Thursday, July 5, 2012

AVWW Post-Release 1.110-1.111 "Dispatch Missions For NPCs" Released!

This one completes the last of our features for the official 1.2 release, and it's yet another big one.

Dispatch Missions And Gifts To NPCs
I'm going to try to do a brief, quick, simple rundown here.

All those profession books and "mood gifts" you've been collecting for the last couple of versions?  You can now give those to NPCs via their detailed stats page.  Profession books make them better at their profession, while mood gifts improve their mood.

Likewise, building profession structures on the world map makes everybody who has a given profession more skilled at said profession.

The green jade guardian stone is now back, and by talking to it you can bring up a new "Dispatch Mission" interface.  You can send any NPC from your settlement out to either bring you back a specific arcane ingredient (one copy for every player in multiplayer), attack ice pirates, or attack the overlord.

On these dispatch missions, there are two chances: the chance of death, and the chance of success.  Chance of death is entirely based on their mood.  Chance of success is based on their profession skill.  Each profession gets inherent skill check bonuses to certain types of missions.

Which brings me to the overlord: he/she now has a much higher level depending on what your citybuilding level is.  So you'll need to whittle down that level by actually attacking him/her via your NPCs, unless your citybuilding level is very low.  The more lieutenants are left alive, the more difficult it is to attack the overlord successfully in this manner.

That's pretty much the basics, and enough to work with if you want to just start playing with it.  Definitely let us know how it feels balance-wise.

Other Fun Stuff Related To NPCs
- NPCs that have a high skill level get pretty homesick when you take them from one continent to the next, so you can't just bring your heavy hitters with you from one continent to the next every time.

- However, a low-skill NPC from one continent can be brought somewhere else and then will switch continent allegiances as soon as you give them at least one profession book.

- NPCs don't like to feel like they are carrying the load alone.  If their skill is way higher than the average on the continent, they'll gripe about that after each mission and their mood will fall further than normal.  Same thing if a single NPC is being sent on a lot more missions than average for the continent.

- On the flip side, if an NPC is a lot lower-skilled than the rest of the settlement, but they still manage to complete a mission anyhow, their mood will actually rise after the mission is complete (normally mood falls after every mission at least some).

- The new dispatch and mood and skill systems are really flexible and powerful.  We intend to do more with it after 1.2, but this is already an exciting baseline feature set, I think.

The Release Plan For 1.2 Remains The Same
Our plan for having 1.2 polished and "final" is still tomorrow (Friday, the 6th).  We had planned a feature freeze Tuesday, but... yeah.  Even though I worked all through the 4th, I was still completely behind today.  The underlying simulation of all those NPCs, plus the interface work, turned out to be more complex than anticipated.

We don't plan on releasing 1.2 until Monday the 9th.  That gives players a weekend with the final release candidate, and we'll only make any changes to 1.2 after that point if something critical is found.  After that, starting on Monday we'll be plunging right into work on 1.3.

Between 1.0 and 1.1 there was an entire 40 day span, so this might seem a bit sudden, but 1.1 was not only deep changes but also wide (touching almost every part of the game).  The changes in 1.2 are deep, but much narrower -- just touching things like tiers (now levels) and citybuilding, etc.  Most of the infrastructure and balance hasn't had to change, and we're also not dealing with a bunch of pre-1.0 bugs that only got discovered once there was a wider audience this time, either.

Anyhow, the triumvirate of major new 1.2 features -- linear levels instead of tiers; procedural spells; new citybuilding -- are substantial enough that we don't want to get into a cycle where it takes another few months for those changes to find their way into the hands of players not using the latest beta.  It really feels like we're hitting a tipping point for the fun factor of the game with these changes, so I guess we're understandably eager to get them out to as many people as possible as soon as possible.

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

UPDATE: 1.111 is a maintenance patch with various fixes in it.  Given that it's going to be one of several for today, it didn't seem worth its own blog post.  But it does fix the very serious "double damage from spells" bug that was really skewing balance for the last week or so, which is a big part of why I wanted to get this out post-haste.

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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