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NOTD Bank Upgrade - February 2012 (Month 19)
Please backup your bank file. See guide:

We'll be upgrading our bank file and the new NOTD bank file will be called notdbank4.sc2bank. Your old notdv003.sc2bank files will remain un-updated in the next patch and will be a local backup file. On-going, all bank writes will be done on notdbank4.sc2bank.

What changes?

Present System: 40 bank variables
New System: 120 bank variables

Why are we making this change?

We've maxed out our bank variables and now need to expand our bank capacity to allow more data/achievement storage. I chose 120 variables because this would be a good number to fit almost all of NOTD's needs with a buffer of around 20 variables for emergency use. The greater the amount of variables we use, the more error prone it is. More variables also mean longer spikes during bank saves/loads and that disrupts the flow of the game. If you notice very carefully, NOTD's loading has a very small wait before the storyline selection comes up. This isn't because of lag, but an intentional wait needed to load all players' bank files. The larger the banks, the more time we need.

What are Banks?

Banks are used to store player data. Many maps use them. In NOTD's case, we use it to store your XP, Medals, Wins, Class Points and many others. They are currently stored locally in your PC. When the Map Arcade comes out with Heart of the Swarm, it is very likely that Banks will move to Blizzard's server. Only then can Banks be truly secure and allow commercial operations of the Map Arcade to take place.

What could go wrong?

We're not sure exactly what the technical limits of SC2 banks are. If it doesn't support 120 variables, everything is fubar. Theoretical testing done on SC2Mapster says that there's no meaningful limits to banks, but nobody really has any conclusive or bullet-proof data. Our local testing shows that 120 bank variables work, but the results can vary in an 8 player setting. If our stress-tests fail, we'll revert to the old bank system. I can't emphasize enough the need to keep multiple backups of your bank file. This is a high risk change and local testing can only verify up to a limit.

Development News - Inventory Upgrade
We'll be uploading an optimized inventory system for stress-testing today. This should minimize the issue with unresponsive commands.

Technical Explanation

Old System - there was a global 0.25 sec wait for each inventory manipulation as threads needed to fire properly (it's not instant as SC2 takes some time to execute the thread - it's not something we can influence. Lower wait meant consistently missing items). If any player spam clicks within 0.25 secs, nothing happens (lost commands).

New System - Player specific queue system. When you use an item - it may take 0.1 - 0.3 secs to fire (depending on how fast SC2 executes). At the end of the thread, the next command is ready for firing. This means we have the potential to speed up responsiveness and also ensure no commands are missed as it's a queue system. Also, each player should now fire their inventory threads independently. Net, happy theory. We've tested locally and it works okay.

Why can't we use a default inventory system?

We're a cooperative game and there will be times you need to use ally/leaver toons. Default ones has some issues with using other people's inventory. There's a lot more technical issues with it and also the rules we've put in place for inventory manipulation that may not make sense in a standard system. The only drawback is that we won't have Right-Click functionality.

What's the worst that could happen?

A faulty inventory system could instigate global riots as people start losing items (there's a fan fiction idea for Nicarco). But the world is ending on 21 Dec 2012 anyway.

Development News - X1 Guardian Changes
The Engineer's X1 Guardian was providing too much damage relative to the effort required to maintain it. Read Niteshade's thread for rationalization:

Interventions Taken

1. Base X1 attack speed reduced. In place, we've added a new 'Targeting Computer' ability that enhances its attack speed for 10 seconds. Good players will maintain, if not enhance, their X1 damage potential with right usage at appropriate times. It will be a bit more challenging to spam indefinitely due to its energy requirements.
2. Base X1 move speed reduced. Realistically, its Turbo ability was rarely used and we wanted to ensure players use this in sticky/kiting situations. We've also reduced Turbo's energy cost slightly.
3. Base X1 energy regeneration down slightly. Shell mode now also improves energy regeneration in observable ways, and the HP regen rate has been improved slightly. The intent is to drive more Shell mode usage during intervals to regenerate the X1 for combat use.

We'll closely monitor the changes and make balance changes where needed. Net, can the X1 still do crazy damage? Yes - if you micro it consistently well. For players who are more fire and forget, the X1's damage potential is now closer to the rewards/effort range of many other abilities.

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