It was fantastic seeing so many of you listening in on the Live Dev Q&A in our discord! For those of you who were not available at that time and couldn’t make it, we have a written version of the event here for you now. First, let’s get some introductions of the staff in attendance!
H2O-Melons: Hi, I’m H2O-Melons (or Melons for short), I’m the Community Manager for Atlas. For those that might not be familiar with what that means, I am essentially the liaison between the players and the developers. I get feedback from the players and bring their concerns forward to the development team. In turn, you could say I’m the spokesperson for the development team. I publish information and manage our social media accounts.
Red Beard: Hi everyone, I’m the senior designer for Atlas, and the team leader for the design team and development teams.
Weird Beard: Ahoy pathfinders! I'm Weird Beard, former Community Manager for Atlas. I’m now in QA (Quality Assurance) for Atlas. I know a lot of you are wondering why I disappeared so quickly. I had to go away for a bit for some personal reasons, but now I'm getting settled into the QA team. I'm happy to be there and think Melons is doing an amazing job in my stead. I just wanted to thank her and thank you, the community, for all your support throughout my tenure.
Grapeshot Nami: Hi, everyone. Some of you might know me, some of you might not, but I’m Nami. I was also once upon a time ago, one of the Community Managers here. I've since moved to a more behind the scenes role with the company working in a lot of marketing campaigns/sales and project management type stuff. I'm very excited to have our first Live Q&A, so I wanted to drop by and show my support and say hi to everyone.
As a reminder, the answers below only reflect the current timeframe and are subject to change. While we can provide current insight on the game and what we hope to do, we can’t always foresee what is in store for us. We appreciate your support and understanding.
Question 1: During early access wipes are necessary as changes are implemented; however, in this process the game has shifted heavily towards seasonal play. What is your vision for the long-run in regards to wipes? Are you going to continue to embrace the seasonal aspect of the game or do you hope to eventually get the game in a state where seasons aren't necessary?
Answer: As Atlas has evolved we have noticed a trend where we see the highest number of players during the first month after a wipe. It goes without saying that the land grab, the exploration, and the early days of forging your company are some of the best parts of the experience. We are working on various ideas to have a seasonal based game but also not require players to do the same content every time. Some player data will be saved, the Power Stone quest will be redesigned, and achievements will persist for every season. How we are going to do all of this is still being talked about, but it is coming.
Question 2: What is the overall plan for the game? Do you have an updated roadmap that you can share with the community?
Answer: You can expect to see a roadmap in the next few weeks, which will cover at least the next couple of seasons. As for the overall plan for the game, we are upgrading the current systems, adding a few new systems that we feel tie the entire Atlas experience together, and focusing on polish. Our current goal is to end early access strong. As for the future after early access is over... well, we will just have to wait to see what the tide uncovers.
Question 3: Are there plans to add to the storyline of the game? For example, right now there are endgame quests and specific items added, but there isn't a lot of lore built into the game around them.
Answer: What is a game without lore? Well, I certainly have a few questions about Atlas lore. What are the Army of the Damned? Where do they come from? What about the mysterious tech that we see surrounding mythical creatures like the Kraken? Why does the world keep changing? These are some of the lore aspects that should be found within the game world, or through certain Journals that have washed up on our shores. The storyline of Atlas was intended to be player driven. However, we have a main questline to collect Power Stones and kill a Kraken. Seems like a great opportunity to expand. The most exciting way to add lore in a game like ours is by making the world feel alive through scraps of information here and there that you will have to piece together to get a story, texts to read, and lands to explore. This allows players to discover the lore organically, or optionally ignore it.
Question 4: Will we ever have real enemy pirate ships or privateers on the ocean ? Will factions ever appear?
Answer: Yes. Both are coming during season ten. Expect to see more than just Ships of the Damned on the seas one day.
Question 5: Do you have plans on further developing the ocean?
