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Well, this week didn't go to plan. We rolled out the version of the game that uses Unity 5.4, and it's pretty buggy. That part was expected. But usually new Unity versions give us framerate drops, lighting problems, that sort of thing -- stuff that can be ignored for a while. Unfortunately 5.4 is very crashy, and for some players it crashes quite a lot. But frustratingly, not everyone crashes, and not in the same ways or at the same times.
So several days were spent looking at crash dumps players sent me, trying to figure out what's going on. There are lots of possibilities. It looks like there's a graphics-card memory leak. It also looks like the tessellation crash-bug from 5.3 is much more pronounced in 5.4 -- probably why they're going to fix it in 5.4 first. It also looks like they aren't managing textures the same way they did in 5.3, and there might be a bug there. But in fact, it could actually be all three of those things and more, all at once.
Since I can't nail down the cause, I have no reliable work-arounds. I considered putting up a Hail-Mary update with a bunch of code tweaks that MIGHT help some people... but I decided that was probably just wasting everybody's time. Instead, I'm going to let the Unity team do their jobs and give us a patch. If it takes too long, we might have to roll back to 5.3, but we can afford to wait a week or so to see if the patch resolves most of the issues. (Rolling back will cost a lot of development time, so that's a last resort.)
In the mean time I updated the server with a new tool to help stuck players. If the game keeps crashing on you at the same spot whenever you log into a character, there's a new command you can use from one of your other characters that'll teleport your stuck character to somewhere safe. The crashes are definitely annoying, but this way at least you can keep playing.
The Big "Things To Know Blog Post"
In the last set of patch notes, I mentioned that I would write up a blog post this week that collects all the stuff that we've explained in forums and patch notes in the past. Game details like how leveling will work, what big features are on the horizon, the state of player wipes at launch, and a lot more. You probably already know a lot of this info... but probably not all of it. It hasn't been organized into one place in a long time.
And I did indeed write that blog post! ... and it's a book. It's insanely long. If I want players to actually read the post, it has to be shorter. So Sandra and I are working on condensing it. Ideally it would be under 2500 words, but realistically, we're probably looking at a 4000 word post. Still ridiculously long, but at least theoretically readable. (For comparison, this current blog post is about 650 words.) I expect we'll post that this week.
Next Update Still In Development
Although much of the week was spent on the crash bugs, I also made progress on the next update. The new crafting skill is ready to go and I'm working on the new elements in South Serbule that will support that skill. We're also making some adjustments to pets in the next update, and with any luck I'll be able to squeeze in some prototype features for player-music, too. When will this update arrive? I'm not sure. I would say it's probably two weeks out, but if Unity releases a patch this week as expected, I'll just put up whatever we have ready to go by the weekend. So we'll see how it goes.
I'll keep you updated as we progress. If you have time to drop in to play today (Sunday), we're running a small event where work-orders give you extra money, so it's a good time to earn a few virtual bucks. Thanks for playing!
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