New Devlog: The Road to v1.1 -- Open Sea Improvements
Version 1.1 is here! This new version of Pirates of the Burning Sea is primarily a bug-fix build—but what a bug-fix build it is. I just ran a query on our bug database and found that this build includes the fixes for more than one thousand bugs. The vast majority of those are text and content bugs, most so small that they aren’t included in our patch notes or Misha’s head would explode when she writes them, but you’ll find small polish improvements throughout the game as well as stability and performance improvements. (Our first free content update, v1.2, is coming soon. That has lots of new content and features and we’ll start sharing details on it in just a couple weeks.)
Since our soft launch on January 7th, we have released several patches to fix critical issues. Crashes, memory leaks, and server stability have all seen significant improvements in the last three weeks. But we’ve only been rolling out the most urgent fixes to you, while testing continued on many, many more improvements and corrections.
While this build is mostly about bug fixes, it does include a handful of features and tuning changes to make the game better. In this series of devlogs I’m going to cover the highlights of what’s in v1.1.
Want to play this new build? It is going live on our Testbed server in the next 24 hours. If you have never played on Testbed before, it’s a special server where we try out new builds before they go live on the real servers. This is where you can field-test new changes, features, content, and improvements before most players see them. Your feedback on Testbed is critical to us, so if you haven’t tried Testbed before you can find all the information you need to get started in the Test Server Discussion forum. That’s also where your feedback on changes in the current Testbed build should go so we can evaluate how our changes are working.
Now let’s get to the good stuff! In this devlog I’m going to cover improvements we’ve made to the Open Sea.
Mismatched NPCs in Ad Hocs
This bug gets reported a lot. You attack an NPC in the Open Sea and when the battle starts, you’re facing a different ship than the one you attacked.
We had this issue occur in the beta. At that time, the culprit was just a data error—some ship spawn tables that were incorrect. We fixed the data files and thought all was well. When this got reported after launch, we still thought it was just a lingering typo here or there in those data files, so we asked for specific reports on what ship you engaged vs. what ship you fought since we’d need to know that to find the errors.
Well, it turns out that we’d introduced a global code bug, not just a typo in a data file. This code bug could cause the link between the ship you engaged and the ship you fight to be misdirected. Once we realized this wasn’t just a rare case here or there, we tracked down the code bug and fixed. In v1.1 you should reliably find the same ships in and out of the ad hoc battle.
There are several bounty missions that require you to defeat a very rare evil pirate ship from the various pirate gangs that ply the Open Sea. These spawns were way too rare and players had a very hard time finding them. We’ve doubled the chance of them appearing, so while they still won’t be common, they won’t be nearly as rare as before.
When you return to the Open Sea after winning or escaping an ad hoc ship battle, you get a temporary invisibility effect to protect you from enemies who are camping your battle marker. Due to a code bug, this invisibility worked both ways: enemies couldn’t see you, but you couldn’t see them, either. That meant that once the effect ended, you would suddenly see enemy ships pop in. This wasn’t intended. In v1.1, you can see enemies but they can’t see you. This gives you time to get away before your invisibility wears off.
Open Sea Logout
It may have happened to you: you lose connection or just quit the game while your ship is in the Open Sea, not realizing that your ship would stay in the world for a little while after you left. That means an enemy ship could attack you and even sink you while you were offline.
In v1.1, we’ve revamped the logout system to make this all work a lot more clearly:
1) You can always log out immediately and safely in port.
2) If you disconnect suddenly—due to a crash, a loss of power, your dog unplugging the cable modem, or whatever—your ship immediately drops sails and stops moving. Sudden disconnects leave your ship in the world for two minutes. If you log back in within two minutes, you rejoin your ship where it was, sitting stopped in the water. If you don’t, then after the two minutes are up you automatically log out. (If you were the leader of a group, the next player in line is promoted to group leader as soon as you disconnect.)
3) If you try to quit the game while in the Open Sea, or anywhere else other than in port, you will see a message box with a 30 second countdown. You can wait for the end of the countdown and then you’ll be logged out safely and quit the game, or you can click the Exit Now button. The Exit Now button will quit the game immediately, but your ship will stay in the world for two minutes, as if you disconnected. Then you’ll automatically log out. This countdown is canceled by any of the following actions: you move, enter or exit a zone, enter combat, use a skill or item, interact with an NPC, start a trade with a player, or receive a Final Battle invitation.
4) You cannot log out if you are in combat. So if you are attacked during the two-minute disconnect countdown, or the 30-second logout countdown, your ship or avatar will stay logged in for as long as combat continues.
5) You cannot log out if you are moving. You need to come to a stop before you can log out.
So, why don’t we let you logout anytime you darn well please? As other MMOs discovered early on, instantly removing a character from the world means players can escape combat or death. So these kinds of logout and disconnection timers are typical, as we don’t want players to yank the power cord out of the wall just before they get attacked or killed.
These changes required that we rebuild our log out code from scratch, so it wasn’t something that was safe to do just before launch. But we’ve been testing the new log out code for several weeks and belive it’s in good shape. While the Open Sea is still not a safe place to log out, now you will have clear notificiation of the risk you’re running and what you can do to avoid it.
Open Sea Graphics Bugs
We’ve fixed 25 graphics bugs in the Open Sea. These include missing or glitchy textures and other ugly bits that are now cleaned up. We also fixed several places where you could sail into the land due to a mismatch between the shoreline and the navmesh that governs where you can sail—shorelines near New Orleans, Somerset, St. Augustine, Oranjestad, and Sabanqui are all cleaned up and working as intended.
We’re continuing to make improvements in the visuals of the Open Sea and you’ll see more of that in v1.2.
That’s it for this devlog. We hope the above improvements to the Open Sea will make for better gaming and smooth sailing! I’ve got a lot more to talk about in v1.1, so check back very soon for more details. And don’t forget to go try the new changes out for yourself on the Testbed server!