Star Date : Feb 25th, 2009 Dropship Updates! Today we made quite a few changes to the intro dropship zone. This is the first step in an overhaul to that zone that has been long overdue. We added 2 new tutorials about Combat and Equipping your mecha. I understand that there are a few details left out. I wanted to make the new tutorials both informative but also short enough to take in the information without getting overwhelmed. We will be making more tutorials in future releases covering more advanced subjects such as battle specials and stats. The tutorials released today are aimed at new players who have logged in for the very first time and don't even know what an equip slot is... The university is a logical choice for advanced mecha topics.
It has come to my attention that battle initiative is an unfortunate omission from the current tutorials. I have read the comments and agree that it should go into the first combat tutorial. So, I will be adding Initiative into the current tutorial soon.
The other change to the Intro zone is the reinstatement of the level 3 requirement to leave the zone. When I opened up Soluna City to all players several months ago, it was probably considered one of my worst ideas in MechQuest history... second only to the infamous Alamonia Bug War that we shall never speak of again.... Anyway, You must now defeat the "Strange Blip" quest as a pre-requisite to land. This will not affect anyone who has already landed at Soluna City. It only affects new players. So, anyone under level 3 who landed at Soluna, but then returns to the dropship will be able to land without restriction.
Also, today Maegwyn and Blues started on a huge rebalancing project for older weapons that lack the sophisticated specials that newer items possess. They will be adjusting the Damage levels and EP usuage according to our new standard balancing formulas. Please be patient. this project is going to take a few days to complete, but it will give the older equipment a whole new life.
Next on the agenda is the new planet, Lagos. Right now, Lagos is not quite ready to roll out fully, but we have a ton of backgrounds and new mecha types in production. So, this Friday, we will be releasing a Star Captain Only Preview of Planet Lagos in which you can fight some of the new enemies on the new planet backgrounds... Psst... There will also be some new rare items that will only be available during the preview this weekend!
This promises to be the most exciting year for MechQuest yet! We just finished a major Planet (Zargon) that introduced a TON of new gameplay features to the game, we have an Artbook and a soundtrack CD coming soon, Facebook integration is moving very smoothly...and now we are on the verge of launching our largest planet ever... and it's only February! What's next after all of that? Vampires?
Star Date : Feb 24th, 2009 Old Weapon Overhauls Coming! Yesterday, Warlic, blues, and I put our minds together to discuss some of the things we've all been wanting to do, and to plan them into the release schedule for the upcoming weeks.
"On Wednesday we will start to rebalance the old equipment.
What is "old" equipment? More or less everything which was released before the level 20 House Mechas.
"What is "rebalancing?" New equipment has powerful specials, so that all the old equipment can´t compare with it when it comes to damage and
usefulness. That´s why rebalancing is needed - to make the old equipment more powerful, and to bring it into line with the standards we have developed. What will happen? DPT (Damage per turn) will get adjusted. All weapons without specials, and those that require high rolls for their specials to occur, will get a significant damage buff. Also, EP usage and cooldowns will be changed according to our new standards.
We will start with Mechas and their default equipment, followed by the weapons found in Tek's Dropship shops.
Rares will stay as they are for now.
These changes will improve the game for new players and we hope you all will like it!"
We also talked about some other plans and ideas for improving the Dropship (intro shuttle) experience for new players. I gave Warlic a rough mock-up of a tutorial, and he's going to work with and refine it, to implement a nice new informative in-game option that will help explain things (like how to equip your mecha, for example). Just preparing the mock-up was great practice in the new skills I've been learning!
blues gave Warlic a write-up of a quest he's been working on that introduces a very interesting new feature into the mecha battle experience for certain types of quests and will open up new strategic options when facing a series of enemies in battle. This special quest gives Star Captains the first opportunity to see this in action, and later we plan to integrate the feature into the Knife and Spork challenges for all players to enjoy. Note: The release date of this new challenge quest is not officially set yet!
These are just a few of the "smaller" things we're working together on for the upcoming weeks - not instead of, but in addition to Planet Lagos!
We've all been reading the entries you submitted to the Poetry Generator contest on the forums. There are so many good ones that it is not an easy contest to judge! Stay tuned - we'll be announcing the winners later this week!
Star Date : Feb 20th, 2009 Custom Configs!
