Das Tal - PvP Sandbox MMORPG
21
Jul
Development Roadmap Post Alpha #1

Yesterday we ran our first playtest since moving over from our Combat Prototype (made in LÖVE/NodeJS) to our proper new code base (Unity/Photon). It was pretty amazing to see you guys have so much fun already in the tiny, feature-deprived build we gave you. If you could not be part of the test, check out the recordings and streams listed in the forums.

Today we’ve spent our morning collecting feedback and planning our next steps. We’ve decided to move to a more frequent release schedule (probably bi-weekly) and to add a staging environment and a mandatory QA phase to our release pipeline to ensure that the upcoming builds are properly tested and low on bugs.

We’ve also decided to re-order our development roadmap a little bit. Here’s an overview - this is of course subject to change and very general the further we look into the future.

Short-term:

  • improve server performance
  • improve collision to be more detailed
  • fix all known bugs
  • finish environment assets
  • improve central logging & tracking

Mid-term:

  • re-introduce prototype features: damage feedback, server-side view angle, foot steps, bushes, targeting UI, skill-recast ui
  • implement 3rd party tool for account management
  • bring back prototype audio
  • implement new skill system & more skills incl. angular selectors and self-targeting
  • particle effects for skills
  • design and implement a proper user interface
  • more armor & weapon tiers (visuals only)

Longer-term

  • mobs & base AI
  • player stats
  • player progression (XP, skills)
  • equipment
  • proper game audio & music

  • world editor
  • new (bigger) world map

  • cities
  • resources
  • crafting

We’ll keep you update on our progress in this blog and through regular patch notes. Subscribe via RSS to get the new posts delivered to your inbox. 

20
Jul
Today’s Alpha Test!

Throwing up some awesome info that Alex put together for the playtests. If you have been accepted or hope to join in some of the future playtests, check this out! Remember that we have a lot of useful info on our brand new landing page also.

First Wave of Keys Deactivated
As promised: If you got a key on Monday and have not used it yet then the key has now been deactivated. But don’t despair: We’ll send out new keys for the next test. This does not affect anyone who got their key in a later stage, of course.

CCU Cap: Only 20 players will be allowed in each game
We have a very small map for this first test and a very unoptimized server. So we’ll play it save and we’ll only admit 20 players to each round. We have a lot more activated accounts than that so to those who don’t make it into the game at first: sorry for the inconvenience. We’ll definitely run multiple rounds so that everybody will get a chance to play eventually. And of course there will be more play tests in the coming weeks and months. Biggers ones. Much bigger ones

Download the latest client now
In order to not have to waste our time during the test patching we’ve just released the final game client. Please run the patcher as soon as possible - the file size is about 200 MB. If the patcher fails to work, here’s the direct link to download the client only.

Teamspeak Server
We will announce important information in-game via text popups but the best communication channel will be our Teamspeak server. So please download the Teamspeak 3 client and join us before 5 PM on our Server at trinsic.fairydist.com.

Read the Readme: Controls, Skills, Rules & Map
We have compiled a short readme page on our web site that has all the information you need to play. The key bindings for this test are fixed (this will change later) and they are on the site. You’ll also find the details about our 12 temporary skills (two for each weapon and armor set), the rules for this “siege fight light” and the world map.

Bug Reports and Feedback
Should you encounter any bugs (quite likely) then please do either post about them in our feedback forums or send them to support@fairydist.com

Streams, Recordings & Screenshots
You are allowed - even encouraged - to record and document all gameplay. There is no NDA. We only ask you to post your screenshots, videos or streams in our forums so we can look at them and share them with the rest of the community.

Feedback Appreciated!
Dave is setting up a feedback form so you can give us structured feedback. Please take the time after the test and write down your answers to his questions so we can make the game better. 

14
Jul
Alpha Tests Have Arrived! A War for the Valley is Brewing!

Hello everyone, and welcome finally to the leadup week to the very first July playtest! It’s now official: The first playtest in the new game will take place on the upcoming Sunday, the 20th of July at 5 PM CET. 

The first batch of testers will be receiving an email today to let them know they have been accepted and pointing them in the right direction for downloads and account setup. Signing up via our alpha form is still worthwhile, as it will put you down to receive further information on the game and let you know when the next tests are happening.

