Published on February 6th, 2013 | by George X.
Mortal Online CEO interviewed by donators.
Mortal Online is an indie sandbox MMORPG with a lot ups and downs. Recently it converted to the Free to Play model, with a healthy boost to the much needed active player base.
Every month, Starvault (MO Developer) rewards its top donating contributor with rewards for aiding the games development. In January the top contributing player was named Aralis who was granted the custom title “Champion of Nave” showing that his donation has passed the $1000 mark. He was also given the opportunity to interview the studio’s CEO Henrik Nystrom, in a one-on-one interview.
It’s a very interesting conversation around the current game development, bug hunting and future content add-ons like more magic schools and a new continent.
Here is the interview!
Obviously your focus remains on bug fixing, and I hope it will continue to do so. But a lot of content has been mentioned too – magic, TC changes, horse breeding etc. Can you list the upcoming stuff, give us an estimated timeline for these changes (I know it can only be vague guesstimates), and more precisely can you list the order in which you currently plan to do them?
The main areas we are focusing on next are indeed territory control changes; that first involves a gatekeeper and wall system, with detecting zone.
This means that players will be able to design their cities, place the walls how they want, and within those walls they can hire services from NPCs, patrolling guards, as well as set all rules within the walls for the players and NPCs.
We may also switch over to dynamic placement on houses within this system, which means there will be no more slots anymore for houses. We have not yet solved the details for this though, since we need some kind of limits to this in the world. This means that we may be able to add the “city planner” profession. This may be split into two packages however; it is too early to estimate a time frame for TC.
The mount package that was part of the donation milestone is on its way already. Once meshes are finished, we will move on to rigging, skinning and animation. Finally, some more tweaking on the “reverted” control system. There will be more info on the progress later.
Magic is partially done. The Grey Halls shows some of the new spells that players will be able to use. We plan to implement 1-2 schools first then we will continue on the rest of the schools over time.
On the subject of bugs do you expect soon to have answers to the resetui, spontaneous falling, the Tindrem crashzone/sound bug, arbalests not working and above all the remaining inventory bugs?
The user interface bug is currently being worked on and should be solved as soon as possible.
The Tindrem sound people thought was causing the crash has been removed from the game. The difference is that Tindrem requires a bit more memory than any other place in the game. Tindrem also holds a lof of players constantly. The first steps we took in optimizing and removing any client crashes was to do some basic optimization in Tindrem. We also added a lowest texture setting for the clients in the launcher option. This lowers the memory usage by a lot, which should help avoid all client crashes related to memory issue. It is the number one issue for most clients, especially 32 bits users and users with 4 gigabite ram.
Please do try and set all textures to the lowest possible setting if you keep crashing in places like Tindrem. This has done the trick so far for most users reporting this issue. We will continue to optimize the areas in the game to give more overhead so that players can go up again in texture resolution. Currently, we are looking on player optimization as they do cost a bit more than they used to.
The falling issue is a tricky one to solve. It is the client that calculates in Unreal and does a mistake and hands out fall damage that is hard to control. We are looking into a new terrain system to prevent this; we may have to add some checks that could avoid that to happen as well. The hard part is that we can’t reproduce it, it is hard to get to this point when it happens since its CPU based when running on unreals meshes. It even happens sometimes randomly in Unreal Tournament.
We have slowly but steadily gone through all inventory bugs. There have been so many combinations to move around items from bags, bank inventory, and loot bags that have given areas to put the items on an invisible slot. Most have been reported and managed to be reproduced and solved. Since then we only get very few reports on this, so there seem to be a situation when it can happen with a very specific setup. We would appreciate it, if anyone that manages to get an item to go invisible, that they can give us all information they can on how it happens, so that we can solve that one as well. If you do get an item to go invisible, then create an in-game petition so that a GM can retrieve the invisible items. Also giving them any helpful information about how it happens so we can prevent it from happening again.
In addition to new/new stuff there was quite a lot of content that was supposed to come out in Awakening that hasn’t yet arrived. Any timelines for tailoring, full glassblowing (I gather the current system is a placeholder?), making characters look different based on weight? Noteboards? (It was good to see that the item identification stuff got in recently.)
Tailoring was put on hold due us requiring an animator to help with the skinning content, which we may be able to add as soon as we are able to use an animator on that position.
Glassblowing is not a placeholder and it is as it is. It was meant to be a basic system where you choose the component very similar to most other mmo crafting systems. In some areas we simply don’t see the use for depth and exploration to add a lot of time for both us, and the players end to discover it. Glassblowing is one of those areas, where a basic system is sufficient. There are enough of advanced and complex crafting systems so far in MO and there are more to follow the similar approach, where it’s up to the players to discover the recopies.
