Ozy's Dev Blog

We have a lot of things going on behind the scenes here, but often it's not obvious to players what we're doing and why game development can take so long.

I'm going to write short blog notes here as regularly as possible. This thread is locked, but feel free to create new discussion threads about anything I bring up.

Heroes of Dire
The free-to-play version of Dire doesn't generate enough revenue to pay for itself. There's not much reason to spend money on it because everything is acquired fairly easily, and the original difficulty was nerfed in an attempt to be more "casual".
We're going to revamp and republish the game under the name Heroes of Dire Ascension. It will be stripped of all micro-transactions and any "free to play" style mechanics. Difficulty will be increased to make the experience more meaningful, but also loot and quest drops will be increased to make winning more rewarding.
PvP mechanics will be changed as well, but we're still gathering community feedback on it.
The new version will be a one-time paid game with no subscription costs and lifetime server access. Existing players will get it for free.
The Infinite Black
The last 4 days have been spent developing our Steam Marketplace system for item transactions. This will let players buy, sell and trade equipment in any of our games on Steam with their Steam wallet.
I estimate that it needs another 2 or 3 days of work before I move back to the expansion client.
Unannounced Virtual Reality MMO
Our other artist team has been working for several months on a massively-multiplayer online virtual reality game which will be one of the first VR MMOs ever.
Based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos, players will assume the role of a cultist plotting to summon an Elder God to destroy the world.
It will (hopefully) support hundreds of players concurrently, all working together in VR to defeat tentacle bosses, open portals, slay demons, and sacrifice virgins.

Steam Marketplace
I ended up working on the Steam marketplace all week. Steam's interfaces are from the 1990s and very poorly documented. I basically have to make a request, blindly parse what comes back, and fix bug after bug until it magically works.
It's going well now, however. I can pull down Steam players, their stats, achievements, and item inventories, then add/remove items, verify ownership, etc.
The next step will be figuring out how to link Spellbook accounts with Steam accounts. This gets more complex since a lot of people don't use Steam, or might share accounts.
There will probably have to be a special "Move Item to Steam Marketplace" system, where the item is removed from your in-game inventory so it can't be traded or sold in the middle of a Steam transaction. Either that, or the Steam Marketplace transactions could all be done in-game through a new auction interface.
I think it's worth the effort because players obviously want a way to buy and sell items for real money. This lets them do it safely with a real market exchange.
Rings of Night
I've always liked RON more than TIB. It solved many mechanical problems, is more casual friendly, and I think has more challenges.
Capitalism disagrees with me, however. There's 100x more players in TIB than RON.
We'll be investigating the idea of merging RON with TIB-X after the expansion has a playable beta available. Many of the changes in TIB-X are inspired by RON, such as the resource economy, and more difficult NPC challenges.
Unannounced Cthulhu VR MMO
Steampunk tesla-coil sniper rifles kick ass.

This has been a busy week!
We're preparing to publish a major update to Heroes of Dire that adds a lot of previously promised features, bug fixes, and drastically improves the new player experience.
Part of that includes back-end database fixes which also apply to The Infinite Black Expansion, because it uses the same database system.
Next week we're going to officially announce the new Dire game, using a modified Heroes of Dire engine. It will focus on fast battles, PvP and gambling without all of the PvE exploration junk that got added by kickstarter stretch goals. The idea is to create a more exciting and fast-paced experience, and be less confusing to new players. It's a 100% "clean" one-time purchase with no pay-to-win mechanics. (It will have additional paid vanity-only features)

We got stuck in a surprise crisis because Google decided all apps must target the latest version of Android, or be kicked off the app store in 10 days.
We're scrambling to update and rebuild everything we've ever launched, with a lot of surprises... Many projects from many different developers, some of whom have moved on to other jobs!
It's a mess, and taking time away from the expansion, but unfortunately necessary.
On top of that I had spine surgery that is keeping me off the computer for a bit. Probably from spending a decade hunched over a keyboard slaving away for you guys... (guilt trip!)

Progress has been slow and grinding, but it continues. I apologize for the lack of updates.
There has been a lot of "boring" back-end development and first-pass bug fixes. Some of these consume days of work and are extraordinarily unimpressive to talk about, such as why a database isn't saving correctly, or account permission errors in the server environment.
I'll have more updates for you as soon as there's something visually new to show off.