Wednesday, April 25, 2012

AVWW Post-Release 1.001 "Arrival Of The Elites" Released!

This one is the first of our post-release beta updates.  If you're new to Arcen post-release support, here's how it works:

1. We've released the 1.000 version of the game, and that's stable and great.

2. Now we've started releasing beta versions after that, which may have more bugs but which have all sorts of new and awesome features.  If you run into any bugs, sorry about that, but just let us know and we'll fix them.  Note that the beta versions don't come through the Steam client or similar, they only come through our internal updater and they're totally optional.

3. These beta versions tend to come out every weekday or two during the busy periods (like now), and so some bugs are inevitable with that breakneck of a pace.  But also those bugs get fixed darn fast if they are serious.

4. After a few weeks or a month or two, we'll take all those beta updates and we stop adding new features for a bit.  Time for another round of polish and bugfixes to make an official version.  It might be something like 1.100 or similar.

5. Version 1.100 is then released as the next official build, and gets pushed out through the Steam client, the Impulse client, and as a new installer on GamersGate and our site and everywhere else, etc.  Version 1.000 is officially and completely retired, and 1.100 becomes the new "official" version of the game.

6. Now go back to steps 2-5 once again, and we do more beta updates for a few weeks or months and then do another official.  And repeat and repeat and repeat.  With AI War, we've been at this for the last three years and are currently north of version 5.000.

So now you know what the deal is with the post-release betas, if you're new to Arcen.  If you're familiar with open source projects, our betas are basically like the nightly builds in most of those sorts of projects.

Two New Monsters
We've been listening to what players and the press have been saying!  The number one thing that players and press both wanted more of was enemies, so that's what we've been focusing on. 

There are two new types of espers that appear right from the start of the game, which add a lot of variety to a lot of areas (espers are pretty common).  Both the Explosion Esper and the Ice Esper are floating magical beings like the rest of the espers, but at the same time they have very different sort of attack patterns.

There will be other brand-new enemy types also coming up in future releases in the next week or two, but these two make a nice start.

Twelve New Monster Elites
Next up there are twelve new kinds of enemy elites -- and in fact, these are the first enemy elites to be a part of the game at all. 

What the heck is an elite?  An elite is an upgrade of an existing monster class where the new class replaces the old.  It's basically a behavior and/or stats upgrade for an existing monster class that gets unlocked after you kill a lot of that type of monster.

Note that there were already offshoot-type monsters that get unlocked as you demonstrate proficiency with enemy classes, but elites are different.  When you kill 100 bats, you unlock fire bats in addition to your regular bats.  However, it's very possible to be running into both regular and fire bats, and they look very different visually and act super differently.

Once you kill 80 bats, however, those now upgrade into their new elite form: sonic bat.  The sonic bats look and act just like regular bats, except that they have a ranged sonic attack.  It's possible to have sonic bats and fire bats at the same time, but sonic bats replace regular bats.

Once you kill 160 bats (including sonic bats; elites count as their base type for unlockables), then you'll unlock sonic screamers.  These are a further-upgraded elite of the bats in which not only is there a ranged sonic attack, but the melee attack of the bats inflict a status penalty to you that causes your cooldowns on spells to be slower.

Unlocking whole new classes of enemies with new visual effects is really cool: you have the skelebot centurions and the ice and fire bats, and so on.  But when the original enemies are also retained, those original enemies wind up being kind of blah next to their fancier-class counterparts before too long. 

Our plan is thus to make it so that there's a constant arms race between new enemy classes and new features for existing enemy classes after a certain number of kills; that way everything stays fresh around you.  This is also an example of yet another way that we're working to make the world adapt to how you play even more.

Anachronism Mission Improvements
The "Fix the Anachronism" missions were a weak spot in terms of game clarity/fun, it was pointed out to us.  Therefore we've tweaked not only their documentation, but also their mechanics.  This way they aren't instant-fail in any situation (see release notes for details), and that should make them a lot more enjoyable even for newer players.  Previously these particular missions were pretty much veteran-friendly only, which we should have caught pre-1.0 but didn't.  Ah well!

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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