Hi all- quite an eventful couple of months, huh? It’s been 40 days since Vesteria died, and looking back at it I’m really happy with how much the team has been able to accomplish since.
The game has changed quite a bit, and these changes have been in line with a new bigger-picture philosophy that has been driving every decision I make. Some people have been unhappy with this new vision, but it is difficult to deny that the team is moving in a more coherent and consistent direction than ever before. And as a developer, working on Vesteria has become more fun than ever. Today I’d like to share with you guys our concrete plans for the next three months, as well as more information about the direction of the game.
photo credit: @Joseph6971 Screenshots Of Vesteria
Although the release of Whispering Dunes didn’t reach as many players as previous updates, I still consider dunes a massive success. It was so cool to see sk3let0n and Davidii spearhead such a huge project, and I thoroughly enjoyed our team’s test playthroughs of the map and running through it with players after the release. It’s been one of my favorite maps to play on, and I’m really excited to see how it fits into what the team has planned for the future.
Without further adieu, here goes!
Guilds Overhaul & Guild Hall
It’s no secret that player-to-player interactions are the bread and butter that keep MMO communities going strong for years. My social interactions with other players in Maplestory were what left the biggest impact on me. Even a decade later I fondly think about the guilds that I joined, and it was what inspired me to script the guilds feature into Vesteria. From inception, this feature has had the strongest enthusiasm from the rest of the Vesteria team.
photo credit: @Bluemin_Sword Screenshots Of Vesteria
We’ve heard your feedback. We know you are hungry for more guild content and you want to see guilds fleshed out properly, and we’re ready to deliver that.
As part of this 3-month roadmap, we intend to deliver a guild update with everything you need to start growing your community: Guild Emblems, Guild Upgrades and Guild Halls.
We plan to implement an emblem creator within Vesteria, allowing you to chose from a wide range of icons and backdrops to create a unique and distinguishable emblem for your guild, which will appear next to your guild name underneath the name plates of all of your guild members’ characters. The Guild Emblem will not come for free, it will need to be purchased for a significant amount of in-game currency once a guild has already been created at a price to be determined. Changing your guild’s emblem will cost just as much.
Along with this we want to offer guild members a unique opportunity to meet up at their Guild Hall. The Guild Hall will be a unique private server created for your guild, accessible only by guild members. We are not sure yet whether we want the Guild Hall to function as a nexus-style area that you can teleport to from anywhere, or if we want it to be a fixed location. There are benefits to both.
Finally, Guild Upgrades. For an increasingly ridiculous sum of in-game currency, you can upgrade your guild member cap to 20, 30, 50, 70 & 100 members. At each upgrade, your Guild Hall will also be upgraded. Higher level Guild Halls will contain target dummies, meeting rooms, PVP rooms, shopkeepers, portals to cities, and other quality amenities.
We want to offer multiple Guild Hall styles for your guild, so a traders’ guild and a cult of Terul worshipers can both have halls that reflect their unique personalities. If we decide to make the Guild Hall located at a physical location in the world, we might have the style of your guild hall depend on where it is located. For example, a Guild Hall in Port Fidelio would have unique look and features compared to a Guild Hall in Nilgarf.
Hidden Stat Point Interactions
With the release of Whispering Dunes, I decided to start taking a different approach to how we make our Stat Points: Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity and Vitality interact with the world. Previously, our philosophy was to give obvious, but general perks to all of these stats. These were clearly laid out in the perk browser and while they gave you a good idea of what you would get for each stat, they failed to add a level depth and choice to the game that we wanted.
So we introduced Hidden Stat Point Interactions. As you invest points into your stats, you start to unlock new interactions in your attacks that are hand-tailored to your class and fundamentally mix up your playstyle. We demo’d this feature with two flagship interactions: the Hunter bow’s basic attack and the Mage’s [Magic Bomb]. I posted a demo of how different stat points affect Magic Bomb on my Twitter.
photo credit: @Joseph6971 Screenshots Of Vesteria
Besides how blatantly overpowered this has made Rangers, the overwhelming sentiment towards these changes has been a positive one. We plan to expand these stat point interactions to every facet of our game, to enable tons of different builds and playstyles and to make it impossible for a single build to dominate the meta.
