Feb 012012
 

As we continue to plug away on the big Monster Companion update, more and more of the supporting changes are going to start to make appearances on the live servers. The next version bump won’t bring companions, but it will bring us one more important step closer.

Forthcoming v1.61 Changes

There won’t be any earth shattering changes packed into v1.61, but there will be many small ones. Changes include the addition of a “Level Lock” toggle which will prevent your character from earning experience and leveling up. Another tweak: the “Plus Exp” and “Plus Gold” stats are becoming “Extra Exp” and “Extra Gold”, as both stats will now be added as a direct bonus to the Experience and Gold earned from battles, rather than a percentage increase.

My favorite change so far is something that I’ve been meaning to implement for a long time. Per modern MMO standards, all “Quest Giver” NPCs will have quest indicator icons floating above their heads in v1.61:

Exclamation Points indicate that an NPC has quests available; Question Marks mean that you have a completed quest that needs to be turned in to that NPC. The indicators are yellow for regular quests and blue for dailies.

These indicators are one of those random things that was surprisingly challenging to implement, which is why I hadn’t done so before now. With the companion update looming, the quest indicators finally made it to the top of my to-do list because there will soon be many more daily/repeatable quests scattered all over the world related to the new reputation system.

I’ll continue to add items to the v1.61 update notes as I work. The patch should go live by this weekend.

When Will Companions Be Ready?

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately, and all that I’m willing to say is that we’re making great progress on the update and that it will be ready when it’s ready. As soon as I have a public release date set it will be posted here on the blog/Facebook/Twitter in big flashing letters – I promise that you won’t miss it.

Being able to dole out most of the big code changes incrementally on the live servers has really sped up development as compared to the Skill Tree update, which had to be released in one huge chunk. It should also dramatically reduce the amount of time that we need to private test stuff.

Other News

As most of you know, some random script kiddie managed to topple our servers with a DoS attack last week. Turns out that he/she/it did us a favor: I switched over to a faster host with proper DoS protection and so far the results have been great.

In stark contrast to the crappy side of humanity displayed by our attacker, we had several community members step up and make big financial contributions in the past week. “Ninja O” (key: AdamSetzler) made an incredibly generous donation by teaching me how to setup a recurring monthly PayPal donation system and then subscribing to it. For as long as he decides to contribute, his monthly donation will be covering our server costs in full every month. Booyah!

Lumino also made a massive contribution this week by purchasing a ton of gift subscriptions for other players. He has gone on these gift subscription sprees several times in the past, making him our largest financial benefactor. πŸ™‚

So, thank you very much Ninja O and Lumino! Between community members who open their wallets, to those who have contributed incredible artwork, put in countless hours testing/posting bug reports, or even just those who provide lots of moral support, I feel very humbled and grateful.

I’m going to wrap up this beast of a blog post before it gets any longer, but be sure to check in this weekend for v1.61 and keep your eyes on the blog for many more news updates this month.

  16 Responses to “v1.61 Preview and General Progress Report”

  1. These small updates you will be adding are a great idea, hopefully it will stop so many people complaining that there has been no content expansion yet. It seems as if you guys are doing a great job laying the foundations for future updates, keep it up!

  2. Love the quest indicators, definitely a great help for new AND old players!

    Question about the “extra gold/exp” change… would this mean perhaps a cap on them could be lifted then? A maximum of +30 gold only feels… well… a bit low. I suppose in solo play, it’s absolutely worth it over a percent increase, but I enjoyed having a gold-increasing merchant.

    For exp, it seems a bit better, I’ll admit though.

  3. That’s just awesome SIlk! 2012 is without any doubt the year of Nestalgia! Congrats and keep going, you rocks!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    P.s. Ninja O and Lumino rocks too! πŸ˜€

  4. Yes.

    Yes.

    YES.

  5. Really excited to see this for myself. I love detail in games and updates like this add more detail.

    And props to those who have donated cash monies. It’s nice to see that people can and are willing to give.

  6. Hmmm, kind of a hot and cold comment here.

    On one side, the quest giver icons is kind of a turn off. I always liked NEStalgia because, like an old RPG, it didn’t hold your hand. If you wanted to find all the secrets, get all the quests, and finish things on your own, then you needed to obey the…

    First Rule of RPGs: Talk to EVERYONE.

    Now it feels like it is just handed to them. And while you cannot force people to read all the lore and notice the little facts like every NPC has a name, making it easier for them to ignore it just disappoints me. I gave away a Thinking Cap to the person who could tell me who Krasus’ Nephew was, and it took forever for someone to give me an answer. ;_;

    To the donation stuffs, you are always welcome. I am more then happy to help more people enjoy this wonder you have created, but the only help I can give is monetary. Can’t drawn, cannot compose, and you don’t need help for quest ideas yet. So we all just do what we can.

    At any rate. Good to hear more from ya. Hope it all goes well!

    -Lumino

    • Thanks again for the contributions Lumino! Here are my thoughts on your point:

      NEStalgia is built upon the premise that the design sensibilities for classic games were awesome, and a large part of that was indeed that they didn’t hold your hand. I’ve designed NEStalgia to be a difficult game that doesn’t go out of its way to make things easy for players, but I also don’t believe in making something less convenient for the sake of less convenience. It’s a fine line to have to walk.

