Dev Diary 12/02/21
As we start the new lunar year, I thought I’d offer a little update on the development process. This is not a feature announcement, more a little unedited dev diary insight into the week to week of the team.
As you may have seen, no lunar year events or challenges have been announced. We certainly want to keep running more single player challenges, but we’re also developing the features that allow us to sustainably run challenges, run multiple challenges and features that allow for relationships between different challenges. This includes using dynamically created items to function as those common prize cars do, detaching live content from car client updates.
When we release the new features, it is then we will run something for lunar new year. So it’s definitely towards the back end of the month. If it looks like we won’t be ready for then, then we may reformulate plans.
There’s a big part two to this challenge work to give us even more flexibility in the kinds of content we can run. That’s a little ways down the road, but will bring with it more options for more single player experiences.
Meanwhile, flexible criteria in events was tested by the team recently, though we’re not releasing this quite yet, as we want to ship the challenges content first. Also, we want to develop server side card pack delivery, which unlocks the power of the feature. E.g. If we have an event (or challenge) where you are challenged to use 5 cars made up from a shared pool of Swedish and British cars, it makes far more sense if you can actually get packs that offer cars from that same pool.
As in the past, we have plans to try different challenge formats. As part of supporting the new formats, there are a few interesting developments, characters are gone, tickets, now attempts, will restore daily all at once, and it is only after three stars that rewards are awarded and attempts deducted. Essentially we’re removing the punishment of failure and experimentation mirrored in other collection based games’ approaches. These other collection driven games have explored a lot more variation in the single player experience than we have and it’s now time to delve deep into the ideas we have here.
Meanwhile, the new darker, polished user interface is coming along well. This will likely be released in batches of screens, and we’ll look to a/b test some of this with new users to test our hypotheses of how effective they are.
Phase two of the new user interface is integrating all the user experience tweaks and features that make up a list of now hundreds of items. This will also be delivered in batches throughout (hopefully) this year. In time, I’d like to expand the team to take frequent steps forward in this, alongside our plans for major feature development.
The aims here are to add in improvements efficiently, and improve the early game flow. The UI design process is happening in parallel with these UX changes, so we can make sure new quality of life features are considered as part of the screen, rather than bolted on later.
So far, in the design stage, we’ve been bundling these user experience improvements by screen. With this screen by screen approach, we expect to see efficiencies in the future when we code and debug these screens. We’re likely to start with the main match screen, with a key improvement to the information on what stats are important for each challenge. Though it is not a trivial task. Similar to UI, we may roll out this to new users first, to test, and we may spend time iterating on the screen to improve it further.
We are scaling up our 3d production process for the new style of racing environment, and this is going well. Like the above features, this will be released in batches, likely to new users first. We’re reluctant to give an inconsistent experience, but there may be some benefit to getting some environments in game earlier. We are batching the environments by how much we use them to minimise any future disruption, e.g. our initial release of 3d environments is likely to include every challenge from the first UK campaign area.
We are also looking at options for the 3d models in game, to ensure they are improved along with the environments themselves.
There is a lot of work to be done here, so it’s going to take most of the year even with no disruption, and there is always disruption. But the real joy is the combination of the new UI, better UX, and a consistency between the UI and the new environments. This alignment will hopefully deliver on an experience greater than the sum of its parts, like TD evolving into a TD2, rather than us building a separate game.
Notably, the enhanced images in marketing works even without delivering them in game, so the hypothesis is we can improve marketing further by better delivering on the visuals from the ad. This is combined with all the other improvements I’ve detailed above.
We learned a lot of what is possible with great looking environments in F1 Manager, and this work is looking like many wanted TD to look like back in 2016/17.
I mention these things, not because they are all that is being developed, but just because I had a few things I wanted to share about progress on these specific areas of development. So, a note that not every developer update will mention every feature discussed in previous developer updates - and any discussion should be kept to this post, not questions about all those other features.
Edit: Numerous posts have been made about other features. Those are outside the purview of this particular thread. Keep those discussions to the previous dev posts that mentioned those features, or create new threads to discuss other features or bigger points you want to make. Not every dev post needs to cover every feature, it just becomes unwieldy and full of repeated information.