It's no secret that Pantheon and Kickstarter haven't had the best of relationships, what with the game's crowdfunding campaign failing to fund back in the day. But Brad McQuaid is willing to let bygones be bygones and has extended an olive branch to the Kickstarter community this week with an update on Pantheon's progress.
McQuaid regaled readers with everything that has been done on the game so far, stating in no uncertain terms that something special is being made here. He said that his team of 15 developers has created a "true virtual world" that has been enjoyed by over 100,000 players so far. Finances were also touched upon, with reassurance that fan donations and seed investment have helped to fund the game's development.
Visionary Realms, the Brad McQuaid-led outfit building Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, announced this morning that it's expanded again with the hire of two new team members: AI specialist Tod "Zippyzee" Curtis and security expert Pierre Cadieux.
Following a stymied Kickstarter in 2014, McQuaid forged on with a volunteer team and steadily added to it in the ensuing year following fresh round of investment. Last autumn, McQuaid clarified for us that the team has been compensated for its work since acquiring seed funding in 2015.
We recently included Pantheon, which is still eyeing a possible late 2017/early 2018 launch, in our list of the best upcoming indie MMORPGs to keep your eyes on.
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Elite: Dangerous released an absolute space-ton of new videos out at Gamescom: one on crew, one on ship transfers, one on hyperspace, one on environments, one on capital ship docking, one on port services, one on the planet map... really, it's nuts, and that's all in addition to yesterday's deluge. Little did we know they weren't even close to done then!
In sadder news, we're bummed to report that 3001SQ's Kickstarter ended unsuccessfully. "While we didn't reach our funding goal, we will continue with developing the procedural generation system and VM integration to get a networked build that allows docking with stations, and finish the initial nandOS specification," the devs told fans.
Finally, check out this series of time-lapse gifs showing off player construction in Camelot Unchained. The same epic Redditor put one together demoing Crowfall's player kingdoms too. Let's make 'em fight!
Read on for more on what's up with MMO crowdfunding this week and the roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we've got our eye on!
Time to feast on the bounty of a rich Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen AMA on /r/MMORPG, courtesy of creator Brad McQuaid. Yesterday, McQuaid tackled dozens of community questions during the event, addressing issues such as raiding, endgame activities, new early access packages, server rulesets, story experiences, and how (if at all) players can kill gods.
When asked to make the argument of what sets Pantheon apart from the rest of the MMO pack, McQuaid answered, "One could perhaps argue that the MMO market is saturated with single player oriented casual MMOs. At the opposite extreme, however, it is definitely missing any challenging, group oriented, community focused, social and cooperative games with a big emphasis on making the E in PvE really matter -- making it more than NPCs but actually mean the environment. Players will learn to work together, classes will be interdependent and teamwork rewarded, and they will contend with the environment itself to achieve victory and to build up their characters."
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen's Brad McQuaid, known for his roles on both EverQuest and Vanguard, put out an interesting post overnight on the sunsetting of MMORPGs.
"The irony is that when we were designing EQ we were hoping and praying that most people would play at least 2-4 months," he reminisces. "No expansions were planned; instead [EverQuest II] began to be designed as a true sequel because we assumed people would get sick of EQ1 after a few months, no matter how good the game was."
While McQuaid assures fans that discussion about sunsetting Pantheon -- which hasn't even released yet -- is "about a far away from setting something in stone as anything [he's] ever said," he does say that he would try to keep Pantheon running as long as possible and maybe even hand it over to the players.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen says it's reorienting its newsletter to be more community focused and has put its money where its mouth is with a community-themed dev diary. Visionary Realms' Medawky argues that accessibility in MMO design through the years has "had the unfortunate side effect of diminishing the role that community played in the overall health of these shared worlds." Pantheon aims to reverse that.
"As we bridge the gap back to the days of a more intense experience you will find a commonality with old school MMORPGs, a link to the past that we fiercely cling to: the central focus of this experience is that is best when we share it with each other. Make no mistake however. Pantheon isn’t a wormhole back to simpler times, nor is it the Throwback Thursday of gaming. It’s a brave new world filled with wonder and innovation, awash in not only magnificent settings and environments, but full of fresh ideas like our perception, colored mana and atmosphere systems, just to name a few."
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen's livestream Thursday night took a deep look into the gameplay possible in the pre-alpha client. Visionary Realms' Brad "Aradune" McQuaid walked guests through dungeon gameplay and teased spellbooks, the skill system, crowd control, massive non-instanced dungeons, and scaling items.
The game is still hoping for a late 2017/early 2018 launch, but nothing's carved in stone. McQuaid says the game won't release until it's finished.
