Replies from Todd (/u/Jtoddcoleman)
Q: How will a victor be determined in FFA Campaigns such as The Dregs?
A: The Dregs will be a system similar to Shadowbane, but adapted to the idea of a seasonal campaign. The basic idea is "take over as much land, as hold it as long as you can." We gave an example (the Bloodstones design) that showed how victory points are amassed; the details may differ but the core concept will be similar.
Q: 1) What drove you to choose Unity 5 over UE4, UDK, CryEngine, or another engine? My understanding from speaking with Unity game developers is that it is less performant than many of its counterparts, particularly for fast-moving games. Do you feel that decision has impacted design decisions about the speed that things occur at? 2) Do you feel like the relative expense and difficulty of making MMORPGs prevents developers from taking risks in their designs? It feels like in the post WoW world, we live in a world of very similar MMOs which try not to deviate too far from the WoW model. Shadowbane was my first and favorite MMORPG, and the game that truly made me into a gamer. Crowfall looks like its spiritual successor - I'm cheering hard for it.
A: 1) I'm not a programmer, but from a production stand point I can tell you that the Unity pipeline and toolset are world class. The editing features -- where you can interrupt the program while it is running, change a UI, and then "unpause" the game to see the results of the changes without having to re-execute is pretty amazing. MMOs are huge games, and anything you can do to increase the iteration cycle for making/testing changes is a HUGE win, in terms of overall time (and therefore cost.)
In terms of performance, we were an early participant in the Unity 5 beta, and I think the performance increases have been pretty fantastic in this version. Again, though, I'm not technical enough to do a deep dive into the render pipeline... but from what I've seen, the engine is very impressive, and MUCH easier to adapt to an MMO than most of the other commercial engines available.
2) Absolutely, when a game makes BILLIONS of dollars in revenue, suddenly that's the "right" way to build that kind of game. It means that the people funding these games all wanted WOW success, and the best way to pitch WOW success is to start the pitch with "Wow, only with XYZ".
I feel like we had more innovation before WOW, because no one knew what was possible (and therefore, what wasn't.)
Crowdfunding has really changed this equation, quite frankly because the people with the money (you) are better at picking visions that will be appealing to a large audience. Of course they are, right? Because the idea only takes hold if it manages to attract a large audience. It's basically taken the traditional studio "green light" process and democratized it.
Thanks for playing SB, btw! That was my first professional game, and it was a hell of a ride. I'm glad to be able to go back after all this time and try some of those design ideas again.
Q: What do you think is the biggest lesson you learned from your past projects? How are you using those lessons and applying what you know now to Crowfall?
A: The biggest lesson that I learned (the hard way) is that you can't make a game that is going to make everyone happy. Instead, pick a focus and make a game that THOSE people will love. "Sometimes you gotta let those hard-to-get chips go"
Q: As an old Shadowbane player, I've never really found an MMO that compared. The amount of freedom, choice, and complexity of the classes and politics in the world is second to none in my opinion.
Where will this game settle between being something new and a blast from my past? Will this game give me the feeling of reliving my time with SB in some respects?
A: That's my goal. Only without the sb.exe problems.
Q: The selection of archetype – promotion – and discipline runes seems heavily influenced by Shadowbane. What sets it apart? What is one of your goals for improving it over the Shadowbane system?
A: First off, I think some of those original SB ideas are still awesome, and deserve to be revisited. But the core difference is the "Campaign Worlds", the idea of unique maps will unique rulesets that come to an end... this fixes what is (IMO) the biggest design flaw that we had in Shadowbane.
Q: Thanks for the answer JTC. If you have time after answering all these other great questions could you give me something a little more specific to character advancement? I know my prior phrasing was ambiguous.
A: Well, first off, I made the tough (and obviously highly debatable) decision to combine race and class into archetype, because it leads to characters that are more thematic. You can see that I was heading in this direction on SB, especially in the pre-requisites for Disciplines -- but in this game, I decided to push it further. Some people don't like it, but they also haven't seen the pay off, yet. The result will be characters that feel more unique and stylized, and themed. And it allows us to make characters that are amazingly varied -- I mean, we have centaurs and minotaurs and guineceans! The reason we can do that is because we decided to lock the races and classes, instead of creating a system that demanded a combinatory result (race X class)... you'll notice that the trend in the industry for MMOs has been to allow any race with any class, and to reduce the number of base races to try and cut the art cost.
Next, we split Talents into Advantages and Disadvantages, because I always liked that in Gurps, and I thought it would be a cool way to expand on the original idea.
