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BETA TEST March 9th; what's new?


Stormhaven Studios
Our next stress tests are scheduled for:
Wed. March 9th @ 8pm central
(Thurs. March 10th @ 2am UTC)
The developers will meet in Discord and test for approximately one hour. However, the servers will remain open for roughly 4 hours. The most up-to-date client can be retrieved via the patcher found on your account page. This is not a test of the full game; we are continuing to build a solid foundation before moving forward with additional features.

What's new?
This week we bring you a number of recipes fixes, design adjustments, and a UI improvements. We have added bank purchasing, crafted item deconstruction, execution buffers, and a frame rate limiter option. Still no updates on the Unity 2021 update unfortunately - I am still waiting on Unity to respond to my bug report. Stat consolidation & reagent improvements are still on the short list of things to do but these other features kept us busy this week.

REMINDER: the servers will be open for 4hrs Wednesday evening. The servers will open again on Friday @ 12pm central and close on Sunday at 11:59pm central.

Bug fixes / improvements:
  • Tech:
    • Fixing an issue with experience calculations if the player is fighting a Red con NPC. Previously you were supposed to get some experience - but you were not. Now you should!
    • Camera mode toggle (V) is no longer bound by default.
  • Art/Environment:
    • Environmental fixes to North Newhaven & Dryfoot.
    • Dryfoot's main exile camp is closed off and will become a separate zone (outdoor dungeon, similar to the keep)
    • Adjusting one of the male shirts to further attempt to address clipping
    • Adjusting the backpack VFX to make it easier to find.
  • UI:
    • Disable crafting buttons if you are not in the proper stance.
    • Seconds are now rounded UP for cooldown displays
    • Direction indicators on nameplates will no longer scale in size.
    • Made some changes to the target-of-target setup to try and prevent it from going rogue and overlapping the main health bar. Please let me know if this continues happening - I can't quite figure out how it might have occurred.
    • An empty loot window will no longer pop up - instead it will just a send a message to chat saying "Empty!"
  • Design:
    • Adjusting gathering failure chance to be more reasonable as you level in relation to a material's level
    • Fix to multiple recipes which were not outputting higher level versions of things (Cooked Meat, Ground Torch, Bandage, Smoked Meat, Herbal Tea, Throwing Knife, Tools)
    • Fixed issue where crafting Gemmed Necklaces was outputting Metal-only Necklaces
    • Metal and gemmed Jewelry recipes have been combined into a single recipe with optional component. Obsolete recipes have been removed from your character.
    • Crafted bonus armor values from materials is now an increase by % instead of a static value.
    • Starting inner armor pieces (Favorite Shirt, Muddy Pants, etc.) have reduced stats so crafted versions are better.
    • Seeds from plants have slightly lower drop rates
    • Item durability increased at lower levels, general item durability rebalance.
    • Reduced cost of repairs
    • Removed armor damage component of NPC Assailing Strike
    • Blind is now Distract and has updated description to avoid confusion.
    • Chests now have more usable items in higher quantities. They will drop larger amounts of reagents, resources, ammo and consumables.
    • Chests have reduced coin drop.
    • Chests have slower respawns
    • Named 3-chevron mobs are now even more difficult than non-named 3-chevron mobs
  • From last week's hot fix:
    • "Feedback" button now directs to the proper forums
    • Server performance fixes
    • Adding colliders to some prefabs reported to us via /report
    • Adjusting LODs for some props
    • Fixing "/stuck" command putting you on roofs
    • Fixing collider issues in the North Newhaven exile camp.
New stuff:
Bank Expansion Purchasing
Purchasing of bank space has arrived! You can now purchase single rows of bank space for the amount shown to the left of the "Purchase" button. The first row will cost you 1 silver, the next 10 silver, and so on up to a maximum of 36 slots. The size and costs of these bank slots are still a WIP so feedback here is welcome.

Crafting Deconstruction
Crafted items can now be deconstructed! In the upper right corner of the crafting UI you will find a "Deconstruct" button that functions very similarly to how the repair or sell buttons work. Your cursor changes to a hammer, and then you left click on an item in your inventory. If eligible to be deconstructed the item will be replaced with a junk item, or a random raw component that was used to construct the item you are deconstructing. In addition, you will receive a small bit of experience for each deconstruction based on the level of the item.

Note that the items returned, the probabilities of getting junk, etc are all a heavy work-in-progress. This is the first iteration of this system which we hope to expand upon. Finally, an item is eligible for deconstruction if the following criteria are met:
  • Item is crafted
  • Item was crafted by YOU
  • Item is NOT stackable
This criteria will likely be expanded in the future to only allow deconstruction if you currently know the recipe that was used to create it.

