Chris' Daily Work Blog

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  1. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/01/2017

    • Uplift! (AKA managing Jiras post release and looking at things to decided if we need one...more...patch!
    • Identifying action items for me for R42 based on feedback from the poll I put out there and also based on discussions.
    As I look through the feedback I've now seen 4 people who gave the feedback that they don't like that they have to learn more than one school of magic. I've also had a fairly long discussion with a high end player who also doesn't like that that he has to learn multiple magic schools. I'm just confused because the discussions basically feel like "Hey, I want to play a fire mage but your game is broken because I can't kill that fire dragon without learning other schools. FIX YOUR GAME!" Seriously, I get that some people want to specialize but it is absolutely by design that you will be more effective vs somethings and less effective vs others.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
  2. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/02/2017

    So most of yesterday was me putting on my thinking hat to try and solve some big problems. I think I now have solutions to most of the big problems... Working on when and how to reveal and discuss with players. Spending a lot of time writing up tasks and tech designs before getting started to make sure I didn't miss anything easy.

    Read it and weep... hopefully tears of joy.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  3. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/03/2017
    Response to the combat change for locked has been overwhelmingly positive. This is a fairly easy change for us on our end which was the other beauty in the design.

    • Spending the morning dealing with random business related junk. :/ Starting off the day with editing a 50 page, single spaced tech doc. Meh...
    • And...now a 116 page document. meh...
    • Created a task for Wizardsmoke to space out group name plates more for R42 to better handle large numbers of buffs. (For those curious why we did this instead of making it so all nameplates could be pulled out, this takes 5 minutes but the other takes 2-3 weeks. Also the other will result in a lot of casual players screwing themselves through rearranging name plates)
    • ONE MORE PATCH so I'm adding in 6 new PVP focused artifacts for The Fall.
    • Reduced the life attunement debuff duration from 120 to 60 seconds for Tap Soul.
    • Fixed fireflies fizzle rates to match other lunar spells.
    • Updated the stats for the new Assassin's blade PVP artifact
    • ...
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
  4. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    May the 4th be with you...

    Continuing my battle with top player complaints. OneAndOnly fixed the "Hey, I lost my locked target!" issue yesterday. I was actually unaware of it because I very rarely play with autoattack on but that is something I obviously need to change. The bug was actually a feature someone requested. Now gone...

    The other major targeting "bug" is that if you have something targeted and cast a spell that can't hit them but does have a valid target, the spell will fire at that guy. So if you have someone targeted and they move behind a wall but you cast firebolt, instead of it not casting, it will cast but hit the best valid target.

    This is kind of required for many skills/spells because they hit multiple targets. For instance, if I'm using a sword and fighting 5 guys and my selected target moves behind me and I use a thrust skill with my sword, players would still expect it to hit the targets in front of them rather than not trigger or hit a target behind them.

    There are several basic categories of target-able skills/spells:
    • Friendly cast spells. If I cast a heal, I want it to ONLY hit the target I have selected. In R40 I moved heal spells to be 360 target. This helped quite a bit but there are still some confusing situations like using a healing touch with someone else selected thinking they will be healed only to find they are just out of range and you get the heal instead.
    • Multitarget enemy spell/skills. This is something like a fire fist or swinging your sword. It hits up to X targets in a space in front of you. I believe these are fine and players expect them to just hit stuff right in front of them. I think the only issue with these currently let you cast them even when you don't have a valid target.
    • Single target ranged spells. This is where I think players can get frustrated. This would be something like a lightning bolt or root. These will let you cast them when your selected target is not valid (behind wall, bad angle,etc) and they will just hit the best valid target. They also let you cast them with no valid target. Both of those things kind of suck. If I'm casting a single target root spell, I want it to hit the guy I have selected or don't cast it at all.
    • Ground targeted spells like fireball work as expected in my opinion.
    Today's work...
    • Moving all friendly target spells to be 360 degree targeting
      • Air's Embrace, Celestial Blessing, Enlightenment, Inner Strength, Light, Purify, Resurrection, Sacrifice, Shield of Crystal, Tame Heal, Tame Resurrection all require no facing starting in R42
    • Generated the list of players who played on QA and will soon be receiving rewards
    • Dealing with an emergent issue of building a Spotify play list for the Austin City Limits Festival that most of the company goes to. List can be found here:
      https://open.spotify.com/user/catnipgames/playlist/4Ra8ndyhc4PLsJIO5l8NwD
    • Converting Riposte from being an attack with a defense buff to be an attack that gets a large damage bonus if used within 2-3 seconds of you parrying an attack.
    • ...
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  5. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    Cinco de Mayo!