Then we went with passive training. This is a big one, because it means that we don't force players to invest hundreds of hours into the game (i.e. the grind) to get to the fun part at the end -- there is no end-game. Crowfall is nothing but end-game.
sorry for misunderstanding you, before! hope this clears it up.
Q: First I want to preface my question with this, I know Crowfall is unlike any game I've ever played, so forgive me for making comparisons to other games. I am only trying to compare to what I already know. In no means am I trying to say it's the same as the games I compare it to.
You've already redesigned the Holy Trinity paradigm of Tank/Healer/DPS without dedicated healers into something similar to Combatants/Crafters/Scouts (which I think is awesome). As a well versed MMO player, I've spent many days playing WoW, Rift, SWTOR, etc...and as such each game tends to have the preferred class/spec combo. I remember when Frost DKs were taken over my Enhancement Shaman due to different class/spec abilities/buffs.
So I was wondering if Crowfall will redesign or break standard MMO class/spec composition paradigms? I.e. Will a horde (or herd?) of Minotaurs be able to be as effective as a group of mixed Archetypes? Will groups/guilds need to balance the amount of each Archetype they have? Or will we see that Archetype doesn't change how the game is played, the player [skill/style] changes how the game is played?
Hope that makes sense, sorry for the wall of text! Thank you for your continued effort to make this game amazing!
A: yeah, it's hard to explain when you have a more free-form ability to customize your character, because roles are less defined. that doesn't mean "everyone can do everything" -- at all, it just means "I'm not ONLY a tank" or "I'm not ONLY dps."
and again, we're not killing the idea of support classes, we just don't have firehose healers, because the game isn't being made with the goal of having parties fight monsters with 40,000 health. It's a different mindset, so we changed the roles to fit the new paradigm.
Q: With the Crowfall physics (inertia, gravity, etc.), is it possible to climb some very steep slopes? Or the characters will rather tend to "fall"?
A: yes, we've already got a version of this working, it's interesting to play with. Your guy will "slide" down a sleep slope -- and when you add it to the feet placement IK system (which you can see in a few of the character screenshots) it works surprisingly well!
Q: 1.are the world's seemless or do you select a world on login?
2.Are you guys planning on a mobile app for acct, char, guild, shop mgt? I think mobile mgt would be crucial for merch owners.
3.How lush are the RSS going to be throughout the maps?
A: 1) Each Eternal Kingdom and Campaign world is a separate world. Within that world, it is seamless.
2) mobile app would be cool, but it isn't part of the core module. sounds like a great stretch goal. I know I would use it.
3) I'm not sure what you are asking, here?
Q: It is my understanding you do not have traditional leveling.
Will a freshly made character be able to fight a character that has been around the block and skilled up?
Also, am I correct in thinking that instead of choosing a race then a class, you choose an archetype, and the race/class are one choice together?
Thanks for your time - first time I ever backed anything on Kickstarter.
A: high level characters have an advantage, but not a huge one. In most MMOs, a 40th level guy can take on an infinite army of 20th. In ours, a high level character can take out one or two, but if he gets caught off-guard by 3 or 4 newbies, he could be in serious trouble.
Yes, archetypes are race/class combos. This makes them more thematic, because when you decide to make every race and every class go together, you have to make animations and armors that match everyone -- which means you end up with characters that are inevitably more generic, and a spiraling art cost gets quickly out of control due to all the combinatory results.
Thanks for backing!
Q: You have said crafters could craft full time and be their main role in the game. Is this true for gatherers as well? Could you have a character that spends its entire game harvesting resources for your guild and crafters?
A: absolutely! this will be a more dangerous route, because it means you'll have to brave the Campaign Worlds -- but it can be a VERY lucrative path, if you're good at it.
Q: What has been the most memorable moment for you both during this whole Kickstarter campaign?
A: that first morning was brutal. terrifying, and exhilarating in equal parts.
Q: Thank you ACE for the Ask me Anything post in reddit. So here is my question: - What do you plan as background for the different gods and when do we see these ideas?
A: I have a firm idea of all the gods, and how they interrelate, that I've been working on for the last year or two. We just didn't have time to do all the art to back it up, going into kickstarter.
This is an area that I'm really looking forward to. The Pantheon of Gods, and their relationship to the Hunger, is one of the coolest parts of the CF universe IMO. We haven't quite gotten to the part where the players (and guilds) know them well enough to start building their own stories around them. That's coming.
Q: The combat in MMOs is usually very generic and doesn't really feel like the characters have any weight when they are landing blows. Have you considered going with more of an action rpg combat system instead? I think larger battles will feel a lot cooler and take more use of your physics engine to if characters can't just walk right through each other and a shield actually has to be facing someone to block them.
