Friday Feature – Creature Handler Revamp

Creature Handler is one of the most unique and popular aspects of Star Wars Galaxies. Unfortunately, Creature Handler is seldom seen as “competitive” – its creatures are relatively low in damage and can’t take punishment like a properly defensively-stacked player can.

The Empire in Flames team has been well aware of the problems with Creature Handler for some time, but because of other development priorities (the Galactic Civil War, new content, Jedi), the team chose to wait and hash out a proper revamp to bring creature handlers back into their own in such a way to make the experience rewarding without nerfing anyone or anything…and leaving open the possibility of further adjustments that don’t include a “pre-nerf” situation.

Design Dilemnas

Fixing creature handler requires solving several problems. The foremost is that EiF’s combat has been vastly overhauled; simply buffing individual pets either means invalidating “normal” pets, or completely throwing out PvE balance.

Another problem is with pet levels – creature handler by design allows a player to have multiple low-level pets or one big pet. Actual combat experience shows players tend to go with big pets because they find anything lower than level 50 isn’t worth it.

Finally, we need to ensure that we can adjust balance going forward; if we can’t, we have the potential to completely break EiF’s combat system.

An Old Take on Creature Handler with a New Twist

At SWG launch, Creature Handler included two skill modifiers that were unrelated: “Additional Pets” and “Max Level of Pets”. The “Additional Pets” modifier was used to determine how many pets a creature handler could have active; “Max Level of Pets” determined how powerful their pets could be.

Early pre-CU made Creature Handler a must-have – players could run around with three full-grown rancors (at the time, extremely powerful compared to players) and dominate virtually everything. SOE promptly nerfed the system, making “Max Level of Pets” cumulative – instead of each pet out having to be under the max level cap, the total levels had to be under the level cap.

The EiF team looked at changing the system back to the pre-nerf situation – after all, three pet rancors under the EiF system would hardly be overpowered. However, it created its own issue – the only pets players would want to use were the most powerful. Other pets, which may be fun, would be ignored.

A Full Solution

Creature Handlers are still restricted by the “Max Level of Pets” modifier. (A master creature handler, post-revamp, will have a rating of 75; Singing Mountain Clan players get an additional +5.) That “max level” is calculated against a creature’s base level.

The pet, when summoned and if full-grown, will scale in level to the player’s “Max Level of Pets”. For example, a Narglatch Guardian is CL25. When summoned by a master Creature Handler, he will enter the world at CL75, with roughly appropriate damage and HAM.

Naturally lower-level pets, when summoned at high levels, have a higher damage rating and more HAM than a pet that’s naturally at that higher level. However, naturally higher-level pets have better accuracy and better armor resists, making them more likely to hit and easier to keep healed.

And with “Additional Pets” no longer checking against the sum of “Max Level of Pets”, triple pets of various types is now a potentially powerful solution.

Not Just the Creatures, but the Handlers, Too

Even with the changes, we wanted to add more choice – and improvement options – for creature handlers.

To that end, we did a quick revamp on embolden and enrage.

Embolden now provides a taken-damage reduction to a handler’s pets, along with a small increase in pet accuracy.

Enrage provides a done-damage boost to a handler’s pets, along with a large increase in pet accuracy.

Embolden and enrage are mutually-exclusive; only one can be active at a time. Will your pets do more damage or take less?

Finally, we added a new SEA type – “Max Level of Pets”. This SEA is not used for control calculations; a player with no CH can’t use it to call a CL35 pet, for example, but it is used to calculate a pet’s adjusted level.

What Will You Do?

 

 

A Guide to the Sith Shrine

The Sith Shrine is the newest, hottest content on Empire in Flames. Set in a Sith temple buried deep on Coruscant, adventurers are asked to investigate…in spite of the disappearance of previous teams. Up to five players can venture into the Shrine to confront danger and potentially emerge with previously-unacquirable loot!

