2017 DRUG UPDATE DEVELOPMENT BLOG
07 APRIL 2017 — PUSHING THE BOAT OUT:
One aspect of development that is often overlooked is the constant flow of ideas. What may have seemed like a fantastic implementation at one point in time can eventually be overshadowed by a bigger and better concept. The complication here is that such thoughts can come at any time during the development process and you then have a dilemma on your hands... do I stick with what I've got? Or do I go back and revisit certain things with the end of goal of making something more substantial. Sometimes the cons outweigh the pros; making changes further down the line of development can have unintended consequences: existing features may break, a domino effect may require you to then make significant changes to other parts of the script, you may lose your train of thought... the list goes on and on. Making the right choice isn't always easy, but you've got to look at the bigger picture. "Will this greatly impact the feature that's being developed? Would taking a step back be fruitful, or a waste of time?" Many questions, many clouded answers. In this case, the answer was yes, and no - it would not be a waste of time.
Several members of the community have expressed issues about the arbitrary nature of drugs on the server. You have a finite number of "slots" which are occupied by a drug. There's no real script support for the role-play surrounding these "slots" which is, in some respects, a double edged sword. Sure, it might leave things to a player's imagination a bit more - but it doesn't do much for immersion. Let's say you have access to a production facility; you obtain X amount of Y in bulk and then from there, you just give smaller amounts of Y to whoever else. You could role-play the initial batch of Y being in say, brick form, and then transferring it into smaller baggies - but that's about it. The effect of that role-play doesn't really have much of a presence anywhere else and isn't entirely relevant further down the line. Another qualm players have had is how common measurements such as eightballs, teeners, dime bags, dubs (the list goes on, I'm no drug aficionado) are difficult to emulate in your everyday role-play.
At first, I didn't do much to address these issues - in part due to the lack of tangible ideas. That said, after going through masses of PMs and combing through the various threads scattered around the forums, I went back to the drawing board and came back with this.
In an effort to do away with an arbitrary slot based system, I've added some more substance to the front and back-end of the script to make everything a little more interactive. There are three categories of storage solutions: small, medium and large. The maximum capacity of each category varies from drug to drug, meaning that where five grams of one drug may exceed the maximum capacity of a given storage solution, another will not. For the purpose of showcasing the feature in this thread, the following will be used:
- Small Zip-Loc Bag
- Cling Film Ball (I realised after taking the screenshots that this is an entirely British term, do not fear - it's just a placeholder for the purpose of testing!!!)
The final list of storage options is far from complete and I'm certainly going to incorporate more categories to allow for further diversity, but right now - the priority is ensuring this new implementation is consistent throughout the script (plants, mixes, dropped drug packages etc.) and fine-tuning where needed. Once this is done, the focus will be shifted to incorporating effects and addressing addictions (which, by the way - will probably be tailored towards promoting actual role-play as opposed to frustrating repercussions).
If you have any feedback regarding these changes, throw it at me! I look forward to showing you what else I've got brewing.
23 MARCH 2017 — WEEK ??? (THIS IS STILL A THING):
My commitment to releasing these updates has admittedly (and quite blatantly) faltered and the idea of consistently posting them here crashed and burned in a spectacular fashion. I've been pretty quiet about the progress made on this project for a while and I wouldn't say I'm proud of that. There are a few reasons for this - namely my commitments outside of LS:RP and some unexpected hitches along the way. To expand on the latter, I'll offer a bit of transparency. As time has gone on and the scale of this project has grown, some issues with the overall development process came to light. I'm not going to go in to specifics as that's not entirely relevant, but it was difficult for me to gain any real momentum which meant my ability to effectively commit my time to this update was not at its peak. This wasn't really anyone's fault in particular, but fortunately - Mmartin & I have been able to come together and come up with a resolution that will prevent this from happening in the future and, above all else, will allow me to go full steam ahead with this update.
That's not to say no progress has been made since my last post here! I can safely say that the vast majority of this update's features have been introduced to the script and I'm at a point where the brunt of the remaining workload is tackling intricacies such as the effects drugs will have on players and the way in which addictions will be dealt with. The first stages of testing will soon be commencing and the features that are already complete will be fine-tuned based on the feedback obtained along the way. I've put together a small group of staff members who, starting from Monday (27 March 2017), will be working with me daily to ensure that any issues can be stubbed at the roots and to help pull together ideas that will further benefit the project. This group will expand over the next fortnight and more players with extensive knowledge of drug role play (perhaps both inside the staff team and out) will be invited to participate. Stay tuned for more information on that front.
On the subject of drug effects - I want to get some community feedback. What do you guys want to see? What are your biggest qualms with the current system in place? Aside from the obvious health-point bonus, what other effects do you think would make drugs a bit more interesting?
