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December 09, 2019, 12:59:42 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsProsperous Universe – Sci-fi trading MMO
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Mjeno
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« Reply #60 on: March 10, 2019, 09:14:32 AM »

For our game world launch this week, we made an official announcement and a more personal development log. Enjoy! Smiley

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Dear licensees,

get ready for a massively upgraded Prosperous Universe! A brand new world has been started this morning, and you are cordially invited to see for yourself how much has happened since the beginning of First Access.

Join now to get a head start on the competition!


The new universe will feature several new planets with improved resource distribution, an overhauled material tree and updated recipes, a vastly more intuitive and flexible company set-up process, rebalanced starter packages including the new “fuel engineer”, exploit prevention measures, as well as the first tool tips and descriptive texts. The APEX Handbook has been updated to reflect all the new changes.

We would like to thank our community for providing invaluable feedback over the past few months. It has helped us a great deal in improving the game’s design, balancing, ease of use, and feature roadmap.

Let us know what you think about the new world in the forum. Happy trading!


DEVELOPMENT LOG

An unusual week warrants an unusual devlog: If you follow this blog, our forums or any of our social media channels, it was hard for you to miss the news about the reset of Alpha 6 and the consequent launch of Alpha 7. And that’s essentially what dominated the whole team’s work schedule for the week.

While Julian was busy getting the word out, Michi and myself took care of all the technical preparations, like resetting the production cluster, fixing last minute bugs and monitoring the first hours of the restart.

Michi joined me at simulogics HQ for this, so once the most urgent and critical tasks were taken care of, we took some time to discuss our upcoming milestones. While we merely clarified the changes we had already decided on for the next release (the ones we discussed on our recent live stream), we also looked beyond to see what the priorities will be afterwards. We’re not ready to disclose any of our plans just yet, but we feel like we have a pretty good idea of where we’re heading.

Last but not least, Julian set up a little key giveaway on our Discord server: If you want to get Asteroid-level access to First Access or know of a friend who might be interested, head over to our server and keep an eye on the #announcements channel!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

- Martin
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Mjeno
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« Reply #61 on: March 17, 2019, 07:32:38 AM »

Development log #174

In today’s devlog, you can read up on what’s happened in one of the most eventful weeks Prosperous Universe has ever had and, for the first time ever, take an extended look at some of our back-end statistics!


Michi (molp)

This week began with Martin and me talking about the upcoming features and who would implement which parts. I then started right away with implementing my first part: adding the local market as a planetary project. Similar to the Chamber of Global Commerce, the local markets can be built by anyone with a base on a given planet. We exclude the faction planets since they already have a commodity exchange and we don’t want to have two different kinds of markets on these planets.

At the same time, the key giveaway on MMORPG.com started and we saw quite an inrush of new players in our newly resetted world. I want to show you some of the statistics we collected on this occasion.

First of all the active users:


We count active users on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. You can see some irregularities due to an implementation error of the statistic aggregation that I fixed during this week. The white stripes are server down times. One can clearly see that sometime between the 11th and 12th the key giveaway started. After 24 hours or so, the giveaway wasn’t on the front page anymore (only as a small banner in the sidebar), and so the amount of new players joining slowly declined.


Over the last week, around 700 distinct companies have been founded. This number does not include companies that have been deleted due to COLIQs. On the right, the total amount of starting profiles is shown, independent of faction. During the week, we adjusted the demand value for certain starting profiles that is shown during company creation twice to reduce the amount of metallurgists and fuel engineers. Changing the value had an effect, albeit a little one.


In these graphs, we plot the starting profiles by faction. As expected, the metallurgist is by far the most popular package with NEO Charter Exploration and the victualler with Insitor Cooperative. We are happy that only few players chose the new Fuel Engineer package since it has turned out to be a tough choice for beginners.


In this chart, you can see the total money supply in the game. It consists of all money new players bring to the game by selecting a certain starter package minus the money that gets lost due to company liquidations. The balance of the market makers is currently positive, so that is subtracted as well. As you can see, the market makers have a big influence, since the total money supply is stagnant even though new players bring new money into the game. We monitor the situation closely and have discussed countermeasures.

There are more statistics in development and even in production, maybe I can show some of them in one of the next devlogs!


Julian (Mjeno)

I’m the one trying to get players into the game, and I’m pretty happy with the numbers shown above. I was lucky enough to get an intro to the MMORPG.com folks by our game designer Alex, who organized a giveaway for another game on their site a couple of years ago. And while the key giveaway certainly accounts for a large portion of new players, I also took the usual measures to beat the drum about the game world launch: posted on social media, sent out external and internal newsletters as well as a press release, provided some influencers with game keys etc. The most challenging experience was once again Reddit, where self-promo isn’t exactly appreciated, but I think we got along alright in the end.

Finally, of course, I spent a lot of time talking our the community on our various channels. And while the overall numbers are quite satisfying, I’m even more proud of what some really active parts of our community have been up. Not that I deserve any credit for it, but it makes me giddy to see this level of investment with the game. Players have set up their own Discord servers, started writing tools and even websites to make calculations and projections for their companies. I’ll share some of this stuff on our social media channels once it’s ready for the public.

Anyway, here’s a pretty gif I shot today of ships orbiting the three most popular planets! (Blue plots are player bases.)



Martin

There has been a long-standing bug in our issue tracker about many commands in the APEX UI being case-sensitive that really shouldn’t be. At first this sounds like a trivial issue: Just didn’t pay attention somewhere, forgot to handle upper or lower-case, happens to the best of us, easy fix. But as it’s often the case, there’s more to the story.

By now, there are a lot of different entity and object types in the game. And in 95% of the cases, identifying these items and loading them from the server works pretty much in exactly the same way. But for historic reasons(tm), all of these cases are handled with more or less individual code as well as their own commands and messages. Some shared utilities were written over time, but all in all, there is a lot of unnecessary duplication. That means that fixing the bug mentioned above could mean looking at, testing and fixing code in dozens of places. Of course yielding the risk of breaking other things in the process.

