Since releasing module #6 in early May, a significant number of design, combat, mechanical and story-related improvements have been made, culminating in today's release of the game's updated user interface (primarily moving the commands into the center of the screen so that the game map can be displayed at all times). Because of the UI changes, be sure to press CTRL-F5 when you return to the game to ensure that everything resets correctly!
What sort of changes have been made over the past 6-7 weeks? The first major update was to remove the original SPECIAL ABILITY button that invoked a modal window requiring the player to make a bunch of selections when doing things like searching for traps, picking locks, turning undead or simply using humanoid darkvision. Those abilities are now directly available alongside all the other commands within the game, reducing the number of clicks needed to activate them. Similarly, thieving skills are now implemented on a party basis rather than individual; if an area is searched for traps for example, ALL thieves within the party will automatically search (rather than forcing the player to select them individually).
Another significant update made is the ability for the party to bash open locked objects (if all thieves within the party were first unable to pick the locks). Bashing open an object (such as a treasure chest) may destroy the contents within, but at least the player now has an alternative to reaching those contents (in the past, locked loot would simply need to be left behind). These improvements have definitely strengthened the thief class within the game!
Speaking of the thieving class, yet another important update has been the addition of the "Hide in Shadows" command! During combat, a thief may now elect to "hide in shadows" and potentially backstab an opponent upon her next turn. When successful, the thief automatically receives a +4 to hit upon her next attack, and if a hit is scored, the damaged done is TRIPLED! (and if the thief happens to roll a natural 20, the triple damage is itself doubled, resulting in 6x the normal damage). So again, the thief class has definitely been improved!
But that wasn't all! A variety of additional improvements have been made:
- Players can now automatically defeat all encountered combatants if the party itself was first defeated by them
- Combatants must now pass a morale check to continue fighting the party once their combined hit points are below 50% of maximum
- Players can now return to any previously-visited area within the current map with just a single selection
- The hero level-draining mechanic has been improved (lost experience is now immediately regained if the level itself is regained)
- Resting heroes can receive more than one lost hit point (based upon any Constitution bonus they may receive)
- Dozens and dozens of smaller fixes to the story as well as the user interface, combat and game mechanics!
Now, on to the development of module #7!