It has been some time since we gave a detailed update on the state of things in Rise of Agon, and today's news post aims to bring people up to speed on what has been going on and what to expect throughout the rest of the year. It will be a long read and we hope it gets our community as excited as we are for the rest of 2018.
Let's dive right in!
Territory Control Systems
Clan Platinum and Resource Factories are the first major Territory Control systems that we have been working on over the last few months, and due to some changes in company structure and some personal challenges they have taken longer than anticipated. The good news is that we aim to have these ready for public testing in early October with the goal of a large patch that includes both systems around mid-October. This is a tentative date but one we feel is realistic given where we stand with each system, and if we find out it may take a bit longer we will let you know. The following is an overview of where we stand with each:
Right now we have the mechanics in place to allow players the ability to designate one of their cities as a Capital City. These cities will be where members of a clan can accumulate Clan Platinum which will be acquired by performing activities such as harvesting, crafting, and hunting monsters. Platinum will be used to purchase a variety of items and services, including extending clan buffs outside of the default range and the purchase of siege weaponry.
This system aims to encourage clans to live out of their Capital City and provides a reason for veteran clans to take in newer players and those not as proficient in combat as they themselves may be. It will be a system we continually expand upon including, but not limited too, the addition of new siege weaponry or items only obtainable by spending this new currency.
We have the mechanics in place for players to be able to acquire platinum through the activities mentioned above, along with a system to track how much platinum each clan member accumulates and the total available balance a clan has. The next steps are to designate specific platinum values to each activity and finish up the user interfaces needed for purchasing items with it.
Factories will be structures that players will fight for control over in a King of the Hill fashion. These factories will produce resource crates which must be brought back to a player city to open and which will contain resources such as rare ore and possibly new items and resources.
We have completed the King of the Hill mechanics and are working on the placement of these structures and the mechanics involved in transporting and opening the resource crates. Our current plan is to release these only on the sub-continents to increase the value of cities found near them along with increasing the conflict found on the islands. This will provide clans and groups of players with a new objective to fight over throughout the day and should be a refreshing addition to end-game conflict.
What Comes Next
After we release the patch that will include Clan Platinum and Resource Factories, we will begin focusing on the next steps for Territory Control. Although we are not close enough to go into much detail, we wanted to outline what you can expect the focus to be on:
- Control Towers
- Remote Banks
- Portal Disruption
- Expanding City Buffs
- System Message Control
The next thing that we want to talk about is something we should have started doing a long time ago which we are calling Community Patches. As the name suggests, these will be patches of requested changes and additions taken directly from discussions, feedback and polling that we get from our community members. The goal is to be able to release smaller patches on a weekly to bi-weekly basis, each containing a handful of the most highly requested changes the community asks for.
We plan to start having Q&A's on our Twitch channel monthly which will be back and forth discussions with members of our community. The goal of these Q&As are to come up with suggestions together of viable changes that our team can tackle in a reasonable time frame. Changes will not only come from these Q&As however, as we will also pull ideas from discussions on Discord and the forums. We ideally plan to focus on changes that can be coded and ready for testing over 1-2 days of development work so we can consistently pump these patches out.
Once we put together a list of proposed community changes we will release a Ranked Voting Poll utilizing rankit.vote where people can vote and prioritize what they deem are most important and/or will provide the biggest positive impact to the game. The top ranked items will in turn get developed first by our team, put onto the Public Test Server for testing, and released in the subsequent Community Patch. This cycle will continue with each patch knocking off more and more requests taken directly from all of you.
This is not something we plan to wait on and in turn our first Community Patch Q&A will be hosted this Saturday, September 22nd at 1pm EST. We encourage all of you to attend so we can make the most out of these sessions, and it is a great opportunity for you to get your voices heard and your suggestions developed and deployed to the live game.
State of Combat
There is no intention to try and parse words on this subject so we will get right to the point. We recognize that there has been a lot frustration within the community on how we handled the recent combat changes, from releasing the initial patch too early to leaving the combat in a state of limbo over these last few months. Our intention from the very start was to accomplish one goal - create more diversity within the combat system. This has been one of the most requested things asked from us by community members over the last few years, from the start of Alpha to where we are now. We know that this has not been accomplished yet with where combat stands at the moment, but by working with you in our community we will accomplish that goal.
