Chronicles of Elyria made our list of the biggest MMO crowdfunding stories of 2022, but unfortunately not for good reasons. The lawsuit that the game’s backers had brought against Soulbound Studio was tossed by the judge, meaning the company – which was apparently already deep in debt – had skated by without accountability. Worse still, Soulbound’s Jeromy Walsh crowed over the court decision in a dev address, calling the lawsuit’s dismissal a “victory to both all those who have, or will use crowdfunding as a source of seed funding for innovative projects, as well as (and most importantly) the backers of Chronicles of Elyria” (presumably excepting those suing him) and deeming the lawsuit one phase in the “the hero’s journey” through which Soulbound is “ascending.”
Walsh is back with another dev blog as of yesterday, and perhaps predictably, he doesn’t want to dwell on 2022 too much thanks to “mounting legal fees, shrinking staff, and [his] being pulled away from engineering for 60%+ of the year to focus on funding the studio.” But he does discuss the impact of the lawsuit on the game (and acknowledges that the case is working its way through the appeals process as well). He says the company has been “forced to eat” as much as $50,000 in more legal fees, which has already resulted in the loss of a key developer who according to Walsh left to save the company money, meaning that Soulbound is now a “studio of one” at which the one – Walsh – is “focused 100% on the development of KoE/CoE.”
The larger part of the blog post recaps the development progress Walsh says took place over the course of the year, most of which was focused on Kingdoms of Elyria, which has already seen pre-alpha play. Walsh stresses that work on Kingdoms is work on Chronicles:
“It’s important to understand that KoE isn’t just world-building. The development of KoE is the development of CoE. All the art assets carry over. All the design decisions and data carry over. All the back-end engineering and gameplay mechanics carry over, etc. If you are waiting for us to ‘stop development on KoE and return to development on CoE,’ you are missing a subtle, but crucial element of our approach to developing CoE. When we say, ‘we’re working on KoE,’ it’s just a short-hand way of saying ‘We’re working on the domain, settlement, and land management mechanics of CoE, which is being made available to an audience that likes colony sims and grand strategy games, before integrating those things into the MMORPG.'”
Walsh also promises a roadmap next month, though he’s essentially reducing the scope of Kingdoms (“I will convert some things into stretch goals rather than strict shipping requirements”), and planning a second alpha for Kingdoms. “[W]e will be shipping Kingdoms of Elyria: Settlements this year,” he concludes.