Execution Buffers
This week we have added distance and angle buffers to executions that should provide a bit more lenience when it comes to moving NPCs. Your client is continually checking if you can execute a specific ability - so when an NPC runs out of range or off angle it will immediately cancel the execution. However, many have found that this happens too frequently after they begin execution leading to heaps frustration. This week, after your execution starts, the maximum distance and angle expands as you get further into your execution - meaning that if something goes slightly out of range or off angle after starting your execution you will have a greater chance of completing the execution rather than it being cancelled.

Ability VFX
One of the larger issues at hand with group-play is that no one knows when anyone is doing something important. Most attacks look the same - so unless you are paying close attention to the combat log you have no idea when your tank has triggered one of their threat based abilities etc. This week we have added primitive VFX to the first three abilities for each role (Supporter already had a VFX for their First Aid). This should help the group as a whole more easily identify who is doing what. I must however, reiterate, that these can be considered "programmer" art and are a heavy work in progress. We are also trying to tow that line between being too flashy and too barren - whose difficulty is further compounded by our low fantasy setting and how all abilities work with multiple weapon types.

Also note that some NPC abilities now also have VFX.

Frame Rate Limiter
We have added a "Frame Rate Limiter" dropdown to the video options menu. Without this option the engine attempts to render the game as quickly as possible which can consume all of your GPU. For those of you who are attempting to stream without a dedicated capture card limiting your frame rate "should" help. The options are as follows:
  • None: no frame rate limit, will likely use all of your gpu
  • V-Sync: frame rate is capped at your monitor's refresh rate
  • 30 & 60 FPS: the engine will attempt to limit the frame rate to these values (note that it is attempting to do this, it is not a guarantee)

Works in progress:
  • Zones: 4x additional overland zones have had an initial art pass completed
    • Redshore - accessed via Meadowlands & Dryfoot. Large tree forested region. Mid level range (approx 25-40)
    • Highlands - accessed via Meadowlands. Hilly region with sparse vegetation and water features. Mid level range (approx 30-40)
    • Gorge - accessed via Dryfoot. Large canyon-like area. Mid level range (approx 30-40)
    • Grizzled Peaks - accessed via Highlands, Redshore, and Gorge. Mountainous region with a number of tunnels. High level range (40-50). Has a one-way exit to Newhaven North.
  • Dungeons: 2 additional "large" dungeons have been laid out. Before implementation we are working on a general method for spawning these rooms so that they can be populated far quicker than we were able to do previously. This includes NPCs and gathering nodes.
  • NPCs: fully custom Bear, Elk, and Spider models are complete and awaiting integration into the game. Ashen creatures are nearing completion as well.
  • Design: implement high level abilities, loot table adjustments/population, more crafting recipes.
    • Considering giving a native "bonus" to each of the roles. For example, maybe a base defender gets +10% damage mitigation, and if you take the defender flavored specialization as a striker/supporter you get +5% damage mitigation. Still working through what the bonuses would be for Striker/Supporter/Controller.
  • Quests: a number of quests are in the queue for implementation/testing
  • Tech: npc improvements, npc merchants, smoothing out sit/stand animations. Continued work on reducing the client's memory footprint.
  • UI: quest dialog redesign, tooltip redesign
  • New clothing & armor is still in the works.

Further Crafting Improvements (timeline: tech complete, some more recipes have been updated, more to be done)
To really round out the crafting sphere we want specific components of a recipe to target specific stats on the output item based on the raw material properties. This tech has been implemented and some recipes now utilize it. However, more work needs to be done to bring other recipes up to speed. Recipes will continue receiving updates as time goes on.

Stat Consolidation (timeline: 1 week??)
We are planning to drop the per-damage-types for HIT & PEN which would clear up a number redundant feeling stats. The rough plan is as follows:
  • DMG - split this up into 1H, 2H, Ranged, Ember, and Mental
  • HIT - universal - applies to all damage types
  • PEN - universal - applies to all damage types
The overall gist is switching from Slashing/Crushing/Piercing to 1H/2H/Ranged and stripping the subcategories for HIT & PEN. More details on this refactor when it gets closer to deployment.

