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Link all the Items!

September 28th, 2012 12 comments

Items

 

At the end I was able to implement a quite small but cool feature which we wanted to have since ages: Link Items.
It was almost painful to show up a friend the just acquired recipe he may need or just share the epic item you’ve found during a job.

With 2.0 this problem is gone.
On the picture to the right you can see how it actually works. The syntax is really easy and it will be translated after you’ve sent it.

Of course we are aware that it wouldn’t make things easier when you first have to figure out which id your desired item have.
So here we’ve got another small feature: Focus a text field where you want to share it and then Shift+Click on the specific Item you want to share (it doesn’t matter where the item is shown). After that the quickcode is shown on the text field.

From the picture it seems like this feature is just limited to the Chat, but here I can ease you.
Sharing items is available everywhere you can write (e.g: Profile, Town profile, Fort profile).
Sadly there is one problem: Town Forum. Due to technical behaviours you are not able to directly link the item into the textfield. But here you can just copy the quickcode
to it and it works as intended, but there is one exception, because linking items is a game feature they will not be displayed when the town forum is opened externally.

Another solution which i’m currently working on is just enclose the item name into the quickcode.

Emoticons

 

Also our new emoticons (smilies) are available everywhere, too. Now we are able to have a more emotional Western experience. Furthermore we are going to implement a smiley bbcode which will show up the available emoticons.

Of course we havn’t removed the good old chicken which will stay as a little remembrance to our beloved devzet.

 

Job

 

One more small feature is upcoming. On the job page you will be able to click on the skill which is opening the inventory and instantly displaying the items containing the required skill.

 

 

 

Chat

 

Last but not least we removed the maximum size of the chat. This will give you the ability to expand the chat below the game interface. Also we are going to do some improvements to the positioning behaviour when saving and opening on different screen sizes.

Categories: 2.00 Tags:

The Return of the Message Highlights

September 13th, 2012 6 comments

Since West 2.0 hit the Beta Servers the players kept sending bug reports about the missing visual notifications regarding new telegrams and reports.  We knew that this feature was missing as we released West 2.0 but didn’t think that it was a ground-breaking feature which should further postpone the update. Time is a rare and precious thing; we needed (and still need) all the time we could get to properly test and balance the major changes. While everything’s calming down a bit and me being in dire need of a change of scene (besides fixing a bug every now and then, I was pretty much working on the still-in-progress taskqueue), I looked through our open tickets and spotted the highlights.

TL;DR: reports & message highlights will be back soon (pictures at the end)!

Unfortunately, being a nice and friendly developer, you start talking about features you’re about to re-implement with your Game Designer and Community Manager before you start working on it. Suddenly a dozen of ideas are thrown at you and you have to decide what’s technically possible (almost everything’s possible – but it’s about the feature and how long it would take to implement). Sometimes that means opening Pandora’s box, though this time the ideas have been reasonable (enough ;)) and could be implemented without a lot of work. Compared to 1.x, there will be more blinking-action going on but before you run away screaming, stay a while and listen. If you read the complete post, you are allowed to go to you favourite communication platform and start flaming :-).

What will blink in the future?

You will get a visual highlight for the following things:

  1. you get a new message
  2. you get a new report
  3. somebody writes in the town forum
  4. you have free skills or attribute points
  5. you get an item which you never had before

So far, so good. Points 1 – 3 are basically the re-implementation I was talking about. Number 4 was already in 1.x as well, but it changed a little bit. The icon you open the skill screen with will not stop blinking until you allocated all your free skill- or attribute points.  Don’t worry, the blinking effect is different compared to the other 4 and is very discreet. It’s the same as you hovering over the icon with your mouse – only that you don’t need a mouse anymore to activate the hover-effect. Awesome, isn’t it? The last point is new and should help realizing that there’s a completely new item which you never had in your inventory. The item itself is not highlighted though, you still have to search for it in your bag (if it was a recent discovery, it’s probably somewhere in the new-category).