Answer: If you are referring to the trenches, yes. If you mean how blank and empty the bottom of the ocean is between islands and trenches, also yes. Though, it may have to wait until after we leave early access. It is a goal, but not a priority at this time.
Question 6: Why is new content/items being added to the game when there are still so many bugs that need to get addressed?
Answer: Let's be real, bugs are annoying. We all hate them. We are working to fix as many as we can, and when they are reported to us we prioritize them. It is my view that new content is just as important, however, to the health of a game. It will take a while to fix all the bugs. Why not enjoy something new while we work? Also, different teams can work on different things, you don't really want an artist trying to code a fix for how fast a cannonball moves do you?
Question 7: Can you elaborate on the Unreal Engine 5 rumors? It would be great to hear more details about this and how we could expect the change to affect the game. Will it help with the current optimization issues?
Answer: Unreal Engine 5 is coming. We are currently in the process of the engine update. Once it updates we will have one last early access season to ensure it is as bug free as possible. Also, this upgrade is granting us the opportunity to fix much of the optimization issues at the same time.
Question 8: What's the plan with modular and legacy ships? Will legacy ships ever be removed from the game?
Answer: At this time, there are no plans to remove legacy ships out of the game. Modular ships were intended to allow players to create a fleet of ships, each with a specific role, to play in a fight. The theory is good, we just need to fix the implementation.
Question 9: One of the biggest appeals of ATLAS is building your own unique ship plank-by-plank. Will more customization options be added to modular ships?
Answer: Building your own ship is half of the fun in the game. To that end, modular ships are being worked on to incorporate all the best parts of the ship building process that legacy ships enjoy. Tons of new customization options will be added, ship art is being completely overhauled, internal rooms/modules are being added, customizable captains quarters are being added….the list goes on. The main draw in Atlas for me is its ships, let's make that a good experience.
Question 10: There has been an overwhelming amount of player feedback to slow modular ships down. Do you have any plans to do so?
Answer: They have been slowed for season ten. Ship balance is an extremely difficult thing in Atlas due to multiple ship systems being used. I think we can all agree the implementation of it was bad. We have learned from the past several seasons to not make huge ship changes mid-season anymore, so that is something we will strive to no longer do.
Question 11: Will modular ships be better balanced in the future? Right now everyone is sailing on a Ramming Galley.
Answer: They have been updated for the new season, and while these changes are minor right now, they will be perfected for season 11. Additional changes will probably not be pushed to the live servers until season eleven to preserve a fair experience for all players in season ten.
Question 12: Are there plans to make changes to the modular ship repair system? In their current state there is no delay for repairing modules, while there is the smoke delay on the legacy ships.
Answer: The entire experience of building, repairing, and customizing the modular ships is being changed.
Question 13: Are there any plans to increase the incentives of ship PVP? The only thing players can consistently (rarely) do right now is to battle fleeing ships that will most definitely popcorn their loot and scuttle their ships right when they feel like they are losing. There is zero incentive to go out and battle other ships for veteran players.
Answer: With the implementation of ship in a bottle, players will no longer fear losing hundreds of hours of work in a few moments. With the faction system that is coming in the future, we can expect to see an improved experience that will greatly reward the hunting of ships on the seas, be they owned by another player or by an NPC.
Question 14: Do you have any plans to change the drop rates, craft count, and stat range for current blueprints for crafting? As it is now, we get many useless blueprints and the ones worth using have very low craft counts. Oftentimes, higher tier blueprints (mythic etc.) actually have worse stats than lower tier ones.
Answer: Yes, I think a tiered system would fix this. We will need to design this further, but I agree, finding a mythical that is worse than a fine is beyond frustrating.
Question 15: Is the team going to take a look at the existing island templates and overhaul them prior to the game's official launch? Many of the islands are not very useful in PvP due to either having no natural harbor, having too shallow water in harbors, or being too tall to place island defenses.
