Activity Report September 17, 2010
This is an update of some of our activities the last couple of weeks. Some of the following will be added in the upcoming expansion, some in the patch to follow it, some are parts of ongoing work and features to come in the near future, and there’s a lot more happening that we can’t talk about just yet.
This week we had engineers visit us from our hosting provider to work with us and to set up a new basis for cooperation following the recent problems with the EU server connectivity. We made it clear to them that we cannot make any compromises whatsoever on performance, how important it is for our players, and that we’ve chosen our current configuration for this purpose. Right now we’re collecting statistical data, running simulations and cooperating with our providers, our hardware and software vendors on making all needed improvements. As far as the player experience goes, the recent issues have been mostly addressed, but we’re not happy yet, so there’s quite a bit of work ahead of us.
The upcoming expansion is undergoing final testing and there are many last minute additions wherever we can make them. The delay has had a positive effect on the number of dungeons that are revamped and now about 50 percent of them have been redesigned, themed up, have repeatable quests added to them, new monsters, balanced rewards, and have generally become much more meaningful and connected to the lore. Some new dungeons have been added. There has been a lot more work done on the monsters, be it a complete redesign, new animations, or visual updates, special abilities, or completely new monsters to be introduced. The terrain testing is also being concluded and I have to repeat what a monumental task this has been: the entire world has been repainted, all textures have been redone from scratch, there are no texture seams anymore or stretching.
The last couple of weeks have world builders brushing up dwarven areas and supporting work being done on quests and dungeons. There is continuous and generally unappreciated work being done which improves the look and feel of the world little by little. We’ve asked the world builders to collect before-after images because the improvements in many cases are dramatic and definitely worth pointing out.
A long-time Darkfall community member sent me a message a short while back in frustration, among other things, on why we never talk about the little things that we do. He mentioned specifically the changes in the Darkfall Online help and the Darkfall Download page and there’s a lot more we do that we don’t announce like, for example, the recent improvements to the Darkfall Lobby, and the significant amount of new and updated lore we’ve been adding to the web page. About the lore, there are significant updates in progress which put things into perspective, old questions are being answered, hints and teasers offered on major world-events to follow. We’ll try to do better at communicating changes like this in the future.
Ongoing statistical analysis is helping our designers balance various significant drops. Also this past week, there was research done on new things we can’t talk about yet, improvements on development tools and work on the way environmental sounds are to be added to the game. Tools and resources for individual players and for clans are also being worked on.
Apart from all the work being done on the monsters, there’s some work being done to player character sprint and digging animations. Work on our motion capture studio is complete and we’re getting ready to start using it to create Darkfall’s new animations.
The QA department is very busy running final tests on the features of the expansion, testing fixes on bugs, testing the newbie dungeons, and making sure everything is up to par.
The contest team is working on sending out the prizes to the last contest winners, but also to all the entries that will be spotlighted and the events team is working on the planned events associated with the upcoming expansion.
The account management system is getting maintenance and tweaks based on user feedback. The billing department has been dealing with claims of hacked accounts which are in reality traded accounts or shared password accounts. The billing department has asked us to explain what kind of problems this misrepresentation creates for everyone: Accounts end up being permanently banned, after the supposed account thieves/hackers are reported to ISPs and authorities as a matter of course. Trading your account is against Darkfall’s Terms of Service, trying to reclaim it by saying it was stolen is just lame.
We’re happy to report that one of our world builders has rejoined the team after fulfilling his military service obligation, and we’ve recently hired two additional programmers and one designer. We’re currently interviewing more programmers to add to the team to help with our development capacity and our future plans.
Thanks for reading.
Last edited by Tasos; 09-30-2010 at 09:15.