I’m getting crazy, how will I stop it?

Except for number 4, every highlight will vanish if you open the corresponding window (if you have new messages and new reports, you have to open both tabs to remove the highlight from the button). That said, for removing the highlight from the inventory, open up the inventory. To remove it from the town button, open the town-forum (yea, the actual town forum button has still to be moved somewhere else).

What will the highlights look like?

It’s blue again, no change of plans there. It’s bigger though and and you’ll notice it faster – probably together with a higher urge of making it stop. But see yourself:

The highlight will fade in & out every second. Fading time might be adjusted at some point in the future, but I think’s ok the way it is. We’ll see.

Anything else noteworthy?

Yes. The functionality of the message-button has changed. If you got a new report, the button will automatically open the reports tab. If you got a new message, it will launch the message tab. If you got both, a new report and a new message, it will fire up the message window. Using the hotkeys n and b (defaults) to open the message or the reports tab respectively will ignore the highlight status of the button.

Are we done yet?

No! There’s one last thing I want to tell you: If you’re opening up the messages window, for example with the hotkey, and you have new reports, it will also be visually represented in the tab and vice versa. Switching to the tab will remove the new-flag.

That’s  it for today! I actually wanted to show you something else regarding the little guy you see ingame, but there have been some difficulties and I had to change my plans. Maybe somewhere next week. Anyways, back to the taskqueue!

Categories: 2.00 Tags:

FFP: Upcoming Changes to the TaskQueue

September 4th, 2012 9 comments

Hey, fellow players. My name’s melkon and after a year of being part of the great West-Team, I’m finally feeling confident enough of telling you about the stuff I’m working on 😉 While the current community Hot Topics are the new Job-System and the amount damage you receive while doing jobs, I don’t want to put any more fuel into that discussion. Seriously, those topics are as heavily covered in our office as in the forums and, luckily, you players are far more civilized when arguing about the pros and cons than we are. Sometimes it even escalates into a good ol’ western-style shoot-out:

That used to be our Game-Designer’s monitor but nowadays he’s utilizing it as a shield against the developer’s wrath. That said, you definitely should take part in the recently launched Beta contest – those nerf-guns are a good way to compromise someone’s authority and are a lot of fun too.

Anyhow, we have been a little bit suprised that the update to 2.0 on the Beta worlds went quite smoothly. Of course, there are still a lot of small bugs and balance issues which have to be addressed, but really big “OMG EVERYONE’S GONNA DIE!!!”-bugs are notably absent. One big issue though is the performace – especially when starting a new world. Therefore we continued the FFP: Fight For Performace. The team already did a good job and, in general, the performance is much better than it has been in 1.36 but we still have a couple of areas where we can improve.

Performance issues regarding the new tutorial have already been addressed, but to further smoothen the starting experience, there’s another heavily used game mechanic: doing jobs. Particularly during the starting phase, players are way more active and queueing up way more jobs than in the midgame. This increased activity results in more requests which itself results in a higher server load which, in the end, usually leads to some kind of lag on the clientside.

So, what are our plans to reduce that load?

There are several approaches but the one I’m currently working on is to reduce the requests made to the server. Where to start? An educated guess was pointing us to the action which starts a job and the taskqueue overall. Analyzing the logs confirmed our assumption. Players are hitting the “Start” button in a very short interval to queue up jobs and therefore sending one request with every click. A player who wants to add 9 new jobs to his queue will accordingly fire 9 requests. Multiply that with the amount of players who are starting on a new world and you have a ton of requests made, in a very short amount of time.

Now back to the idea of reducing requests. If a player hits the button in a couple of times in a short interval, why do we have to send every click as a single request? That was the question we have been asking ourself and that’s what I’m working on right now. When I’m done, hitting the “Start” button will not instantly result in a request but will add it visually to the taskqueue.

