Thursday, April 14, 2016

Change log? WTF is that? CORPS 4.1.3

Sometimes I feel like the development process for CORPS is something like sticking one's head in the sand.  Why are you sticking your head in the sand?  To see more sand in more detail of course.  In this case sand in my metaphor for all those tiny details that come together to make the game great.  Of course in spending such a lengthy amount of time working on the details you can tend to lose focus of the big picture as well as the processes that help support the building of the big picture.
One thing we had always done was to give our builds version numbers so we'd know where we were in our development process as also when something might be out of date.  This was often the case with test characters we created.  You make a character, test them some, make some tweaks that affect a number of characters and suddenly you have characters whose builds are no longer valid.   We quickly found putting a version number on the document proved very helpful in letting us know what and who needed to be reviewed before testing after making a change.  But one painfully obvious omission we made was that we never documented exactly what these version numbers meant.  That is to say when we made a big game changing update, we'd simply give that a new version number without specifically writing down what it was we had changed and more importantly why.  When you're constantly working on something constantly it stays pretty fresh and the developers never really paid it much attention.  We did a good enough job of remember what was recently changed and whenever we took breaks from developing any big changes had been fully implemented so even if we didn't remember what we changed recently we could plainly see what the new rules were.

It wasn't until this most recent round of changes that we ran into the problem of, "wait what version did this change belong it?"  With a lot of changes flying around going back and forth and length of the development cycle we started becoming slowly aware that we couldn't keep all this crap together.  Some documents had notes in the documents some didn't, some had documentation about a version number with no mention of what that number actually represented.  Needless to say it started to get pretty messy.  Luckily the fix was simple.  We were able to create a central record keep for all the changes that went in under each version and what those changes were and why.  It's really kind of sad cause we've overhauled the game essentially 3 times now, and have had numerious tiny and sizeable changes in between those and all this time we never had anything to clearly state what these changes were.  Sure we had them written down.... somewhere.  But the central record keep is really what we've been needing for quite some time.  Welcome to what programmers refer to the changelog.  The concept is simple.  It's a log of everything that changed since the last released version. Being programmers ourselves we had to laugh at the fact that we'd hadn't thought of putting this together sooner.

Another interesting aspect of having a changelog, even though it's still pretty immature, it's neat to be able to see what we actually have been working on for the past... well year now.  Shit I really need to update this blog more.  Well anyway I figured I'd give a short list of the most recent set of changes we've made to give a glimpse into some of the stuff we've been tweaking as of late.

4.1.30 - Racial Review, 2m/2w updates

Racial Review - The stat bonuses are made more consistent, Burman are Br/Re, Gryx are Br/Pr,  Feydra are Agi then Pr Or Re, Primentals are Br then Pr Or Re.  This gives more flexibility for races to be casters, because making a Re based class without Re is just rough.  Melee has more flexibility, because you can go balanced weapons and use the bonus to Re or Agi.  Agile weapon user and Heavy weapon user still will need the isolated stat.

Oh the Humanity changes again.  This time it is +4 to hit, but gives advantage to any critical rolls.  It is difficult to balance as it is currently the only racial which has a decent chance of doing nothing by using it unless you are attacking 2 or more targets.  The swift version was strong, but for the wrong reason -- the game was hypernova back then.

Caster Core Powers Review - A more detailed breakdown of the 3w is leading to an overhaul of the kits.  1g’s apparent were way OP - but we have no test data to support the numbers.  In theory 2w/2m were underpowered because they were “equal” to a 3m or 3w (using three theme points).  2m/2w gain an encounter ability to cast a std/delib action spell and perform a snap attack.

2w/2m stat sharing - Updated so that 2w/2m will usually be marital stat primary -- All 2w/2m now get +1 to spell damage per point in Agi or Br.  This allows a 3 offence stat to have a +3 bonus to spell damage, and a +6 if they have an “off stat” racial bonus.  The old way was allowing 3 offence with off stat to have a +8 to melee, +6 to spells, and the epic stat PP bonus.  This is vastly stronger than any other setup, so it was highhandedly nerfed.

Overcast Magic Spell  - Duh.  Math is hard.  As an overcast reg spell is +18%, an overcast magic should be +18% -- which is a +2 to hit, not +1.

Core Caster Static Bonus:  The bonus for non-scaling effects has been increased from 25% to 40%.  This is for consistency with Juggernaut PP, which is valued at 9 (as a PP) and it gives 6 THP (non-scaling).

HP Increase:  SD, Vitality, and stealth now give slightly more HP.  All HP fractions are now X/3.  SD went from 1/4 to 1/3 per rank,  Vit is now 4/3, 8/3, 10/3. 12/3, [from 1,2, 5/2, 7/2] and stealth increases from 1/2 per rank to 2/3 per rank.

Makes absolutely no sense?  Yeah well I guess you'd either need to know the game some first before decoding what all of that slang means.  What you can take away from it though is that we're hard at work progressing CORPS towards general release and look forward to when we can start playing the game with regular people rather than those in our tight knit beta groups.  Until then... keep on gaming