The Sith Shrine starts by speaking with a very grumpy Dug in a diner in the Collective Commerce sector on Coruscant.

Ultimately, there are six boss encounters along the way, though two of them are relatively easy. Players should be prepared in advance with equipment, food, and drink. Some suggestions are included.

The server team has run the Shrine with multiple groups and found, in general, the best groups include a main tank, an off tank, and at least one doctor. Remaining roles have been filled with a variety of classes and skill setups with varying degrees of success.

Every player should be equipped with a suit of armor, PSG, and at minimum a very good weapon. Doctor and entertainer buffs are highly recommended; in event of a wipe mid-instance, at minimum the tank characters should be re-buffed with doctor buffs. Suggested food and drinks are included in boss fights tips.

Players should be familiar with their specials – even basic DPS players should be using several. Boss characters should always be stated with as many states as possible. Intimidation is the most important, as it reduces damage output from NPCs. Bleeds and burns are also important on high-health bosses, as those cause boss characters to rack up battle fatigue, which reduces the effectiveness of their armor.

 

Boss 1: The Hulking Dark Trooper

Known exclusive loot: Dark Trooper painting, Elite Dark Trooper painting, Droid Armor Mesh schematic, Dark Trooper Exoskeleton armor schematic

The Dark Trooper is your first boss, a massive war machine left in place by the Shrine’s master. He is completely stationary, but has a nasty rotating cannon he uses at range and is a powerful melee fighter in close.

During the fight, he occasionally spawns four astromech droids around the room. If those droids are not destroyed, they will repair any damage the Dark Trooper takes during the fight. If the astromechs are not suppressed, the fight will take a long, long time.

Primary tactics: Tanks fight the Dark Trooper directly. Doctor focuses primarily on heals, with secondary focus on shooting astromechs. Remaining players focus on droids the moment they spawn and offer DPS on the Dark Trooper when droids are all down.

Suggested food and drink: Accaragm (action regeneration), Vasarian brandy (mind regeneration)

 

Boss 2: Terentatek

Known exclusive loot: none

The Terentatek is a creature of the dark side, twisted into being by devotees of the Sith. They are ugly, hungry beasts who seek out and destroy Jedi. However, a well-armed group of adventurers should be adequate to the task.

Primary tactics: tank and spank. Keep ranged fighters well back to prevent them from being caught by the terentatek’s massive AOE knockdown.

 

Boss 3: The Dark Side Sorcerer

Known exclusive loot: Various zombie paintings.

A devotee of the dark side, the Sorcerer has delved deeply into unnatural abilities. He will call upon the shadow of the Force to attack adventurers with lightning and telekinetic abilities, but most disturbingly, he will raise an army of undead to fight on his behalf.

Worse, if these undead are struck down, he draws strength from the destruction, regenerating health with each of his minions struck down!

Primary tactics: One tank focuses on the sorcerer. Secondary tank taunts all zombie spawns to keep the focus away from the group. All characters use single-target specials to fight the sorcerer and prevent unexpected deaths of zombies that prolong the fight.

Secondary tactic: Ideally, the “zombie magnet” is not a primary or secondary tank. Most ideally, the character is a fencer, as they dodge attacks entirely. Swordsman tend to do poorly in this role, as counterattack secondary defense means the zombies will die during the fight and prolong it. The character in this roll will take a lot of small attacks and likely stack up large amounts of battle fatigue and take reduced heals, which is detrimental during the Sun Guard fight.

Suggested food and drink: Pikatta pie (defense), synthsteak (damage reduction), exo-protein wafers (damage reduction)

 

Boss 4: Terentatek (redux)

Known exclusive loot: none

Players have already fought a Terentatek once; exercise those tactics again, and this Sithspawn will not be a problem.

Primary tactics: tank and spank. Keep ranged fighters well back to prevent them from being caught by the terentatek’s massive AOE knockdown.

