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Dev Diary 23 :: 2016 :: September
Hey folks,

I won't be around for the first Sunday of September, so i'll be releasing the full monthly dev blog early.

We are getting overwhelmed with so many different aspects of development, but it's getting more and more exciting to think about the improvements we can accomplish ahead now.

We don't have anything overly exciting gameplay-wise with the patch coming this week, but I think our plans ahead are something to look forward to.

The New UI
This is being released in the upcoming patch. Please note:: THIS IS A FIRST PASS! It is expected that many changes and further improvements (including further complete rehauls to many windows) will occur. Most of the work has been done with a kit by myself, and i'm quite terrible with UI lol. The arthouse will be focusing on each separate window as time passes.

For example, the World Select is getting some very early draft work done (This isn't ready nor being included in the upcoming patch yet):

[Image: worldselect.jpg]

There will probably be some inconsistencies or oversights in some of the first-pass rehauls. Feel free to offer some feedback on second-pass improvements in the meantime Smile

We will also be releasing 1 planet of complete rehauled monsters/backgrounds frequently very very soon. I even anticipate the first world release in the next week.

The bugs/issues
Pet Arena NO-AP Record - We're aware of this. This should be completely fixed in the patch this week. We have been releasing many resets in the meantime.

Challenge Lag - We aren't 100% sure what is occurring with this, but we have made some pretty big improvements in the backend, and have some higher scale improvements planned in the next 1-2 months that should resolve an assortment of issues related to challenge lag, and the diminishing quality of rooms over time.

Party Breaking - There has been some occurrences for parties where they get stuck at loading character data. I think we have caught this issue and it should clean up in the next patch. I appreciate the reports on this as it has helped us locate a couple problems with room shutdowns.

Offline Gains - This may still be a work in progress. Jay is on this issue, so if you have any helpful information please toss some information his way. A couple issues were fixed, but without a larger scale test group it's difficult to know whether it's fixed or not.

We will be continuing to look at improving stability in parties and fixing other annoying issues that may have plagued some players for a while now. I truly apologize if you are one of the groups that have been running into the party/offline issues.

Upcoming Patch
As mentioned, this patch contains a lot of UI change, and it has been a LOT of work. This will be a long-term work-in-progress.

We have also rebalanced tiny pack trading costs. Please note, we have no plans of allowing the trading of any other pack type...I have seen several mentions of people claiming to be waiting for such a feature, but it isn't something we are looking at.

Chat - I've added the ability to chat while in a challenge queue to the other players in the queue. We have also implemented a new broadcasting system which should allow for some pretty nifty features in the future. Currently it supports global chat, however we may wait before releasing global chat until mid-september, when I return as to avoid spam and to give us time to implement moderation features.

Leeching - We turned back a bit in regards to limiting gains, for now, but have worked to fix the ability to go to higher inferno difficulty tiers until you reach level 200.

We have found and fixed quite a few backend bugs during this patch as well.

Plans Ahead
We have so many plans ahead, but we are looking at reorganizing some priorities again due to community feedback/complaints.

  1. Fishing - We understand this is a rather annoying daily grind, especially when it fails if you get disconnected to continue fishing. We will be looking at adding internal values to auto-fish, including the ability to auto-fish while performing other tasks within the game.
  2. Cohorts - This may not see the light of day until late September or early Ooctober to give us time to clean up some other features.
  3. Upgrade Map Resets - We are looking at changing the way resets work by allowing codes or purchases of resets to allow you to reset your build as many times as you like for a few hours, as opposed to a single reset. I also understand people want distribution saves for fast switching but this just isn't possible at this time until we work out some compression methods on account data.
  4. Bingo - This was revamped yet again using our new broadcasting system. It's about ready but we felt like we needed to add more rewards to it, and wait until the global chat is working before this feature can be pushed out. While we keep procrastinating its release due to so many changes, I think testing will begin very soon.
  5. Level-up Reward System - This is something we started working on, to make milestones a little more exciting, but it probably won't see itself in testing until later in September, or early October so we can better design this feature.
  6. Trophies - We would like to look at trophies and completely revamp this system as a growing priority. Let us clean up some features and get things rolling...from there we can start pushing this as a high priority and make achievements a lot more fun to work towards again.
  7. Guilds - I'm going to give more information below on this....

Guild Plans
Guild Beast / Challenges - First off, with the new UI changes with party members listed at the bottom of the screen, and plans to significantly optimize how attacks are handled in larger groups, I think guild challenges are something we can start looking at finally. 

Guild Buildings - We have a rather insane rehaul planned for buildings.....
In the current system, no matter how many buildings we add, there just is never going to be a way to keep it balanced, or something that is fun to invest into. That being said, here are some of the ideas we're contemplating:
  • Buildings get a level-cap of 100, and further investments start giving other smaller passive bonuses
  • Investments activate a bonus for everyone in the guild for <x> amount of time, up to 48 hours. Every investment adds 60 minutes to this bonus.
  • Players who invest get a personal bonus from the building for each investment, to motivate and reward those who perform these investments.
  • Buildings still to hold passive bonuses (for a smaller amount) based on their level. However continuous investments will activate the global and personal bonuses for even further bonuses.
Now comes the dirty details:
  • We are looking at refunding everyones stone since the beginning of the game. We have a record of all the stone you ever accumulated. Many players have lost stone from changing guilds, failed investments, etc. This would give players their total stone back to re-invest as they like.
  • Since the rehaul of buildings is so significant and different, guild building levels would be reset.
  • This new system would allow for a more robust variation of new buildings in the future, without hard caps
  • The bank would no longer be necessary (perhaps still an option)
This is a rather crazy idea, and i'm not sure how the community will take it, but I feel such a rehaul is required to make investments have a purpose in the long-run. The current system became unbalanced, and there's no clean way to truly improve upon the current setup without a clean rehaul.

