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Developers Q&A July 2010 Edit

Archive of a developers question and answer sessions posted on the forums, in July 2010. I've posted the complete forum page for clarity but not the ensuing debate on the topics covered. The original forum pages can be found here for session 1 and here for session 2 .

Session 1 Edit

Today we have the first of a two parter, answering some of the questions you guys submitted to us about 3 weeks ago. We are delighted to have Dirk Ringe, the Executive Producer for Lord of Ultima, and Volker Wertich, the Creative Director for Lord of Ultima at hand to answer some of you many questions.

General Edit

Q: Why are we able to choose avatars if no one else is able to see them?
A: DR: Good question, we intended to show it in more places in the user interface but didn't have the time initially. We are currently considering dropping either the avatar completely from the registration process or to add it to the game in a meaningful way.

Q: Did EA come to you with the concept for the game or did you bring it to them?
A: DR: The game concept was created at Phenomic.


A: DR: We have to keep a balance between offering optimal timezones for our customers and keeping it simple and understandable for our new users. When a user registers for the game he does not know exactly what to consider when choosing a server. So initially we wanted to keep the list as simple as possible. But we are considering adding more timezones to our server selection soon.

Features Edit

A forward from Dirk regarding feature policies.

DR: We generally do not announce or discuss our feature plans in detail. I can describe the way we work so you can understand our process better. We maintain all features we find interesting in a list called backlog. This backlog contains several hundred issues from very small issues like changing some text to big features like the end game. New features are added to the backlog while we play the game ourselves, reading the forums and Facebook comments, chatting with people and analysing game statistics. Every week we look at the state of the game and chose a high level topic that needs most attention , then we check all items in the backlog against this topic and select a few that have the highest impact towards solving our problem . These features get handed to the developers and delivered to you when done. Next week the process starts again where we look at what to do next.
This agile process makes it very difficult for us to talk about our upcoming features. In most cases we can tell you, that something is on the backlog or not, but having something on the backlog doesn't guarantee when our developers will start implementing it or whether they will work on it at all. Thus I prefer to only talk about very specific issues that we handed over to our developers so we know they will come soon. And even then I refuse to talk about timing.

Q: Could resource destruction take place on a different queue than the building queue? With a limit of two destruction on the last at the same time. It could be pushed to 6 if you buy the Building Minister, or make a new Minister, I don't care.
A: VW: No, we want to keep resources destruction in the main queue for balancing reasons.

Q: I was wondering if you were ever going to allow the full transfer of troops between your own cities.
A: VW: No, we do not plan to add this since it will enable strong players to quickly shift their military power to new terrain, making it very difficult for others to defend.


A: DR: Given that many people leave the game laying open in the background while doing other things, we don't believe tracking the length of time that the game is open is the best way to deal with this. What we will deliver in one of the next patches though is a display that shows the number of days your account has been in existence. But we will not break this down into how many hours have been actively played.

Q: Are there lvl9 and lvl10 bosses? Do they drop (multiple) Emperor Artefacts or something we can't use yet?
A: VW: Yes, they drop multiple emperor artifacts right now.


Why have you included night protection and why is it so long? For the vast majority of the real world ( Earth ) it doesn't make any sense as the times make playing the game quite difficult.<

Tech info Edit


A: DR: The game client is written directly in JavaScript, using Qooxdoo as base user interface library. The server software is written in C#.Our game servers are running Windows Server/IIS.

Q: Do you build the game from the ground or you use some RPG engine?
A: DR: The game was built from ground up without use of existing code except some open source libraries.

Stay tuned to the forum to see the second half of our answers to the Dev Q&A Questions!
Silvanoshi

Session 2 Edit

Hail fellow members of the gentry,

Today we have the second and final part of the developer Q&A questions. We once again have Dirk Ringe and Volker Wertich ready and willing to answer your questions.

So without further ado, lets get on with the questions.

