As many of you may know, the meme of a 3.0 release has existed since the first iteration of the patch was delayed. This eventually became a tradition within our community, especially as its contents were sealed away from the community the entire time. That was changed a while back, as this newest iteration of staff released an information dump regarding 3.0 and the mechanics that had been kept from the community. I'm glad to say that the unrefined work that you saw in the previous info-dump has been now fully updated to a higher standard which we believe will be better for our community. A lot of the work has been towards ensuring balance, but also towards maintaining a level of complexity that isn't too harsh for a roleplay site. There are numerous changes that are too many to list in this blog post but I will be sure to making a patch notes in our usual style eventually for those who simply wish to peruse the differences from our current systems and this (nearly) finalized version of 3.0. Of course, none of these things are set in stone. Part of doing this is to ensure transparency between staff and community while also receiving feedback on updates before they get released. There's quite a bit of stuff to trawl through (69 pages of it), but we'll be doing our best to make sure that the systems side of 3.0 is settled.
However, before we move onto the info-dump an important note has to be made. The Floor Team has also been through the arduous task of trying to update all of the floors and quests to something more substantial than we currently have. They have tried to flesh out all of the floors and quests that have previously lacked detail and direction while maintaining the flexibility that our site tries to maintain. While Floor Team has made amazing strides towards this goal, they have not had the ability to work on it as long as the mechanics were being developed. This push has been done largely in the past several months and with the level of quality they have put towards their reworked quests and floors alongside their real lives and other hobbies, there simply isn't enough time. When 3.0 is released, floors and quests will see a rolling update. In other words, they will be updated incremently. The currrent goal is that all quests should at least have their mechanics (mainly the damage, HP, EXP, etc.) updated to 3.0 so players have something to do while they are being fleshed out by Floor Team. I realize that Floor Team's current project was something that may not have been expected, but I wanted to put this forward in case anyone knew and had high hopes for a complete rewrite of the inner workings of site as we know it.
Without further ado, have at it.
Sword Art Effects:
Custom Skills and Sword Arts in 3.0
Hello there, fellow vestigial remnants of our casually decaying reality.
There are some big changes coming in 3.0 when it comes to your Skills and how you can sort them. There will no longer be Skill slots, meaning you can collect as many standard Skills as you want. We will, however, be implementing a cap on Extra Skills, as well as reclassifying certain Skills into the Extra Skills category. As the system is set up currently, it's all too common to see players at a higher level filling a "Jack of All Trades" sort of role, where they simply have so much SP that they can spec into any specialty. Someone can be a tank, DPS, support, medic, and scout all at once. While we enjoy the versatility that our system allows, we do believe that there should be some element that forces players to pick and choose which role they are fulfilling at a given time. Changing the Extra Skill system into one with a limited number of slots and designating certain key Skills as Extra Skills accomplishes this without compromising one's ability to acquire and utilize as many standard core Skills as they desire.
Here's the table for how the Extra Skill slots would work.
Slot 1 - Unlocked upon completion of the Gemini.
Slot 2 - Unlocked at Tier 2
Slot 3 - Unlocked at Tier 3
Slot 4 - Unlocked at Tier 4
Slot 5 - Unlocked at Tier 5
Slot 6 - Unlocked at Tier 6
Slot 7 - Unlocked at Tier 7
Slot 8 - Unlocked at Tier 8
Slot 9 - Unlocked at Tier 9
Slot 10 - Unlocked at Tier 10
Extra Skills will be unlocked via completion of certain quests. Similar to the way that mods work now, which Extra Skills you have active in your available slots can be changed freely while out of combat - but this must be declared. This means that you still have a great level of control over your kit, and can be as versatile as you want to be within reason. You just simply won't be able to do everything all at the same time, which will encourage cooperation with your peers when it comes to more difficult challenges. Role designation will be important as you coordinate party optimization with the rest of your team, but you won't be stuck in that role forever if you don't want to be.
As with most things in 3.0, this may be subject to change before the final draft of the project is produced. But this brief explanation was necessary so we could dig into the good part.
Custom Skills and Sword Arts.
The part I'm sure you've been waiting for. You probably read the title and were like, "Woah, that sounds awesome." Then you had to sit through my boring Systems lecture. You may have thought to yourself at some point, "What does this have to do with Custom Skills and Custom Sword Arts?" All will be explained with time, you eager beaver.
You see, there are going to be benchmark rewards for reaching certain Paragon Levels in 3.0. One such proposed benchmark reward would be a choice between creating a Custom Skill or Custom Sword Art. For additional clarification, the benchmark reward would be creating a single Custom Skill or Custom Sword Art. Let's break this down.
If the earner of this benchmark level opts to create a Custom Skill, they will get to do just that. The Custom Skill will cost 10 SP to add to their kit, and will behave as an Extra Skill. Given its cost, it will be expected to be a Skill of middle-of-the-road quality. Good enough that 10 SP is worth the purchase, but not so good that 10 SP seems cheap for it. All Custom Skills will go through staff for approval via your evaluation thread before use.