Reagent Improvements (1-3 weeks)
  • [DONE] Reagent's are no longer required for using specific abilities.
  • [DONE] Merchants no longer sell reagents
  • [DONE] Reagents dropped throughout the world provide substantially more powerful effects than the "fallback" ability.
  • NPC's will drop a single type of Ember Essence (name is a WIP) that will "fill up" a permanently equipped Ember Stone. The amount of essence per creature will vary and it will be automatically split amongst group members similar to how coin currently is. Specific ember creatures such as ashen variants will likely drop more of this essence than others.
  • The ember stone is not something you traditionally "Equip" - it is a permanent fixture to your character that cannot be removed, traded, banked, etc. In order to obtain ember essence you must earn ember essence through adventuring.
  • Ember Stone's will have a maximum amount of essence they can hold. Later on down the line we may allow the player to unlock/earn an upgraded Ember Stone with a greater capacity via questing or something similar.
  • Ember essence can be spent at special crafting stations to upgrade your reagents. The current rough plan is to start with two variants: a) make the reagent do the same thing but more powerful, and b) have the reagent change in some way to provide a different "flavor" which will vary contextually depending on the ability. As time goes on we will add more variants.
  • We are also considering allowing players to spend their Ember Essence on the following (please note that all of these are CONSIDERATIONS and still up for discussion):
    • use ember rings and/or hollows as a summoning stone (which could be a summon from within the same zone, or maybe across zones depending on the # of people involved)
    • hearthstone like ability that would return you to the nearest ember ring/hollow (which would come with a long cooldown)
    • adding a temporary "aura" to ember rings that would provide longer-lasting temporary buffs for those near the ring
This design allows the player to collect ember essence naturally as they play. Capping the amount in which they can collect at any given time prevents hoarding and forces the player to make a decision on what to spend it on if they want to continue collecting. The considerations mentioned above would allow the players additional ways to spend their essence for the good of others which is something we are always striving to provide.

Unity 2021 Upgrade (timeline: no idea, waiting on Unity to identify a critical bug causing huge cpu usage spikes every few seconds)
In a recent Unity update (2021.2.8f1) some rendering tech we utilize for vegetation stopped working. This update fixed a number of bugs, but introduced a nasty one that prevented us from upgrade for a number of weeks. The bug has been fixed in the latest update (2021.2.12f1) but alas, Unity decided to introduce some significant performance regressions on macOS preventing the update. I need another week or two to continue performance testing before I can push out 2021 builds.

What do we get out of upgrading to Unity 2021? Here are a few ideal gains:
  • Engine bug fixes
  • Rendering bug fixes (black screen no more?)
  • New decal tech
  • New skybox tech
  • New dedicated server build target. This lowers the memory footprint of the server which should yield better server performance.
  • Potential for a native Apple Silicon build.
  • Improved code & rendering performance
  • Improved editor performance which would result in more productivity from the team
  • Better performance analysis tools

Known Issues:
  • your screen may at times turn all black. to fix open the options menu, disable reflections for a moment, and then reenable them.
  • cannot roll on loot while unconscious
  • not all clothing/armor has visuals
  • Dragging a group-nameplate in the group window will set the wrong pivot point for the group window and the whole thing will drag a bit weird.
  • typing chat text may occasionally become invisible. unfocus your chat window and trying again a few times typically resolves this.
  • Sometimes when you respawn you don't end up at the proper Ember Ring --> if this happens please report the position where you died via the "/report" command or "/debugposition" (if using debugposition you'll need to paste the value here)

I need more details on the following issues/topics:
  • For those of you who have experienced the client eating a big chunk of memory: how large does the memory footprint get? How long had you been playing before it got that large (/played command will tell you)? Any idea at what rate it was climbing? If you load into a different scene via zoning does the footprint reduce back to normal?
  • For those who are getting the "Cannot interact while busy" message could you provide more detail on what you were doing just before this started happening? Does relogging resolve the issue?
  • For those of you who respawn at a location you suspect is incorrect: can you make sure to do a "/report" while standing exactly on your backpack? I need the precise location in order to debug these.
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OMG!?! Ability Effects! Damn, can't wait to see em! On going too far with them, if it looks like something from Lost Ark, then you probably went too far LOL. Otherwise, SWEET!
Aww, you fixed stuck, there goes my hang gliding practice. at least i can deconstruct it now.
And execution buffers!?! man, what a great patch! Can't wait to try this stuff out!
Hello. Lots of changes. Nice. Meh, I re read it lol (edit). Lots of new things to test, learn, and try this coming weekend. As always, great job you guys & gals. Everyone at Stormhaven Studios, thank you for your hard work.

Thanks to the detailed /report from @Nfab35 I was able to find and correct a potential issue where an item count may go to zero without being destroyed.

So what was happening? My hypotheses is that the server's item count was higher than the client's - so when the reduction happens via use/craft/etc the server did not hit zero, but the client did. But how you ask! If you loot something that you already have it becomes a "merge" transaction - and in the response from the server it basically allows the client to calculate the new number based on the new item + your current item. However, if for some reason you received the merge response after the loot window closed then the entire transaction was skipped on the client. This has all be straightened out and the "deletion" of the item in loot is now a separate process than updating the number on the new item. In theory, you should no longer encounter the 0 item count bug!