/ Updates

Warfare, Novicehood, Skills

Warfare is a great success, much improved; the campaign season draws engagement to a close in the first winter off-season; novicehood expands; new chapter types and systems for guidance in the vastness of Avalon; specialisations all standardised to ranked abilities.

Warfare returns

On the 1st of Paglost 1444 (just before midnight GMT on Saturday, 27th January 2018), warfare returned to the land in a revised, much improved form after two years of peace. Thousands of men died in the space of six real days (the campaign season) and all cities had a glowing view of the system working so smoothly.

The most detailed, careful effort was put into making warfare smoother, less stressful, more strategic, and better balanced. There should be no more panic and no easy way to cheat the system (e.g. raids early in the morning when opposition is absent).

Here is a summary of the system improvements:

  • NOT MANDATORY: +1 real year to siege a city empty/unresponsive
  • No river forts
  • No landmines or watermines (will not return)
  • battle lines for front and back engagements
  • engaging multiple targets along battle line
  • slower movement: 10 minutes per 300 yards
  • slower engagement: 1 minute per round
  • genuine sense of distance:
    • forests: 300x300 yards
    • wildland 400x400
    • rivers 630x630
    • villages/towns/cities: 90x90
    • 40-50 miles between each city
  • arrow range between 30 and 400 yards
  • catapult range between 400 and 950 yards
  • massive legions move and engage many targets better
  • CONVEY orders for room-but-one ADJACENT legion
  • CONVEY to area with working distinctions
  • automatic 3-way split of melee/arrows/bombs with Fighting skill
  • shortcut commands CEASE and FIGHT to quickly use Fighting
  • retraction orders to cease fighting until moved/ordered to ENGAGE again
  • siegetowers fixed, with grappling forts upcoming
  • new formations MOUNTED and PYRAMID, only with CAVALRY approach
  • CAVALRY approach requires mounts, one per man
  • other new formations: SKIRMISH, ARTILLERY, SCOUT, CLUSTER
  • better reporting of worldwide engagements
  • military ranks affect leadership
  • COMMAND GET/EQUIP, DROP/UNEQUIP (LEGION EQUIP/UNEQUIP deprecated)
  • banner limits 400 per city, 80 per guild -- incentive to have LEGION HISTORY and historic legions

First winter season, legions homeward-locked and no claim progress until Cloudburst 1445 aDW

As of 1st Hindyear 1444 aDW (10am GMT on Friday, 2nd February 2018), the winter season began and the campaigning season came to a close, giving all of the commanders a much needed rest and opportunity to report back to their cities.

During the winter season:

  • claims are frozen and will not progress
  • legions will only move in the direction of home
  • engagements still possible, if en route home

Novicehood: from Apprentice to Senior

The last month we moved a lot of material around in the Newborn and Novice chapters (first four), increasingly focused on choosing city and guild automatically to begin their badges.

There is a new evolution in the works now, which unifies what we have noticed by both novices and seniors. There are two points to remember:

  • we want novices to feel and be independent, and progress at their pace
  • we want novices to need others to exist in their character's life

Since these two points are antithetical in practice, the balance is proving difficult. The linear chapters from Newborn to LW have been well-received but still nowhere near good enough to teach what Avalon actually is. The main problem is choosing -- being able to move on to something else and come back to it later. We have had something in mind should a linear approach not work so well and that is to give badges their own chapters, concurrently active, with any one badge/task giving guidance.

The full badge chapters will be posted in a separate followup.

Another change upcoming is a compression of the first three chapters of novicehood -- choosing a city up to joining a guild -- that will comprise only two. The third novice chapter of the novice chest and first lessons would be the last steps of a novice to finalise their choice.

Since novices choose their city now, the Public Relations ministry is responsible for keeping an eye on SSW, helping their young citizens keep moving forward, and remind the young that they can choose other paths if they are not thrilled or progressing on the current one.

I strongly recommend every city rotate their Public Relations Minister and aides amongst a handful of active seniors. Nobody else should hold the burden of aideship, or at least active aideship, for more than two or three months, unless it is only to give out sponsorships.

