Release 5 Impressions & Release 6 Revised

Discussion in 'Community Announcement Archive' started by DarkStarr, Apr 29, 2014.

  1. DarkStarr

    DarkStarr Executive Producer

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    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.
  2. Eriador

    Eriador Avatar

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  3. Turguin

    Turguin Avatar

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    Here's one thing that annoyed me about R5: the default drag out of a bag immediately prompted you to decide how many. This made moving things around your bag (like looking for your coconuts) cumbersome.
    The default drag should be 'move all' and there should be some alt-key combination to split stacks. Otherwise, R6 looks like it'll be a lot of fun. Woo!
    JavaWarlord, Alvuh, Adampk17 and 10 others like this.
  4. Gabriel Nightshadow

    Gabriel Nightshadow Avatar

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    I am very happy to see the focus on visual improvements for Release 6 :D I also appreciate the fact that the team is focused on delivering a polished product rather than rushing to meet the original projected release date! (I still have bad memories of Ultima IX :()
  5. Alexander

    Alexander Avatar

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    Thank you for making this statement. It's been on many peoples mind and this puts my mind at ease. I look forward to playing R6.
  6. abovenyquist

    abovenyquist Avatar

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    As someone else (sorry, can't remember who) posted, and as I am fond of quoting:

    Ship when ready -> Ultima VII
    Ship on time -> Ultima VIII & IX

    Eyes on the prize!

    I'm thoroughly enjoying watching, and learning a lot, from the development process. For me, this is already money well spent.
  7. abovenyquist

    abovenyquist Avatar

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    "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad." -- Shigeru Miyamoto

    (Alleviated a bit, admittedly, by the ability to patch, but surely it's better to get it right in the first place!)
  8. Mystic

    Mystic Moderator

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    UO did this as well so it kind of makes sense to continue it since many people came from playing that game. I believe you hold shift(?) at the same time to move the whole stack.
  9. abovenyquist

    abovenyquist Avatar

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    "...for our transition to Unity 5..." -- wow you are brave!
  10. Eriador

    Eriador Avatar

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    Yes, is like shift for the whole stack and control to move just one (or the opposite).
  11. redfish

    redfish Avatar

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    The biggest problem with dragging now is just that the mouse behavior gets kind of sticky, and things don't catch, so the game doesn't recognize when you're trying to drag something. In some cases, the pixel point is too exact ... for example with bows, it feels like you only have a margin of 1 px.

    It would also help if we could visually see when things were stacks, rather than single items, without hovering over them.
  12. Kilhwch

    Kilhwch Avatar

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    I don't mind waiting longer for a quality product.
  13. Ravenclaw [BEAR]

    Ravenclaw [BEAR] Avatar

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    Absolutely 100% agree. This is an excellent idea. Keep up the great work.
    Bodhbh Dearg, rild, Dhimmi and 4 others like this.
  14. enderandrew

    enderandrew Legend of the Hearth

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    I think this is absolutely the right approach.

    I'm sad that there is so much work going into the current paper map that we're reaching a point they won't reconsider their approach. It often looks bizarre, with odd angles. The whole thing looks poorly executed. Even worse, it just kills immersion and doesn't feel like an Ultima. Previous Ultima games that were dual-scale had your Avatar on a zoomed out version of the same looking map.

    For all the effort that will go into R6 to make the good look better, they're going to get somewhat diminishing results (slightly better looking textures with improved shaders) whereas the low hanging fruit of the worst looking element in the game will remain.
  15. vlcain

    vlcain Avatar

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    Awesome! Thank you Starr! I'm a fan of the world map and I'm looking forward to see where you take it. :)
  16. enderandrew

    enderandrew Legend of the Hearth

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    Welcome @vlcain to the forums!

    Though we disagree on the map, I'm always excited to see the community grow.
    Mishri and Eriador like this.
  17. UnseenDragon

    UnseenDragon Avatar

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    I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with R5 as I would have liked, but one can feel it coming together. I had a good time, though I hear that's a bug :)
    Bodhbh Dearg, rild, Dhimmi and 4 others like this.
  18. Terminator

    Terminator Avatar

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    Can we get the 3D overland map now since we have more time vs the paper map? Was paper chosen because the 3d one looked bad or schedule slip?
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  19. Lord Regis

    Lord Regis Avatar

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    Omg, Yeah your not lying about Ultima IX, I couldn't even play it on my machine. It was so full of bugs I had too spray raid in my gaming rig!
  20. Sir Edward

    Sir Edward Avatar

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    Perfect, if the developer team make this modification will help a lot in the game play dinamics.

    If just make a modification and put the total amount in the first step its help a lot , today when we start to drag an item out if the bag, immediately prompted you with the number 1 and if you need to move the total amount you need to move the cursor to the final. The best option its begin with the total amount and you just need to push the ENTER and will take all the amount , if you dont want to move the total just insert the number that you need.

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