Earlier today, we asked the Chronicles of Elyria team for a statement regarding a tip we’d received about layoffs and salary cutbacks at Soulbound, and presumably in response, the studio has published a fresh letter to the community addressing some of the rumors. Turns out they’re true, and the studio has indeed suffered a round of layoffs.
Jeromy “Caspian” Walsh explains that over the course of the last year, his team had “nearly doubled” in size, but that size was unsustainable, as the company was hoping to have secured a publisher or additional investment but hasn’t yet done so, necessitating the staff reduction.
“As a result of our change in focus, we adjusted our resources accordingly so as to be sustainable solely through sales from our online store,” he says. “Unfortunately this meant parting ways with a few of our team members. This was painful for all of us as we had developed a close bond with everyone in the studio, but it was a necessary action to move forward at the velocity and cost we need to succeed.”
Chronicles of Elyria’s latest dev blog is out, and it’s more than just a recap of 2017 and look ahead to 2018, although it has that too: It makes the announcement that the game will no longer be utilizing SpatialOS.
“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 [Multiplayer Evolving Online World],” says Soulbound Studios. That meant integration with SpatialOS and Unreal Engine 4. But as development progressed, Soulbound explains, it ran into game elements (non spatial systems) that didn’t quite fit the architecture. What’s more, Soulbound argues, the studio was concerned that the game’s large size would make SpatialOS too expensive for it (and therefore for players) long-term.
“Of course, we brought our concerns to Improbable, and over the last eight months they’ve done a fantastic job working with us to try and bring the price down. Unfortunately, it remains an expensive solution for us. To make sure we were prepared, we began looking for alternative technology that could fill any gaps left behind if we were unable to use SpatialOS for any reason.”
Thanks in part to the recent “The Free Kingdom of Elyria” promotion, Chronicles of Elyria has shot past three-and-a-half million dollars in crowdfunding raised to settle around $3.58M at the start of the new year.
Speaking of the new year, the team said that it is back from the break and ready to jump into the “adventures” ahead in 2018. “Our next adventure is focused on providing a sense of identity and corporealness to the characters in Chronicles of Elyria,” the team said. “There will be three major quests to tackle this time around, revolving around character customization, the inventory system, and collision.”
Soulbound Studios promised to show progress in these three areas soon and will be delivering a state of the game post to bring the community up to speed. Perhaps we will hear as to whether or not the studio has managed to find a publisher and when Alpha 1 testing will commence.
One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.
But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2018 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.
How long do you like your day/night cycle in MMORPGs? Chronicles of Elyria is preparing its fans for the possibility of a record-breaking three years (in game), due to a special astronomical phenomenon called “Longest Night.”
According to the site, Longest Night occurs when the planet Selene gradually blots out the light from the system’s star, causing a year of perpetual night and two additional years of twilight on either side. Yet this isn’t a horrible or world-ending situation as you may assume.
“Longest Night is also one of the most cherished times in Elyria,” the devs explained. “The need to cooperate to survive brings people together in ways that no other event in or on Elyria can. Despite its darkness, Longest Night has given Elyria some of its most sublime art and inspired displays of charity and goodwill that are unparalleled in other times.”
A year ago, Chronicles of Elyria had crossed $2 million in fundraising. Today, that amount sits at over $3.4 million. Still, some players worry that the game might not have enough in its coffers to get the big release that it should, especially without the backing of a publisher.
While Soulbound Studios was touting its independence from publishers back in September, the studio’s CEO allegedly is trying to shop the game around and is finding difficulty in selling the sandbox’s concept. “During last nights multi-hour impromptu Q&A, [Jeromy Walsh] expressed some frustration in his attempts to market Chronicles of Elyria to potential publishers,” one forum poster reported (the Q&A chat room is a locked voice chat). “He described publishers that refused to read his eight-page comparison of COE to other MMOs, publishers that wanted loot crates and micro-transactions, and publishers simply not understanding the appeal COE has for so many.”
With 2017 drawing to a close and 2018 rushing up to meet us, the Massively OP team has regrouped for another round of bold and goofy predictions for the year ahead. We’re feeling pretty good after our fairly successful predictions from last year! What’s in store for the MMO genre next year? Here’s what we think.