For example, we will be taking the [Smite] Paladin ability and turning it into every warrior’s basic attack if they chose to invest a significant amount of points into INT. Putting more points into INT increases the damage of your smite and how far it travels. The smite will be blue by default, gold if you are a paladin. Using a heavy two-handed weapon will massively increase the width of the smite, similar to the size of a max-upgraded Smite ability in the current version of the game. This means that heavy weapons will finally have a solid niche, giving their users the ability to mow through huge crowds of enemies.
We’ll go through and implement these types of interacts throughout the entire game, at the class and even subclass level. This feature will tie in very nicely with the new Rebirth & Sacrifice feature, because it means that along with 3 different classes and 9 different subclasses, there will be countless different stat builds that you can experiment with on each run-through of the game, giving you a unique experience each time. My philosophy with these interactions is to make them “hidden, but obvious” in that the game wont tell you what interactions there are in the form of a perk menu, but the interactions are flashy and in-your-face enough that is it impossible to miss when you unlock one. The goal is to get you to unlock new powers and figure out those powers organically through combat. The moment when you realize you’ve started launching two arrows with each bow attack, or when every slash you make fires a magical arc… these are magical moments, and I want to fill the game with such realizations.
Faction Questlines & Subclass Mastery Quests
We’ve heard from countless players that Vesteria lacks a sense of story direction. While this is fine for players who love open-ended adventure, there does exist a lot of players who play games for the story and the ability to involve themselves in a rich world that is affected by their actions. There’s also just players that like having clear tasks to complete and feel lost when they aren’t being given an objective to complete.
photo credit: @Bluemin_Sword Screenshots Of Vesteria
You may have noticed a pretty big change to the early game recently. All of the quest NPCs in Mushroom Forest were moved to Mushtown, and all of the hostile mobs were removed from Mushtown. This change was a tiny step in the bigger direction we are taking quests. We want to solidify cities as the places where you go to get tasks, rather than our previous approach of just splattering quest NPCs whereever we thought players would be grinding.
We’re gonna take this a step further soon by introducing intricate questlines to Mushtown, Nilgarf and each of the faction cities. These questlines will have more coherent and over-arching stories, and some of them may even cause permanent impact on your game world. Giving each faction its own Level 10-30 questline also improves the replayability of our game, as each faction’s questline will be restricted to members of that faction.
By introducing wait time between quests in a questline, we’ll be giving casual players the ability to get a lot of value from the game in a short time. A hunter might complete an important mission for Admiral Hugo, only to be told that there is preparation that must be done for the next mission and to come back in 4 hours. This wait time allows us to make the quest rewards super impactful on the game without worrying about hardcore players using the rewards to slam through our entire game in laughably short amounts of time. It allows us to give a rewarding experience to players who may only have an hour of free time a day to play Vesteria, giving them the opportunity to progress through the game at a steady and satisfying pace with shorter but impactful play sessions while giving us the ability to enrich many of the characters and locations in our game with powerful personalities and compelling stories.
photo credit: @LeSamton Screenshots Of Vesteria
These questlines will take you all over the world of Vesteria, and we may even introduce more “instanced battles” such as The Gauntlet for you to overcome as exclusive parts of these quests.
Finally, I’m sure some of you have looked at your subclass representative’s clothing and thought to yourself “man I want to wear that.” Well imagine no more because Subclass Mastery quests are coming! Offered by your subclass rep at Level 50, these quests will be incredibly challenging and unique to each subclass. They will require you to prove sufficient mastery of the game in many different facets, whether your quest includes obbies, instanced battles, puzzles, travel, or more.
Completing the Subclass Mastery quest will grant you that subclass’s unique Mastery Set. Each Mastery Set will come with a unique equipment perk that activates an ultimate version of one of your abilities. For example, Cleric’s [Archmage Robes] could turn Resurrect into an AoE ability, granting it the power to revive multiple fallen players with one use. Paladin’s [Crusader Armor] could cause a storm of golden swords to rain down along with the explosion, causing power impact damage in the area. Wearing the mastery set will change your title to your subclass’s mastery title. For example, a Warlock wearing the [Necromancer Robes] would be titled “Necromancer” in the main menu rather than “Warlock”. This feature effectively replaces the Subclass Advancement feature discussed previously.
