3 months ago - EHG_Kain - Direct link

Development Update

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Hello Travelers, and welcome to the June Development Update for Last Epoch! In this update, we’re going to be uncovering some information regarding the next big update coming to Last Epoch, some updates on multiplayer progress, and as always, a bunch of teasers regarding some of the new content coming to the world of Eterra!

To start things off, let’s have a quick note regarding how multiplayer progress is going. We’ll dive into more detail here in a bit, but just a quick mention regarding how testing has been going, and what the results mean for us.

Simply put - It’s going amazing.

We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience as we’ve been spending the time to get everything in the background into place: account services, our debugging tools, ensuring stability, and more tasks that are hard to perceive on the surface but are essential for a solid online experience. This work is paying off in the testing phase. In fact, It’s been going so well, we’ve decided to make a “minor” adjustment to our schedule. We had previously implied in passing here and there that the next major update would be 0.8.6 which is what we were initially planning. That’s no longer the case. Instead, we’re going to take a little bit more time to reach our MVP, and make the next update 0.9.0.

That’s right - Multiplayer testing has been going so well we’ve made the call: The next major update for Last Epoch will be Update 0.9.0, with the Multiplayer Beta!

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We are calling this the beta because we will have all the existing systems and content fully playable online, but we won’t be done tailoring the entire Last Epoch experience to be ready for our full launch. We’ll touch on this more in the Multiplayer section in a moment.

This means a lot of really big things for Last Epoch, and is unbelievably exciting for the team here at EHG. Not only are we able to now set a delivery timeline on a core part of the experience wanted by so many community members, as well as ourselves; but by completing multiplayer into the core experience of Last Epoch, this also means we’ll be able to complete other content more quickly, and sooner. This is due to the reduced replication required for working on two separate “Single Player” and “Multiplayer” projects. To clarify this - Last Epoch will still have an “Offline Single Player” mode, it just means from our perspective we’re no longer working on two completely different versions of the game code simultaneously.

Of course, as per the last development update, multiplayer is not our only focus right now. Our next major update will still also have a significant focus on addressing our largest areas of community feedback for Last Epoch: Performance, and Combat Feel. We’re going to be diving into a bit more detail regarding these two big areas of feedback here as well in this Development Update.

But no time right now to mull over that big news, let’s start diving into some of the details!

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Multiplayer

Multiplayer at the Core of Last Epoch

We have made immense progress in the last few months to ensure not only that “Multiplayer” isn’t a separate project, but also to create a truly immersive and seamless online experience.

Although we have many more tests on the horizon, our confidence is growing as a result of our last set of multiplayer community tests. As we mentioned in our last update, we have spent a lot of effort on our back-end services, systems, and telemetry. It was quickly clear just how much that effort had paid off, as by the second round the testers turned their focus from bugs and issues, to instead discuss design feedback and new possibilities for the game.

While we have some more work to get the remaining content online ready, all designs from this point are fully made with multiplayer in mind. We are confident enough to say that by the time 0.9.0 is out, we will be already working on new content, such as new skills, without having to sacrifice progress towards our final goal. We know that multiplayer will be at the very core of Last Epoch and will be critical for supporting long-term development.

The 0.9 Beta Update

The 0.9 update will be the multiplayer Beta of Last Epoch. As we stated above, we are calling this the beta because 0.9 will be bringing existing features and content online. Our vision includes more features and changes that we haven’t discussed much lately, but are aspects we consider fundamental. For example, we have some missing masteries that we believe will truly help make the game feel more complete.

Beyond new content or systems, we will want gameplay and balance to be in the best possible state for 1.0. We expect a lot of new players with 1.0 and we want to polish the new player experience, including for offline players. We will also be paying close attention to what changes need to be made once everyone starts playing together.

As we explained in our last update, we are building up to being an online game and multiplayer balancing will be a part of that. While we have made great strides lately to develop our skills as a group, that transition doesn’t happen overnight or even over a few months. We are just starting this process now, so we have more to do and more to learn, but are excited for the future.

Updates From Last Post

Finished or Nearly Finished Content

But that’s enough of the heavy stuff. We have some pretty exciting updates from our last post. Since then we have finished or nearly finished getting some smaller bits of content AND some much larger pieces of content online. Here are just some of these changes:

  • Transform Abilities
  • Chests
  • Monolith
  • UI Improvements (player cards, minion cards, player in menu UI)
  • Ailment changes and improvements

Online Platform and Service Improvements

One of the most challenging parts of our development, which we talked about back in November 2021, has been working on making our online services more robust. It’s incredibly difficult to make these improvements and changes alongside the development of the rest of the features and because these services are so fundamental. This has meant we’ve had to make a lot of hard decisions regarding where to spend our focus and effort, but has also meant that it’s slowed us down in the past.