 

Boss 5: The Sun Guards

Known exclusive loot: Sun Guard armor schematics

Sith cultists or loyal mercenaries, depending on the source, the Sun Guard is one of the most feared mercenary groups in the galaxy…and for good cause.

In battle, the Sun Guard will fight exclusively melee with force pikes with a full range of deadly polearm attacks. They also fight as a unit, and will heal each other periodically in combat. Success against previous bosses is no guarantee of victory here; many have died at their hands.

Primary tactics: Main and secondary tanks each take a Sun Guard and draw them to the back wall. Doctor focuses exclusively on healing from the front wall, which should be just out of reach of the Sun Guards’ AOE attacks. Non-melee characters also cluster against the front wall to keep doctor healing requirements at a minimum.

Secondary tactics: The Sun Guards will periodically compare HAM, wounds, and battle fatigue; when they do, each Sun Guard reverts to the higher level of each. As such, they must be brought down together rather than focusing one and then the other. While stating is important in all boss fights, during the Sun Guard fight it is critical as a non-intimidated Sun Guard can quickly put down a tank.

Ideally, a fencer should not tank a Sun Guard. While it is possible, fencer’s low toughness means he will rack up damage faster than other melee classes and put more pressure on the doctor to keep up.

It’s important for players focusing on burns and bleeds to switch targets constantly to lay a consistent level of bleeding and burning on each boss, or much of their effort will go to waste.

Players must keep a very close eye on food and drink during this fight; failure to do so may result in party wipe. It’s also worthwhile for tanks with meditate to power boost before this fight.

Suggested food and drink: Pikatta pie (defense), exo-protein wafers (damage reduction)

(Due to the long nature of this fight, tanks will get more use out of the low-filling wafers than they would out of high-filling synthsteak.)

 

Boss 6: The Sith Initiate

Known exclusive loots: Nightsister bicep schematic, Sith mask schematic, Mandalorian mask schematic, Lightsaber pike schematic, Holocron, Sith Holocron

There are always two Sith Lords – a master and an apprentice. However, there are initiates, candidates, and others who have pursued the dark arts but not risen to the rank of Apprentice.

These initiates can be deadly and dangerous in their own right…

The Sith Initiate will not fight players alone, but with three telekinetically controlled floating lightsabers!

Primary tactics: Area attacks are king. Draw the floating lightsabers in and use area attacks to bring them down along with the Initiate.

Secondary tactics: Keep an eye on the initial spawn of lightsabers. They have a tendency to all pick a single player and focus on him. If that player is the primary healer or a ranged character and isn’t ready, they could rapidly be killed. Once past the initial spawn stage, the fight tends to be much easier than the Sun Guard battle. Burns and bleeds can bring the initiate down much faster than strictly DPS.

Suggested food and drink: Pour on everything for this fight – it’s your last, so don’t let your stomach space go to waste!

Patch Notes – 3-9-19

Change Notes:

  • The Sith Shrine heroic is now available to test. (Loot drops are disabled until we have received and implemented feedback on difficulty.)
  • 100+ new flooring items have been added to artisan. Speak to your local artisan to get metal, hardwood, or tile flooring objects to put down in your house.
  • A very odd protocol droid has been spotted on Naboo, selling high-quality paintings for cash.
  • Mon Cal and Dac cities have both received another upgrade. Mon Cal has received a terrain upgrade (to accomodate Mon Cal City upgrades).
  • Dac City and Kuat Drive Yards now have proper citizens.
  • Certain factional spawns have been upgraded.
  • NPC astromech droids now come in a variety of colors.
  • Ship houses now show “locked” on the radial if they are unavailable for entry.
  • SWGEmu-implemented bugfixes. (Check their patch notes for details.)
  • New Republic marine armor bracers and gloves now render correctly on male characters.
  • AV-21 schematics are now holograms.
  • Rattle can now be used while sitting.
  • Sleeveless duster added. (Not player-acquirable at this time.)
  • STAP and Swamp Speeder schematics added. (Not player-acquirable at this time.)
  • Leather armor chestplate schematics now drop in three versions instead of one.
  • Removed deprecated Object Manager calls from all EiF screenplays.
  • Added new city framework script for faster population of new cities.
  • Added random name generation for BB and C1 droids.
  • Reenabled FRIENDLY tag for mobiles.
  • Updating cloning point for Sith Shrine and Nym’s Auction structures.
  • Heroic framework implementation for faster content development – automatic instance tracking and safety, lockout timers, spawning functions, shutdown timers, and more.

