NCSOFT spoke about Throne and Liberty changes: Autoplay, Combat, Progression, New Dungeons and more!

In a detailed letter, the producer of Throne and Liberty, spoke in depth about the changes in the game’s development. These changes reflect the feedback obtained during the last Beta and have already been discussed at length. But this time, the producer explains the reason for the initial development, the changes made and the idea behind them, what they are trying to do with each modification.

Below you can read the full translated letter, but first we leave you with a short summary of the most important points.

  • Removed auto-hunt and auto-move altogether
  • Combat system revamp. You can now attack on the go, inertia removed and collitions are not aplyed in non-combat areas
  • More skills, more skills in early stages and the speed at which new skills are learned is up
  • More fluid Weapon Swaping
  • Auto-travel removed
  • New party-play dungeons with a final boss
  • More non-hunting content
  • Significantly reduced the time it takes to level up
  • Increased the number of sources of materials for crafting and enhancing equipment
  • Faster skill growth

Throne and Lyberty: Producer’s Letter Part 1

Hello. I’m Jongok Ahn, producer of THRONE AND LIBERTY.
How are you all doing?

The first time we showed you the TL was during the Beta test back in May, so it’s been a long time. We should have get back at you as soon as possible, but we’ve been busy with development. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and dreading what I should say in my first greeting to you, so I’ll try to be more responsive in the future.

In this first letter, I’d like to explain the changes we’ve made to our development direction since the beta test, and what we’ve been thinking about along the way. I hope this will be a welcome letter for those of you who have been waiting to hear from us for a while.

Our challenges after the Beta Test

We’ve had a lot to think about since the beta test. While we were grateful for the compliments, it was your criticisms that really got to us. Some of it was a wake-up call to our confidence, and some of it was validation of our fears. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for sharing your feedback with us, as it’s been a great way for us to regain the “objective eye” that we’ve been missing after so many years of development.

Below, we’ve summarized the main issues we’re currently working on, and while we could simply say we’ve changed something, I feel it’s my job to share with you the context and thought process behind it, so you can see how the test and your feedback is changing TL.

What’s changing?

Before we get into the specific improvements, I’d like to share with you our perception of the problem. We’ve defined the game’s problems as revealed in beta testing as two things: static combat and tedious progression. While these keywords may sound like self-explanatory challenges, there were a number of design intentions behind them that we wanted to implement. In describing our improvements today, I’d like to share with you how our thinking manifested itself, and how we’re going to correct any deviations from our intentions.

Dynamic combat with options

There were many reasons why combat felt static, but the biggest one was the lack of freedom of maneuver.

Formations were important to us when we envisioned what a large-scale war would look like, so we implemented collisions between characters and made it so that most attacks could not be performed simultaneously with movement. However, our decisions resulted in a lack of freedom of movement and control. The drawbacks were even more pronounced during battles in peaceful zones, which make up the majority of the game, rather than in large-scale war situations. To improve this, we took the following steps.

  • Changed the overall combat system to allow attacks on the go.
  • Removed collisions between characters in all areas except conflict zones.
  • Minimized the effect of applied inertia when changing direction to make controls more responsive.

Of course, we don’t consider these fixes to be the end of our work on the combat system, but the first step in making static combat dynamic was to make it possible to move and fight at the same time. We decided that character collisions needed to be re-examined without compromising the tactical value of group combat, and we made them inapplicable in peace zones. Inertia effects, which were meant to add a sense of realism when changing direction, were also drastically reduced as they added to the frustration of movement.

After removing many of the restrictions placed on the controls, we turned our attention to skills. There were a limited number of skills that could be used, and this was preventing players from thinking proactively, so we worked on a number of things to increase the options in combat and make combat more varied.

  • In addition to targeted skills, we’ve added a number of new types of skills that adapt to the PC’s control environment, such as orientation and hitting specific points.
  • We’ve increased the number of skills that are initially granted, and changed the speed at which new skills are learned.

In the early stages of development, we focused on simplicity, with the majority of skills consisting of targeted, target-centered, and self-centered attacks. This, coupled with the slow rate of skill acquisition over the course of your progression, made it difficult to experience the variety of combat. Adding new skill types was a way to break up this simple rhythm and allow for more strategic use of skills. We changed the setting where players were given a small number of skills early on and were slow to acquire them, giving them more options early on.

We’re also working on making weapon swapping more fluid. The weapon system, where you can equip and use two weapons, is a very important feature of TL combat, but the actual combinations of weapons available were very limited, and we wanted to change that as well, as we wanted players to be able to create a variety of weapon combinations based on their personal preferences and concepts.

