Tuesday, December 13, 2011

AVWW Beta 0.550, "Power Coding Round 4: Mission System Basics," Released!

This one is one that we decided to push out today because there are a few critical balance tweaks and bugfixes that players could really use.

Mission System Preview
In terms of the core feature of this new version, the missions: the general framework is complete and in place, but there is currently only one kind of mission rather than the four we had planned for our first missions release.  And that's definitely shy of the eight that we have planned for the next few weeks, let alone however many mission types we wind up with by 1.0.

So take this as sort of a preview of missions, more than anything else.  Longer-term, missions will be the sole source of EXP (aside from killing lieutenants and overlords), but since they are still in a preview state we've left in the EXP containers and the EXP from bosses for now.

In the brainstorming subforum, we'd originally talked about having side missions and core missions.  We also talked about making it a binary system and removing EXP all together.  In further design discussion, Keith and I came up with a simpler approach that meets all of the goals of the above in a more fun fashion.

How The Mission System Will Work
The mission system framework itself is actually completely done in the current version.  There will almost always be 7 missions, but right at the start there will be only 5 or 6 (this happens only when you are civ level 1 and 2 respectively). 

The release notes talk about the three general levels of missions: the "stretch" ones that are higher than your civ level, the middle of the road ones that match your civ level, and what Keith and I were calling the "cop out" missions that are lower than your civ level (but we won't really call them that in-game!).

Each mission that is shown only will last for a certain number more of missions.  Each time you undertake a mission, all of the other missions become unavailable until you complete that mission or abandon it.  If you abandon it, you can try that mission again, or any other mission.  If you complete that mission, then the mission and all its mission-specific dungeons disappear, and the counter counts down on all the other missions.  As missions disappear, new missions appear to take their place.

This means that there's an opportunity cost to any mission you do, because you can never do all the missions.  Some missions will focus more on improving the players' adventure options directly, while others will focus more on improving the civilization and thus helping out the adventurers a bit more indirectly (but still meaningfully).

So there will be all sorts of interesting choices that this system provides players with as they try to bend each continent to their will... but so far it's just a replacement for a way to get rare commodities.  The first eight or so missions we're planning are all actually replacements for other activities that you could undertake previously in the game outside the mission structure.  Things like rescuing NPCs, or building wind shelters, or destroying vortex pylons, are all planned to be missions and thus part of that opportunity-cost decision-making structure.

By the way, when you have multiple continents, you can have one active mission per continent, and the "mission time" is local to each continent, too.  So that's a way for multiple groups to do different missions in multiplayer, versus everyone having to either collaborate on the same mission or go off on side exploration.

Still Powercoding, Balance Still Might Be Wonky In The Short Term

As noted last week, Keith and I have both entered a power coding phase to follow the recent brainstorming/design phase, so there are a few metric tons of changes coming through last week and this week.  Given the scope of the changes, this means that the game is going to be in a moderate state of disarray during that time, in terms of general balance and such.  We're doing our best to keep things as clean as possible, but the difficulty in particular might swing up and down some substantially during this time.  The end result is going to be pretty darn cool by this Wednesday or Thursday, though.

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.

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