We’re happy to say that we’ve made some incredible progress here lately which includes finishing the migration of our chat to this new service (though there is further polish needed). We’ve also significantly reduced crashes and disconnects in part due to our rapidly improving telemetry.

This has meant that we’ve been able to turn to improving server performance as well. There are some unique performance challenges that online ARPGs have to overcome to make sure the experience is smooth. Some examples include managing physics and positioning for MANY actors and precise abilities, making sure that servers have some long-lasting memory to handle systems like parties going through echos, or always having servers ready when players transition to new zones.

We are fortunate that as we’ve grown we have gained some amazingly talented people that are well equipped to handle these problems and will keep us well on track to reach our goal for 0.9 and 1.0.

Getting to 0.9.0

In order to start getting ready for being online, we are now we are building up our multiplayer alpha. We have a few specific goals for the alpha:

  • Have a 24/7 Online Last Epoch for testers
  • Limit down time to being under 3 hours while still having regular updates
  • Learn better branch and environment management
  • Be able to maintain a large CCU

We are excited to share the good news that we are already on the cusp of having a fully 24/7 Online Last Epoch for our community testers. In order to achieve these goals we will be expanding our community testing program.

We will have more details on our plans to expand the program relatively soon, so please refrain from poking Kain too much.

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Ongoing Efforts

For our efforts to address community feedback, we’re sharing a bit more details here concerning Performance optimization, Combat Feel, and a few other areas of significant community feedback.

Optimization

We’ve recently finished our first pass of level optimization - all the levels have been reviewed and optimized, and there’s a huge performance increase across the board. Generally speaking, the background FPS should be more leveled now, with less areas that perform significantly lower than others.

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For example, every zone in the game had its Draw Calls (the amount of objects visible at a time) manually fixed. By combining certain objects we’ve managed to make the scenes more uniform with fewer FPS drops. The result is an area that looks the same, but is considerably less costly on the CPU side; Because of this, some of the slower areas in the game have seen an increase of up to 40 FPS.

What’s next?

As part of the ongoing optimization effort, we’re now taking a look at performance drops during combat; We’ve identified a few factors causing those to happen and are working on them.

For example, with the Ancient Dragon, a change in the shaders of the particle effects resulted in FPS increasing from 50 to 90 during his attacks.

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We’re going over every attack and special effect to make sure there are no dips. The goal is to have a persistent and stable FPS across the gameplay experience, so our next step is to make combat as smooth as possible.

More posts on the ongoing performance optimizations to come: we’ll make sure to keep you informed of these improvements as they happen!

Combat Feel

In our May Development Update, we mentioned for combat feel we had started work on introducing new death animations as well as on-death effects. Over the last month, we’ve continued to tune these and get them ready for the updated combat feel experience for Last Epoch. In addition to these improvements, combat feel can be impacted by not only “how” you fight, but “what” you fight. As such, we’re also expanding on enemy variety adding completely new enemies, and updating some older enemies to newer models and animations.

These efforts are directed to improve this part of the experience and continue to refine the representation of the denizens of Eterra, making their origins creepier, more fantastic, or more exciting in general. This also helps to bolster their unique identity within the world of Eterra to give them each a more distinct experience. For this, we have to share a couple of new enemies coming to Last Epoch.

Void Penance

In this corner, we introduce the void master of arms, Void Penance! This creepy new enemy can be found within the most corrupted areas of Eterra, and is ready and willing to lend one of its many hands to anyone that feels like getting a bit too close. This also introduces one of our new death animation techniques that we’ve been working on for combat feel.

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Voidfused Earth

While Voidfused Earth enemies can be found within Eterra currently, we felt that they didn’t have a unique enough appearance. So while this new enemy shares the same name, that’s about all it shares. This new Voidfused Earth is ready for both ranged and melee attackers alike, so make sure you keep an eye out for these corrupted earth-rending enemies!

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Updated Equipment Models

Our efforts also continue on the equipment models front as with every update to provide a more visually appealing aspect to upgrading your character. Our goal here is for every Armor Set, unique Weapon, and Unique offhand to have a distinct appearance. In keeping with the last Development update, we’re sharing here a couple more examples of new Armor Set models which we’re working on for the second highest tier of armor for the Mage and Primalist, and a few more 3D models for unique items!