So I set out this week to clean up this mess. The majority of the work was conceptual in nature, figuring out what the common core to all these cases is and whether it can actually be harmonized. I also looked at how this refactoring can help us with other, related issues (like when do we need to send data updates to a client for items the user isn’t looking at anymore). The majority of the implementation work will follow over the coming two weeks.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #62 on: March 24, 2019, 12:49:53 PM »

Development log #175

In today’s devlog, we’re sharing numerous details on the upcoming local markets and the kinds of ads players will be able to post on them.


Michi (molp)

I could finally spend a big chunk of my available time this week on the new local markets feature. I began with the outlines of the local market tile which shows a list of all available ads. To be able to display some ads, they have to be created first, so I quickly moved on to the “post ads” tile.

In the beginning, there will only be two ad types: buy and sell a commodity, the type can be selected by the corresponding tab. An ad consists of a few basic components:

  • The price for the commodity, including the currency. It is entirely up to the creator of the ad what currency should be used.
  • The commodity itself. I wrote a new commodity selector (see below) to quickly search and select a commodity. The selector first tries to match the input with a commodity ticker, then with the name of the commodity.
  • The amount of commodities.
  • The maximum delivery time. Let’s say company A creates a buy commodity ad and sets a delivery time of 5 days. That means that the accepting company has 5 days until the goods need to be delivered to the creator of the ad. Failing to do so will breach the contract and might result in a bad rating.
  • Ad visibility determines how many days an ad will be visible at the local market.
  • Fees: The owner of the local market (right now the corresponding faction) will demand a fee to create an ad. The amount depends on a base value and the ad visibility time. The fee has to be paid immediately and in the currency of the corresponding faction.

You can find a work-in-progress shot of the tile here.


Julian (Mjeno)

I’m keeping it super short this week since most of what I’ve done relates to things I’d like to keep secret for the moment and that you’ll get to see fairly soon anyway.

One thing I’ve been dealing with is the question when and how to advertise the switch to a free-to-play model, which is coming rather sooner than later, as discussed in our livestream and earlier devlogs. We’re pulling the free/premium distinction into the First Access phase, where players owning a key are premium users. We’ve made this decision to ensure that fewer interested parties are blocked off by our paywall, since the discrepancy in daily traffic to our website and the actual number of people ending up creating a company is quite staggering. Of course there are more adjustments to be made to our funnel (ugh), but we’re considering the current paywall to be the “Great Filter” right now. Wink

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #63 on: March 31, 2019, 01:28:04 PM »

Development log #176

Hardly any feature has been requested more frequently than getting back resources for demolishing buildings, except maybe a second confirmation button for certain actions. Good news: Both are coming very soon!


Michi (molp)

The local market update is a lot of work and will take us a bit longer to develop than we thought. We decided that we want to release a small update anyways and rather sooner than later. If everything goes according to plan a small update will hit the servers at the end of next week. It’ll contain a few changed recipes, a few bug fixes and a long awaited feature: building demolition will return some of the original building materials. Here is how it works:


If demolished within 1 hour of construction, all materials are reclaimed. Afterwards only a fraction is returned that corresponds linearly with the age of the building. After 60 days the building is written off and no materials can be reclaimed.

All old buildings will be handled as if built on March 28th 2019, so everyone gets a change to restructure their bases. It won’t be possible to demolish the core module.

While I was at implementing this change, I also added a new confirmation screen:


Right now building demolition is the only place we use it, but it could be used in many other places: starting/aborting flights, creating production orders that will run for longer than a certain amount of time and so on! Let us know which action buttons need fatfinger protection!
 

Julian (Mjeno)

This week, I continued communicating with different parties concerning press coverage and sponsorship opportunities, which is probably pretty boring to read about. Slightly more exciting: I planned and mocked up a dedicated page for big future updates. Each update will get its own cool name and sub-page on our website to showcase the new features it introduces.

However, most of my time this week was spent on something I can’t tell you just yet. The good news is that you’ll it see tomorrow!


Martin

I continued toiling away on my data loading issue I talked about in devlog #174. It’s a bit more framework-building than I had hoped, but the basics are pretty much done and after going over the changes with Michi next week, I hope to be able to roll them out to the first parts of the application.

From the get-go, the goal was to be able to apply this refactoring continuously and not in a single huge update. So whenever we add new functionality or have to touch existing ones, we can just move them over to the new system, leaving everything else untouched.

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #64 on: April 22, 2019, 10:54:03 AM »

Development log #177

At the beginning of this week, Julian finally released the Honest Trailer to the world. In the meantime, Martin has finished an important back-end adjustment, and Michi is almost ready to launch the demolition refunds program.


Michi (molp)

This week I was mostly busy with preparing the update we released on Friday. As announced last week its main change was the improved building demolition feature. You can find out what’s that all about and see all the other changes in the corresponding release notes.

Speaking of release notes: I added a new section called ‘upcoming update’ to let the players know in advance what the next update is most likely to be about. Since we are still in alpha, we want to move quickly and things might break. Introducing a new feature or a change in a gentle and smooth way without upsetting anyone is really hard and time consuming and usually requires code that is only used once for the transition. So we might not do this every time. I think it’s just fair to let everyone know what might change beforehand so they can prepare and plan ahead.

When I was not working on the release, I managed to get some work done on the upcoming local markets. I’ll probably have more to report about them next week.



Julian (Mjeno)

The biggest event of my work week was our little April Fools’ joke on Monday. We finally released our Honest Trailer to the world, which means I can now talk about it! It was hard not to spill the beans while we were making it because it was so much fun.

I first had the idea for the video months ago and almost didn’t pitch it to Michi and Martin because I wasn’t sure it was any good. Mostly, I wasn’t sure I could write the script for a funny video, which is something I’d never done before. But when I told the others, they were intrigued by the idea, so I went for it and put together a provisional version with my own VO. The whole team liked it, so we decided to spend some money on a pro (his name is deepmalevoice on Fiverr, excellent guy), and we don’t regret a single penny.

