Welcome to another Chronicles of Elyria Update. It's been a couple weeks since our last update so we've got quite a few things to share and talk about. All good, and all signs of growth. So let's go ahead and get to it!
To begin with, one week ago on Tuesday, October 4th we released our latest video of Chronicles of Elyria. This one, titled A Living World, is our first video showcasing something in the world besides flora. With lounging Canis Rabbits, herding Trison, Elyrians going about their daily business, and an environment that will take your breath away, this video hits home and shows the first real glimpse at the depth and richness of life in Chronicles of Elyria.
In addition, it displayed some fantastic panoramic shots of the region known as Titan's Steppe, giving you an idea of exactly how massive the world is. Keep in mind, everything in the video is real terrain, real flora and—in the final release of the game—will be fully explorable. And at only 8 km x 12 km, everything you can see in the video, from horizon to horizon, represents just .2% of the starting continent. If you missed the video last week, feel free to watch it here now.
We're still a long way out from the release of the game, but the video does show that we're making progress and the world is gradually coming to life. If you're like me, it's very exciting to see the direction the game is headed. More videos coming as we flesh out more of the systems.
The other major event from the last two weeks is the launch of the online store! Yes! If you previously backed the game on Kickstarter and are now looking to spend your over-payment credits on add-ons, or want to upgrade to a higher-level tier, now's the time!
If, for some reason, you were unable to back during the Kickstarter but wanted to, the store is now open. Feel free to head on in and grab your title, lands, and backer rewards, by purchasing a Pledge Package in the store.
While the store is online, we are hearing reports that some people are still having some trouble purchasing from the store without a little leg-work.
You see, when a merchant goes online without previous credit history, no previous history of transactions, etc. and starts selling globally across the planet, with purchases ranging from $10 to $10,000 it sets off alarm bells with major fraud prevention systems.
As a result, PayPal, some credit card companies, etc. are blocking the transactions. It's not their fault, they're doing precisely what they're supposed to be doing. Protecting your money.
However, in this case, our Merchant of Record, Xsolla, is a trusted international merchant and there's no fraud involved, but the fraud systems are blocking the transactions anyways.
The best way to resolve the issue is to email Xsolla via their support system or, better yet, just call your credit card company or Paypal and let them know you're going to be making a transaction and the amount of the transaction and ask them to let it go through.
That's it! As time goes on and more and more transactions happen, the fraud protection systems will begin to relax a bit as they recognize patterns in our transactions and start to trust the payment requests. In the meantime, if you try to make a payment and are blocked, you'll have to work with your payment processor or Xsolla to move forward. Because we're not the Merchant of Record, there's literally nothing we can do to make the transaction succeed at this point.
The other thing I wanted to quickly touch on was Total Influence Points vs. Spendable IP. As we mentioned before, your Total Influence Points is an indication of your influence in helping to make CoE successful. There are many ways to gain Influence Points, including purchasing things in our store, positive contributions in our forums, tracking down bugs, etc... All of those serve to make you more influential.
While you can earn IP it's also possible to spend IP. As you spend IP your Spendable IP goes down, however you're no less influential in our success, so your Total Influence Points won't go down. Think of Total Influence Points as a record of all the IP you gained, through whatever means, without reducing it by your spendable amounts.
That all said, if you buy a pledge package, your Total Influence goes up by the amount you spent x10. So if you spend $120, your Total Influence goes up by 1,200. However, of that, 1,100 of the IP immediately gets “spent” on the rewards you received as part of the pledge package, leaving you with 100 spendable IP.
Likewise, if you spend $100 and buy the 1250-IP add-on, your Total Influence goes up by 1,000, however your spendable IP goes up by 1250. Don't think too hard about it. It may be easier to think of them as two different things. One is a measure of how influential you are, the other is a currency you can spend.
That's all well and good, but where's my Spendable IP listed? It isn't yet. We're working on the Influence System right now to add in spendable IP from other systems, as well as to get ready for the IP store opening in November. As soon as we've got the system live you'll be able to see in the shop your spendable IP.
That's great... but what can I spend the IP on? Glad you asked...
When a new MMORPG opens their doors on day 1, the world is filled with settlements, NPC merchants, trainers, and quest-givers. There are also stories unfolding in the world around you for you to participate in.
Chronicles of Elyria is similar, at least from the user-experience of those who join the game on launch day. But it is different. When launch day comes along, there will be settlements, however many of them will be player-customized if not player-built. There will be blacksmiths, merchants, and shop-owners, but they'll be players, not NPCs. And while there will be trainers in the world that players can seek out to learn patterns and techniques from, there won't just be NPC trainers. Many of the early players will also have access to limited-access techniques and patterns as well.
The process of populating the world with settlements, allowing players to set up their shops and businesses, and advance the stories that are unfolding in the world around others is called Exposition. It's the three-month period of time before the game officially launches.
But how do you gain the land, buildings, resources, supplies, and patterns and techniques necessary to be the land owners, shop keepers, and trainers at launch? That's what the IP store is for.
We use the IP store as a way to seed the world with the settlements, guilds, schools, merchants, and crafters of the world. As a result, when the IP store opens, what you'll find are things that allow us to fulfill those objectives.
You'll find things like parcels of land, starter packs for different roles, animals for breeding, mounts for riding, building patterns for settlements, resources for developing your skills, and even patterns and techniques so you can become a skilled artisan who others will look to when they want to advance themselves.