After an amount of time, say, 500ms, the actual request will be triggered. If the player hit the “Start” button again before those 500ms have been passed, the timer will reset, waiting another 500ms before the actual request will be made. After the 500ms, every added job will be send to the backend, resulting in only one request instead of 9. The backend then processes the request, adding the jobs to the player’s queue and send one single batched answer back. The client on the other hand will parse the server’s answer and update the tasks which are already in the queue with the proper information. Everything in one request!

Thing is, it’s easier said than done: the complete task-system was never designed to be batchable. It’s quite a big task which will take sometime until’s finished and there are always things, like bugs you guys report, which have to be dealt with first. Speaking of which, we have still a lot of things to do. Besides fixing bugs, we’re working for example on the backend to bring back your beloved highlights when you get a new report or telegram and on properly refreshing your health, energy and experience. We’re doing all that while we’re constantly reading the forums and are discussing your feedback. We are very thankful for your constructive criticism, good ideas and we’re keeping it in mind when doing changes to the system, so keep it coming!

Categories: 2.00 Tags:

Be ready for 2.0 public beta

August 13th, 2012 7 comments

Hey,

i am proud to announce that the development of the version 2.0 has reached a beta state. We plan to update the public beta this week, more precisely on Thursday. We await your feedback and we know that we have still a lot to do and of course we will have a lot more to do if we get the first wave of feedbacks. 🙂
Public beta World 2 (Amchitka) will get the update first. After that we will launch a new world 3 which will get the 2.0 update too. World 1 is planned for next week, the reason for that is simple: we have to migrate stuff like towns etc on the new map and we want to make sure that everything works fine. On world 2 there are just less towns and player. On a new world we don’t have any problems with migrations.

Explore the feature list here

http://forum.westbeta.innogames.de/showthread.php?p=19280#post19280

Categories: 2.00 Tags:

Interface implementation started

July 5th, 2012 10 comments

We started last week with the implementation of the new interface and of course i will show you the first elements 🙂 First of all here is the new status bar with the standard information like bonds, money, deposit and nuggets. With the nugget button in the middle you will get to the premium window to active or longer premium bonuses, with the plus button in the nuggets label you will be redirected to the premium buy window.

We have a new bottom bar with buttons for the common windows there are 4 kinds of buttons: normal, non active if a feature is not available yet (for example crafting before you reach level 20 or town button before you are a member of a town), hover if you mouse over and active if a window is already opened

Last element for this week is the chat. This is how the chat looks if you login into the game it just shows you how many friends online and if you got some new friend requests or chat messages. If there are new chat messages or friendrequests the button will start to blink. To see chatrooms and friends you will need to open that box (i will show the opened box view in the next blog post).

We are very very busy at this point of development we have already a little delay. There is a lot of javascript code which has to be changed, because we will finally get rid of mootools. There are also a lot of changes in backend for example changes for storing and loading the new map, chat improvements, daemon improvements. We are very excited how the 2.0 version will perform on client machines and on our servers because we invested a lot of time in optimization of code in the 2.0 development.

On graphical side the new map is nearly finished. There is one map editor left, who does the finishing at the moment.

The internal beta version is planned for the beginning of the next week it is a very hard deadline but we will do our best.

Categories: 2.00 Tags:

We are making Progress …

June 21st, 2012 39 comments

I leaked some screenshots …. I hope you enjoy

Some new  mountains, a small town, a lot of wood and rivers are shown here. Note town graphics are not final at all and this border will not stay :p

Some desert with a lot of details on the ground. A new job icon placed right in the middle. Our problem at the moment: Job-Icons at the actual state are not clear enough. If someone has good ideas feel free to post 🙂

And another screenshot with some roads towns, job icons, rivers and trees.

We are very happy about our progress and we are looking forward that we can announce  a date for any kind of public beta in the near future.

But there happened also a lot more changes in the development. We converted some more screen to new design Sheriff, Bank, a lot of fort buildings. We are nearly done with converting any windows to new design. i will hand out screenshots for the new windows later, because i don’t have the new screen on my development machine at the moment.

