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August Newsletter Brings the Heat

    • 45 posts
    August 24, 2019 7:55 AM PDT

    Not sure how I feel about the last couple newletters. I approve of the direction you are going, but discouraged by the glacial progress.

    I had a long career in IT (specifically database design and program design / coding) and was a Project Manager of a multimillion dollar software design project as well as verious project lead and solo endeavors. My coding spans the decades from BAL through C++, structured code through object oriented design. It is absolutely clear there are two major inhibitors to progress.

    A) Number of developers. It is a fact that on a project as complicated as the one VR is embarked on, at some point you have to throw coders at it in far greater numbers than you have.

    B) How many tool developers do you have? I have only identified one. If that is all, it is nowhere near enough given the central importance of tools in any complex software development project.

    Its not up to me to surmise how you might accomplish this. I did all mine by selling executive management on the ROI of what we wanted to do. So I had to acquire financial management understanding too. But I have no idea if, or when, you reach the same conclusions, what avenues you have. 

    Obviously you don't want a team so large it gets in each others way, but then tools are what significantly keep this from happening. If you have the tools they enforce system integrity in a very strong way. As a coder, nobody ever had to twist my arm to use a tool that did 5 hours of by-hand work for me, and did it perfectly. All they had to do was teach me how to use the tools, and when.


    This post was edited by Malla at August 24, 2019 8:11 AM PDT
    • 186 posts
    August 24, 2019 7:29 PM PDT

    Good newsletter. Enjoying the signature characters and the details of the acclimation system are interesting. Happy to hear there are some more streams on the horizon. Keep up the great work. 

    • 37 posts
    August 25, 2019 4:46 AM PDT

    Amazing newsletter! Thank you to all of you guys doing an amazing job! This all looks very exciting.

     

     


    This post was edited by Nlaene at August 25, 2019 4:46 AM PDT
    • 4 posts
    August 25, 2019 7:12 AM PDT

    My humor for the day: If the old school MMO gamers are the target audience then there is a strong business case in releasing before we are all dead. That is, of course, unless pledge money & other investors are enough for the team to live the life they want. 

    Serious note: VR being independent is awesome in the case that we don't have to worry about the vision being watered down for the soft crowd. The other side of that coin is that we are not seeing the focus, urgency, and accountability that having a strong-arming Board of Directors brings by the focus on Return on Investment and Time to Market.

    I get the "protect the vision" approach but don't get comfortable. Money is not the most valuable resource. Time is. Time is the only finite resource mankind can prove from the individual perspective. That makes it the most valuable. Don't get comfortable with thinking you have "as much time as it takes". When you grow comfortable you become complacent. When you become complacent you atrophy. When you atrophy you die.

    From the outside [lurking] in VR has the focus on the vision but the urgency is not there. I can only hope you have a relentless driver of accountability internally. Hope is neither a course of action nor a plan.

    "Once our Testers inform us that we are in a solid-state to move forward, we will schedule Alpha itself—not a minute sooner. We have made a commitment to quality, and we’re sticking to it."

    This may be a good line to manage expectations externally but if you do not have internal hammers driving urgency and accountability you should be very concerned. The Balanced Scorecard teaches S Q D C. You need all 4. Having a product with great quality that doesn't get to the market on time or in time doesn't do much good.

    Edited because I forgot to end on humor: but someone did write the single best short story about an ogre I've ever read (no joke, I truly mean it). Perhaps Pantheon books and movies could get done before we are all pushing daisies.


    This post was edited by Llydon at August 25, 2019 7:34 AM PDT
    • 4 posts
    August 25, 2019 9:36 AM PDT

    Malla said:

     

    A) Number of developers. It is a fact that on a project as complicated as the one VR is embarked on, at some point you have to throw coders at it in far greater numbers than you have.

    B) How many tool developers do you have? I have only identified one. If that is all, it is nowhere near enough given the central importance of tools in any complex software development project.

     

     

    Your post makes me wonder about the constraint. While I'm a business and operations guy I have very limited software development project management experience.  Having a strong background in Lean, SixSigma, and TOC, my assumption would be that tools reduce the waste for developers. I'd also think that quality would go way up as a reduction of variation and troubleshooting failure modes would be much simpler as the raw code would be standardized. 


