This entry is indeed ahead of schedule. Why, I hear you type? Well, I’d likely miss the usual Sunday, so I figured better earlier than later. So!
This one will be a much longer entry than usual, because we’ll use it as a window into some of our creative processes. With this warning out of the way, let’s explain.
How soon is soon?
The elephant in the room is, of course, the upcoming patch. We’ve teased it for a while, and I’ve outlined our hurdles in the last diary entry. Now, I fear “soon” won’t suffice without an explanation, so let me provide one.
There’s a single, final blocker that’s preventing us from releasing the patch, and it’s strictly technical. To allow shields to carry mods (spoiler!) we’ve had to apply changes, which had a grave side-effect; all legacy shields, regardless of where they are, vanish. Yes.
Sadly, I can by no means explain this in more depth, as I’m not a developer. That is the gist of what’s happening, however, and that’s what’s blocking us. We couldn’t possibly release the patch with this problem unsolved, so we’re waiting for our magnificent developers to iron this out.
In the meantime…
While this is being resolved, it was pointed out to me that this kind of material can also provide a window into our creative processes. This was an excellent piece of feedback; indeed, peeking into how we approach game design can only help streamline communication.
So, I’ve mentioned before that we barely get any creative downtime between patches, and this one’s no exception; indeed, we’ve been sitting on material for the future that will see the light of day. Some of it is over a year old, for that matter. What better way to showcase this, then, than to begin by outlining some upcoming item drafts.
To be fair to all factions, in this entry I’ll delve into 2 per faction.
Disclaimer #1: These are item drafts, not finalized versions. They may very well see changes before their final release.
Disclaimer #2: Again, these are drafts.
Disclaimer #3: No, seriously. Drafts, they are.
#1: A Grenadier torso
Raw Meat Hide
Base item: Safeguard
Item level: 32
Flavor text: “Well, for the future, when you cook another whale-steak for my private table here, the capstan, I’ll tell you what to do so as not to spoil it by overdoing. Hold the steak in one hand, and show a live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it; d’ye hear?” - Stubb
+1 to all Grenade skills
Power regeneration: +120/m
Damage of Combat* skills: +30%
Movement speed: -10%
*Grenade skill damage is being considered as an alternative for this one.
The basic concept of this item is to provide a notable buff to Grenade builds.
Such builds frequently lack skillpoints to both max Grenades and get secondary assets, like Beacon or Multishot. Or well, Sniper Mode for the adventurous pioneers. Therefore, a +1 to all Grenades opens the way for further build expansions, while +skillgroup damage provides a further boost. This is coupled with power regen, following the theme of Platinum Spans and Fontaine’s Impressive Pair, +Willpower for added power, and a minor speed penalty for flavor (and a callback to old Techa pieces).
The answer is simple; it’s because there are other options that this item can be a torso. Creating BiS items without alternatives reduces gear options earlier, so we’d prefer to make this one a conscious choice with pros and cons. So a Grenadier could use this one, and lose either Reap3r’s +splash and +shield penetration or Battlecore’s generic +damage, +Accuracy, +critical rate, and +userate. All of these are unique to their slot, and so are Raw Meat Hide’s affixes.
#2: A Bladefrenzy… of all things
Johnny’s Mecha-Slicer 3000
Base item: XM666 Bladefrenzy
Item level: 30(?)
Flavor text: “Congratulations, you’re still alive. Most people are so ungrateful to be alive… But not you, not anymore.” - John Kramer
SWORD RETROFIT [2-3]
MEDPAK RETROFIT [2-3]
Armor value increased: 25%
25% chance to spray shrapnel when you get hit
So, where to begin with this one… It’s a Bladefrenzy. It’s for funzies, Drones, and suicidal Hunters. But it’s not Hellgate without some fun along the way, so we had to put a spin on this peculiar weapon type – one of 3 we had in mind, for that matter.
Bladefrenzies seem to frequently follow this lifespan:
- Pick them up early; “oh, this looks fun – bzzz”
- Start dying; “okay, less fun”
- Stash them away
- Pick them up for Drones by the endgame; “here, have some armor in spinning blade form”
This kind of lifespan is what the Mecha-Slicer seeks to facilitate. First, it gives Engineers some skills to use without investing in them, testing the waters of their Drones. It gives some extra armor for the daring souls, and it punishes enemies with shrapnel. Then, when it’s time for it to be left with the trusty Drone itself, it provides some much-needed extra armor and +Strength to help cover feeds.
Funnily enough, this is based on a 10-year-old item draft, much like Zart’s Considered Opinion. The concept translated well, so in this form it should serve a dual purpose.
All of you who plan to use this, know that I salute you. You madlads.
#3: A Summoner torso
Grace’s Lucky Garb
Base item: Tunic
Item level: 33
Flavor text: “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” - Thomas Jefferson
Minion health: +50%
SUMMON TOXIC ELEMENTAL (1-)3
Power Points: +5-10%
Now, this one should be fairly obvious. It also being a very old item draft aside, it translated extremely well in our meta landscape. In short, it’s an endgame Summoner torso option.
