Greetings all! As many of you know, the first round of P.A.T. testing ended successfully last night. As per the previous update, our Backers had a great time! Lots of ducks taken, enemies killed, and flying projectiles that lit up the night skies. Starting this week, we will have at least one testing day every two weeks or weekly (if necessary/helpful) for the Pre-Alpha build. We will notify you about through email, forums, and our website. For those that weren’t able to take part in this round of testing, here’s a post-P.A.T. report:
1) Server stability was flawless. We ran 3 different testing sessions (for about 18 hours total) and none of the servers crashed, brain-locked, or even had a major hiccup during this time. Given that we had around 200 people in a small battleground with more magic flying around than a Magician’s Conference in Las Vegas, that’s a great start. This validates our decision to focus on server/client stability, even at the cost of features/eye candy. It is safe to say that, considering where we are in development as compared to other games Andrew and I have worked on, that we are in great shape. Especially since we are building almost the entire engine from scratch.
2) Server-induced lag/latency was also not a problem. We had people playing from all over the world, and from what we could tell, everything ran as expected. As we neared the 200 person cap for the test battleground/instance, the engine continued to handle the load (though some client machines began to show signs of chugging), even with all the spells/projectiles flying through the world. We had hoped that would be the case with this version, and it’s great to be able to say that that hope wasn’t dashed upon the rocks of despair. :) Raising the cap is one of our focuses for the next P.A.T., and we already have some new code going in this week that should help accomplish that goal.
3) Server-side physics and the integration of Nvidia’s PhysX engine also performed admirably. As per the previous update, server-side physics is a rarity in MMORPGs, and having it perform so well this early in the process is a big win for CSE, our Backers, and future players as well.
4) Client-side performance was also excellent, with most errors being known issues due to non-DX11 cards and/or outdated drivers. We will continue to work with our Backers and Nvidia to get to the root of those issues. FYI, we’re also getting some older cards here on our own to help identify/resolve some of the problems. Given the whole “building it from scratch” thing, we think we’re on track to do that, given what we saw this past week.
5) Frame rate (FPS) was also quite good to excellent (30-60) on most newer cards, even during the height of battle. Most older cards still had an acceptable frame rate, but we have a long way to go before we are ready for release. FYI, we haven’t begun to really optimize the client, and even things such as LODing are not in yet (but will be soon).
6) The vast majority of our Backers gave a “thumbs up” to the rather in-depth character stat creation system. As per our Kickstarter, it’s not about having more visual options than the top MMORPGs (we won’t), but rather giving our players the ability to truly customize their characters. Not everyone wants to see so many Banes and Boons (is 400 a lot???), and some want more “interesting” B&Bs (not just heavily stat-related), but what we have now is only the beginning, not the end of the design effort.
7) Fun, fun, and more fun! It was our belief that it was worth a little extra effort on our part to make a fun mini-game/battleground for our Backers, and they agreed. There was a lot of disappointment when we turned the servers off last night. We also saw a lot of the same names, day after day, so that too was a very good sign. People were already beginning to share stories about their best kill of the day, or how they used the terrain to dodge incoming projectiles. The first time somebody saw the A.I.R. system in action, it brought a smile to their face.
As we told our Backers, the P.A.T. was not about testing the earliest build of the game Camelot Unchained™. Instead, the P.A.T. was focused on the game engine that will drive CU to excellence. As such, it came through with flying colors (and flying Luchorpáns)! When you also factor in the fun that was had with some of the game’s core systems (such as projectiles that track, arc, and fire on a line), it was an even bigger success for us and our Backers. Our hope is that if the P.A.T.s continue to go well, we’ll even be able to invite all of our Backers to participate in a few of the later P.A.T.s. when we want to really stress test our servers!
Going forward, our most immediate tasks are getting the P.A.T. #2 Checklist online on our website, and scaling up the engine’s capacity even further. Two hundred players in a small battleground is a good start, but we have to do a lot better than that if we want large-scale battles. Fortunately, things are looking good and we may be testing higher caps as soon as the end of the week. It should be an interesting few weeks for our IT folks, as with new code comes new fun, frolic, and problems. Can’t wait!
I want to once again thank our Alpha Backers who found the time to take part in this stage of Pre-Alpha Testing, and I look forward to seeing even more of you over the remainder of the P.A.T.s.
As always, speaking on behalf of everyone at CSE, we thank you for your support!