Empire In Flames: GCW Patch, Part 2 – 9/30/2018

General

  • The Galactic Civil War invasions are live starting today. Senators and Councillors will begin voting on their first targets. The New Republic will stage the first attack.
  • After successful tests of the Invasion system, the behind the scenes pieces are in place to make this all work. So begins the open conflict between the Empire and the New Republic.
  • In case you missed the Invasion Tests, here’s what you need to know:
  • The Empire or the New Republic will invade a planet controlled by the opposition faction, and must flip control of each starport on the planet, via the same mechanism as a base bust – by performing terminal based mini-games for Commando, Smuggler, Bounty Hunter, Doctor, and Squad Leader. Defenders have statically placed turrets and the Attackers have player-controlled Combat Walkers.
  • Planetary control will impart the controlling faction with galactic bonuses, ranging from crafting bonuses to combat bonuses – details are in the GCW section below.
  • Planetary alignment has been reset to the default starting positions.

 

Items

  • Recolor has been disabled on Ubese Gloves and Bracers, Bounty Hunter Gloves, and RIS Gloves, as well as New Republic Marine Bracers and Gloves, as there are issues with the textures that prevent them from being recolored at this time. This is a planned future fix.
  • Recolor has been added to all the ‘battle damaged’ War Fame GCW armors – Stormtrooper, Scout Trooper, Assault Trooper, New Republic Marine, New Republic Battle, and New Republic Assault.
  • War Fame vendors have been added to Kuat and Mon Calamari – they only accept ‘War Fame’ which is earned through participation in Invasions. Check the vendors to see what items they contain!
  • Appearances have been fixed for a number of armors. New Republic armors will no longer have the Human Male appearance on females and other races.
  • Factional Armors have been enabled for Wookiees and Ithorians – Wookiees will equip Factional armors as invisible, while Ithorians will have a special armor appearance that will not be hooked up elsewhere. This also includes the Camo Factional armors that are yet to come.
  • Recolor has been fixed on all Mandalorian armor pieces.
  • The ‘Plain’ Furniture items have been added as a crafting option to the ‘Cheap’ Furniture items. See your local Architect to get a set.
  • Ithorians who have taken their quarterly PPG training will now be able to equip PSGs.

 

Combat:

  • A merge from SWGEmu had accidentally boosted player damage output by 50% – this has been reverted.
  • Droid healing modules have updated to allow Stim As through Stim Es to be equipped. This was previously restricted to Stim As only. Please note that your droid does not share your skill mods and will heal at the base value of the equipped stim.
  • Note: a change to implement a 15-second delay on calling any pet after combat has been discussed in Discord. This change is still planned but did not make this patch.

 

Travel

  • You can now purchase nonstop tickets to any planet. Nonstop tickets are calculated at premium prices.

 

GCW

  • Senate/Council elections have been slowed from a 6 day cycle to the planned 28 day cycle. Congratulations to our first New Republic Senators and Imperial Councilors!
  • Quartermasters with war fame rewards can be found in the Kuat and Mon Calamari starports.
  • The Imperial Council’s voting terminal has been added to the Star Destroyer on Kuat.
  • The Republic Senate’s voting terminal has been added to the underwater military HQ on Mon Calamari. Senators will need to speak with a New Republic pilot in the Mon Cal City starport to visit. Unauthorized personnel are not allowed.
  • Planetary bonuses have been implemented. Bonuses are scaled according to player rank and vary depending on planet. These bonuses affect multiple skills, including outdoors, combat, and crafting. Further bonuses will be implemented as new worlds are added.

