Monday, 25 July 2016

Update 36 released (Plenty of eye candy... )

Future Updates

In the latest update, Caspian informs us of a change in the way the plans to deliver future updates: he's going to tell us what has been achieved since the last update rather than risk setting unrealistic expectations of what is going to done by a particular date. That's not to say the team is abandoning its impressive level of transparancy, those details will still be available on IRC and ni the developer forum (when it goes live).

Website/Store News

The website continues to go from strength to strength, gaining stability and usability across a wider range of polatforms with each release. The web store has been delayed for a number of reasons including the unwillingness to risk putting something as important as the store on a platform that still has a few issues. The lack of a web developer, at present, is making this a time consuming process.

Concept Art

We're treated to some more concept art, including a preview of an amazing wallpaper for kickstarter backers and some vidies showing how things dynamically age over time.

CoE Timescales

We find out more about time cycles and we now know the following:
  • Day: 75 minutes 
  • Dusk: 15 minutes 
  • Night: 45 minutes 
  • Dawn: 15 minutes
Remember though, these are average figures, the actual times vary slightly thoughout the week depending on various factors. I've glossed over this but a lot of thought went into deciding these timescales. If you're interested in the reasoning behind them, it would be a good idea to take a look at the original post.

There's a lot of detail regarding seasons and the reasons for making them work the way they do. Caspian touched on farming, travel, survival issues out in the wild, etc. The upshot of all this is that seasons now range from two to eight real life days in length instead of the original one day that was planned. There'll be no calandar, instead players will have to learn how to recognise the signs  leading to unusually short or long seasons.


We're treated to some videos showing various animations of pieces of armour and even some animals that will be in the came, including the canis rabbit and trison.

There's a lot of detail in that update (including the eye candy promised in the headline) which I've tried to summarise. The original post is on kickstarter.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Project Update 35

The latest update (35) has been released and it's a long one!

Website Issues / Retrospective

We found out the results of an investigation into why the website update took longer than expected:
1. I'm [Caspian] filling too many roles. My next priority has to be the hiring of new employees or we're going to encounter this problem again in the future.
2. My team rocks. In spite of the fact that we had only 25% of a website up on Friday, myself, my client dev, my web designer, graphic designer, and community manager jumped right in and put in extremely dedicated, extremely long hours to create a website with a rich set of features that takes many production companies months to create. And it took us a week! The new website has the backend and middle-tier support for more fine-tuned banning controls, forums, expanded moderator tools, expanded blog support, a CMS, ranks & roles, updated user account management, and a bunch more.
So while I know there's a lot of people out there critical of the fact it took us a few days to get a "simple website" up and running, I can assure you it was anything but simple and I'm extremely proud of the hard work my team put in. It's reassuring to know they'll do what must be done, when it's needed. The passion from my team knows no end.


We found out that staff are actually moving to Bellevue in order to be closer to the Soulbound office, that's a good sign and we also learned the size of the team: 25 people incliding a new web developer who, if they had started a month earlier could have probably got that website up and running much's all so easy with hindsight :)

Caspian takes us through a detailed description of the new site and explains why parts of it are still 'in development', specifically the game guide section:
We're going to use the Game Guide section of our website as a bit of a project board. That is, as we start developing or revisiting the design of different parts of the game, we'll continue to add, change, and even flesh out the different areas of the game guide with concept art, 3D models, etc. so you can track the progress of each of the game mechanics. In fact, we're even going to put some kind of visual indicator like a progress bar on each of the game mechanics pages so you can see exactly how far and in what stage of development each of the mechanics are. How's that for transparency!?
In the meantime, while we figure out how we want to represent progress, and what kind of UI we want for displaying concepts, etc. we've put up temporary "In Development" pages. Stay tuned for more cool stuff coming to the game guide.

Max Influence, IP, and Ranks

 There's a long explanation of the IP/ranking system; how the information is displayed, what it all means, how it's calculated, etc. I'm not even going to attempt to summarise that lot, it's probably better to go and take a look at the actual post. That said, here's a short quote:
In short, now that the Kickstarter is over, you should look at the border / title you have on the website, not what was listed on the Kickstarter. That is, you got the highest border you paid for on the Kickstarter, but its name will be changing to disassociate it from the Kickstarter Tiers. Likewise, as Borders/Ranks are a function of Max Influence, not reward tiers, you may find that people who paid above their backing tier have higher Max Influence, and thus have higher ranks/borders. That's simply because their Max Influence is higher.
If you don’t like seeing Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, etc. under your name, don’t worry. We’re working to come up with new titles, and hopefully the new titles will make it clear that they represent ranks of Max Influence, not which backing tier you purchased.

Design, Concept & Environment Art

The final section in the update tells us a little more of the work being done by the concept and environment artists in relation to settlements. They want to avoid the possibility of  half a dozen artist created settlements and a bunch of haphazard messy structures thrown together by players in a hurry when the game launches. Just quoting directly from the update because my brain hurts after all that IP stuff...
Even if we could hand-create every starting town, what would happen after the game launches? We'd inevitably have some really nice hand-created settlements by our designers, and then a bunch of thrown together settlements by the players. Not to say that players aren't capable of creating amazing settlements, but artist are artists.
So our end-goal should be to create game-play mechanics that encourage players to create settlements that look and feel as good as the settlements created by our designers and artists. For example, when you look at the concepts and screenshots of New Haven you'll often see barrels and other stuff lying around that gives the world a "used" feeling. If those are purely cosmetic, then there's no reason for players to place the barrels there. If it's purely cosmetic, then at best it would be a waste of resources to create barrels and leave them lying around.
So if this is the vision we're trying to create, if this is what we feel a town should look like, then there needs to be a reason for players to lay barrels around such as exists in our current settlements. This is the symbiotic process that is currently happening between our Art Director, Environment Artists, and Designers.

Click here if you want to read the entire post...

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Website and Forum Online

Great news! The CoE website and forum is back online, though we have slightly limited functionality at present. There's no store or private messaging as yet but that should all be available soon.

Friday, 8 July 2016

CoE Website Down for Maintenance on 8th July at 5pm PDT

Just in case you're wondering what's happened to the CoE website, it's down for maintenance. Actually, it's a bit more than maintenance, it's a change to a completely new back end (what Soulbound Studio are calling 'version 2.0') giving us substantially more functionality. It's taking a little longer to get online than anticipated. Watch this space for updates...

Latest update:
(10:49pm PDT): Ok folks! It's been a long weekend, but we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Aside from two remaining issues which we'll deal with tomorrow, the site is feature-complete with what we want to release for v2.0. The site will go live tomorrow [12th July].

Additional official updates on Soulbound Studio's Facebook page and you can join the chat on IRC to keep up to date.
Here's a preview of the new forum front page:

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

CoE Store Delayed

Latest news from the hard working staff over at Soulbound Studios is that, in order to continue their best practice of quality over quantity, they're delaying the release of their web store till the end of the week. Coinciding with the release of that store, will be the new website launch.

See Caeoltoiri's post in this thread for the official version of the above...

Here's a nice image from CoE to liven up this rather sparse blog entry and give us all something to look forward to :)