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

Community discussion went well. I think with the new setup for these, we can arrange to do them consistently and frequently (at least once a month).

You can find the details (at least while it still exists) here:


Now while usually the first Dev Blog of the month is a big one, but with the new roadmap release, the Q&A Discussion and the event still not yet released, I don't have a ton to communicate just yet. I'll add a bunch of random upcoming art and final thoughts however.

As asked in the Q&A, we have some challenges ready but they may be held for end-game system(s) instead. Here's some shots of those:

[Image: newch1.png]

[Image: newch2.png]

And tons of drafts (some are very early stages, some are nearly complete, and
 some are experimental drafts, such as the splash screen - which is getting some major changes for the next draft):
[Image: oct1.jpg]

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Final Notes
I think we will be tossing together a very quick poll feature after the event release (5-7, maybe 7-9th depending on how well testing goes) in order to prioritize the next major feature appropriately.

With utilizing commercial assets as a temporary means, it should suffice to allow us to move forward with the more anticipated features.

Happy Thanksgivings to fellow Canadians, and sorry Monday is rolling around to the rest of the world who return to work tomorrow...(Canadian or not, it's not like me or Jay get days off)

It has been one of the most exhausting weeks this year, over the last week...but let me start by answering the question many of you keep asking:

"When is Match 3 going to end" / "When is the next event being released?"

We have a few touch-ups, few minor fixes as testing continues, and the final prep/release. I may have forgot that this weekend was Thanksgiving in my expectation of the event release, but if you hop into the discord test team, you'll be able to full well see the progress from there. There isn't the utmost rush on our end with the event, or we'd have slopped it together last week. Tuesday should be the finalization of it all, the release will simply be the first possible day thereafter for a focused patch release.

A couple points about this event release:
  • It will be the last 'new' event we release for a long while. We will be focusing instead on new systems or rehauls judged upon the community votes.
  • This upcoming patch will not 'just' be the event. Jay is more focused onto the event with the server-side portions, while I'm mostly the client-side with less involvement in it overall. This has given my time to save the days of development that this event has been delayed.
The event patch will also be including a couple new features:
  • The Queued Click System - Queue your clicks ahead for server-side no-delay processing
  • Survey System - This was going to be developed a few days after the event release...instead, it's ready to go for the'll be able to vote the same day we have stability on the patch.
  • Major balance changes for pre-inferno players
  • A few fixes that I caught the time for
Since I returned my from 1-week trip, one of the goals I made while I was gone, for when I returned was to restructure the development process and team organization on IOU to provide a better output of preferred work for the community, and for ourselves. This entails (not all, but including):
  • No longer excusing delays on asset creation from the art-house to not develop new major systems. 
  • Reviewing the time spent by the team through pure analysis to see where we can improve and optimize the time we spend for an improved effort, dissolving time invested in areas that could be better spent. (In the works)
  • Giving the community a stronger unified voice with the ability to vote on what we focus primarily on through development. (Included in survey system)
  • Bringing back community competitions and getting the community involved in fun activities. (Coming Soon)
  • Becoming more consistent in how interaction is offered to the community:
  1. Better community discussions (Listat came up with a process I purely enjoyed - once a month?)
  2. Consistent development blogs (Compared to the past...once a week on Sunday - Already providing)
  3. Stronger community involvement (TBD likely in the next ComDisc)
  4. Cutting the cloth away from / Confronting negative users who have nothing to offer but negative criticism and hailing the opposite (No sense in providing constant attention to this. I have always tried to be responsive but it's getting a little too childish sometimes with unrealistic response expectations & abuse of our efforts)
  5. Working to find a smooth process to rewarding testers for the assistance they offer. The volunteered time is appreciated to the point that I feel pretty bad for not having something in place for this yet (Alice and I have discussed this. Needs to be discussed further for consistent policies)
  6. Responding to social activity (forums, chat, etc) in a more organized manner (This will be focused a lot better after I review the Time Analysis over the next while)

Working non-stop on IOU and feeling little progression towards the (prior to announced) road-map or the community desires has been a bit crippling for long-term players, and my enthusiasm. Admittedly, while I use the excuse of waiting on art-house assets (because I didn't want to invest time into using temporary assets just to redo them AGAIN after all this rehaul), it is effectively my fault for making the dumbest decision i've made with the development, and a huge flaw for my timeline expectations of the asset development from them. I have confronted the publisher involved with the push of going the route of the art-house in that I will not be relying on the art-house for future system development, and will be moving forward regardless. This was a poor political choice as far as a year ago.

Working to find alternatives to develop while 'waiting' has been against all logic, and I'm turning that around starting the release of this patch. 

While time is sometimes needed to press on other issues (Immediate Bug fixes, backend additions/fixes, etc), the survey system will provide you the power to ensure our primary focus is towards one of several desires within our capabilities.

I'll be very excited to see what the results become from the new development survey system! Tell me what you want, what you really really want... (Yes I just quoted Spice Girls)

-Almost forgot, after the release of the event, we will be releasing the development board again to the public so you can see what we are actively working on.

