Announcements - 2000/11 - Should the Stars Fall

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November 2000 - Patch Page


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Should the Stars Fall

November 7, 2000

“Why are they doing this?” Jenavere whispered. Below their treetop lookout, the mosswart tribe was scattering in dismay. The attacking undead patrol toppled the mossies' chubby statue with a mighty shove. The emerald sclavus accompanying them hissed fiercely. The tribe, and their ragged human captive, disappeared into the creaking underbrush of the rainforest, hooting angrily.

Hendac handed a small piece of parchment to her. Bored? it said. He shrugged, rustling the fronds.

“We should have been able to rescue that man,” she hissed. “Where are all these undead coming from?” Since venturing through an uncharted portal yesterday, they had spent most of their time avoiding the undead, sclavus, and unfamiliar beasts infesting the steaming jungle. Below, the undead muttered in their guttural tongue. A whisper of it floated across her mind: “Silly beasts. . . no gods. . . Great Ones. . . reborn.” They wandered off, laughing.

“Oi! You up there!” Jena blinked, and looked down. Four suspicious-looking men glared up at them, pointing spears. They were clothed in rags and reeds, faces smeared with mud. “Watcher doin' here, eh?” their Aluvian leader asked. “Didjer escape the Olthoi too?”

Jenavere glanced at Hendac. “The queen is dead, boys,” she called down.

They looked at each other uncertainly. One mouthed: liar. The leader squinted at her in open disbelief.

“. . . And it's cold on this limb,” she continued, unperturbed. “Put those sticks away and let us come down. I have a story to tell you. . .”

Unlike any other gaming experience, the world of Dereth has changed with each and every month -- be it with the additions of new lands to explore, new creatures to battle, or new quests on which to embark. Towns, and seasons, have come and gone. Players have helped to advance the history of the world, fending off invasions of Shadows. . . and their eerily traveling Spires. This month marks the one-year anniversary of Asheron's Call, and we're set to soon open our next major event, "Should the Stars Fall,". Considering the past year, much can be expected! Continue your part in this incredible on-going story, and we'll see you in Dereth!

Rollout Article

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Should the Stars Fall

November 14, 2000

Unlike any other gaming experience, the world of Dereth has changed with each and every month. Whether the frosts of winter or the leaves of fall, the seasons of this world have come and gone. As have its towns -- following the destruction of Arwic and Tufa, the desert oasis, Xarabydun, was quickly resettled. Heroes have even helped drive forward the history of the world, particularly through the destruction of the Soul Crystals. By doing so, such heroes rescued Dereth from eternal winter, stopped the Shadow invasions, and even stilled the menacing travels of the Spires. Yet fierce debate continues as to whether these actions have all been wise. .

As November marks the one-year anniversary of Asheron's Call, we've opened our next world-altering event: "Should the Stars Fall." What can be expected this month?

The world of Dereth has grown. While adventurers have been ever persistent in exploring the wild, the more they search, the more they only seem to uncover. Another of Dereth's far-flung corners has been found -- a chain of islands, each one more dangerous than the next. The islands have proven inhabited, both with two creatures never before encountered -- the fierce moarsmen and serpentine slithis -- as well as unseen varieties of monsters previously known to Dereth. Then there are the islands' mysterious refugees. Long lost since the days of Olthoi rule, the refugees apparently survived these many years within their settlements of Kryst and MacNiall's Freehold. What other secrets these islands might hold, none can say. Only, that they promise much for heroes holding all levels of experience.

In addition to this island chain, explorers have stumbled across numerous uncharted dungeon entrances throughout the rest of Dereth -- including one to the mosswarts' deadly labyrinths. Upon the landscape above, certain monsters also continue gathering into training camps, threatening to organize into deadly legions. The beasts of Dereth have been busy, it would seem, establishing themselves in hidden lairs dark and deep. Again, aid from all levels of heroes has been requested to help clear these dungeon halls.

Yet surely such danger cannot be without its reward. Rumors often spread of powerful treasures carefully hidden away. One of the most recent treasures spoken of: a weapon, a spear of legendary renown.

