedule and so we combine the regular world reset with the new patch deployment.

Screen Shot 2016 05 07 at 6 52 4

In this iteration we’ve spent some time on improving the newbie experience of Das Tal. The newbie experience for sandbox games, especially open PvP ones, will always be a very hard thing to get right. There is so much to learn for newbies and so little hand-holding that your first minutes can feel very overwhelming. Additionally you face the problem that in an open PvP world you can get attacked by other players at any time. And that is totally fine for us, that is after all exactly why we play and design those kind of games. But if you’re in the first couple minutes of playing a new game then any fight will feel very unfair to you and many a new player has rage-quit before being able to get their bearings and find enough “proper fights” to stick around. So in this patch, we’ve addressed a couple issues:

  1. You can now see warning signs larger groups of players (who are not invisible) from a certain range. This makes it easier for new players to dodge larger roaming groups. And it adds an incentive for larger clans to split up into smaller roaming bands instead of one big stack. I’ve seen this mechanic in Albion Online and enjoyed that it adds more interesting decisions to the game of roaming PvP. Do you keep all your players close together while being clearly visible from afar? Do you split up into smaller groups instead to be more sneaky and get better engagements but with lower numbers? Do you keep everybody out in the open while being mobile or do you hide a larger part of your army in a brush to lay an ambush?
  2. Since new players and semi-veterans currently share a lot of common buildings for crafting and leveling up (that will change soon), it was quite common for fights to start where one players was just using a building where UI obstructed their view. And before knowing what happened they would have lost half their health to an attacker. Now you both get a flashing notice that someone is attacking you and a 30 second grace period in which you can get your bearing and then star the fight on more even terms. I love this mechanic since it doesn’t prevent people from fighting each other (which would happen if we’d just made players invulnerable while using any building) but instead offers a small power equalizer to make for more interesting fights.
  3. Mobs have also been a critical point of the newbie experience for a while. Up until now mobs were very hard to defeat for newbies, especially melees while veterans breezed through them relatively easily. And so “ganking” farming newbies was not super challenging. To turn this experience around - without simply preventing it from happening - we’ve made sure that mobs now take a higher HP toll on veterans than on newbies. And they also now prefer more experienced players as targets which means it’s now a lot more challenging to fight around mobs for veterans since they not only compete with the other player but also with the mobs. Which again ties into my philosophy of “do not just prevent actions, instead make them more challenging and interesting to all kinds of players”.

There are many more things we did this month, like combat balance, movement polish and improved UI. These are in the patch notes below. For next month we plan to work on a set of completely new world generation tools that will allow us to create custom game worlds way faster that will benefit both new players (though improved newbies areas) and veterans alike (though new gameplay and settlements).

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New Features

  • Your clan members are now being displayed on the world map wherever they are.
  • While knocked-out and regenerating health you now build up short-term (30s) buffs to runspeed, determination, resistances and damage dealt.
  • Large group of players are now visible on the world map and through warning signs on the screen border. The player density and warning ranges scale with the current amount of players in the game.
  • Added a popup on level-up that shows you exactly what you just gained.
  • New players (B + C) now get a 30s invulnerability buff when being attacked at public dojos and workshops.
  • Added a “notification flash” when you get attacked while using a major building (dojo, workshop).
  • Added a popup that makes it clear that a new player was just killed by you or a clan mate nearby.
  • Mobs now scale in power & aggression with increased player ranks.
  • Mobs now prefer veteran players (higher ranks) over newbies (lower ranks).
  • You can now also use items from your inventory when crafting at workshops and training at Dojos.

Screen Shot 2016 05 07 at 6 55 1

Ability Changes

  • Massively decreased cooldown reduction on equipment, tweaked balance costs.
  • Decreased the cooldowns for Sweep, Snipe and Magic Bolt (1.5s > 1s) and Muck (1.5s > 0.5s) while reducing damage-per-hit (-> DPS stayed the same).
  • Ignore Pain: Reduced minimum duration, increased maximum duration.
  • Ghost Form: Decreased effect strength to scale from 25% to 75% damage reduction.
  • Revitalize: Slightly increased max damage reduction.
  • Heal Wounds: Decreased min heal effect, increased max heal effect.
  • Sweep: Slightly inceased range.
  • Sacrificial Sweep: Slightly decreased range.
  • Aggressive Leap: Slightly decreased stun duration and radius.
  • Increase determination gains from Staff and Bow’s silencing abilities.
  • Lonely Prowl now has a smaller reveal radius and shorter cooldowns.

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Balancing Changes

  • Reduced the spawn rate of reagents by 50%.
  • Slightly increased the spawn rate for small events in the pelts territory.

Visual Changes

  • Changed VFX: Earth Wall, Hook Shot, Hemorrhaging Chains, Pestilent Shot, Sacrificial Sweep, Gravity Well, Blink, Swap.
  • Fixed a bug where Ghost Form and Ether Form’s VFX cancelled out each other.
  • Added new (WiP) VFX for stun and silence effects.

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Usability Changes

  • Improved the user interface for small events and resource flags.
  • Added proper health bars to the Earth Wall elements.
  • Added new error messages for problems in crafting (workshop) and training (dojo).
  • The event schedule now includes a reminder to give your respect to someone else it will be randomly awarded.
  • Removed text labels from the minimap to make it more readable.
  • Changed the death messages to be a bit more clear and cheerful.
  • Small event’s lootable phases no get tracked in the event schedule.
  • Renamed crafting resources to “materials” and “reagents” respectively.
  • Fixed a broken description for Ghost Form.

Screen Shot 2016 05 07 at 6 55 3

Map Changes

  • Added decorative environment assets to two Revenant camps. More to come.

Misc Changes & Bug Fixes

  • Improved client-side collision to get rid of the annoying “rubberbanding” in the mountain area.
  • Fixed a bug that allowed players to wear items that belonged to a different weapon/armor class.

For more information on Das Tal and to sign-up for our upcoming Alpha test, go here.

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