Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January State of the Game

Happy New Year!

I usually take this space to fill you in on what I can on our projects, however quite by accident this month’s SOTG falls in a bug fixing/schedule wrangling phase, so this time, I’m going to give you a bit of a behind the scenes tour of how FE operates, starting with how a production schedule comes to be.

Napalm, Linus and myself (Skathi, if we haven’t been formally introduced) keep a nice long list of all the bugs, features and systems we feel need to be in the game all of them focused on the long term goal of making Fallen Earth more of a sandbox-y world for players to live in. Napalm and I will sit down and go over the list roughly once a quarter, barring emergencies. We’ll discuss and debate the immediate need to each feature in terms of what player concerns each addresses, how much dev resources they require and the overall impact the feature will have on the world. This process can take a bit of time but when we’re done we have a pretty rough schedule of bug fixes and feature concepts including estimated deadlines for when they’ll hit internal testing servers, PTS and Live.

From there I take the list and break it down with Neverender, lead scripter, Alarik lead engine programmer, Tee Affo – programmer, Ninjanomicory – Lead Artist and Wiggles, lead intern. The team all contributes to the overall design of the feature or brainstorms the most effective way to fix bugs. When we have a better idea of the tech requirements we break the feature up into tasks by team.

Usually once production gets started we discover multiple unforeseen issues or limitations for either the engine or the design. This is actually where the strength of the team comes into play. They’re very adaptable and adept at changing direction or coming up with 11th hour solutions. And despite the best laid designs there are ALWAYS 11th hour solutions.    

Once the features are complete and off for testing the real work begins. Getting feedback from players allows us to tweak the numbers or concepts to better fit the needs of the community. Interpreting that feedback can be a tricky process but an incredibly worthwhile one that always has an impact on not only the current project, but also future designs.

So that’s how we generally get things done, omitting the knock down drag out design brawls, cause that part just makes us all look bad :D, especially Alarik, he cheats.

To quickly go through the "usual" SotG stuff: we are still cleaning up some issues related to farms, but overall feel good about the system, and look forward to doing even more with it, including tying it in with upcoming content and systems. The effects changes that were on PTS last month will also be rolled out with the new Coresuit, and we feel good about the changes that will be made as a result of your feedback. 

Sooooo, where are we with the S3 coresuit? Let's call it the "the tech discovery phase". Ninjanomicory is working on getting the models correct while Tee Affo and I are hammering out the details of the suits functionality.  It’s been a longer process than we would have liked, however given both the mitigation cap and the ongoing effects rebalancing, it’s something we really believe needs the extra time to get right.  

ANYWAY, as promised – here is a sneak peak of the Coresuit Stage 3:

See you in the Wasteland!