It hasn't even been a half a day and there are plenty of great submissions on the community competition. Looking great folks Smile Thank you for participating. Definitely a spirit lifter for myself and the team.

Good Sunday to you...

How about we get through the biggest part....the survey results:

[Image: vote1.png]
ps. PM system was 1%, it got cut off in the chart, sorry!

Clear winner here is the Expedition System

Now - to get that underway, i'll be spending the next 2-3 days tackling how we will move forward with it...what will be included in the original plans, and what will not. This system has some tie-ins to not yet implemented features, so only the portions that can apply here can be developed with that in mind for the moment.

What I can say however is that we will be relying on Isael the original artist on IOU (before the art-house) for the art-assets for this. Unlike the delays we have with the art-house this means we can have a far more fast paced development cycle and get things under way very quickly.

We are going to ensure this system continues to move forward. Some major changes and key notes within the team have been and will be in the works...
  • I am providing you all the public community TO-DO board again. You can see what we're working on or planning to deal with as a focus! Find it here:
  • Isael will be joining in on weekly dev-blog posts! As usual on Sunday you can usually expect a post from myself, but Isael will now also be including his works (whether draft, or completed pieces) on these topics as well to offer a more streamlined and frequent show of progression with the development.
    We do not yet know the day of the week, but it's likely a Wednesday or Friday. This may or may not be included this upcoming week on his behalf as he doesn't even have the work lined up for this feature yet, but we'll see.
  • We are likely going to have a community discussion this Thursday. I'd like to answer any questions the community may have, and also to get some feedback from the community on a couple topics i'll be bringing up personally.
    This community discussion however will only have 1 time slot due to not being on a weekend, and this is because I'm looking to fast track development on the community chosen feature instead of delay it against the inconvenience of which day we run a community discussion :-p
    If too many people do miss out, we may be able to run another short one on the weekend just for Q&A
  • I'll be organizing the team in a rather temporary intrusive way of figuring out how every minute of our time is spent, and run analysis on that against aspects of the game (and business internally) that seem to be short of attention. With this we may make some focus changes within the team to ensure we can run ourselves in a more organized manner to get on track in areas we could be lacking.
It's going to be a slightly rough week ahead here with so much going on, but we'll get there. 

Community Competition
I'm excited to have been able to bring back a community competition. I've seen some great ideas...some that actually line up with ideas i've pondered about as well. 
After the processing of this community competition, i'll try to ensure we have another one lined up shortly after.

Weekly Competitions - Trial Run
I believe Listat is going to do a trial run with smaller competitions with rewards as well. I don't currently have any additional details to share on this yet as it was discussed just earlier today, so you'll just have to wait and see.

Bug Report Reward - Trial Run
In testing I began opening up rewarding users who reported major bugs / exploits for the event prior to release. 

This has a bit of a conflict of interest I believe where people may not report things in hopes to hold it against a reward, but along with that leaves a stronger impulse to actually report issues. If I can get better management on this, it will likely become a significant system across the board, and not just for pre-testing. 

On the other hand there's also potential if abuse occurs that this will just be shut down.

Last of the Major Events
This monster event is the last new event that we will be putting focus on for development. Repeats or an overall systematic change will occur for events in the next several months.

Perhaps as we close in on features within the roadmap we can look back at new monthly mini-game events again....however I think we've accomplished a ridiculous mount of secondary games within the game itself at this point. 

Patch Frequency
It was suggested that we release smaller patches more frequently instead of large ones less frequently. This is fairly difficult because Flash .fla's are not the easiest for version control, the pain of maintenance, and how it can potentially be less efficient...However I'm going to attempt it. We're going to try to double the frequency of patch releases and hopefully see if that also helps with speeding up the resolution of bug-fixes.

Sometimes we fix an issue with a bug, but there's other aspects to an issue that remain and require waiting for the next patch before the continued fix is released. My hope is that we can tackle some of the bigger issues with the game more quickly with such a process plan.

IOU while holding one of the biggest communities on Kongregate, has a significant initial engagement issue. Kongregate initiated research on this with very valuable video feedback from targeted audience users, and we got some great feedback from a new user perspective. I know many long-term users don't care about new users, but better engagement = higher CCU = more revenue = bigger team = more matters to me and the game's future.

We don't want to be flunking out on further publishing.

The changes in regards to this individually are not very time consuming compared to a major feature but since there's quite a few things that could be cleaned up, i'll be splitting it up slowly so i'm not really digging into the new feature development.

That's pretty much it! I have some new rehaul assets to share, but beyond that...catch you at the community discussion this week Smile

Final Planet Drafts:
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Hi Folks,

I don't have an overly exciting dev blog to post this week since the new Expedition System is just getting underway, but i'll share what I can here.

