Monthly Development Update: January 2012
It's my first time doing something like this so please bare with me! I've done a lot of preparations for this update to give you a fair insight into what we're currently working on, and I can see us sharing some good times ahead.
One of the things that we really want to focus on right now, is showing you the progress of our new graphics engine! We feel like it's about damn time, and thanks to Parsed and also Cube we're finally ready to produce our very first video!
Our artists have been preparing a couple of playfields to a standard that is very close to what we're aiming for. The focus features for this video will be showcasing what we feel look fantastic; grass, shadows, skydome, self illumination and, drumroll... godrays! (Water looks pretty neat too, but what do I know I'm not an artist (: )
I'm hoping to produce more videos when more features and areas becomes available, and I'm expecting that this first one will hit you sometime in february!
New Bug Report Forums
Another thing we want to focus on is making sure that we keep the communications line open with you. It's an important part of what makes AO special, and something I definitely want to maintain. To help with this we've gotten a few cool new things up and running. Kintaii has been setting up our new Report a Bug and Report an Exploit forums. Thanks to our amiable volunteers - This is now open and ready to be used!
If you post a new thread in this forum the development team can see it immediately, and only the people handling your report (the development team, quality assurance and bug hunters) will be able to see your post. This will allow you to bring these issues to us in confidence, and that you can help ensure we have direct knowledge of the things that effect you day to day.
We also wanted to make it easier for you to contribute on the test server. So as an extension to this new system, I present to you our new Test Live robot ”Auto” – who can boost your character up to any level free of charge on the Test Live Dimension, so you're ready to help us indentify bugs immediately without having to transfer an existing character. Test live is an essential part of our development process so we want to try and improve the ease with which people can help us out if they want to. I think there has previously been a barrier here, and with this addition we wan't people to just get into the action immediately and have more fun while testing.
Please keep using the ingame petition for any issues that disrupts you while playing. That is still your primary communication channel with the good people in customer service.
I'm very happy about us getting additional Funcom resources to aid us in the production of new Solitus character heads. This is greatly going to speed up our work, and once they have all been polished and approved by Flap and Mstr we will share some of them with you. These Solitus heads are in the last batch of heads we're re-making, and judging by the quality examples we've obtained I think you're going to find them hot! (:
Many of you have asked me about the balance act, and ideally all of the things we want to improve would come at the same time, but in reality things will have to be prioritized. So right now we are working on approving the suggested changes, making adjustments here and there, and indentifying in which order the changes should be released. Genele is currently buried in piles of documentation, and she is doing a great job leading these meetings and I definitely feel that we can do this, a little bit at a time.
We all want AO to use it's full potential. That's why we are doing this, we want you to understand what all your tools do (yes I'm partly speaking about LE procs), and we want you to be able to use all your tools no matter where you are in the game world. Right now this is not the case because of how several systems are built on top of eachother. Improving this will also allow us as designers to make new fun content more freely.
I've seen a lot of discussion about doing a server merge, and we are infact looking into the possibility of doing this. The server capability now compared to ten years ago is a little more buff, so the hardware can definately handle an increased population. It's too early to give our verdict, but Macrosun is doing his thing and as soon as I know the result I will talk about it more because we feel like this is a natural step that will allow us to have more enjoyable team based content no matter in which time zone you live in.
So, to summarize our vision for 2012; for the next couple of months our combined efforts will strive towards three major goals: shipping the new player experience, the balancing act and the new graphics engine.
These are large tasks that will involve most people in the team at various points, but with good planning we will still be able to release content patches, continue to eradicate bugs and exploits, optimize and improve ao and deal with all the new and creative ways in which fate decides to mess with us.
Finally, as a more long time vision, I'm seing us planning for the next expansion or booster pack once we are done with what we're already working on. It's a little early yet to say when, but it's definitely on our horizon!
In the next newsletter I will amongst other things talk about my thoughts on the new startup experience, the battle station (and pvp in general), and the item shop. I need a chance to roll up my sleeves and get some more work done first.
The Next Game Update
The next patch should be released on the 8th of February.
This includes new fun content for Valentine's Day, created by the designer that brought you the Christmas missions - Michizure, and it will be available until the 27th of February!
By your request: Amesha Vizaresh will be greeting you on the platform leading to The Gauntlet, announcing the countdown timer until next Vizaresh spawn!
Please keep being the wonderfully unique community that you are, and I will do my very best being your advocate.
Fia ”Lindelu” Tjernberg
Ps. Hi Means (:
Waldgeist edit: German translation