Jun 182015
 

nes_webclient1If you’ve ever wanted to play NEStalgia on other platforms, your wait is almost over. Thanks to the hard work of the folks at BYOND (creators of the tools used to develop NEStalgia), we now have a working HTML5 client for the game that is playable in most major web browsers. That includes Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, and even mobile platforms.

This “NEStalgia Webclient” employs the same account system and can access the same NEStalgia servers as the desktop client, meaning that you can basically switch back and forth from any platform at will. Opening the NEStalgia Webclient is as simple as clicking or navigating to the URL for a server and then logging in.

The Webclient is very exciting news, though it does come with a few caveats:

  • The Webclient can’t yet be used to host or play single player games. You must join a server being hosted by someone else, such as our official servers or any public/private server.
  • This new client can indeed be accessed by browsers on tablets (etc.), though the controls and the interface have not yet been adapted to make intuitive use of touch screens. In other words, tablet/smartphone compatibility is neat, but I don’t think that playing the game on a tablet would be much fun yet.
  • Though it’s stable and works well, the Webclient is still very much in beta. You will almost certainly encounter aesthetic glitches, and your experience may vary (for better or worse) when using different web browsers.

You’ll be able to give the Webclient a spin after v1.70.0 is released (which should be sometime this weekend). [Edit: I didn’t quite get v1.70.0 finished for the weekend; my goal now is this Thursday the 25th]  I’ll post an announcement when both the v1.70.0 update and Webclient access are live. In the meantime, here are a few screenshots that I took while playing NEStalgia on various devices earlier today:

NEStalgia on Chrome OS

NEStalgia on Chrome OS

NEStalgia on an iPhone 6s

NEStalgia on an iPhone 6s

NEStalgia on a Mac

NEStalgia on a Mac

Jun 112015
 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could play NEStalgia on much larger servers? If population surges didn’t mean lots of new servers and inevitable server merges?

This week’s update probably isn’t a super fun read, but it heralds a major change that should significantly improve the NEStalgia experience. Hopefully when the Key of the Exiles expansion goes live, instead of worrying about which official server you and your friends are playing on, you’ll instead be able to focus on saving up gold to purchase some sweet ship upgrades.

Before I get started, I’ll just quickly note that NEStalgia is currently available at a huge discount as part of the Steam Summer Sale. Check it out!

The Indie MMO Problem

I apparently missed the memo about not developing an MMO style game unless you have access to MMO style resources.

The core of NEStalgia’s server system is the common “island server” design where each named server is basically a separate instance of the game running off of its own savefile database. That’s why your characters tied to the Malice server can’t be used on Midgard unless someone manually transfers your savefile. It’s also why each server has separate guild registries and market place listings. This would all be fine and good if the game didn’t have so many players; when I was originally developing NEStalgia I didn’t expect that the game would find such a large audience. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Right now a single NEStalgia server can accommodate 50 or so players online at once before lag starts to become an issue; usually each server caps at about 70 players online. This active player limit isn’t a glaring deficit in and of itself, and is actually pretty high compared to most indie games. The difference is that most other multiplayer indie games aren’t MORPGs, and thus they aren’t as reliant on maintaining balanced population equilibrium between servers, nor do they have to be 24/7 persistent worlds. For example, you usually play games like Terraria on small private servers with friends. In games like DayZ you play on larger public servers, but because each play session of the game is generally self contained, switching to a different server and starting over isn’t all that painful.

How We’ve Been Coping

Whenever NEStalgia has received a large influx of new or returning players, we’ve opened up new official servers to accommodate the population load, and then merged those servers into each other as the populations recedes. It’s hard to time these merges so that every single server maintains a satisfactory active population level, and it can also lead to players being isolated from their friends on a more popular server.

All of those factors are why server management has easily been the biggest source of frustration both for players and the dev team. As a player it’s not fun to see your server go into decline after a population surge, and as a developer it’s a huge time suck trying to stay on top of server expansions, merges and transfers. On several occasions we’ve had to open 16+ official servers at once just to accommodate demand… but even the smaller population surges tend to tangle us up in server and savefile management nightmares that bring actual NEStalgia development to a grinding halt.