Six days after its release, the Honest Trailer is sitting at 806 views and 55 likes on YouTube. The feedback from within our community has been very positive, and some new people joined us after seeing the video on Reddit. When we saw that even Reddit didn’t mind our self-promotional posts, we realized we must’ve done something right.

In case you missed it, here’s the video:






Martin

I’m happy to say that I was able to wrap up the majority of my work on the new data loading system I talked about in devlogs 174 and 176. I showed it to Michi for the first time this week and he started using parts of it for the upcoming local markets feature already. Meanwhile, I ported some code over to the new system that was indirectly affected by my changes on the client-side. There are still a few bells and whistles missing, but I’ll get to them once they are actually required.

In other news, I sat down with Alex and Michi this week do finalize the first draft of the Player Rating concept. This is going to be the next major topic I’ll be working on as it’s going to be relevant for the local markets. But more on that soon!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #65 on: April 22, 2019, 11:14:37 AM »

Development log #178

Michi made a lot of progress on the upcoming Local Markets feature which in turn relies heavily on the Player Ratings feature. Martin was supposed to work on the latter but got distracted by improving the financial charts in the game. So we have to wait a little bit longer until the two branches converge. Only a matter of weeks, though!


Michi (molp)

The work on the local markets feature continued this week. Time to show you some early work-in-progress screenshots!


A local market is basically a blackboard with classifieds. Everyone owning a base on the planet can post ads to the local market. The character in front of the ad constitutes the minimum rating your company has to have to in order to accept that ad. Ratings will go from F to A, A being the best achievable rating. Besides these there are also the P and U ratings: pending and unrated.


Clicking on an ad reveals a bit more information, for example who created it (including the companies rating), where it was created and how long it is valid. Depending on what the creator set during the creation of the ad it might be visible between one and 30 days. Finally there is a button that allows to accept an ad and forms a contract between the creator and the company accepting the ad. Once the ad has been accepted the contract parties have a certain amount of time to fulfill their respective contractual obligations, like paying, delivering or picking up goods.


Of course there is a similar command as the existing FXOS and CSOS to show the list of your own ads and the ads of other companies you accepted.


Martin

I kind of went off on a tangent this week. My original plan was to get started on the Player Rating feature but I wanted to get a few minor improvements of the price charts out of the way, first. As it’s often the case, that took a lot longer than planned for a variety of reasons. But this is what the charts look like now:


The most notable changes are these:

  • You can now select the interval the data points represent.
  • In sparse charts, dummy values with zero volume will be displayed to make the chart easier to read.
  • The period and interval settings are now stored per tile, so instead of falling back to the defaults, the same settings will be used when you come back to a screen.
  • There is now less unused space around the actual chart.
  • The volume and price graphs don’t overlap anymore to make them easier to read.
  • The volume bars are rendered in grey to make them easier on the eye.
  • I’ve added a poof-of-concept “simple moving average” indicator. More of those could be added in the future.
  • I fixed a bug that occurred when you had more than one chart on a screen and resized any of them.

The charts are still far from perfect, especially in cases with very little data. But I feel like I’ve spent enough time on them for the moment and should focus on actual game play again :-)

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #66 on: April 22, 2019, 11:19:47 AM »

Development log #179

It is one of these rare times where we all took some time off to visit friends and family over the extended weekend. Nonetheless we ran a small server update this week and Michi can show some work in progress with the local market feature.


Michi (molp)

I started the week with the release of the fuel update that we announced last week. In a nutshell: We made faster than light travel cheaper by reducing the fuel costs and increasing the output of the corresponding refinery recipe. We hope that this will allow more players to trade on the three big commodity exchanges without worrying about fuel prices to much. You can find more details in the Release Notes.

Besides the release I continued to work on the local market feature. Adding and accepting simple ‘buying’ and ‘selling’ ads works now and so I decided it would be the right time to bring contracts into the game. As you might remember a local market ad will not instantly execute the corresponding trade once it is accepted, but rather create a contract between the two parties. The contract has multiple conditions that have to be fulfilled by the parties.

For example in a ‘buying’ ad, the buyer will have to pay for the goods, so she has a payment condition that is met once the agreed price has been paid. The seller on the other hand has to deliver the goods to the local market where the ad has been placed. If she has a base on that planet and the goods in her storage the condition can be fulfilled immediately. If not, transport is necessary.

Implementing the ‘buying’ case was rather easy, the corresponding conditions existed in the code. The ‘selling’ ad is tougher, Martin and I discussed multiple solutions and I will try if one of them works next week.

Here is a quickly shot GIF showing me accepting a buying ad and what the corresponding contract looks like. If you ever had to pick up some goods from a comex this might look familiar.

The top tile is the listing of ads of the local market. The one in the middle contains two lists: ads I created myself and ads I accepted from other players. Lastly the lower tile is just the existing list of contracts.


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #67 on: April 28, 2019, 11:48:13 AM »

Development log #180

In this special edition of our weekly devlog, we’d like to take a moment and ponder the question of how to deal with cheating in Prosperous Universe. Let us know your thoughts!


Julian (Mjeno)

Hi, everybody!

Martin is on a well-deserved vacation right now, and Michi is chipping away on the same stuff as last week, so the floor is all mine today. Instead of boring you with the usual communication-related busywork I took care of this week, I’d like to address a subject I’ve been dealing with lately: cheaters.

Luckily, there hasn’t been a lot of evidence of people not playing by the rules, but there has been some, and we need to address every case we become aware of. Our terms of service grant us a lot of leeway, but up until now, we haven’t had a clear policy of which violations warrant which punishments. We are still working on it now, and I’d like to give you guys, our community, a chance to weigh in on some of the questions we’re currently asking ourselves.

The most common way of cheating at the moment are multi-accounts. They are rare as far as we can tell (at least the really exploitative ones), but what’s the appropriate punishment for the cases we do find? Should the alt account(s) be deleted without warning? Should the main account be kept intact or at least get COLIQed? What other possible measures could we take besides account deletion and liquidation of a company? And also: How are we to find out which one is the alt? In some cases it’s clear because the main account is just leeching off the alt, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Do we leave it up to the cheater?

