December 2021 Producer’s Letter
Ben “Machail” Dean, Chris “Joppa” Perkins, Adam “Tehom” Mostel
December is here again already and we were having a hard time believing that until we started compiling this article and looked back at the past 12 months, and hoo boy, did a lot happen in 2021. It has been a full year with lots of highlights, some huge leaps, and it left us looking at a great 2022 for Pantheon. Let’s take a look.
Starting things off with a bang, in January we announced a seven figure investment and the addition of Chris Kronenthal to the Board of Directors. This enabled us to bring in a handful of new staff members, strengthen the backend systems and begin our push to Alpha.
During January we also showed off the Fortress DeViare which was a compact version of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, used primarily for demos with potential partners. For the first time, players were able to get a small taste of nearly all systems that Pantheon has to offer in a comparatively shorter experience.
Also in January, we welcomed 2 more team members – Mark Maraglino, Quality Assurance, and Jeanna Ruschell, Human Resources.
By March, community members had let us know that they were looking forward to seeing more details on development and it came in the form of the Roadmap to Alpha. The first posting of the Roadmap listed what was done, what still needed to be done, and why these items were on the list. Over the remainder of the year we continued to update the Roadmap and it has now become a regular part of the monthly newsletter.
March was also the month we welcomed Adam Mostel to the team who would join the design team and eventually take on the much-needed role of Production Assistant.
We had another Pre-Alpha session in April and by June we were ready to show off Combat Awareness in our NPCs. This demo was widely celebrated as being a key component that makes Pantheon stand out from the rest.
Another Pre-Alpha session took place in July, which was also the month we welcomed a new Associate Content Creator, Tony “Minus” Guidi.
The monk was added to the game around this time, as well as a new trait system, 100s of new abilities and statuses, and significant evolution of classes.
September invited artist Tim Schuhler, who has been cranking out environments at a break-neck pace ever since, allowing us to get major work done for Wild’s End and the upcoming dungeon, The Gate.
It was also around this time that we made the announcement that Pantheon would no longer be a completely zone-based game, but instead would be a seamless world.
Gathering nodes started to be added to the world and our path to a full crafting system was under way.
The High Definition Render Pipeline, or HDRP, became a term well-known to community and staff alike as the project migrated from the old client and is now in the new, HDRP-enabled client. Some teasers have been shown, but a full demo won’t be ready until early next year.
We finished off the year as strongly as we started, winning MMORPG.com’s Most Anticipated MMORPG, by both staff and community poll. Thank you to MMORPG.com and to all of our fans for your generous votes. We, too, are highly anticipating getting Pantheon into your hands.
Looking ahead into 2022, along with said HDRP build, expect the new networking to be added. This will greatly improve performance, scalability and eliminate a lot of overhead and crashes we were facing.
We will continue to move toward Alpha in 2022, add more team members and make some significant announcements. Expect more guest streams, bigger guest streams, more events, and more Pre-Alpha sessions. Also expect communication to continue with regular updates in the newsletters, podcasts and dev streams. Word has it we may even see a new pledge tier in 2022.
Until then, thank you for your continued support and from all of us at Visionary Realms, we wish you and your friends and family the Happiest of Holidays!
Roadmap to Alpha Progress
Programming & Design
NPC Combat Awareness: Complete
What it is: Support for advanced NPC decision-making and tactics based on their knowledge of the surrounding environment.
Asset & Terrain Streaming: Complete
What it is: Development of technology to support performant streaming (both client and network) of game assets, visuals, and server data.
HDRP Conversion: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Conversion of our existing project to a new rendering pipeline to allow for higher definition graphics, more powerful rendering tools, and improved client performance.
• The majority of individual art assets (world props, character models, etc.) have been converted to be compatible within the new HDRP client.
• Our Flora system (grass/ground cover/trees) will be implemented soon. We are currently finishing the stream-instancing tech that will allow all of our foliage (grass, bushes, trees, etc.) to be rendered on screen in a highly performant way.
• Supported terrain layers (number of textures) has been increased from 8 to 16, enhancing biome diversity and transition quality. Height-based texture blending and terrain hole painting have been added.
• Initiated planning of Day/Night and Water system implementation.
