Chat Log – Concerns, Part 2

We all have concerns about the game. We are all human after all. At the beginning of last week the developers took the opportunity to take the time to address as many of the concerns that were being posted on the forums as they could. This lead to two and a half hours worth of Live Chat between Jeromy ‘Caspian’ Walsh and community member BicycleWalrus on his channel DM21 Gaming.

Carrying on from Part 1 posted yesterday this chat log is all about bringing you my Top 3 Topics from the second part of the live chat as before the video can be found here, and the transcript made by community members Xilana and Maygus can be found here. Lets get started!

1. Development Philosophy

I think a lot of the concerns about Chronicles of Elyria have been that it sounds too good to be true. They are advertising a lot of features, they have not had a lot of experience working together as a studio, and it is all things that seem pretty innovative. Is it just too much for them?

I don’t know if you’re a fan the princess bride, but there’s a saying “never say never because no-one ever has” and that’s kind of the same thing we’re doing.

I think this sums up a lot about how Soulbound Studios approach their work. They are right, if they do not at least try how are they ever going to know if it is possible. It might be that they actually produce everything they have hinted at and more beside. They are not idiots though! They know there is a chance that it doesn’t all come together. There are a lot of reasons things might not run smooth. The main reason being cash, if they are not backed to the levels they may hope then there is going to be a shortfall. They are prepared for that, so it is best we are too. If they get the backing hopefully they can make it all:

If not then we’ll have to cut features in order to guarantee it comes out at the same time. Again I’ve said before if we have to cut features, we’ll add them later once we’ve got a revenue stream. The most important thing is we want to favor quality as the most important thing. We won’t ship the game before it’s fun and playable, not bug free there’s always going to be bugs, we won’t ship it before it’s a really good experience.

It is brave to be so open about failure, but it also reassuring. Game companies that promise it all, no matter what, have left us all a little wary. It is nice to see someone saying there are things that we could cut to make it work. What would they cut? Well they actually gave some idea of things that could go without causing too much impact, and that is numerous talents. We know from Part 1 that having a talent is going to be very rare so you can cut down on the number of different talents out there without negatively impacting most players. The other thing they could cut would have more of an effect and that skills. Currently they plan a lot, but it could be that they deliever a more core set to begin with and other more niche skills added over time. They were clear that contracts and cartography are not getting cut no matter what as those are base concepts for them.

2. Inverse Kinematics

I will be honest I think this one might have been a slip! I think it is one of those terms they use in the office a lot but don’t mean to say out loud to us mere mortals.

So we’re doing some stuff with Inverse Kinematics, that has never been done before with a combat system and we’re doing some things with the way we handle user input that I think is going to be unique.

What? What does that mean? Well Caspian realised he had let the cat out of the bag and had to give us an explanation before we all ran to google, though lets be honest if you watched the video you were on google before BicycleWalrus even got a chance to prompt for an explanation!

Inverse Kinematics means … instead of animating the chest out you would start with the tip of the blade and then make the rest of the arm follow. So where the sword goes your arm goes.

Basically, animation that works the opposite way around from most games that work from the body out to the end of the sword. Normally the annicmations all have to be modelled, stored in the game, they have to be pre-made. It looks like inverse kinematics does not have that same limitation, so we could see a lot more movement in the game. Or we could see a lot of strange physics doing all sorts of crazy things if it doesn’t work as planned. Either way I can’t wait to get in and test it.

3. Always Online

We know MMOs are always online in the sense that if you want to play you have to be online. What is unusual though is a game that has no down time, a game that is always there whenever we want to play. Maintenance slots and patch days have become the norm and are expected. Not here:

I’ve learned several good techniques [from working at Microsoft] to allow us to update the game real-time without requiring us to take down the servers and that sort of thing. Because we cannot, well I mean we could certainly many games do, but in a game that’s story driven like ours, having to take the server down once a week means whatever story was happening at that time is immediately severed, because there is no-way the game is going to come back up in exactly the same it was with the same events unfolding. So to the best of our efforts will be a live no shutdown service system. It will all be patched in production.

This is one of those bits of information that I am not sure how to take. I am a layman. I do not understand computers. I had to buy a new processor because I took my old one out, not knowing what it was, and then couldn’t get it back in. I am that sort of person so read the following with that in mind. In many other games I have played, resets helped. They helped lag, they helped bugs, they got things running the way they were supposed to be running. Of course it would have been ideal if the game hadn’t needed such things but it was a crude and easy, off and on again fix. Sometimes crude and easy can be cheap and effective. I worry with out that ‘easy’ option things are going to be a lot more difficulty for Chronicles of Elyria to address in a timely way, even if the fix is only temporary like with a restart.

Those are my Top 3 Topics from Part 2 of the Live Chat. I think all in all it alleviated more fears than it caused new ones, however there are certainly some topics that still have me raising an eyebrow. I think a lot of those are now in the category of not going to be able to be fixed by words alone. Sometimes you just need to look the beast square in the eye and really see how it feels when you are there. Fingers crossed that we get to experience at least some of the game soon!

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