Publish 2003 (Fertbert's Post Age of Shadows Ramblings) – UOB Wiki (2024)

Fertbert's Post Age of Shadows Ramblings

Apr 4 2003 4:11PM

Well, I've been working here at Origin for about a year now, and a lot has happened since my last comments from the team. We've shipped Publish 16 and 17, Event 5, Age of Shadows, dozens of emergency patches, and we're working on Publish 18 now. Along the way, we've handled network problems, hardware failures, several colocation facility moves, the occasional typo, a few malicious attacks, scores of bugs, ill-timed power outages, and even ice storms. Also as a result of the last year of development, we gained a good number of subscribers, fixed many long-standing bugs, added numerous new game systems, simplified some existing game systems, made the server more robust, and added a new landmass. All-in-all, it's been a very good and very busy year.

We got a lot of things into this last expansion, but there were some things that were reasonably popular with the Dev team that didn't make it into Age of Shadows for various reasons, such as: proportional item insurance costs, tiered pricing for different custom house tile sets, neglected skill removal/transmogrification (Herding and Camping come to mind). Of course, don't take this as any sort of guaranty that any of these features are forthcoming, but it's always interesting to see some of the early ideas for releases before they're finalized.

Malas HousingAmong my duties, I had the task of ensuring that the amount of available housing space in Malas met or exceeded the 40,000 new housing spots we promised. I'm pleased to report that there are now about 48,000 houses in Malas across all shards.

One issue we faced with Malas housing was that there were actually too many housing locations in Malas for the server capacity dedicated to running the shard. To deal with this problem, we had two workable options: 1) Block off parts of the map as no-housing zones, or 2) Make the average house consume more real-estate by increasing the required open-space between houses.

Option #1 had the advantages of being easy to implement, which was important with the tight schedule we had for Age of Shadows development; also, it would allow us to use that land in the future for scenarios, promotions, additional housing space, etc. The disadvantages were that housing would be denser, and we would have to block off areas that seemed like perfectly reasonable housing spots.

Option #2 had the advantage of decreasing the housing density and allowing more space to travel between houses. The disadvantages were the added development and testing time, and the confusion that would result from having a different set of house placement rules for Malas. It would also make it more difficult for people to create joined houses and player towns.

We chose option #1 for several reasons, one of which being time constraints. As hoped, though, I've seen buildings that, through the clever use of wall and floor tiles on the upper stories, seem to flow together, creating what appears to be a single, unified structure. I’ve seen some really cool houses built using this technique which might not have been possible if the minimum space between houses were any larger. I've also found the lots that have been effectively sub-divided into several homes to be very interesting and rather unexpected. The first such subdivided lot I saw was part of a western town Sannio made during our playtest. I really enjoy seeing the incredible variety in house designs that you all have created and am very pleased with how the customized housing turned out.

What's next?This year we're trying a shorter publish cycle, which means you all should see regular updates. Each publish is likely to consist of a few features, plenty of bug fixes for existing systems, and some gradual infrastructure changes to continue to improve the reliability, performance, and versatility of the system. Over the next couple of publishes I expect to be working on tasks such as continuing in my efforts to reduce lag, making our backup system faster and the backups smaller, and plenty of general bug-squashing.

To Wrap Up...I want to thank all the players that have helped me out on the test centers and other shards when I've been collecting information and debugging various problems. Your assistance has allowed me to get some critical fixes out earlier than I would otherwise have been able to. I also want to thank all of you for hanging with us through the Age of Shadows launch.

To close, I thought I'd leave you with some Age of Shadows development trivia:

  • Jalek graciously brought in donuts for the team nearly every Friday morning.
  • According to our source code repository, the server team added/changed/removed about 150,000 to 200,000 lines of code during Age of Shadows development.
  • My ferrets celebrated their first birthdays around the time of our North American launch.
  • Almost nobody from the programming team saw their homes for more than a few hours during the first four days after the initial launch.

FertbertServer ProgrammerUltima Online

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