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Aleš Ulm

Ylands Team
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About Aleš Ulm

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    Creative Director

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  1. Hey there, fellow ylanders. Originally I planned to discuss some cool new features and improvements update 1.6 will introduce but seeing the discussions about the current state of the game and where it‘s headed, I thought it's more important to react to these instead. Let me start by addressing the concerns about us focusing mostly on the Editor/platform instead of Exploration. In the past years, we have spent a lot of time working on the Editor, the Workshop and the platform in general. During this time it was our primary focus, and this meant that - unfortunately - Exploration got less love than what we would have wanted. That is a fact, and we understand the disappointment of those who wanted us to improve Exploration in the first place. While we did make some Exploration improvements, these were not necessarily enough. We are also aware that some features are now actually might even be worse than they used to (probably the biggest issue is still maps being smaller). All of this happened because of three reasons. This year Ylands will be officially released in China (which is something that only a few dozen „western“ games achieve each year) and thanks to the support from our team here, now, months before the release, the platform there already contains hundreds of games. For Ylands, a project that we still plan to develop for many years to come, this is obviously very important. The second reason is something we haven‘t talked about yet, but since some of you already started asking - and we are close enough to start discussing this as well; here we go. Often in the past, actually even years ago, when the Editor and platform was nothing like they are now, we kept being approached by teachers from various countries who were interested in using Ylands and its visual scripting and easy to pick-up systems, as tools to teach kids the basics of scripting & programming. At that time we didn‘t feel ready to provide such a solution, but now we got to a point where we can and want to; so this year we plan on introducing Ylands to schools as a learning tool. At first here, in the Czech Republic, followed by other countries. The Ylands version for schools will be pretty much the standard Ylands you know and love but stripped of some features (quite obviously monetization and some others). We have all the features we wanted to have but it took us long to get here. So what‘s next? Exploration. We have already started focusing on Exploration with update 1.5 and that has brought a major change to the basic gameplay loop. Instead of playing many Exploration games, building your structures, ships only to lose them when you start another Exploration game, you now play in a large Exploration universe where you can keep your progress, explore any number of ylands - be it local games, games hosted on dedicated servers or locally hosted by other players. In 1.6 we will continue with these improvements. We got rid of the barrier and will give you more power over your ylands. We are adding new ways to build with your friends and tools to prevent visitors to your ylands doing any harm. We are giving you better ways of building. We even made a lot of smaller improvements that you asked for (like introducing a rake, an object you can use to smooth terrain, etc.). Actually, there is so much cool Exploration-related stuff in 1.6 that for the first time we won‘t be able to introduce all of it in Dev Diaries before it comes out! And the updates past 1.6? Again, a ton of cool Exploration features, fixes and improvements. We are already planning something that will make the maps much, much bigger (the actual local maps where you move without loading). In 1.6 we, the devs, are already able to create special unique scenes in the Editor that then can be found in Exploration by players (think of Random Encounters, but entire islands). In the future, we will give the same power to you. That is how the Editor and Exploration will „click together“ and all the time and effort we put into Editor will be beneficial even for the only-Exploration players. Imagine Exploration with custom made worlds, that can be pretty much anything... And that is, actually, the third reason why we focused so much on having a working Editor/platform first (if you look back in forum posts and Dev Diaries, you will find we dreamed this up this looooong time ago). That is what the future of Ylands is. I hope that this answers some of your questions (and maybe even concerns) about the future of Ylands and what role Exploration and the Editor play in it. I understand that this covers only parts of what your concerns are, and I will continue in the next Dev Diary with some other topics like server stability, our plans to get more players to play Exploration and anything else you ask for in the discussion below this post. Please note that with CM gone (we are already talking with some promising candidates) and finalizing features for 1.6 we may not be able to answer everything you ask right away and it may take some time / it will be answered in the next Dev Diary. That‘s it for today, I will talk to you next Thursday so until then... stay healthy and classy, ylanders!
  2. Aleš Ulm

