Changes with the February Update: Alternate Ability Grants for Gold Members and Ability Changes

Discussion in 'News and Announcements' started by Piestro, Feb 4, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Piestro Augur

    With our February Update, we have a number of significant changes coming to EverQuest that we want to discuss with you. These changes include granting a significant number of AA to all Gold Members, as well as some changes to a number of abilities that are currently contributing to poor server performance. We wanted to present them in advance so you have an opportunity to let us know your thoughts before the changes go live.

    AA Grant for Gold Members

    One of the consistent points of feedback we have received from both existing and returning players to EverQuest is that the massive numbers of Alternate Abilities that are available in game can create a barrier for some players to progress their characters. Over the last several years, we’ve polled players in game and engaged in discussions on this topic on the forums and at live events.

    After carefully considering your feedback and weighing our options, our current plan is to grant all AAs up to four expansions behind the current expansion. This will allow players to quickly get up to speed without completely eliminating the need to invest time in their character. Currently this will bestow the AAs up to and including Underfoot, but when we publish our next expansion, characters will receive the House of Thule AAs. Note that accounts must be Gold (after the membership changes, SOE All Access) to receive the auto-granted AAs and other requirements such as character level and pre-requisite abilities must also be met.

    Ability and Spell Changes

    In addition to the above changes, we’re also considering a number of changes to spells and abilities that allow for killing excessive amounts of NPCs simultaneously. The reasoning has to do with the ways that these abilities are used and how they are negatively impacting other players’ experiences and server performance. In order to more fully explain these changes, let’s turn this over to a few members of the Development Team.
    Geroblue, Shammymann, Phelon and 2 others like this.
  2. Piestro Augur

    Jonathan “Prathun” Caraker (Lead Designer):

    What's happening?
    In the upcoming February update, we will modify several abilities so that they do not encourage killing massive groups of NPCs. Though this type of play is now commonplace, we never intended for these abilities to be used in this manner (I can attest to this personally, as I created the Mage and Wizard beam spells). The team would prefer not to nerf abilities, especially in a way that dramatically changes how they are used. Unfortunately the state of the game necessitates that we do something, and soon. To take a step back, let me acknowledge that, ultimately, the goal of EverQuest is to provide a fun experience for all. So, one might ask, if kiting large amounts of NPCs is fun then why bother disallowing it? Because, unfortunately, it creates an experience that is not fun for everyone.

    What's wrong with pulling massive groups of NPCs?
    Calculating pathing is an expensive operation. This is true in other applications and it's especially true in EverQuest. That is, the server has to determine how an NPC will get from its current position to a location where it can melee whoever its mad at, and this taxes the processor. When an NPC continually needs to recalculate its pathing, this taxes the processor continuously. And when hundreds of NPCs continually recalculate their pathing, the server has a problem. In extreme cases, NPCs cease to move - not just in that zone, but every zone hosted on the affected server. This can be extremely disruptive to other players.

    For more details on server performance impact, see Jenn Chan's statement below.

    Why are we making the change now?
    This is a topic that we've discussed at length, for months. We considered adding summoning NPCs to zones where kiting was a problem, but we cannot catch all possible locations. Summoning NPCs as part of population also had the potential to penalize players who were not attempting to kill massive numbers of NPCs at once. Looking forward this was a solution that we'd always need to account for in our zone population. Whenever possible we avoid design decisions that will limit what we can do with zones, and reduce the viability of intended play styles.

    We wanted to approach this with a concise and complete change that would address the issue completely, which meant also considering the difficulty for new and returning characters to catch up and the difficulty of acquiring thousands of AAs. To this end, we are making a dramatic change to the way legacy AAs are handled. We will automatically grant AAs for every expansion up to and including Underfoot to characters of Gold members. In addition, at the launch of each expansion, we will add one more expansion to the auto-grant list, such that characters will have the four most recent expansions' AAs to earn. This should greatly reduce the need to harvest many thousands of AAs.

