thomas blair

Here’s how Crowfall is overhauling its skill system

Crowfall’s ramping up the dev blogs this week with a fresh one on the skills system. “Skills are one of the main methods of character progression,” ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains. “Skills train passively over time, whether you are offline or online, and they are based on the account, not the individual character. This means that when you train a skill, you get the benefit of that skill across any character on your account for which that skill is beneficial.”

The devs’ original plan was to have players train up from 1 to 100 in each skill, but as designed, that system didn’t cause players to feel as if they were making much progress. “It’s hard to get excited about a .001 gain per point,” Blair quips.

To fix it, ArtCraft’s changed up the model such that “the time it took to gain 20/100 points now equates to one pip” and “stat gains now ‘build up’ until each pip is earned.” Requirements that players complete training in a skill to jump ahead to the next skills have also been reduced or eliminated. Just know that the skill trees are due for a huge wipe and restructure thanks to the archetype skill overhaul.

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Crowfall Q&A video covers number squish and the difference between disciplines and classes

Do you like numbers? It’s summer, you shouldn’t have to think about math! That’s OK, the Crowfall team will deal with that for you. In this week’s new dev video Q&A, Design Lead Thomas Blair and Senior Game Designer Mark Halash take on the recent “number squish” and how to display numbers that matter during combat and crafting.

Of course, it’s not only counting really high. The devs also talk about an overhaul to the character sheet, how resource drops works, the progression model, the difference between disciplines and classes, and how they are restructuring skill trees.

Check it out after the break!

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Crowfall on mini-class disciplines, guilds, communication, and the dawning of campaign worlds

Crowfall’s Mark Halash and Thomas Blair are back with another Q&A video for the game with questions provided by backers. Starting off, Blair says that the “big world” push ArtCraft began half a year ago has more or less accomplished what the team wanted, and now it’s ready to move on to campaign worlds.

“We’re adding at a lightning pace,” he says by way of explaining some of the testing issues the game’s suffered earlier this month, but the studio’s in more of a polishing phase now. Also among the highlights?

  • “Guilds are pretty standard,” with the exception of sub-guilds. Eventually, guild tools beyond the community chest will be expanded.
  • No progress on mounts and caravans yet. The Campaign Worlds are slated for dev time first.
  • The Bard is a discipline right now instead of a class as the team is experimenting with how it all works. Classes have more overhead (like animations), whereas disciplines are fairly cheap to roll out, plus more players can take advantage of the new content. “We’re not done yet” with disciplines, Halash says.

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‘Reputation should matter’: Crowfall ties your account name to your character name

Anonymous griefers, Crowfall might not be the game for you. In May’s developer Q&A video, the team clarified that players’ character names will be the same as their account names in order to make reputation important within the community.

“Players enforce their own rules,” said Design Lead Thomas Blair about the lawless Dregs campaign world. “People who cause problems generally find that they will have a bad time. And in Crowfall, you can’t hide from a bad reputation because that’s your account name. So it’s not like, ‘Oh, I’ll go create an alt and fool more people.’ Reputation should matter.”

Other topics discussed included taking over points of interests, testing citadels, commerce in a rule-free world, and transporting materials across the world. You can watch the 13-minute video after the break!

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Take a peek at the development of Crowfall’s winged fae assassin class

OK, so “minimum viable product” is pretty much the worst thing an MMO dev can say about her game. But how about “minimum viable powers”? That’s the descriptor for the philosophy underpinning Crowfall’s power development, a new dev blog by ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today.

“We have been building each archetype with what we think would be a ‘minimum viable power’ kit for that archetype to be useful and fun in combat,” he says. “We are leaving ourselves room on the powers tray for the player to eventually slot additional combat powers (i.e., the ones that the player will acquire via disciplines, advantages or class promotions). In other words, don’t freak out about anything at this stage.”

As his chief example, he uses the Fae Assassin, a “stealthy, quick-attacking, stabby-stab type that utilizes poisons and has positional-based attacks,” to assure backers that the team didn’t accidentally forget about stealth and illuminate the game’s wing and poison mechanics. There’s also a dive into the Sin’s UI, which demos passive and active skills, the power bar, and modes like stealth. Definitely worth a look if you’re the type of gamer who prefers stabbing from the shadows (or, y’know, running away from people like that).

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Crowfall adds skill loadout customization

Thanks to a new update, Crowfall is giving its players more freedom than before in customizing their own playstyle. The focus here is on an adjustable user interface that allows a player to drag whichever skill they prefer into the hotbar slot of choice.

The discussion of this new UI feature involves a look at Crowfall’s three types of skills: active, passive, and retaliatory. These can be mapped to the number keys, letter keys, and mouse buttons as desired.

“It may seem a pretty mundane thing to talk about, but the arrival of this system portents so many things coming on the horizon (like Disciplines),” said Design Lead Thomas Blair. “No one has really needed to think about loading out their character’s powers in the past as each archetype was built to have a very specific loadout of powers, but now it will be vital to ensure you have the powers loaded out into their proper slots.”

Source: Crowfall

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Here’s how Crowfall is tweaking resource harvesting for Big World

Crowfall Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair has a new dev blog out this afternoon on the resource harvesting slice of the big world testing going on right now. To understand how it’s changing, you need to understand how the resource system was planned to work originally.

