August 2021 Producers’ Letter
Chris “Joppa” Perkins & Ben “Machail” Dean
Esteemed Pantheon Community,
Welcome to the August 2021 newsletter for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen! We are a small, mostly crowdfunded, indie development team possessed with passion to bring a renaissance of adventure, depth, community and challenge to the MMO genre. To quench your thirst for Pantheon news, we are bringing you a packed newsletter this month – in addition to the Producers’ Letter, we have included: a monthly content overview, Part 1 of “The Bait” – a new story from Lead Writer JN Gerhart and a look at Gaming as a Family with community members Bountycode and Sparoh. Let’s dive in!
New Team Member
A few months ago we put out a call to recruit a new content creator for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. Applications arrived from all over the map. We had the esteemed opportunity to speak with a lot of Pantheon fans, and a lot of talent during recruitment. As the process eventually distilled to the final candidates, our choice, though difficult, became clear. Fueled by his dedicated Pantheon content for years prior and by his undying interest in all things Pantheon; backed up by his many talents, his meticulous attention to detail and his knack for schedules, Tony Guidi, aka Minus from PantheonPlus has filled the role of Associate Content Creator. It is our distinct pleasure to welcome him to the team.
Tony has already poured a ton of effort into our content roll-out and has helped devise a regular and exciting content schedule. From the monk spotlight video to this month’s CohhCarnage stream montage, Minus has come out swinging for the fences and has put some commendable content out there for us all to enjoy. We are lucky to have him.
Stay tuned! We have more team members to announce soon!
The Latest Pre-Alpha Session
We held our most recent Pre-Alpha Session on Saturday, July 31 through to Sunday, August 1. It was 33 straight hours of testing and it was glorious. In fact, it stands out as one of the most encouraging sessions to date due to the caliber of feedback and depth of enjoyment from our VIP testing community. We can hear the gates being rattled from the strain of VIPs wanting to get back in and test more…
So what did the testers… test? Great question! Here is a short overview of the main testing “points of interest” we had our VIPs focus on in the last session:
1. The Monk class joined the fray and became available for testing.
2. The Trait system came online for the first time. As testers were exploring Terminus, they were finding that enemies of a given race, class or type could possess innate traits that influenced the ways they should be fought and the abilities one may choose when doing so.
3. Over 100 new NPC abilities and statuses were added throughout the game, many with unique visual effects.
4. New abilities were implemented for most of the available classes:
• “Spell Turn”: Interrupt your target. If your target was casting, absorb that spell, allowing you to cast it for yourself within the next 15 seconds.
• “Gift of Inspiration”: Instantly restore X Mana to an ally.
• “Echo Persona”: Echo the combat prowess of a friendly player, morphing this ability into a new skill determined by the target’s class.
• “Prismatic Torch”: Conjure an orb of prismatic fire to serve as a light source.
• “Annihilate”: Inflict heavy physical damage to hasten the death of an enemy. Requires the target to have less than 20% Health remaining.
• “Edge of Haunting”: Deals between X and Y Physical damage. Generates 1 stack of Malefic Power, increasing your Physical Damage by 5% and decreasing your Armor by 2.5%. Stacks up to 2 times.
• “Terrorize”: Causes an enemy to run in terror for X seconds. Requires 2 Malefic Power.
• “Call of the Dire”: The call of the Dire overwhelms an enemy, incapacitating them, reducing their Movement Speed by 60% and drawing them towards you against their will.
• “Mark of the Tidefang”: Increases an ally’s Dexterity and Agility by X
• “Temporal Shift”: Shift an ally to the moment in time before they were Stunned or Mesmerized, effectively removing Stun and Mesmerize effects on the target.
• “Radiate Heat”: Place a shield of flame around your target, melting all Chilled and Frozen effects and dealing 6% of incoming Physical damage as Fire damage back at attackers.
