Friday with(out) Means - Aug. 21st, 2009: The Last Ramble
In the last Friday with(out) Means, Kintaii talks a bit about the upcoming daily missions, officially announces the name of the new nightclub, talks about 18.2 (it's not what you think), and answers a few questions from last week's thread.
Another week, another series of trials and tribulations. To say that the past few weeks have been easy-going and stress-free would be a gross understatement, and holy crap I cannot wait for Means to get back (mostly because he's bringing me a carton of cigarettes with him and I'm otherwise completely out right now). Maybe I'll even have a chance to catch up on all of my PMs after he returns. XD
Genele has been on vacation this week, soaking up some sun and hopefully relaxing a bit - I know her, though, and odds are she'll be coming back with a notebook full of ideas on the balancing stuff. I swear she never switches off. Then again, neither do most of us, I guess - One thing about the current team which brings a real smile to my face is their sheer dedication and devotion to AO; routinely, people on this staff go way above and beyond the call of duty to try and make AO the best product we can, from working on weekends to staying up until 2am fixing bugs - The dev team here is inspirational in their care for this game, and I really hope it comes across to you guys in the ways we interact with you all. So a quick shoutout to the guys up here - To Lindelu, Genele, Metaing, Flaptoot, MstrBstrd, Macrosun and INSERTGMNAMEHERE, thank you guys for having the dedication that you do. Also, thank you for putting up with my dumb ass for the past few weeks. That alone earns you a home-made cookie very soon.
Though I myself have mostly been busy running around and putting out various fires, the rest of the team has been hard at work on cranking out actual content. With Genele out, work on Dark Ruins has been paused for a little bit, leaving Lindelu free to devote a bit more team time to plotting out and designing the new daily missions concept. The basic idea is for us to create a large roster of very simple, easy, quick missions for people to pull off - Content that can, for the vast majority, be taken care of solo and in a short amount of time; ideally, most missions will only take thirty minutes to complete, and while we want them to provide at least a little challenge we don't want people to view these as being uber-hardcore. Instead, we're hoping to give players an easy way to log in every day and accomplish something for both an immediate reward, and to build toward larger rewards over time.
Though we haven't finalized the designs on the daily missions just yet, the basic gist is this: Every day, you will be able to log into the game and visit an agency (which may be sided - we've yet to decide if we want one agency for everyone or if we'd like to have one agency each for the two factions [with neutrals potentially able to visit both if we go that route]). On visiting this agency, the player will receive a series of mission options based on their general level range - Each 24 hours real-time this NPC will cycle through its mission choices, meaning that each day the roster of available missions will change. A player is able to select something from this list that sounds like they might be interested in and are set off into the world - Once they are done, they can return to the Agency to receive an instant XP reward, as well as an item which will track their accomplishments. They will then no longer be able to receive another mission from the agency for another 24 hours (hence that whole, y'know, "daily" bit).
I know this description is a little bare bones, and there are undoubtedly a bunch of questions that will arise from it (and hey, feel free to ask/discuss/debate - you guys might give us some great ideas), but we haven't had a chance to finalize the details just yet (we really need Means to sign off on some of this stuff) so there's only so much we can share at the moment. We've got some really interesting ideas going, though, both in terms of content and for reward purposes, so I think this content will really be a fun and unique addition to the current game world.
Actually, if you guys want to, we could even use a little bit of help - Part of what we're going for here is, as I stated before, quick and simple missions which don't take a lot of time to complete, either as a player or as a designer. ;P Think about the current missions and game mechanics in AO, and then think about the various playfields through-out the game - Nothing is really off-limits playfield-wise (including expansion content such as Shadowlands, LE alien missions, LoX playfields, ect. ect.), and these missions are a great place to get some odd, quirky, fun, unique scenarios into the game. So do you guys have any ideas for missions that could be fun, quick, and easy to create? Like I said, think about game mechanics we have already utilized in AO and pair them up with some interesting scenarios, some obscure areas in-game, and other nifty things in the game world.
