To patch, or not to patch

Posted by M J Ward on 15 February 2013

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April will see the re-release of The Legion of Shadow in Mass Market Paperback edition. In case you’re wondering what the hell that means, basically MMP is publishing speak for the cheaper version of the book, smaller and a little more portable (i.e. the size of your regular paperback). My editor contacted me earlier this week asking if I had any changes to make (bearing in mind, this would be the last time I could ever "fiddle" with the book). My immediate response was, ‘no, are you crazy?!’, after all I was relatively pleased with what I had achieved and didn’t want to start tinkering with what had gone before.

It didn’t go too well for George Lucas, in my opinion (let’s not even get started on the ‘Greedo shooting first’ debate…). Sometimes, I think things are best left as they are. However, when it comes to computer games, they are more of a moveable feast. Because games are about numbers and balancing, you’re never going to get it right first time. I certainly learnt a lot of lessons designing and testing LoS, which ensured that when I came to write HoF (and now Winter’s Fury), I was in a much better position to ensure the combats and itemisation were balanced. In fact, I don’t think there is anything in HoF that I would change (apart from those sneaky errors!).

So, after saying to my editor – ‘changes, not on your nelly!’ (or words to that effect), I spent a rather sleepless night mulling over some of the feedback I have received from readers/fans regarding LoS. All positive (on the whole), but a few niggles about the difficulty of Legion. It is a problem I can understand, looking back at the book. When I wrote it, I would have classed myself as quite a ‘hardcore’ games player and I think, to some extent, I wanted the book and the combats to be pitched on the challenging side. I’m the type of player that enjoys that. I love games like Dark Souls, for example, which have punishing learning curves. They keep me hooked. But I know this isn’t the case for everyone.

And at the end of the day, I want everyone to enjoy LoS. So, as I lay awake mulling it over, I resolved to take a second look at the book and make some changes; a few tweaks to items to make the gameplay flow better. I know a lot of players have found upgrading equipment and exploring new builds quite challenging, whilst also ensuring their speed stays at a respectable level to ensure they can advance. Warriors, in particular, have had a hard time, as they possibly have less slots with speed items and therefore can easily be “out-levelled” by the monsters.

Therefore, I have tweaked a lot of the Act 1 and early Act 2 items. Nearly all weapons (beyond the orange quest line) have speed, and a few items have had magic added to them, to ensure a better balance between brawn and magic. The cost of vendor equipment and potions has also been lowered, as well as the stats of a couple of the tougher encounters (Kindle and Magmageddon, prepare to be whacked by the nerf bat!).

I can imagine a few hardcore players banging their fists in ‘gamer rage’ at this announcement. But the truth is that a lot of players new to the genre struggle with the itemisation of their heroes. There are a lot of items in Act 1 that are, let’s be honest, crap. I’d know not to take them, but would the next person? So, I’m seeking to ensure that items remain useful. Novice players should have no trouble keeping pace with the combat, whilst veteran gamers have more options to try new builds and slot in different items, without concern that they will ‘gimp’ themselves later.

The Mass Market paperback edition of LoS will feature these changes (available from 11 April in the UK). The French and Spanish versions of LoS (out later this year) will also, I believe, be featuring all these changes.

I’ll be releasing full patch notes nearer the time, to let you know the specific list of changes. Hopefully, this move will ensure that more people can enjoy the book and the combat, and then move on to the next books in the series.

Work continues on DQ3. Hopefully I’ll be able to update you more on that and other DQ news shortly. In the mean time, happy gaming folks!


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