Caspian is back from a visit to our friends at Improbable, reinvigorated and resolute! The bold adventure he began years ago is taking real shape. Many friends have joined this journey and it is with your support that we continue down the path less traveled toward our prize. It will not be short. It will not be easy. We will be tested. But we are fearless. The only true test of courage is the last one. How are we faring?
Our partner, Improbable, announced their Alpha for SpatialOS this week! We are among a handful of companies already utilizing the technology in extremely significant ways. As has been previously talked about, SpatialOS is a platform for third parties to build online, virtual worlds. The focus on game engines like Unreal (what we are using) and a seamlessly scalable server-side means that indie studios like Soulbound can save a huge amount of time and resources on the MMO part and focus instead on the RPG part.
Also in the announcement is a partnership with Google, called the SpatialOS Games Innovation Program. This is another huge boon for small and indie studios and you can read all about it in their press release. It's big news, and has already been covered by TechCrunch and Wired. We are excited to be working with Improbable and hope you all are excited about this announcement too!
On December 12th we did a live Q&A on Twitch about the Biomes of Chronicles of Elyria. There were a lot of really excellent questions posed by the community in this reddit thread. For those of you that missed it, or just like to hear the sound of our voices, you can watch the recording with chat feed on Twitch.tv for a limited time, or on our YouTube channel forever.
I'm sure someone has already put this on a wiki page somewhere, but the list of Biomes that Souzou read during the Q&A is:
Additional biomes that are totally unique to the world of Elyria may be added, so don't take this as an immutable list, okay?
Now, I want us to do the Q&As on a more regular basis now that Production has begun. We will announce them here on our website and on social media, so follow us on twitter and Facebook! What topic do you want to know about next? I was thinking Tribes...
The entries keep rolling in on our twitter contest! Some are the beautiful landscapes you imagine in Elyria, some are how you imagine your adventures, some are showing love to cult favorites such as pine cones or melons. We are enjoying the submissions quite a lot, so keep it up! There's still plenty of time - just tweet to @SoulboundStudio with #ElyriaOnEarth by January 15th to enter for a chance to win! There is no limit to the number of entries, and winners will be announced on January 18th.
We've been talking about the store update for the last few weeks and what it will include, when it will drop, and what you can look forward to. The team had a frank discussion about the Exposition Store as a part of our quality review and it's important to share the outcome of that. As I hope you all know, we want to be transparent with our community and that means admitting to our mistakes as well as celebrating our successes.
Everyone is hungry for details about the game mechanics, settlement selection, and exposition in particular because this is where the idea of Chronicles of Elyria starts to feel tangible. Well, as tangible as a virtual world can be. Therefore the items in the Exposition Store represent the first 'real' things a player can own and thusly the role a player will assume in the game. More than just virtual goods, these items are part of your identity.
As we worked on filling out the items initially available in the Exposition Store, we kept running into issues where we could provide some information, but not enough to feel that we were providing the level of detail you would want in order to make the decision to spend your EP on it. What's more, is that the items we were working on--the ones you can see here--are not all the items that will be available. There is a risk that players would spend all their EP on these items, thinking that it's all that would be available, and then be frustrated when new things are added that they would have got had they only known. While we could say 'Hey, this isn't everything, we'll add more stuff later', then folks would want to hold onto some EP reserves but this actually causes some trouble too. First, the amount to reserve would be uncertain and I can't imagine adding additional ambiguity would be a boon at this stage in the game. Second, we may create incentives on available items in order to balance the initial economy and, if we don't know roughly how many are reserved, then we can't know how the balance is playing out. Third, if someone was sitting on some EP reserves only to find that the items added later are not to their liking and they really wanted something that's no longer available, aggravation is a thing that will happen. Lastly, not knowing the full scope of everything available will reduce confidence in the items you do purchase and making you question your decisions is not something we feel good about introducing!
The result is that the team has decided, and I support them, to delay the Exposition Store until we feel confident that you all would be confident in spending your EP. We don't know what we don't know, therefore we don't yet have an expected date for when it will be released.
'Forgive my inquest, Vye, but are you hazarding to elucidate that the Exposition Store is not demoted to a mere subsequent release but will, in fact, remain in such a state of limbo for some undetermined amount of time?' you ask with a faint flutter of your eyelashes.
Yes, and it's not because we didn't make the Exposition Store. It's because it's not yet good enough. It's not ready and we should have realized this earlier--probably before we said we were making it but, like I said, we sometimes make mistakes. This mistake not only took up a lot of development time that could have been spent on the game, but also set expectations with the community that will undoubtedly lead to disappointment. Disappointment is not a habit we want to get into, so I hope that you will understand that we are suspending the Exposition Store release for good reasons: quality, integrity, and compassion. Chronicles of Elyria must be a game of quality. Soulbound Studios must be a studio that acts with integrity. As a community, both you and I, must demonstrate compassion toward one another. This is how we will deliver on the promises that have captured our collective imagination and drive the team every single day.
