Well we've finally fully recovered from the stress test we held about a week ago. It was an amazing experience, and we had more than 800 people participate and play the game over the 10 hour period that the servers were live, peaking as high as 100 concurrents.
Overall the test went much, much better than last time. We had a few bugs early on that we were able to quickly fix, and after the first couple of hours the servers were all rock-solid and people were able to get in and enjoy the game. There were a few people that had constant crashing issues with the client, but apparently that was a Unity/SteamVR thing and not something unique to our game...we've since gotten a newer Unity runtime and a newer SteamVR update so hopefully those issues will be resolved.
From here on out it's full-on ahead toward our first official Pre-Alpha Test, which we're hoping to have in late February. Then we'll officially launch into Alpha in late March, at which time we are hoping to run an Alpha weekend where the servers are live for 48+ hours to give everyone a chance to try out the game.
What's happened this week?
First on the agenda this week was the server instancing technology. This is what enables us to run multiple copies of the same area when needed so that you can, for example, enter a dungeon with just your group to slay some foes. You can see an early test of that here:
Although not a whole lot happens there, it's a great technological achievement on the back-end :-).
I'm excited to talk about our plans for how the world is going to work including dungeons, but I'll save that for a later post. We have a new idea that is a hybrid between fully instanced dungeons and open-world shared dungeons that I think should allow us to offer the best of both types.
The other thing that we did this week was start to finalize the death mechanic. In the current build, you simply instantly teleport back to the starter village whenever you die. In the final version of the game, when you die you become a ghost. Other players will still see your spirit in the game, but you won't be able to move around (at least not beyond your room), you can't interact with anything, etc. Then you have the option to either wait for someone to come along and resurrect you, or you can choose to release back to the nearest graveyard. Here's what that looks like right now:
We're still making a final determination on the death penalty, in terms of if it will be a durability loss, a debuff over time, or some other mechanic. We want to find a balance between encouraging risk-taking and exploration, while at the same time not making it so that death feels meaningless.
Up next we'll be working on the ability to form player groups, and starting in on the PvP prototype. See you all in a few weeks in-game!