Hopefully with a preview of what's to come with this update you guys can share in our excitement for its release date! While the majority of changes come under the hood, the whole game should feel more refined and certainly more enjoyable. I've spent a lot of my time focusing on improving things for those of you at the bottom of the scale hardware wise too, you should notice the background changes the most I think The Game Server will be taken down on the 15th December at 14:00 Game Server Time to begin the update process. Please remember that this may take up to 24 hours.
So for those of you who just want the short and simple:
- Major Battle Engine Upgrade, 50+ Moves have been upgraded.
- PvP Clauses can now be enabled during battle requests.
- Major Scripting Engine Upgrade. Huge collection of fixes & improvements, including cut scene support.
- New Content, Storylines & Rewards.
- PC Menu System Upgraded. Menu's look more crisp and you can now re-arrange your glorious collection with ease.
- Improved Security. From the database to standard packet handling, many areas of the game engine have had an extensive security overhaul.
- Improved our data transfer system. Game Client should use up to 60% less bandwidth than V0.3.X!
- Trading Requirements have changed. 2 Badges are required.
- New NPC Dialogue System.
- Rewrite of all Player and NPC movement systems.
- Tons of Fixes.
Now for those of you which need to know more, here's the full fat version
The Battle Engine
This is probably the biggest area of focus for this update, I'm happy to say that I really feel like it's paid it's dividends! We've managed to add a serious amount of new variety in to the battle engine, which won't just benefit those of you in the competitive scene - but will really help to make sure that all battles for everyone become that little bit more exciting! From flinch effects now being active and multi turn moves no longer being incorrectly disrupted, even what was available has become a new beast Click Here
for more information about the 50 moves which have been updated.
There are actually two key features which have been built in to the game engine for this release, but unfortunately they've had to be postponed by a couple of weeks to ensure they can be released at the right level of quality from the offset. These come in the form of Ranked PvP Battles and a Server Automated Tournament System. Both of these are huge additions to the game, we feel that they will keep the competition healthy for all of us and players can finally compete to call themselves the best. Originally the Ranked Battles were going to be included as part of the early release, but after taking a step back and realising just how much of the core game engine has been changed for this update, we're going to need a little bit of time to get everything else stabilised first. With a solid foundation these features will be much more enjoyable, especially with the new connection manager.
The Scripting Engine
Now, I'm not even sure where to begin with this one. So much has changed from a development perspective, but as ever with these kinds of changes it will take some time for game content to be able to catch up to the new features available to us. Fortunately we've still got a growing and active Junior NPC Team who are helping to push the boundaries of what we can do and also to fix issues within the system which have been in the server for a long time. Our NPC Editor has had two complete overhauls during the development of this update, I think it's had close to 10 iterations released which have really changed the way in which we can tackle the task at hand. We've gone from having to write all of our scripts in notepad to having an error checking suite which can help correct errors as you type them, it makes the world of difference even if some of the scripts still need convincing of this
So what does this mean for the game world?
Our current game world has many redundant and frankly quite useless NPCs, which seem to do a lot more to deter players from exploring rather than helping to make it part of the core experience. Having a game world which reacts to the players progress is extremely important to me, having NPCs which just provide the same few lines of dialogue repeatedly gets old very quickly. But, this isn't a fault of the scripters who created this past content, the majority of this 'filler content' was created with our very first implementation of the scripting engine and as a result basic speech was about all they were actually capable of!
Changing the game world in this way is a massive task, it's also a task which is never really complete as we can always find ways to further engage the player in their surroundings. We want players to be able to interact with the NPC population and be remembered for their trials and tribulations, whether they helped to save the towns folk or benefited quite nicely from the chaos. Does that bookcase have anything of interest to me? Perhaps I can grab some secret information from the computer at the back of the house etc.
Due to the size of this task, we won't be implementing any kind of full on region sweep as this would require reworking hundreds, if not thousands of files. Instead as we create new content and storylines we will be taking the time to rework any files which we come in to contact with during this time. So we should be able to provide very noticeable improvements but they can still remain manageable tasks for those involved. The first areas of focus are going to be Tutorial Town, Town 2, Town 3, Lakeshore and Town 5, be on the lookout for new quests
There's a couple of multi part quests which will be making their way with the initial V0.4.0 release.
As a final note, all NPC conversation should flow a lot better now. Kyle has been hard at work to produce close to 200 face shots for us, so that we can have the correct faces displayed for coloured NPCs or ones which simply don't have an existing face shot at the moment. We still won't have a faceshot for every single NPC, but this really adds a lot to the game world. He's even managed to ensure we've got up to date pics for all of the player sprites too!
