Today, we'd like to talk to you about one of our more recently-implemented classes in Project Eternity: the paladin. The paladin has been a staple of fantasy RPGs for decades and it was one of our most quickly-funded stretch goals during the Kickstarter campaign. As one of several melee-oriented classes on our roster, paladins presented some unique challenges for us and we'd like to share their development process with you.
Paladins have a strong tradition in FRPGs. While the class represents different things to different players, it often conjures images of legendary European figures like the Twelve Peers of Charlemagne, El Cid, and the Knights of the Round Table. Players who like playing paladins often think of them as devoted, principled, brave, and unrelenting. They stand out because of their single-mindedness and unwavering dedication to their cause.
In Project Eternity, we wanted paladins to maintain their sense of selfless passion and zeal without being bound to concepts like "alignment" or a universal moral code. We also wanted their mechanics to be distinctive from the other classes while reinforcing their role in the world. Area designer Bobby Null has always liked the marshal class from D&D 3.5, which is conceptually similar to the warlord in 4E: combat leaders who are at their best when they are augmenting their teammates. This is the approach that I took when developing Project Eternity's paladins. They have persistent modal auras, strong single-target healing and buff abilities (contrasting the broad AoE effects of clerics), and can passively grant bonuses to teammates in close proximity.
In the game's lore, paladins are zealous champions of a cause that may be religious, philosophical, or cultural in nature. The "foundational" paladins in this part of the world were the legendary elite guards of Darcozzi Palace in the Grand Empire of Vailia (now Old Vailia). They set standards for selfless dedication, unwavering loyalty, and inspiring leadership that have become the pillars for similar orders that have sprung up in the two millennia since they were founded. Even among orders where the chosen cause is perceived as bleak or malevolent, paladins always place the cause ahead of their own personal interests.
In Defiance Bay, recent experiments performed by animancers and ciphers suggest that paladins' souls are continuously "burning" wellsprings of spiritual energy that are overflowing their physical vessels due to the paladins' fanaticism. When ciphers have tried to directly perceive paladins' souls, they have described the experience as uncomfortable or painful, not unlike gazing at the sun.
All paladins currently begin with the following abilities:
Reviving Exhortation (Active) - Paladins can command an unconscious ally to awaken and get back up with an immediate spike in Stamina, though the target will lose half of the regained Stamina after a short duration.
Zealous Barrage (Modal) - The paladin and all allies standing within 3m have their attack and ability speed increased. Cannot be used with Zealous March (below).
Faith and Conviction - Paladins have an inherent bonus to all defenses (Deflection, Fortitude, Reflexes, and Psyche).
As they advance, they gain additional abilities in the same spirit, such as:
Coordinated Attacks - The ally closest to the paladin attacking the same target as the paladin has a bonus to Accuracy.
Shake It Off (Active) - The paladin can command an ally to temporarily ignore existing Hostile effects for a short duration. The effects are suspended; they do not lose any of their duration and will resume as soon as Shake It Off expires.
Inspiring Triumph - Allies within 4m gain a temporary bonus to all defenses when the paladin downs an enemy.
Zealous March (Modal) - The paladin and all allies within 3m have their movement speed increased. Cannot be used with Zealous Barrage.
In playtesting so far, our test paladin has been very useful in combat, with the melee group often centering around her to gain the benefits of her Zealous auras and Coordinated Attacks. While several other classes have Stamina healing abilities, the paladin's Reviving Exhortation can turn the tide if party members start dropping late in a battle. However, using it too early can spell disaster for the revived character if the granted Stamina boost runs out in a long fight.
Optional Talents for the paladin will focus on shaping the passive or active bias of the character: widening the effects of Zealous auras; granting additional uses or increased potency for targeted commands; or giving paladins more direct offensive and defensive capabilities if players want to boost their paladins' personal viability.
Wild Orlans - What Do They Look Like?
Though we've previously shown one concept of a hearth orlan (the "orlan detective"), many people have asked and speculated about what the other orlans, the so-called wild orlans, look like. Wild orlans have the same general range of stature and build as hearth orlans, but are almost entirely covered with hair.
Though they can be found on a few continents, wild orlans in this part of the world are typically found in the deepest forests of Eír Glanfath. In recent centuries, the biases of surrounding colonial cultures have driven them even farther from new settlements. Considered savage and uncontrollable by many Dyrwoodans, Vailians, and Readcerans, wild orlans often find interactions with outsiders strained if not outright violent. Many colonists pre-judge all orlans as untrustworthy and bloodthirsty, but within that vein of racism, they often classify wild orlans as "the bad ones". Given the difficulty of concealing their hirsute bodies and faces, prejudice follows them in most colonial areas.
