Hello Firefall Fans,
Welcome to the Firefall Development Update. We’ve decided to start writing development updates as a team in order to better communicate with you what our plans are and where Firefall is headed. These updates will sometimes be very detailed and other times they will be rough overviews of what’s happening at the studio. The ultimate goal is to create more awareness and provide official communication about the game outside of the forum updates and Firefall Live.
Just last week we released a massive update to Firefall that fixed hundreds of long-standing bugs, began the work of expanding Diamondhead into a full-fledged war zone, added additional ARES missions, completely replaced our introduction experience for players with a more cinematic and engaging mission, and much more. You can check out the full patch notes here.
It was important to us to focus our efforts on creating a more stable experience for Firefall. Many of the complaints and concerns during beta have been the existence of bugs that linger on far too long and the speed at which we’re able to address issues. The first step in improving that process was clearing out our database of long-standing issues. We are pleased to say that we closed out nearly 1300 issues and are now working with a much more manageable number of bugs.
But the work does not stop there. We’ve more than doubled our internal quality assurance (QA) team in order to help find and test bugs before they ever see the public builds, and to help reproduce the bugs and issues that you are all finding. They are hard at work finding everything from typos to crashes and making sure to open those issues so that we can track them appropriately.
Our ultimate goal as a team is to reach a “zero bug bounce” state where we are closing out more issues each day than are being opened. It is not going to be easy and we definitely have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we firmly believe that quality matters and we think you all agree. If players are battling the game itself, how can they be expected to also battle the Chosen? Quality is our number one focus.
We recently kicked off our new milestone and we wanted to take a few minutes to talk about what we are working on. By no means is this list complete or all-encompassing. Nor should it be seen as a promise of future content or changes. These are just things that we’re working on. No plan survives first implementation so please bear with us should there be any modifications, additions, or subtractions from this plan.
As we mentioned before, our number one focus is on quality. This means that we’ve specifically set aside development time to work on bugs and focus on the scalability, stability, and polish of the game. Our server programmers and operations team are working on reducing overhead and optimizing everything they can to increase server performance and ultimately decrease some of our costs as well. Some of these changes have already been coming online and some will be coming online soon; such as the automated server draining and balancing that we spoke about many months ago. We want to make sure that you are placed on a server with other people and that you have a consistent experience with the game.
We also want to polish areas of the game to make them as perfect as they can be. We do this by starting at the beginning and working our way deeper into the game. That means that we start with the website, registration, downloading the game, installation, etc. before working our way into the new player experience. Then we go out from there into the first hour experience. Think of it like using sandpaper on a piece of wood with the sandpaper becoming more and more fine as we progress until we have a nicely polished product that is ready for the public at large. Your feedback is immensely helpful in finding these rough edges. Thank you for all the feedback you’ve already provided.
We’ve got quite a bit of work going into the user interface at various priority levels. This includes things like finally implementing the new HUD that we teased a few months back. It also means making current UI elements more consistent with the new style; something you may have already noticed. It also means major overhauls to interfaces like the manufacturing station with the goal to provide something that is not only easier to understand, but also easier to use and maintain.
Dynamic Encounters & Player Direction
One of the biggest features of Firefall that we feel the need to spend a lot of time on is our dynamic encounter system. Firefall is meant to be a living, breathing world with things happening at all times and something that reacts to player involvement. This is something we’ve only touched on. And while we definitely won’t be able to completely see our dreams come to fruition in the next few months, we are working hard to make headway on those dreams.
We have teams working on new encounters, better systems for spawning those encounters, Chosen warfront polish, and systems for leading a player to fun and exciting content. A big piece of feedback we’ve gotten is that players are confused as to what to do after completing the intro missions. We want to remove that confusion and introduce players to what Firefall is all about. Building a system that creates a gameplay loop for players is step one in that process.
With the introduction of the new player experience, we’ve begun to tease out the story of Firefall. We now have a team working on creating Act I of the campaign. The goal is to create a mission chain that leads players through the world while introducing new characters and starting to explain motivations. The writers have been hard at work outlining the entire story including both an ARES campaign (the player’s story) and the Accord campaign (the world’s story). We’re going to keep this one pretty close to the chest, so don’t expect to hear much about it until it’s ready for release. We don’t want to spoil anything.
As part of our continuing effort to make sure that players have long term and short term goals, we are working on our character progression system. We want to make sure that you all have more choices in how you progress and have things that make gameplay more fun all while rewarding you for each stage of your progression and ensuring that you have tangible goals to reach for at consistent intervals. Some of these changes are still being designed, but we will make sure to communicate these changes as things are finalized.
Crafting & Economy Updates
Not only will crafting be getting updates to the user interface, but we also want to make changes to the way the system works. We’ve already started making some of the smaller changes such as removing the necessity for components that ultimately ended up as time sinks instead of expanding the depth of crafting. We are also working on things like a salvaging system, durability changes, inventory limits, and specializations.
Creatures & Combat
For too long the creatures and enemies in Firefall have not been given the attention they deserve. Part of this project is cleaning up our creatures; making sure that all enemies fit within orthogonal structures and definitions and that they don’t deviate from those outlines. After everything is defined, it is then necessary to go through and prune things that don’t fit within the definition and work on the behaviors to make sure that when you see a creature, you know what to expect and that there are specific strategies to use. The team is also making sure to go through all the spawn tables to make sure that appropriate creatures are spawning for each encounter and area. This will probably be a long-term process that we’re just starting to scratch the surface of. We want combat to feel special.
We believe playing Firefall is more fun with friends. So we are working on features making sure that the current players are easily able to invite and share with their friends. We are also working on in-game functionality such as larger army sizes, more chat support, VoIP fixes, and public grouping options. We want to make it easier for you to not only play with your existing friends, but also make new ones.
These features are just a high-level overview of what we’re working on. We are not expecting many of these things to come online fully until January, but we are trying to make sure that we are patching and including everything that we can every couple of weeks. That includes bug fixes. Our goal is to release a better product out to you more often. We will continue with these updates so that you can all be sure to join us on this journey into the future. Thank you for being a part of the Firefall community and thank you for all of your support.