Upgraded PC Menu
We've had a lot of users which have found our PC system to be a little bit of a nuisance, especially when trying to organise a few hundred Pokémon in to a decent order. You can now drag Pokémon around within the PC system, and also to/from your active party. This means that you can now rearrange things super easy.
There isn't a lot to say about this one, just a few basic changes to the way things work. The first of these being that trading has been further restricted for new accounts, users will now be required to have 2 badges before being able to trade. The review timers in the trade window have also been changed. Changes made in the main window will still flash/highlight for 15 seconds, however the delay for being able to accept has been reduced to 10 seconds, the timer for the summary page has been reduced to 15.
Database and Security
This update comes with a redesign of the way in which we store all player data. Previously our system was designed to work with specific and expected datasets, which meant that every time we needed to further improve this system we've had to take the game server down and run a conversion process which can take the best part of a day sometimes. This new system is far more flexible, providing the option for us to expand it without having to write code to achieve it. This doesn't sound very exciting, but in relation to how we can access player saved data with our scripting engine this really does go a long way to helping us with our vision for the game world.
I've applied a new encryption mechanism for password protection within the database and managed to restore functionality of a few things which have been compromised over time. For example things like your account creation date. We're also able to save your privacy settings for the next time you login to the game too, however any value saved as OFF will be changed to Friends upon login, as an MMO project we're still about bringing people together.
I won't delve too much in to the security changes as always. There is a few bits and pieces which are worth noting though. The Speed Hacking autoban system has had one of the last remaining causes of false positives fixed. Player movement, NPC movement and the whole dialogue system have all been rewritten to ensure that users aren't able to bypass things they shouldn't or speed up areas of the game which it was never intended.
Traffic, Disconnects and Performance Optimisations
As a whole, we should be able to see a massive reduction in the bandwidth used by the game client. Obviously due to the style of the game, it's not very bandwidth intensive as it is - but there's always room for improvement. We should see both reduced overall ping times and also as much as a 60% decrease in overall web traffic usage while playing. For those of you which are playing on mobile internet connections or simply just an unstable connection I think you'll be able to notice the benefits of this quite quickly.
Users which are playing on slower computers should also be able to see some stability improvements for the game too. Previously some users would experience frequent disconnects even though they were using a reliable connection simply because the game client was able to eat up more than it's fair share of resources which in turn causes the connection system to lock out. I've changed the way in which these things are prioritised by the CPU, so while this won't provide a direct boost to performance it will make gameplay much smoother overall. This will also apply to things like receiving some mouse stutter while the game client is running.
Last but not least, this is actually perhaps my most favourite feature from this update even though it's quite mundane. Disconnects have always been able to cause quite a stir for our user base, whether it's being unfairly thrown out of battle and losing your chance for a rare or gym badge or causing disruption within a tournament. We now have a new connection manager which will facilitate bridging your session between dropped connections. The game client will no longer display any notifications about your PING timing out, instead if the allowed time period is breached the connection will be severed on both sides immediately, but if the server hasn't requested the connection closed the client will now set about restoring your session. You only have a 30 second window of opportunity for this though, as we don't want this to be used as a means to stall battles. We're also going to be looking in to ways to further update this in the future, to create boundaries for the number of acceptable disconnects within a single battle.
- Legendary Encounters are now spectate-able.
- PvP Battles which result in a draw are now also globally announced.
- Escape button no longer serves as a log out button, it will bring up the options menu instead.
- Trade and PvP Requests will now lock player movement as they have always supposed to. Users will be able to continue moving once the request has closed or been accepted.
- Client now has a full understanding of the legendary perks data. Shops and other areas will now update correctly to reflect any active perks.
- The NPC Taylor in Town 5 has had a price change. It will now cost 250k to update your game sprite.
- Forest Battle Pads not displaying correctly.
- Stabilised keyboard cursor animation in battle.
- If you've used the PC menu before log out, you would login to a seemingly empty box until changing back to the box again. Now updates immediately.
- Fixed glitch in mouse handling during PokeMoveMenu and displaying hover menu.
- Fixed hugely exploitable glitch in the Instanced NPCs system which previously enabled users to speak to NPCs they weren't standing next to.
+ This will have caused some weird loops in conversation or conversations with random NPCs sometimes appearing out of nowhere.
To apply this update we're going to have to bring the game server down for approximately 24 hours. While I expect the process to hopefully take around half of this time, there's always something unexpected which slows this process down so 24 hours is a safe figure. We will be taking the Game Server offline on the 15th December, most likely late in the evening.