Stream Quest (Developer Stream Schedule)

Rewatched the VoD and took notes through the whole thing:

Summary

Development Commentary

  • “The world moved on from Puzzle Quest… Other games had done certain things better and we wanted to learn from all those games, as well as apply what we learned from Gems of War.”
  • What was the thinking behind changing the gem matching mechanics? “We wanted to speed up the game… the back and forth scheme had been pretty fully explored with Gems of War… we wanted you to feel like you weren’t waiting around for enemies to move. When we had the smaller play area and fewer gem colors, it felt like you didn’t have enough to do, so diagonal matching ratcheted that up.”
  • The developers built an AI program to play through the game for testing purposes, and it is “brutally efficient. We can see with the current rules that the game has a really high skill ceiling.”
    • “Watching the automated testing play the game is mesmerizing… you can watch it for ages, which is bad when you’re supposed to be working.” -GoldPhoenix
  • They had to change the Wolf death SFX a lot because it sounded like you were hurting puppies.
  • One of the things we love about live service games is that we can look at the data of how you’re playing and make choices based on that.
  • Salty: Wouldn’t it be funny if we brought Darkhunter back? Sirrain: YES Salty: NO
  • There is a spreadsheet which estimates and evaluates how much of each currency players should be and are earning on a daily basis.
    • “If we find early on that you’re getting too much of one thing and not enough of another, that’s kind of a no-brainer [to add the option to convert them].”
  • Every small change needs to be developed and tested before it gets pushed out, that take more work than people realize.
    • Managing pushing things to a server takes more work, but in the long term the game is more stable.
  • Early Access, in our case, was a way to get the game out in a form we considered completely unfinished! The purpose of our Early Access is to tweak balance and design to its best possible form for global release.
    • We have a vision for the end of Early Access that we’re working towards.
    • Some companies have Early Access as good as their release.
  • “My favorite feature of the game is the cinematic nature of the visuals. So many games I’ve worked on have been light on the fancy production values.” -Sirrain
  • “According to our data, the story is helping a lot with retention.”
  • Joe (from the Animation department) is working on some new things that we can’t talk about yet!
    • You’ll see that in the Fall some time.

Relics and Challenges

  • We added the new systems for upgrading items but the primary game mode for obtaining them wasn’t ready yet.
    • Relics went in without the drip feed going with it.
    • This was a product of being in Early Access.
    • Once Relics actually enter the game, if players aren’t getting enough of them, the dev team will have the data to know that.
  • Relics will be available from a new mode called Challenges.
    • Challenges will let you replay skirmishes and dungeons, with rewards for daily play.
    • Challenges will be the main source of Relics.
    • Challenges will be replacing Skirmishes.
    • “There’s also going to be Crystals coming from the Challenges mode.”
  • Relics will be a lot more readily available from Daily Deals in the shop.
  • Temporary/interim means of adding relics? “Wasn’t given a lot of consideration”.
    • The primary concern was potential for community backlash from “taking away” relics.
    • “Let’s not do it, because it creates an expectation we’re not going to be able to fulfill in the long-term.”
    • “'Them’s the nature of early access!”
    • “We could have increased then decreased the drop rate, but the negative sentiment would have been strong. I know people say they would have been fine with it… but it’s those sorts of changes that get you a lot of hate. Those are the sort of changes that end up with people threatening Salty online.”
    • “I don’t like seeing people frustrated at their game either, but it was never going to get done in time, and we had to get a new version out to test some other things. As developers, we have to be okay with riding it through and do the best we can, and as players, we hope you understand and stick with us.”
  • Why did Sirrain choose to add so many new currencies?
    • “It lets us control the rarities better, and make it harder to grind for the rarer ones. It gives us more levers.”
    • “We don’t want to stifle people’s ability to progress, but we don’t want progression to be too easy because it’s not rewarding.”
    • “One of my design theories is to create space to work into. If we have a lot of related currencies, we can start building minigames and systems that work with those systems. Then we can make Relics more common since there’s more sinks for them.”
    • “In Gems, we learned to create large spaces we can work into for multiple years.”
    • “Too much space? We’ll see, I’ll be surprised if we’re sorry about this in five years’ time.”
  • “One thing we’re looking at for the future is rewarding people for sets of things. Sets of Relics, sets of Dungeons Gear, sets of Minions, sets of Spells, and reward you for collecting those sets.”