The Level Cap - A Different Plan
The original development plan for our team was to get to a point where we could make roughly 1 big expansion per month, on the level of the Whispering Dunes. Each expansion was to add a new area to the game, new enemies, new items and, more importantly, raise the level cap by 10 each time. We planned to continuously raise the level cap until we reached a point we were “satisfied” with, likely something like Lvl. 120 or 200. As part of this, we also planned to introduce “Subclass Advancements” at Lvl. 70, upgrades to your subclass where you received powerful new abilities.
After a lot of discussion, we’ve realized that this path isn’t realistic, and if we go down it we would be doing a disservice to players. Each content expansion would make it harder and harder for new players to get into the fun, new part of the game. It’d be harder to get your friends to play Vesteria with you, and it would naturally lead the game to fall into the trap most MMORPGs in the games industry fall into. More importantly, it would mean that every cool equipment you get in our updates (some we spend a lot of time on to add really awesome perks that dramatically change playstyles) would become irrelevent with each update, as higher-level equipment comes out that completely dwarfs your existing legendary items. Lastly, this type of content rollout means we would always leave our entire playerbase waiting for us to release a huge content expansion in order to be able to enjoy the game, which would put a lot of pressure on us to deliver fast and cut corners.
So what’s the new plan? Set the level cap to Lvl. 50 and leave it there forever. We will still release content expansions with new areas and challenging level cap content, but the difference now is that new expansions won’t make everything that came before them irrelevant. The Level 50 legendary items you got from update A wont become useless because of the Level 50 legendary items in update B. Those items will forever be ingrained into Vesteria culture. That being said, most players will still want to play through all of update B’s content because people will be interested in the shiny new perks on the new items, or will be interested in trading these new items.
photo credit: @Seitto Screenshots Of Vesteria
This also allows us to release special temporary areas with limited-edition items for events such as Halloween! Imagine under the old content rollout plan if we release super limited-edition Halloween equipment at Lvl. 70 with really awesome spooky perks that we put a lot of thought into. Then the event ends and new items stop entering circulation and the event items become really rare. The next expansion would raise the level cap and suddenly make all of those Lvl. 70 items useless! Now we can release limited-edition themed content and be certain that those items will retain value and usefulness forever. Allowing ultra-high-rarity and ultra-high-demand items to circulate our economy, and a rich trading culture to be born as a result.
This change will also create a huge incentive for our team to go through and make sure every stage of the game is awesome, as people of all skill levels will constantly be playing through every part of the game. This means that it makes sense for us to expand our world for all level ranges, doing things that just wouldn’t viable with our old rollout plan, such as giving the warrior and mages areas of the world their own versions of Forsaken Isle and Whispering Dunes expansions! We could spend a month working on a super high-quality Level 30-40 expansion out of Tree of Life and rest easy knowing that a huge amount of our active community will experience and enjoy this new content!
Finally, keeping the level cap at 50 forever ensures that Vesteria’s exciting endgame content will always be accessible to new players, and that the investment of getting your friends to play the game with you wont skyrocket over time. This is crucial, as we may still eventually go free if we manage to accomplish everything on this post successfully. But there is something else we need to do for the players who want to no-life the hell out of Vesteria and experience everything the game has to offer…
Vesra’s Rebirth & Terul’s Sacrifice
It’s time to talk about rebirth mechanics. It seems like most games on Roblox, whether they are simulators or tycoons, employ rebirth mechanics. Often times, it feels like a cop out when developers aren’t able to make enough content at a high enough quality to allow the entire game to just play itself.
So when I started thinking about rebirth mechanics in Vesteria, I wanted to make sure we did it differently. A talked a lot with the other members of the team for this one, and even members of the community. The final result is something that I believe accomplishes a lot of what we wanted people to get out of the game with the Death and Taxes discussion, namely a compelling reward for continuously playing through and re-experiencing the game in different ways and becoming masters at every stage of the game.
photo credit: @Gghhjjkklll Screenshots Of Vesteria
I ended up coming up with what I think is a great way to tie these principles in with our efforts to build lore around the nebulous deities in our world. Here it is:
VESRA’S REBIRTH - At Lvl. 50, give yourself over to Vesra’s embrace. You are reborn at A New Adventure, Lvl. 1 with [Jewel of Vesra] added to your inventory based on your accomplishments. After 1 Rebirth, your chat becomes a light golden hue. After 10 Rebirths, your character gains glowing golden eyes like Archmage Egosmie
TERUL’S SACRIFICE - Lure Lvl. 50 players into the hidden depths of Terul’s realm. Have them stand upon the sacrifical alter and challenge them to a duel. If you kill them while they are standing on the altar, Terul will steal their soul (sending them back to A New Adventure at Lvl. 1) and reward you for your offering with [Shade of Terul] based on their acomplishments. After 1 Sacrifice, your chat becomes a light red hue. After 10 Sacrifices, your character gains glowing red eyes.
