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Devblog: Dev & Update Cycle

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Over the last few years the update cycle for Wurm Online and Wurm Unlimited has been a bit sporadic to say the least. The goal in that time has been to stick to a fortnightly schedule with the odd larger update for big changes or new mechanics, but there have been many times where that hasn’t been effective or possible. There are various reasons for this, ranging from needing to push out bug fixes soon after a larger update to not having enough changes ready to go live in that two week timespan. With such a small team working on Wurm it can be difficult to get enough ready to go in that two week timespan to have something meaningful to show or have enough time to get sufficient testing completed.

 

Starting with this week’s update and going forward into the future, our development cycle will be changing a bit, meaning that the update cycle will change to match. The new goal will be moving from fortnightly-ish updates to a more predictable schedule of the last Thursday of each month - plus any necessary hotfixes in the week afterwards.

 

This should allow us more time between updates to better plan what new things are coming, flesh them out a bit more, and have sufficient time for internal (and public where appropriate) testing periods to nail everything down. It’ll also better allow for us to schedule and share information about upcoming updates and share tidbits of new things coming on the planned devstreams. This new planned schedule may not translate 1:1 to Wurm Unlimited in most cases, but we will be aiming for those to be a bit more consistent compared to the latest 1.9 update to WU.

 

Included in this change to the update cycle we’ll be changing our planning and development cycle to shift towards a more predictable pattern of larger content updates, currently planned for a few times a year. Because of this the primary monthly updates might be overall smaller going forward, but will still include things like bugfixes, tweaks/changes, and smaller content additions as appropriate. The larger updates will be planned around a theme and should include additions or changes to a variety of things in the game, as well as introducing new mechanics and things to do.

 

We hope this change going forward will put our development cycle back into a more predictable pattern, giving us a bit more time to get things right, and give everybody playing Wurm some clear knowledge on when new and exciting things are due into the game.

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Any chance we could get a roadmap? 

While the internal changed to the development cycle will surely help deliver cleaner content, we still don't know if anyone reads the suggestions sections of the forum. There are a lot of suggestions there supported by vast majority of the community but, since the beginning of time, those are not responded to by the staff. 

While i understand that devs can't spend all their time replying to those, it would be nice to know what is in the works and in what order is it planned to be implemented. Not to sound ignorant, for years the impression is that there is no plan at all and things are implemented ad-hoc (headbob?).

There were a lot of amazing updates over the last few years but very few of them were something players actually asked for.

I know we get the snippets and previews in Valrei International but they usually let us know about things nearly finished and a short time before they are live. Current theme seems like there is no actual roadmap or a plan of any kind but it's more of "let's wing it" which i hope is just a false impression.

 

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There is an internal roadmap that is constantly updated, but the issue we face is being such a small dev team, we wind up with plans changing as we go (see meditation, UI etc. Still in the works yet we often cop flak for them not being in). 

 

With the  changes to this system It will give us a better plan of what will be coming each month and will make sharing info in the news easier. 

 

Rest assured, there is a longer plan, headbobbing was approximately a few hours work done while we were improving animations and smoothing out movement. 

 

While we might not go through looking at every individual suggestion as they are posted, we do reference them often when working on projects in that area (see cooking ideas implemented while we worked on cooking). There are many great suggestions in the forums and I do spend time reviewing them and discussing them with the devs, some may find their way in the game eventually, but have patience! 

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In all fairness, but I think posting a roadmap won't be a good idea at all. It kinda forces the dev-team to complete certain upgrades at a certain  time and when they aren't able to because of running into multiple bugs, players posting  things like: "You folks said we had round corner and diagonal walls in April, it's December now and we still don't have them!"(ad 25 exclamation marks there). Which usually ends up with cross references to other topics where things were said to be introduced and postponed; eventually ending up with some commenting about how long it took before bridges were implemented. 🙄

 

However, leaving us with no information at all won't work either as that would even be a step back compared to the current situation.

 

So what might work, you wonder?

 

 

How about just informing us about the major changes the dev-team has in mind; but without posting a time frame? For instance: "This year we're trying to implement diagonal walls, boats rocking at the waves and some new trees for certain landscapes in this game. If all goes well with the diagonal walls, we will try  to add round corner walls as well."

By doing so the playerbase knows what to expect, the dev-team knows what they're working at and after each major update we all know we will get some bug fixes. There's always a risk that things won't be finished by the end of the year - for whatever reason - and I'm pretty sure there will be players complaining about having "only" three out of four major updates a year. But then, as I often have said when being in-game: "No matter what the dev-team does, whiners gonna whine." Hmmm, makes me wonder if the first major update for the game should be adding a bowl of nuts...... 🤔

 

Anyway, I think that by telling us what the plans for a year are, without adding when those plans will be finished in that year, combined with the already mentioned monthly updates and bugfixes may work well.

 

 

Thorin :) 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Budda said:

... (and public where appropriate) ...

 

Could you describe to me a situation where public testing would not be appropriate?