    Long meeting on why our creatures are boring and how to fix them. Details to come...
    • Checked in new Riposte version after debugging some bad logic in calculating how long since you parried. Current skill does 75% of base melee attack (vs 125% for Thrust) UNLESS you use it with 2.5 seconds of parrying another attack and then it does 200% damage with an attack that can't be dodged, parried, or blocked.
    • Got a hair cut
    • Localization process work
    • Added Riposte to the 100% unlearn list
    • Meeting on traps, platforms, and interactives work remaining. (gotta fix that hitchy platform!)
    • TGIF! I'm spending the rest of the day playing the game!
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  6. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/08/2017

    Today is a day of meetings and data mining for me! Don't expect much in the way of updates as I'll be knee deep in building charts and spreadsheets.

    PUBLIC DATA SERVER:
    On a related note, I think we have the last security concerns addressed with our public data server! I expect we will roll that out this week. For those that aren't familiar with what I'm talking about, this is the exposed Elasticsearch server that receives sanitized data from our servers. This is not intended for the average user to use. Instead, this is a big data box for fan or guild oriented websites to pull from to expose various data. Undone, the engineer in charge of this system, has put together some sample queries that he will be sharing but again, this is not for casual users but rather experiences web and/or coding guys.
    For those that I haven't scared off yet, you can go here to learn more:

    https://www.elastic.co/products/elasticsearch

    DECAY CHANGES:
    I'm officially going to attempt to make some major changes to how decay works for R42.
    First, there will be an icon shown at all times under your nameplate showing how much decay you've built up.
    Second, decay will only be built up when online and not in a city or Novia. So time will accumulate only in adventure zones.
    Third, I'm going to attempt to add an option to clear some or all accumulated decay by going to an NPC, possibly the Oracle.
    UPDATED:
    Fourth change is under consideration: Experience loss per skill will scale up based on level. Below 40 skill, nothing. 40-60 is 1/4x loss, 60-80 is 1/2x, 80-100 is 1x, 100-120 is 2x, 120+ is 4x. Also, remember, this is a double whammy because higher skills already lose more because they have more XP already applied.


    Next topic, now that I have some new data mining stuff setup, what to do about this....
    Big green slice is Elysium Mines. :/
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2017
  7. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    Today will be a boring blog as I'm working on various Unity issues (engine upgrade and metal and vulcan FTW). In all likelihood, this will be my blog post for the next couple days. We still have a few issues to deal with before making the switch to Unity 5.6 so right now I'm saying it is about 50/50 chance for R42.
     
  8. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    As promised, no real updates today as I'm knee deep in fixing stuff so we can make the thumbs up/down decision on a major engine upgrade for R42. Looks like it will likely happen!

    Also, spent a fair amount of time today on applying all the various patches to machines for the critical Windows exploit. Good times... <Insert Linux/OSX user taunts and jeers here>
     
  9. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/12/2017
    YAY, I should be able to do "real" work today. Now on Unity 5.6 locally and issues addressed.

    • Ring of Fire moved to a fixed 5 meter radius instead of a size that varies with skill level.
    • Added Ring of fire to the Unlearn list
    • Rebuilt materials for 500+ speed tree objects as the format change in 5.6
    • Stand ups
    • Updated some plugins for 5.6 support
    • ...
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  10. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/15/2017
    Happy Monday! Today will likely be unproductive as I will be feeling with team fallout from the major Unity revision upgrade and I also need to leave a bit early. Also, Starr is out of the office today which means I'll have more managerial stuff fall in my lap.

    • Supporting team as we move to Unity 5.6.1
    • Update plugins and third party software for Unity 5.6.1
     
  11. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/16/2017
    Decay system changes going in today. After actually doing all the math for the numbers, the current system is the correct option. It does NOT penalize casuals as some claimed. In fact the opposite is true. The more time spent grinding, the more time a death will cost you. Also, since it only builds up for a max of 1 day, not logging in for several days does not penalize anyone. Same for people going on vacation or being deployed. Being deployed for 6 months and returning means you'll still have exactly 1 day of accumulation.

    Also, despite popular belief, the top players do die... a LOT. I did a check on the top XP player in the game and he had died over 30 times in the past 30 days. Each death probably cost him around 8 hours of play time. I looked at several in the top 10 and they all were similar in that they died a LOT.

