This month sees the launch of our next big game engine upgrade, which Andrew has been working on for the last 6 months. This will be the biggest upgrade to the underlying engine which runs the game since we launched the new 3D engine two years ago. This time the changes are more under the hood, which means (if everything goes to plan) you shouldn't actually notice a huge amount of difference!
The game engine upgrades this time are focused on allowing us to make the game bigger, and on providing support for all sorts of features we want to do in future updates. These are the sort of changes that you won't see immediately, but do allow us to do all sorts of things in the future which we've been dying to do, but couldn't previously.
However there will still be quite a few improvements that you will see immediately, such as:
Much faster loading times.
Faster, cleaner updates. When we update the game it should download more quickly.
Greatly reduced memory use, resulting in a smoother game.
Vastly improved sound compatibility. Sound should work on far more machines, and work on firefox, and sound will even work in low detail mode with no performance loss.
Better sound engine, with the ability to play more simultaneous sounds at a higher quality, which we will be using to introduce ambient background sound effects at a later date.
Improved chat filter.
Far better anti-macro technology. Those cheats are in for one huge shock! :-)
Better compatibility with dual CPU computers.
Better compatibility with firewalls.
Better language support, with support for accented characters in chat, etc.
And of course lots of underlying changes to let us do more exciting stuff in the future...
So... to the quests. The first of this month's quests asks the player to persuade the Wise Old Man to come out of retirement for just one last battle. Many years ago, he was possibly one of the greatest legends in the world – the most powerful adventurer in the land. Fame and fortune can cost dearly, though, so he hung up his mystic boots and followed a more careful life, offering help to new visitors to Draynor Village and causing the odd, erm, panic in the local bank. The time has come for him to dust off his armour and once again stand in front of the crusading hordes – but this time with you at his side! Great rewards, humour and some fantastic cutscenes have made this a firm favourite in the office during the past few months – we hope you enjoy it.
The second quest brings new life to the struggle between Miscellania and Etceteria, with the player investigating odd sounds and sightings coming from beneath the Miscellanian soil. Perhaps some great evil has risen from the deep, or perhaps it's those pesky Etceterians up to no good. Those players who have helped out King Vargas before will be invited to do so again, this time potentially adding the Etceterians to their pool of resources. This in turn means that the island will have new resources available for the locals to collect – including flax, seeds and even bird nests! We will also be rebalancing the normal Miscellania rewards to be more generous and less demanding, so you might be surprised what they can offer you.
Other updates this month include some new random events which ask the player to Grab the Evil Twin. Players operate a winch and crane with a large claw attached to the bottom – similar to the games you can see at fairgrounds. We also see the player being whisked off to a large troll area having to prod the correct pillars, just like a giant pinball machine!
We are also adding some other smaller features to the game later this month, such as clockwork toys for your cats, teleportation tablets, making your own cups of tea and even chairs you can sit down in.