Hey all, we had a thread rolling on the old message boards explaining what we’re doing, and what needs to be done and any ETA that could be given.
We are going to start that thread here and give you all a little insight into what we’re doing, and open the floor to suggestions regarding our development choices and direction.
First off, lets address the elephant in the room…
Currently the netcode in NC is a mess. @Wizard has been working on fixing this and in turn this became a massive project. When people think of the netcode they think of one thing, player positioning. This is only a very very small part of the netcode as a whole. Let me expand on what the netcode involves…
- Player Positioning
- Server <-> Client Communications
- Authentication Authentication
- Chat System
- Gameserver Services
- Anti-Cheat Services
- Packet Transmission and Validation
- Damage, Health, and other calculations
- NPC Movements and Actions
- World Effects and Actions
- Launcher authentication and patching
To say or assume that the netcode is a small simple project would be wrong. We started with looking at Player Positioning and found that the code surrounding it was unstable. Packet transmission was spotty at best and validation that the packets made it to their destination was nonexistent. Wizard began to change this and improve upon it and found that the old authentication system was also spotty at best, and convoluted beyond belief. After looking at Authentication, we found that the Chat system was its own whole part of the netcode and needed a rewrite and improvements for stability and security. Once that was looked into and improved upon, we found that damage, healing, and other calculations were in jeopardy of not being accurate or at times laggy (Health jump). When that was looked at as a whole, it was found that other parts tied into it and the choice was made to rewrite everything. Literally everything about how the client and server communicate.
Finding a free library was hard, we needed one that we did not have to release the source of and one that we could implement without license fees. Once this was found we had to rewrite the entire service layer to use the new code, and then rewrite each part of the NC services.
Wizard is only one person, and has been working on this on and off for years. We have been implementing the new bits and pieces of the netcode (New launcher, patching method, version hashing, anti-cheat) without really announcing that we have released a netcode update. I know that people have been demanding the netcode be released but in its current state we cannot release it all at once. We are working on it and will continue to implement changes that Wizard has written when the changes are done and tested and ready for public release.
I hope that this clears up some of the cloud around the netcode project, and that it is not just simply player positioning.
World & Content Changes
I’m sure most of you have noticed that we have been changing zones, adding new areas and improving the overall look of Neocron. We choose to do this to appeal to the new generation of gamers who are used to seeing 4k textures, realistic effects and lifelike graphics. While we are aware that we will not be able to compete with Unreal or Unity graphics, we can at least enhance and improve the graphics we currently have. The engine is more than capable of utilizing 2k and 4k textures, dynamic lighting and more. We will be adding and improving where we can while trying to keep that classic Neocron feel. Some people may not agree with our world changes, but most have been made to fix exploits or to help make sense of an area. Military Base is a great example of an area that just did not make sense that we decided to fix and improve upon. The old Military Base had the entrance broken apart from the main section of the base, and this was done mainly because of engine and networking limitations when the game was created. We will be joining sectors together more over time and improving upon their looks to make them more cyberpunk, and flow better.
@Atlas is the current lead World Developer and is in charge of making these decisions. I worked together with him on the Aggie Cellars and then turned him loose on Military Base. He has proven that he can make decisions that are in the best interest of the game and game world, while not straying too far from the original design of sectors. Our next project will be Tech Haven so stay tuned for that!
Here is another touchy subject…balance. We have already started making code changes and implementing and fixing things that were currently in code in regards to balance. The first big change we made was improving how Resists work on characters, and enabling code that was already there for armor by zone. You can read about these changes in the #news:patches category under the consolidated patch notes thread. We have been cleaning up the odd resist curve, and have shared the exact numbers with the community so you can make new setups based on real life numbers, and not a guestimation of numbers.
We plan on addressing more balance once we have reliable damage and healing results between Client <-> Server so that we don’t run into health bounce issues or ghost damage.
Plans are in development to add items to help bridge leveling gaps, and also adding new leveling areas so that you have a wide range of options when it comes to leveling spots and weapons available to you to level characters. We want to get away from the cookie cutter leveling that is currently in place.
