Greetings adventurers! We hope you’re enjoying Patch 9.5 and Season 1: The Undead Horde. Now that our team has delivered this patch, we’re all shifting gears to our next major endeavor, The Frozen Tundra: Point Release 10. This is an expansive update that touches on both classic and new content for Legends of Aria. Whether that’s revamping existing systems to be more accessible and approachable, or delivering the long anticipated Frozen Tundra, our heads are down in delivering an awesome release this coming June.
In this blog, we’ll be making the rounds across our development team to share the progress we’ve made thus far. We’ve got some exciting new environments, weapons, and lore to talk about. Let’s see what’s inside!
Matt: Shaping New Environments
We’ve been hard at work defining the look and feel of the Frozen Tundra. It’s important to us that this environment doesn’t just feel like one of our other regions that’s covered in snow. To that end, our efforts have been directed towards providing as much variety as possible in the terrain.
The snowy wilderness of Frozen Tundra maintains the high level of visual quality seen in the rest of the game, and then some. A wide variety of trees, frozen lakes, avalanches and more coat the landmass of Frozen Tundra.
Ice filled caverns are dotted along the vast mountainous ranges of the tundra. Frozen over long ago, recent volcanic activity and avalanches have begun to uncover these long lost caves, leaving plenty of resources and loot for the taking.
If things get a little too cold for your liking, located in the Southwest corner of the map are volcanic hot springs. Though they are a great way to warm up after a hard day of surviving in the wastes of the Tundra, letting your guard down for even a second could spell your demise.
Hopefully this gives you a peek into our vision for Frozen Tundra. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface regarding the kinds of locations you’ll be able to explore. We look forward to getting even deeper into some of the other locales and features we have planned for the release of PR10.
Rachel: Sculpting New Visuals
We’re always looking for new ways to improve the visual fidelity of Legends of Aria, so incorporating an updated art pipeline has been a big part of creating new assets for Point Release 10. This new pipeline involves organic 3D sculpting and more realistic textures using physically-based rendering. You’ll see this approach in a few other areas of the game, but with Frozen Tundra, we’re even more committed to making the world look as incredible as possible.
In Frozen Tundra, you’ll come across an entirely new class of weapons that have been excavated from the ice, with one new weapon from every set. These new weapons have been taken through our updated art pipeline to give them a unique look and feel to match the more realistic direction we’re taking the art style.
Some familiar enemies have also been given a few visual enhancements now that they’ve found themselves in the tundra, to solidify their place in the unique biome.
There will also be new cosmetic enhancements for human NPCs, such as the warpaint that the native barbarians have taken to using. This warpaint comes in several unique designs (male and female) and can be any color.
Accompanying the new warpaints are two new kilts, since the barbarians like to keep things breezy down there. Like the new weapons, these kilts have been taken through the updated pipeline.
Liz: Crafting New Legends
Legends of Aria has long had a healthy foundation for storytelling – mysterious gods, cannibalistic cults, unique locations, and a wealth of NPCs make for a brilliant base to tell a meaningful story. Until now very little of this has been fully realized; many of the stories that began in Shards Online were yet to grow far beyond Eldeir and the Upper Plains.
The new lore for Legends of Aria focuses largely on fleshing out the existing and future areas of the game, telling the stories of the creation of this world, highlighting how a person lives will influence their beliefs, and sharing the very human stories that helped to shape both the world and these beliefs. Players will be able to discover snippets of these stories – or ‘entries’ – through their exploration of Celador, their interactions with NPCs, and on occasion through the use of some tricks.
Once all of the entries for a specific story have been collected the player will receive a completed Tome that will hold all these entries.
This is our first introduction of our new lore system, and stories will continue to be added beyond Point Release 10 as our universe grows.
Andrew: Building New Foundations
Since our upcoming Lore enhancements seek to reward players for engaging with NPCs and asking them about mysteries and histories, we are taking this time to refine the experience of conversing with our citizens. We will replace failing dialogue responses, give options to move back to previous topics, and separate general role knowledge (stuff that all Mayors will say) from the regional knowledge (stuff that only the Mayor of Eldeir says). We also want to remove that extra click needed to get past Quests when NPCs offer them.
Our new system will allow us to:
- Reward players for diving deep enough into a dialogue.
- Give context-aware greetings to NPCs.
- Provide more feedback with dialogue variation when players aren’t meeting desired conditions.
- Create linear sub-story progression (Must talk to NPC X, then Y, then Z).
- Gives potential for time-limited or seasonal dialogue.
Using the new system, we got a playable Rock, Paper, Scissors NPCs.
The Tome System will provide a physical representation of players’ hunt for knowledge across New Celador. Tome Entries can be found around the world of New Celador as well as given to players by NPCs through dialogue or by completing requests.
Players will use Entries to fill Tomes that can be re-read and collected in player collections and libraries. We are experimenting with filling bookshelves and hope these can become a feature for your player house! There will be limits on discovering specific Tome Entries per player, so keep this in mind when trading them!
Adapting New Snow Environments
Rather than spending 12 years preparing and linking snow-covered versions of every apple, sword, and tree in New Celador to their originals, we have integrated a dynamic tool which allows us to snowify existing assets and seamlessly integrate them into the new tundra environment.
Ben: Expanding Professions with Traits
As we make steps towards completing the Profession system, PR10 brings with it new professions, new quests, and new Traits which allows for deep customization options based on your character’s chosen skills. Traditionally, characters had limited options in what could be learned in addition to their core combat skills. In Point Release 10, a warrior who completes the Cooking profession will benefit from increased Trait bonuses and survivability from consuming food. The Alchemist Mage will receive large bonuses to consumed potions and Lumberjacks will receive a passive damage bonus when using slashing weapons.
This flexibility will allow players to mix and match Traits from different skills to more finely tune their builds or improve specific areas of their gameplay. Traits will be available at 3 levels reflecting each respective Profession quest, from Journeyman to Grandmaster.
Our player base has asked for more ways to customize character builds and deviate from the “cookie cutter” feel that many existing builds exhibit. We are excited to allow players a means to diversify their characters and in an immersive and fun way. We look forward to seeing how many murderous cooks and seafaring magicians begin to scour the lands of New Celador.
The list of Professions to complete for Point Release 10 is quite extensive, and includes:
- Treasure Hunting
More to Come in the Weeks Ahead
Development is well underway for Point Release 10, and we’re excited to share more about what’s coming down the road. With expanded professions, rich lore, a massive tundra environment to explore, and more, this update is shaping up to be our biggest release yet. Keep an eye on the Legends of Aria Trello board for the latest updates!
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