COMMUNITY - FORUMS - DEVELOPER JOURNALS
State of Chronicles of Elyria FAQ

Over the past few weeks our main focus has been, and remains, on finding a way to continue development of Chronicles of Elyria and securing any help we need to do that. However, we know you have questions and concerns regarding the state of Chronicles of Elyria. To that end, we have come up with a list of some of your most frequently asked questions and will update these as we can. We are listening and doing our best to answer questions and provide information as things become more clear.

Sincerely,

Jeromy Walsh
CEO & Founder
Soulbound Studios, LLC

About Refunds & New Funding

Q: When will I get my refund? How do I get my money back?

A: Our intention was and continues to be to deliver Chronicles of Elyria. While we have met many challenges and made mistakes during the development of this unique game, our efforts continue. All the monies we raised for development, including a significant amount of the founder’s personal money, have been spent by Soulbound in good faith on the game, primarily for team salaries, software licenses and studio overhead. We will continue to provide you honest updates regarding our progress and setbacks, both to comply with Kickstarter’s terms of service and our own obligations for transparency and honesty.

We have never worked harder to deliver the game we promised, and we ask for your patience as we navigate this particularly difficult time.

Q: How do I get my money back from Kickstarter? From Xsolla?

A: Kickstarter’s terms of service specify that backer refund requests are solely between creators and backers. As Chronicles of Elyria’s creator, Soulbound is responsible for its own refund policy. The buck stops with us. As answered in the above question, we are continuing the development of Chronicles of Elyria and have no plans to shutter the company or stop development as long as we have the ability to continue. We are not issuing refunds at this time.

Xsolla provides processing services on behalf of Soulbound. Since Soulbound intends to deliver Chronicles of Elyria as promised, we have informed Xsolla that we are not prepared to issue refunds at this time.

Q: Why has it taken you so long to answer questions/requests for refunds? Why won’t you take responsibility?

A: Soulbound readily admits that it is facing difficult circumstances. We are doing our best to continue development of the game and are in promising discussions with individuals and companies to help us deliver what we have promised to you.

In the meantime, I am committed to disclosing our progress and setbacks to you as often as we can. As you know, we tried to answer your questions immediately following our March 24th post but, until we get more definitive answers to the many questions we still face, we can only ask for your patience. Our days are filled with code reviews and development strategy discussions with our advisors and partners with the single goal of developing and delivering Chronicles of Elyria.

Q: What happened to all the money raised by the Kickstarter & other fundraising events?

A: 100% of the funds we raised through Kickstarter, our stretch goals, and direct contributions went directly to support the game’s development. Building games, especially games of this scope, is an expensive venture that is a combination of software development and art where things are bound to go wrong. We are no exception. Like many developers over the years, we have found ourselves way behind schedule. We are solely to blame for our mistakes.

No one has purchased a Ferrari. No one has taken a world tour on your money. All salaries were within the norm for a company of our size in our industry and region. In fact, our founders are our biggest investors by far.

So, where did your money go? Our costs can be broken down into payroll expenses for approximately 20 people, numerous contractors, health insurance, operating expenses (such as our lease, computers, electricity, Internet services), software licenses and associated royalties, legal costs, accounting, training, and marketing. Our run-rate has averaged nearly $2M a year over four years and every penny can be accounted for.

Q. When are we going to be able to view your accounts to see how you spent our money?

A. While we do not plan to share our books publicly, earlier this year our accounts were audited by an independent, external auditor who, after evaluating our cash flow, bank records, and profit & loss statements determined there were no questionable accounting and that all transactions were appropriate for the development of Chronicles of Elyria and the running of the business. As such, we stand by our use of funds.

Q. I heard that Jeromy Walsh purchased houses and went on numerous expensive vacations while employed at Soulbound.

A. Those claims are not true. I have lived in the same house since 2010. In fact, I sold property in 2015 to fund the initial development of Chronicles of Elyria. The money you paid has been used for game development, not elaborate vacations or luxury homes.

Q: Why did you only ask for $900k if you knew you needed more? Why was there no mention of this on the Kickstarter project?

A: When we launched our Kickstarter campaign, we believed we could release a playable version of Chronicles of Elyria for $900k with limited features designed to keep the costs within that budget. We always intended to continue to develop the features of Chronicles of Elyria. We believe we clearly communicated on our Kickstarter campaign, on our website, and on our forums, that additional development was going to require additional funding.

Q: Why did you hold another funding event if you knew you were going to shut down the game a week later and/or knew you wouldn’t have money to complete the game?

