October is behind us. The focus this month was on doing some of the last bits of heavy lifting in our push towards feature completion. We'll take a look at each of this month's major features before hopping into the normal large list of monthly build notes.
The largest feature that had yet to be implemented into the game is our vehicle system, and we made good progress towards that this month. Vehicles are expected to make their first appearance in next week's alpha patch. We are planning on a full vehicle feature in the near future which will cover them in detail but we'll briefly cover the main features of them here, since it's been a topic we've remained mum on for some time.
Vehicles in the Repopulation allow for multiple mounted players. This means you can have a driver, gunners, and passengers. They can be used for both combat and non-combat purposes. Some vehicle types are intended for transportation, and others for war. You will be able to "trick out" your vehicles using a vehicle upgrade system. This includes passive upgrades such as improving the steering, speed, shields, or armor of a vehicle, as well as active upgrades such as adding weapons, or usable vehicle perks such as mines, cloaking devices or turbo boosters. It is a complex system that is still mid-implementation at this point. We do have the basics covered now though, and have tackled the larger issues of synching the mount positions properly and allowing vehicles to transfer smoothly across seams. We'll cover these features in much more detail in the upcoming feature.
The entire world has undergone some large scale changes this month. In an effort to boost performance and improve scalability we have restructured the world into 768x768 meter grids for each area, rather than the previous 1km x 1km grids. We also reduced the terrain density by half, as we found there was very little visual difference between the two, and it gave significant performance increases. These changes have allowed us to restructure the area grid, and provide a better seamless experience. Along the way though we wound up changing many of the paths, knocking down some mountain barriers, and causing the world to look very different in many places than was the case at earlier stages of alpha.
In addition to these large world changes, we also integrated a new spawn system which refer to as Dens. Most areas have either been converted to Den based spawns or will be very soon. So what are dens? Dens spawn monsters on demand, when players enter certain regions. What makes these different from traditional spawns though is that dens can randomly choose between a number of different mob types appropriate to that area. Once spawned those dens can grow in size and strength if players do not eliminate them. They can also scale in strength based on the number of players in the area. Dens can provide rare mobs, mission opportunities, and can spawn visual cues or alter areas in other ways. They encourage exploration, and the move to them is making our world more dynamic than was previously the case.
Crafting is a huge part of The Repopulation, and it has receive a significant overhaul this month. The individual changes are described in the Crafting build notes, but the main theme here is that we have streamlined the system to be easier to use, while still retaining the variety and customization of the original system. Blueprints are also now craftable, allowing you to craft structures and furniture items.
The war between the nations is an underlying theme in the game, but to date alpha testers have only been able to play as OWON characters, unless they used a temporary /nation function. The current development build allows players to create as FPR members for the first time, and is the first domino of our PvP features to get into place. There are still a few systems that need work here, and a lot of balance to work on, but we expect to have most of the PvP functionality in time for next month's monthly report.
One of the forgotten features that we added just in time for GDC last year was the addition of a voice font system. This system allowed us to give NPCs specific voice types and for them to then speak precreated phrases in the appropriate voice. This system was implemented as more of a proof of concept before GDC. This month we revisited the voice font feature, adding 5 new voice fonts to each the male and female characters. We added over a hundred new phrases that can be spoken, mixed up the populated of our NPCs and voices based on their personalities, and perhaps most importantly we gave players the option to select their own voice fonts at character creation. Selecting a voice font for your character not only changes the way he speaks, but all of their other sounds such as grunts, pain and death sounds, etc.
Lastly, just a friendly reminder that the post-kickstarter pledges will end and be readjusted at the end of November 4th (only a few days left). Please click on the Pledge option in the menu or click here to learn more about pledging and get in early on some nice perks.
And now to the build notes...
Abilities and Skills
- The following abilities (and related combat effects if applicable) have new icons: Iron Man Mentality, Shield Bash, Shield Slam, Cleanse Body, Blade Fury, Riposte, Feign Stab, Turret Fire, Face Shot, Lunging Thrust, Sweeping Slice, Double Time, Leg Slash, Lunge, Eye Poke, Confuse, Rage, Instill Rage, Cry of Rage, Berserk, Taunt, Arrogant Taunt, Unthreatening Approach, Medical Scan, Nano-Vaccine, Advanced Nano-Vaccine, Ranged Medical Scan, Advanced Medical Scan, Rapid Scan, Advanced Rapid Scan, Med Scan Area, Verbal Lashing, Verbal Assault, Meditate, Camouflage, and Show of Courage.
