Hail and well met, Elyrians!
I'm writing this update as I sit on the plane to Boston. Just because several of us are going out of town doesn't mean I can skip a post! Caspian on my left, Caeoltoiri on my right. Souzou, Tripnull, and Scarlet across the aisle. We are aisle 29... We gave the rest of the team the day off but, even so, the excitement across the studio is palpable!
It's frightening and euphoric to be going to PAX East to show the game to fans, strangers, media, and critics alike. As Caspian wrote in his end of the year update, the community has grown immensely in the last year and so many more people know about Chronicles of Elyria that the stakes seem much higher than before. At the same time, the team has grown and we are officially in the production phase so we are much better prepared for what awaits!
At the beginning of 2017, we all sat down as a team to discuss the next, big deliverable: PAX East. Caspian, the designers, and I had discussed some possible approaches to how we could best show off the progress since last year, be a short-but-enjoyable experience to play through for fans and newcomers alike, and not take our Prologue development off the rails.
Last year's demo was all combat. This year, we landed on an adventuring experience with ledge-climbing, ziplining, jumping puzzles, mystery, and combat (still). This meant we needed to develop:
There are dozens more things we could have, and will, add as we continue to proceed through the production phase of the game. We will also continue to add additional functionality to things, such as parkour, that were not necessary in the mine's design (ex. vertical wall climbing). I'm very pleased with where the team got to on the demo, delivering a much more beautiful environment and more parkour features than had been asked for. It's a testament to how much the team enjoys making something we can be proud to share with all of you!
The last two weeks have been comprised of two things: bug fixes and feature polish. I hope you can be as excited and proud of the studio as I am and I hope that our excitement shows on the expo floor and in the subsequent video we will do about the mine.
One more bound soul! Joshua comes to us as a generalist programmer with an awesome attitude and pedigree. Responsible for the Black Lion Trading Company in Guild Wars 2 and (insert any other manner of programming tasks here), he has the current record for submitting a check-in to our codebase when he dove in on his first day. With his considerable web dev experience, he helped finish off the web game we developed for PAX: Conquest of Elyria.
Sayeth thee now, 'Conquest of Elyria? What new game is this of which thou speaketh?'
'Patience, friend,' I reply with a smile, 'Your inquiry shall be answered further along in the post.'
When he's not kicking ass at work, Josh is a competitive FPS player and loves rogue-likes. Beyond playing games, he enjoys developing open source and game jam software in his free time. A 10-year MMO veteran, he has more than enough battle scars to have solid street-cred. He is excited to create a deep and meaningful universe with us, partitularly in the procedural generation of the world and story elements.
PAX East preparations really ramped up in the last couple weeks, with all the booth parts and supplies showing up and needing to get shipped off. As I mentioned in the last update, we got a crate so that we could ship everything safely and securely, and there would be no chance of losing it! All the supplies were moved into a storage facility that we could do large shipments from.
After all the hard work the team did, both in shipping the PAX stuff and finishing the playable build, they deserved a break. Even though Caspian and I were at GDC by the time they finished, they managed to handle appropriate festivities themselves.
Caspian talking about why we are using SpatialOS at GDC
Once we finished our build for PAX East, we'd all played it so much that we knew the dungeon by heart and had developed all kinds of shortcuts and techniques for getting through it as quickly as possible - mostly so that we could test the later parts of the level as well as the start.
That's when Caspian said, 'Hey, let's do a live stream of a speed-run through the mines so people who aren't going to PAX can see what we're working on!'
Okay...well, we've never live-streamed gameplay but, sure, why not! There was much installing of OBS and setting up of microphones. Michael and Tripnull were chosen to compete for best time during the stream and the social media posts were sent out. There was no backing out now!
In the end, we had a great time showing off what we've been working on for PAX East/Prologue and there is a recording on YouTube for anyone who missed it. There are a few rough edges and, obviously, the gameplay is scoped to a smaller subset of what is intended for Prologue, but there's a lot of progress to speak of!
