Friday with Means - May 22nd, 2009
A little early this week as the team will be off for a long weekend this week...and I will be nowhere near an internet connection of any kind on the west coast of Sweden near Skredsvik...an unplugged weekend.
This has been a week of ups and downs.
We have been working on the conversion to Ogre for quite some time now...and there have been good days...and bad days. The team has really done a great job and it has been amazing to watch AO slowly move towards a day where we could release the game "fresh" with the upgraded look the AO world deserves. The problem with this journey is a matter of time and the destination. While the Ogre engine is an excellent choice it is just not providing the full featureset that we originally hoped to would deliver...moreover to add those features seems to be a task with ever growing estimates....which is something our small team can not afford, nor expect our players to wait for. When the decision to go with Ogre was made the engine used for Conan was in its adolescence...it ran but it was gangly, awkward and had stability issues. After two years of constant work by a large and brilliant render team the engine used by Conan runs beautifully and stably and offers a great number of complete features that would require additional years of work in Ogre. With the delays due to difficulties associated with optimization of Ogre to work well with current AO and the estimated timelines for a full implementation of the Conan engine (Dreamworld Engine/Cheetah) being nearly identical we were faced with a difficult decision.
We chose to go with the Dreamworld Engine.
With time estimates being roughly the same..the more fully supported/featured engine was the obvious choice. The fact that Dreamworld is being used in both Conan and our other "Secret World" project means that it will receive the future love and care it needs as AO grows older and the AO world continues to grow. This future consideration was impossible to ignore.
This has not been an easy decision. Letting go of Ogre after so long is painfull and I feel for all those who put so much work into trying to bring it to completion. A great many evenings and weekends went voluntarily into it with the hopes and dreams of a brighter future for AO. It was purely for the future of Anarchy Online that we had to steo back let go of Ogre...and move forward with Dreamworld. Today felt exactly like saying goodbye to an old friend...however the facts and plans for the future make it impossible for me to think of it as the wrong decision.
We will get there!
What this means for us:
Within the Ogre timeline the sheer amount of unanticipated optimization of essential features had slipped to November this year. With additional resources from the larger technical team we hope to bring the Dreamworld engine to AO in 2009. I truly believe that Age of Conan is a visually stunning world and I look forward to seeing the same technology available to us in the near future.
Our monitoring of the new servers at IPSoft suggests that all is going well and we are ready to proceed. After months of work and preparation Anarchy Online will be moved from Savvis to our new IPSoft hosts on Tuesday this week (May 26th). Downtime will be about 6 hours...but we will be coming uip on new machines. We have wanted this for a very very long time...that day is finally here!
Our efforts to track down and eliminate the spam in AO is slowly paying off. Spam mesages are down to 9% of what they were three weeks ago. Last week we removed 41 Billion illicitly gained credits from the AO economy and banned well over 100 accounts. 9% is still too much...but we are still working on it and the automated systems and client chat filter on not even live yet...I'm hopefull and optimistic.
Take that you ******* spamming bastards!
As our tracking systems improve and continue to develop all transactions of this kind are going to be found and reversed. To the players who had credits removed this week: Shame on you!
We will always find these credits eventually and remove them. Shuffling the credits through many accounts/org banks/player shops/city controllers etc is not effective and is only annoying for the CS investigators....please don't make it more cost effective to ban you than remove the credits. Note: Anyone who lost credits can probably reverse the financial transaction through their Credit Card company.
Should you continue to feel like wasting your money you could always just deposit it in my account...I'll find a good use for it. My house needs painting and I don't have time to do it. CRedz plz! 11001001!!
Macrosun has the problem I mentioned last week well in hand and we hope to bring a new build to the Test Server at some point next week that will include the new apartment, further balance tweaks based on player feedback, adjustments to instanced Pande and the instanced cities and new stuff for this years AO birthday.
8 years...hard to believe...but it is coming soon. I look forward to celebrating with you all.
Thanks to all who have taken the time this week to speak with me about constructive ways to address balance issues in current game mechanics.
Whoa...time for sleep. Have a great weekend all!
Colin "Means" Cragg
This friday with Means can also be found in the Anarchy Online Forums.