- Created on Thursday, 28 February 2013 22:19
- Written by Joshua Halls
From unveiling details on the new and improved crafting system to preparing for PAX East, we had plenty to keep us busy in February. But we didn't stop there of course. Let's take a look at the major features of the month before delving into February's build notes.
We placed a heavy emphasis on combat upgrades this month. The largest of these centered around Action Mode. Action Mode now feels much more in line with our vision for it. You can now hold your mouse button to continously fire. You also now receive bullet splashes based on what you connected with. Firing into dirt will give a splash of dirt, while firing at something metal will spark. Like everything else in action mode, this is a client side effect, and will not add to lag. Action Mode also now displays an accuracy-adjusting target reticle.
We also made improvements to the combat system that will affect those in either mode. This includes variable bullet spread, and missed effects for other players. Bullet whizzes, a slew of new special FX, improved strafing and damage bubble support, optional damage flash effects, and zoomable ranged weapons.
Artificial Intelligence also received a pass. Ranged NPCs will can now seek cover, kneel, or adjust position when they feel necessary. We also added improved dive and roll support to NPCs, and added additional species who can use them. We added a new flocking NPC AI type for herd or social animals. NPCs can now strafe, sprint, and fight from longer distances than was previously the case. Last but not least, we added variable threat detection systems which can change during battles allowing NPCs to select their targets based on different criteria such as Aggro, Proximity or Randomly. We have a number of additional AI improvements on the table, but we took a step in the right direction this month.
Crafting seen quite a bit of content updates this month with fitting recipes being added along with their primary components. We look forward to sharing a new crafting video before PAX to cover many of the details that have been released recently and showing a more complete example of how the system works. The major system updates in crafting were the ability to have a component be flagged for multiple types making it easier to use them in additional recipes and some slight adjustments on how attributes limitations can be pulled out of the end product results.
We continued what we began last month with a number of new stealth improvements including variable translucency for other players, giving some pets the ability to stealth, and a new counter tactics to aid in detecting stealthed players. But we didn't stop there. You'll also find significant updates to many existing features, a new Nation Reputation system, two new epic mission series, improved NPC interactions, audio improvements, optimizations and interface improvements.
Looking ahead to March, we'll have a presence at PAX East on March 22-23rd at booth #581, and are planning to release a new video trailer to coincide with it. But for now, let's take a look at February's build notes.
Abilities and Skills
- Added the Tracking based ability: Heightened Senses. This ability will momentarily boost your tracking skill and aid in stealth detection.
- Sentry Alarm feature new sound effects, and can now trigger on multiple targets. Sentry Alarms will now reduce the stealth chances of anyone who triggers them.
- Stealthed players will now have a variable transparency level to other players. This transparency level will change based on a number of factors such as standing in a shaded area, their stealth vs. your tracking, etc.
- Stealth now responds instantly.
- You will now be taken out of stealth if you take damage, use a flashlight or call a pet.
- Nameplates will no longer display on stealthed hostile players or pets and are translucent to friendlies.
- The following abilities have new icons: Attack, Aimed Shot, Stealth, Track, Crouch, Prone, Dirty Dance, Enticing Wiggle, Suggesting Move, Whirling Blade, Tale of Heroism, Tale of War, Tale of Battle, Hilarious Twist, Funny Twist, Humorous Twist, Regain Balance, and Kneel.
- Added a slew of new skill based achievements. You will gain new titles at the ranks of Skilled and Grandmaster.
- Ranged NPCs can now seek cover when it is available. They gain the same benefits from cover as players.
- NPCs can now switch target selection strategies on the fly. This allows them to target a specific type of target, be it random, aggro based, proximity based, etc. This adds a bit more chaos to combat, while still allowing room for aggro management.
- NPCs can now sprint to catch up to running players.
- NPCs will now switch between different combat positions (such as crouching or standing) and gain the benefits of them as neccessary.
- NPCs can now strafe or readjust positions during a fight if they feel it is beneficial.
- Discovered a bug that was causing ranged NPCs to never take advantage of their full range. Expect longer ranged fights and more randomness when dealing with ranged NPCs.