Here's an example to get you guys in the right mindset: As a mid-level daily mission, you may be tasked to go to Mort and run some routine maintenance on the ICC's checkpoint relay terminals stationed there (the ones used in the 17.7 Dust Brigade/Peacekeeper Constad questline). You're given an item and told to use that on all five terminals in turn. You run out, use the item on all five terminals (with no turrets spawning or anything like that), and return for your reward. Easy as pie to complete as a player, simple for a designer as it references and uses pre-existing content, and it even helps direct lower-level players to that questline down the road ("Oh, hey, I remember where those relays are - I messed with them for one of the daily quests back when I was level 75!"). This is a very simplistic, non-combat example (and we do want combat missions as well), but you get the general idea - Reusing old content, simple game mechanics, and quick for the player.
So put your minds to that, post your wild ideas, and who knows - Maybe some of your suggestions will even make it in-game. Really looking forward to seeing what all you guys can come up with. =)
Meanwhile, it looks like the public has spoken, and the #1 choice for the new nightclub name is The Grind - Second place goes to Equinox, with third place tied between Aurora and Solaris, but The Grind is the clear winner with over 230 votes. This name, from what we can tell, comes to us via Technogen, who will now probably receive a whole lot of hate mail from everyone who wanted it to be named The Evening Star instead. ;) But, hey, power to the people and you guys stepped up to the virtual democratic plate - Vox Populi, vox dei. =) (and yes, yes, i know, "the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness" but i'm mad you're mad we're all mad here)
Also, I did promise a little something in our side-contest for the person with the funniest entry submission, and the votes from the team are in on that one. The winner is Thorm, who gave us an odd chuckle with their submission of "Oogling & Boogling". We have a weird sense of humour up here, don't ask. Anyhoo, Thorm! Send me a PM here on the forums and we'll discuss hooking you up with a little somethin' somethin' from the bottom of our hearts. =)
Speaking of the nightclub, that brings me to my next topic: The rest of the 18.1 update series. Namely in that... uh... there won't be any. Here's the deal:
Initially, the new nightclub and the TL5 instance "Dark Ruins" were supposed to be a part of the 18.1 update series. As you might guess from me having to post this, plans have been slightly altered. Due to various code alterations and fixes coming into the game right now, we find ourselves in a situation where we have to upgrade this particular update from an 18.1 patch to a new 18.2 series. I can't say it makes a lot of sense to me either, but Macrosun says that this is how it's gotta be and I tend to trust him when he starts talking about things that go over my head. :P
So anyhoo, you guys are going to be seeing 18.2 on the test servers very shortly - At the moment we're not quite ready to toss up any preliminary patch notes, but those will be coming soon. Besides, you guys already know the majority of what's going into 18.2 because 18.2 was pretty much supposed to be 18.1 and somehow things got weird and dear god I don't understand versioning numbers. >< We'll have the 18.2 forum up soon, though, and will also begin the process of shutting down the 18.0 forum in the meantime.
A few more quick 'n snappy tidbits based on questions brought up in last week's thread:
Professionals Program/Forums: Right now, there are a lot of things going on which, unfortunately, have split Famine's time in some very strange ways. I know that the Professionals program in particular has seen a rather large lull, but it's my own personal hope that before long we can put a plan in place which will see that program back up and running at full steam. I wish I could give more details, or even promises, but unfortunately it's one of those things that I'm not directly in the loop on, so my knowledge on the subject is a bit slim. Like I said, though, from my own personal standpoint I would really like to see us get the Professionals program back on track, and will be doing what I can to convince others of that fact. ;)
Game Intro/Arrival Hall: I think, looking at the starting areas of AO at the moment, there's a distinct lack of focus in the questlines and the progression - Particularly the transition from n00b island to the game-world proper. I tend to believe that there's a lot there which could be done, but as it tends to go in a team as small as ours we often have to make hard judgment calls on what takes priority. That said, I don't personally think that the introductory experience to our game should have a low priority in the slightest - Far, far from it. But there are other things we're working on at the moment from a design and technical standpoint which, unfortunately, does. Does that mean we'll never revamp the intro to the game? Not at all, and I personally hope we have the opportunity to do so fairly soon. But, as always tends to be the case with this sort of thing, I can't make any promises.
