30 December 2006

Update completed

Two days ago we had the update. Pretty much everything went fine, with a few small exceptions such as minor map issues, outdated knowledge list, the Linux binary not being compiled with the new special effects and the new hair colors not working.
All those problems have been adressed yesterday, thanks to the autoupdate feature which enabled us to update some bad files.

The players seem to be pretty happy, so far there were no complaints. With the update we also started to remove the expired p2p races (those who paid for only one year). Most of them got some bonus time, up to 6 months. There were no particular problems related to that either, except for a few people that had their p2p expire prematurely (they all got it back, of course).

The next thing I will be doing is implementing a new metal in the game, metal that will be used only for magic items, especially medallions. This will give the crafters new things to do, and the harvesters will get their very own medallion somewhere in January.

Meanwhile, I started playing the game too (under a new, secret character). It's pretty fun to play, and I already found a few problems that were addressed this update (such as too few wolves). As I level up, I hope to find other bottlenecks so I can fix them as well.

28 December 2006

The Dragon Slayer

This update will feature two new monsters; a feros (some sort of cat man, about as strong as a fluffy), and the strongest monster in the game, a red dragon.
We wanted to keep the dragon as a surprise, but we knew that when we release the files so people can predownload the update the secret will be gone, so we released some rendered artwork as a teaser.
Meanwhile, I placed the dragon and various other monsters on the test server, but the location was undisclosed. I figured that no one will find it, let alone kill it, because usually people don't use the test server too much.
Well, I was wrong. A few guys went into an expedition on the test server, killed the dragon, and posted the video on YouTube, then posted it in our forums :D
The first movie doesn't look that great because they used a video camera, but the second one looks much better (using some software to capture the video directly from the frame buffer).

All in all, I salute them for their creativity and skill in defeating the strongest monster in the game :)

24 December 2006

Some random thoughts

First, about the update. We were thinking to release it this past Friday, but it has been delayed a little bit for the following reasons:
1. The Mac version maintainer is away until 26th, so releasing the update meant that the Mac users can't play for a while.
2. If there were any problems we might not have been able to atend to them because of the Christmas (we, the developers, are humans too).
3. We can do more tests and add more stuff at once (for example the new spawns were not ready yet, but now they are).
We really hope that we can get the update going by the end of the year.

Second, I finally got started with writting an article about the MMO economies. I promised this article a while ago, in the last part of the Eternal Lands Postmortem series.
The first part should be ready in early January, so expect to see it on Devmaster.net in month or less.

Finally, on totally unrelated note, I bought the game Galactic Civilizations 2, Dread Lords.
It is a great game, sort of like what MOO 3 should have been. My only complaint is that you don't have any control of your ships during the combat, something MOO 1&2 had. Given the wide variety of weapons and ship defenses it is very important to optimize the way your ships attack, and the computer doesn't seem to do a very good job at it. But it's a great game nonetheless, and if you enjoyed MOO 1&2 but hated MOO 3, you should give this game a try.

18 December 2006

The last steps before the update

Some days ago we released the RC (release candidate), and despite for some problems (such as the autoupdate process overwritting some of the newer files with old stuff) we are almost ready for the next update which should be, if everything is well, this Friday.

Roja and some map makers are working at fixing some new map problems, while I am working at adding the new armor (bronze).
While adding a new armor might seem trivial, it is actually a lot of work. The items have to be placed in the definition files, together with their degraded counterparts, then there is some work ballancing this armor so it won't be too weak or too powerful compared with the steel and titanium armor, the right prices have to be set, the items have to be added to the NPC, the repairer NPC need to be updated to repair this kind of armor, new knowledge and books have to be defined, and so on.

I really miss programming sometimes, updating the definition files is no fun :)

09 December 2006

Preparing for the update

As I said in a previous post, we are going to have a client update this year, somewhere around 20th of December.
We released a new binary client with various improvements and bug fixes, and most of those who tested it reported that it works well. A few people reported some performance problems, and one person reported crashes with the new spell effects. We don't know what is causing those crashes, but since very few people reported problems, we'll go ahead and include those special effects, and possibly issue a 'patch' with those effects disabled, in case anyone will have problems with them in the final release.

Some of the things this update will include:
1. 2 new monsters (don't ask what they are, they are a surprise).
2. Some new C2 maps.
3. Bronze armor and harvestable copper/tin. The new armor will not be avaialble right after the update though, but at the beginning of 2007.
4. Some new special arenas for newbies and medium level players, where you won't be able to attack people if you are over a certain attack/defense level. We'll have one for levels up to 40, and one for levels up to 70. There will also be an arena where you can fight only by using spells. This will be mainly for people to level their magic, although it can be used for contests as well.

01 December 2006

EL Lottery

Next server update, which will be probably Monday, will bring a new feature to the game: a lottery.
We had some player based lottery bots in the past, but the problem with them is the lack of trust from the players. They can't be sure the owner won't cheat.

Here is how it will work:
Players can buy a ticket, for 5000 gold coins. Everyone can buy as many tickets as they want, and the more they buy, the higher the chance to win.
There is a limit of 2000 tickets, on a first come first served basis. This brings the maximum prize to 9 million gold coins a week.
At the end of each week, the NPC will announce the winner. The winner has one week to collect the prize, if he or she doesn't, then they lose the prize, which gets transfered to the next week's prize.
If a player is not online at the moment of the announcement, he or she can check if they won by going to the lottery NPC. If they won, then a new dialogue option is available, so they can claim the prize. Some players suggested multiple announcements, but I don't want that. The reason for it is that it will force the players to go and check for themselves, and while doing so they might be willing to buy another ticket.

There are a few reasons for this lottery:
1. Money sink; only 90% of the ticket price goes into the prize, 10% is lost.
2. Redistribution of wealth; allows anyone to become very rich, so long as they participate and are very lucky.
3. Creates a new point of interest in the game (people will have to go there to buy the ticket and to claim the prize).
4. Brings something new to the game, and creates some anticipation for every weeked.