    What abilities are being changed?
    The short version is that we're changing the abilities that are useful against scores to up to hundreds of NPCs simultaneously. There are several spells, melee abilities, and AAs that have been used for “swarm killing.” Generally, but not always, they meet the following criteria: they can hit multiple NPCs, that don't have a target limit or use limit, and their benefit is additive. The changes are meant to ensure that they are still useful, but no longer as useful against very large numbers of NPCs.

    For more details on which abilities are being changed, see Aristo and Elidroth's statements.
    Axxius, moogs, Shammymann and 3 others like this.
  3. Piestro Augur

    Jenn Chan (Technical Director):

    We have charts that show our server performance over time, such as the chart below. We've noticed a disturbingly high amount of spikes in CPU and memory usage. After reviewing our logs and other data gathering resources, we've identified a number of problematic gameplay behaviors. In extreme cases, the CPU usage of a zone can use TEN TIMES the normal expected load. When the CPU is under this kind of load it cripples the zone, and even worse it also impacts the performance of any other zones on that same server. Our initial suggested fix was to add summoning NPCs to the population of the most problematic zones, but this change had other consequences and would likely not completely address the problem. We opted to take the time necessary to solve the problem as universally as possible.

    [IMG]
    An example of how mass killing NPCs impacts server performance. The peaks in this chart represent times when individuals were engaged in various forms of swarming

    Since swarming can potentially adversely impact the gaming experience of many other players, our goal was to address the problem comprehensively. No longer rewarding swarming should discourage the behaviors that can cause these types of CPU spikes.
    Quontrol, Axxius, moogs and 2 others like this.
  4. Piestro Augur

    Doug “Elidroth” Cronkhite (Assistant Lead Design: Systems):

    When these spells and abilities were created some time ago, we never could have imagined players would utilize them in such clever ways. Being able to gather up most of the NPCs in a zone and take them down with a select group of spells does take skill and some finesse, but unfortunately, it’s not how the spells and abilities were meant to function. And more importantly, as Jenn mentioned, this style of gameplay is causing major server issues that disrupt gameplay for a lot of other people; these are issues we simply cannot ignore.

    As a result, we’re making changes so the servers will be healthy both now and in the future. In doing this, we understand some of you may take a hit to your preferred play style. It’s never easy making big changes, but do know this will help the health of your server. These changes will also give us the potential to expand on these abilities more in the future instead of letting them decay.

    AA Changes - Assassinate, Decapitation, and Headshot
    The changes we currently have planned for AA abilities are significant in a few ways. Rogue's "Anatomy" and Berserker's "Decapitation" AA will be changed to limit their ability to proc against an infinite number of targets with no limitations on frequency. In order to prevent one class from having an unfair advantage, the Ranger ability "Headshot" is going to be similarly limited in use. These abilities were designed to allow players to quickly dispatch trivial enemies. Rather than return them to usability upon grey con NPCs only, the proposed changes to these abilities are as follows:

    * Each ability will have its chance to proc reduced. The intended chance to proc should average out to about 2 procs per minute.

    * These abilities will only trigger off of activated attacks, and not from riposted attacks.

    * All ranks of these abilities will be refunded and new versions created, so players may choose to repurchase them if desired.

    We’re also aware that some of you used these abilities as your primary way to earn AA experience. Our other changes (mentioned by Jonathan above) will help bridge the gap between your current AA count, and AAs needed to play your class well.

    In Addition

    Melee-based Lifetaps (such as Lich Sting) will no longer return life from riposted attacks. Lifetaps WILL return life from your attacks on your targeted enemy.
    Fenthen, Axxius, Shammymann and 2 others like this.
  5. Piestro Augur

    Ed Hardin (Designer: Systems)

    Below is a list of the spells and disciplines that we looked at when making these changes, along with a brief explanation of each change.

    Warrior
    • The Shocking Defense Discipline line was not modified due to its low duration and relatively low proc modifier.
    • The First Spire of the Warlord AA was not modified due to the fact that its effect (a melee damage debuff) is not enhanced by multiple applications.
    • The Brace for Impact AA was not modified because it already has proc limits. Future extensions of this AA may not increase the number of procs allowed.

