Happy February Newsletter Day!

Posted date / 02.14.18


Hello again everyone!

It's amazing that a year has passed since I wrote the last State of the Game - and like I said then, so much has happened in the last 12 months! As Oni of Thronefast will tell you, there is an Ocirican proverb that says, "The heart is trained by the ear…" There are many of you who are hungry for news, so let me begin filling your ears with updates!


Pantheon's Pre-Alpha era has officially begun! If you ask anyone on the team, this is the most significant milestone of the year. The dawn of Pre-Alpha marks the beginning of Pantheon's public consumption. For the first time, people beyond our development team have stepped foot in Terminus - hundreds of people have begun exploring the Human capital zone of Thronefast. They are leveling, questing, exploring, documenting and testing, testing, testing.

The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive and constructive. Already, we have tracked down some particularly nasty bugs, received extremely helpful feedback on several of our game systems and have experienced the joy of playing Pantheon alongside hundreds of fellow players. It has been a huge step forward in Pantheon's development and extremely validating to us and our efforts. The next round of Pre-Alpha testing, what we're calling Pre-Alpha 2, is set to begin in a few short weeks. I can't wait to see where this next round will bring us!


And now some highlights from various aspects of development as they sit right now:

Game Design:

The Perception System and our first start-to-finish Storyline is moving along nicely. The Pre-Alpha testers will be able to experience the first fully intact "leg" or chapter of this Storyline in the upcoming testing phase. This includes not only the story content (dialogue, characters, who/what/where/when/why), but also the experience as a whole, including all mechanics, UI art, audio, etc.

The Combat System and ability design has taken a huge step forward with the hiring of Jason Weimann late last year. Since coming on the team, Jason has been hard at work revamping our Ability tool (the interface designers use to create the sophisticated abilities that our classes and NPCs will use) as well as creating the functionality for some of our more in-depth combat system mechanics. More information on those mechanics will be coming soon. With these elements in place, the differentiating aspects of our combat and class design will begin to take shape.

On the Class design front, we are focused on the Ranger and the Dire Lord right now. While the Ranger is not exclusively a ranged combat class, the time we spend fleshing out the Ranger's ranged gameplay mechanics will go a long way towards informing how we approach ranged combat in our NPCs and certain environmental scenarios as well. This is exciting for us, because physical-based ranged attacks, be it arrow or tomahawk, single shot or a battalion volley, is not something we've been able to show off yet. And as for the Dire Lord, I know many of you are curious as to what this class is all about. The mystery currently shrouding this class is fitting - we're excited to reveal more soon!

NPC encounter design has been a priority with the release of the Halnir Cave zone for Pre-Alpha 2 testing. Pre-Alpha 1 testing took place in Thronefast, a large outdoor zone. Halnir Cave is the first true dungeon we are releasing for testing and as such we want to capture the essence of NPC dungeon encounters as fully as possible for our testers to experience. Everything from NPC placement, ability arsenal, special behaviors, defining minor and major boss mechanics, itemization, etc. It will be a true dungeon experience ripe for testing.

Our NPC AI is moving steadily forward, including our Disposition system (one of our differentiators). In a nutshell, Dispositions are designed to be a unique behavioral layer of AI that certain NPCs will have. These unique behavioral tendencies will need to be identified by players through observation and experience, and at times will require the skill of players trained in the Perception system. We currently have 6 Dispositions in and working: Angry, Alarmist, Pyrophobic, Predator, Sniper and Animal Lover.

In addition to our Dispositions, right now we are taking a closer look at NPC caster AI to fine tune their movement and arsenal selection during combat. We're asking questions like: how smart should their spell selection be? What spells should they prioritize and why? How often should they use ability combinations to stay at range, or get back to range?

Lastly, constant work is being done on tuning and balancing the game as a whole. The Player vs. NPC power, stat distribution from levels 1-50 and how all of this plays into ability tuning, itemization - really, every aspect of the game is touched by this. We remain committed to making Pantheon a well-tuned experience from start to finish and so we will continue keeping a close eye on this as we move forward.

Level Design:

As I said earlier, the Human capital of Thronefast is the first zone we've opened for Pre-Alpha testers. Starting with Pre-Alpha 2, we will be rolling out Halnir Cave, with more zones set to roll out from there. To date, the general public has seen Thronefast, Avendyr's Pass, Halnir Cave, the Union of Shadow, Wild's End, South Saol Peninsula, the Tower of the Reckless Magician and Amberfaet. There are a handful of new zones currently in various stages of development, including one we will be announcing and showcasing soon…


2D Art is forging strongly ahead. To date, our concept artist Forrest Imel has finished concepting male and female versions of all 9 of our playable races. We are now well into concepting our NPCs (hoping we can show a few of those off soon!) On the environment side, our Lead Concept Artist Jared Pullen is making fantastic headway finishing several renders for Thronefast city, as well as pencil concepts for the Ratkin, Bandit and North Tusk Orc presence in Thronefast and Avendyr's Pass.

On the 3D side, one of our new hires David Kuo has been doing an incredible job capturing our player character models from Forrest's concepts. We hope to have the new Human male and female in game and showable soon, followed by the Halflings and the Elves.

On the technical side of art,  Bruno has been focused on our new Character Shader. Clearly this is a shader geared towards character models and NPCs, but it's actually a very versatile shader we'll be able to use for our environment objects as well. (For those interested in the finer details, instead of incorporating all of the texture information in the modeling stage (creating a castle wall with ivy and moss already baked in), this shader will allow us to paint the ivy and moss on the wall after the modeling is done. This will allow us to speed up the modeling process, while allowing for more artistic diversity in the environmental objects.)


What better way to wrap than to announce we're headed to PAX East this year! For those of you who plan to attend, we will be in booth 24096. I'll be there, including several others from the team and we would love to meet you! In addition, we're putting together an informal meet and greet, though the date and place is still being determined, so stay tuned! Also, remember that new zone I mentioned earlier? PAX East sounds like a great place to show it off…


2018 promises to be an exciting and full year for Pantheon. As I write this document, I'm struck again by how far we've come and all that has been accomplished in the time I've had the pleasure of being here. There is still a road ahead before the finish line, but with such tremendous momentum behind us and such a bright future ahead, I've never been more excited to be part of this project.

Oni was wise in relaying that proverb to us, "the heart is trained by the ears…" - I hope your hearts have been trained by this letter - as you read this and consider our recent updates, that you feel the hope, excitement and support you've invested in this project is more meaningful than ever before.

As always, onward and upward! I look very forward to seeing each of you in Terminus!

Chris 'Joppa' Perkins

Creative Director | Audio Director | Lead Game Designer

On to the Elves of Terminus