Dev Note #20

Dev Notes #20 – Mission System

Hunting Mission System
Since the Entropia Universe mission system was introduced in VU 10.8.0, there have been continuous updates to the system to increase usability, improve features and expand into new areas of gameplay.

With the original introduction of the mission system, there were only five missions available; this number has grown over the years to more than 4000 missions currently available in Entropia Universe. In this Dev Notes article we’d like to inform you of our plans for the most significant overhaul of the mission system to date, which is planned for release in the third quarter (Q3) of 2019.

Planet Calypso will be the first planet to introduce the new mission system. The other Planet Partners will transition to the new system soon afterwards, once any issues are resolved and any necessary tweaks and adjustments are implemented.
Main Features

  • Hunting within a team or participating in a Shared Loot event will now reward all contributing participants relevant progression in their missions based on relative contribution (whether the contribution is made by damage dealing, healing, or scanning).
  • Missions requiring kills of a specific creature will automatically begin whenever a qualifying creature is killed, removing the need to first interact with an NPC or mission terminal.
  • Once a mission stage is completed, an interface will appear with reward(s). The next mission stage will automatically begin, even if you decide to choose rewards for the preceding stage at a later time.

Bestiary
The Bestiary is where you will find all relevant information regarding your avatar’s current progression in Hunting Challenge missions.
Implementation
As this is a completely new system that will replace the current mission system, progress in existing missions unfortunately cannot be carried over into the new system. Therefore, we are taking this opportunity to give all participants an alert to the upcoming changes several months in advance so that they have time to complete any active missions.

There will also be a grace period where both the new and old systems will work in tandem, during which time kills on qualifying creatures will result in progress on both the old and new versions of the Hunting Challenge missions. This grace period will extend approximately one month from the implementation of the new mission system.

Example
You have the current “Iron Atrox IV” mission active. After the implementation of the new mission system, for each kill of a qualifying Atrox creature, you will receive progress on the new Atrox Hunting Challenge mission as well as on the legacy “Iron Atrox IV” mission. If you fulfill the requirements for the Iron Atrox IV mission during the grace period, you will receive the usual reward, but you will not be able to begin the legacy Iron Atrox V mission. Instead, you will automatically receive the next stage of the (new system) Atrox Hunting Challenge mission.
When the one month grace period has elapsed, all missions from the old system will be disabled for all participants. Progress will no longer be possible for the deprecated missions, and uncompleted missions will not provide any rewards.

There will be a similar grace period of one month from the implementation of the new mission system for Planet Partners. More info and specific dates will be provided as the Planet Partner implementation draws nearer.

Dev Note #19

Dev Notes #19 – Item Dropping Changes

The recent VU 15.18.0 release notes included the following:

It is now only possible to drop items in your own estates

This change sparked a lot of discussion in community channels, along with much speculation (some of it wild yet entertaining) as to the reasons for the change.

The main purpose of removing the ability of dropping items on the ground in “public” places was to improve performance. Having a large number of low-value items scattered across busy servers was negatively impacting performance for everyone on the server. On some busy servers the effect of “item art” and random litter was very detrimental to performance.

Another concern was security, since we receive quite a few support cases each month where participants (especially new ones) inadvertently drop items on the ground (despite the warning dialog).

We are of course open to creating exceptions for special cases where placing items in the universe is desirable and unlikely to be abused, and we welcome your feedback.

Dev Note #18

Developer Notes #18 – Volatility Improvements

Based on the data gathered from the volatility test conducted last month and discussed in Developer Notes #16 and #17, our balancing team has decided on a set of new permanent settings that will be implemented over the next several days.

These changes will affect manufacturing and mining activity as follows:

Manufacturing
Overall volatility will be reduced, while the overall success rate will be increased by approximately 5 percentage points. Based on feedback, the range of Near Success outcomes will include larger outcomes than during last month’s test, to ensure that it is possible to recover a wider range of blueprint ingredients when a Near Success happens.

Mining
Overall volatility will be reduced, mainly by implementing a smoother distribution of the various claim sizes. In addition, the value of the smallest possible claims has been increased slightly.

 

***NOTE*** Please keep in mind that these are macro-level changes to the manufacturing and mining systems and thus the results or experiences for individual avatars and/or for small sample sizes may not be immediately noticeable. Also note that the overall (macro-level) expected return for these systems will be unaffected.

Dev Note #17

Developer Notes #17 – Volatility Test Completed

The recent success rate & volatility test announced in Developer Notes #16 has now been completed. The balancing team has gathered a large amount of usage and economic data during the test, which will be analyzed over the coming days.

