12 January

A Year of Foundation

By Caspian

As the trees lose their leaves, the air turns cold, and frost can be found gathering on the ground in the morning, I'm reminded that winter is once again upon us (Ok, so winter may look different in Seattle than other places). This necessarily leads to a period of reflection and retrospection as I think about what we've achieved as a studio over the past year and what we have planned for the year to come. So, in accordance with my annual "Look Back", let's take some time to revisit the many foundations laid in 2017, and the progress we'll be making in 2018.

2017, A Year of Foundations

I'm often overheard at home and around the office using analogies to communicate sometimes complex concepts to my kids, coworkers, and friends. In truth, I'm almost as famous for my analogies as I am for my puns. Sometimes I borrow from existing analogies and frequently I come up with my own. When preparing for this blog post I was thinking not only about what we had achieved in 2017 and what we will be achieving in 2018, but also how 2017 was different from 2016. As I was thinking, the frequently used construction analogy that is frequently utilized in software engineering came to mind.

The idea is that software engineering is akin to civil engineering, and that the process of building a house or a skyscraper can provide lessons toward the construction of software. The analogy usually draws parallels between the different phases of construction such as the requirements gathering, drawing up blueprints, laying a foundation, creating a frame, etc. There are also many reusable terms such as architecture, scaffolding, building, and more. Of course, there are some key differences as well which leads people to argue the validity of the construction analogy, but that's irrelevant for this conversation.

If I continue the construction analogy, then the primary focus of 2016 was on the concepting phase of development. We worked on prototypes, proofs of concepts, and small demos to validate the ideas we had. This would be a lot like an architect creating 2D or 3D models of their building to pitch the design and project to others. It’s not throw-away work, as the concepts and designs serve to guide the vision of the project, but clearly a sketch, render, or even blueprints won't keep you warm in the winter.

If the clear majority of 2016 was on concepting and drawing up blueprints, then November of 2016, just over 13 months ago, was when we finally broke ground on the construction of Chronicles of Elyria. It's when we took the vision and concepts we'd created and really started to build something out of it. It stands to reason then that 2017 was about building the foundation and infrastructure of the project. Much like a skyscraper must have a solid, deep foundation, and reinforcements to handle the weight, so too does an MMO like Chronicles of Elyria. A game like this requires a high-level architecture, a deep set of foundational work on the client and server, a strong support system, and infrastructure with which to see the project to completion. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the foundational work that happened in 2017.

Server Foundations

When talking about an MMORPG - or as we like to call games like Chronicles of Elyria, a Multiplayer Evolving Online World (Meow!) - there’s nothing more foundational than the back-end server. The back-end server is responsible for managing the entire state of the game, performing all the necessary computations for systems like AI, physics, pathfinding, and combat, and for receiving and processing all the input for, in the case of CoE, hundreds of thousands of connected clients. In January of 2017 we began the long process of taking what was mostly an offline, single-player game – designed primarily to validate user experience and gameplay feel – and turn it into a MEOW (what can I say, the Internet loves cats).

The process of building a scalable, reliable back-end server with all the gameplay mechanics for a game like Chronicles of Elyria can be divided up into two primary components. There’s the platform, necessary for providing infrastructure such as entity and state management, fault tolerance, load balancing, and a method of cross-process communication, and then there are the services or workers that are responsible for performing all the actual gameplay logic and processing the user input of all the clients.

Shortly after we announced development of Chronicles of Elyria we started looking around for ways to solve the typical problems associated with building a large, distributed simulation. In short, we were looking for ways to speed up development of the platform. As part of our research we got in contact with Improbable and as a first effort at bringing our game online, we began integrating SpatialOS in January of 2017. As a test, we built our own PhysX simulation in SpatialOS which, when integrated with our Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) client, allowed us to move around the world using our own custom physics engine in a way that provided all the benefits SpatialOS has to offer.

Of course, SpatialOS isn't a game engine, so while it provided a platform on which we could build our game, we were still responsible for writing all the systems of CoE.

During the development of Chronicles of Elyria, we found that we could make headway faster, enable unique gameplay features, and leverage a large ecosystem of existing code by moving from C# to JavaScript/TypeScript as the primary language of our backend. Fortunately for us, as of SpatialOS 10.3 Improbable had an experimental JavaScript SDK, which meant we could continue to use SpatialOS along with our new chosen language and architecture. So in early spring we made the move from C# to JavaScript and, as a result, saw rapid improvements in the rate at which we could develop new features. This was also around the time we saw accelerated progress in the development of the VoxElyria client (formerly referred to as ElyriaMUD).

But, then we started encountering some issues. First, while SpatialOS provided load-balancing and fault tolerance for all our spatial workers, there were still many workers that were not spatial in nature. Workers such as our authentication and login server, our AI system, and our Procedural Story Engine. For these, we still needed our own load balancer, fault-tolerance, and cross-process communication.

Second, we started to have some concerns about the financial viability of SpatialOS for our needs. Whenever you use SpatialOS you're also signing up to have your game hosted by Improbable. That has the benefit of lowering operations costs, but has the drawback of passing all the hosting fees they pay to their cloud partner onto us. It also means we don't have the ability to choose a hosting partner - whether cloud, bare metal, or dedicated servers that meet our performance needs. And CoE has some very specific needs! In specific, our use of Offline Player Characters (OPCs), the extremely large size of our world, the vast number of entities in the world, and the way we divide our game server up into dozens of different worker types made it difficult to estimate how expensive using SpatialOS would ultimately be.

Of course, we brought our concerns to Improbable and they were quite receptive. SpatialOS is still a product in development, and Improbable is still finding ways to optimize the platform and find ways to use compute more efficiently. This is pushing down the cost for all developers on the platform.

Unfortunately, Chronicles of Elyria is a unique game with very specific requirements. Although the final pricing for running Chronicles of Elyria as a retail game was not final, we believed that the specific game design could run more affordably using a stack based entirely on the Soulborn Engine.