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We have set up a landing page for the test which will have all crucial information that anyone could need for learning about our alpha test phase or keeping up to date. It includes the storyline I have been working on accompanied by some great new artwork by Michail, a test schedule and a readme to get people into the game itself (accepted testers that is of course). All of this will be expanded upon as we enter the testing and more information becomes available/relevant.

We are also trying to setup youtuber events for the test period, so that we can have some peronalities you may know join us in Das Tal for some fun and get some footage up for everyone to see. I am obviously contacting youtubers myself, but if you have some favourites of your own feel free to let them know and invite them along.

That is about all, less than a week from now on the 20th we will have our first playtest, and following that we should have some tasty new content, so I am looking forward to putting that together to show everyone.

- David

25
Jun
Alpha Test 7x Over-Subscribed! And: The Last Tinker Give-Away!

Hey everybody,

Alex here. I had a good day yesterday, with a ton of people signing up for our first alpha test. We’re actually about 7x oversubscribed right now and I expect this number to rise a lot until we actually get to send out test invitations. So I wanted to give those who will have to wait a little longer a small goodie. Here it is:


Send an email with the name of The Last TInker's protagonist to tinkalicious@fairydist.com and win one Steam Key for the game. The rules for this amazing raffle are simple:

  • Everybody who can use e-mail can participate. I don’t care how old you are or in which country you reside.
  • You enter the raffle if you send me the correct name until this friday (July 27th) at 4 PM CET.
  • If there are two or more mails with correct answers we’ll assign numbers to you and let the random generator decide on the winner.
  • The winner will get contacted by a reply to their mail containing the key.
  • We won’t sign you up for any newsletters or anything. That’s your job, you lazy bastard! You know where to find the sign-up link.
  • Oh we’re of course legally obliged that this amazing raffle is being organized by our own Fairytale Distillery UG (haftungsbeschränkt) - learn more about us in our Impressum.

In other news:

We haven’t yet announced how we’ll decide our testers for the upcoming playtest next month. But if you do seriously awesome shit such as dissecting our game for half an hour on your YouTube channel then you can be sure that this will greatly increase your chances.

PS: Hello to everybody who signed up for the Alpha test from Russia and Poland. You guys are awesome. =D

[edit] The raffle is over. Congratulations Pedro!

23
Jun
New Summary Video released. Also: Testing starts in July.

Hello everyone!

The tastiest morsel I have to offer you today is a brand new video in which I give a brief summary of Das Tal. I felt it had been a while since we made any content that just summed up Das Tal in a nutshell, and as we move into doing more PR work it is important to have this sort of video that people can view to learn a lot about the game very quickly.

I am also using this video to announce to the public our testing period coming up in July. So just a reminder to all of you that if you haven’t signed up; make sure that you do, we aren’t far away now! Simply head over and fill in the quick form

This is also the time to share this video and show it to your friends, as you could be playing together in this early build in just a couple of weeks. We like the idea of people joining as groups, so feel free to send an email on behalf of your clan or community - just make sure you mention your clan/community name and the names (and email addresses) of the people who are interested in joining in the test.

As always, everyone has been slaving away on their respective work, and I will have some fresh artwork to show you closer to the test launch, so keep an eye out!

I hope you are all well!

David

12
Jun
100.000 EUR of funding for Das Tal

Today is a good day. We’re proud to announce that we have secured a first outside investment of 100.000 EUR ($136,000) for the project. This money will enable us to make the next step and get a significant amount closer to making the game we’re all waiting for.

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But first let’s go back in time: We started working full-time on Das Tal in 2013 - Alex in January and Sebi in April. That makes 31 man-months spent developing the game by the founding team. Michail and Dave joined the team in October. That adds another 8 man-months if we assume that they spent half their time working on the game on average (which is probably on the low end).

For all this time we’ve been bootstrapping the company. That means we had no outside investments and were burning through our savings to make the game and pay our bills. And while we did live as frugal as possible and had saved up some money in our old jobs, we knew that this money would end at some point. That point is pretty close to today. 

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So this is why I spent a significant amount of time over the last six to nine months not doing game design but instead raising the capital we need to continue the development of the game. Today I’m happy to announce that we’ve signed contracts that will bring 100.000 EUR ($136,000) into our war chest. 20% of those have been funded by an old business partner of ours who is also an angel investor.

