Fishing and survival
As Gershowitz explained, fishing and survival are part of a larger push to add in non-combat activities that players can do on a more casual level. The team sat down and put together a list of ideas, and the first one implemented was weddings. Fishing and survival were very popular ideas among the team and the players, so it was natural for the devs to put them in next. One thing that the team added is that in addition to derbies, achievements, and artifacts, you'll be able to get companions. Some of them come from tackleboxes, and some come from getting certain achievements and completing artifact collections.
Survival is more of a straight-up crafting skill, and two new items that players will be able to craft are bedrolls and tents. Both allow you to make a camp out in the wild and use them to get rested experience, as you would with a town. It's a smaller buff, so ultimately logging off in a city is best, but the other nice aspect of bedrolls and tents is the roleplaying angle, which allows players to build camp and gather together for a little break.
Both skills have more than just the fun factor. Food made with survival will be better than vendor-purchased food; fishing will allow you to gain valuable artifacts. But one skill mentioned, trapping, will not be included in Update 1.8. When I asked about whether it would be included in a future update, Hartsman replied that some of them make it to live, and some of them fall under "that wasn't the greatest idea." For now, trapping fell under the latter category. So while the devs may decide to add more skills in the future, for now they're happy with fishing and survival.
In regard to what lessons the team learned from Hammerknell, Hartsman said the devs don't want to be punching people in the face with the difficulty of the content. They also don't want to be creating situations where success or failure depends on one person's missing a single cue because they don't ever want to create a situation where players are angry with each other. Gershowitz added that Trion focused on making the encounters more team-based, so the encounters are much less harsh in that regard. They also wanted to make sure that the content matches what the best players in the game can do, so that it's tuned to the gear and progress of the top players properly. Hartsman finished by saying that the devs realize there were encounters in Hammerknell that were guild breakers, and they've learned from that with their design of Infernal Dawn.
Leaderboards and the guild recruiting tool
Leaderboards and the guild recruitment window are both planned in Update 1.8, so the team talked a bit about both. The developers said that with the leaderboard system, the main goal is to get the system in place and get it in game, but that they do have ideas on things they'd consider adding to it in the future. Similarly, the team is constantly taking into consideration player feedback with the guild recruitment window; Trion will continue to iterate in order to make it the best search filter for players as possible.
Mentoring, instant adventures, and a streaming client
As for future updates, there are some exciting features coming for newer and lower-level players. The devs are working on the mentoring system as well as lower-level instant adventures, which fit nicely together. The combination of the two allows level 50 players the chance to go back and get attunement levels in zones they haven't played in a long time. And as more players go into lower-level zones to do instant adventures, they increase the chance of rare zone events to trigger, making for more exciting gameplay for all. Trion added that another nice out-of-game feature coming up is the streaming client, which will help get new players into the game quickly without having to do the entire download. It's scheduled to come in between 1.8 and 1.9.
Hanlin added that the devs are continuing to experiment with different types of instant adventures that go beyond running around killing things. They are working on IAs that let players pause to take a breath or even participate in non-combat challenges, such as becoming a rock and rolling across a bridge.
I asked about plans for an expansion, but despite my best attempts, Hartsman remained cryptic. When I asked about the recent video of the studio tour with Casey Schreiner
and the whiteboard with the timetable in the background, he said, "We covered up everything on the whiteboard that we didn't want people to see. Feel free to draw your own conclusions from there." Hanlin did add that the developers aren't slowing down on updates.
Dragon lore and lots more
For lore junkies, there was a little talk about Laethys and the dragons. Hanlin said Trion has the six dragons, and as the devs delved deeper into the lore, they revealed how Laethys and her cult climbed to ascendency. He added that they'll continue to unveil more of that story in future content and instances. And for PvP fans, while there isn't much in 1.8, there are lots of things in the works for 1.9 and beyond. Trion is looking into "what [it] can do that's more open world." He added that the devs were surprised about the PvP event from the current world event because even on PvE servers, the amount of consensual, enjoyable PvP is going up, as is participation in PvP rifts. And for those who love to play around with various builds, the team does want to look into adding a fifth calling, but it's a massive undertaking.
Thanks to Scott Hartsman, Hal Hanlin and Adam Gershowitz for taking the time to talk about Update 1.8!