Custom Skills should be seen as an opportunity to either round out your build, or push your specialization further in a way that makes it unique and stands out from the crowd. There are no strict rules for constructing this Custom Skill, only that it should be reasonable and comparable in value to the other Extra Skills that exist. As these Custom Skills will be handled on a case-by-case basis, there is no firm rubric for how they should be constructed. Once you've reached the benchmark Paragon Level, you need only submit your Custom Skill concept. If staff does not believe that it can be approved as-is, we will give our feedback and suggestions for how it should be adjusted.
Now here's the kicker. Custom Skills can be taught to fellow players. If you are in possession of a Custom Skill, simply roleplay a scenario in which your character teaches the Skill to another. Once the relevant thread is closed, the Custom Skill will then become available for purchase for the other character. That character may then also teach the Custom Skill to other characters. In this way, players can pick and choose who has access to the Custom Skill in question. You can create a Custom Skill to share with only your group of friends, or create one to share with everyone! How the Custom Skill propagates, if it does, is completely at the discretion of the player(s) that has/have it.
One important thing to note is that, under the current proposal, there is no limit to the number of Custom Skills that can be slotted congruently. A player could, conceivably, acquire four Custom Skills and fill up all of their Extra Skill slots with them in Tier 4. The only limitation is the limited number of Extra Skill slots itself. Filling up all of your Extra Skill slots with only Custom Skills would deprive your kit of other fundamental Extra Skills that exist. We are leaving this open at the time being to see how it plays out. However, we reserve the right to change this and impose a limitation to the number of Custom Skills that can be equipped congruently, or forbid the combined equipping of particular Custom Skills, at any time. If a combination of Extra Skills comes about that is particularly game-breaking, we will take steps to mitigate their abuse.
Custom Sword Arts
If the earner of this benchmark level opts to instead create a Custom Sword Art, guess what? They get to make a Custom Sword Art. The Custom Sword Art would be added to your SA list as a Rank 5 Sword Art. It will have the same cooldown as the already existing Rank 5 SA, and when you use one of your Rank 5 SAs, it will proc the cooldown for both. You get your choice of which attribute(s) to apply to the Custom Sword Art, between Stun, AoE, Delay, and Focus - even if what you choose doesn't coincide with the weapon type's standard attributes! All Custom Sword Arts will go through staff for approval via your evaluation thread before use.
Custom Sword Arts should be seen as an opportunity to round our your weapon type's versatility, and an allowance to pull off unique feats with your weapon that would otherwise be inaccessible. The rules are slightly more strict when it comes to Custom Sword Arts. High damaging Custom Sword Arts (read: high multiplier) will be limited to one attribute, but if you sacrifice some damage and go with a lower multiplier, you can choose up to two attributes for the Sword Art. In addition, a player may only have one Custom Sword Art equipped at a time. Just as with Custom Skills, Custom Sword Arts will also be handled on a case-by-case basis. Reach the Paragon Level benchmark, submit your concept, and staff will evaluate it. If it cannot be approved as-is, we will offer feedback for what would make the SA acceptable.
Custom Sword Arts may be taught, just like Custom Skills. The methodology of doing so is the same as with a Custom Skill; simply roleplay a scenario in which your character teaches the technique to another character. When the thread is closed, that Sword Art will then be available for the other character to use so long as they have achieved Rank 5 of their weapon mastery. That character will then be able to teach the Custom Sword Art to other characters. The really neat thing is that, unless specified by the creator, Custom Sword Arts are cross-compatible with other weapon types of the same handiness. So a Custom Sword Art made for a two-handed weapon will be compatible with all two-handed weapon types. Likewise. A Custom Sword Art created for a one-handed weapon will be compatible with all one-handed weapons. The creator of the Custom Sword Art may choose to designate a specific weapon type in the description of the Custom Sword Art, if they don't want to allow cross-compatibility.
Being that the current rules and restrictions are already fairly concrete, we don't expect much to change with them. But just as with the Custom Skills, we reserve the right to add additional rules, restrictions, conditions, addendums, or any other change we deem necessary at any time. If game-breaking exploits of this system are recognized and abused, we will take steps to mitigate this.
Summary and Concerns
We believe that this extra level of customization will really allow people to carve their own niche and flesh our character builds in an interesting way. It's also a fantastic reward for having put so much time and effort into the website. Being that the Custom Skills and Sword Arts need to go through the evaluation process, there is an additional burden placed on staff to process them. But rest assured, this is a particularly high benchmark to hit, and that itself will bottleneck the workload. It won't be another Father Wuotan situation where we are juggling dozens of requests at a time and scrambling to get everything sorted and approved.
One potential concern raised by my team is that this system, and the teaching mechanic that comes along with it, will create somewhat of a new economy within the roleplay. Custom Skill and Sword Art information has the potential to become a powerful bargaining tool. Moreover, there may be particularly tantalizing Custom Skills or Sword Arts that the creator chooses to keep more exclusive, teaching the Skill or Sword Art to only an inner circle of trusted peers (or even choosing not to teach it to anyone). It is because of these aspects that we have chosen to take this concept and put it to a vote with the community, rather than simply implementing it when it might not even be something that the community wants.