    Why I no longer believe in Ylands

    Hi, I just wanted to say that we are still here and listening, but we are currently at a critical 1.6 update stage which takes a lot of time and with Adam gone we can't react/discuss things as much as we would like. However, I plan to talk about this in this Thursday's Dev Diary.
  3. Hey there, fellow ylanders. After we‘ve talked about several Exploration improvements you will find in the next update 1.6, today we focus on something big that Creators will surely like (if you‘re interested in Exploration, don‘t worry, there‘s plenty more cool stuff in 1.6 we‘ve yet to talk about). We‘ve seen a lot of amazing creations that pushed the limit of what is possible with visual scripting (and many time genuinely surprised us). Games like this make us, the whole platform, move forward, but it also showed more clearly what is not really surprising. Visual scripting is a great tool for learning, for making simple-to-medium complex games, but once the game complexity reaches a certain level, working with the visual script, navigating through it and in general making the code intuitive and easy to work with because really difficult. That‘s why with 1.6 we‘re bringing you a beta version of non-visual scripting. You will be able to create text scripts, that can be attached to Entities and Game logic object in the editor and when the game runs this script will be executed in a similar way to the visual script. The fact is that internally the visual script has always been a visualization of javascript-like language so now you will get the chance to bypass the visual scripting and type in the code directly. Instead of describing these features in many more paragraphs, we put together a short FAQ that will, hopefully, answer most of your questions. We are looking forward to discussing with you this topic more in the followup discussion. Q: You said „beta version“ - what does it mean? A: This feature requires a lot of work based on a lot of feedback that we would like to get from you, the Creators. Therefore it is very likely that 1.7 may bring some changes and you will be required to go through your scripts and update them. Also, as always with a feature of such size, there may be bugs. The more feedback you provide, the better it will get. Q: What language is it? What syntax can we expect? A: The syntax and commands (the „generic“ ones, not the ones specific to Ylands) is pretty much javascript (even its file extension is .js). However, it‘s not 100% javascript, since it does not support some features, so you can probably think of it as a javascript subset. You will find more about this in the online documentation. Q: Is this meant to replace visual scripting? A: Absolutely not. For us, visual scripting remains the primary way of scripting and we will keep improving it in future. Q: Can we use both scripting and visual scripting in one game? A: Sure! Q: Will there be some sort of editor, IDE we will be able to use to edit the script? A: No, not at this time. With so many cool editors out there supporting .js syntax we‘d like to focus on other areas of the scripting/game - at least for the time being. That‘s it for today - don‘t hesitate to ask about anything that remains unclear and I‘ll talk to you next week. Until then - stay healthy and classy, ylanders!
  4. Hey there, fellow ylanders! Here we are with yet another portion of 1.6 goodies and today we‘ll talk about both something for Creators and something nice you‘ll experience in the new Exploration. So what is it that the Creators may like? Let‘s say that you are making a small cool action game where the goal is to score as many points as possible. That‘s great but what‘s the point in having such a game when you can‘t store the best scores and show it to players to make them try harder, to give them more incentive? So in 1.6 we plan to introduce something we call Global leaderboards. Regardless of how many instances of your game are running at the same time, they can all store and retrieve (and show) ... well... global leaderboards. We are looking forward to seeing players compete with each other and we might even have a competition in future about getting the highest score in selected games! Also, if you‘re a Creator, you really shouldn‘t miss the next Dev Diary where we‘re going to talk about something really great that we‘re going to introduce with 1.6 (hype intended). Before I get to introduce a new Exploration feature, I would like to quickly address some questions from the last Dev Diary we posted. Firstly blueprints - in the new Exploration you will be able to use blueprint camera only on ylands where you have appropriate privileges. Our plans, however, are to do a big blueprint upgrade in 1.7 because we feel they hold a great potential we have only barely touched. We will be able to provide more information about this sometime after 1.6 is released. There has also been a question asked about setting specific Exploration ylands as PvP/PvE only. We looked into this and while we understand that this is an important setting to have we ran into some non-trivial issues when looking for ways to do this properly and so this will be in some form present in 1.7. And the cool new 1.6 feature for today? Well, we have been working on a system that allows us to present you, the players, with much more than an yland when you sail to a new location. With 1.6 you will be able to come across specific locations, custom-made, non-generated scenes. What does it mean? Imagine you sail to an uncharted yland on the regional map and instead of the ylands you‘re used to you come across something very unique - like a small floating outpost. This can be pretty much anything and the great thing is that we can keep adding these „random encounter scenes“ without having to update the game. We believe this will enhance the greatly the exploration aspect of the game. The question some of you will very likely ask is - if you can make custom ylands and expose them to players in Exploration, can I do that as well? Can I create my own yland (city ... or anything else) in the Editor and then have it in Exploration? The short answer would be: not... yet . But we are getting there and it is something that definitely deserves it‘s own Dev Diary. That‘s it for this week, I‘ll talk to you next Thursday and until then... stay healthy and classy, ylanders!
  5. Aleš Ulm

