Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm SO making one of these!

First, take a look at this website.

This is just too funny... I was skimming over several pages of the website and found a few things that just made me LOL literally.

Take this example from the "directions for use" page.

2. Have a locked cabinet

Aliens have taken ten helmets from abductees and several Velostat lined baseball caps. If you are not wearing a hat they will go through your entire house looking for them. They will not, however, go into a locked cabinet. Before you make a helmet have some kind of cabinet or trunk that you can lock. That way they won’t take it.

BAHAHAHAHAHA! What keeps an alien from going through a locked cabinet?

4. Secure the helmet with tape or string

Almost any kind of tape or string wrapped around the helmet several times will prevent aliens from removing the helmet if they manage to get close to you.

Aliens have somehow figured out how to space travel, but they can't get a hat off someone's head if its taped on?


6. Where the helmet as often as possible

I guess good grammar is not a prerequisite for fighting off alien forces!

I could go on forever, this site is just TOO funny... back to work.

New Loot Options + Game Update Previews

GU43 is coming up soon and in addition to the G15 support that I already mentioned, I worked on adding 2 new looting methods.

Need Before Greed looting is something thats been on our list to add for well over a year, probably more like 2 years. Now groups have the ability to choose Need Before Greed looting which will present each member with a Need, Greed and Decline button. All players that submit "need" requests will be rolled first. If no players submit "need", then all "greed" roles will happen next.

We've also added an item rarity threshold to the group options. This will allow you to specify, Treasure +, Legendary +, Fabled + or All Items. Any item above the specified tier will use whatever loot option is chosen. Any items BELOW the tier will be automatically assigned via Round Robin.

The main reason for using Round-Robin versus the existing free-for-all, is that we'd have to wait for the lottery to finish to know which items were left. Also, people would have to click the chest once to initiate the lottery and than anyone wanting to loot the free for all items would still have to click the chest to see if something else was in it. This is why we decided to go with an auto-assign option like Round Robin. Now when you click the chest, all low-tier items will get assigned automatically, then every group member will see a popup loot window for each item above the tier.

Just be sure you set the tier high enough if you are concerned about No-Trade items being assigned to the wrong people. I would assume that most players in raiding guilds with fabled armor don't care about treasured items, so they may set the tier to legendary and above, and just let No-Trade treasured be auto-assigned as vendor trash. However, any groups where people think you might want some of that treasured gear just needs to be sure that the tier is set low enough to that it gets lotto'd.

Its a very difficult balance to strike between providing way too many options, and just enough so that everyone is happy. Hopefully these options will provide enough flexibility without being too confusing.

On a side note...

Lots of people responding to the GU43 Preview post flaming about how small the update is. First, keep in mind this is only a preview, everything is not mentioned here. Second, remember we're coming off of an update that introduced LOTS of new content. There is always bug fixing and balancing associated with the new content, and that can easily bleed into the next month's update. Also, when we spend lots of time on bug fixes and performance improvements, those items won't always show up on an update, but it doesn't mean we aren't working hard to make the game better. Then on top of that, we are already working on features for future updates. Our development schedule has to run far enough in advance so that we have time to test and bug fix features before they are released.

Since we went from a 6-month to a 12-month expansion cycle we've been able to release some pretty big features as game updates. Unfortunately now many people have taken this for granted and expect EVERY update to have huge features in them. If a specific game update seems small, just keep in mind all of the things I mentioned above.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Through the Fire and Flames

This post is not about a guitar hero song, or the band Dragonforce, but the title does a great job of describing what it feels like to try to communicate with people on public forums about EQ2 issues.

Just so you understand where I'm coming from, I wanted to point out this post on our official forums.

I occasionally pop onto our forums when I'm compiling code or taking a quick break and check out the recent topics to see what people are discussing. If someone asks a question and I can answer it, I try to be as helpful as possible. Today, a friend of mine points out this response to a thread I participated in and it really made me angry.

First off its interesting how the flame turns into an issue about not prioritizing my work and doing my job when they don't even look at the date of my post to see that I responded at 5am on Sunday morning.

Secondly, people always assume that if you work at SOE, you have the authority to post on any topic you want. Like any other company out there in the world, we have specific jobs at SOE. Some of us are coders, some of us are game designers that populate the world, make quests, make spells or balance classes. Out of respect for our fellow employees, we only try to respond to topics related to what we're working on. The designers really wouldn't appreciate it if I started promising things that weren't part of my job. This doesn't mean that I don't care about the issues, its just not my place to respond to it.

I'd really love to post my opinions on class balance because I do think we have room for improvement, but the public forums are not a place for me to post my opinions.

On one hand, people complain that developers don't participate enough in the threads, but then they get flamed when they do. We're only human, I'm not sure what people really expect from us.

There are a lot of SOE haters out there, and it really kind of gets me down. I have been a huge fan of EQ1 and EQ2 since they were first released. I've only been an SOE employee for about 18 months now and really love my job. I started work here with tons of enthusiasm and a true desire to make the game better for everyone. I still play EQ2 almost every night and raid at least 14 hours a week. So when someone posts comments to the effect that devs don't care, it angers me because it couldn't be further from the truth.

I suppose as long as our game is played by so many different people, there will always be 'those' type of people out there. I just do my best to ignore them and move on. Their negativity will not affect my enthusiasm or discourage me from interacting with the community.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

GU42 is now live!

GU42 went live today, and epic quests are creating a huge buzz. It's really cool to see so many people working together to try to figure it out. I'm anxious to work on the epic for my Guardian as well! But don't worry, I have no inside information and I'll be looking for the same spoilers online as everyone else. :) EQ2I 4tw!

I'll be interested to hear what people think of the Connection Stats window and the new Mannequins. There has been a bit of discontent on the forums about the mannequins already. I know that many people were hoping that the mannequins would actually store the item like a bank vault, but it doesn't work that way. I really do feel like the way we implemented mannequins is for the best for everyone. Solving the storage problem is a completely separate issue.

Since we introduced appearance items, people are starting to save old armor sets so they can wear them later on. This is creating a storage issue. I'd love to see some kind of wardrobe in your house that would allow you to store several armor sets by name and easily allow you to swap it with your existing appearance gear. This would make changing clothes a snap, and hopefully alleviate some of the storage problem. I've pitched the idea, but whether or not it happens is up to people above me. Sometimes ideas like these can lead to other solutions, so as I've mentioned before, there are no promises about any of this. But hopefully in the future we'll see some solution that will help with this issue.

On another note, I found an optimization a couple of days ago that will decrease the amount of database space we're using to save items and equipment. This obviously won't have any affect on players, but it feels good to find things like that. And any changes we can make to reduce disk usage or increase speed always helps.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Not much new to report, yet.

I've been extremely busy at work lately with a couple of big projects and fixing bugs for GU42, but unfortunately nothing is far enough along that I can really talk about it yet. The mannequins are going in with GU42 as well as the connection stats window. The G15 support is done and going in with GU43. The major project I'm working on now should also be going in with GU43.

I'll post details about it as soon as possible.