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Since my development computer is spending the next 6 hours auto-upgrading the game to the new Unity 5.4, I figured I'd give you some info on where we're at with a couple of issues.
Game Crashes: We know some players are still crashing periodically -- the crash rate seems to be dependent on your graphics driver and where in the game-world you are. It's a known Unity bug. The bad news is that it's extremely difficult for me to "work around" this issue, and I've probably already done all that's really feasible in that vein. The good news is that it's an acknowledged Unity bug, and the most recent Unity notes say that a fix is expected to be released in a patch "soon" -- which probably means 1-2 weeks.
Unity 5.4: In the mean time, we are switching from Unity 5.3.X to Unity 5.4. The reason? It sounds like the fix to that crash is going to be applied to 5.4 first, so we're getting ready to patch that bug out of existence as soon as possible.
We've been sticking with the 5.3.X versions of Unity for the past few months because they're supposed to be more stable. But 5.4 is now officially released, and it has some noticeable performance benefits which I'm excited about. But if you've been following the game's development for a while you'll know that any time we switch major versions of Unity, things get pretty weird for an update or two. So expect surprises! (Also, hopefully, a bit better framerate and lower memory usage.)
We'll be spending the weekend banging on 5.4 to smooth out any obvious issues. If all goes to plan we'll have a game update for you on Monday or Tuesday.
Music-Performance System: Last week's game update finally activated the AFK logout timer, so that if you are AFK for 20 minutes you are disconnected. (This was a long time in coming, as we first needed to make sure "AFK-ness" was being calculated fairly and reliably on different OSes.) As a side-effect of this, players can no longer play music for hours and hours while AFK in order to rack up huge performance buffs -- and that's a good thing. For more insight into the thinking here, I'll point you to srand's recent forum post.
We have big plans for the music system as a fun way to relax and unwind. It's supposed to be much more interesting than just going AFK and getting a buff! And you can expect to see some new ideas being tried out soon. (Not in the update a few days from now -- that will just be bug-fixes. But during August, definitely.)
There are a lot of interesting game mechanics involving music and dancing, and I'm excited to prototype them and see what's fun. As always during alpha, don't expect the first version to be very good -- we're not building to a blueprint here, we're exploring new ideas! And new ideas usually suck at first. It takes time to iterate and permute the possibilities. But with your patience and feedback I'm sure we'll end up in a fun place.
More to do in South Serbule: South Serbule will start to become more interesting during August. We'll be introducing new points of interest and things to do, including a new crafting skill aimed at lower-level players. But more on that skill later. (Maybe next week, if I can get into the habit of writing updates!)
(There are lots of other pieces of content in the works, too, including several which will likely come online in late August... but it's hard to tell the schedule yet, so I don't want to hype things up prematurely.)
Website Changes: we're working on the final details of switching to a new forum, one that will hopefully be our "final home" for the game for many years to come. The current forum is a bit limited and it's actually quite difficult to "mod" it with new features, so this will be a big improvement.
We're also making lots of other changes "under the hood" of the website. For instance, we're isolating it from the patcher. Right now, if the website goes offline for any reason, players can't log into the game, because the patcher checks for files on the website. The new patcher will soon be pulling data from an entirely different system, which will improve our uptime.
Speaking of which -- if you haven't upgraded to the newest patcher (which was released a month ago, and was mentioned on the login screen), please do so at your convenience. You can find it on the "Play Now" page of this website. It will automagically detect the upcoming changes and give you a seamless play experience.
I realize patcher changes are pretty dull, but we also have some much more interesting web-related features in the works... if I hurry I might be able to show one of them to you on the blog next week. For now, I hope you're having fun in the game, and remember to send in bug reports!
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