Tuesday, October 18, 2011

AVWW Beta 0.526, "Telegraphing Crates," Released!

This one is a longer set of release notes again, but it's been a couple of days since the last beta update.  What gives?  Well, at the moment we're simply sinking a lot of time into some larger features rather than focusing on vast amounts of smaller stuff.

Multiplayer Status
Multiplayer is one gargantuan feature, for example, but it continues to progress well.  Keith has a lot of it functioning now, but we don't just want it functioning, we want it running as efficiently as we reasonably can right from the start.  So there's been a lot of work on client-side prediction lately in particular, and what happens in high-lag situations, and just general work to optimize the network load under all the various scenarios we can think of. 

These things will be important day one because people will use it under all manner of circumstances day one.  We're still at least a week away from doing even more serious internal multiplayer playtesting, I suspect, and then sometime after that we'll move to limited public testing to hopefully iron it out further.  I hate not being able to give an ETA on something like this, but a lot of really good work is getting done on it by Keith, and I'm really happy with how this is taking shape.

"Intro Mission" Status
Another big feature that I've been working on with part of my time for a while is the new "intro mission" for the game.  This will basically be a completely new way to start the game, giving you a linear set of challenges to overcome.  It's mildly tutorial-y in the same sense that the first levels of any platformer are, but my goal is to make it actually like playing the start of any Metroidvania game where it's quite linear and you get presented tools one at a time, and have to use those tools to overcome obstacles that come up immediately.

Of course, this is further complicated by the fact that this needs to work in multiplayer, and really I want this starting mission to be something that each player must go through solo to start the game.  If you already know what you're doing it should be a real breeze to complete in a matter of a minute or two, during which you'll do some basic starting preparation tasks that you'd do anyhow even now.  But anyway, all that requires some new kinds of plumbing to be added (I'd never planned on linear, player-specific content in this game), and that's one thing that I've been working on.

Anyhow, I figure that once these updates are all in and the intro mission is fully working and such, there might actually be some other general uses for it later in the game's development.  We'll see, but it's got a lot of interesting ideas percolating for me; not sure what might come of those yet beyond the intro mission.

Our Ongoing Quest For Furniture
If you've been playing the last few beta versions much, I'm sure by now you've seen some of the new furniture.  It's still been somewhat sparse, but more and more rooms are getting more and more kinds of furniture. 

Josh is doing an awesome job of rendering these out so that I can just do the post-processing on them, and then he's wiring them up with collision boxes and actually setting up the logic for how what furniture goes into what rooms.  That's been extremely helpful for me, and really lets us put a lot of work into the furniture (and other general objects, as furniture continues to fill up), while keeping that work from impacting my main gameplay/coding work much at all.  So that's exciting!

About This Actual Release
Longest intro ever before actually talking about the post topic?  I think it might be.  Well, this release is partly a longer list than the last few because we pruned down the bug list again.  It's a real laundry list, but some of my favorites to have fixed are the ones where something was supposed to seed but didn't.  Most if not all of those should hopefully be fixed now.

There's also a bunch of new sound effects for some spells and enemies that were previously using placeholders, there's some new player-made room templates that are particularly cool, and of course a bunch more furniture work.

Also in this one are some changes to where enemies will now "telegraph" their ranged spells.  When an enemy is going to shoot a spell at you, they now pause in their magic pose for just a bit, giving you a warning that something is about to happen. 

This is a lot better than just getting instantly shot, and is something that most of your favorite action games do.  It lets you react to the patterns of enemies at least somewhat the first time you see them, rather than having to take the damage and learn to blindly anticipate them.  It's also, incidentally, something that will help keep things in sync on high-lag multiplayer situations when enemies are firing at you, which is a double bonus.

The other new feature in this one is that you can now craft crates at the outfitter.  Finally another use for all that wood and quartz you've been collecting!  Crates are a really useful things to be able to create, because they let you adjust the battlefield, creating temporary walls.  The seize spell already lets you fling background objects into the path of your enemy, but the crate-creation has the benefit of being able to be placed anywhere (though the disadvantage of typically being smaller).  They can also be climbed upon if you really want, although wooden platforms already did that.

More to come either tomorrow or the next day, depending on how our larger-feature work progresses.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 0.500 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 0.500 or later, you can download that here.

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