The arrival hall is a completely different matter all-together, though. As an oldskool AO player, alongside being a roleplayer in general, the arrival hall was, to me, an awesome, cute, interesting little addition to the game - I remember the first time logging into AO and just wandering around the hall, talking to everyone there, learning about the game's story and world from the various NPCs. It was really interesting and fun to me because... well, I get into that sort of thing. But as we've discussed in the past couple of weeks worth of Fw(o)M, content in an MMORPG has to appeal to as many players as-is possible; the problem with the arrival hall is that while it gives worthwhile and interesting content to someone such as myself, most players see it as an inconvenience. And to an extent they're right - The arrival hall is very cool looking and gives some great information about the backstory of the game, but it does little to actually engross the average player in terms of a "gameplay experience".
I think the arrival hall was a great idea and concept that was just utilized in a wrong manner - A location like that should be easily accessible to new players, but someone who doesn't want to experience that sort of social content shouldn't be forced to. I'd love to see the "arrival hall" [i]experience[/i] retooled a bit, maybe into some sort of museum-type location where new players could easily go to and learn a bit about the history of Rubi-Ka and the conflict. Maybe even use it as a good way of keeping players up-to-date on important in-game happenings by adding in NPCs which talk about current events and have their chatter changed each patch or so. Naturally, anything like this would ultimately be a low-priority issue at the moment, but I still think something like that would be beneficial and cool for the game. I'll harass Means about it when he gets back. ;)
Let's see, what else...
"Vets helping newbies" program I'm honestly out of the loop on, as that one is pretty much all Means. Wish I could tell you more, but I'm not really sure what all he has in mind there.
I will never tell anyone what's in the CoH chests.
MstrBstrd really wants to make some new battle suits, and he's got some awesome ideas for styles.
All title levels will be looked at when we're doing the rebalancing - Pretty much every single aspect of the game is being scrutinized for these changes, from the ground up (not saying every aspect is going to *change*, just saying we're taking it all into consideration).
The door in Number 9's chamber may some day lead somewhere if you guys buy me enough beers.
There is no such thing as enough pulled pork BBQ.
The Atrox head posted last week is a work-in-progress, and we'll be tweaking it further (including looking at smoothing out the newer mesh even further - there's a few jagged edges in there that are threatening to drive me up the wall unless they get hammered out ;P).
You DO need a light to create a shadow (otherwise it's not a shadow, it's just darkness).
List of all the things we're gonna change in the new engine: At this point even *I* don't know anymore - I'll ask Colin about that one and get back to you later.
Aaaaaand... I guess that's it. I've run outta things to rant about, I suppose. I wanna thank you guys for being awesome the past few weeks while I've been in charge - I've had a lot of fun communicating with everyone, bouncing thoughts back 'n forth and in general just getting the chance to chat for a while. With any luck, this won't be the last time you guys hear from me - Assuming you don't mind the occasional wall of text. ;) Until then, though, it's back to my little corner of the office - Means is back next week and I'm sure he's looking forward to taking over his post again. =) Until next time!
.... oh yeah, shinies! Almost forgot. ;)
Due to scheduling conflicts and a few... uh... interesting things cropping up, my original plans for the grand Fw(o)M finale post didn't quite go as planned. That said, though, there's still a few things to show off. First, we've got a few screenshots from the new agency area for the daily missions - MstrBstrd managed to crank most of this out in a single day, and with a bit of polishing work from Flaptoot it's really, really coming together. There's even a few hidden, secret surprises here that you guys will get to see at some point in the future - Trust me when I say that it'll be worth the wait before you get to see the secrets. ;)
Our second picture comes to us from MstrBstrd - That little teaser image you guys saw last week is actually one of several new armour sets that we're working on putting into game soon. Trust me when I say it may not be quite what you think, but it will definitely be damned cool. ;) The set isn't quite finished yet, but the design and techniques used are so awesome that we just had to share it. Hopefully you guys are looking forward to getting your hands on it as much as I am. ;)
--Brad L. McAtee / Kintaii
You can find this post and the mentioned screenshots on our forums in the following thread: http://forums.anarchy-online.com/showthread.php?t=559708