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COE: Update #42

[Seer] Coilie a posted Sep 13, 16

Update #42 (Original Link)

A Labor of Love...

Hey All,

Welcome to the Chronicles of Elyria update for the week of September 5th. This was a shortened week due to Labor Day in the US, however, we didn't do an update last weekend for the same reason, so there's still a good amount to cover this week. Actually, while the majority of the team was off last weekend for the holiday, some of us were still working. Either at the office, or in Seattle working the crowd at PAX.

While we didn't have a booth at PAX, we did want to make our presence known here in our backyard. And it was worth it, too! It took our community members less than 5 minutes to spot us coming up the escalators with T-shirts to give away, and man did that feel good! Is it taboo to be working on Labor Day Weekend? Or does that just make it a Labor of Love?

Let's get to the stuff you've been waiting for...

The Online Store Cometh

The first, and most significant part of this update, is the announcement that the online store will finally be opening on Monday, October 3rd, 2016. When the store opens we will, for 28 days (until October 31st), be offering the exact same backing tiers, add-ons, and prices as we were offering for our Kickstarter.

To clear up any confusion people may have, this 28-day period is like an extension of our original Kickstarter, not a repeat. As a result, we won't be offering the 'early bird' tiers again, as those were a limited availability and have all filled up.

We will also not be offering the $5 'Contributor' Tier. That had a small number of backers in the original Kickstarter anyway, and was mostly used by people who misunderstood that you can't use Influence Points purchased as add-ons to the Kickstarter Tiers, to later buy a Kickstarter Tier with Influence Points. That all said, the tiers being offered for the next month will be:

  • Elyrian - $35  
  • Adventurer - $40  
  • Patron - $60  
  • Beastmaster - $75  
  • Founder - $100  
  • Bloodline - $120  
  • Merchant - $150  
  • Ursaphant Rider - $200  
  • Baron/Baroness - $250  
  • Astronomer - $350  
  • Count/Countess - $500  
  • Artisan - $750  
  • Brewmaster - $1,000  
  • Weapon Master - $1,500  
  • Celebrity - $2,000  
  • Artificer - $2,500  
  • Duke/Duchess - $3,500  
  • Chimera or Karate - $5,000  
  • King/Queen - $10,000

IP Store and Purchases

In addition, before the store opens we will have an expanded chart of items which you will later be able to purchase with Influence Points in our IP store. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of issuing refunds with tiers that award Influence Points, we're going to hold off on opening the Influence Point store until after the 28 day extended Kickstarter period has passed.

But don't worry, once the new packages go up on November 1st, the IP store will be available shortly thereafter. And, in addition to the new packages, we'll be posting limited-time items each month. These could be things like specific building patterns, a couple unique breed animals, and patterns for specific limited technology. Grabbing these patterns, animals, etc. while they're available will help seed the world with the schools, organizations, and craftsman who have knowledge of some of the more interesting and advanced recipes.

Server-Specific Tiers

The other slight difference to our original Kickstarter is the addition of server-specific Tiers. Before the launch of the store on October 3rd, we'll be giving a survey to all of the nobility to indicate which server they'll be playing on. Based on that, the Count, Duke, and King tiers will indicate which server they're on, in specific quantities.

For example, it might read 'King (NA-W)'. This indicates that it's a King tier award, on the North America - West server. This is being done as there's a limited number of King, Duke, and Count spots per server. And when they're gone... they're gone. We don't anticipate the Count titles filling up, however it's entirely possible that the Duke and King tiers will be exhausted on specific servers. So grab them while you can.

Stretch Goals

Another question people have been asking is, 'What about the stretch goals?' As promised, funds raised between now and December 31st, 2016 will apply to stretch goals. Beyond that, funds will be used to hire additional staff, spend more time on improving the quality of the code and assets, etc, but no new functionality will be added to the game. This is being done to ensure minimal feature creep, as well as to make sure any new mechanics which do get added have plenty of time to be tested before the game's launch.

Once the store goes live, we will have an indicator on the site showing how much money has been raised, as well as showing which stretch goals have been achieved.

Beyond October

As many people have asked us what the plan is after the month of 'Kickstarter' tiers, I wanted to give you a brief bit of information. In addition to the rotating IP items I mentioned above, we'll be moving to a set of 12 packages people can purchase with real-world currency as well as Influence Points they've earned in the community.