The initial analysis of the data is very promising with regard to increased success rates and overall volume of activity. We plan to fully implement a version of the settings used during the test period, with additional tweaks, in the near future.

Thanks for your patience and activity during the test period.

Dev Note #16

Developer Notes #16 – Buff Improvements & More

A quick update on some of the adjustments and improvements that are currently in progress.

Buff Improvements
We are currently working on further adjustments to buff stacking logic which will address issues related to heal over time, buff renewal, unintended buff stacking, and more. One of the priorities of this effort is to restore previous functionality of healing tools with over-time effects.

The current plan is to refine and test these improvements over the next 10-14 days and implement them in a patch soon thereafter.

Success Rate / Volatility Improvements
Starting within the next couple of days, and planned to last for 7-14 days, our balancing team will be testing adjustments to the manufacturing and mining systems.

Manufacturing
Overall volatility will be reduced during the testing period, while the overall chance of success will be increased slightly. In addition, Near Success outcomes will return more of the initial input.

Mining
Overall volatility will be reduced during the testing period, by increasing the size of the smallest possible claims.

***NOTE*** Please keep in mind that these tests will incorporate macro-level changes to the manufacturing and mining systems and thus the results or experiences for individual avatars and/or for small sample sizes may not differ significantly from current settings. Also note that the overall (macro-level) expected return for these systems will be unaffected.

Team / Shared Hunting Loot Distribution
Our team is also investigating the distribution of hunting loot for teams and shared loot scenarios, with an eye toward implementing a more equitable, balanced, and engaging distribution of both stackable and non-stackable loot. We expect the improvements from this investigation to be implemented within the next 1-2 months, after a full review and testing phase are completed.

Looter Professions
Continuing with the improvements implemented in Loot 2.0, our design team is finalizing the details of an exciting new group of professions focused on specialized hunting loot acquisition. Three new professions will be added: Animal Looter, Mutant Looter and Robot Looter, along with several associated new skills (including unique unlockable skills for each profession). We expect the new professions to be implemented during the spring.

Dev Note #15

In the latest release of Entropia Universe (15.15.7) a persistent issue related to lag and connectivity that had affected an increasing number of Entropia players was resolved.

The Entropia community reported their experience of lag in support cases and on community forums. These reports helped our developers to pinpoint the causes of the problem within the many layers of IT-technology that constitutes the core of the Entropia Universe platform.

What makes Entropia stand out among other MMOs are, among many other things, the highly secure Real Cash Economy and its borderless server architecture that provides a seamless and immersive virtual universe. Events such as economic transactions should be visible to all affected participants instantaneously, no matter where they are located within Entropia Universe.

For players within visible range of each other even more information needs to be shared. This includes the smallest things such as avatar movement, clothing or armor equipped by avatars or the firing of weapons. Some events such as creature attacks will also include calculations of varying complexity within various systems.

All game events that occur between Entropia Universe clients around the world and the Entropia Universe data centers are securely transmitted over the internet. To achieve a smooth and reliable Entropia Universe experience, all components in the client-internet connection-server chain must themselves perform smoothly and reliably.

When an unexpected and intermittent behavior such as lag begins to occur, developers need to examine when and where it started and then work to isolate the possible causes of the problem. In a complex environment such as Entropia Universe there are many layers of software that can be involved. Further, a number of services provided by 3rd parties such as Internet Service Providers can also be part of the experienced problem.

As both our datacenter engineers and developers worked through the layers of the infrastructure and software that could be contributing to the lag problem of the past few months, a number of issues were addressed in patches during the final months of 2017. We also measured the effect of those patches and received valuable feedback from community polls and support channels.

After weeks of hard work the developers found that changes to certain underlying parts of the server software dramatically decreased the incidence and severity of lag experiences. Extensive testing of the new software was performed over Christmas and New Years, and on January 5, 2018 a patch was ready for release.

The developers want to express their gratitude to all players who reported valuable information about their experience of the lag situation. While all at MindArk are dedicated to continually improving the Entropia Universe experience in the years to come the feedback from the people behind the avatars that essentially are the Entropia community are simply priceless.

If you still encounter lag-related issues please review the System Requirementsand make sure that your computer and internet equipment have the latest updates. A router restart can also sometimes help with problems on your local network.

The Entropia Universe support team are always available at https://account.entropiauniverse.com/support-faq/contact/ if you need any further assistance or want to report an issue.