Dereth has indeed undergone tremendous changes. What's more, its history begins a new, and quite terrifying chapter. Several months ago, the Shadows invaded, their Spires eerily traversing across the land. However, the heroes of Dereth responded. Braving the Spires, gathering mystic keys, they delved deep into hidden Vestibules to combat the crystalline entities stored within. This month, history continues. Heroes will come to face a very grave evil in Dereth -- one primordial to the world itself!

Following is a list of the most interesting additions made to the game this update. However, please note that not all changes have been included -- that would spoil the fun of finding out everything that's been added or changed! Also, some changes provide ways for players to drive our evolving story forward, and thus we won't entirely reveal them here. As usual, though, the town criers, barkeeps, and scribes may know the latest news. Also, the trades of crafting and selling are always in flux, so changes to prices and abilities of items are not always listed here in their entirety.

Highlights include:

  • Exciting new lands have opened for players of all levels to explore.
  • Many dungeons have been discovered on the new chain of islands -- dungeons for every level of player.
  • Two entirely brand new species of monsters have appeared, as well as many new variations of monsters currently known to Dereth.
  • The Crystal Array quests have been made a little friendlier. The keys to the Fenmalain, Caulnalain, and Shendolain Vestibules can now be given away. Also, the final reward items not only weigh less, but are now less likely to be lost upon death.
  • The animation speed for equipping and un-equipping bows and crossbows has been increased.
  • People with the old style heaumes will find that they now have the old style artwork back. The artwork that was used in October to replace the heaume will now become its own type of helm called an "armet."
  • Improvements have been made to the Atlan spear, mace, and dagger.
  • The Sturdy Iron Key now has a unique icon so that it can't be easily confused with other keys.
  • The upper limit for the Grievous Vault has been removed.
  • Now when you appraise monsters, their levels no longer fluctuate.

In order to learn the full scope of November's update, “Should the Stars Fall,” be sure to read the State of the Code and Developer's Notes, November. Continue your part in this incredible on-going story. . . and we'll see you in Dereth!

Release Notes

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Developer's Notes

November 14, 2000

Here are just some of the additions made in the November 14 game update, "Should the Stars Fall." The following list is comprised of detailed notes straight from the developers themselves. For a summary of things of most interest, be sure to consult the official event roll-out article, Should the Stars Fall.

Detailed Notes for Builds 2450 - 2459:

  • Updated/upgraded the Jahannan Vault. There should now be fewer monster “pigpiles” at the bottom.
  • The male Aluvian town crier now wears his robe, that dirty old man.
  • High-level monsters no longer reset to level 126 when you appraise them.
  • Pumpkins and pumpkin pie fill'n are now stackable.
  • The Dryreach Prisoner quest has been updated.
  • Fixed some inescapable areas on the landscape.
  • Improved the Atlan spear, mace, and dagger.
  • All current heaumes have been returned to the good ole' “cheese grater” look.
  • Alembic can now be used on peas to get 50 infusions, for a savings of 200 clicks!
  • The Atlan Claw now changes color when its stone is changed.
  • The Sturdy Iron Key now has a unique icon so that it can't be easily confused with other keys.
  • Slowed down the *smack head* emote.
  • Fixed the broken lever in the Virindi Fort.
  • Added more portals and lifestones in the Dires.
  • Fixed the Sho Regalia Mask degrade.
  • Removed the upper limit for the Grievous Vault.
  • Updated shreth loot.
  • Made Distillery Dew available at the Floating City Pub. Share and enjoy!
  • Extra word in NoteFloatingCityF removed.
  • The Zaikhal Virindi scholar now wears the correct clothing.
  • Fixed Coordination attribute of the Arwic blacksmith.
  • Fixed a typo in the Arwic barkeeper text string.
  • Corrected the beer stein examine string.
  • Fixed a grammar problem in the pumpkin pie use string.
  • Put out the fire on the Cragstone windmill.
  • Changed the name of the exit portal in the Floating City.
  • Baron's Amulet of Life Giving no longer overrides Healing Mastery.
  • Updated the elemental protections on Aerfalle's Pallium.
  • Celcynd's Directions to Lethe note had the wrong coordinates. . . since beta. The note will now no longer send you to the middle of the ocean.
  • The pools in Yaraq and Zaikhal can now be used to fill a flask with water.
  • Updated the text string and maximum buy price for the Tufa bowyer.
  • Added a roof to Xarabydun's rabbit hutch.
  • Added warning signs near the Xarabydun entrance portal and the Bandit Castle Frore Stone.
  • Updated the bows, shields, and keys in the Crystal Quest.