As we had already started leveraging Docker Swarm, a Container technology for load balancing and fault tolerance of our non-spatial services, we knew we could transition to a full Docker stack if necessary for our spatial services as well. When we realized we were going to need to communicate between our spatial services and non-spatial services, we integrated RabbitMQ into our back-end, a super fast routing and message protocol used to serve 10's of millions of requests by banks and other high-traffic websites across the internet each day. And because we needed persistent storage for all our non-spatial data, we integrated PostgreSQL into our backend. Fortunately, PostgreSQL supports SQL, NoSQL, and even spatial queries, enabling it to act as a backend and persistent storage for both our spatial and non-spatial data.

All of the above technologies were integrated into our backend to solve non-spatial related problems, but we made those choices because we knew we could lean on them if worst-came-to-worse. And then we encountered our third and final roadblock. In the most recent release of SpatialOS Improbable deprecated their JavaScript SDK and marked it as unsupported. This left us with our biggest challenge yet - we no longer had a good way to interact with the SpatialOS backend.

When this happened, the engineering guild and I spent several meetings exploring our options with respect to shimming an interop layer between SpatialOS and our JavaScript-based backend. But in the end, we realized that it would be too time-consuming and error-prone to try to continue to use SpatialOS when we already had an efficient routing and communication protocol, an architecture that allowed for scalability and fault tolerance, and a persistent storage solution that enabled us to track and update the state of the world. So, as of the end of 2017, Chronicles of Elyria is no longer using SpatialOS, and is entirely built on the Soulborn Engine. We really enjoyed working with the folks over at Improbable and we are still looking forward to how their platform impacts the online gaming industry as a whole. Their technology is still an extremely powerful solution for virtually all distributed simulations out there. But for our particular technology choices and game mechanics, it just wasn’t the ideal solution.

As you can see, our non-spatial services required a large part of 2017 to be spent getting our core stack set up and creating the necessary components to have our own, proprietary platform. And because we were concerned about how things would end up with SpatialOS, we continued to make progress on these areas within the Soulborn Engine throughout 2017. In fact, we went to PAX West this year and showed off our jousting demo. This was the first time we'd taken a multiplayer demo to PAX since our combat demo back in 2016, but unknown to many, the Joust Demo was running on a locally deployed version of the Soulborn Engine. This means that everyone who played the jousting demo at PAX West has already played on our new server stack.

And finally, in December 2017, we released Version 0.1.0 of Chronicles of Elyria to our “Friends and Family”. This was the first time offsite users were able to play Chronicles of Elyria. Again, the milestone was completed using an entirely Soulborn-based game engine. So, what does this all mean in a nutshell? It means that in 2017 we began by using SpatialOS, and ended with something that, while not a single solution, does everything SpatialOS did - ultimately providing us all the same functionality as SpatialOS, while allowing us to keep our operating costs low and providing us more control over our server performance. With the transition complete, we’re now ready to move forward with more core gameplay mechanics in 2018.

Client and Content Foundations

Another key piece of foundational work done in 2017 was on our client. We spent a lot of time perfecting our animation systems, materials & shaders, world streaming and loading, and client-side prediction for our physics engine. The result is a game client that looks amazing, and performs smoothly.


Image 1 - The Joust Experience from PAX West 2017

The latest look of the game can be seen in our recent environment screenshots and the PAX West 2017 Jousting Demo. What do you think? Sexy huh? And for those that went to PAX West and got hands-on with Jousting, the animations were clean, clear, and felt extremely visceral.

There’s also been a ton of work in 2017 on the materials and shader systems. This can be seen with the overall improvement to how the characters look, including the in-engine renders we released of the Janoa and Dras tribes.


Image 2 - Dras Male


Image 3 - Janoa Male

Oh, speaking of PAX West, the Jousting Demo, which attracted people from all over the show floor, was nominated by Marooner's Rock for Best PC Game at PAX West 2017. We lost to Elder Scrolls Online. We consider that a win.

As a final note, while we've done a lot of work on the client this year, our focus in Q1 of 2018 will mostly be on back-end gameplay mechanics, and specifically how they're exposed via our VoxElyria Client. We're excited to get our Alpha 1 backers into CoE as quickly as possible, and that's going to be our primary focus in Q1. As a result, for the first time in three years, we won't be at PAX East. Our attention will be elsewhere, and we don't want to split our resources on preparing a PAX Demo. But have no fear, we'll still be giving players something to chew on this spring.

Lore Foundations

While not part of the game engine, the lore and history of the world is just as much a part of the game. In 2017, we made huge advances in the lore and mythology, with the primary focus being on establishing more of the history and traditions of the various religions, as well as on establishing the cultures and ceremonies of the various tribes.

With respect to the religions, we'd already talked a great deal about the Qindred and Virtori, but we'd been mostly quiet about the Al'tifali (The Children of The Two-Fold Queen), the Faedin, and The Faithless. With the introduction of the tribes and their religions came more discovery and information about how the followers of the Faedin view and interpret their religion differently, as well as more information on the Al’tifali. We've added further details such as the priests, practices, and key tenants of the various religions, and it's been exciting to see the community come out as identifying with one or more of the religions.

Of course, not all that we discovered and wrote about the various religions this year has been shared. Over the last twelve months we have delved deep into the role the Neran and especially the Hrothi play in the Virtorian Faith and we're excited to see what happens as the players discover the deep connection between those tribes and the larger story. In fact, while not a lot will be revealed, hints of the relationship between the Virtori and the larger story will begin to make itself known during Prologue: The Awakening. And, if we can't contain our excitement more information may be leaked in the form of short webcomics or animatics. Stay tuned in 2018 to learn more about the different religions.