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80% of the budget come from the Bavarian Games Fund. This is money that our local government has set aside to promote the development of “games with cutural and educational value”. They have in the past funded some great games, including The Last TInker - City of Colors by our friends at Mimimi Productions and Mercury Shift 3D by our friends at Klonk Games. So we are in really good company here. If you want to learn more about the funding program, do check out their web site (though it’s in German only).

As compared to your normal publishing deal, these funds come with barely no strings attached. We are - of course - expected to pay back the money and then some. But our creative and business decisions are in no way restricted by this outside funding. It enables us to carry on and finally start realizing our vision for the game, increasing the team by a few very skilled people and then actually start paying all those people for their work.

image

So what’s next? We have a development plan that roughly covers the next nine months. In this time we plan to implement and iterate on the core features of the game: The client/server technology. Characters and animations. Combat and skills. The first city & clan features. Resource warfare. Basic PvE and crafting. We won’t give you a detailed scope or timeline for this yet because we’re still so early in development that a certain amount of change is inevitable. But we promise to keep you updated here on our web site, in the forums, on facebook and on twitter.

If you want to be among the first few people to actually play the game during our upcoming alpha tests and alpha weekends then don’t forget to sign up in the newsletter (find the box in the side bar to the left). This is where we’re gonna draft our first testers from.

Cheers & kind regards

Alex

PS: To our investors and everybody who made this possible: Thank you for your trust. 

30
May
How to Create an Animated Branding Image gif for Steam

I nearly forgot to publish this small blog post :) I wrote it a couple of weeks ago.

We tried a couple of ways to generate an animated gif for the Steam branding image of Das Tal. Most images turned out to be just ugly or resulted in a far too big image size.
So this post describes the process we finally used and were happy with.

image

0. Prerequisite

You need imagemagick ( http://www.imagemagick.org/ ) and FFmpeg ( http://www.ffmpeg.org/ ). I used the binaries installed with brew ( brew install imagemagick ffmpeg, http://brew.sh/ ) on OSX. These tools are available for nearly every system.
Lines starting with > show commands entered in the command-line.

1. Turning a sequence of images into a high quality master animation

If your input is not a sequence of images but already an animation you can skip this step.

I started with a bunch of images (1 per frame, 25 fps) named img_00001.png, img_00002.png, … somewhere. To convert them into a high quality animation with the unmodified resolution you use:

> ffmpeg -i img_%05d.png -framerate 25 -q:v 0 -vcodec mpeg4 master.mp4

Now master.mp4 is the far too big animation that we will turn into an animated gif.

2. Converting the high quality animation into a small animated gif

The first thing is to cleanup the old temporary frame images. There are none if you run the step 2. for the first time but there will be :) . It will take several runs with different parameters until the resolution and file size is good.

> rm -rf frames
> mkdir frames

Next thing is to generate the gif frames (they are just temporary). In this example I use 7 fps and scale them to 200x* (-1 keeps the aspect ratio).

> ffmpeg -i master.mp4 -vf scale=200:-1 -r 7 frames/ffout%03d.png

The fps (-f 7) and resolution (-vf scale=200:-1) are parameters you can tune to adjust the final gif to your needs. For us 7 fps and 200x200 turned out to be a good compromise between quality and file size.

The final step is to convert the gif frames into an optimized animated gif (output.gif).

> convert -delay 14 -loop 0 -layers OptimizeTransparency frames/ffout*.png output.gif

The -delay parameter depends on the fps used in creating the gif frames (7 fps in out example). Imagemagick uses 100 ticks so you need to calculate the delay: floor(100/fps) = delay. 100/7=14.285… -> 14

Repeat step 2 until you are happy with your gif. Oh and keep in mind that animated gifs can be very annoying (you can’t stop them). So please don’t exaggerate it :)

Remember to check out and support our Steam page, where you can see this branding image in use! 


— Sebi

23
May
Experience Gain Spotlight Video and Some Eye Candy

Hello fellow humans! This week I have created a new feature spotlight video focusing on how experience will be earned in the world of Das Tal. I discuss daily experience caps, different sources of experience and how it will all affect the gameplay experience.

New Feature Spotlight Video

For this video Michail also knocked up a new banner for me, as the old one was slowly killing us all. Some awesome new character concepts are also featured throughout, so if you are keen to look at some more of Michail’s work you should definitely check it out.