Letter to the Players

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The Spin From Turbine

November 21, 2000

A Year in the Virtual Life
My first exposure to Dereth came well over a year ago, now. I still remember my first forays into the world back in beta -- I even remember the first magic item I ever found. It was a bronze simi with Blood Drinker II, taken from a barker mosswart. I thought it was awesome.

Reviewing old patch notes, it's pretty amazing how much we've managed to add and improve. Dozens upon dozens of new quests, spells, dungeons, monsters, treasures to claim, and two large new landmasses to explore -- all without resorting to an “expansion pack.” To us, Dereth will never be “done.” It's an evolving world, but evolution is a double-edged sword, at times.

Ideally, the litmus test that we apply to any change is as follows: “Will the long-term effects of this change improve AC?” And that's never an easy question to answer. Rarely can the full effects of something be judged right away.

Whenever we change or add anything at all, the feedback pours in. And believe me when I say that we hear it loud and clear. More often than not, however, that feedback is incredibly mixed -- good points are raised on all sides, positive and negative.

Gamers that play MMORPGs are among the most adaptable and creative beings on this planet. Despite any initial outrage, people tend to come up with half a dozen solutions to any setback. There was a huge outcry when the range of Drain and Harm spells was reduced, but I don't think you'd find too many people today who would say that the change wasn't for the best. On the other hand, there have been issues where the feedback has been pretty unanimous, such as with the difficulty versus reward for the Soul Crystal quests. In cases like this, we'll often make the appropriate changes; with the Soul Crystal quests, this meant making the keys transferable in order to make the quests more accessible, as well as making the rewards a little sweeter.

However, in a few months it's unlikely that people will be talking at all about the previous imbalance, or the improvements we made. Remember what life was like before the Atlan weapons? They simply meld into the world of Dereth -- another subtle evolution, another subtle growth. The one-year anniversary, however, gives us a good milestone at which we can look back and truly appreciate some of the progress we've made.

And yet, as far as we've come, there's still plenty more to do. Some of the changes have had unexpected results. Players continue to amaze us with their ingenuity, and their voracious appetite for new and exciting content. So we'll continue providing such content, with more enhancements, new plotlines, and challenging events to come.

Nik Davidson
Producer, AC
Turbine Entertainment Software

P.S. I'd also like to take this chance to congratulate Dave “Crowley” Javier, who, after several vote recounts and an intervention from the Massachusetts Supreme Court, took over the role of Lead Designer in a (mostly) bloodless coup. Also, a welcome to Ken Troop and Cardell Kerr, both of whom you've probably seen in dev chats and posting on various boards; there just hasn't been any official announcement. Well, here it is!

Letter to the Players 2

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A Letter to the Players

November 22, 2000

We'd like to start out by taking a moment and thanking all the players of Asheron's Call for the exciting year of drama they have added to Dereth. It has been a tremendously rewarding experience for everyone involved in bringing Asheron's Call to you. The greatest strengths we have are the creativity and devotion of our players.

The latest chapter has just now started to unfold. The final Soul Stone has been unleashed on Dereth, and with it, the debate whether to destroy or defend it. On all but one of the worlds, however, the Soul Stone has fallen and unleashed the ultimate evil -- Bael'Zharon, the dread Hopeslayer. However on Thistledown, a band of dedicated players has united to defend the Soul Stone against harm, and equally devoted players scheme to overcome these defenders in fair battle. Other worlds also put up good fights, but this last stand remains only on Thistledown. We applaud the effort and are excited to see how this all plays out. None of us here have any idea as to what the final result will be, and we love that fact! This truly shows how dynamic AC can be when we allow the players to help drive the storyline of the game.

