Wednesday, February 22, 2012

AVWW Beta 0.580 "Volcanic Gangs" Released!

This one is another big one -- three days in the making, it ought to be!  Despite the fact that I lost about half of Monday to my motherboard frying.  But that's another story.

There are an unusually high number of random tweaks and fixes and balance improvements in this one -- too many to remotely begin to list, really.  That's going to be one of the main foci for the next half week or so, as we polish the game up for beta phase 3 (which is going to be about more content and yet more polish).

One big group of changes in this version is interface clarity and usability.  There's a lot of specific improvements noted in the release notes, but this is just the first batch of this kind of improvements.  Over the next couple of days, we'll be doing even more of that.

There are also a few places where mechanics themselves were streamlined, and advanced functionality was put into enchants (great for advanced players) instead of being a baseline feature that new players would have to grapple with, etc.

New Stuff For Co-Op
There's a new Healing Touch spell that you can use to transfer some of your life energy to an ally, which is helpful in rescue NPC missions as well as in co-op.

There's also a major improvement to co-op in the form of individual spell unlocks per player.  So if you want fire stuff and I want earth stuff, we can now specialize without both having to unlock both.

And of course there's a few multiplayer bugfixes, as per typical for recently.

Jumping And Movement Changes
There's a whole bunch of changes relating to the mechanics of jumping and moving around.  Powersliding as a base ability is out, for instance (too easy to shoot yourself in the metaphorical foot with that), but there's now an enchant that gives that ability for those players who want it.

The "inherent double jump" that you could previously get by walking off a cliff without jumping, and then "air jumping" after that, is also now gone.  That was really handy, and a lot of advanced players made use of it (myself included), but it was a bit counter-intuitive and made certain things too easy.

But as a counter-balance to that change, we added new enchants for not only true double-jump, but also triple-jump abilities.  And these can still be used in concert with the ride the lightning spell, meaning that you can effectively get a quadruple jump if that's how you want to customize your character.

Then there's a whole bunch of changes to how the world map movement works (now it's smooth), and how heatsuits function (they're a lot more restricted in terms of what enchant effects they allow you to use, which was always the idea because they're our way of preserving hardcore platforming segments in lava areas).

Underwater Exploration Improvements
There are a few key improvements here, but lots more is coming soon.  It's better at the moment, but still not at all what we ultimately want it to be for 1.0 or even for beta phase 3.

Like with the jumping and movement changes, I'm trying to go ahead and get these changes done now so that any bugs that crop up related to them have time to be fixed before we hit beta phase 3 early next week.  Last thing we want to be doing is core mechanics changes right before putting the game in front of a wider audience of press and players!

Two New Mission Types

These new mission types are really different in nature.  One is basically a mosh pit of bosses that normally you don't see combined together; that's interesting enough on its own, and makes some nice variety instead of boss towers.

The other one is our first hardcore platforming challenge, a lava escape sequence.  Lava is rising shockingly fast, and you've got to get to the top and hit the switch before it catches you and fries you.  And if it catches you at all, you're pretty much dead right there.

The lava escape breaks a lot of our usual rules for the game (no deaths from twitch mistakes, etc), but that's actually the point of the few missions we'll have along these lines -- we've promised these kinds of optional hardcore platforming challenges from the start, we think they're fun, and you don't lose anything if you don't play them.  More details in the release notes if you want more on the rationale there.

More to come soon, mostly in the form of polish, bugfixes, and clarity enhancements for the next couple of days in particular.  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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