Darkstarr's Release 10 Impressions

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by DarkStarr, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. DarkStarr

    DarkStarr Executive Producer SOTA Developer

    Messages:
    6,338
    Likes Received:
    42,924
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Gender:
    Male
    Greetings Avatars,

    Release 10’s main purpose was stabilization, performance, polish, and testing. While we did accomplish this in some areas, we actually ended up adding a lot of new content. In fact, we added almost as much as we add in a normal release! This resulted in more player facing content (yay) but also more instability and lower performance (boo).

    Interestingly though, most of the stability issues were not something that was visible to us internally, so even if we had spent more time on stability, we would not have had any examples to address. This “catch 22” is caused by several issues including a small team, a smaller QA team (1-2 people), and fairly homogeneous hardware on the team. Unfortunately, none of those issues are addressable in the near term. The best solution here is to increase uptime (I can hear some of you cheering) so that we are getting a continuous stream of crash data from players. The downside of increased uptime will be a steady decline in participation as people consume all available content. This means we need to put strategies in place to keep participation up despite our limited content. This leads us to solutions like Steam Early Access (potentially huge and constant influx of new players) and Monthly Exclusive items (like the Cavalier Hat reward for the Grand Tour Quest). So, now you can see how two seemingly unrelated things (stability and a fancy hat) are connected in the convoluted process that is game development.

    While we are near the subject of the Grand Tour, I am happy to report that it accomplished our exact goal of increasing participation. We had a 15% increase in logins over Release 9. When we combined this with our reduction of scenes, we also increased player density in the scenes and more players were likely to randomly encounter other players than they were in Release 9.

    Another issue we saw in previous releases that we attempted to address was players rushing in to claim a lot and place a house but then not decorate them... nor use them for social activities. Part of this is, of course, due to the limited window of time each Release is up, but part of it was also just how easy (free!) we made property access. This added to the perceived emptiness of scenes, and some frustration when players who really wanted a homestead were not able to find open lots. By requiring a purchase and decreasing the scenes with player housing, we were able to greatly increase the number of houses that were actually being used (versus left empty).

    While we have been making steady forward progress on combat most, if not all, of the data we were using was coming from PVP. That led us to create the Challenge Dungeon so that we could more effectively gather data for PVE as well. We are learning quite a bit from that space and there is a large queue of changes we want to make to address the issues we saw. The sameness of battles against NPCs was not surprising, but the fact that it was so similar (even if on the surface the NPCs were quite different like archer vs. melee) was a bit of a wake up call for us. So one of the very first things we are going to tackle is to start introducing behavior patterns and having NPCs use more skills instead of just standard damage dealing (see Lich battles in my Q4 post here for more details).

    After several releases observing PVP combat, one of the most visible issues is the fact that it has devolved into constant movement. This is bad for several reasons. Constant movement is one of the more intensive network issues you will encounter in a game. Coupled with the constant stream of combat events being sent back and forth, you can begin to see how it is a worst case scenario. One of the obvious side effects of this is that it very visibly exposes any latency players are encountering. This means players will often not be in the place you think they are. If we want things like positioning (backstabs, shield walls, etc.) and cover to be viable mechanics, then keeping player positions relatively synched visually is important (to say the least). Our current system encourages this constant movement because there are no penalties to moving while casting, moving makes you harder to target, and moving out of line of sight will break target acquisition. A great worst-use case you can see is watching the long drawn out fight between a melee warrior and a magic caster. Currently, the melee guy just has to try to optimize his path to the caster and hope he makes range while the caster just needs to stay out of melee range consistently. The result ends up looking more like a flight combat simulation than a medieval fantasy fight. To start to address this, we are going to make movement begin to affect combat math in Release 11. Standing still without moving will offer a bonus to ranged skills/spells, walking will be neutral, and running will incur a penalty.

    Our community continues to prove that we have one of the most creative, cooperative, and motivated groups of players around. Of course, I am partial to the events centered around Darkstarr’s devotee Amberraine, which included her amazing sermon about Chaos in her Church of the Dark Star in Valemark (aka PAXLair), her birthday party, and her trial! The level of organization and participation in those events shows both the power of this community and the power of the sandbox we are building with you.