- The pet ability bar’s attack and aggressive buttons have been replaced.
- Skill tiers have been adjusted to make for a smoother transition.
- Internal improvements to how the ability system is replicated to the client. The original implementation used older school Hero Engine techniques, where they have now been updated to the latest standards. To the end user this should mean less of an effect when receiving ability information on login.
- Fixed a bug that was cuasing blindness effects to last forever.
Crafting and Harvesting
- The crafting system has received a relatively large revamp. The new system is in the same spirit as the old one, but more refined.
- Recipes and harvesting levels have been removed. Grade will be used instead. This eliminates a problem where we just had too many variations of each harvestable type and it was causing inventory management issues for players. These have been replaced with the new difficulty system.
- Recipes now have a user selectable difficulty system which allow users to create the higher quality craftables. There can be up to four different difficulty settings per recipe. Results can still produce many items per recipe, this just simplifies the inventory management and makes things less confusing to the player. You will only be able to choose the difficulty options that you qualify for. The skill, result and recipe bars will change based on your difficulty settings.
- The crafting system now supports the creation of blueprints for housing, structures and furniture. Expect some new recipes in the near future.
- Recipes that you are not skilled enough to use will show up as grey and unusable in the recipe list.
- You can no longer gain skill points creating an item from a recipe unless the end result item is the same grade as the range you are in or the end result item is B or higher.
- Many recipe skill values have been tweaked and reordered to improve progression balance.
- Clicking on a blueprint that has the housingspec will add the blueprint to the structure list used in housing.
- Desks can now be created using the Installations crafting skill.
- Crafting events are sent from the server as well if you reconnect to a crafting session.
- Reoriented and grouped the crafting windows.
- Once the crafting session progress is full it will auto-finish in roughly a second and a half based on a timer on the server. This is mostly so you can see the end grade result before it resets and gives you the item.
- There are new Lesapen Fruit harvestable areas in the Timbertol Desert.
- Fort Hudson now features a crafting station.
- We now have new admin controls to be able to mass change values for tuning in an easier manner.
- Ingredients will properly place themselves from a server update call instead of stacking on ingredient 1 in the recipe window.
- Results will now clear out on the client side of the crafting window so they don’t stack when you click on a recipe more than once.
- Bone can now be harvested from Brachura.
- Eggs are now harvestable from Scaed'ecoo.
- Fixed a bug that should have been A9 results to result as A1 or A2 results due to a math issue.
- Repaired a max grade issue.
- Corrected some cases where the Auto/Process buttons were visible when they shouldn't have been.
- Switching a crafting recipe will no longer destroy the crafting session unless you hit ok.
- The Purifying Water crafting tutorial is now listed as Soloable and has some tip adjustments.
- Integrated a new Den system. Dens are a type of dynamic mob spawning system. It allows us to have certain areas randomly sprout up Dens of monsters or NPCs. These will only spawn if players are in the area, and will despawn if no players are in the area for a while. If players do not trim the numbers of these dens they can grow over time, eventually covering a wider area and featuring higher volumes of monsters. Dens can also manipulate particles, objects, turn on other spawners or engagement opportunities, etc. Dens can choose between random species for that area.
- Added dens to numerous areas. In general you'll see a much more dynamic mob population over what was previously the case. The majority of the wilderness will be using Dens rather than traditional spawners.
- Added support for variable snow effects, including blizzards. Both of these are on display in Kaavo.
- Wind and Rain effects now have sound effects.
- The environment now supports variable wind settings. Meaning the wind conditions will change over time.
- Timbertol Desert now features variable wind conditions and dust storms.
- Improved the mist environmental effect.
- The environment and astronomy system now has control over particle settings.
- GMs now have the ability to tweak weather on the fly.
- Newly created characters can now choose between OWON and FPR nations.
- Newly created characters now have a voice font selection menu that allows them to choose how their characters sound. There is a Listen button that allows you to test how each voice sounds by playing random phrases from that voice font.
