It's always nice taking time to look back at a full year of Nin Online running as an actual realized game. As of now, we've had almost 4 years of live service operation since launching Open Beta in May 2017. It feels like such a long time ago now that I actually lose count of how long it's been and have to check announcements to remember.
For those who don't know the full history of Nin Online, the game project started development in mid-2013. We had multiple closed and open alpha tests, before finally launching Open Beta in 2017.
This recap post is something I try to make time for every year to gather all my thoughts on the state of Nin Online and the state of Nin Online's continued development.
Some random "year in numbers" stats
This year, we had 10,000+ new registered accounts and 7,478 new forum posts. We localized the game service to Brazilian Portuguese. We added 263 new patch notes... Of all those patch notes, here are some of the highlights of running Nin Online for 2020...
Game server recreated in C#, replaces our Visual Basic 6 server operation!
Networking replaced from Winsock networking to Mirror.
Unique Clan Clothings
Improved Idle Animations for player and NPC characters.
Village special abilities (buff WoF )
Crazy new crosshairs (rainbow spin woo)
Flicker improvements (won't fail to flicker when player's front and back and blocked)
First level 50+ content (Blood puppet factory area)
Optimized large packets including map packet sizes by 60%
Ninja Dodgeball Event
7 new side missions
Added signboards in villages for directions and on-screen instructions for aviary and scroll shops
New GM event system (the /eventjoin system)
Moved stash from Gumi to dedicated UI button
Added 43 Gold/Silver exclusive emoticons
5 Chunin Exams, 3 mini-events in the middle of the year, Anniversary Event, Halloween Event & Let it Snow event
Added a friggin' gun
FINALLY Fixed random DoT / Maplock bug
104 new items (not all released)
28 new mobs & npcs (not all released)
11 new jutsu animations (not all released)
Nin Online Podcasts
I had a lot of fun on the 4~ Nin Online podcast episodes I did this year, including the one where the new client was shown off! It was nice to talk to everyone we interviewed and hear their stories about the community and experiences in-game. I hope to do more in the future!
The year of player contributions
I have to say that this year has been a first in the amount of people stepping up to create art or hire people to create art, independent of any direction from myself, for Nin Online. It all began with people learning to do pixel art or getting others to help create clan outfits for their own clans, other clans and eventually entire pieces of content like weapons and Christmas cosmetics. Thank you for everyone who went out of their way to contribute to Nin Online your time and money, and I'm happy to have help!
The new server software
The importance of the replacement of our old server software to our new C# server... cannot be understated. It's been so nice knowing the server isn't crashing when it reaches 100+ players anymore. With the new server moving to C# also comes the added benefit of a modern development environment which has helped so much in solving bugs like just today fixing the years old bug of people getting damaged by random NPC poison/bleed effects. Without the new server, this wouldn't have been possible. The way our new server handles errors like a boss, not resulting in crashes, has also been something we previously never accounted for but has been so great.
Transparency & Optimism for 2021
Honestly, I feel that the second half of 2020 was slower than I would've liked it to be in terms of content updates. Also, I took a long break for the majority of December to play Cyberpunk 2077 and watch Community. :p I have a lot of optimism that things will pick up with the start of the new year, we have work and people lined up to help me in the coming months, including my plans to steal Wolf back from his big game studio job soon. I am excited to start 2021 with some content updates dropping as early as January. On top of that, Nin Online has been performing a lot better than past years financially (thanks to more players stuck at home during the pandemic and the new brazil localization), and with that I'm able to start paying people more to work on Nin, which is going to be a great going forward.
Finally, I just want to thank the Nin Online team who have really helped me with Nin Online this year.
Thank you @TheWolf for working with me throughout the year.
Thank you @Kenock for leading the expansion of Nin Online's game service into Brazil, constantly pestering me to work on specific issues and telling me whenever the server crashes.
Thank you @Erox for being a big help with support, moderation and running events.
Thank you @Serias for actively helping me with art and also moderation.
Thank you @Robin for helping with the new server project.
Thank you @Seth for his continued assistance despite having a busy year attending school.
Thank you @Sezu for joining us again this week and already contributing a bunch of the upcoming content.
Thank you @external & @Lucass for helping us moderate discord.
EDIT: On one last note, there's something I'd like to say that I forgot to write about when I posted this...
In a year like 2020, where myself included, a lot of us were forced to spent a large portion of it cooped up at home, the community has been a nice place to enjoy a social environment with stakes beyond short rounds of finding out who the imposter is, or running through obstacle courses with strangers. Nin Online is a special game, but not just because of what the game is, but what the community has made it become. The Nin Online community is amazing - we have "petty drama" every day, we feel strongly defensive about what they represent, and people have friendships (and pseudo enemies) that go beyond what casual interactions in other games allow you to... because you guys spend months to years in it, interacting with one another, making stories and a history of meaningful events in our collective imaginative world.
Nin Online Community is truly something like no other. I have not felt the amount of comradery and stake in a long time, and as much as I try to stay neutral to everything, watching people form their own personas or show their character makes being around the community a very enjoyable experience.
In 5 years, I don't know if Nin Online will still be around, it might be. In 10 years, who knows?
But the one thing you'll surely remember from your time here are the experiences with people you shared here. People will come and go, nobody can stay entertained on something forever. But during your time in the community, enjoy your share of stories and impart enough for others to remember you. That's what community is about, and on a bigger scale, what life is about. I appreciate what everyone here contributes in their own way as a person to the whole community. Enjoy your petty drama and discord pvps, because it's a privilege to feel such strong emotion about something and because who knows when the next time you'll feel so strongly about anything is, Thank you!