Characters do change based on weight and stats already, which we have shown in the Awakening notes. There is a normal map and physical mesh change when you change your strength.
We are extending the functions on the broker that we believe will fully cover the needs for the players to make a proper trade and run their business. There are some small things coming in this next build, and there will be more after that such as buy orders.
On the territory control changes can you give us some idea what they will be like? Will the much wanted gatekeepers come along? What sort of extra buildings and/or options will it give?
I give some information regarding TC with the first question. What I can mention is that there will be upgradable walls and gates going from wood types to stone types. We may be able to add a few new building types as well, but it is too early to mention the details about that part.
Where are new continents and/or ships in your current thinking?
With a growing player population, there is more and more need of a second continent, so we have started to look over what is necessary for taking that step. We do believe that we have the right way of doing the continent transition, since we want to still avoid any loading screen, and keep the world seamless.
The biggest part right now is to have enough manpower to start working on the continent. We are looking to use Unreal’s new Terrain system when making the next continent. That should save us a lot of time, performance and visuals since we can then use tessellation, which we cant on our current terrain. That would also mean a lot easier changes and fixes within the terrain when it is live, since we could use unreal editor directly to paint and change on the terrain and what we see is what we would get.
Today that is not the case and it is a very time consuming process to change or alter our terrains. So, eventually we would also want to convert our old terrain to the new system on Myrland, since it would give more performance and visuals.
Ships seem to be a popular feature that people want to see in MO; we hope to have the time to implement this system close to when we have a second continent. A lot of this depends on the continued growth of MO and resources for the development team.
A tiny thing but feels odd to me – do you plan to change back to the old system where when you got on a horse you were facing in the direction the horse had been facing? (I know it’s tiny but to me it was immersive and since it used to be like that can’t be too hard to put it back can it?)
I haven’t thought about it. It sounds like a good suggestion.
Some of the great things about Mortal are the things that aren’t there. No in game maps or missions for example. And yet there is now an out of game database allowing people to see other players stats and all kinds of info they shouldn’t be able to get. A map allows people to see where others control towers are rather than having to go look for themselves. And a non-SV map is allowed to get data from in game giving people live updates of important goings on. What is the reason for all this? And do you have any plans to stop it at any stage?
We want to promote player exploration a lot and that it is up to the players to search the world for enemy structures etc; however, for that to work perfectly there must be a decent population and proper ingame tools. There’s been a lot of demands on player progression and political maps and progress to show players their progress and to see the conflict. There is a lot of meta-game surrounding this when players can follow the progress even though they may not be involved in the conflict.
We do not want to reveal secrets that players want to hide from their enemies. I know we have some detailed information on our website that we may need to change due to this. This means we will likely make an update on the website section for political conflicts soon enough. With the update on TC this will be more important which we will look carefully into when making those steps.
Do you know if there are any dungeons/sites that no-one has found yet? And if you do know are there any? (Obviously not asking you to tell me what people haven’t found – just if there is anything. I know there is stuff I haven’t found yet.)
Actually we have not monitored specific places like that, so I cant say for sure if people have found all dungeons or similar things like that.
Some things are easier for us to follow such as specific recopies, and growth/shrink effects, which none yet have discovered. Some things are really exciting to have unknown and it is totally up to the players to discover them and decide if they are to be told to others or not. Some things, we rely more on the players to use them in the game for specific reasons, which means we may need to add hints and clues in the world for players to have a chance to find and discover them.
Something that we are careful about and think is a unique thing for a mmo like MO is Purify potions. It is another hot topic to discover, we have now made plenty of tests to make sure they are created as per design and that they do work. It is now up to the players to discover how to make them, but since they play such an important role in normal every day pvp we did not intend for them to be extremely hard to discover yet they require a specific way for it to be produced. We need to give the basic information for how someone can explore things so they dont think single-sided since double-sided may be required to produce some things in the game.
To this I can add that I do not think players have yet “beaten” the most “high tier” rewards in the game, where the journey begins in the Temple dungeon. There are things in the game that have a chance to spawn once every 5-8 month as well, just to mention there are things that truly are rare to discover in MO.
Lastly I promise.. Have you seen my thread suggestions here:http://www.mortalonline.com/forums/threads/adjusting-stout.83984/
and this one that is important I think
and what do you think?
I think there are many good points and discussion similar to the ones you point to. We try to gather information from these discussions every now and then and see if they both follow our vision and game design and then to see how it would affect our player base. If it fits the vision and the player base thing it is a good direction we may start to test those things on test to see how it performs before we may put it live.
Just going through these above quickly they are good points that most people seem to agree on positive changes. I will see to that they get read through more closely so we can evaluate them for our coming test phases.
Thanks for your answers and hope I haven’t over abused my interview privileges.
Source: Mortal Online Forums