Exciting times for Team Crowfall (and by that I mean our team AND you, our army of loyal backers/co-designers!) After a few weeks of testing, our final pre-alpha milestone (lovingly numbered “version 5.8” and colloquially referred to as the “First Campaign Milestone”) is getting ever-closer to being a fully playable Throne War experience!
So, let’s talk about What It Is, Where We Are, and What Happens Next.
WHAT IT IS
Every backer now has access to the TEST server. While we don’t guarantee 24/7 uptime, we have been keeping it up more often than not -- and we’ve been able to work through a mountain of bugs to make the experience as fun, and playable, as possible.
For those of you who don’t keep your eyes glued to our every tweet and forum post (it’s ok, I forgive you), this version is called First Campaign because it includes:
- Time-limited Campaign servers, that span
- Multiple continents (10 per Campaign) linked by Runegates,
- Capturable territory (Outposts, Towers, Forts, & Keeps),
- PvP hotspots like quarries, mines, and mills
- which produce building materials (and notify other teams when you collect them),
- Siege Mechanics with siege engines (trebuchets and catapults!) and destructible walls,
- a Leaderboard to track guild and player participation in the campaign, rolling up into a
- Scoring mechanic that allows teams to collect victory points over the course of the
- Seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), each of which has
- a day/night cycle with random weather events with fog, rain and snow, and ramps up the
- Hunger contagion that spreads to each world and kills the resources they need to survive.
Most importantly, the Campaign ends with a decisive victory condition: one, and only one, team will win the Campaign.
(Oh! And we also added tutorial tips for new players, new faction temples, and Talent Trees for every class… but that’s all off-topic; let’s stay focused on the Campaign rules for now.)
So, yeah. It’s a lot.
WHERE WE ARE
The short answer is: all of the above is in the game and it’s (mostly) working!
We’re chasing down the last remaining issues and rapidly making balance changes as we incorporate your feedback. We’re also to the point where we need to update the LIVE game environment to make it ready for version 5.8 since so much has changed -- including IPv6 support. In short, we had to strip down our AWS (Amazon Web Services) environment and rebuild it.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
One distinction that I need to make is that there is a difference between pushing this version (5.8) to the LIVE environment and the start of our first “sanctioned” (official) Campaigns.
Frankly, getting the build to LIVE won’t make it error-free, much less balanced. Before we run an official campaign, we need a few trial runs.
To make these tests a good indicator that we’re ready to initiate an official campaign, they need to run the entire duration of the campaign in the pre-alpha LIVE environment with a higher population of players than what we typically see on TEST. While oversight is an absolute must, there should be as little interference from the development team as possible.
On that last note: ideally, we could just sit back, watch and learn what we need to change or fix for the next Campaign… but, of course, things in game development are rarely “ideal”. If and when something breaks, we need to pause the Campaign, adjust the rules or fix the problem and then resume the Campaign so it can run to completion.
Given the above, here are the general steps we’re going to follow:
- Take down the pre-alpha LIVE environment in preparation for 5.8.
- Redirect all players to the TEST environment.
- Continue to fix (and test) the remaining issues on TEST.
- Continue to work on client and server performance optimizations on TEST.
- Once we have a quality performance level on TEST that we think will make for a fun and engaging Campaign, we will move it to LIVE.
- Run a few un-official, un-sanctioned LIVE campaigns from start to finish to see how they work. We will likely start with very short campaign durations (e.g. a few days) and we will increase them as we feel more comfortable with the point scoring mechanics.
Once we feel good about how these unofficial Campaigns are performing, we’ll trigger our first “sanctioned” Campaigns. These will include guild and player spotlights, updates “from the front” and unique rewards… plus, of course, the bragging rights to say that you were part of the winning team on the first “real” Campaigns for Crowfall!
We have a TON more details to talk about regarding our first Sanctioned Campaigns, but that’s a subject of another update coming in the near future.
In summary: we have a LOT of stuff coming in the next month, and we’re excited to bring it to you. If you have a chance, now is a great time to jump into TEST to start learning the new game systems (and Talent Trees) in advance of 5.8 – or, if you’d rather wait until the LIVE launch or the first Sanctioned Campaigns that are soon-to-follow, get ready because we’re about to enter the coolest phase of the project by far!
As always, I want to thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you in our First Campaign!
J. Todd Coleman
Creative Director, ArtCraft Entertainment