This is not to say the event has gone off without some questions. Two basic ones have come up that we would like to address. The first is the potential use of a bug that allows Non-Player Killers (NPK) into the final dungeon. The second is what would happen should the Soul Stone be successfully defended on Thistledown.

First, to address the NPK issue. It has always been our policy ever since shipping Asheron's Call that if players make use of a bug that we did not catch, or did not have time to fix before releasing the game, we would not punish them for our mistake. Instead of spending our resources to crack down on the offenders, and do an uneven and arbitrary job of it, we direct our efforts instead toward fixing those bugs as soon as possible. The exceptions to this are with those bugs that significantly affect the performance or stability of the game.

As with any computer product, bugs are bound to happen. We determine which ones to address first based on the impact they have on the players and the game. The bug that allows NPKs into the Soul Stone's dungeon has been known about for quite awhile, but until now, has not had a far-reaching impact. Unfortunately, now it could potentially have a negative impact on the group of players who are pulling together to defend the last Soul Stone. While we feel it would be unfortunate and disappointing if a player or group of players would decide to exploit this bug in order to ruin the original intent of this quest, we simply do not believe in the selective punishment of players. To punish a small group of players who are using this bug, while many others go unpunished, would not be fair and would send the wrong message on how important we believe it is to treat every player equally. We are working on this bug and hope to have a fix in soon, but it may not happen this month. This bug has proven to be stubborn in nature. Sometimes identifying the problem is a lot easier then fixing it.

We who help make Asheron's Call, being devoted players ourselves, ask that any NPK effort to attack this last Soul Stone stop and allow the drama to play out as intended. We hope that everyone will respect the type of game and environment we have created in Asheron's Call where players can truly impact the world.

On that note, what should happen if the last Soul Stone is successfully defended? This is a great question. We designed this quest with the intention that players could defend the Soul Stone, and we were excited to see it happen. We also anticipated that eventually a force would defeat the Soul Stone. Should the defenders succeed until our next update, their efforts will not go unrecognized. Regardless of the outcome of this effort, Thistledown will still always be remembered as the site of an epic battle never before seen in gaming.

We want to again thank every player for a wonderful year here in Dereth, and look forward to many more to come!

-- The Asheron's Call Team

The Dread Hopeslayer

State of the Code

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State of the Code

November 21, 2000

This is the latest installment of a frequently updated series of reports on “The State of the Code” for Asheron's Call. In this report, we keep players informed as to the state of some of the more technical aspects of AC, particularly bugs we are working on and technical limitations of which you should be aware. Look at the “News"page on the Zone for other articles about recent additions and changes to AC.

I now have the Healer's Heart but I cannot get it to cast the Heal Other VI spell. Am I doing something wrong?
No, you are not. We have discovered a bug that is preventing the Healer's Heart from casting the Heal Other VI spell. We will be fixing this soon.

I am on the new island and I notice that the island armoredillos have a slashing/piercing attack that I cannot defend against. Is this normal?
No, but we are working on fixing this situation. In the meantime, caution should be used when approaching these creatures.

I notice that Non-Player Killers are getting into the Ithaenc Cathedral Catacombs. I thought this was a Player Killer only dungeon? The intention of this dungeon was, in fact, for it to be Player Killer only. However, there are some players using a bug that allows them to summon any portal in order to get into the Catacombs. We are working on a fix to this bug, but unfortunately, it is not likely to come this month. We apologize for the inconvenience.

I tried learning the Recall the Sanctuary spell but every time I do, I end up stuck in portal space and have to log out. When I return, the spell does not appear in my spellbook. What is going on?
We are aware of this situation and are investigating it. We hope to have it fixed soon. You may also want to look for the scroll that teaches you this spell. It is working as expected.

State of the Code Archive
Below are items from previous State of the Code articles. Some items have been retired from the archive below because we believe they have been fixed. If they turn out not to have been fixed, we will revive those items.

Major game update of November 14, 2000

In the early hours of November 14, we introduced another major update: “Should the Stars Fall.” Our ever-evolving storyline continues as amazing new adventures have been added to Dereth. There were also a few bugs that were fixed in this update as well. Look for news articles on the Zone that will further tell you of the changes made.