    For me, one of the most powerful expressions of this development process (and our community) that we are experiencing together is the Wireless Device that made its first appearance in Release 10. It is a piece of art created by Bubonic. It was particularly challenging to make because it had to adhere to our clockpunk, steampunk, medieval mashup that is our art style. In other words, it had to be obviously technological but executed with medieval / rennaisance level of resources. This required some detailed feedback from our Art Lead Hutch and resulted in a much clearer expression of this style. It also uses a piece of code written by Joviex that lets us stream audio directly into the game. It’s worth noting that Joviex also provided a bunch of functionality that we did not have time to add, including muting, volume, stop/play/pause, waveform displays, and multiple channels. When we have time, we will get a user interface to access these functions. Of course, the audio it defaults to streaming (and currently the only choice) is Avatar’s Radio, which is our community driven radio station run by, who else but that Chaotic-one Amberraine. So in one little device we have crowdsourced art, crowdsourced code, and a community driven media channel!

    There was a small bit of functionality that made its way into Release 10 that I failed to mention in my R10 Instructions post; the Makers Mark on player crafted items. Every item a player makes now has their makers mark visible in the tooltips. I believe this one little function will have a tremendous impact on the feel of our world and is another example of how we are attempting to make this world be truly player driven.

    Thank you all for all your support. Release 10 is dead! Long live Release 11!

    Sincerely,
    Darkstarr aka Starr Long

    PS You may have now noticed that I did not include the Release 11 deliverables in this post like I have in previous posts. That is because I created a Q4 Schedule post here that covers Release 11 - 13.
     
  2. Sir Seir

    Sir Seir Avatar

    Messages:
    1,057
    Likes Received:
    1,528
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Bailey, CO
    As simple as it was, I really enjoyed the hat quest; would have loved it better had the challenge dungeon not caused the deletion of my guys time and time again.

    Really enjoyed the way the world is looking these days; sure there is still room for improvement but you guys have made some great progress. Enjoyed getting to explore things a bit more this time. Hope to free up more play time next alpha.
     
    Lord Lonn, Net and Arianna like this.
  3. Mata

    Mata Avatar

    Messages:
    4,102
    Likes Received:
    10,105
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ruhrpott - Deutschland
    Thank you!
     
    Lord Lonn, Net and Arianna like this.
  4. Lord Lonn

    Lord Lonn Avatar

    Messages:
    1,039
    Likes Received:
    1,994
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Milw,Wi USA
    Thanks Starr!!
     
    Net and Arianna like this.
  5. Net

    Net Avatar

    Messages:
    3,427
    Likes Received:
    10,541
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Longer uptime will mean more time for player events, and the content for player events is quite unlimited:)


    The bonus should be significant... because so far melee players can kill caster in clothing in two hits (if they get lucky with criticals). It takes quite a long time to get a guy in plate armour with magic, not to mention arrows, they more often miss than hit.
    Though if movement is causing issues I can go back to my strategy root - fire arrow - root - fiery decay - root - focus potion - root - fire arrow... it is not really fun and when the right glyphs will not show up it requires some movement as well. So far only advantage for mages/archers was ability to move and if they are required to stay a lot they will be quite dead I am afraid. Besides most of the spells cannot be casted when moving at all, so if this means I will be able to cast fire arrows when running (with penalty) I am all for it.
     
  6. Arianna

    Arianna Avatar

    Messages:
    425
    Likes Received:
    1,781
    Trophy Points:
    55
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    England
    Thank you Starr!
     
    Lord Lonn and Net like this.
  7. Violation Clauth

    Violation Clauth Avatar

    Messages:
    3,335
    Likes Received:
    7,806
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    This seems like it's the wrong way to handle the issue. In the Official FAQ you guys mention a delay timer for reverting lots... that system needs to be built. If you're having an issue with unused lots than create the LAW that makes sense for ALPHA testing... don't create needless grind. I will reverse my opinion on the increased uptime where persistence allows more than one weekend a month for playtime without resets. My brother is a perfect example: He works two or three of the days for each release and cannot enjoy half of the game because of the grinds that are getting added in. He's quit trying to craft things and quit doing housing unless I give him everything he needs to get those things done.