5. The first pass of the Diminishing Returns system was implemented. For those not familiar with what Diminishing Returns means, here is a simple explanation: using an ability that applies a detrimental status effect to a target repeatedly over a short period of time will diminish that effect’s duration on the target until it becomes completely ineffective. This encourages a more thoughtful, strategic use of abilities in combat instead of relying on the same stun over and over again, for example.
6. Enemies fleeing at low health is now built into the global core of NPC behavior. While we have the ability to set certain NPCs (like Undead) and bosses to not flee (which we have), it is a behavior that our testers grew to anticipate and manage when engaging most creatures.
Clearly there was a lot for our testers to chew through in the last Pre Alpha Test, but our VIPs were more than up to the challenge. We heard a few stories of some who balked at the urge to sleep that weekend. And while we do not encourage unhealthy gaming habits (please take a break every hour!), we were delighted to hear that this recent build was a fun and successful step forward.
We look forward to pushing Pantheon ever-forward and rolling out our next Pre Alpha session. VIP pledges are still available at our Pledge Page. If early testing isn’t for you, please consider one of our other pledge packages. All proceeds go directly to making Pantheon happen and it is thanks to our community that we have been able to make it here to this final road towards Alpha.
Roadmap to Alpha Progress
Speaking of Alpha, let’s take a look at the Alpha Roadmap! As you’ll remember from March’s initial posting of the roadmap, there are a few items to get through before Alpha will be ready. Let’s update this list.
• Monk is fully implemented. br>
• Ranged combat system to support Ranger combat is fully implemented. br>
• Ranged combat animations are 40% done. Current animations include basic arrow retrieval from quiver, bow drawing, bow firing, shot recovery, combat/non-combat locomotion with bow and a few special attacks.
We had previously announced our plans to finish the Ranger and Summoner classes before moving into the HDRP and Networking phase of development. Our reasoning for this was to finish the most complicated Class systems early in order to have those systems available for building out NPC combat, encounter designs, etc. (Basically, we wanted to incorporate the ranged combat system and Pets into our NPC designs).
While we finished the ranged combat system, we also realized that the Pet system (and by extension the Beckoning system for Rangers) would be too heavily dependent on the networking overhaul to be performant. Therefore we’ve decided to postpone finishing the Ranger and the Summoner until after the new Network stack is in place. This is good and bad news. It’s bad news for people who have been excited about the Ranger and Summoner – this means you’ll have to stay patient for a bit longer. But it’s also really good news on two fronts:
• We have now moved fully into our Terrain Streaming/HDRP/Networking phase of development. br>
• All of the strides we’ve made in the development of our ability system and tools will now allow us to bring the Cleric, Paladin and Warrior online. You can expect to see updates on those Classes soon, including the order you can expect to see us complete them.
2. Pets: To Do
Dependent on the new Network stack.
3. NPC Combat Awareness: Complete
• Combat Awareness system and supporting tools have been completed. br>
• Utilizing Combat Awareness in content creation is and will continue to be ongoing.
4. Terrain Streaming, HDRP and Network Overhaul: In Progress (Primary Focus)
Terrain/Asset Streaming is the first step in this three-fold phase of development.
Once Terrain Streaming support is finished, we will flow immediately into the HDRP conversion. These first two steps combined will dramatically improve the performance of the game, the quality of the game’s aesthetic and will allow us to convert our greybox terrain into real terrain. We’re obviously very excited about this!
After these first two steps are complete, we will begin the final step of fully incorporating our new Networking. Once completed, we will easily be able to support the massive number of concurrent Alpha players who are ready to get their feet onto the soil of Terminus.
5. Basic Guild System: Design Complete
The Guild System and associated in-game Guild Management tool has an approved design.
6. Perception System: To Do
• Implement the Tome of Keeping UI, persistent tracking of Stirrings, history of completed Storylines, breadcrumbs for returning players. br>
• Implement Perception experience gain, Perception titles br>
• Ongoing Storyline content development
7. Gathering and Crafting: In Progress
Current Focus: finalizing implementation plan for destructible world objects (gathering nodes) and randomized spawning of world objects.
