This one is another major game-flow changer. First off, I should note that there are also some important bugfixes in here, mostly relating to multiplayer. That's why we went ahead and pushed this out in the middle of the day, rather than just waiting until later in the day when the rest of our new stuff would be ready for one larger release.
At any rate, looking past the bugfixes, the really big game-flow changer in this version is the new health subsystem.
The Old Health System And Its Problems
In the old model, you had a finite amount of health and that health could be replenished when you used a health potion or got minor floating health drops from enemies. You could carry infinite health potions around with you, and upon death one of those potions would automatically heal you to prevent death. This meant that the only way to have death even possible was to make a long cooldown on healing: if you died twice within a 15-20 second span, you were dead for good regardless of how much healing you had on hand.
That old model grew up organically from a lot of various design decisions that ultimately came together in a displeasing way. The old system had a lot of problems, such as an inability for players to really accurately tell how low on health they really were -- the health bar was just part of the "how long can I live" equation. And just the basic fact of juggling all those potions was annoying. Not to mention difficult to balance, although the balance wasn't horrible.
The New Health System
The new model we're using for health is something that we arrived at through much discussion with players and our staff in several threads in our brainstorming subforum. Our goal was to create a system that was simpler, less fiddly, and easier to balance... while still maintaining the general feel of what we'd been trying to do in the first place.
To that end, health potions and scrolls have both been removed from the game. At the most basic level, you have a health bar, and as you explore around and kill monsters, they will drop health restoration floaty-things a lot more commonly. You can also go back to town to get healed back to 100%. At the most basic level, that's all there is, and the game thus uses health firmly as the "how far can I travel in one expedition" limiter.
That's not really enough on its own, of course -- there has to be a better way to have more health stores with you on an expedition, so that you can make a more-arduous-than-average journey or prepare for a big boss fight. In Metroid games, that's usually done via the Health Tanks idea, whereas in most RPGs or adventure games it's done via healing items that you carry with you. For a lot of various reasons including HUD considerations and the extremely large inventory in this game, we went with something closer to the Metroid model -- so there still aren't any healing items that you can carry with you and use in the field.
Instead what we have now are Vitality Stones, which you can collect in the field as you explore, and use in town. Using 2 of these stones causes your maximum health to double -- kind of like adding an energy tank in Metroid. Then using 4 of the stones makes your max health 300% of the base max health. That pattern continues: 8 vitality stones make for 400%, 16 makes for 500%, 32 makes for 600%, 64 makes for 800%, and so on.
There is no limit to how buffed you can make your max health at the moment, but there is a catch: every time your health drops the equivalent of 100% of your base max, your current max shrinks by that same amount. So if your current max is 400%, and your health drops to 299%, then your current max drops to 300%. This was originally suggested by Hearteater in the forums, and then expanded upon somewhat, and the idea is quite clever because it makes for interesting decisions on how and in what quantities you use your vitality stones.
Still Powercoding, Balance Still Might Be Wonky In The Short Term
As noted yesterday, Keith and I have both entered a power coding phase to follow the recent brainstorming/design phase, so there are a few metric tons of changes coming in a week span or so. Given the scope of the changes, this means that the game is going to be in a moderate state of disarray during that time, in terms of general balance and such. We're doing our best to keep things as clean as possible, but the difficulty in particular might swing up and down some substantially during this time. The end result is going to be pretty darn cool by the 15th or 16th, though.
More to come soon. Enjoy!
This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 0.500 or later. When you
launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found
if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 0.500 or later, you can download that here.