The Armor Patch


Greetings denizens of Agon,

In our quest for reducing the grind and improving player retention, we are embracing the concept of soft specialization, allowing players to focus on specific aspects of the game without restricting the baseline of what a character can do.
Be it shared cooldowns , armor traits, a more meaningful buffing meta-game or titles, they all enable a variety in playstyle that should help players find their preferences and cut down the progression to only what they desire.
After all, one of the selling point of the original Darkfall hype was "Play as you wish", and as a first step, we expect that this patch  to make it more of a reality by allowing players to complement their strength and weaknesses by mix and matching the various items and buffs.
The coming month is going to be interesting.

This patch is mainly focused on game balance and is the first of several.
Incidentally, we wanted to talk again about the concept of Balance Betas. This is something we still plan to do but in a different way than initially intended.
We'll prepare these events once the bulk of our balance impacting changes are implemented. We are still determining the exact way to do it that doesn't take up too much resources to setup, but the objective is to get observable data and drive the feedback we need in a controlled way.

On the other hand, arranged fights can only get us so far. Open world balance will be just as important to gather feedback on, especially on the risk versus reward of the various armors we are creating in this patch.
This is why it made sense to us to start by the aspect that is linked to economy the most. We want to see if people risk items, if front loading lowers the average gear bag and how we can refine our theories regarding localization of resources in preparation for local banking.
To that effect, each of the new resource and crafting recipe has been assigned in a slightly different way, from being available everywhere, to a handful or only a single location like the center of the map or specific sub-continents. We've especially tried to make Niflleheim more interesting.
On this front, we'll need actual players to provide feedback on how they experience the game on a day to day basis.

In this patch we are also continuing our efforts to improve the lives of newer players, with the frontloading of all weapons, bows, staves, shields and armors, but also a new iteration on our changes to the map.
We've also tackled a few behind the scene refactors, which as usual won't be noticed by their presence, but would have been noticed by their absence.

Without further ado, let's move on to the patch notes.

Patch 3.9:

Gear power gap reduction:

All armors, melee weapons, staves, bows and shields have had the overall gap between lowest and highest ranks reduced.
The intent of this change is to have newer or casual players be less at a disadvantage in fights by lowering the average item power gap. Early level XP should also be increased by the increased damage output.
Monsters benefit from the melee weapons and shields changes, but not from the armor changes. This should make low to medium level PvE slightly more engaging with monsters doing more damage but getting killed faster.
Players doing PvE in metal armor and shield should also feel more survivable than before.

Armor traits and general armor changes:

In this patch we created a new system of traits that can be applied to player characters. A lot of work has gone behind the scenes to prepare for future features, such as the title system and an eventual jewelsmithing overhaul.
The first use of this system is to have armors provide bonuses designed to represent negative encumbrance and splitting specialization into protection, magical abilities and physical abilities.
The general idea is to allow players to complement their favored playstyles with their armor choices while still keeping some short term adaptability by dressing up for the situation.

- You can see how much of an effect your armor pieces give you in your player stat window.
- Specializing in a single armor style will get your traits up to a maximum of 20%-24% (low-high crafting rolls).
- Armor traits stack with existing effects like buffs and enchants.
- Metal armors will increase health regen and slightly reduce the damage taken from the back.
- Robes will increase mana regen, casting speed and spell magnitude.
- Leather armors will increase stamina regen, archery/melee attack speed and damage.
- Bone armors will provide a mixture of the bonuses of equivalent level robes and leather armors.
- For damage/magnitude traits, they are applied before other modifiers such as protection.
- The helmet slot has now no type restrictions, any kind of helmet can now be used with robes.
- Robes are still taking all slots except helmet.

Tailoring Mastery:

- Added a new crafting skill available at the arcanist: tailoring mastery.
- New armor ranks have been added, mirroring armorsmithing mastery.
- Added 4 new ranks of robes, for a total of 7 ranks. 1 new rank is at tailoring level 25.
- Added 3 new ranks of leather armor.
- Added 3 new ranks of bone armor.
- Each new ranks will use higher quality ingredients which can be found on monsters throughout the world and have regionalization in mind.
- We have experimented with various types of scarcity with the crafting recipes to observe player behavior.
- Leather and cloth can no longer be purchased at vendors.

Balance tweaks:

- Severely buffed shield protections. They should now make 1h weapons more viable in melee exchanges despite the lower reach.
- We've changed polearms' speed to 0.2 as a test before experimenting more with them. They were supposed to get their own trait, but it didn't feel that fun in testing.
- Medium speed and slow staves have had their speed and damage buffed in order to become meaningful alternatives to fast staves.
- Transmuted staves have had their speed slightly increased like medium staves.
- In the changes to metal armor, the gap between slashing and bludgeoning protection has been slightly increased, indirectly making clubs more interesting.
- In the same spirit, robes have weaker acid protection, metal armors have weaker bludgeoning and lightning protections and leather/bones have balanced protections.
- General damage caps has been increased to 75 from the front and 105 in the back. The general damage curve has been altered too for a slight general front loading.
- If a protection is debuffed, it will now increase the damage cap for that damage type.

