- Added a co-op mode, including a new main quest for it.
- Implemented new Lane battle system to keep damage output steady between 1v1 and 4v4 battles as well as updated monsters to cope with it.
- Created all new co-op classes designed around playing specific roles.
- Switched to new class system where players choose only one class that progresses across the entire game, instead of mixing 3 classes.
- Limited party movement to be roughly comparable to a single player, randomized turn order for each round.
- A multitude of functionality improvements (Sharing shop access with party members, expanded battle ability lists, displaying possible enemy attack types, monster encounters scale to party size, monster transformation/spawning, controlling more than one character on a single computer, etc)
Early results seem to indicate testers being largely positive about the changes so far. In particular engagement seems to be higher in co-op due to the fact that every player gets to participate in every battle most of the time, and every map turn is directly related to them (so there are few opportunities to wander off and lose focus while waiting for your turn). Some small issues with the rock-paper-scissors system being harder to follow with 8 characters being involved (and not so important that you will die by ignoring it), and potential power issues with debuffs given the current battle speed. Nothing to act on until further testing, though.
On my part I’m worried that the game length is possibly way longer than an hour in co-op and may need to be trimmed down further (Either by reducing the number of battles or the progression length). But this, too, requires further testing to be sure.
At this point combat is about as good as it’s going to get. To help out PVP I’ll probably add a limited number of quest objectives that force cooperation (as well as PVP), to make sure it doesn’t stagnate with just 1v1. I have a number of 1v1 enhancing features for the lane system (slot traps/effects etc) I’d like to implement, but they won’t be a priority for the time being since there are bigger issues. Likewise allowing players to control monsters may add a degree of “always playing the game” to PVP as well, but just isn’t high enough priority to add any time soon.
The remaining Big Problem is simply getting the map game up to snuff. The new monster den system sets up a reasonable foundation, but I need to put meat on those bones already. My long-established guideline for it has been “the map should play like a dungeon” and that’s basically the angle I intend on build on though I don’t have any solid plans for it yet. In addition to the map itself, I want to finally implement player abilities that interact with the map (place down healing stations, put up traps for other players, warp themselves around the map, etc allows for interesting classes and more interesting map play).
I still want to get the fiddly RPG bits (more interesting equipment choices, more customization class progression, etc) to be more satisfying as well, but the map comes first. It may also turn out that these fiddly bits end up being part of the map as well.
Aside from that I also need to get PVP operating again since the co-op changes pretty much broke it. I mostly just need to rebuild the PVP classes to work in a single class system, but there are a few other improvements to the basic PVP formula that I want to add (mostly just killing other players to clear monster dens). Getting PVP up and running again will likely be the background task I work on while designing how the new map needs to work.
As you can tell by this laundry list, finalization certainly isn’t happening by year’s end. But I also don’t think it’s unattainable by February or March, as long as improving the map doesn’t require too drastic of changes. At any rate, I’m just glad that the game is visibly improving with each update.