Revision: January 6, 2016
Note: This FAQ is a living, evolving document. While we certainly endeavor to make the answers as accurate as possible, we also reserve the right to change or modify these answers as we get closer to beta and release. Some details are also intentionally left out because they warrant testing and tweaking during beta before making those details final. We will also be adding new questions as they occur to us and come from the community.
Please see the What is Pantheon page.
Pantheon is most definitely a modern MMO, with modern graphics and new and exciting features and mechanics. There are already emulators out there that are clones of earlier MMOs and Visionary Realms has no desire to make another emulator. That said, we also feel that many of the features and mechanics of previous MMOs have been abandoned in more recent games, resulting in a less challenging, compelling, deep, and social experience. Pantheon, therefore, will indeed bring back some of these ‘older’ mechanics and ideas, but always with a fresh perspective, some tweaks and revisions, and with an understanding that while gamers’ tastes don’t fundamentally change over time, their situations, lives, and responsibilities do. Likewise, some game mechanics often associated with earlier MMOs involve inordinate amounts of downtime, overly severe penalties, too much competition over content and resources, and even downright boring or overly repetitive gameplay. Our intention, therefore, is not to bring back ‘everything’ from the old days, but rather to pick and choose what makes sense and what is needed to make a fun, social, cooperative, and challenging game.
Please check out The Pantheon Difference.
While some MMOs have been designed with the goal and desire to appeal to all gamers, all of the time, we at Visionary Realms believe the future of MMOs is all about making more focused games, targeting specific gamers with distinct preferences. Pantheon is first a deeply social game. Players who desire cooperative play, working together as a team, and the shared experiences that result from playing with other real people to overcome challenges will enjoy Pantheon. Players who want an MMO to be their home and to interact with communities and player-driven economies will find what they are looking for in Pantheon. Why? We feel that, at least recently, the MMO players who enjoy these elements have been orphaned. In fact, the Visionary Realms team feels they are part of this orphaned group. And it doesn’t take a lot of research to find countless articles, blogs, and posts full of players looking for this kind of experience.
Absolutely not. There are many younger players out there who enjoy cooperative and social play. They love playing PC and console games, regardless of genre, with their friends and against the game’s AI. When these younger gamers play Pantheon they’ll find that cooperative play, but in a lasting, persistent, and content rich virtual world. Millions of players have been exposed to massively multiplayer games in the last 15+ years. So while we’re not trying to appeal to everyone, Pantheon will attract a large group of gamers, both young and old.
Pantheon is a zone based game as opposed to having a truly seamless world, although this could change as technology and tools evolve, either before or after launch. Regardless, however, our current technology and tools allow us to create truly vast, rich, and detailed zones. Players will not be running frequently into zone borders. Our larger zones also allow us to create long vistas and views, and in almost all cases, if you can see a location you can travel there.
Pantheon will have meaningful travel -- players will need to travel to new areas and face the dangers that come with such a journey. That said, there will be spells like EQ's Call of the Hero, which summons an ally to your side if he or she is grouped with you. There will also be a system similar to Vanguard's Caravans, where a player can log out in a group and then log back in and still be with the group, even if that group has moved. There will also be additional ways to help groups come together and stay together. But it's also important to note that this doesn't mean people will be able to travel ad hoc, anywhere in the world, at a whim, especially if they haven't traveled there by foot or horse at least once (e.g. players will need to unlock certain regions by traveling there first). More details to come as we get closer to beta and launch.
Yes, there will be a variety of mounts, as well as spells and abilities that can be obtained which increase travel speed. Players will also be able to acquire items for their characters that allow them to climb vertical surfaces.
While there will certainly be flying NPCs, whether or not players will have the ability to fly is undecided at this point. We can say, that if we do offer flying mounts, either before or after launch, the goal will be to make travel more fun, not to allow players to avoid, bypass, or skip over large chunks of content.
Yes. In fact, one of our playable races, the Dark Myr, is an underwater race. It is important to note here, however, that while the idea of exploring underwater areas and discovering ‘atlantean’ ruins is a compelling one, many implementations of underwater content and gameplay in other MMOs has left some gamers with a negative impression. We are confident that we can provide compelling and fun underwater zones as well as an interface and ability to move underwater that is not frustrating. Additionally, our goal of having underwater zones is not only to provide a different feel and atmosphere, but also to create areas where different tactics can come into play. Underwater exploration and combat is more of a 3D experience, since you can be attacked from any direction, including above you and below you. Some good examples of this are the Battle Room from the book and movie Ender’s Game and the combat in the nebula between Kirk and Khan in the original Star Trek 2 movie, where Kirk outsmarts Khan by attacking from above using his familiarity with 3d space to his advantage.
