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Falconeer
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on: April 03, 2009, 10:41:00 AM

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Gem Revamp

Introduction

The next major game update sees a total overhaul of the gem system with a new, more flexible system for augmenting your equipment with gems.


Addressing the Issues

The first task we set ourselves when looking at the gem system was to identify why the original gem system had not lived up to player’s expectations and why it had ended up being difficult to balance correctly.

Firstly, there were too many gems (both uncut, and cut – which did not stack), and this greatly stressed player inventory. The random element of gem cutting did not allow players to make the gems they wanted. Gem stacking lines were unclear as was which uncut gems could ultimately yield which cut gems, and where these gems could be socketed. The latter issue was further exacerbated by the large number of gems in existence.

In addition, the crafted items themselves have also been improved and enhanced to be more flexible and better balanced. The initial three gem slots on crafted items meant a player had a total of 42 gems socketed on equipped gear at any given time. For balance reasons, this necessitated very low fractional values on any individual gem. Since crafted gear had no inherent mods (just 3 gem slots), so we concluded that the system itself was probably too fragile in that changes to the Gemcutter profession had full impact on two other professions. This is something we want to avoid in the future to minimize the occurrence of what players might perceive as ‘drastic’ changes as happened after launch.

The City and Culture crafted items released in Patch 3 were designed with knowledge of the goals of this Revamp, while the Progression crafted items (from recipes taught by the trainer) will require greater changes.

The Gem Revamp will address the issues above, and also provide a solid foundation for allowing the Gemcutting profession to grow in future updates.


So what’s been done?

Now we get to the details. This article hopefully covers the changes relatively comprehensively so that you get a good overview of the changes and what they mean for tradeskills and using gems. So let’s start by taking a look at the gems themselves and how they are changed.


Gem Colors

With the Gem Revamp, the number of Gem Colors has been reduced from 8 to 6. Additionally, we have removed the concept of Flawless uncut gems. All uncut gems introduced with the Gem Revamp will be of the same quality level, and will remain world-drops. Higher quality levels of uncut gems will be reserved for future updates to denote new uncut gem drop types. Some examples might be: dungeon, raid, bosses, PvP, etc.

Thus, the total number of uncut gems in Conan has been reduced from 96 to 36.


Alchemical Transformation and Gem Families

Every gem has been given a Gem Family. There are 6 Gem Families, with one gem of a different color assigned to each tier. Every gem within a tier has a unique color and unique family at that tier.

Transformation Recipes will be introduced with the Gem Revamp that will enable alchemists to transform uncut gems across colors and tiers. For example, a higher level uncut gem may be transformed to multiple lower level uncut gems within its Gem Family. This is to allow higher level players a method to obtain uncut gems at lower tiers (should they choose) without having to farm humanoids at that lower tier.

Gem families have no bearing on the actual cutting or socketing of gems, and solely exist for the purpose of converting different uncut gems within a group.

Why Alchemists? One over-arching goal of tradeskill improvements has been to provide synergies between any two crafting professions a player may choose. This is so any combination of crafting professions a player pursues has some added convenience when taken together. With this in mind, we felt that alchemists were the best profession for the transformation recipes. Keep in mind that any alchemist will be able to obtain these recipes, but there's just more convenience if the player also happens to be a gem cutter. Since each gem family contains 6 different colors, Alchemical Transformation will help to stabilize the uncut gem market if there's a greater demand for some colors over others.


Pre-Patch Uncut and Flawless Gems

When a player logs in after the Gem Revamp hits the live servers, the total number of uncut gems in his/her inventory will be greater than or equal to the number (plus flawless) prior to the Gem Revamp.

An uncut gem of tier X will remain an uncut gem of tier X. The color will be different if that color was removed. The name will also likely change to accommodate its new gem family, as we wanted the gem transformations to make some sort of fictional sense within the Conan universe. Flawless uncut gems will be converted at a favorable ratio, so one pre-revamp Flawless gem will yield more than one post-revamp uncut gem of the appropriate tier and color. We decided on a ratio of 1 flawless gem yielding 3 uncut gems.

Cut Gems
The following concepts have been removed from cut gems: stacking lines, gem size, and the random element. The number of cut gems has been reduced from around 1380 to under 100 (It's currently 70, but this may change slightly). Additionally, cut gems will now stack.


Socket Colors

Socket colors are how we enforce “soft” stacking rules in the Gem Revamp. Every gem socket has a color, which matches one of the 6 gem colors. A gem of color X may only be added to a socket of color X. The color of a socket and gem is clearly indicated in the tool-tip. Any crafted item type may have gem sockets of any color. But players should never see a crafted item with multiple sockets of the same color, and this creates a conceptual “soft” stacking line.

For the cut gems, each color loosely follows a theme, and related mods tend to be in the same color. So for some material types/weapon types, sockets of certain colors tend to make more sense than others, and this is represented in the distribution of socket colors to those types.