The 12 packages will be broken up into four categorical tiers. These are:

  • Adventurer (1, 2, 3)  
  • Gentry (4, 5, 6)  
  • Aristocrat (7, 8, 9)  
  • Nobility (10, 11, 12)

The first three packages will be under $100 and are mostly for individuals looking to buy in at progressively higher tiers. The second three packages are for families or small groups of friends who want to start with some plots of land so they can begin building their families immediately. The first package in the Gentry Tier will have many of the same things as the old Bloodline Tier from our Kickstarter, including a custom surname. As with the Adventurer tier, each of the three Gentry packages will have increasing value.

The Aristocrat tier is for people looking to start settlements from an early part of the game. The first package of the Aristocrat tier will have many of the same things as the Baron/Baroness Tier from our Kickstarter.

And finally, the three tiers of Nobility will include Count, Duke, and King, and in the case of Count and Duke, will likely be significantly more expensive than they were previously. So if you're considering a Count or Duke title, make sure to get them in October.

Website Version 2.1

The last thing I wanted to touch on with respect to the store and website is that version 2.1 of the website will be launching next week. Among other things, this version sees the return of private messaging, in addition to other useful new tools for admins and moderators. Stay tuned for that next week.

Concept

Over the last couple weeks, the concept team has continued to work with design on the introduction of new animals to the Tundra and Taiga. This week we're showing off the latest primary consumer. This is another plant eater like the Flower-Cup Porcupine, however unlike the Porcupine, this latest creature is primarily a source of fur for clothing, rather than food to eat.

But the fur isn't the only benefit the Dryas Elk provides, there's also the massive antlers. While still spending most of its time out in the open tundra, the Dryas Elk has no fear of the Pteroguin, as it's over-sized rack makes it an unattractive target. Don't be surprised if you see Northerners walking around with pieces of those on their head and body for protection.

Figure 1 - Concept of the Dryas Elk
Figure 1 - Concept of the Dryas Elk

Design

Speaking of Northerners, while I'm not allowed to give away any details yet, I can let it slip that the design team has been working on the different Tribes of Mann (previously called bloodlines). Each Tribe represents a group of Mann that has gathered in a single biome or region and through a process of evolution and adaptation, has acclimated in the best way possible to their surroundings.

While there's nothing official yet, the work we've been doing on the Tribes this past week is pretty exciting. Once we've nailed down the design of the current Tribe we're working on more completely and have got some concept art to share with you, we'll let you in on the first publicly announced Tribe in Chronicles of Elyria.

Production

Ok, moving on to the Production roll call. The last two weeks have continued to be spent primarily in hiring. On the positive side, we've finally cleared our initial list of candidates and we've got some super talented Engineers and Producers lined up for offers. Once we get employment contracts signed and get people here in the office, we'll have the new folks introduce themselves.

In addition to the HR work, I've been working with the team leads on sprint and milestone planning. This is a time-consuming process that involves identifying the user stores for the upcoming milestone, based on feature areas we want to tackle or do some R&D on, and then making a list of all the tasks that need to be done across each discipline, costing them for time, and then prioritizing them in the backlog for the upcoming sprints.

The takeaway from all of this work we've been doing on sprint and milestone planning is that I can't wait to have a Producer in-office who can do this for me. :-)

In preparation for the new Producer I have officially switched the team over to using JIRA for our Sprint and Milestone planning, as well as our bug reporting software. While I'd been testing it previously, I've migrated us over to a production server this weekend and moved all of our issues and spaces into the new server. It feels so good being organized.

Engineering

The Engineering team has moved away temporarily from their production work to do a bit of R&D on the Vulkan API. The Vulkan API is a new rendering and compute API by the Khronos Group, the same group that oversees Collada, as well as OpenGL. Vulkan, original named OpenGL Next, is a next-gen Graphics API that sits on top of modern video card drivers to deliver even better performance than OpenGL and DirectX. In early benchmarks, Vulkan appears to consistently provide about a 20% performance improvement over the other two APIs.

This is extremely important to us, as the vast number of materials and objects we're rendering at any one time leads to performance issues due to a large number of draw calls. While we can institute constraints on the number of objects on screen at one time, and while we can design around some of the performance issues, leveraging Vulkan going forward means we won't necessarily have to, and can continue to provide an interesting, object-rich world for you to look at.

Animation & Character

Finally, the animation and character teams continue to work on the female models, rigging, and animation to get the full set of female models into the game.

In addition, the animation and character teams are in the middle of discussion on rigging and modeling of the unique physical characteristics of the different Tribes of Mann.

And finally, the team continues to work on modeling, rigging, and animating the many new creatures you'll encounter in Chronicles of Elyria.

Conclusion

That's all for this week folks. The store is opening up in just a few more weeks and the team is pushing forward, transitioning from Pre-Production into Production with the development of new workflows, rendering R&D, and finally, the introduction of new creatures and the female into the world.