Another question is how public these punishments should be. Looking at other games, developers seem to have a wide variety of answers to this question. Many games just ban people’s accounts in silence. Some cheaters on Steam are hit by a VAC ban, which then gets displayed on their public profiles to brand them for eternity. In Rainbow Six Siege, all players in the game get a text message on the side when BattleEye bans a cheater. Many of these measures are mostly designed to deter other cheaters and show upstanding players that the anti-cheat system is working. What they also end up doing, whether intentionally or not, is shame cheaters who get caught. You might find that justified, but as much as I hate cheating, I greatly dislike the concept of public shaming, especially over the Internet. I believe that people can better themselves and I would like to give them a chance to enjoy the game in a way that’s fair to everyone. That’s why I feel like publicly branding people as cheaters is the wrong route to take, especially if a community is rather small. And even if a player were to be banned from the game completely, I’d still not feel like it’s my place to additionally punish them by telling the whole world about their misdeeds. That is not to say I’m not considering to at least inform their corporation (regardless of whether they get to keep they account), which would be a compromise between total silence and public branding.

Anyway, those are my observations, questions, and ideas in regards to dealing with cheaters.

I’d love to hear your take on it in the forum!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #68 on: May 05, 2019, 10:36:17 AM »

Development log #181

This week, we’re giving some insights into the differences between commodity exchange contracts and local market contracts, and the new cases the latter bring about.


Julian (Mjeno)

This week, I tackled the first backer rewards for all the good people who purchased one of our support tiers, such as the exclusive comm channels, the mentions in credits, supporter badges, and physical rewards. Right now, I’m granting tier-based rights manually, but I would like to (help) implement an automated system across Prosperous Universe, its forum, Discord server, and even AirlineSim, which identifies tiers and assigns user roles automatically in the future. By the way: We’re looking for someone to design the supporter badges (various minimalist vector graphics). If you feel up to the task or know somebody who might be, let us know!

Next, I created a player survey which will be rolled out soon. Apart from the feedback on the forum and Discord server our community is thankfully providing, there are some specific questions we’d like to know the answers to, so stay tuned for that!

We’re also still working on the answers to last week’s questions. We’ll be talking to some other, more experienced game studios soon to find out how they deal with cheating. In the meantime, I’ve already taken care of the first few cases that came to our attention.

Lastly, I’d like to mention that I’m pretty satisfied with the current activity we’re seeing in Prosperous Universe. Although our Honest Trailer (which racked up over 1000 views!) was our last notable marketing measure, meaning we haven’t advertised the game much in about a month, our player numbers have been pretty stable for a while and are even slowly increasing. That means two things: I have managed to generate enough buzz for new players to be dripping in continuously, and Martin and Michi have created a good enough game for many people to stay. And personally, I have to say that this run and its pace feel right to me. I hope you guys feel the same way!


Michi (molp)

I made some progress with the contract system this week. In devlog #179 I told you that the local market selling ad is not as simple as the buying one when it comes to the contract part. This is because we haven’t implemented the corresponding contract conditions yet.

In the contract for a selling ad, three things have to happen. The seller needs to provision the goods he wants to sell. The buyer needs to pay for the goods and lastly pick them up at the seller’s local market location. I implemented the provisioning mechanism and it works like this: The ‘fulfill’ button of the contract condition is enabled when enough inventory space is available. Once clicked, the materials will vanish from the inventory but still use up volume and weight. They are blocked and cannot be used in any way. Once the contract is fulfilled, the materials are completely removed from the store. If the contract is breached, the materials are simply ‘unblocked’ and become available again.

Nex week I will probably focus on making conditions depend on one another. In the case described above, the seller needs to provision the materials before the buyer can even try to pick them up. Unlike in the commodity exchanges, there is no escrow, meaning a seller can offer materials she doesn’t have yet. In that case, trying to pick them up won’t make sense and we need to prevent that.

If you have been playing PrUn for a while, you might know that we struggle when it comes to the game design of fuel production. Somehow we didn’t get it right in the past tests and even in this one it took a long time until the first FTL fuel was produced. Here are a few relevant statistics:

This is the amount of produced STL and FTL fuel in the last 24 hours over the course of the last 20 days. STL production is roughly at 1-2k units a day and a small but steady supply of FTL fuel is being generated.


The next chart shows the production rate of resources necessary to refine FTL fuel. Hydrogen has been available from the start, but Helium 3 and Tectosilite (a Helium 3 source) is only available on non starter planets. It seems as if someone managed to start extracting Tectosilite on April 14th.


For comparison, this chart shows the necessary resources for the production of STL fuel.


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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Mjeno
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« Reply #69 on: May 12, 2019, 07:48:57 AM »

Development log #182

Today, we’d like to tell you more about the Locality update and then take you beyond, both in time and space, to the following one, which will attempt to encourage setting up new colonies in yet untouched systems.


Michi (molp)

I am still working my way through all the contract-related changes that are necessary for the release of the Local Markets feature. This week, I implemented contract condition dependencies. Sounds complicated, but really isn’t from a company perspective. For example: If company A creates a commodity selling ad and company B accepts the ad, a contract is formed. That contract has three conditions: a material provision condition, a payment condition and a pickup condition. The payment and pickup conditions are the responsibility of the buying company B. The material needs to be provisioned by company A. Of course, the buying company can only pick up the commodities once A provisioned them. So the pickup condition depends on the provisioning condition.

I changed the layout of the contract buffer to reflect that. Here is the old contract view where the respective conditions are sorted into tabs:


The tabs make it difficult to get an overview of the whole contract. So I changed the layout into a table:


As you can see, the pickup condition has a reference to the provision condition in the column named ‘depends on’. This screenshot is from the seller’s perspective and no further actions are necessary on her side.

I also started to implement condition deadlines as Local Market offers will have pickup and delivery conditions that are only valid for a certain amount of time. I will show you next week what that will look like!