The development for new Interface has taken place and makes a good progress, hopefully i can present some pictures next week and tell you something more whats this all about.

Last but not least for this week we did a lot of optimization for php backend and also our chat server and still will go on a while. Our technical goal for 2.0 is it to get more performance out of the game this belongs to chat, server backend request and also the new interface and javascript code. It is our goal to get West 2.0 more smooth to play and everything should work with shorter response time.

Categories: 2.00 Tags:

Addition to new job system

June 14th, 2012 28 comments

As promised yesterday here is the addition to the new job system from our Game-Designer Ashock

Danger

The injury system will also be changed a bit in the new The West version. Only the probability to get an injury will be influenced by the job-points and no longer the damage. The damage will be a set amount of percentage rate based on the player’s maximum health. Thus a player with a huge health pool will have the same chance to seriously injure himself as does a ‘normal’ player.

This change should increase the ‘thrill’ in working as you never know if this work might kill you. There should no longer be messages like ‘someone shot you. You lose 1 health point.’, but rather ‘someone shot you. You lose 1500 health points.’.

Dropchance

The dropchance system for items will not be changed drastically. The drop values will be calculated the same as before but there will be a bonus on drops for shorter worktimes.

For products on the other hand the system will be changed a bit. The displayed dropchance for a product in each job counts for every task. For each task it is no longer possible to find more products but only one. If there is a 50% dropchance for a 15 second task, the players will get a product statistically every 30 seconds. For a 50% dropchance in a 2 hours task, the player will get a product statistically every 4 hours. This will of course have a major impact on the crafting system, which will be completely revised.

This new system should lessen the confusion about the drops of products and should give the player an easier understandable model for price calculation.

Experience and Money

As with the new job system the worktime can no longer be influenced every job will have a fixed experience value. The money value will still be influenced for every job by the workpoint bonus of the player. There will be a bonus on experience and money for shorter worktimes.

Further the needed experience to level-up has been increased by 3 times, but also the offered experience by jobs, quests, achievements, etc. were increased by the same amount. The necessity of this was plainly the fact that jobs at a worktime of 15 seconds produced experience values of less than 1.

Quests

The questsystem will get a slight change, as the quest requirement ‘worktime’ no longer fits the new job system. This requirement will be change to a requirement ‘task.done’, which requires a certain amount of finished jobs

Motivation and Energy

Every job will reduce the work motivation by 5% independent of the worktime for this specific job. For every day the motivation will be increased by 25% at midnight. Jobs with a motivation of 0 will no longer yield experience, money or item drops. Product drops are still possible.

Observed over a longer time period, jobs with a lesser worktime will need more energy than jobs with a longer worktime.

Both systems are to counter the offered bonuses for jobs with a lesser worktime, to prevent players from abusing the new system.

I read already a lot of misunderstandings and questions i hope this words will make some things more clear. But i think there will be still questions unanswered. I will try to collect all this misunderstandings and questions and try to answer them in this post, so beware of daily updates 🙂

Categories: 2.00 Tags:

Development for The West 2.0 started

June 13th, 2012 13 comments

Hi there,

i am happy to tell you that we already started with the development of Version 2.0 and we make good progress. I want to keep you informed about some states of the development in this post. So i try to make weekly updates, but first i have to secure that i am allowed to give out this informations 🙂

Before you will get a look into the development progress. Here is a list of all related topics for Version 2.0

New Map

The biggest change in Version 2.0 will be the change of the whole map. We will introduce new graphics and we will scale the new map to fullscreen.

Interface Redesign

The whole Interface of The-West will be changed, but don’t be scared our goals are: Get the interface more clear and more harmonious with the new windows. In the same task we will bring all windows into the new window style with Version 2.0.