You are encouraged to include a post in response to this poll along with your vote to share your thoughts or concerns. When voting, please do not select the option for wanting neither of these mechanics just so you can insert a personal opinion about a different system you would like more. We would like to keep discussion on this poll relevant to the topic at hand, and not let it spiral into other concepts or debates. Please also do not select the option for wanting neither of these mechanics to propose an addendum to one or both of these mechanics. If you like the concept, but would like to see something detailed here adjusted or changed, vote in support of them and explain the change you would like to see in relation to the content of this blog. Following these basic rules will help keep our data accurate. Voting on this topic will automatically close on Friday, June 12th at noon. It did not specify if this is my noon, or a website-wide arbitrarily assigned noon, so don't ask me what kind of noon it is. It's just... noon.
That's it. You finally reached the end. Why are you still reading this? Go vote already.
We recently had a discussion in the staff chat, and thought it would be appropriate to bring it to the community. The conversation ran along the lines of how much work goes into the events that take place around site. Keeping track of everyone's stats, keeping the events in context and engaging, and making sure that things stay on a reasonable timetable can really take a lot out of a person. Because of this, the idea was brought forth that perhaps it would be appropriate to reward the people who work on making events like this possible. A concern we had was how the community might feel about something like this, especially if we implemented it behind closed doors without talking to you all about it first. We don't want you guys to think that we're just trying to give ourselves an edge here, so we're asking for your input. Do you feel that the people working on these events should get rewarded for their efforts? Why, or why not? What sorts of rewards do you think would be appropriate if we were to move forward with this? Let us know in the comments!
Check out the latest information for 3.0!!! Give us your feedback!
Note from the team:
Hello members of the SAO RPG forums! Welcome to a debate topic that the system's dev team put together (along with a few others) to get you guy's opinion! This topic involves the weapons system! The main star of this particular debate topic are sword art cooldowns! essentially, there's a bit of a dilemma that we're currently having in regards to that, which is the type of cooldowns we're going to have for sword arts, and whether or not they should change from sword art to sword art. We also plan to make the amount of sword arts gained by ranking up the skill more uniform, and make sure there isn't such a major discrepancy like there is now.
We're also throwing around the idea of potential additions to effects and changes in multipliers so that each weapon fits into their respective niches. Our aim with this is to get you guys (the player base) to add strategy to your attacks, instead of just mindlessly going attack this! attack that! etc, etc... BUT! Please bear in mind, this is currently something that we staff members are currently hard at work with, and something that we're hoping for you guys to give us feedback on! Continue down in order to see the next section of the Debate/see the poll options!
Before reading our proposals, we highly urge you take a few moments to think about what solution you would implement for the cooldowns (if any) and write them down you can keep them in mind. This is so that it doesn't seem like a simple vote between either proposal, and rather more of an open discussion where you can pitch your own idea (or dissenting opinion)."
(Seriously though, form your own opinions before you read the rest of this. We want you guys to give us your own suggestions in regard to this!)
Proposal A is that we should have a flat cooldown for all Sword Arts. The idea would be that one-handed weapons would get a 2 turn cooldown, whereas two-handed weapons would get a 3 turn cooldown. The benefit to a system like this is that it is very straightforward and predictable, leaving less for the roleplayer to keep track of and ultimately making the system a bit less confusing. The con to this is that we run into conflicts like Rank 1 2H users having to go a turn without using a Sword Art, and a general lack of a feeling of progression outside of higher multipliers (highest tier Sword Art has identical cooldown to lowest tier Sword Art).
Proposal B is that we should see variety in the Sword Arts with lighter cooldowns, only 1 or 2 turns in general. As a general rule of thumb, one-handed weapons would favor 1 turn cooldowns more, while two-handed weapons would favor 2 turn cooldowns. When approaching Rank 4 we could see these cooldowns ramp up a bit into the 2 or 3 turn territory, with the lower side of these cooldowns favoring one-handed weapons. Once breaking into the Rank 5 Sword Arts, we see another bump into the 3 to 5 cooldown territory, and make the final Sword Art big. The benefit to a system like this is more freedom of control over making every weapon unique, as well as more in-depth control over balancing between one-handed and two-handed weapon types. We also get that sense of progression I mentioned earlier. The obvious drawback is this gives the roleplayer a lot more to keep track of, and can be confusing until you've memorized what your Sword Arts are, what your optimal succession of Sword Arts is for the best damage to cooldown ratio, etc. It also makes the system more complicated for us to manage while deliberating on how to structure each weapon and balance them against one another, which leads to a longer process in getting these Sword Arts fleshed out.
The current Compromise idea would be having a standard cooldown convention like suggested in Proposal A, while each Rank gets a Sword Art with a reduced cooldown to ensure there can be a steady flow of Sword Art use.
Guys, we genuinely want for you to share your opinions, and to encourage debate among yourselves! Give us your opinions, give us your feedback!