    Cleric
    • We considered a cap of 30 targets on PBAE nukes but ultimately did not change them due to the inherent danger the caster is placed in. If they become a problem we may have to revisit this in the future.
    • The Ward of the Divine line of spells had a cap of 80 procs added. This means the level 97 version now provides a maximum potential of 186,480 damage per 2026 mana cast.
    • The Shining Rampart line of spells has changed in function.
      • Added a cap of 40 procs and increased its mana cost in a manner similar to the Shaman Lingering Sloth line. This means the level 99 version of the spell can now heal for a base of 97,240 HP at a cost of 939 mana.
      • The proc rate for this line of spells will now decrease on targets that are below the level of the spell. Like the similar restriction on the Skin of the Reptile line, this is intended to provide a good boost at the expected levels and a much lesser boost when applied against trivial content.
      • We have separated the damage absorption buff and the proc buff. All ranks of Shining Rampart, Shining Armor, and Shining Bastion will now trigger-cast Shining Defense, a spell which absorbs 10 percent of incoming damage. It has no damage cap, but will fade after its bearer takes 2000 hits. It has a player level for focus purposes but is not memorized on its own.
      • Changed the spell icon for the 'proc' portion of the buff so that it is not confused with the HP absorption effect.
    • The Divine Retribution AA line had a cap of 40 procs added, even though the short duration means this limit will probably not be reached. This is meant as a "future-proofing" method to prevent future upgrades from causing problems.

    Paladin
    • The Ward of Tunare line has had its proc limit increased from 24 or 29 to 32. This line has a relatively low duration but raising the proc limit means it may reach that duration more often.
    • The Armor of Courage line was not changed. It already has a proc limit and a damage absorption cap in place.

    Ranger
    • The maximum target amount on the Hail of Arrows line was not raised due to the spell line's overall efficiency and dependability of damage.
    • The Vinelash Cascade line was not changed because its effect (root) is not more effective when applied en masse.
    • The Nature Veil line was not changed because its effects only provide hate reduction, which we do not consider to be game-balance-affecting even en masse.
    • Grasping Nettlecoat was not changed because its effects only provide a snare effect, which is not enhanced by multiple applications.

    Shadowknight
    • The Decrepit Skin line was not changed. It already has a proc limit in place.
    • The Gorgon Carapace line was not changed. It already has a proc limit and a damage absorption cap in place.

    Druid
    • We considered a cap of 30 targets on PBAE nukes but ultimately did not change them due to the inherent danger the caster is placed in. If they become a problem we may have to revisit this in the future.
    • The Oaken Guard spell line was not modified due to its very low duration and the fact that its effect (hate reduction) is not considered game-balance-affecting even when applied en masse.
    • The Protection of Direwood AA buff was not changed for the same reasons.
    • The Skin of the Reptile line had its proc limit increased from 12 or 32 to 40 and its mana cost reduced slightly to be more in line with similar Cleric spells. We also increased the duration of early levels of this buff to match the later increases.
    • The Wrath of the Wild AA line was not changed because it fades after a single proc.

    Monk
    • The Counterforce Discipline line was not modified due to its low duration and because its effect (slow) is not enhanced by multiple applications.
    • The First Spire of the Sensei effect was not modified because of its relatively short duration and because the defensive proc has a damage limit of its own.
    • The Third Spire of the Sensei effect was not modified because of its relatively short duration and because the proc does not increase in effectiveness as it is stacked.
    • Invocation of the Faithful/Devout/Righteous was not changed because it already has a proc limit.

    Bard
    • The Autarchian Mindwrack/Rumbling Barrier line was not changed because it already has a proc limit.