In addition to more information about the religions, we also released a ton of information on the Tribes of Elyria. As we have explored and explained the differences in culture between the different tribes, players in Discord have already begun identifying with the various tribes. While there's still iteration that needs to be done, it's been great seeing the interaction of the players. The memes that have arisen from the tribes and the general feeling of “tribalism” has added a lot to the interactions of players and we honestly can’t wait to see how members of the different tribes interact with one-another after getting into the world. If you haven’t seen some of the memes in our official Discord server, here’s some of our favorites

MEME Link

MEME Link

MEME Link

We also built a lot more of the lore this year revolving around the celestial bodies of Elyria (pun intended). Some of the seasonal holidays we talked about in 2017 were Queen’s Gaze, as well as the Longest Night. Of course, we've only revealed a couple. We'll be revealing even more seasonal events in Elyria in 2018, some of which are related to the solstices and equinoxes of Earth. And, after launch, players will experience many more unique events tied to the alignments of the celestial bodies that float in the distant space beyond Elyria. But there will be no warning, err... write-ups on those. Those are for The Seer to know, and you to discover.


Image 4 - The outer planets and celestial bodies of Elyria

World Building

Another area that we made significant progress on in 2017 was World Building. If you've been keeping up with our production blog posts than you've already seen the recent screenshots of our environment. If not, here’s a few that haven’t been seen before.


Image 5 - Semi-Arid Desert


Image 6 - Swamp


Image 7 - Tropical Rain Forest


Image 8 - The Taiga

These are all coming from our terrariums - maps created as experimental targets using our procedural world generation system. These are intended to validate we're accurately generating the correct terrain topology, soil types, ground cover, trees, etc. Once we've got the biomes generating correctly, the finer detail world generation systems will be combined with the higher-level world generation system for creating the continents and determining where the biomes will be located.

Of course, we're also making strides on the higher-level system. In fact, we're now starting to generate world maps. Like our terrariums, this is being done by iterating on the world generation tools to make sure they match a set of visual targets and can create the types of continents we want to be able to create. One such visual target can be seen here.


Image 9 - Sample Starting Continent

This shows one potential output the world generation system might create. While this isn't the starting continent for any particular server, it does provide a good sense of the size and distribution of biomes as existed a couple months ago.

If you've been involved in the Discord discussions recently you know that we're also making a few changes to the Kingdom Generation component. In specific, while the intention has always been for Kingdoms to be made up of multiple biomes and tribes, we're now being explicit about the fact that each of the six starting kingdoms will be made up of a well-defined set of tribes. This should help the Aristocracy and Nobility with planning. It should also largely mitigate the concern people have about being last pick in Domain and Settlement Selection. Ultimately, no matter where in Domain / Settlement selection you end up there will be a diversity of tribes to play with.

The proposed kingdom-tribe distribution is as follows:

Kingdom 1:
Brudvir
Hrothi

Kingdom 2:
Neran
Hrothi

Kingdom 3:
Neran
Kypiq
The Waerd

Kingdom 4:
Neran
To'resk
The Waerd
Dras

Kingdom 5:
Neran
To'resk
Dras

Kingdom 6:
To'resk
Janoa

There's also been additional work on world generation in 2017, with the final size of the starting continents being set to 96 km x 192 km for the NA and EU servers. If you’re counting, that’s greater than 18,000 km^2! To put that in perspective, compare the 18,000 km^2 to the 40 km^2 of Skyrim! This size was set to ensure population density is high enough that the world feels full, while still providing plenty of space on the starting continent for players to explore and develop.

With each kingdom being over three thousand square kilometers, it'll take about 10 hours to cross the kingdom by foot. This also means the average county has around 2,300 parcels of land - more than enough to support the number of settlements most people would be interested in hosting within their county.

Also, while this information has never been shared before, the 96 km x 192 km accounts for just 28% of the total landmass of Elyria! Not coincidentally, 28% is the same percentage of landmass of North America and South America combined on Earth. What's that mean? It means somewhere beyond the oceans of the starting continent remains enough land to explore to account for what would be Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania on Earth, when compared to North/South America. Explorers rejoice! More than 60% of the world is still unexplored!

The Oceanus server is a bit different. Due to the smaller population of Oceania, we've set the starting continent size to 96 km x 144 km. However, it should be noted that the overall size of the world is the same on Oceanus as it is on the other servers. The difference in starting continent size is to account for the waterways that exist between the different pieces of landmass on the Oceanus server. You see, Oceanus is unique and interesting in that it’s the only server to have a starting continent which is an archipelago. This should be familiar to the inhabitants of the region, as the separation of land into navigable waterways should be reminiscent of their own Earthly continent, but larger in size and with a wider array of biomes.

To account for the smaller continent, the Oceanus server also begins with four Kingdoms rather than six, the Kings of which have already been locked in. Like the other servers, the proposed tribal distribution across the different Kingdoms would be as follows:

Kingdom 1:
Brudvir
Hrothi
Neran

Kingdom 2:
Neran
Kypiq
The Waerd

Kingdom 3:
Neran
The Waerd
To'resk
Dras

Kingdom 4:
To'resk
Dras
Janoa

Community Support

Just as a building needs strong support pillars in addition to a strong foundation, so too does an MMO like Chronicles of Elyria. Fortunately, we have THE strongest supports a studio could ask for - our community. While we've continued to see steady growth in the size of our community in 2017, the real accomplishments of this year revolve around the establishment of new programs and roles that has turned our community into the closest, friendliest, most inviting community I've ever been a part of.

To begin with, 2017 saw the addition of several new moderators with coverage around the globe. The moderators are frequently in Discord as well as on our forums, answering community questions and keeping the peace. In addition, one of the first acts of our new Community & Support Lead, Serpentius, was the creation of the Ambassador Program. The Ambassador Program was created to recognize those in the community that are the best example of the community we want to create. They're exemplary individuals whose knowledge of the game, and interest in sharing the Word of Elyria causes them to stand out against the crowd. While the Ambassadors currently have no special recognition on the forums, their green names on Discord identify them for what they are. If you see someone in Discord with a green name, you should pay special attention because they represent what we hope all our community members strive to be.

Speaking of Discord. The engagement rate of our community increased dramatically in 2017 and the community is extremely active! At times, our concurrent user count on Discord has jumped to over 1,800 people with almost 5,500 total members. A couple times we've had over 100 people in a single voice channel! And, although our community is just over 200k people, our Discord server numbers are approaching 30% of the numbers of the World of Warcraft server. Talk about an active and engaged community! If you want to get to know what CoE is about, it's about the people. And the best way interact with those people is directly through our Discord server.