Both [Jewel of Vesra] and [Shade of Terul] are Legendary (golden-tier) items that populate the Misc. section of your inventory. Whether you are reset by Rebirth or by Sacrifice, any deity items in your inventory will survive. These Misc. items will be the currency of a shop dedicated to each diety, where you can buy [Strength Infusion], [Intelligence Infusion], [Vitality Infusion] and [Dexterity Infusion], Legendary (golden-tier) potions which permanently raise a stat point by +1 on your character, surviving all resets and with no cap or limits. Along with infusions, each deity shop will have unique equipment and other highly-desirable items to make your efforts worthwhile.
As I said earlier, the amount of deity currency you receive is based on the “accomplishments” of the person being reset (you, in the case of Rebirth, or the person you are killing in the case of Sacrifice). When you are reset, your inventory, equipment, quest progress, treasure chest data, bounty book, etc. is all wiped, as if you were starting on a new slot. In order to prevent Vesteria from just becoming a speedrun simulator, and to discourage players from stashing all of their items in the bank, your inventory and what you did during your life can allow extra deity currency to be earned from your reset. Quite a lot of extra deity currency. Killed 100 bosses during your life? That’s an extra token. Completed 30 quests? Extra token. Visited every Viewpoint in Vesteria? Extra token! Opened 100 treasure chests? Extra token!
You also have a chance to gain bonus tokens based on how much money is reset and the quality of items in the inventory of the person being reset. To prevent people from gaming the system, we will use a series of probabilities instead of clear cutoff points. For example, instead of saying “You get an extra token for resetting with 10G”, we would make it so you have a 25% chance of getting an extra token with 5G, 50% with 10G, 75% with 15G, and so on. At higher currency amounts, you might get multiple tokens. The same goes with the value of the items in your inventory. We will look at many factors, including the enchantments, rarity of equipment, sell value of use/misc items, and much more. All in all, the goal is incentivize players to treat each life as sacred, and to make the most of each and every little facet of Vesteria.
photo credit: @Meta Screenshots Of Vesteria
As you may have realized, your character doesn’t actually gain power directly from the resets. You grow through items that you obtain through the process, which will be tradable. This means that unlike a lot of other games with rebirth mechanics, resetting is optional. It also means that if you have a character slot you are really invested in and don’t want to give up, you can dedicate another slot to resetting and simply transfer all of the rewards to your main slot via the bank. The hope is to give players who want to experience all the joy Vesteria has to offer an outlet and incentive to do so, without compromising on anything that makes Vesteria what it currently is and the magical experience we originally had in mind for it.
There’s still lot of balance stuff we need to figure out, between classes and with the game’s progression as a whole. Going down this path will enable us to more closely examine every part of our game and raise the quality of the experience everywhere, ultimately making it a better game for everyone.
There’s a lot of other little stuff I want to do, such as introducing “Amulet” items that any character can equip in their offhand slot. A ranger could trade their offhand dagger or an assassin trade their offhand bow for the powerful attributes/perks of an amulet. This would also give the Berzerker and Knight subclasses a tradeoff, as they would be all but required to give up the ability to use Amulets in favor of dual-wielding or using a shield, respectively.
Hopefully this post has sufficiently excited you. Our spotty development history may lead you to believe that there’s no way we can accomplish all of these things in the next three months, and maybe we won’t be able to. But I hope by laying everything out in sufficient detail here the community can have something to be excited about and every person on the development team, from the programmers to the animators and builders can know exactly what needs to be done and can have a high degree of confidence that the end result of their labor will be something truly marvelous.
photo credit: @VideoApollo Screenshots Of Vesteria
Thank you to everyone who has supported the team through everything that’s happened. It’s been an incredibly difficult time for many of us on the team, but to those of you who have stuck by our side and believed in my vision for the game: know that you are the ones that we do this for. 2020 is gonna be a hell of a year for us.