    So what am I going to be changing? A few things:
    • First, I'll be leaving the max accumulation of decay at 24 hours. This means players don't have to worry about taking a week off.
    • Second, to soften the blow on deaths and spread out the cost a bit, each death will only apply half the current decay amount. So if you haven't played in a day (or a week) you would have 24 hours built up. First death will apply 12 hours of decay leaving 12 hours of decay. Second death will apply 6 hours and leave 6 hours. Third death, 3 hours...etc
    • Third, For R42 only I will be making all skills 100% return on XPs _IF_ the skill is over 80. The reason for this is because...
    • Fourth, For R43 I will be changing the amount of decay to be tiered.
      • Skills under 40 will not decay
      • Skills 41-80 will decay as half rate
      • Skills 81-100 will decay at full rate (current amount)
      • Skills 101+ will decay at double current rate

    I'll be on air to discuss this and other stuff on NBNN in a bit!

    Also, appending a snippet from what I usually call discovery writing documents. I do these to try and understand stuff and force myself to think through things. Nothing is more revealing than trying to put thoughts in writing to try and force yourself to fully think through problems and design ideas. I usually keep these secret as they are usually written with myself as the target audience which is weird. :p I modified this one a bit to make it less weird but preserve some of the ideas:

     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  12. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/17/2017
    BAM, today is the day to get a ton of coding **** done! whoop whoop!

    • Switch all skills with level > 80 to give back 100% experience on unlearning. This is due to the change in R43 that will make skills in the 100+ range decay at 2X rate and the skills in 81-100 decay at 1X rate. Also a chance for players who want to rethink their strategies for leveling skills or switch schools. ***REMINDER: Decay is only generated for experience already applied to schools and NOT experience in your pool***
    • Changed it so each death applies half the accumulated decay. That will soften the blow for the first death and make deaths after the first one in a playsession somewhat more meaningful.
    • Taking Cyathome's advice and making Taming not decay until I have a better chance to evaluate required skill levels in the Taming tree. I took a pass at the tamed creatures last release but I didn't investigate required skill levels. I hope to get to that in a future release but until then, this will ease the pain a bit.
    • Changed math for Raid Shot slightly so it reaches it's peak arrow count at 100 instead of 101 skill based on feedback from Kvow Triumvir.
    • Fixed a log message that was blocking some metrics tracking for skill usage
    • Polearm users rejoice. I'm taking another look at them now!
    • Polearm changes have been made. Last release I increased the base damage for their auto and free attacks. That helps the average Joe but not the high end player as the bulk of their damage in hot situations comes from skills. For this release I actually increased the base damage of the weapons significantly. Several of the base damages were actually off relative to the equivalents in other weapon categories. My testing last time was skewed because I was using the best of the bunch, which I also increased a bit. I, ATOS, do hereby declare that polearms are now awesome. You may now race to learn the polearm tree...
    • Adjusted math for hit point calculations to make character less important. Previously it was a base value * (1+level/33). Looking switching this to base*(1+level/40). For a fairly extreme case of level 100 and all skills at 100, hp max drops from 696 to 593. This will also effect creatures in the same way. Goal is to continue to slowly erode the value of level. (Though stats are essentially tied to level and still play a large role in hp/focus)
      Made a spreadsheet to show how this might effect you in R42:
      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lDAHNhZrfdoRoZ9iIVSo1MfqGURHPQH3tbnkWLFErIg/edit?usp=sharing
    • Working on making XP application to skills faster

    Let's talk about a common problem that I call CPH or Control Point Hangover. There were a few releases before I started being the balance Nazi where some scenes were just completely out of whack for XPs. The worst offenders by far were some control points that let players pretty easily and with little risk, earn 2-3 million XPs an hour.

    These took a few releases to get under control and some players farmed the crap out of them during that time! At the time, lots of players were screaming that we should punish the players who were abusing them and abusing bugs in them and I said "No, decay will bring them back into line".

    Well, now I see a bunch of players complaining about how horrible decay is. When I look into the numbers, they frequently will have an earn rate of roughly 50-100k/hour over the past 2 months. Digging deeper though, I usually find that if you just take their total XPs ever earned and divide by the total hours ever played, their lifetime average is much higher and that time includes time in Novia and cities and at dance parties which should bring the average down.

    So this is pretty much what I'm now seeing in a number of old school players who are furious about decay. They are actually being hit much harder because they got a ton of XPs back when they are easy and now they can't maintain that massive amount of XPs at the current, more balanced rates.

