It is time for another Development Update! This update covers our activities over the course of July and August. Going forward you can expect these Development Updates every two months, due to the changes in our Development Strategy we explain below.
Neocron & Agile Development
We want to go a little bit into detail about our general Development Strategy for the future, we hope this means you will have a better understanding of where things are heading.
Going forward, instead of the 'classic' method of releasing larger patches now and again, we want to shift towards a more modern agile development approach. After the release of R#184 we will try to shift to a more rapid release process – trying to release early and release often. In the video game world you may be familiar with this as the "Minecraft Method" of development.
On average patches will become smaller in size and the list of changes per patch will shrink. However you will receive patches more often so over time the same number of changes should occur.
So why do it?
The idea here is to retrieve feedback from the Community as early and often as possible, allowing to you to have your say and help shape the course of Neocron's development. An example of this is our new feature, "Faction Warzones", a feature which we introduced the basis of with the latest patch on Vedeena.
There is of course a downside to this approach, new features may feel incomplete upon initial release to Vedeena and may not give you the full intended experience - However! - Getting your feedback at this early stage, will save us from developing features in the wrong direction. This also offers you the opportunity to make Neocron an even better place, by providing us with constructive feedback and discussion at this conceptual stage.
This more rapid deployment of changes is the reason we're adding more space between formal Development Updates; instead of reading about where we're going, you'll be able to see it for yourself.
Sparta & Balancing Neocron
Such a shift in our Development Strategy will of course have consequences for Sparta, the Neocron Balance Test Server. Instead of supplying you with a large mixed overhaul of everything (think Neocron 2.2) we will start out with a smaller, more concise and defined, set of focused modifications.
This initial set of modifications has been discussed at great length and we're excited to bring you more details on these modifications in the next few weeks.
As you know patching will not be required to adjust and tweak the balance of items on Sparta, instead a more agile system has been implemented allowing us to quickly and easily make changes. When we apply each "batch" of changes to Sparta, players will be given a few days to test the changes. After this brief familiarisation period we will hold a PvP event. There will be at least one PvP event per change "batch" applied to Sparta.
After these PvP events it will be up to you, the Community, to provide us with feedback. We will try to make this easier for you by supplying you with as much detail about the changes as we can. Once we reach an initial "post-2.2 state" we all feel is better than the current one, that balance state will find its way to Titan.
After the release of the initial balancing patch to Titan, the more interesting work on overhauling all classes and play styles will begin. Although, some parts of these class/play-style overhauls might find their way into Neocron via a normal patch, to be tweaked and brought into line later on.
We will release more details about Sparta and the Balance Project over the course of the next few weeks!
Launch of Sparta? Before the end of September!
Retail Patch #184
A considerable number of changes are currently available on Vedeena, the Public Test Server. At the current state most of these changes will come together as Patch R#184 which we hope to release alongside Sparta before the end of the month.
We'd like to take this opportunity to encourage our Community to get on Vedeena and help us ensure the release of R#184 will be as smooth as possible. Every test report and piece of feedback is graciously received. Providing feedback on each patch that lands on Vedeena, is the greatest way you can help move Neocron forward. We often see players asking how they can help us – this is how!
Soul Light System & Improved 'Bad Guy' Experience
Our work on the soul light system, which we started months ago, is heading towards a big step forward. The Outzone Jail (OZ8) will soon become the new 'unsafe heaven' for lawless characters and those who enjoy living amongst the underground of Neocron's society.
As a place to call their own, the Jailhouse will offer lawless runners several things; Missions to lose further Soul Light by working for Neocron's lawless factions, and missions to regain Soul Light by helping the NCPD as an undercover agent, while still being able to relax with their fellow criminals.
This is not all though, we will have more information on the Jailhouse Revamp Soon™...
CityCom Missions, Newbie Dungeons and Mob Variety
With the release of R#184 you will notice two things with regards to CityCom Missions. First of all Twilight Guardian have a new set of VERY EASY and EASY missions to enable a better low level experience in the faction's new Canyon Facility home. Secondly, the CityCom will serve up 100% more missions every time you perform a mission download. Yes, 6 missions to choose from instead of 3!
Changes to the Twilight Guardian missions are the first part of a much wider CityCom Mission and Newbie Dungeon overhaul. At the moment most factions have a large number of missions which players are simply unable to finish. In most cases this is due to the density and availability of mission mobs being incredibly poor or that they simply do not exist in the gameworld.
To address this we intend to review the "Mob Loadouts" of levelling areas, proving a wider variety of mobs but also ensuring they exist in mission suitable quantities and locations. At the same time we will be adjusting the missions available for each faction. Each faction will receive missions suitable to the locale in which those factions start and these new missions will be mapped to locally available mobs as per the Mob Loadout review.
At the moment you'll find most low level characters in the "Aggie Sewers", with these changes we hope to make it more appealing to try new levelling paths.
Basically (deep breath!), you'll have a wider variety of stuff to kill, a wider variety of dungeons in which to kill it and a higher chance of easily finding a mission to kill that stuff. Some mobs will remain rare of course and there's a chance you'll still get missions to kill those mobs, but if that is the case we'll be sure to make it worthwhile.
This is just the start of improvements to CityCom Missions. We'll tell you the next chapter once we begin to deliver the above.
Neocron's New Art Department
As we hope you're aware, not everyone in the world is a programmer. This means there are many artists in the community, artists we asked to join us a while ago, who have wanted to improve Neocron in a visual way.
Today, we're pleased to tease you that you will soon get to see some of the fruits of our Art Department's labours. Stay tuned for more news on this in the future.
We hope the above has given you an insight to what is currently going on behind the scenes, what is coming in the future and the direction in which we are heading.
All the very best,
Your Neocron Support Team