Blog

Update March 16th
3/16/2012

Ah, here we are - another week to wrap up, another Friday upon us yet again. Before we dive into the juicy details of this week’s update, let’s go back in time. Imagine yourself in a cold, dark room, with eyes peering at you from every direction, piercing your soul as you’re delivered the news – “…and that leaves the Bugchilada for you.” To some, the monumental task of tackling such an endeavor would seem nearly impossible since this one particular subject is probably the most sought-after piece of information to be delivered since the release date for the Celts. What’s that? Oh, right - soon. To me, however, being tasked with such an assignment was an extraordinary opportunity that I would not shy away from or let scare me into submission.

After wiping away my tears, (of joy – really), I decided to contemplate the idea of the Bugchilada over lunch. How would I deliver what seemed to be a never-ending load of information to you all? I continued to sift through my thoughts as I entered the nearest restaurant, and ordered my food. Something about the Muy Grandé Burrito piqued my interests. In no way am I a small person, so ordering something that’s simply called “Very Big Burrito” seemed like a no-brainer.

I watched in amazement at the culinary prowess of the person making my food. Layer by layer he began to add to different parts of the burrito, making it inflate to epic proportions. No way this would all fit in one tortilla, I thought to myself, there’s simply too much to put in there. Perhaps the man behind the counter sensed my apprehension as he looked me in the eye and said, “good thing we’ve got two tortillas for this burrito. One would never be enough to cover everything.”

Boom! In a flash everything became perfectly clear. There was no need to overstuff you with too much information on the first attempt. Instead, let’s tackle this thing in two separate sittings, and not induce ourselves into a state of comatose before the Bugchilada hits.

And without further ado, I give you the first of two installments for the Bugchilada Update:

Changes to PvP

Rehashing some of the older, but still pertinent information, allow me to remind you of these changes which were addressed in the February 10th Update.

Party 2v2 in PvP – You can now enter into Sparta PvP with a friend as a Party and match against other teams! This works in both Standard and Champion modes, and also allows free players to play Champion PvP if they’re in a party with a Premium player.

Party Finder – You can now search for other players looking for a Party in your level range. This feature is accessed via the “Party Invite” button in the capital city UI. There’s a new button, “Find,” that starts a search for other players in your level range who are also interested in forming a party. You are able to be matched with people within 5 levels of your own. You can exit the Friends List UI, and the search will continue running in the background while you’re doing other things in your city or in a region; it will also continue searching even when you switch regions.

Revised Visual UI Design –There has been an overhaul to the way the matchmaking UI performs visually. Now you are shown what type of match you are looking for, how long you’ve been searching, and icons to show when you’ve successfully been matched with another player. The matchmaking UI will also feature a Chat Window so that you’re not forced to sit idly by, twiddling your thumbs. Talk until your fingers can take no more!

Moving on to other new changes in PvP – the stuff you really want to know. Points are taken directly from the Patch Notes:

TrueSkill Rating – The numerical value for each player used to determine place on leaderboards (TrueSkill) is now shown in the UI to display just how much you need to accrue in order to move up (or down) in the charts.

Minimum Level for Sparta PvP Lowered – The minimum level required to play Standard Sparta PvP has been lowered to 3 to make it consistent with all other multiplayer in the game.

2v2 Champion – Added more matching algorithms to improve the speed of the matchmaking process when certain conditions weren’t met.

Pathing – General improvements made to enhance performance for both land and water units.

Line of Sight – Fixes for how a unit calculates attack distance when in a stance.

Tactics – Changing a unit’s tactic (packing/unpacking) will no longer remove it from its squad.

Hot Keys – Fix for Hot Key mappings not updating properly.

Find Unit – The “Find Unit” hotkeys now respect the snap-to-unit option.

Building Placement – The algorithm for determining valid building placement has been optimized.

Build Commands – Build commands are now properly cancelled when a builder has died.

Sporadic Crashes – Fix for crashes when exiting 2v2 PvP related to Chat not shutting down correctly.

Friends Leaderboard – The “View Friends” leaderboard now shows “No Entries” if you have no friends.

Kicked for Inactivity – If you are booted from the game server for inactivity, there will now be a message box letting you know.

I’m going to go ahead and take a break from the notes to answer some questions that I’m sure you’re asking by now. “Why? Why Twinkle? Why after the beautiful display of prose above, which pirouetted across the screen like the nimblest of dancers, did you decide to forgo the aforementioned style and lower yourself to the verbal equivalent of Ben Stein’s monotonous voice?”

Simply said, I am not an expert when it comes to PvP. Remember that statistic where we informed you all about the PvE players being the 90% of the Age Online population while PvP players make up only 10%? Well, that’s me, I’m the 90%. Ask anyone in Marathon. I am quick to decline a PvP invite and will most likely give the cookie-cutter response of being “busy at work.” Yes, it’s true, I am simply avoiding you.

I can think of no better way to describe some of the changes, and reasons behind them, than to bring in part of the 10% to do it for me. I’m sure many of you are quite familiar with IamMrMilo, who works on our Play-Balance Team, so I am going to tear him away from his current obligation to deliver you some of the juicier details about the changes coming to PvP and why the decisions were made to implement them.

Balance Updates

Shared

  • Scout
    • Decreased base damage vs. Villagers to 1 health per hit

    IamMrMilo: Ultimately scouts were intended to be more like scouts, not damage dealers.