- NPCs who are in cover will not attempt to dive or roll out of it.
- A focus was placed on combat sounds this month. Most weapons now feature new sound effects, and a number of other things such as bullets whizzing and variable impact sounds have also been integrated.
- Music is now enabled by default.
- Added five new area themed music tracks from Steven Coltart.
- Added an slew of new sound effects including alarms, machinery sounds, doors, hatches, bullet whizzes, weapon sounds, and more.
- When in Action Mode you can now fire at the ground or in the air and see bullets and particle effects based on what you hit. Hitting water for example will splash, where hitting metal will result in a spark. The following materials are supported at this time: Flesh, Dirt, Water, Sand, Plant, Metal and Snow. We may add in additional materials in the future.
- You can now hold down the left mouse button to continously fire when in Action Mode.
- You can now use the mousewheel (by default) to zoom in and out when using a ranged weapon in first person. It will auto-focus what you are looking at.
- Action Mode now features a new accuracy-adjusting tarteting reticle.
- New diagonal rifle strafe animations for combat mode enabling 9 direction support both in/out of combat.
- Rolls, dives and flips are now timed properly between the client and server.
- Rolls now better adjust to your body rotation so you don't do strange things when strafing out of combat.
- Bullets should now hit the appropriately aimed location.
- Each weapon now has it's own unique special FX.
- Variable bullet spread has been added to many weapon effects, primarily for RPG mode.
- Blindness is now less convenient.
- There are new optional damage flash effects. These include a small screen shake and a quick red flash when you take damage. You can enable or disable them through the options.
- Added many new combat animations.
- Improved damage bubble support.
- Failing to roll due to not having enough endurance will now display a message indicating why you were unable to roll.
- Fixed a number of strafe related issues. Strafing and firing is much improved.
- Corrected a number of Action Mode bugs related to opening and closing of windows not properly switching back to free look mode.
- Fixed an Action Mode related bug that was preventing fx from firing in some cases.
- Shotguns now use proper animations, instead of handgun animations.
- Due to the need for attributes to be limited on the end product versus the ingredients for refining ore/minerals an adjustment was made so pull the limiting information off the ingredients.
- Crafting attributes were added to the crafting window display to make it easier to tell what you are doing and the limits in place.
- New fitting recipes were added for the core 7 fittings for weapons and armor along with their associated attributes per fitting.
- Ore and Mineral recipes were added allowing you to create refined metal used in fittings among other things.
- Refinement agents added for the ore/mineral recipes to pull the attributes out of the end products.
- Both agents and ingredients can now have multiple flags for type making it easier to fit them into multiple recipes where needed.
- Added three new crafting based achievements. Each of these has its own title associated with it.
- Engagements can now optionally shut down if no players are inside of them for a minute. Most engagements will not do this, but in some cases this is beneficial.
- Adjusted the Training Grounds engagements to support the auto-shut down system, which prevents them from overrunning new players who enter into an engagement late. These engagements have also received a number of AI related improvements. NPCs will fire from greater distance, and seek cover behind new cover objects.
- Added three new engagement based achievements, and accompanying titles.
- Introduced a Nation Reputation system. This system works similar to Guild Levels in some other games. Your nation gains reputation as its members complete heroic activities such as defeating bosses, epic missions and engagements, gaining military rank and the like. In the future these will unlock additional perks.
- Interacting with friendly NPCs will now cause them to rotate and face you, as well as playing a conversation animation.
- Many new types of fun achievements were added. This includes achievements for things like accumulating wealth, exploring points of interest, being recloned, and the like. Most of these give new titles.
- The Character Selection and Character Creation scenes been redone to make them more visually appealing.
- Areas can now have separate cloning locations for each faction.
- The female model has received a similar upgrade to last month's male model upgrade.
- Improvements have been made to the FX system to allow us to feed more dynamic data adjustments made on the fly while an fx is playing.
- Improved camera position placement in first person modes, so that they would not have clipping issues with larger armor types.
- Several new armor visual sets were added.
- Speed hack detection improvements.
