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Hello everyone! We're back with another blog and a quick update on our progress!
Last week we added a new goblin to the team, Darran Hurlbut, who joins us as a concept artist. The role of the concept artist is to create 2D drawings that the 3D artists use as reference for the many objects, characters, monsters and environmental assets that they need to create. Darran is going to help us ensure we have a consistent look to our in-game assets and increase the tempo of the art team's production.
We're also interviewing programmers for the engineering team. We're looking for someone with just the right mix of experience with online games, great programming aptitude and a can-do attitude. If you or someone you know has worked as a game programmer, has mastered C/C++/C#, and most especially if they've used Unity, you can apply for the job on our career site!
The game design team has been working on focusing our initial character development concepts. The following updates and replaces the concepts we talked about in the blog entitled Your Pathfinder Online Character.
Our current concept of the character advancement system is similar to that of EVE Online, but adjusts some of the process to be more familiar to fantasy games.
Every hour your character is able to advance (via being subscribed or otherwise buying advancement time), you gain Experience Points (XP) whether or not you're logged into the game. These accumulate at a fixed rate throughout your career (currently at a rate of 100 XP per hour, but that may change as we get deeper into pricing). After 24 hours in the game, you'll have earned 2,400 XP; after 10 days you'll have 24,000; and so on.
In order to spend this XP to advance your character, you'll need three things:
If there's available training, you meet the prerequisites, and you can afford it, purchase immediately deducts the XP and coin and awards you the feat (though we might throw in a little fade-to-black to indicate that you're going into the back and having a quick training montage).
What this means practically for your advancement is:
Ability scores do not directly affect many game systems the way they do in tabletop: having a high Strength won't add directly to your melee attacks, for example. However, ability scores play an important role in your training and advancement.
Previously, we had conceived of ability scores as a mechanism for decreasing the training time for linked traits (by lowering the XP cost). However, we worried that this would require too much up-front planning. If ability scores were set at character creation, you would be permanently making a choice as to what types of traits you'd pursue before you even knew what you'd find fun. If they could shift during play, there would be optimal paths for training order to match purchases most effectively to high ability scores.
So we've fairly dramatically adjusted our expectations for ability scores, while keeping them primarily about influencing your trait selection. Specifically:
It will be common for "higher level" traits to require a fairly high ability score to indicate that you're not just skipping ahead of the power curve (and this makes racial bonuses useful, because they mean you can skip some of the power curve). A single progression path will rarely be enough to keep ahead of ability score requirements, so you'll find yourself wanting to diversify. For example, a player trying to get Fighter 8 may need Strength 17, but all of the otherwise required Fighter feats only get her to Strength 15, so she'll need to diversify and pick up 2 more points worth of Strength feats of her choice to meet the requirement (this could be more attacks, more armor, or just skills that use Strength).
Additionally, we may use the ability score as a minimum number for certain systems, but you will generally be able to overcome it with other purchases. For example, each skill's total bonus (which goes up to 300) has a minimum of the relevant ability score (e.g., if you've put no ranks in Stealth, your Stealth total will still be equal to Dexterity). This allows us to do comparisons where necessary without risking a divide-by-zero problem if you haven't purchased something.
We've talked a lot about the roles of the game that are derived from Pathfinder's adventuring classes, but we haven't yet mentioned that the same idea also extends to reusing some of the NPC classes from the tabletop game. Specifically, players may pursue three additional roles:
Each of these roles requires improving multiple skills, and grants access to bonuses that are unavailable to players who only focus on a small number of skills in addition to their combat feats. Increasing these roles is a great idea for players that want to focus on acquiring resources, manufacturing goods, or leading settlements and armies. Particularly for players that don't engage in a lot of combat, raising these roles provides a structured way to improve at other parts of the game.
All players will start out as Level 1 Commoners, even before choosing to follow another role, and can slot some feats that improve gathering and harvesting. Thus, the newest players should be able to begin their careers and build up a monetary stake by harvesting resources even if they're not quite ready to mix it up in combat yet.
Because advancement is tied to time, new players might imagine that they'll never catch up to anyone who has been playing longer. However, our system has several elements that help to mitigate this concern:
So after an initial period of "being the new character," starting at the beginning of character advancement, you'll find that you'll soon close any perceived power gap with older characters. Late starters will eventually be just as powerful, though not as versatile, as those who have subscribed since day one.
One of the very best features of this time-based character advancement system is that it allows us to plan to deliver content on a fairly lengthy schedule. In many theme park MMOs, players will min-max their play so that they advance rapidly through the character power system, reaching maximum potential power within weeks or months. To support that, the game has to have almost all its systems implemented at launch.
Our time-based system means that no character can advance past a certain point in real time regardless of how much game time the player invests. We can thus build our design plan around a much lengthier calendar than a typical theme park MMO. We'll be able to ensure that game systems get lots of testing at each stage of the character power arc before the next stages come available. And we can also ensure that we don't have max-power characters running around in the game for a very, very long time, which promotes our ideas about long-term focus and commitment to the game.
Pathfinder Online is going to be a game where you're engaged for years, not months.
Discuss this blog on paizo.com.