It’s been a while since I posted a development update here, so I thought that it was about time I did so. I’ve been working on MMORPG Tycoon’s user interface a bit; here’s a current shot of what it looks like right now. Commentary and more images below the fold.
The left toolbar is in the process of being ripped out and reimplemented (which is why it has mismatched buttons and suchlike); go ahead and ignore it in these shots. The top toolbar from the 1.0.x versions is now almost completely gone; the “Test World One” text shown here is the name of the MMORPG, and is actually written on the map itself (so it’ll move out of view as soon as you start zooming in on the map). The gauge under it shows the current MMORPG population and capacity. The compass rose to its left is the online/offline control; click it and it’ll flip over and initiate a rolling shutdown of all the region servers (starting in the northwest corner, and finishing in the southeast corner). Click the compass rose a second time, and everything comes back.
This is going to be important in 1.1 for a few reasons. First, there will be certain tasks which can only be performed while everything is offline (activating new region servers, reshaping regions, making major changes to character classes or game design rules, etc). Second, when everything is offline, server modifications are much, much faster to perform, which means that you can quickly make big changes while everything’s offline.
As an example, let’s suppose that you have a region with 200 monsters in it, and you want to change it from being zoned as level 5-7 to level 1-3, so that your newbie players can move through it without being savaged by monsters far too high level for them to fight. If you make that change while players are connected, your devs will have to go in and travel to every one of those monsters manually; this can take a while to accomplish, and your players will be encountering those wrong-levelled monsters in the meantime. And of course, your devs will be distracted from doing other, perhaps more useful work. Now on the other hand, if you take the MMORPG completely offline, the task will be completed instantly. With a big task like this, it’ll be much, much faster to take everything down, make the change, and then bring it all back online, than to try to make the change while everything’s running. But on the other hand, your players are likely to be annoyed with the downtime, so you don’t want to do be doing this too often.
You’ll also notice that the game no longer displays an actual date, but instead displays “Day 0”. I’ll confess that this is an idea I’ve blatantly stolen from My Life as a King. I’m not going to be nearly as heavy-handed about it as that game was, but I like the idea of numbering the days, rather than trying to maintain a real calandar, and providing “daily” reports, rather than keeping reports current with absolutely up-to-the-second data.
And the little bars in the bottom left corner of the window are just some debug information about rendering speed; they won’t be there in the final game. Did I mention that MMORPG Tycoon v1.1 is rendering substantially faster than 1.0 was? If you had frame rate trouble with the 1.0.x series, that should be much better in v1.1.