We'll continue to develop the paladin more over the next few months, but we'd like to hear what you think of the concepts and mechanics we've come up with so far. Similarly, we hope you like the less- and more-"beastly" branches of the orlan race. We developed the different appearances based on widely conflicting player (and developer) desires for the race to be both more and less wild. What do you think of the direction we're taking? Thanks for reading!
Update by Adam Brennecke, Executive Producer and Lead Programmer
This month we are knee-deep in the Vertical Slice phase and this will be the team's focus for the month of June. It's our way of proving that we are ready to jump forward into production and start making shippable content.
The Vertical Slice is just that, a cross section (think of it as a slice of bread cut out from the middle of a loaf) of the world of Project Eternity. At the end of this phase the game will be feature complete, and the content building portion of the team, including area designers, environment artists, and character artists can make shippable content now. Our Vertical Slice is eleven maps large; encompassing our village and dungeon from Prototype 2, and the dungeon and wilderness area from Prototype 1 (we call this area "The Valley of Hector" internally). The content from the prototypes are refactored to fit within the context of the world and overall story of the game. Feature-wise, we are targeting to have the majority of the world building tools complete and all of the character classes playable up to level five.
A Vertical Slice dungeon concept by Polina. Her paint-over will be used as reference for the polish pass.
Here are our current tasks that we are working on right now:
Modeling Hide Armor for Male and Females - Hide armor has been challenging to model and texture with skin tinting because there's a lot of skin shown.
Creating Orlan Heads - This includes modeling differences for the Wild and Hearth ethnicities.
Polishing Prototype 2 Areas to "Beta" - Extra shine is put into the areas to make them feel more alive and varied.
Creating the Vertical Slice Area Design Document - The designers are adding more content to the world and fleshing out the village with additional quests.
Designing and Coding the Class Abilities for the Cipher and Chanter - The Cipher and his "focus" powered spells are working, and now Tim Cain is working out the Chanter phrase system.
Coding up the Save/Load and the Persistence System - This entails saving and loading games, and making sure the current map state is preserved across area transitions.
Wrapping up the Area Designer Toolbox - Doors, encounters, traps, triggers, loot, NPCs, and creatures can all be placed and manipulated through script.
Spells and Ability Audit
This morning Josh emailed me a list of working class abilities and spells. I'm excited to say that we have 54 abilities and 51 functioning spells as of today! Most of the spells are at the alpha stage, meaning another pass will be done at a later date to add visual effects and sound effects.
UI Version #2
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on our UI mockups that Rob posted last week in Update #54. We loved everyone's proposed mockups and your discussions sparked some great ideas for the next iteration on the interface. We've already mocked up a new version that takes up less vertical space and is more compact overall. Once we feel it's ready to be critiqued, we will post it in a future update for more discussion.
That's it for this week. We'll be back in two weeks - we're off to E3 next week (and if you're a fan of South Park, keep an eye out for coverage on our Stick of Truth RPG)!
Above is a UI mockup that Kaz has put over the original Kickstarter image. What do you think?
I know what you are thinking. What the hell have the artists been doing?? The art in this game should be half done by now! Right?
That's what I want to know! Why isn't the game half-done already?
Well, as I've said before we're "professionals." We proceed in a highly-complex collaboration/iteration loop of blending design wants and dos, programming cans, think-they-cans and dos and artist wants, cans, can-but-don't-know-how-longs and dos. As you can see - and please don't get angry - this is all very technical. Know that: work is progressing.
Yeeeargh! Enough with your silly stupid words, Rob!! What the hell does that mean??
Uhh... not sure, but I'll tell you what I think it means:
You've read about Prototype 1 and then Prototype 2. Those were efforts to implement features that represent the functional and playable standard of our goal: an Infinity Engine style of game. Those efforts were focused collaborations of designing, programming and art-ing things, trying them out, addressing problems as they came up (visual, functional or otherwise failing to live up to our standard) and repeating. The art goals were held to an 80-90% complete (aka: unpolished). The remaining 10-20% of work will be left toward the end of the "next phase," as always there will be edits and modifications after initial implementation of art. The basic truth of this interactive artistic endeavor that we are involved in is that you can't know it's a worthwhile experience, until you make it, people play it, and then provide feedback. We adjust our work to that feedback - a feedback loop. Boom! Consider yourself educated.