- GM support for tracking problem characters on the same IP address.
- Improved player metrics support.
- Many new types of vegetation have been added.
- You can no longer interact with dead NPCs.
- Adjustments were made to heavy characters and NPCs so that their shoulders are wider and the arms don't clip into their mass.
- Fixed some movement related issues with moving in multiple directions at once.
- Corrected a bug with variable idle animations, and improved idle animations.
- Fittings/recipe ingredients added or updated to the new crafting attribute system. This inclues 7 fitting types A-G for melee/ranged/armor.
- Added four new helmet types.
- Dozens of new inventory icons have been added. The bulk of these are crafting related.
- Created a new type of mission instance exit which allows us to have missions that can use instances in multiple areas and return to the proper location on exit.
- Some missions can now be flagged to now allow them to be abortable. This is currently used in the short Awakening tutorial missions as players need to complete this short mission to progress to the later tutorials.
- Added a new epic missions series which centers around the ALT corporation. This series includes some unique achievements and rewards.
- More work was done on the Clandestine Love Affair epic series. This is a heavyily scripted generated mission which showcases a number of features of our mission system.
- Added four new mission based achievements, three which reward you with a title.
- A new NPC faction has been added: Advanced Lifeform Technologies. This corporation is at the forefront of genetic research. Several new ALT employees have been added to various cities.
- Nacoot are now considered a flocking species and use different AI than other species. In the future we'll move more species to this style.
- Lesoo can now dive and roll.
- Many of the inhabitants at the Hole on the Hill will now defend one another, with Chip acting as the leader.
- Created a new NPC faction which is friendly to all three of the player factions and allows missinos to be performend by all three.
- Improved dive, roll and flip support.
- The Hole on the Hill now features a new waitress, as well as new customers.
- Animation improvements for the following types: Rhinoc, Scavenger, Peacekeeper.
- Many new NPC and voice babbles have been added.
- Freedomtown now features politicians.
- Cloning Officers are no longer Shaq-sized.
- Some pets can now stealth with their masters. This is determined by the type of pet.
- Nacoot can now be tamed and used as pets.
- Attempting to summon a robot without the minimum skill required will no longer consume a charge.
- The mission tracker has been upgraded to better fit in with the new interface.
- The Mission Window has been reorganized and features new icons.
- The Mission Details Window is now resizable. The abandon and share buttons have been moved to the left side of the screen to better fit the resizable windows.
- The mission details window has been trimmed down and now only displays useful information.
- Added a Damage Flash option to the Interface Options window.
- You can now right click on the page up and down buttons on Action Bars to increase or decrease the size of an bar.
- Tooltips are now more visually appealing and feature a more uniform look and scale.
- Right-click Info card windows have been upgraded to support scrolling information sections.
- Skill and Ability info cards have been adjusted, and now look better in general.
- Corrected some issues with scaling and moving of action bars and the new interface.
- Fixed an issue that was preventing the Share button from appearing on shareable missions.
- Many adjustments were made to Plymouth City to optimize its performance. This includes lighting adjustments, level of detail tweaks, additional occluders, and rooming off parts of it.
- Plymouth City also now features new benches and planter boxes, interior decorations, and improved Ambient Occlusion.
- Performance improvements to areas neighboring Plymouth City.
- New Office instances were added to be used in the mission system.
- The ALT corporation has set up offices in both Plymouth City and Freedomtown.
- Doma Highlands underwent a renovation including terrain work, point of interest placement and vegetation.
- An Old Abandoned Camp and a new Lake have been added in the Plymouth area to act as a points of interest.
- Significant work went into Wailing Scar this month, including improvements to both the caves and outdoor sections.
- Terraforming has been performed outside of Fort Hudson to make the area more visually appealing.
- The Freedomtown area has received a terraforming and foliage pass.
- Paths were added to many new places throughout the world, allowing for easier navigation of the world.
- The Training Grounds now feature new cover areas for NPCs.
- Performance optimizations were made to the following areas: The Hole on the Hill, Aemar Hydro Plant, Plymouth City, Amman Village, and the Training Grounds.