Often there's a lingering question among the players on the server that we've had trouble answering, and that is 'where is this server heading'? It's a tough question to answer because we never wrote it out until recently. A painful point for us is that it took a few weeks to really determine what kind of playerbase we attracted and where we wanted to take it ourselves. What we eventually settled upon is a PvE Centric Medium level RP server with heavy PvP elements. Meaning that we'll largely rely on PvE content to fill the time. PvP will have its place, however, but not a single member of our staff could agree on the idea that it should be the main activity or focus. Instead there will be several systems in place to encourage PvP, and punishment for death in PvP will be down, if not none. However, the emphasis is always on the potential of PvP, not the guarantee. We want to keep the rush in, and we feel desensitizing isn't the way to go there.
We'll be toning down on some of our 'realism' systems and put more emphasis on fun. So far we didn't get much of an opportunity to do so as we've mostly been fixing exploitable mechanics, but we expect to be done with that at some point in the nearby future (as without a doubt we'll be surprised a few times more, but the most pressing should be gone).
The nearby future
What is in store for you in the nearby future are some pressing tools and changes needed to survive in the low player climate. We're thinking up a mechanic for players to group up safely (with the most primitive form of that being a teleport on a 8 hour cooldown) so you don't have to sit around in an empty fort after you log in. There's going to be a new form of gold gain and a bunch of cool new stores to replace the current heavily overpriced ones too.
Right now, we don't have much of a choice but to carry the server with DM activity on weekends. We apologize for that, but we do have positive news on the horizon.
The slightly less nearby future
The first 'big' update is doing the final tweak to a few mechanics so we hopefully don't have to look back at this again anytime soon any more. However, I'd like to put emphasis on the word few here. There's little spells being changed and two feats. What is big about this update is the CNR content. We're talking a big expansion on Armourcrafting, Tinkering, Tailoring, Alchemy, and possibly Enchanting. Our way of balancing wound up being shifting item powers around. Some of our noteworthy fixes to make the non mainstream more viable are the inclusion of bracers that offer shield AC, the inclusion of rings that provide natural AC. And actual craftable tailoring items that will provide you a general boost. However, a new big focus will be the preparation of consumables (yes, things besides healing kits that will result in you needing less healing kits). The best way to cut down the reliance on spellcasters is to provide ways of obtaining the spells they cast, albeit in weakened form. And the full form through alchemy (albeit much harder to obtain).
A major feature of the coming balance update is a system we lovingly named PAT, or the PvE Auto Tuner. A magical system that will over time solve most of our PvE balance needs through automatic and easily adjustable tuning of PvE encounters on massive scales. Simultaneously, it will introduce a greater amount of variety in what you will be facing and drastically speed up our development time for content. Accompanying this will be an AI that should smarten up our current mess massively. Our goal here is to make general encounters more interesting, doable and feel worthwhile.
Another big update
The second 'big' update along the road is a content patch for the module focused on Ranzington. Ranzington will get further worked out and a whole bunch of new islands and adventures will be mapped out. There may be some lower level dungeons being released for the forts too, however, this update will coincide (although likely be released later) with the release of nwsync, or the hak autodownloader tool beamdog is releasing.
For the lore afficionados, most of the added islands will be related to the Moonshae. You can expect a general theme of highly uncivilized areas and people of barbaric nature.
The distant future
What the distant future holds is our mega dungeon, or the Underdark. The amount of layers it'll have is quite intense and will not be spoiled. The minimap will reset itself, there'll be eEs spread all over the tiers and in general it'll be tuned for the higher levels. Stay on the look out for news in game on this. It might be introduced gradually over a long period of time, and likely in a subtle fashion.
So what about those PvP mechanics?
A few sample things that were temporarily stored into the freezer while we got things together were controllable resource points, outposts, and possibly wandering scouts that alarm the other faction of your presence.
There's a lot of discussion going on on what they'd entail, hence why we'll be remaining quiet on this a bit longer while we implement actual things to do and make sure you can go outside of the gate without worrying for a certain punishing death awaiting you.
When will the specifics for these updates be released?
Generally approximately 2 weeks prior to updating. For the first set of large changes (not the essential tools! the release date on those are asap) I estimate that to be this weekend. However, this may also be the weekend after. PAT is a large system and requires some extensive testing.