New year, fresh start, new development plans! This update post is going to focus on a recap of 2021 and the return of our majority focus back to our NYC development, the future of the project and an outline of plans to come. This is the first steps so some things are a little more vague right now, we'll continue providing more concise information and next steps as we move through the year and development cycle.
Strap in here we go! Starting with the recap:
We’re officially back! First thing let me(Andrew /wave) personally apologize for the lack of news for much of 2021. Our partnership in Asia ended up consuming much more of our team’s time than hoped and a variety of issues including some contractual problems that resulted in months of negotiations. We had started off with quite a year of promise ahead of us with the partnership to launch the game in Asia freshly inked and things were looking bright. Development started off not too bad with much of the planning done in January and starting work, setting up of environments and ordering servers in Hong Kong to house the beta servers. Several patches were done at the beginning of the year and development on NYC/HK games was being done in tandem. Economy changes were going in, regional changes for China such as removal of blood/heads on gank, clan window migration, bug fixes, etc. and a translation system was being developed alongside refactoring a lot of code/systems to work with it. We reached a point where we couldn’t work on the two codes in tandem and as such we had to split up the development branches in some areas. This is why we were unable to bring forward many changes to the NYC server while trying to get everything complete for the launch in Asia. We had a tight timeline to try to get it all done. While we were ahead of our initial prediction of 6 months for a launch in Asia we were behind the internal goals we had set with our partners.
We eventually got through the development cycle and launched the game officially on May 21st but ended up shutting it down a few months later after having ongoing networking/routing issues in the primary market to the server resulting in a lot of connection issues for Chinese players. At this point in the summer/early fall we were discussing the future of the partnership and negotiating a transition for the team in Asia to take over the development. The time difference, language barrier and difference of opinion on direction were making it impossible to move forward as the partnership we had created was equal in design decisions. So we settled on them taking over and negotiated for a few months on the handover process.
We ended up shutting down the original servers we had in Hong Kong, it seems that solving the connection issues from outside China just wasn’t feasible. We ended up eventually setting up a new server for them in China on an AWS cloud instance in December after reaching an agreement. We’ve finished up the last few items on the agreement and will officially hand over the whole project to them to start playing with and learning soon. We will be moving into a support role and the team in China will be taking over all aspects of the project and license of the software in Asia. We’ll still be in contact with them and help support the project, however we no longer have a stake in it.
The new server is providing excellent reliable connections to the Chinese region but at the cost of international players unfortunately, accessing the game servers in China from outside are problematic. We look forward to seeing the game relaunched and the different ideas that the team in the Asia put in, we wish them good luck!
Future Development for Rise of Agon - NA/EU
Now that we’ve wrapped up the chapter in Asia we are switching our whole focus back to the NA/EU community and development. There’s a lot of good changes that we did on Asia that we want to pull into the existing code base but the branches have separated a lot in key areas and it’s going to take a few months at least to pull over all the useful code. Due to a few reasons such the difficulty to combine the code bases we’re going to pull over only the code that is simple, feasible and useful to the existing server over the next couple weeks. However this is going to be the end of meaningful updates for the legacy version of our Western version of Rise of Agon, and this is because we plan to launch the game on steam later this year.
There’s some inherent issues in the game world that we can’t resolve without starting a fresh server including resource inflation, a lack of long term character progression, monsters were too easy overall and many design decisions made early on hurt the overall long-term prospects of the game. We didn’t have many of the features we do now when we launched the game including the Market, Research System, Dyes, PvP Toggle & Lawful Zones, Obelisks, Clan Holding Maintenance, etc. The lack of a lot of these systems plus issues with server stability during the opening weeks made the game too difficult to get into for many. The game we feel is ready to enter onto Steam and push for a wider release now that we’ve had the time to master the code, add in necessary platforms for future content and created a pipeline to be able to put assets into the game. Simply launching the legacy server on Steam with all the history from it and new players trying to get into an old server it isn't feasible we feel. Fortunately the costs can be relatively low to keep the legacy server online and as such it will remain online so it’s not closing anytime soon don’t worry about your treasures and characters going poof anytime soon!
Over the next 6-8 weeks we're going to be doing several things:
- Implementing the last major patch for the Legacy server
- Setting up the closed beta build for a new Steam server on a new server host.
- Moving existing legacy server to new host location
- Sourcing a new host for the live game servers
- Starting integration work to get the game on the steam Platform
- Retiring the existing supporter packages, this will be the last chance to get the unique skins before they are no longer available to be bought!
- Opening up new supporter packages with new rewards.
- Opening up the new steam closed beta build to subscribers and supporters to start playtesting on a new host/hardware.
We expect to be finished pretty much all this by the end of March roughly. There's a lot of work to do to integrate the build into steam and that will likely take several months before we are testing the build through steam. Alongside this development we're going to be reviewing all aspects of PvE, leveling, polishing up any rough edges and implementing a lot of improvements and additions. Overall we expect a minimum of 6-9 months to be in a position to open a new fresh start steam server. So our launch window is end of this year or early 2023.