With that out of the way, we want to discuss how we plan to tackle combat and how all of you in the community will help shape the future direction of it. We wish to create as much diversity as possible without having to use specializations, "relics", or any other change that could be deemed reinventing the wheel. Instead, we aim to create diversity by utilizing what the current game has to offer and by making smaller, more incremental changes to the system. This will be accomplished by working alongside our community, placing proposed changes on the Public Test Server so players can see how they feel and function in a real setting, and then implementing them as part of our Community Patches mentioned above. There are many ways to go about this and we look forward to having the necessary discussions on how best to approach this endeavor.
Once we are able to create a more diverse combat environment, we can look at alternative routes for enhancement such as reintroducing specializations (and even adding in new ones) and/or leveraging the Relic System we previously outlined. The first step however is achieving diversity without them, and that is a top priority for us right now.
We have a new addition to our development team who has been focusing on the graphical side of Rise of Agon. One of the biggest obstacles we have had to deal with since the inception of this project is that the game's engine utilizes highly outdated tools from pre-2009, some of which no longer can be found online despite countless hours from multiple people digging through the archives of the web.
Instead of trying to find missing files to combat this longstanding roadblock, what he has done is created an entirely new system which allows us to use more modern tools to create art assets that can then be exported back into the game engine. This make it easier for us to create new art assets and also opens up the door for community members to have a much easier time to create assets that can be added to the Nithron Coin Shop through our previously announced ACT program.
Not only will it be easier to create and implement new art assets, but we now have unlocked the ability to create new animations. Having the ability to create new animations means we can design and create new things such as emotes, gank animations, mounts, and even monsters in-game. This will also provide our artistic community members the chance to make their own new animations that can be put on the online store.
The final thing we want to mention is that we will very soon be able to implement normal maps into the game. Yes, you read that right, normal maps - or in other words the ability to greatly enhance the look of the in-game textures to make them more modern and appealing to a broader audience. There is still work to be done on this but we are nearing completion and are happy to show off a few examples of what this could look like below. Please note these are merely examples to show the kind of impact they can have on the graphics in-game:
We realize there have not been many community events that we have hosted as of late, and that is mostly due to being stretched thin as a team. To combat this we are working on some tools that will help make things easier to host and moderate in-game events, and plan to coordinate with those of you who wish to create and host events on your own. There have been some excellent community run events over the last few weeks, but we realize that it takes a lot of time and effort and that it can be frustrating when things get interrupted or disrupted by those looking to "ruin the fun".
Those of you looking to host events are encouraged to reach out to us and we will do our best to help you facilitate these events. It provides players with fun things to look forward to, helps increase activity in the game world and ultimately keeps people more interested in staying active. Although we cannot promise to be able to help everyone, especially given the resources that we have at the moment, we will do our best to ensure that players can look forward to more events in the future. We will also host events ourselves when we can, which the new tools being created will greatly help towards.
As we have mentioned in the past, we have been working on a new Donation Page for our website. This will provide players the ability to purchase packages to obtain unique weapon skins and other items and will go directly towards funding development and the future of the project. We will have monthly goals and will track the top donators throughout the month and the top donators of all time to give recognition to those who help provide financial support for the game and our staff.
This page will be released when we deploy the content patch that contains Clan Platinum and Resource Factories.
We have gone through many changes as a game development studio over the last 3 years and have learned quite a lot of lessons along the way. Today we are confident that with the company structure we have and the personnel our team is comprised of that we can delivery on our promise to all of you to create the best gaming experience possible. We have certainly made mistakes along the way, from some poor game design decisions to lapses in communication and transparency, but with each mistake made we have learned from them and persevered through each one.
Now more than ever we look towards you in our community for your support, both in helping to increase our in-game activity as well as providing the financial support needed to keep this engine running. The next few months will be very busy and we hope that many of you, including those who have taken breaks or have been sitting on the sidelines, come back to join us for the journey ahead.
By all of us working together, both as a game development studio and a community, we will succeed in making Agon the place many gamers wish to call home.
Thank you as always for your support, your patience, and even the constructive criticism when necessary. We look forward to the rest of 2018 and the push towards a freemium release in early 2019, and promise all of you in our community are unwavering commitment to fulfilling the potential this game has always had.
- The Team at Big Picture Games