Martin

With lots of catching up to do after my vacation and customer projects temporarily taking priority, I didn’t get around to much coding for PrUn just yet. But aside from the actual implementation of stuff, I am involved in planning the release after the next one.

As an avid reader of the devlog, you will know that Michi has been making great progress on the Local Markets (LMs) feature which represents the major new addition of the next release. The LMs are supposed to make colonizing remote planets a bit easier by not requiring every player to do supply or sales runs to commodity exchanges. It’s one of the first changes dedicated to motivate players to “move out” into non-core systems.

Once the LMs are released, we want to go several steps further and add features that not only make “moving out” easier, but also a lot more attractive. We want people to want to settle in remote systems and to build up new colonies. And as it turns out, this is a lot easier said than done. Besides the usual chicken-and-egg situations, there are some fundamental balancing issues that we need to work out. For example, if we want to seed remote systems with new materials for new, complex and highly desirable equipment (say, player-built space ships), how do we make it possible and worthwhile for players to build up the required supply chains if the only way they can make money is by having the whole of the supply chains finished? It’s very similar to the issue of previous alpha tests in which Tier 2 materials were only attractive to Tier 2 players, so you had to build up the supply chain and the demand at the same time. Just on a whole different level.

As you might have guessed, this is a huge topic that’s going to keep us scratching our heads and scribble on white-boards for quite some time to come. :-)


Julian (Mjeno)

First of all, I’d like to once again thank everybody who participated in this week’s player survey. The current universe went live about two months ago, and we wanted to check in with everybody to learn a little more about our players’ plans, problems, and wishes. The survey is now closed and a bunch of it already went into The Filter™, our new internal system of deciding which bits of feedback end up on The List™. Some of it is going to be evaluated by our game designer Alex, who will decide if any balancing tweaks need to be part of our next big update.

Speaking of which, Locality, which brings about the Local Markets described above, might hit the current universe fairly soon. Whenever it does, I’ll put on my PR Manager hat again. I’ve been dealing mostly with Community Management lately (including commissioning the supporter badges!), which is great, but I think it will be in everybody’s interest if I bring in some fresh blood to exp… I mean new players to help out!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #70 on: May 19, 2019, 09:33:29 AM »

Development log #183

Many little details affect the overall quality of any game. That is why this week, we’ve shifted our attention to numerous smaller improvements we want to get out there before the upcoming big update.


Michi (molp)

This week I took a break from the usual development on the new local markets feature and worked on issues belonging to a smaller, regular bugfix and minor-improvements patch. We hope to release this patch soon. There is no public changelog yet, but here is a preview of some of the issues we fixed:

  • Material Info in the CX* commands: I added a link to the material buffer in the context menu of most of the CX tiles. This allows to quickly open a material buffer to see the material’s details like its recipes.
  • Remove ships on COLIQ: Up until now, ships have not been removed from the game when the corresponding company got liquidated.
  • Truncate long user names in chat: Very long user names are now truncated in the chat, so the layout doesn’t suffer too much.
  • Deleted accounts now have random names: Ever wondered what the “has left” messages in the chat mean (without a name)? In most cases, that is a player that deleted not only the company, but the whole account. So the name is removed as well, leaving us with empty messages in the chat.
  • Add efficiency factors if at least one workforce is satisfied: This was a subtle bug found by a very attentive player. It would show the additional efficiency factors like CoGC bonus and Experts bonus in the UI, but they weren’t applied at all. This only happened if a building was requiring multiple workforces and only one workforce was satisfied.
  • Inconsistencies in extracted resources: Another subtle bug which lead to varying amounts of extracted resources when using different production order sizes.


Martin

Just as Michi, I was busy taking care of various smaller issues to get ready for our next maintenance release. I also spent a bit of time on cleaning up our code for automated tests. We have hundreds of these tests and due to the increasing complexity of the game they started to take too long to run. That’s really a problem when you want to achieve good test coverage or even do test-driven development and you have to wait for minutes on end for your tests to finish.

So that’s that… beyond some more internal discussions concerning the game design roadmap I mentioned last week, there isn’t much more to phone home about. Proper feature development is scheduled to commence again next week.


Julian (Mjeno)

Like the others already mentioned, a lot of internal discussion kept me busy this week. I’m not very involved in game design, but I do my best to make sure none of the community’s feedback and suggestions slip through the cracks. Another thing we’ve been working out is the exact way we want to deal with the occasional cases of cheating. We had an interesting chat with the community manager of another, pretty huge browser game this week, who gave us most of the answers we’ve been looking for.

Because the last proper marketing measure was our Honest Trailer, I’ve decided that it’s time to look into a new, possbily important topic: cross-promotions. I compiled a long list of games similar to Prosperous Universe this week and we’re going to decide who to reach out to next week. I’m not 100 % sure in which ways we can help each other out, but I have a few ideas.

Perhaps most interestingly, we just received the supporter badge designs we commissioned a few days ago. They’re coming to the game pretty soon! Here’s a sneak peek:


Also check out this pretty picture I posted all over social media for #screenshotsaturday:


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #71 on: May 26, 2019, 05:18:58 PM »

Development log #184

The Locality update has been pushed back a little in favor of several smaller features, fixes and balancing improvements. This week, the team continued down this path, working on the planet naming mechanic and rolling out several more bugfixes.


Martin

This was a bit of an odd week for me: Between customer work in the beginning, my usual “dad-day” on Wednesday, helping Michi with the update on Thursday and my traveling to this year’s Munich GameCamp on Friday, I didn’t expect to get much done, let alone work on any of the bigger features for our next release.

So I looked around for a smaller, self-contained, “secondary” feature that I could squeeze in between. As a result, I spent roughly a day and a half on cranking out the most basic version possible of the “name-a-planet” feature that’s a perk in our higher First Access Tiers. It works mostly as you’d expect: When viewing a planet that has not been named yet while having a “naming right” left, you get presented with a small button that leads to the planet naming tile. There you can enter the desired name, confirm you actually mean it and boom… the planet has a name! Obviously, behind the scenes, a lot more has to happen to make this work properly. And there several places on the client where the name will only update after a refresh. But all in all, I’m happy with how it turned out, given how little time I had to implement it.

