February 2022 Producer’s Letter
Greetings, Pantheon fans! 2022 is in full swing here at Visionary Realms, and February is quickly shaping up to be one of our most substantive months to-date. Let’s catch up on all the recent goings-on, shall we?
At the beginning of the month, we achieved an internal milestone with the first playable HDRP build making its way into the hands of our QA team, who have been busy identifying issues that tend to crop up with such an enormous update. Initial feedback to gameplay changes included in this build has been positive, and we are continuing to tweak and refine the experience in preparation for the next build.
On the design side of the house, the team has been heads-down fleshing out Thronefast following its HDRP makeover. This includes correcting the placement of NPC and world object spawns to adjust for things like rocks and buildings, as well as adjusting populations and itemization to better suit the gameplay flow following updates to our combat formulas. We’re sneaking in a few more surprises as well, and expect to transition this effort into Avendyr’s Pass towards the end of this month.
Meanwhile, our programmers have been hard at work preparing the HDRP client for pre-alpha testing with the integration of our flora, biome, and water systems. We expect to begin the integration of our sky and lighting solution shortly as well, which will allow us to realize our day/night cycle and support the implementation of additional planned features such as time-of-day driven spawns and dispositions.
Work on networking integration remains ongoing in addition to HDRP support, but we anticipate being able to dedicate more attention to networking soon. Additionally, we are getting ready to tackle many of the long-standing items on our roadmap that have taken a backseat to HDRP implementation. Chief among these are the supporting systems for Crafting and Perception, so expect to hear much more about both of these later in the year.
Last – and far from least – our art team continues to make progress on multiple fronts. Character art and animation has been focused on introducing a veritable armory of new weapon models, refining our combat idle and auto-attack animations, and beginning to concept out new animations to support a variety of special weapon attacks. Wild’s End remains the focus of our environment art team, with ongoing progress on creating the bespoke landmarks that make up the vast and varied home of the Halflings.
As we head further into 2022, a lot of our internal focus has been on what we want to accomplish this year and with it the growth of Visionary Realms. Each department has refined its hiring plan, so as resources become available we have a solid growth strategy to address key needs – though this is generally good practice to update once or twice a year as needs and priorities may change. That being said, with progressing our Alpha roadmap being our main focus this year we have a pretty good idea of the roles we want to fill and in which order. Thanks to our amazing community and your generous pledges over the years we have come such a long way in filling these roles, and only have a few more key spots to fill when the time comes.
The entire team at Visionary Realms remains ever-grateful for our community’s continued patience and support. Much and more awaits in the months ahead, and we can’t wait to share it with you all!
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.
• Water system has been integrated.
• Support for Swimming in underwater volumes is planned for a later date, noted on the roadmap under ‘Swimming’.
• Sky, lighting, and day/night system integration expected to begin this week.
• VFX conversions previously reported last month were delayed in order to support flora system integration, and are expected to take place after sky system integration.
Class Development: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Implementation of remaining core class components such as unique resources, mechanics, and UI.
• Warrior and Paladin implementations have been moved to a temporary on-hold status pending internal feedback of current classes.
• We are continuing to tune and refine adjustments to our core combat systems as internal playtesting takes place.
• Reminder: due to outstanding dependencies, deployment of the Ranger, Summoner and Druid 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.
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.
• Began mapping positions for planned nodes as additional zones are refined in HDRP.
• Further passes on node/ore rarity based on level ranges and how difficult the nodes are to access/traverse to.
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
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 UPDATED
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.
• Additional behaviors will be introduced and refined over time.
• Introduced 42 additional unique NPC abilities and traits.
• Development of additional dispositions and traits is ongoing and will continue into Alpha.
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 UPDATED
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.
• Updated experience gain formulas and experience required to level.
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.
• Ongoing work in Wild’s End is currently focused on core asset development and construction of the Daedrym Ascent.
• Zone finishing for this stage is in progress for Thronefast and Avendyr’s Pass now that all of the necessary art assets have been converted to HDRP.
• Current focus: cave systems, content within town/village buildings.