Announcements - 2000/12 - The Child of Daralet

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December 2000 - Patch Page


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The Child of Daralet

December 5, 2000

Sir Alayne looked up at the solid stone of Ithaenc. So this was the place that begat the end of the world. Interesting. The tremors had finally subsided, and the foolish adventurers had fled before the dark onslaught. Except for the glistening red waterfall pouring its fury into the sea of blood, things were quiet and peaceful. At least, as much as they could be.

The hand of Bael'Zharon caressed Dereth, and the world shuddered in response. The rivers and the mountains were not the extent of it. The sky itself acknowledged its new lord. And troubling reports involving the Hopeslayer himself had come from many of his explorers out in Dereth. Too many.

Everywhere, people were asking, “What should be done?” Lesser and weaker men squabbled and squawked while their world fell apart. Sir Alayne had no time for discussion, no time for indecision. Now was the moment to act. He had already begun to extend his hand to the new arrivals on Dereth, preparing for the future if the world held.

If the world held. . . . He had done all he could on that front. Even if what he had done would damn him.

But what point to think of that? It had begun. He could not alter the tide of events even if he wished to do so.

Bael'Zharon walked the earth, and every living thing felt incipient doom in those footsteps. Anything done to defeat the Shadows was justifiable. Anything.

The water continued falling to the sea, red mingling with red in a bloody froth. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a cluster of verdalim plants succumbing to the increasing cold. . . .

Enough. It was foolish to put this off any longer.

"Shurov Thiloi." Ithaenc dissolved into a field of blue. Alayne tried not to think of who would be greeting him when he stepped out of the portal.

Unlike any other gaming experience, the world of Dereth continues to evolve each and every month. New lands have been discovered, new creatures battled. Towns and seasons have even come and gone. Consider last month, when island explorations discovered the Shard of the Herald -- the final crystal of the dread Hopeslayer's prison. One can only wonder what changes and additions will soon take place when we open our December event, "The Child of Daralet." Be sure to continue your part in this incredible ongoing story, and we'll see you in Dereth! Now, more than ever before, are heroes needed.

Upcoming Fellowship Changes

Rollout Article

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The Child of Daralet

December 12, 2000

Many first learned of the Soul Stone crystals during last year's Sudden Season event. Then, the Great Work held the very world captive, draining Dereth's heat and plunging all into a wintry abyss. Yet the heroes of the land rallied, destroying the Great Work and freeing Dereth.

More crystals were to come.

Animate fragments, glittering across the landscape, promised swift death to the unwary traveler. Further Soul Stones were also found, hidden deep within the dungeon Vestibules.

These, too, Dereth's heroes destroyed.

Most recently, explorers discovered the jungle-strewn Vesayen archipelago, and on its last isle, the final crystal Soul Stone -- the Shard of the Herald. Many heroes attacked, thinking to do what was right and just, and completely rid Dereth of these malignant artifacts. Yet however dangerous they might seem, the crystals also served a higher purpose, as the prison for the dread Hopeslayer, Bael'Zharon.

With the final crystal broken, the prison itself shattered.

Bael'Zharon has been freed.

Rising from his ancient slumber, the Hopeslayer's presence has had immediate effect upon the world. Swollen rivers flow this Snowreap, yet stained with the crimson taint of blood. Other patches of land, formerly rich with fauna, have been found dead and blasted, more akin to the Obsidian Plains than anywhere else.

Already, heroes of the highest valor have begun joining together to face this evil, able to swear renewed bonds of fellowship. Vowing to share the danger, in this and other causes, they've agreed to better share the rewards of experience.

However, those recently arrived to Dereth will need to learn far more of the world before daring to face its dread Hopeslayer. To this end, several incredible quests await those looking for training and experience; from Al Arqas to Yaraq, younger adventurers have come to wonder about the mysterious letters filtering into the towns. . .

In the terror facing this month, a few pleasant moments nevertheless present themselves. Certain winter plants have come into season, promising fresh colors of dye for armor and clothing. With the temperature dropping and many starting to don their furry matty coats, adventurers will find that even newer coats of hide, and other well-crafted pieces of armor, have been devised. For some, the winter months mean more time spent indoors; as such, scholars have finished collating the history of Dereth for the various libraries.

Still, of the changes and additions taking place this month, nothing compares to the release of Bael'Zharon. Truly, this will prove a time when even the strongest heroes pray while lesser ones weep.