“The most important aspect of resources in Crowfall is that every resource type is important in the crafting system. We are not making a standard resource progression where copper is replaced by a higher tier material, thus turning copper into a low- end trash resource only useful for new players. […] Crafters will combine multiple resources types in meaningful ways to produce crafting components or items with interesting stats.”

Blair says that while the crafting design is working, the resource design wasn’t — chiefly because the models used for each don’t match up and the progression of different materials vs. tools was opaque to players unless they had a chart sitting in front of them.

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Crowfall shows off the ins and outs of crafting

Like peanut butter and chocolate, PvP and crafting seem to be two flavors that go very well together. Crowfall thinks so, at least, which is why the team is pouring a lot of effort into creating a robust and involving system with the help of legendary game designer Raph Koster.

In a new demo video, Lead Designer Thomas Blair takes players through a tour of how Crowfall’s harvesting and crafting mechanics work. While Blair uses a special test area that won’t be available to players in the live game, you can still get the gist of how all of this will work in Crowfall’s campaign worlds and eternal kingdoms.

Will Crowfall’s crafting suck you in? Is this everything an MMO gathering and crafting system should be? The 43-minute tour awaits you after the break!

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Crowfall’s Raph Koster and Thomas Blair on the challenges of MMORPG harvesting

Harvesting in an MMORPG is just the boring gruntwork you have to trudge through before you can get to the glory of crafting — or it is? That’s just one of the challenges inbound PvP MMO Crowfall is faced with when it comes to its crafting system. In a new dev video out today, ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas Blair and Design Consultant Raph Koster discuss harvesting and resources and just how they all fit into the game, giving us an a “fly on the wall” perspective of the design process.

For example, Koster questions the harvesting system’s plan for dealing with a surplus of low level resources once the game is mature, since the game incentivizes higher-end materials. “I’m hoping that we don’t have that problem,” Blair says, “because everything is used for the alloy system.” The pair also namedrop Star Wars Galaxies when trying to sort out vertical dependencies and stop crafters from becoming their own sub-component suppliers without being “punitive.”

Crafter and economy players, it’s worth a watch just to see them talk through the problems — they’re problems every MMO must deal with, after all.

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Crowfall Q&A sheds light on the soft launch and the feedback process

In its Q&A session for the month of September, Crowfall Design Lead Thomas Blair and Creative Director Todd Coleman celebrate a whole year of videos and blow their entire special effects budget. OK, they also answer some questions about the game, specifically on fall damage, positional combat, and environmental gravity; technical changes to formerly for sale strongholds and palaces; iteration on skill combo resources; soft-launch campaigns; and Eternal Kingdom building restrictions.

There’s a neat tidbit about iteration and community feedback in there too.

“You ask anyone in the office, you look at the forums, and [opinion on something] could be split half-half, and you’re like, well which way do we go? We gotta pick one,” Blair says, to which Coleman replies, “Half and half is great! Because that means we’re probably OK. When 90% of the players hate something, that’s when we know we have to change it.” Then Coleman turns back to the camera with a laugh. “And yes, we know there’s a lot of stuff that still falls in that category. We’re still working on it! Give us time, please, I’m begging you.”

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Crowfall devs on stats, emotes, and chat bubbles

Have a spare few minutes in your day to exchange for a little Crowfall enlightenment? Creative Director J. Todd Coleman and Lead Designer Thomas Blair whipped up a nine-and-a-half minute video to address seven community questions.

The topics range from explanations about stats, whether emotes are being created (not right now), how inventory works in Crowfall (think Diablo-style), chat bubbles, and the purpose behind the Assassin’s wings. She can’t fly, but boy can she glide and feather fall, so those wings aren’t just for show!

You can watch the full Q&A below!

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Crowfall Q&A talks about Eternal Kingdoms and next playable archetypes

The Crowfall community has no end of questions for the ArtCraft team, and ArtCraft has no end of time to answer them. Actually, today ArtCraft only has a little under eight minutes, but hey, that still is enough time to cover some ground.

In a new commuity Q&A video, Creative Director J. Todd Coleman and Design Lead Thomas Blair tackle several topics raised by the community, including how campaign locking works and what restrictions will be placed on adding points of interest in one’s Eternal Kingdom. The devs said that the coming big update, Temple War, will be engineering-heavy, so as a result the next archetype released will use as many pre-existing tech tools as possible to keep development time down. This means that we’re more likely to see the Templar than the Assassin or Frostweaver.

Check out the Q&A after the jump!

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Crowfall’s healer/nuker Druid archetype isn’t a ‘firehose healer’

Crowfall devs confirmed today that they are indeed working on the Druid archetype. In fact, ArtCraft’s goal is to integrate the Druid into the Hunger Dome and Siege Perilous testing phases.

“[The Druid] is really starting to look great!” writes Design Lead Thomas Blair in a dev blog today. “The base equipment set is done, the character is all rigged and ready to start integrating into the game. That means we’ve started creating all of her alternate armor sets, designing her powers and crafting both her unique animations and her spell FX.”

The Druid plays like a ranged healer and ranged nuker, but Blair argues she isn’t a “firehose” healer.

“I said we don’t have any ‘firehose’ healers, the kind that a party might need to take on a boss monster at the end of a dungeon raid. However, we do have support classes, like the Legionnaire, that can be instrumental in helping your team be more effective once deployed on the battlefield. The Druid is a lot more versatile then your traditional PvE firehose healer. When we were designing her power kit and thinking about her thematically, having two trays made the most sense.”

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