      As PuppetShow touched on below, there are just certain modern design innovations that are true improvements to the formula. I view Quest Indicators as one of those innovations, and with the advent of more daily quests in almost every region of NEStalgia, those indicators are going become incredibly useful to players both new and old. Being able to quickly spot which quests you have yet to do in an area helps prevent people from forgetting stuff. Furthermore, the nature of MMOs is that many players take days/weeks off a time, and quest indicators can help ease their return by jogging their memories.

      No one is ever going to change “strategy guide players” who just want a paint-by-the-numbers game where they mostly don’t have to explore stuff or think for themselves. That may seem contrary to how you’re supposed to enjoy a game, but the reality is that many people enjoy games in different ways. Ex: If a guy truly doesn’t want to talk to NPCs then he won’t talk to them, regardless of quest indicators. Trying to force a very specific play style on people won’t make the game more enjoyable for everyone, it will just make it more frustrating for some.

      So yeah, that’s my two cents πŸ™‚

  7. I had a similar reaction initially when I saw the quest icons. But now that I think about it, it makes sense. Before too long there are going to be a lot more daily quests. And having those NPCs carry a special flag to identify them isn’t a convenience that I feel too good about wanting to fight.

    This is industry standard now for a reason. It’s simple, intuitive, and calls attention to those particular NPCs because they’re important.

    The “first rule of RPGs” exists because there wasn’t any other method of getting the information across to the players. You had to go and root around looking for all the quests. The end result is that you find all the quests. Now you walk into town, do a lap around it, and find all the quests. The end result is the same thing.

    I do agree that something is lost when you make walking around exploring the town yourself more optional. There’s a certain satisfaction with finding the quests yourself, surely. But honestly; the people who want to talk to all the NPCs and read all the quest text will continue to do that. And the people who talk to NPCs just to check for quests and then accept the quest without reading it and skim roughly over the dialogue to figure out what to do….they’ll continue to do that just as they always have.

    I don’t truthfully feel like anything is being actually lost here.

    I actually like this because you can start doing things like flagging objects and doodads as quest givers. Things you wouldn’t normally speak to in town but could catch your interest by having a “!” mark above it. You could make a dungeon, for example, with a running narrative without ever having to speak to another NPC or trigger a cutscene just by using quest-giving objects to give you the relevant information. Or maybe one day even you’d catch a rare fish of some sort, investigate it, and get a quest for “speaking” to the beached fish. Just as an example…

  8. Let me clarify since I started two lines with “Something is being lost” and “Nothing is being lost”.

    There are two schools of thought here. “I talk to everyone” and “I just want the quests”.

    These changes aren’t going to really impact players on either side of the fence from a gameplay perspective. Player A is still going to speak to everyone. And Player B now knows which parts of the town are relative to his interests.

    So there is this.I guess it can be said that part of the appeal of NEStalgia (and one of the compliments I hear most often is “This is just like the games I played growing up”) Obviously that isn’t mechanically true since this is an online game with a player driven market and all that jazz. But visually and thematically, it totally is. NEStalgia has a really distinct vibe to it. Maybe the quest icons would take away from this since the visual aesthetic is what makes the game so durned charming to look at? Maybe this is modernizing the look of the game too much? I could see an argument about that. Perhaps the best thing to do would have a toggle for the quest icons being displayed or not?

    Probably hugely over-thinking this at this point though.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, as always.

      I just wanted to note that I won’t be adding a toggle for this. With every new feature I add it would be easy to default to the idea that “Well you can’t please everyone so let’s just add a toggle for this”, and that’s a dangerous path to go down. Although I just said above to Lumino quote, “Trying to force a very specific play style on people won’t make the game more enjoyable for everyone”, as a designer you also can’t go too far in the other direction and work to please everyone all of the time.

      My philosophy of design falls very much inline with people like Steve Jobs, in that at the end of the day I believe that I know what’s right for the game. Giving players options to customize every aspect of their experience just doesn’t sit well with me. That’s also why you’ll never see stuff like options to set the RGB of your menu backgrounds; the thought of someone playing NEStalgia with clashing orange menu backgrounds disturbs me. The thought of them taking screenshots of it disturbs me even more!

      • When I first played FF7 I realized a couple hours in that I could change different sections of the in-game menus different colors. Fast forward three minutes and I had rainbow striped menus. Years later when I decided to play the game again I couldn’t stand the default blue color and had to rainbowify my menus again. I probably spent an hour trying to recreate my 1997 coloring as best as I could remember it.

        Good times.

        Looking back on it, I’ve never had that issue with any other game. I just can’t see FF7 without those crazy menu coloration now.

        /random

  9. Only thing I can contribute here, could there be 2 seperate quest logs, of similar size to now, to accomadate the additional dailies?

    Just a thought as on occasion I have ended up with quite full quest logs (granted generally as a lock having not been back to a town for several hours) and can see the potential for blockages.

    Would suggest using similar logic to when inventory was expanded to include worn/quest items as well as geenral items.

  10. I haven’t been playing a lot recently, but I always check up here! I’ve told all my friends who are gamers about this game and a lot of them seem interested. I’ll always be here supporting you guys in the background! And sorry for harassing you for a reply on my cougar overworld submission in the forums a few month ago, Silk. I got a bit impatient.