Developers Q&A Post Serpent Isle October 2010 Edit

Today's Q&A questions were answered by the following members of Phenomic.

Volker Wertich, Creative Director
Martin Loehlein, Senior Producer
Dirk Ringe, General Manager

Future Features Edit

Q: Will there be a World/Continent map either in-game, or on a separate website? Will we be able to filter it by Alliances?
A: Yes, this is currently under development and will come soon.

Q: Will you be adding an ignore/mute/squelch type option for in game chat/mail and what kind of timeframe are we looking at before seeing it implemented?
A: Yes, we currently working on a feature along those lines. It will be implemented in one an upcoming game update.

Q: Will you ever add a Trade Minister?
A: Yes, a Trade Minister will be introduced in one of the next game updates.

Q: Will your overviews ever have build queue times in them?<

Q: What is being done to avoid the management of more than 100 cities (still under construction, not counting the completed ones) viable and fun, rather than a chore. It seems we got very little automation in this last update.<

Q: Are there any plans for implementation of empire management tools? Bloated overviews with limited functionality do nothing but let me see my empire in an incredibly long list. They do not allow me to manage my empire as I can not initiate actions such as mass moonstone creation, or multi-city attack co-ordination.<

Q: Do you intend to make copying/pasting of all in-game text possible? If not, why not?
A: We will implement that on the all important user interface elements.

Current Features Edit

Q: Did you consider the consequence of the per-continent military rankings, basically giving away free intelligence about people's offensive and defence capabilities, even if they opt to be anonymous?<

Q: Will anything be done to the building queue system? Either extend it, or change it to a time based queue?
A: Not only does the Building Minister extend the build queue to 16 slots, and grant access to the Resource Overview, but he will be given additional features soon to improve the the building process.

Technical Edit

Q: Will there be pubic API that don't require authentication to get information that all players can see? That would be greatly help making better external tools like maps or ranking statistic over time.
A: We have no plans for an additional public API with documentation at this moment in time.

Q: Deployment process to actual game servers could include one more step where patches are first tested in publicly available test server. Bugs found there and maybe some feedback is included to game before actual deployment to game servers is done. Is this kind of arrangement possible in some distant future?
A: This is currently under consideration.

Q: Does morale affect support troops from larger scored players?
A: Morale will increase the defending power of all of the defender's units, if he has been attacked by a player with much higher score. This includes his own support which he has sent from other cities belonging to him. Morale will not increase the defending power of any support sent by other players.

Miscellaneous Edit

A: We are definitely happy that user tools are being created for Lord of Ultima. Of course those tools need to stay within the rules, and almost all of them have successfully done so thus far. We have a great deal of respect for those that spend even a small amount of their leisure time to further improve the gameplay experience of our game and we do not aim to black-list those tools.
Our design team already has an extensive list of planned features, suggestions and ideas which has been influenced by community feedback. Obviously, as we work on adding features to the game that players would like to see, there will be areas where both new game features and user-generated tools cross paths. We cannot rely that every player or customer installs each tool, therefore we will always aim to improve the gameplay experience for players that do not have additional tools installed. Another point to bear in mind, new features e.g. new rankings or the command overview, also allow the tool developers to further improve their tools or add new features to them since additional data becomes available.

Q: What percentage of improvements do you feel come from the community (forum suggestions / user made tools)?
A: It is difficult to put a numerical value on something like that. We constantly read and pay close attention to the feedback the community provides on the forum. Oftentimes these requests have to wait until other features/additions/changes, on which work has already commenced, has been completed. This can mean they take time to reach the public. We very much have the community suggestions in mind when deciding what to introduce, even if some members of the community may not always be willing to believe that.

Q: How many developers are actively playing on live servers and how big are their empires?
A :There are several developers playing actively on several worlds. Some of their empires span 150+ cities.

Q: Do any of the Developers use 3rd party tools?
A: The more actively they play, the more they make use of 3rd party tools. In general we try to take a look at every popular tool out there. Not only to understand the needs of the players and toolmakers better, but also to keep an eye open for potential threats or functionality conflicts.

Q: How long do you expect to keep running LoU?
A: For many years to come.

Q: Were people ever intended to reach 250+ cities?
A: Theoretically, a player can control as many cities as s/he wishes to maintain. We are aware that managing 250+ cities is time consuming. Moving forward, we want to decrease the pace at which players obtain new cities. We will be moving towards that goal with one of our upcoming updates. We would ask for some patience regarding details, they will be published in a Game Update announcement soon.

Q: There are some great suggestions in the suggestions forum, but very little feedback from members of staff there, much of the time we don't know if our suggestions have even been read. Will there be a better communication with the community in the future, whether it be directly or through the community team?