    Dev Diary #163 - Future of the Barrier

    As for stealing things - If you set your world rules that way, anyone who visits (unless they are friends / clanmates and you set a different set of rules for those) wouldn't be able to do any harm/change/steal from your world PvP / PvE - we know that it's important to be able to support both these modes, but the actual implementation in the new Exploration is something we are still discussing, so I should know more soon (don't hesitate to remind me I promised this if it's not mentioned in some way in the next week's Dev Diary ) The hammer - currently our plan is to let players deconstruct place objects (as long as they are either those who placed them or have been granted permission to do that) in two ways - by that hammer or while in the placing mode. Blueprint cameras - I believe in 1.6 you will be able to use blueprint cameras only on the ylands you own. However whatever the state of that is in 1.6, it will change, because for 1.7 we are planning to do big things with blueprints (I can't go into details just yet, but to make them much more useful/powerful/available) jchob - actually we considered a lot of ways how the barrier could be improved and having more of them / be able to move them was one of the first ideas. However, in the end, we ended up with the current plan where as long as the yland belongs to you can easily set up rules for all of it and not protect only small region or being able to deconstruct things just there. Just to make sure - whenever I talk about ylands you own, I don't mean only the starting yland but all the local game ylands you discover (which are SP by default unless you open them to others). And by the way - if you like traders, you're surely going to love yet another very cool feature we're introducing in 1.6 - I will talk about it soon in one of the future Dev Diaries (sorry about the hyping, but I couldn't help myself )
  6. Hey there, fellow ylanders! Today I would like to tell you a bit more about changes you can expect in 1.6's Exploration. We will talk about protecting what's yours and setting the game world rules to fit your idea of the perfect place. Let's start by saying that we don't really like how the barrier works in the game right now and even though it has served its purpose for a long time we think we could make a better, cleaner, more intuitive solution. Let's first discuss what the barrier is actually good for and how can we make sure these things will still work well when it's gone. The main areas where the barrier came in handy were these: it allowed players to create buildings they could easily dismantle for whatever the reason was it protected your little piece of the world from damage caused by other players, but also it prohibited them from doing things like removing terrain and such it protected your avatar against damage Not only wasn't the barrier concept very intuitive to new players, but it had several shortcomings (that we always planned to fix, but never got to it). It couldn't be moved when placed. It wasn't big enough. And most importantly, you only had one. This last thing has become a major blocker now with the new Exploration which is actually centred around the idea of travelling among distant locations and even though you can have one home where you return and where you could have the barrier, we feel it's extremely limiting. So we are planning to introduce these features: improved building via the new workstation (we already covered that here) allowing yland owners to set the rules for their maps The first feature we already covered (see here https://ylands.com/community/topic/29514-dev-diary-160-building-in-exploration/) We want to give you full control over your games and that's something that isn't possible with the barrier. As a result, the barrier will be removed from the game in 1.6 and in its stead game owners will be able to set up rules on what can different types of visitors do in this particular world. We believe you will find this extremely useful 😊 And then there's another thing I would like to mention. As you probably know, our Community manager Adam is leaving next week. We are currently looking very intensely for a replacement, but before we find one, Marci will try to take care of some of Adam's duties as best as he can. What does this mean? Since Marci has enough work as it is you can experience a bit longer response times on our side. Fortunately, there are already some awesome players who are a great help to us on the forums plus I will ask other devs to keep checking the forum (especially the bug forum). Hopefully, this state won't last too long. At the same time, if you ever encounter an issue that you consider critical or anything that requires our immediate attention, don't hesitate and PM me directly on our game forums. I will do my best to reply as soon as I can. That's it for today, we will talk to you again next Thursday and so until then... stay healthy and classy, ylanders!
  7. Aleš Ulm

