[You would not believe how much I've been sleeping this week. I'm still officially on vacation until next week, when I have to catch up on all the stuff that's been delayed a month for the Kickstarter. Oh boy! But I figured I'd talk a bit about what was learned from the pre-alpha test, by sharing some of the chat logs.]
On Tricky Quests
Lots of people had a similar reaction to this. Which is a totally fair complaint, on the face of it. But there’s a twist: I made this quest inconvenient on purpose. And I made it require far more monster-kills than any other quest in the pre-alpha, in order to get players to consider not doing it.
The NPC who gives that quest has two talk options. You can say “30 goblins? You got it!” or “why do you want them killed?” And if you follow the latter all the way through, you talk her out of wanting those goblins killed, and you get a big XP reward to Psychology instead.
Very few people opted to talk the NPC out of her insane request. That means that if I want to have these sort of “hidden options” in dialog trees, I’ll have to work a whole lot harder. And … it probably shows that it’s not worth the effort to hide quest alternatives in talk trees. I’ll just let people do the damned quests.
Yeah, there’s been some server hiccups. :) Over the week, we fixed the majority of connectivity problems, but there are still some server crashes left. They’re caused by race conditions, where some threads get deadlocked somehow. In the last few days of the test, I added a ton of debug-logging to track the issue down, but unfortunately, the extra logging slowed the server down just enough that the bug didn’t happen anymore. We’ll get it all fixed eventually, though!
> mooo mooo muuu > mooooo > grrr > cant find muuu > muuu > muuuu > milk > lol moo > Developers if you are on... m mo not like moo (Translation: "Developers if you are on... i do not like you")
I expected that the constant moo-ing of cows would get old, but for me it never did. I found it hilarious right up until the end. Sorry to laugh at your suffering… but it was funny!
The good news is that it’s temporary — if you talk enough, you’ll raise your Beast Speech skill, which increases your chances of talking normally. When that skill is maxed out, there should be a 98% chance to say the right word instead of “moo”.
The bad news is that there was a bug that made it cap out at 85% instead of 98%. Oops! The difference between 85 and 98 might sound small, but in terms of being able to communicate easily it’s huge. It made being a long-term animal player much more annoying than intended. This bug is fixed for the next test.
This (completely correct) sentence makes me happy for some reason I can’t quite elucidate. Something about having an art history skill in the game, I guess…
The quest they’re talking about wasn’t a “real” quest, though, which made it pretty confusing. It was implemented before the quest system existed, and it just uses some NPC state flags, not a real quest that shows up in your quest-log. That meant you could never really tell if you were “on” the quest or if you’d done it right, which led to a lot of confusion. I’ll try to get that fixed for the next time.
There were a ton of balance issues. For instance, a max-level Cow was dramatically more powerful than a max-level Werewolf. This was definitely not intentional. But the biggest problem was the treasure system.
Each of the many treasure buffs were supposed to only show up on specific slots. So you might find an helmet that’s “+30 damage to goblins”, but you wouldn’t also find shoes with that buff — it could only be found on helmets. However, all the powers could be found on all slots, and they all stacked. So players who pulled enough items could increase their damage output by about 800% over what I intended. Which is high.
For the next test, I’ll be adding a bunch more treasure mods, and I’ll also lock them to specific equipment slots.
There were also about 5x more epic and rare items than would normally be in the game. I cranked it up because there was only a week of testing, and I wanted people to get good equipment quickly. We’ll probably leave that alone for the next test, since it’ll be time-limited also. This way, people will help spot serious imbalances quickly.
On the down side, some players complained that rare loot was so common that it felt boring. Those people are just whiners, though. Pay them no mind! (For now.)
[I'll be back later with more! Right now, it's time for another nap.]