    This post was edited by Llydon at August 25, 2019 9:43 AM PDT
    • 700 posts
    August 27, 2019 6:49 AM PDT

    Llydon said:

    Malla said:

    A) Number of developers. It is a fact that on a project as complicated as the one VR is embarked on, at some point you have to throw coders at it in far greater numbers than you have.

    B) How many tool developers do you have? I have only identified one. If that is all, it is nowhere near enough given the central importance of tools in any complex software development project.

    Your post makes me wonder about the constraint. While I'm a business and operations guy I have very limited software development project management experience.  Having a strong background in Lean, SixSigma, and TOC, my assumption would be that tools reduce the waste for developers. I'd also think that quality would go way up as a reduction of variation and troubleshooting failure modes would be much simpler as the raw code would be standardized. 

    One of the most important issues is that making a video game is nothing like working in the corporate world. Especially for a small indy operation like this.

    After I spent decades in the corporate IT world I wound up in the gaming industry and it's a different beast. Having as few people as VR has to make an MMO seems incredulous to me. MMO's are mostly about content which equates to bodies. Less bodies simply extends the process and requires more people to wear many hats. And that's if the people managing the overall process have a grasp of what they need to be doing.

    Are they still really working on some core mechanics into year 5+?

    One area less talked about I'm very curious for is the technical side of their large persistent world. Can they pull off a non-instanced server for thousands of players. How large of a zone, with population will they be able to handle? This is obviously impossible for them to actually test with a real player load - yet.

    • 152 posts
    August 27, 2019 7:42 AM PDT

    This "newsletter" is rather long on plans, concept art and lore... and rather short of showing anything already done.

    I count a total of 2 screenshots - one in a cave, lit by a bluish light, with a ramp leading to some gate. There's nothing alive in there, no objects, nothing dead either, or undead or anything at all. I would have thought by now we could see zones properly populated?

    The other is in, I assume, that same cave, one person (Joppa) showing the UI for climate resistance glyphs. That's all.

     

    All the rest is - concept art. A big Darth Ogre? Looks cool, but it's concept art. There's a world of difference between that and anything playable. Tohrn Elves? Wireframe, colorless rendering, and the final render of one set of clothes. This would be a nice addition to a newsletter, but it cannot be one of its central points.

     

    • 170 posts
    August 28, 2019 6:42 AM PDT
    Tough one to swallow, as we have all braced ourselves for a long wait, but it seems to be implicit that the long wait will be much longer than anticipated. What honestly irks me are the rich/angel investors; how the hell is there no one out there willing to put some real money down to finish this? With the decorated past of EQ, it really is baffling to me there aren’t at least a large handful of overweight, middle aged men yearning for gaming the days of old, the no coddling, hardcore goodness...It really is overwhelmingly surprising to me that there isn’t more faith/open hands from investors. I never thought we’d have to build a complete mini version of the game (Faerthale) to convince investors of Brad and the teams competence/development prowess; or, perhaps, the investors simply want to see more “want” from the general public for this game from a marketing perspective (ie perhaps they truly thijk harscore MMOs as great as they are simply cannot hold the attention of a big enough audience to provide ROI)? But pantheon has been leading the way for most anticipated mmo for a couple years running now, and I don’t think that is just hot air; the streams the forums on various sites etc all contain very respectable numbers/foottraffic...and with how terrible of a turn ashes of creations development has taken, I just felt things would have been a shoe in for us here by now as per investment/funding. Hmmmmmm **gandalf stares into the fire**
    • 34 posts
    August 28, 2019 11:36 AM PDT

    The investors are out there, and to not rehash old news lets just say Pantheon has more to prove to some people than other games to get the money out of their pockets.

    • 151 posts
    August 29, 2019 7:07 AM PDT

    Glacial progress, no glyphs, I feel the chill.  Can’t acclimate.

    Re-adjusting expectations.

    Thankfully there’s lots to do until a thaw sets in. 


    This post was edited by Grayel at August 29, 2019 7:09 AM PDT
    • 511 posts
    September 3, 2019 6:33 AM PDT

    This newsletter made me seriously wonder for the first time since the Kickstarter when I started to be interested by this game whether it will be released one day .

    It is all about what is not yet ready and little about some significant progress . I mean it is even hinted that some key mechanics (like acclimatation) are still at the stage of concepts and not yet fully implemented ready to test features.