In today's release you will encounter "bandits" who may try to mug you ... and these are randomly rolled from a list of five new enemies chosen from our player suggestions on the forums! We've been collecting interesting mecha-and-weapons configurations for quite some time now, and so Warlic had me choose from among those - and then I also got to create the new enemies! This was great practice for the upcoming (and long-awaited) Knife & Spork update on which blues & I are working together.
blues and I have been keeping a list of the outstanding suggestions, and we did not paste in the names of the forum members who suggested them. This was awesome because I chose some that looked cool without knowing who had suggested which. (I'll be adding forum links on our planning list this weekend, because to find which forum members to honor, I then combed through the threads until I located each of the original posts)
THREE of them turned out to be from one very active contributor, Zamuel Now!
Mecha Chassis (and level):[/b] Deluxe MechaRoni (level 8) Head: Scary Visage Front Arm: Scary Machete Back Arm: Back Arm Amputator Front Shoulder: Vampire Bat Wing Back Shoulder: Vampire Bat Wing
Mecha Chassis (and level): Valkyrie (Level 10) Head: N/A Front Arm: Proton Sniper Back Arm: default Front Shoulder: Incredible Rockets Back Shoulder: Incredible Rockets
Mecha Chassis (and level): Star Sheriff (Level 23) Head: Default Front Arm: Storm Hand Back Arm: Thunder Hammer Front Shoulder: default Back Shoulder: default
EinhanderX01 suggested this configuration: Mecha Chassis (and level): Shadow Rider (lvl 16) Head: New Year Warhead DLX Front Arm: Default Back Arm: Gift Frost Ray Front Shoulder: Default Back Shoulder: New Year Slugs DLX Enzeru had suggested the following configuration, which he intended to have equipped to the Wolfblade 3.0 (Level 20) mecha. The enemies on this planet do not have access to the GEARS House mechas, as far as I know, so I equipped the configuration to the Kurosawa Kyuzo (Level 17) ... not a L 20 mecha, as I realized rather too late to change it ... I chose for "style points." Head: Love Shanty Front Arm: Purity Blade Back Arm: Lava Blast Front Shoulder: Plasma Pulsar Back Shoulder: Nova Bomb
Many thanks to EinhanderX01, Enzeru, and Zamuel Now - and thank you to all of you who are posting your suggestions! We're looking forward to getting more of them into the game as time goes on.
Star Date : Feb 20th, 2009 Planet Gark! Yeah, I know what you're thinking... Um, Warlic, The next planet is supposed to be Lagos... You said it yourself! Well, Lagos is so big, that by the time it's all said and done, you will have visited three new planets!
The introduction to Planet Lagos starts on the tiny Planetoid known as Gark. It's not a very nice place.... all sorts of galactic criminals, mercenaries, pirates, fugitives, etc... congregate there for the seedy little cantina there... If you dare to venture there, make sure you have a powerful energy blade equipped! Also, you might get mugged if you wander around Gark at night.. Oh, hey wait... It's ALWAYS nighttime in Gark! However, despite the fact that it is the seedy underbelly of the solar system, you may be able to make some powerful connections in your search for alliances against the Shadowscythe! So, make sure your well-armed and brave the rocky streets of Gark!
Also, I am VERY excited that Maegwyn has to contribute to the Design Notes! I realize that I probably need a lot of help with the DNs. I have never been the greatest at blogging... I once had a personal blog actually and it eventually devolved into sporadic Phantsy Star Fan fiction... Needless to say, it is probably refreshing to have a new voice in the Design Notes! Maegwyn will be making her first post today! Welcome!
Oh, Here's a sneak peek at MechQuest's version of Robina, Who will be making her appearance in MQ soon...! Oishii really took it to the next level as usual....
Star Date : Feb 18th, 2009 Projects! The MechQuest team is VERY busy, I am constantly amazed at how much we are able to achieve with our small team. I truly believe that every member of this team is among the absolute BEST in the field. This month we have started many exciting new projects in MQ. I'd like to take an opportunity to tell you about some of them now:
1) The Art of MechQuest: As you know from reading previous posts from Aisha and Johnny Atomic, we are currently in the process of putting together a MechQuest Art Book! Things are moving very quickly and we expect to have the book laid out and ready for post-production by the end of this month! This has been a very intense project and we are very excited about it. The Artbook will feature a summary of all of the current game zones featuring NPCs, mecha models and enemies, An overview of a selection of mecha and enemy types from a wide variety of zones AND a special how to draw section from Thyton and Oishii! The book is going to come with a special code to unlock a unique unreleased mecha in the game too! more information about the special mecha will come as we get closer to the release of the book!
