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Challenges and Progress in July and August
25 August 2009
* The last two months have seen progress in some areas and delays in others. We're still waiting on the latest build of the Trident3D engine. There have been additional delays due to some serious bugs and because of some last minute design changes. The part that is costing the most time is the Event Tool, which is an insanely complex tool. However, it will be worth the wait as it will allow us to breath an amazing amount of life into the world.
This is one of the primary tools for making Citadel of Sorcery change every day, or truly, at any moment.
For example, this is the tool that allows us to setup a situation where a bar room brawl might break out... and then spill out into the street. Or, have a building catch on fire and have the local NPCs react to that fire. Not only would they react, but the news of this fire would spread from one NPC to another naturally. Players could talk to an NPC who spoke to another NPC earlier about something that happened recently... all spread naturally through world using the Event Tool.
Naturally, the power to allow events and rumors to spread naturally comes with the potential for bugs, and so we have seen delays in the tool as some of these issues are handled by the engineers.
However, while we continue to wait for this powerful tool other areas of the game continue to expand. Level Building goes on as more details of the world are placed and added. NPC creation continues as well as we expand the number of models.
A new tracking database has been created for the Level Building department to help us search out some of the bugs created in using a tool as powerful as our Enact world building tool. This database allows testers to track down who what where when and why something was added through Enact in the case of something strange going on in the world.
For example, since the NPCs are created in Enact to have their own individual lives, and even we don't know exactly what they will do at any given moment, strange occurrences can sometimes take place. You might be wandering around with your character and find the streets kind of empty because most (or all) of the NPCs heard about something happening at the Citadel Palace and went to go see the event. This, though possible, isn't desirable. We would have to track down who messed with the A.I. net and caused such a powerful Event, and tone down the power of the rumor, or change the priority of this event. To do that we have to know what caused such an occurrence.
The tracking database allows us to search on many different parameters and (hopefully) find out what some Level Builder may have done to affect the world so grandly.
Design continues on the character races and we're planning to start releasing some information on each race through the www.citadelofsorcery.com website in the near future (one race at a time). As always, the Quest system continues to go through more and more design phases. This is the main thrust of the entire game. We want quests to be everything you have ever dreamed of in a game, and never gotten. This means that we have to spend a lot of time designing, writing, testing and constantly improving the game play. As those of you who play a lot of games know, a world that has unique quests for every player, that changes due to what players accomplish, that moves forward in time, has many, many MANY difficulties in design.
We have received countless emails from concerned players wanting to know how we plan to overcome these challenges. Well, we can't release all of that information, it's what sets our game apart from other MMO games. Still, we can say that we know the challenges , we understand the conundrums, paradoxes and dangers. Our design team works constantly, going back over the system again and again, looking for those problems.
We're trying to balance a system that will give the player all of these things and yet still explain as much of the system as naturally as possible in our game universe. We don't like arbitrary rules, so we try to work everything into the mythos of the world, and yet give the player the richest experience we can in a changing world. It's not easy, but we feel we're getting it there. We are no longer having to swing at it with a virtual design sledge hammer and are down to more gentle taps. These small mods will continue until the game releases (and probably beyond, hey, this isn't easy!)
So, this brings us to the most asked question we receive in email... When? No answer there. Not for awhile, and not before it's done. We have sworn to the Dead gods that we will not release this game until it has achieved all our goals, and since we are aiming so high, this could take awhile. We will not be rushed, sorry. We will continue to release development news as it becomes available so that you can follow the progress, though we don't guarantee when these posts will happen. We only post when there is something worth saying... and though work is ALWAYS going on, sometimes it is just a lot more of the same, and not very exciting. Still, we'll try to post something somewhat regularly.
Keep up the faith, work continues.