Pantheon does indeed use a class based system, and those classes do fulfill roles, especially in group and raid contexts. There will also be opportunities to focus each class on more specific and specialized roles, especially at higher levels. That said, because we feel it’s important that classes fulfill distinct roles, creating interdependence is vital to a fulfilling social and cooperative experience. If everyone is the same, this simply cannot be achieved. Likewise, if every class is absolutely unique, grouping can become overly complicated and, in some cases, certain classes could be less desirable to have in a group than others. To avoid this, Pantheon will use a ‘quaternity’ system consisting of tank, healer, DPS, and crowd-control.
This is a tricky question to answer, primarily because ‘camping’ means many different things to many people. To some, camping means sitting around in one place for hours on end with lots of downtime and lots of boredom too. To others, it means moving to different locations, establishing a foothold in a dangerous area, and then often having one or more members of the group ‘pulling’ mobs back to that foothold. The developers of Pantheon are interested far more in the latter than the former. If done correctly, this style of gameplay can be a lot of fun and also provide opportunities to socialize. That said, while Terminus is more of an open ‘sandbox’ world and not about moving linearly from one quest hub to another, establishing footholds in the depths of dungeons will not be the only way to advance your character.
In many cases, we want to bring back the gameplay of pulling and splitting packs of mobs. To facilitate this players will need tools that make this possible. These tools will come in the form of spells and abilities that allow you to ‘lull’ or ‘pacify’ the mob. In cases where you have to deal with more than one mob some classes will have the ability to cast spells like ‘root’, ‘snare’, ‘mesmerize’, etc.
This is also a tricky question to answer because ‘too much’ downtime is different depending on the player. We feel our target audience does enjoy some downtime, whether it’s to take a bio break or to do some socializing. But we also feel situations with too much downtime or repetition can be boring, even for our specific audience, and we will endeavor to avoid it.
No. While the world of Terminus will consist of vast landscapes and epic dungeons, there is no reason to require players to play long, contiguous gaming sessions. Players will be able to play a couple of hours, logout, and return later to continue their journey. There will also be mechanics and features to both help people get together and group and also to make lasting friendships. To further facilitate this there will also be ways for players to keep their group together even if some members of the group can play longer than others or at different times.
There will be a limit to group size (currently 6-8 players, but that’s not set in stone) to add a tactical element in terms of group configuration.
Yes, while most content will be designed for groups, there will typically also be content that is soloable. Some classes may solo better than other classes.
Yes, there will be Raid content in Pantheon. That said, the majority of content is being designed for grouping, with the remainder for soloing or raiding.
Spells have a chance to fizzle or do less damage because of a resist and this applies to both players and NPCs. We feel this will add an additional level of tactics, knowledge, and challenge.
There will be both offensive and defensive targets. Beneficial spells and abilities will be directed toward your defensive target, while harmful spells and abilities will be directed at your offensive target. Some spells and abilities, primarily area-of-effect spells, will involve targeting the ground or area around your foes.
There will be a traditional auto-attack system. Passive abilities will trigger automatically during combat (dodge, parry, etc.). This gives the player the time to focus on selecting abilities and spells (magic missile, fireball, counterspells, deflections, etc.) based on what’s going on tactically in combat.
We realize that some MMOs have used a more ‘action’ oriented combat system, where you click on different buttons to attack, swing your sword, dodge, etc. With Pantheon, combat will still be action-packed and require close attention to combat, using tactics, as well as reacting to what mobs and other players may be doing. In fact, so much will be going on that you will not want to have to worry about whether you are swinging your sword or not -- you will be casting spells, assuming stances, countering or deflecting your opponent’s moves and spells, and more. Additionally you will click on or use the tab key to change targets, but there will also be a subset of spells where you can target the ground (for example, some area-of-effect spells).
The player will have enough time to react to what the NPC is doing (counterspell, deflect, move out of the way, etc.). Combat is more involved and the player will need to pay attention, but it is not ‘twitch’ in the way a first person shooter is.
Most spells can be cast when you are moving, however they will more often than not slow down your movement speed. Some spells will require you to stand and not move; likewise, some spells may not slow your movement speed. Additionally, while most spells are spoken, some are gestured, the latter being very handy when an area is silenced by a player or NPC.
