Hello Firefall Fans,
It has been just about three weeks since we officially launched Firefall, including our launch on Steam. For years, the team at Red 5 has been working towards that day. It’s a momentous occasion to launch a game. Many games never get out of the prototype stage or trouble hits and great games never see the light of day. Red 5 has been no stranger to trouble, but we’ve persevered and are finally able to celebrate the launch of our first title as a company. We want to start off by thanking you for all of your support over the years, and through our launch. It has been an amazing experience so far. But launch is not the end for us. Launch is just the beginning of even more.
Where We’re At
It makes sense to start off this letter by first highlighting where we’re at right now before we dive into what is coming up in the future. Overall we had a very successful launch. For the first few days we did experience a couple of issues, especially with our chat services which drive social features like squadding, that caused some trouble for many of you. As of right now, most of those problems are fixed. Our servers are holding steady and we deal with issues on a day to day basis rather than on-going issues that affect the majority of players.
Hats off to our technical operations team and our customer support team for their exceptional work responding to issues and making sure that support tickets were answered and problems escalated as quickly as possible.
We have also seen our share of bugs in the game. Our first post-launch patch on August 5th included over 2100 bugs closed out of our database. This was a monumental effort by the team to make sure that we got critical issues fixed as quickly as possible. We’ve had multiple “hotfix” patches that have gone out since in order to solve new issues that have cropped up, and we have another patch coming this week to address even more. We’re not stopping either. Our Community and QA teams have been forwarding and verifying all issues that you have been reporting so that we can get those into the database for tracking and prioritization. It’s an ongoing effort and we very much appreciate your help in identifying issues.
From a gameplay standpoint, we have some things that require our attention. First and foremost is the ARES Jobs system (our quests). Many of you have shared your feelings about where these jobs stand. Some common themes we’ve heard are that the jobs are not rewarding enough for time spent, travel times and distances are extreme in many cases, and many of the jobs feel repetitive or uninteresting. All of these opinions are completely valid and warranted with where we’re at right now.
We are immediately working on reacting to those concerns. In our next patch, we have increased both XP and Crystite rewards for Jobs to alleviate some of the issues with slow progression, especially at later levels in Sertao and Devil’s Tusk. We are actively working on multiple changes to how Jobs spawn in objectives and how the system locates space to spawn objectives to lower the overall distance travelled and the unintended behaviors of having to travel back and forth across a level band to complete a single job.
With our next patch, we are also increasing the density and number of unique dynamic encounters that can spawn in the world. Travelling should be enjoyable and never knowing what you might encounter along the way definitely adds to that fun factor and is a big part of what makes Firefall unique. Expect to see more stuff happening throughout the world.
The content team is hard at work on developing new ARES Jobs to help fill in gaps throughout the world and create more interesting stories and events for these jobs. We are shuffling around some of the jobs to different boards, especially where the objectives are similar, to help alleviate some of the repetitiveness. Expect to see some changes on the Copacabana job board for new players or secondary frames and you’ll see new jobs showing up throughout Devil’s Tusk to add to the experience there.
Separate from jobs is the overall feeling of combat, especially vs. NPCs and creatures throughout the world. It is pretty apparent that we have some improvements to make with AI. It is surprising how small tweaks to creatures can make very large impacts. The AI and Creature teams have been meeting to discuss how to best address combat issues in the near term as well as what new technologies we need to prioritize for future content. These changes will most likely come in small packages over time rather than one large update. Each creature will get worked on to make sure that it is an exciting experience that provides enough challenge to be interesting, but not over-powering.
Combat balancing and additional choices for how you equip your battleframe are also being addressed. Suffice to say, we have some improvements to make and the team is ready to take on the challenge and we will be working to get these fixes and changes out as quickly as possible. The problems listed above are by no means inclusive of everything. They are just a representation of what we are reading as priorities.
Where We’re Going
The future of Firefall is bright. The team continues to work on not only improving what is there, but are working on future content and improvements for release. First, let me explain a bit about how our development process for live production is going to work.
Our goal is to release a new patch every 3 weeks. In order to make sure we have enough time for testing and bug fixing for those patches, we are going to be turning back on our Public Test Server (PTS) and letting patches live there for at least 3 weeks for all of you to help us test and provide feedback. This will create a leap-frog release cycle with a new patch going to PTS at the same time the patch that was on PTS goes out to the live servers. There may be times where a patch or feature needs more time to gestate on the PTS and will be left behind for the following patch cycle.
We hope that with this process we can constantly deliver new content and fixes on a consistent schedule as well as delivering larger pieces of content at intervals where they make sense instead of saving up everything for one big release. As always, we will release hotfix patches where necessary in order to fix critical issues that affect large numbers of users or are considered game-breaking.
So, what can you expect over the next few months? Our first priority is continuing to fix bugs and polish content and systems that are already in the game. At the same time, we have teams that are working on various things that will release as they are ready. There is a focus on adding more dynamic content throughout the world with more wandering encounters and special world events that breathe life into the landscape and provide excitement as you complete your assigned tasks or just explore the world.
We also are working on more ARES Jobs across multiple level bands to make things more interesting when leveling multiple frames. The Open World PvP team is hard at work to provide more exciting things to do in Broken Peninsula with more outpost mechanics, dynamic events, and working towards more incentives for armies.
A group has formed around creating more tutorials and introductions to complex mechanics and systems to make the game more approachable and improve new player experience. Our UI team has begun work on new UI features like a better Looking for Group feature and Army management tools, as well as overall UX improvements where possible. New pieces of UI will be dropped into the game with each patch as they are completed.
The combat team has been making improvements to various weapons, abilities, and perks and they are spreading out to include new weapons and abilities with different behaviors and interesting choices for all battleframes. They are also going to be working with the top donators of the resource migration event to design out brand new weapons for each archetype that will be available for everyone. Expect to see some small drops of new equipment in the near term with a larger package of themed equipment later this year.
Beyond content, we have some tech requirements that need to be handled as well which requires some team focused. We are working towards releasing the game in more regions and make Firefall a global product with more language support. There is a lot of work to be done on backend systems to improve performance and lower costs, as always. New technologies to implement for future content and improvements to existing systems like chat are required as well.
We have teams working on new instances and new open world zones each with their own content requirements that are a bit too long term to be talking about right now, but it’s important to share where our teams are focused. In addition to everything else that we’re doing, our Live Events team is always at work creating new things for you to enjoy that will be announced as they are scheduled to come online.
As you can tell, we have a lot going on. The work never stops. We look forward to a long future for Firefall and we hope to have you with us for the entire journey. Thank you for all of your support and for helping make Firefall a success now and in the future.
Firefall is the newly-released free-to-play sci-fi MMO shooter from Red 5 Studios. Play for FREE on Steam!
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