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Speeding Up Construction

Bob
As we've been working our way through all the structure upgrades, we ran into some technical issues with the way the upgrade process moves through various construction models. It's all solvable, but the more we talked about it, the more we started to wonder if the best answer was just to allow "instant" upgrades and downgrades, avoiding the problems altogether. We actually have multiple systems in place now (DI, Influence, Upkeep) that dis-incentivize quickly upgrading and downgrading very often, and there's not really anything interesting going on gameplay-wise during the construction delays. The longer delays don't seem as necessary as they once did, at least not unless we eventually add some kind of gameplay aspect to longer construction processes, at which point we could sort through the issues and put them back in.

So, I've tried an experiment with cutting upgrade/downgrade times down to 1 second (practically "instant"smile and reducing the construction times down to 1 minute (which matches the building animation time, like it does for placing Freeholds, Cottages and Studios). So far everything works just fine, and it certainly makes placing multiple buildings and upgrading them multiple times a lot more convenient. If any of you can think of ways this could be gamed, or interesting gameplay situations this would remove from the game, let's talk about them here or through customer.support@goblinworks.com. If it sounds good, it will ship as part of EE 15.
Father Bronin
Is this a short term solution/experiment or expected to be a permanent feature?

FB
Tyncale
I kinda liked it to see an intermediate construction graphic when you were putting down a new structure. I may be a bit nostalgic here since I was the first person to actually see it in game when I put up the first Holding ever. smile

I assume these intermediate graphics are now taken out? Imo they do serve a game-function which is adding to the immersion/make belief of a MMO. I am not a fan of taking out anything that helps this. The world is pretty generic as it is.

I do not see any other downsides, there are enough other dis-incentives for changing structures around. If I am understanding it wrong(the graphics stay in, just the process is speeded up) then please discard my grumbling.
Regalo Harnoncourt, Leader of the River Kingdoms Trading Company, High Council of Callambea.
This is the character that I am playing almost 100% of the time. (Tyncale is my Sage/Mage)
Bob
Father Bronin
Is this a short term solution/experiment or expected to be a permanent feature?

Kind of a medium/long term solution that would get revisited when we have the time and resources to make Construction a balanced, polished, and most importantly fun feature. It's one of those concepts that has a lot of potential promise, but where partial implementations are problematic, so we'd like to simplify things and remove it until we're able to focus on it properly.
Bob
Tyncale
I kinda liked it to see an intermediate construction graphic when you were putting down a new structure. I may be a bit nostalgic here since I was the first person to actually see it in game when I put up the first Holding ever. smile

You'd still see those initial construction graphics. However, instead of the construction graphics being up for an hour, you'd run through all the stages during the minute that the character is "placing" the building. It would be very similar to placing a Freehold, where you see the model run through a construction cycle that ends with a completed building at the same time the character stops animating. That part isn't as problematic, because the bulk of it was heavily re-used (same models for most buildings), and because the NPCs aren't there during construction. We also wanted to preserve the minute delay there because it provides time to change your mind, or for someone to smack you and prevent you from finishing construction. However, once the minute is over, nothing can stop the building from completing construction, so it doesn't really matter whether or not that requires an additional 59 minutes to complete.

On the other hand, you wouldn't see the scaffolding go up around buildings when they're being upgraded/downgraded, which would instead happen instantly. That part was tougher because the NPCs remain during the upgrade/downgrade, and because each stage had to have specialized models.

Tyncale
I assume these intermediate graphics are now taken out?

Those graphics would be removed from the game, which would have some technical advantages like saving some memory on both client and server, and reducing download sizes. However, the graphics would still be in our working inventory and would be relatively easy to add back in. That said, it has become clear that there's a lot of polish work remaining (both code and art) to make a lot of those upgrade/downgrade models function properly.

Tyncale
Imo they do serve a game-function which is adding to the immersion/make belief of a MMO. I am not a fan of taking out anything that helps this. The world is pretty generic as it is.

Agreed, and that's a large part of why we'd like to revisit this later when we have more time. However, the current state of the code and art forces us to make a lot of compromises to make the upgrade/downgrade models work. In particular, without some code changes, it often forces us to place NPCs in boring positions that are safely away from any parts of the model that change during the upgrade or upon completion. One of the nice fixes you'll see in EE 15 is that we've fixed the camera to work better on raised models (no more staring at your feet when climbing stairs), and that allows us to do things like put NPCs up on various platforms and hills for these dynamic buildings, instead of all standing at the entrance. Making this change will allow us to put the NPCs in more interesting and appropriate locations for each building upgrade. Since buildings spend a lot more time in their completed state than in their construction/upgrade/downgrade states, it's better for overall immersion to focus our attention on making those states look good than on making the less-often-seen stages look acceptable. Later, when we can do it right, we won't have to make those compromises.
Tyncale
Thanks for the elaborate answer Bob, I appreciate it. I am fine with the animations following eachother up quickly when placing a new structure, that at least preserves the make belief of "I am building something here".

I am still sad to see the intermediate graphics for up/downgrading go. I always try to think of what such a change could mean for emergent gameplay, something that PFO lends itself especially well for given its open world.

For instance, when I cross strange territory (or am scouting out an enemy territory), stumbling upon Holdings and Outposts that are in transition(intermediate graphics) gives me both intel and immersion. Intel as in "there is live activity here", possibly meaning something in a greater political picture. Are they preparing for something? Seeing a building in its intermediate phase also gives you a "live stamp" on activity that did happen less then an hour ago. Are they still near? This is also great for immersion.

It is much harder to gauge activity when buildings do not convey this state: you would have to keep some sort of ledger of territories, what was there before(+2 Watchtower), and what is there now(+3 Watchtower). It would still be days, if not weeks old information.

I always love it when I find (traces of) player activity in a MMO, even when the player is not standing next to you. Everquest had this feature where you could sell something to remote NPC vendor and this item would stay in his offered wares untill server reset(sometimes weeks later). Another player could browse this vendor and find this "trace" of player activity: like a Scallop, a shell that you can only loot in Kobold Scar. Possibly sold to this NPC by a Druid player who often kited Wyverns in Kobold Scar, looted the scallop and decided to sell his loot to this Vendor half a continent away. When I would happen unto such an item, it triggered my imagination about who sold it; and somehow this NPC, this feature connected two players to eachother even though they never met. There was much more emergent gameplay to be had from this feature but I digress.

So I hope that one day it can return. I understand the issues though and squashing bugs are a priority now. smile
Regalo Harnoncourt, Leader of the River Kingdoms Trading Company, High Council of Callambea.
This is the character that I am playing almost 100% of the time. (Tyncale is my Sage/Mage)
Bob
Agreed on all points, Tyncale, and we'd definitely like to bring this back at some point. Ideally, at that point we'd make it even more common to run into buildings going through various stages of construction/renovation, and try to find ways to make those stages more interesting, revealing, and perhaps even interactive (help/hinder/block). There are lots of possibilities, many of which aren't necessarily all that difficult to implement, we just need to be able to set aside enough time to do them right.
Giorgio
i see no reason to not do this, save the time and effort for a full feature set down into the future, when you start word on "workers & foremans" "roads",'walls" and "stonemansons & carpenters" systems.
First Elder Durin Steelforge; Leader of Forgeholm; Founder of Steelforge Engineering Company

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