Producer’s Letter – June 2021

Producer’s Letter – June 2021

Esteemed Pantheon Community,

The last few months have been exceptionally productive and exciting. In March we shared our “Road to Alpha” feature list with the goal of making it more clear to all of you what must be accomplished before we launch into Alpha. Since then we have been hard at work on all things Pantheon and making fantastic progress. Let’s dive into some updates!

The Studio

In April of this year we bolstered our team with the design talents and production experience of Adam “Tehom” Mostel. His design chops are being invested into the Perception system, Dispositions/Traits and encounter design, as well as being a keen sounding board on many additional aspects of gameplay. In addition, Adam’s strong background in project management has provided us not only a stellar game designer, but a Production Assistant as well, a role in which he has already proven invaluable.

In addition to Adam, this month we are also bringing the talents of a new Environment Artist. This role is a crucial addition to our Art team and will be contributing to both our world building and 3D art creation efforts.

Finally, we are finalizing the Assistant Content Creator position. Securing this talent is key to energizing our public facing marketing efforts and establishing a key component of our new approach to promotional content for Pantheon.

The Game

Our last developer stream was a major milestone for us. In that stream we were able to showcase our NPC Combat Awareness system. This system is at the heart of establishing one of the hallmarks of Pantheon’s combat: strategic depth. We saw the Tohrn Eldritch capturing players that ventured too far away and pulling them closer against their will. We saw the same Eldritch recognize when an ally was mesmerized, then turn and purge the mesmerize effect, freeing the ally. We saw combat synergy between the Tohrn Stormhand who was putting me in an Off-Balance state and the Torhn Eyeless who would capitalize on this off-balance and knock me down to the ground.

I could go on, but what I want to emphasize is this: this is not scripted NPC combat. Scripts can be very complex and interesting, but they are put together in specific ways to create a specific experience and sequence of events – every time. Our Combat Awareness system is not scripted. Instead, NPCs are given options based on layers of criteria which they may act on or may not. This means that before Dispositions or Traits are even factored in, combat with most NPCs will have a baseline degree of variability from fight to fight, which is an important step forward for this genre. We’re definitely excited to continue showing off all the ways this system is adding incredible depth to Pantheon’s gameplay.

It was also a milestone moment because it marks the completion of our first Alpha roadmap checklist item. We placed this one at the top of the list because of how integral it is in shaping our game-wide encounter design. Now that runway is laid and we’re running! Overall, I’m proud of what we were able to show in that stream and the significant progress it represents for Pantheon.

As we continue forging ahead on our road to Alpha, our current focus is the development and integration of the next 3 classes: Monk, Ranger and Summoner. I’m happy to report the Monk is coming along well – so well, in fact, that it will be the focus of our upcoming development stream this Thursday. In our upcoming development stream we will be showing off the Monk class with a deep dive into their role in combat, their ability arsenal and their unique combat resource. From the Monk we will be moving full speed into the Ranger followed by the Summoner class and pet system development with a goal of finishing these class implementations as quickly as possible in order to get them into our Pre-Alpha tester’s hands.

And as a reminder, once we finish with the Ranger, Summoner and the pet system (which also opens the door for Charm – Enchanters rejoice!), our next step in the Alpha Roadmap is to integrate our new networking stack and bring our terrain streaming system online. Once networking and terrain streaming are in place, you will begin to see us transition the Kingsreach zones out of greyboxing, which will be glorious indeed.

While NPC Combat Awareness and class implementation have been our priority, there have been many other aspects of Pantheon being worked on as well. Hopefully that is reflected in the patch notes we share on our monthly streams. But in case you’ve missed them recently, here are some of the highlights from the last couple of months and a good chunk of new notes as well:

Class Highlights:

– Monk Class implementation
– Improved functionality of ‘Charged’ and ‘Combo’ ability types
– Wizard Arcane abilities no longer strip runes from other schools of magic
– Introduced a new spell line for Wizards
– Shaman Vision combat resource fully implemented with functional UI art
– Dire Lord Thresh bleed effect now scales based on target’s health
– Dire Lord Sanguine Blade now gives returns more health the lower your health is when used
– Updated UI Art for Rogue Opportunity

Programming Highlights

– Finished the development of our NPC Combat Awareness system, allowing us to create flavorful, interesting and challenging NPC behaviors and synergies in combat.
– Finished integration of the NPC immunity system and the precursor to the diminishing returns system.
– We are nearing completion of proving out the full pipeline for our procedural terrain generation tooling. This is a vital step in our soon-coming focus on converting the project to HDRP, getting our terrain streaming tech online and beginning to beautify the world of Terminus.
– Improved NetData profiling to AI and network ticks

Animation Highlights

– Improvements to animation blending when many animations are firing at once or in rapid succession.
– Improvements to the queue processing and blending of entity actions.
– Adjustments to animation transitions going from Idle into any movement.
– Added 3 new Monk combat animations: Mountain Pose, Iron Palm and Chi Spear

Art Highlights

– Several new NPC models are currently being developed, including: Skeletons, Lycandrels, Spiders and Wraiths.
– Wild’s End is in development as our current World Building focus.


Testing

Let’s talk about the next Pre-Alpha session which is quickly approaching. We recently held a 30 hour session with a boosted XP rate where our testers were able to take their characters into the high teens and early 20’s. That session’s total uptime provided invaluable technical and server-related data for us, but also allowed us to observe player progression and migration in a much more natural, non-hurried way. Now we’re ready for the next major test, and with this upcoming test, we will be wiping characters to coincide with the introduction of the Monk class to the playable roster.

We’ll be announcing the dates for the upcoming session soon, but I want to highlight what our testers will be focused on. The first testing focus will be on the integration of our new NPC combat awareness system that we showcased in the last stream. As we’ve more fully applied this AI layer to NPCs throughout the game world, we’ll be looking for feedback on how good the diversity feels, the challenge level, the functional integrity of the mechanics/behavior (is everything working properly) and overall, is it fun? The second testing focus will be on the Monk class – both in the functional integrity of the class (does everything work) and in the overall feel of the class. We like feedback on how good the class feels to play, but also how it currently feels to adventure alongside Monks in Terminus.

Lastly, a resounding thank you to our incredible community. Your excitement and passionate support is what drives us to keep pushing hard. Pantheon is coming and we are determined to see it get here as quickly as possible. Until next time, onward and upward – we’ll see you in Terminus soon!

Chris ‘Joppa’ Perkins
Creative Director & Producer
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

◀ NEWS