A: that's what we're doing. We are using PhysX and locked animation sequences, to give weight to the character's actions.
Q: With the development of the tournament and championship systems, do you see Crowfall breaking in to the esport scene, and if so will we see shorter more televisable campaigns? I could get behind watching a Hunger Games like arena with a single spawn.
A: We should be lucky enough for the game to be that popular! How far we go down that road is really for you guys -- the community -- to decide.
Q: 1) Any reason why "The Shadow" rule set is on the only rule set not to be included in the core module?
A: Yes, the order of the rules was chosen to explore the outer edges of the design. I picked the Dregs, first, because we didn't know if we would hit any stretch goals at all, and I knew this ruleset would be most popular with our core following (many of whom are ex-Shadowbane players).
Once we cleared that hurdle, I went back to the 3 faction rules, because I knew those two rulesets would give us the most coverage.
Once we cleared THAT hurdle, now I had two left to choose from, and the 12-god cage match sounded more fun.
As we get more funding, we'll expand the rulesets -- in fact, after launch, we'll be constantly adding new rulesets, that is the single coolest thing about the design's architecture.
Q: Regarding the new Infected Ruleset: Will our characters pledge permanently to one god or will it be on a per campaign basis?
A: This is one that we're still debating. It's not an easy answer, and if we can't agree internally, we try to resolve that impasse before we talk about it publicly.
Q: I watched a video from MMORPG.com and apparently the game has survival elements like hunger, cold and thirst. Can you confrim this? And if so can you talk about it a bit?
A: Yes, we are including survival elements in the game -- though we haven't released an FAQ yet that talks about how these elements work. (We actually wrote one, but in the review process prior to release, it raised a handful of new debates internally, and that's how we knew we weren't quite ready to talk about it, yet.)
Q: How do you plan to handle stealth in Crowfall?
A: My goal was to make it similar to the SB stealth game; there were two different play styles, one geared towards stealth (infiltration, information retrieval, assassination) and one geared towards anti-stealth (seeking out and eliminating the former.)
In SB, a lot of this was focused on troop movement and city infiltration -- which was awesome, but in Crowfall we have opportunities to expand on that foundation, thanks to resource collection and caravans. That should add a new layer of cool gameplay to reconnaissance.
Q: Excited about the game, a few questions for the team!
1) You've analogized the game economy to EVE before (Items with durability requiring replacement, a highly complex crafting system), in which case I'm wondering what form marketplaces will take. Will they be exclusively in player owned eternal kingdoms or scattered throughout the land in NPC towns and castles? Will players have the ability to place buy/sell orders or contracts on said markets, or will trade be exclusively face-to-face or mediated by a WoW type auction house?
2) Will players be able to move their characters from one account to another, and if so will that be free (Besides buying another account of course) or paid? I'm thinking this because VIP players will be able to passive train up to 3 character slots at once, and this could create a secondary market in trained characters. As a followup, will characters be tradeable in-game?
3) Will characters on the same account all have access to the same eternal kingdom? As in, could my fighting character procure some valuable resources, leave it at my keep, and then my crafting character logs on and makes advanced materials or items?
A (Todd): I'll try and hit these quickly:
1) no automated auction house. we want people to move their avatars (and resources/materials) around the game, we feel like it makes the experience cooler
2) no current plan to move characters between accounts
3) yes, the EK ownership is at the account level, not the character level
A: (Gordon): 1) We have no NPC EK's or marketplaces. So everything is player driven and owned. We'll start with face to face player commerce and player owned vendors, and move to the contract model over time. No global auction houses! 2) We are not planning to be able to transfer characters between accounts. We will have the ability for players to buy up to 3 additional character slots per account (6 total). 3) The account owns the Eternal Kingdom, not a character. Which means all characters on that account share the materials/items in their Eternal Kingdom.
Q: Hey thanks for putting this Q&A together. Here are a few questions I have answer as many as you like!
To what extent is this game combat/questing/mission based? Is the possibility of non combat skills off the table?
For example, I think Runescape was revolutionary in the fact that it had an incredibly wide skill system (woodcutting, fishing, agility, etc). This made so many new possibilities for the players, it allowed them to play the game in an infinite number of ways (pures, mains, skillers, etc). It also gave them small sets of goals and the psychologically satisfying feeling of gaining experience and levels to accomplish those goals.
How important is it to you to have a a "satisfying" feeling combat system?
League of legends does this incredibly well (Nidalee spears, Jinx's ult, Zed's auto attacks). The satisfaction of hitting a skill shot or attack. You hear the noise of the attack and see your opponents health bar instantly chunked down.
How wide will the skill range be for PvP combat?
