Friday, April 13, 2012

AVWW Beta 0.926 "Things You Might Like To Know" Released!

This one is our first release since getting back from PAX East, and it's a big one.  Not only does it have all the stuff that Keith and Josh were working on while the rest of us were at the convention, it also has a first round of improvements based on our observations of players playing the game at the convention.

Observations From PAX East
Turns out that if you get five staff watching about three hundred players playing the game cold for the first time, you notice certain things.  People, by and large, make the exact same decisions when given the same stimuli; and consequently they also run into exactly the same trouble spots.  There are always outliers on any given issue, sure, and people in general obviously aren't carbon copies of one another. 

But when all five of us were able to identify pretty much the same exact trouble spots after having independently watching different groups of players, the results were pretty clear.  That alone was probably worth the cost of going to PAX, I'm coming to realize; the game was already really polished, but this helps us really grind down the last of the sharp edges off the start of the game.

PAX East went great for us, by the way -- I'll write more about it later when there is more time, but we met a lot of awesome folks in terms of both press and attendees.  It was really cool to meet several AI War fans in person (first time that's ever happened for me, actually), and I was really jazzed to be able to show off this new game to a lot of people who had never even heard of it.  From the sounds of things, people in turn went away pretty excited about the game, which was rewarding to see.

Anyway, in terms of this particular release, there are a whole bunch of changes in there that I think you'll really like, and which are a direct result of our PAX East experience.  For the sake of organization I went ahead and just stuck them under their own category in the release notes, because there were so many of them. 

So far we've hit roughly half of our list from PAX, but we hit the most critical items first.  The hope is that we'll be able to knock out the rest of them tomorrow, along with some other stuff.

What Keith's Been Up To
Keith has been a busy guy while the rest of us were gone, too.  His work mostly centered on three areas: multiplayer, achievements, and guardian powers.

Multiplayer has jumped forward quite a lot in terms of polish with this version, as Keith finally nailed a mega-bug that was underpinning a wide variety of bug reports.  This was a bug that had been eluding both of us for a while, so that was nice to see.  At the moment we're not aware of any serious bugs in multiplayer, so we definitely want your feedback: any bugs at all that you're running into, we definitely want to know!  Only a little over a week left to go prior to 1.0!

There's also a number of new admin commands for multiplayer, targeted for anti-griefing purposes.  We strongly suspect we'll see an explosion of such admin commands shortly after 1.0 when more people get their hands on the game and actually start griefing each other; to some extent the exact griefing vectors are hard to predict.  But we're definitely trying to hit the obvious ones in advance, at least, just to make things smoother right from the start.

Achievements are coming to the game, and will integrate with Steam in the same manner that we did with AI War and Tidalis.  These achievements will be more individual-focused and are cross-world, rather than being cross-player and per-world like the unlockables are.  So it's a completely different set of achievements compared to unlockables. 

The set of achievements that we're going to start with is only something like 20ish achievements for 1.0, but we'll likely grow that in post-release content.  It just doesn't seem like the most pressing need to be doing a ton of those prior to 1.0 at the moment, although we certainly want to have a healthy number of then.

Continent-Wide Buffs From Guardian Powers
This is something Keith has been planning for a while, and they're really cool.  They finally bring a purpose to the skill level 4 and 5 of NPC professions, and they also bring a lot more variety to guardian powers in general. 

All in all 51 new guardian powers were added, although 20 of them are currently disabled pending proper unlockables that are pending some new enemies that will be added in the next week for continents 2 and 3.

The cool thing about these continent-wide buffs is that they provide a completely new way to focus on the community and thus help the self by extension.  These can provide a much-needed vector for overcoming a challenging mission or an overlord or whatever, and they really should expand the decision space for the game.

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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