The "next phase" is a Vertical Slice. This is a goal in which we focus on one part of the game within a shell of what is essentially the fully-featured game - relying on the things developed in the prototypes, as well as implementing a fully-functional UI, attempting to finalize all art and gameplay to a more polished standard, and accommodate design changes that are required to make the player experience more complete - as if this part were a finalized, short game in itself.
Hector - Wilderness Areas
Our Lead Environment Artist has been developing a couple of our larger external landscapes. He's doing this on the basis of a designer's block-out: a crude-but-playable space. This includes the sculpting of terrain geometry in ZBrush, application of grass and dirt via mesh painting and masking in Maya, placement of objects such as structures, trees, and rocks, etc., lighting and rendering the scene, which generates our super-cool depth info. He imports all those results into the game, and then Design says: "Hey, something has come up and we need a temple in the village." So, Hector moves and massages the scene around to accommodate the change and steps through the process again. In the prototype, iteration of the village, a temple wasn't required. For the Vertical Slice, having a place where one can get quests and learn some spiritual-magicky stuff, is an important feature to include. So, we find a way to happily put it in.
Sean - Dungeon/Crypt and village interiors
Our other Environment Artist has been working on interiors of village structures and dungeons! He uses ZBrush less for his environments as a whole, and more as a means of creating smaller natural-looking rocky things and dungeon walls. Beyond that the techniques for implementing his work are the same. The feedback and iteration with design usually yields similar tweaks and modifications. Changes like: "Uhh...we can't have a door here, anymore. Can we make it a pile of collapsed rocks, instead?" Of course the answer is "Yes!"
The answer has to be "yes," because the game is worthless if the gameplay isn't worthwhile. It could be that an important critical path encounter needs to occur, maybe because the story evolved or it’s just too good an experience to allow an alternate route to exist. Ultimately, we trust our designers to wrestle with these issues and come to us with changes that matter. So if they come to us with a change, and the adjustment is reasonable and the time exists to make it, we will do it.
Mark - Principle Animation of All Things with Arms and Legs
Our Lead Animator has been handling much of the animation requirements for the playable races. This process is also an iterative one. Design has ideas about how they want playable characters to interact with the world and enemies, and Mark then creates a set of individual animations that then blend into each other as needed, in Unity. In addition, he has created essential animations for the Skuldr and the Ogre. Essential animations are typically basic locomotion (including: walk, run and at least one idle) attacks (melee and ranged, if applicable) getting hit and dying. There are others. He blocks them in (a term for making things functional fast), puts them in the game, then he refines them. As team members playtest the game, they provide feedback. Mark continues refining until everybody is happy or the game ships - whichever comes first. No, no, no, just kidding! Mark will work tirelessly through endless nights to make certain everybody is happy with the animation.
Antonio - Technical Problem Solving of Physical Things and Process Improvement
I told you all you needed to know about Antonio in my last update. I showed you the rigs and rigs in rigs. These things take a while to refine, as he makes them and then people (Dimitri and Mark) have to use them. As they use the tools, they discover issues and then Antonio has to fix the issues and the process repeats itself until there are fewer and fewer issues to fix. Lately he has been working on a means of batch processing all the animations that Mark creates and efficiently exports them into the game. Mark says it's "awesome." (This is making Dimitri mad. I'll tell you why in a bit.) In addition, he has been developing some cool experiments with cloth and hair. Hopefully, in some near-future update we can show you how great it looks.
Dimitri - Skaen and Visual Differences Between Playable Characters (Races, Males and Females)
Dimitri has been modeling and texturing the dirty, bloody and villainous Skaen Cultists. In-between that he has been re-exporting our characters, as new attachments, bones, weapon attachments, etc. are added to the skeletons. This is a manual process hell that eats at his soul and to see Mark enjoying the fruits of batch process heaven that Antonio has provided him, makes him think of terrible things. One of two things will happen: Dimitri will get over it, or Antonio will help him out soon. He has also been working with our graphics programmer in developing the masking system for how we can increase variety in our characters via color changes on various elements of each. We intend this ability to be passed on to the player, so that they can customize their party's colors.
James - Creatures And Colors
James has been focusing on modeling and texturing a ton of critters, including wurms! - not: worms, nor wyrms, or wirms, but WURMs! That is what we call our baby dragons! He's also been tasked with making certain, that via the tinting and masking that Dimitri worked on, we can generate an infinite variety of People and Monsters, and nobody will know better. Shhhhhh...Wink Wink!