You’re probably wondering when it’ll ship: I’d like to get the corresponding feature for systems done as well and then we’ll most likely ship another small maintenance update. Possibly next week.


Michi (molp)

I spent most of the week working on the bugfix / minor-improvements update that we released on Thursday. You can find its release notes here. Despite it being not too big, still a lot of effort goes into making sure everything works as intended and yet I had to hotfix the servers multiple times until everything was running smoothly again. One of the hotfixes was required to fix an error that only occurred when someone deleted a production line that still had some orders queued and liquidated that company. After the update these companies would not load back from the database anymore. Pretty esoteric bug if you ask me, but it still needed fixing. The other hotfix had to do with a new feature I introduced:

One of the bigger changes in the update is the ability to cancel running production orders. Up until now it was not possible to stop such orders. In some cases that can be very annoying, for example if you started a multi-day order by accident. When cancelling a running order, the input and potential output materials are calculated using the ‘completeness’ of the order. For example, if an order is 66% complete and it took 10 units of input material, 3 units are reimbursed. It works similarly for the output materials. Unfortunately, I based the first implementation of ‘completeness’ only on the starting and finishing timestamps of the order, totally neglecting efficiency changes during the runtime of the order. Quite a few players noticed that something was off and told us so. I was able to incorporate the efficiency changes and deliver a hotfix.

Eventually I found some time to work on the Local Market feature on Friday.

By the way, I am on paternal leave for the next two weeks, so no updates from me! See you soon!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #72 on: June 02, 2019, 04:17:08 PM »

Development log #185

With Michi on parental leave, Martin and Julian are keeping the ball rolling this week by applying for the new German games funding program. Everybody start crossing their fingers for good tidings later this year!


Martin

As mentioned last week, I squeezed in the development of a naming feature for systems and planets, partly because it seemed like a nice little self-contained feature I could fit into a tight schedule, but also because we have an increasing amount of players who have gained access to this perk by purchasing the respective supporter packs (thanks a lot, people!).

As usual, the task at hand didn’t stay as small as expected and therefore stretched into this week. The catch this time was that our planet and system names have been static so far. And as it turns out, they are used in a lot of places around the game, most of which lack the required mechanism to update the name correctly, especially in real-time (so a planet changes its name in front of your eyes when someone else changes its name).

Anyway, while both planet and system naming are mostly finished, some more work will be required before the dynamic names are used properly in all places. Since this will likely require some coordination with Michi, who’s currently on parental leave, the release of the feature might have to wait for a couple more weeks.

More time to think of cool names for systems and planets!


Julian (Mjeno)

This week was a bit special in that I spent a lot of time reading and researching. Earlier this year, the German state launched a funding program offering a total of 50 million euros for the purpose of developing new video games – and of course, we want a piece of that. Submissions open tonight at midnight, and it’s first come, first serve, so we’ve been working to get our application ready in time. I’m still waiting for Martin to review what I wrote and to add some paragraphs of his own, but I’m confident that we can send the application for Prosperous Universe out soon. If all goes well, we might receive a huge cash infusion later this year that would noticeably speed up the game’s development, so wish us luck!

Other than that, I spent my time taking care of the usual. It’s mostly community management now, as I’m waiting for the Locality release to get the PR machine rolling again. I had to swing the ban hammer earlier this week, but I’m happy to say it’s only been the third time ever. Anyway, see you next week!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #73 on: June 10, 2019, 03:48:40 AM »

Development log #186

With parts of the team gone, it’s been a rather slow week at simulogics HQ. Nonetheless, Martin managed to get back to one of the most important changes coming this month: Player Ratings!


Martin

I started out this week by (hopefully) fixing a performance regression that many people noticed after our last update. This change will be rolled out with the next patch, along-side the naming feature I talked about previously.

Since the latter still requires some coordination with Michi who won’t be back before next week, I finally got around to work on the main part of my contribution to the upcoming Locality release. Namely, I began implementing the so-called Player Rating feature that will automatically generate a rating for each company akin to a financial rating from the real world.

In essence, the idea of the Player Rating is to let players gauge how reliable another company would likely be in a contractual interaction. But that’s more of a long-term goal. For Locality, we primarily need it because we plan to finally open the gates for non-paying players, and the Player Rating is our way to limit what players can do in the game world without breaking immersion too much.

This is how it works: Any paying player has a “Pro License” for APEX and our virtual “rating agency” will only issue ratings for “pro-licensed” companies. Any company without a license will receive a “U” rating, as in “unrated”. But certain features of the game will require you to have at least a “P” rating - the rating you get in the first two or so weeks before enough data is available to generate a proper rating (between F and A). Which means: Unless you are a paying user, any facility in the game that requires you to have P rating or higher will be off limits to you.

Later, when players and corporations can control communal structures like exchanges and local markets, they will be able to specify their own rating requirements.

Implementation-wise, Michi had already prepared the basic interface of the rating feature so he had something to work with during development of the Local Markets feature. But the actual implementation was still missing. I got started on this this week and implemented the first of (currently) three planned rating components: The activity rating. But I think I’ll keep the details on the rating components for another devlog.


Julian (Mjeno)

I’m keeping it short this week as there is nothing too interesting going on on my end right now. I was gone for about half the week and used the remaining time to help finish up the funding application I mentioned last week, contact some friendly devs about cross-promotions in the near future and upgrade our Discord server a bit. Thanks to the new boosting system, it’s now even cooler on there, so come join us!

One of the perks is an animated server logo, so naturally I picked our logo, the APEX Rock. Did you know it’s actually a 3D model?


(Besides, I actually played the game myself quite a bit this week. Watch your backs, fellow PE manufacturers!)

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #74 on: June 16, 2019, 10:41:05 AM »

Development log #187

This week, we have made a major push towards the incoming Locality update, designing and implementing the options a player has for breaching a Local Market contract.