I know you are sitting there, looking out from the sidelines. You want to either relive the "Glory Days" or make your name know for perhaps the very first time. But, would you want to do it in World of Warcraft?

Everyone has a reason to praise and slam a game, and WOW is no different. When a person shells out money for a game, especially in the $50 range that also requires a monthly sub, one wants to know if it will be worth it. I can tell you that this new expansion for WOW is a fun experience. There is so much to do and the raids for it have yet to be released. Annnnnnd.....just in case you want to know the release schedule, here it is:

World of Warcraft: Legion launched in North America at 12:00 am PDT on August 30. To help you keep track of all of the events that surround the launch, we’ve put together some additional times and dates you’ll want to note down.

Legion Launch in the Americas and Australia/New Zealand:

North America 12:00 am PDT
Latin America 12:00 am PDT/4:00 am BRT
Australia/New Zealand 5:00 pm AEST

 

Legion PvP Season 1

The new PvP season begins September 20, but you'll be able to begin earning Honor right away with the launch of Legion. Learn more about the new PvP Honor and Prestige system here

Dungeons and Raids

Once the expansion is live, you’ll also want to mark your calendar for some additional dates of note:

  • Tuesday, August 30–When Legion is live, dungeons will immediately be available on Normal and Heroic difficulties. Mythic dungeon difficulty will become available at 8am PDT in alignment with the weekly dungeon reset time.
  • Tuesday, September 20–The Emerald Nightmare Raid dungeon opens on Normal and Heroic difficulties. Mythic Keystones will begin dropping which will allow increased challenge and rewards from Mythic dungeons.
  • Tuesday, September 27–Mythic difficulty for the Emerald Nightmare Raid dungeon opens. The first wing of Raid Finder difficulty for Emerald Nightmare opens.
  • Tuesday, October 11–Raid Finder Wing 2 of Emerald Nightmare opens.
  • Tuesday, October 25–Raid Finder Wing 3 of Emerald Nightmare opens.

So, other than raids, what is there to look forward to in Legion?

Since there is always a post out there explaining it all, I (as your iullustrious guild leader) will simply link ithis pre-launch guide here and this one done after it's release here. No need for a wall of text when it's available on another...well, wall.

However, here is a quick breakdown

1. Artifact Weapons: Allowing multiple spects without the multiple gear sets. Just switch your Artifact Weapon!

2. Heirloom Trinkets for those that love 'em. Yes, they are a thing...again.

2. Demon Hunters!

3. Cuddle (Read and see)

4. Collecting marks of honor and PVP

5. New Mounts

6. Gold..it's raining down on our greedy little hearts in Legion

7. No...More...Garrison...Farming

8. Druids...feral druid..they are freaking amazing..I know..I play one RAWR!

We look forward to seeing you in the Broken Isles!

Yup...

It will be World of WarCraft, Legion expansion...which happens to go live tomorrow morning! This means you still have a wee bit of time to buy it as a pre-sale and get those goodies!

So, where are we playing?

Bloody Alliance! On Bloodhoof, by the way. So, if you are interested like the rest of us, shoot me a friend request on Kri#1241 and let's get rolling.

PS: Blame Ruez..he asked for it last night and tomorrow is his birthday..so..guess what? We playing :P

[Priest] Solauria Why the heck not. I'll DL when I get home from California.
[Seer] Coilie a If you are looking for a good in game app guide, checkout Zygor http://zygorguides.com/members/referred?code=194382

As we mentioned several weeks back, the design team and I are currently undergoing design review. This is the period when we take the high-level plans we had before and make sure all questions are answered and that there are enough technical details filled in that the engineering team can safely implement the feature areas.

To give you an idea of what we're looking at, some of the first feature areas we've reviewed (or are reviewing) can be seen here:

  • World / Character Selection
  • Environment
  • Characters & Character Creation
    • Soul Selection
    • Birth Date Selection
    • Family Selection
    • Genetics / bloodlines / Tribes
    • Gender
    • Regional Traits
    • Skills
    • Character customization

When going through the review process, we iterate over each feature area and make a list of questions.

This includes technical and UI question like 'what will the world/character selection screen look like', as well as functional questions such as 'how does your birth date specifically affect your destiny?' Finally, it often includes questions that result in data tables as well as statistical analysis, such as: 'what exactly are the different bloodlines/tribes of the world', and 'what is the average lifespan of an Elyrian for the purpose of character creation?'

You'll notice that Environment is near the top of the list. That corresponds with the recent changes we made to the day/night cycle, as well as the seasons.