    Farethal project not ready, PA5 in some foggy future and as for PA it's anybody's guess . I can't understand why so much focus on some streams. After all the "old" pledgers from some 4-5 years ago will hardly watch them and the "new" crowd (those who know nothing about Pantheon or even about this style of MMOs) who could randomly happen on such a stream will see in 10 minutes after having visited thse boards that the game is still 2 or perhaps more years away and will leave again.

    The title is msiguiding, it should read "The August Newsletter brings the chill" .

    • 18 posts
    September 4, 2019 11:45 PM PDT

    It's been forever since the last PA and no clue on when the next one will be.  The newsletters show and talk about concepts but hardly show and talk about systems being done and ready for testing.  The Devs and community manager hardly communicate with us and definitely do not do so in an ordered fashion.  I have serious doubts this game will ever be released.

    • 103 posts
    September 6, 2019 2:23 PM PDT

    Sigh...devs...come on...stop wasting our money just to give your buddies a paycheck...

    You are spending a lot of time creating a climbing system and making the age old resist system more complicated. As others have pointed out, requiring gear to stop a player from getting hot or cold isn't innovative, it's just another set of items we are forced to farm. Once those item are farmed they will become required gear for later content, thus creating a higher barrier of entry for all new players. 

    Haven't you guys learned from the mistakes of games like EQNext with "meaningful digging", or games that tried "fun harvesting" that these gimmicks add nothing to the game other than a bullet point on a features list? Do you really think old school EQ players want to bother with climbing and swapping out 5 sets of gear based on the weather? All these resources spent on climbing (a very foundational game mechanic) should have either happened a year ago or been left out entirely. You are almost done with some amount of content that didn't have any climbing at all, so now what? Go back and add climbing into this completed content in a patchwork manner?

    It seems like the focus has drifted a bit with this game development, almost to the point where it's starting to look like an endless money pit with no actual playable content. I suggest taking a step back and reevaluating what this game actually needs to be sucessful. Hint: it isn't climbing, fancy grass, or a more complicated resist system.


    This post was edited by nscheffel at September 6, 2019 2:26 PM PDT
    • 103 posts
    September 6, 2019 2:25 PM PDT

    Ltldogg said:

    It's been forever since the last PA and no clue on when the next one will be.  The newsletters show and talk about concepts but hardly show and talk about systems being done and ready for testing.  The Devs and community manager hardly communicate with us and definitely do not do so in an ordered fashion.  I have serious doubts this game will ever be released.

    They are currently showing off grey boxing of a mechanic (climbing) that should have been in place months before any content was made.

    What in the world is going on? Wil they be adding reticle shooting mechanics next? 

    • 337 posts
    September 6, 2019 11:02 PM PDT

    Ltldogg said:

    It's been forever since the last PA and no clue on when the next one will be.  The newsletters show and talk about concepts but hardly show and talk about systems being done and ready for testing.  The Devs and community manager hardly communicate with us and definitely do not do so in an ordered fashion.  I have serious doubts this game will ever be released.

    June newsletter; "We hit a major milestone with Project Faerthale this month. The team is putting some final touches on the first raid-scalable encounter and are already moving onto the other areas of the project. At present, it is designed for a single group, so we can use it in demos and streams, but we intend to scale it to a full raid before launch."

    July newsletter ; "And rumor has it that someone on staff is working on updating portions of the website, which will allow for some more highly-requested features and functions. More on that when we’re ready to reveal it! We’ve got lots going on, and still lots to go, but it won’t be too much longer now until you’ll be able to see the official unveiling of all of the work we’ve done this year."

    I understand we're all very eager for some juicy stuff from Pantheon. It depends if you see your glasses half full or emptied. This being a game  in development , I'll keep my glass half full. Frustrations with something you can't control is very common and recognisable. If one feels flustered when it concerns Pantheon and it's developmental pace, take a step back and come back in a few months. Much better for your heart and bad cholesterol. :) (no criticism intended)


    This post was edited by Barin999 at September 6, 2019 11:04 PM PDT
    • 155 posts
    September 7, 2019 6:34 AM PDT

    Yeah I am being honest when sadly I say that at this point, I am about 95% that this game will never see the light of day.  Really sad for me because I, like most here, had huge hopes for this being the game we all wanted and have wanted for 20 years.  It is obvious there is pretty much zero actual progress, or at least next to none over long periods of time.  They had this issue a while ago, when people started revolting because they have showed zero progress, so they mollifed us with a stream with a bunch of rehashed stuff and a little bit of development stuff from the back end. Now, here we are again with that wearing off, and people coming back harder and more negative than before because it is the same situation.