Answer: The only reason this is taking so long is the sheer number of islands we have in the game. There are hundreds. At a bare minimum, it will take an entire season of one dev's time to adjust them. We have received lists of issue islands, islands that would be great if pillars were lowered, or if a bay was deepened, and we are working on adjusting them, when we have time.
Question 16: Are there any current plans to reduce structure spam?
Answer: The majority of Atlas issues, optimization, lag, and exploits are all directly connected to the structure spam we see. Building a base on PvP that is able to withstand a raid requires players to cover every inch of the island, and then build an absurd wall around their islands. So to answer your question, yes, we will aggressively change structure limits, add ways to prevent enemy building on islands, and address land raid defensive options.
Question 17: In PvE, people cover the islands quickly with warehouses so it's impossible to find a spot later on in the season. Are there any plans on modifying the warehouses so this isn't an issue?
Answer: The entire trade system is being revamped this season, including warehouses and autofarms.
Question 18: Are there any plans to make living in Freeport no longer possible?
Answer: Let's just say it won't be completely removed until we add some way for solo/small companies to not lose everything every time they log out.
Question 19: Would you consider making a separate server for single players and tiny companies?
Answer: It can be done, but it's a complicated issue. Not only would there have to be enough constant players to warrant the cost of the servers, but we need to figure out what impact it would have on the core pvp server. I don't think anyone wants a huge map with 4 mega companies only. I think a better solution would be to address the issues that prevent solo players and small companies from being not only viable, but also fun.
Question 20: Any estimate on when the single player world map will be updated to match the new multiplayer map?
Answer: We are currently working on allowing players to choose which season's map to play in single player, so you're not limited to just a single map and Blackwood. An option here is free DLCs that contain the different maps, so you can access them like you would Blackwood.
Question 21: Right now for Xbox this game is only playable for the series X. Are there plans to make it more Xbox friendly?
Answer: Yes! Great news on that. We are in the final stages of fixing that. I believe it will make this upcoming patch, but if it doesn't, it will be in the first patch of the new season.
The following questions were obtained and answered during the Live Q&A after the pre-selected questions were answered.
Question: When will there be a Devkit and SGE update?
Answer: Both of those should be out next week.
Question: Are there any current plans for changing the armored docks?
Answer: With the ship in a bottle, the armored docks are going to be adjusted. In addition, for all shipyards (and armored docks) you will be limited to placing only three per type per company per grid for the following season.
Question: Are there any plans on changing the Drakes or token tames?
Answer: There has been a lot of discussion about that between the team. I think everybody knows I do not personally like being able to tame them. But we recently asked the question for feedback about the mythical teams and everybody seems to really enjoy them. Or they have a specific purpose, so they will remain there. At least for the time being. We do have a team working directly on fixing and updating all of the creatures of Atlas so they will be adjusted to be better in the future.
Question: Are there any plans to change the visual design of Ship of the Damned?
Answer: Yes, that is upcoming as well. I think they kind of look a little alien and out of place right now. So we are replacing them with a natural pirate ship that just looks cursed rather than alien.
Question: Are there any plans for a PlayStation release?
Answer: That is also a complicated question. The short answer is…it’s possible. Possible but no guarantee it will happen. It really depends on how we do at the end of early access.
Question: Do we have an estimate on the Unreal Engine 5 update?
Answer: We can expect that early next year.
Question: One of the main issues right now in the game is the tames falling off ships when grid changing. Can you give us any details on the status of getting that fixed?
Answer: Tames falling off of ships, through our investigation, has kind of related to a larger core game mechanic or code base issue that's happening. So for now, we're fixing it on a case by case basis. With the engine update it will be fixed in the core game code so it won't happen again.
Question: How about the rates in the new season, are we going to be sticking with just 5x the whole season again?
Answer: It seems like 5x was a good choice for most of the season. The original plan here was to have weekends be 5x and weekdays be 3x, then occasional special events would be higher. It wouldn't always be the same per weekend, so it could be resource gathering would be 5x this weekend or tame speed will be 5x this weekend.
