Hail and well met, Elyrians!
Time sure is flying these days and I'm excited to share the progress we're making on our current Adventure! Since we've been releasing a lot more content a lot more frequently, I'll just jump right in!
With the initial character creator out of the way, the majority of the team has turned their attention to inventory management and equipment. As expected, the feature tech is coming together very quickly and Sekmu had the ability to pick up and transfer items between available containers implemented in less than two days. The bulk of the work is all about presentation, by which I mean UI/UX! We have deliberated about all the different ways and places a character will be able to wear or carry things, be it a a bag or a breastplate. We've taken a look at some of our favorite inventory systems, be it for usability reasons or for features and flexibility.
We are aiming for a relatively realistic feel to equipment and inventory. You can only carry what you can realistically carry, so no wearing eight backpacks or putting great swords in a belt pouch. That said, the type and number of bags or containers you have are quite flexible. Most articles of clothing can have pockets sewn into them - great for quick access to smaller, frequently-accessed items such as keys, coins, or maps. The goal is to even be able to have hidden pockets on the inside of your cloak or a small knife sheathed in your boot. Pockets won't always be immediately visible so if, say, you've incapacitated someone and only have precious few moments before the guards come back around on their patrol, you'll have to decide if it's worth it to rifle through every square inch of the person's equipment or to just snatch some easy-to-see things and be on your way with time to spare.
Always-visible inventory containers include pouches, purses, satchels, and rucksacks. Pouches and purses can be assigned to certain attachment points on a belt or placed inside of a larger bag. Belts will have a few points where things can be sewn on, such as pouches or scabbards. Satchels and rucksacks and larger bags like that can also have pockets or smaller pouches sewn on, allowing players to create a simple, single-compartment knapsack or a customized, multi-compartment bag to keep everything organized. A good example might be that an explorer may want some exterior pockets sewn on to keep rations or cartography equipment handy, as well as a scabbard for a shovel or axe, in addition to the main compartment for their extra clothes and camping equipment. There will be a limit to the number of pockets or pouches a bag or piece of clothing can have that will depend on the original pattern, but not everything must be sewn on at the time of creation. Any competent tailor can sew on these additions after the fact.
While your immediate inventory is a function of the things you can realistically carry, you can always store additional items in your home, at a player-run storage service, or with your family, so the items you own are not limited to what you can carry. There is no universal vault or bank frequently found in other games. Chronicles of Elyria is taking item ownership much farther so, for most players, their home will be their vault and they will own it, its contents, and maybe even the land it is on - much like in real-life. I don't know many people who carry all their belongings with them at all times and Chronicles of Elyria will be no different!
Death is putting together some wireframes that incorporate all the functionality we want players to have. His mantra is to make the "right information available at the right time" so, while these wireframes may seem like there is a lot of information, in practice many of the different elements you see illustrated below would only be displayed when you need them.
Wearable equipment in many MMOs has become a stat-fest with no regard to realism; where wearing a certain helmet can make a character smarter, stronger, or somehow better able to parry. Where rubbing the armor can cast a levitation spell or taunt a monster. These things are silly and that's not what equipment will be in Chronicles of Elyria. Instead, hearken your memory back to scouring the equipment section in your favorite table-top RPG and thinking to yourself, "This is a tough choice, I can't afford the chain shirt and the masterwork shortsword with +1 to damage and attack. I guess I'll take the normal short sword for now. Hmm, I chose a small race so I'll need to get the small size sword, which only does 1d4 instead of 1d6..." This is a lot closer to Chronicles of Elyria, where equipment you use must be suited to your size and do not provide significant, inexplicable bonuses to your skills. Instead, your skill as a character and a player will be the source of your skill. Crazy, I know!
That's not to say your gear isn't important. It is! It just serves a different function. Instead of making you stronger or more skilled, it keeps you from dying in a whole lot of ways - so it's got that going for it, which is nice. Equipment is more about survival than anything. There are a couple different layers you can wear. Layer 1 will typically be your clothing and will be the primary barrier against exposure. If you're in the frozen north, you'll want to choose heavy, thick materials that will keep you warm. If you're in the desert, silk or light linen will serve you much better.