    Dev Diary #161 - New Ship Type

    I would like to thank Adam for everything he's done as well. I just love how weird and funny the videos have become, the huge dose of energy and positive mood he's put into everything. My personal opinion is that, even with a great community to take care of, being a Community Manager is possibly the most demanding job in the game industry and it is only logical that CMs need to take well-deserved rest after a time and seek new challenges. We will miss Adam greatly - but I'm sure that we will find a worthy successor Thanks again, both Adam & Major General!
  8. Hey there, fellow ylanders! I'm excited to say that based on the way you react to the new Exploration we feel that we're moving in the right direction. We are fully aware of the new issues you're facing, and we have already fixed quite a lot of those so when update 1.5.1 is released (which should be in early February); hopefully, your experience will get even better. But as we said before, 1.5 was just a beginning so please let me share with you some of the plans we have for Exploration in 1.6. Before I do that, however, I would like to mention that we are now listening to your feedback even more closely than ever so in addition to "new" features, we will be fixing and tweaking a lot of things you keep reporting. I believe very strongly that when 1.6 hits your devices, you will see that what we said about creating the new Exploration together weren't just empty phrases. Today I would like to let you know about something we plan to do about building (actually we have quite larger plans for 1.6 when it comes to building, but we are not yet far enough with these to make them public ). Many times the building in Exploration simply sucks. When you compare it with the Editor, it's so much more difficult to build anything sophisticated. Your avatar gets in the way, you can't get to places that are too narrow or too high... and so you often wish that you could just fly freely around and place things. And that's exactly what we plan to give you in 1.6. Our plan is to introduce a new simple (re)movable workstation in 1.6 that when used will let you fly around it within a certain radius with a free camera view and build with ease. Obviously, you have to be careful around your surroundings because that will leave your Avatar exposed but I think that it always is a good idea to get rid of any predators around you before you start building a house anyway. We believe that this will result in building things in a much more intuitive and user-friendly way. And since we're talking about flying around - we are fully aware that the propeller pack is now quite overpowered (especially since your enemies can't often get to you) and so we're doing some changes to address that. We won't be removing it because it's a lot of fun but we will adjust the way it works so that by crafting it will make your life easier and more fun, but won't result in you being immune to every danger. There's so much more to tell you about and I'm looking forward to talking about the new Exploration in the upcoming weeks. Until then - stay healthy and classy, ylanders!
  9. Aleš Ulm

    Dev Diary #157

    Hey there, fellow ylanders! Update 1.5 is finally out and boy, what a big one. We brought you a lot of optimizations, as well as some extremely handy Editor tools - especially the ability to add your own images to be used in your user interfaces, will help you create even cooler games. For many of you, however, the most important in this update is something completely different - the first step towards reworked Exploration. I know that it took us quite a long to make this first big step. I also know that no matter what we do this first step won't please everyone. But I consider it a new beginning, a clear signal that we're serious about this. And because since it's just the first step, let me tell you what our vision is. Please note that I'm talking about a vision and not about things "that are planned". That's because we will carefully listen to what your wishes and ideas are and even though it's obvious we won't be able to implement all of those, together we will make sure that we're addressing things that are important. We see Exploration as a unique world filled with places you can visit, explore, where you meet your friends and strangers alike. Where there is ALWAYS a new place to go, new yland uncharted, new challenge to accept. Place where you build yourself a home, a place which you can make sure will be there and won't get wiped with any update. Place, where you can enjoy whatever new we introduce without starting a new game every single time. A world where we care more about things that are broken than adding new features at all cost. That doesn't mean that there will be no new content by all means. Even though many of you believe we should add flying vehicles, trains, submarines and a thousand other things as soon as possible (just like we ourselves used to believe), we will primarily focus on making sure that what's already in the game works as expected. That it's fun. That you can live amazing stories with your friends. Now let me get back to the update at hand. This update was huge, the changes we made under the hood were quite big so there were some issues that need fixing - for example the one that prevents players from eating under some circumstances. We've already found and fixed the most annoying issues reported and will be releasing a hotfix today or tomorrow. Let me thank you again for your patience. Stay safe and classy, ylanders!
  10. Aleš Ulm

