Something for Everyone - August 2020 SOTS Overview
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Atlas’s bi-monthly State of the Server address has come again, and this latest one - which took place between 8:00pm and 10:00pm CDT, on August 29th - was particularly full of changes likely to seriously alter their fields, or even Atlas as a whole.
The State of the Server opened in normal fashion. Though no staff were created or promoted, promotions of players to Keeper or Vanguard occurred as with every address. Notably, sourmissy was added to the ranks of the development team, but other than this, promotions were generally uneventful (of course, they were eventful for those who received a promotion). Following these was the much-anticipated discussion of the recent art contest which ended on the day of the SOTS. Before announcing the winner of the second (and final) round of selection, the Elders first promised to deliver more frequent and varied contests, though the next has yet to be posted (as of 30-08-2020). The victor of August’s contest was, as most expected, Tomaruchan’s The Last Supper, a wide art piece depicting several nation gijinkas in the style of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
After taking care of the predictable business, the address moved into the stage in which developers reveal projects by at last publicizing the results of Atlas’s player feedback survey. Notable results include: that over half of respondees had played over 200 hours on Atlas, that 85% of respondees said that they enjoyed playing Atlas to “hang out with friends”, that Nations was the most liked feature, and that world regeneration was the most disliked feature. The last of these results was the basis for the first major reveal of the State of the Server: major changes to world regeneration. First, it was revealed that the so-called “swiss cheese” regeneration, in which unnatural land regenerated in a pockmarked way, had been quietly altered two months ago. In response to what Ajaxan roughly described as players reacting more negatively to minor regeneration passes than expected, the way in which world regeneration functions has, as of Monday, August 24th, been changed such that regeneration only occurs after 45 days of abandonment of a chunk (significantly up from the former 5 days), but it only takes two passes for any structure to fully regenerate. This means that regeneration maintains its approximate three month requirement for a structure to disappear, while giving players more leniency in shorter terms. This change was met largely positively by those who had expressed dislike of the previous regeneration system.
The address continued on its established pattern of attempting to pleasingly resolve conflicts within the playerbase with a slew of changes to magic. These changes largely amounted to the “magic nerf” that a significant portion of the playerbase had been clamoring for for months. First, Tyrriel, the architect of Atlas’s current magic system, got out of the way the most incendiary change: magic’s most powerful tool, the so-called “powerbeam”, is on death row. This caused a major uproar, some positive, some negative, in the SOTS discussion channel, which was calmed upon the next announcement: magic would be receiving hundreds more effects. For perspective, current magic can produce perhaps 30 or 40 different effects (all other customizability is secondary), while Tyrriel suggested 496. Magic GUIfication was also officially announced, though it had been leaked well before by Tyrriel himself. Lastly, some degree of magic “specialization” was vaguely hinted at, but few details were released.
The next large announcement was segued into via the currently-dysfunctional “Magic Resistance” smeltery attribute. The announcement of the previous State of the Server was confirmed - the attribute would be being redone to work better with the modern magic system. However, this was not the only information about the upcoming smeltery rework that was given. It was revealed that the entire balance of smeltery gear would be redone to involve more trade-offs and prevent the establishment of any one set of gear as “meta”, requiring players to decide how they wanted to pvp and strategize against their opponents. Magic would be a part of this. And the combat changes would not be for naught, as cautious PvP reimplementation was discussed next. After months of deliberation/argumentation both within the dev team and publicly, the Elders confirmed another leak: the solution to Atlas’s WorldPvP debate (that is, the debate of whether or not to have it, and how) would be dedicated “event islands” where PvP was enabled but rewards were available. Rewards mentioned included increased ores, special plants, fish, etc, while dangers included traditional combat, limited combat, zoned combat, and knockback combat. Lastly, to sprinkle optional combat to the main continent of Athera, the SOTS announced one more change: relic holders, and those who attacked them, were vulnerable to PvP as well.
The main source of combat on Atlas save these changes - war - would also receive attention. Specifically, its results, which many had previously complained were too minor, were given teeth. Several different ideas for options for war victors to impose on their enemies were proffered by developers and players alike at the mention of war repercussions, including some percentage of the loser’s nation value paid to the victor, the victor taking part of the loser’s daily taxes in profit every day for the post-war armistice, the victor taking part of the loser’s resource gains for the duration of the post-war armistice, the loser becoming unable to declare war on anyone for the armistice, the loser being unable to create towns in some place for the length of the armistice, and - most controversially - the loser being forcibly made a vassal of the victor for so long as the armistice stands. Defender victories would result in slightly stronger effects than attacker victories, the Elders said.
But the address was not done yet - the August State of the Server truly began to earn the phrase ‘Something for Everyone’ as it formally introduced the impending New Nauru (“NNauru”). The renovation - the first since Atlas’s Alpha - was described as “more than half done”. Changes involved extend beyond a new map, and include a new questline, two new dungeons (so far), and some modifications to the tutorial to make it more palatable.
As the address wound into its later portions, the reveals became shorter and more frequent. The Atheran Council - that is, leaderboard-topping nations being able to impose positive effects on Athera - was re-confirmed. Atlas’s update to 1.16 was described as “almost ready to go”, waiting on only a few plugins to update before a wide-scale test could occur on Atlas. Several bugfixes, such as those for brewery and dungeons, were included in the coming version update. Though no nether content would be coming immediately, Tyrriel confirmed that 1.14, 1.15, and 1.16 blocks would be included in the Atheran map which world regeneration works off of and left to the regeneration to implement. Tannery and fletchery updates were placed officially on the docket (but not as immediate as smeltery’s update), additional dungeons beyond the ones named were assured, new and revamped (potentially magic-wielding) mythic mobs were promised, the existence of other content on the world of Atlas lore-wise was hinted at, and a rebalancing of relics was discussed. The Elders also encouraged suggestions for features such as new mounts and drugs, but with a vital caveat: the proposed features needed to be useful/enjoyable, not unnecessarily complex or annoying, and not game-breaking. In addition, Tax and claiming changes (“Regularization”/”Rectangularization”) were given no specific ETA but reaffirmed, haste magic was outright denied, increasing obelisk shard freedom was placed as a “maybe”, replacement of “broken” mythic loot (eg dire wolf pelts) was assured, and the long-desired resource pack was left still in the status of “work-in-progress”.
All around, the State of the Server address of August 2020 had highs and lows, but people will disagree on what those were. The Elders were adamant in each controversy that nothing was set in stone, such that that which received large-scale pushback would likely be modified or scrapped. In this sense, the event truly had ‘Something for Everyone’. Only time will tell how these promised changes play out, and, in the long term, what the impact of August 29th’s events will be.