Below that you'll see Characters & Character Creation. With the changes to seasons, it naturally made sense to re-evaluate the passing of time in Elyria, such as how many real-life days are in an Elyrian year.

Beyond that, the question of character creation ties in heavily with what a player's experience is like throughout their entire lifetime. This leads from one topic to another in a giant rabbit hole that keeps going deeper and deeper.

That, or a maze that keeps ending at the beginning of another maze. In either case, the labyrinth took us almost 16 hours of discussion over the last two weeks to navigate. But we finally came out the other side - with some design decisions which may surprise you.

But, before we jump into the latest design decisions, let's go through the roll call.

Concept Art

Over the last couple of weeks, Eddie has been polishing up the Kickstarter exclusive wallpaper. We shared a rough draft in a previous update, but here you can find the completed work.

Haven WallpaperFigure 1 - Haven Wallpaper

At some point in the future, we'll be re-adding wallpapers to the media section of the website. At that point, we'll be releasing the Haven Wallpaper to people who explicitly backed us on Kickstarter or through our online store during the first month of it being open (which is now being worked on).

For those that haven't been following the lore, Haven is, according to the Qindred, the capital city and home of our Ancient ancestors from before the Burning. Haven existed - or exists - on a plane separate from our own. To the Qindred, there would be no greater joy than finding their way back to Haven.

Production

Ok. A few things to talk about on Production. First, our new Web Developer, Zac 'ZRO' Rogerson, joined us on Monday. Zac joins us from En Masse Entertainment, where he was a Lead Web and UI Developer on TERA and other projects. This week he jumped right in and took over the web development for the 2.0.9 patch and has since moved on to the 2.1 feature release. Hurray!

Second, over the last two weeks we've put our open positions on LinkedIn, our website, and Gamasutra.com. Since then we've gotten hundreds of applications for our open positions. No joke. We got so many that last week I was forced to set up a new JIRA Project just to track the candidates as they move through the hiring process. That's helped me cull down the list, but even with that, we've still got about 50, very qualified candidates. I'm really enjoying reading through the resumes and looking forward to having a fully built team. And let me say, we've got some real talent applying. If you haven't received an email me from me yet, and you submitted a resume via one of those channels in the last week or so, you should be receiving an email this week.

Finally, per our update last week, yesterday the 'Early Access' forum was made available on our forums. It's in a new forum category named 'Exclusive Access'. Within it, we've posted our introduction, NDA, and the link to our first exclusive video for people with Alpha 1 access. So far the feedback on the little video has been very positive. In the future, we'll record a similar video for everyone else. One that's a bit more polished and shows more of New Haven and Silver Run.

Character Art

Two weeks ago in the Update titled 'Plenty of eye candy...' we shared videos of some of the work happening on armor customization. This week, we wanted to share some video on clothing customization. In the following video, taken in ZBrush, you can see the character swapping in/out different shirt and sleeve combinations.

Figure 2 - Video showcasing different shirt configurations (See OP for video)

Any tailor with sufficient skill can make any component of the shirt and either craft it whole, or add it to an existing shirt to change its appearance. I can't wait to show you all what this system can do with different materials. But, that'll have to wait for another week.

The other thing the Character Artists has been working on is the female. Per an earlier update, we try not to work on something until it's necessary to solve the next set of problems. With us diving heavily into families and character creation, it's time for us to address the female.

This week, one of our artists has been working on the sets of models necessary to add the female to the world. The way our character system works is by taking different meshes associated with body fat and lean muscle and blending them together.

In the second A-pose in the image below you can see what the female looks like with 0% body fat and 0% muscle. In the third A-pose, you can see what the female looks like with 100% lean muscle and %0 body fat. In the fourth and final A-pose, you can see the female with 0% lean muscle and 100% body fat.

In reality, characters will very rarely be 0% or 100% of either, and will instead be a combination of the two. The female in the first A-pose is an example of one with both fat and lean muscle.

Female render modelsFigure 3 - Different female models used in body dynamics

As an aside, these were based on extensive online research. But whatever you do, don't look at the recent search history of our character artist. It's... misleading.

Design

Well, with all of that aside, it's finally time to see how deep the rabbit hole really goes. And it goes really deep. If you get started and decide it's getting too dark, too damp, or too smelly, just jump to the conclusion at the bottom for the... conclusions.

A few weeks back we made it known that the day/night cycle was shifting and that to slow down the game a bit and make decisions and experiences more meaningful, we changed seasons from one day to an average of four days per season. This naturally raised the question, 'If seasons are changing, does it make sense to adjust the passage of time in Elyria as well?' Previously, we had one Elyrian Year equal to four real-life days. But is that the ideal number?