From here I could  probably write a few more paragraphs about the challenges involved in finding a solution that is a good fit for NEStalgia. However, I’m fairly certain that most of you don’t care about the drawbacks of client side saving or headaches with online shared savefile databases, so let’s skip right to what I’ve actually come up with…

Server Cluster Diagram

The New Solution

The v1.70.0 update should keep NEStalgia’s core “island server” design intact while still allowing us to accommodate many more players on what is technically a single server. Instead of having every single instance of a server store its own savefile database, official servers will now operate in clusters of server instances that share savefiles. Each of the servers in these server clusters will operate under the same server name, but can have additional instances opened to accommodate demand. Ex: There might be a Midgard Cluster, with open server instances Midgard (1), Midgard (2), Midgard (3), and so on.

Like the current named servers, each server instance is its own separate world. You won’t see or directly interact with players logged in to other server instances, though you can come and go as you please between instances. For example, if the first server instance the Midgard Cluster – Midgard (1) – fills up, you can simply log off and join the second instance Midgard (2) to pick up right where you left off. The same things goes if your friends are playing on Midgard (3) and you’re currently logged into Midgard (1) – you just need to join Midgard (3) in order to play with them.

The different server instances in each cluster share the same guild registry and marketplace database. That means that if  you make a change to your guild cape or recruit a new member on Midgard (1), the change will automatically be registered on Midgard (2) and Midgard (3). The marketplace communicates between server instances as well – every instance of the server sees the same market listings, and purchasing an item on one instance will instantly take it off the market on all other server instances.

Don’t be concerned if all this talk of “clusters” and “instances” has your head spinning. All that you need to know is that you’re going to be able to play the game the same way as before, minus concerns about over/underpopulated servers. In practice all of this should be fairly intuitive even to first time players.

Making the Transition

If all goes well, I hope to get v1.70.0 and the server clusters up and running in the next week or so. The biggest concern is dealing with players who still have savefiles on multiple servers, mostly in regards to merging files and/or dealing with excess characters that can’t be merged. There’s no perfect solution to that issue and it’s probably going to eat up a ton of time, so bear with me as I get it sorted out.

Between all four of the current named servers we’re talking about 30,000 savefiles – and that’s after previously setting aside 50,000+ “legacy” savefiles back in December. Because of the sheer number of savefiles we’ll probably end up with two different server clusters, but I can’t say for sure yet. If that’s the case then we’ll only need one server instance per cluster at the moment, so you probably won’t need to even think about instancing for awhile.

I’m sure that some of you have questions, so feel free to ask away. Thanks for reading!

Feb 042014
 

So how about that Steam launch? Well, the BYOND team is still working as fast as they can to get all of the Steam API stuff integrated into NEStalgia. Once that’s done, we’ll be finally be able to release the game on Steam (hopefully this month). In addition to lending a hand in that process when I can, my time has been spent preparation the long-awaited Key of the Exiles content expansion.

As we discussed in the last podcast, the content expansion is going to come along with a re-balance of all the character classes in the game, and you’ll be seeing many of those balance changes in the pre-expansion v1.68 update. Here is a look at of some of the major changes soon coming your way:

Skill Tree Redesign

In v1.68 I’ve overhauled the Skill Trees for each class. Although the contents and overall structure of the trees will be familiar to you, the look has totally changed:

Ranger v168 Nature Tree Ranger v168 Hunter Tree

When I set out to redesign the Skill Trees my goal was to build upon all of the stuff that has worked before, while fixing as many flaws in the system as I could. That sounds like a pretty obvious objective, but my point is that this isn’t a redesign for the sake of a redesign. These new trees are simply an improved evolution, and I think that players will be really happy with them.

You’ll notice that the Foundation tree has been completely eliminated. Skills that increase Max HP/MP etc have been absorbed into the regular trees for each class, while the Elemental Enchants have been removed from Skill Trees altogether (more on that below). The way that you invest your skill points has changed as well; you don’t always have to fully invest in a skill node in order to move on to the next node. There are also many skill nodes that you can reach via multiple paths.

The end result of all these changes is that players will have more freedom of choice when speccing, and each skill point will make a much bigger difference than it did before.

