Greetings Avatars, Thank you everyone for another successful release. Once again you have proved what an amazing community you are and how we are on track to making the greatest crowd funded and crowd sourced RPG ever! At this point, some of you might be saying, “You call that successful? What release were you playing? Can we get that one please?” It is important to understand what we define as success with these releases. For us the definition of success is clear: Create and test new content / features as they are made Keep team in the discipline of shipping content every month Engaging our backers to provide feedback on direction and improvements of the game Keeping the game playable for at least 90% of our backers By those definitions we feel Release 5 was a resounding success. However we feel like the overall quality and polish of the game has decreased in many areas. Additionally we feel like we need to apply a more concerted effort on upgrading the visuals and user interface of the game. For those reasons we are in the process of rethinking our current release schedule and in particular we are going to refocus Release 6 on more polish and less content. We feel that about once per quarter we should have one of these polish releases to keep the quality of the game up to ours, and your, standards. At this point many of you might be saying “Several systems have been pushed for more than one release now. How are all these changes affecting the stated goal of an October release?” Well thank you for the tough question. I have a mantra about ship dates: “No one remembers when you shipped but they always remember how you shipped.” With that in mind you should rest assured that we will launch when you tell us the product is ready. That might mean October is not feasible, but let’s focus on making the right product, not the when product. RELEASE 6, May 22 - 25, 2014: Without further ado here are the details of the new Release 6 plan: Visual Improvements: We really want to improve the quality of our visuals to a point that we feel competitive with modern games. To that end we are allocating time each release for some ongoing work. Here is just a short list of some of the things we are working on for Release 6 in the area of visual improvements: Lighting Fine-Tuning: With the switch to the new lighting model we now have to retune our lighting levels across the board. Tuning and balancing the brightest day and the darkest night takes some time. It is a careful dance to get a strong contrast between well lit areas and dark shadows. We want light sources to mean something in underground areas and at night so they will be dark. This means having a torch and/or light spell handy is a really good thing. We also introduced tone mapping in R4 which is a technique that simulates your eye irising back and forth. This technique also requires careful tuning to get the brightening and lightening just right. Tune it too bright and we obviate the need for any light sources, tune it too dark and you won’t even notice it. Shaders: Right now we use very simple specular and bump mapping shaders. We are going to investigate some other shader types including Relief and Detail that might create more details in our textures. Characters: We have several efforts in progress including getting our skin shader happy with the new lighting, deformation issues with the female arms, polishing movement and combat animations, and fixing wearables sorting issues. After we get those issues sorted we can move on to making hair better but we are waiting for our transition to Unity 5 for that so we can take advantage of some new features there. Environment Art: For performance optimization we had originally kept the number of triangles in our buildings, walls, dungeons to an absolute minimum. Recent performance analysis suggests we are not bound by this constraint so we are going back through and adding geometry to some assets so that they will look better in lighting. For Release 6 we are focusing on Dungeon and Castle Walls to make them not be such flat planes. Player to Player secure trade: Did you discover something cool you wish to give your friend? Need to share some potions with a party member? Did you craft something amazing you want to sell? Secure trade is the answer and will allow you to make exchanges of goods between you and other players. Crafting: We now have specific animations and tools for each crafting table so we will replace the default animation in Release 6 with these specifics. We will also take a pass on alignment and sorting issues related to crafting tables. As a stretch goal we may try to add some more sound and visual effects to crafting and harvesting Combat: Our first pass at abilities in R5 did not include secondary effects like stun, knockback, root, etc., nor did many of them have visual effects. And in some cases they didn’t work at all (I’m looking at you Light spell!). For R6, we will be finishing out those abilities and adjusting the casting animations to work better with equipped weapons. We are also fixing some blending bugs that prevented many of the weapon animations from displaying properly. Once we address all these issues, we can resume work on card combat, deck building and the death system for Release 7 and 8. We are also going to take a pass at better color coding for combat floaties. Finally we will work weapon sheathing and unsheathing functionality so that we can explicitly know if you are ready to talk or kill! Looting: We are making some architectural changes to how we create, store, and transmit data in containers (chests, corpses, player houses, inventory, etc.) that should fix some of the looting exploits, like the one where all players could loot the same corpse equally, and corpses could be looted multiple times just by exiting and reentering a scene. We are also going to work on fixing issues related to targeting a corpse. Emotes: We will be working on some improvements to emotes that include looping emotes (dancing, conversation, etc.) as well as adding audio to them (clapping, laughing, etc.). We will also make it so when you are chatting we will play the convo emote automatically. Animals: Currently all our animals (bears, wolves, etc.) are purchased assets and the skinning, rigging, and animations for them is not meeting our quality standards, so we are going to reskin and rig them so that we can redo their animations. Dialog: We are going to do an overall sanity pass on all dialogue, making sure it meets our standards on quest accessibility, making NPCs respond to more things, and that as many responses as possible are accessible through the dialogue tree. Navigation: We will continue to iterate on the overworld map with more animations, texture improvements and party member locations when they are inside a scene. We are also going to introduce a standard visual for entrance and exit locations on maps. For now that will take the form of an archway. Release 5 is dead! Long live Release 6! Sincerely, Darkstarr aka Starr Long PS Stay tuned for updates to the R7 and beyond schedule. For now ignore my original post about the Q2 schedule.