Concept Artists Polina's concept of lizard-creature-to-be-named-later.
Polina - Drawerings And More Drawerings
Polina has been all over the place since the presentation of the God-like Concept. She's done a bunch of interior concepts, some really cool malevolent spirit-like concepts, the lizard-like creature (below) and more! Polina takes concept development and collaboration very seriously. If I'm not paying attention, or give her a specific number, she will draw variants upon variants of thumbnails and roughs until...I think...forever. So we've restricted her to a certain number of thumbnails before a review. Otherwise we'll have to buy her a new tablet, and that is NOT in the budget!
Kaz - Drawerings And User Experience
As you've seen in recent updates Kaz has been tasked with coming up with cultural differences in in terms of skin color and style of clothing for the various cultural groups that we find in Project Eternity. With this and other concept-y things, he also has been tasked with developing and implementing the look of the UI and the presentation for "scripted events."
Note: Regarding the image with the menubar at the start of the update, as well as the image below. You will notice that they state: "Work In Progress." In fact, the images are screen caps of the source art file for the UI that is being developed for P.E. It represents stylistic choices meant to feel very Infinity Engine-ish. We're a little curious what you might think about it. Let us know.
Scripted event image by Kaz.
Me??? - What have I been doing?
I don't know. I just run around and say some stuff, point to something and say "eww," or "nice," or grab a bunch of people to say stuff like "Yay!" or "boo" at something, draw some stuff, and try to direct stuff, repeat. I am hopeful that these efforts keep people motivated, aware and engaged.
That's it. Update Over. Now talk amongst yourselves...or use ALL CAPS, if you are feeling particularly passionate.
- Rob Nesler, Art Director, Obsidian Entertainment.
PS - Let’s Play Arcanum with Mr. Avellone is coming back soon to an update near you!
Kickin' It Forward: HEX MMO Trading Card Game Article by Darren Monahan, operations guy
In this update's Kickin' it Forward segment, we're featuring the HEX MMO Trading Card Game from friends and neighbors over at Cryptozoic Entertainment. If you're a fan of trading card games and MMO's, HEX looks like a great game to bring these two types of games together in a unique and original fantasy world. They've got nine days left, and plenty of really cool rewards. Check it out!
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy states that a towel is the most important item a hitchhiker can have. It also mentions that "to know where one's towel is" means to be in control of one's own life. It describes the towel as a multipurpose tool which can be converted into such things as a sail for a makeshift raft, a gas mask, a blindfold and a weapon for hand-to-hand combat. Resourceful hitchhikers have enhanced their towels in highly exotic ways, including embedding complex circuitry; Roosta, who Ford Prefect says "really knows where his towel is", fortified his towel with yellow stripes high in protein, green stripes with vitamin supplements, pink flowers of wheatgerm extract, and other areas containing barbecue sauce and anti-depressants. Ford Prefect, a traditionalist, has so far only reinforced his towel's seams, which enabled him to use it as a rope to stop himself from falling to his death. In the TV series, towels move of their own accord during hyperspatial jumps, and the amount they've moved allows an experienced hitchhiker to calculate the distance he has travelled. The towel was useful in the film version a handful of times mainly by Ford. When he started to wave it around in front of a group of Vogons, who screamed and ran away, on the homeworld of the Vogons while attempting to cross the beach infested with the shovel-like creatures that feed on thought, pulling the pipe from the Vogon ship attempting to increase the range of his ring, to name a few.
Greetings, everyone! I'm on update duty this week, and while this will relatively brief, I'll give you a little insider info I hope you find interesting. Today we will be talking about the bestiary. Yeah, that's right... it's time to talk about monsters.
One of my responsibilities has been creating the bestiary for Project Eternity. I'll admit, it's been a lot of work, but it's also been a lot fun. Like most of the things we do here at Obsidian, the process has been very collaborative. We have a few high-level goals regarding this process on Project Eternity.
Creature Variety - The goal is to have a large library of creatures to use for the final game. Thus far, we're on track to meet this goal. The concept artists, modelers and animators have been tearing through the bestiary and delivering quality assets at a rapid pace.
Recognizable is Good - We don't want to try to reinvent the wheel with every single monster. As we've shown in an earlier update, we feel some classic monsters, like the ogre, are essential to capture the adventuring feel we are aiming for. Moving forward, we are committed to including monsters that we feel fans will appreciate, while giving the beasties flavor appropriate to the world of Project Eternity.
