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Notes iconIntroduction

With Staging ‘nearly’ being live, we have one less build which is not our own to worry about and we are getting a better grasp on what was originally here. This article will show you our current plan for changes and adjustments in many aspects.

The Vision

The first thing covered is the Vision of the team, so here is the quick bullet points and below you will see an explanation of a couple points.

  • Core vision has not changed from JC's original vision in 2013/14
  • We are working on consolidating and unifying in game storyline
  • Will be expanding the game to include multiple play styles
  • Will not deter from the current core of the game
  • Will not become pay to win for any play style
  • Will be focused on clean and simple code/scripts
  • Will be focused on systems that we can build upon for future expansions

When we say we want to include multiple play styles, this is to do with making sure that many aspects are within The Repopulation, including multiple methods of PvP and PvE.

We are also looking into different server rulesets.  We want the framework to be sturdy first, and as we see what demand is like, different rulesets could become servers, or areas within the game.

With that Vision, we have to prioritize what would have the most impact from proposed changes whilst thinking about the amount of time them changes will take.  Currently we aren’t really continuing the process which was started by ABT, but renovating what was done, this means that we have taken it back into Early Alpha.

The World

One of the major changes in the next big patch (Condorslug), is the new shaders, but by no means is this the only change we have to make. In order to improve performance and some of the aesthetics there is a lot of renovation to be done in other places too, so without further ado, following are the details:

Shaders

2017 05 repop nlDue to the method in which terrain schemes are handled, simply adding new shaders rarely adjusts anything created to function correctly in the new method. These new shaders will support better texture detail, and texture transition blending. Utilizing these specific texture scheme slots will ensure all regions in the world will be more consistent.

This consistency also helps with loading. If one areas textures are the same as the next and the terrain scheme has the same layout you won't have to reapply/reload them all.  This means less load for the players.

Within the engine, a terrain scheme is a number of slots that contain textures, when you load an area you load its scheme. Currently, the terrain schemes have no consistency from area to area, which means whenever you transition areas, you are reloading a whole new scheme every time. We are removing that overhead by creating a single terrain scheme per biome/region and also adding in schemes for between these biomes to prevent stark changes in the environment.

 

Heightmaps

Another issue we have is with heightmaps. Heightmaps are what make up the shape of the landscape and what makes up a majority of the worlds floor. Currently the world is mainly at Half resolution, this isn't actually optimal and there are far more heightmap nodes than required. Every heightmap you load is more draws and demand on the system. So we are remaking all of the heightmaps at a Standard resolution but with less of them.

Summary:

  • Enabling the new shaders, means we are also redoing the terrain schemes, and repainting the world. (Condorslug).
  • Terrain Textures are also going to be refined (After Condorslug)
  • All heightmaps around the world are going to be redone too. (After Condorslug)

With all of that work ahead of us, we have been reading what the community has to say and looking at many aspects of the design. Many don't seem to like the current layout of the world, so as we have to redo the heightmaps anyway... we decided that the art team can have a little task:

Remake the entire world!

Yep, all of it is being redone, this process will begin with the visual overhaul, and lead into area placement and systems.

 

Condorslug

So with all of that said, here is the first parts of what you guys will see:

  • 2017 05 repop flora01Condorslug is first and foremost the start of the renovation to replication within every game system, at its very core this is about bug fixing and trying to get things in a much better place.
    • Condorslug includes a very fast repaint of the old world, using the new textures.
    • Condorslug includes 10.2 from ABT.
      • 10.2 does include a number of account tier perks (Silver, Gold, Platinum)
    • Condorslug also includes a wipe.
    • Condorslug also includes a renovated Tutorial of sorts, it's not a final one but we are revamping the hint system to not be as pop-up happy.  (The Tutorial has had its heightmaps redone on a first pass in order to make sure things work well.)
  • 2017 05 repop flora01

    Condorslug will be known as A01.00.00 for version number.  'A' just means it's in Alpha, Major Version.Minor Version.Sub Version.  Major versions will usually be with large milestones, Minor will be for any patches required within that milestone, and Sub version is anything that requires a patch to fix up certain issues.  Hotfixes applied without a patch being required will likely not change the version to you guys (Obviously our internal builds are all a bit different)
  • Final Condorslug is going to be one of the longest waits for a patch, unless we can somehow make it modular. (We would like to, but no promises).

To a large number of players the most important bullet point in there is the one that says “wipe”.  Over the course of Condorslug there might be several wipes of different kinds required, (character, skills, housing) depending on if we do one large patch, or several modular patches. This is because we will be changing some of the major framework, including the way aspects of the character and accounts are saved and used, replication is a pretty big word within server and client architecture, which can mean some significant impacts when changing it.  Feel free to discuss on the forums if you would rather wait to see a final big patch and a single wipe, or having it in smaller patches with the knowledge that it may require more wipes.

