Welcome to Summer 2012! It has been a while since our last Developer's Desk, so I wanted to take a moment to review what we've accomplished and what we plan on doing in the future. So far in 2012, we've released two content updates as well as some significant client upgrades.

Quite a bit of work has been done on the Client. Some long-standing bugs have been fixed, and new features have been added. All in all, the client team has been hard at work over the first part of 2012 and will continue to improve and extend the client in the coming months and years. Some of the big changes and features to the Client so far have been:

  • Object Fading: We had a number of players comment about how objects “pop” into the scene, which obstructed with keeping their view distance far. We introduced an object fade system so that objects and structures fade into the scene instead of popping. Players can now view long distances while objects gently load and unload.
  • New Slash Commands: The newly implemented commands include “/lasttarget,” which allows players to select the last targeted entity, and “/cyclenearestcorpse,” (or /cnc) which cycles through nearby corpses to loot them. When macroed, these commands simplify targeting greatly.
  • Shadows: Istaria has had plain, circular shadows for quite a long time. The latest client introduced real shadows for the player, as well as all world objects. This makes a huge difference in the game’s appearance, and with computers as powerful as they are today, it’s a minimal load for great visual effect.
  • Launcher 2: The new version of the launcher has been released and combines a number of character management features into a single interface. Some character management functions previously required a visit to our web site, but these, along with additional information, are now in one easy-to-access place.

The entire team is proud of what has been accomplished, and the new features and performance are definitely great! But what about content, you say? Well, we released an update in March and another at the start of July. While there is too much to discuss in detail, I'll cover some of the key points from both updates:

  • Lesser Aradoth Revamp: A major update to the entire island that included retouching every spawn in an effort to create a more entertaining and consistent experience. Monster levels now begin at 10 rather than 1 and progress in difficulty from Kion south to Sslanis. In addition, quests on the island were revamped so that you are led in a progression from north to south, from Kion to Parsinia, to Sslanis, and ending at Lower Bridgeview. The intent for this island is that you can now easily raise a character from about level 10 into the low 20’s before moving to the main island.
  • Plot Mergers and Upgrades: A major and long-awaited update to the plots of the world was completed with the Summer Content Update. Some plots in non-guild communities have been removed, others increased in size, and nearly all of them were repriced. The goal of this update was to make plots more appealing and in-reach of players of all experience levels. Prices tend to be lowest in Tier 1 communities and highest in Tier 6 for both biped plots and dragon lairs.
  • Festivals: Both the Spring and Summer Festivals were released, which included some new hats (Paper Bag with variations, Wizard’s Hat), new murals for Lairs, fun games and quests including a Maze in the summer update, and a new fire pit for players to gather around and tell stories. The team had spent some time gathering feedback from our players as to what they’d like to see as a summer event, and while not everything could be introduced this year, we garnered some great feedback for future years and were able to incorporate some ideas into this year’s event.
  • World Improvements: While not as big as the other updates, we addressed issues in many parts of the world, including Scorpion Island, Mithril Canyons, Trandalar (specifically Acul and the Valleys of Repose and the Moon) and other regions. We made improvements to the world appearance, monster and resource spawns, and in some cases, we added quests to the areas.

So, that is what was accomplished over the last seven months. But, what do we hope to accomplish in the next few months? Well, first and foremost, we’ll be bringing back the Fall Festival, along with some new artwork for Masks. And there are many smaller fixes, tweaks, and additions we’ll likely make. But that's not all because we’re also planning two major updates:

The release of the long-awaited and requested Crystalshaper school for Dragons! The new Crystalshaper school will specialize in crafting consumable crystals that will provide new buffs as well as a few “old” buffs, such as Primal Vengeance and Eminence. Crystals will be created using existing resources (Orbs and Azulyte) as well as a new adventurer-gathered resource. Adventurers (both biped and dragon) will be able to purchase abilities that allow them to “Inspire” specific emotions (such as Rage, Peace, Apathy, etc) in their enemies. These emotions will cause specific loot to drop when the monster has been defeated, and those items will be used by Crystalshapers in creating their crystals. Finally, and these requirements are still tentative, joining the school will require you to be an Adult Dragon of at least level 80 Adventurer and level 20 Lairshaper to join. Coinciding with the release of the Crystalshaper school is the introduction of a new mini-dungeon called the “Fiery Rift”! This challenge will be populated with Tier 5 (level 80-90) monsters.

How do we top the first new school for Istaria in more than 6 years? Well, trust us when we say that it is surely difficult! But, we believe that we have the right ideas in place to do just that. In the later part of the year, we’ll be undertaking a revamp of the Tier 3 (levels 40-60) region of Aradoth and, in particular, the lands from Dryart to Tazoon.

Along with a total revamp of the region, which will include updated monsters, new quests, and new NPC locations, we’ll be introducing a storyline revolving around Nazderon and a Cult attempting to bring about his return... again!

The bigger news, we feel, is the introduction of a new enemy, the Host of Varran led by the Welger, who will be making a great impact on Western Aradoth and the residents of Tazoon. How big of an impact? We’ll keep that under wraps for now, but trust us when we say that this may be one of the biggest changes in Istaria in quite a while!

For now, I hope you are all enjoying your time in Istaria! We look forward to hearing your feedback on what we’ve accomplished so far this year and what’s coming in future months.

- Istaria Community Manager

Please join us to discuss this Developer's Desk.