Skills and Specialisations

Since we are coming to the close of novicehood and warfare revisions, there are the skills now coming into view. All professions have received some attention in the last few months but it is time to get serious.

We begin with aligning the specialisations. There was recently an update to standardise all specialist skills to use skill ranks up to Crowned Ultimate.

Two essential changes follow this update:

  • Your guild tutor will now teach the specialist skills.
  • You do not need to use relics to reach Crowned Ultimate.

Nobody will lose abilities they used lessons to obtain prior to this update. For those skills newly ranked or still pending full ranking, we urge seniors to pour their lessons into it and be vocal to Cornelius and Genesis about where they feel certain abilities should feature in rank.

The new skill ranks for specialist skills will not affect Mage or Loremaster. They are in fact the inspiration for standardising. They sweat and bleed over a real year to achieve Master in their special skills and we have paid inordinate attention to fixing those abilities because they do.

The other professions of Thief, Seer, Sorcerer, Knight, Ranger, and Druid have been living under a double standard with Crowned from the start (seeding status from when they were implemented). It has made it unpleasant to change or fix them, and amongst mortals it served to devalue / normalise their use, which is now perceived as an entitlement even by the youngest (often far too young) specialists.

Removal of the double standard is necessary to bring all specialists to an equal footing in effort, quality, and cost.

Most of the specialisations have material suited up to Master or Grand-Master, with maybe one rare ability that is worthy of Legendary or Crowned. These skills progress at the speed of a crowned ultimate skill and will require thousands of lessons, at a pace Elementalists and Skymasters know far too well.

Many abilities will still not be checking for a skill rank. These need to be reported. Many abilities in the Thief, Sorcerer, Seer, Ranger, Druid, and Knight specialisations are incomplete or requiring improvements, but doing them en masse is not possible nor a sane thing to ask one person (Genesis). Please stick to reporting what you have, not what you can access.

Everyone from Thief, Sorcerer, Seer, Ranger, Druid, and Knight professions will be going through the same, slightly painful, but very important process of learning their specialisation. The abilities gained along the way by everyone will inform us which ones are most beloved, which need immediate attention, and critically, allow us to go through them at a sane pace -- not fifty at a time with no sense of priority. The priorities will be determined by those who raise their skill ranks and find abilities to report.

Naturally, there is also the monetary side of it. Any lifetime subscriber can pick up a Gold or Platinum to achieve Master in any specialist skill in less than 4 months, and it is the route we recommend. Attention to all these various powers given freely in the past is very thankless and any change causes upset. What is worse, they were not part of the world's original design but are now a complement to its culture that must be fit into the real balance of the realm. It is unreasonable to ask it to be fixed up perfectly, for thousands of hours of coding and design work, for nothing -- in fact, the payment usually comes in the form of abuse and complaint.

These skills need attention, for sure, but there are plenty of other outstanding improvements that affect more Avalonians every day; if specialisations are important, specialists will show that by their actions.

A specialist should be nailing their colours to the mast, proclaiming: "This is what I shall be forever and I will be the best". It was always the intention behind the specialist skills and will be the enduring theme in the future.

We want to work with specialists to bring their skills to a good standard, with some kind of reciprocity in all that work.

Specialists in these professions haven't lost anything of value but could now take the forefront in helping their profession receive priority attention. Specialisations that do not raise much interest or have nobody to stand for them will get attention at some further time in the year when core systems are all humming along nicely and they are not stealing attention from other high-impact updates.

Thief is generally first in line for skill fixes and revision, but so are Seer and Knight specialisations. We see a lot of interest in Thief and, once warfare and novicehood are in the touch-up/final phase, skills will start receiving serious attention.

Take this opportunity to boost your specialist skills before the skill ranks affect your gameplay.