    He's a knight backer, alternatively there is a third, lesser desired, solution that would be the system that allows us to claim our tax free deeds. I think that would create a terrible fracture between the haves and have nots on such a small location (while we're bound to the hidden vale and the player towns are not yet in) so I would encourage this to be the third (or maybe even lower down the list) option.

    Just my thought on the matter... I know of three people who started and finished decorating their lots sunday afternoon... which means no one saw them. Unfortunate! That same unfortunate feeling will drive some of those people to not try it again. That, in turn, reduces the number of people that are play testing those systems. I'm guessing you guys have seen a dramatic decrease in crafting since you took out the supply crate from Owl's Head? I know the recipes are all the same but the simple answer is: cut off the supply chain and you starve the process.

    Finally, not really a solution but better than backer rewards would be to decrease the costs by 50%. All the house deeds and the plot deeds have their costs reduced by 50% and set the starting gold to only 250g. The total time would be dramatically less (I would guess 1/2 hour for a vet player, an hour for a new player) because you're saving a total of 2750g (in many situations) for a lot and house.

    None of this will reduce my play time or my desire to play the game... I just see it being talked about a lot and it being a source of frustration. I know it's alpha and you guys cannot be expected to have everything in place instantly and I am very forgiving of that. Hopefully everyone who reads this final note realizes the same thing and is more forgiving of the changes coming in a sometimes difficult order.

    p.s. we want our PRTs back :p
     
  8. Violation Clauth

    Violation Clauth Avatar

    Messages:
    3,335
    Likes Received:
    7,806
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    You guys are amazing... <3
     
    Amberraine, Lord Lonn and Arianna like this.
  9. DarkStarr

    DarkStarr Executive Producer SOTA Developer

    Messages:
    6,338
    Likes Received:
    42,924
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Gender:
    Male
    Check out my Q4 schedule post. Most of this will be moot when pledge rewards start showing up and the game is up 24/7
     
  10. I'm done with this game

    I'm done with this game Avatar

    Messages:
    18,208
    Likes Received:
    35,510
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Gender:
    Male
    It might be nice if you could develop some type of PVP 1 on 1 challenge that could capture the same type of valuable data. Obviously you can get this data "anywhere" in the game, but it's not a controlled environment and a lot of other stuff is going on. Multiple people, NPC's, different environmental effects. It would be nice to see a challenge dungeon for PVP where maybe 10 enter and only 1 exit from a series of rooms that open up once you've beaten your current opponent. (add checks to attempt to keep players from gaming the system)

    You might even force players to use a specific build! I know I'd love to know if 10 random people all used the same build, were they all equally skilled or did some players clearly know how to fight better? That would be so interesting. :)

    Regarding "walking", I don't see a lot of people doing that because it's hard to do. I have suggested this in the past, but I think the right mouse button would be PERFECT for walking (not all of us have a mouse we can map), and I think it's a waste to have running be both the default AND the right mouse button. Please consider this before R11. I like the direction of making walking neutral.

    Please also consider that spells and arrows problem need to be more powerful than they are now if you're going to limit movement. I get that there's a bonus being applied, but based on R10 I think it's safe to say that if spells and arrows require you to stand still, that's not really going to be much of an option once the fight really gets going. So you're going to have to give players a way to kill more quickly or survive longer without moving. I like this direction though.

    Lastly, regarding the radio. I love it! But one thing I'd like to have functionally that I didn't see you mention was the ability to default to a particular channel (one that is purely copywrite free music) this will allow players who like to create youtube videos the ability to go anywhere, turn on a radio and then break into a house without having to change the background music later. I'm positive there are other applications for this, but that's the first one that came to my mind. :)
     
    Sonnington, Sunswords, Spoon and 4 others like this.
  11. Amber Raine

    Amber Raine Community Ambassador (FR) Moderator Ambassador

    Messages:
    1,951
    Likes Received:
    9,226
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Abbotsford, BC Canada
    Thank you my Liege,

    The community is amazing as seen in the past releases that when the game runs out of content that is supplied. We shall become creative and our own will supplement until we are once again given more content. I know for myself, and those that I have had the pleasure to talk to, an increase in up time gives those that have to work half of the weekend and may be too tired to play after a long shift, would have time to enjoy going 'home'.



