Archive for September, 2012

Link all the Items!

September 28th, 2012 12 comments



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.



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.




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.






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: