31 December 2007

PK server

A few days ago we started the PK server (we erased all the characters from the PK beta testing), and so far we have over 200 accounts, with over 60 players online during the afternoon. So far, I think that's pretty good, and everyone is having fun there.
I had to make some additional modifications compared to the main server, such as removing the NPCs that sell high end weapons and armor, and making the summoning stones have a 75% failure rate, in order to avoid fights by proxy, where players just summon bears to kill the enemy's bears.
After people start getting higher levels, perhaps around level 60 a/d, I might add those NPCs back and make the summoning stones work without failure. But that's something to determine later on, depending on how the game will progress.

I have a secret character there, and I even play the game, partially because it is fun, and partially because it is easier to see what changes or additions should be made to improve it.
For example, I have an idea for a new perk (that will also be implemented on the main server, although it will be far more useful on the PK server). This new perk will be called "Night Stalker", and will cost 8(?) pick points. It will greatly increase your stealth at night, so you can evade enemies, or ambush them from the shadows. It will be cool if a whole guild takes this perk and becomes some sort of assasin guild, where they collectively go and ambush strong enemies.
One reason this will be even more effective is that many people will drink potions right before a fight, so if they don't see you prior to you attacking them, they won't be able to get their potions, but you will be able to.

I am not sure when I will have this perk done, perhaps in a few days or so. Which means that if you are a PKers, regardless of which server you play on, you might want to save a few pickpoints for it.

19 December 2007

Wind of change

A lot of stuff happened in the last 10 days.
First, I started a beta version of the PK server. So far, we got about 130 sign ups for the PK server, which is great.
Then one thing lead to another, and some players expressed their interest in incorporating some changes meant only for the PK server to the main server as well.
One of the changes is caping the attributes to level 48. The other change is having a mage class, where rationality affects the power of the spells.
We have a poll on the forums about the level cap on the main server, and the majority of players (about 3 out of 4) agreed that such a cap is necesary. Interestingly, all the top level fighters that also commented on that thread agreed with the change.

The only thing that hasn't been decided yet is on the restoration spell formula. There are a few versions being discussed, and there is no general consensus about which one is the best, so there is still some work to do.
But after all the changes are made, I think the PK will be much better, because with the caps in place, people will actually have some weaknesses, so we won't have virtually invincible players.

08 December 2007

Killing the bugs

Short status update:
Some of the client programmers expressed their wish to have a better bug tracking system, and now they got one, thanks to Placid.

We gathered all the known bugs together, and we are trying to fix them. Some were already fixed, others are harder to reproduce, which means it will take a while to fix them. Hopefully, by the end of the year, or early next year, we'll have the bug fixes update. The good thing is that this time people will be able to use the release candidate on the main server, which allows a few thousand people to test it and see if they experience elss problems.

On an unrelated note, I added a summoning menu, which allows you to control how your summoned monsters will behave. It makes use of the new server push up menu system. That menu is usable only when your summoning level is 30 or higher, which means that most of the PKers will eventually have to spend some gold coins on leveling that skill, so more money flow in the economy, towards the small guy. So it is a win-win situation.

01 December 2007

Update and problems

We had our update Monday, and I am not entirely pleased with the results.
The good thing is that for most of the people, the client is working fine, and they had little or no problems installing the update.
But for a small minority (around 6%) there are constant problems that make the game unplayable, and the game crashes on most of the computers, but not very often.

In the last month or so, I did very little programming work, and focused mainly on coordinating the update, do the testing, suggest bug fixes on the forums, try to find more information on things, and so on. This is getting frustrating, because there are quite a few new features I would like to add, but can't, due to lack of time.

The crashes are not entirely our fault (the blame is shared between our code, 3rd party libraries and drivers), but we need to find some workarounds anyway, because it is frustrating to have unstable code. Generally, if you do not fix the bad code in the early stages, and keep adding on it, you will be in a bigger mess with each new update. Because of this, I decided to have another feature freeze until we can identify and solve the most common problems.

While we are at it, I want to expand the debugging support for the client, so that when the client crashes we can have some meaningfull information which we can analyze. Right now, only a minority of players (those who can compile their own client and run a debugger) can send us precise information on where/why the code crashes.