Layer 2 will be a lot more dependent on the activity you are performing or the role you serve. Adventurers will use this to don their primary protective layer such as armor or additional traveling clothes. Those involved with crafting and trade will likely prefer things such as aprons or other profession-based garb that protect from the heat of the forge, getting flour everywhere, or otherwise serve their work. For the politicians among you, your armor is looking respectable and trustworthy, so fine clothes with marks of your station will be the best protection in this layer.
A couple areas of the body will have a layer 3 option that will depend a lot on what else you are wearing. These are the chest and cloak slots. The layer 3 chest slot can house a breastplate, pauldrons, overcoat, or tabard, but may not be compatible with wearing a robe or cloak at the same time. There is also a belt slot which is layer 3 because in can be worn over everything. Belts are pretty handy and can have scabbards, sheaths, pouches, or pockets sewn in to various attach points.
There are also equipment slots for jewelry and some other cosmetic items but these would be hidden below other equipment if you were wearing it. So you might be wearing a cool ring but it won't be visible under your gloves (if you are wearing any). It's not necessary to wear equipment in every slot at all times since it is so dependent upon your activity. In that sense, a noble may choose not to wear gloves in court so that all those in attendance can see their signet ring. A hat might not be worn indoors due to local custom. And armor certainly should not be worn to bed - you'll have a bad night!
Though there is a lot of thought put into the equipment and layering system that will provide characters endless ways to express themselves through form and equip themselves for function, really all we want to do at this stage is be able to don and doff a couple different options in each slot! So while Snipehunter and the design team are up to their elbows in the gameplay implications, Irreverent is making sure we've got a few options to try on and Racronos is making sure that there's some feedback, in the form of animation, when you change equipment. Donning and doffing equipment will take some time, depending on the item. For example, putting on a shirt is pretty easy and won't take long...unless you have to first take off your breastplate and padded tunic to reach it and then put those back on after you're done!
This feature provides a couple things to the dramatic realism of Chronicles of Elyria. First, it means that swapping equipment during an active melee is impossible and even taking a moment on the battlefield to raid and equip a fallen enemy's gear is a dangerous undertaking. And really, you should think twice about taking off your clothes or armor in the middle of a battle! If you're camping in the wilds, you'll need to decide whether you'd rather suffer a poor night's sleep in your armor or enjoy a restful night's sleep unarmored but run the risk of being set upon by bandits or monsters with no protection. For a spy in a noble court, where the danger is less tangible, it also means you won't be changing your disguise without first adjourning to a secluded alcove or empty chamber. But it's not so restrictive that the average citizen can't easily don their gloves and hat when they go out or enshroud themselves in a hooded cloak when they don't want to be recognized. It just means you will need to think about your activities before you go out and prepare appropriately.
Second, this feature provides one of the several reasons to build and own structures. If changing what you are wearing leaves you more vulnerable - to predators, thieves, or even blackmail - it'd be nice to do that in private, wouldn't it? From tents to townhomes, being inside a structure provides more than relief from the elements, it provides safety and privacy as well!
All that being said, you can play dress-up on your character's paper doll without confirming an equipment change. Only when you're satisfied with the selections and you confirm your changes will your character perform the equipment change, so there's danger but not unnecessary tedium. It's never our plan to introduce tedious activities without a dramatic reason that adds to your gameplay experience by introducing conflict or meaningful choices.
So progress on this quest is going great. Once we settle on the look and feel for the UI/UX, it'll be easy to hook it up to the functionality. Once the interface is working, we will have a bunch of equipment in our inventory to play around with. Once that's done, this quest is also done!
The Quest for World Interaction has taken a slight detour and also a leap ahead. If you hang around in the official Discord then you might have heard that Soulbound Studios had itself a little, internal game jam - or hackathon, if you'd rather. During that brief intermission, a simple NPC was added who would go around planting things. Johnny Appleseed, we call him. Also, world interaction was added to VoxElyria along with some plants to gather food from, like apple trees and stalks of wheat. So the only piece left is to make sure that the Unreal UI/UX is where we want it, which is tied in with the wireframes that Death is working on for Inventory. So, again, once we settle on the look and feel of the Inventory UI/UX and hook it up to the functionality, this quest will be done too!