To make my stance on the matter clear, I'll go ahead and say that I'm really not a fan of effects that pull the focus away from role-play and make drugs a commodity that is only attractive for their out-of-character perks. There is a necessity for some out-of-character perks because, as much as I'd like it if everyone dabbled with drugs for the sole purpose of role-play, there is a significant portion of the player-base that need some sort of incentive (which is understandable). What do you feel I can do to find the right balance without making drug consumption to annoying or, on the flip side, overpowered?
This area of the project is about to become my primary focus so I welcome all suggestions with open arms. Should you have any queries or concerns, feel free to drop me a private message. I'm not going to speculate about potential release dates yet and any rumors that go around will bare no credibility. When I have a proper estimate? You'll know about it, but for the time being? I don't. That said, there are lots of other things I want to work on throughout 2017 and freeing up the second quarter is something I intend on doing - so there's that!
Until next time.
09 JANUARY 2017 — WEEK TWO:
Have, again, had a lot of commitments outside of LS:RP this week which has hindered progress. I've spent the vast majority of the time I've had available compiling ideas and reviewing community feedback thus far. My schedule has been freed up now which means this time next week, I'll have some new stuff to show you. Stay tuned.
02 JANUARY 2017 — WEEK ONE:
If you're hoping for some tremendously exciting news in this week's entry then I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint. The holidays have been very hectic for me out-of-game and finding the time to get any real work done has proven to be a challenge. Where possible, I've been going through and refactoring odd bits of code & in general, making attempts to tidy it all up. Aside from that and some other boring back-end changes, I've made significant progress on the prescription medication front. There really isn't all that much to it to be honest! Similar to how a player in a production facility can view a list of obtainable drugs through /druglist, the Los Santos Fire Department can get a list of prescription medication through /prescribe. The next step's going to be integrating support for a prescription database accessible through Mmartin's new MDC system.
January is going to be work, work, work for me; I'll be sinking more hours than ever into this project and will be working towards the end goal of getting this project rolled out in the first quarter of 2017. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am not yet setting a definitive release date. I understand that this update is highly sought after by a significant portion of the community, but getting this right is my priority - not meeting an arbitrary deadline. The feedback I've received in the general discussion thread is all being taken into account as the development progresses. I've read every single response the thread has received and will continue to do so. Every PM that has been sent to me has been replied to (I think!!!) and that too will continue to be the case. All I can say is: keep it coming. This may be the most significant project I've ever worked on to date, but it's not about me - it's about meeting the demands of the community. Feedback in any capacity is appreciated and will be taken seriously.
I hope you all had a good Christmas and I wish you a happy new year. Stay tuned for more news pertinent to this update.
25 DECEMBER 2016 — DAY ZERO:
So, without beating around the bush - let's dive straight in. It's important that this thread is seen for what it really is: the announcement of an upcoming feature. I'm not putting a definitive release date on this yet as I don't want the pressure of conforming to a specific deadline when I'm dealing with such a vital element of the script. I do however ask that you have faith in me and believe me when I say that I am pouring several hours of my time into this project on a day-to-day basis. This thread will ultimately be serving as a weekly development blog for the final stages of the project, and I guarantee that you - the community - will be involved every step of the way moving forward. Your feedback is imperative to ensuring that the end product is something people are happy with and whilst it's impossible to please everyone, I'm going to try my hardest to get as close to doing so as I can.
This feature has been in development for the past four months and planning has been going on for significantly longer. A lot of the ideas conveyed in this thread have come from the many insightful minds in the Faction Management Public group; without their knowledge & experience, I would probably still be at the drawing board right now. Whilst there are far too many names for me to mention and it would be unfair for me to single too many people out, I would like to give special thanks to KaylaSpace: she was of immense help during the planning stage and fought tooth and nail for this area of the script to get the attention it deserves.
Yes, there are still a few things that I haven't touched upon here. Addictions, the general effects that drugs will have on a player and several other consequential factors of using a drug in-game are still being worked out along with other minor aspects of the script. Trying to find the right balance between delegating responsibility to the player to adequately role-play the consequences of drug use and forcing effects through the script is very, very difficult. There are so many variables to take into account and it's going to take time for things to fall into place. On the other hand, I've kept this project under wraps for a while now and I wouldn't be posting this up if I didn't feel I was reaching the final stages of development. All in all, I ask that you're patient. That may be a lot to ask for from some people and that's OK, I understand.
If you have feedback, please send me a forum PM (I promise you'll get a reply). I'm adding a new layer of transparency to this whole process and you'll have to work with me for it to flow smoothly.