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! 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:

  • Changes to the fellowship system have been implemented. The possible fellowships that can now be created are as follows:
1. Players can choose to use the communication advantages of a fellowship without having to share experience points. There is no level restriction for choosing this option.
2. Experience points are shared equally amongst all members of the fellowship if everyone is within five levels of the fellowship's founder.
3. Experience points will be shared proportional to the levels of the fellowship members if anyone is more than five levels apart from the founder, up to a difference of ten levels.
  • Around two-dozen quests for low-level characters have had their rewards greatly increased, and a wide-ranging “stamped letter” quest has been added as well. To find out more, talk to vendors and collectors in those towns where new characters appear. It's never been more fun to be a new character in Dereth!
  • Landscape changes reflect the release of the dread Hopeslayer.
  • Corpse decay time is now a minimum of sixty minutes. All corpses will decay in the character's level times five minutes, or sixty minutes -- whichever time is longer.
  • Players can now wield an orb, wand, or staff, and use trade skills at the same time.
  • Incorrect (and especially damaging) attack types of those monsters on the Vesayen Isles have now been changed.
  • The bug allowing players to summon an untie-able portal has been fixed.
  • Changes have been made to help prevent portal storming -- including storms to the particularly bad location near Fort Tethana as well as onto Aerlinthe and Eastham Islands.
  • New fashion items have arrived just in time for the cold winter months.
  • New seasonal plants for dyes can now be found on the landscape.

In order to learn the full scope of December's update, "The Child of Daralet," be sure to read the State of the Code and Developer's Notes, December. Continue your part in this incredible on-going story. . . and we'll see you in Dereth! Now, more than ever before, are heroes needed.

Release Notes

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The Child of Daralet

December 12, 2000

Here are just some of the additions made in the December 12 game update, “The Child of Daralet.” 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 article, The Child of Daralet.

Detailed Notes for Builds 2460 - 2468:

  • Peas are no longer jewelry.
  • When bought, “History of the Vesayen Isles” now appears in the inventory. Also, fixed the book's burden and mass.
  • “History of the Vesayen Isles” talked about the wrong cousin before; we've got the family tree figured out now.
  • “History of Kryst” now has the correct title and a fixed typo.
  • Adjusted the maximum buy rates of the Freehold shopkeeper and barkeep.
  • Corpse decay for players is now a minimum of sixty minutes.
  • Players can now wield an orb, wand, or staff, and use trade skills at the same time. (Now if we could just add bubblegum. . .)
  • Added new options for sharing experience points within a fellowship. For example, fellowships can now be "Non-XP Sharing."
  • The allegiance panel does a better job of staying in sync with the server.
  • Cateril the Arwic Armorer now sells small round shields as expected.
  • Carsith the Arwic Weaponsmith now sells small and large round shields as he's expected.
  • The Kryst Healer now sells healing items all the time.
  • The Arwic Tailor has been updated to say: "Davis the tailor."
  • The space after Claude the Archmage's name has been removed.
  • Claude the Archmage's icon now appears.
  • The Freehold Archmage now sells mana stones in the correct order.
  • The Dryreach quest NPC, Yu Vou-Ki, is now visible on radar.
  • Deleted the landscape spawn near the Ivory Collector in Kryst.
  • With the wonders of modern technology, Kamira is now a woman!
  • The Zone's “The Story So Far” pieces are now available for free in the heritage group libraries at Zaikhal, Hebian-to, and Cragstone. Look for the white bookshelf.
  • Kayna bint Isawas now talks a bit about the speed vs. damage choice in SoCS armoredillo spines.
  • Certain types of cooking items (such as sides of beef) will now appear in shop panels with a default of one instead of fifty.
  • Fixed the syntax of the failure string when mixing milk into the pumpkin base.
  • Fixed Adja's Chest to now cast its spell.
  • Adja's Chest now respawns at its intended one-minute interval.
  • The inscriptions on Adja's Well and Adja's Memorial now appear correctly.
  • Using Adja's Memorial no longer leaves PKs with an hourglass cursor if they've been killed within the last 3 hours.
  • Quest flags on the key to Adja's Chest and the Staff of the Nomads have been increased from one week to three weeks.
  • The Healer's Heart Orb now casts its spell on other players.
  • Examining Aerfalle's Staff now lists the allegiance rank requirement.
  • Placed another exit portal in the Slithis Pit dungeon, on the south branch of the dungeon.
  • Players no longer lose looting rights to a corpse by walking to it.
  • Attempting to open a chest or corpse that is already in use, then going into combat/magic mode, no longer forces players to walk toward said container.
  • When enchanting an attribute, any skill based on that attribute will now appear in green text.
  • The text messages displayed when you spend points to raise a skill, attribute, or secondary attribute have been changed.
  • Altered the in-game map.
  • Played with the wind and wolves in cold areas.
  • Removed the Shard of the Herald dungeon.
  • Hotspots located near the waterfall on Ithaenc are invisible -- take care where you step!
  • Fixed @chat on and @chat off, so that they now function as intended.
  • Fixed the @help information for squelch.
  • Fixed random problems with @filter.
  • Changed festival stone inscriptions.
  • Updated the character UI panel to accommodate all buttons.
  • Fixed the Island Armoredillos and Slithis Tentacle dual damage bug.
  • Idols now inflict the correct type of damage.
  • Changed the stats on idols and Dread Idols.
  • All quest Drudges now use the newer Drudge art.
  • Fixed a spelling error in the short and long descriptions of the Small Crystal Shard.
  • Fixed a small typo in the short and long descriptions of the Tiny Crystal Shard.
  • Players can no longer tie to portals they could not go through due to PK-restrictions.
  • Players are no longer allowed to summon portals that are just “home position” based. They must have either tied to, or run through, a tie-able portal in order to summon one.
  • Fixed the lifestone save location exploit. (No more trying to trick the lifestone into thinking you are someplace you aren't.)
  • Added the ability to flag landblocks as invalid portal storm destinations. This should resolve the “portal storm plummet of doom” near Tethana. This flag has also been applied to the west coat of Eastham Island and the south coast of Aerlinthe, so please don't try to reach these areas through intentional portal storms. Thanks