We want to make a big splash and really get the game polished out for new players and old players to come back to a fresh game. The community will get plenty of time from now till steam launch to provide input and feedback as we work on the game with you all. Everything will be open for discussion and testing/trials, having a beta server will allow us to really shift things regularly and try out ideas fast! We'll start some feedback threads on discord and likely we'll be archiving the forums and using discord only. This will give plenty of opportunity for the community to voice their opinions and push for features/updates to go into the game.
On a money topic: Premium subscriptions and premium game time tokens are going to increase in cost when we move to steam. This is to account for increased expenses on the steam Platform(They take a relatively high percentage roughly 30%) and Premium has some plans to get more benefits as well. Reoccurring subscriptions will be grandfathered in so locking in before we open on steam will provide a long term discount. In addition we will be adding additional incentives to having reoccurring subscriptions from now until launch, this will apply to existing subscriptions and new reoccurring subscriptions. More specifics will be released over the next few weeks as all plans get locked in. These extra rewards will get back dated to include January no worries!
We are planning on releasing new Supporter packages to support ongoing development of the game, we appreciate those that have been supporting us on this project all these years, thank you! Without the support from the community we wouldn’t be here and we whole-heartedly appreciate it. We will be leaving the existing supporter packages up for a little while but will retire the current ones so this will be the last chance to get the current unique skins Here(https://www.riseofagon.com/supporter-packs/) if you wanted them. We will not be selling them again they will be retired and grandfathered for those that bought them in the past. Thanks again Agon for supporting us as we keep pushing to keep the game and development going!
What will happen with previous store and supporter purchases before steam launch?
Any cosmetics such as unique skins, custom effects, etc will transfer over so they won’t be lost don’t worry, any custom weapons and uniques on accounts will all be grandfathered and the accounts will all remain linked, we will have a process to ensure you can connect a steam account to an existing one. Game time tokens will be honoured and they will not be lost, we’re looking at either reimbursing 100 nithron coins to accounts that have them in their banks or allowing them to be used on the new server. In any case they won’t be lost and we’ll do the same for any other items from the store that haven’t been claimed yet such as character alteration tokens, name changes, etc. Supporter perks from existing supporter packages such as unique items, lifetime subs, etc will also transfer over of course.
Ever wanted to run your own Rise of Agon server in your backyard? Well now that’s a possibility! We’re wanting to really expand the game audience this year and break into new regions and translate the game to reach new audiences. To this end we’re looking for regional partners who are interested in translating and operating the game in different regions. We incorporated a translation system into the game last year to allow for easy translation to additional languages so it will be an easy transition. Anyone interested in partnering to bring the game to regions such as Eastern Europe or South America please contact us we’d love to work with you.
Steam & Investing in RoA
As mentioned above one of our big goals is to get the game on steam to ramp up to a wider release of the game in North America/Europe. We plan on opening a new beta server/early access server on Steam in the next 6-9 months to test the game on the platform before a release late this year or early next year. We want to ramp up the game, advertise and expand the player base and Steam is an excellent tool to reach a wider audience, bringing more foes to defeat in battle, friends to PvE with and customers to buy your wares from the market! We’re opening up the project to investors who are interested in becoming involved with the project to add capital to increase development and especially marketing resources. We really want to put some serious coin into a marketing campaign leading up to a launch on Steam. We want to break the servers and see overflowing players checking out the game, for that to happen we want to open up the project for investors to jump in to expand our reach with some real money for marketing. If interested please contact us through the home page, thank you.
Want to get involved?
All aboard folks, room for more hands on deck! There’s a lot to do and look forward to this year, we’re going to be making a big push to get this all in and we’re always looking for more volunteers! We will need a lot of playtesting & QA to make sure everything is running smoothly and we’re always looking for any interested in helping out with coding, artwork, marketing such as promo videos, etc. Right now we’re offering only volunteer positions and is a great way to get experience in some development in the gaming industry. If interested please apply through our careers page: https://www.riseofagon.com/about/careers-bpg/. Any bit of extra money the company makes above our expenses goes right into staff and there's potential to earn some money as our staff did last year. Not only that but you get to hang out with some amazing people and bring your ideas to life and even get a free T-Shirt! We've got it all!
Q & A?
There’s going to be a lot of questions I imagine beyond this post with so many things changing this year in the project, we’ll be announcing a Q&A coming up in the next few weeks so we can answer as many questions as possible, discord is going to continue to be our primary communication channel outside of larger news posts here, it is where we will set up the Q&A.
This post kept getting pushed back and I'm sorry for that necessity, it’s been a moving target behind the scenes here for me trying to sort all the pieces left over from 2021 so that we can start our next steps and plans for this year. Thanks for your time in reading this wall of text, I hope it contains the things that everyone’s been waiting for :).
Let’s go 2022, time to kick some booty!
The team at Big Picture Games