Mobs that you kill have a chance to drop loot. The loot you obtain after defeating a mob should make sense relative to the type of mob. In other words, pelts and fur should come from animals, and swords and shields from sentient beings. Rats will not drop breastplates, unless perhaps they are really big rats who just finished eating your friend. Items will not be the only thing an mob may drop -- in Pantheon, many of the more rare and exotic spells and abilities are found not at the local trainer but from a wise sage hiding in the depths of a dungeon or at the top of a remote tower.
Our desire to bring back the value and personality of items drives our item design. This means that the frequency of upgrades will be slower and when you do get a new piece of gear not only will the experience be memorable but so will the item. We want you to collect your items and be able to remember their names. When you get that epic item or rare drop after an incredible dungeon crawl, we want you to be in awe of what you have accomplished and the reward that came from it. Items will be memorable, deserved, cherished, and desired.
There will also be many ‘situational’ items. Please see The Pantheon Difference.
Lower level items will have their limits. Many will not be ‘magical’, limiting the types of mobs you can engage. That said, the first few levels should go fairly quickly and then advancement will slow as the player gets into the meat of the game. Roleplaying-wise it’s traditional to start with more basic equipment, then gain access to more powerful non-magical gear, and then eventually magical gear and even planar gear. High level items will include procs (the ability to cast spells themselves), bane bonuses, regeneration & spell focus bonuses, and more.
We recognize that the items you gain from your adventures or hard earned gold coins are yours and that you should be able to do with them whatever you want. This means that no-drop and bind-on-equip items will be the exception, not the rule. Epic weapons or items used for quests may be restricted, but the majority of items will not. That said, some quests may require you to turn in an older item in order to complete them. You will also be able to sacrifice items at altars in temples in return for valuable and long lasting ‘buffs’. So while the game will not stop you from handing down most items to other players, it will also encourage you to remove older items from the player-driven economy by rewarding you accordingly.
Story and lore elements are essential to our Quest system – they need to be meaningful and give purpose. But as a player you should never feel overwhelmed with a bunch of quests that are nothing but mundane tasks. When you get a quest the intent is that it will be epic in nature and reinforce the fact that you are a resurrected hero. More specifically, Pantheon is not a ‘quest hub’ game, where you move to one level appropriate hub, do a bunch of quests in that area, and then move to the next hub; rather, you will need to search out and find quests by interacting with PCs and in a less linear and more ‘sandbox’ style setting.
Absolutely. Some of the most memorable gaming experiences stem from the adventure involved in obtaining and earning ‘epic’ weapons and items. These quests should be class defining moments and fill you with a major sense of accomplishment when completed. Whether hunting for clues to start a quest or trying to figure out the right thing to say or do in order to get to the next step, epic quests will be a significant social component of the game.
If you want to find out if an NPC has a quest all you have to do is… talk to him. We will NOT be utilizing the ‘over the head icon’ approach. We want you investigate your surroundings and gather information and interacting with NPCs is a big part of that. So don’t be shy, speak with the inhabitants of Terminus and engage the world!
We want the player to respect and even fear the environment, but also to be enticed by it. A big part of achieving this balance is making sure there is an incentive to avoid death. While the details of this system are not yet fleshed out (and will likely be tweaked and changed a bit during beta), you can expect death to be something you’d rather avoid. That said, if a death penalty is too severe, it can keep players away from some of the more challenging and rewarding content, and we are keeping this in mind as well. So death will sting, but it will also not involve losing an unreasonable amount of experience, or levels, or a permanent loss of items.
There will be plenty of / (slash) commands that players can assign to hot keys. Likewise, the GUI will be customizable. But players will not be able to make hotkeys that automate playing their character or chaining a long list of commands together.
Eventually, yes, although whether it will be something we can offer at release or something we offer after launch is still up in the air at this point. We can say that our desire for creating housing, outposts, and other types of buildings is to be able to place them in non-instanced parts of the real game world and have them impact gameplay (as opposed to having housing that is purely cosmetic).
Pantheon will support instancing to a limited degree, using it primarily for storytelling in a linear fashion, perhaps at the end of an epic quest. The vast majority of content, however, will exist in non-instanced shared zones.
Overcrowding and too much competition are indeed problems that have plagued both MMOs with and without instancing. If there are not enough players around, it can be hard to group and socialize. But if there are too many people around, the world feels crowded and people have to wait for encounters or spawns, or even compete for them. Our answer to this issue is twofold: first, primarily during the later phases of beta, we will determine how many people online at one time in our game world feels right -- neither under crowded nor overcrowded. Second, if and when a server’s/shard’s population grows too large, we will launch a new shard with incentives for players to spread out. And with our harnessing of cloud hosted servers/shards, this is actually something we can do dynamically, easily, and quickly.