Because personally I fail to see a circumstance in which this would be the case.

This has been the downfall of nearly every game update within the past 5 years.

EVERYTHING should go through public testing. Period.

 

I'm aware that this doesn't always immediately solve the problem (look at the PvP changes that the PvP community is nearly unanimously asking to be rolled back) but extending the length of time under which these changes can be tested by your playerbase, in my eyes, could never possibly yield a negative result. (unless the changes are crap, but then you're going to get even more #### when you just dump it on us)

Edited by whereami

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47 minutes ago, Thorinoakshield said:

Anyway, I think that by telling us what the plans for a year are, without adding when those plans will be finished in that year, combined with the already mentioned monthly updates and bugfixes may work well.

 

We can't give a roadmap as there's no cartography skill yet 

 

21 minutes ago, whereami said:

 

Could you describe to me a situation where public testing would not be appropriate?

Because personally I fail to see a circumstance in which this would be the case.

This has been the downfall of nearly every game update within the past 5 years.

EVERYTHING should go through public testing. Period.

Absolutely everything goes through the publicly accessible test server.

 

The issue we face with organising public testing is work input vs turnout, the hours spent setting up testing scenarios to test major changes lead to minor turnout, for minor tweaks and bugfixes this would be even more time spent that staff members can achieve quickly. 

 

If you'd like to run around on the test server you're more than welcome to, and if you want to assist in replicating bugs reported there you can too. 

 

We'll keep the major updates as the period where we spend significant time preparing scenarios as they provide the best return on time invested, but if you have ideas on how you would like to help please pm me and we'll see if we can sort it out 

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8 hours ago, Budda said:

This new planned schedule may not translate 1:1 to Wurm Unlimited in most cases, but we will be aiming for those to be a bit more consistent compared to the latest 1.9 update to WU.

 

Is there any sort of update cycle planned for WU? I'm not too concerned about it from the aspect of 1:1. Just more advanced notice would be great from the beta stage to knowing a solid date when beta branch will go live rather than what we saw in 1.9 that seemed like, if someone pushes the button tonight, it'll be tonight. Not trying to come across critical, just curious if WU updates will be not only more consistent like what was stated, but more scheduled for the actual release if that makes sense.

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4 hours ago, Retrograde said:

We can't give a roadmap as there's no cartography skill yet

New skill confirmed. I will be awaiting this the next update, along with the badgers. Thanks. :)

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So, Will the Valrei International post also be only once every month or still every 2 weeks giving us teasers and community stuff?

I really like those posts.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Retrograde said:

We'll keep the major updates as the period where we spend significant time preparing scenarios as they provide the best return on time invested, but if you have ideas on how you would like to help please pm me and we'll see if we can sort it out 

 

I can understand your methodology in taking that approach, 100%. My only problem with it is that it doesn't seem like there is a whole lot of available information. How is the rest of the playerbase to know when these changes are on test, when we aren't even told? The last change that was testable before live, as far as I am aware, were the PvP priest changes.

 

I can think of a number of solutions to your problem, but before I offer them, let me back up a bit.

 

Early 2010, to 2011, I used to play on the test server regularly, reported bugs, yada yada. Then sometime in 2013 I cam on to find I had been BANNED from the test server, because apparently I was playing there too often. What??? To me it would seem you folks need as many tester as you can physically acquire.

 

You should take the approach that literally every other main production level game takes, and that is to have a freely playable test server where your players can attempt to live semi-normal (as much as possible) lives without being chastized for actually playing there. Create visual-only incentives which can be given out in the real game, to players whom help significantly with testing. Or if you're really too afraid to even do that, at least give those players additional powers to aid them in their ventures of testing on the test server only for crying out loud, so we don't have to /support for a GM and wait 6 to 8 hours every time we want to test a niche case. Test server population problem solved.

Edited by whereami

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As a long time player, I also feel very in the dark about what is currently being worked on.  Just seem like you are too afraid of failure.  I as a player don't care of you failing to develop a feature as long as you tell us what happened and why.  

For instance, if you were working on a new UI but suddenly you hit a roadblock that prevents you from completing the project, explain it in a Dev blog.  You might even get feedback from the community that might help you figure it out.  It honestly just doesn't feel like you trust the community that is left, even though they have kinda stuck with this game through a lot.

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2 hours ago, Mclavin said:

@BuddaMan, please, give us an update on Epic. ANYTHING.

This. As predicted, the epic to freedom transfers killed Epic. Now what?

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Posted (edited)

Can you add one more thing to your new development cycle, documentation of every single change and how it is supposed to affect the game?  Enough with the ninja changes.  

Edited by madnezz

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We do our best with documentation, exploits addressed are kept quiet for obvious reasons, but i think going into potential impacts on the wider game may be a little beyond us at the moment. 

 

As for not being able to right click drink from a well, I dont know, it works for me:

yIKV2UL.png

 

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Posted (edited)

Right cause it's definitely too much for us to ask you to at least tell us how you do and do not intend for a given system to function on release, so that we have a clear definition of what actually constitutes as an "exploit", and so that it can make you look bad when you attempt to change that definition on the fly. How could you even think such things Madnezz?