A: Our intention was never to shut down the game or the company. We used the word “shutter” incorrectly and regret ever writing that.

We expected that our Settlers of Elyria event would bring in enough additional cash to fund development for another year. However, that event was an abject failure and we had to lay off our staff.

We reacted hastily and our words were not carefully chosen. What we should have done is what we are doing now. We are clearly and unambiguously letting you know where our development stands: it is precarious, but we are determined to do everything we can to deliver.

Q: What can you tell me about this “financing” that you are hoping to get?

A: We need additional funding to deliver a fully realized version of Chronicles of Elyria. Like any business that finds itself in our position, we are diligently looking at ways of bringing on a long-term partner who can provide a stable funding source and the management skills necessary to finish Chronicles of Elyria.

Q: How much money is needed to finish the game?

A: We are in the process of re-mapping our development plan, and many of the factors are still undetermined, including the size and composition of staff we can hire. We will show you a plan as soon as we can.

Q: If you couldn’t get a publisher or outside funding before, how do you think you will get it now? How do you expect to be able to find another source of funding now when you've been claiming you've been trying to do so unsuccessfully for years?

A: We are not sure. What we do know is that other large MMORPGs have found investors. According to Forbes, in 2018, Cloud Imperium (Star Citizen) received over $40 million dollars in private investment. We are not looking for nearly that much. We have a small team turning over every rock we can find because we have made a promise and we intend to keep it. We are also much further along in development than when we last sought a publishing partner or investors.

Q: What effect will the refunds, AG complaints and campaign for a class action suit have on finishing the game or securing funding?

A: This is one of our biggest challenges. We understand and appreciate that our community has concerns and are actively listening and working to address these as best we can. As game developers, and as important as these issues are, they distract us from doing what we do best, which is to make the game we promised. These legal issues and threats poison the well for potential investors, publishers, and buyers who might otherwise be interested in partnering with us.

Q: Is there a class action suit?

A: No. We have not been contacted by any law firm representing a class of litigants.

Q: How many complaints have you received from the AG?

A: Several. We are answering each one as honestly and thoroughly as we can while still focusing the majority of our efforts on the future of Chronicles of Elyria.

Q: Are you working with lawyers? Doesn’t that mean you are guilty?

A: We are working with attorneys. Given the many issues we face, our lawyers are an important part of our process and solution. Not only do they provide us insight into the law, but they are able to negotiate investment and development agreements on all our behalf. Working with lawyers is the responsible thing for us to do given our obligations and commitment to our community and partners.

About the Game & Forums

Q: Is Chronicles of Elyria/this Kickstarter project canceled?

A: No. Development on the game is ongoing and we will keep you informed as it progresses. We will also let you know if we have any success with potential investors.

Q: What happened to all our COE account transaction histories and why haven't you made an effort to restore them?

A: The removal of transaction histories was unintentional. We apologize. We understand that this was alarming.

Our website was custom-built. When we took down the store page—by disabling the store controller—we unintentionally took down the transaction page, which was something we were not expecting. We are working on restoring the features you need but understand that all our efforts are focused on code assessment and working with our partners on investment and development strategies. Additionally, your transactions are still visible on your account’s influence page.

Q. When will Chronicles of Elyria be done?

A: The short-term answer is that we don’t know. We are evaluating the code, assessing our development strategy, and simultaneously looking for partners to help us. It is a lot of work. Once these pieces are better known, we will be able to give you a more accurate completion date.

Q: What happened to the team and who will work on the game?

A: As written in our March 24th post, we laid off our team because we lacked the money to pay them. We opted for lay-offs over furloughs to give our employees a better, clearer, and quicker opportunity to find and accept other jobs. I continue to work on the game alone and several former team members have expressed interest in continuing development. We promise to update you on this as soon as we have more news.

Q: Who are these ‘volunteers’ and how many are there?

A: There are six or so former team members who have offered to volunteer their time to help continue development until additional funding or a buyer can be secured.

Q: Who is working on the game right now and are they getting paid?

A: I am the only one working on code right now, and I am not receiving a salary.

Q: What is the next deliverable and when can we expect it?

A: This is one of the first decisions we are trying to make, and we do not want to get it wrong. We are looking deeply into the code and art assets and trying to determine what we can deliver to you to show you that your investment is not vaporware. Presently, we are discussing a plan with a potential investor/partner to provide a playable proof of technology game to you.

Q: What in the game is playable, or feature complete?

A: As Chronicles of Elyria is still in pre-Alpha, there are no features which we would consider “feature complete.” However, many of the core adventuring mechanics are already playable through the Prelyria client.