Letter to the Players

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The Spin From Turbine

December 8, 2000

A Tale of Six Crystals (or, "It was the best of events, it was the worst of events. . .")

December will mark the culmination of a twelve-month story arc, which has ranged from the icy caverns of Frore, to the tops of the Shadow Spires, to the enigmatic Nexus facility, to the smoldering crater where Arwic once stood. A war has waged over the entire last year, and countless casualties -- humans, shadows, and even the poor Arwic cow -- have been inflicted. Now, this war's final battle is at hand. Bael'Zharon has been freed from his crystal prison of two thousand years.

I'd like to talk a bit about the November event and the Shard of the Herald. A lot of what we did in November came from reaction to player feedback. In prior months, especially regarding the Nexus, players complained that there was no way to intervene in the plotline. People wanted the chance to defend the crystal, to keep BZ imprisoned. We thought that this would make for fantastic role-playing, and tried to come up with a system that would allow people to take a more active part in the event. Thus the PK-only dungeon for the final Shard was created. We wanted to give the players a choice -- to defend the Shard, or to destroy it.

What followed became, half by design, half by fortune, what was probably the most dramatic event in any ORPG to date. While most worlds broke the crystal in rather short order, Thistledown mounted a defense. And what a defense it was! The Shard was monitored around the clock in well-organized shifts. Needless to say, this exceeded our expectations by a long shot!

The premise behind the event was good, but was immediately complicated by a rather irritating bug. There was a means by which people could summon portals to unintended places -- as a result, the defense could be bolstered more than we ever expected, and perhaps more importantly, non-PKs could get into the dungeon to shatter the crystal. Secondly, we discovered that Harry (a.k.a. Harold, a.k.a. The Shard of the Herald) was leveling at an unexpectedly high rate, making the crystal nigh invulnerable as long as someone stayed with it at all times. Ah, the plot thickens!

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the whole event was that, despite the ability to do so, non-PK players never broke the Shard. According to every law of game design and human nature, we figured the Shard would fall that way. But it never did. And we are impressed.

As the event progressed, it became clear that the defenders had the means to achieve victory, and that meant we needed to turn to Plan B.