2) MechQuest is coming to Facebook: Soon, and I mean VERY soon, MechQuest will be playable through Facebook. We will be rolling this out in three phases. First, we are simply going to make it so that the game runs as is in a facebook page. a few weeks after that, we are going to implement special announcements in the game that may post to your facebook pages when you make special achievements in the game like leveling up, etc... Finally, we are going to implement a recruitment system for inviting your Facebook buddies to join the game!
3)MechQuest Soundtrack CD: MechQuest has the most music of anyof our games. We have received many requests for downloads of the various music tracks. So, right now I am working on re-arranging and mixing the music into a full-blown CD for your listening enjoyment!
4) New Planet: Lagos: We are currently working on a huge new planet, Planet Lagos. We are releasing the intro to this new planet on this Friday. the intro is actually going to take place an a barren rock called Gark at the edge of the solar system. Your journey to Lagos will begin in a small Cantina there... Watch out, you wouldn't want to start a barfight! This new storyline planet promises to be very epic and you will meet the MechQuest equivalents of some MAJOR characters from our other games!
Star Date : Feb 13th, 2009 Musical Week! It is rare, but every now and then I get the rare opportunity to do some work for our other games. This was definitely a fun week! The Blind Quest Love song was one of the most fun recording projects I have ever done. The vocals really put that one over the top and everyone in the office kept asking if that was really me! Well, yes and no... Let's just say it took a little digital enhancement..
fter putting together the Love song Loop for today's Blind Quest release, Artix looked at the latest cutscene for AQWorlds and requested some battle drums and strings! I am very happy with the way both of the clips turned out and was very excited to contibute to both games this week!
On Wednesday, I brought in a prototype of the poetry generation engine that Maegwyn and I created and showed it to Galanoth. We sat down together and threw some words together and literally fell to the floor laughing as fluffy monkeys danced wildly in the dirty socks.... at one point, I was literally rolling on the ground in tears. I think Galanoth had to assist me in getting back on my feet.
Anyway, I hope that you enjoy tonight's release. It is one of those releases that is really just for fun. Putting Starstorm and Voltabolt together on a date with your help was a very fun scenario to explore as those two would really make the perfect couple if it wasn't for the fact that they are diametrically opposed to each other! It is ironic that in most cases, nemeses would probably just as easily become lovers.
Today we released some new Friday the 13th weapons including my new personal favorite, a chainsaw weapon that can lop off arms and heads. as well as higher level versions of last year's valentine's weapons and 2 new starship items from today's release.
There is one question that will most likely be left unanswered in your minds... Is that really Voltabolt? or Boltavolt in disguise...... That is up to you to decide. I did however drop a few hints in the quest.
Star Date : Feb 11th, 2009 Wednesday Mini-Update Today we released non-PvP versions of our last GEARS Games weapons. These weapons are the same except that they do not have the house bonuses for House PvP fighting. Also today, we released Zargon Comics Issue# 2, fixed the cooldown bug from Issue #1 and fixed the Color Customization issues on the new Geekatron models.
Friday we are celebrating Heroes Heart day with an all new poetry quest... I even wrote a new music clip for this one... I finally got a chance to let out my my secret inner Barry White...
Also on Friday, we are releasing horrific Friday the 13th weapons! Poetry meets Horror - Friday!
Star Date : Feb 6th, 2009 Zargon Post Mortem Today we ended Zargon with some fun little features: a kind of quest log for your starship in the form of comics that unlock as you complete quests (we only got two issues finished, but the others will be coming very soon). You can purchase the comics from the new book store next to the Daily Zargon..We also added some desperately needed NPCs to the town who will gossip about your adventures... in addition to this final icing on Mechtropolis, we released new Level 30 Geekatron models with alternate leg graphics and greatly improved combos.
Zargon is one of those zones that had some troubles, went through major transformation and ultimately became something vastly different than it was originally intended to be. I thought it would be interesting to shed some light on how this zone developed. These are supposed to be "notes on the design of the game," right? So let's start!
What Went Wrong: 1) Insufficient pre-production time: Zargon came at an extremely tough time in MechQuest's history. Planet Westion, was just starting to wrap up it's first chapter and the Western theme had a very polarizing effect... Simply put: some people LOVE western themes... others HATE westerns. As a result of this polarizing effect, we put our heads together to think of something with a broader appeal. Superheroes were an almost obvious choice. Unfortunately, there was another Planet idea that was already fleshed out and was SUPPOSED to come after Westion. Needless to say, our superhero planet had almost NO time in the planning stage. It was already released before the plotline was fully thought out.
