Friday, June 29, 2012

AVWW Post-Release 1.106-1.108 "Construction Sometimes Starts With Demolition" Released!

This one is perhaps surprisingly substantial given the scope of what was released just yesterday.

Balance/Bugfixes For The New Stuff From Yesterday
First of all, there's some various balance/bugfix stuff relating to the new levels system, etc.  Aside from one major gaffe with not saving the stockpiles when you exit the game, this has been surprisingly trouble-free so far.

I know there's been some discussion on the forums about various aspects of the new balance, but please don't hesitate to let us know your thoughts and suggestions further.  We're aiming to have a polished version 1.2 ready to go next Friday (the 6th), so we really want that feedback.

Through Monday or Tuesday Keith and I are going to be particularly heads-down with implementing new stuff (more spell modifiers on his part, the citybuilding revamp on my part), but we still want to know what you think during this time.  We'll address the most critical stuff as soon as we can, and in general do the bulk of our polish pass on Thursday and Friday of next week once we do a feature freeze on Tuesday (Wednesday being a holiday for us in the US).

So What's This About A New Citybuilding System?
Well, we're off to a great start with this.  There's still a fair bit to do to make the new system fully in place, but given so much infrastructure was already there we're pretty far along on it already.

All the old parts of the citybuilding that are going to go away have already gone away, and all the new buildings are in place and you can actually buy them and place them.

On the other hand, the new buildings and the NPCs are currently pointless.  Guardian power scrolls are now something that you trigger directly yourself, so NPCs and so forth aren't needed for that.  Hence the name of this release -- sometimes to do something new, you first have to do a little demolition to make way for it.

Regarding the new structures, if you've got a lot of NPCs in your towns on your continents, I strongly suggest working on getting 1 farm for each 6 NPCs prior to Tuesday.  Otherwise the NPCs will start starving to death at a rate of 1 NPC per continent per in-game day (10 minutes) once that later update hits.  Or, on second thought, we'll have to just make it part of the upgrade logic to make sure there are enough farms to support the populace when that version is upgraded-to.  So nevermind.

What's Coming With The New Citybuilding System?
Citybuilding was one of the feature we were most excited about in alpha, and it was something some people enjoyed in beta, but it was always really disconnected from the rest of the game.   The new system for citybuilding has you constructing your buildings right on the world map like you do wind shelters or ocean buoys, so everything is tightly integrated and there's no extra interface that you have to put somewhere else.

The scale of what you're doing now is also different -- you're working to make sure that your NPCs are skilled in their profession, that they are in a good mood, and that they are fed.

Then you will be able to use them on dispatch missions where they go do things for you like find a specific resource that has been eluding you, destroy an ice pirate patrol, or weaken the overlord.  And on higher citybuilding difficulties the overlord will be stronger so that you need to use your fellow survivors to do just that.

And of course this is just our plan for 1.2 -- something reasonably simple that doesn't involve a lot of micromanagement or distraction from the main game, but which instead augments it.  Beyond 1.2, we'll be entertaining other ways of expanding the citybuilding to do even more with NPCs; and with structures, for that matter.  There will finally be graveyards, and the vengeful ghosts will be more integrated with that sort of system, for instance.  But that's all stuff for 1.3, because it will take more balance testing than the current crop of citybuilding changes for 1.2 is expected to.

In terms of the details of the dispatch system and mood system so forth, we'll explain all that in the release notes on Monday and Tuesday as that is coming ready.

The Release Plan For 1.2
So, as mentioned, our plan for having 1.2 polished and "final" is Friday the 6th.  With a feature freeze on Tuesday the 3rd.  We don't plan on releasing 1.2 until Monday the 9th, however.  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.

And to that end, that's why if there's something that is hampering your fun factor with the new system, please do try to let us know what we might do to be able to help you.  I mentioned the coming dispatch missions for specific materials in particular because I think that will solve one current issue, for example.

That's all for now!

I'm going to be very much away from the computer this weekend with holiday celebrations, so if there's something critical that needs to be fixed before Monday I hope people find it tonight. ;)  Otherwise more to come Monday.  Enjoy!

UPDATE: 1.107 is now out thanks to the quite timely efforts of some players running across some of our recent bugs from all these changes.  A couple of these are fairly severe, but the rest were just cleanup things that I did because apparently I was up anyhow. ;)  Knock on wood, hopefully this is the worst of it until Monday, but let us know either way if you're seeing stuff!

UPDATE: 1.108 is now out with a couple of more tweaks.

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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