    Shaman
    • Breath of Antraygus was not given a target limit since it, like PBAE spells, requires the targets to be close to the caster. If there are upgrades to this line in future, a limit may be added.
    • The Lingering Sloth line had a proc limit added due to the fact that it has a chance to reflect a duration heal on the buffed player and because it has a very long base duration. Because of its long duration and because the duration heal doesn't stack with itself, this was given a large proc limit of 160.
      • We also reevaluated the mana cost of this line and have decided to increase it slightly over time to match the gains in power it makes.
      • We also decide to increase the chance for lower ranks to cast the heal effect from a slow proc. This has increased from 30/40/50 to 45/47/50, making ranks 1 and 2 much closer in healing power to rank 3.
      • This effect previously had no cap but now it is limited to a total of (roughly) 93366 health for the level 97 Rk. 1 version with a casting cost of 1153 mana.

    Necromancer
    • The Necrotic Pustules line was not changed because it already has a proc limit.

    Wizard
    • Increased beam spell target limits from 8 to 12 to match the change to Magician beams.
    • Increased the target limits on the Funnel of Frost line from 8 to 12 as well.
    • We considered a cap of 30 targets on PBAE nukes but ultimately did not change them due to the inherent danger the caster is placed in. If they become a problem we may have to revisit this in the future.

    Magician
    • Added a target limit to beam spells of 12. This leaves them unmatched at efficiency with reasonable numbers of targets, but the spell no longer gains power infinitely.
    • We considered a cap of 30 targets on PBAE nukes but ultimately did not change them due to the inherent danger the caster is placed in. If they become a problem we may have to revisit this in the future.
    • Changed the limiter of Burning Aura/Brimbody/Pyroshroud from 240 incoming attacks to 48 procs to match later spells in the line. We made no additional changes to the spell line.
    • Changed the limiter of Hulking Bodyguard from 240 incoming attacks to 48 hits to match later spells in the line. No additional changes to the spell line were made.

    Enchanter
    • The Ward of Bedazzlement line was not changed due to the fact that mesmerization is not enhanced by multiple applications.
    • The Rune of the Kedge line was not changed because the buff has an inherent limit in the rune component and because hate lowering effects are not considered game-balance-affecting even when applied en masse.
    • The Tendrilmist Guard line was not changed due to the fact that snare is not enhanced by multiple applications and the rune portion of the spell creates a natural cap.
    • Did not change the Color Shock AA line due to its relatively short duration and because the procced effect (stun) cannot, by nature, multiply its effect.
    • Added a cap of 24 procs to the First Spire of Enchantment AA to keep the number of procced pets to a reasonable number. This new cap is high enough that we do not expect it to be reached except in extraordinary circumstances.
    • Did not change the Rune of Banishment AA because it has an inherent damage absorption limit.

    Beastlord
    • The target limit on the Flurry of Claws line was not increased or decreased.

    Berserker
    • Arcblade's target limit was not increased or decreased.
    • Bloodthirst was not changed due to its low duration and the fact that its effect (a melee buff for the caster) is not enhanced by multiple applications.
    • The Unpredictable Rage Discipline line was not changed due to its low duration and the fact that its effect (a melee buff for the caster) is not enhanced by multiple applications.
    • Did not change the First Spire of Savagery AA because its effect (offensive debuff) is not increased with additional applications.
    Shammymann, Phelon and Endymion like this.
  6. Piestro Augur

    Feedback
    Your feedback on these changes is very important to us, and we will carefully monitor this thread to read your thoughts. We didn’t want to move forward with these plans without first explaining to you the reasoning and intent behind them. We’ll take your feedback and posts into consideration.

    That being said, things which negatively impact server performance (and therefore the experience of EverQuest for a very large number of people) can’t be ignored. Please try to keep that in mind when providing your feedback. Feedback which is explanatory or solution oriented is always more helpful than simply saying you don’t like something.



    In closing
    We know that making a large-scale change like this is an admission of error on our part. It means we made a mistake. We want you to know that, in spite of our missteps, we all care about EverQuest. This game has been a big, positive part of our lives for many years and we expect for many years to come. We're making this change for the long-term health of the game.

    Thank you for your feedback and understanding.

