As Month of the Mad God is coming to an end, we can put a super busy period of the year behind us and take that opportunity to bring out this Producer Letter to talk about the past, current topics and of course the future. We try to keep you updated with our patch release notes and want to make sure we have an additional and more detailed form of communication with these letters. Reality has shown that we will only be able to commit to putting these out in a roughly quarterly cycle. We cherish your input and want to keep you informed on a regular basis.
For now, let’s dive into the present and where things stand. As always we tried to pick through this sub and other sources to find topics that need to be addressed.
Month of the Mad God 2018 in review
Month of the Mad God is a month full of expectations on all sides. This time around, we wanted to plan for some exciting new content while also improving last year’s event based on your feedback: a new class with new UTs and a new ST set, Moss tokens and bags, rewards cranked up, Stone and Mad God tokens rewarding a skin of choice (14 exclusive new skins!) instead of being RNG-based, a brand new event dungeon with exclusive UTs, a series of event quests, fame boxes with dungeon keys, Chest Events filled with exclusive content as well as a double drop rate event in the Realm. Although we know that we cannot please everyone and that things can always be improved, we did plan a lot of things and wanted to offer you a great experience this month. Seeing some of the mixed feedback, we are disappointed that we could not give all of you the blast you were waiting for.
Some of you had a lot of fun, got great loot and enjoyed playing. Others were disappointed by the lack of creativity, the repetitive events, the fame boxes being underwhelming, the lack of communication during the month, the lag, the Ample pack, and other things. Some of you even felt cheated by some of our promotions or events (Ogmur drop rates, End of Summer sales). This is what we want to address in this letter.
Chest Events, Drops, and Rates
As mentioned in one of our other producer letters, we won’t discuss drop rates in detail because there is just nothing to be gained. With every event, we get feedback of too high, too low, too easy, too hard, too lucky, not lucky enough. We try to get it right and while it is not possible to please everyone, we are continuously trying to improve the way we design events. In some cases, we failed to take into account dungeon complexity or rarity (e.g. Shatters after Shaitan) and sometimes also missed the opportunity to gather feedback from the testers or the community when we could have. We want to put in place better feedback loops and rethink our design methodology for Chest Events.
The more interesting discussion actually comes from the feedback that players are fed up with Chest Events or don’t like them to begin with. We understand and acknowledge that while also seeing our daily active user numbers increase significantly. This leads us to believe that the majority of players welcome the fact that they have a shot at getting more loot. However, we see the feedback and also agree that the behavior that these events generate is not ideal: people sitting in the Nexus instead of playing in the Realm and dragging them away from realm-cycles. We will look into alternatives and potential changes that can help mitigate those symptoms.
That does not mean Chest Events are the only thing we should and can offer. The feedback about the lack of creativity echoes here as well and we understand - and agree - that they are getting old and repetitive. We have experimented with Double-Boss events but the feedback was mixed and they did not engage people as much. Even the “Event White 2x Drop Event” did not have as much reach as we hoped for it in terms of player activity. Help us change that. We are also looking forward to receiving your suggestions on the kind of events you would like to see in the game.
It is legitimate to discuss the Ice Cave event. We decided to add it to spice things up and make the event more successful and rewarding by adding Shield of Ogmur. We want to give everyone a chance at getting rare items in the game, instead of locking that content up forever behind arbitrary legacy rules. We understand that some players are not happy with that decision. Even within the community, opinions on that topic diverge.
The part that deserves an apology is that we failed to give communication the proper priority. We were so focused on making everything happen that was planned for the month that we dropped the ball on that one. One specific example that enraged most of you being when we messed up the rates of the Ice Cave Chest Event - again - and realized that almost one Ogmur per run was dropping. Like during the Winter event, we had to take action and decided to reduce drop rates but still kept them around twice as high as they usually would be, which we thought was a good compromise. While we realized it quite fast, our worst oversight was surely to fail to communicate about it immediately as we promised we’d do. But just to be clear, it is not a bait and switch tactic. Moving forward, because an apology is not enough for a mistake that happened twice, we plan to take a hard look at our event QA process. Admittedly, statistics alone do not always provide the full picture, and we understand that people can feel justifiably burned when drop rates are changed without clear and immediate communication. We will be looking into various ways to ensure that communication will not fall by the wayside in situations like this.
Server Lag, rubber-banding and other disconnections
Latency and disconnections are always a hot topic, especially when the game gets a massive inflow of new and old players like it did this year again. We are thrilled to see the server selection screen turn orange while buckling up to our office chairs, looking at the monitoring dashboard with anxiety.
We often read feedback that we should upgrade our servers (i.e. get better hardware) and feel we need to clarify that it has little to do with the problem. The code and server architecture we inherited are the real bottleneck when it comes to overall performance. That being said, we have implemented many changes since we took over, mostly behind the scenes improvements, and will continue to refactor and improve performance as one of our top priorities. In the meantime, it is important to understand that opening dungeons on most crowded Nexus servers (e.g. USW2) and going in with 50+ other players definitely exacerbates the issue. We are not blaming it on you, you do what the game allows and should not be held responsible for doing so. However, simple steps can help while we find solutions: move into empty realms or transfer to the Nexus server with the lowest population when popping keys.
Unity Support campaign, Team size, and Project Update
We definitely want to give you guys more updates on the port project in the future.