  • We’ve completely revamped the stat system where certain stats only affect the damage of certain weapons.
  • Determination, Prowess, Wisdom, and Insight will now affect the damage of all weapons, and we’ve expanded the effects of non-damage stats.
  • We’ve adjusted weapon passive skills that were only effective when used with a specific weapon so that they affect all weapons evenly.
  • Increased the number of early gear crafting and enhancement drops to reduce the burden of carrying multiple pieces of gear.

Fast and exciting growth experience

In order to talk about growth, it’s only fair to start with the story of auto-hunting. The MMORPG genre has inevitably been accompanied by long-breathing play. Over the course of the genre’s history, we’ve come to realize that the presence of an auto-hunt system is increasingly seen as a given in MMORPGs, and we’ve followed suit. However, we think we may have taken this decision too lightly.

During our beta testing, we heard from many users that they were frustrated with auto-hunting. We reminded ourselves that gamers who play with keyboard, mouse, and pad expect to be able to immerse themselves in a game with fine-grained control over content that deserves to be manipulated, not an automated game with characters that move on their own.

  • Removed auto-hunt and auto-move altogether.

Along with auto-hunting, we also removed auto-travel, which we considered keeping because of its convenience, but also because of the value of the experience of moving around the world, meeting people, and exploring new areas.

From the point of removing automatic features, the game had to transform into meaningful content play, not just repetitive hunting. It’s not that we didn’t have those elements, but we needed to add new content types to improve the quantity, and we needed to improve the quality of the existing content.

  • Significantly reduced the importance of hunting in Growth Zones
  • Significantly increased experience rewards for Adventure Codex, Exploration Codex, and Regional Events
  • We’re adding more non-hunting mission elements to Exploration Codex and Resistance missions
  • We’re working on a number of party-play instance dungeons that will require boss fights

Cooperative play is an incredibly important aspect of MMORPGs. But guilds are too big and the opportunities are limited. We’ve been working on party-sized instance dungeons to make co-op play more casual and smaller. This content was not available in the beta, but you’ll see it when we launch.

Unlike Fields, Party Instanced Dungeons require a limited number of players, so you can’t just take them on by sheer force of numbers, and we’re making sure you know the dungeon’s gimmicks so you can react to them correctly. We’re hoping these new co-op experiences will add more variety to your progression.

It’s not just about adding new content, it’s also about making existing content less of a hunt. In our beta testing, we saw a lot of people engaging in the behavior of “exploration” – finding hidden spots in the field where you wonder, “I can’t believe I’m going to go this far” – and we knew we had to make exploration and discovery more fun.

When growth is filled with content play, the pace of growth naturally changes. Passive play can no longer demand as much playtime as it once did. The amount of time it takes to level up has been dramatically reduced, and we’ve had to do the same with gearing and skill progression.

  • Significantly reduced the time it takes to level up
  • Increased the number of sources of materials for crafting and enhancing equipment to speed up equipment growth
  • We’ve made skill growth faster by making skills automatically acquire as you level up and increasing the amount of materials needed to strengthen skills

Level progression time have been adjusted based on manual play up to level 50. The time to level 30 in the beta has been reduced by one-third, and the time to level 50, the open standard, has been reduced by one-tenth.

These are just a few of our top priorities, and we’re working on many more in parallel. We’ll be testing some of these improvements in the upcoming Technical Test Closed Alpha on Amazon Games, and we promise to keep tweaking and refining until we’re ready to share them with you.

When I first came up with the idea of a letter as a form of communication, I was overwhelmed – I wondered if it would be too lighthearted, and I had a lot of questions about what to say. But as I finished writing my first letter, I realized that a letter is the perfect vessel for sincerity, and I will continue to communicate with you as long as the game is in service.

And this letter is something I started because I wanted to listen to you more than I wanted to talk to you. We’ve created the “Tell TL” board as a place to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment about anything, including the improvements we’ve outlined today. Your thoughts are always a great source of inspiration and motivation for us. We’re also continuing to think about ways to hear from more of you than just in a message board. We’ll find a way to make it work. [Tell TL message board]

In our next letter, we’ll introduce you to some content that hasn’t been released yet. I think you’ll get a better idea of what the game called TL is like, and I’ll be writing to you again soon.

As always, thank you.

Jongok Ahn, Producer, THRONE AND LIBERTY




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