While Chronicles of Elyria’s backers should be getting into the game’s alpha and beta tests next year, a select fortunate few are already enjoying an ongoing “friends and family” alpha test.
Soulbound Studios announced that the test is already underway: “This month, we’ve reached a huge milestone: our Friends and Family closed alpha. Chronicles of Elyria is now up and running on private servers for our friends and family to access outside of the studio — huzzah! We’re already learning a lot about the the performance profile of the game and are eager for our Alpha 1 backers to join us online in early 2018.”
In this week’s newsletter, the team reported progress on many fronts. This includes an Unreal Engine character creation tool and more biomes for starter tribes. And while the development team is taking off a little bit of time for the holidays, it is ramping up work on VoxElyria, combat, and crafting. Fans also should look forward to an end-of-the-year wrap-up in the near future.
It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).
This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!
As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Anthem, Sea of Thieves, The Crew 2, Monster Hunter World, DayZ, Red Dead Redemption 2, Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.
Thinking about reserving a character name in Chronicles of Elyria? It’s going to cost you, but if you’re willing to pony up the dough, you should be sitting pretty some time next month.
Soulbound Studios announced this week that it will start taking family surname reservations in January. The studio explained that this is more important than your typical MMO: “When you reserve a surname, that surname becomes a part of the game’s history. Every character is born to a family in Chronicles of Elyria, and it’s possible new characters will be born into your dynasty and will inherit your surname! Once you reserve a surname, no other player can claim it; it belongs to you, and you alone!”
There are some hoops to be jumped through in order to lock in your surname, however. You’ll need to either buy a minimum $135 pledge package by itself or unlock the a la carte store by buying a minimum $45 pledge package and then picking up the surname option for another $25 (so, $70 total). Additionally, surnames will be reserved according to player influence, so those with more in their account get dibs over the rest of the crowd.
Yeah, you’re probably not going to get “Stark” and “Baggins.” Sorry to break it to you.
Just a friendly reminder that Chronicles of Elyria is still trying to raffle off one of its few remaining in-game thrones to the most popular fan who can get everyone else to drop real money on him or her. Oh, that reminder doesn’t come from us, by the way; it comes via a new ad that pushes the promotion.
This raffle is really odd in how it’s structured. Basically, fans buy these “kingdom tokens” for $10 to gift to someone else in an effort to put them on the throne. No matter if this ends up succeeding or not, the giver will get 100 exposition points (theoretically a $10 value) and the receiver 50 EP for the transaction.
On December 31st, the player with the most kingdom tokens will be named monarch of a kingdom on the Luna server, with the next 150 players receiving modified royal or courtier packages. Soulbound is encouraging candidates to drum it up in the community.
It should be noted that there are some restrictions, such as current nobility can’t participate and people without any package tied to an account can’t give or receive tokens.
If your favorite part of the Lord of the Rings films was the exposition-heavy introduction, then Chronicles of Elyria has a treat for you this week. Soulbound Studio put out a new video that details the complex back history of one of the servers, complete with moving illustrations.
“Chronicles of Elyria is a deep MMORPG made up of player run countries where the developers involve the community to define the unique lore for their server,” the team said. “Each of the monarchies in this cinematic are present on the Luna (NA-East) server and are created and run by players!”
Following a couple of minutes of lore, the studio pushes its raffle of the last unpurchased monarchy. Aspiring community leaders pop in to make the case why you should support them with your money. It doesn’t feel weird at all!
No longer will you have to pay a large lump sum for bundles just to gain certain perks in Chronicles of Elyria. If you have your sight set on only one or two extras, Soulbound Studio is now happy to accept your money in exchange for a la carte items.
The studio began selling individual rewards on the 1st, allowing players to buy into testing phases, pick up mounts and pets, and even get their name inscribed on tombstones around the game world. The last item, by the way, will result in a donation being made for the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
It’s not just cash shop sales this fall, however. Soulbound Studio recently showed off some of the character creation options that its using for both the MMO and its visual MUD predecessor.