Martin

First, a correction: It was brought to my attention by my observant team mates that I was a bit too optimistic in our last post about us opening up the game to non-paying users: While the Player Rating described in said post is a prerequisite for free access to the game, it is unlikely that we’ll open the flood gates immediately with the release of Locality. We will first test the new features and once we are confident that we have enough safe-guards in place, we will do a separate release for free-2-play.

With that out of the way, back to technical stuff: Michi returned this week, so I was finally able to wrap up the maintenance patch I promised. It contains a few often requested improvements and of course the name-a-system and name-a-planet features I previously discussed on the devlog. You can find the full release notes on the forums.

The update came with quite the adrenaline rush, as I bundled it with an update of our cluster management system. That didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped, but at the end of the day, everything was fine. Patching basic infrastructure never gets boring…


Michi (molp)

I spent most of the time this week on improving the contract system. As you might recall from one of the previous devlogs, the conditions of a contract can have a deadline assigned to them. But what happens if a deadline is exceeded? Should the contract just be breached? We decided against that behavior and instead let one of the contract partners decide what should happen.

Imagine the following situation: Pioneer02 is buying some MCG from Pioneer01. She already has payed for the goods and Pioneer01 doesn’t manage to deliver the goods in time. The contract now switches into a new mode called deadline exceeded and the two contract partners get a notification that an action is required. Since Pioneer02 has more fulfilled conditions than Pioneer01, she gets to decide what to do:


She can either breach the contract immediately, in which case she will lose the invested money and Pioneer01 will receive a bad rating for not fulfilling the delivery condition in time. Alternatively, she can choose to extend the contract and its deadlines for 24 hours to give Pioneer01 another chance to deliver the promised goods.

Pioneer01 cannot choose what happens next and will only receive a notification about the situation:


If Pioneer02 does not take any action, the contract is automatically breached after 24 hours.


Julian (Mjeno)

I didn’t do anything this week that I didn’t already talk about in the two previous devlogs. So instead of repeating myself, I thought it’d be nice to share Mac’s Asteroid Day artworks from 2016 to 2018, in light of the upcoming Asteroid Day on June 30th. This one time without our logo!




As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #75 on: June 23, 2019, 11:51:58 AM »

Development log #188

Next week will be big for Prosperous Universe and its players: Locality, the biggest update since launch, will go live on Thursday! Plus, both Asteroid Day and the annual team meeting will take place next weekend.


Martin

This was the final full week of development before the impending Locality release. So I am going to keep this short as I still have quite a few items to check off my to-do list.

Just in time, I completed the last missing pieces of the Player Rating feature, namely the Stability and Reliability rating components. The former looks at a company’s financial situation and translates it into a rating score. The latter builds a score based on how reliable a company has been in fulfilling its contracts.

I then went on and set up our internal test server. Ever since First Access started, the public server was our test server. But with bigger features in the pipeline and the public server actually having quite a few active players with developed companies, having a separate staging environment became necessary to mitigate the risk of blowing stuff up by accident. As promised, anyone who’s purchased a supporter pack that includes the “test server access” perk will be granted access to that server soon’ish.

Last but not least, I was busy preparing the website for next week’s release and I looked into quite a bit of “management stuff” as the whole simulogics team will get together at the HQ next weekend for our annual team meeting!


Julian (Mjeno)

As you might have guessed, I’ve also been quite busy these past few days. I already announced the Locality update on all our channels and I’m getting ready to reach out to press and influencers throughout the coming week. If you’ve been reading our development logs, you know what to expect content-wise; besides the two big additions, Local Markets and Player Ratings, we will also sneak in some balancing tweaks. Shoutout to everyone who provided feedback on the current balancing!

ICYMI, here is a quick Locality announcement video. Feel free to share:





We will also be doing a livestream to present the new features and answer any questions that might come up. Follow us on Twitch now and join us this Thursday!


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #76 on: June 30, 2019, 10:22:31 AM »

Development log #189

It’s been a wild week. After releasing the Locality update on Thursday, the simulogics team spent the weekend at a hotel making plans for the next few months. And of course, it’s Asteroid Day today, which means there is a new artwork in town!


Martin

My week was all about the Locality release and preparing for the annual simulogics team meeting close to our HQ in Darmstadt, Germany. Due to this, there isn’t all too much to report that you either don’t already know or that is of any interest to you. So after two days of meetings, I’ll just leave it at this: We have a commercial roadmap for the next 6 to 12 months and it’s going to be an exciting ride. :-)


Julian (Mjeno)

Some weeks are slow, and there is not much to talk about. This has NOT been one of those weeks. However, we’ve written all about the Locality update here, and most of what we discussed at the team meeting isn’t really meant for the public. So since I’m almost falling asleep at my desk right now and nothing I could say would come close to being as awesome as this year’s Asteroid Day artwork by our very own* Maciej Rebisz, I’m going to leave it at that. (* CDPR can have a little bit of him, too, I guess.)

In case you don’t know, we ask Mac to make an asteroid-themed artwork every year as our contribution to the yearly Asteroid Day event. In this one, small mining ships push rocks into a large processing plant. (Plus, we have hidden some Easter Eggs!)


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #77 on: July 08, 2019, 03:52:58 AM »

Development log #190

The latest major content update isn’t even two weeks old yet, but the team is already eyeing the next, even bigger milestone: Free To Play.


Martin

As mentioned before, we had our annual simulogics team meeting last weekend. At this event, we usually work out the overarching roadmap for the following year, setting commercial and development goals. But after more than three years of Prosperous Universe development (after all this is devlog #190), commercial goals clearly stood at the center this time.

While we greatly enjoy the current First Access operating mode with its small community and practically non-existent technical issues, PrUn eventually needs two things: A lot more players to get the game’s economy up to a size we have envisioned and a lot more revenue to start recouping its development cost. Both objectives are of course different sides of the same coin, so the first step to achieving both will be the long-awaited launch into Free-2-Play.