In addition to the every-day engagement that exists on the forums and Discord, 2017 saw the ground-breaking Free Kingdom of Elyria event, which showed what kind of excitement and engagement can be achieved when a community and studio work together toward a common goal. In the Free Kingdom of Elyria event, Soulbound worked with the server leaders on the Luna (NA-East) Server, to establish lore directly around the player-created kingdoms. That led to the introduction of a new cinematic, and a competition for who the 6th and final King or Queen would be for the server.

The announcement of the Free Kingdom of Elyria event led to player-run debates, interviews, Q&As, and other activities as members of the community rallied together, supporting one another both socially as well as financially to elect the final monarch on the server. At the end of the event, we had established around 140 new nobility; including 1 monarch, 6 dukes/duchesses, and over 130 new counts/countesses.

Taking inspiration from the success of developing the lore for NA-East side-by-side with the players, we've created a set of private lore channels on our Discord server where committees made up of the monarchs, dukes/duchesses, and appointed loremasters of the server are working side-by-side to establish hundreds of years of history in advance of Kingdoms of Elyria. With us monitoring and answering questions, these channels and the work we're doing will hopefully pave the way for a new style of world building, where players and studios work together to write the backstory and history of their worlds.

2018, A Year of Progress

If 2017 was all about building the foundation and support beams, then 2018 is all about the framing and siding. 2018 is all about realizing the shape of Chronicles of Elyria. Over the course of the next 12 months we'll be seeing rapid development of the various game mechanics. As we're building this game, floor by floor, our Alpha 1 backers will have an opportunity to walk around in the game and experience it even while we're still running the wires and plumbing.

Aside from the game itself, and the onset of Alpha 1 phases on the horizon, there are other places where we'll be adding structure and shape to the game in 2018. Let's look at each of them in a bit more detail.

Website Updates

While the website may be less exciting than the game for most, 2018 is going to see several new features being added to the website. To begin with, in the very near future we'll be rolling out Account Merging.

For those that don't have multiple accounts, this won't affect you. For those who do, this means you'll be able to combine the Influence, EP, packages, and titles of all your multiple accounts into a single account. That's right, you'll finally be able to see your double and triple settlements, counties, and duchies. Once accounts have been merged, we'll also be able to award the bonus Gift Packages people received during the anniversary event last year. Hopefully those Gift Packages will result in further growth of the community, as you invite your friends to join just in time for the pre-Alpha releases. More specific details on Account Merging will be coming next week. Stay tuned!

But Account Merging is also a prerequisite for more interesting features. With all accounts combined and reconciled we can finally determine just who the most influential members of the community are. This will be useful for determining the order of fun events in the first 6 months of the year such as Surname reservation coming up in February.

As we mentioned at the end of 2017, early this year we'll be opening Surname Reservation for those people who have a strong sense of identity already. This will come with a random tribal surname generator so you can get a feel for, or suggestion of, an appropriate tribal surname. Once Surname Reservation opens people can snag their family names right away, or hold off until they have a firmer idea of what tribe they want to play.

Surname Reservation

But even Surname Reservation is a pre-requisite on the road to bigger things. A bit later this year we'll be rolling out Character Personas. Character Personas is a feature of the website that allows players to interact with one another as actual characters in Elyria. Players will be able to interact in the forums and in other events as their historic ancestors. But why would you want to be able to interact as a character instead of a player? Well, the unique nature of CoE is to separate the players from the characters. Things like guilds, schools, domains, and settlements are really systems related to characters, not players. So, with Character Personas live, we can finally set up pages on the website so players can advertise and recruit for their domains, settlements, and organizations as their characters!

Upcoming Community Events

Speaking of recruiting for your domains and organizations, we've got a couple events planned for this year, much like we did for the Free Kingdom of Elyria Event for Luna (which will be replicated in some shape or form for the other servers in 2018). Here's a couple of the exciting events coming up over the next six months.

Organization Faire
The Organization faire is an event allowing characters to recruit other members of the community to join their settlement / domain or organization. We'll be working with players to provide them the tools they need to tell people about their player-run organizations to really get the community growing.

Map Selection
Each of the servers in CoE are truly unique - both in history, lore, and even geography. Early in 2018, players with packages will be given the opportunity to vote on the starting continents for the different servers. We’ll provide a single pool of maybe twenty five continents from which all servers will be chosen from, and players will have an opportunity to state which server a map should be on, with a maximum number of votes equal to the number of Sparks of Life associated with the account. For example, if you’ve got a Bloodline Package with two Sparks of Life, then you can vote on up to two maps, indicating which realm you believe the map should be on. The votes will be weighted by influence, and the map with the highest score for each server will become the official map! Note that a single map can only be on a single server, so in the unlikely event that a single map is the top vote of multiple servers, the server with the fewer votes will move on to their second favorite map.

Why is this cool? No other game has given the players so much control over the history and creation of their worlds. Also - it means getting to see the maps sooner rather than later!

Domain / Settlement Selection
While certainly not least, one of the last events of the next several months will be Domain/Settlement Selection. With the maps finally declared, Domain / Settlement selection is when the Nobility and Aristocracy of Elyria get to select which domains and settlements they'll govern. This has huge impact on the game, as players will finally have solid information about which biome they'll be in, what size settlement they'll have, what tribes will be available to their players, and who their liege and vassals are. Then, the Dance of Dynasties can advance in unique and interesting ways - beyond ways the dance is already being danced by the players.

Feature Progress

But what about the game? Oh, my dear reader, this is going to be a fantastic six months for the game.

The team here at Soulbound Studios is currently working on CoE Alpha 1 (version 1.0.0-Alpha.1 of Chronicles of Elyria). The path to Alpha 1 is broken up into seven releases, the first of which was completed in December and, dubbed the “Friends and Family” release, was the first opportunity for our friends and family to connect to CoE from outside of the office using the VoxElyria client. We are currently in development of Version 0.2.0, which you can learn more about in Adventure Introduction: Sense of Identity.

