Archive for the ‘Site Updates’ Category
It’s been a while since we released the Episode 3 podcast and our users have resorted to threats of ransom for updates!
As you can imagine, a lot of progress has been made towards finishing Episode 3. I am looking at my Episode 3 flowchart right now and far more is crossed off than isn’t, and every day I cross off some more. Right now the majority of the development is in my hands, as all the conversations/items/forums have been built for some time.
A couple of weeks ago during our meeting, I told Jalapeno and BingeBot 2015 that if I worked my ass off, I could have a beta out quickly. But we all decided it was in everyone’s best interests to take our time with it and not rush it out. We want Episode 3 to be as awesome as possible, and if that means launching a little later so be it.
I’m still not sure how long Episode 3 will take to play through (we’ll need beta testing for that), but content wise it’s pretty enormous. I think in most metrics, Episode 3 is bigger. I found out this morning that there are more sTalk conversations in Episode 3 than in Episodes 1 and 2 combined!
So please be patient with us. The worst of the wait is over, and it’s just a matter of time before we’re ready to open our beta testing and announce a release date.
-ET and the crew
When Episode 3 of Forumwarz launches, there will be hundreds of new items available for players to obtain, trade and use to their advantage. Since we’ve covered the basics of Episodes 1 and 2 with itembuildr already, we’re going to hijack itembuildr for a while to create Episode 3 content.
The content you guys create will exist when Episode 3 launches in addition to the hundreds of items we’ve created internally, so there will be plenty of new shopping opportunities.
This is how it’ll work:
- The stats of items will be hidden. We will assign them later.
- All winners will get a special Episode 3 item contributor E-Peen(tm)
- The winners will also get an IOU for the item once Episode 3 launches. These IOUs can be traded via Kyoubai in the meantime, so it’s a great way to earn extra Flezz.
You can start building Episode 3 items right now! Have fun!
I’m delighted to announce that after months of development, we’re going to launch the new gameplay enhancements on September 10th.
Addtionally, the new gameplay features will also herald a new Domination season!. We due for a new season, and since things are changing so much we figured it would be better to not mess with the existing medals and winners too much.
Important Launch Notes
The migrations for the new gameplay changes are HUGE. The database has to change in about 20 different ways, some of which could take hours to process. So rather than do our typical “The site should be down for a few hours” thing, we’ve scheduled a full 24 hours of downtime. This will happen directly following the ending of the current domination round, at 9:30PM EST on September 9th. So we can expect the site will be up by 9:30PM on September 10th.
The road to Episode 3
We haven’t talked about it much, but Episode 3 has been under heavy development for months. I’m really happy with the progress the writers have made. Following the gameplay update, the integration of Episode 3 will be my primary development focus, so you’ll be hearing more about the cool things ahead.
Until then, I’m hoping these new gameplay enhancements will keep everyone busy, and keep the game feeling fresh.
Thanks again to all the testers, apprentices and regular users who provided feedback to help get this release out the door!
It has been about 6 months since we launched Forumwarz Episode 2!
The initial plot for Forumwarz was written quite some time ago. Based on a few meetings where the team discussed what we’d like to have in the story, Jalapeno Bootyhole wrote up an outline. (At the time we were planning on releasing the entire game in one go, where half way through you’d be forced to pay to finish the storyline.)
As we got into the development and writing we figured out that it would be a lot more work than we thought to finish the whole story before we ran out of money. We decided to split the game into Episodes. Three made the most sense, so we found logical end points and adapted the story accordingly. Reviewing the document now reminds me how far we’ve come:
You get a popup message, that refers to whatever search term you came up with.
Bottom corner: Dr. Mysterion/Johnny Anonymous/HornySanta24/AnonImus/Shallow Esophagus has added you to his IM list!
Some presence (Sentrilion? Googhole?) adds itself to your IM list. I know you were searching for pictures of monkey snatch, but: Can I talk to you for a minute? Yes/No, doesn’t matter. Singles you out for never having done anything in your life. Says you can change the world forever, just have to listen to instructions. “Why me?” etc. Not important. Asks you to destroy this forum. He’ll make it worth your while, and if not, you can block him.
Hah, part of me wishes we went with Dr. Mysterion now!
Throughout the design stage, I referred to the overall storyline as the mythology. In other words, the story that glues together the entire universe. We also introduced a lot of side missions, which are basically interesting characters with a gripe that want you to help them out for money.