  • Fishing Boat
    • Decreased gather rate to 1.6 from 2.0 (Egyptian 1.44 from 1.8)
    • Increased fishing techs’ gather rate bonus to +20% from +12%
    • Increased fishing techs’ carry capacity bonus to +50% from +12%

    IamMrMilo: We wanted to introduce more risk into opening with fishing as a main food source, so committing to fishing was a more interesting choice. On the other hand, fishing didn’t scale well into the mid- and late-game, so we’ve buffed its upgrades considerably.

  • Ballista/Catapult Trireme and Mangonel Galley
    • Removed 0.5 Infantry Armor
    • Added 0.3 Ranged Armor
  • Watch Post
    • Increased LOS to 38 from 36
  • Age 4 Tech
    • Decreased cost to 800f/800w/800g/400s from 1000f/1000w/1000g/600s

    IamMrMilo: This should help make some late game options more viable.

  • Loom Tech
    • Decreased cost to 50f from 50f/50w
    • Decreased research time to 20 from 30 seconds

    IamMrMilo: We felt that Loom’s cost and research time (which was previously the length that it took to make two villagers) was too big of a deterrent from getting the tech.

  • Wheelbarrow Tech
    • Added +5% movement speed bonus
  • Hand Cart
    • Added +10% movement speed bonus

    IamMrMilo: We wanted to give players another incentive for getting wheelbarrow techs, since players who fully utilize storehouses will not see any benefit from additional carry capacity. Additional movement speed will also help Villagers retreat and move to new gathering locations faster.

Greeks

  • Gastraphetes
    • Increased population count to 2 from 1
    • Increased cost to 35w/50g from 35w/40g
    • Increased damage to 14 from 9.6
    • Increased bonus damage vs. Infantry to +200% from +150%

    IamMrMilo: Gastraphetes were acting as an all-around unit: build a bunch of them and you could hit-and-run your way to victory against pretty much any unit, except for ranged siege. This moves them into a more defined role as super-strong anti-infantry. For pop, Gastraphetes are better than Toxotes at beating infantry, but worse against other kinds of units.

Persians

  • Sparabara
    • Removed bonus damage vs. Cavalry (was +50%)
  • Bowman
    • Decreased damage to 9 from 10
    • Decreased bonus damage vs. Infantry to +50% from +100%

    IamMrMilo: These three changes were made primarily to help with Persia against Egypt, although they also affect Persia against Greek (but to a lesser extent). Essentially, if Persia made a mix of Bowman, Sparabara, and Asabara, it was incredibly difficult for Egypt to beat in age2, both early in age2 and as armies reached 140 pop.

    We really like how cool the Asabara feels, so we decided to leave him at his full strength. The Sparabara nerf is designed to allow Egypt to make better use of camels. As it was, Persia could completely forgo making Spearman and still handle Camels quite well. Not so anymore. Spearman must be mixed in to help with Camels, and Spearmen are more easily countered by Egyptian Axemen and Slingers. The Bowman was toned down so that an Egyptian front line of Axemen, Spearmen, or Camels can live longer.

  • Star Tech: Harallu Boon
    • Decreased bonus starting gold to +50 from +150

    IamMrMilo: This tech was a bit too effective under certain circumstances.

  • Galley
    • Decreased training time to 23 from 25 seconds
    • Increased cost to 175w/50g from 150w/50g

    IamMrMilo: The Persian Galley is intended to be a cheaper, but weaker version of the Trireme. The Galley was so cheap, though, that it made Persia slightly too good on water. To better reflect that cheaper-but-weaker design, and the help Persian players keep up on boat production, we’ve lowered the Galley’s train time. To best take advantage of Persia on a water map, you’ll likely want to build two docks.

Egyptians

  • Spearman
    • Decreased training time to 10 from 12 seconds
  • Axeman
    • Decreased training time to 8 from 10 seconds

    IamMrMilo:These two changes serve two primary purposes. (1) Egypt can better hold their own early against Persia (and Celt). (2) Egypt’s infantry’s role as cheap, fast training—but weak—units is even more defined.

  • Elephant Archer
    • Decreased damage to 50 from 60

    IamMrMilo: Much like the Gastraphetes, the Elephant Archer was too effective against pretty much everything. He’s still amazing now, but not quite so amazing.

  • Priest of Ptah
    • Increased conversion range to 15 from 6
    • Increased population count to 2 from 1

    IamMrMilo: The Priest of Pta has been adjusted, he is now awesome. So awesome, that we had to bump up his population count by 1.

Alright, Twinkle is back! I’m sure you all missed me, right? Don’t worry about answering that, it was rhetorical. Before we wrap things up for this week, I wanted to add in one more little piece of information. There has been a bit of a change to the Map Pool as well. Take a look below to see just how things are developing:

Removed from the map pool:

  • Inland

Added to the map pool, from the Skirmish map pool:

  • Equal Footing
  • Bandit Canyon
  • Treasure Island (but with many of the cliffs in the middle removed)
  • Dueling Islands (but only through the Arena—you won’t be given this map in Sparta)

Modification to current map pool:

  • Oasis: the pond has been changed to a Shallows. Boats can still be built (and fish be fished), but units can walk through the water.

Like my burrito, this update is done…for now. It was a lot to take in all at once, but you did so without hesitation, and for that you should be proud. Feel free to do what I did and release the tension in your belt to allow for improved digestion. We’re now that much closer to the Bugchilada, Celts, & being able to deliver you an awesome experience in Age of Empires. While this week’s update was mainly focused on PvP, next week I will be back, again, to verbally assault your eyes and ears with a hail of words that will blot out the sun as they fall down on you! When I return I’ll bring news of Quest Updates, as well as a full blowout of the rest of the Bugchilda, including patch notes!

See you all next week!

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