The remaining six releases of Alpha 1 explore a wide range of game mechanics necessary for us to call our Alpha 1 complete. These features cover a range of Feature Areas which are written in our Wiki as:

Release 2

  • Character Creation
  • Equipment
  • Inventory
  • Survival Mechanics
  • World Interaction
  • World-Building (Procedural)

Release 3

  • Communication
  • Combat
  • Crafting
  • Environment
  • Identities
  • Skills
  • World Interaction
  • World-Building (Procedural)

Release 4

  • AI - Animals & Creatures
  • AI - NPCs
  • Combat
  • Contracts
  • Crafting
  • Ecology
  • Lifecycle

Release 5

  • Combat
  • Crafting
  • Survival Mechanics
  • Information
  • Story Engine
  • World-Building (Procedural)

Release 6

  • Access Restriction
  • Combat
  • Contracts
  • Identities
  • Story Engine
  • World-Building (Procedural)

Release 7

  • Crime & Punishment
  • Organizations
  • Story Engine
  • Transportation
  • World-Building (Procedural)

In total, these account for about 65% of the Features related to CoE, with the rest being added as part of the development of Alpha 2, which will be worked on during the second half of 2018. And we keep saying, beginning with the completion of Release 3, our Alpha 1 backers will be IN Chronicles of Elyria using our VoxElyria client. How’s that for early access? What an exciting time to be an Elyrian!

2018 Major Releases

Previous years had us presenting playable demos of CoE to the relatively small percentage of our community who were fortunate enough to make it to either PAX East or PAX West. But 2018 is going to see a far greater audience of players getting their hands on Chronicles of Elyria. This is primarily being done through three major releases that will happen throughout the year. Let's look at each.

Character Creation & Your Akashic Record - NEW!!
As we've been making progress on Character Creation we've observed that it's quite fun just to see what kind of characters can be created. Given the range of values allowed by the different bloodlines it's both interesting and exciting to see what types of characters are possible within the different tribes, and what happens when breeding members of the different tribes together.

We've also recognized that many people in the community want to see the stuff they've received in the game that isn't playable yet - things such as their Phoenix pet or other animals. As a result, we're going to be releasing a simple client to the players at some point during the year that we call "My Akashic Record." The client has the single purpose of being both a character creator, so you can experiment with the various tribes and bloodlines that are possible to create, and a virtual space for showing off in-game items you've acquired and will be usable during exposition or after launch. After we release the Exposition Store (EP Store), many items purchased will be viewable here. Items such as furniture, buildings, animals, siege equipment, and other things you've acquired. There's no timeline for the release of this tool yet, but we're working on Character Creation right now.

Pre-Alpha with VoxElyria
Beginning around April, and the completion of Release 0.3.0, players with Alpha 1 access will able to log into a pre-Alpha version of Chronicles of Elyria using the VoxElyria client. For those unfamiliar, VoxElyria is a voxel-based web client that we've created to quickly iterate on gameplay mechanics. It still connects to the Chronicles of Elyria backend, but doesn't use the Unreal Engine as a client. This separation means that we're able to get CoE into the hands of players even while we continue to iterate on systems which are heavily dependent on the UE4 client; systems such as crafting and combat, which require a full 3D user-experience.

As this is a Pre-Alpha release, it'll be under NDA and will be put into the hands of our Alpha 1 backers first. Anyone who has a pledge package with Alpha 1 access, or who has purchased Alpha 1 Access from the a la carte store will be among the first to step foot into Elyria.

After that, we'll continue to increase the size of the pre-Alpha audience at irregular intervals, depending on how the pre-Alpha testing is going. We'll first move onto backers with Alpha 2 access, then Beta 1 access, then Beta 2 access, and finally we'll open up access to all community members who have purchased a package and will lift the NDA. In the meantime, we wanted to show you some Work-In-Progress characters. Here you can see what a couple of the tribes look like in VoxElyria.


Image 10 - Voxel Model of Dras


Image 11 - Voxel Model of Janoa


Image 12 - Voxel Model of Kypiq

We're super excited to get players into CoE this early because the feedback we'll be receiving will allow us to make changes to the gameplay mechanics even before we complete Alpha 1. This is earlier in development than has ever been done before, and gives players the opportunity to provide real, meaningful, actionable feedback.

Alpha 1
Later in the year we'll be completing Version 1.0.0-Alpha.1 and releasing it to our Alpha 1 backers. This release will have all the same features that players in the Alpha 1 and 2 cohorts will have come to enjoy while using the VoxElyria client, but will be using the UE4 client. This will be the first opportunity players will have had to play a functional version of the game outside of a PAX Event and it will have all the necessary features of the above Feature Area list.

Conclusion

Last year, 2017, was undoubtedly a year dedicated to the laying of a strong foundation and the building of a solid support system. New architecture was written, new systems were created, and the game overall has improved radically in visual fidelity and performance. Looking back at the PAX East Parkour demo, the PAX West jousting demo, the release of the v3 Website backend and homepage, the various screenshots, etc. it's easy to see the progress that was made, but it's also relatively easy to see the absence of many core gameplay mechanics. That was 2017.

This year, 2018, is all about building the framing and the siding. It's that most exciting time in the development of a game when the core systems have been built, and attention is turned toward the rapid development of new gameplay mechanics. It's that period where a game really starts to take shape and become recognizably different from the other options that are available.

In short, while 2017 was about foundation, and 2019 will be about the trimmings and interior decoration, 2018 really is the most important year in the development of CoE. And more than anything, we're excited we get to continue to share the journey and process with you, our community. We hope to see as many of you as possible in the pre-Alpha VoxElyria client in the spring, and then in Alpha 1 later this year. If you haven't taken the plunge yet, and are still sitting on the fence, remember the Dance of Dynasties has already begun. The Kingdoms, Duchies, and Counties are already largely established on the servers, and now is the time to start meeting the Nobility and Aristocracy so you'll know who to play with during testing, and who to ally with during Kingdoms of Elyria later this year.

