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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 12:58:58   #1
Ilaliya
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Funcom employee Monthly Development Update -- January 25th 2013

I'm sure you all have read the news about the restructuring, so I'll put things as plainly and straight-forwardly as possible to clear up any confusion or speculation. I also apologize for the delay on this month's letter, but it was necessary due to the announced restructuring process.

The fact is Funcom will be consolidating offices, and as a result production on all of the three large-scale MMOs will be moved to our existing office in Raleigh, North Carolina. The move means that the developers will be in the same studio with the customer service and billing teams which previously have been external to us. This means less red-tape when resources are required from a different department (and one currently located in a different office), so some categories of delays on feature delivery should be completely eliminated.

As part of the restructuring there will be one Live Team in the NC offices which will support the three MMOs. And as one chapter will close on AO's development, a new one will open. The new Live Team will include coders, designers, and artists from all the games. There are a lot of developers at Funcom across all projects who also happen to be extremely passionate AO players (and will be on the shared Live Team), so AO should be able to get the attention it deserves. And this is one of the rationales for having a shared pool of developers -- that developers can more easily shift between projects.

Obviously, not everyone is going to Raleigh. The move isn't immediate, and people will continue working in Montreal for up to a couple of months. Our immediate focus will be finishing as much of what we started as possible to make a seamless transition to the new Live Team. Before the move, we will release 18.6 to Live (Server Migration), and plan to get the New Player Experience to TestLive.

I'll give you a state of the "big 3" initiatives we've worked on for the last year:


Server Migration

This is out on TestLive now, and we're pushing for the Live date as soon as all the issues are sorted out. Want to thank everyone in the community for helping us with the dry-runs on TestLive.


New Player Experience

This is close to done. As I mentioned, we plan get it to TestLive before production moves to the Durham offices, because it's a whole new playfield, there is a lot of content, and it seriously and vastly improves the beginning of the game. It's not just for new players, it's for new characters. It also has some of the necessary groundwork for the profession changes.


Engine

I've been playing this internally, as I've mentioned before. Playing the new client hadn't been possible until I started posting screenshots -- I refuse to post screenshots that aren't from a build I am running on my "manager" machine which doesn't have Visual Studio or any tools installed. Macrosun and Vhab have done a tremendous job over the last year to make the engine a reality -- we were just matching the Dreamworld mesh grass to the different ground tiles when the studio news was announced. Unfortunately, the engine exists in our 18.7 branch, so it requires 18.7 to be patched before you guys can play it. This will not be able to happen over the next couple of months given the restructuring process, so what happens with the new engine and the timeframe will depend on the priorities of that team.


The details of the restructuring are still being hammered out, and this will impact the production schedule. This means I can't talk about what's next after the NPE gets to TestLive, since that's the furthest milestone we'll be able to hit before the new Live Team is up and running in the new location. But I will be spending the next couple of months working on the transition, and when we know more I will keep the AO community in the loop.

Sincerely,
Ilaliya

Last edited by Ilaliya; Jan 25th, 2013 at 13:11:15..
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:02:17   #2
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:06:31   #3
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innnn!


Edit: Have a feeling the engine will never happen and its just being used as a way to keep people subscribed.
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:09:19   #4
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Third!!

Yey finally some sign of life WB!

I do fear that this move will put a big dealy on everything beyond the 18.6 Update, but you never know.. In the long run it might be a positive thing.. I really hope!

Placing new developers who used to work on other games infront of ingprogress halfway done AO projects cant be an easy or fast transition.

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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:09:41   #5
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This is an interesting move from FC... So we should get some more variety and some of the old people on game from time to time. Is there any estimate if this is positive thing for AO and acctually might end up increasing hours put into it?
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:11:39   #6
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Seems odd to me to move from cheaper Canada to North Carolina - I would have expected the reverse migration....

With the AO codebase being what it is, I suspect Macrosun, at the least, has great job security.

Funcom is also closing it's Bejing studio. So both of the 'cheaper' locations seem to be going away.
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:13:43   #7
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Good update !

Thanks.
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:13:47   #8
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Originally Posted by Dagget View Post
Seems odd to me to move from cheaper Canada to North Carolina - I would have expected the reverse migration....
True or has the taxes in Canada gotten worse?

Still I believe that everyone would want some more concrete facts about new server:
1) The global research
2) What are the cost for city and different buildings.
3) Character names - will be know after next patch?
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:16:09   #9
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Alright, although this does not tell us if more or less resources/time/ppl will be put on ao and/if there will be a new expansion or whatever added to the game in the future.
Yeah i do understand that nobody does at this very moment, so just keep updating us when more facts cut thru the red tape
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:16:17   #10
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EDIT: so what you're saying is ao is getting a skeleton crew who's time will be divided between ao aoc and tsw, that the new engine is probably cancelled and that there will be no new content for the forseeable future?
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:16:40   #11
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10th!
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:16:54   #12
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not beacause its -20 celcius in montreal?
come on!
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:17:02   #13
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Good job guys getting on the first page!
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:18:26   #14
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That's rather interesting change. Something that bothers me... as i understood it, AO has *really* old codebase and the ones who have been doing the development so far have been kinda specialists/learned the stuff the hard way. With one shared team now doing the development, how exactly are they going to know what to do with AO? Or is it more like current AO team getting migrated to the new one, possibly getting some help from the others when possible?

I very much hope most of the current AO team stays, this is such a special game dinosaur that having completely new people suddenly in charge might alienate the playerbase badly.
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:18:46   #15
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That was too long

tl:dr

Happy friday I haz beer!
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:23:31   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freor View Post
That's rather interesting change. Something that bothers me... as i understood it, AO has *really* old codebase and the ones who have been doing the development so far have been kinda specialists/learned the stuff the hard way. With one shared team now doing the development, how exactly are they going to know what to do with AO? Or is it more like current AO team getting migrated to the new one, possibly getting some help from the others when possible?

I very much hope most of the current AO team stays, this is such a special game dinosaur that having completely new people suddenly in charge might alienate the playerbase badly.
But there is some possibility that there is acctually some people who play AO. So they could know about some of the stuff beter... I think this move allows more diverse content, if there is any of it.
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:26:39   #17
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also, which members of the current dev team survived the cut? will be we getting a list? and more importantly, did YOU survive the cut, ilalya?
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:29:26   #18
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But there is some possibility that there is acctually some people who play AO. So they could know about some of the stuff beter... I think this move allows more diverse content, if there is any of it.
Playing it is one thing, knowing all the tricks the old code does is another. Of course being AO player helps in many ways, but likely won't help much knowing all the small tricks that make the old code able to do what we see in the game today.
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:31:37   #19
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I was under the impression that the NPE and engine were to be released at the same time as the NPE graphics were modeled in the new engine?

And so im guessing that this consolidation means downsizing? Montreal location is closing down and then there's just raleigh?

On a funny side note you'll are moving to the exact town i live in. I can walk right over and kick the hamsters in their butts to get things moving!
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 13:39:59   #20
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This is like the worst news AO has ever been given. Even worse than back at launch when it nearly failed.
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