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[OND] A Message From Brian McRae - Osiris Mission Status 11.30

Fenix Fire

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Hello space pioneers! It's been a little over a month since we launched Osiris: New Dawn and we couldn't be more thrilled by your excitement and feedback over our little passion project. In the past six weeks we have grown the team from 2 to 10 experienced dev bad asses, pushed over 8 updates, reworked the server backend three times, and listened and replied to as many forum posts as our waking eyes can handle! After all, the primary reason we took Osiris into Early Access is to hear from you how we can make it better, and we're giving her all we've got!


There's a lot I want to fill you in on and since I respect your knowledge of game design I intend to speak to you as I would any member of my team and not water anything down. There's three Phases I want to discuss, so without further explanation let's get into meat of it! (didn't mean to offend if you're a vegan, or vegetarian, or just don't like hurting animals in any physical or meta physical way).


Phase One has been solidifying the core gameplay and cleaning up the multiplayer and persistent data systems. We started by adding dramatic performance optimizations to multiplayer by culling dynamic objects such as players, aliens, droids, structures, and vehicles using a systematic proximity based region system. This optimization along with a host of shader and lighting refinements improved our frame rate from 2-3 FPS to 45-60 FPS even with a planet full of players on a relatively modern machine (Nvidia 970). A great side effect of these optimizations has allowed us to increase the number of players per planet and number of structures per planet! Further developments will theoretically allow for no hard limits in players or structures but for now we are using these limits to protect performance.


It's not exactly "sexy" but we've also done a lot of work on the persistent data system. Hitting the top spot on Steam completely took us by surprise and we had no way to test the huge amount of pinging on the persistent server. This was totally our fault. We relied far too heavily on our web calls returning good data every time without any redundancy or time out functions. We learned our lesson and have since beefed up our server substantially while also solidifying the code in case we get partial or missing data from the server. Our next step is to ramp up the server system even further by using a cloud based infrastructure that would allow us to go from hundreds of operations per second to potentially tens of thousands per second. Basically, we won't stop until the data system is as flawless as possible.


To expand further on player data and save game issues, we have been adding structure degradation systems to naturally erode structures and utilities in the game. We do this for a couple of reasons: first, it allows for an increase in performance if abandoned structures naturally erode and disappear over time. Secondly, this is actually realistic in a simulation sense while freeing up performance from abandoned structures.


There’s also the very real threat of other players destroying your structures and utilities as is the nature of PVP modes. In these cases, we are sorely lacking any kind of feedback to you on what happened to your base. We are implementing destroyed versions which will free up the buildable space so that other players can build in that area but also allow you a window of time to repair your structure. There will obviously be some rule balancing of the how we handle this system but our goal is to clearly illustrate to you the condition of your structures, utilities, droids, inventory, etc., at all times so there is no confusion. It could also add to the gameplay and base defense strategy.



Other aspects that are potentially damaging the save game system is good old-fashioned player hacking. Unfortunately there appear to be malicious players that are hacking the server calls and tampering with your data. Our next step on this front is to drastically increase our encryption protocols to hopefully eliminate this.


Finally, some of the issues may be due to server wipes. If you happen to have not read the forums it may appear to you that we pushed an update proclaiming to “fix” the saving only for you to find out that all your stuff is gone, due to our planned server wipe. Currently we don’t have anything in game warning you of data wipes or migration which is terrible and something we’re working on right now. As the game expands and features are added much of the database calls become outdated or need to be updated, requiring the need for a server wipe or migration. One solution is to conduct weekly server maintenance at a scheduled time to replace the harshness of server wipes with ample warning before each maintenance. With luck, our goal is to have as few server wipes unless it's absolutely unavoidable.


Getting back to the gameplay, we took a hard look at the core loop of resource gathering and made some subtle changes. The definition of a chore is to do a mundane task without any strategy or skill required, which is why chores are so "boring." Some would even argue that the definition of boring is lack of surprise and/or conflict, so we wanted to attack these assumptions head on. In Osiris you might see an aluminum rock, you run to the rock, break it, pick up the broken parts and return it to your base area, having only your limited ability to run as the only true obstacle. There's a lot wrong with this and we decided to play with this gameplay loop from a design standpoint. First, we added the element of surprise by using carefully controlled randomized drops when mining. After playing a bit you should be able to spot a pattern and get a sense of what each rock might yield, yet be randomly surprised. We also removed the task of manually picking up each rock fragment since there was not enough strategy involved. Instead, we automatically add mined minerals directly to your inventory. Only bonus and rare mineral drops, both new systems, require a manual pickup since they are generally of high value and creates an interesting sense of urgency if also facing a hostile alien or player. These bonuses and rare drops add that little bit of mystery and randomness that was sorely missing in our first attempt at mining. We also made the aliens a bit more intelligent; they can hear you mining if they're close enough and see you if you're in their line of sight, which adds a whole new immersive layer of strategy.


Meanwhile, we've grown the team substantially from just myself and Manny to a core team of 6, with two external teams helping in everything from art creation to camera collision bring the total to 9- 12 devs working on Osiris any given day. The core team worked on Osiris in the very early stages of development over two years ago but we couldn't keep everyone on with our limited budget which forced us down to our team of two at launch. Thanks to your support and the early success of Osiris I can't even express how awesome it's been to get the band back together! It's like old times and everyone knows the project and each other, making this staff ramp up the smoothest I've ever managed in my 16 years in the industry! My philosophy is to lead leaders, and each guy on the Osiris team is a true rock star. Every member on the Osiris team has multiple years of industry experience working at or for AAA studios like Blizzard, Midway, EA, Sony, and more making the Osiris Dev Team one of the best in the industry, especially for our small size.


With the team in place we've been hard at work designing and creating the start of what I am calling Phase 2 - Contentpalooza. We're making early game stuff like melee weapon crafting, base defenses, solar energy grids, and navigational aids. We're making mid game material like the player Class System, Proficiency System, Automated Systems, Droid/Vehicle/Spaceship crafting, and unlockable knowledge blueprints. We're also making late game material like space station modules, bioengineering, and satellite systems. Above all, we're been working on the astronomy systems: creating more planets and the ability to space travel between them. I can't wait to drop the pile of goodies we've been brewing! The first of many huge drops will be ready in just a few of weeks.



As we move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, we will be getting far deeper into the lore of the Osiris universe. So far, and we know it's not yet apparent, the game occurs on a moon named Proteus 2 of Gliese 581B which we named "Theseus Prime". We want Osiris to be a "hard science fiction" game and have found that what actually scientifically exists in space is far more interesting and bizarre than anything we could invent, so we're basing all the planets and solar systems from scientific fact and using this information as a kick off point for life form biology. You'll learn about early UNE missions to the Gliese 581 system (we're actually working with the astrophysicists who discovered the real Gliese 581 solar system) along with what's happened back on Earth and in our solar system. You'll learn more about the Outlanders and their rise to power. You'll continue to discover more and more as we go further and further into the creation of Osiris: New Dawn.


Our ultimate grand vision is to allow multiple paths to become a planet-faring player or colony in a persistent open universe, AKA Phase 3. Naturally, we're building the game one planet at a time, and we feel we still don't have the first one right just yet, but that's why we're working with you in Early Access. There's tons more I want to share with you but I'll save the rest for next time. For now, I invite you to jump in (or jump in again if it's been a while) and tell us how we're doing.


Captain's Log - Earth, November 30th 2016

McRae - out


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