Episode 3 is the last piece of the mythology, as far as we’ve written it. People keep asking me what we have planned for the game after that. Well, just because this particular storyline ends doesn’t mean we can’t create others. We aren’t about to abandon the franchise just because what we initially wrote runs out!
We are committed to working on Forumwarz as long as it is viable to do so. I’m not sure what form that will take, because we’ll likely want to take some time to imagine our options, but it might be a new storyline split up into episodes, or single one-off episodes that have shorter but self-contained storylines.
In a little while, Jalapeno Bootyhole will enter the heavy lifting aspect of the writing process. We’ll work together to create a detailed outline of the events in the game, the actor dialogue, the forums, the gameplay, etc. It will take some time, but once the ball is rolling you’ll hear a lot more about it and what’s contained.
But first, the combat revamp!
While Jalapeno is fleshing out the writing, I plan to spend some time beefing up the existing gameplay. In Episode 1, you spend so much time learning about the different aspects of the game that time flies quick and before you know it you’re finished. In episode 2, the storyline is much longer, so the limitations with the existing combat engine are more evident. It ends up playing too much like World of Warcraft, where you hit the same combination of keys on the keyboard over and over.
I have some good ideas on how to improve combat and make it more intelligent, and I want to spend some time implementing them into the existing game. I’ll need a bunch of volunteers from every class to help test the new mechanics, and there will likely be some speedbumps along the way, but in the end I think it will be worth it.
Look for more on that in the coming weeks.
The three most common question:
These are what I get asked most frequently about Episode 3.
When is it coming out?
We aren’t giving a release date because we’d rather launch it when it’s stable than push it out too soon. Based on our previous history, a release towards the end of 2009 is likely. Episodes 1 and 2 were both released in October.
How much will it cost?
We’re not sure yet. It’ll depend how long it is and how epic it feels. We are certainly not out to gouge people so it’ll stay affordable like Episode 2 was. Last time the pre-order was successful, so we’ll probably offer that again when we have a release date in sight.
Can I beta test it?
Last time the beta tester feedback proved to be invaluable. However, we made some mistakes about letting everyone into the beta at once. Once most people had finished it, they had little reason to start again and test it fresh. This time I plan to have multiple beta sessions, staggered from each other.
We’ll probably be hand picking most testers based on their feedback of the game (we even like harsh criticism) and based on their ability and willingness to spend time playing an unfinished game. However, we might end up doing a random selection of people. If we create a sign up list for random selection, you’ll hear about it on this blog!
As part of the continuous effort to introduce more players to Forumwarz, we have coded up a Beta system for running affiliate ads. We’re looking for people who have sites and are trying to monetize them.
Basically here’s how it works: We give you ads to run on your site. We then give you a percentage of the revenue earned from any users you refer to us. We also give you a special tracking page to see how many people clicked on the ads, signed up for Forumwarz accounts, etc.
Right now we’re only interested in sites that get a reasonable amount of traffic. If you are the curator of one, contact me and we’ll talk about getting you set up. In the future, we might allow anyone to run the ads regardless of the level of traffic their site gets, but for now it’s very much beta and we want to figure out all the kinks.
We’ve listened to your feedback on itembuildr and pushed out a few updates:
- The item-generating code is a lot better. There should be fewer random repeats of the same item class. You should never get the same item class twice in a row. Secondly, there are fixes to prevent pricing from going way out of whack (like with the Dragon Ball items.). Thirdly, we can create special items for all classes now (like Hackers!). Unfortunately, I had to make adjustments to a few of the existing items to keep their prices in line with our economy.
- There are two new E-Peen(tm) for itembuildr — one is for having your idea chosen. The second is for having your image chosen.
- A bunch of items built with itembuildr have been moved into the regular stores. Each item will display credits for its creation. They have subsequently been removed from the ItemBuildr consumer’s co-op.
I’m hoping these fixes will go a long way to making itembuildr a lot more useful and fun for everyone. As always feedback is appreciated.
One of our most requested features for IDC is the ability to ignore other players. Lately I made some changes to how IDC works on the back end that allowed me to implement the feature. Here’s how it works:
On the IDC console, if you type:
Will start ignoring the player in IDC with the name supplied. If you want to unignore them, simply run the ignore command again (it toggles.)