Pledged to The Continued Development of the Soulborn Engine and the Chronicles of Elyria,

Caspian

Discuss

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Vigorish - 9 months ago

2017 was the year of "foundations", 2018 was "Progress"

Marovec - 9 months ago
@Vigorish:

Posted By Vigorish at 1:49 PM - Sat Jan 05 2019

2017 was the year of "foundations", 2018 was "Progress"

Technically, a very good point. The foundations were supposed to be done in 2017, with the framework being done in 2018.

Now, whether that is actually the case may be an issue of semantics (what they actually consider "foundation" vs "framework").

Either way, it's largely irrelevant. We are at where we are at. Can't redo the last 2 years.

Judge them on this year. Frankly, I personally feel that 2019 is the year where complaints about progress begin being justified.

Granted, that is assuming we don't see progress. We are supposed to be seeing a whole lot of exactly that in the next couple months (i.e. February and March).

Marovec - 9 months ago

I admit, this is a bit disheartening to read, but I also know there were a lot of unforeseen issues that came up in 2018.

Things didn't go the way they expected, plans went awry, etc, etc.

Even I, as cynical and hard on SBS as I am, understand this.

In other words, shit happens.

That being said, and understanding aside, I don't know that they will be able to "get away with this" again in 2019. I think this is it. If there isn't SIGNIFICANT, and TANGIBLE (as in, I can put my hands on it and play it in some form) progress, like, ricky-effing-tick...problems.

There will always be the core group that will be committed to SBS no matter what. However, too much longer - and I am not just talking about the time it takes to make the game, I am talking about the number of times they say they are going to do something, and fail - the rep is going to start taking a real public beating.

mickdude2 - 9 months ago
@Marovec:

foun·da·tion

/founˈdāSH(ə)n/

noun

2.

an underlying basis or principle for something.

"this idea is the foundation of all modern economics"

synonyms: basis, starting point, base, point of departure, beginning, premise; principles, fundamentals, rudiments; cornerstone, core, heart, thrust, essence, kernel

"the report has a scientific foundation"

In case there was some confusion surrounding the word 'foundation'. I think 2018 saw a lot of the foundation's put in place for CoE. I agree with Marovec though, 2019 cannot be just another year of foundations.

Arfen - 9 months ago

Well...

Higuy333 - 9 months ago

Reading this makes me laugh, anyone here in 2019?

BlackBriar - 9 months ago
@Higuy333:

Posted By Higuy333 at 07:29 AM - Sat Jan 05 2019

Reading this makes me laugh, anyone here in 2019?

hahaha how did you even find this lol, I thought it would have been buried by now.

Poor SBS may have been a bit optimistic. oh well maybe 2019 will be the year.

Amarria - 1 year ago

Seeing as how the Searing Plague is coming to a close this week and there was mention above of a "My Akashic Records" client... Is anyone at SBS able to provide an idea of when that will be released? I think it would be nice to keep everyone busy and entertained by the release of this client until we get to map & land selection and the pre-alpha. Just a thought...

Funny though, I was just speaking with Serpentius this morning about if SBS would go for releasing the Character Creator as a stand alone kind of like The Sims 4 did with theirs before the game actually launched. You create the household and save it, then when the game comes out you get to upload it into the game. It was fun to make the families and see what the characters would look like. Anywho... I found out that SBS was on the same mental path AND expanded upon it to include a viewer for the in-game goodies we have already received and will purchase in the EP Store.

Great job SBS!!!! Can we have it now??? LOL

VioletWinterlynn - 1 year ago
@Amarria:

Posted By Miyah at 4:52 PM - Sun Sep 09 2018

Seeing as how the Searing Plague is coming to a close this week and there was mention above of a "My Akashic Records" client... Is anyone at SBS able to provide an idea of when that will be released? I think it would be nice to keep everyone busy and entertained by the release of this client until we get to map & land selection and the pre-alpha. Just a thought...

Funny though, I was just speaking with Serpentius this morning about if SBS would go for releasing the Character Creator as a stand alone kind of like The Sims 4 did with theirs before the game actually launched. You create the household and save it, then when the game comes out you get to upload it into the game. It was fun to make the families and see what the characters would look like. Anywho... I found out that SBS was on the same mental path AND expanded upon it to include a viewer for the in-game goodies we have already received and will purchase in the EP Store.

Great job SBS!!!! Can we have it now??? LOL

I'm not sure if it's the Akashic Records that will be coming next month, however they do have something planned as far as they will tell us!

GunniThaGamer - 1 year ago

Can't wait for the character creator client!!!

KearaLoar - 1 year ago

This game looks like it'll be amazing. I really hope you can pull everything off.

YHess - 1 year ago

"but unknown to many, the Joust Demo was running on a locally deployed version of the Soulborn Engine." Neat. What about those map sizes?!

Too many good infos to comment on all of them.. The studio is doing an amazing job, keep on the great work!

HolyAvengerOne - 1 year ago

Finally catching up, slowly ;)

Wow, the breadth and depth of the project and its shown to us. Thanks a bunch SBS!

AlricJ - 1 year ago

Always considered this a highly ambitious project with improbable (pun intended) dates - backing a hope and a dream really. But even from that starting point, my confidence went through the floor with this update.

CasperDVS - 1 year ago

When this game is released, it will blow up the game industry, the developers will not fail. I'm very proud of this project, and I really want to participate in the earliest versions.

NightRevolt - 1 year ago

Really proud of the progress so far, keep up the good work !

Trinka - 1 year ago

This is why I upgraded package to alpha I Settlement of Puranda Alfred Augustine the Explorer founded the settlement Puranda, located in the County of Arzawa in the Kingdom of Alesia. Puranda is comprised of farmers and animal breders. We will need settlers that will support this type of settlement.

MickeyBluEyes - 1 year ago
@Trinka:

I'm super curious how they'll do the animal breeding industry. I'd love to give a shot at being a champion horse breeder of some type. Sound's like an interesting job in the real world, and I bet it will be an important one on here.

ForestGuardian - 1 year ago

After careful thought, I'm feeling optimistic. Great update.

Kiddo97 - 1 year ago

looking good

MuninVonGood - 1 year ago

The progress you've made in just a couple of years is nothing short of astounding!