League of legends and Super Smash Bros would be examples of a massive range of skill that the player can develop. In both these games the extent to which you have timing, positioning, and knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent give an enormous range of who is "good" and who is "great".
A: the game is heavily focus on crafting and economy, it's one of the pillars of the experience. but it isn't focused on narrative, pre-written quests; instead, we generate opportunities for conflict that will cause players to come into contact with other players (sometime cooperatively, but more often competitively) -- for example, we spawn a valuable strategic resource in a disputed area and let the teams fight over it. It's not a "quest" per se; instead the system is driving players to become the content for other players.
incredibly important. meaning: if we don't get the feel of combat right, our game is dead.
it will likely be similar. we're using an action-combat model, so yeah, some players are going to be MUCH better than others. add that to a shallow advancement curve (where level and equipment aren't going to protect you) and you've got a game that is much more focused on player skill (and strategy.)
Q: This action combat model can be very hit or miss. I hope you guys find something that looks nice and feels good to use. Not just a bunch of running around and turning the camera while trying to throw attacks at your enemy.
A: I think the animation locking will have a pretty big impact on addressing this, but we'll have to try it to know for sure.
Q: Will different archetypes of the same race have different physique to fit their role more?
A: f I'm understand correctly, you're asking "if we add a Fae spellcaster, would she had a different height/weight/body style?"
Yes, she certainly could. One of the benefits of the archetype system is that each archetype can be VERY different. That said, we'll always have to be mindful of animation reuse, because animations are INCREDIBLY expensive, so it'll probably be a mix. For example, I'm expecting that we'll get some reuse between the Male Champion and the Minotaur... even though the overall look will be significantly different.
Q: Can players swim in crowfall?
A: yeah, yeah... OK, swimming. sure.
We'll have to do something, here, obviously... but we don't have a firm answer yet. It's actually a significant cost for, sadly, a pretty minimal gain IMO. I have no intention of adding an underwater themed biome, or water dungeons or anything. Ideally, water should be another environmental resource that you have to take into account, tactically.
(Honestly, I would really love to say "you don't swim! characters just walk across the lake floor", and since the characters are Immortals, I think there is some narrative precedent. *
but I don't think we can get away with that.
We'll figure something out.
man, I hate swimming.
*highlander reference ftw
Q: and along these lines, will there be oceans, lakes with boats and sailing?
A: boats are another matter entirely. I love ships. Ships are awesome.
that said, we don't have the budget to do ships. This would be a great stretch goal, but it would unfortunately have to be a pretty big one.
Q: Are granted rights (noble, tenant, etc) to EKs also based on account, or can it be different for different characters?
A: Current design is account level.
Though Blair just raised an objection as I type this, so evidently it warrants further discussion.
Q: On the forums, Thomas Blair made a comment about land being "a big giant box of Tetris pieces and the campaign worlds grab a handful of them when the world is generating".
Does this indicate that the entire world is not procedurally generated, but just select generated but QC'd plots of land and piecing them together? So could we expect after multiple campaigns to see the same 'pieces' multiple times, but possibly just in different order?
A: the answer is somewhere in between. we're procedurally generating the worlds, but using the tetris model to create them. yes, that means that some areas will be similar between Campaigns -- but not exactly the same.
For example: I might recognize that this S shaped, 5 parcel area consists of hills and a river, but the villages within it are different. I don't know if there will be a city wall around the next hill, or a barracks, or a burned villa.
Completely procedural worlds, using a fractal algorithm to generate the terrain, tend to look cool when viewed from a distance but don't feel right when you play them. I struggled with this problem for 4 years on shadowbane.
This approach, IMO, the best balance point between "custom-built areas" and "procedurally generated maps."
Q: Can attributes (Str, Int, etc.) be trained after the advantages/disadvantages selection? Will there be any cross-promotion classes (like Shadowbane hybrids, i.e., fighter lock vs mage lock)? Looks amazing guys! Power on to 1.7 Mill!
A: They can be increased through: disciplines, equipment, and buffs. We elected not to do the "level based" increases at the same time we elected not to do levels.
Q: Hey guys, first of all thanks for doing this and I want to say the game looks amazing. It's the game I've always dreamed of. Now to the question: What kind of control over ranks in guilds are we going to have? Is there a limit on the number of ranks? If possible can you give us a quick overview of the guild system?
A: We haven't talked about the guild system (we will soon) primarily because we aren't doing anything here that will be particular contentious.
My philosophy on this is: these guilds have existed long before Crowfall, and will exist long after. We need to give you guys the power to manage the guild, and to that end, we need to adapt to you -- not the other way around.
