Friday with Means - March 11th, 2011: Full Steam Ahead
Lots of little tidbits and news from Montreal this week as Means goes over exactly what's on the team's plate for the near future, also including new shinies from sezmra and an interview with vhab from AO Universe
The good news this week is the MP document is being released to the professionals at some point today..which will leave us only two professions (Agents actually up first, then NTs) left until we can start bashing out a version for the test server. This has been in the works for quite a long long time and all of us will be glad to get into the "hands on" act of seeing how this plays out in a live environment when everyone gets a chance to play with it and really get a feel for how it works. I really wish this work had been done 9 years ago. It will definitely take some time to get the implementation done...so please nobody get the impression that this will be coming "Soon". Taking the time to do this right has been worth it in my humble opinion as what we started with and what we have so far are vastly different animals.
Great news this week is that the new version of the Conan engine was patched to the live servers this week with great results. The team is working hard to remove some last small issues for some users...and when this short period is over they will be HELPING US! The engine being patched to live is a great step in us finally having a stable version to really grab hold of...when we fix issues in this version they will remain fixed...and this is of course VERY exciting to us. Getting the dual-client new engine development environment up and running here has not been easy and is getting close to what we had in Oslo now...I'm looking forward to being able to show some new shots soon. Once the environment is up and running AND we have assistance from the engine team I'm hoping that the speed of this work will pick up significantly. We all know this has been going on too long and we ALL want it to be finished. Hardware mouse for the love of god!
Work on the startup experience has been a little slow as we focus on completing the balance design work and stabilize the environment here...but there is a 60+ page document covering off the bare bones of the new experience and what we believe it needs to include to really give players a good start in their first moments in AO. It has been strange to look back on the creation of the startup area and compare it to other products...in Conan the startup experience was the work of multiple versions and years of work...in AO the current island and content were all made over a weekend by a team of new people (Fixx's dialogue was the first thing I ever did for AO). We fully know the importance of this area and are looking forward to implementing our ideas and some good ones that were brought forth in community discussion.
Some other things that are being worked on:
A general "smoothing over" of the key/SL playfield quests:
A lot of these quests were made a long, long time ago and they have not improved with age. The idea is to remove/change any points that do not provide an enjoyable experience. Good examples of this would be unnecessary amounts of pointless running or farming of low % drop items in large numbers.
Open content for Pandemonium:
We spoke a long, long time ago about adding more open challenging content to Pandemonium. We are working on (actually making...right now) a new "Open" boss experience for the area for larger groups to tackle.
New Advertising system:
While not very exciting for anyone it is something that is being worked on. Massive (our previous advertising agent) closed down its operations in December leaving us without any streaming ads of any kind. A new company has been located to provide this service and we are in the process of making their systems work with ours. Again, not very exciting but very business essential work. Before anyone asks the "who sees ads" rules will be the same as before.
Vhab's Amazing In-Game Login and Intern Position Open:
While the lovely and talented Vhab was working with us in Oslo (it was great to have him here and we are very grateful for the time he spent with us) he spent a great deal of time trying to move character selection in-game. It was far from easy and we can't wait to put it in. It will be possible in AO to log-in from the launcher then visually select your character (much like in every other game out there now)...similarly you will be able to camp to the character selection and select a new alt without having to actually fully close the game. Great work and we are really excited about it as it is a feature we have wanted for years. Vhab did such a great job we are currently looking in the community for talented Canadian (sorry...there are laws about this here) junior programmers who would be interested in spending some time with us in the near future. Send me a PM for more information.
Kintaii Edit #1: Speaking of vhab, the guys over at AO Universe recently sat down with him for a quick interview detailing his experiences working with us on the Anarchy Online team recently. The interview even includes a screenshot of the new login screen so I sincerely recommend everyone pop over and check it out! The interview can be found here: http://www.ao-universe.com/viewtopic.php?t=4517
Docaholic has been working with Genele to give the nano icons for the game a complete overhaul...they look amazing. Now that I am somewhat closer to Doc's location I hope we get a chance to meet him and thank him profusely soon.
sezmra has made some new high-rez versions of armor textures that look great - The MP and Sentinel's armor is attached to this post to show off some of the new goodness. I can't wait to see what sets she gets into next!
Things are looking up! It has been a rough few weeks with moving, illness and frustration for everyone as things were slow but we have come through it stronger than ever. We have a lot on our plates but good progress is being made...this is going to be an exciting year. I can't wait to catch up with a bunch of you at the event this summer where we get to celebrate our 10 years together...I'm going to start honing my pool skills now :) Who wants some!
Kintaii Edit #2: Don't forget to sign up for our 10th anniversary party by sending in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! make sure to send your full name, your character name, and your preferred t-shirt size. A thread will be popping up soon with more information, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled!
Have a great weekend everyone!
~~Colin "Means" Cragg
Game Director, Anarchy Online
To view and comment on the original post, please visit our forums at the following link: http://forums.anarchy-online.com/showthread.php?t=588217