The Path of Exile team was a bit quiet this week -- after all, they're ramping up for an expansion, right? But they sent along some nifty little tidbits including a retrospective look at how the game's trailers were made and how item mods are described. It's another fun peek to look inside the development of PoE.
Developers Tackle Community -- Questions, Not People
GGG was on hand yet again for a third series of questions straight from the community. The topics covered a wide range including undiscovered recipes, several questions about League play (both current and coming in 3.0), game performance questions, the development of maps, progress on swimming and much more.
One very informative question centered on quality of life improvements and UI:
Can we expect UI quality-of-life improvements? Even relatively small and obvious changes take months and years to appear. There are still no convenient character and friend list sorting, moving tabs around is a pain, I can't see who is in my ignore list (or remove particular people/see what I ignored them for), and so on, and so forth. I realize some of these require design considerations, but come on. Surely a fancy new act 2 chicken physics can share some of its budget allocation with more tangible improvements.
Instead of trying to justify the improvements we have made or to merely promise there are many more coming, I wanted to shed more light on the reasons why some of these improvements are slow to be finished.
In general, if an improvement only requires a UI programmer, then it can be made rather easily. In the past we had only one UI programmer, so there was a long backlog of such improvements that we found it hard to get to. Nowadays we have three, so we have had time to add features like adding item highlighting in stashes and item filters. The delay occurs when other types of programmers need to be involved. For example, for moving guild tabs, there's just no server-side support for this. A server-side programmer would need to add the ability for the tab locations to be changed and then expose this to the UI guys. While this wouldn't take incredibly long to do, the server-side guys are extremely busy working on very important issues like deployment, realm scaling, anticheat, and so on. To unblock this process, we need to hire and train more talented server-side programmers, and they're the hardest ones to find (dozens of applications per interview and dozens of interviews per hire). This is something we're actively working on.
It's another informative series of questions, so head here to check out the full list.
What's In a Name: Item Mods
The PoE forum saw a new post published by a game designer named Nick that discusses how item mods are named. The goals of the convention is to both make sure that the item is described briefly, but succinctly, and in a way that ensures players know what is going on, what the item brings to players and shows how to use it. It's a tough process to keep simple, but one the designers are committed to:
Sometimes game design is about vast new systems and massive expansions, and sometimes it's about word order and line-breaks.
Nick provides several examples of items that currently live in the game and that illustrate how even something as simple as a line break can make all the difference in the world.
This item had to communicate the following:
- It cares about your fire, cold, and lightning resistances, but NOT your chaos resistance.
- It cares about the total amount of any of those individual resistances.
- It is possible for multiple resistances to fulfill the same condition. (It is, in fact, possible for all relevant resistances to fulfill both conditions at the same time.)
- Which resistances fulfill which conditions determines what the final outcome will be.
Be sure to head over to see the full post. You'll never look at line breaks the same way again!
How We Do It: Trailers
The site also has an interesting peek inside how trailers for Path are made. It all starts with an idea, of course, but that only starts an involved process of making a draft of the video, gathering assets and filming -- of course the latter coming along with its own set of issues that can lead to some hysterical bloopers and uncooperative AI.
Sometimes, the AI doesn't behave (as seen in the Build of the Week bloopers video). I don't have precise control over what the AI will do, so the success of a shot is often left to RNG. If it's a shot that also requires some complex movement (like a movement skill used just at the right moment) this can compound the process and it can take even longer. Some shots have taken me upwards of 30 takes to get right. In between each take the monsters usually have to be killed and respawned in the correct positions again.
That blooper trailer is pure gold so if you haven't watched it, DO!
Last, But Not Least
With the arrival of The Fall of Oriath Supporter Packs, the Atlas of Worlds Supporter Packs will disappear forever. From now until that time, however, they are still out and about so be sure to grab one before they're gone for good!