Heart of Darkness, despite being a great book… uh, torso, offers very little to conventional Summoner builds. This is what this item aims to do, by providing +minion hp (but not damage, to avoid damage aug stacks like Hexer’s), points in Toxic Elemental, and power points to compete with Heart’s +Willpower. It also offers some Luck for flavor, and deliberately shies away from providing +stats to leave other choices on the table.
Finally, +minion hp also benefits the Evokers’ lone Ember, which we’ll get to just below…
#4: A… Wall of Bone + nova foci?
Hukhuk’s Virulent Knuckle
Base item: Radiant
Item level: 18
Flavor text: ““I love the smell of vomit and shame in the morning… It smells like victory.” -Anonymous
WORD OF FEAR 1
WALL OF BONE 1(-3)
SUMMON EMBER 1
Minion health: +30%
10%* spectral nova on hit
10% toxic nova on hit
*These values will be tested and revamped accordingly.
This one is another oddball, so it likely needs some explanation.
For one, this item boasts tremendous flavor, shall we say. It’s the namesake of one of hellgateaus’s most notorious members, who some say had a distinctly low-brow sense of humor. Thus, Wall of Bone, Word of Fear, and those specific nova types all serve to allude to it – much like the flavor text itself.
However, this isn’t just a gag item. We found that WoB does have its niche uses, especially early in the game, but it likely won’t spearhead any builds. It’s also not incredibly sturdy, as most Evoker builds that steer toward Summoner-style gameplay will stack +damage for Serpents over +hp for Ember. Similarly, there haven’t been any foci that specifically facilitate novas, even though both Cabalist classes have Drains to use them.
With all these in mind, this item seeks to serve a few different functions:
- A WoB test foci with complementary WoF
- An Ember set
- A nova set
- A plain +hp cast set for minions
Of course, it may very well fail for all of these purposes. But not every item can be endgame-viable, nor could we only design items with endgame viability in mind. Introducing interesting items with flavor and soul is also a big part of our creative process… even if they end up as nanoshards as players progress.
#5: A stop sword
Base item: Steel Adder
Item level: 14*
Flavor text: “Stay here. Stay as long as you can!” - Adam
Special properties: Stop strength
Roundhouse: Adds (2 + [40 - 45] * sfx_attack / 50) to Stun Attack Strength
Shield penetration: 4-6%
Dreadful: Feed Cost Increased
*This level range may change.
Getting up close and personal then, swords.
Swords seem to suffer from a peculiar problem; they mostly stab things. Sure, attack speeds change, elemental damages and sfx change, but they mostly just stab things to death. Yet, consider how unique some early swords are (including the unreleased Rare ones):
Wart’s Peg Leg; armor
Gulliver’s Slicer; TAV
The Bleeder; DoT
Jat’s Skullcrasher; delayed damage
Iron Mind; mind control (we’ll return to this…)
So, swords are quite fun at first. Then they mostly become stabby pointy things. What better way to address this, then, than by providing a sword that stops enemies on top of dealing damage. It worked well for Diplomat, so why not in sword form? Both Templars can now use SoJ to ensure it goes off, and the BM skillset offers some excellent interactions.
Finally, this one comes with complementary stun strength, early Hamper, some shield penetration to ensure the effects go off sooner, and +feeds for flavor. Also for the allusion, but this I refuse to explain.
Of course, stop is a very experimental mechanic with massive potential for breakage. As such, we’ll test this one very thoroughly before releasing a potential monstrosity.
#6: A mind control sword
Soul of Steel
Base item: Meteor Blade
Item level: 30
Flavor text: “Sway their minds, make them the instruments of their own destruction!” -Seeker Crowe
Stamina: +[11 - 15]
AURA OF SALVATION 2
Mind control: 100*
Total armor value increased: 5%
Melee speed bonus: 5%
Shield Penetration (4-6%)
*This value will be tested and reevaluated.
Here we go, this is where Templars become Cabalists. Well no, not really. But Iron Mind provided a precedent, so this one should become another fun sword to play around with – and hopefully let lone Templars survive more.
As outlined above, we wanted to provide more fun swords that do more than kill or inflict sfx. Soul of Steel consolidates some unique offensive and defensive benefits for the slot in modest numbers, ensuring it can see use by both Templars, while also providing access to a mechanic that was mostly reserved for Cabalists. Finally, shield penetration ensures the effect will go off faster, while splash damage will allow it to serve better against crowds. Splash damage and maxed Sword Typhoon? Yes please.
Finally, as above, “fun” and “breakage” are often a hair away. This item will thus see extensive testing before being implemented; we do find the mechanic interesting, and would like to see it play a larger role, but abusing it is a no-no.
Is that all?
No, most definitely not. There’s so much more to go over, from how we handle lore and quests to what we intend to do with future content. However, I do fear that this entry has become too long already, so I’ll wrap this one here out of courtesy.
Still, if this approach to the diaries is well-received, we’ll steer some future entries closer to this direction. Your feedback will be invaluable with some such concerns, such as how we approach the game’s long unfinished story… But let’s leave this front for another time.
So that should be all. Until next time, may our paths be blessed with loot and hurdle-free patches. All the best, and happy hunting