January 27, 2009
This update took place from 9:30am - 10:30am PST. (Original post.)
PDA Map Warp-to-Friend Feature
The PDA Map friend icons are now much more useful. When too many people want to be in a zone at the same time, we have to spin up extra instances of that zone for the overflow. When one of your friends is in another instance of the same zone you're in, it can be confusing to understand on the PDA Map.
So now, you'll see a new icon start to appear when you have a friend in that situation. To join your friend, it's as easy as clicking on your friend's icon on the PDA Map and warping yourself to his/her instance. (To move your friend to *your* instance instead, you can simply invite him to your Crew. That will do the trick also.)
Huge Orb Drop Rate Improvements
Most of you are gonna like this one. smile
We've analyzed play over the last months, and played a bunch of the game ourselves.
One of the conclusions we reached was that there was too much *grind* in the game, and not enough sense of progress.
So we're loosening up the orb drops...a lot.
If you're only playing in Village Greens, you won't notice much improvement here, but if you're playing in other zones, you'll immediately see improvements in:
- Orbs granted per quest. The increases are obvious (even in Village Greens, where most quests used to drop 1 per quest, but now drop 3), especially in later zones where you might get 10, 20, or more than 30 orbs per quest.
- Monster drops. Monsters used to only drop 1 *4 orbs throughout the game, with the "big" drops only occurring in the latest levels. Monsters are now scaled per zone so that the later monsters drop many more orbs than monsters in the earlier zones. They still drop at the same *frequency* as before, but when they drop now, you'll get more orbs per drop. (Later-zone monsters do drop a lot of orbs.)
The effect of this change is to allow more rapid advancement through the game, with the end-result objective that it takes about 50+ hours (less, if you're loyal to the repeatable quests, which are much more lucrative now also).
Null Fragment Pricing and Frequency Change
To help stimulate interest in Recipes, and to make them just generally more affordable and cool, we're dropping the price of Null Fragments from $0.25 each to $0.05 each. This brings the price of a recipe, even if you had ZERO null fragments in your possession, down to much more trivial prices than previously.
Additionally, we used to "front-load" the game with Null Fragments, dropping a ton of them in the early game, and fewer of them in the later game.
We're flip-flopping that now, and you'll be getting few of the Frags in the early-going, but you'll find later-game quests to be much more lucrative for finding fragments.
This gives a better incentive to find later areas in the game, and it also allows a player to have a wider assortment of recipes to choose from when you start getting lots of fragments to play with, so we think it'll be more fun all around.
- The Clan chat channel works again now!
- New mini-boss lairs (the Saw Mill and Duneslam Island) are available in this update. Like Katsumi's Doll and the Wolf Den, these are repeatable instanced-missions instead of the old "open-air" boss encounters we used to have.
- Back Alley Bargains gets an overhaul to make it more like other shops and easier to understand. (The display case is removed, the starter clothing items are now in other stores, and the PowerUps are now in the main window. )
- The old Ring Polisher PowerUp that increased all of your currently-equipped ring effects by 150% has been discontinued. It has been replaced with the new Ring Buffer PowerUp instead. Whereas the Ring Polisher only lasted three minutes, the improved Ring Buffer now lasts ONE HOUR instead with the same 150% improvement. (NOTE: You can still use the old Ring Polishers, but they are just no longer for sale at Back Alley Bargains.)
- We reduced the size of a bunch of our SWF files, so you should see big improvements in loading times, especially if you're using a slower connection speed.
- Some artwork optimization work, but mostly just small tests right now. The one place that is changed in the game is the Sand Castle Golems. They used to be framerate hogs and are now dainty little bite-sized morsel-eating folks. (More changes along that line will be coming next week.)
- Big improvements (again) in the guest experience for new users. Vastly fewer clicks and better representation of the game. (For you already in the game, this is kind of a *yawn*, but for new folks, they'll get to the game easier, which is cool.)
Game updated to version