Question: Are there any chances of alliance members being able to use things on ships?
Answer: Yes, we are working on a system, with the first part of it getting Alliance members to use a special bed on ships so you can go to your alliance member’s ships or bases. As for other systems, we are working on it, again, as we have time.
Question: Will the game ever be on Game Pass?
Answer: It’s a possibility. I don't have any control or say over that, so I can’t comment on that other than saying maybe or maybe not.
Question: We talked about getting a devkit update and upgrading to Unreal Engine 5. Will the upgrade affect modders?
Answer: When we're upgrading to Unreal Engine 5, the devkit will also be updated. This does unfortunately mean that the mods created in the Unreal Engine 4 version will have to be either adjusted or redone in the new UE5 devkit. For the community servers, I am working on several options to see if we can minimize this impact. More news on that will come soon, but hopefully it will have a negligible impact if everything goes well.
Question: During the time when the modular ships are overhauled, will they be lootable by players who sink them?
Answer: Yes, they should be. I think it's silly that you can't loot everything you destroy.
Question: Are there currently any plans to add any new maps similar to Blackwood?
Answer: We've talked about it a lot in our internal meetings. We have thought of doing a lot of smaller DLC based maps like Blackwood that would introduce different areas of the world. As everybody can see, through our world map, we've been trying to transition to an alternate Earth experience for Atlas. So if we did do this, you could expect to see, for example, a whole expansion for a snow region, or an ice region, or an African type sand region, or something like that. This also gives us an opportunity to expand on trenches for Atlantean stuff as well.
Question: Are there any plans on adding any new ships?
Answer: There are plans for a lot of new ships. I believe we have 10 new modular ships coming. That number may change, but they won't be introduced until we fix and update the system. Adding new ships without fixing the system doesn't make sense.
Question: Is anything changing with enforcement?
Answer: As we are exiting Early Access, our enforcement is ramping up. I think everybody had a fairly negative experience this last season with our wide bands. Having said that, we are going to be updating our systems so that we are able to get individuals. Certain offenses are still company wide. If the entire company benefits from the bannable offense, the entire company will still be banned. Having said that, that will be extremely rare.
Question: Is the map always going to be portal based, or will we ever return to one big map?
Answer: The map with the portals was always intended to give easy and fast travel throughout the world. You should be able to sail to the majority of the game at any given time. We are working on a system to have servers and grids that come online for certain amounts of time and then go offline. Additional content or additional routes will probably be portal based for the majority.
Question: Any plans for an Xbox only server?
Answer: That is also more than likely not coming.
Question: Any plans for new melee weapons?
Answer: With the engine update, we are going to completely redo the combat system. It's going to feel much smoother, nicer, and not so bloated
Question: Can we get friendly fire turned on?
Answer: It's possible to turn that on, however, that's going to drastically change the game. So if we did do that it would be on a smaller test server for a super hardcore game experience.
Question: Can we get cosmetic items we can buy with IRL money to help support the game? For example, ship cannon skins.
Answer: We will internally discuss that and if it is deemed appropriate, we might pursue it or we might not. I cannot make any promises.
Question: Will you ever make legacy ships usable again in PvP?
Answer: Yes, legacy ships still have their place in PvP. They are customizable to the point where it is almost impossible to get rid of them. There are so many tactics that I see players do that you just cannot replicate with a modular ship. Having said that, we are focusing on the modular ship system, although we will be balancing it to make sure that the legacy ships and that customization is not lost.
Again, we would like to emphasize that ATLAS is still in Early Access, meaning many things can and will likely continue to drastically change - even in the middle of development. Anything discussed is only up to date as of the moment it is posted. Features and changes that ultimately make it to the next patch, as well as timing, may be different from what was previously discussed.
As always, we appreciate the suggestions and feedback from the community. Please keep them coming! Thank you for all of your support!
- ATLAS Crew
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