    I mean, we are, as others have said, discussing core concepts and such after like 5+ years of development.  There are barely a couple of zones to even show anything of, and supposedly this game will have 2 entire continents of stuff plus mechanics that are still being conceptualized.  There is no way at that pace that this results in anything.  PA5? MORE PA after that?  We are what?  3 YEARS behind schedule for ALPHA?  It does not take Nostradamus to see the writing that is scrawled all over the wall in 1000pt font.

    Glad I did not up my pledge to $300 from $100 like I thought about a year ago.  Sadly, that also is where the death spiral comes in, because I am not the only one who says stuff like that, and then more and more people stop reading, stop coming to forums, stop discussing the game and stop pledging or upping pledges, which saps the money and interest necessary to make the game to begin with.  Frankly, the ONLY reason this game has even survived to have the interest it has had for this long is the target audience.  In today's world, any other audience would have totally abandoned this idea with the progress it has shown YEARS ago, but this audience is about a return to something different and something better from a bygone era.  That I think has given and created a degree of tolerance that would not be present for any other target market, but even they (we) are coming to terms with the overdue reality.

     


    This post was edited by antonius at September 7, 2019 6:41 AM PDT
    • 700 posts
    September 8, 2019 8:00 AM PDT

    That's a bit extreme Antonius.

    But seeing VR get bought out and the project taken over is not outside the realm of possibility. And it is historically what happened to EQ1 and Vanguard.

    • 155 posts
    September 8, 2019 9:12 AM PDT

    Yeah and then inevitably it is no longer the game we wanted. They get taken over, it becomes some mass market EA style trash that tries to dance between what it should be and what they want every MMO to be, and fails in short order.  Frankly I do not see that happening anyway.


    This post was edited by antonius at September 8, 2019 9:13 AM PDT
    • 170 posts
    September 8, 2019 11:10 AM PDT
    Well Kilsin literally (like 3 weeks or so ago) said “this game is in no danger of not releasing,” and went on to give other details about people being unaware of total funding for VR etc...

    Assuming Kilsin was not misinformed/was not misinforming ya, they may not be hiring until they know they have the total funds to complete the game, or may not be hiring etc until they have a more concrete direction of where they want the game to go in terms of gameplay etc (of course seems unlikely as you can still completely world building etc).

    Something is up, but I hope we can one day look back at this as “the dark era” of development and be enjoying this game some day. I’m stilljust shocked it came to this/lack of funding. Again, with ashes MMO taking a huge turn for the worst, things seemed even better than we thought as per market demands on an mmo etc...
    • 37 posts
    September 9, 2019 6:50 AM PDT

    It was already stated quite some time ago they already have the funds to go from start to completion no? They are making sure that things are in working order before they move to the next phase.  


    This post was edited by Nlaene at September 9, 2019 6:52 AM PDT
    • 2 posts
    September 9, 2019 8:25 PM PDT
    Lol
    • 59 posts
    September 16, 2019 6:19 AM PDT

    Zuljan said: Well Kilsin literally (like 3 weeks or so ago) said “this game is in no danger of not releasing,” and went on to give other details about people being unaware of total funding for VR etc... Assuming Kilsin was not misinformed/was not misinforming ya, they may not be hiring until they know they have the total funds to complete the game, or may not be hiring etc until they have a more concrete direction of where they want the game to go in terms of gameplay etc (of course seems unlikely as you can still completely world building etc). Something is up, but I hope we can one day look back at this as “the dark era” of development and be enjoying this game some day. I’m stilljust shocked it came to this/lack of funding. Again, with ashes MMO taking a huge turn for the worst, things seemed even better than we thought as per market demands on an mmo etc...

     

    I can not and will not believe anything Kilsin has to say. They give us nothing but smoke and mirrors. If you ask an actual question related to the game Kilsin removes it from the forums. I personally disagree at this point when you say the game is in no danger of not releasing. When all we get is nonsense on the forums and nothing that is actually game related. Again if you try to ask a question related to the state of the game. It will get removed. So from my point of view the game is in danger of never getting released. What leads me to ask. Why do you ( VR ) want to have videos from PA5 on PF when the viewers are going to ask questions? Regardless what streamer you all use. People are going to ask questions. You all can not dictate that. Ask them if we can see the Summoner,Skar, and the Dark Myr. No I'm not letting it go. Ask to see the Skar, Dark Myr, & the Summoner.