Feature/Change Requests

  • Speed option? It’s a little weird to implement especially for this game, no plans for it at the moment. Because of how animations work, speeding it up could be weird so we have to be mindful of that.
  • Changing hero appearance? “We don’t want to give too much away, but we’re talking in the background about implementing Skins for heroes” such as “a different, more elaborate set of armor.”
    • We made a decision early on that gear pieces (helms, chestplates) wouldn’t appear on the character, because for the first few levels you’d “look like a murder hobo”.
  • Minigames weren’t carried over because we wanted to focus on the core gameplay during early access. Minigames will be dripped out over the course of the first few years of the game.
    • The Capture minigame, despite being popular, is hard to implement for a live service game. They’re looking for ideas to make it work.
  • Offline mode? Nope.
  • Disabling/slowing timer for accessibility/consoles? While there aren’t plans to disable the timer completely, “we need ways to handle the timer better”
  • Converting lower runes and shards? Maybe not directly upgrading, but being able to turn them into something else would be good.
    • Sirrain: “I’ve played a lot of games where you get a dead currency, and that’s pretty unrewarding.”
  • Food sink? Sirrain recognizes Food is a bit of a dead currency at the moment.
  • Set bonuses? High on the list of things we want to get in, in the short term.
    • We want it in before the full release to prevent too many people from salvaging gear that later becomes useful.
  • Diamond chest rewards not worth the wait?
    • “The wait is appropriate but the rewards are not. I’d like you to feel like it was worth the 24 hours.”
    • “I believe that is getting some tweaks at the moment to come in 0.36. We did some tweaks for 0.35 but I don’t think it was enough.”
    • “It’s tabled for discussion with our economy guys.”
  • Storage for gear?
    • “We know people aren’t levelling Northelm quickly enough to get the space they need. We might need to look at the base number of slot. Maybe we could add another way to add space.”
    • “We don’t want to be one of ‘those guys’ who sell you inventory space.”
    • On issues with restricted tournaments: “We’ve seen that too, and we’re working on it.”
  • Why even have a storage cap at all? “It’s very much game theory”
    • “You want players to fill up their gear space because you want them to learn to salvage, to keep the amount of shards obtained where it’s expected to be.”
    • “You want players to hit that limit at the correct time so it feeds into that tertiary game loop and they get the correct number of resources.”
    • “Additionally, the higher inventory limits are, the more strain is put on the game’s databases and the harder it is to find the things you need in your inventory.” -GoldPhoenix
      • “Star Wars Galaxies struggled significantly with their databases because all items had unique data tied to them that had to be stored and size limits were constantly being exceeded.”
  • Are we set on the 7x5 board? “Yeah I think we are. The core gameplay was set on 7x5 but we could have minigames that change it up.”
  • Modifying color of gear? “I have a plan but I’m not ready to share it yet. We’re talking about that.”
  • Hero classes? “We certainly hope to have more of those in the future.”
  • “Shaman’s kind of locked into a build right now and we’re working on rebalancing that.”
    • “We’re working on redoing the wording to make Venoms and Toxins easier to understand.”
    • “‘Please don’t make me play Shaman?’ We’re going to rebalance Shaman and you’re going to play the S H I T out of it! HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT?” -Salty
  • “Expect changes in levels and gear coming in 0.36 or 0.37”
    • “We weren’t happy with the difficulty curve into the 20s and 30s.”
  • “We are working on the endgame, and more stuff for Kingdoms to do.”
  • It’s a bit easy to just make a mono-color build, but it’s complicated to solve.
    • “It feels too easy to go all in on one color and we’ll be addressing that.”
  • Any wipes before official launch?
    • “Wipes are right out.”
    • We can’t assure players that everything will be the way it is, but we have to honor what you pay for.
    • There was a bug early on where VIP was displayed as giving an extra Ruby key, and after it was rebalanced, players who had bought it were compensated. If you bought a year of the VIP pass you got a massive dump of Ruby keys in your mail.
    • If an exploit sneaks into an update, we may have to roll back by a day or two but not a full wipe.
  • Unequip button?
    • incredulous An unequip button? So you can take a piece of gear off and leave that slot empty? Aaaaahhhh, good feedback, thank you. Don’t know why I hadn’t considered that.” -Sirrain
    • “Gotta make a Jira task for that.”
  • Dragon hero class?
    • “I feel like the story would have to change for that to work.”
    • “Etheria has a race of Lizard People, in the south, called the Sirathi (spelling?), that live in the jungles.”
  • Resetting citadel points?
    • “That’s a good idea, I don’t have a timeframe for that.” -Sirrain
  • Redeem codes?
    • At some point, we will have them, but we need the functionality for that first.