Before you panic: F2P to us means just that… one can play for free. We will not be introducing micro-transactions or any kind of pay-2-win mechanics. It will be a “freemium” model in which we will limit access to some advanced features (see Michi’s post below) and yet-to-be-introduced tools to non-paying players, but we will do our very best to keep the impact on the in-game economy to an absolute minimum.

Ideally, with the hard paywall out of the way, we will see a constant influx of new players that will help us to slowly grow the size of the game. And as soon as the F2P release is taken care of, we’ll jump right back into actual feature development.


Michi (molp)

After the release of ‘Locality’ and the team meeting at simulogics HQ last week, the calmness of my office was very pleasant. After finishing some organizational work, I had time to reflect and think about the things we discussed, planned and decided on the weekend. One of the weekend’s outcomes is that we want to have the Free-2-Play release as our next big feature release. There is probably going to be a small issues / bugfix release in between, but the road to F2P is set.

One of the biggest features (at least code-wise) is that not all of the game’s functionality will be available to non-paying users, i.e. companies without at least a PENDING rating. So I am currently adding restrictions and their visual representations. Here is an example of a component that is completely restricted for UNRATED companies (obviously, the FLT command will not be restricted in the final version):


Only the name of the component is shown but no content or data. Clicking on the banner will lead to a new site that explains what is going on and that will allow to upgrade to a tier that has no restrictions.

If only parts of the component or its actions are restricted, we only show a small banner at the top of the command tile:


Here is a not yet complete list of the functionalities that will be restricted:

  • FX market: post limit order
  • CX market: limit orders are only allowed within a narrow price band
  • Local markets: Posting ads
  • Creating a corporation
  • Building or contributing to a corporation project
  • Building, voting or contributing to a CoGC


Julian (Mjeno)

Like the other two, I’ve been dealing with some of the measures we decided at our meeting and especially with Free-2-Play preparations this week. Although the release is still several weeks or maybe months away, some marketing measures are already late, especially the new trailer we’ve been cooking up. (Remember that it took us a year to finish the previous one? :D) I’m working on a storyboard and script right now, and I’m trying to get it ready for production soon.

Another thing I’ve been doing (and will continue to do throughout next week) is finally reaching out to some more YouTubers and Twitch streamers. I made a long list of interesting candidates last year, but I was reluctant to contact some of them in the past. We didn’t know for sure that the basic game worked at all, and I didn’t want to blow our chances with some of the bigger influencers by reaching out too early. Of course, many features are still missing now, but the world is a few months old and people are still actively playing. In fact, we’ve been at a pretty stable 250-300 weekly active players since April, so it’s safe to say that the core loop works. If you are or know a content creator that is interested in playing Prosperous Universe for their audience, go right ahead! (And feel free to send us links to your video or stream, we’d love to have a look at it ourselves.)

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #78 on: July 14, 2019, 08:41:11 AM »

Development log #191

In today’s devlog, we give you a first look into how price bands will work, and how the Local Markets have been doing since Locality went live.


Martin

I am about to “leave” for a 2 to 3 week staycation, hence my week’s work mostly consisted of tying up loose ends and getting high-priority stuff taken care of.

This involves some “management stuff” I don’t want to talk about in detail just yet and some smaller development items for the Free-2-Play release, including a display of your current “licence status” in the game’s interface.

And I’ll leave it at that for now. See you in August (at the latest)!


Michi (molp)

I spent the whole week on features belonging to the Free 2 Play milestone. I will show only one in this devlog as the others need some more work until they are presentable.

In the Free 2 Play release, we will introduce price bands for commodity exchange brokers:


Each broker will only accept a buy or sell order if it lies within that band. The price band depends on two parameters: 1. if your company has a rating of at least PENDING and 2. the 3-day price average of the commodity. If you have an unrated company, the price band will lie 25% above and below the 3-day average, for everyone else it is +/- 75%. If the broker is supported by a market maker, the price band will always stretch to incorporate the market maker price(s).

We hope to reduce the amount of malicious orders in multi-accounting cases with that step.

The Locality Release was not long ago and I thought it would be nice to share some statistics. Up until Friday, five Local Markets have been built. The most active one seems to be on Promitor (CR-409e) with around 86 accepted ads so far:


The other markets are quite active as well, with the exception of FO-705c: There has been a technical issue that has been fixed on Friday.

If we look at the total volume of the ads, we can see that NCC and ICA seem to be the most important currencies. The combined volume exceeds one million, quite impressive for the first few days.


As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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« Reply #79 on: July 22, 2019, 05:05:40 AM »

Development log #192

It seems this is a solo devlog this week! With the upcoming free-to-play release drawing closer I want to show you some of the features that have not been implemented so far. The free-to-play release is a rather technical release, so don’t expect many new gameplay features, but still, there are a few noteworthy things!


Michi (molp)

We expect more and more players once the F2P release is live. Right now we have a very helpful and decent community of players, but you know, this is the internet so we expect all kinds of bad behavior. Time to get the tools ready to mitigate that Wink

Players can now globally mute other players with the press of a button in the corresponding USR buffer. A new command COMF (“Communication Filter”) shows a list of all muted users and allows to unmute them:


When a muted user ads a message to any channel you are in as well it will be shown like below. The message’s content is blocked, but can be made visible by clicking on it.


I also (finally), added a button to delete a message. Until a message is a couple of minutes old hovering over it will reveal a delete button that replaces the message and shows a system message indicating who has deleted the message. We also created a chat moderator role that we can assign to players that allows them to delete inappropriate messages. We have not yet decided who or when will receive that role, but it is nice to know that we have the feature ready should it be needed!


Last but not least we now limit the amount and size of chat messages one can post to a channel in a given time interval. If someone posts too many or too large messages the messages will get deleted and a strike is issued. Once enough strikes within a set period are accumulated the player is automatically and temporarily banned from the channel. Repeated offenses will result in longer ban durations.


So far we didn’t have many issues with spammers or offensive messages and we very much hope it stays that way! I attribute that to you, our player community, and you should be proud! Thanks!

As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!
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