General Edit

Q: I was wondering if you were ever planning on lowering the production bonus on cottages, or hiring the bonus for natural resources. I think its kinda pointless to have resources if people are just going to destroy them and make 20k/hr using the housing bonus over the natural resource.
A: DR: We understand that the current system feels kind of strange and suboptimal. We are investigating whether we can find a fix for this without killing the balance of the game by making cities worthless which are optimized to the current system.

Q: I'd love to see an API for external tools, so your community can create maptools, scoreboards, event listings, etc. Any chance this will come?
Is there any chance that you will create a API or share information on any other way
A: DR: We allow for tools to call the server via the same API that the official game client uses. We do not intend to document this API nor do we guarantee it to be stable. But there are already some amazing tools out there that help you play Lord of Ultima. Please make sure to read and understand the section about tools in the game rules if you intend to use or implement a tool.

Q: Do we have a date for the start of the endgame on Worlds 1, 2 and 3?
A: DR: The end game will not launch within the next 2 months, sorry about that. But we want to be sure to deliver the best experience. Right now we are the design of the end game but this is all I can say about that right now.

Features Edit

A forward from Dirk regarding feature policies.

DR: We generally do not announce or discuss our feature plans in detail. I can describe the way we work so you can understand our process better. We maintain all features we find interesting in a list called backlog. This backlog contains several hundred issues from very small issues like changing some text to big features like the end game. New features are added to the backlog while we play the game ourselves, reading the forums and Facebook comments, chatting with people and analysing game statistics. Every week we look at the state of the game and chose a high level topic that needs most attention , then we check all items in the backlog against this topic and select a few that have the highest impact towards solving our problem . These features get handed to the developers and delivered to you when done. Next week the process starts again where we look at what to do next.
This agile process makes it very difficult for us to talk about our upcoming features. In most cases we can tell you, that something is on the backlog or not, but having something on the backlog doesn't guarantee when our developers will start implementing it or whether they will work on it at all. Thus I prefer to only talk about very specific issues that we handed over to our developers so we know they will come soon. And even then I refuse to talk about timing.

Q: How is siege unit damage (from rams/catapults/war galleons) calculated?
A: VW: The troop strength of defending units reduces damage dealt. Currently, full damage is dealt if the troop strength of the attacker is 4 times as high or 2 times as high . If it is less, damage is reduced.

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Q: What are ships classified as? artillery? or are they there own unit type? if so, what are they weak against?
A: VW: Attacking ships are counted as artillery.

Q: If you attack a city and he has a high number of units weak against magic but he also has pallys and you attack with mages, do the pallys take the hit first? or do the mages attack the weak units first? or is it random?<

Q: What is the spawn rates for the different boss types?
{Is it time factor, number of raids lv of players on continent or something else entirely that affect the levels they appear at, for instance I've only seen lv's 1-4 so far and mostly just dragons a few hydras the odd moloch and never seen an octopus yet!}
A: VW: Bosses spawn randomly depending on player cities amount and level. If there are more cities in an area, more bosses will spawn nearby to keep it fair .

Q: What is the deciding factor in boss despawning?
A: VW: Bosses despawn after a time or if a certain amount of players sent attacks.

Q: Please explain the battle mechanics. What exactly is the math behind battle results?
A: At this moment in time, we do not intend to release an in-depth look at the battle mechanics.

Q: Why is it that lawless cities cost the same settlement costs as creating a new city from scratch?
A: VW: No special reason, overall founding a city is not too expensive in our opinion.

Tech info Edit

Q: Can you explain any details you can about what steps you're taking to ensure that maintenance upgrades don't impact the production servers, so that you can push upgrades to production servers without affecting world uptime? Thanks.
A: DR: We have a development process that ensures that only finished and tested changes are allowed to be deployed to the production servers. New features are first pushed onto dev servers several times a day, after a QA signoff they get transferred to internal staging servers where another QA pass is done with final bug fixes. Only code that has been stable for some time on the staging servers is allowed to be deployed to the production server.

That's it for the Q&A, I hope it gave you a bit more of an insight into the game and even if it didn't answer all of your questions, it answered some.

Silvanoshi

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