Journal Discussed – #1 Introduction to Souls

Introduction to Souls was the first Developer Journal since the public announcement of Chronicles of Elyria if you haven’t read it yet catch up with the Journal Abridged. In this post, we shall be looking at the communities reaction, additional developer responses and all round discussion on the topic.

With so much new information coming out it was interesting to see which parts the community really picked up on. However, with one of the announcements being an asymmetrical talents system, there are no prizes for guessing which part got the most tongues wagging. Concerns ranged from everyone unlocking the best talents, to players re-rolling over and over to get the talent they want, to simply quitting out of disappointment if they didn’t get one. The community was initially pretty flustered (myself amongst them), but as always Jeromy ‘Caspian’ Walsh came to the rescue clearing up a lot of the confusion that was fueling those negative thoughts.

Here are the three points he raised in this forum thread about the reaction to the Developer Journal started by community member Rhoklaw:

In fact, we’re thinking that between 0.1% and 5% of the population will have a Talent – depending on what the Talent is.

In case you are not aware, those are small numbers! Very small. So small it makes me wonder if I should just forget talents ever existed as it really is against the odds to get one. Even magical affinity, which the Developer Journal says is one of the more common talents, looks like it will be unavailable to 95% of the community. I wonder if that is a bad thing? I have to admit I initially thought it was, but the more I ponder the more I am not sure. The rarer something is, the more it feels like a bonus when you get it, rather than a disappointment when you do not. It means that having a talent doesn’t so much put you at a disadvantage, but on par with the vast majority of other players. Yes, some people will get an advantage, and my goodness I hope I am one of them. However, those who don’t are not alone, they will be okay, and they will likely triumph.

Many of the Talents will be things that help you avoid death.

Avoiding death is cool, certainly so in a game with a perma-death mechanic. However, it is not game breaking. You can just as easily avoid death by actual skill. The part I think sounds most fun is you have to risk death in order to see if you have the talent. I will know pretty early on if I can breathe underwater or not, in any game with the possibly to drown I will (frequently). However, for those who are a little less forgetful about breath meters they will actively have to choose to die in order to see if that triggers a talent. Is it worth the risk?

We want to avoid having too many of the rare Talents running around in the world at once. Even if you have a Talent, if too many souls are already exhibiting signs of that Talent, the Soulborn Engine might just let you die and give the Talent to another soul anyways. After all, you never knew you had it, so in the interest of game balance, it’ll be like you never did.

The game giveth and the game taketh away. Balance is important in a game and a game engine clever enough to adjust it on the fly is a great idea. It really will make those with talents be the exception and not the rule.

While these three points did clear up a lot of the misconceptions opinions will still be divided. With players getting used to MMOs becoming more and more homogenised with any imbalance between races, classes, characters being wiped out this is asymmetrical approach is really going to be unexpected. Some people will love the challenge of playing against those with an inherent advantage, or revel in the fact they have one themselves. Other people will not be able to see beyond the unfair nature of the system and will walk away. No game should please everyone. A good game knows who they are, what they want to be and the present that image to the world without shame. So far Chronicles of Elyria is doing just that, lopsided talent system and all.

Finally, there is an interesting hint of unannounced feature hidden in the Developer Journal. Try and find it yourself, and then check the Easter Egg community thread to see if you are right. Community member Nightalas guessed this one correctly and earnt themselves some influence. It looks like it is going to be a regular event so make sure to read the next journal closely!

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