- Added the following new emotes: /agree, /apologize, /applaud, /batlashes, /beam, /blink, /blush, /boggle, /bounce, /bye, /chuckle, /cower, /curse, /disagree, /eyebrow, /eyeroll, /flail, /frown, /gasp, /giggle, /glare, /goodbye, /grin, /kowtow, /nod, /pout, /shrug, /sigh, /smile, /smirk, and /wink.
- Added speed hack prevention code.
- Character models now support a neck region. This allows us to reveal the bare neck in some clothing configurations or hide it in others.
- Added new hoodie and t-shirt clothing options.
- Testers now have access to a new /speed command which allows them to boost their run speed artificially when testing. This will go away in later stages of testing.
- New combat idle animations have been added.
- /bow, /curtsey, /laugh, and /wave now support optional targets.
- Temporarily removed trees and vortexes from character creation until the Hero Engine Sapphire build is available (soon).
- Fixed a bug related to prop based window opening.
- There are new icons for being Covered and Partially Covered.
- Added the ability for admins to kick everyone out of the world for a reset.
- Added a new server side logging system to improve metrics support.
- Fixed some seams in the male and female bodies.
GM Related Improvements
- GMs now have an easier way to rename players if they need to.
- Added a new bookmarking system which allows GMs to set an anchor point and then teleport players to it. This is intended as a way to rescue groups of players in the event they should ever get stuck.
- GMs now have area heal, single target heal, instant kill, single target res, area res, and speed effects that they can bestow on nearby players if need be.
- A GM can now /buff players or a range of players with specific abilities if need be.
- GMs are now able to kick players with spaces in their names.
- Added the capability to mute players for a certain amount of time, and to have it automatically be restored when that time passes. This is intended to be used to give players a "timeout".
- Gms can now make themsleves completely invisible to the client, not even showing up in their spatial awareness, so they can not be monitored.
- The Ambushed by Bandits engagements now feature unique new voicew phrases that will follow the NPCs voice font.
- Ambush engagements now feature female bandits, in addition to the previous males.
- Fixed a bug that caused the Training Grounds boss to sometimes not path if nobody was in the area.
Housing and Nations
- If you attempt to enter the housing area and don't have any homes, it will automatically open the Housing Window so that you can purchase a plot.
- Repaired a caching related issue in the Housing interface.
- Fixed an issue with housing units and closing down the housing window when placing the units.
- Fixed a bug that was causing the escape key to not function properly when the housing window was open.
- Fixed an issue with hitting escape with a housing structure during moving of the object.
Items and Fittings
- Added three new armor styles for characters. These are new looks for light, medium and heavy armor.
- The points required for fittings have been adjusted to a new, more condensed format.
- Removed the level display from items as it is no longer used.
- OWON soldiers should now all drop insignias which can be turned in to FPR Bounty Collectors.
- Added a number of new missions to the FPR epic series. Similar to the OWON series, this is a branching series that will be different depending on the branches you take.
- New generated military, diplomatic, crafting, combat and menial mission templates are now available.
- Removed the Training Supplies generated template from the Training Grounds.
- The "A Life For a Life" mission now has 5 separate paths to completion.
- OWON Bounties can now be collected in Fort Hudson, as well as previous bases.
- Fixed a bug related to delayed mail static missions that sometimes made the missions not given properly on acceptance.
- The Find the Traitor mission now features radio conversations and is fully functional.
- FPR versions of all tutorial missions have been created.
- The Basic Firearms tutorial no longer rewards you with an Issued Handgun. This was already given to you earlier in the tutorial and was resulting in new characters having two handguns.
- Fixed a bug in the /staticquest command for testers that was preventing it from working.
- Corrected a bug that was causing recruits in the OWON Cloning Facility tutorial instance to not walk towards the door at the end when they shoudl have.
- Fixed some outdated text in the Shotguns tutorial.
- Repaired a bug that was causing the Rude branch of the Grenade tutorial (OWON) to never give proper credit.
- Fixed a bug with the Axe Fighting tutorial on the OWON side that was causing it to not update when a player received a merit chit.
- Rewrote the text for parts of the Aerosol Weapons and Salvaging Parts tutorials.
- A new amphibious species has been introduced: Brachura. This species features a hard shell and pincers so strong that they can break your arms or legs if they manage to get a good grip.