While there's nothing inherently wrong with four real-life days being equal to 1 Elyrian Year, it does create some secondary problems. One of the main ones is the fact that when your character dies, possibly at over 100 years old, you've already got children, grandchildren, and perhaps even great-grandchildren. This exacerbated the need to give players a consistent amount of play time with each lifetime.

Based on the older model we had, if you were to live to 100 years old and then take over as your child (which you had at 15) they'd already be in their 80's, and your grand-children would be in their 60's. Since we'd said that an Elyrian lives an average of 92 years, having your character start in their 80's or even 60's would make for a really short lifespan. Meanwhile, starting as your great grandchild creates a huge gap between your current character and your next character, concerning lineage. What if your NPC parents and grandparents are power hungry and want the title for themselves?!

To mitigate this, the most recent changes we'd made was to pull your heir out of the timeline and put them in some kind of stasis so that after your death you could re-enter the world as your 15-year-old child-heir.

But now you're a 90-year-old with a 15-year-old invisible child. Furthermore, once you assume the role of your child you've got siblings that are like five times your age. While it's a fair solution, it feels awkward and unnatural. What we'd really like is a solution that lets you move more strategically from one generation to another.

So, faced with the question of whether we want to stay with 4-day years, or move to something else, we realized this gives us the opportunity, by lengthening the timeline a bit, to come up with a better solution. However, as you'll soon see, messing with the length of an Elyrian year is a complicated effort, with multiple things to consider.

So what did we do? We went back to the drawing board. Literally. We made a list of a few core rules which we weren't willing to break, and then we set to work once again, describing the perfect play experience for aging, families, etc. Here were the core rules:

  1. Players must get 10-14 months of play time (with no deaths) per lifetime.
  2. Any solution we go with must allow me to keep playing my same soul in each lifetime.
  3. Having children must have constraints.

After we'd defined those we came up with the following list of statements representing our 'ideal play experience.'

  • I get to live my max age and die younger if I want
  • I get to pick which child is my heir
  • I get to raise my children and see them grow and develop
  • I get to use or share my children with my friends as I see fit. (Ok. I know how that sounds.)
  • I can have multiple heirs.
  • I get to set the visual appearance of my children which are NPCs at the time of 'conception'.
  • Children set aside for friends are customized by my friends.
  • Once I marry off my children, they are no longer mine to control. (Yep. Also sounds bad.)

Each of those are statements based on what we felt was the richest, most rewarding player experience. Note that these weren't listed in any particular order. But now that we've got them, let's keep them in mind while we dig into the question of whether or not we want to change the length of an Elyrian year.

An Elyrian Year

To help us decide whether or not we wanted to change from 4 days per Elyrian year to something else, we began by making a list of a couple of good, logical options, and then evaluating what it did to the maximum lifespans. In particular, we looked at multiples of 4, since that's now the average length of a season, as well as multiples of 7, as that's the duration of a week. In the end, and for the purpose of this update, we settled on the number 7. Seven real-life days per Elyrian Year.

The decision wasn't an easy one to make. For the rest of the update I'm going to try and follow a format of listing the pros and cons for a decision, and then digging deeper into them. With each decision and pro/con, which may or may not be a bulleted list, we'll go further and further down the rabbit hole.

To get us started off, here's the list of pros and cons we considered when deciding to change the length of an Elyrian year to seven real-world days.

Pros:

  • Fewer cumulative years pass during a lifetime which leads to fewer generations and a more natural transition between lives.
  • 7 day years aligns nicely with the new day/night cycle, which resets weekly to allow for a consistent schedule of events.
  • It makes counting off years easier, as each Elyrian year ticks by at the start of a new calendar week.

Cons:

  • Longer years means it takes longer for children to come of age.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons in more depth, starting with the con.

Longer years and coming of age

If you look back at the list of ideal scenarios, you'll see: 'I get to raise my children and see them grow and develop.' One of the main reasons for having children in CoE is to become attached to them, to create a future you can look forward to, and to watch them grow and develop, teaching them the skills you want to use in the next life. These are crucial as they make the loss of your current character seem less like a punishment and more like a natural transition. You mourn the loss of your current character as you eagerly move into the child you've nurtured for so long.

But it's virtually impossible to become attached to invisible children who just pop into the world at age 15. It's even more challenging, if not impossible, to get attached to children who pop into existence at age 15 if that means their birth date pre-dated your interest or capability to have children.

So when deciding what our ideal scenario was, we decided to back up our previous design choice and bring children back into the game. That is, they're no longer invisible stasis children, but NPCs in the world. Beginning as babies in a crib, you'll have the opportunity to see them grow and develop as NPCs for the first 15 years of their life. But that means they don't exist until you conceive them.