    I'm sorry I didn't catch the control point balance issue sooner and get it fixed in a single release. My advice for those players suffering from CPH is wait until R42 and unlearn some of your skills in the 90+ or 100+ range. The last person that I looked at had multiple skills in the 120+ range and this was really just never intended or at least not for anyone except the absolute most crazy hard core people.

    In short:
    • Sorry, it is our bad for not addressing the imbalances more quickly
    • Unlearning skills over 80 in R42 will put 100% of those XPs back in your adventurer pool
    • Experience in your adventurer pool does NOT decay
    • R42 will reduce the penalty of the first death on a play session by spreading the decay out to multiple deaths which should help some people
    • You can level some skills crazy high but it comes at a cost and that cost will scale UP in R43, not down so please think carefully about keeping your foot on the accelerator when your spiraling up past 90 or 100!
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
  13. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/18/2017

    • Upgrading to a new Unity patch this morning that claims a number of engine crash fixes
    • Confirmed that Starr is still out sick and likely will be tomorrow so I'm being Starr again today and triaging issues for the team. woohoo!
    • Improved z-fighting on Novia
    • Fixed a Typo
    • Increased Focus back to old value but leaving Health at the lower value. The new heat system will make it easy for players to consume a lot of focus fast. Don't want to give the double whammy of reduced focus pool and increased focus use in the same release.
    • Batch processed 333 maps that had terrain in them to turn off a light probe setting that was blocking speed trees from using the instancing shader
    • Gave bosses better mid loot. You'll pretty much always get a half dozen items now when you kill a boss
    • Performance pass on the new outskirts map.
    • Updated LODs on a bunch of prefabs used in the new starter scenes
    • Banned a speed hacker that the server logged... grr... stop that
    • ...
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  14. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/19/2017

    • Starr still home sick so I'm doing the bug/task management for the team today!
    • Trying to figure out a good balance fix for Offhand attack in the new heat system! Previously it had 0 cast time, 0 focus cost. That means in today's QA build it can be used 5 times in a second and cost nothing. :p Not quite balanced!
    • Starting an investigation into performance problems on AMD 8 core CPUs. Something is up but nothing weird being logged
    • Investigating a spammy log message revealed that the chickens in OwlsHead are a performance problem due to some bad states! DIE CHICKENS!
    • Now working to expose "Heat" to combat formula system so I can use it to balance Locked offhand attack. *DONE*
    • Switched Offhand to use the heat to determine if it should take time or use focus. This actually feels good and now I'm looking for other ways to use "heat" to enhance stuff!
    • ...
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/21/2017

    • Changing Fire Reach to Fire Speed. Now instead of increasing range and radius, it will increase range and speed of DOT ticks.
    • Increased base fireball radius
    • Now, with 100 skill in Fire SPEED (was Reach), players will have tick lengths of 1.5 seconds instead of 2. For those who don't think this is much, remember that fire makes most of its damage off the dot ticks and the limiting factor is how far it will stack. For the average fire mage, this will work out to something like 20% overall damage boost IF they are willing to do some more casting. Might have to reduce this value a bit.
    • Note to self: Never read the comments on external sites or Steam... Just stunning how little actual useful information there is but there is no shortage on very personal attacks and direct insults. Putting my blinders back on and focusing on fixing things. :/
    • Looking at load time issues. R42 looks like it actually got worse. Meh...
    • 2 hour trip with the amazing 3 year old to The Thinkery to recharge! Now to try and brainstorm how to balance the Heat system in the next 48 hours! :O
    • Also, checked up on Starr with his boss (his wife) and he is doing better but likely still down for the count for a few more days!
    • ...
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
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    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/22/2017

    • Starr is still home with his nasty bug so most of my day will be spent pretending to be Starr. :O For those concerned, he is on the mend and getting well but just managed to get himself really run down.
    • Triaging remaining issues for team
    • Normalizing several values for the "Fist" spells. Cool down times were all over the place, increasing "lock" time by .2 seconds. All should now have a cooldown of 8
    • Fixed the heat on locked version of a card effecting the unlocked focus cost
    • Working on fixing the discrepancy between the subterfuge and moon magic versions of hide and move silently
    • ...
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
  17. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/23/2017

