Thursday, May 10, 2012

Player Experience: Let's Make it Better!

Hi folks!
You have probably noticed a lot of small changes and tweaks popping up FE, from mini-map tooltips to skill detail pages and more. The goal of these small changes is to increase the “accessibility” factor in Fallen Earth, and generally just make it easier to use for everyone. While we want Fallen Earth to remain a complex and challenging game, the challenge shouldn’t come from figuring out the system, but from figuring out how to make it work best for you. We’d like to go through a few of these changes and give you an idea of how they work, where applicable.

With our last patch (2.39) we introduced multiple mission tracking, new icons to better differentiate between merchants and trainers, new faction colors for player radar icons and new mount icons.  We also added pages players can access from the attribute window that give more details on the function and abilities of their Stats and Skills/Mutations.  These pages should help players better design and plan their builds, both at high and low levels.

When our 2.4 patch (Global Territory Control) arrives, you will see even more tweaks and functionality improvements to the basics of Fallen Earth.

Find Nearest Garage (ability)
Now, if you get lost in the canyon with an empty fuel tank or a dead horse you will be able to get the waypoints to the closest garage to refuel, repair or heal your mount.  Since we’re giving you the waypoints you’ll be able to store all the locations of your favorite garages!

Gear Slot Reduction
We have reduced the amount of gear slots necessary to fully equip your character. The amount of resistances are the same, but gloves, lower and upper arm armor and thigh pieces will now function like boots - equipping one will equip the set.   While this does limit some of the customizability, we will be addressing that through more custom clothing options rather than through forcing players to hunt out available matching sets.

Improved Trainers
Trainers and skillbooks are a constant source of frustration, inventory clutter and are just generally a bit clunky.  For all combat skills and mutations, the book system has been replaced with trainers who will directly give knowledges. The recipes that use the books have been adjusted to use other components. 

A Brighter Night
We’ve also made some tweaks to the sky box so players will be able to see the things lurking in the dead of night just a bit better.   The change is subtle enough to not ruin the feeling of trekking across a wasteland, but enough to prevent interruption in gameplay. We’re also making day longer to give players a bit more time in the sun.

We are adding sector chat so players will be able to communicate with all the players in order to better get groups and socialize. This will be available to everyone in the sector regardless of sub level.

Beyond GTC

AI Improvements
A common complaint from players level 1-55 is that the AI can sometimes seem a bit underdeveloped in its decision-making capabilities. We have been spending a lot of time reviewing how AI in Fallen Earth behaves, and improving it for a more challenging and fulfilling experience, across the board.

Other Stuff
We have plenty of ideas and stuff we are already looking at, but do let us know what YOU think would help improve the general player experience. Obviously things that cast the widest net for the most benefit will take priority, but if it's something specific to PvP, or vehicle crafting or whatever, and it's awesome, share it here or on the forums and it might get done!

See you in the Wasteland!

Monday, May 7, 2012

May State of the Game

Welcome to the State of the Game!

As you all know, we are closing in on the final release of Global Territory Control, an exciting and major update to the post-Sector 1 experience in Fallen Earth. We’ll discuss some of the latest additions to this system and the world later in this blog, including the all-new PvP conflict area, The Foothills, in Deadfall.

First off, a couple of the Free2Play restrictions will be modified soon with the 2.4 (Global Territory Control) update. This is being done to fit better with the capabilities of the engine, and allow us to grant even greater benefits for supporters. The Crafting Queue (meaning how many recipes you can have in progress at once) will be set to 1 for free players (EDIT: 3 for free players who have paid previously), 20 for Survivalists (this is what it currently is for everyone) and an increase to 30 for Wastelanders and Commanders. The upshot for free players here is that you’ll never hit an artificial wall preventing you from crafting for the rest of the day, so as long as you’re actively playing you can always craft something new once the previous item is finished. Most notably, this will eliminate the dreaded “stuck” crafting queue bug for all players regardless of paid status. The amount of Death Toll free players can gain is also being reduced, as currently there is a surplus of Death Toll in the system, and the Premium benefits do not offer a very noticeable increase in comparison. Reducing free Death Toll makes more sense than going in and raising all Death Toll costs of individual items to bring everything in line. It’s not all negative, however; free players will no longer have an XP penalty, and will earn 100% of the available XP from quests, hunting mobs etc (versus the current 75%).

We’re also working on addressing some calculations on the client and server that a portion of players have been abusing via third party tools. Until then, consider this an automatic first and only warning: Everyone caught for exploitation/modification of any kind will be banned immediately with no further discussion and no appeals process. So instead of cheating and then blaming it on your cousin/brother/best friend/dog, maybe just don’t do it in the first place? That seems like the best route, if you ask us.

Now, enough of that stuff, let’s talk about THE GAME.

We’re closing in on the finishing touches for Global Territory Control! In addition to tweaking some values and adding  specialty merchants, one of the things that was most important for us to include before GTC goes live was a new more centrally located area for high level players to fight over that provides a good amount of Faction Control Points towards the GTC faction buff.

We wanted an area that would be between two important destinations for level 55 players—Los Alamos and Citadel—as well as a town layout that utilized some of the most requested and favored features from Haietta.

The central road in the area cuts straight through the center of town, and the discarded vehicles and abandoned houses give plenty of vantage points for snipers and ambush points for the unlucky traveler who happens upon the wrong end of a Volatile Bloodvine Axe.

The Foothills is an abandoned settlement that never quite made it despite its proximity to Los Alamos and as the settlers were driven back to safer towns, the factions have moved in eager to take control of the area and further their influence over the entire canyon. Check out some screenshots of The Foothills below!

With The Foothills added, we’re in the final stages of testing, balancing and tweaking for the Global Territory control patch so stay tuned for all the final details, as well as a few surprises we’ve managed to sneak in. We are hoping for a launch of the 2.4 update next Wednesday, if our final tweaks and additions come along smoothly.

See you in The Foothills!