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Dev Notes, January 2, 2017

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I've decided that it's time for Gazluk to be launched! So we've been pushing hard to get all the details ironed out. It will take another week and a half, I think, and then version 1 of Gazluk will be ready for testing.

Gazluk Plateau: Home of the Orcs

Let me give you some background info on the area so that we can talk about the details. This contains a few small spoilers, but nothing you wouldn't be able to figure out pretty quickly.

The Gazluk Plateau is a very cold and isolated place. Although it's well within the boundaries of The Council Lands, the orcs of Gazluk have claimed it as their own kingdom, and the mages of the Council are much too busy to care about it right now. The orcs are taking this opportunity to amass a mighty army and try to expand their territory, but infighting and sabotage seem to be keeping them from gaining any ground. But within Gazluk, they are the undisputed rulers. The main orcish city there, unsurprisingly named Gazluk City, was built around an old keep. After the Sand War, the orcs retreated here and refortified it with state-of-the-art defenses. It's not a place that welcomes visitors. (It's said that the city proper is but a tiny portion of Gazluk City, while the rest is underground, but that might just be a rumor.) Not all orcs are on the same side, however, and various warring factions and splinter groups have outposts throughout the area. The tiny number of non-orcs live in caves or hidden enclaves, out of the way of the orcs.

So that's Gazluk in a nutshell. The playable orc race will eventually start here, and a small portion of the land area is reserved for newbie monsters (it'll just be empty space for now). Aside from the newbie areas, the rest of Gazluk is for levels 60-70, with a few monsters and encounters placed a bit higher.

Because of our iterative snapshot development model, the first release of Gazluk won't have a ton of content. But it will have more content than other new areas have had, because I've learned that it's very helpful to have some dungeons and basic landscape fixtures installed early on. That way, when I have a few hours and want to add some more quests at the end of a work day, I have a solid foundation to work from. Building on a solid foundation is much easier than trying to install that foundation later: we released the first version of Rahu a year ago, and the massive sewer system underneath that city hasn't materialized yet, because it'll take a concerted push to get it set up. Adding to it and embellishing it are easy once it's there, though.

So for Gazluk, I've pre-loaded it with some caves to explore. ("Some caves" might be a bit of an understatement... I got a bit carried away.) There's also a group-dungeon to explore, which I think will be ready in time -- if not, it'll come in the update after this one. There are also... well, without spoilers, let's just say there are other things to discover. Not a ton at first, but hopefully enough to make it worth the effort to explore.

I realize that there are lots of areas of the game right now where more content is needed. The Rahu sewer is one such area -- it can be hard to level up to 60 right now. So why did I jump to Gazluk? Because it's an important test. I'll need to raise the level cap 4 more times before the game launches in a year... that's very ambitious! Gazluk will give me a lot of insight into where the bottlenecks are, what works, and what sucks.

But we intend to retrofit older areas soon, too -- a large newbie cave dungeon is still in the works, as is that Rahu sewer.

 

Level 70 Cap

As if that wasn't enough work to do, I also need to raise the level cap to 70! This involves a whole lot of data entry, but it's coming along. Not all skills may be ready to go to 70 in the next update, but most of them will be.

I had originally talked about having you seek out a different NPC trainer every ten levels, so for level 60 you seek out an NPC in Rahu, at 70 you'd go to another new city, at 80 another, and so on. I started making the NPCs for level 70 and realized this was too much. It's just... well, it's too grindy, for one thing, and the NPCs just don't feel that important. I like the NPCs in the game to be relevant for a longer time period. So I'm reusing the level 60 NPCs for level 70. They'll sell the skill-cap-unlocks for both 60 and 70, and sell abilities up to about 72-ish. I've done a few NPCs using this setup, and I like it much better.

The level 80 and level 90 skill-caps will be in a different city, Statehelm, the "jewel of the Council". And I'm thinking I might stick a special skill-specific quest in around that point too. (Either for level 90 or level 100, one or the other.) These quests won't necessarily be epic in scope, but will be a bit more involved than a favor-quest, too. But I guess I'm getting way ahead of myself: right now, we're focusing on level 70!

In addition to new levels of abilities, the treasure system is also being upgraded to be able to drop level 65 and 70 loot. This part is a TON of data-entry work, so I'm not sure how complete it will be in the next update, but I'll do what I can. I also plan to add new treasure mods that only drop at high level, but I won't have time to do that right now: just extending the existing mods up to 70 takes a lot of time. But it will happen.

The tricky part here is that I don't quite know how powerful these new mods should be. If I kept scaling the mods linearly, they would balance fine, but that's too boring for my taste. I mean, if a level 60 weapon is "almost as good" as a level 70 weapon, then keeping up with gear isn't really that important, or that exciting. So I've raised the numbers a good bit higher for the 61-80 level range. Probably too much, in fact. It'll take some iterations to find the right spot, so expect some ups and downs over the next few months. But the goal will remain the same: loot needs to be fun, exciting, and interesting. A tall order, but we're on the right track.

 

New Forum!

We're just about ready to switch over to a new forum software. You can create an account there now at forum.projectgorgon.com . We'll do the discussion thread for this news-post on the old forum, but future ones will be over there. (The old forums will become read-only soon.)

Thanks to everyone that backed our Indiegogo campaign! We've got a lot of fun stuff coming, so stick around.

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