We are also thinking about different ways to improve buildings with different resources which would come from expeditions (after that rehaul) to tie in these systems together. 

I would like to see some feedback on this idea in the forum!


This is probably the last true development blog for two weeks as a heads up. I'll still be around here and there for discussion, and might have another post in regards to other topics.

Hey folks,

Just some final notes until I get back....

First, while i'm away please notify Jay of issues instead of trying to get in touch with me, otherwise your chants will not have any response.

Second, the UI :: when I return i'll be taking feedback posted on the forum and brought to our attention up to the art-house for the 2nd pass. We are aware plenty of icons, sizes, layout situations are not ideal but as mentioned plenty of times, this will be a continued roll-out with plenty of revisions while we work on other things. PLEASE provide feedback if you have some constructive thoughts on improving things.

Third, 'priorities'. It seems we have a misconstrued theme of priorities due to not sampling a bigger group of players within the game based on what you anticipate in the short-term. With global chat (and incoming improvements), along with potential voting system, we'll be able to better serve the community with updates with a majority-rules development setup.

I will be back in action for the 13/14th.

The next dev blog will be postponed until Sept 25th
Hi folks,

We have learned of some issues new players having been having, preventing initial engagement within IOU. Aside from a couple of bugs, there has also been an issue with players not being able to select a very large range of names due to the sheer amount of accounts that have been created over the last year and a half.

That being said, as a heads up, we will be performing pruning on all accounts under level 20 that have not been activated in the last 3 weeks. These accounts will be moved to a backup database, but the accounts will no longer be accessible, and the names taken by these accounts will no longer be reserved.

The pruning will be done on September 21st.

In place of the Dev-Blog for last week, i've put together a roadmap containing some information on features, what is currently in the way of those features, and additional details as to where we are at.

Hey Folks,

First off, we are looking at a public community discussion in the next week or two. We'll likely be organizing it for at least 2 separate times in the same day (weekend) to answer questions that players may have.

As for Development...

I have worked to improve this a bit more for player's liking. You will be able to move, resize and change the alpha on the chat. These settings are saved on the serverside, so you shouldn't have to reconfigure it each time you open the game Smile

The sporadic scrollbar should also be improved...I noticed there was an issue with it flickering up in history so it was difficult to see the latest messages once this bug triggered.

Private messages are not yet in, but we have prepare the layout for how to make this possible with our new broadcasting system. I definitely see this system being out in October.

You will also be able to click on a player's name for the next new feature:

Clicking on a player's name in Chat, or in the top ranks should allow you to inspect a players primary details (Name, Level, IOU, Guild). It's not a ton, but it's a start to a long overdue feature.

[Image: inspectshot.png]

New Player Engagement
We learned of a couple major issues with new account creations, one of which was being disconnected if you didn't pick a name quick enough, and the second being issues with finding an available name in the crazy amount of accounts in the database. We have since pruned a lot of inactive low-level accounts to free up over 160k names.

On top of freeing up names, we've also added a Name Suggestion system which should reduce the annoyance level from new players just trying to check out the game, and being cock-blocked by "Username Taken" messages.

A few improvements have been made to the Alpha planet, with the addition of shadows to monsters, and the proper monsters within the proper backgrounds. There's an aspect ratio issue but the resolution for that will need to be fixed once we have all the planet's creatures.

You can expect new planet rehauls very soon, along with a new World Select window.

I've discussed a few issues with the current UI to the arthouse for improvements, and hopefully we will see results from them soon enough to clean up the main window more.

I believe the missing text will be fixed in tomorrow's patch, and text size increases have been made in a couple areas where it was difficult to read.

Few minor mentions
SO's from codes will be increased
Guild top rank freezing issue will be resolved
Guild list scrolling will be resolved
We have new tools to debug party issues (offline gains being inappropriate after challenges, for example)
Room stability will be significantly improved (stuck at loading character data? This should either happen far far less, or never again)

What's next?
After the community discussion that will be a bigger carving into stone...however some minor things we are looking at:
-Private Messaging System (as mentioned)
-Queued actions (lag no longer an issue for challenges)
-More streamlined maintenance approach (automated, with notifications as it counts down)
-We're looking at a new approach to updates to offer smaller updates at a higher frequency, but that is to be discussed
-We're looking at ways to skip waiting on the art-house for assets and move forward with new features via commercial pre-made assets in the meantime so we no longer have to keep waiting and waiting on new systems
-I've come up with an idea to offer a way to get answers from the team more quickly, for simple Q&A at any time. Many players have been doing this via ticket's or PM's and plenty are repeats or significantly delayed. I need to have further discussions with the team and get this going for sometime in October.

With the upcoming event more than likely being a double event, and "Winter is Coming", the amount of interference to organize and refocus content development will never be better. I understand there is plenty of dissatisfaction by the lack of new content for end-game players, and we will be tackling that in the discussion and looking to target the best solutions based on agreeable feedback.


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