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Folks,  

I hope everyone is having a good weekend!  Ours got off to a fine start with a Live Stream of our latest build of SmackHammer.  For those who haven’t seen it before, SmackHammer is just a fun little tech demo masquerading as a game.  It was originally intended to display some early server and networking code but because of the reaction of our backers, we’ve made it more like a game.  This week we added day/night cycles, sun, moon, stars, capture the duck gameplay, scoreboard and ducks, more and more ducks.  This morning I asked the team to put in our TDD model just to see how it would look and play in SH.  This is, of course, not the gameplay that will be part of CU but simply a fun way to test some code before it is integrated into our main engine (Andrew’s demos).  Besides, it’s just fun to shoot plastic yellow ducks at other members of our studio and run around with a big yellow duck on your head.  

Friday marked the reveal of “The Depths” and judging by your reactions, it was a smash hit.  I know that there have been a lot of questions so here’s another Grab Bag of Goodness:

SATURDAY GRAB BAG OF GOODNESS

1) Won’t TD just make the game more unbalanced assuming that rarely are all three realms numerically balanced? How are you going to handle this?

This is certainly a major concern of ours as well because in a persistent, open-world, non-instanced multi-realm MMORPG, the number of members in the realms is never going to be equal and sometimes, the numbers can be very out of balance. To deal with this, let's start from the beginning and that TD is a living entity, it is not a static dungeon. We intend to use its innate hostility as one of the ways to help even the score. Secondly, the control mechanism of TD is also not going to be based solely on older MMO concepts, such as were used for Darkness Falls. Finally, TD is going to be very large (just as our world is) so it won’t be all or nothing. Now, these are only some initial thoughts, we’ll have a bit of time to work on this over the development cycle of course.

2) Will we have to grind PvE NPCs in TD? I thought you said “No PvE leveling or loot drops!”

No and I did. ☺ The vast majority of NPCs in TD will be players and/or non-bosses. These NPCs will be more of an annoyance (unless it is a PCM) and are not there for grinding. Even the NPC bosses aren’t a huge challenge, unless a PC is controlling them. Also, the common “Kill the boss 10 times and hope for one good drop” mechanic, there is none of that in TD. You’re killing the guard dog, the treasure (forge, mines, etc.) are there, no randomness applied.

3) Can you level in TD by killing NPCs? 

No. If you kill PCMs you will be rewarded and to incentivize the other realm, they will also level by killing you. As the level of PCM increases, the player controlling it can also pay a penalty if they just stand there and let you beat on it.

4) Can crafters upgrade the NPCs in TD?

Maybe. ☺

5) How are materials going to be shared from TD? This could end in tears and hurt Realm Pride no? 

Yes, it would if we were foolish enough to do it that way. We’re not going to be running a scarcity-based system (limited mines) in TD and then cripple it more by making the scarce resources even scarcer. There will be enough minerals per mine for all your crafters to share in because the harvesting of these minerals will take time. Forget the MMO trope of using your pick to grab the materials and then they go bye-bye and forget loot drops as well. Your entire realm is your team and we need to make sure that TD helps, not harms Realm Pride by having crafters fight over the materials.

6) Will any of the MPCs in TD drop items?

No, you might be able to salvage some stuff (materials) but the whole loot/leveling system will be discussed in another update. Get ready for another interesting ride with Mark on the BSC train.

7) Will TD be instanced?

Not a chance in…

8) Will the cameras in TD be streamed, captured, etc.?

What would be the fun otherwise? I see a whole lot of funny videos coming out from TD. Dark & Scary place + traps + players = LOL.

9) Can structures you build in TD be destroyed by the other realm?

Of course, it’s fun!

10) What will happen if you log out while in TD? 

Depends actually on whether you side controls it and how TD feels about that. I kid you not, I do want to create a real personality for TD, part Giger, part haunted house, part, well, you’ll find out.

11) Bonus Question – Mark, how did you lose 30 pounds? 

I went back on the Atkins diet and was patient when I didn’t lose as much weight as I usually do on it. I’m much better at patience these days, people might be surprised.

ANDREW’S LATEST ENGINE BUILD

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, I’d rather say that a picture is worth about 200 FPS. Please enjoy the following images at the bottom of this update. The first is from the latest build of the engine with our LODing code and other improvements that Andrew has been working on. The second shows the difference between the last build and the current build in FPS in the same basic shot.

As always, thanks for your support and I’m glad that you folks loved The Depths. There's much more to come over the next 18 days.

-Mark

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