Different if Cool - We've already shown one of the unique creatures for Project Eternity in an earlier update, the skuldr. We will continue to create other unique, and often times bizarre, creatures to populate our world, but unique doesn't always need to feel bizarre. Different because it's cool is the goal.
So now that I've briefly discussed our high level goals, let's talk about a new creature: The Cean Gúla (KEN GOO-lah, "Blood Woman", Glanfathan), and the pipeline we use to get it through the concept phase.
The creature idea is added to our bestiary document.
Members of the team can comment on the document and share their thoughts/concerns on any given creature.
The bestiary is updated based on feedback from the team. Some creatures get the thumbs up, while others get cut.
An approved creature is then assigned to a concept artist. In the case of the cean gúla, Polina Hristova was in charge of this crucial step.
The concept artist does a first pass, creating a series of thumbnail sketches (image below).
The leads of the project review the thumbnails, choose a favorite, and provide the artist with feedback.
The artist creates a final concept based on the feedback received (image below).
Once approved, the creature continues down the pipe as it is now ready to be modeled by one of our character artists. We'll save the rest of the creature pipeline for another update.
That's all for this week. As always, let us know what you think on our forums. See you in two weeks with an update from Rob Nesler. He'll be talking about the entire art team and what they've been up to.
Kickin' It Forward: Jagged Alliance: Flashback Article by Josh Sawyer, Project Director
If you're a fan of turn-based tactical RPGs, be sure to check out the Kickstarter project from Full Control, Jagged Alliance: Flashback. If you've played the classic Jagged Alliance games, you know they are challenging and incredibly fun. In particular, Jagged Alliance 2 features great freedom to explore the world, a huge array of gear, awesome tactical fights, and a large cast of colorful mercenaries with cool personality mechanics.
Full Control have shown a lot of love for what made the Jagged Alliance games so memorable, including elements found in fan tweaks (like JA2's 1.13 community patch). They've got about a week to go in their campaign, so head on over and check it out!
As well as finding stories, Fallout excels at letting you create them. Generally, videogame moral decisions amount to either giving a begging tramp 20 credits in the hope that he’ll turn up again later with a nice item or shooting him in the kneecaps for the experience points. Either way, there’s a reward, and the Right Thing To Do is often patronisingly obvious. Fallout screws with this primary-school perception of good and evil. The harsh reality is that there are usually two bad choices, and at best you’re forced into the least morally reprehensible course of action. Fallout is aware that being a good person can mean doing a terrible thing, and the game never attempts to moralise. It’s a far cry from “nuke the village for money, or save it for a house”.
Indeed, one of Fallout’s key quest lines – determining the fate of Junktown – was so distressingly morally ambiguous that Interplay demanded that the outcomes be altered. When the Vault Dweller first stumbles across it, the settlement is locked in a power struggle between mayor Killian and gambling mogul Gizmo, whose criminal activities bring both financial prosperity and problems to the town. Originally, siding with Killian against Gizmo turned the town into an authoritarian nightmare, led by Killian’s own personal version of frontier justice; siding with Gizmo turned it into a filthy rich but morally bankrupt den of sin. In the final release, though, the outcomes had been forcibly changed to provide a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ ending, wherein Killian enforces just law and increases prosperity or Gizmo simply increases his own wealth before choking to death on a chunk of Iguana-on-a-stick.
This was always a strength of Troika's and the hallmark of good game design - it's all about the storytelling, the moral choices you make, the repercussions and consequences of your actions. The games we remember as truly great give us the ability to shape worlds and make our own legends, and I certainly hope that Eternity doesn't deviate on that point.
Navigating the forum on a phone used to be difficult so Vorak and I have now installed Tapatalk to the forum software. Just download Tapatalk to your phone and you'll be golden.
Furthermore, we now have a Twitter account called @TerraArcanum and we also have a Facebook page connected to that. Those of you that have Facebook may have received an invitation to it. If not, the Facebook page is called Terra-Arcanum. Here's a link.
Social media tags, widgets and whatnot will likely arrive in some shape or form in the near future, once I've figured out what the hell they actually do. In an ideal world, our news section should probably be fed to RSS/Facebook/Twitter simultaneously.