    As much as I agree with the need to increase density so the world did not seem so empty as it had in previous releases, the cost was a bit too high for a weekend release. Once again returning to those that worked many hours, they did not have the time nor patience (which is not a virtue by the way - so I am okay with remaining impatiently patient) and therefore the frustration instead of being "can not find a lot" became "I can not afford a lot". Those that had a strong desire for a lot worked for and earned it. I know from personal experience that I spent the first 2 hours grinding (I dislike grinding) just to obtain the 8k required in order to buy the lot and build the church building on. After which i was able to decorate. The next day , I was saddened as I had a lot, but no house, no deco in it, and had to work for that house deed again (thank you to OoV that helped me get the replacement) - I was rather frustrated. Those that may have faced the same issue, that also had to work that weekend so their time was sparse, may have been much more then I in frustration level.

    I understand the need for finding a way that those that wish houses can have one and those who wish to just use a plot but never do anything with it, are deterred away from it. Perhaps lowering the cost marginally may be a good thought here. 2 hours of grinding (did i mention most hate grinding?) lowered to 30 minutes would not be as harsh, and would still require those that really did not want a house to decorate would not do it, those that did would not feel like they were being forced to grind just to enjoy the aspect of the game they are more interested in.

    Violation has a great idea on how to do this. I agree completely with his math numbers here.


    And the congregation cheered! More intelligent PvE combat is far more entertaining.


    Again the congregation cheers! May the witches errr mages of the land no longer worry that they are going to be 2 hit killed by those that carry big swords. It would be nice however, if i might suggest... ranged actually *Do something*. As my trees of magick are not yet implemented ~coughs~ (the impatient patience comes into effect here). I was needing to resort to bow/magick as those of my ancestors... and ranged missed more times then it hit, far to often. I do like how reagents have been added to magick.




    This has brought so much more immersion into the game for myself and have heard from others they experienced that as well, as our voices came through and not merely our text. The community working together as a whole has been something always wished for, and was the original reason behind Avatars Radio first being created. And they truly came together with this! Not only Bubonic and his wonderful artistic ability with Hutch, Joviex and Fenyx4 (i knew about Seth's work on it before he had to step aside to let Joviex finish - He was asking me questions which made me aware)working on the code, the wonderful people that run the station (there are 7 people behind that and it is always growing and looking to grow) and most importantly the community that welcomed these devices into their establishments and had much of their events use it in one way or another. Duke Greagoir - Celtic ceilidh; New Britannia Theatre Troupe - Avatar Chronicles (in Bears Tavern); Port Phoenix - Release 10 party; and all the other great events (as well as comments from people bopping around listening while decorating). I look forward to seeing how much more can be done with this device in the future to enhance players events and living. I also look forward to those that are not interested in Avatars Radio, having the ability to tune in to other shoutcast servers to listen to what they may desire when Avatars Radio is not fitting the setting for them.


    I saw this, that was awesome!

    Thank you Portalarium and Community for being so awesome!

    Long may R10 be remembered, bring on R11.
     
  12. UnseenDragon

    UnseenDragon Avatar

    Messages:
    405
    Likes Received:
    1,097
    Trophy Points:
    55
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Columiba, MD

    Darkstarr, I think the issue of people running around like crazy while PvPing is A) technically problematic B) completely unrealistic C) a real PITA for people like me who have enough trouble with the twitch-aspects of PvP. What about taking an approach which mirrors why it doesn't happen in real life. Fencing, even without armor on, is very tiring (as I'm sure you know ). The idea of having the stamina to run around while doing that effectively is pretty daunting. So maybe, in addition to a skill penalty (which I think reflects reality) why not also replicate the exhaustion effect by reducing focus or something.