In many cases the items will remain in the IP store indefinitely but, in some cases, such as patterns and techniques where we want to limit the number of people in the world who have that knowledge at launch, the items will only be available for about a month. After that, the only way to gain that knowledge will be to seek out a trainer in Exposition or after launch.
Death, ZRO, Scarlet, and Heat are all busy putting together the graphics and tables necessary for the IP store. As we get the content created, we'll share it with you so you can see for yourselves what'll be available beginning in November.
During a previous update we described our layaway system. It was initially designed to work just like the overpayment model of the Kickstarter. People could spend beyond their tier's price, and then use that money later on in any way they wanted. However, as people pointed out... that kinda sucked and is mostly useless if you can't lock in your tier prices now.
We heard you, and we've made changes. ZRO and I are currently working on changes to the website to support a smarter layaway system that'll allow you to pick a tier, pay down a minimum of 10% of the tier price, and lock in that price indefinitely. Then, over the next year you'll be able to spend down a minimum of 10% at a time until you've paid off the package.
You won't gain the benefits of the tier or any of those beneath it until you pay off the full price, however it does guarantee you get the Kickstarter price and benefits for the reward tier.
And prices will go up. Beginning in November we're collapsing many of the tiers down, reducing it from 19 packages to 12, and in doing so adding value to many of them. As a result, the cost of most of the packages will be going up proportionally, with the Count and Duke tiers seeing the largest increase. So if you plan to pledge as a Duke or Count, you'll want to lock in your price in October.
Along with the Layaway system, we're currently working on the Gifting, Transfers, and Tokens system. This system will allow you to look at what things you've purchased in the online store and transfer them to others. This could be pledge packages, tokens, or even IP-based items you'd like to gift to others.
We're still working out the details on the system, but when we know more we'll share.
Another question we've been hearing a lot is whether or not we plan to open up the Design Experiences as individual items rather than being part of Pledge Packages. We're undecided, but it currently doesn't look good.
The main reason for making them independent purchases is to make them more accessible to players. The problem is, we can't afford for them to be more accessible. We set them at the reward tiers we did because, unlike many of the other rewards we offer, design experiences are expensive for us. Take, for example, the Weapon Master Design Experience.
This requires our concept artist to work with you to create the general concept of the weapon or shield. Then a 3D modeler has to create a model for it, texture it, and define the material. Then our designer has to figure out what the crafting requirements are for the item, as well as work out the mathematical model behind the item. What's the durability of the item? How is it effected by different construction materials or processes? If it's a weapon, which other types of weapons and armor is it strong or weak against? If it's a new weapon that doesn't fall into an existing weapon category, we may even have to make new combat animations for it.
Hopefully you get the point. Even something as simple as a new weapon can range from a day or two, to as much as a week to get all the pieces right. It's not hard to do the math and realize that it's possible for us to actually lose money on a design experience if we're not smart about how we go about creating it.
For that reason, we need the design experiences to remain expensive, so they can cover the costs required to create them. So even if we did make them standalone items, they wouldn't be significantly less expensive than they are now.
In other news, we've added two new employees to the family at Soulbound Studios! In the order they joined the team we've got...
Maika is a graphics designer by trade and has been in the games industry for the last 8 years, working for companies like Big Fish Games and Unikrn. She's been on the marketing side of the games industry as well and has worked on print and digital media, booth designs ranging from Casual Connect and PAX Prime, to web and mobile marketing campaigns. Maika joins the CoE team in both the Outreach and UI/UX teams, where she'll be creating not only marketing materials, but much of the UI for the game as well.
Vye joins the team as our Sr. Producer after working for Zynga, Amazon Game Studios, and of particular interest, The Amazing Society, where she worked on the MMO Marvel Super Hero Squad Online. Vye is a voracious MMO and table-top RPG player herself, takes the player experience very seriously, and joined Soulbound Studios to ensure we're able to deliver on the promises we made to the players. In addition, Vye has said she is looking forward to creating and fostering amazing new narratives within Chronicles of Elyria with the other folks here at Soulbound Studios.
Having talked quite a lot about the Production side of things, there's not a whole lot new to talk about with respect to Content and Engineering, as most of what we've been working on was visible in our recent video.
That said, design has been continuing their work on the biomes of Elyria. The latest creature they've been working on is the Otter Bear.
The Otter Bear, taking after otters, can be found in most biomes given a river or body of water. The only biomes they wouldn't be seen in are the extremes such as the Tundra, Taiga, and deserts. They don't migrate, but they travel up and down rivers.
Like most bears they're omnivorous, but prefer meat if available. They'll wait for animals to go for a drink of water and then pounce when they least expect it. Then they'll proceed to eat while floating on their backs, avoiding nuisances such as scavenger animals. That said, if necessary, they'll travel on to land in order to find a food source.
They will most often either be alone or roaming in groups of 3-5. Generally docile towards humans, they have playful attitudes with one another and are tamable. If provoked, however, such as threatening their young or explicitly attacking them, they are relentless and are a considerable threat thanks to their agility in both water and on land (Google 3-clawed otters).
That’s all for now. The office is starting to become pleasantly crowded, and the game is beginning to swarm with new life. In the coming weeks we’ll continue to work on new features for the store, as well as continue making progress on the Prologue offline demo. With Vye joining us, and with us continuing to hire, we’ll soon be transitioning from Pre-Production into Production. And nobody is more excited to see what the team is fully capable of when we enter full production than me.