    [COMPLETED] Police Pursuit

    Please let me elaborate a little bit more on the current situation. This competition has two goals - get more games on Workshop and award creators for their passion and ingenuity. In October when P1 asked us if they could participate in the competition with the games that were submitted to Tencent competition our reasoning was, that those are games that players here should see as well and the time and passion their creators put into making those enables them to be part of the competition. At that time we didn't realize all the consequences of that decision and that it can be viewed as quite problematic. However, please understand that the games will be judged by people from various Ylands "departments" and that the fact that P1 games had more time to create and polish their games do not make them automatic winners. There are so many aspects to every game, its ingenuity, potential... I honestly don't know what the outcome will be because my vote is just one of several, but I can assure you, that there's a lot of great games to choose from. Once again I apologize for getting both sides (P1 and other creators) into this uncomfortable position and I promise that we will do better as the competition continues.
  11. Aleš Ulm

    [COMPLETED] Police Pursuit

    Hi, everyone! Let me just quickly react. Unfortunately, due to poor wording from our end, we let a situation happen that angered a few of you. This is on us - but we feel punishing the players (by not letting them play amazing games - be it old or new) is not the right way to solve this issue. The next time, when we announce the next round of this competition (yes, this is far from being over) we will make sure we discuss with you the rules and what they imply. But overall let me say thank you all for all the amazing games you all made. We are very much looking forward to playing them and judging them, but I can already say now, that choosing the best game will be very difficult
  12. Aleš Ulm