We've tucked the whole stream alongside a trimmed-down 8-minute version from Bainbeam Gaming, which characterizes the game as being a modernized version of 1999's EverQuest. We think you'll agree, though do note that the models, spell effects, and animations you see are placeholders.
Brad McQuaid's Visionary Realms is planning to demo its pragmatic throwback MMORPG Pantheon tonight live on stream.
"After much glee and celebration of [its] first stream in March, Visionary Realms is ready to show off all new game content for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. Thursday, June 23rd at 6pm PDT Brad McQuaid, Chris Perkins and John Diasparra will take three guests from the Who's Gaming Now network for up to two hours of gameplay through Black Dagger Keep and into a surprise dungeon. Viewers will get a first on-screen glimpse of the perception system some of you may remember from GDC earlier this year."
You can watch the whole shebang on Twitch or below starting at 9 p.m. EDT tonight.
Pantheon's development is coming along, according to a new state of the game newsletter posted by Visionary Realms' Brad McQuaid this week. "[W]e are wrapping up combat 2.0, which is our first major revision and tweaking of the combat system, taking into account what we learned during our first major milestone as well as more recent testing," he tells future players. "We are quite pleased with the results thus far and are setting up our tools so that the designers can more easily tweak and test core values like 'how long should an average level 3 fight last,' 'how often should a level 7 miss when fighting a level 10,' and so forth."
McQuaid also teases world building work on the continent of King's Reach, the Black Dagger Keep dungeon, a more "robust" climate and atmosphere system, and the perception and quest systems. Moreover, he says he'd like to begin testing "at the end of the year or the beginning of the next" -- but only if it's ready.
The Pantheon team is a bigger one today, as Visionary Realms has announced that it's taken on five new members for the development team -- a new social media manager, a producer, a designer, and two systems programmers.
Following its failed Kickstarter in 2014, Visionary Realms' Brad McQuaid forged on with a volunteer team, but he steadily added to that team last year and saw a fresh round of investment. Last autumn, McQuaid clarified for us that the "team is now compensated, and has been since receiving seed funding several months ago." The studio released a gameplay video back in March of this year:
This week's Massively Overthinking topic was inspired from Jake, who wrote in to us wondering about roles in MMORPG classes and group content:
"What happened to roles? We used to have more then just tank, DPS, healer. There used to be buffers, debuffers, pullers, porters, kiters, etc. Why can't we have more then just three these days?"
We touched on this subject a year ago in this very column when we discussed the diminishing importance of crowd control in MMORPGs and the shift of the classic trinity (tank, heals, crowd control) to the modern trinity (tank, heals, DPS). We offered several theories, starting with the growing importance of soloable classes, improvements in AI, and the never-ending quest for PvP parity.
Upcoming MMORPGs made with the classics in mind, however, might just be bringing back old playstyles and group arrangements, whether you're looking at a sandboxy game like Project Gorgon or an RvR-focused title like Camelot Unchained. At PAX East this week, Brad McQuaid told us about Pantheon's "quaternity," which looks a whole lot like the classic trinity in that it includes crowd controllers as a core role.
So let's talk about trinities and quaternities. Where did support roles go, are they making a comeback, and are you glad if so?
The development history of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen could be generously described as "checkered." The title went through several forms of failed crowdfunding and repeatedly seemed as if it might go the way of the dodo... but it pulled through and is still going strong. And at PAX East 2016, I had the chance to sit down with Brad McQuaid and ask him some questions about the game's development as well as what led to the game's early crowdfunding messes.
The short version? Startup companies are hard. McQuaid explained that he was a bit more ambitious than he should have been, expected things out of a Kickstarter that he should not have expected from a point in the game's development that was far earlier than it should have been. That was his mistake, and in the long run, he sees that as something that can be fixed, that no one will notice the earlier issues if the team at Visionary Realms works together to make a great game when all is said and done.
Gamers Nexus has a timely video interview with Pantheon's Brad McQuaid that might allay the fears of those watching the development of his old-school MMO.
"The main thing we want to bring back is a social game, a cooperative game, where players need each other, [...] have time to make real friendships, [and] can really call the game a home," McQuaid tells the interviewer, acknowledging the challenge of mixing newer gamers who are interested in co-op PvE play (but unaccustomed to it) and older gamers who miss old-school play but lack time for excesses.
"A lot of the needless repetition, too much grinding, sitting there for hours working on your factions... and we're trying to keep the sessions shorter," he explains. "We're targeting around a two-hour session so that a person can still log on with his friends, play a couple of hours, and have a sense of accomplishment. [...] And it doesn't have to be a six-, eight-, ten-hour crazy session because it's just not really compatible with people's lives anymore. [...] If we can bring back that magic without the tedium or the excessive time or the excessive grind, I think that's the way to go."