Currently, we are in the final phases of putting together a campaign feature that will allow for donations to be made and grant players some unique gifts as an additional thank you. Of course, we are aware of voices asking “is it not enough that I buy stuff in your game to support you?” and the answer is: yes, it is, absolutely. We are happy about everybody who plays our game, grateful for everybody that is spending on it and it is completely legitimate to not donate to the Unity cause at all. We tried to hint at the fact that we essentially have to double our developer capacity in order to keep Flash development running while porting to Unity in parallel - anybody who wants to support this effort with extra gold donations will help us ensure the success of the project and is deserving of special praise.
Unlike rumors that are floating around, we don’t have one developer working part-time to support the game - we may be small but we are still a full team with several developers, people that own game development and design, people that run live operations including support and the general overhead that comes with being a company that has more than one game in their portfolio.
We also saw some comments about how easy and fast it should be to port this game to Unity. This is far from the truth if you are talking about a production-ready client, built to replicate the current game as close as possible and with a clean code being refactored regularly. While working on the rendering engine, the cornerstone of the whole project, we ran into many technical issues related to the way the original flash game was created. Let’s take, for example, the camera rotation and camera offset: both are considered by many of us as part of the gameplay and how the game should feel and play but they were not “game design” decisions when Wildshadow created the game. They were workarounds to the constraints of flash with camera management and assets rendering. While porting the game, and since we decided to port the “current” game to a new engine, we have to figure out a way to also port those and that generates a lot of new problems to solve for our dev team (which have already been solved for the most part, hurray!).
Basic Communication Backend / Client
Temp UI, Error Handling Manager, Popup manager
Display current assets and animations
Display tiles, 3D tiles/walls/connected walls/isometric view
Shaders (Outline, Glow, etc.)
XML files parsing
Refactoring rendering engine
Core loop implementation (monsters, shooting, dying, leveling/maxing characters)
New content, features and release pace
We have collected the feedback that we were not adding enough features fast enough to the game and instead just lazily hanging out making Chest Events instead.
Aside from our constant effort to provide fixes and quality of life upgrades, the features that we did publish took longer to develop, troubleshoot and polish than we had anticipated while others were discarded, frozen mid-development or deprioritized. We had a handful of additional plans for MotMG earlier in the year that unfortunately didn't pan out for one reason or another, resulting in some development time being spent without anything to show for it. This process takes a lot of time and effort and to the players, it can feel like nothing is happening.
We shared with you our roadmap for the year a few months ago. From that roadmap, we are happy that the improved friends' list and guild list, the new Pets UI and Pet Wardrobe, the new class and MotMG events were released. Other projects such as a Fame rework and Dungeon Rush are taking longer than expected as we constantly have to readjust our focus along the way, increasing or decreasing the scope based on the team’s capacity and feedback we collect.
Prioritizing is a complicated exercise and there is a ton of things that we want to do, that you want to have and that could be done in the game. Sometimes, we are also forced to make hard decisions - If we have a feature in development and realize that it will likely not properly serve the community nor us as a company then we need to do the rational thing and discard or freeze it to avoid wasting time we could spend on something that moves the game forward.
End of summer sale
Let’s also tackle the end of summer sale and get the fact out of the way that there was no intention of scamming anyone with the technical glitch that players were experiencing (requiring a complete reload of the game to see the updated packs). It was an actual bug that was not discovered in time and also was seemingly not happening to everyone. Additionally, we also got a good deal of flak ranging from scummy business practice to just sadness over not everybody being able to get a pack. Not quite what we had in mind.
We were thinking of a way that we could give a massive discount to close the craziest month of the year. We are a business and operating the game is what allows us to pay people, infrastructure and development, so we were not able to just throw out every item in unlimited quantities at huge discounts. We thought to make a few lucky people happy by using first-come, first-served instead of RNG, while also giving others some solid deals would be the way to go. It seems as if the very tight restrictions made the promotion go more toxic than expected. We will have to see if there is anything we can do to alleviate that pain in the future.
With Month of the Mad God winding down, we are taking the time to take stock, clean up our backlog and start fresh. In our next letter, we will be able to better outline the future roadmap for you.
We hope that this (very long) letter sheds some light on how we feel, as a company, about the way some of the things we did were perceived and that some of you felt let down during MotMG. We hope that you still enjoyed most of the events and got great loot. As usual, we want to make sure that you, the community, understands that we are in for the long run and that we deeply care about the feedback you give us.
We are looking forward to the future and excited about things to come but the challenges are big.
Patch Notes (End of Month of the Mad God):
Moss, Stone and Mad God Tokens no longer drop (except from Mad God Mayhem)
No more Leprechauns spawn in Godlands Dungeons
The Oryx Horde no longer terrorizes the lands
Player Gravestones are back to their normal appearance
Doom Bow is back in place of Bow of the Morning Star in the Undead Lair at normal drop rate
Demon Blade is back in place of Sword of Illumination in Abyss of Demons at normal drop rate
From this patch forward Summer Mystery Box Shards will no longer be added to mystery boxes
Event Quests (incl. Stone Quests, Mad God Quests, Solstice Quests and other MotMG quests) as well as quests for Summer Mystery Box Shards will remain active for an additional 2 weeks (until the 20th of September) to allow you to turn in remaining tokens for rewards
After that period, Stone, Mad God tokens and Summer Mystery Box Shards will be removed from the game
Mad God Mayhem Keys remain usable and the dungeon accessible
Moss Tokens and Moss Bags remain usable
What are your thoughts about the next steps that deca are looking forward to work on?