2023 is looking great!
Wow, it’s been a long time since I have written a dev blog. I’d apologize but as a one person development studio for an MMO… well, I’m not going to apologize. I have been doing amateur game dev for 20 years or more. I have had the privilege of working with and on some triple ‘A’ MMO developments over the years and learned a tremendous amount.
The servers have been up, for the most part, for the last many months. I have been looking at stability, memory management and optimization. There has been very few people testing so far and I am actually grateful for that. I don’t currently have a dev server setup yet so I am bouncing the server regularly during my dev days. Please feel free to hop on and test the servers but do know that until I get the full dev enviro setup the servers will be bounced with no notice fairly regularly.
What have you done for us lately?
Too much? The discord server actually has a changelog channel now and I am updating it constantly as I make changes to the client and the server. If you are interested in hearing what has been implemented, fixed or changed that is the best place to look. At a high level:
- Added a bunch more NPCs to the world
- Dialogue tree implementation for most NPCs
- Many new quests continue to go in week after week
- Hundreds of new items for players and quests
- Hundreds of new UMA equipment, armors etc.
- Consumables (Food) crafting implemented
- Factions implemented
- Creation of roughly 200 resource nodes in the Southfolds
- UI Tweaks and improvements for functionality
- Diff capable patching solution (Wonderful! no more 7 GB minimum patches)
- World building improvements at the Outpost, Swamp, Haggenville and the new kobold/orc camp
- Optimized in-game assets for mass viability. (Recent tester advised over 100FPS constant across the board)
Hundreds of hours in the last 4 months have gone into the servers. The server backend was updated to the latest version from the vendor and that required a lot of tweaking and adjustments for the memory management and other systems.
Okay, so what’s next?
Stuff! And a few things as well. Elaborate? Sure. I am all about function over beauty. It shouldn’t be hard to figure that out when you play the current game. It’s not gawd aweful or anything but instead of focusing on how to make this pretty effect or that pretty panel/UI change, I have been 120% into game functionality. I have a couple of things left on the functionality list and then my friends… It’s all about the content and the true excitement of game design.
I tend to work in sprints. Not because I like the agile methodology so much but it is born out of neccesity. I have a very taxing day job that requires my unwavering focus for 12-14 hours of the days. I have a wonderful family that is entitled to, and occasionally gets, a solid smattering of my days and then, whatever else I can muster goes into game dev. Sometimes that means weeks without any major milestones, but man when I hit a streak… It’s a winner.
Here are my current sprint focuses over the next 2-4 weeks. All of these will change on a dime “as required” as new priorities etc come to light:
- Implement the new “Gelfin mines” area in the Kobold/Orc camp
- Add the new mobs to support those areas
- Add in the new Raven camp and associated quest hub
- Implement 3-4 new mobs in the current starter areas
- Review the combat formulas again vs armor. (Assess the need to rescale armor values)
- Cleanup the UI/UXP on the patcher
- Build out the public wiki
- Optimize the new content (Rendering optimizations/Occlusions/LoD)
- Setup a full Dev instance of the servers (minimize prod disruptions and allow for multiple devs)
- Integrate new animations
- Integrate new effects
- Expand on the currently very limited audio effects in the game
- Rebuild the crafting trees for Tailoring, Blacksmithing, Woodworking and Alchemy
- Implement the crafting quest lines for all trade skills
- Decide on continuing classless or shift to classes at lvl 10.
- Going to provide a little more detail here as this is a fundamental shift from where we started. I still love the concept of a level-less and class-less MMO experience. However, I recognize that I am fighting a very complex and uphill battle if I have to reporgram the engine backend for every single thing I try and do. Basically this is potentially a shift back to full fantasy classes just based on the fact that they are supported natively with all of the skill and combat systems in the engine today. More to come as I get into this.
Okay but when can I play it?
You can play it right now. I haven’t done a lot of web dev lately (or ever) but I’ll try and setup a proper download section on the website. Right now the link to the installer is available via discord. Get into the channel, grab the client and have fun.
Are you going to do a kickstarter/funding?
Well I have already funded this game out of pocket to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars but I can not sustain that. Something I will not do is be “yet another failed indie MMO scam”. I have had people advise me for years that I am getting close enough to go for funding. They aren’t wrong. My game’s current state is light years ahead of so many of the quick cash grabs done by indies. However, I can not continue to be a one person dev team and launch any kind of reasonably fun product.
At some point I will be forced to monetize Aakrana. I have over twenty years of major app dev lifecycle and project work. Largest project I worked on in the last ten years was a four billion dollar program. Any approach to monetization will include a well rounded examination of sustainability, support and growing the player base.
Several approaches to monetization have been considered in the past. The one that is most viable based on the current situation in my mind, would be a quarterly “Sprint” that I request funding for. Give 3 sprint options as part of a kickstarter for example. The package that is selected by the largest amount of donations is the one that is executed on. Those funds would then be funneled directly to those activities via short term contracts with developers to address the scope of the sprint activity.
There is no easy way to address monetization in my books. Players don’t want to hear about it, they want you to provide a great player experience and they don’t want to pay for it. The truth about any hobbiest development is that at some point you have to reach that Minimum Viable Product (MVP). If you can’t launch and be financially sustainable, you aren’t a developer, you are a dreamer. Dreams are great but they must be balanced with reality.
If you are reading this blog, my thanks to you. Thank you for being interested in this journey that started for me in 2001. Thanks for any encouragement or feedback you can offer me in game or discord. Be patient with me going forward. I am simply one person with a tremendous amount of responsibility and I have a passion for fantasy MMOs that is driving me for the better part of 20 years now.
Baby steps and continuous improvement is my mantra. Find one or two equally invested developers would be amazing. I don’t have time to spoon feed folks but if you are a serious developer in Unity and have skills to bring to the table, hit me up. I know that to be successful I need a team. Together, as a community, as a team and as dedicated game developers we will bring this wonderful project to full realization.
Thanks for reading folks. And don’t forget:
“It’s Your world now!”Me