Sunday, December 1, 2013

Releasing a new class - Druid

It took a lot of effort, but we managed to release a new class, Druid, right on schedule. The actual core implementation of the mechanics and code only took about two full months; the hard part was the entropy, coming up with ideas. But ideas aren't really the hard part: if you ask your players for ideas, you'll get a steaming pile of hundreds of them. Ideas are easy. Good ideas that fit a model and work well together are not nearly so easy. I've been collecting good ideas that work together well for a few years now, and I needed pretty much all of them to make the class unique and not just a carbon copy of other classes.

Personally, I feel that just copying spells, skills, and classes is a bad idea, and while it might work in the short term to get content and features out the door quickly, I think it detracts from the long-term viability of a game. Part of what makes a long term game successful is how the pieces interact, the way you can get unexpected effects by strange configurations. Consider minecraft, a game with substantial complexity built on an extremely simple model and small set of ideas.

Unfortunately, holding new classes to such high standards means that I can't create many of them quickly. I would like to add a couple more classes if possible, but there might not actually be enough new and unique things left to do it. Over time, new mechanics will be added that might allow it, but it will probably be at least a couple of years before we have another class release.

I suppose my overall point is this: if you value the long term, don't cheese your game mechanics. Do it well, or not at all. Make something that surprises you from time to time, something that fits in with other stuff in the game, something which can't be done (or can't easily be done) in other ways. If you can't find a way to make races unique and interesting, don't add them. If you can't build a new class without photocopying existing effects from other classes, don't do it at all. Better to keep things sparse than pollute the game with uninteresting noise.

With this in mind, I'm proud to say that I'm happy with the new Druid class, as I was with the Necromancer class when it came out in 2010. They're both very well designed, and I'm certain the new Druid skills will make Alter Aeon and even better place to be. That's a pretty high bar.

Here's the official release announcement for the new class.

Druid Class Expansion on Alter Aeon

The long awaited sixth character class, Druid, has been released on Alter Aeon! Players can now add Druid powers to those of the other classes to create new skillset combinations and strengthen their characters.

This new character class adds a number of new abilities:

- control of the weather, to make storms and call lightning

- rune carving and runic enchantments

- magically controlling and growing plants

- animal lore and handling

- summon wind and dust storms to hinder your enemies

- use minions summoned from the earth to assist you in battle

- brew tinctures and salves for new special effects

- new item crafting skills using carving and runes

In addition to all this, it is now December, and the year-end Advent Calendar is now running! Log in for your daily advent calendar gifts, including practices, credits, storage locker time, unique items, and more.

Releases this big only happen every few years, so stop by and check it out!

Alter Aeon MUD