Dev Note #14

Developer Notes #14 – Loot 2.0 Update

One of MindArk’s primary long-term goals is to make Entropia Universe as affordable and entertaining as possible for all participants. Toward that end, MindArk is continually experimenting with various adjustments to in-game systems, with an eye toward lowering cost to play while maintaining a reasonable level of revenue that enables continued development and marketing of Entropia Universe.

Reductions in Cost to Play
On September 11th, we initiated a temporary test in which the MindArk fee for hunting was lowered significantly. In the long term, we hope that a lower MindArk fee will result in increased overall activity and new participant retention, and thereby compensate for the lower short-term revenue. We plan to continue experimenting with these revenue settings in the near future to gather more data.

Early data show positive results from those experiments:

  • Hunters with turnover of more than 50000 PED since Sept. 11 have enjoyed returns of 98.6% on average.
  • Hunters with turnover between 10000 and 50000 PED since Sept. 11 have enjoyed returns of 97.05% on average.
  • Accounts created in 2017 have enjoyed returns of 96.94% on average since the changes implemented on Sept. 11.

As noted in a previous Developer Notes, Loot 2.0 drastically lowered the costs for armor decay and healing, which we can now confirm has led to a substantial increase in the usage of those mechanics. This is an example of the type of positive changes we are hoping to identify and implement in other systems: changes that benefit participants (in terms of lower cost to play) as well as MindArk’s revenue, resulting in a better overall gameplay experience and growth of Entropia Universe.

Loot Distribution Changes
As many participants have already noticed, changes have recently been made to hunting loot distribution, specifically regarding loot volatility and loot sizes. The overall net hunting return was not affected by these changes, but rather the frequency and size of various loot outcomes as a means of promoting more interesting and exciting loot outcomes and removing some of the more frustrating outcomes that were previously possible (especially on larger creatures).

Effects of Critical Hits/Damage on Loot
Finally, we have noticed several misconceptions in recent community discussions regarding Critical Hits that we would like to clarify. Critical Hits do not have a direct impact on loot value calculations per se. Since loot is now based on the actual cost to kill a creature in Loot 2.0, dealing more damage via critical hits (or by having higher damage per pec) does result in smaller loot events for a given creature, but this effect is directly proportional to the lower cost to kill and allows more creatures to be killed (i.e. more loot events) for a given amount of PED spent. Also, the composition of loot improves in such cases and results in a lower proportion of Shrapnel in loot. In other words, the use of items or consumables that provide increased Critical Hit Chance or Critical Damage can never have a negative effect on loot returns.

Dev Note #13

http://www.entropiauniverse.com/bulletin/buzz/2017/07/14/Developer-Notes–13—Loot-2.0-Statistics.xml

 

Developer Notes #13 – Loot 2.0 Statistics

The MindArk design team has been closely monitoring the impact of Loot 2.0, recently implemented in Version Update 15.15. We have also been following the many interesting and valuable discussions on community forums and thought it would be helpful to those discussions to share some hunting return statistics.

  • Net return for all hunting activity since VU 15.15: 94.71%
  • Net return for hunters cycling at least 100,000 PED since VU 15.15: 97.29%
  • Net return for hunters cycling at least 10,000 PED since VU 15.15: 94.79%
  • Net return for accounts created in 2017, cycling at least 100 PED since VU 15.15: 94.87%
  • Net return for accounts created in 2017: 93.47%

These return rates are very close to MindArk’s targets for Loot 2.0, and indicate that the changes implemented are working as intended. Of course, we will continue to monitor, tweak and improve moving forward.

Happy hunting!

Dev Note #14

http://www.entropiauniverse.com/bulletin/buzz/2017/09/27/Developer-Notes–14—Loot-2.0-Update.xml

Developer Notes #14 – Loot 2.0 Update

One of MindArk’s primary long-term goals is to make Entropia Universe as affordable and entertaining as possible for all participants. Toward that end, MindArk is continually experimenting with various adjustments to in-game systems, with an eye toward lowering cost to play while maintaining a reasonable level of revenue that enables continued development and marketing of Entropia Universe.

Reductions in Cost to Play
On September 11th, we initiated a temporary test in which the MindArk fee for hunting was lowered significantly. In the long term, we hope that a lower MindArk fee will result in increased overall activity and new participant retention, and thereby compensate for the lower short-term revenue. We plan to continue experimenting with these revenue settings in the near future to gather more data.

Early data show positive results from those experiments:

  • Hunters with turnover of more than 50000 PED since Sept. 11 have enjoyed returns of 98.6% on average.
  • Hunters with turnover between 10000 and 50000 PED since Sept. 11 have enjoyed returns of 97.05% on average.
  • Accounts created in 2017 have enjoyed returns of 96.94% on average since the changes implemented on Sept. 11.

