This area task was essentially broken into two types; cities and main roads where non-aggressive npcs spawn and hunting areas where aggressive mobs spawn. These areas are populated automatically based on the number of players in the area along with chance encounters when entering new rooms. We've had varied instances of both all across New Archai for years and now the Academy has been updated to match. All aggressive areas are subject to resetting (mobs disappear) after a certain amount of time without active player activity. This is done for resource management but I feel it's a comfortable length of time, certainly enough for the solo adventurer to step out and heal up before returning to battle. In both types our biggest priorities were to fix bugs that prevented mobs from spawning, add color to mob spawning entrances (matches the colorset for Mobs/NPCs), sync loot across the game so we can easily introduce new and seasonal treasure, and on the back-end, overhaul how each mob and area is saved to make them easy for future staff to access and modify.
In the cities, spawning is ongoing with or without players present to give them appearance of bustling areas. The cities/towns of Pearl, Three Bridges, Rum Village, Stirling Encampment, and Molkreak (the gnome village) have all been updated with townies designed to better support pilfering. In Pearl, the areas in King's Port such as the inn and lighthouse remain the best spots for pilfering, while additional areas in the mausoleum and menagerie have been added as popular spots to pilfer unsuspecting locals and tourists. Three Bridges underwent some other changes in addition to setting up their npc citizens. A few previously closed areas have been opened and river access has been further defined to make it easier to get in and out of town if you need to in a hurry.
For aggressive hunting areas, we wanted to preserve many of the unique qualities each area offers. The way we have set up spawning allows for better control over boss and quest spawning as well, something we'll be adding more detail to in the coming months. An example I'm excited to share is the fabled ban'ghal tiger of Ban'ghard Forest. Instead of simply spawning once you've been assigned the quest, it starts hunting you. You may catch glimpses of it stalking you, or hear it moving through the forest as it prepares to engage. This is something we will carry out in other places as well such as direwolves. It definitely adds another element to hunting of an ever-present predator that is always lurking. A lot more life has been added to the Bison Plains as well. There was a report of some of the mobs appearing to enter but not being visible. That should be addressed now. We've been unlocking the remaining areas of New Archai, such as the Cougar Canyon that connects the Bison Plains to the Lake Stirling area by way of a number of trails down the cliffside. Normally I resist adding aggressive spawning to roads, but with this new addition we added some risk of being stalked/attacked by cougars. The risk is not always there, but if you are brave enough to willingly hunt cougars, you'll find them at dusk and in the evening. They do not spawn during the day. Other areas have similar day/night spawning activity like the vampires and their servants in the Southern Outpost.
This has been a huge project and a very satisfying one to complete. Going forward, we can easily make changes to single areas or the entire world without worrying about some aspects being missed and falling out of date. It's always a good feeling to completely eliminate bugs and the consistency improvements made will mean a better experience for players looking to adventure anywhere in the world. The next stage of quest work will fully complete all the areas and have them ready for the big relaunch. The combination of these two tasks will fill Shattered Isles with life that does not feel forced or repetitive. This will go a long way towards providing players with short and long term goals to pursue along side the pursuit of class and crafting skill goals. Thanks to everyone that has been providing feedback and sending in bugs from the recent work. It means so much to have your continued support during this time. I hope the results speak to how much we listen!