Other

  • Salty now has a new computer for streaming! It’s based on one of the old build servers.
  • Salty and Sirrain appear to be long-time family friends (Salty’s dad is a game developer)
  • The first drafts for dialog options were a little too risque for the final game
  • Salty called me out by name but thought my name was Elric :sob:
  • PQ3 is the 35th game that Sirrain has developed on.
  • “Follower dating sim minigame! Like HuniePop but less slutty.” -Salty
    • “I’m sometimes a little embarrassed about having HuniePop in my Steam library.” -Sirrain

Future Streams

  • Next week, we have Joe (from animation)
  • The week after, we have Cyrup (the game’s producer)
  • Sirrain will be returning in the future.
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My personal takeaways:

  • The main reason we didn’t get a temporary higher Relic drop-rate from dungeons was fear of backlash when rates would later be lowered.
  • The suggestion of an unequip button for Restricted tournaments surprised Sirrain, but he said he likes the idea. Probably won’t come in 0.36 though unless it has a particularly quick turnaround.
  • Sirrain has HuniePop in his Steam library.
  • 0.36 will have the following:
    • Challenges mode, which replaces Skirmishes, allows players to replay dungeons and missions from the campaign.
    • Challenges will become a source of daily rewards of Crystals and Relics.
    • A rebalance to Shaman is coming in 0.36.
    • A rebalance to gear and levelling is coming (to help with the difficulty curve around level 20 or 30).
    • A balance change to buff the rewards from rarer chests is coming.
  • Later upcoming features we know are coming include:
    • More for endgame players and kingdoms to do.
    • Set bonuses (confirmed to be coming in before the global release).
    • Additional hero classes are coming.
    • Redeem codes for streamers are coming in the future.
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@Cyrup will be joing us tomorrow!

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So, who is writing a summary of that stream? lol XD

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OMG please no one write a summary.

Sorry for the disruption on stream today team. We had our team in and banning as quickly as possible, but it always disrupts things when you get raided. We will have more people on hand for the next several streams.

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It was a valiant effort.

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Hats off to you and Cyrup plowing right on through that mess.

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Thanks team, we did our best. Obviously it was unpleasant, but if we could continue streaming we wanted too.

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Here is my summary of yesterday’s stream:

SUMMARY

  • Today’s stream featured the guest Cyrup, producer for Puzzle Quest 3.
  • The game is being played on stream using a developer build of the game for PC.
  • About halfway through, the stream appeared to have been raided by users from 4chan. As expected, the chat quicky went downhill at this point.
    • Salty and Cryup were real troopers here, they handled things very well.

