Monthly Development Update - December 2010

Monthly Development Update - December 2010

With these letters written a little in advance, I am putting the proverbial pen to paper as we approach the holiday season, the 2.1 Update series has started smoothly on the live servers, and the team are preparing (weather permitting for many!) for the short break before we go back to full steam after the holidays.

The 2.1 series has only just begun, and with a lot of updates to come in the early part of the year we are getting ready for the very busy period ahead.

It is also the time of year when we naturally turn to a little reflection on the year gone by…and in our case it has been quite a year. We are all very proud of what we have achieved over the course of the last 12 months. In this day and age, what is coming next tends to get the headlines over what has been achieved. While that always keeps us on our toes and striving towards the next addition, or the next improvement, it doesn’t mean we can’t also appreciate all the hard work that has gone into the project over the last year…

2010 and all that

It’s been quite a year, with three major versions, four if you include the start of the 2.1 series, and almost twenty individual game updates (In fact, more than thirty when we include those made for the Korean version of the game). That is a lot to get through in a year. The fact that our tech team have been working on the upcoming Dreamworld Technology update alongside all that has made for a lot of developments for the game over the last year.

During the course of the year quite a lot has been added into the mix. 2009 was largely spent adding in the content that we had previously been lacking, so the goal for 2010 was to expand the game and add to it, something I think the team have managed to do really well.

Just taking a look through the features and content added this year makes me very proud of the contributions from everyone involved. What has it all meant in the game?

Features wise we have launched massive new features like Guild Renown, added in new features like offline levels, the new travel options, quite a few GUI improvements, improved the loot distribution systems, added in server side character preferences and generally kept focusing on improving the game experience for everyone wherever possible.

Content wise it has obviously been a huge year. The expansion launch added a whole new continent to the game with a lot of great new content. For many that would have been a significant enough addition, in and of itself, but we also added to the content in other ways.  We continued to build on the concept of seasonal events with the return of the Night of Lost souls, the Silver Atrium event and the current winter solstice celebrations. That is something we will look to continue with in 2011. We added the new raids in Thoth-Amon’s Stronghold, and worked on a lot of the great content you will see in the rest of the 2.1 series.

We continued to build on the PVP systems as well, with a lot of focus on the Border Kingdoms, to varying degrees of success with the Shrines of Bori, and the expansion of the PVP levels and new PVP armour sets. The lessons learnt there will serve us well going forward as we look towards future systems additions, and work on the difficult balance between outdoor objectives and open PVP. We then went back to the supplement the mini-game roster with the new 12 v 12 mini-game map, and a complete revamp and rebalancing of the queue system that seems to be working well.

We were also able to start to add some smaller updates for the more socially inclined with the new guild quests, horse racing and generally use the platform provided by the Guild Renown system to build on that area moving forward. When you look back that is quite an eventful year! As I said above we are very proud of how much we managed to improve and expand upon the game this year, and it provides great motivation for us moving forward and looking towards the new year!

New Year…new content and additions

If you haven’t been keeping up with these monthly updates let’s refresh the memory on what is coming up in the early part of 2011. This content will come through the course of the 2.1 series over the next few months.

The 2.1 series is designed to provide a little of something for everyone, rather than a huge addition for one play style or preference. We have already added great new PVP and social content. So what exactly do we have coming up in this series?

  • The Dreamworld Technology Integration
    • New rendering updates
    • Performance updates
    • New tools in the back end for the developers (they need new toys now and again too!)
  • Two new max level six player instances set in the city of Pai-Kang
  • New raid encounters in the Jade Citadel as tier four raiding expands
  • One new, max level, solo player ‘daily’ instance in Kara Korum
  • Two new solo ACG (auto content generation) dungeons that will scale for players between levels 40 and 80

Beyond the 2.1 series

While the 2.1 series will take up the early part of the year, and provide a lot of great updates to kick start the year, we are of course also already hard at work behind the scenes on what comes after the 2.1 series. While it is a little early to talk about much of it, and some things we aren’t able to reveal just yet, we are confident it is going to be a very, very, exciting year ahead for the game. There will be some exciting things to talk about over the coming year.

Some of things might just relate to the return of the great barbarian to the silver screen later this year, in the form of the new Conan movie. That is something we are very excited about, and means there is great potential over the coming year, with a lot of renewed interest in everything Hyborian.

Season’s greetings

Wrapping up the year just wouldn’t be complete without a huge, massive, thank you to all of you out there. I have talked a lot in the preceding paragraphs about what we are doing, and how we are improving the game. The cynical part, or let’s keep it seasonal and say the Scrooge, within us says ‘well yes, that’s what they pay us to do’, but making a game like this is so much more than that. All of you out there, as a community, are so much more than that.

Like any community, or any family, we might disagree from time to time. We might even exchange heated words on those disagreements from time to time. That’s usually because we all care. Whether it is you folk out there playing, our support staff making sure things get answered, resolved and looked into, or our developers tweaking, poking and adding to improve things, everyone really wants to have be proud of what they contribute or enjoy their time spent playing with other, and enjoying the benefit of the work of others.

That’s what the season brings to mind most of all.

In Hyborian terms, not being the most open of communicators, we can think of ourselves sharing tankards of ale around a roaring winter fire. A resolute nod in each others direction, a silent respect for each others strength, and a toast to the fact that tomorrow, the week beyond that, and, with a little luck, the year beyond that, will bring with them new battles to be won and new adventures to be had.

So enjoy whatever feats the season offers you and we will see you all in the New Year.