2)Small-Scope planning for a large scale theme: Let's face it, Superheroes are BIG. Comic books have an almost mythological quality to them with incredibly complex plotlines and and strong character development. The previous planet, Westion, was a long story, that took a long time to develop. The original plan for Zargon was to make a "Mecharoni-sized" planet. that would be finished quick with few scenes and little new artwork. Then, we could finish quick and move on to the next planet... rinse... repeat... Later in development, our scope changed due to amssive response from players and Zarogn finally started to take shape.
Now that I've depressed you with what went wrong, here's What Went Right!
1)Incredible Artwork and Animation: When I first mentioned the idea of doing a superhero planet to Thyton, his eyes lit up! We spent a lot of time going over the designs of the superbots and as a result, I think that the enemies in Zargon are the best in the game. Korin and Thyton are an absolutely incredible team. When Thyton designs a mecha, he knows exactly how every part is supposed to move and has every attack in mind. Likewise Korin actually makes Thyton's design come to life exactly how we imagine they should. They are possibly the greatest team I have ever worked with.
2)Original gameplay: The enemies on Zargon are some of the most challenging opponents in the game. I spent a lot of time trying to come up with special abilities that worked with the themes of the mechas and also worked together strategically for a well-rounded character. Zargon introduced a lot of new ideas to the game such as, build a mecha, combos, all new minigames, innovative quests, etc... I believe that from a pure gameplay perspective, Zargon eventually became the most fun zone in MQ.
3)We changed our minds... While this could easily go into the What went Wrong category, the fact that we stopped mid development and changed our minds about Zargon is perhaps the greatest thing that happened to the zone. A couple of weeks after release, it became apparent that Zargon needed something BIG... I found myself at a point where I was at the end of the originally short storyline we had planned for Zargon and I felt like it just wasn't enough (BTW, the original bossfight was supposed to be Thunderhammer...). Thus, Universo was born... I wanted to end Zargon with the biggest fight in MQ history. So I completely threw out the remaining plot and asked Thyton to make a planet destroying mecha... it had to be BIG...The change in direction greatly increased development time for Zargon, but ultimately it paid off.
4)Awesome Team: Thyton and Korin really brought things to the next level with Universo. Thyton had an awesome vision and Korin added to that vision with an incredibly fun minigame engine. My greatest challenge was in taking those ideas and making them happen in the game. It was a lot of hard work but everyone.
Anyway, I hope that this Post Mortem was interesting. I tried to keep it as short as possible...I had A LOT more that could have written...If you like them, then I'd like to do them at the end of other planets and zones!
Star Date : Feb 4th, 2009 Major Game Engine updates!! Today we released some pretty big changes to the MechQuest battle engine. Now, battle scaling has been changed to take the average level of your equipped mecha and your highest level equipped weapon. Now, for instance, equipping a level 30 weapon to a level 1 mecha will give you a level 15 enemy instead of a level 1 enemy. The new scaling code is currently in the Battle button at Soluna City and all of the Planet Zargon Quests. We will be implementing the new scaling techniques in other quests that use scaling (such as the Crystal Asteroid and holiday quests), over time.
Also, we have a brand new feature in Battles: Initiative! Now, the enemy has a chance to go first, although we favor the players in the inititative rolls. Initiative is affected by Reflex and Luck stats. so if you max those out you will have a pretty great edge in battles. To compensate for the added difficulty introduced by initiative, the new scaling code introduced today will give all enemies below level 25 slightly fewer hitpoints.
Also today, we released new level 30 upgrades for the House mecha and the Sepulchure mecha... And the underwater fight against Universo now temporarily stores your last fight temporarily. So if you die, you won't have to fight all of the parts again. You will restart where you left off. However, if you leave the quest and start over, you will have to fight all parts over again.
For this Friday, we are planning to flesh out planet Zargon some more with some non-essential NPCs including a comic book salesman who sells comics about your adventures in Mechtropolis. The first issue will be available for all to read. The rest of the issues will be included in a special starship item. The issues will unlock as you progress through the storyline on Planet Zargon.
Also on Friday, we are introducing 2 new level 30 Geekatron models. the new models will have different leg types and level 30 weapons will be added to the build a mecha stores.