Before I get to cut into the juicy bits of this post, we've decided that there's too much ambiguity and not enough oomph in the way we've been naming the two versions of KAG.
We've decided that "KAG" and "KAG Premium" are misleading names for the free and paid versions respectively. "KAG" as the free version and "KAG Premium" as the paid version suggests that the free version includes most or all of the content and that the premium version holds a few extra goodies and gives buffs in game or something.
As such, we've decided to dub the two versions "King Arthur's Gold: Classic" and "King Arthur's Gold" respectively. The classic game will preserve the older, faster paced and less polished roots of the game in the free to play package. This will serve as a demo for players who aren't sure if they want to buy the game yet. The full version of the game will contain expansive game-mode changes, more classes, items, mechanisms, zombies, and eventually a fully dynamic adventure-cross-fortress-cross-teamplay gaming feast.
For what it's worth, "KAG classic" is nearing completion and will be feature-locked shortly. The full version of the game is unlikely to be finished for quite a while.
We've made a fairly large decision about the direction we'd like to take the main full version game-mode in. If you're an advocate of TDM or CTF or any other fast-paced mode of play then please bear with me, as we'll still be supporting them. For those who want a longer, deeper play experience though (me me me me me) we've decided that we'd like to make each game into more of an adventure, with much more character attachment than players get in the current game.
We're going to do this by rolling out three things:
- An overworld - each team would set up a base on a randomly generated overworld map. Players could leave their fort to journey out into the world, fighting bands of raiders and wild animals, going spelunking in caves, and even penetrating undead kingdoms to slay necromancers. They could also naturally get a party of allies together to go and lay siege to the enemy's tower, or form a band of raiders and mug passers-by for their sweet, sweet coins. Each feature of the map would be a "map" in the current sense of the game, with players leaving the map by walking off the edges and entering each map from the overworld by walking into it.
- Character and team progression. Characters will start the game as a peon with nothing and no-one, unless invited to join the game as part of a friend's team. They'll be able to join and leave teams, as well as creating and naming their own civilisation and gathering their own followers. Over time through adventuring, building and much slaughter of zombies and enemy knaves, players will accumulate items and resources enabling them to progress down a potentially deep and complex class tree, becoming a feared juggernaut or a noble lancer.
- Persistence and permadeath - A player's character in a server will be persistent, meaning if you leave the game they'll still be around, you'll be able to come back the next day and adventure further. Conversely, if a character dies, all progress will be lost, all items dropped and all ties severed. This makes killing the king (or queen) of a nation a massive event as the whole hierarchy of that team would change, and the whole battle dynamic would be quite a lot more serious because of the massive penalty of death. Obviously we'll be making higher "level" characters take many more hits to kill than they do in KAG currently to make retreat from a battle a viable option for those that don't want to lose their characters. We fully understand how much anger permadeath would cause with the current quick and bloody battle system.
I should note that permadeath will be a serverside variable -> not all servers will feature it, and a player with no currently active character would still be able to spectate the world, so you don't miss the end of a war just because you died in it.
You'll also be able to make a new character if your old one dies (...though there might be a setting removing this option, a sort of "hardcore" mode) so that you can continue to participate.
Here's a rough concept of how the overworld might be presented:
(yes those are cavalry units in the background)
Obviously in-game it'll be made of sprites and potentially mode7'd into submission for a nostalgia kick for anyone who's played an old RPG. Something like this but 1024x768 and with a bunch of characters jogging around (this is a shot of Terrigama, copyright Enix 1995 for the SNES):
These changes will make the default mode of KAG play vaguely like an RPG (though we'd like to think of it more as an action adventure). Hopefully also it encourages playing with people you know and team-play in general. Each server will build up its own history of events and hopefully some epic stories will spring up from each game.
For those that aren't keen at all, there'll always be TDM and CTF for you :)
As a side note, this means we can have many, many more players per server without a stupidly high increase in bandwidth usage because the players in each map only need to know about the nearby players. Massive sieges with 64 units per side on one map would still lag as bad as ever, but considering not everyone playing a server would be playing at the same time (-> some characters would be sleeping) and players will usually be dispersed around the world, each additional player wouldn't double the bandwidth consumed, which is a start.
Whew, so that's that. I've left out some of the finer points (including "BUT WAHT ABUT GREFIERS!!1! D:< D:<") but if you post thoughts and concerns in the comments I'll endeavour to respond to as many as I can.
Next release is slated for ~2 weeks from now, possibly earlier, possibly later. The featurelist is uncertain at this point, more info coming when we have it.