Mage

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Primalist

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Torch of the Pontifex

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Battlemage’s Endeavour

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The Last Laugh

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Hakar’s Phoenix

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Summons

We last revealed some of the new summon designs with the concept art for the new Primal Bear, Primal Sabertooth, and the Acolyte’s Golem, however there’s another that’s getting a bit of a glow up. With this summon, we’re going to play a little game of spot the difference. If you’ve been following our dev streams, you may have already seen this teaser, but no cheating! Comment below if you think you can spot the differences between the old and new versions of the Forge Guard’s Manifest Armor summon!

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Community Events

From April 18th through May 27th we ran our first ever Community Designed Unique event. Over this time period, we held a total of seven polls to decide on a new unique to be introduced into Last Epoch - one of the community’s design. The weapon type, unique effect, name, everything was decided by the community through six and a half thousand votes. And the result from this was fantastic. From the Community Designed Unique event we have the new “Lament of the Lost Refuge” which will be releasing in 0.9. If you missed this event, we’d like to show you this new item (note affix values may not be final):

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There were some very close and exciting races in the votes during the event, but the end result is certainly a very interesting one-of-a-kind item. Granting an all-new damage conversion, and providing character buffs rather than only directly granting power to a particular skill. This grants the item a lot of flexibility in how its power is leveraged. We’re really excited to see all the different builds the community manages to come up with for this item once it’s in your hands, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on it to ensure it meets a satisfactory power level.

We had amazing community involvement throughout the event, and would again like to thank everyone who participated, submitting their ideas and their votes! Because of the success of this event, this may certainly be something we revisit in the future. If you’re interested in more information regarding this event, you can find the full reveal and links to all of the polls here: https://forum.lastepoch.com/t/community-designed-unique-reveal/48908.

We have a number of other community events in mind for the future and plan to keep running all sorts of different events. So make sure to keep your eyes out for these kinds of social posts if you’re interested in getting involved in our community events!

In Closing

We can’t overstate just how exciting of a cycle this is for us here, and we would like to thank all of you for being an amazing community, and for your patience to allow us to make this next update such a big one. With the next major update including multiplayer, we’re now starting to set our sights on our 1.0 release of Last Epoch: including the remaining masteries, other core features, and polish, to make for an amazing world for all to play and discover.

Over the last number of months, we’ve been bolstering our team with many new roles, however for 1.0 and beyond, there are still several roles we’re looking to continue expanding. If you’re interested in joining the team here at Eleventh Hour Games, check out our hiring page at https://eleventhhour.games/careers to see what positions we’re currently looking to fill.

We’re approaching a major milestone here for the Last Epoch community, so make sure to keep your eyes on our Facebook, Twitter, Discord, Forums, and the weekly Dev Stream, for more updates as we approach the update to get more information regarding the exact update date, features such as performance updates, and those juicy details and teasers regarding some of the content to expect in the next major update!

3 months ago - EHG_Kain - Direct link

It could potentially be a little later than 0.8.6 would have been, however we don’t yet have a date we’re ready to share for the 0.9.0 update. Keep an eye on future posts for the date!

3 months ago - EHG_Kain - Direct link

There will be another post in the near future which will have information on how to apply for Alpha testing.

3 months ago - Mike_Weicker - Direct link

No, they will be released by 1.0 at the latest.

about 2 months ago - Mike_Weicker - Direct link

We’ve been playing multiplayer internally without the ability to trade at all for a while now and we are keenly aware of this feeling. It’s a bit of a joke now where someone calls out that they need to find something and someone will always pipe up that they have one if you can implement trade real quick.

about 2 months ago - Mike_Weicker - Direct link
  1. Undecided so far.
  2. 0.9 is planned to be the next patch. Releasing another patch between now and then would push it back.
about 2 months ago - Mike_Weicker - Direct link
  1. There are some pretty big misconceptions about performance floating around. DLSS and FSR are great technologies that would have an extremely small impact on FPS compared to the other axis we are targeting. Implementing them would also require an absolute insane amount of development time and would push back development by a very long time. There are some pre-requisite things that need to be done first which take up most of this time. These are not going to be implemented in 1.0.

  2. Mods are great. We don’t have any plans to directly support or hinder their creation. If an offline modding community emerges, it is possible that we might consider revisiting this in the future. It’s a pretty low priority topic for us at the moment.

Given the server authoritative nature of multiplayer, we don’t really “trust” the game clients to be reliable anyways.

about 2 months ago - Mike_Weicker - Direct link

Partially but really it’s the second half of that sentence that got cut off that is the important part. Compared to the other axis that we are targeting. I expect those things would help improve frame rates. It’s just a cost benefit analysis that makes them really unappealing. I don’t like making numbers up and I don’t have specifics to share but we can put in a huge amount of effort and delay the game a lot to get a little fps boost or we can put in a lot of effort, not delay the game and get a big fps boost. We’re going with option 2 for now. After that we keep looking for wins.