The Long Road Ahead

On March 17, 2011, in Dev, by Web Admin

Whoa! It has more than a month since my last dev blog update; and for good reason. We’ve been busy. No, seriously:)

CHARACTER MODELS

In my previous blogs I talked about all the cool stuff that we were working on. Those include localization, PvP (various stages) etc. The most important work that we’ve now completed after many months of plugging away at it on asset creation, engine revisions etc, are the character models.

Most of you who have been following my media and forum posts know that I had always promised that at some point we’d visit these character models. This is exactly what I said back in March 2010 when I was given control of the team, game and company.

The time simply wasn’t right because we were working to actually finish the game (which we accomplished back in the 2.0.x patch released last April 2010), adding key missing features, tweaking, fixing bugs etc.

So, as of yesterday’s 2.05.100 patch, we’ve replaced ALL the Alganon character models with cool new ones! Though due to the fact that we didn’t want to affect the performance of the game by  going overboard with the quality, the new models are much better than they previously were. To be honest, I think there was room for even more improvements, but the team thinks they’re fine. And with that, I approved their implementation in the game once they were completed and had my sign-off.

There are still some things which need to be tweaked (e.g. Nidgit Mask) in an upcoming patch update and quite possibly some recustomization (though I have yet to figure out what exactly that entails) features which the team is probably going to try and sneak past me. I have yet to inquire what exactly the latter entails but it will probably be cool.

UPDATE: While I was typing this, I received this response to my query wrt a new character recustomization feature.

It’s basically just a way for existing people to change their character appearance (probably couple with a TMS item for new characters) now that we’ve completely changed how they look out from under them. It should have probably been a part of the character model change, but the release deadline ended up being so tight on it, that there’s no way we could have put it in (especially combined with the triple-branch development we were doing).  It’s not really a completely new ‘feature’ so much as giving people a way to change the selected appearance options on their character (e.g. WoW’s barbershop but without all of the fancy barber chair and stuff).

Anyway, I hope you guys like the new models.

SERVER MERGE

Not happening. Instead of writing it in a different form, I’ll just quote my statements in the Alganon forums last week.

I have seen several reports in the forum and at least two media reports claiming that we are in the process of doing server merges.

That information is FALSE.

No server merge is in the works.

Yes, we have been discussing it.

Yes, like all our forward thinking plans, we did in fact schedule it and that entailed discussions related to what revisions (e.g. the limitations related to per server character studies, character naming issues etc) would need to be made to the game in order to support such a move if in fact it becomes necessary.

Yes, for one reason or another, some people want it and others don’t.

But unless and until it has my final approval, it is not happening.

So, the final word is that there are currently NO immediate plans to do a server merge.

The population is growing steadily and the game is growing at a steady clip. Thus is makes no sense to merge servers when in fact we will just end up opening other servers at some point in the future anyway. Especially given the advent of the third generation of Alganon.

There are a lot of things coming to Alganon, most of which we’re not at liberty to discuss. If you want to be in the know, then bookmark and follow the dev blog.

There you have it.

With that, I don’t think there is anything further for me to say about that.

We have some really powerful servers running the game. In fact, we have an entire cage of server hardware; some just sitting there awaiting deployment and use as needed. Though we now have almost 100K (and climbing) subscribers playing the game, play time is spurious and not yet stressing the capabilities of those servers.

The key issue with Alganon is that you can play for a very – very – long time before you ever have to buy anything. Right up to level 30 actually. This is because the game was never designed or developed to be a F2P game. In fact, this is what I said back in March 2010 when I mapped out the game’s future. Since that point in time, the team had to basically shoe-horn F2P and monetization aspects into a game that was designed to be subscription (a plan that failed spectacularly as I said it would back in 2009 during the power struggle that changed the future of the game and company) only – and one with absolutely no forward thinking planning.

In moving to F2P, we simply couldn’t take away stuff that was free and start charging for it by making it such that you were forced to buy stuff in order to play and enjoy the game. I knew that this would be an issue, but there was no other way, given what I had inherited and which I needed to address.

So with only North American servers and spotty player schedules, some people have been clamouring for a server merge, while others have been opposed to it.

The fact is, while I have a history of listening to my gamer base, I don’t make knee jerk decisions just because a bunch of people have a beef or what they believe to be awesome ideas. No, it doesn’t work like that because once you go down that road, there is no going back and so you have to keep doing that. I understand both sides of the argument, but in the general scheme of things and given information and metrics that the public does not have access to, a server merge is not something that needs to be done at this point in time.

In the very near future, there are going to be international servers for Alganon and I believe that will solve most – if not all – of the complaints related to server populations at certain times of the day.

THE ROAD AHEAD

We are fast approaching the end of this second (v2.0x) generation of Alganon. That conclusion which will happen between now and early April involves the following:

  1. The completion of the localization branch
  2. The implementation of PvP Phase 4, Keeps
  3. Revision to how character names are associated with a game account
  4. A major revision to the Study Manager which allows you to have more than one character studying and on any server.

While we have already mapped out the important parts of Alganon’s third (v3.x) generation, an official announcement won’t be made until sometime in the April/May time frame once I have figured it all out and mapped a final plan of execution.

The long and short of it is this: We are absolutely committed to Alganon and my primary purpose is to continue to grow it in whatever way that I can. We have done an exceptional amount of work this past year in completing the game, improving it etc. Given what I had to work with, all that work and expense are testament to the aforementioned commitment.

The latest Alganon newsletter just went out.

 

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