Just like any evolving game, things change. Since release, we've had an ongoing and heavy interest in game balance. Much of the critical implementation work in the last several years for EverQuest II has been on the shoulders of Aeralik, but the discussion and decisions are shared across the entire team, as we review information that you provide us in various ways. Data comes from the many reports we run against our log files, from the posts you make in the EQII forums, and even from external forums. Once we gather that data, we process it so that we can see the underlying issue it reveals.
Fairly often the data confirms something that one of you has pointed out in a post, or in feedback, or a ticket with Customer Service, and we start looking at ways that we can correct whatever that issue is. There is not a one of us who enjoys putting something into the game that eventually needs to be "nerfed", but at times changes get in that end up doing something completely unexpected, despite our testing. Even the most innocuous item or change can make a significant difference in a game with the complexity of an MMO, especially with the size and scope of EQII.
This is the situation we've run into now. We've discovered that with the items that we released with The Shadow Odyssey, that proc additional damage, the amount of damage being caused has grown considerably, and we need to adjust it. So, in the next game update, we're going to be adjusting to the way triggered procs on items work.
The first change of note is that we're removing critical damage from the item's base proc. This will help us even out damage from the items we've already released, and also assist us in maintaining a standard going forward.
The next thing you'll see in this update is that the values of the procs can no longer be modified, with a few notable exceptions like achievements or item set enhancements. Generic bonuses will no longer apply to triggered damage generated from items. This will allow us to move forward with creating items that can have higher damage item procs in the future.
Predators will see a change to Toxic Expertise, The spell will now improve the base damage of poisons. We're also making adjustments to the Death Mark and Inspired Daring spell lines so that they trigger melee attacks instead of spell based attacks. This is to refocus the combat art back to improved poison damage, rather than the spell crit damage it has been doing.
We recognize that these are substantial changes. We wouldn't be making them if we didn't feel that things were currently unbalanced, and becoming more so as the game continues to grow. These changes will bring the item procs and spells back to a reasonable standard.
What about the rest of the content in this game update? Well, there are a bunch of additional changes you'll be seeing, beyond the spell rename that we've been talking about on the boards for a while now; you can expect to see a brand new x2 raid, two single group instances, lots of overland solo content, player created books, a whole new and more efficient shadow system, and research assistants to help you study up for your next spell upgrade.
We're expecting to have most of this rolled out to the test server sometime during the week of May 18th, and then out to the live servers in June, around Fan Faire. We'll be sure to keep you updated if dates change.
We hope to see your feedback on all of these matters and hope that you'll join us on the Test server once we update. Until then, please give us your feedback in the Official Forums.
Finally, this will be my final Producer's letter to you all. I'm moving on within SOE to another position, but wanted to thank each of you for your continued comments, concerns, and discussion. Between the team and the players, it's been a most enjoyable experience for me again, and I will certainly miss you all - without being too far away. Fortunately, I'm leaving you in good hands, and I think the future of EverQuest II will continue to shine.
I'll see you in game!
Bruce A. Ferguson