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Developer Journal #3

Guest Writer Posted:
Developer Journals 0

The Captain Updates His Monthly Log

PAX ruled! We had five demo stations set up, two of which were PvP-only, with a classic pirate Xebec up against a Navy Galleon, and it was great to watch real gamers blowing each other up on the high seas. There were also mission stations for PvE, and a big 50” monitor where we were showing some of the bigger navy ships of the line, 64 gun monstrosities that can smash a schooner into toothpicks with just one broadside.

PAX targets gamers, not business people, so it was also fun hobnobbing with the fans and discussing what we were building, debating the finer points of MMPs, and where the best gaming was happening. All in all, it was a ton of fun.

Now we’re back to milestone planning. We were originally going to do a single milestone that took us to code complete, but because I’m going on a swing through Asia to finalize our prospective partners, we’ve decided to break the milestone into two to accommodate the trip. We’ve got some big, exciting features that are coming in now, but it’s mostly a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that makes for a better game. Example? Customer management tools. Most players will hopefully never even see them, but an MMP is a continuing service and we need to make sure that getting help is fast, easy, and accessible. And that means having petitions, call tracking, the whole nine yards. When you file a problem, you’re not happy. If you get lost in the queue, then you get mad. We’re working to make sure the former is rare, and the latter never happens.

In addition to milestone planning, we’re also working on the UI. What we showed at PAX is basically what we’re going to have, but in demoing at PAX, as well as internal focus-testing, we wound up with five pages of fit-and-finish changes that are going into the UI. These include functionality changes (range indicated in more places) as well as visuals (smaller controls, new compass, etc.). Once we’re really happy with the UI, we’ll do some more videos to show off the game, so check out our web site (www.burningsea.com) in a month or so for new gameplay videos.

I also mentioned in my last dev log that we’re going to start the alpha test program during this milestone. Alpha testing will initially start with a focus on combat scenario testing. Ships of different types, with different packages, captained by players of different skills, as well as different groupings (small scout ships with larger capital ships, a mix of frigates and merchantmen, etc.) all have to be balanced against one another. For that we need frequent combats with good analysis, so we’re going to be carefully evaluating the first testers who get into the game.

In addition to testers, we also need servers ready to go. We’re gearing up for that right now, and have started moving our servers into our co-loc facility at Internap. While it’s great that the building is also earthquake proof and has oil generators for a few weeks of power, the real reason we chose it is that Internap’s claim to fame is expert packet routing amongst the internet backbones, which means low latency for our players regardless of what backbone they’re on. It’s also conveniently located at the bottom of the hill from our offices, so we could pop down and add another server to a cluster to expand capacity in less than half an hour.

That’s it for this time. I hope to have new videos out for you guys to watch that I can talk about next time, as well as more details on the new milestones and how we’re progressing on them.

Thanks again to Russell for taking part. Check back next month for another update!

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Guest Writer