The goal is to create meaningful choices for players within each color line. Examples of some meaningful choices are: DPS v damage mitigation, burst DPS v sustained DPS, generic damage v specific damage, magic damage mitigation v physical damage mitigation, hit rate v critical rate, & etc.

Many of these choices exist within the same color line, but some choices may be more relevant to certain specs and certain classes than others. Generally speaking, for hybrid classes or specs, since more mods are useful this also means more of the choices have meaning. However, great care has been taken to ensure that for all major specs of a given class at least one meaningful choice existed in the color lines favored by the material type/weapon type used by that class.

Most classes should find useful gems in most colors lines, but each class has at least two colors that are absolutely relevant, and provide a range of options. Some classes/specs have more. Therefore players should always have a viable choice for what to socket, and this opens up a new degree of customization possible with the gem system.


Scaling Mechanic

In order to avoid unnecessary duplication of gem effects, a scaling mechanic was invented. This allows us to have a single gem scale its value depending on the tier of the gear it's being socketed into.

As an example, the strength gem is the Tier 5 cut black gem. This is the only strength gem. When socketed into Tier 5 gear, its value is fixed at 10 strength. When the same cut gem is socketed into Tier 10 gear, its value is fixed at 20 strength. Thus, the cut gem scales with the gear.

Gems only scale up. A Tier 6 gem may be socketed into Tier 6 up to Tier 10 gear, but never into Tier 5 gear. The tool-tip of a cut gem displays its value at all valid tiers. In the maximum case (a Tier 5 gem) the tool-tip has entries for 6 tiers. At Tier 10, there is one entry in the tool-tip.

The “sexiness” of gems within a color line generally increases with the Tier. In many cases this translates to how specific the mod is, especially when many mods contribute to the same underlying stat. For example, specific weapon damage types are offered at higher tiers than generic weapon damage types. Which, in turn, are offered at higher tiers than base attributes that ultimately trickle down into physical DPS. In a general sense, what's increasing with tier is the ability to min/max (and to many players, this is what a “sexy item” often means).

An important point to note is that Tier 5 gems will still be useful at Tier 10. For Tier 5 gear, there is one option for a given color socket – that color's gem at Tier 5. At Tier 10, all tiers within that color provide gems of varying utility to the player. The usefulness of the Tier 5 gem is greatly diluted, but sometimes players will want to forgo all the fancy options and just socket the more generic gem, depending on what they are trying to achieve with their crafted gear.

This ties into Alchemical Transformation, as higher level players deliberately seeking the lower level gem need not farm lower level mobs to obtain its uncut version.


Other Mechanics

Some gems will be marked in the tool-tip as “Armor Only” or “Weapon Only.” Such gems will generally be seen at Tier 9 and Tier 10. Reactive and Active procs are a good example of gems that require this sort of mechanic for us to allow them in game.


Cut Gem Power Tiers

Gem recipes learned from the trainer will yield gems of power-tier green (not to be confused with the gem color green). A handful of recipes will drop from encounters. These will yield gems of power-tier blue. The blue gems are not necessarily better than green gems in terms of pure numeric values, but they will provide more choices, especially in cases where we want to offer mods outside of their normal color association. These gems exist to increase the usefulness of crafted gear to more classes and builds that can equip the item, when that item has a color slot which otherwise doesn't offer a clear choice given the spec of the character.


Changes with Existing Gear

With the revamp, existing socketed gems should be left mostly as they are. This should be true even if the gem would otherwise be invalid given the socket color (as all existing gear will be given colored sockets). However, the new gems are definitively better, so players will naturally cycle out the old gems using the gem solvent introduced with Patch 4.

In cases with progression items, which formerly had 3 gem slots, we have reduced the gem slots to 1 and given the armor normal innate mods. Players wanting to socket one of the new gems will have to delete the 3 existing gems down to 0. However, the new gems are balanced around a greatly reduced number of slots, and this is reflected in their power. For any cases that crop up where 3 old gems are better than 1 new gem, you may find the old gems reduced a little in power so they do not surpass the power of the new gems.

Base items will continue to have no gem slots, and thus are unaffected by the gem revamp. City & Crafted Culture/Regional items will retain the same number of gem slots. In general, all crafted items will greatly benefit from the re-itemization project which is being released along-side the revamp.


Leftover Cut Gems

Players will be compensated for leftover cut gems from before the revamp, as they would obviously not be able to socket these gems given all the changes to the system. These gems will be converted over to their uncut versions, with power-tier blue cut gems converted in the same 1-to-3 ratio as the flawless uncut gems.

Gemcutter Progression Quest
The gemcutter progression quests will need to be updated to reflect the new gems. Many gem recipes will be removed from the game, and what's left will be modified to fit the revamp. Players with a gem cutting quest in an incomplete state when the Revamp goes Live will have to re-acquire the quest. We will try to make this as painless as possible for players in the middle of a gemcutter profession tier, but that simply won't be achievable for all scenarios given the scope of the revamp.


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