What's better is that we do plan to speak of it in much more detail after PAX is over. Expect a video deep-dive of the Silver Run Mines in a couple weeks that will take a more leisurely pace through the mine, with our team talking about its design and development. For anyone who was sad that we rushed through it, speed-run style, it was intentional because we didn't want to spoil the experience for folks who would be coming to PAX East. But never fear, you'll get your detailed walk-through soon!
I mentioned that Josh helped us finish off Conquest of Elyria, a web game we designed for PAX East (and really for any future conventions if folks end up liking it). We wanted to have a contest like last year, but the demo is not competitive this time. Instead, we decided to make a convention meta-game that would touch on aspects of CoE and give people a chance to meet.
What we developed is Conquest of Elyria! PAX goers will be able to play on-location with one another, gathering resources for their Kingdom and going to battle. Kingdom-selection is virtual (aka, just for the expo) but we are using the actual Kingdoms of our confirmed NA-E Monarchs! Players will be able to identify one another on the expo floor from the resource pin they wear and then scan QR codes to exchange resources.
Each day, the Kingdoms will battle at 5pm and the winning Kingdom will win an exclusive, in-game item for everyone in that virtual Kingdom. There is also a prize for the individual who gathered the most resources from other players each day, which will be a physical item on display at our booth. There's also one more prize: for every 1000 new registrations we get at the booth, we'll award an in-game cloak for everyone who plays Conquest at PAX East (which increases in quality the higher we get).
This is a little bit of an experiment for us but we hope it's a fun addition. If all goes well, we plan on offering this at other conventions and expos with other exclusive prizes possible. We've actually designed it in such a way that we may be able to offer it to con-goers at conventions we don't even have a booth at. As you may be suspecting, the virtual Kingdoms to choose from would be based on the location of the conference, with NA-W Kingdoms for PAX Prime or EU Kingdoms for Gamescon, etc.
As promised a few weeks ago, we've added additional clarity between rewards owned from previous packages when looking at comparisens in the webstore. Previously, if you had certain original packages and viewed a new package, it might not itemize all the stuff you were pretty certain you had (ex. a county).
Now you will see the full list of your stuff regardless of whether you are comparing old-new, old-new, or new-new! This should clear up a lot of uncertainty and, hopefully, provide people full peace-of-mind. You folks were really patient and understanding that we'd clear up the confusion, so I thank you for that and for helping the newly confused become informed. That should no longer be necessary with the new changes, but we appreciate how well our community looks out for us!
Note: There is one oddity in all this. If you had an original package and you've upgraded to a new package and then look to a new-new package, it may show something you own not-greyed-out properly. It's better if I give the primary example here:
If I had a Count/Countess package (original $500 tier) and I have upgraded to a Governor package (new $750 tier), and I view the Courtier package (new $1000 tier), it will show the County awarded by the Courtier package as not-greyed-out. We'll fix that in the next update. It just wasn't worth holding everything else up for.
The summary of the last Q&A on Pre-Alpha Experiences is up on our YouTube Channel. You can still watch the full recording here if you enjoy all the witty banter and wild tangents the team sometimes goes off on (I do). However, in the event you're trying to convince a friend to join up, the summary is probably better.
With the danger and mystery of the Silver Run Mines, we thought it would be a good time to talk about CoE's survival elements. The game is meant to be dangerous and we shortcutted a couple things in the demo (for instance, we haven't added swimming) so it doesn't show the full spectrum of what is planned...yet.
So, we will be holding our next Q&A on Survivial on Wednesday, March 29th at 12PM PDT / 3PM EDT / 8PM GMT!
The most pertinent Design Journals to read up on beforehand can be found here here, and here. We will be taking questions from this reddit thread. Head on over and post your questions or vote up the ones you want to hear answered in the Q&A.
For those who miss it, the recording will be watchable on Twitch.tv for a limited time afterward and on our YouTube channel forever. So even if you can’t make the live session, your question from reddit may still be answered.
Please follow these rules when posting questions for the Q&A.
Don't forget, many of the most common questions about CoE can be answered by reading over our design journals. If you're new to CoE, there is a wealth of information to begin with there.
We hope you'll join us Wednesday, March 29th at 12PM PDT / 3PM EDT / 8PM GMT!
Pledged to Your Continued Adventures in Life, Both Actual and Fantasy,