March 2022 Producer’s Letter
Earlier this month, we unveiled Pantheon’s conversion to Unity’s High Definition Rendering Pipeline (HDRP) in our monthly development stream. Featuring terrain, flora, sky, day/night, and weather systems, we gave our fans an early first glimpse at Pantheon in a post-greybox state. While there is work remaining to be done to create additional art assets and perform detailing, we are proud to mark the conversion milestone as ‘complete’ after months of hard work from across the team.
With HDRP conversion out of the way, the team is now turning its attention to readying the game for more robust playtesting. Our QA team has been evaluating the revised early play experience in Thronefast over a number of iterations now, and we continue to address bugs, respond to balancing concerns and feedback, and make adjustments as needed to ensure the experience is meeting our design goals for alpha and beyond.
This process has also led to a number of preliminary improvements to the user experience in the form of UI updates and combat feedback. While these aren’t revisions to the user interface itself, it does mean we have begun to make adjustments to where and what kinds of information is being presented to the player in the context of our existing UI, in support of a stronger onboarding experience for players and better readability of events in combat.
Our push toward being playtest-ready also includes more wholly dedicating our programming resources to our next major milestone: the long-awaited integration of networking. Once our new networking solution is in place, we will have the fully scalable infrastructure ready to handle the player loads of Alpha, Beta and launch. This is a major milestone for us and we couldn’t be more excited to announce that this focused work on networking has begun and will not stop until it is finished. As a side note, in addition to the massive improvements in player-load scalability, performance and stability, completing this networking phase will allow for several other aspects of development to be finalized, including our pet system, charms, full-scale ranged combat mechanics and the rest of the Classes that have been on hold due to their dependence on better networking scaling. Exciting times indeed!
Now let’s take a look at how our roadmap to Alpha is shaping up!
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: Complete 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.
• VFX conversion complete.
• Work is ongoing to update existing VFX and create new VFX within the HDRP framework.
• Look for further enhancements in the terrain texturing and details down the road as more polish passes occur.
Class Development: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Implementation of remaining core class components such as unique resources, mechanics, and UI.
• 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.
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
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.
• Ongoing work in Wild’s End is currently focused on core asset development and construction of Sorhiryth.
• Zone production wrapping up in Thronefast to include new buildings and additional caves.
• A fine-detail pass on zone construction and art is planned for a later date.
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.
General 3D Assets: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Develop 3D assets for equippable weapons, armor, and various non-environment world props.
• Model review and refinements to pre-existing weapons have taken place during this process as required.
Animations: In Progress UPDATED
What it is: Develop player and NPC animations to support locomotion, combat, emotes, and other gameplay.
• Initiated implementation of unique idle animation for staff-wielding monks and related attack animations.
• Selected 6 new casting animation concept candidates for initial implementation.
• Exploration of further casting animation concepts is ongoing.
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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