Friday, October 21, 2011

AVWW Beta 0.529, "The Awful Truth About Fairies," Released!

In terms of file size, this one is by far the largest update we've done to any of our games, ever.  In terms of release notes length, not so much.  Why the huge file size?  Well, there's some new art, but that's really only a few megs.

Further-Processed Character (And Some Monster) Graphics
The thing that makes this update a whopping twenty-seven megs to download is that I've post-processed all of the characters and most of the monsters in the game.  It's the same graphics, but they've been spruced up and made more painterly and with a stronger, cleaner border, etc. 

They look a lot more in keeping with the rest of the game now, although I'm not going to be surprised if some players don't notice the difference at all.  Side by side it is a notable improvement, but if you've been playing for a while and not really been bothered by the characters before now, I expect the difference won't be something you'll see at first glance.

Glyphs and Just-Entered-Chunk Lightning
There are other visual improvements in this one, too -- for instance, there's now a visual representation of your "glyph," which is a core story element for the game that we haven't really done much with in the game itself until now.  It's a core part of the game, and as the story gets more integrated into the game you'll be hearing a lot more about these.

The glyph follows you around and makes it easier to see your character versus other characters (only you have a glyph that you can see), and it also turns red when you take damage.  There's also much cooler just-entered-chunk invincibility visuals, too.

Fun With Physics
The physics and controls for ride the lightning, lightning rocket, storm dash, and storm rush, have all been pretty substantially updated based on player feedback from the last few days.  A lot of good ideas there, and these spells are now a lot more useful and fun feeling.

Don't Trust That Fairy!
Still have fond memories of Navi the fairy?  Wait, scratch that -- "fond" wouldn't be the word to use.  But still, as annoying as she could be, she was (overly) helpful.  And hey, there's always those nameless fairies in so many games that give you health or other goodies.

A Valley Without Wind is... a much harsher place.  When you see a fairy, your first thought should be to run like heck if you're not prepared to face it.  These fairies are mean, travel in packs, and live in deep dark caves.  The red fairies in particular are tough enough that I have yet to beat them without over-leveling them, and I'm quite good.

Part of it was that the cave I was in was particularly un-favorable for my battle with them (that sort of thing can happen, it's procedural generation), but the other part is that I simply didn't have any weapons on par with them. 

For a good while I've been putting new weapons in the hands of the players without adding more enemies, and that's all very well and empowering.  But there's a growth curve for both player weapons and enemies, and most of the enemies thus far are clustered pretty low on that curve.  Actually, most of the player weapons are, too, although a few creep up the curve slightly.

Well, the red fairies are a slightly larger jump up the curve, and so you'll really want to lean on your highest damage-dealing spells: launch meteor, creeping death, and so on.  Those spells don't tend to be favored by most players in most situations because of cheaper, faster spells like energy pulse, launch rock, or even fireball.

Future Plans For Specialization of Spells Vs Specialized Enemies
The new fairies -- red in particular -- require the use of specific tools to have much of a chance against them unless you over-level them.  This is actually going to be an ongoing trend with the game, where there will be increasingly specialized tools for specific kinds of enemies.

To go on a longer expedition you'll want to craft and carry along a varied loadout, and then during your initial-chunk-invincibility period when you run into a boss you'll be wanting to adjust your loadout to best deal with them. 

You'll always be able to pick and choose your favorite spells in a "genre" to beat an enemy (there would never be only one solution to an enemy, as that's boring).  And for most "trash mobs" and similar, you'll really have even more flexibility in spell choice, as now.

But where a lot of the tactics of this game is going to come in is in choosing your tools to match both your skills and preferences and to fit your enemy, and then taking out the enemy with the tools you chose.  You get a bit of that now, and the fairies push things a little more in that direction in particular, but a lot of the really cool ideas along these lines are really things we're just getting started with.

Intro Mission
I just wasn't "feeling it" on the intro mission today, so I decided to work on other stuff.  We've had a single boss type underground for far too long, so that was one of the first things I wanted to address. 

The fairies idea was something that just occurred to me today, it wasn't something long-planned, but I have a few other underground-specific bosses that I've been planning for quite some time.  Next one up is probably "murderous darkness," which should actually be tamer than the fairies.  Go figure!

More to come soon, probably on Monday.  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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