Now, we are not saying it'll be radio silence about items or prices for the Exposition Store. We'll reveal what we can when we can, like everything else. The items will still be steaming from the heat of the oven when you hear about them! Cool? Cool.
Even though the Exposition Store is not coming out now, we are still updating the store in a release dropping soon. Something you'll see when this comes out, in addition to the new pledge packages, is a server selector for the packages with settlements (Baronies, Counties, Duchies, and Kingdoms). We are nearing the point where we will put caps on the number of players able to begin managing a region. Layaway has been extremely popular for reserving pricing and rewards for the high-tier packages and we are already anticipating 5 Kingdoms on the NA-E server. We are going to be limiting the number of Kingdoms per server to 5 starting with this release. The exact numbers for Duchies, Counties, and Baronies are being worked on by the designers and I will reveal those caps just as soon as they are determined, so no need to panic. No one is going to lose their already-purchased title and lands.
However, I want to make something super-duper clear about Layaway of pledge packages with settlements--you do not own it until you pay off the full amount. This has been said before but, to be brutally explicit, if a server is at 4 paid-for Kingdoms and 2 people put a Kingdom on layaway, the first person to pay off their package gets the 5th spot. The other person will no longer be able to have that tier and we will work with them, if this situation even occurs, to get them settled on a new pledge package and convert any overpayments of that new tier to store credit. Please note that all the funds go directly to development of the game and we have a No Refund policy. So, please, buyer beware but know we will work with you if this situation occurs.
We've hit another stretch goal and likely our last before the deadline. The pet Phoenix is now going to be available as a 6th pet option for backers at the Beast Master tier and above. The other 5 options are pretty cool though. They are:
Adorable and sly, a great companion for the dexterous. Foxes have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, allowing them to effectively scavenge for small rodents and other creatures for their owners. You may also benefit from it's keen intuition that can warn you of nearby dangers, but they may become overwhelmed in towns. They also get along great with dogs!
Impress your friends with this long-tailed fur ball. Lemurs are friendly and inquisitive creatures with dexterous hands for climbing and grabbing. Expert climbers, they are able to climb trees to gather fruit or nuts that they will probably share with you as they ride on your back. Be sure to keep a good eye on it in town or it might grab things it oughtn't.
In tall grass, you might need a bell to find it. With regal bearing and cool demeanor, the shrubland wildcat is a dispassionate yet loyal companion. Able to silently stalk its prey, it can catch more than enough to feed its owner on the road. As a city pet, they may become bored without enough space to keep active.
These playful pets rarely roam far from their owner. The diminutive leffit is a scale-covered creature that tends to stay close to its master. It may ride on your shoulder or lounge around your possessions. It generally has a playful nature, but is sensitive to subtle aspects of people nearby and will change color in response. A common pet to see in court. Less so by adventurers.
They can curl up into what resembles a pine cone! The rarely-observed conifer rat is usually found in forests where it can feed on pine needles and hide from predators by rolling itself up to look like a pine cone. They are shy and prefer to ride in their owner's pockets or pouches. They are often trained for reconnaissance and infiltration due to their cleverness and natural camouflage.
Before I showed you all the adorable pets you can have, I mentioned a deadline for stretch goals so let me expand on that a little bit. Thanks to your abundant support, you locked in Angelica's Tears, Wards of the State, and Religious Statues as launch features almost right away. Since the store launched in October, you've increased the stretch goals to Gambling/Gaming, Pet/Mount Customization, Tunneling, and now the Pet Phoenix. Locking these in means they will be available at Launch. To ensure we have enough time to develop and test these goals fully, we won't be committing to new goals after December 2016. As a result, any stretch goals we don't hit by the end of the year will be added to the game after launch.
I know what you really want to know, though: Will pledge packages still be available?
Yes, we will continue to sell the pledge packages, probably until Launch for some packages. Not only does it provide us additional funding, but it allows folks who are just hearing about Chronicles of Elyria to join in the fun and enthusiasm exhibited in our most awesome of communities!
In this last sprint, the focus was still about getting more of our work into the playable game. There's still a couple things to fix to get the Female model in (she's not got any clothes right now) but we've got a new model to introduce and I love it so much! Meet the Dryas Elk!
We are turning our attention back to character creation and one aspect of that is hairstyles! We've got concepts for our next set ready for modeling so expect to see the modeled results in a future update. Since you all are on the bleeding edge of news about the game, I thought you might appreciate seeing where those hairstyles are starting.
Ultimately, we aim to provide a generous selection of hairstyles for different tribes and regions so this is the tip of the iceberg. Once you are in-game, visiting a barber will offer you additional chances to experiment with new looks or even start a new trend for all the courtiers to adopt!
Pledged to Your Continued Adventures in Life, Both Actual and Fantasy,