Qucickly addressing Drones here… we do have plans to bring Drones back. Position Updates need to be smoother, and drones need an overall balance to make them viable, but also not the ONLY option for Spies and PEs to level Dex. Right now the fastest way to level Dex is to spec Droner and use an RK Drone until your eyes bleed. We want to fix this so that you can level with Pistols, Rifles, or Drones all the same.
Keeping it Classic
We want to keep this version of Neocron grounded in its classic roots. The
Neocron Evolution 2.2 patch introduced a VERY heavy handed wide range of changes that people either loved or hated. They took and changed every single part of the game, a small example is the balance they tried to apply on PSI Monks. Reticle on APU spells, breaking Shelter into 2 spells, changing how heals work and other things were some pretty heavy handed changes. Lots of people quit the game after these changes came along. We have no interest in making these types of changes and will instead balance around the current system of no reticle APU spells, Single Shelter spell, and fast healing spells.
We have plans to open only one part of the Dome of York but will keep the rest of the dome closed. We have tossed around the idea of making the Dome of York a playable faction that you can switch to in game, and opening up Anarchy Breed as a playable faction also. If I recall correctly the French NC server allowed you to play as Anarchy Breed.
We started with the assets and configuration of Neocron 1 PL200 when we began this project, and have been making small adjustments and improvements upon this. Many times we have had players tell us it is wrong, however their example of what is right was things introduced in
Neocron Evolution 2.2. Please keep in mind that we have the original source of Neocron 1, and the source we have based our version of Neocron off of is Neocron 2.1, before the 2.2 changes. We have rolled back as much as possible to Neocron 1 and used the files in the Neocron 1 PL200 patch as a base. This is the way Neocron was when you played it in NC1. Lots of vets remember this play style. We will continue building from this point and hope to produce a game that will be enjoyable, classic, and improved all at the same time.
Enhancements & QOL
Have you guys seen that nifty Drop All button? How about the RPOS Scaling? Or even the Buy/Sell stack on vendors? That was just a few of the few QOL changes we made to make things in Neocron easier. We have plans to add more QOL changes and enhancements over time. A short list of things that will be enhanced…
- Character Selection & Creation
- Inventory Management
- Item Transfer between Runners
Our goal is to improve and simplify these items, while not taking away from the classic feel. We will introduce our ideas and changes at a later date and create threads for you to view the changes, and give your input.
What is the ETA on Retail?
Honestly, the best thing I can say is “When it is done”. I know everybody hates hearing that, and it has been said a lot, but we cannot rush these things. The best thing we have going for us is not being under a deadline. We choose to open up the server and involve the community in the development for good reasons, and in turn we have got the following out of it…
- Zodiac came from the community and did RPOS scaling and put our map tools into order
- Hyperion came from the community and rescaled ALL of the Decals in the world. Every single sign you see he redid.
- Camarogue came from the community and gave us 4k textures and some engine improvements
- Gnisha came from the community and helped to straighten out content, missions, and took over the Wiki
- Atlas came from the community and produced beautiful maps and fixed many bugs in many NC maps.
- Veldren came from the community to offer assistance with the web design side of things and lend a hand in Content Design
Without us going public when we did, we would not have any of these people. It would still be myself, Therenall and Wizard just doing this in our free time. Of course, these people also give us a portion of their free time and we appreciate it immensely.
tl;dr: We have no ETA. It will hit retail when we feel it is ready to hit retail. When we get closer we will post a retail milestone for the public to see.
This project is maintained by a group of volunteers who give parts of their free time to the project. None of us are paid, and we pay for server costs, hosting, and any license fees associated with the Neocron Service out of pocket. At times we will take time off of the project to focus on our careers or personal lives but we always return to the project. We can only ask that people stay on task, we cannot demand it. I know that development has been spotty at times but we have kept the servers going to the best of our abilities, and without donations as of the last year. We will continue to develop and support the project as long as there is interest in the game and none of us die off from old age.
I hope that this post has cleared up a lot of things going on with the NCC Project. I’m leaving this thread open to comments, questions and concerns. Please note that we will be keeping this thread as clean as possible and trolling will be met with a warning and or ban.