Hello, itís been a long gap since our last Dev Blog, but here is the new update on progress. We have reached a point where we are seeking funding at various levels for Citadel of Sorcery. We have met with a publisher, got close to a deal, had the European economy tank and take our deal with it (that publisher being European). We have met with a couple other publishers and had good interest in the game. One they did not have the funds available to back such a big project, and the other wanted to see a couple more things developed before taking a second look.
We have met with investors, and are considering their proposals. We also tried a Kickstarter funding option. This was to get a small amount of money (in MMO terms) to just help us add a few people to speed up the path to Alpha be shaving off a few months. Unfortunately this did not fund, mostly due to the fact that this is the first game for MMO Magic, Inc., even though the founders and core staff have made over thirty shipped games for various companies and publishers. We attribute this to the simple fact that we donít have a mailing list of past customers to make aware of the Kickstarter page. Example: of the people who did come to view our page a HIGH percentage of them actually pledged. The issue was we were only getting a few people to the page each day.
There is also a wave of skepticism by some players, who we guess have been burned by false marketing promises in other games, and are therefore hesitant to believe us. They are even more skeptical because we are promising even more than these other failed projects. Now, you would think that after seeing that we have stuck with making this game for about eight years they would realize that we were not going to give up, but they obviously didnít take that into account. Still, who can blame them? Our industry has a bit of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf issue going.
All we can do is keep working on the game until we can prove that we actually do what we say. We had hoped that showing a new engine, working, with NPC controls, real time lighting, voxel to polygon LOD rendering advancements, and many more working elements would get people to understand just how much is behind the making of this game. We didnít license an existing engine (not one of them can make the very things that people are skeptical about in our design), we wrote our own technology from scratch, and showed some the game working within that engine.
We also had to deal with the fact that we are using placeholder NPC characters, which even though we told people are placeholder, they could not understand, and complained that the graphics didnít look good. Sadly they were referring to the placeholder characters. We ran some side by side comparisons in a Blog between our Pre-Alpha environments and Guild Wars 2, just to show that ours look at least as good, and those were received very well. This leads us to conclude that the graphics complaints were about those placeholder character models.
Still, we got a lot of exposure from the KS page, and we started our own crowd funding system on our website at www.citadelofsorcery.com. This give even better In-Game rewards, access to the game, and inside information on the development to those willing to support us BEFORE we get all character art and other elements to Alpha. We invite you to come and join out Patron Team, who get access to information we are holding back from the public, as well as some really cool game rewards.
Please remember that the crowd funding is not critical to the development to Citadel of Sorcery, it just speeds things up slightly. In many ways this was something we did for the fans of the game, a way for them to help get into the game sooner, as well as some rewards for their early support. These funds alone would never be enough to develop an MMO. The team has spent millions of privately invested funds to build this to where we are now, and will be working with investors and a publisher to eventually finish it. CoS is a major Triple A title, and though we are doing it efficiently, with a smaller team, and less cost, there is still a large amount of money needed to build a game of this scope and advancement.
Now, about progress on the game (the good stuff).
We have finally finished a major piece of technological development and added a Point Cloud LOD system into the renderer. This allows us to keep high detail off into great distances. In laymanís terms it works like this: Far off in the distance when you see terrain (including foliage), what you are seeing is made of voxels (point clouds) rather than textured polygons. These are far more efficient and allow us to keep the detail far off rather than having to Ďfog outí the distance. As you approach these elements at some point they skin themselves with polygons. As you approach closer to them they go through more traditional LOD levels until you are close up and seeing them at full polygon/texture detail.
We mix this with our multi-resolution LOD system (already in place) and have the ability to render a lot of detail, at good frame rates, from space down to a blade of grass.
On the tool side, we redesigned the A.I. Net tool and Event tool, as well as redoing our server side code for more efficiency so that we can handle the thousands of NPCs in our world living their simulated lives and free will. This is the Enact Tool Set, 2.0. It upgrades some areas where we were finding we wanted even more control, allowing us to layer in more elements into instructions. Weíre very excited to start working with this upgraded tool set, which has taken four months of work. We got the first version two weeks ago, though it was only a partial working copy, and the full version should be available within the next two weeks.
In Art we are still concentrating on the environment. We will not be getting to the real character models for some time to go yet (they are one of the last things on our list). Our placeholder NPCs work fine for testing and building. In the Environment we have been building a lot of the underground elements, like major locations in the sewer system, including the Black Market and Shadow League.
In other areas we have been constructing systems for building wood forts in forest biomes as well as a new dungeon system (still in progress).
Level Design has been testing the early version of the Enact Tools 2.0, and spent some time working on some early tests of game play elements in NPC conversation systems.
Writing has been working with Articy:Draft and using that powerful tool to create a more readable version of our massive Quests and Missions. They have also been working on writing Expeditions and League Actions. We have decided to split the writing team into Writers and Technical Writers, letting a smaller team of writers work on the original major storylines while Technical Writers take them over and prepare them for the Level Design by detailing out every single encounter within the Story.
Our resolve to bring this game to the players, exactly as promised, remains unchanged. And though some players think we are spouting more marketing hype that they have heard before, and then failed to see, it is important to understand that we donít even have marketing people. At this time, every person who works for MMO Magic, Inc., builds some part of the game. When we tell you what we are planning, thatís exactly what we are building.
I hope to see you in Citadel of Sorcery for an Adventure someday.