EverQuest II: Weekly Developer DiariesEQII: Rise of Kunark - Tradeskills Dev Diary #5EverQuest II: Weekly Developer Diaries - RSS 2.0
EverQuest II: Rise of Kunark Tradeskills designer Emily "Domino" Taylor continues her epic series of developer diaries, exclusively here on WarCry. Today, in entries from October 16th and 25th, we get an update on both the development of the expansion and the antics of SOE.
Article by Emily "Domino" Taylor (Game Designer, EQII Tradeskills)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Only ten days to go till the cut-off date for finishing up new content. I'd say 8 working days, but I suspect quite a few people, myself included, will be working all ten! I know there were a number of people in the office last weekend -- though it was freezing cold, I'm definitely going to try and work at home next weekend instead.
The black plague continues to make its way around the office -- several people, including Feconix and Cronyn, have been sent home sick with instructions not to infect the rest of us. From the sounds of the chorus of coughing and sneezing I hear from outside my office, though, that's probably a bit too late. There are rumours that the original source of infection was a friend of a friend at Areae, who met some of our staff at a bar two Fridays back and unintentionally (we presume) passed on the flu; if so, does this count as intercompany biological sabotage? Of course, this then raises the possibility that we could send forth our currently sick developers to snog staff members of the competition, and thus continue spreading the plague throughout the industry ... but I suppose that would be above and beyond the call of duty. Not to mention morally dubious. Clearly the best course of action is to conquer the gaming universe by outstanding improvements to EQ2 tradeskills -- which will not happen if I catch the flu also, so I'm consuming very large quantities of orange juice at present.
This weekend I was feeling very pleased with myself for getting the perl script completed to create the new tradeskill reaction arts. It actually worked almost first try - only a minor typo to fix - which is remarkable as it's by far the most complicated script I've written from scratch. (Which isn't to say it's complicated, of course, just that I am a noob.) It takes the data I've laid out in a spreadsheed and creates two files from each line. The hardest part was actually filling out the spreadsheet. It's hard to ensure that every reaction art for every crafter is always receiving an upgrade as the level increases, without making them all identical, and yet also without giving any one class a clear advantage or disadvantage. Finding a fairly balanced, consistently upgrading set of numbers for 90 different spells (9 primary classes + 2 secondary classes + 4 cross-craft skills, times 6 each) is fairly challenging on its own, but any duplications and remaining completely unique for each class ... well, that's a miracle a bit beyond my ability to pull out of thin air at 8pm on a Sunday. The final numbers I settled on may still need some tweaking but I hope they'll be different enough to give different archetypes a different feel, without being totally unique in every way.
Once the new reaction arts were created there was still a lot more work to do, of course. It's never that simple! The new reaction arts had to be set up to correctly counter crafting events, and that meant some changes to the crafting events, of which there are even more than there are reaction arts, as it turns out. For example since I've changed them to auto-upgrade, an armorer has six reaction arts, three giving progress and three giving durability (before the change he would have had about 21). But the same armorer has 23 possible events that can happen while crafting: slight heat wave, slight heat depletion, heat depletion, heat wave, hefty heat depletion, hefty heat wave, orange bead, red bead, white bead, orange hot metal, red hot metal, white hot metal, and a bunch of others. I also had to create the new Favor of Innovation event for level 70+ for each of the 9 crafting classes; each of these has to be created uniquely since they have to give back the correct rare harvest based on the level. And then hook up those 9 new files to the 9 new result tables for level 70+ recipes that I had to create so events would pop up at all. Then all the new reaction arts had to be added to the list of spells automatically granted to artisans, and the old ones removed. And ... well ... the list just continues! When I checked in the tradeskill reaction art changes this afternoon, I added 506 new files, deleted 2116 old ones, and edited 105. And I'm sure there will be more changes still to come once QA start bug testing and the folks in beta start submitting feedback. All that just to change 6 reaction arts each for 11 classes! Who knew.
I'm marginally ahead of schedule in where I thought I would be this week because I did a bit more on the weekend than I'd expected, mainly due to my expectation of a date being cancelled due to the flu striking again, but oh well ... at least the game benefits from my loss of love life. Next big item on the list is to finish up the tradeskill tutorial NPC. Feconix was a big help with this, and Lockeye helped in getting me started before he left, but now the tradeskill arts are more or less done the tutorial dialog will need changing, and there were still a few areas where it wasn't working yet. But, I have 4 new CDs just arrived today from Amazon to listen to while I work, and I think the guy at the local Blockbuster is starting to recognize me from all the DVDs I've checked out to watch while doing boring data entry/changes. Maybe they'll put in a "movies for editing spreadsheets to" section if I ask nicely. In retrospect, the subtitled French language film from last Friday was a poor choice as my French is too rusty not to have to check the text frequently, besides which the movie was just rather confusing. But I have a suspicion tradeskill tutorials and Terminator 2 will go well together. Wonder if I can make the tradeskill tutor look like Arnie? I do live in the land of the Governator now, after all!