Responding to fan feedback on the forums, Soulbound Studios is making a design change in regards to Chronicles of Elyria’s “tribes” — its playable races of characters. Instead of a different selection of tribes on each server, the team has decided to standardize the starting lineup, so to speak.
“We are going to have a fixed eight tribes on every server at launch, and they will be the same eight tribes,” the team said. “That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other tribes in the game — there are — but you will have to discover them in order to play them as playable tribes.”
This change allows the team to create balanced pairs of starter tribes and keep players from switching servers depending on the starting races available. Some of these tribes include the human-like Neran, the stocky Hrothi, and the absolutely built Brudvir.
Check out a 16-minute tribal Q&A on Chronicles of Elyria’s tribes after the break!
Last week, Soulbound Studios began its informational rollout of Chronicles of Elyria’s tribe system, which would be a race system in any other game but is far more complicated than that here, since instead of influencing your passive attributes, your tribe (and your parents) will more specifically dictate your early survival skills, languages, movement, and character creation bits.
In line with a loose schedule, the studio has posted deep-dives for three tribes so far: the dwarf-like Hrothi, the hulking Brudvir, and the Neran — the most like boring ol’ humans. Each is worth a look as they all read more like anthropology reports than anything; there’s a chunk of lore, history, plus ads and disads, how they worship and educate, and even what they eat.
The team also did a Q&A session on YouTube answering questions (again, chiefly on tribes, biomes, languages, and related bits) from the community, and it’s worth it just to witness Caspian’s impressively absurd level of understanding of the detail of the Elyria world, so check that out too.
Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:
The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?
The family at Soulbound Studio has grown one larger this week with the addition of Adam Wong as Chronicles of Elyria’s new senior community producer. Wong comes to the team from Bungie, where he worked on the Halo franchise.
Said team recently posted a dev diary on its concept of tribes and how this differs from races in Chronicles of Elyria: “While your tribe will affect your predisposition toward certain attributes, your tribe doesn’t directly control the starting values […] Tribes in CoE don’t provide any kind of passive bonuses to skills. Instead, they tend to contribute more toward your overall survivability in certain regions. Any skills you learn at an early age are based on the biome your family is from, regardless of which tribe they are a part of.”
Aw. Look at the otter. Isn’t she cute? Swimmin’ around like that?
It’s not that we thought you needed an otter break today (although you totally do), it’s that Chronicles of Elyria has turned its attention to the progress being made in developing the various creatures that will make up the virtual world’s ecology. Bear otters only scratch the surface of the list, which includes Ursaphants, Flower-Cup Porcupines, Canis Rabbits, Trisons, and a whole ton of leafy things.
The team also reported that it’s figuring out some of the important steps to making the game massively multiplayer: “Michael and Glaive are also building an event system and action system to coordinate movement, jumping, combat, flower-picking, etc. between all the players in an area.”
Improbable keeps popping up in news stories relating to MMOs lately — that’s thanks to SpatialOS, what the company is calling a “distributed computing platform for building large virtual worlds for gaming.” The platform is now in use on MMOs from Identity and Worlds Adrift to Chronicles of Elyria and Metaworld; its most recent partnership was announced last week with RuneScape studio Jagex, and it’s already working with Google to bring the tech to “hundreds” of developers.
GI.biz has a great interview out with Improbable CEO Herman Narula today that illuminates what the team worth over a billion bucks (an extrapolation based on the fact that Japan’s SoftBank’s half a billion dollar investment bought less than a 50% stake in the company) is focused on. It turns out it’s mostly video games — but it’s also bigger than video games.
“Our long-term objectives, and it is long-term, is to literally create other worlds,” explains Narula. “Not just in the context of gaming, but in the context of being able to solve really important problems. This core problem of massive distributed systems and engaging large-scale virtual worlds, is as important and significant as AI or space travel. It is just as important for the future of what our experience will be like as human beings in the world, and how we are going to solve some of the most pressing problems that we have. […] A lot of people just can’t believe that we think games are important. They are incredibly important and they’re going to be more important. Hypothetically, one day, if 100m, or 1bn, people entered simultaneously into a virtual world, that would cease to be a game, that would be a country.”
Chronicles of Elyria is continuing its… interesting method of disseminating development information by posting blogs about its “adventure teams” and their work on the project as if they were in a game of their own.
What we can discern is that the team has hired on a new senior client engineer, is working on different types of player animations (such as falling), is crafting a wardrobe system, and is drawing up a huge list of the flora and fauna of the opening region of the game.
Perhaps the most intriguing bit is how Chronicles of Elyria’s tech foundation is coming together: “Already we’ve got Unreal and SpatialOS running in concert, multiple characters running around and animating, entities persisting after logging off (the way OPCs will), colliding with one another without passing through, and server-side authority of location and other data such as character vitality.”
The team also posted a “brief” 32-minute Q&A video that you can watch below!