8. Banks: Design Complete
The Banking System design has been approved.
9. Acclimation: To Do
• Implement Scorching Climate br>
• Improve Acclimation user experience by improving the clarity of the UI window and the process of acquiring and applying Glyphs. br>
• Improve the visual and audio experience when inside of extreme climates.
10. Climbing improvements: To Do
• Implement the climbing-specific Grip resource. br>
• Implement the UI component to display Grip when climbing. br>
• Associate Climbing with an improvable skill rating. br>
• Implement surface types to vary how easy or difficult a surface is to climb. br>
• Animation improvements
11. Dispositions and Traits: In Progress
• Underlying systems in place to support the randomized spawning of Dispositions and Traits. br>
• Several more Disposition and Traits to develop and incorporate into our NPC populations.
12. Ability Loadouts: To Do
13. Swimming: To Do
14. LFG Tool: Design Complete
The LFG Tool design has been approved
15. Faction: To Do
The Faction system is fully integrated and working. Our goal here is to add more content involving Faction (having high enough faction to gain access to specific Tasks, Storylines, Merchants, etc.)
16. Improve Starting Experience for New Players: In Progress
17. Player Models: To Do
While all of the Male & Female player races have been modeled, there is still some work to be done with them:
• The Skar, Dark Myr and Archai need to be rigged so they can animate br>
• The non-Human race models need to be conformed to our entity outfitting system so they can equip/unequip armor dynamically.
18. NPC Models: In Progress
Several NPC models are in progress currently, including:
• Skeletons br>
• Lycanthropes (Male & Female) br>
• Wraith (Male & Female)
19. Animations: In Progress
20. Audio: In Progress
21. Zones: In Progress
• Several content passes are happening on all of our existing zones br>
• We are currently working on Black Rose Keep, getting it ready for the next Pre Alpha session. br>
• Wild’s End is our other world building focus. We completed the full greybox development of Wild’s End two weeks ago and incorporated it into our internal development client as an official zone. Expect to see some updates on Wild’s End in the not so distant future!
Recent Patch Notes
We know that some of you love patch notes, and this feature has been requested frequently. So, without further ado, here are some highlights from our latest client builds over the last month:
• First pass of Ranger added to build br>
• Completed and hooked up first pass of several Ranger animations br>
• Complete Wild’s End greybox zone added to build br>
• Conversion of Oldwood, Sleepless and Thronefast assets to HDRP compatible versions br>
• Added several new buckets of functionality to support various combat awareness mechanics for NPC combat br>
• Added Master Trapmaker functionality for NPCs to support up to 100 traps. br>
• Added Frozen status with support to pause animations br>
• Several improvements to line of sight calculations under certain conditions br>
• Added optional custom positions to line of sight nodes br>
• Wrath and Reckoning Points combat resources implemented br>
• Celestial Power and Celestial Bond combat resources implemented br>
• Implemented and expanded the notion of NPC kinds (Undead, Animal, Insect, etc.) br>
• Implemented Thief of Eternity fight mechanics br>
• Several new VFX created to support new Class & NPC abilities br>
• Several VFX timing improvements br>
• Player model proportion improvements br>
• Added Leap and Charge movement generators
Before we wrap up the Producers’ letter we wanted to share some good news regarding the Official Pantheon Discord. This Discord server has been available for several years now for our VIP pledges who have enjoyed hanging out with each other and the devs. We are pleased to announce that the Official Pantheon Discord is now also available to Champion tier pledges. Please visit the champion forums on PantheonMMO.com for directions on how to join. The official Pantheon Discord will open up to more tiers and the public over time.
And that’s all we’ve got for the Producers’ Letter this month, but be sure to check out the other features we have lined up for you in this newsletter. Thanks again to all of you for supporting Pantheon’s development. It’s not just the pledges that keep us going, but also your enthusiasm and encouragement. When you’re excited, we’re excited!
So from all of us here, thank you and onward! p>