We've made some adjustments to the Pest Control minigame. The biggest change is to include the very heavily requested feature to have three different boats with three different level requirements. Boat 1 requires a combat level of 40+, boat 2 requires a combat level of 70+ and boat 3 requires a combat level of 100+.
Now, this change makes a big impact on the game, so we've had to put a lot of thought into rebalancing other areas accordingly. We needed to make sure each boat provides a game which is correctly balanced for its level requirements. This means that in each boat we needed to determine such things as monster levels, Pest Control points given per game, experience given per Pest Control point, and make a change to the way killing portals works.
If you are interested in what these changes are and our decision process in coming to them, then this is detailed in the bottom section of this news story.
We have added an intermediate points-for-experience deal. Before, you could only trade in points for experience in batches of 1 or 100. You can now also trade 10 points for experience which will give you a 1% experience bonus.
We've slightly increased the stats of the Void Knight armour.
We've made some new things to buy with your Pest Control points, too. We've released 3 new helmets. One is for rangers, one is for mages and one is for meleers. When a helmet is worn with the top, robe and gloves you will receive a set bonus appropriate for the corresponding character class. You don't need to wield the mace to receive the set bonus. The player owned house costume room will store the new helmets.
Another new item to spend points on is the Void Knight seal, an item specifically for helping you in the Pest Control game. The seal has 8 charges and will deal 8-12 damage to all adjacent monsters. This can only be used within Pest Control, and it does not contribute towards the minimum 50 damage needed to earn points.
The squire now has a right-click "quick leave" option so you can now leave the island even when under attack.
Bottom section of this news story.
As outlined earlier, once we split the game into three boats, there were a lot of knock on effects we needed to address, which are explained in this section.
Firstly, we've had to adjust the strength of the monsters according to the boat you are on. A boat containing only level 40-70 players couldn't beat the game before. Now if the game is harder on a high level boat then it needs to give more points or it wouldn't be fair. Now, winning a game on boat 3 will give you 4 Pest Control points, winning on boat 2 will give you 3 Pest Control points and winning on boat 1 will give you 2 Pest Control points.
That's a lot more points per game! We obviously can't give as much experience per point if points are that easy to get, so the amount of experience you get per point is now 35% of what it used to be. You may be wondering what will happen to the Pest Control points you have collected already - we thought of that, and you will still get to cash in your old points at the old rate. (Phew!)
To do the maths for you, that means that on boat 2 you'll be getting just slightly more experience per game than previously and on boat 3 you will getting a lot more experience per game. This isn't as extreme as it sounds because games can take longer to complete now (more on that below). You'll be getting less experience per game on boat 1, but that's okay because low levels will probably be able to win more games than they could before. The experience you will receive per point if you choose Ranged and Magic has been reduced by a further ten percent as we felt receiving experience in those skills without using runes or arrows is rather generous anyway. Herbs, seeds and minerals have also had their point cost tripled to stay in line with the new point rewards. The Void Knight equipment has retained its old point value, effectively making it cheaper.
Pest Control has always given very generous combat experience. In a strange way, the main thing which kept the experience rate from reaching ludicrous levels was that the presence of enough people with low combat levels made the game hard to win quickly and consistently. Not the best balancing mechanism, I'm sure you'll agree! It was rather unreliable and could unfortunately even lead to verbal abuse of low level players who were doing no harm beyond wanting to play a minigame - not really the community building we'd hoped for from this minigame.
So, since that effect is now greatly reduced (low levels have their own boat), and since the high level boats now give more experience per game, we've had to compensate for that in some way too! The rate of experience is now kept in check by the fact that the portals will start the game being shielded and invulnerable. One portal will become unshielded 15 seconds after the game starts, then another every 30 seconds, until after 1 minute and 45 seconds every portal is unshielded. This actually brings about the strategy in game play that we had always intended as you actually have to put up a proper defence up for the Void Knight rather than simply relying on people killing the portals very quickly. Our general aims with rates of experience are to make features worthwhile training on while not being so good that they render other training methods obsolete and it is this balance that we have worked hard to achieve.
To further fine tune gameplay, the behaviour of a number of the npcs has changed. Most of the npcs now do not block players except for the brawlers and the portals, so it's much easier to move around the island now. Spinners will poison nearby players when a nearby portal is killed, portals can no longer be poisoned and shifters teleport around a lot more.