We have been hard at work on the 1.1 patch. Today we built an internal alpha which went to our testers and they began reporting issues, bugs, etc. Our feature list isn't completely implemented yet, there are still a few things to checkin but I expect that they will be all in by Monday. The team has been told to focus on bug fixes and polish between now and next Thursday (11/18/2010) which we are targeting as the date for the release of the public 1.1 beta.
What is coming?
Toby already posted about the two major changes coming in 1.1. Global Mana and Population as a resource (in that improvements consume population). Global mana is a significant change to the magic side of the game, and all the spells have been adjusted to account for it. Population to improvements is a significant change to the economic side of the game, forcing players to balance their population between economic, production and military goals.
There are a lot of UI improvements, one of my favorites is the city idle popup. You now get warned when a city has nothing let in its queue, and you have the opportunity to jump right to it.
But 1.1 also includes a rebalancing of all the stats, combat, equipment and creatures. The goal here is to visit all the core stats, baseline them and make sure the numbers are reasonable. Toby has been working on it and I don't envy him, its a herculian task and it won't be perfect right out of the gate but it will be a step in the right direction and we will be looking for opportunities to make it even better.
One detail part of the rebalance is that we had to review what all the stats did. This is was they do in the current version of Elemental:
Strength- Every point of strength over 10 gives +10% to damage.
Dexterity- Every point of dexterity over 10 gives +10% to your armors absorption (aka:defense).
Constitution- Constitution is added to your max hit points.
Intellect- Intelligence is used by various spells to adjust damage/effects.
Wisdom- Wisdom was kind of a non-used stat but in some places Essence was referred to as wisdom, Essence increased your max MP.
Charisma- Charisma is used to reduce the cost of recruiting NPC's (champions). Charisma didn't do anything for champions.
In 1.1 they have been changed to the following:
Strength- Modifies damage
Dexterity- Modifies dodge
Constitution- Modifies hit points
Intelligence- Modifies spell resistance, boosts some spells, required for Champions to cast some spells
Charisma- Sovereigns Charisma modifies Champion recruit costs. Champions and the Sovereign give a prestige boost to the city they are in.
That leaves us with the following formulas:
Attack (which is damage) = Weapon Attack + ((Strength - 10)/2)
Defense (which is damage absorb) = Armor Defense
Accuracy = 15 + (Level * 2)
= Dexterity / 2
Hit Points = 10 + ( (Constitution / 5) * (2 * Level) )
Spell Resistance = Intelligence / 2
Prestige Boost in City = Charisma / 5
Elemental uses opposing roles for combat. So if I have 23 Accuracy (I'm 4th level) and you have 5 Dodge (you have a Dexterity of 10) then we both roll from 1 to our rating and the highest roll wins. I get a random number from 1-23 and you get a random number from 1-5, meaning there is about a 87% chance I will hit you. The numbers are strongly weighted in the attackers favor as we didn't want to have long strings of misses going back and forth. (in fact as I look at it now I think it may now be weighted enough, we may need to change accuracy to level * 3)
The nice thing about this system is that it never becomes impossible to hit or damage anyone. It may become unlikely, but its never a waste of your time, and no creature is ever not a threat.
Strength modifies damage as it did before but its no longer such a huge impact. We were having problems balancing weapons because a 15 attack weapon on a 40 strength guy is 45 attack. Now that would be a 30 attack, still huge but workable.
Dexterity used to add to your damage absorption. Which is fairly non-intuitive for Dexterity and kept us from designing more specialized creatures. We want some creatures to be easy to hit and hard to damage, and others to be hard to hit but easy to damage, to makes them more or less difficult against different parties and attackers. It gives us design room to grow into.
Constitution now modifies hit points per level. But the most important part is that hit points are now modified per level! As your sovereign and champions levels up they will gain hit points, no more glass cannons. We have played with a few numbers to get a progression that values level and the players constitution reasonably, but all the above formula's might be tweaked based on playtest feedback.
Wisdom is gone now. There are now 5 base stats (as there are 5 factions on each side, 5 tech tree branches, etc) and Intelligence is the "magic" stat. We have to balance this stat a bit differently than most games because every sovereign is a caster but we don't want to make it isn't worth putting points in other stats. We also use it as a limiter for what spells champions can cast, but your sovereign's don't have the restriction.
Charisma is our non-combat stat. We really wanted to allow players to build sovereigns that were never planned for combat. They stay at home. Charisma is a great stat for that. The city your sovereign is in will get increased prestige, you can recruit cheaper champions (and let them fight your wars for you) and if you recruit high charisma champions you can use those in your cities to push prestige even higher.
So why do we focus on stat adjustments? It certainly isn't the sexiest part of the game, and many players will play without even noticing they changed. From a code perspective removing a stat is harder than adding a stat (since you have to get everything that references it) so it's a lot of work without much direct payoff.
The reason is that it's where you have to begin to balance anything after. In order to balance the armor we have to know what the stats effect on armor is (formerly +10% per point of dex over 10, now no effect on armor). In order to balance weapons we have to know strengths exact effect, previously we couldn't create high attack weapons because strength had such a huge impact that it was exponential. Making strength more linear allows us to make weapons more varied. Now that we have accuracy and dodge in we can create big weapons with high damage but penalties to hit, or small weapons with bonuses to hit or speed, but low damage. We have more range to work with.