Class Development: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Implementation of remaining core class components such as unique resources, mechanics, and UI.
• Initial implementation of Paladin, Cleric, and Warrior classes completed.
• Tuning of classes and abilities to match the standards of our combat system improvements is ongoing.
• Reminder: due to outstanding dependencies, deployment of the Ranger and Summoner classes remain on hold until the integration of our new Networking stack is complete.
Network Overhaul: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Development of a custom network solution to enable performant player concurrency and server-side calculations on the required scale of an MMORPG.
• Added code generation to messages to satisfy burst compiler strict generic job rules
• Refactored C99 transport layer to be pure C# (and burst compiled)
• Optimized Main Thread – Job Thread communication by swapping to “UnsafeAppendBuffer” internally in our Send/Receive queues
Pets: To Do
What it is: Development of the systems and user-interface required to support permanent and temporary player-controlled minions.
Ability Loadouts: To Do
What it is: Development of a tool to allow players to save and load pre-defined hotbar configurations.
Gathering and Crafting: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Development of supporting tools, UI, and infrastructure for the implementation of Gathering and Crafting content, gameplay, and progression.
Perception System: To Do
What it is: While we are able to support preliminary implementations of Perception content, additional development is needed for supporting tools and UI required to implement Perception and its related features and progression on a larger scale with the quality intended for Alpha and beyond.
Faction: To Do
What it is: While the Faction system is fully integrated and working, additional development is needed to support leveraging Faction for other aspects of gameplay, such as gaining access to specific Tasks, Storylines, Merchants, etc.
Climbing Improvements: To Do UPDATED
What it is: Refinements to the existing Climbing system to introduce a climbing-specific resource and related UI, associate Climbing with an improvable skill, implement new surface types with different climbability challenges, and improve climbing animations.
Swimming: To Do
What it is: Implementation of a swimming locomotion system including support for Z-axis movement, the creation of a new suite of swimming animations, and implementation of a water system.
Acclimation: To Do
What it is: Implement improvements to the Acclimation user experience by improving the audiovisual components, improving the UI and Glyph acquisition/equipment systems, and implementing additional climates.
Dispositions and Traits: In Progress
What it is: Develop systems required to improve the support for Disposition and Trait spawning rules, as well as dedicated UI components to display Dispositions and Traits to players.
LFG Tool: To Do
What it is: Develop a UI and supporting infrastructure to allow players to list themselves as looking for a group, or looking for additional members, using specified criteria in order to find other players to pursue shared gameplay goals.
Basic Guild System: To Do
What it is: Develop a UI and supporting infrastructure to allow players to form guilds with a private chat channel, basic hierarchies, and membership management commands.
Banks: To Do
What it is: Develop a UI and supporting infrastructure to support the storage and retrieval of items.
Improve Starting Experience for New Players: In Progress
What it is: Develop tutorialization to introduce players to gameplay basics. Add and refine content in starting areas to provide a robust and engaging early-game experience.
Zones: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Develop game zones to support planned content and gameplay. Convert greyboxed zones to sculpted terrain and develop with unique props and environment art passes to realize aesthetic goals.
• Our greybox-to-sculpted-terrain conversion is in the following state of progress:
• Kingsreach Continent
• Thronefast – 100%
• Avendyr’s Pass – 100%
• Black Rose Keep – 75%
• Silent Plains- 100%
• Eastern Plains – 100%
• Wild’s End – 100%
• Veil of Azeris – 100%
• Faerthale – 100%
• The Murk – 100%
• Coasts & Seafloor – 50%
• Outlying Islands – 0%
• Zone finishing has begun for Thronefast and Avendyr’s Pass now that all of the necessary art assets have been converted to HDRP.
Player Models: To Do
What it is: Rig remaining player race models (Skar, Dark Myr, Archai) so they can be animated and conform all non-Human races and genders to our entity outfitting system so they can equip/unequip armor dynamically.
NPC Models: In Progress
What it is: Develop new NPC and creature models for use in world population and content development.
Animations: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Develop player and NPC animations to support locomotion, combat, emotes, and other gameplay.
Audio: In Progress
What it is: Develop environmental soundscapes, create unique sound effects for players and NPCs, and introduce ambient and signature music.
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