    • Starr is still on the mend but I'm still doing lots of Starr stuff so again, expect low change rate from me today
    • First Gold Candidate build is in the bag as of this morning! woohoo! Now we can make all those crazy changes we really want to make without screwing everything up!
    • Kudos to Attenwood for pulling together the R42 notes with only a bit of help and editing from others!
    • Change just went in to help balance the Heat system that is awesome but currently WAY OP. In addition to the focus cost rising with the heat, the use time time will also climb. Trying to make this enough to slow down super fast spamming but not so much that it is no longer more effective. Currently set so at 100% heat it will be around 2.5X as long to cast. You can't actually cast at 100% heat though so more realistically, this will make max heat stuff take around 120% longer to execute.
    • Did a tech hangout thing with Duke Violation. Man, massive allergy attack and throat closing up thing during the chat but I survived!
    • While debugging a change to my lock time increase with heat discovered 2 bugs. First, lock time calculation is a formula field BUT it was not correctly using the skill level so skill level was always treated as a zero. So Shadowform is supposed to have a cooldown of 8-(skillLevel/20). So someone with an 80 skill has a 4 second lock time. BUZZ... it was always 8. :p Second, for those on QA trying out the heat system, the focus penalty is always wrong because it is using the heat value of the skill from AFTER the cast! Hoping to have those fixed for the first live build. Now that those are fixed I can get back to trying to improve the different stealth elements!
    • ...
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  18. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/24/2017

    Wooh, going to be a busy day! Getting started early.

    • Player level being significantly higher than an NPCs will no longer make that NPC more likely to miss. This was actually an oversight on my part that Umuri pointed out to a me a while back but I didn't fix. Thanks to Umuri for keeping me honest!
    • Public data server is getting a lot of use! So much we turned the throttling up on it a bit.
    • Updating Rend skill so hits past the first one are not dodgeable, parryable, blockable
    • Grabbed the update to the pathfinding library we use as it claims to be more multithread friendly!
    • I'm making buffs longer duration
      • Enlightenment, strength of earth, and air's embrace are all now 10 minutes++ With all skills set to 80, they have a duration of 17 minutes
      • Celestial blessing and bonus from douse is half the base value above
      • Most shield spells, ignite weapon, had their duration approximately doubled. This now makes them around 90 seconds so they will be a once a combat type buff. Before I would extend them more I would want to weaken them a bit as players would just always
      • A few others are also longer. Basic idea is breaking it into 3 categories. Stuff to do a few times an adventure (str/dex/int/resistance buffs), stuff to do once per combat (shields, ignite weapon), and stuff to do actively during combat (parry, dodge, block, sprint,etc)
    • ...
     
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  19. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/25/2017

    HAPPY LAUNCH DAY!

    • Woohoo! Launch day! First launch day without Starr! BRACE FOR IMPACT! :p Seriously though, things should be fine but expect our communications on tons of stuff to be worse. Attenwood, Berek, and Chaox are all chipping in to help try and make sure everything happens as expected but things will probably still be a bit loosey goosey!
    • After seeing a complaint last night from @devourerofmemes about deck swapping speeds, I did some testing to see if I agreed. To my horror I found that it was always using the worst case because of some bad logic reporting that you had changed the max number of items! This has now been fixed and should be in patch 1. With this change, if you don't change any gear with a deck swap, it will be nearly instant. With 1 or 2 pieces, it will be less than half the time. With 3+ pieces of gear it should be about the same.
    • Working on a change to make it so when calculating miss chance due to large level differences between a player and a creature, it uses the higher of the player's adventurer level or the skill level with their equipped weapon. Might make patch 1.
    • ...
     
  20. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord Moderator SOTA Developer

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    05/30/2017

    Probably not getting any real work done today due to preparations for the telethon. BTW, with Starr very likely out for most of the telethon, I've already started re-branding the "Summer Telethon" to "The Drunk Richard and Chris Show!" Seriously though, we will be moderating our intake tomorrow. I've suggested putting a pile of hard boiled eggs out there as an option since people also don't like hearing us sing or seeing us dance. H8rs... :p

    I'll be doing a tech talk with Violation Klauth at 2PM CDT today mostly to take questions to be answered tomorrow!

    Main thing I'll be looking into for the final R42 patch will better ways to handle the extended lock time for skills with high heat levels. Players apparently thing this is a bug and I don't blame them because it does seem like it based on the visuals. For those unclear what I'm referring to, I'll give a detailed description of it int he live video stream this afternoon and probably again tomorrow.

    Also, we are officially in R43. _THIS_ is the release we deal with performance. The gauntlet I'm throwing down to the tech team:
    • Reduce load times to 1/2 or less current numbers (spoiler, we'll get it to less than that)
    • Fixed memory footprint post scene load (this will deal with almost all the hitching)
    • All scenes, including large cities, run 30 fps on target machines
     
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