Netherwing Development Progress Update
The winter holidays are over and I hope everyone had a great time. The Cata team started the year with some great content and we have some news as well. I’m sure a lot of people have been waiting for the beta announcement for quite a while. We already know its start date, but since we need to prepare and organise a few things beforehand, the official announcement will be a part of a different news, hopefully within a couple of days (don’t worry, the date stays the same!). I do need to remind you, that it will be a closed beta at first. We wish to invite the more knowledgable members of the community to help us test and polish everything before we make the tests available to a larger audience. That doesn’t mean, however, that if you’re not a living TBC encyclopedia you shouldn’t apply – as long as you’re willing to help and are passionate about the expansion, we will definitely consider your application.
More details about the beta and the verification process will be presented in the official announcement news. As of now, we’re also opening an official Netherwing Discord server. Come say hi using this invite link. Being active there might just increase your chances of getting into the beta!
Now onto the cool stuff. We’ve been working basically non-stop on various things. You might be interested in the fact that the common „movement lag” visual bug (I’m not sure what the correct term was, „rubberbanding” perhaps?) has been dealt with. As you can see in the vid below, the movement of other players should no longer look as if they’re suffering occasional lag spikes (unless they really are).
It still requires a bit more testing and polish, but it already works miles better than before. As a side note, it’s a bit funny that this attempt at fixing it was successful, since it was completely spontaneous and only took me half a day. Third time’s the charm, I guess.
We slowed down with spell fixing lately as we needed to devote more time to other aspects of the game, but we’ll probably pick the pace up a bit before the beta. We will definitely need a few dedicated class testers to help us with some mechanics (especially hunters!), so be on the lookout for more details if you’re interested.
Our attention has now turned to the PvE and questing content. At the start of the project, we said that we’re going to focus mainly on TBC, with Vanilla content being regarded as low priority. While it remains true for raids and some dungeons (which we’re planning to rewrite after release), we’ve decided to make the leveling in Azeroth a special experience. We’ve added a lot of RP scenes and events, some of them may be familiar to you from a few other servers, while many of them you’re going to see for the very first time. As you might know, researching older content is often quite difficult. A lot of the sources are no longer available, and many things were never documented to begin with. To ensure we can find as much data as possible, we’ve began using comprehensive sheets to organize our work.
As you can see in the picture, we’ve created an excel sheet for every single zone in the game. Each of them contains a list of areas, quests, creatures, gameobjects, etc.. Each area has its own table as well, below the main list. Our testers have done a great job so far and were able to give us a lot of valuable feedback. Apart from obscure videos and unknown websites, we’ve also been looking at other sources of information, especially one particular book:
If you’re not familiar with it, Bestiary contains official data (spells, hp, damage, armor, etc.) of thousands of creatures, which we’ve been using to correct mobs (don’t worry, we know it doesn’t have prenerf values for TBC dungeons). We’ve also implemented creature vulnerability to specific spell schools, for example Tar elementals in Un’Goro take more damage from fire spells, as you might be able to decipher from the picture above. We’re really dedicated to delivering an amazing experience and we hope that you’ll notice all the details we’ve added once the server goes live.
You might have seen a few of our videos regarding NPC mechanics. We are focusing a lot on making sure that creatures behave properly. So far we’ve added features such as mob repositioning in combat (spreading around the target, adjusting distance towards target when he’s too close), proper reactive chasing/following and a special AI module, designed specifically to handle caster mobs, which includes a lot more than just the usual „chase target not in line of sight”. You can see some of the mechanics in the videos below:
Seeing as dynamic respawn systems seem to be getting more popular in the private server scene, I’ve decided to rework our previous one. Although it did function properly, it was much too simple and prone to error. I’ve spent some time researching how such a system functioned on retail and the results were quite interesting. So far, every dynamic respawn system I’ve seen on private servers worked in a similar way, by simply shortening an object’s respawn timer based on how many people are in an area/zone. It’s not a bad solution, but apart from its drawbacks it just isn’t how it worked on retail. Basically, certain mobs should be grouped together based on their location. Whenever you would kill a specific number of them, some of the dead ones would instantly respawn, ensuring that regardless of how many players are nearby (even when you’re alone!), there will always be enough of them for you to complete a quest for example. It’s worth noting that it only applies to specific objects in specific locations – it’s not as global as one would think, albeit there’s quite a lot of them. I like this solution very much, as it ensures that the pacing of respawns is always adjusted properly and players are not suffering from either having to wait for a long time or from getting overwhelmed by a constant stream of enemies. To implement this system, I’ve introduced an entirely new spawn system, assigning separate spawn managers to every object/group, which handle all the mechanics needed to make the system work. I’ve also added an entirely new dynamic pooling system. The server can now group specific objects by itself. We no longer have to add each spawn point of each object manually to a pool – it’s all done automatically and offers a few other options, that I will maybe mention in the future.
I do have to mention PvE. A lot of people have been worrying about the state of TBC dungeons, as we haven’t really talked about them. Those instances are an absolute highest priority to us. I will dedicate an entire update in the future to explain how we approach them and why I believe raiding on Netherwing will be an absolutely special experience. There have already been entire systems added and reworked to allow us to both recreate the dungeons properly and add the prenerf touch to them, and I already have ideas for a few more. Hopefully I will be able to share a bit more about it later.
That’s about it for now. It’s only a glimpse into what we’ve been working on. There’s A LOT more I would like to share (especially more videos), so be sure to stick around. Remember to join discord and don’t miss the beta announcement, coming very soon.