Web Postings

We also have a couple of new postings on the interwebs, with an interview I did for Shoost.co going up and Carlos Rodela writing his thoughts on our plans and ideas for Das Tal. It was great to chat with both Shawn and Carlos, they are both quite interesting guys and I would definitely suggest checking out their sites, there is a lot of content on both that you won’t find anywhere else.

Interview With Shoost
Carlos’ Write-Up

We Still Want More Players!

We are going to have our pre-alpha build available for public testing in early July, so remember to email me and get your name on the list! I will send you a download of the build when it is ready and you can jump straight in for some fun: the.ardent.emissary@gmail.com

In the next couple of weeks I will be creating a video detailing the July build and encouraging people to get involved even more, so keep an eye out. I hope you guys are all well :)


David

14
May
Join Us In The Valley

Hello everyone! In this week’s blog I am going to talk to you about our plans for the May-June period and how you can all get involved. At the start of this month the Fairytale Distillery team laid out a lot of ambitious goals that will lead to the creation of a brand new prototype, aimed for testing in July. This prototype will be special for a few different reasons, as it is something that every single team member is working on taking their respective areas to the next level.

The Old and The New

Our Early Combat Prototype

Our previous prototypes have been split into three categories: The early prototypes, focusing on combat mechanics with very simple art. The tech prototypes focusing on networking middleware. And the more recent prototypes with our new art style which lacked any sort of combat or other mechanics. The July prototype is set to merge these three, creating what will be the first step towards a representation of the actual game, ‘Das Tal’. This is obviously very exciting for us, as it is going to be awesome to have a build that people can actually jump in and play, rather than just checking it out and giving us feedback. Which is in fact our other main goal with this prototype.

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Current Prototype Art Style

July Prototype Release and Public Access

Come the July release, our aim is to have a bunch of people ready to jump in and have some fun with this prototype. I want to have a list of names so long the rest of the team start calling me Santa Claus. At the time of release, I will send an email to everyone on that list with a link to the download of the July build. All you need to do is send me a quick email and you can consider yourself signed up to check out this awesome new build. the.ardent.emissary@gmail.com This is my personal email, so you aren’t going to be receiving constant spam unless I really like you and pursue a serious relationship. Use the codeword Thunderbunny if you would like to receive little reminders from me when we have a new video or blog up.

This is going to be awesome guys, I am personally really looking forward to having some fun battles with players. I also thought it might be cool to show our appreciation to the people who have been following our development by offering some forum titles to anyone who joins up and plays in our first fully playable prototype. I am going to think about that and talk to the rest of the team.

Until next time guys, take care, and don’t forget to email me to get involved! the.ardent.emissary@gmail.com

Also head over to our forums and make an account to be involved the development discussions http://das-tal-game.com/forum.

David

7
May
Feature Spotlight Video: Time-Boxing

Greetings everyone,

I have created the first of a series of videos in which I will talk about certain key features of Das Tal in detail. It also has a sneak preview of my face.

This first video I go over the Time-Boxing feature of Das Tal servers. This feature entails our game servers coming to an end, wiping all characters and progress, at which time players will start fresh in a new and potentially vastly different version of the game world.

I started the series out with this particular feature because it is one that we get the most horrified reaction to, from people who don’t like the idea of losing their beloved pixels. This video attempts to explain how Das Tal makes the process less horrible, by making the gameplay a treat, not a task.

Some things I discuss in the video:

  • How Time-Boxing helps to bridge the difficulty gap between new and veteran players.
  • How awesome it is to be thrown into many different game worlds, rather than just hanging out in the same old place.
  • How Time-Boxing allows us (and players) to tinker with server settings to find what we like best or just to have some fun.

I also thought I might upload the bloopers from this recording session, as I recorded it late at night and made a few stuff ups when I first sat down. My potty mouth was pretty rampant that night. You can check that out here:

In Other News

We also welcome a new member to the FairyDist team this week, with our UI and Web designer Cody joining us and getting started on making things look sexy. So we are looking forward to some nice changes to the website as well as some skill icons and HUD elements in the next prototype!

The next blog I do I will be discussing our plans for this May-June period, which are pretty ambitious and are leading up to a brand new prototype with combat reincorporated and support for online play. I will keep you updated my friends.

David

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