Tuesday, October 25, 2011

AVWW Beta 0.531, "Glyph Transplants and Abandoned Settlements," Released!

This one doesn't have hugely long feature list, but it includes several things that have been on my to-do list for what seems like forever.

First up is the new Glyph Transplant spell scroll, which basically lets you do a body swap with any NPC you like.  You become them, and they become you, and you continue on with their stats, name, and appearance. 

Thematically, this is actually passing your blue, floating "glyph" (and all the associated inventory that goes with it) to another character.  This is actually what happens when you die, too, but when you die you always pass the glyph to a "wandering" NPC that hasn't yet shown up in any of your settlements or other locations.  This lets you actually become someone you've already met, which has been a goal for the game from the start.

Next thing is that there is finally a solution for the abandoned settlements.  Previously if you found yourself with literally no NPCs in a settlement, well, that settlement was just dead because you normally need at least one NPC to use to recruit other NPCs. 

Now if there are literally no NPCs in a settlement (and all the monsters have been cleared out), go and talk to one of the guardian stones of the settlement and they'll call a wanderer to the settlement.  You can then use that new resident to recruit more residents, and you're back off to the races.

There are a few other things in this release as well, including a fix to that lighting issue in the prior version.  But the above were the high points.

Notes On The AVWW Multiverse
Today was a hardcore design day for Keith and I; it's been over a month since we last did this, I think, and it was definitely overdue.  We got a number of important middle-term things planned based on what we've each been thinking about lately and what we've learned from the beta.

One consistent theme from what we were talking about today is that the concept of a multiverse is really getting increasingly central to this game.  The idea of a string-theory-type multiverse has always been one of the founding ideas of the AVWW mythos, but it's been a much more subtle thing up until now. 

It's why all the instance of the world are called Environ, for instance, but each one is completely different in the details.  Each one exists in a separate universe. It's also key to why all the time periods are able to co-exist in the newly re-formed universe that now exists after the cataclysm. 

A lot of that gets into backstory and explanations that are really something that we want players to be able to solve and figure out through piecing together clues in the game, but most of those clues haven't actually been added to the game yet.  That's another thing on the list prior to 1.0, and is also heavily related to the future return of the memory crystals.

Anyway, I don't want to spoil much, but we've come up with some new gameplay ideas that tie several existing gameplay elements together better, and which weave in more of the story, too, and even which tie into multiplayer in a wholly unique way.  You'll start seeing the results of all that coming up in the next weeks and months. 

The one that I'm most excited about are the new "personas," which are an idea of Keith's that I won't spoil.  But I will say that these will provide yet another way of customizing and improving your characters, among other benefits, so that's some welcome news I'm sure.

Notes On The AVWW Multiplayer
Keith has gotten the multiplayer functioning to the point where the main barrier we were running up against is the simple speed of even LAN networks versus the amount of precision demanded by pixel-perfect, shmup-style projectiles and dodging ability. 

The networking model was getting really refined, but still was a definitively inferior gameplay experience to solo play, which obviously isn't an acceptable state of affairs.  There's a reason why there are very few networked multiplayer shmups, particularly those of the 2D pixel-perfect variety. 

Traditional action-game networking just isn't sufficient for the precision that they demand in order to avoid frustrating players with wrong collision hits.  Minor client/server disagreements where there is as little as 200ms worth of difference in entity positions can mean the difference between a hit and a miss at this sort of scale and this sort of projectile speed.

So what do we do when we meet a seemingly-intractable problem like this? We redefine the problem.  I don't want to get into the details yet because there's a lot we still have to actually implement and test out how it works, but the bulk of Keith's and my time today was spent redesigning the networking model based on some ideas we'd batted around way back in early alpha in the event that the traditional approach couldn't be smoothed and predicted into as precise an experience as we wanted.

Our core goal with this redesign was to make the multiplayer combat experience absolutely just as precise and as much fun to the solo combat experience regardless of network conditions or lag, but still while maintaining the ability to have co-op and PVP styles of play.  That said, the design for PVP play has really changed for the game, and even the way that the co-op aspects will work is now really unique from any other game I can think of.

This is a big shift for the multiplayer modes, so I felt I should give a heads up about that before we actually fully unveil it later.  It's kind of like the shift from being a 2D top-down game to being a 2D sidescroller in terms of the scale of the change, but this change only affects multiplayer play; solo play isn't changing one iota in response to this.

Still no ETA on multiplayer actually becoming publicly available.  A majority of what has already been done for multiplayer actually will be retained, but now we have a bunch more logical complexity to set up and add in on top of that stuff.  But shifting this to being a logical design problem rather than something primarily bound by the speed of the Internet is something we're really happy about, to put it mildly.

More to come soon.  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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.