Plan B was also created in direct response to player feedback. One of the things made loud and clear after the destruction of the Cragstone Spire, and the rubble-ifying of Arwic, was that people didn't like it when big events happened “off camera.” This is essentially what we would have had to do for December. You see, we can't really have our servers diverge -- for the storyline to progress, we needed BZ free on all worlds in December. So, we had two choices: Wave our hands mysteriously and say, “Well, some . . . um . . . mysterious force broke the crystal, and BZ's free now.” Or, we could get directly involved, and have the event take place “on camera.” Thus did Plan B come to pass.

On Tuesday, we sent out a world broadcast to let everyone know that the show was far from over -- Bael'Zharon called out to his faithful for aid. Interestingly enough, Thistledown happened to have the two players who passed BZ's test back in March. Vidorian and Blackthorn had both received a Shadow Stone in exchange for a favor to be named later. Time to call in that favor!

Leh Rhan and Ferah had been biding their time, waiting to see if BZ's followers were indeed faithful to their dark master, or if they had turned to the banner of the traitor Dule. The crystal prison still stood, and the time had drawn too short. The Isparian killers had made their choice, much to the anger of the loyalist generals. They gathered up the true servants of Bael'Zharon, and moved in his name.

The reality of the matter was that we tried something that we had never really done before -- get directly involved in the action, and tell a bit of the story ourselves, so that the plot could continue. Another reason that fueled the timing of the event was the fact that we wanted TD players to have a few days to see BZ in his lair, as well as to take a shot at the Black Breath and the Treasury of the Order. To make this all happen and, most importantly, to make it happen in-game and “on camera,” we brought in two admin characters to take care of business.

To set the scene on our end, imagine Jesse at his desk, two computers running. Crowd about four people around him. In the conference room, pile in twenty people, watching a live video feed of the action on a television. (We're cleaning up the .avi that we recorded from the event, for release to the fansites; expect this in the next couple weeks.) The conference room and Jesse are connected via speakerphone. Shouting, chatting, cheering. Add in Dave Namerow, better equipped than most fighter pilots, with a couple messengers and observers on hand. The word is given, and the camera rolls.

Oh, you should have heard the laughter and jeers when Jesse died. (Which paled in comparison to our reaction of people jumping up and down on his corpse!) Let's just say that this did not exactly run according to the script. Truth is, the event was scripted to be a lot shorter and cleaner -- summon the Black Breath, which, aided by Jesse, would clear the room pretty quickly. We'd debuff Harry, to make the crystal mortal again, bring Vidorian in to get the kill, and then get out. Nice and simple.

What actually happened was a little bit eerie. Harold resisted our attempts to alter him. And then, he refused to die. We were worried that perhaps the Shard had achieved sentience. I guess we'll never know, because we finally figured out how to make Harry vulnerable again, and after an extended struggle, he fell.

The end result was messier than we would have liked. Vidorian died a few times, defenders died left and right, and my blood pressure went much higher than I would have preferred. Truth is, we didn't expect Plan B to ever come to pass, and as a result we were already deep into testing December's update when we needed to prepare this special event for November. All in all, we considered the event a success, but with definite room for improvement. The action had taken place “on camera” as planned, and the story was ready to move forward again, all lore intact.

All in all, we learned an awful lot from the event. We were breaking new ground and weren't aware of all the pitfalls. Well, now we've got a better grasp on things, and we give thanks to our players for bearing with us through this learning process. The entire dynamic created this month was very exciting indeed!

In closing there's one thing that I want to make abundantly clear: We did not do this to “make the defenders lose.” We did this because the defenders had won. In January, Thistledown residents are going to be rewarded with a unique monument, in honor of the Defense of the Shard. It's not ph4t l3wt, but we didn't feel we could individually reward each and every person who participated in the defense. Instead, the memorial will be a reminder of this unique event, and a reminder that there are rewards to be reaped and lessons to be learned by challenging the notions of what “can't be done” in an online world!

Congratulations to all involved!

Nik “Azeraphel” Davidson
AC Producer
Turbine Entertainment Software

State of the Code

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State of the Code

December 12, 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.

Major game update of December 12, 2000
In the early hours of December 12, we introduced another major update. Our ever-evolving storyline continues as amazing new adventures have been added to Dereth -- including changes to the fellowship system! 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.

In an article I read on the Zone, it said that if everyone in a fellowship was above level 50, they could share XP equally regardless of how different their levels were. I cannot get this to work. Am I doing something wrong?

No, this will be a functionality of fellowships; however, a last minute bug prevented it from getting into the December prop. However, we will be adding it soon.