    Edit: Since we have made this post we've ended up making a number of changes based on the feedback of players. Below are a couple communications which summarize the changes we have made:



    And:

    Shammymann, Rolaque, Phelon and 5 others like this.
  7. Genadine Elder

    Nerfs are never welcome, that being said this time they are well thought out, a valid reason for having to do it is given and the only ones that will whine are those in the minority that have used and abused their abilites to reap either PP / RL Cash
    Geroblue, Axxius, Redman and 6 others like this.
  8. voltygan New Member

    So it has come to this first you give away the flagging now you want to give away any sense of acomplishment that people earned. Getting AA was the most fun part of EQ. I guess you guys are trying to finish destrying whats left of this game anyway so congratulations this should do it.
    Mozzarella, Malachi, Breg and 14 others like this.
  9. aspit Journeyman

    These are all relatively useless abilities. Why bother wasting your time on them.
    Redman, Rumplestilskin and Bloodfrost like this.
  10. aspit Journeyman

    Instead of granting all of the early AA's what about reducing the cost to 50% and round down? At least you keep the sense of satisfaction to people gaining them.
    Malachi, Breg, Bolo and 7 others like this.
  11. Tharkis Elder

    Thank you for the in-depth explanation of the reasoning and the changes.

    I think the AA change will be a great one for the longevity of the game (funny saying that about a game that's about to turn 15, but i want it to be around even longer !)
    Cazmac, Phelon, Perplexed and 2 others like this.
  12. Iila Augur

    Could you go into more details on this?
    There's a bunch of permutations of gaining/losing gold status and already having gained these AAs that is left unclear what the outcome will be through those changes.

    Overall, I really like this. Finally auto-granting AAs, in a way that's way more than I expected. And getting rid of unlimited target AEs because they present a fundamental problem of encouraging a player to engage as many mobs as possible.
    Axxius, Cazmac, Nissko and 2 others like this.
  13. Slasher Augur

    Auto granting all AAs is wrong. You will be giving AAs that are useless to a class at that level.

    Example if I level to 85 your auto grant will give me what 4k AAs ? That means when i level to 100 I will be getting the IMPORTANT AAs for that level twice as slow because you just used up all the bonus AA xp with your auto grant.

    Solution ? Give me 1k AAs to use at 70 and 1k more at 80 and 1k more at 85.

    Let ME choose where to spend them not what you feel is important.
    Breg, Evercluck, Bolo and 7 others like this.
  14. Elidroth Developer

    The most obvious example I can think of Lila, is if you're gold and then drop out of gold status, what happens?

    The answer is pretty simple. You gain the AA you are entitled to as a gold member, but if you drop gold membership, you keep the AA granted, but won't be able to earn any more AA as you'll be over the cap. The exception to this is if you purchased cap extenders from the marketplace beyond the number of AA you've been already granted.
  15. EverChanter Augur

    Have we figured out if going forward Kronos will count towards this "All Access Membership"? How will these affect the granting of AA's?
    Gyurika Godofwar likes this.
  16. Piestro Augur

    In the first pass of this we did miss one small section. It's been added in above, but here it is:

    In Addition


    Melee-based Lifetaps (such as Lich Sting) will no longer return life from riposted attacks. Lifetaps WILL return life from your attacks on your targeted enemy.
  17. Piestro Augur


    Kronos will count towards All Access Membership, and therefore will enable the AA grant.
    Gyurika Godofwar likes this.
  18. Tarrin Augur

    Seems like more was not changed than changed.

    The Druid Oaken Guard line will continue to not be used because its useless.
    Cloudia, Bolo and Rumplestilskin like this.
  19. Icetech New Member

    Just to put it bluntly.. the free aa thing is CRAP.. i just ground 3k aa's on a toon (no power level crap) and it was for nothing... WTF?!

    Also... beaming needs the nerf bad.. and will be nice to end zerker pl.. BUT.. one of my main toons is a ranger and the headshot nerf is not good as far as gameplay goes.. but thats that:)
    Breg, Bolo, juggalo and 4 others like this.
  20. Iila Augur

    Wow.

    I think that answers it well enough. You get the pile of AAs for being gold, and losing gold doesn't lose the AAs.

    Is the low-aa exp bonus basically gone now then?
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page