    • 175 posts
    September 16, 2019 7:49 AM PDT

    While im always itching for more..  Considering we know that the game is in an early development phase, lack of display does not equate to lack of progress in development.  To be frank, VR is not obligated to show us anything.  The information they decide to give to us is a privilage not a right.   

     

    • 34 posts
    September 16, 2019 11:48 AM PDT

    Aayden said:

    While im always itching for more..  Considering we know that the game is in an early development phase, lack of display does not equate to lack of progress in development.  To be frank, VR is not obligated to show us anything.  The information they decide to give to us is a privilage not a right.   

     

     

    Not quite true. This is partially being funded via donations which makes it more imperative than ever to be transparent. If some entity came in and funded the entire game then none of us would even know it existed at this point. Which is the case with many games, you only get the first word about it when they are close to Alpha.

    Since this game is in fact partially funded by donations, they should be giving more information. They reached out and asked for help on kickstarter, when that failed they continue to reach out and ask for money which many many of us jumped on board and gave them money to get things moving. We donated, we did not invest, there is no return on a donation but being respectful to those people, more information should be released. 

    I run a highly successful business and the only way to stay on task is to have goals. Those goals should be released to the people that gave money. If they do not have hard goals laid out, then previous posters are correct and it will never be released. Not all goals are met, but if you have zero goals you accomplish nothing.

     

    • 175 posts
    September 16, 2019 12:31 PM PDT

    Azzudien said:

    Aayden said:

    While im always itching for more..  Considering we know that the game is in an early development phase, lack of display does not equate to lack of progress in development.  To be frank, VR is not obligated to show us anything.  The information they decide to give to us is a privilage not a right.   

     

     

    Not quite true. This is partially being funded via donations which makes it more imperative than ever to be transparent. If some entity came in and funded the entire game then none of us would even know it existed at this point. Which is the case with many games, you only get the first word about it when they are close to Alpha.

    Since this game is in fact partially funded by donations, they should be giving more information. They reached out and asked for help on kickstarter, when that failed they continue to reach out and ask for money which many many of us jumped on board and gave them money to get things moving. We donated, we did not invest, there is no return on a donation but being respectful to those people, more information should be released. 

    I run a highly successful business and the only way to stay on task is to have goals. Those goals should be released to the people that gave money. If they do not have hard goals laid out, then previous posters are correct and it will never be released. Not all goals are met, but if you have zero goals you accomplish nothing.

     

    You are correct, they are funded via donation and from what i understand by some sort of large investments.  I also agree, they "should be giving more information" and they should be as transparent as they can; how transparent to its donators though is up to them.

    However, i didnt say they should or that they shouldnt be doing this or doing that.  My point being is that they are not obligated to show us anything. If i were an investor i would be looking for progress reports, stretch goals, short term goals, hard dates, updated playable product etc.  But the fact of the matter is that the majority of us and i, are not investors.  We knew that we were donating our money and you should know the risk behind that.  Which is if nothing becomes of pantheon, you threw your money away.  You took a risk with your money whether it was a pledge or an investment, bottom line.

    With that said, because you made a donation does not mean that they (VR) are obligated to feed you what YOU ("you" as in general, not singling anyone out) want or because YOU dont think they are moving at a efficient pace, so they need to show xyz.  Thousands of people donate their money to other things like research, large foundations, etc. but those companies dont give a spreadsheet on what they are spending that donation on, goals or the progress they are making directly to you on a monthly basis.  And if they do i doubt its exclusive to donators. 

    Yes, transparency is good for crowdfunded development.  It obviously instills hope and continues to bring in money.  But again, my point being, they are not obligated to show us anything.  The newsletters and streams are not secrets and they are not hidden behind pledges.  All of that information is public and the people who didnt donate are getting the same information as we are.  The only real inside look people have received is PA.  The only difference is we put money and faith in to a project that no one but VR knows when or if it will finish.  The inside information we are going to get because of this is PA and Alpha access, Beta access.

    TLDR: I agree they need to be transparent, but how transparent is only up to them.  To be mad about the loss on a risk before the loss even occurs is foolish.  Let them develop the game, thats all we can do.