The Chronicles of Elyria drama would like to reclaim some of your attention from the Blizzard drama and the Richard Garriott drama!
Back in 2020, Soulbound Studios ran out of cash, laid off the team, and ended development, only to pivot a month later and insist the game was still in production with volunteer staff. Backers hit Soulbound and Xsolla with a class-action lawsuit. Last year, Soulbound began testing spinoff Kingdoms of Elyria under NDA, locked down the game’s subreddit over death threats, and proposed crypto land trades. The sub is safe again, the lawsuit is still underway, and Elyria was supposedly on track for a late 2024 release.
That brings us to this week, when Soulbound Studios has released a state-of-the-game update for Q1 2022. Studio head Jeromy “Caspian” Walsh recaps a February early alpha test; says the team is working on engineering, design, and art; making “huge advances” with the core game engine; porting the backend to a new framework; working out biomes, environmental data, and crafting resources; streamlining engineering data; and prototyping art. Walsh includes a list of ported gameplay functionality as well – it’s everything from characters and death to aging and movement to gear and consumables.
Readers will recall that Elyria has been accused of passing off bought assets as custom in the past; Walsh actually addresses this, arguing it’s unfair to criticize developers for using stock assets:
“All assets are purchased assets. It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying assets from an asset marketplace like the Unity Asset store, paying employee-artists to create custom assets for you, or splitting the difference and having outsourcing agencies create custom assets for you from base templates. In all cases, a studio is purchasing assets. […] In our case, we’ve used store-bought assets from the beginning of CoE’s development and continue to do so today, though for different reasons. Early on, our purchased assets were largely WIP pieces, designed as placeholder or stand-in assets. But we’d occasionally see a high-quality asset we’d need to make anyways, and in that case, it just made more sense to pick it up in a store than make it from scratch. These days, we buy store-bought assets for an entirely different reason. As you saw earlier, CoE has thousands of different items that are used as crafting resources, tools, weapons, armor, furniture, cookware, and more. There’s a massive number of things to make. Given the large volume of assets, and the small size of our team, it’s simply impossible for us to deliver the game we want to deliver, in the time we’d like to deliver it in, without resorting to purchasing assets from a marketplace whenever the quality meets our standards, and those assets are unlikely to pull people out of the world we’re trying to create for them.”
The Kickstarter update concludes with a plan for a mid-alpha test weekends that are expected at some point in Q2, so in the next few months; Walsh says to expect an updated launcher, new game systems, bug fixes, faster load times, optimization, and access to new biomes. That phase is open to alpha 2 backers “in addition to the alpha 1 backers [who] were able to provide feedback previously.” The next quarterly update itself is slated for July 12th.