Upcoming Focus

Skills and Specialists (Act I)
  • thorough fix-up for each profession's normal skills
    • expected first: Thief and Seer
    • expected second: Knight and Ranger
    • expected third: Druid and Loremaster
    • final touchups on Mage, Sorcerer, Bard
  • redress long-standing issues, e.g. trap disarming vs its cost
  • (possibility) arming Druids with healing powers for combat worthiness
  • redress design discordance, e.g. fireflies and Thief/Seer afflictions
  • finish specialisations, e.g. Truemystic, Sylvan, high Elementalism, Shadows
  • tighten specialist skills: trim unnecessary / bad gameplay abilities
Novicehood / Experiences / Mosaic (Act IV)
  • all centric on REMEMBER

  • concurrent chapters, selectable paths early on

  • SELECTIONS chapters:

    • appear when you join the academy
    • one per profession, use SELECT to change
    • preview of abilities up to Grand-Master
  • BADGES chapters: meta comfortability

    • appear when you join a guild
    • replaces selections
    • DO <badge> to view unfinished
    • BADGES to list unfinished tasks in each badge
    • each badge thoroughly teaches to MIDDLING level
    • narrative based progress; challenging final task(s)
    • all badges concurrently active
  • HONOURS chapters: profession/guild competence

    • appears upon joining a guild
    • teaches how to use your profession well
    • HONOURS: Apprentice, Initiate, Guildsman, Master, Elder
  • LEGEND chapters: general world-impact

    • appears after prize from badges
    • the familiar CHAPTER type chapter
    • moving a lot of the smaller DEEDS to simple XPs in LEGENDs
    • selects remaining experiences that are more challenging
    • re-selecting tasks, setting preferences
  • MASTERCLASS chapters: meta competence

    • appears after prize from badges (replaces badges)
    • grouped by meta / task types
  • After the badge prize, a senior guildsman's REMEMBER would have:

    • one LEGEND active
    • one HONOUR active
    • one MASTERCLASS per type, concurrently active
Economic Cleanup (Prelude)
  • reduce commodities & increase coin circulation
  • dynamic pricing by CCC villages/towns
  • fix gold coin cycle from villages / world treasury
More Warfare (Act II)
  • tribute cleanup
  • insurrections:
    • militia growth rate: size and length of foreign presence
    • tribute tax rate (ambassador)
    • militia tearing down forts and engaging occupying forces
  • men killed by banner, men died under banner
  • citywide seasonal reports of men slain/fallen, flags raised/torn, etc.
  • BATTLEACTIONS, SOIACTIONS, TRIBUTE, etc. fixed
  • more alerts and visibility based on legion sizes and distance
  • fix intermittent claim losses
  • more CONVEY refinements, targets, destinations, behaviours
    • fix stop/start CONVEY issues
    • ADJACENT legion (to be completed)
    • FOLLOW legion BY yards
    • ... AVOID rivers/forests/indoors/cities
  • disincentive for many legions -- locale density penalty
  • WARBRIEF/WARVERYBRIEF to reduce alerts
  • DISPATCH LIBRARY (TACTICS?) for global templates
    • personal/guild/city
    • rank-restricted read and write
    • searching like ALIAS LIST
  • DISPATCH/TACTIC NAME/TITLE to alias/comment on a specific dispatch/chain
  • DISPATCH COPY to create a duplicate of existing dispatches with chains
  • using tactic/dispatch names with directly, by runner, or by pigeon, e.g.
    • direct: COMMAND legion TACTIC retreating
    • runner: COM nearlegion DELIVER farawaylegion TACTIC retreating

Conclusion

I will omit as is becoming usual the reams of updates from January 1st to February 1st. We are considering a clean and reader-friendly way of viewing UPDATES and PUPDATES with searching and tags like ALIAS, but until then, keep a keen eye on the latest changes. I highly recommend everyone to pay attention to the bolded and highlighted lines. There is much in there not covered in this summary.

Mathew Abonyi

Partner since 1999, CTO since 2007, Co-Owner since 2016. His skills are very broad, from writing & game design to SEO & system architecture. Mission: revolutionise Avalon for mobile.

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