Epitaph Release and our Community

So, where are we? We are post-release now and our current patch number is 1.0.4. Phew. What a week and a half this has been. It’s been both exciting and draining. Exciting to see players actually experiencing our content, and draining because, well, things break. Unexpectedly.

I think everything is shaping up nicely now though. There are a few things of mine that I’m trying to brush up, but most of it is now well-oiled and back on track.

The first few days of our release yielded a good number of players, and a lot of them have stuck with us while we got release day mopped up. We had a pretty good reaction from people too. Overall, I am happy!

On the whole, many of the people who showed up for our big release were people who have been following us on and off for a while. I was hovering around release day making a few interviews of our players, and truthfully I didn’t make as many interviews as I wish. But I thank everyone who did get such an interview. One of the people I spoke with, April, said she has known of Epitaph for a about a year and has been playing on off during our beta. When it came to actual Epitaph content, she told me that “…. starving and having to gobble down any food you find right when you find it actually adds to the theme of the game but at the same time it’s a bit off-putting from a player perspective because you’re constantly getting reminders about something you have little control over”.

The hunger and thirst system is one of those things that can turn a person away from a game, and I understand that. I’ve played games, mostly MUDs, where there is a form of hunger and thirst and after a few novelty hours it gets old quick. But on Epitaph, which is a survival horror, it is part of the core game mechanic. It would hardly be a survival game if there wasn’t some sort of hunger and thirst, and that’s why we’ve done our best to make sure it’s practical and fun. As fun as eating food on a game can be.

Speaking of Epitaph release, a new feature that made its way into the Live game is the dynamic help from Maestro. You have to be careful when developing a text-based game to not actually give too much text, or at least not all at once. Some games bombard you with text when you first create a character in an attempt make you familiar with the game. But this simply does not work, and if I’m in the player’s shoes I’m disconnecting quicker than the text can come. Martinez, who has been with us for a while now, said “Maestro giving context-specific commentary seems to be useful sometimes.”. Sometimes indeed!

I think even in the last week and a half we’ve actually been able to improve the game quite a bit, and the game is really starting to settle into its foundations. Elorf, who was playing during our release, rated our release a 7 out of 10 (10 being the highest) – and that was just for our opening day. I think that is a pretty fair number, considering we had a core system rewritten only a couple of days before and we were even still working on it minutes before the game opened its doors.

Overall, most of the people were happy with the game, and still are. There were issues with people dying. A lot. But I attribute that to the difficulty setting of our game and that we aren’t a typical hack’n’slash zombie game. People are getting into the groove of how we roll, and everything is starting to stabilize.

I’m getting excited that many of the projects I was working on are now “complete”, and I say complete but they will probably always receive some sort of tweaking, but overall I consider them past projects, and while many of the future projects have already been started in some form, I can get out my power-drill and just start drilling into them. We have some pretty kick-ass things for the future, and honestly the release is only the beginning. We’re not lying when we say this.

  2 comments for “Epitaph Release and our Community

  1. donky
    August 29, 2013 at 1:55 am

    I logged in as a new player, and played for a while, and here are my thoughts for what they’re worth. Note that I’m not a MUD player usually, and more often develop, so make that the grain of salt.

    Firstly, I enjoyed playing up to the point I had to log off.

    There was too much text for me. I found the combination of Maestro, the room descriptions and anything else that came onto the screen hard to keep up with, when combined with the pressure of trying to figure out things before the zombies broke in.

    Maestro telling me things was confusing, especially combined with screenfulls of text. I reached the point where I am safe, and there were tonnes more messages on the screen. One of these was “Maestro tells you: …” I wondered who is maestro?

    There were some other things, but mentioning here wouldn’t help as much as going through and marking them as bugs, as they are vague recollections.

    That said, I believe all MUDs should have a maestro. And it’s possible that actual players can deal with all the text.

    • hugo
      August 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      I understand. It’s always difficult to try and make a system that is friendly to new people – I still think, even though it’s not perfect, that the dynamic help is a step in the right direction. You can actually turn it off with ‘options game suppress_dynamic_help = on’

      A newbie person probably isn’t going to know that though, but I think there’s actually a Maestro help that tells you ;P

      I guess the other things you mentioned are personal preferences as I don’t find the game has too much text. You can verbose a lot of the stuff, like descriptions, if you find there’s too much there.

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