Varhukan - 1 year ago

Love it!

mommabear - 1 year ago

Wow...The more and more I read on this game, the more I am just totally blown away! If all this is pulled off and works, you will truly be reshaping the genre itself in ways beyond belief!! I cannot wait to try it out;)

EsbonOwleye - 1 year ago

Been following this game consistently since Kickstarter and I am quite pleased to see it finally getting to this point in development. I don't think I have ever allowed myself to get this excited about a game. =)

Also, looking forward to having all those that have doubted this game would ever reach this point be wrong.

wangxinyi - 1 year ago

期待着早日玩上这个游戏

CassiaSewn - 1 year ago

I love all the information. This post got me excited enough that I had to go upgrade from Beta 1 access to Alpha 1. Looking forward to it!

Eldonan85 - 1 year ago

I am so excited!!! Thank you for this and all updates!

Costanius - 1 year ago

Thanks for the detailed status update and review of 2017!

But I'm slightly concerned: Wasn't SpatialOS supposed to be the core tech this game is built on and supposed to run on and to enable all the awesome features planned?

ZeroCool - 1 year ago

It was SpatialOS that drew me to this game and I was worried about the business model back in May. I'm not worried now though, I have total confidence the team can pull it off.

There's no concern that the scale needs to be pared back even a litle?

Love Docker though, I dabble with it. I use containers to host my forum images, a ghost blog, FTP and a ahem seedbox. For helping distribute Ubuntu iso's obviously!

BlueEyes - 1 year ago

CASPIO, I am loving all this information and updates, I am looking forward to this wonderful game, I would like to know if there will be a server for South America and if possible translations into Portuguese language (Brazil) in future and other languages. I love everything I've seen so far, and I'm grateful for the work of all of you. I can not wait to be in the world of Chronicles of Elyria and dedicate many hours of my day to this marvelous MMO.

I love you all. Welcome to my life Chronicles of Elyria.

Oracle - 1 year ago

As always, superb depth and attention to detail. The visuals are coming in right on the mark too. Beautiful.

VTHAPM - 1 year ago

Inter-tribal breeding confirmed. SHWEEeeet.

Wolfguarde - 1 year ago

The switch away from SpatialOS worries me slightly, as a player whose initial concerns regarding the viability of the game were assauged by the news that it would be part of the core infrastructure of the game. Mostly due to not knowing enough about the replacement tech (or the tech in general).

Nonetheless, despite the rescheduling of the game's release earlier in the year, the game is progressing faster than I had anticipated, and it very much feels like it's gaining momentum. Between now and next year we will see the game beginning to take form, to become tangible not just as a visual asset, but as a playable one. That's pretty exciting. I look forward to seeing the game - and the community - continue to grow and evolve, and I very much anticipate the increase in momentum as the game moves toward the conclusion of its pre-alpha phase and people start to see the EA footage. Keep up the good work!

Daynen - 1 year ago

That is the single greatest Hearthstone card of all time. I suspect it will make the banlist before the second quarter.

Good stuff continues to flow from good ideas. As long as the alpha 1 backers don't start asking for damage floaters and more menus, I think we'll be in good shape.

Seriously, SBS, don't let the menus take over the gameplay. I'm sure many of us are quite weary of screens full of numbers and windows.

Sleep - 1 year ago

it's been really nice getting so much detail of the development process through these various updates. the game is looking and sounding great i.m.o.

the virtual item showroom seems a clever way to gain some capital; the risk being greater shame if the game doesn't reach launch. i'm looking forward to it myself, but more so to the character generator(which will please a great many players i'm sure.)

i really dislike the meow acronym, though i think my opinion won't stop the train. i've been playing mmorpgs since risk your life 2 and conquer online. to me, rather than being beyond the genre, or something other than, i see CoE as the highest form of mmorpg.

ScarletAddict - 1 year ago

thank you for the update!

Utha - 1 year ago

So, if we go by the existing timeline projection from the last State of Elyria, to account for VoxElyria possibly dropping in April, that means it's possible Alpha 1 could drop as early as June. I'll keep my fingers crossed. Even if it does take longer, I'm very happy to see how this game has progressed since I read about it in an article probably 2 years ago now. This game is going to be monumental!

Poldano - 1 year ago

Great update. From the sound of it Caspian should be up for a Project Manager of the Year award, or something.

Did anyone else notice that the kingdom assignments in the prototype continent map didn't quite line up with the race assignments to kingdoms?

V3nom - 1 year ago

Let me understand: around november 2017 the javascript SDK support was gone from SpatialOS. Wow. If I were you, I would be EXTREMELY disappointed. Though one.

Tetho - 1 year ago

Can't really wait for you guys to show the Crafting system. Thank you guys and you will always have my support!

Expectorate - 1 year ago

Am I the only one who, on the apac server, has decided to go dedicated explorer from the very start, and after finding out we're gonna be an archipeligo is thinking 'CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!'.

Side note, also kinda want to play a hrothi raised by dras and head out in search of 'my' people. That'd get me a good chunk of exploring straight up. If the first one doesn't survive, I'll just have to make sure to have lots of kids along the way.

Kind of basing my first character on discworld's Casanunda. Stepladders repaired. Ahem.

VTHAPM - 1 year ago
@Expectorate:

That's such a cool concept!!

Aeryn Suun - 1 year ago

Nice read! Thanks for taking time away from the PAX East to focus on the game. Hope to get something before summer. Looking forward to more information on the in-game mechanics.

Iviy - 1 year ago

The "My Akashic Record" character creation tool sounds like fun...cant wait to play around with it!!

Papa Mambo - 1 year ago

The announcement of working with SpatialOS had me hyped, sad to see the split but hopefully everything ends up working alright. It is understandable why the split was made. Thanks for thinking about our wallets.

VioletWinterlynn - 1 year ago

I'm so excited <3

Onyxdragun - 1 year ago

This is one of the better updates I've seen from a dev team! This is awesome. Keep them coming!