Here's the problem. If we can't take over as our child until they're 15 years old, then with seven days per year, those 15 years take 15 weeks! That's over three months! The chances of you having a child which is not yet old enough to inherit are relatively high if you wait until your 30's to have children.

As an example, let's say you have the financial stability and a place to raise your children by the time your character is 35 years old. Your child won't be old enough to be your heir and inherit your title until he/she is 15. By that time, you're 50 years old. That means you've already been playing 35 weeks. That's roughly eight months. Given the Death Penalty mechanic, if you play a more adventurous character, frequently die, etc., it's entirely possible your character will die before your child is old enough to replace you.

How do we solve such a problem? Let's go further down the rabbit hole.

Non-Traditional Characters (NTCs)

The answer to the child not-yet-ready for inheritance lies in Non-Traditional Characters. For those new to this concept, NTCs are NPCs which have been 'inhabited' by a player. Put differently, imagine there's a 35-year-old NPC in the world. He has an established career, and he's got a family, land, some wealth, etc. Now imagine someone goes to the character creation screen and instead of selecting a family to join, they choose an NPC to inhabit. They become that 35-year-old NPC. That's an NTC.

After becoming that NPC, they get the NPC's land, wealth, family, etc. But in exchange, they lose any and all customization - including the character's name and appearance. This could be undesirable in many cases. But when the NPC you're planning to inhabit is one of your children or a nearby relative, it's no longer an issue.

NTCs are something we've had from the very beginning, but we limited them to something you could do in Exposition due to several problems we'll discuss in more depth below. The question is, how did we land on NTCs as a solution?

We went back and forth, talking about regents and who would be the best character to take over your title and estate in the event your child was too young to assume the role. We considered allowing you to extend the life of your character at a cost against your child's maximum lifespan. We even considered creating some random NPC you could control as a temporary regent. But in all cases, nothing truly made sense and fit in with the rest of the world. That is until we thought back to our own world.

On Earth, what happens if the Prince is too young to be the king? Someone else in the family takes over until the child is ready. That's a valid solution in our world, but in CoE, the temporary nature of the regent causes problems with internal consistency. It also violates our rule above, requiring any solution allow us to keep playing our soul from one lifetime to another.

But... if we make it permanent, that is, if we make it so the other, older character becomes the new heir rather than the child, it works perfectly. Logically it makes sense as well. Let's say there's a line of succession. If the first in the line is too young, then naturally the second in line would succeed.

What this means is, there is a set of NPCs - your children, nephews, siblings, etc., all of varying ages, all of which who are possible heirs. At any given time you can appoint one of them who is over 15 years old to be your heir.

If you die, you can choose to take over as your heir, regardless of their age.

Let's list the pros and cons, and then yes, we'll go further down the rabbit hole.

Pros:

  • You most likely always have someone you can move your soul to
  • It builds a tighter bond between players in the same dynasty, as relatives can be reserved for backup heirs
  • No need for stasis heirs. Children can remain and grow in the world

Cons/Challenges:

  • Ensuring maximum lifespan
  • Ever-increasing lifespan
  • Need to be able to discover NTC choices within your dynasty
  • Need some way to control how you can join your family
  • NPC marriages
  • More options means people can stay in influential roles longer

Ensuring maximum lifespan

The first, and perhaps oldest real design challenge we've faced in the development of CoE is ensuring a maximum lifespan when you move on to an heir who is over 15 years old.

The thing is, we were focused too heavily on the highest lifespan of an Elyrian, rather than ensuring maximum playtime. This subtle shift in mentality enables us to go back to having heirs in a way that makes sense.

Instead of saying Elyrians always live 75 - 105 years, we simply say players always get between 40 and 60 weeks (Elyrian years) of play time. This means that no matter when you take over a character, you're guaranteed to get the same amount of play time as someone else, barring any deaths.

So as an example, you create a character that begins at age 15 and lives for the average 52 years (now that we have 52 rather than 90 years in one real-world year). At death, your character is 67 Elyrian Years old, but you have a child which you had when you were 25.

At the time of your character's death, your child is 42. Under the older model, you wouldn't want to take over as your 42-year-old child because you'd be losing 27 years of game time (42 - 15). But in the new model, this isn't a problem. Not only have you watched your child grow from a baby to a strong, powerful 42-year-old, but you're guaranteed that deaths aside, you'll get to play them for the full length of their life. In this case, your child lives the average 52 years as well and passes away at 94. But this too creates problems. Time to dig deeper.

Ever-increasing lifespan

This system works really great. However, it does create one problem. What happens when your 94-year-old has a child at 15? He's now 79. Since we guarantee you'll get a full lifetime, it would mean your next character would live to an average of 131. This process continues. With each life, your maximum age grows without bounds. How do we solve this?

We simply put a cap on the maximum age in which characters can be inhabited as an NTC. Right now we're looking at a cap of 52. This coincidentally allows you to, at most, double the life of a character, it carries over exactly one real-life year, and it represents roughly the previous maximum age we had of 105 Elyrian Years (2 * 52 = 104). How fortuitous. We've changed the Elyrian Year from 4 days to 7, reduced the generational gap, and preserved the maximum lifespan of an Elyrian in the process. Damn that feels good.

So now we've firmly established NTCs as a viable alternative to a traditional heir. If your heir is old enough, great. If not, you simply make some other NPC in your family that is old enough the heir, then take over them instead. But this creates yet another problem. Down we go again...

Need to be able to discover NTC choices within your dynasty

Once we've established that you can pass on inheritance and land to anyone in your family, it raises the question of how. It also raises the question of how you discover which family members are viable candidates to be your heir. This requires the introduction of some new views during character creation, as well as changes to the dynasty view.

First, we're going to be adding new NTC options to character creation. In addition to picking a family based on a set of filter criteria through your personal story, you'll now have the option to filter and select an NPC to become.

Also, we'll be adding a new view to family selection which allows you to see every dynasty you've previously been a part of. From there, you can choose to put your soul in any inhabitable NPC within one of your previous dynasties - unless you willingly or forcibly were disowned.

Aside from changes to character creation, we're also going to be making changes to the dynasty view. In this view, you'll be able to see all NPCs who are of age to become your heir, and who are unlocked for player characters.

But what do I mean by 'unlocked for player characters?' Yep. Further down the rabbit hole we go.

Controlling who can be in your family

In any dynasty, you're going to have parents, grandparents, siblings, and children, as well as aunts/uncles, cousins, great uncles/aunts, etc.

At any point in time, those roles are going to be filled by either players or NPCs. If they're held by players, there're no problems. But if they're NPCs, it raises questions about who can become those NPCs as Non-Traditional Characters (NTCs).

To make that easier, we've created a set of ground rules, as well as adding the ability to 'lock' the NPCs within your family. The basic rules look like this:

If you join a family, and it has only NPC parents, the parents automatically become locked. This prevents you from having other players come in as your parents after-the-fact and make your life difficult. That said, if you examine your family/dynasty screens you'll see NPC codes for each of your NPC parents. This gives you the ability to become your own parent, or invite friends to become your parents.

In addition, so long as you don't have any PC parents, you can see the NPC codes for all NPC siblings. Furthermore, you can see the NPC codes for any nieces/nephews you have that do not have any PC parents. It's important to note here, you don't have the capability to lock your siblings, nieces, nephews or cousins, but you can see their NPC codes. This prevents you from preventing NTCs from joining your family, but it does give you the ability to invite those people into your family who you want to be there.

Finally, you can lock any children or grandchildren you have that are not children of another player. This gives you the ability to always create a chain of inheritance. It's important to note also that if you lock one of your children, their entire lineage becomes locked. The same is true for all your descendants. Once you lock them, all of their descendants automatically lock.

Ok. That really needs a diagram. Truth be told, it sounds far more complicated than it is. Early attempts at a UI in some prototyping tools has shown that it's very easy to communicate which family members are locked and which aren't, as well as making the view responsive to toggling NPCs locked and unlocked.

For the time being, just take our word for it. It's a new system that guarantees you mostlydon't have unwanted people in your family, while giving you the option to spread out and grow a larger dynasty.

Phew. Ok. So we've got NTCs back, you've got a maximum amount of play time, and you can make any NTC in your dynasty your heir. We're good right? Wrong. What happens if all the NPCs in your dynasty get married?

NPC Marriages

One of the bigger problems we faced the last time we explored NTCs after launch was NPC marriage. We'd made it pretty clear that Marriage in Chronicles of Elyria was meant to be between a player and a player. No marrying NPCs.

Well, it's time for us to become more progressive (though we're still not encouraging waifus). Most of the stuff we've talked about above is about opening up your options to becoming another member of your family. But as those family members are NPCs, it's entirely likely they're going to marry and possibly even have children. That's a good thing! But if we disallow marrying NPCs, then we have to limit becoming an NTC to only NPCs that haven't married. That's not a great plan if your goal in picking the new heir is to establish your lineage. Ideally, your heir already has an heir.