If you want to list all the people you’ve ignored, type in:
Without a name. It will tell you everyone you’re hiding from!
I spent some time re-factoring our image uploading system to allow for more user submitted content. It was a lot of refactoring, but from now on it’s much easier for users to contribute to our game.
The first step was implementing custom emoticons. These can be purchased for 5BP on the Support Us page. A few have been added already:
They have to be approved by a moderator, but we’re usually pretty quick at doing that. Enjoy!
I’ve been updatting Twitter a lot more lately than the blog, mainly because most updates don’t warrant a full posting. If you have a Twitter account you can follow forumwarz for more frequent updates. Actually, even if you don’t have Twitter you can just subscribe to the RSS feed there and you’ll get all our updates. Here’s some stuff you might have missed:
The site has been pretty laggy lately. We decided to finally do something about it and ordered 3 brand new servers, all of which are faster than our current server. They’re currently being set up by our hosting company and hopefully we’ll be able to switch over pretty soon.
There will be some downtime as we switch over. This is a pretty major change so it might take the larger part of a day to switch over, but it should be worth it for the performance we’ll gain.
I’ve pushed out some early upgrades to Tubmail, which should help if you have many messages in your inbox. It’s now paginated, and you get much more screen real estate to view the list of messages.
We’ve published a few ItemBuildr items already. You should check out the ItemBuildr section of the site and the store to see the awesome stuff our users have come up with.
Over the next little while I’ll be putting out many little enhancements to existing parts of the site such as Tubmail and Flamebate. If you’ve been part of the community for a while I’m sure you’ll be glad to have some of the new tools we plan to build.
We’re starting to work out a schedule for Episode 3 development, too. It’s a long way away, but we’re getting ready to get the ball rolling on that one too.
Today I’m delighted to announce the launch of itembuildr, our latest system for players to create content in the Forumwarz world. Whereas forumbuildr allowed players to create forums, itembuildr allows you to create items that your player can actually equip!
Here’s how it works:
Step 1. The itembuildr gnomes come up with an item type and stats.
This is done automatically, and is mostly random. The item will either be an equippable item or a junk item. It can be anything from a .moar file (in fact, our first build is a video .moar file) to a tattoo or even a special item. Pretty much anything that can be equipped can be designed by our players.
The stats for the item are generated by marrying two existing items together from a particular class, plus a little random mutation thrown into the mix. So you don’t have to worry about designing some kind of super item that’s better than anything in the game. Everything should be within the limits of what we consider acceptable.
Step 2. People submit names and descriptions
Any character on Forumwarz can submit a name and description for the item. They are told what type of item it should be and what it’s stats will be, and they can submit exactly one idea. The submission period lasts 24 hours.
Step 3. People vote on the names and descriptions
On the second day, people will anonymously vote up and down other people’s ideas. Again this lasts 24 hours. After the voting period ends, the winner is picked as the official name and description of the item.
Step 4. People submit images for the item
Now that the item name and description is known, people can submit images for it. Each character can submit one image for consideration.
Step 5. People vote on the images
Again, a new voting period occurs and people can vote on the best images. After 24 hours, the best image is picked and..
Step 6. The item is published!
The item will end up in an itembuildr store at first for a limited time, along with recently published items. People can purchase the item and begin trading it on Kyoubai (or just stockpile it for their collections.) The best items will also be moved (at the discretions of admins) into the actual game stores, so anyone playing the Forumwarz storyline can purchase them.
Working in Parallel
Now that we’ve explained the pretty straightforward flow of the itembuildr process, you’ve probably figured out that it takes 4 days for an item to go from concept to the store. That would mean about 90 new items a year, which isn’t nearly enough for our rabid users.
Instead we’ve designed the process so that we’re designing two items in parallel!
The way this works is that we’ve broken it into a two day cycle of submitting and voting. During the submitting day, you can submit ideas for items, but you can also submit images for the previous winner. Then on the voting day, you vote for both. So it still takes an item 4 days to be created, but there are always two on the go. Cool huh?
How to access it
You can start using itembuildr right away by logging in and clicking on the multiplayer tab. Today we are only submitting item ideas since it’s the first time it’s being run.
As always, we welcome feedback on the process, the interface and the integration into Forumwarz as a whole. Let us know what you think and how we can make itembuildr a great piece of the Forumwarz universe!