XAnibalX - 1 year ago

Thanks for the information, it has been very interesting to know what has happened during this time and what is to come, I encourage you to work hard so that we have this great game that promises to be, thanks!

Tonchek - 1 year ago

Nice, i like how progress is made and you tell us about it.

Iosef - 1 year ago

Thank you for the elegant update. Press on with the faith and support of the community - and be not daunted by the capricious gaming gods, nor their incessant chant: "The Lighting Needs to be Rebuilt."

Marovec - 1 year ago

Standing ovation

This is some of the clearest and most transparent communication I have seen from a developer.

Well done.

Can't wait to get my hands on some Voxels in April(ish)!

Darmky - 1 year ago

Interesting

Surprisingly, you are no longer in partnership with Spatial OS. While their costs are high, the service provided was also high.

In the near future, how will you be able to provide for CoE the advanced AI evoked in the game description?

Maulvorn - 1 year ago

Fantastic

Bardas - 1 year ago

Solid update! Loving what's happening and how it's all being laid out. Thanks for keeping everything transparent and moving in the right direction.

mystichaze - 1 year ago

Awesome update Caspain, and thank you SBS for all your hard work. :) It does sadden me that you had to leave SpatialOS though, but I understand.

Asterid Solanaceae - 1 year ago

This information is exactly what was needed to entice new people to join. How wonderful to have such a supportive community. If this is a prediction of what communities will be like in-game; more than impressive! Thank you, so very much. In Tenebris Nos!

Brynath - 1 year ago

Oooooh! Shiny!

Seriously, if we can get something to do around Aprilish for us Alpha 1 people that'll be nice.

Zunjin - 1 year ago

@Caspian

Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed Update.

@Vye

Thanks for answering all my questions on the discord. :)

_Kenna_ - 1 year ago

It's so exciting seeing what has been achieved already and what's in store for this year! Thank you all at SBS for all the wonderful work you are doing to make this game and our dreams a reality! It's going to be a very exciting year!!

Shadowfaux - 1 year ago

Nice! I can't wait to see all you have in store ^_^

Hieronymus - 1 year ago

Can we at some point be given a historical timeline of Elyria? What does the Elyrian calendar look like? We know the world we are entering into will have existed prior to our entry at launch so how did Elyria as we discover it on day 1 come to be?

Even a brief timeline with just major events noted would be helpful in giving us context for use with our own characters.

Deinjl - 1 year ago

Thanks Caspian, this is really such an insane post! I'm super excited now for the upcoming months!! The planned uniqueness of each server and letting the players vote for maps is such an incredible idea! You, Sirs, take really care of your community :)

Daarco - 1 year ago

OMG, my first Developer Journal since i "discovered" CoE! Sound amazing, Think i need to get my handa on one of those Alpha 1 Acess thingys.

RedDoggybone - 1 year ago

Wow, I think I understood one word in ten of Caspain's post. LOL. But to be honest, this is exactly one of the reasons I pledged to this game from the beginning. While I don't know what the difference between JavaScript/TypeScript and C# is. And is RabbitMQ another type of Cannis rabbit? Who knows. But I really enjoy how he took the time and explained the entire situation, sort of, in layman's terms that I could understand.

What i am saying is I really enjoy watching the games development process, warts and all from scratch. I love seeing how problems are handled on the fly and contingencies for things that could never possibly happen yet somehow do, are dealt with because they had that back up plan that didn't allow them to be boxed in a corner.

We're getting a unique view into all the trial and tribulations that go into making a game that most of us never suspected went on. it's amazing how they were doing all this in the background and non of us really suspected.

Hey, the game may still never be released but any one that puts this much effort into a project when road blocks are thrown their way deserves all the credit in the world. I for one feel i am getting my money's worth every time I am kept informed of the development process. My pledge was at least as much for watching the game being made before my eyes as actually playing it. Now of course I still want more updates. Never can have too many of them in my book. Warts and all but I am quit satisfied how they usually keep us informed on things.

TheCheshireDragon - 1 year ago

I got way too excited reading this! Triggered my heart pains but it was so worth it! Keep up the good work!

Zakarus - 1 year ago

Have to say I enjoyed reading a year of foundation and I enjoy looking at that map.

whynot - 1 year ago

Awesome update.

Andros18 - 1 year ago

Cant wait! This year is going to be awesome! :D

Exanix - 1 year ago

We are all expecting great things from you and your team Caspian! Great job so far, keep up the good work and take care of your community and we will take care of you! :)

Landion - 1 year ago

Thank you for the work!

LeBron - 1 year ago

Boy this sounds great....I'm so excited!!! Sadly I'll mary my fiance in April...probably should rethink the date :D

Moonlynx - 1 year ago

Wow. I am so looking forward to April now. It is just around the corner!

promise - 1 year ago

This is so amazing! There are so many things I’m excited for; My Akashic Record, map selection, everything! Thanks for the transparency and for all the hard work you all put in!

Prof_Griz - 1 year ago
@promise:

I can't wait to get tinkering with the character creation. If Skyrim and Fallout 4 have taught us anything, it's that most of our time is spent in the realm of slides and nose options.

CaptainSeli - 1 year ago

2018 is going to be so exciting! I can't wait to see what else is in store! What kind of DJ's we'll get, videos, screenshots, and other tidbits of info!

Super excited. Time to get Alpha 1 access for my Birthday :D

Gorawyn - 1 year ago

happy dance

TheEvilBassist - 1 year ago

Sucks that you guys couldn't make it work with SpatialOS but if it would've been more difficult and time consuming in the end I it's understamdable. There can surely be some benefits to having complete control over the server end and tha spatials. In any case this has been a great update with lots of cool content and it has been a great ride with you guys! Happy to support this game :)

Oh and what I loved most was the concept for the starting continent. Can't wait to see the real map for my server.

vonBismark - 1 year ago

Third!

Citadel - 1 year ago

Brilliant update, great to see the map!

Steedsurge - 1 year ago

This is way more than what I was expecting.

dada - 1 year ago

Praise the caspian! :)

Prof_Griz - 1 year ago

I can't wait to tinker around in the Character Creator!