Self buffs changes:

- A majority of self buffs are now toggled on and off by casting them. The purpose of this change is to reduce the laundry list aspect of buffing and make it a meaningful decision.
- The old cast time, costs and cooldowns will remain unchanged as an opportunity cost for switching buffs mid-fight.
- All toggled self buffs reduce mana regeneration, depending on gear and skill, going beyond 3 concurrent buffs will make you drain mana.
- When you run out of mana or get in a downed state, all active buffs will deactivate.
- Spells can now have multiple effects at the same time. The first use of this evolution is for Hasten Spells to also have mana burn(spells cost more mana) to prevent it from being a mandatory buff.

List of toggle buffs:
- Arrow shield
- Lightning shield
- Hasten spells
- Holy shield
- Mystic shield
- Spell Immunity
- Acid shield
- Stoneskin
- Fire shield
- Infliction shield
- magic Shield
- Infernal shield
- Blessing
- Cold shield
- Gills

We removed attribute self buffs, as they wouldn't fit in the spirit of neither active nor toggle buffs:
- Clear Thoughts
- Insight
- Impetus
- Brawn
- Agility
- Max health bonus
- Max mana bonus
- Max stamina bonus

Map evolution:

- You now have two menus of filters, one for markers nearby you and one for the general worldmap.
- Worldmap and minimap options are now synchronized.
- Spawn markers are now much more detailed, showing monster numbers and repartition.
- If you research specific resources or items, monsters dropping/skinning them will be shown as results, with detailed amount.
- Dungeons are now a single marker with a tooltip representing all the content of the dungeon.
- You can now search for lootable/skinned resources from monster loot tables.
- The research field should now be much more reliable as we fixed some of the known issues with it.
- We have temporarily removed the feature to "keep" a marker after a research. It made the map impossible to move around with a large amount of markers. It will come back in a better form.
- The map is no longer forced to be square and can be expanded up to full screen.
- You can double click the top of the map for it to go straight to full screen.
- The tab key will toggle marker labels on and off when the worldmap has the focus.

Inventory tweaks:

- We have redone the moving of items backend. You can now select, move and delete up to 20 000 items.
- Bulk moves will no longer cause as much lag, freezes or memory leaks as in the past. This new system is a lot nicer to the server as well.
- The loot all button is now present on all inventories.
- Loot weight and looting duration are now always shown in loot inventories.

Mount tweaks:

- We have turned our attention to mounts again with a few QoL changes as a start.
- Mounts should now spawn facing away from the player.
- Dismounting while moving is now possible.
- Fixed auto attack on mounts.

Bugfixes and minor tweaks:

- We addressed one of the larger remaining memory leaks. This should reduce the amount of out of memory crashes players have been having.
- The above leak was in shared between server and client, so it should allow us to do maintenance less often. We will test not doing maintenance until the server gives in, to compare with our stress testing results of last summer.
- We have fixed a spawn scaling issue where long spawn cooldowns could be bypassed by scaling/descaling spawns.
- Fixed an issue with reaches that could make players miss when they shouldn't when crouched.
- Players should no longer get locked when getting killed while parrying with a shield.
- Default skills for weapons should now be selected more reliably after actions.
- Removed an activation delay that occured when activating a skill just after a weapon swap.
- Village control points should no longer have their health regen bugged after their inactivity timer is done.
- It is now possible to move while reviving. There was a trick to do it before, we're just making it baseline for everyone. of course you still need to keep aim on the character you are reviving.
- Rare ores on iron nodes will now drop accordingly to their quality rather than all equally.

Conclusion and thoughts towards the future:

This being quite a large patch, we've had to keep some related topics for later:
- The crafting 1.0 cap hasn't been touched yet, because it is a bit more complex to alter and we would need to separate enchanting from it (ex: keen and banes)  but it is investigated and planned for a later patch.
- Shadecraft and bloodcraft have not been touched. We have some ideas regarding them, but nothing solid enough yet. We haven't found there place yet in the grand scheme of things.
- Sithras have not been touched at all, but they are something we feel deserve to be looked at. On this front, we know what we want them to be.
- Impact damage attacks from monsters will be changed to bludgeoning in a future patch, so that armor really is a better factor in PvE too.
- We intend to look at transmuted weapons in a future patch. Bows and melee weapons should become viable in PvP and tools for non magical characters to have a varied PvE.
- While we slightly increased the base speed of transmuted staves in this patch, we want to revisit them later and make them more interesting too.
- Armor sets that drop from specific monsters are not touched by this patch. We have plans with them, most notably through the study system, so they will remain untouched until then.
- Healing, buff others and debuffs will be reviewed in a future patch. We've talked at length of what our intentions are and we'll move through with it shortly.

Please note that the new armors are sharing textures/models of existing armors. We made that choice to not delay the patch further.
We are of the opinion we should release the functionality as soon as it is done, to test the balancing and we'll complete the textures so that higher end armors can be recognizable later on.
We are recruiting artists which should start in the next few weeks, and we'll catch up on all the graphical tweaks Darkfall needs once they are up to speed and we have a proper asset pipeline setup.

We hope you all enjoy the new patch and we are looking forward to your feedback.

Link to discussion thread.