PRODUCTION

  • What is the best part of being a producer? Helping to plan and facilitate development, setting goals and seeing things come together.
  • What was the hardest part of producing the game? Having to re-evaluate how the team communicated in response to work-from-home and the pandemic.
  • EDITOR’S NOTE: I do wish she had gone into more detail about what a producer does, since I don’t know a lot about how studios produce games and the descriptions were somewhat vague.
  • What was the biggest thing learned from Gems of War? The way chat works has taken inspiration from Gems of War, and a lot of other decisions in this game were based on what worked and didn’t work in GoW.
    • It also gave a lot of knowledge about what goes into developing and deploying the game on consoles.
    • EDITOR’S NOTE: Gems of War’s chat (with its Honor and reporting systems) reportedly received a lot of praise in the games industry, and if I recall Salty gave a talk about it once. Would love to see if anyone can remember when this was referenced (or find a link to the full presentation!).

FEATURES

  • Reporting objectionable usernames? Contact support, global chat reporting will come in v0.36.
  • Puzzle Quest 3 redeem codes? Yes, in the future, but the functionality isn’t in yet.
  • Overhauls to parties/co-op and private parties? Being looked into for a future update, further on.
  • PC version? Salty: Three months? :face_with_raised_eyebrow: Cyrup: This year :wink:
    • We hesitate to give out even rough timelines on when things will release because we get a lot of vitriol when those benchmarks aren’t met (for example if an update fails certification on certain platform).
    • Cyrup: We’re aiming to get an iOS release available before we move to Steam.
  • Will accounts be shared between Android, iOS, and Steam similarly to Gems of War? Yes.
    • Cross play with console? They’re discussing whether that’s feasible.
  • Variation in board size? Not being considered at the moment.
    • EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve personally found this to be just fine as is, the modified game mechanics (multiple matches, diagonal matches) mean that you have just as many options despite having fewer gems to move. Wouldn’t complain if alternative gamemodes or minigames used smaller or larger boards though.
  • Character skins? We’ve had feedback on that and we’re looking into ways of doing it.
  • Will the game be coming to Linux? Probably not.
    • EDITOR’S NOTE: Although the game is built on Unity, which allows the game to be built for multiple platforms, including but not limited to Android, iOS, XBOX, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, Mac, and Linux. However, each of these platforms has its own hurdles, and Linux (a broad term for a suite of distributions with massively varying hardware and software) is very difficult to support reliably, especially compared to market size.
  • Cyrup: We are considering ways we can help you guys in making tools for the game.
    • EDITOR’S NOTE: She may be referring to the Gems of War community’s efforts, like Taran’s World, GoWDB, the Garyatrics Discord bot, and other tools. I can say that these were in large part developed in spite of, rather than facilitated by, the IP2 team.
  • Salty: Keeping the game accessible to free-to-play players and giving the opportunity to decide between investing time and money (and not paywalling content) is really important to our creative director.
    • EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Steve Falkner, aka Sirrain, who was featured in the last developer stream.

OTHER

  • Salty claims to have been banned from Tinder within 15 minutes of making an account.
  • Salty on the Knight Captain: “I’d call her Sir… because that’s her title and that’s normal.”
  • Next week, Joe (from animation) will be joining the stream.
    • Hopefully, one of the programmers will be on after that.
    • EDITOR’S NOTE: I’d personally love to hear from one of the in-game economy people and learn more about what goes into designing and balancing them.
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Hope they do a lot more with the coop system and use a similar system for a new PvP mode.

I haven’t touched coop since the first week of the game despite how fun it is mostly because of how bad the payout is. On top of stability issues it is around 2x-5x slower than just playing the game normally.

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Updated streaming schedule. :slight_smile:

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Hey folks, stream will be starting a little later today (7pm pdt)

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Roger, Kafka, thanks for the heads-up!

Setting up now, should be 10-15 minutes.

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Thanks for joining us everyone!!!

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Heads up that there won’t be a PQ3 stream this week, and we will return next week.

Stream tonight for PQ3? @Salty

Hey, just a very quick update.

There may not be a stream today, as we are still transitioning some things to accommodate working from home again, with lockdown.

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No stream today team. I’ll upadte the streaming thread soon. With lockdown things are changing on our side again, thank you for your patience.

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