    New Exploration FAQ

    Hey there, fellow ylanders. For a long time, we focused on the platform aspect of Ylands and the Exploration part slowly withered and in some ways actually became less fun to play than it originally was. Several months ago I became Ylands Project Lead (again) and from that very moment, we (especially with help of Tomas "Equi" Pavlik, who's overseeing the new Exploration) started making sure that Exploration becomes something unique and fun. Making sure that players who bought Ylands because of Exploration don't feel forgotten. Ylands is a huge project and it takes time to introduce changes, let alone major ones. But I felt that we had to start acting right away. That's why in 1.5 we are introducing a quite radical step towards the new Exploration but in no way we are saying that this is the new Exploration as we envisioned it because it will take more time. Please take it for what it is and try helping us to continue in the right direction. I understand that you may possibly have a lot of questions so this FAQ may help you find some answers. If not, feel free to ask in this forum. Give us as much feedback as possible. Thank you for staying classy! So it's now only about Exploration? Wow, hold your horses! Ylands is still a platform first and there are some amazing features waiting to be released for the Editor. But we can definitely do that without neglecting Exploration as you will see in the upcoming months (and years). What's the main thing that changed about Exploration? Instead of starting numerous Exploration games, Exploration is now one huge world. You create your character, pick a starting yland and start exploring. Continuing Exploration simply lets you continue from where you left off. How do I travel between Ylands? Create a vessel that is your own and sail to the edge of your current Local map. Once you cross the edge, in the Region map you can select another yland to travel to. Don't forget that you can sail even to ylands in another region - just open the World map and select the region. What do you mean by "my own vessel"? In the new Exploration, your avatar can have one vessel that is bound to them. You can call for the ship and send it away via the Radial menu ("Q"). Sailing to another yland is available only if you are sailing on your own vessel. You can let go of the vessel ownership at any time or claim a vessel that doesn't belong to anyone (also via Radial menu). The first vessel you build you will own by default. Can other players travel with me to other ylands via the map on my ship? Absolutely! They have to be present on the ship when you choose to travel. What ylands can I travel to? In every region, you see undiscovered ylands that are marked either as Single or Multiplayer. The singleplayer ylands are local games where you won't run into anyone else (unless you change them to Multiplayer mode). Multiplayer ylands can be really anything - MP games hosted locally by another player (peer2peer connection), a dedicated server ran by a fellow ylander or one that we are hosting. How will you know what it will be? You... explore! I want to visit my friend's yland but I don't see it among the ylands it that particular region... It's very likely that those 20 ylands you can explore in every region don't contain all the ylands you may want to visit. So if you want your friend to have your yland on their map (or vice versa) you simply "share" that yland with them (it doesn't have to be your yland, it can be any yland you find interesting). If the yland has multiplayer mode enable, you will see a Share button when you hover over it. Just click it and select which friend to share it with. If they have at least one undiscovered yland your ylands will replace it. There is a limit of 20 ylands per region. What if I want to explore more ylands or have some I don't like? With the exception of your starting yland, you can remove any on your map and they will be replaced by a fresh, undiscovered one. What happens when another update comes? Will I lose my progress? One of the main points of the new Exploration is that you can keep enjoying new content while keeping your progress. Have we added something that appears only on newly generated ylands? Well, keep the ones with your home and remove as many others as you see fit to experience the new content. But we need to be perfectly honest with you at this point - we will do the absolute maximum so that your progress stays untouched in 1.6 but we're calling 1.5 Exploration "Experimental" for a reason. However, at this point, I can assure you that we don't plan on wiping the progress with 1.6 and keeping your world intact is our utmost priority. What if I don't want to travel and Explore? Fair enough! Just stay on your yland and enjoy your solitary life as a castaway 😁🏝 What if don't want other people to come to my yland? All single-player ylands (including your starting yland) are just that - single-player ylands. No one will be able to enter them unless you change them into multi-player (and you can make this change at any point). What problems can I expect? Obviously with changes this big you can encounter some technical issues but hopefully not anything major. However, the new gameplay may bring new ways of griefing so that's definitely something we would like you to report whenever you encounter it. What can we expect to change? There are definitely things we want to change in 1.6. Your ship is now invincible which means no fun naval battles. The travelling even to distant ylands in different regions is instantaneous and without challenge. The barrier, the way it has worked so far, is something that we need to reevaluate... and the list goes on and on. What will 1.6 be like? We are still discussing the final design of many things and we also expect many to arise from your feedback so we will start updating you about 1.6 features in regular Dev Diaries starting in 2021. Let us know what would you like to see!
  13. Aleš Ulm

    Toxic gossip

    Guys, I don't think continuing this thread would result in anything good. Since Adam is on a vacation I will lock it and leave the decision up to him whether he wants to remove it or not (I think it would be a good idea, though). As it was said here, these things are better discussed in private. If you feel somehow wronged or harassed, feel free to PM Adam or me. Thanks!
  14. Aleš Ulm

    Dev Diary #151 - Dev Diary #151 - Update 1.5 FAQ

    Yes, you did 😀
  15. So we discussed it with our programmer and this is what he said 1. Entities render only when they are in front of a camera. Overall figuring out, what is behind a wall and if it should be rendered or not would be more tasking than just rendering it. In the future we want to make it possible to pick, what renders for which player (usable in strategies for instance, where one player would see a preview of a building being built while for others it stays hidden) and it is possible this could also be used to optimize a game as well. 2. We're not planning this. This is because when we open up the settings of one part of the game to creators, it worsens the performance of the rest of the players not using it as well. 3. Welding has no impact on graphics, just on physics and colliders (so it helps performance, but not in terms of lowering the number of visible polygons).