Last night we prepped a new version of the game to the TEST environment that combined elements of our Siege Perilous testing from last year with the much-more-functional Campaign World milestone that we’ve been testing over the course of the last month.
Integrating the Siege Test (which was an instanced map) into the Campaign World (which is a persistent world) took a bit of trickery. We basically mashed them together and have been working out the kinks as they come. Now that it’s rolling out to the playerbase at large, I thought it might be helpful to pause for a moment and cover the basics, so you guys know how the integrated parts work as a whole.
A Campaign will consist of multiple Sieges. For this round of testing, the Campaign will last several days; ultimately, Campaigns will have different durations and rulesets. Players will select a faction – Balance, Chaos or Order – when they enter the Campaign and this will be their faction for the duration of that Campaign.
Forts will continue to be claimed as before, with one notable exception: the immunity timer has been changed from 30 minutes to one hour. These Forts were intended to be “Siege Lite” points of interest (POIs) – they aren’t as impactful as Keeps, and they’re meant to change hands much more often. That said, right now they change ownership CONSTANTLY, which means factions aren’t enticed to upgrade them – and that’s not really the intent.
This timer change is a step in the right direction, but probably still not enough to make them fully functional. We are still playing with the impact of Forts, so expect more changes in the near future.
Keeps now use a different capture mechanic: they require you to plant a Tree of Life on the platform at the top level of the great hall. To plant a Tree of Life, you need a Golden Apple. These Golden Apples will spawn at building material POIs (mines, mills and quarries), and they will drop occasionally when harvesting trees. This allows a player of any level of advancement to acquire one.
If a player plants one of these in an unclaimed Keep, they will claim that Keep on behalf of their faction. For the first five minutes after the Tree of Life is planted, the Keep will be protected from attack. The Tree of Life will also provide complete protection to the walls, towers and buildings of that stronghold until a Siege is initiated by an opposing faction.
To initiate a Siege on a Keep, the attacking faction must feed a Banewood Tree at one or more of the three predetermined locations around the Keep. To grow a Banewood Tree, players must bring a Golden Apple and a Hunger Shard to the small dais where the trees spawn. Hunger Shards can currently be found by skinning hellcats and boars (and, in the near future, will also be available in the chests surrounding mines, mills and quarries). After the first Banewood Tree is planted, there will be a five-minute period before the actual siege begins; this is will give both parties time to prepare their forces and to gather materials to build catapults and reinforce walls.
Catapults can be found at fixed locations around the outside of the Keep. They can be built up with materials found at the aforementioned POIs. Once they’ve been built, players can use them by standing in the glowing rune at their left and pressing F to interact. You can aim them by shifting the reticle with the mouse, and then press the 1 key to fire. If you want to leave the catapult and get right into the fight, just press F to dismount the catapult and take control of your character again.
Once the siege begins, the siege rules will be very similar to the ones we used in Siege Perilous testing last year: attackers must destroy the Tree of Life to win and defenders must destroy all available Banewood Trees to break the siege (or they can simply defend their Tree of Life until the siege timer runs out). During this time, both catapults and defensive structures (walls and towers) will be vulnerable to being demolished. So make sure you’re defending your catapults even while you’re tearing down walls! Planting more than one Banewood Tree is probably a good idea, as it will force the defenders to take out multiple objectives in order for the Siege to be lifted.
During the Campaign, the objective for the Balance faction is to ensure that Chaos and Order win an equal number of Sieges. They may do this by assisting the losing faction, at the risk of being vulnerable to friendly fire as well as enemy fire; by claiming and defending their own Keeps so that they won’t be available to the other factions; or by doing nothing and waiting to see how the Siege plays out before getting into the fray.
The siege timer is currently set to 30 minutes, which is plenty of time for a well-organized group of attackers to ruin walls, overrun their opponents and destroy the Tree of Life. Being proactive about destroying Bane Trees and ending the Siege early is highly-advised.
When the Siege ends (whether in victory or defeat), any wall or tower segments that had their magical barriers (the blue health bar) completely destroyed will return to their foundation state and will need to be build up again. Any that still have a magic barrier intact, even a little, will be fully healed by the Tree of Life.
If the attackers win the Siege, there is a 30-second stand-off window in which a new Tree of Life cannot be planted and (thus) the Keep can’t yet be claimed. As soon as this period is over, anyone will be able to plant a new Tree of Life, thus claiming the keep for their faction.
If the defenders succeed in protecting their Keep, there is a 10-minute window of invulnerability in which no new Banewood Trees can be planted. This is to allow the defenders time to repair damage to their walls and marshal their strength for the next declaration of war.
Keep in mind that ALL of the above timers are adjustable – we’ve set them purposefully slow to facilitate testing of the Siege mechanics.
A FEW OTHER THINGS
Thanks to popular demand, we also increased the number of imports and exports to 20/20! This should make things easier for you guys to test.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
Remember that our ultimate goal is to start our “first official Campaign.” While we realize that Campaign will likely be unpolished (it’s inevitable at this phase of development) we are putting every effort into making it as an enjoyable as possible. We appreciate you testing with us, and recognize that it is often important to remember that these playtests are more “test” than “play”!
By helping us work through the last remaining issues, you’re moving us ever closer to the finish line.
As always, thank you so much for your patience and effort. Please let us know on the forums about any bugs and issues you find while you’re playing.
See you in game!
J Todd Coleman
Creative Director, ArtCraft Entertainment