Guild management IS intended to be a different system from Eternal Kingdom management, btw -- though the two will often be intertwined. We aren't forcing guilds to use our EK structure.
Q: Hey there! Big fan, I played shadowbane a ton and even had a few guides make it on to the main site. I've been doing a bunch of building in the Landmark version of the Voxel Farm tech. I have a few questions about voxels:
How much of the world will be made with Voxels?
Will the buildings be mainly voxels or a mix of polys?
Will you be using a poly to voxel conversion or making the buildings manually with VF tools?
Will you be using the procedural grammar system for creating structures?
A quick non-voxel question:
Some of the pre alpha combat footage seemed to use heavy amounts of 'red carpets' to indicate where attacks would be. Is it a plan to stick with these or try to minimize their usage in combat?
A: The entire world is voxelized. That said, you won't be able to carve it up as quickly as you see the forgemaster doing in the video -- that's edit mode. If we allowed that, the world would be swiss cheese within minutes of a new campaign coming online.
the plan for buildings is voxels. plan for props is polygonal meshes.
we build the stuff in 3DS Max and convert it to voxels. We're also working with VF to voxelize UV-mapped meshes, which is something that no one else has done with VS before (spoiler alert!) The analogy I use for this is a candy bar: tri-planar mapped interiors with a "hard candy shell" that can be mapped like a normal 3D polygonal object (instead of having to create the surface out of different materials).
That work is coming along well, though it has been very tricky to work out! We've been working on it since ... October of last year?
Re: procedurally created buildings, yes, that is the plan, but out of rooms/towers/wall segments, etc, not brick-by-brick.
We're still playing with the target projections. TBH, I don't know if they will make it into the final game.
Q: Is the Champion, Templar or Knight able to dual wield? I want to play a dual wielding plate wearing bad bottom and need to know which of the three allows that. I'm excited for beta and glad that I was able to help kick start this game.
A: We haven't released a list of the promotion classes or disciplines yet, but I'll try to keep it in mind to make sure we have at class with both heavy armor and dual wield.
Thanks for backing us!
Q: Thanks for doing this guys! 1. Do you have plans for a support role to be able to deliver their support via melee in the form of something like an AoE effect? 2. Are you fine with some classes being able to own others in a 1v1 setting or will you attempt to balance it all?
A: 1) yes, but we haven't announced the details yet. 2) absolutely, that's not the goal of balance (which is good, I suppose, since it wouldn't be possible.)
Our goal is for players to be able to decide what play style they want, and customize their character to that end. Part of that means they need to figure out what situations they want to be strong in, and seek those out. It also means choosing some areas they WON'T be strong in, and avoiding them.
("Perfect balance" isn't actually fun, either, btw. Rock Paper Scissors is pretty balanced! and terribly boring.)
Q: Thanks for doing this AMA, Im a fan of MMO's and a fan of hardcore PvP, even though i am really bad at it in most games, but I have fun while doing it, my question is with the passive training you have implemented can a super casual player truly compete with people in the dregs? Reword the question a bit Will the passive training be enough to get you by, or should someone really need to play all the time to compete in the more hardcore rulesets?
A: Ok, so that's really two different questions, so let me break it apart.
With passive training, will a more casual person will be able to achieve equal footing to the best players on the Dregs? Yes.
Will a casual person be able to compete with the best player on the Dregs, character build aside? No. But honestly, even if your build was better, that person would still likely lose. Spending more time in the game wouldn't help either, though, if that helps! Some people are just crazy good. Stay away from them. Be careful. Bring friends.
Q: Any plans for a human caster from a non-religious background? Wizard/Mage is usually my style and promotion classes would allow for a lot of others (battlemage, necromancer, warlock etc).
A: yes, we have promo classes for some of the existing archetypes that don't have a narrative bend towards religion.
Q: Talk about leaving a campaign has been vague, I understand you acquire resources there; but what happens to gear and spoils you've looted along the way? What benefit (to the next campaign, not EK) would loot have if when you start a campaign you're going in naked?
A: Export rules determine how much you can take back to the Eternal Kingdoms. How much this matters in the next Campaign, depends on the type of Campaign you choose (and specifically, the Import rules of that next Campaign.)
If you really want to bring in the gear that you looted, don't pick a naked Campaign (we call those campaigns 'terminator rules'). Terminator-rules Campaigns are great, however, for players who want to be assured of a completely level playing field at the start, or players who are new to the game and don't have anything to bring in from prior Campaigns.
Q: Outside of the campaigns, will the Eternal Kingoms serve any military function? Eg: Will guilds be able to war with guilds between their Kingdoms, or is all combat relegated to the campaigns?