- Scaed'ecoo have been introduced. This is a semi-intelligent species that has humanoid and bird-like features. One of their favorite tactics is to attack the forehead or top of the head area, attempting to blind you with your own blood.
- Added a new NPC profession: Construction Foreman.
- General Hudson can now make appearances at Fort Hudson. He will only appear based on engagement branches.
- Added energy shields on numerous OWON and FPR soldiers who did not have them.
- You can now pick the pockets of more soldiers. Just be warned, their military will become unhappy with you if you get caught.
- Added new military banter. This is random chatter that any military members can do to add a little life to them.
- All of the relevant NPCs in the world should now have voice fonts. Currently we have 6 styles for male and 6 for female, but we'll continue adding more styles as we progress through testing.
- Hacker Jim is now flagged as OWON faction.
- Fixed some cases where female NPCs were tagged as a male gender erroneously, resulting in them speaking like a male.
- The Housing window is now accessible from your User Interface windows in the expandable bar. We don't yet have a unique icon for it so it is temporarily sharing the Nation icon. You can differentiate between the two by position or tooltip for now.
- You can now switch weapons from the ability bar.
- Inventory windows now have their positions saved properly.
- The PlayerFinder feature now supports partial name searches.
- Housing GUI fades in and saves position/size like other windows now.
- Crafting windows have been reorganized.
- Clicking on a button that already has a key binding in use will ask if you want to swap and unset.
- Progress bars now support color variations based on progress. This is demonstrated in the new crafting windows.
- You can now drag a new ability over an old ability on your ability bar and it will swap the two.
- Mouse sensitivity code has been rewritten and improved.
- Fixed an issue with key binding and the undo history.
- Corrected an issue with spaced names and some of the /nation command features.
- Added new badges for OWON, FPR and Rogue Nations.
- Fixed an issue relateds to the undo history and key bindings.
- Implemented the first basics of the vehicle system. This was a large process that is still a work in progress as we speak. It included tackling mounting and transferring NPC and object information across seams. The vehicle system has been described briefly above. We'll be covering it in more detail in a future feature.
- Added a new /vehicle command which allows you to /vehicle mount or /vehicle dismount to climb aboard or exit a vehicle. A better graphical system will be implemented as well in the near future.
- Added 5 new voice fonts, each with male and female variations. Four of these can be selectable by players to determine their voice and sound effects.
- Added 18 new random phrase style voice phrases. These cover common things like random speeches when a battle starts or after a critical hit, or phrases an NPC might say when he is a particular merchant type. These will obey the voice font of that NPC or player.
- Added 96 new phrases that NPCs can speak. Unlike the 18 random phrases above, these are specific phrases that an NPC can say. They will obey the proper voice font of the NPC.
- We began the process of redoing the terrain in many areas and restructuring our world to support smaller gridded areas for improved scalability. As an end user you will probably not notice any difference here. But we've reduced the polygon density in terrain, boosting performance and reducing memory footprint. This has resulting in significant changes to much of the existing areas. This will also help for sieges or raid performance if many players show up in a single area.
- The fortress in Timbertol Desert has been populated and is now known as Fort Hudson. This is named after Sam Hudson, the hero of the First Invasion book (which can be found in game). The population of this area is controlled by the engagements in the future you'll see a lot of variation in the NPCs in this area based on it. It is a large military complex.
- Integrated the FPR Training Facilities and tutorials. These have all the same functionality that the OWON Training Facilities have, and allow new characters to train the skills they desire, and learn the basics of the game.
- Large areas of Freedomtown and parts of the contested regions are now in the world, but for the most part they still need to be populated.
- Added more paths and reduced travel time in Plymouth Canyon.
- You will now gain a permanent boost to your Bladed Weapon Tactics skill the first time you visit Fort Hudson. It is also included as a point of interest and testers can teleport there using /poicmd.
- The sewers underneath the Aemar Hydro Plant have been completely redesigned. The area has also seen a number of new decorations added.
- Fort Hudson now features crafting and medical buildings.
- Fixed numerous female NPCs that were erroneously categorized as males.
- Repaired some trigger related issues in the OWON Training Facility that allows players to walk the edges and avoid some triggers they should have not been able to.