Character Stat Changes

The most dramatic change in this update is in the way Plus Fire, Ice, Storm and Heal work. Instead of working on a percentage basis as they do now (ex: 20 Plus Fire increases fire damage by 20%), these stats will now increase damage on a 1:1 basis. In other words, if you have 10 Plus Fire then all of your fire spells will do exactly 10 more damage. The same goes for Plus Heal; 10 Plus Heal will boost the power of all your healing spells by 10 points.

Another big change: there are no longer global caps on any character stats in the game. The maximum benefit that you can receive from Plus Fire, Ice, Storm or Heal is capped per Ability. This information is all displayed courtesy of an expanded Ability HUD:

New Ab HUD: Heal

New Ab HUD: Storm

While a low-level spell like Fireball might have a Plus Fire Cap of 15, a higher level fire spell could take that cap up to 30. The same logic applies to healing spells.

However, having more Plus Element than is needed for a particular spell isn’t necessarily a waste. The Resist Fire, Ice and Storm stats now also operate on a 1:1 ration to damage, and are deducted from the attack power of an Ability before the cap is calculated. In other words, if I have 30 Plus Fire when I cast a Fire spell that has a Plus Fire Cap of 15 and my target has 20 Resist Fire, I’ll receive a total Plus Fire damage bonus of 10 points on that attack. It’s all just basic addition and subtraction.

Alongside these big changes, the Spell Piercing and Resilience stats have been completely eliminated. All of the items in the game have been adjusted to accommodate this change; the stats on weapons/armor will be comparable or superior to what they were before.

Weapon Enchants

Elemental weapon enchants have been removed from the Skill Trees. Instead you’ll now find Fire, Ice or Storm elemental enchants that can add damage to any weapon. Like abilities, these enchants also use your relative Plus Element stat and have a Plus Element Cap.

v168 Fire Enchant v168 Storm Enchant

Each enchant is displayed in the bottom left corner of the new expanded Item Detail HUD. You’ll notice that the enchants are displayed with a “less than or equal to” sign; that number represents the Plus Element Cap on each enchant (the maximum amount of Plus Element damage that the weapon can do). This next bit is important: the amount of extra damage your enchanted weapon does is based solely on your relevant Plus Element stat. In other words, a Storm enchant on a weapon won’t do any additional damage unless your character also has some Plus Storm. Like Abilities, any Plus Element that you have over your weapon’s cap will first count against any resistance that the enemy has.

Enchanted Item Closeup

Many rare weapons now come pre-enchanted, and you’ll be able to find Enchantment Scrolls around the world to add or replace enchants on all of your weapons. There are two variables that matter with enchants: the element, and the power cap.

Podcast

In this new (short) podcast we talk about some of these changes, the fundraiser results, and other stuff that’s been going on behind the scenes. We also explain the Steam delays more in-depth. Check it out:

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We’ll probably do a bit of closed testing on v1.68 before it goes live, and all of the people who contributed to the fundraiser back in December will be invited to participate. Speaking of the fundraiser, I’m working on another big blog post to showcase our top donors and post the results. Look for that soon.

There are many more changes bundled in v1.68, and I’m posting an ongoing list on the wiki’s Version Notes page as I finalize everything. This update is a huge step towards the expansion, and I’m excited that players will be able to benefit from these changes in the near future.

Mar 172012
 

The slog continues, and I’ve designated the forthcoming companion update as v1.63. I still don’t have a release timeframe, but we’re getting close. Today’s preview should fill in most of the remaining blanks about how companions are going to work.

Reputation Ranks

One of the big new changes in v1.63 is the reputation system. Reputation is basically a new type of experience that is accrued by winning battles and completing quests in a region (regions generally meaning a town and its local area). As your numerical reputation increases, your “reputation rank” in a region levels up. There are a total of five ranks, each of which requires more reputation to achieve than the previous rank.

New daily quests with large reputation bonuses have been added to every region in the game. As of the initial release of v1.63, reputation will only be used for two major systems: seed slot boosting and companion recruiting. In the future it will likely factor into many other systems.

Recruiting Companions

Monsters aren’t captured Pokemon-style. Instead, every time that you fight a particular type of monster there is a chance that it will ask to join you. Whether or not you’re eligible to recruit a monster is based upon your regional reputation rank. Generally speaking, the stronger or rarer the monster the higher reputation rank that it takes to recruit it.

