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Drakensang online - Developer's Diary #5

It’s been a few months since our last Developer’s Diary entry. At the time we were still in the Closed Beta and I had written: “Wow! Those were a few breathtaking weeks.” However, at this point in time I didn’t know what was awaiting us…

Now, Drakensang Online has been in Open Beta since August 8th. And the interest in the game has completely blown us away.

We're rapidly approaching 2 million registrations.

THAT (!) is truly breathtaking!

Initially, we had planned on writing a diary entry every month. But the last few months have been so busy that we've had absolutely no time to make an entry or even write a short summary. Unfortunately, we also seem to have lost track of time – events that occurred only a few days ago suddenly seem like they happened a long time ago. This is because the minute a new release hits the market, we're already planning and testing the next one. Some features take weeks to complete, others only take a few days. The work pace is very quick and it’s easy to become confused while jumping from one version to the other.  

2011 is slowly winding down and there simply must be time to take a deep breath and reflect: What have we accomplished since August? I don't even think I'll be able to list everything…

1.) When the server went live on August 8th, it almost crashed all of our servers. The incoming traffic was immense so that our systems were not able to correctly process the volume of registrations. We were prepared for lots of things, but not that the number of registrations per second (!) would be an issue. We spent two entire weeks trying to somehow get the problem under control. The exciting thing about this was that the deluge of registrations arrived (and continues to arrive) from all over the world. We can see that thousands of players signed up, not only from Germany, France and Poland (countries where Drakensang is especially popular), but also from countries on the other side of the world – from Australia, New Zealand, Asia or South America. This never ceases to amaze me.

2.) The assembly and disassembly of the PvP arenas and modes and all the other related things occupied us for quite some time. The inclusion of the important functions that had initially been missing, such as buddy windows, guilds, PvP modes and much more eventually led to more and more server activity. We learned that a PvP mode is a very critical part of an MMO – but we also learned that not every player puts a lot of stock in it. We see that PvP and PvE are both fundamentally important aspects of the game. For this reason, we will of course continually work on developing PvP and offer new matches and improvements.

3) TEGANSWALL, our first content update, with the Herald is not too far in the past and the NORDLANDE update will provide the release of a nice second expansion package before Christmas. This means that we have basically doubled the content since August -- with over 100 quests, more than a dozen new levels and just as many monsters, two new bosses and numerous small champions and the addition of countless items and equipment.

4.) The continuous improvement of the GUI is another important aspect. We were surprised at how well changes such as the combat texts, the buff bar or our new notify system were received by the users, and we still have a long list of things we want, can, and need to improve – thanks in no small part to your feedback.

5.) For quite some time now you have requested backup and it has taken some time: but now, finally, it has arrived – Rangers! They are very agile archers, but they can also pack a punch – this is why they are my own personal favorite. The Ranger arrives accompanied by a whole new skill system that makes using the skills significantly better and, at the same time, significantly improves the fun. We were not very happy with the old system, so it's no wonder that you weren’t happy either. The system just didn’t function properly and you made this abundantly clear to us. We were unable to fulfill my promise of creating a flexible, modular system in such a fashion that it was fun to use as well as easy to understand.

However, I am certain that you will like the new system better, and I can tell you that in the coming months we will roughly double the number of skills for all archetypes. The low number of skills was never our concept, but came about through production restraints. We will change this going forward; month by month and piece by piece.

The best part will be a skill tree that enables a real nice individualization that will also retroactively be made available to higher-level players.

6.) We’d promised to provide you with weekly updates and we’ve kept our promise. We only had to move our deadline twice, since both times a feature was not working properly. We will continue working hard to ensure that in 2012 you will receive the updates on a regular basis.

Our plan for 2012 includes a mountain of new content and exciting new features. Beginning in January we will be introducing a first, very cool feature which lets you adopt the player character. And, of course, we will add archetypes and countries …

7.) Of course, we’ll continue looking forward to receiving your feedback to help make Drakensang Online better and better. And we will respond to your feedback in a timely manner.

I would like to thank you for your bug reports, your cooperation in the forums and every point of critique. It is truly appreciated. I can assure you that your feedback is very important and is taken very seriously. We register and record every one of your suggestions, complaints or comments.

Have fun with the massive Christmas update and hopefully we’ll see each other online soon!

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