So how about that Steam launch? Well, the BYOND team is still working as fast as they can to get all of the Steam API stuff integrated into NEStalgia. Once that’s done, we’ll be finally be able to release the game on Steam (hopefully this month). In addition to lending a hand in that process when I can, my time has been spent preparation the long-awaited Key of the Exiles content expansion.
As we discussed in the last podcast, the content expansion is going to come along with a re-balance of all the character classes in the game, and you’ll be seeing many of those balance changes in the pre-expansion v1.68 update. Here is a look at of some of the major changes soon coming your way:
Skill Tree Redesign
In v1.68 I’ve overhauled the Skill Trees for each class. Although the contents and overall structure of the trees will be familiar to you, the look has totally changed:
When I set out to redesign the Skill Trees my goal was to build upon all of the stuff that has worked before, while fixing as many flaws in the system as I could. That sounds like a pretty obvious objective, but my point is that this isn’t a redesign for the sake of a redesign. These new trees are simply an improved evolution, and I think that players will be really happy with them.
You’ll notice that the Foundation tree has been completely eliminated. Skills that increase Max HP/MP etc have been absorbed into the regular trees for each class, while the Elemental Enchants have been removed from Skill Trees altogether (more on that below). The way that you invest your skill points has changed as well; you don’t always have to fully invest in a skill node in order to move on to the next node. There are also many skill nodes that you can reach via multiple paths.
The end result of all these changes is that players will have more freedom of choice when speccing, and each skill point will make a much bigger difference than it did before.
Character Stat Changes
The most dramatic change in this update is in the way Plus Fire, Ice, Storm and Heal work. Instead of working on a percentage basis as they do now (ex: 20 Plus Fire increases fire damage by 20%), these stats will now increase damage on a 1:1 basis. In other words, if you have 10 Plus Fire then all of your fire spells will do exactly 10 more damage. The same goes for Plus Heal; 10 Plus Heal will boost the power of all your healing spells by 10 points.
Another big change: there are no longer global caps on any character stats in the game. The maximum benefit that you can receive from Plus Fire, Ice, Storm or Heal is capped per Ability. This information is all displayed courtesy of an expanded Ability HUD:
While a low-level spell like Fireball might have a Plus Fire Cap of 15, a higher level fire spell could take that cap up to 30. The same logic applies to healing spells.
However, having more Plus Element than is needed for a particular spell isn’t necessarily a waste. The Resist Fire, Ice and Storm stats now also operate on a 1:1 ration to damage, and are deducted from the attack power of an Ability before the cap is calculated. In other words, if I have 30 Plus Fire when I cast a Fire spell that has a Plus Fire Cap of 15 and my target has 20 Resist Fire, I’ll receive a total Plus Fire damage bonus of 10 points on that attack. It’s all just basic addition and subtraction.
Alongside these big changes, the Spell Piercing and Resilience stats have been completely eliminated. All of the items in the game have been adjusted to accommodate this change; the stats on weapons/armor will be comparable or superior to what they were before.
Elemental weapon enchants have been removed from the Skill Trees. Instead you’ll now find Fire, Ice or Storm elemental enchants that can add damage to any weapon. Like abilities, these enchants also use your relative Plus Element stat and have a Plus Element Cap.
Each enchant is displayed in the bottom left corner of the new expanded Item Detail HUD. You’ll notice that the enchants are displayed with a “less than or equal to” sign; that number represents the Plus Element Cap on each enchant (the maximum amount of Plus Element damage that the weapon can do). This next bit is important: the amount of extra damage your enchanted weapon does is based solely on your relevant Plus Element stat. In other words, a Storm enchant on a weapon won’t do any additional damage unless your character also has some Plus Storm. Like Abilities, any Plus Element that you have over your weapon’s cap will first count against any resistance that the enemy has.
Many rare weapons now come pre-enchanted, and you’ll be able to find Enchantment Scrolls around the world to add or replace enchants on all of your weapons. There are two variables that matter with enchants: the element, and the power cap.
In this new (short) podcast we talk about some of these changes, the fundraiser results, and other stuff that’s been going on behind the scenes. We also explain the Steam delays more in-depth. Check it out:
We’ll probably do a bit of closed testing on v1.68 before it goes live, and all of the people who contributed to the fundraiser back in December will be invited to participate. Speaking of the fundraiser, I’m working on another big blog post to showcase our top donors and post the results. Look for that soon.
There are many more changes bundled in v1.68, and I’m posting an ongoing list on the wiki’s Version Notes page as I finalize everything. This update is a huge step towards the expansion, and I’m excited that players will be able to benefit from these changes in the near future.