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The last thing our content team has been focusing on the first half of this year is various biomes and the dynamic nature of the world. While we showed off a bit of our dynamic weather system last year we continued to make improvements to the system this year. You can see some concepts below of what a settlement might look like under various lighting and weather conditions. Beneath that, you can see where we are with the dynamic snow accumulation system today. As we move into the next phase of development, the environment team will begin building out the various biomes of Elyria, with screenshots and video being presented as we make progress.
Another thing I never really got into, Pre-alpha experiences. There's 2 miniature "games" that will be put out to help establish certain things in the game. ElyriaMUD will be for average players and adventurers. Kingdoms of Elyria will be meant for nobility to manage their holdings.
We'll be focusing on ElyriaMUD this time round. Going a bit off script here for a bit, here's the bit on the MUD from the wiki to help understanding.
What is ElyriaMUD?
"e've been talking with Improbable on ways in which we can expose the back-end mechanics of the game for early testing in the form of a
text-based role-playing game. We initially described it as a traditional text-based MUD where we can exercise and stress some of the server-side game mechanics even before pre-alpha. Herman Narula, the CEO of Improbable, and I sat down and had a conversation about the scope of the Pre-Alpha Experiences. He made a compelling argument about the accessibility of a text-based RPG and how likely we were to get the player-engagement we wanted. At the same time, I realized that providing ElyriaMUD as a 2D, sprite-based game would allow us to further test the positional queries of our game. Things like 'If I'm within X of this building, provide Y passive bonus.' The result is that we've transitioned away from perceiving ElyriaMUD as a text-only RPG, and instead intend for it to be a richer, more accessible 2D Graphical MUD. Instead of using a traditional MUD client, we will instead build a simple 2D game client - likely using Unity.
As a multi-player game ElyriaMUD will focus first and foremost on the multi-player mechanics of the game. Things like:
Crime & Punishment
Parties / Grouping
Reputation / Fame
ElyriaMUD is intended to span anywhere from 30 to 50 in-game years. This allows us to incorporate other mechanics. Things such as:
Artificial Intelligence (NPCs)
And, of course, ElyriaMUD will have cameo features as well, such as survival mechanics, combat, crafting, etc. These are there as necessary elements to test the other intended features of the game, but aren't there to validate those specific mechanics. In many cases, such as combat, they exist in ElyriaMUD as a shadow or completely disassociated version of the final system. I.e. Don't expect combat in ElyriaMUD to work like it does in Prologue / CoE. Likewise, while there will be crafting in ElyriaMUD, it's more to validate the overall system of gathering resources, converting them into crafting materials, crafting components, and then constructing them into objects. The user experience of crafting will not be the same as Prologue / CoE.
Upon launch of ElyriaMUD, players will be able to create characters and walk around in the world, role-playing and interacting with their fellow players while helping us test the game mechanics. ElyriaMUD will leverage the Soulborn Engine to expose characters to a dynamic, evolving story-line in which they have control of the narrative. And to keep life super exciting, events that happen in Kingdoms of Elyria will be mirrored in ElyriaMUD and vice-versa! If a Kingdom in KoE declares war on your kingdom, you can be sure the NPCs in ElyriaMUD will be talking about it. And if you happen to kill a noble while in ElyriaMUD, it’ll be reflected in the dance of dynasties!
Those players wanting to begin building their guilds, forming in-game relationships, and staying connected to the world throughout the development process need look no further than Kingdoms of Elyria and ElyriaMUD."
Now, back to our regularly scheduled content
Soulborn Engine / ElyriaMUD
The final thing I wanted to focus on during this look back over the last six months is the Order of Online Play. While we initially started the studio with a single client programmer - which necessitated we begin work on CoE from the client-side - over the last six months we've filled the studio with three new server programmers. This has allowed us to take Chronicles of Elyria from a single-player, offline demo, into a true, multi-player online world.
When playing a multi-player online world, there is obviously communication between the client and server. But as our servers are fully authoritative, it doesn't really matter what our client is or looks like. When developing our back-end systems we can pretend we're talking to our Unreal client, or a completely different, web-based client. For that reason, we set off to begin development on ElyriaMUD - a 3D, graphical version of Chronicles of Elyria constructed entirely with voxels, and built entirely on web-based technologies. A few months ago we released these mood board pictures to our exclusive backers. Let me share it with the rest of you now so you can get an idea of what our visual target is for ElyriaMUD.
And of course, more recently we shared with you all the render of the ElyriaMUD characters. As seen above.
While those screenshots are pretty to look at, the benefits to us in having ElyriaMUD cannot be overstated. To begin with, developing the back-end workers and gameplay mechanics of Chronicles of Elyria against a light-weight, voxel based client means we can develop and test our mechanics in the absence of fancy animations, graphics, or user interfaces. This speeds up development of core mechanics A TON. And, with the way the server is sitting now, this will allow us to roll out new mechanics faster than anyone has seen before, and way faster than people anticipate.
But to make ElyriaMUD and CoE possible, a ton of back-end work has already been done over the last six months to the Soulborn Engine to get it talking across the wire, and more will be done throughout the rest of the year. While SpatialOS solves the problem of scalability, there's still a ton of systems which aren't spatial in nature and won't be using SpatialOS. Even among the systems that will use SpatialOS there are a lot of core features which must go in place before you can really call something an MMORPG. That's one of the main reasons why we haven't had a lot of new client-side gameplay to show over the last 3-6 months. Virtually all of our engineering resources have gone to back-end infrastructure in the Soulborn Engine, and allowing our server to talk to a client.
Of course, one of the key benefits of developing our server the way we have is it no longer cares what client it's talking to. In fact, it's possible to have multiple, completely different clients all talking to our server at the same time, and seeing a shared, universal state across all of them.
For example, we can have ElyriaMUD and Chronicles of Elyria both talking to the server at the same time. It looks something like this:
A side-by-side view of Chronicles of Elyria in both the Unreal Client, and the ElyriaMUD client
While we've already taken a look at the long-term schedule of Chronicles of Elyria, I wanted to use this final section of the State of Elyria to talk more about the features of Chronicles of Elyria, the way we'll be presenting information to you all going forward, and what we'll be working on in the immediate future.
The Features of Chronicles of Elyria
One of the things we've come to understand as we've interacted with the community over the last six months is the importance of managing the expectations of the community. It's very easy, in the absence of concrete information, for the imaginations of players to run wild. Unfortunately, imagination soon becomes whispers, whispers become rumors, rumors become fact, and then two years from now we'll be finishing up CoE to the disappointment of all as we reveal that we don't have spaceships, steampunk blimps, terraforming, or the ability to re-route rivers.
So I wanted to, at this point in development, share with you a condensed form of our feature list. Please understand, this isn't everything. The actual spreadsheet of CoE's individual features is significantly longer. This is a condensed version which is intended to give you a good idea, with some application of logic, of what the game encompasses. If you're concerned from looking at this list that something was cut, it wasn't. If we advertised something previously in our kickstarter video, a Q&A, or a design journal, it's still in. We may have simply moved it under a higher level feature, which as a result causes it not to be listed here. One final note, many of the items in the list may not make sense. I have no intention of explaining every single one. But, in the spirit of transparency, here's the list.
And that's it, the whole State of Elyria as of July 2017.
I hope this post got you interested in the game if you haven't already been.
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