 

Quote

This. As predicted, the epic to freedom transfers killed Epic. Now what?

Epic pretty much committed suicide, with all the horrible changes the players themselves requested, as well as the general over-stimulus of a rather small economy. Bring in the recent PvP changes and yeah, that cluster may as well not even exist. Had nothing to do with Freedom though. That was a way for the devs to kindly give you an easy way out so you don't kick and scream about your losses on the forum as much. Doesn't seem to have worked in that regard.

 

Just like the failures of Challenge, its memory will be swept under the rug and forgotten. I know coming to terms may be hard, but we're all with you during the process. We're all gonna hear about it, anyways.

Edited by whereami

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Posted (edited)

Your manifestation of contempt for Epic and Epic players, in every topic is really boring.

Edited by Wilczan

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Didn't know I was here for your enjoyment; last time I checked it's always been for my own.

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On 4/27/2019 at 9:18 PM, Retrograde said:

We can't give a roadmap as there's no cartography skill yet 

 

Absolutely everything goes through the publicly accessible test server.

 

The issue we face with organising public testing is work input vs turnout, the hours spent setting up testing scenarios to test major changes lead to minor turnout, for minor tweaks and bugfixes this would be even more time spent that staff members can achieve quickly. 

 

If you'd like to run around on the test server you're more than welcome to, and if you want to assist in replicating bugs reported there you can too. 

 

We'll keep the major updates as the period where we spend significant time preparing scenarios as they provide the best return on time invested, but if you have ideas on how you would like to help please pm me and we'll see if we can sort it out 



the public testing can be as simple as a forum post in a testing section of the forums that states what changes where made to the test server
this will be enough for those who want to test to get on and test when they know what was added and when you do not need to setup testing scenarios you just gotta give the players the tools to create them as we will gladly sit there with all of us creating these places where we can test such new features

if you wipe the test server once in a while(no new map just restore to a previous state(say after its originally created)) say once every 6-12 months and just give people the means to test on their own you will get players to test and report bugs

you dont really need to put staff members onto the test server to get stuff done if you make a feature rich testing environment where people can test things out themselves

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A public statement isn't a binding contract. You can just say what you're planning and if it doesn't happen for a long time or ever, oh well. There were reasons it didn't happen. But at the very least, stating what you're aiming towards will remove the contempt from players and allow them to make goals in preparation for what comes next. If you announce something for epic, the people playing there will feel a lot better about spending their time on it. Some people might even come back for a bit in anticipation of the next update.

 

You don't need to set timelines or give release dates. You don't need to give specific details about what's planned or the technical specifications of how it will work. You don't even need to give an order about which will be completed first. All you need to do is simply tell everyone what the future of the game looks like.

 

I find it crazy how it's so hard to simply say what you're planning.

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All of this can be handled with a proper test server and it's comprehensive patch notes.  It will serve as both a testing ground and an announcement of future changes.  As the testing weeds out potential changes that don't work out the patch notes on the test server are updated, daily if necessary.  All problems solved, we know what to look forward to, we know why something is or is not going to be in the next patch and we know how it works.  Do you have the courage to do what other games have been doing for more than 20 years?

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whereami and madnezz are literally the chuckle brothers

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As stated in the OP part of the reason for these changes is to better have time before a release to give out information and testing periods for appropriate changes. There are a fair amount of things currently in the works, and there is a longer list that we're planning on for the near future, and an even longer list for what to do after that. 

 

Giving out all of those plans and ideas at such an early stage does nothing good in my opinion, we have years and years of instances we can reference back on where an idea or plan was shared well before it had been started in any meaningful way, and many of those instances lead to that project being delayed or outright dropped as other things popped up/took precedence - and that always leads to a ton of threads and questions about when X or Y is due because we announced it a year ago.

 

Plans change a lot and our team is _very_ small. A project may be started and not touched again for 6 months due to the person working on it not having sufficient time for it, or abandoned outright until years later when someone else feels they can do it justice. I would much rather announce what is coming when I can for sure say that it is coming in a reasonable timeframe instead of more promises of Soon™. This isn't a matter of "no information until two weeks beforehand", but more of "I don't want to promise this new thing when I haven't even started on it yet."

 

Echoing Retro, everything already goes through the test server. We have the immeasurably awesome Alectrys on there most days testing what is coming and confirming they work as intended, but as with anything sometimes things can slip through the gaps. We'll still be going forward with the public testing scenarios that we have in the past for larger changes and mechanic additions as that tends to do a lot for the stability of such large changes, but for 95% of the changes and updates we add Alectrys' testing is sufficient enough to the point where a couple of people who see a new set of upcoming notes and decide to test the one thing they're interested in isn't really going to add anything that we don't already have. That being said, I'm sure Alectrys would love the help of any dedicated people that are interested in helping out on the regular.

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