Pantheon is primarily a PvE (player vs. environment) game. In fact, when we say ‘environment’, we don’t just mean NPCs, but also contending with climates and atmospheres, the very world itself. That said, we understand that a portion of our target audience also enjoys player vs. player. Our experience is that separate PvE and PvP shards is the answer, however it is too early to predict how many PvP servers we would launch with. It is also worth mentioning that, when we do eventually focus on PvP we will do so such that tweaks and changes to classes and races in order to make PvP more fun will not affect the balance of Pantheon’s PvE experience.
We are definitely fans of alternate ruleset servers, be they PvP, role-playing focused, hard-core focused, etc. That said, our ability to offer alternate ruleset servers will depend, at least at launch, on how many servers we need and can support in total.
In addition to money coming in via crowdfunding, Visionary Realms received a significant first round of funding from an angel investor earlier this year. This enabled us to put the team on payroll as well as bring on additional developers. We are currently seeking a second round of funding to enable us to continue to build the team, specifically more artists and world builders. If you are interested in investing in Visionary Realms and Pantheon, click here.
Absolutely. While crowdfunding is not Pantheon’s only source of development resources, it is and has been an important one. Click here for pledge and sign up options.
We will have a Windows client available at launch, at minimum. Other platforms are possible, perhaps after launch.
While we do not currently have plans for localization, we may explore the option in the future.
We are considering either using the traditional subscription based model or a model where the player buys the game and then has the option of purchasing mini-expansions or ‘modules’ after launch. Either way, the game’s world will continue to expand, more content will be added, as well as new features and mechanics. Visionary Realms strongly believes that the revenue model of an MMO needs to match the game’s target audience. Because of this, Pantheon will not be ‘freemium’ or have ‘cash shops’ -- building your character and advancing in-game will be based on time invested and tactics used, not on how much money the player has in real life.
No, absolutely not. The first 5-10 levels of the game (details TBD) will be absolutely free, without handicaps. Nor will there be a physical box you have to buy (although we are not ruling out the option of purchasing a special, premium box for those who like to have something tangible to go along with their virtual world). We feel strongly that you should have the opportunity to play and experience Pantheon for a time and then decide if the game is right for you before having to pull out your wallet.
There are many variables involved and developing a massively multiplayer game is not an easy thing to do. Our goal is to be in alpha and beta testing in 2017. The launch date is to be determined. This is not set in stone, and dates are subject to change.
We recently completed an important internal milestone. We currently have four zones up on cloud servers and are able to play, test, and balance the core playable classes between levels 1-10, including combat, travel, and the abilities/spells/stances/actions for each base class. The foundation and core gameplay elements are present. Once testing, tweaking, and balancing of this milestone is complete, we will continue forward, testing higher levels, adding more zones, and implementing any remaining features and mechanics.
We are absolutely committed to upholding our end of pledge rewards, including pre-alpha, alpha, and beta testing. That said, it serves no one and no purpose to bring people in too early. As soon as the game is ready to bring in outside testers, we will honor our commitments to do so. At this point, however, it is too early to commit to any specific dates.
There were a lot of reasons we chose Unity, and they all had to do with the positives of the engine, not necessarily the negatives of others. Much of the decision came down to the fact that it is an engine that enabled us to get to work quickly without requiring an expensive and large team. Unity has also allowed us to rapidly develop the game itself and will also enable us to deploy to multiple platforms with minimal effort. Unity is truly a ‘game engine’ and not just a ‘graphics engine’. It also supports the use of higher level languages like C# and the easy inclusion of a variety of plug-ins. These features and more allow the Pantheon development team to focus on making a game first and not an engine. We are a lean and mean team and we want to spend the majority of our time making the game itself, not tweaking and modifying the core of a graphics engine or having to also build a broad suite of tools or addons.
While Unity originally may have been geared towards smaller and more simple games, a lot has changed since then. Unity’s developers are committed to providing an engine every bit as capable as any other professional game engine. In fact, we have a special relationship with them and they are excited to see a major MMO being developed using their technology. Here are some of the AAA games that are using the Unity engine:
● Deus Ex: The Fall
● Might & Magic X Legacy
● Gloria Victis
● Wasteland 2
● Dead Trigger 2
● Kerbal Space Program
● Call of Duty®: Strike Team
● Endless Space
● Shroud of the Avatar
A longer list may be found here.