As noted in a previous Developer Notes, Loot 2.0 drastically lowered the costs for armor decay and healing, which we can now confirm has led to a substantial increase in the usage of those mechanics. This is an example of the type of positive changes we are hoping to identify and implement in other systems: changes that benefit participants (in terms of lower cost to play) as well as MindArk’s revenue, resulting in a better overall gameplay experience and growth of Entropia Universe.

Loot Distribution Changes
As many participants have already noticed, changes have recently been made to hunting loot distribution, specifically regarding loot volatility and loot sizes. The overall net hunting return was not affected by these changes, but rather the frequency and size of various loot outcomes as a means of promoting more interesting and exciting loot outcomes and removing some of the more frustrating outcomes that were previously possible (especially on larger creatures).

Effects of Critical Hits/Damage on Loot
Finally, we have noticed several misconceptions in recent community discussions regarding Critical Hits that we would like to clarify. Critical Hits do not have a direct impact on loot value calculations per se. Since loot is now based on the actual cost to kill a creature in Loot 2.0, dealing more damage via critical hits (or by having higher damage per pec) does result in smaller loot events for a given creature, but this effect is directly proportional to the lower cost to kill and allows more creatures to be killed (i.e. more loot events) for a given amount of PED spent. Also, the composition of loot improves in such cases and results in a lower proportion of Shrapnel in loot. In other words, the use of items or consumables that provide increased Critical Hit Chance or Critical Damage can never have a negative effect on loot returns.

Dev Note #12 Follow Up

Developer Notes #12 – Loot 2.0 Follow-Up

This installment of Developer Notes attempts to clear up some of the questions and misconceptions related to the Version Update 15.15.0 – Loot 2.0.

Economy Parameter (soon to be renamed Efficiency)

One of the most misunderstood features of Loot 2.0 was the introduction of the Economy parameter and its effect on loot calculations. Based on feedback received via support cases and our monitoring of forum discussions, it appears that one cause of confusion is the use of the term ‘Economy’ for this parameter. As such, the Economy parameter will be renamed to Efficiency in the upcoming patch, which more accurately captures the effect of this parameter. Also in the upcoming patch, the tooltip text for the Efficiency parameter will be changed to the following:

Efficiency indicates the cost-effectiveness of a weapon (or weapon attachment) in creating damage. Efficiency values range from 1-100, and higher values indicate better efficiency. Efficiency is an inherent property of an item, and thus is not affected by avatar skills. Weapons that have scopes, lasers or amplifiers attached will display a modified Efficiency value (in orange).

A few additional points about Efficiency parameter will hopefully clear up many of the questions and dispel some of the more common misconceptions that we have noticed:

  • The Efficiency parameter is not affected by avatar skills.
  • The largest components by far in loot value calculations are costs, such as weapon deterioration, ammo consumption, armor deterioration, healing costs, etc.
  • The Efficiency parameter is a relatively small component in loot calculations (no more than 7% of total loot value).
  • The displayed Efficiency parameter for a given weapon does not correspond to expected overall loot return.

Optimal Loot

Another feature of Loot 2.0 that has sparked lots of discussion and speculation is Optimal Loot.

It is important to note that Optimal Loot only affects loot composition (what you loot), not the loot value (how much you loot). There is no Optimal Loot penalty for hunting creatures that are well below your avatar’s level; in fact most such kills will meet the requirements for Optimal Loot composition.

To best achieve Optimal Loot:

  • Be sure to have the Hit Ability and Damage profession requirements maxed (10.0/10.0) on the weapon your avatar is using.
  • Avoid over-amping (using a weapon amplifier that adds more than 50% of the maximum damage of the weapon to which it is equipped).
  • Minimize healing costs and the need to interrupt damage dealing to heal.

In general, the lower the cost to kill a creature, the higher the proportion of loot composition will be Optimal Loot. There is no inherent  “kill timer” for each creature; Optimal Loot is calculated based on costs, not on time.

Crafting, Resources and Economy

MindArk is working on restructuring and streamlining the item situation in Entropia Universe. This involves many changes to the crafting system and loot distribution, with the goal of reducing the number of components, resources and similar items in the universe, to ensure that the majority of items have a place within the economy.

The balance between looted and crafted items, along with items from other sources such as events, competitions, strongboxes, etc., will be improved to strike a better balance.

New blueprints will use existing components and resources as much as possible to sustain a thriving and interdependent economy between crafting, mining and hunting.