Earlier this week we released a design discussion to present an overview of what we call Combat Paths (previously known as the Character Perk System). This is an upcoming expansion on the specialization system of Rise of Agon. “Stage 1” laid out initial changes to combat, such as spell school balancing and staff formula changes, which aim to create a solid baseline for this update. You can read Stage 1 below: Spoiler We have a series of combat balance changes designed to create a baseline that will lead into the upcoming Combat Paths (formerly referred to as Perks). The focus here is to get magic schools balanced against each other so each one can stand on its own with a standard compliment of spells for each high-end magic school (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Arcane & Necromancy). Each school will be split between standard mage skills along with unique spell differences between each school. In addition we plan to balance out archery and melee so that they can stand on their own and will be adding in new abilities for these playstyles. Balancing Schools and Protections To prepare for Combat Paths to specialize one’s character we will need to balance out spell schools to be equal. This will be achieved by creating a basic complement of spells for all high-end schools. We will also normalize all Armor magical protections to be the same across the board. Basic spells of the same type in the various schools will be made equal in terms of speed, missile size, AoE, health/HP/mana damage on spells, etc. Each magic school will still maintain a unique flavor but will be balanced so that there is standard damages and stats on basic abilities. In order to balance Magic against Archery and Melee disables we will also introduce a “Disabling Bolt” ability. Basic Spell Complement Each Elemental school of magic along with the schools of Arcane and Necromancy will each contain a basic complement of spells. Each school will contain a bolt, ray, small AoE damage (ex: Fireball), large AoE damage (ex: Exploding Charge), field AoE (ex: Acid Rain) and an artillery (ex: Magma) spell. Each magic school will, in addition to the standard spells, get several unique spells such as Wall of Force, Earthquake, drains etc and some standard spells will have slightly different effects. In doing this we will be changing the global cooldown to be 100% of a spell cooldown instead of the current 50% and adjusting spell cooldowns accordingly to maintain current rate of fire on these spells. This will mean that you will only need 1 ray, 1 R50 nuke, 1 R75 field AoE, etc which will cut down on unnecessary bindings and leveling while providing an easier transition into the game for newer players. Reagent Conformity To make specialized characters more attractive and spells more intuitive we will be normalizing all the reagent costs on spell schools to be thematic: Air: Mandrake Earth: Resin Water: Nacre Fire: Sulfur Witchcraft and Necromancy: Bone Spell Chanting and Arcane: Ashes All spell reagent costs will be normalized on the vendor and all spells from a specific school will have the reagent cost converted to its thematic reagent for the spell school. Take sulfur to cast fire magic, take ash to cast spell chanting/arcane, etc. This will allow for simpler gear bags and varying demand for reagents based on player’s using those specialized schools. As an example if you choose to heavily spec as a fire and water mage, you may only need sulfur and nacre to cast everything you typically use in your arsenal. ***Note - we made all reagents cost the same in a small patch today*** Cannibalization of Greater Magic Due to a few factors including the Reagent Conformity changes above, along with a desire for a reagent-free gameplay option for melee/archery focused players, we will be removing Greater Magic. The spells that currently reside in this school will be split between other magic schools. Staff Damage Formula In order for there to be a real advantage to slow staves we will be modifying the spell formula. The effect of staff magnitude is too minor and why fast staves are currently always king. To address this we will be making it more impactful to use a higher magnitude staff and lowering base damage. This will result in fast staves being a pressure based playstyle and slow casting staves a heavy hitting more strategic playstyle. Combat Pace and Time-To-Kill In order to keep a fast pace of combat but increase time to kill so fights are not over in a few seconds in some cases there are a few changes planned. First is to increase armor protections, which will lower damage received and adds more value to gear, while making naked players weaker. Second will be a general lowering and balancing of damage from all sources to set a baseline which combat paths will add to. Removing Buffs and Buff Others Due to their overuse in the game and the felt requirement to always have them on we are removing all buff other and self buffs from PvP. We plan to have PvE related buffs in some fashion through the Combat Paths as specialty support playstyles. We feel this will refocus the game to combat instead of always worrying to keep buffs on or get them active prior to an engagement. It is also going to increase the value of enchants which will be very beneficial as we are adding in additional enchants as well as balancing the existing ones in the future. Racial Bloodlines We are not happy with the way the current implementation of racial passives has turned out and feel it encourages only specific playstyles. It also is not satisfactory that it creates “crafter races”. To improve this we will be replacing current racial passives with multiple “bloodlines” for each race to choose from. These will be a group of racial abilities and no crafting related bonuses will be included. There will be at least 3 per race you can choose from on character creation and will become a permanent part of your character similar to race/gender selection. Archery and Melee Specs We want to test how adding in new specializations will work and will be adding 2 new ones as a test before the official paths go in: “Powershot” and “Heavy Handed” (names may be changed). These will be separate for archery and melee and will give a straight damage bonus to all archery or melee hits. We may outright remove Mage-Killer and Destroyer’s staff-out only bonus when we go to the path system but their ultimate fates will be finalized as we move closer to implementation. Archery Skills and Ammo To help archery become a more complete playstyle we will be adding in new archery skills and new ammo types. Most of these abilities will focus on single targets along with a small AoE ability. Arrow shots with virtually no arc, poison/bleeds and a blind ability are all on the table as well. We will provide much more details on specific skills that will be available closer to implementation. Tying Staff Magnitude to Secondary Effects In order for a slow casting, heavy hitting playstyle to be viable we feel that they need more than just a little higher damage. To this end we will be linking secondary stats from spells to magnitude. This includes stats such as AoE size, size and pull of Wall of Force, effect of blinds, etc. This is not planned to be a massive effect difference but more of a minor one to bolster the heavy hitting staves without imbalancing the weaker ones. “Stage 2” was meant to give a glimpse of what we call “Combat Paths”, but after reading through initial responses we realized that Stage 2 was creating a lot of confusion. In order to add clarity to what it entails we are presenting this follow-up discussion we hope provides a better understanding. Adding Diversity Combat Paths is an expansion on Rise of Agon’s combat system. It is not an implementation of a new class system or a limitation to a handful number of skills, but increases and diversifies the amount and type of passives/choices/specializations available to players. To give you a visual, think of Combat Paths as a Skill Tree. You have many different options to choose from, and how you build your character is entirely up to you. To see some of what we aim to accomplish you can look at the current specialization system in-game - this includes in-game specializations like “Destroyer” or “Indestructible”. We plan to add many more of these kind of specializations and balance/redistribute the specializations currently in-game. These will provide small to moderate passive bonuses, some with drawbacks (similar to Destroyer) and even others that may unlock a single spell/ability. The goal is to provide a diverse set of paths that cater to many playstyles, from those who enjoy firing off arrows with a bow to others who love the utility magic provides. The choices you make will be set up and shown in an intuitive and easy-to-use system. These combat paths, however, will be balanced so that player skill remains the driving factor in engagements. Point Allocation and “Combat Paths” We feel a lot of confusion in our prior post came from the discussion itself of “Combat Paths”. The primary paths we referenced were Melee, Archery and Magic, and when we talked about “Hybrid Paths” we listed common playstyle names such as “Paladin”, “Battle Mage”, etc. Players will not be picking the “Paladin” or “Battle Mage” specialization, but rather a selection of choices/nodes that cater to a playstyle they like. The choice of what specializations you activate, or if you activate any at all, is up to the character itself. Players will have a limited amount of points that they can allocate between the primary paths, and as you go further down one (or more) paths more powerful combinations unlock. The point allocation a character makes can be changed after a certain amount of time out of combat, by interacting with an NPC, or by other means up for discussion. It is not something we wish to put a grind behind or a cost that hurts new or casual players. This point allocation is there to provide balance. If someone wanted to replicate what “Destroyer” provides currently in-game they would allocate their points primarily, if not fully, into the Melee path. This would unlock configurations that increase melee damage but, if you go too far down that path, may restrict Elemental magic. The exact passives/specializations/new abilities that are being added have not been finalized, and when we do have a final draft it will most certainly be presented for everyone to see. In the meantime we will continue to answer questions you may have and look forward to the discussion.