MMORPG Throne and Liberty published on the official Korean website letter game producer Jongok Ahn. This is the first message from the development team since the end of the closed test of the Korean version of the game in May 2023. We have prepared a translation of this letter.
In this first letter, I’d like to talk about the changes we’ve made to the game since the beta, and what we were thinking as we made those changes. I hope this will be a welcome letter to those of you who have been waiting for news from us for a long time.
After beta testing ended, we had a lot to think about. We were grateful for the feedback, but it was the critical comments that became a real find for us. Some of them aroused our confidence, and some confirmed our fears. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who shared their feedback with us, it was a great way to give us back the “objective view” that we were missing after so many years of development.
Below we have outlined the main issues we are currently working on, and while we could simply say that we have changed something, we feel it is my role and responsibility to share the context and thought process with you so you can see how your tests change Throne and Liberty.
Before moving on to the details of the improvements, we would like to share our vision of the problem. We’ve identified two problems with the game that were identified during beta testing: static combat and boring character progression. While these keywords sound like obvious challenges, there were a number of design intentions behind them that we wanted to realize. As we talk about the improvements we’re making today, I’d like to share with you how our ideas came to fruition and how we’re going to correct any deviations from our planned ideas.
Dynamic combat with target selection
There were many reasons why the battle seemed static, but the most important one was the lack of freedom of maneuver.
When we were imagining what a large-scale war would look like, player formations were important to us. Therefore, we implemented collisions between characters and made it so that most attacks cannot be performed simultaneously with movement, but our decisions were made at the expense of movement and freedom of maneuver. The shortcomings were even more noticeable when fighting in peaceful zones, which make up the majority of the game, rather than in large-scale military situations. To remedy the situation, we took the following steps:
- The general combat system has been changed, it is now possible to attack while moving.
- Collisions between characters have been removed in all areas except conflict zones.
- Control has become more responsive by minimizing the effect of inertia when changing direction.
Of course, we don’t consider these fixes to be the end of the combat system. We understand that the first step to dynamic static combat is to make it possible to move and attack at the same time. We decided that character encounters needed to be rethought without compromising the tactical value of group combat, and made them unusable in peaceful zones. Inertia effects, which were intended to add realism when changing direction, were also significantly reduced, as they increased the frustration of moving.
After removing many of the control restrictions, we turned our attention to skills. The number of available skills was limited and this made it difficult for players to think actively, so we worked to expand the possibilities of combat and make it more varied:
- In addition to target skills, we’ve added a number of new skill types, such as direction and targeting skills, that adapt to PC controls.
- We have increased the number of skills that are given initially and changed the speed at which new skills are obtained.
In the early stages of development, we focused on simplicity: most skills consisted of attacking the target, area damage around the target, and auto attacks. This, combined with the slow pace of skill acquisition during development, made it difficult to perceive the variety of combat. The addition of new skill types broke up this simple rhythm and allowed for more strategic use of skills. We’ve changed the setting where players are given a small number of skills from the start and acquire them slowly, giving them more options early on.
We’re also working on making weapon switching smoother. The weapon system that allows you to equip and use two weapons is a very important feature of combat in Throne and Liberty, but the actual weapon combinations were very limited and we would like to change this as we want players to be able to create different weapon combinations based on your personal preferences and ideas.
- We’ve completely reworked the stat system, where certain stats only affect the damage of certain weapons.
- Now Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom and Insight will affect the damage of all types of weapons, and the effects of second skills that do not deal damage have been expanded.
- We’ve adjusted weapon passives that were only effective when using certain weapons to now affect all weapons evenly.
- Increased the number of early resets when crafting gear and upgrades to reduce the burden of carrying multiple pieces of gear.
Fast and fun character development
When talking about growth, it’s fair to start with the history of automatic hunting [автоигры]. The MMORPG genre was inevitably accompanied by a long grind. During the existence of the genre, we came to the conclusion that the presence of an auto-hunting system in MMORPGs is increasingly taken for granted, and we decided to follow this example. However, in our opinion, we may have taken this decision too lightly.
During beta testing, we heard from many users that they were disappointed with Auto Hunt. We reminded ourselves that keyboard, mouse and tablet gamers expect an immersive experience where they have fine-grained control over content that deserves manipulation, rather than automated play where characters move on their own.
- Auto-hunting and automatic movement have been completely removed.
Along with auto hunting, we have also removed automatic movement. We considered keeping it because of the convenience factor, but it took away the value of the experience of moving around the world, meeting people and exploring new areas.
In terms of removing auto-hunt, the game needed to become a meaningful game rather than just a repetitive hunt. It’s not that our game didn’t have that, but we needed to add new types of content to increase the amount of content and improve existing content to increase its quality.
- The importance of hunting in character development zones has been significantly reduced.
- Significantly increased experience rewards in the Adventure Codex, World Exploration Codex, and Regional Events.
- We are adding more peaceful elements to the Peace Exploration and Resistance Codex missions.
- We are working on several instanced dungeons that will require boss fights.
Co-op play is an incredibly important aspect of MMORPGs. However, the guilds are too large and the opportunities are limited. We’re working on creating instanced, party-based dungeons that will allow co-op play on a smaller scale. We didn’t show this content in the beta, but you will see it once the game launches.
Unlike the open world, party instanced dungeons require a limited number of people to complete, so it is important to understand the dungeon’s quirks and respond accordingly rather than simply relying on numbers. We hope that the new co-op features will bring more variety to the development process.
It’s not just about adding new content, but also de-emphasizing hunting in existing content. During beta testing, we saw that many people were exploring the world. Finding hidden places makes you think, “I can’t believe I’m going to get this far.” And it convinced us that we need to make exploring and discovering the world more fun.
As the game fills with content, the growth rate naturally changes. Passive play may no longer require as much game time as before. We’ve drastically reduced the time it takes to level up, and we’ve had to do the same with gear and skill progression:
- We’ve radically reduced the time it takes to level up.
- We have increased the number of places where you can find materials for crafting and upgrading equipment to speed up your character’s equipment growth.
- Skills are now acquired automatically as you level up, and we’ve increased the amount of materials needed to upgrade skills to speed up their progression.
Leveling times have been adjusted to accommodate manual play up to level 50. The time to reach level 30, shown in the beta, has been reduced by a third, and the time to reach level 50, which is the maximum level at launch, has been reduced by one tenth.
These are just some of the priorities we are working on at the moment, with many others being worked on in parallel. We’ll be testing some of these improvements in Amazon Games’ upcoming closed technical testing. And we promise to keep making changes and improvements until we’re ready to share them with you.
I started writing this letter because I wanted to listen to you more than to talk to you. We have created a forum “Talk about TL» as a place to hear your comments. Please feel free to leave comments on anything, including the improvements we’ve talked about today. Your thoughts are always a source of inspiration and motivation for us. We’re also continuing to think about ways to get more information from you than just a message board. We will find a way to do this.
In the next letter I would like to introduce you to some content that has not yet been shown. I think you’ll get a better idea of what it’s like to play Throne and Liberty, and I’ll write to you again soon.