With the success of the "Unchained" F2P launch, September's development update is a very meaty one, promising significant game updates coming in the rest of 2011 and next year.
The Battle Plan
So as not to fall foul of people holding dates mentioned as being set in stone, we will take a look at most of these planned updates as being in order, with some approximate timings attached, but as above, please remember that these are subject to change. In fact, with a live game, we can almost guarantee you these things will change, but we wanted to share with you the battle-plan for the year ahead.
This one is coming up pretty soon, and much of what is included has already been mentioned in previous letters, but we will recap quickly! This is primarily a Dreamworld technology update that brings new features and optimisations to the engine.
• New server side PhysX that improves our infrastructure and server performance • New Server Load Balancing, and system changes, to improve performance in Raids and Siege PVP (or indeed any situation with lots of players present) • The major Database update that will allow us to expand player inventory and storage space in the updates that follow this one. This one means we will also be expanding the quest log space by 15 slots for premium players in this update • Back end optimisations that help server performance and should reduce instances of 'server lag' • Improved handling of Damage numbers that should help client performance for some users • Improved handling of offline buff timers for better consistency • We reworked the 'tap' style combat systems, both to optimise performance, and ensure that the results appear consistently • Content wise we will be adding some new boss encounters to the Turan areas, and doing some further clean up of the level 80 Khitai playfields to make the play experience smoother.
Coming up before the end of the year, this update focuses on some great free content additions and PVP improvements.
This update will see the launch of the House of Crom dungeons. We will talk in a lot more detail about House of Crom in next month's letter (yes, we are acutely aware of the irony of revealing details on a dungeon some three years after it was announced, but we mean it this time!), but safe to say the team have some really, really cool stuff lined up inside these areas.
This update will also see the launch of the new Tier Four raid instance complete with three brand new raid encounters.
Systems wise the team are mainly looking at the PVP centric changes we mentioned previously, with a good long hard look at the sprinting mechanics, the new re-spawn system for mini-games, and some other miscellaneous PVP tweaks.
This update will conclude the Tier Four raid experience, with the final Khitai raid instance, and the last two new encounters in the Tier. Those players brave enough to face these final dangers will finally be able to learn about some of the deepest mysteries of Khitai.
This update will also feature some great new additions like the new PVP world bosses and, as requested from the player survey, a new Multi Feat Specification system.
Systems wise the team aim to give the Priest Archetypes a little care and attention. This will involve looking at combos, abilities and their feat trees.
This update should hopefully come very early in 2012.
This will be another mainly technical update, and a very important one for the game. This update will bring with it the new Dreamworld Single server technology. This will allow us to do all manner of cool things, most notably cross-server mini-games, and a group or instance finder system. Content wise we are working on new versions of the recent daily ACG dungeons (The Breach, The Forgotten City, and Dead Man's Hand). Two of them will be re-tooled purely for max level AA balanced characters to provide more variety for those looking for their daily tokens, and one of them will be a new team instance. (The original versions will not disappear! These will simply be new variants for people to enjoy, with a different challenge level and appropriate rewards.) This will hopefully go live during Q1 2012.
This update will be the next adventure pack. We aren't quite ready to announce the location and theme for this pack just yet, but pre-production work is in progress. We are currently aiming at Q2 2012 for this adventure pack to go live.
This update will also be the most likely landing spot for the launch of the full trade-skill revamp.
Systems wise the team will be looking at the Mage classes in a little more detail and give them the same once over as they will have done with Priests in the previous update.