Finally, the development update for January arrived. First things first: we are sorry that it took so long this time, however, as you all noticed we were rather busy fixing the game we all love.
Future development updates will from now on be published during the first week of each month, summarizing the month before. Therefore this update will not address the issues we encountered with patch R#179/R#180. However, we will get you informed on that as soon as we internally analyzed it and worked out solutions to avoid similar problems in the future.
MC5 Gameplay Overhaul
When we took over the day to day operation of Neocron it became apparent that MC5 and other areas of the game world needed readjusting. Those readjustments were needed in order to make those areas challenging, enjoyable but also in line with our expectations of those areas.
As it stood MC5 was a simple case of leveling a mid-level Droner and getting into the sector. Being the access point to some of the best items in the game and what should be one of the biggest PvE encounters in the game, this clearly was not a suitable form.
The new design changed the game play of MC5 entirely. With added elements of exploration, randomisation and the removal of the mindless AoE spam the previous version was built upon, we think there has been relative success in making this a more engaging experience for players. Yes its more time consuming but we hope it is also more rewarding when it comes to a sense of achievement.
So far we have seen little feedback on the forum and generally take that as a measure of success. After all we know how loud you guys can be when we're doing something wrong (). However, MC5 is not yet finished, it will likely evolve over time as we watch how players use the sector and adapt to keep the experience a challenge. There will certainly be some changes in the not too distant future based on the information we've already gathered. If you have feedback on the new experience, good or bad, we would certainly love to hear it.
This month we have released a teaser for the storyline, Powder Keg, as we announced in the development diary last month. We've also released more information on the delivery of that storyline last week. We decided to release this delivery information separately so it may be independently referenced later on, so please keep questions of that matter to the dedicated thread. The information there serves to give you an idea of how we will progress as we take our first steps into managing and developing that aspect of the game.
Little more can be said in that regard right now, other than please keep your eyes and ears open. The storyline will begin to shape the game world, so be ready for when that occurs.
New Neocron Installer
Since the last update in December 2012, there has been a lot of internal testing of the new installer.
As a result there have been a lot of minor tweaks and bug fixes to improve the installer. We have also added a new feature to install Neocron for use on the public test server. Features of the installer include:-
- Installation of Neocron for use on the Public Test Server
- Installation of DirectX9
- Installation of the C++2010 runtimes
- Automatic selection of recommended OS settings for playing Neocron
The next step is to get the installer build process working on our internal build systems, and then have a small testing period with the community.
Public Neocron API
As some of you already known a shiny new API has been made available for our community developers. The API is based on SOAP and is easily consumed with standard SOAP clients. If you need some instructions on how to use the API visit us on IRC in the #developers channel. In the near future we will also provide official documentation.
As a result of this new API we will be happy to see new projects and apps from the community!
A huge amount of community feedback has been gathered on a lot of issues concerning balancing in Neocron. While we appreciate there is a demand for change now, we feel that isolated adjustments are not something that will help to get Neocron's balancing back on track. Our goal has always been to replace the layers of sticky-tape and improvised fixes with a solid foundation.
Given the huge amount of parameters involved, it is difficult to stay on top of all interdependencies that affect balance. Therefore, we are currently in the process of developing suitable tools that will help us to oversee the status quo of balancing and simulate the effect of any changes. Good progress is being made here.
Another very important prerequisite for balancing to be a success, is the fixing of bugs and broken game mechanics. A prime examples for this is the NPC AI fix that now allows NPCs to target players and drones when they have a good line of sight. We are aware of the fact that fixes of this kind often affect the current balance in a very substantial manner, however the fixing of broken game mechanics is an essential first step of the balancing effort. The more fundamental bugs are being fixed, the more apparent it will become how wrong the current balance really is. We know it is painful in the short run and not every "fix" will appear to better the situation - it is however something that needs to be done and needs to be done properly this time. Quite alot of the game mechanic related bugs have already been identified and most of them have been fixed by now. So again, good progress is being made.
The balancing affects everyone in the community, so we feel everyone should also have a chance to be involved. At the same time, this project requires direction and focus. As such, we will have a core team that is solely concerned with making sure balancing stays on track and is moving in the right direction. We will soon™ open several focus discussions on individual balancing topics. This should allow you, the community at large, to continue to provide valuable input while at the same time make it easier for us to evaluate and gather the feedback that we require.
Your Neocron Support Team