The Drakensang Online closed beta has been marching on
since April 1. And throughout this time, we’ve experienced a series of
nail-biting weeks and been exposed to completely new perspectives and knowledge.
We’ve had our first nightshifts due to burnt-out servers, evaluated the first
statistical feedback and tackled the task of sorting through mountains of
regular player and forum feedback.
As you are aware, Drakensang Online is
our first online game, and since it was “turned on”, – albeit “closed” and
“privately”– it has been an incredibly exciting time for us.
programmer, Nico, sat in awe until the late hours of the night watching the
number of active players explode. At the time there had been no press releases,
no news, nothing informing the public. No one could have known that the system
was online. At first we attributed it to a bug, until we realized that fans and
newcomers alike from across the globe began to register as we watched. We were
then officially live!
It is truly breathtaking to see how many players
really play and HOW they play. This direct and concrete connection to the
players is incredibly interesting.
Now we can see what you play and can
read how you feel about it. We know that it isn’t a one-way road and that it’s
just as important for us to tell you what’s been going on from our end. We’re
also learning how to talk to talk to players directly.
information helpful to you? Is it too little info? Do you know what we’re up to?
We don’t always get the information out perfectly because we sometimes only have
a few minutes to produce them and then have them translated into at least five
languages. We’re working hard to stay open and transparent in our communications
to inform you about every step of development and any problems. We also want to
inform you about new things that we’ll soon be releasing and provide you with a
platform that isn’t just entertaining, but also a place that you want to come
back to again and again. What are we working on right now? Shall we take a
look at the team?
We’re currently focusing on two main issues:
We’re finalizing and polishing the most important features and balancing.
This is where the majority of our feedback from the closed beta is being put to
We’re stabilizing and fixing bugs.
Now let’s move onto the
production of features:
Here we see David Thamm – he’s currently programming the
mini map, which is one of the most important features in the game that’s
still missing. But unfortunately, I can’t show you a screenshot of it just yet
because it will still take a few days before it’s completed. We hope to have it
finished before the end of May. Why haven’t we had one until this point?
Releasing quickly was very important to us. It doesn’t make much sense
for us to tinker in our workshop when we could be developing the game with real
players in a real environment. We decided to postpone a large number of the
features we came up with during the development process to ensure a swifter
release – even if it meant starting with less features.
The mini map had
seemed less important to us and was put on the list of backlogged features. The
closed beta helped us to see that the mini map is the most important feature
demanded by our features. One Facebook response stated: “loved this game but I
won't play again till the mini map is implemented.” We’re working as fast as we
can to implement the new system.
Further features currently being worked
on include the new shop and the complete retooling of the essence and
magic systems. Both systems were far too complicated and full of bugs and
we’re working hard to correct them.
Patrick is currently drawing up the graphics for the new shop.
Many of the functions that were improved have just been finished, meaning that
only now can a graphics artist put the final touches on them. This also includes
When the programmers aren’t making final adjustments to the
features, they spend their days working on improving the stability and
performance of the servers. During the closed beta, we were able to manage
the mass of players on our servers via the account activations. To see how the
servers would handle registrations and gameplay simultaneously, we intentionally
overloaded them by controlling the level of beta registrations per day. The
graphic displays the current number of active players and you can see that the
least number of players are online between 3–4 am in the morning but that’s
still more than none!
Until now larger series of activations have led to bugs and
performance bottlenecks and have kept us on our toes for days trying to resolve
them. The closed beta testers notice this when the game becomes choppy; the
servers can’t be reached or there are other similar problems. As developers, we
get late-night warning e-mails on our cell phones, sit in front of our laptops
watching the servers or adjust the settings ourselves. I, myself, can’t help but
check my smartphone every five minutes to see how many players are currently
active. A rapid drop in players usually means sever trouble or that something
else isn’t working.
What’s on the horizon? Starting in June the closed
beta will move into the open beta phase. Everyone will be able to register and
play. The start of the open beta in June doesn’t mean that we’re done developing
the game whatsoever – it just means we can really begin.
summarized it well by saying: “Drakensang Online is … a seed, from which a great
online-action RPG will grow, if it is nursed and lovingly tended.”
that’s just what we plan to do! Each week we’ll have a regular update. These
updates will include new features and improvements which will all be described
in breaking news and release notes. Hot fixes and patches may on occasion be
uploaded multiple times in a single day. All of this, of course, with your
feedback in mind.
These weekly updates will help the game continuously
grow. Among which will be the TEGANSWALL extension. This is the first major
content update that should be appearing this summer – more about that to come in
the next developer’s diary ...
I’d like to thank all of the closed-beta
testers from the bottom of my heart for your feedback and
About the author: Bernd Beyreuther, Head of
Development at Bigpoint Berlin Jg.1970 Cartoonist, CAD operator and
programmer, completed his studies in animation at The Potsdam Babelsberg Film
and Television University
Founder of Radon Labs, husband and father of
three, Bernd Beyreuther has led Radon Labs to become one of Germany’s leading
game developers in the last year with roughly 100 employees working in two
different locations. Since Bigpoint’s takeover of Radon Labs in June 2010, Bernd
has overseen development for the third installment of the Drakensang Saga:
“Drakensang Online”. Numerous distinctions of excellence include:
International German Video Prize 1996, ECTS Best PC Game of the Show 2001,
multiple German Developer Awards including: “Best RPG 2010”, BIU Sales Award in
Gold 2008, German Computer Game Prize 2009.
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