Almost any monster in the game can be recruited to become a companion, and every single species is unique. No matter what type of monster you recruit, they will always join you as a level 1 companion. Therefore, recruiting a monster from a higher level region does not necessarily give you a more powerful companion. An Ice Slime from the Arctic doesn’t have any statistical advantages over a Mage Slime from Bedoe; they’re just different.

The Companion Ranch

Every region in the game now has a Companion Ranch, the place where your extra companions are stored for safekeeping. Companions can be deposited or withdrawn anytime, and your stored companions are shared between all of your characters. However, only subscribers can actually withdraw companions stored by their other characters, and you can’t withdraw companions that are a higher level than your current character.

Every Companion Ranch features a regional Bestiary that shows which monsters are in the area and what reputation rank is required to recruit them. In order for a monster’s information to show up in the bestiary you first need to beat it in battle, otherwise its entry will contain minimal information. Like the ranch companion storage, the bestiary entries are also shared between all of your characters.

Seed Slot Boosting

In order to expand your Stat Seed slots in the current version of NEStalgia, you must to purchase expensive Seed Boosters from a late-game vendor. As of v1.63 those Seed Boosters are going the way of the dinosaur, although all existing Seed Boosters and/or their resulting extra seed slots will still function.

In v1.63 stat seed slots are automatically opened up by raising your reputation to “Honored” in a region (rank 3). Because reputation is not shared between characters, you’ll have to do this on each character separately (the grind up to Honored isn’t that time consuming and can generally be accomplished by completing most of the quests in the region). Although there are currently seven regions in the game, you’ll still only be able to open up a total of six extra slots.

Other Notes

Although I had previously talked about allowing solo players to have only one companion fighting alongside them in non-boss battles, I’ve changed things up and solo players will now be able to utilize both of their companions in all encounters. Partying up with other players will always make for a much stronger team, however, as companions are comparatively weak and don’t always make the best strategic decisions in big fights. Furthermore, any companion who is with you but not in your active party when you group with other players will give you a substantial “Reserve Bonus” in the form of a stat boost or some type of extra skill or ability.

If you have any additional questions about how this stuff works the please feel free to ask in the comments. We’re at the point where most of the implementation is finished, so I can now give plenty of details about what all of these changes entail.

I know that development is moving much slower than anyone had hoped (including myself), but please bear with us just a bit longer. The standalone installer is almost ready to go, meaning that we could theoretically be launching v1.63 alongside the standalone installer, which will mean a massive exposure boost for the game right as we turn our focus over to regular content expansions. Everything is falling into place in just the right way, and I’m very optimistic that all of this hard work and waiting is going to pay off in the near future.

Feb 262012
 

Both Spiff and I have been hard at work this month on different tasks. While Spiff has been tackling an automated PvP tournament system, the majority of my time has been devoted to Monster Companions.

The automated PvP tournament system will allow us to schedule regular weekly tournaments for both brackets (20s and 32s). The brackets are generated based upon the teams that sign up during the week (and show up on time), and then the tournament takes place without the need for Moderator supervision. Members of that week’s winning teams will be rewarded not only with Colosseum Badges, but with statues of themselves displayed inside the Colosseum (Spiff’s idea!).

The new tournament system has been in open testing all month long and is very close to completion. Yesterday we also hosted our very first closed beta test for Monster Companions, which went incredibly well. Everything is looking very solid, including the Companion battle A.I. (which let me tell you was no small task to create).

Although you won’t be able to directly control your companions, you will be able to set each companion’s battle tactics via the new Tactics menu in battle. The tactics themselves are fairly self-explanatory (Balanced, Offensive, Defensive, Conserve), and can be changed on the fly at anytime during battle.

In the overworld players have full control and will be able to cast their companion’s spells manually. Companions won’t be able to equip gear or carry items, but they do have slots for Stat Seeds and their own version of Skill Trees called “Milestone Boosts”. These boosts allow the player to choose between one of two skill options for the companion every 5 levels. What’s more, every companion has a unique set of Milestone Boosts specifically tailored to its breed.

You’ll notice that the companions either use MP, Will or Rage to power their abilities (Rage is identical to the Merchant Credit system). The type of resource a companion uses to power its moves has a big impact on how it handles itself in battle. The earliest healing companion in the game (Blue Slime) actually uses Rage to power its abilities, which makes for a decidedly different type of healer that can’t always burst heal but will never run out of MP.