Q:. When will we get to see gameplay with more than one person on screen, doing something more than walking around?

A: Gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G60oJRsoc7E
More than one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cILW_XtQU98

Our approach to development with a small engineering team was to isolate the gameplay mechanics and the development of the platform. The platform was largely worked on in 2017, while gameplay mechanics were the focus of 2018 - 2020. Much of the work that was done needs to be integrated in with a refactored and optimized backend. And much of the client-side work needs to be optimized for performance as well.

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: In 2017, the engineering team began work on our scalable back-end and got it to a point where it was functional, but neither optimized nor easy to develop for. Adding new gameplay required engineers and technical designers to be aware of the networking layer, and the underlying implementation of our Entity Component System (ECS). This was the impetus for doing much of our gameplay development in an offline, disconnected client, with the plan to integrate it into the back-end server later. So, one of my first tasks is to revisit the scalable back-end, refactor it so that it's easier to work with, and incorporate many of the lessons we learned in 2018 and 2019 with respect to our Entity Component System.

Q: Will you have anything to show us within the next 12 months that we haven’t seen before?

A: Absolutely. Our goal is to not only show notable progress in the next twelve months, but to deliver a major pre-Alpha experience to backers.

Q: Do you have a timeline we can see of how long you think it’ll take to deliver CoE?

A: Unfortunately, we cannot provide a timeline at this time. We are happy to share what we’re working on now and what we’ll be working on next, but do not plan to share any long-term estimates publicly. Once we’ve reached our next major milestone, then we talk about announcing dates.

Q: Why had communication with the community ceased?

A: We are focusing on the game and figuring out the best way to deliver it to our community, but if you do have questions, feel free to drop us a line at [email protected]

Q: How often are you going to keep us up to date with new information about the project?

A: Our plan going forward is to provide regular updates to the community, in both print and video form, a couple times a month. Progress is going to be slower with our smaller team size, but it’s important we stay connected regardless of the rate of progress so that you know we’re still here and working hard.

Q: Why are the forums locked? Will they be unlocked in the future?

A: The forums have been put in a read-only format, as we still lack the bandwidth to ensure that it is a safe place for the community. In the interest of transparency, we have removed all threads from March 24th forward to the state they were in just prior to our controversial March 24th post. We’ve done so to keep the focus on the state of the game and development. You’ll be able to reference all of the discussion threads from the inception of this project. It is our intent to, at some point, re-open the forums once we have established a new volunteer moderation team and when it makes sense to do so.

Q: When are you intending to reopen the forums and Discord?

A: We intend to once again open up the forums and Discord when we’ve got the resources available, including a moderation team, to ensure that they are safe places to interact and when we’ve reached a point it makes sense to solicit feedback from, and encourage communication between, community members - notably, when we’ve put deliverables into the hands of our community that warrants feedback on.

Q: Why has Discord been hidden? If it were a moderation concern, couldn't it simply have been made read-only like the forums?

A: It looks bad, we know, but there is a tremendous amount of misinformation circulating. As a result, we have temporarily detached our Discord channel. As mentioned earlier, though, we are focusing on the game and figuring out the best way to deliver it to you.

Q: Who is answering our questions on Discord? Why won’t you answer us and who do we talk to?

A: Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to have a team member answering questions in Discord. It is our hope that, as we move into a productive position again, we can restore the community’s ability to communicate through our official channels, including Discord. Until then, we will update these Q&As as necessary and you may send additional questions to [email protected]

Q: You say you want to earn trust back. What are you doing to be more transparent? How will you change communication with the community?

A: This Q&A, for one, is meant to show you that we’re not hiding the ball. We’re not trying to be evasive. Instead, we are focusing on the thing that matters most: trying our best to deliver the game we promised you. We will continue to use forums such as this because, frankly, they are efficient. In issuing these Q&As, we promise to be as open and transparent as possible.

Q: What steps are being taken to appease dissatisfied customers?

A: When we announced the layoffs in March, the fantasy of being an adventurer, aristocrat, or noble in Elyria was shattered for many. This included the loss of hope in something new and better on the horizon and the disengagement and withdrawal of many communities.

So first and foremost, we are working to reassure people that progress continues. Additionally, we are working on releasing tools that will allow players to re-engage with their communities, resume planning for their settlements and domains, and start to provide feedback on some of the core mechanics of Chronicles of Elyria in the quickest way possible.

Finally, we are working to engage the necessary help to create a clearer, more transparent production process so people can better understand us and our motivations, as well as our progress.