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Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:28 am
by 10x10room
Today we are releasing character customization on Conclave. Character customization was one the major features associated with our Kickstarter, and one we've had in development for some time. We're thrilled to have finished development and Inner Council testing, and to be able to make it available to all our players.

Conclave should be a much richer game with character customization in place. Customization allows for a much stronger sense of character identity and development: your character should feel much more your own now, personal and unique. Character customization also creates the potential for fresh tactics within combat, and we expect to see characters and parties "solve problems" in combat in new ways.

What can I customize?

In the past, when you would gain a level, we’d assign you certain predetermined benefits, specifically trait increases and additional abilities. Now you will get to decide what abilities you receive, and what traits you want to increase.

There are nearly 120 abilities to choose from, most new to the game. Of these, almost 100 are skill-based abilities, which means you need a certain skill (Bow, Runecasting, Tactics, etc.) in order to access them. These are the ones you need to be playing a particular archetype to use. Additionally, there are about 20 trait-based abilities, which require that you have a certain score in a trait (Strength, Will, and so on) in order to access. Any character can potentially access these, though certain archetypes and races will have a natural leg up on meeting their trait requirements.

Leveling and customization take place at the Pool of Reflection. This is a new location on the quest map, located at Bastion along with the Vault of Arms and the Bastion quests. When you are eligible to level, you’ll see that the Pool of Reflection is highlighted. Click the Pool to see what benefits you've earned this level, and to select your new ability and (if you are eligible) assign your additional trait point. If you aren't yet ready to level, the Pool will tell you how many more quests you need to beat to meet the next level.

When does customization happen?

You'll customize your character every time you gain a level. Starting with level 2, you’ll gain a new ability each time you level up. Additionally, at level 3, and every third level thereafter, you'll be able to increase one of your traits by one point.

Many abilities have requirements you must meet in order to add them to your character. Here are the possible requirements:

  • Level: Most abilities have a minimum level you must be in order to access them. Some require that you be level 4+, others level 7+, and then there’s a top tier that require you be level 10+.
  • Skill: As mentioned above, most abilities also have a skill requirement. If you have the skill, you can access the ability.
  • Trait score: Also as mentioned above, some abilities instead have a trait requirement. You must have at least a certain score in the trait to pick that ability.
  • Prerequisite ability: Some abilities require that you previously have picked another, prerequisite ability before you can select them. For example, before a Runecaster can pick Eruption, she must first select the Seism ability, because Seism is a prerequisite for Eruption.
Note that there are a few abilities that upgrade a prerequisite ability. When you select one of these, the prerequisite ability disappears entirely, replaced by the upgrade. For example, Keen Blow is an upgrade of Deft Blow; a Rogue who selects Keen Blow gives up Deft Blow for the upgraded ability.

How are existing characters affected?

Because of the scale of the changes we’ve made in this release - some abilities have changed, others have new requirements, and still others have been removed entirely - and because the rate at which characters receive abilities and traits has been tweaked, all existing characters have been respecced. When you next log onto Conclave and access a character, you may see changes to both its traits and the abilities it has. We're sorry we have to change your characters out from under you, but we need old characters to fit with new ones, and this is a much better option than deleting old characters!

Because we want players with old characters to be able to take full advantage of character customization - and because we want to see all the new abilities get full testing - we have set up a Respec feature within the Pool of Reflection. For the duration of the beta, you can respec your character freely! When you use the tool, your character will be reset to level 1, losing all the abilities and trait points it has picked up along the way. You'll retain your Renown, equipment, and beaten quest. You'll then be able to go to the Pool of Reflection to immediately gain back your old levels, picking new abilities and trait increases. This means you are free to go in and play around with the definition of your character as much as you want.

What do the new abilities let me do?

Too many things for us to fully enumerate here! But here are a couple of key new ideas.