As usual I’m not going to give out release projections for this stuff until it’s much closer to being finished. I’m very happy with where we’re at though, and I’m also getting excited to dive right into content expansion work as soon as companions are done. As testing continues over the course of the next couple weeks I’ll be sure to share many more details and screenshots

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. 🙂

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.

Jan 112012
 

With a standalone installer and the flash client on the way, 2012 is going to be a big year for NEStalgia. As we work to exponentially increase the NEStalgia’s player base this year, the game itself will continue to receive lots of awesome new updates and content expansions. The next big update in the works is the previously announced Monster Companion expansion that will enable players to recruit almost any monsters in the game to be their AI controlled allies. For this week’s podcast we did a Q&A about this new companion system based upon player submitted questions:

You can find this and previous podcasts on the NEStalgia Podcasts page and also on iTunes.

Although lots of progress is being made, I won’t be making any big preview blog posts about Monster Companions (or the automated PvP Tournaments that Spiff is working on) until there is something worth showing off. As soon as I have something solid to report, all of you will be the first to know about it.

Dec 142011
 

NEStalgia received a mention in the latest issue of PC Gamer!

As most of you know, this past February when we publicly announced the release of NEStalgia we were not expecting to get even a fraction of the media coverage or hordes of players that we ended up receiving. Up until that moment both Spiff and I had always regarded NEStalgia as a fun hobby, but not a serious attempt at making a commercial independent game.

Needless to say, my idea of what NEStalgia was and what it could be changed significantly during the craziness of last Spring. The major changes that you’ve seen in the game since that time have all been part of our efforts to transition NEStalgia from being a hobbyist project into a full-fledged indie game. Although it took much longer than I expected, I’m really happy with where we’re sitting right now and I’m looking forward to what’s next.

AI Controlled Monster Companions

Gameplay-wise, NEStalgia’s last major issue is that partying with other players is sometimes necessary in order to progress through the game (not to mention the fact that solo grinding can be a bit of a drag). This was originally an intentional design decision, but as the game grows with future content expansions it will only exasperate the challenges for lonely solo players. We’ve already announced that the remedy to this issue will be a new AI controlled companion system, but up until now the details have been somewhat sparse.

So, here is an outline of how the companions will work:

  • Any monster that isn’t a boss can be recruited to become your companion.
    • Every monster is at least slightly different. Ex: Red Slimes will have different stats and abilities than Blue Slimes.
  • You can have up to two companions with you at a time when soloing, with some conditions:
    • Only one companion will join you for regular battles.
    • Both companions will join in for boss fights.
  • You can set the general tactics that your companions use, but cannot control them directly.
  • Monster companions will level up and feature their own limited skill trees. They do not have an inventory or equip gear.
  • When partying with other players, your companions will not be active participants in the battle but will instead bestow a variety of passive stat boosts and abilities to increase your power.
    • The passive boosts vary by monster, allowing you to customize your load out.
    • You will always be more powerful when grouping with other players than you are when soloing with your monster companions.
  • Your monster companions are shared between all of your characters, and can be accessed by any of your characters at any time.
    • You will not be able to use a monster that is a higher level than your character. No max level monsters for your fresh level 1 characters 😉

Those are the basics, and I’ll be revealing more details and screenshots in the coming weeks. Remember that the multiplayer aspect of NEStalgia will remain the core of the experience. The primary goal here is to make the game more fun and more accessible for all players without over-complicating things or diminishing the multiplayer focus. Being able to solo through an area when you can’t find human party members is going to make a huge difference for everyone, not to mention the Pokemon-esque fun to be had in recruiting and leveling different monsters.

Becoming a Standalone Game

BYOND is truly an incredible toolset, but it was originally designed around the concept of having all games created with BYOND live within that ecosystem. Although it was a great way for us to get started, in order for NEStalgia to continue growing it needs to shed the BYOND trappings and become a completely standalone game. Luckily for us, the developers of BYOND agree and will be helping us to make that transition in the coming months.