 

PM HOTFIX

Customization

  • Resolved an issue where Zeltron females lost their recolor options.
  • Resolved an issue where Devaronian females lost their recolor options.
  • Resolved an issue where the ‘Figrin Dan’ jacket had lost its recolor options.

 

Items

  • Resolved an issue where a GCW War Fame sword schematic was not properly applying stats on final assembly.
  • Resolved an issue where all GCW War Fame rifle schematics were not properly applying stats on final assembly.
  • Fixed schematic name for the War Fame one-handed sword.

 

GCW

  • Set GCW Senate election times to 24 days as there is a limitation in Core3 that prevents times longer than this properly storing.

Empire In Flames: GCW Patch, Part 1 – 9/23/2018

General:

The Galactic Civil War launches today. After successful tests of the Invasion system, the behind the scenes pieces are in place to make this all work. So begins the open conflict between the Empire and the New Republic.

In case you missed the Invasion Tests, here’s what you need to know:

The Empire or the New Republic will invade a planet controlled by the opposition faction, and must flip control of each starport on the planet, via the same mechanism as a base bust – by performing terminal based mini-games for Commando, Smuggler, Bounty Hunter, Doctor, and Squad Leader. Defenders have statically placed turrets and the Attackers have player-controlled Combat Walkers.

Planetary control will impart the controlling faction with galactic bonuses, ranging from crafting bonuses to combat bonuses – details to be included in the next set of patch notes when the control bonuses are enabled.

Planetary alignment has been reset to the default starting positions.

Items:

Free recolor has been turned on for all armors.

Color palettes have been updated for all armors – please be aware this may change the existing color to something less desirable.

New Republic Assault, New Republic Battle, New Republic Marine, Imperial Stormtrooper, Imperial Scout Trooper, and Imperial Shock Trooper armor schematics have all been added to their respective Faction Recruiters.

The iconic Rebel weapon – the A280 is now available in a pistol, carbine, and rifle flavor from Faction Recruiters.

New Republic and Imperial themed City Halls are now available from Faction Recruiters.

Combat:

Unarmed Damage reworked to only apply the full bonus to unarmed (no weapons) – acts like other Melee Damage skill mods otherwise.

Melee Damage SEAs have been rendered useful – +25 will grant about a 5% increase in damage.

Heavy Weapon specials have been rebalanced to be faster and more accurate.

Starting weapon specials have been rebalanced to be more useful starting out, and less useful as you level and cap your weapon speed.

Politician:

Galactic Elections have been enabled – Imperial Politicians with Martial Policy IV and New Republic Politicians with Civic Policy IV can run for Senator or Councilor and shape the direction of the upcoming Galactic Civil War. The first election cycle will be accelerated to a seven day cycle to allow Senators/Councilors to be in place before the next patch when Invasions will be enabled. After the next patch it will go to a twenty-eight day cycle.

A new civic structure, the Voting Center, is now available. Cities of Rank 2 or higher can place it to allow voting in Senate/Council elections. The Voting Center can be crafted by architects.

 

Planets:

The planets of Chandrila, Coruscant, Kuat, and Mon Calamari have been added.

Chandrila and Kuat have a full set of new creatures, some of which are creature handler tamable.

Chandrila and Kuat have a full set of new resources.

Coruscant and Mon Calamari are visitable locations but do not have creatures or resources available. Mon Calamari in particular is very much a work in progress and will have substantial updates in an upcoming patch.

The travel map has been updated. The new map includes planets that are not currently available on the live server. Travel routes currently bypass inactive planets.

SWGEmu:

The Empire in Flames codebase has been updated with the latest SWGEmu code. Check SWGEmu’s patches for the last three months to check for functionality changes/bug fixes.