Counting down to Milestone 3

I’m down to just two issues in the issue tracker, with three days left to go before the deadline for Milestone 3.

Those two issues are to implement a way to hire and fire employees, and a financial report which shows your projected finances for the upcoming financial period.  I’m planning to do those two tasks in the same screen, so from a certain point of view, we could even call it just one issue remaining.

The extra time I have means that I can do some more stuff than I planned, in time for milestone 3.  Note that milestone 3 is still a pre-alpha build.  Which is to say that not all functionality will be present, and virtually nothing is in its final form or properly tuned for good game mechanics.

There’s a lot which is placeholder.  For example, the mechanism I have in place to edit quests is a terrible hack.  While it works, it isn’t intuitive at all.  I’ve worked out a better UI design for it, but that won’t be implemented in time for the Milestone 3 build — I’ve set that screen as a requirement for Milestone 4.

There are a few big extra things which I’d like to sort out before the Milestone 3 build, assuming I have the time — things which aren’t in my requirements list, but which would make the build better:

  1. I’d like to place monsters in a better way.  Thus far in MMORPG Tycoon 2, I’ve only placed monsters around manually-placed “grinding zones”.  And each monster is individually placed by AI developers (the player can modify these placements).  In practice, I don’t think that feels good — too much manual placement of grinding zones.   Instead, I’d like to try doing monster placement the way that I did it in MMORPG Tycoon 1.1 — monsters get automatically placed throughout a region as soon as you activate it — no activity required from AI developers.  “Grinding Zones” then serve only to designate quest locations, and setting the types of monsters which should appear in particular areas.
  2. I want to revisit the logic used for the rate at which subscribers join the MMORPG.  Right now, the logic is pretty obviously bizarre.  I need to investigate and work out why it feels so much worse than the system which was in place for MMORPG Tycoon 1.1.  (It might be the burst of new users I’ve added when the MMORPG first starts up, or it might simply be that MMORPG Tycoon 2 doesn’t have the x100 speed option from MMORPG Tycoon 1.1, so subscribers tend to accumulate much more slowly than if you’re used to playing 1.1 on maximum speed)
  3.  I want a series of tutorial screens which would pop up as you play, guiding you through how to play the game in a relatively sane manner.  Originally, this sort of thing was intended to be done via the “chat” interface, under the guise of a mentor guiding you through some training.  Maybe I’ll still do that, although I’ve currently got that chat interface hidden.
  4. I’d like to extend simulated player AI to understand levels a little better.  So if you have a level 1 quest giver and a level 2 quest giver in the same region, the AI will tend to get quests from the level 1 quest giver while the player is level 1, and from the level 2 quest giver while level 2.  Currently, players assume (incorrectly) that everything in a region is appropriate for a single level.
  5. It’d also be really nice to fix the simulation’s XP levelling.  Right now, gaining a level takes 8 XP (that’s not yet editable by the player, just because I haven’t created an interface where the number can be tweaked).  What really *ought* to happen is that at level ‘n’, the player should take 8 * ‘n’ XP to gain a level.
  6. On the topic of improving the simulation, it’d be great to figure out up stat scaling.  At the moment, the only affect of gaining a level is that simulated players will decide to try to do higher-level quests.  But that probably isn’t going to happen in just three days — that’ll be a much bigger process of tweaking to find what doesn’t break the game too badly.

A few notes on the scope of MS3:

MS3 is not a big release.  There’s a lot in it, but it’s not a big game that you’ll be playing for a long time.  You basically just select a region to work in, set up a starting area where players can gain a level (or two levels, if I manage to complete ‘extra task #4′, above), and make sure that the players who outlevel the starting region can reach an exit.

Oh, and the region population limits from MMORPG Tycoon 1 and 1.1 are back.  You do have to manage those, but since Milestone 3 is only covering a starting area which users should be able to outlevel pretty quickly, you probably won’t run into that problem.

So I’ll see you all on Monday.  Until then, wish me luck!

2 thoughts on “Counting down to Milestone 3

    • I too have been following this since the start! ;)

      Been a bit of a rocky road. The whole “terrain editing” thing was a huge Gordian knot which I’ve wrestled with for years, with lots of contradictory requirements. My repeated failure to figure out that one piece of the system has been killing my enthusiasm for the whole project during most of the development timeline of MT2. Finally stumbling over a satisfactory solution last week felt like a huge burden being taken off my shoulders, and I’ve probably been more productive on MT2 during the last week than in all the previous year. (Mind you, that also has something to do with working on the game nearly full-time over the past week, rather than just in the odd stolen hour here and there, previously)

      In retrospect, the solution I found is almost absurdly easy (although technically somewhat challenging — it pulls in a fair number of common techniques from other disciplines and melds them together in what I believe is a novel way). But it wasn’t an obvious solution at all from where I started. And in practice, I think it feels almost exactly right.

      One of the biggest bits of feedback I want to get from this milestone build is to hear how the terrain editing performs for people — whether it hurts their frame rate badly, or whether it’s acceptable. I worry that it might be too slow for the realtime editing that I’m using right now; that I might need to introduce a small delay so that the computer has time to calculate updated terrain. But I’d rather avoid doing that, if I can.

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