    Just a thought, love the update!

    Unseen
     
  13. Net

    Net Avatar

    Messages:
    3,427
    Likes Received:
    10,541
    Trophy Points:
    153
    There are two things that should be tested in 1v1 PvP.

    Ability to kill the opponent.
    Ability to escape and save your skin.

    It would be nice to have different environments to test both (e.g. open plain, arena basement, big house/castle, underground maze...).


    PS: As for standing still... maybe we need some sort of magic shield that can absorb or reduce damage, minimize interrupts and neutralize critical damage or stuns... That would help mages to live longer while standing still (and we could have different shields flame shield - dealing damage to whoever attacks it with melee weapon, earth shield, with extra durability against physical attacks, healing shield with HoT for people inside...)
    We also need weapons for mages such as wands or staffs that will not eat his focus, but rather reagents... Otherwise it is simply too effective to use bow or even bludgeons...

    Well, running around can be tiring, we have jumps and rolls eating focus already, maybe we should add sprint to the list.
    The thing is, it should be much harder to run in plate armour and it should be next to imposible to jump in it. The only advantage of lighter armour in combat is less restricted movement and it sort of implies ability to move around as well. I like the stamina idea, I just think that there should be higher penalty for movement for heavy armour and lower penalty for light armour.
     
  14. Sunswords

    Sunswords Avatar

    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    628
    Trophy Points:
    28

    Flight combat simulation indeed! I can attest to that!

    This is a good move and I look forward to testing the new mechanics and your improved AI. :)
     
  15. Gaelis

    Gaelis Avatar

    Messages:
    882
    Likes Received:
    3,841
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Germany
    Hmm, don't know right know what to think about the movment control for mages.
    I learned as a mage you allways have to keep distance to most metal-geared-guys because they smash you like cooked potatoes if they come close.
    Thats ok because of wearing cloth amour but if I have penaltys because of running to keep distance I maybe need more short-range-protection.
    We will see and test. :)
     
  16. I'm done with this game

    I'm done with this game Avatar

    Messages:
    18,208
    Likes Received:
    35,510
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Gender:
    Male

    Staves and wands don't appear to drain focus now. I found that to be over powered. It's like a "free attack".

    I'm not a big fan of wands and staffs being required to compete. I'd like to see a bonus for not using any weapon (including wands and staffs). This is a preference of mine, hands being free for casting, but I think it makes a good baseline for magic, and while holding a wand or staff shouldn't have a penalty, it shouldn't be the optimum way to cast spells, imo.

    The idea of "not moving" seems extremely difficult to balance based on the current combat system. I LOVE the direction that's taking magic...but I have concerns that mages will just be sitting ducks because their spells are not powerful enough to take out other players that are charging at them.
     
  17. Satan Himself

    Satan Himself Avatar

    Messages:
    2,710
    Likes Received:
    12,860
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Ability to hide is important for people like me who aren't twitchy and suck at PvP. This has always been my (cowardly) playstyle in Ultima Online.

    Although when this game gets going I'm going to give ALL of you a beat down in the field. Bring it!
     
  18. Corazon

    Corazon Avatar

    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Australia

    I like this. Progress for the single player spectrum also. I'm assuming that these NPC combat behaviour patterns will also be applied to friendly NPC's? Guards, pets, the elusive companion's for single player :D etc.
     
    Arianna, Net and Miracle Dragon like this.
  19. Miracle Dragon

    Miracle Dragon Legend of the Hearth

    Messages:
    2,970
    Likes Received:
    6,335
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Currently: Zhongxian, Chongqing, China
    Drakstarr,

    Thank you so much for all the excellent work this release! The game is steadily improving; it's really quite amazing to watch!

    About the purchasable house deeds in R10: It appears the only add-on store house purchase not in the game as a deed for purchase, is the circle of stones, so I couldn't test it out! Could you add this in for R11 so I can see if I like it?

    Again, thanks for all the amazing work, please give your whole team a big hug for me,

    -Earl Iazon Paragon
     
    Arianna and Net like this.