What does that mean? Nothing from a gameplay perspective: the BYOND foundation will still power NEStalgia and the game itself won’t see any drastic changes. What it will likely entail is a standalone installer for the game which drops things like the BYOND pager, and the potential for us to distribute NEStalgia on services such as Steam.

We’re still working out the details, but I can at least assuage fears about one sticking point: NEStalgia won’t be split into a BYOND version and a separate standalone version – all of our existing users will be making this transition with us.

The Flash Client

The Flash Client is still being developed, and so far it works really well. The idea with the flash client is to make the game super easy to access without having to install anything; the client acts as a browser-based portal to existing NEStalgia servers. When it’s ready early next year we’re hoping that it will expose the game to tons of new players, including our neglected but not forgotten Mac OS X brethren!

Content Expansions

Last but certainly not least, we will begin rolling out new content and level cap expansions on a regular basis following the monster companion update. I know that many NEStalgia oldbies are dying for content updates, and I’m hoping that you’ll bear with us just a little bit longer. I’m confident that the results will be worth the wait.

I don’t want to give release projections for any of this stuff yet, but all of you will be the first to know here on the blog when release dates are set. I’ll probably be a bit less visible until January rolls around, but we do have a really cool holiday event in the works that should go live next week.

Although I’m still having a hard time thinking of myself as a game developer or wrapping my head around the fact that NEStalgia has become a real project, I’m incredibly humbled to have such an enthusiastic player base supporting us. As great as 2011 was for NEStalgia, I have a good feeling that 2012 is going to be even better.

Nov 302011
 

The previously discussed v1.55 patch (full notes) will go live this Saturday. Things have gone really well on the test server and I’m excited for all of you to check it out. From the wealth of new features to the much improved user interface design work, this is a great patch.

Whether or not v1.55 will include the balance changes that I’ve been meaning to implement is kind of up in the air at this point. I don’t want to delay the patch any further just so that we can include those changes (which are related to Ninja improvements, better itemization for all classes at various levels etc), so they may be relegated to a v1.56 update that would be released sometime next week. As a developer it’s very easy to fall into the trap of trying to cram everything that you want to do into one patch, and I’m going to try and avoid that for v1.55.

v1.55 also includes a complete revamp of the game’s long neglected F1 Help files.

No new podcast today, but we’ll be back next week with another one. There is also another official PvP tournament this coming Sunday, this time on Zenithia.

Nov 222011
 

The next NEStalgia patch has grown into a bit of a monster. Spiff and I had a pretty decent sized list of goals for the post-skill tree patches, and somehow almost all of those ambitions have ended up coming to fruition simultaneously in this single massive update.

First and foremost, Gamepad Mode is finally here. Courtesy of Spiff, you’ll now be able to play NEStalgia using a gamepad/keyboard exclusively. This new option is a simple toggle from the expanded preferences menu in v1.55, and it comes along with its own interface setup specific crafted for mouse-less navigation:

You can click the toggle in the corner to disable Gamepad Mode anytime

Pressing the "A Button" brings up this navigation menu

Notice that the Main HUD itself looks a bit different as well, and most those changes aren’t relegated to Gamepad Mode exclusively. The old Party HUD and Invite/Attack buttons are completely gone, replaced with a much more intuitive setup. You can now see all of your fellow party members’ information on the Main HUD at all times:

…but the real treat is the new player interaction setup. I’ve created a short video meant to serve as a tutorial for new players in the future that also serves to show off these new features. In addition to demonstrating the new player inviting/attack interface, this video gives you a glimpse of the new Auto-Heal and Auto-Refill functions in action!

Last for today but certainly not least, Spiff has also prepared another highly-requested change: battle backgrounds. Those of you who read the forums might remember this topic in which the community helped us to explore the many possibilities for giving battles some sort of scenery. What we settled on are Lufia-style faded overworld backgrounds in battle, and they look great. If there are any NES purists out there, you’ll be able to disable these backgrounds and stick with the classic black void via a toggle in the preferences menu.

In this post I covered many of the new features and refinements that are coming, but it’s important to note that v1.55 will also include many balance changes for the skill trees. I’ll talk about those changes soon, but for now I hope that all of you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday (or 4 straight days of Skyrim for those of you staying home this year). I’ll be back next week with a release date for v1.55 and perhaps even some juicy details on the forthcoming companion/content patch that is in the works.