Get a better start

With Version 2.0 one of our goals is: Bring new players to the game. In fact of that goal we will introduce some changes to the beginning of the game:

  •  New Tutorial
  • First jobs will take less time
  • Movement speed will be buffed until you reached a specific level
  • You are not able to use difficult features e.g. market , until a specific level

Jobsystem

There will be some changes in jobsystem. Make things easier to understand like gain expierence, gain money, find items and make stuff more clear for the player. Every job will have a fixed duration in version 2.0 so you don’t have to choose any duration for jobs anymore. We also recalculate formulas for new durations and  modified the hurt formula with version 2.0. So if you hurt yourself by robbing trains it can be possible to lose much live or even die.

Here some words to the upcoming changes from our Game-Designer Ashock

Jobs
In The West 2.0 the jobs will be fundamentally reworked in both visual representation and functionality. There will be less job icons on the map as up to five jobs will be grouped under one major job-group.  This job-group will be placed on the map as an interactive icon and opens upon clicking a radial-menu showing the five sub-jobs of this group. All current jobs will be represented by 28 job-groups with varying occurrences. In each county there are four common and two rare job-group occurrences, which accumulate to a total of 90 job-groups per county. Not all job-groups consist of five jobs, which leaves us the space to introduce new jobs in the future.

This change to the existing job-system was mainly done to improve the visual representation of the map and better blend the jobs into the map environment. Another aspect of the change was a better usability for the player as he will be able to find different jobs much easier due to an improved job screen, which will no longer only be usable for premium players.
Worktime
The worktime system of the current version will be totally changed in The West 2.0. Each job will offer a unique worktime and the player will no longer be able to select different worktimes for each job. Also the shortest worktime will be drastically reduced to 15 seconds. This means that some jobs require a worktime of 15 seconds, while for example others require 1 minute, 30 minutes or 2 hours. For each range of job-difficulty there will be different worktimes available, while the majority of the jobs switch from fast to slow jobs for higher jobpoint requirements. For example ‘scare birds from field’ needs 15 seconds and ‘free slaves’ needs 2 hours of worktime. To reward active playing we introduce a bonus for jobs with lesser worktime.

The reason for this change is that we want to offer a more active play style, which doesn’t force the player to passiveness especially in the beginning. This change is based on some analysis we made that most players quit the game in the beginning after they are forced into a longer waiting time. Nevertheless we still offer jobs for every range with a longer worktime to still support player who prefer a less active play session.

 

Preview Section – please keep in mind i just want to keep you informed everything i will post below are screenshots and / or  concepts from our development machines, so this are very very early versions. Most of them are not tested, finished or final.

2012-06-13: Some preview from the last week of development

Questbook, Saloon and Employer

We started to get the questbook into the new design

First we have the saloon with just a few changes its a little bit bigger and we use the new tab style, on the second tab your questbook with all quests which are not solved yet and on the third tab there are all solved quests. The saloon graphics has a bit too much light at the moment and the color are to bright. This will be changed in some days.

If you click on an employer you will get a window like that the employer will show you on the left site which quests are available and ready to accept. If you click on one of those quests on the left site you will get the detailed informations on the right site including things like description, rewards, requirements.

The new duel screen in tactical overview

Npc duel screen

Several other Windows were changed to new design but with no or less modifications:

Fingerboard, Buildingpages of fort, ranking, town overview, sheriff other town, ghosttowns, town invitations, found fort, you have no town window

Technical Development:

We have already completed some parts of the backend implementation of the new map this includes kind of caching systems, distribute systems and data structures. There is still a lot work in progress of course. From the graphical view there are round about 15 people at the moment which generate the map with our given editor. As soon as they finish their work we can bring it all together. I know this will be the most interesting part. Please stay tuned i don’t know when i can show you some preview of the new map.

Next big tasks for our development team: new job window, get new map backend working with new interface and on fullscreen with any resolution, modify backend for the new job system (fixed duration, new formulas), clean up a lot of old code in backend and frontend

I hope to hear from you and stay tuned for the next update from my site next week

P.S. In the next days i will post some more details about the job formula changes with another quote of our Game-Designer

Categories: 2.00 Tags: