Friday, September 11, 2009

The Thought Behind the ‘Algorithm’ Update

Recently a patch known as the aLGORITHM has been released on the Sea of Storms. The first thing someone might notice about this patch is the awful use of caps lock. That’s mostly due to my inability to properly type which got it dubbed the aLGORITHM by Luthien. So with the most obvious question out of the way, the next question must be. What exactly did we change?

Well dreaming was moved back to its rightful place as a major talent. The scholar talent has been properly supported now with the ability to teach various languages such as old tongue or Ogier. Finally we modified our drunk code to affect posts. I know awesome right?

Wait… we also brought back gifted and strong channelers. In fact the very nickname to the patch was given in reference to the new formula that dictates flow strengths for channelers. I suppose that is the most important update, well that or the ability to finally post URLs containing & in them without double typing &. Nah, channeling is totally cooler so lets cover that.

Channeling has long been debated by mortals in its balance. Mostly you would have non channelers such as blademasters or soldiers denouncing weaves like wrap, airblind, and any of the more powerful weaves that essentially allowed channelers to pummel others in one on one combat. These complaints have always been responded to by channelers saying that all a non channeler had to do was bring support or simply not go toe to toe with a channeler. Which if you think about it seems a little like common sense. Still with the claim that channeling was to powerful, we still got requests to unlock the strong and gifted channeling talents.

I asked our new assistant coder Kimadi to give me a statement about the update for the players. Here it is: “The problem with the re-implementation of strong and gifted channeling strengths did not lie into making them possible - that was a few simple lines of code. The true difficulty lied in several aspects, the main aspect being our wish for a 'realistic' environment, which is something that is hard to describe by requirements yet easy for a human to recognize. We did not want people to distribute their flow points to gain very specific code-wise benefits while other matters would be neglected beyond any comparable realism. But on the other hand, restricting players was too much is another matter of concern - both for the purpose of playing, and the fact that even in the world of the Wheel of Time, there are those odd few people who defy the norm as we know it. In the end, both realism and oddities have become fully possible in the new system” – Kimadi

That pretty much captured the intent of the update in my opinion. However, I still haven’t really told you what we changed in channeling, so I’ll get to that now. In the olden days way way back in the before time there were gifted and strong channelers. These old players could allocate their flow strengths however they pleased the only system in place to moderate the maximum  strength in each element was a rather wimpy little +1 extra pt required to raise a strength for every spot above 25. Today’s gifted and strong channelers must have a fair bit of balance to their builds. Just like in the books most channelers are proficient in more then just two flows and none really had an inability to do anything in one flow let alone two.

Without revealing the numbers involved in the formula I can say that if you have 26 or higher in your main flow then you can expect to have at least 9’s in your lowest. In the past it was 1’s so from the get go we’ve already balanced things significantly. In this patch we also fixed some of the flow skill requirements on fire weaves. The older numbers were higher then their earth and air counterparts and during testing we realized that these ‘slightly’ higher flow skill requirements equated to significant changes in male channeler builds. This was mostly due to their low flow skill modifier in comparison with their female channeling counterparts. This has allowed channelers to have variety in their weave selection. No longer will people be using the same three weaves in every situation.

Not a lot code was changed in all honestly. The real change has been the in the framework we’ve placed. With the new algorithm in place and new levels of channeling open we can begin to introduce new weaves. A project we are already working on. In addition new channeling talents and possibly a new way to use weaves in combination with other weaves will be implemented. Really this update marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a long line of successful updates to our code engine to support realism and roleplay for our players!

- Jeshin

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