Plenty of complaints regarding how much time people are spending on the event. There's a couple solutions, but i'll introduce a couple arguments from misconceptions against this:
  • You don't need to use every single potion and progress in a grind-fashion to ensure you complete the medium mode by December. 20 minutes per day was the length required by playing casually to utilize all the potions by the end of the event...this is for beyond medium difficulty.
  • Grinding super low enemies to lose less health for higher overall gain was never necessary, but a chosen strategy....this would bring the 20 minutes per day up. I certainly didn't expect anyone to be playing the event for hours a day, lol.
However, still, 20 minutes a day is a hog of time if minimally set, so here are changes coming tomorrow:
  • 300% Exp Rate (Progress 3x faster)
  • 2.5x regen delay on potions (Require far less effort)
  • Existing potion counts are being divided by 2.5 to balance these changes
  • Bosses levels are being reduced
  • Miss/Dodge rates to occur far less based on level difference
  • Potion cap changing to 1500 from 3000 (not 1200, can stack even longer if you want)
  • Hitbox changes on some monsters due to targeting issues
  • A new 'Easy Heal' button has been added to heal all characters hp/mp in a single swoop.
  • WASD keys for map movement

There will not be any automation implemented or anything like that, sorry. Repeatedly asking will not change this, as my development focus is now elsewhere. Hopefully these changes will suffice with simplifying and reducing the effort required in this event in the meantime.

Server Changes
I have spent the last few days delving into a LOT of old issues, finding areas of optimization, and stress-testing. 
  • Data processing on the server has been significantly optimized. All players should receive better pings and faster reaction time. This especially goes for EU players. Perhaps movement in the event will increase as well because of this.
  • Battle processing optimized with cached auto damage variables. This is recalculated on changes, however if you discover (with proof) your damage not increasing after a change when it should, please let us know and i'll get that fixed. The positive bit about this is ...again, faster response time and reduced lag.
  • I've altered the way each game server handles rooms. Theoretically and based on stress tests of a single server that was put into the live environment, the servers should be able to handle far more rooms, with a better distribution of processing. This means there should be less lag on challenges in the long-run. This will require some monitoring and a day of focus here and there, but I think the servers are on the path to being far more stable with upcoming patches.
  • I discovered a few glitches with crashing rooms, and players being booted from parties after joining challenges. This appeared fixed on the new server build however we will need to see how it operates on live to rest assured.
Expedition System
We are coming up on the first steps with the first half of the expedition release....admittedly the easier half. 

Harvesting system is similar to the existing expedition system. We are implementing a building system for this, and will offer a new range of expeditions, along with a way to progress in a more fun way with the expedition system.

You'll be able to upgrade your harvester far more significantly than the current system. 

Fuel Station
Instead of limiting three fairly boring expeditions to three time values, how about we make them a little more interesting....and more fast paced! No sense in waiting 8+ hours for your results after you have started an expedition of your choosing. With fuel you'll be able to choose your expedition, and the tier. Higher tiers will cost more fuel.

The fuel station is a building of its own, that you'll be able to upgrade in the future for higher productivity.

That's it for now. I should definitely have some eye-candy to share with this new system by the next Dev Blog, and will even have internal testing going on by then.
The 2nd half of the expeditions system pertains to Battle Ships. This part will take a bit longer but we'll be releasing the first half publicly so you don't have to wait for all of it Smile

Art Rehaul
I've requested the art-house go back to the drawing board for the splash screen. I was not too excited for IOU to get a facelift title screen with warped/bent text, or being 100% space themed. So that's in the works. I have some art in that department but i'll wait for further updates.

It is expected that all the assets are complete by late November and we can finally move forward with cleaner UI flow and get publishing elsewhere.

For now, here are some new Arabian night drafts:

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Gerd Evening...

This will be the weakest dev blog in a while as we begin ramping up for the beginning of November.

As you've seen we pushed updates a lot more frequently. Mostly smaller but long-term cleaning that I hope is making a positive impact for the game.

After a lot of the optimizations that have made things far more responsive, and attempts to clean up the issues with challenge rooms, a couple lingering issues are still possibly present. I've been slow releasing new server builds each time an issue arises, and -so far- the newer builds have been completely stable, with a few older ones appearing to cause hiccups. Every time a server hiccups, I check to see if it's a new issues, or an old issue that was already fixed on a newer build, then replace that server with the newest build.

Sorry for pushing the optimization experiments so early but I didn't want them to hold development back.

If the disconnections persist, i'll be looking at implementing a quick and sloppy fishing auto-start if disconnection happens while you were fishing, to have it affect users far less through their nights.

The community competiton is getting locked up in the next day or so. We'll need 1-2 weeks to process things, so hang in there.

Also, I really appreciate the effort users have gone into posting items for this competition. I'm looking forward to actually implementing at least a couple of the ideas, and possibly using others for the future.

I'm expecting to have a new ComComp for December as well.

Expedition System
This weekend was a little slower for development than things have been in a while, and tomorrow is Halloween so i'll be quite busy. However i'm looking at getting internal testing for the new Harvesting system (with or without placement pieces just to get the sampling across) and then push public testing later this week.

I'm quite looking forward to getting the first half out for improvements as soon as possible, then release it publicly while working out the 2nd half, grab feedback, improve, release, then move on to the next survey feature.

I'll save the rest for next week's new monthly dev-blog. 


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