In any event, rather than fight the establishment, we're giving in. So going forward, it will be possible to marry NPCs. It'll use the same fame/reputation system that's already in place, combined with some new mechanics, such as giving/receiving gifts, etc. It'll take time, but you can eventually convince that serving girl/guy you've had your eye on to be your lawfully wedded child-code generator. And before you ask, if you do happen to become an NTC that’s already married, don’t worry, you can lock your spouse like you lock your children, ensuring that NPC never gets replaced by another player you didn’t plan for.

With all that said, we also want marriage between players to continue to mean something. As a result, we're looking into ways to augment and add value to the relationship between two characters that have souls. One thing we've got talked about is a new mechanic we're calling Soul Binding. Players can go a step further than marriage, binding their souls to one another. Such a ceremony would be permanent, and the longer two people who are soul bound remain near one another, the tighter the bond.

This bond between them could have lasting effects, such as gradually making it so spirit loss is shared between them. Not only does this mean those adventurous types would do well to have a loving wife at home to live for, but it means real-life spouses would more likely end up with characters that pass away at the same time.

Ok... the light is showing at the end of the tunnel. But there's one more thing we have to cover before bringing this massive update to a close.

More choices means people can stay in influential roles longer

Let's say you're the King and you're killed, but you made your younger brother, a Duke, the heir to the kingdom. He's an NPC which you have the NPC code for. A few weeks go by and someone kills him as well, but before that happens, your nephew (the son of your previous character) reaches the age of maturity and so is now old enough to take over the Kingdom. So you've made him your heir, and now you take over as your nephew.

See the problem? With the ability to jump between NPCs in your family as an NTC, your staying power within a dynasty is significantly higher. That's a good thing - if you're an active contributing player. If you're not, it can leave a lazy, non-involved ruler in the family too long. So how did we solve this problem? Story Points!

It has always been our plan that Story Points were used to improve your lot in life. Work hard in your previous life, and like karma, you'll be rewarded in the next. This gives us a perfect opportunity to put Story Points in play.

Let's say you're a Count. You play actively, are good to your people, but are still assassinated for one reason or another four months after creating your character. Fortunately for you, you've racked up enough Story Points that you can play a character who is heir to a County - including your own heir. So you do.

But on the other hand, let's say you're inactive, you don't play much, or you just sit in your keep all day, drinking wine and eating mutton. When you're assassinated, you'd want to use your Story Points to take over your heir... but you can't. You lack sufficient Story Points to do so, and best you can do is take a demotion, keeping your role as Mayor or Baron, creating a power vacuum for your Count title, and making room for others.

To confirm what I'm saying, all heirs, under the new model, as well as NTCs, will require Story Points to continue playing, even if it’s zero. However, the amount of Story Points required to keep playing your heir will be easily achieved over about three months of play - the length of time for your spawn to grow up if you're actively playing. In general, this won't have an impact on most people. But it does mean that those in positions of power must be playing, or they risk losing their titles.

Conclusion

Ok. If you made it this far you're either a masochist, or took the TL; DR route. In either case, there was so much covered in this update that it's important to quickly recap. So here's the bulleted list of changes that accompany this update.

  • One Elyrian Year is now seven days instead of four
  • Children are now present in the world from birth to death, living as NPCs until either you, a friend or a stranger you've given permission, chooses to take control of them.
  • A new screen is being added to character creation to allow you to select an NTC instead of a Ward or a Family
  • A new screen is being added to character creation to allow you to select a member of your dynasty as your next character
  • The family/dynasty view is being updated to allow you to lock children and grandchildren, as well as see the NPC code of any NPCs in your family which have not been locked by other family members
  • NPC marriage is being added to the game, along with mechanics to woo your chosen
  • If you take over a married NTC, you can lock their spouse, preventing them from being similarly taken over by a player
  • New mechanics are being added to player-to-player marriage to make them more valuable than player-NPC marriage
  • All characters you create will require some amount of story points, even if that's zero. The more famous/powerful the character you want to create/take control of, the more Story Points they'll require

That's all folks. Until next time...

So...

Had a very busy week last week and spent much of this week just...recovering! Which means I missed the notice of renewal for the site.

That's ok, it's taken cared of :P

Meanwhile, I've run across a Twitch user via a long time friend of mine. He's pretty fun to watch and really engages with his watchers. He is a variety game streamer and is willing to dance in fun and entertaining outfits! You can find him on his Twitch Here. He also has a Discord channel and is happy to share the info during his live streams.

Recently he's been promoting a game that just released live today called Super Fight. It's very fun and entertaining and i highly reocmmend you look it up on Steam as well! #TRITEMADEIT

Welps, that is it for now!

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