It’s worth mentioning that the Account Tier Perks are all included in the patch notes, but they are not to be confused with Backer Perks.  There are a number of Backer Perks already in the game, and as the world revamp is done they will be catered for, any that do not exist will be created before the dev team finishes Beta, but after we have the world revamp done.

 

Beyond Condorslug

As teams finish on Condorslug, they move into work on the world revamp, and this is being done in 2 major branches.

Firstly is the art/design teams, they will be remaking the world, this should be done in a single patch, but every areas heightmap, shape, position and texturing is going to be redone.  However, at first it might feel a bit mechanically disjointed because of the positions of certain NPC's and so forth that might not make sense, but that leads to the next section.  On the upside, the world that is playable will be becoming more open and will transition between biomes.

The second branch is the programming/design teams, they will be going over every system... systematically and we will be using the community to help with this.  The redesign of the systems should help eliminate any residual replication issues and also improve the performance, while keeping within the game's original vision. This is mainly about remaking the systems one at a time to help them fit together nicely within the game and fix up any bugs/issues the players have with it. We will be redoing each system individually over many patches, as each system is adjusted we will need to change everything in the world that relates to it.

An example is, after we redo the node and harvester placements system, all nodes and harvester methods and positions within the new world will also be renovated.

Virtually every single system will be looked at, from combat, inventory and even movement, all the way up to crafting.  For the most part the systems game play will not change to be entirely new, unless the community has deemed it so.

This is going to be a slow process, it does mean alpha is going to last a lot longer, but we do hope to have more frequent smaller patches when all of the World is revamped. When all of the systems are done with the first pass, we should be looking at the end of the Alpha cycle.  Then we move on to Beta.

For a small recap this means:

  • Condorslug includes a quick retexture of the world using the new shaders.
    • Includes a Full Wipe
  • After Condorslug comes the patch which will change the entire worlds layout, including, heightmaps, shape, textures and placements.
  • During and after the revamp of the world, the Systems will be renovated one at a time, this will take a lot longer than the world reshape.
    • This may include partial and other wipes as systems are redone.  (Like maybe just a player housing wipe)

     

Website

Over the next few weeks, you’ll encounter changes on the main Repop website. These will include new schemes, icon changes, as well as the addition of surveys.

Player feedback is very important to us. We look forward to working with you over the progression of our roadmap. In order to better utilize this information, we'll be introducing several methods of data collection. These will include surveys on the website and plans to later introduce them in the game. Participation in discord discussions and in-game chats are greatly encouraged. We'll continue to increase interaction on the forum threads, steam posts, and AMA's.

 

The Process

When it comes to Condorslug, the visual and content updates will be minor, the major improvements will be in stability and fluidity. This is because we are going so deep into the framework, that we cannot build upon each system until it is ready. We have 6+ years of programming, art, systems, etc to go through, document and work on. 

In general with our design process everyone on the team has a say, but we will mainly be using community input to stay true to what The Repopulation is.  Putting the ideas and needs of the players into a game is our job, and this is where things get a bit more technical.  We have to be realistic about what is achievable, the amount of impact it has on the game and any gameplay it might sway.  Even a small change can have a huge impact on many subsystems.

Everyone on the team gives ideas and use a given process to propose something, depending on what department that system falls under it goes through the eyes of said department to make sure it all fits within the Art, Lore or Programming standards.  After that it’s pushed up the chain and implemented as long as everything fits together. As more of the framework is built, more processes become available and that is when you will start to see more content.

 

Going Forward

So to sum everything up, here is how it looks on the roadmap, no dates are given currently, estimates will come as we get closer to the points. 

Anticipated Releases:

  • Initial re-release: DONE
  • Staging push to live: In Progress...
  • Website Updates for Theme and Surveys: In Progress...
  • Condorslug build (A01.00.00 Including ABT 15.10.2): All in Progress...
    • World Repaint for Shaders
    • Tutorial and Hint System overhaul
    • Fixing of base systems for replication and proxy (with as little changes to gameplay as possible)
    • Beginning to get feedback for World Revamp and Systems Redesign
    • WIPE
  • A02.00.00
    • World Redesign
      • World revamp to be done as first big patch
    • Systems Redesign
      • Systems will be renovated one at a time and released as they are ready.
      • This will be done over several patches, the order of systems will likely depend on the world building tools required and then demand from most broken systems first.

Each section will expand as we get closer to its completion, giving estimates on release dates and more details to it. All of the above is subject to change, any parts changed will be revised and expanded.

 

Lets hear from you

We are aiming to re-enable the purchasing of higher tiers for The Repopulation once we have the framework stable and no longer have ABT patches to worry about.

With that little bit of news, there is going to be a huge variation of opinions, please feel free to comment and ask questions on our forums in this News thread here.

  • Is there anything you would absolutely love to see in the revamped world?
  • What would you change to any of the systems?
  • If you had to choose between a single wipe with Condorslug or many wipes over the duration of Condorslug, which would you rather see?