  • Terrain manipulation: For the first time, abilities can create new terrain on the battlemap. For example, a Runecaster can Ignite a square, filling it with flames. Some abilities can also eliminate terrain, clearing a safe path. And we'll be doing more down the road with hidden terrain and terrain detection.
  • Abjured and arcane: There’s a new condition in the game, called abjured, which damages a being's connection to the Concordance - the source of magic in the world of Orn - temporarily. Abjured combatants have a -2 penalty to arcane checks. What's an arcane check? Any attempt to use an arcane ability - and you'll see now that many abilities are labeled as arcane.
We know that many of the higher level abilities remain off-limits to your characters right now, because there aren't enough quests to let you reach levels 6 and up. Rest assured that one of our primary tasks is to expand the quest lineup - and the story as a whole - to take you all the way to level 10. We want you to be able to experience the epic possibilities of those level 10 abilities as soon as possible!

What next?

Most importantly, we want to get your feedback on the changes we've made. Whether there's an ability you want to comment on, an interface you think needs alteration, or a fundamental rethink to character customization itself, please give us your thoughts! The feedback site is the best place to express these.

Meanwhile, we have a couple of things lined up to appear very shortly, then some larger features that are now entering development. In the short term, we'll be releasing some more changes to the way probabilities are calculated in the game, and the way condition recovery/maintenance is handled. We'll also (finally!) be offering our Kickstarter backers the option to upgrade their rewards. Unless something funny happens, both of those changes should be done before the year ends.

The big features we are working on right now are:

  • Fleshing out the story, and the quests that go with it that support play to level 10.
  • Potential expansion of the way voting is handled to support new situations and consequences within gameplay.
  • The addition of found treasure to the game.
We can't promise the exact order in which these will get released, but we can tell you we are very focused on their development, in keeping with the expectations set by the Kickstarter.

Thanks to everybody for your support of Conclave, and your patience as we roll out these new features. We hope you enjoy character customization as much as we do!

UPDATE, 9:30am Eastern: The release is live!

Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:45 pm
by Crazypoet
"Additionally, at level 3, and every level thereafter, you'll be able to increase one of your traits by one point."

Is that every level or every third level?

Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:34 pm
by 10x10room
Every third level. And to think that we actually edit and reread these things :roll: Updating the OP now; thanks!

Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:29 am
by surfarcher
ZOMG! Just respecced my Nix Rogue and it just slaughters the opposition now.

Awesome work devs!

Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:38 am
by Crazypoet
Yep, I have two Rogues, and I'm making one more of a classic sneak and one a duelist sort - startling differences in how I see them approaching things...

Love this!!!

Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:53 am
by surfarcher
Yeah I've done a sneak too... Being able to have different thematic builds is really nice.

I have to say Offhand Cut + Twin Strike + Nix Audacity + stuff to max accuracy... Mindblowing DPR.

Can't wait to see how I can tweak my True Bows...

Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:01 am
by Crazypoet
I also like some of what I see for the vanguards. I've not been able to respec one yet (they're a bit busy at the moment), but just what I've seen from the "default" respec makes them much more competitive and dangerous.


Of course, I expect that the baddies are equally enhanced - this should be interesting! :mrgreen:

Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:08 am
by 10x10room
Glad everybody is enjoying the new feature!

@Crazypoet, the foes haven't been changed as yet - we're saving that for the larger update to the story and quests - but one thing we'll be watching is how character customization changes overall character power levels. In terms of magnitudes, characters have actually been depowered a bit (because they get one less ability at level 3 than before); however, as many of you are already finding out and exploring, there are a number of new kinds of synergies you can create with your ability selection that effectively power characters up.

Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:11 pm
by Crazypoet
There are some interesting opportunities that I'm just beginning to explore. This adds a lot of storytelling depth from my standpoint - lets me look at skill development from my character's POV, aside from strict game mechanics and min/maxing.

[unsubtle hint]
This is where more info on the races and histories and archetypes could be useful as well
[/unsubtle hint]


Re: Major release: Character customization and more!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:09 am
by Crazypoet
Been playing around with Respec - I like the change!

I can feel the pinch of the ability slot that no longer exists, and it makes the choice of abilities at each level much more critical to character development.

I'm enjoying the different combinations, and filling in the character back-story that would lead them to choose one approach over another.

The game is richer as a result, for me at least.