Part 3: Milestones
Welcome to another installment of life here at Artifact Entertainment.
We just finished a milestone, so I thought I might let you
know what we were working on and how it all went.
We've plotted out what features we want to have in Horizons
at various times in its development. Each milestone has a
specific set of goals based on what we think that we can get
done and tested in the time we have. This breaks the game
up into manageable chunks that we can work on individually.
Most of our goals for a milestone are feature oriented. For
example, one of our goals for the last milestone was for players
to be able to buy and sell property and build structures on
their property. So we designed the systems for that to occur,
and the programmers and artists went to work making it happen.
As each part of the system was finished we went into the game
and tested it to make sure it worked correctly. If something
worked the way we wanted it to, we moved on to the next part,
but if it didn't, we sent the bug reports off to the programmers
so that it got fixed. Then we tested it again, until it worked.
Additionally, as designers we need to be looking ahead to
see what features are coming up in future milestones. The
process starts with us designing the systems before it ever
gets to the programmers and artists. We have to be as far
ahead as we can be so that when the time comes to work on
something, we are ready to hand it off to them.
So here's the state of the projects I'm working on as of
this milestone, and a look at what features we're planning
on adding in the next milestone.
Our goal was to get large-scale combats working. Even though
we are not in general a raid oriented game, it's still important
to be able to have a large number of players and monsters
on the screen at the same time, and still have the combat
look smooth, and receive information in a timely fashion.
We ran a lot of combats with a bunch of characters fighting
at the same time and they look gorgeous. There were warriors
executing special attacks, wizards casting big flashy spells,
scouts firing bows, and healers keeping people alive.
Combat's working so well, that the next milestone will be
much more about content than about the systems. We'll be adding
more weapons, armor, and items; more special abilities; and
We implemented a ton of features this milestone. There are
plots all over the world that players can buy and sell. Once
they own plots they can build a variety of structures on their
land. The can preview what a structure looks like before they
build it, and move it around to put it exactly where they
want it. They can get information about plots such as ownership,
structures, and outlines.
We will continue to expand all of this. Right now players
can just instantly build structures for testing purposes,
but we'll be changing that to tie in trade skills so that
players will actually have to build the structures once they've
decided on them. We'll also be continuously adding to the
list of structures that players can choose from.
We're also working on how to build up the communities around
player owned plots of land. As players develop their properties,
the communities will grow and more and different structures
will pop up like training halls, merchant stalls, and banks.
We added a bunch of monsters in this milestone. I was getting
a bit bored fighting the limited number we had before, but
now it's getting hard to keep track of them all. There are
lots of gross undead and other beasts roaming the landscape.
We implemented a new spawning system so that monsters are
in their appropriate areas and are respawned as needed.
We'll be adding more monsters all the time. Variety is the
spice of combat, and I love the thrill of fighting a monster
I've never seen before.
Up until now we've basically generated characters as needed
and everyone (both players and monsters) have had the same
skills and abilities to make testing the systems much simpler.
The experience and schools systems have been in place for
a while, so people have gained skill advancement, but for
the most part that wasn't a major feature.
Now we're going to be working very hard on the advancement
system. We'll be spreading all of the content out and assigning
more interesting skills and abilities to monsters and items
to get a feel for how progression works and how the game plays
as a player advances through our content. I'll also be creating
more and more rewards for people as they advance such as special
abilities, attacks, etc.
And there's a whole bunch of other stuff on the way as well,
but I'll talk more about all of that in a couple weeks.