A: you have control over your PvP settings, but that really isn't the purpose of the Eternal Kingdom. The Campaigns (and Tournament Worlds) exist exactly for this reason, and were designed to avoid the "Uncle Bob" situation where one team "wins" and the game is over.
Q: Is there a small chance the All-Father is still alive? If yes, is there anything the players could do to help him fight the Hunger?
A: I like to leave room in the narrative for crazy things to happen!
But, no. He's dead.
Q: With a heavy focus on crafting and economy and allowing RMT with VIP tickets...Could you tell me how this wont be pay2win? or pay2advantage? Wont people be able to RMT and have all the materials or anything they want in game? In turn taking that into pvp.
A: Eve has allowed this forever, and it isn't a "pay to win" game. Why not? Because you can't win by paying more money.
If your point is "players shouldn't get ANY items they didn't personally earn, because it's cheating", then the only way to fix that is to turn off trading completely.
Guilds give items to guildmates. Those players didn't earn it. Friends twink up their friends. Those players didn't earn it. Players beg. Players bully. Players con. Players trade.
Items are CONSTANTLY moved between players. It's a part of the game. If the items were created or collected in the game, by other players, IMO that isn't pay to win.
and remember -- we have import rules on every Campaigns. if you REALLY, REALLY hate the idea of facing a player who is using an item they didn't earn, because another player gave or sold it to them -- then stick to the Campaigns that don't allow you to import ANY items. Problem solved.
Unless it just offends you. Like I'm offended that a restaurant that I never go to, that serves a type of food I don't like, doesn't serve my favorite beer.
In fact, a pretty good argument can be made that a system like this is the opposite of pay to win, because people who CAN'T afford to pay for a subscription can now invest time -- instead of money -- to get the same benefit as the player who pay for a VIP membership. That's not pay to win; it's the opposite.
Replies from Gordon (/u/PSWTyrant)
Q: Will the Alpha 1 run 24/7? Or will it operate off and on (i.e. weekends only, etc)?
A: Probably not. Alpha tests tend to be very focused on particular aspects of the game, not the entire experience. Trying to play it for many hours will make most people very frustrated and give no additional value to the developers. Most early alpha tests will only last an hour or two at a time is my expectation.
Q: Its 1 EK per account right? not per character?
A: Yes, your Eternal Kingdom belongs to your account, not your characters.
Q: When do you plan to 'release' informations on archetype/promotion classes/disciplines skills?
A: These will be released over the coming months as they get finalized in the design. We've already released several disciplines and a couple of promotion classes but there are many more.
Q: Why is the release date so far out? The videos you released make the game look playable. What are you going to be doing over the next 2 years?
A: Games take time to build, we've only been working on this with a team for a year and it's an MMO. We think we're building it in record time in fact. The videos were a playable prototype in a very pre-alpha state. We're in the process of doing our first full combat iteration now from that version, and I'd bet we'll do that a few times as we go for the right feel.
Q: What game comes closest to how combat is intended to feel in crowfall?
A: A hybrid of Tera (the action combat) and Wildstar (movement).
Q: Will there be peek and steal abilities, similar to those used by the Thief class in Shadowbane?
A (Gordon): The design team loves this mechanic/idea, but there is not a definitive plan to have it in the core module release.
A (Todd): One of my best friends is CONSTANTLY retelling me war stories about the times he would hide and corpse loot with his Aracoix in Shadowbane. Seriously, he has told me the same stories DOZENS of times, and he seems to think I've never heard it before. He will kill me if we don't put that kind of mechanic in Crowfall.
Q: Congratulations on the very successful Kickstarter campaign. Did you expect such an outpouring of support? I know you guys had to quickly add stretch goals at the end, but what were your expectations when you started the funding campaign?
A: Actually we were not sure we'd get enough support to meet our initial goal. We certainly hoped we would, and had done as much as we knew how to do to gather a community ahead of time. We've already done better than our best-case plans. The kudos really go to the backers though, not us, we just wanted to make something different and cool and hoped enough people would get enthused by this vision.
Q: ACE has been very transparent with all of the updates during the KS phase. Since KS will be over in mere hours, what's your plan for updating us as to the progress? How often can we expect updates? Obviously, nobody should be expecting them to come as frequently, but...it's always exciting when there's something new posted.
A: We won't be quite so talkative for sure, no actual work gets done when we are spending 16+ hours a day talking to players. We'll have updates on a regular weekly cadence for sure, what happens communication wise each day, week and month is yet to be decided though! That's what next week is for!
