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Dev Diary 28 :: 2017 :: March
Hey Folks.

Obviously I haven't kept up with the dev blogs on the forum, but what I'll be looking to do is minimize the blogs to one big one each month and probably leave it at that unless I have additional details I'd like to share ahead.

Starting with the less exciting stuff....

We have been working on a lot of back-end changes for the game in preparations for the long term...after the two completely separate outages (The major North East American Amazon Outrage, and the more localized outage of the authentication for IOU on the backend service we use for the database), we've been working on improving back-end reliability, more powerful servers, reducing server costs, and cleaning up some long-term bugs/issues that we've been plagued with for quite a while.

Been a bit busier than usual lately...spring break, damaging weather, and we've run into some silly portal issues that have been incredibly detrimental to the pace of my goals, but things haven't really slowed down too much.

Aside from this, I've taken a slightly more backseat position within discord and ticket-handling so I can keep busy at maintaining the development until chaotic luck tapers down.


Upgrade Map
I feel like this survey item has been fulfilled. There's a lot of cleanup with the upgrade map itself we want to get to, but that just isn't a priority right now.

I would personally like to optimize the node window, and then carry that cleanup/simplification on the entire map at some point instead of having some sporadically distributed map like we originally came up with, as it only confuses and stresses players out.

I'd call this nearly fulfilled except we haven't added the minor improvement feature to fishing yet. Once I have time to jump on this and fulfill it, we'll get a new survey out. Maybe 2-3 weeks before I can toss focus on this.

I have been seeing a growth of mentions on lack of new challenges. Right now Isael is doing some side work on old challenge art rehauls...however we actually already have at least a couple challenges prepared for release. The issue is that the challenge system as-is, is bland and needs an expansion upon new features this year.

Once we can expand upon challenges in a more significant way, I still feel challenges will become the biggest piece of the game.

We are working out some final tier pets, but also looking at expanding the pet visual selection. Selecting what your pet looks like is something people have bugged about since beta, and that will come eventually. It's an incredibly low priority, so the work on this is very very low key at the moment - call it preparations.

Party Instabilities
These obviously aren't perfect yet, but I feel like we did clean up a lot of the issues and stability has improved a lot over the last patch(es). Once party management comes in, I think we can improve consistency and control a lot more.

Okay, so you might be thinking "what the heck do we need that for?".

While I anticipate players being able to send mail messages to each-other, we also could use this system cleanly for sending rewards for several systems, instead of spamming people at midnight. If we are to add more event-systems then this is needed.

It's for the most part ready on the back-end but requires all the UI / client-side functionality. Figured I'd mention it is all.

This is feeling so half-done it's not funny. There's annoying bugs like the scrollbar, and then there's the issue of not having a friends/ignore list.

It's in mind, just not exactly in the works yet.

The one we're all waiting for at this point.

We probably spent far too much time on the guild buildings portion, but I feel like it'll be the centerpiece to guilds anyhow.
[Image: guildwindownew.png]

We've made room for plenty of expansion for new buildings. I've also added a minor parallax scrolling effect with several of the different layers for a little pizzazz.

Now it's time for all the functionality...

Some things in the works:
  • New Building status & investment UI (Cleaner)
  • Cleaner Member Listing & details
  • Investment log and full member investment tracking on a per-building-basis
  • Guild Building Bonus rehaul
  • Personal Guild upgrades rehaul
Things I would like to tackle in this major rehaul:
  • Guild search filtering improvements
  • Guild slot restriction settings (Open guild only to players who have <x>)
  • Member inactivity reports
  • A new building on release
  • Preparation for Guild Beasts system

That's all for now. Keep posted on Discord's #announcement channel, as sometimes things are posted there that are not included in the forum or elsewhere.

The upcoming Global Warming event will be released within the week; aiming for Friday depending on how stability tests go, otherwise Monday.

Beyond that there has been an abundance of back-end changes to improve scalability, debug capability, and reduce how error prone some things were. 

Some Technical backend workings for those interested:
  • Self-Managed database hosting to stray away from managed service issues we recently had with the authentication & sessions, along with outrageous costs. This will open up the opportunity to log far more interactions with the game and offer better support. Beyond that it should open up far more capability to provide a REST api in the near future to developers for non-restricated player data...providing the capability of great information tools to the community.
  • Lambda-based authentication, payment processing, and session creations. We currently host everything through Elastic Beanstalk, which was both costly and error-prone during maintenances or unexpected mass-relogs due to a server failure. 
    This can provide much better logging capability, and should allow us to be able to debug targeted instances of users issues as we on a rare occasion have players who simply cannot authenticate suddenly from what we generally assume is DNS issues, however this will allow us to ensure that is the cause.
  • Linux-Hosted game servers. Right now windows-based machines are costly on both resources and financially. We could be running twice the amount of power per machine for the same price if on linux. We won't be tackling this for a few weeks, but it's in hindsight.
  • Significantly improved room processing. Plenty of optimizations on timers/queued processing. In recent tests the phase between post-authentication and loading into the game has improved substantially. Beyond that pings are feeling far more consistent. 
  • Resolved the way several items were previously stored within the servers, reducing leading issues on memory and cpu cap-outs that were likely causing some of the issues with challenges and response times as servers aged.
While these side-tasks have not been overly exciting, I'll be excited to get them out and stable as it will generally be some of the final steps to the back-end that shouldn't need further attention in the long-term. From there we can tackle long-term game-logic issues.

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