But that's not all! We're also generating the world with which to interact. We've been continuing to develop the different biomes and Caspian himself is creating the algorithm that will generate the world maps for each server. As you've seen before, the world is made up of a bunch of different biomes. The starting continent will always have the eight home regions for the eight launch tribes, as well as some transition biomes to glue them together in a natural way. This will represent roughly 30% of the total land mass of the world.
While Caspian is hard-at-work building a system to generate the landmass, Raevantiel and Souzou have been continuing to build out the inventory of plants, soils, and other environmental assets that will be used by the generator. The latest biome they've been working on is the Freshwater Wetlands, home biome of the To'resk. So far we've got the topology looking quite nice and have begun to populate the area with plants. The flower is a hyacinth and the tree is a papyrus, two key species in this biome. The soil texture is coming along as well, appearing very saturated and almost clay-like. As with the other biomes we've shown progress on in previous posts, we build the topology first, then the soil, then some key plants including ground cover, low brush, and trees (if applicable). So it's still very much a work-in-progress and we'll be excited to show you more at the end of the adventure!
Even with just a couple plants, the difference between these wetlands and the Dras's swamps should be obvious.
There continues to be activity on our website, forums, and official Discord server as a result of the resolute warriors on our front lines. Whether it is tracking down trolls or bugs, adding new features big or small, or providing new and better knowledge for the community to sink their teeth into, the Protectors of the Web will never stop! Over the last few weeks, some notable achievements include:
Account Merging was a prerequisite for a great many features, including Surname Reservation, Server Selection, Settlement & Domain Selection, and anything that actually takes advantage of the contents of your pledge package or your total Influence. Now that this feature has come and gone, the number and size of starting domains is set and this will allow player-run groups to better plan their approach to domain selection. We won't be bringing this feature back ever, as it is exclusively something we promised to early backers and has no benefit past pre-alpha, so those who needed it, got it! Enjoy!
With that out of the way, Surname Reservation began on March 1st. During March, reservation was gated on Influence so that those with higher influence would be able to choose first. After March, any remaining surname reservations will not be gated so anyone new to the community can submit a name as soon as they have the item in their inventory. Approved surnames will be available to their progenitors for all characters they make on the server they reserved it on and there will be ways to invite others into your family before launch as well. This means each server has already begun to diverge! After launch, over generations, and with more marriages and offspring, surnames will spread as a result of player activity, which will be interesting and exciting to see! Which great houses will become renowned or infamous? Which families will proliferate or be wiped out? Only time will tell!
The Surname Reservation tool will cease to exist after Exposition completes, so the only way to guarantee a surname exists on a server is to A) hope or B) reserve it! See the announcement post for more details.
The Protectors of the Web have spearheaded some recent promotions for our glowing community as well. In February we had the Elyria & Chill promotion which introduced - among other things - some special items into the store (and therefore the game) including some jewelry to show your affection for another, a few cooking recipes, a pair of songbirds, and a certain fantasy costume that is better for the bedroom than the battlefield.
In March, lore from the Second Age revealed the story of the Cardinal Bees and the Pilgrimage of Renewal, as well as some religious observations. In addition, we further celebrate this time of growth and renewal with some farm-themed goodies, including the adorable Foxcelot!
These things are going away tomorrow, so don't miss out!
As part of our continued work on the website, we've been updating the game guide. Our first goal is to make the information there accessible to newcomers since we've all seen the memes about explaining Chronicles of Elyria to a friend.
To date, we've updated the Game Guide's landing page and filled out the Overview and World sections and their children, as well as provided an initial landing page for the Guide, Lore, and Getting Started sections. We'll continue to add additional and more detailed information - especially to the Game and Lore sections - as we continue to develop and release design journals and lore pieces.
Pledged to Your Continued Adventures in Life, Both Actual and Fantasy,