Q: Please for the love of all that is holy, just tell us what's going on. Even if it's pictures of what the team is having for lunch. It's frustrating when you follow a game you're excited about and all of the sudden you get nothing for months about it
A (Todd): We aren't going to disappear on you. I want this to be an incredibly open development process. The flip side of that is: we're going to make mistakes. count on it. we're occasionally going to go back to something we already announced and say "we tried this idea, and it didn't work, so now we are trying this, instead"... so please be patient with us. if you want to walk back into the kitchen to see how the meal is being made, be prepared to get a little dirty.
Q: When a campaign begins, how will players be dispersed into the world? Assuming the answer depends on which ruleset, can you give us examples or ideas you have?
A: It does change by ruleset of course, Faction-based ruleset worlds can have players enter in pre-determined areas, where the other rulesets will need a different mechanic for initial campaign drops, such as scattered across the world map.
Q: I just want to say that I really hope you guys focus on risk vs. reward. Without consequences (full loot), an MMO like this will lose all of the thrill that games like Ultima Online, and Shadowbane had. It's long past time we had a real open world PvP game that had real risk vs. reward and gave it's player that thrill, and sense of dread and excitement all at once. I wish you all the best of luck, you already have my money. Don't let us down!
A: Almost everything we have talked about and added to the game really comes down to risk versus reward. We want the game to be challenging, and thus not for every MMO player out there. These challenges along with a player driven economy drive socialization as players band together to solve the problems presented by the game environment. We want the bold souls that are willing to risk real adversity in their gameplay for the sake of satisfying accomplishments. And we've got an array of risk/reward rulesets so that players can find the sweet spot for their own personal risk/reward predisposition.
Q: Will alphas and betas be locked under a press NDA? Will we be able to stream/record alpha and beta gameplay?
A: We have chosen to have no NDA's for our tests. Stream away!
Q: I'm a leap in and just give it a try kind of guy when it comes to learning, and as is typical with that strategy I mostly learn from my own mistakes. I can't imagine its too much different with game design due to how much iteration is involved in the process. So I love to know what valuable insight SWG provided with its various failures ( or "quirks") and if you'd please share that insight with us all?
A: Lots of lessons, but a lot of them are the same old lessons unfortunately which most companies seem doomed to repeat. I think the biggest one is trying to change the fundamental nature of a game/brand post-launch is going to be doomed to fail 90% of the time. The few exceptions to this create executive optimism that leads to lots of future failures as people try to make a silk purse out of a sows' ear.
Q: How much control will we have over our Eternal Kingdom? Will we be able to choose a biome/location or will it be a pretty generic area we build up?
Also, when do you think Alpha testing will begin?
A: The monarch has complete control over the Eternal Kingdom. They set the rules, hand out/take away fealty and land.
We don't have a good array of biomes yet, those will be future stretch goals and/or content we do in live. Pre-alpha is set for this summer and we hope roll that release into the first alpha. Only that initial testing will determine when we'll get to go into alpha.
Q: Hello ArtCraft! Been following the Kickstarter for a while, and have been impressed with all of the content y'all have been putting out. I look forward to the product! Now for the questions...
Because I know it will be asked, Crowfall will be a mainly PvP MMORPG correct? People seem to be mixing up that Crowfall will be mainly PvE with light PvP with control over resources.
When will we see more crafting updates? What has been shown leaves some ambiguity.
-Lastly, do you plan on showing off Crowfall at any of the big gaming conventions throughout the year (PAX, RTX, etc.)? You guys gotta blow this thing up!
A: The core of our game is PvP. We have PvE as an environmental threat to ramp up the danger of the worlds, much the same as the Zombies in Walking Dead make the world dangerous, but the other humans are the real threat.
Of course we'll do more crafting updates over time as the system gets more definitive. We intend right now to spend more time building the game than attending conventions. We are likely to focus on consumer conventions in the future though as our game gets more playable, as getting the word out is important!
Q: Have you decided on how the camera will be controlled. Would it be mouse-look like traditional FPS-es where moving the mouse will also move the camera? Or will it be traditional MMO-ish where you have to hold down the right mouse button to pan the camera?
A: We are working on a Tera/ESO style camera and controls, where you have distinct modes for movement / mouse control. We'll play (and test) that and see where we need to iterate from there!
Q: I’ve seen lots of discussion around animation lock vs telegraph combat (Tera vs Wildstar for two analogs). What other games are influencing other aspects of combat. For example;
Attacking multiple attributes a la Health, Action or Mind in SWG
Combining buffs or de-buffs into new effects a la GW2
Down states and executions a la DF
Is warmth or hunger being considered for a Battle Fatigue system a la SWG
A: 1) No 2) Maybe! 3) No 4) Not really like SWG in regeneration I hope this helps!
