Behold... this is a sneak preview of the fiery entrance to Ashfall. This will be how you travel from Doomwood to our new level 15 area. As you read this, I (Artix) have entered the area on our testing server and am doing a complete play through before it gets my stamp of approval for release. The specific things I am looking for are fun, flow, and more fun.
I know the story is darker and more serious than our previous. Cysero writing is excellent for this saga. So I am particularly focused on the gameplay using our limited, but expanding set of tools. My last play through ended after only completing 2 quests... when I made that call that we needed to change our entire quest system so that quests can persist through multiple areas. It was the only way for the team to achieve their vision for this saga. See, a "Story" takes place in a single area. Like Robina's story quests in Greengard. Our original concept was to have a world filled with areas containing one major story each. From a technical perspective, this was a great idea. However, as you know, this created a lot of limitations. For one, the limited number of monsters we can have per area really tied our hands on what we could do quest-wise. It was sort of weird that we were trying to reinvent the wheel when we already have a superior system being actively used in some of our previous games. So we fixed it! *Play final Fantasy Victory sound* Everyone is likely to agree this fix will untie our hands so we can now do anything plot and quests. It introduces sagas! A "Saga" is a collection of areas that all share the same story. It means that your storyline of quests can now zig-zag through areas, dungeons, camps, weird secret locations and more. That is really what I am testing today... so cross your fingers that it has fun and flow!
We are hard at work on the next round of major features & bug fixes in development. One that will REALLY HELP our new sagas is the "Guide System" which is simply a visual beacon (not bacon) that will tell you where you need to go for your next quest if it is in another area. Also in progress is finishing the party system, cosmetic items, environmental damage, private dungeon instances, new combat skills (stun, silence, etc), and fixes for a slew of our favorite bugs (crash on exit, falling through floors, stuck in combat bug, etc). Meanwhile, the content team is up to all sorts of devious things from new art, animation, maps, items, UI improvements and polish, and sound FX. We post sneak peeks of random things from our screens from time to time-- and I have seen a few replies that caught me off guard. Specifically the "OMG! Why are you working on the UI and combat system... did you give up on the Guide System!?" Please help me spread the word that our team is large enough that we are are doing a lot of things at the same time. Each person on the team has one dedicated "focus" task. For example, Warlic is working on the Party system. Perseus is working on the Guide system. Llusion is building the map for Ashfall: Part 2. Korin is working on improving combat animations. Rolith is working on live event broadcasting system.... and so on. Only programmers can build features, just like only artists can create the art.
I lost my voice at Anime Impulse and then got the plague upon getting home. (I know I am REALLY sick when I do not have the energy to play video games. Do you use this test?) So during my several hour planning meeting with Zhoom (who is also getting sick) yesterday I sounded comically like a raspy chain-smoking frog that tried gargling with thumbtacks. Or maybe a bunch of staticy radios falling down the side of a mountain. Even in static frog, the outcome is the same... our goal is to have the game ready for live launch either Summer 2017 (Or our safety-net fallback of October 2017.) Oh my gosh there is so much to do, but the distance we have to go is a lot less than the distance we have already come. This of course means that we will have every essential feature live, radical improvements/changes to our combat system, all of the high tier custom Kickstarter backer rewards in-game, and massive amount of content with corresponding level cap raise. The plan has wiggle room for some disasters along the way. After Dragonfall is live I would like to lay out the plan for you in detail. Once Live we can start working on the more fun features... >_> like item trade / auction house.
Wish the team luck, not on the 6 mo. plan... on my Ashfall Testing. I break everything I touch O_O