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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
Little Things
By Robert Basler on 2019-07-12 14:37:47
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com

It's been over a month since I've blogged, mainly because I don't have any one big thing to talk about. So here are a bunch of the little things I've been working on.

Redeploy Forces

The tricky change this month was adding a main menu option to Redeploy Forces which allows the player to move their base to a new location. This is a shortcut for the log out, log in, relocate base dance players have done up until now - but it is much faster. I think I might disable this if the player is in combat.

[Redeploy Forces - back when it was Move Base.]

Emergency Supply Drop Crates

One of the problems with Miranda's design was that it was possible, however unlikely, that players could have their base destroyed and then after the game gave them a new construction yard and they set up a new base, they might not have enough inventory to build a way to get money, and not enough money to buy parts, or not have access to vendors, or not have enough sellable stuff to get enough money. Their force could be effectively broken.

[Emergency Supply Drop Crate - always keep a few on-hand!]

To try to address that possibility, I added the Emergency Supply Drop Crate which contains parts to build a refinery, a harvester, and a war factory as well as some money. The ESDC can't be sold, and can only be consumed if the player doesn't already have the parts or money it contains. The ESDC is a little pricey to replace, and also only tops up those parts, so if you have most of the parts, but not one, it will only give you the one you don't have. ESDC's are available from any vendor. Confident players can destroy the ESDC's in their inventory to free-up the inventory slot if they choose.

Attribute Crates

Attribute Crates complete the design for player Attributes within Miranda. Lucky players can find crates which grant one additional point to one of the nine attributes. 9 Attribute Crates can be redeemed for bonus points per-force.

[Luck Attribute Crate]

Inventory & Design Expansion Crates

With the new Inventory screen, I could finally add a long-planned feature: Inventory and Design slot expansion crates. These crates each come in 10, 15 and 20 slot versions. Using a 10 slot Design Expansion Crate will add ten slots to the unit design screen. Using a 15 slot Inventory Expansion Crate will add fifteen slots to the Inventory screen.

[Large Design Expansion Crate.]

It is important to note that only four Design Expansion Crates can be redeemed on a force, so if the player uses four 10 slot expansions they will get 40 extra design slots but no more. If a player uses four 20 slot expansions they will get 80 extra design slots but no more. 20 slot expansions will be less likely to drop as loot than the 10 slot expansions. Inventory Expansion Crates have the same 4 per-force limit.

At some point the plan is for additional Inventory and Design expansion crates to be available for purchase.

Level Cap

Originally Miranda didn't have a level cap. While the player didn't get any more Perks after level 80, they could still collect Refundable Attribute Points to change their build if they chose. I was reading a design article a couple weeks ago and it emphasized how important it is for players to have specific goals to reach, which seemed more important than extra Refundable Attribute Points, so I added the level cap at 80.

Server Performance and Efficiency

While I was working on The Fallen, I accidentally allowed their force to grow to over 2,500 units. The Fallen works just like a regular player, so this was like having 20 players doing things simultaneously. This showed up some parts of the server that were slower than they needed to be. I spent a whole week starting the server, waiting a few seconds for something to take too long, then trying to figure out how to make whatever-it-was faster. I did that a LOT of times. I still have some more work to do on that.

While I was working on making the server faster I noticed that the data being sent to the client about each unit was much larger than it needed to be. Miranda makes a lot of effort to make the amount of information that needs to be sent to the client about each unit as small as possible - a typical unit was around 525 bits. When you are dealing in bit sizes, it is really easy to be careless. I discovered that the game was sending 129 bits it didn't need to with every unit, and then I found a place where I could send about 30 bits less than I was. The result is shorter load times and more frequent unit updates during battles which are both good things.

Customer Service Tool

Another handy improvement for me this month was that I finally started on a tool for Customer Service. As Miranda's database became more and more encrypted in order to comply with GDPR and Canada's privacy laws, poking around in there by hand to help people who forgot their password or wanted to change their email has become more and more difficult. I still have more to add to it, but at least I have a place to put those additions now.

[Customer Service Tool - only slightly censored.]

Some other changes include:

  • Reduced loot crate lifetime from 15 minutes to 5 - so don't leave them laying around too long on the battlefield.
  • Many more stats are now visible to help players compare items.
  • Units can no longer attack and destroy themselves.
  • Achievements are now accessed through the toolbar, rather than via the main menu.

[Loot crates should sparkle!]

Enjoy Summer!

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