Q: Hello and thanks for doing the AmA! My question is, will we be able to build and use siege weapons at some point? Because in the trailer i saw someone "charging" through a wall. If heros can do that, walls seem kind of pointless. But if you have to build a siege weapon, carry them somehow near enough to the enemy to use it AND defend it in order not to lose the siege weapon - now this would be whole other ballgame. I'm looking forward to play Alpha 3! Thanks for your hard work and please keep doing what you do and be true to your vision of crowfall!
A: We will have player-built siege equipment for the core module (though we hadn't announced it yet). The wall you saw busted through had been attacked by spells before the hammer or shield bash finished it off. It takes a team to get through fortifications! Thanks for backing and see you in the Alpha 3!
Q: Is it possible for weight to be a factor with the Unity engine? For example, if I dig a tunnel or cave with a thin enough roof and a large group of players run above could it collapse and trap them ala a tiger trap?
A: Weight is a factor in the physics engine more than Unity, and we are using PhysX in our gameplay. We love the idea of traps and hope to have them in the game for the core module launch!
Q: Hey guys, thanks for the AMA. I'm just curious if dodging and blocking will be available (if at all) to all classes or just specific ones?
A: Dodging via "getting out of the way" is available to everyone, it is not an RNG stat. We are going with an active blocking mechanic and it will typically only be available to archetypes who can use shields.
Q: This can be sort of a stupid question but here it goes: Do you guys have enough money to do what you said on kickstarter?
A: Not a stupid question at all! We do have the money for the core module, but not all the money to build our complete vision for the game! We used our stretch goals to expand the core module to get closer to our complete game vision. We've been very open with our backers about this. We raised money before we did crowdfunding, and now the crowdfunding money (soon). Next we plan to license the game to some of the key overseas territories (Asia, anyone?), and most likely we'll raise some more money through equity too. We'll deliver the core module and stretch goals though even if these new money options don't work, we just want to go faster and deliver more of our game vision, which is what the additional money would help us do.
Q: Are you considering any kind of player made items akin to the marketplace on steam or soe (now daybreak)'s player studio?
A: Not at this time.
Q: While I'm excited for all of the experience and ideas involved in this game, a huge selling point for me was the fact that you will be working with one of my gaming dev heroes -- Raph Koster. I'm just curious how involved Raph will be in his consulting role with Crowfall?
A: We talk with Raph almost every week, and while he's mostly focused on our crafting/economic game, he weighs in on all aspects of our design which we like!
Q: Can people score points by play against their own alts?
A: Well, you can only play one character on your account at any one time. And only one side/guild/faction can win a given campaign. Hope this answered your question!
Q: When the seasons change, let's say from fall to winter, will the players notice some major changes in the environment? Are there any impacts on gameplay caused by seasons?
A: The world will look different in every season and as you move closer to winter the world itself and all the remaining creatures and zombie get more and more affected by the hunger, and not only does it make them more dangerous, it shows!
Q: When do you presume the game will enter beta?
A: Sometime mid-next year is the best estimate we have now.
Q: Thanks for doing this AMA, thanks for making this game and thank-you so very much for Shadowbane! My questions is, will Crowfall contain or will you consider spells, powers or abilities that require more than one player to execute? Something like tandem casting, group abilities or any mechanic which results in such things which cannot be done alone.
A: Pretty cool sounding, but no tandem casting at this time. It does take multiple characters/archetypes to accomplish some tactical tasks like breaching fortifications though.
Q: How are you approaching sound effects in the game?
For a long time now MMO(RPG)s have had very generic sounds, specifically when it comes to the combat. For my own personal preferences I like to have audio stimulance as much as visual..
What I mean by that is when landing a critical blow to an enemy is really sounds like a critical blow. And when I hit someone with a shield, it sounds like I'm hitting a shield. Usually nowdays is having all sounds in combat sound like you're hitting metal, no matter what weapon you are using or what you are hitting...
Is that something you have put any thought/work into?
A: We've got an excellent sound designer (who we have experience with) on Crowfall. And I like your ideas! Sound is where emotion lives so we'll be doing the best we can to enhance the impact of the sound space with our budgets in this area.
Q: I like to run around and quest by myself and what not - solo killing monsters and collecting things. Is this game sole a League style tournament system or is there other aspects to it too?
A: We are not really a questing or PvE-centric game. While you can solo within our game, its probably one of the most difficult ways to play. I'm not sure this is answering both of your questions though.
Q: What will encourage a player to visit other players EK, rather than just invest heavily and stay inside of their own?
A: Searching for the resources and items they'd like to have will be a big part of it. Also looking at other EK's will give players ideas for their own EK's, and finding other guilds to ally with (or hate on) also will be a motivation.