Updates to mtrek.com: Discuss!

Written by  on February 3, 2015 

It’s been a trying couple of days with the latest server issues… And Now, I’m once again confident in the stability of this server and I’m ready to press with the changes alluded to in some of the more recent posts and conversations I’ve had with other players in the game.

Before I go into specifics, I’ll lay out the flow of events for this series of updates:

  1. First, the server will go into a “beta” mode of sorts
  2. I’ll take a snapshot of the server today. At any point during, or at the end of this beta period, the server can be reset to the way it is right now- right down to the little period at the end of this sentence.
  3. I’ll update the docs to reflect the updates & I’ll start rolling out patches
  4. Beta-testing will commence. Bugs and severe game and ship balance issues will be hot-fixed
  5. After all of the big issues are ironed out, we’ll put the game and ships under a microscope to refine balance
  6. Beta-testing will continue a little while longer to catch anything that might have been missed
  7. Any collateral damage assessed during the beta will be corrected. I’ll explain if the need arises
  8. Beta will be declared over and (based on your feedback) hopefully, we won’t be restoring back to today.. *fingers crossed*

I’ve already written and mostly finalized the patches. They simply need to be brought online and tested. I’ve also written an update to the official documentation, which will be posted shortly. (and for the first time in history, the docs will be posted before the patches)

I understand all of this might be alarming. It’s already been said, “keep this garbage on mtrek.pro and leave mtrek.com alone!” Well… for the past six months on mtrek.pro, I’ve been doing precisely that. It has been a testbed for concepts and ideas to take the game forward. To take this game forward. The past 3 months of mtrek.pro has seen the implementation of many radical concepts in game design and balance. For starters, there’s the crazy map and then there’s 50+ shiptypes, some with wildly overpowered specs and weird elements. (like ultra-low visibility, kleenex shields, and 14 photon tubes) Most of these ships were simply design concepts. Most weren’t built or altered to represent any “final product” for mtrek.com, but rather to see how a single particular element or combination of elements might work together in actual gameplay. Examples could be the “warp-12 galaxy” or the keldon/neghvar/dkora with low visibility factors instead of cloak. The kuhlu was there to test the low-limits and put warp/impulse energy into perspective with a variety of warp-costs. There are many more examples, but for brevity’s sake, I can’t go into each one right here. (I am a bit of a geek though, and will happily discuss the .pro ships at length with anyone who might be interested) The crazy map is fun to play, but there are really only a few details I’d like to adopt here on mtrek.com. (Cardassia!) And now before I get too far off track, I’ll beak down a-

Summary of Changes:

High Score reset

I’ve already gone into great detail explaining the reasons why we should not reset the high scores. To sum it up: We have all invested tons of hours into this game. Our ships and stats are a reflection of this fact. It could be argued that altering ship specs will warrant a reset, and I would agree if the alterations reach the point where apples are being compared to oranges. But with this set of patches, all of the apples will still be apples. (perhaps some of the apples will be shinier, but nonetheless they will still be apples) And if any doubt remains, remember that there is a Date/Time stamp on every ship from the day it was launched.

Overall look and feel

This will remain mostly unchanged. The big difference will be in the fact that only the 14 “core” ship classes, a-n, (II-A thru Warbird) will be available as brand new ships. Everything else will require an upgrade. I’ll go deeper into that in the “Ship Balance and Upgrades” section below. Also, the map will see some changes. But as I’ve said, the overall look and “feel” will remain true to the classic game.

Ship Balance and Upgrades

The reason for limiting the new-ship screen to the 14 core classes is three-fold. First and foremost, this is being done to add some depth to the game. Henceforth, you’ll know that if you want to fly a “premium” ship, you’ll have to work for it. Also, when another player sees you flying around in one of those premium ships, they’ll know just how hard you’ve worked to get it. The next reason is simplicity for new players. They won’t be overwhelmed by the number of choices, and they will be encouraged to work towards a goal by focusing on just one or 2 classes until they are capable enough to buy one of the upgrades. The final reason, is that returning old players might be put-off by seeing so many unfamiliar “newfangled” classes the first time they log in.

The new ship-balance formula is very simple. The “core-14” will be bone stock- basically as they were in the years from around 1996 until this mtrek.com server was started in 2012. That means no more mines for the 120/180, and the plethora of shield/hull/recharge/gold tweaks etc- that have taken place here over the last 2.5 years will be reversed. All of the upgrade classes will be familiar to most of you, and most of them will be familiar to all. That is to say, The upgrades will consist mostly of jtrek-era and pre-1995 era ships.

The big change, is that upgrades will now be bonafide upgrades. For the classes that need it, specs will be boosted a little to justify the 10,000 gold price tag on owning one. Upgrades will all receive a special gold-earning rate to help recoup the price of purchase. Each upgrade is only obtainable by trading-in a specific ship, and each of the “core-14” has an upgrade. It is worth mentioning that the upgrades that do see spec-improvements, won’t be so overpowered as to render the core-14 ships obsolete or unplayable by even new players. For specifics, see the updated player’s guide (as soon as I get it loaded)

In light of the new upgrade cycle, I still see no compelling reason to reset the scores. For most of the pre-patch ships that didn’t have to pay 10K to exist, they earned their current gold at the “standard rate” and when compared to post-patch ships, they did so with slightly weaker specs. Post-patch ships will be more powerful and earn more gold from launch, so everything neatly balances out. Note: all pre and post-patch ships will be given the same updated specs to avoid confusion.

The Map

The biggest map change, is that Cardassia, Ferenginar, Praxis, and Bajor will be moved to Alpha. Additionally, the wormhole will be moved next to “Deep Space 9” (The sb formerly-known-as “SB-9”) “Klinzhai” will be renamed “Kronos”, and the Ursus cluster will be split up and redistributed throughout the map. All of the familiar planets and objects will remain in their normal places. The observer devices are being removed. There will be a couple of letter-changes, but only in the interest of keeping things intuitive. Oh, and Beta/Omega quads are being removed.

Bots

The bot AI will remain mostly unchanged. You might have noticed that some of the “glitchy” bot classes have already been turned off. (cloakers, to be specific) They will remain off for however long it takes to code a solution that allows them to cloak and fight somewhat competently.

Timeline:

I could go live with everything all at once, but in the interest of saving time on the bug-checking/fixing step, I will introduce packages one-at-a-time, vetting each as it comes up. Doing so will be a tremendous help when it comes to nailing down whichever line of code caused such and such bug. So with the clock starting right now, I estimate that the packages will be installed within the next 24-48 hours and the first round of beta testing will begin. If all goes smoothly, we could “stick a fork in it” as soon as Tuesday, Feb 10th but really, it should be done no later than Friday, Feb 13th.

Stay tuned, and comment below!

obit