Add another gaming studio partnership to Improbable’s file: RuneScape developer Jagex announced today that it’s teamed up with the tech company to deploy SpatialOS in “future game production.” SpatialOS, you’ll recall, is a “distributed computing platform for building large virtual worlds for gaming.”
Improbable has been showing up in our feeds a lot lately. Earlier this month, the company picked up a cool half-billion bucks in investment from a Japanese telecommunications corporation. SpatialOS is being used on a number of up-and-coming MMO-related projects, including Identity, Worlds Adrift, Chronicles of Elyria, and Metaworld. Oh yeah, and it’s partnered with some company called Google for cloud distribution – probably no big deal, right?
The PR doesn’t directly say that RuneScape itself will make use of the tech, just that it’ll be used as a platform to “bring new levels of depth and scale to Jagex’s future creations.”
Earlier this week, a studio rep apparently accidentally leaked a stream slide with the logo for something called “Next Gen,” which also may or may not be RuneScape-related as we outlined Monday.
Source: Press release
With well over two weeks to go in its Kickstarter campaign, Ashes of Creation has already outpaced similar efforts from Chronicles of Elyria ($1.36M raised) and Crowfall ($1.76M). In fact, with over $1.84M raised so far and 19 days to go, it looks increasingly probable that the project is going to easily clear two million and surpass the Kickstarters of Shroud of the Avatar ($1.91M) and Camelot Unchained ($2.23M).
This also means that the $1.75M stretch goal to include an underground area is now sealed in stone. The team teased this subterranian zone by saying, “The Underrealm will be a rich environment where bioluminescence abounds in the fauna and flora that exist here. These deep caverns and underground valleys will provide new destinations for civilization to develop. Bringing the node system into the depths of the world, may awaken darker creatures than the surface. Be careful…”
The next funding stretch goal is to include social organizations such as thieves guilds at $2M. If you missed our Friday livestream interview with the Ashes of Creation team, make sure you rectify that!
Here’s another reminder that we really shouldn’t take our eyes off of Improbable Worlds, even for a second. The five-year-old software company, which is specializing in creating massive virtual worlds for simulations and games, just received over a half-billion dollar investment from a Japanese telecommunications corporation.
SoftBank injected $502 million into Improbable this week in one of the largest U.K. venture capital deals of all time. This investment puts one of SoftBank’s members on Improbable’s boards and sees SoftBank create a non-controlling stake in the company.
To make a good week even better for Improbable, venture firms Andreessen Horowitz and Horizon Ventures also committed additional funds to the tech startup and its SpatialOS software. “Having backed Improbable from the start, we continue to see huge potential in the application of its technology, both for solving real-world problems and in changing the future of the games industry,” said Horizons Ventures founder Solina Chau.
MMORPG blogger and MOP commenter Isarii (@ethanmacfie) recently published an excellent video positing that the MMO industry is facing a “massive identity crisis.”
“The MMO genre has sort of walked away from the things that made it unique and has faced an identity crisis since then as MMOs have reinvented themselves as these big giant titles trying to appeal to as many people as possible,” he argues. “As a result, you end up with MMOs that try to do things that smaller scale games tend to do better while not doing any of the things that make MMOs themselves unique.”
The whole video is worth a look-and-listen as he pins down what exactly does make MMOs unique and which MMOs have excelled as actual MMOs (protip: It’s everything from EVE to SWG to WoW, so don’t think this is about subgenre elitism at all). What do you think? Is Isarii right? Is the genre facing an identity crisis? And how do we solve it? That’s what our writers will be debating in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
Hey! Hey everyone! Don’t you remember how there was this totally awesome MMO Kickstarter campaign a year ago that rocked? No, no, don’t think about what’s going on right now with any current campaigns that are taking the online world by storm; let’s just take a minute to bask in the glories of the past!
OK, there’s probably no ulterior motive behind Chronicles of Elyria’s new “Kickstarter anniversary” sale, but certainly it wouldn’t mind us poking a little fun at its expense. To mark the occasion, the studio is offering discounted exposition points and an exposition point bundle for a mere $200.
So… what the heck are exposition points? “Exposition Points will be used during Exposition — the three months leading up to launch — where players will be able to customize their settlements and put their imprint on Elyria. When new players come in at launch, the governments, shops, and organizations they encounter will be the ones that players in Exposition created. ”
With four times the staff than it had at this time last year, Soulbound Studios is going full-steam on Chronicles of Elyria and all of its pre-alpha projects. To make the business environment fun and keep employees in an MMO mindset, teams have been formed to go on various project “adventures.” It’s partially because, as the devs admit, they are nerds.
The current adventure teams were revealed and their tasks detailed, including designing a horse mount, drawing up dossiers for all of the Twelve Tribes, wrangling assets, getting the game to work with SpatialOS, and improving the web experience. There’s even a team that is currently trying to get jumping right, a job that’s compounded by Chronicles of Elyria’s desire to make race and weight a factor in your hippity-hops.