Hello, Levelheads! Prepare your jackets for a BIG PATCH. This patch is largely focused around a new editor tool, a smidgeon of bug fixes, and quality of life updates. Let's get right into it!
The BIG ONE for patch 0.65 is MULTISELECT. This gives you the ability to select rather large chunks of items or backgrounds in the Editor, and then do stuff with them!
We wanted to make sure the Multiselect tool was as flexible as possible. To that end, you can select non-contiguous spaces. You can select any shape you want, and you can cut chunks out of the selection you've made!
Oh, and it works in multiplayer, too.
Once you have something selected, you can delete it...
Move it somewhere else...
Or even copy and paste it!
Or, if you want to get really weird, you can use multiselected backgrounds to punch holes in environment tiles. Why? I don't know! Make an abstract maze or something!
Note: This gif is not sped up.
Multiselect has been on our board as a desired feature since day 1, and we've always looked at it as a feature that's required before we fully launch Levelhead into 1.0. We knew that it was going to take weeks of refactoring in the Editor, UX testing, interface updates, and optimizations to make it possible, so it always kind of slipped down the list of to-dos. But we finally took the time to get it done, and I think you will agree, it was worth the work.
Editor quality of life!
We've also added some nice little quality of life features to the editor. For advanced users, we added an optional Grid Ruler that you can now enable in the Editor settings. This ruler lets you see the grid coordinates of any position in the level, so never again will you have to ask: "Is this the middle of the level?" Oh, and you can use it to measure stuff!
We've also done a full rebuild of the Path Editor system back-end. With the way the Path Editor was previously constructed, it was its own thing, which meant that editing paths and items had to be done separately. Well, I'm happy to say that after the rebuild, that is no longer the case!
Now, you can grab a path node and have the item that's locked to the node come with it! Oooooh!
Now that the Path Editor has been rebuilt, it should be far easier to make updates to it in the future... which is nice.
Exposure Bucks: THE EXPERIMENTS BEGIN!
The Marketing Department has been a big success in terms of giving players a powerful mechanism to ensure that they get their levels played. People play levels to earn Exposure Bucks, which they can then use to boost their own levels up the charts (until they graduate). It creates a pretty cool and straightforward "market of play," which has worked out fantastically.
Now, we want to see what more we can do with this system. For starters, we're going to remove the Exposure Bucks cap. Before now, you could only accumulate 10,000 exposure bucks at a time, which represents roughly 3 hours of playing other people's levels, give or take. Our original thinking was that we wanted to push people to spend their exposure bucks and not hoard them, and having a cap means you have to put those exposure bucks into something before you can get any more.
However, getting to the front page of the Marketing Department may demand 20,000 or 30,000 exposure bucks (at the moment). Having a cap of 10,000 means that, even if you "save up" and dunk them all into your level when you first publish it, your next move is to now go back into the marketing department and play a bunch more. In other words, you can't "batch" your activities very well, because of the cap. What if you want to play levels Monday through Friday after work, and use your weekends for building? The cap prevents you from doing that effectively.
So we're removing the cap. Now you can save up as many exposure bucks as you want! This lets you publish your level with the amount of exposure bucks you would like it to have, right out of the gate. However, we are still keeping the maximum per-tip amount at 10,000 (for now), because we feel this is a nice break point for tip decisions, and it will also save players from accidentally spending a jillion exposure bucks all at once.
Lifting the cap also introduces some new, interesting questions. Questions like, "What if you could get exposure bucks in other ways?" For example, what if, when your level graduated, you got a little kickback of Exposure Bucks to put toward your next level? What if you got a little pile of exposure bucks for completing the day's Tower Trial?
When we had the cap in place, we couldn't consider these kinds of features, because if someone was capped out, we just couldn't give them any more exposure bucks. Now, we have the option to look into these other methods. SO WE JUST MIGHT!
Patch Cycle Updates
Let's talk about PROJECT MANAGEMENT!
Over the past 8 months we've experimented with a variety of patching schedules. Weekly, bi-weekly, tri-weekly, and... penta-weekly? We've learned a lot from each of these timetables, and each one has its pros and cons. Going forward, though, we don't want to use ANY of these. At least, not consistently. Because the answer to the question, "How long does it take to develop a patch?" Can only be answered by a followup question: "What's in the patch?"
Some features need 4 weeks of development, while others need 4 hours. We've found that setting a specific timeline on our patching schedule is a bit weird, and forces us to change our development priorities just to "get something out" by a specific deadline.
When we were on a weekly schedule, we would routinely start work on a big feature for a day or two, then drop it to "cram in" some stuff on Monday and Tuesday, so we would have something to deliver on Wednesday. Then, we'd pick up the big feature for another day or two, and drop it again. This "pick up and drop" approach makes it take much longer to get a feature done, makes it more likely the feature will get abandoned, and makes it more likely that we end up with errors.
On the other hand, a one-week patch cycle is perfect if all we want to do is introduce a couple lightweight features, quality of life improvements, bug fixes, or visual updates.
So, going forward, we're going to be doing things a little more... ad-hoc. Our development priorities right now are to finalize the feature set of the game that we want to have before launch, in an order that makes sense. Some of those features might take some time, while others are quite small.
So instead of setting a specific, repeating patch cycle, we will be treating Wednesdays as potential patch days every week, but we'll only release a patch on a given week if it makes sense to do so, given the state of the game that week. If a feature needs another week, we'll give it another week. Having said that, our goal is to get patches out as frequently as possible, provided they have been tested and are stable.
If we don't have a patch to deploy in a given week, we'll instead post a developer blog that talks about what we're working on, and give a sense of how long that might take, so you won't be in the dark!
So... when is the next patch? It might be next Wednesday! Or it might not. Either way, you'll hear from us in a week!
Our priorities right now are reorienting toward finalizing the game's features to get ready for the 1.0 patch. With that, we have an actual roadmap of the things that need to happen to get us there! Here it is, as we know it.
- Finalize console-specific features and technical requirements.
- Finish final features and content of the campaign (which will be revealed at 1.0)
- Build an in-game UI to look at your Rumpus Perks (achievements).
- Update our moderation tools to prepare for the large volume of players post-launch.
- Review and finalize the new player experience.
- Update the mobile version of Levelhead to ensure the experience is top quality and matches player expectations.
- Add a CREDITS PAGE!
- Launch? (Question mark because some other things might still have to come first).
Those are just the game features, but as you might imagine, there are also a lot of business things to do behind the scenes. We're pretty pumped to be able to count the remaining features on TWO HANDS, though each of these things is pretty big, so the timeline is still up in the air. We'll have more progress reports as time passes.
Want to see the TINIEST DETAILS of today's patch notes? CHECK IT OUT BELOW!
See the full patchnotes.