Update by Tim Cain, Senior Programmer and Designer
Hello! I'm sorry I haven't done an update in a while. I've been working on classes and everything related to classes: abilities, skills, spells, combat...you know, the good stuff. For the past several months, Josh and I have been refining the designs for the non-core classes, the classes that are most unusual, classes like the chanter and the cipher and one of my favorites, the monk.
Monks in Eternity are different than you might expect. There are no restrictions on armor and weapons – you could wear plate and use a sword, if you wanted to, and the talent system is flexible enough so you could build a great monk that specialized in that gear. But at the core of this class is a little rule about how monks take damage. You see, when a monk gets hit, only part of the damage is inflicted on him or her immediately. The rest is redirected to a Wound, which is an effect that causes damage over time (called a DoT effect) to the monk. That slowly-ticking Wound would only seem to be delaying the inevitable result except for one thing: the monk can get rid of that Wound by using special attacks.
The monk gets all kinds of cool special attacks that do extra effects beyond simply damage and, as a side effect, also eliminate his Wounds. Some of their special attacks include:
Torment’s Reach - this ability increases the range of melee attacks by 200% for a short duration. Enemies between the monk and his or her target are also attacked. Costs 1 Wound to activate.
Turning Wheel - if the monk suffers from a DoT effect (including Wounds ticking down), he or she adds a proportional fire bonus to his or her melee damage. This is a passive ability which works automatically whenever the monk has any DoT effect.
Clarity of Agony - when used, this ability cuts the duration of hostile status effects in half. It lasts for a brief amount of time, halving both incoming effects and ones that are currently on the monk. Costs 2 Wounds.
Each of these attacks makes monks stronger in battle, and many also consume their Wounds, hopefully before those Wounds have done the damage the monks were originally supposed to take.
And as monks level up, they get more than just these special attacks. They can gain room for more Wounds, so they can have more of them at once to use at the same time for an extraordinarily powerful attack or use them across multiple special attacks. Monks can also change how their Wounds function. For example, they can choose to have their Wounds do less damage at the start and more at the end, so getting rid of them faster is advantageous. Monks can also choose to do their damage sequentially, letting the monk build up a lot of Wounds to fuel a crazy powerful ability and not take much damage for doing so.
So as a monk, your goal is simple: you want to take damage, so you get Wounds, so you can perform extraordinary attacks. But remember when I mentioned the monk in plate mail using a sword? Sure, you can do that, but that plate armor will inhibit your ability to get Wounds, which means you don't get as many special attacks. And unarmed attacks are among the fastest types of attacks, so a weaponless monk can get rid of his Wounds faster than any armed monk, so he will suffer very little of their damage-over-time effects. That's like having extra hit points for free! FOR FREE! Who wouldn't want that?!
This is why you see a lot of unarmed and unarmored monks running around. Not because the rules say you can't use those items, but because in most situations it's one of the best ways to play. An unencumbered monk can be a terror on the battlefield, a nightmare that just won't seem to die, no matter how hard he gets hit. Blows that seem like they should kill him only serve to make him stronger.
Trust me, you are going to love playing a monk. But if you ever feel the need to use a magical sword for its raw damage potential or wear enchanted mail to gain fire resistance for battle with a dragon, you can do that too. Because Project Eternity is all about bending the roles of each class, so you can play how you want, resolve conflicts how you want and solve problems how you want.
After all, this is *your* game.
Concept artist Kaz Aruga has been developing the look of some of Project Eternity's various cultures. So far, he's created concepts for people from the Dyrwood, the Vailian Republics, the Aedyr Empire, and the Valley of Ixamitl. We hope you like the range we've come up with. Let us know what you think!
Update by Adam Brennecke, Executive Producer and Lead Programmer
Last month we finished our prototype 1 build. In Update #47, Josh outlined our goals for the first prototype, which focused on establishing "that IE feel". Not only did we hit that mark with the look of our characters and environments, but we also hit our target with movement, combat, and gameplay systems. Core basics that you all expect from Project Eternity such as party movement, melee and ranged combat attacks, containers (with loot!), doors, using special class abilities and spell casting, area transitions, inventory and equipment are all in the game and functioning. We also established working character and environment pipelines - the art team is now able to create beautiful rendered areas, and we can model armor sets for all of our uniquely proportioned races. Additionally, we've established that we can efficiently concept, model and animate creatures for our soon to be growing bestiary.
The creature we built for the first prototype is the Skuldr.
Skuldr have poor vision, but they use a form of echolocation to perceive the spirit world. This allows them to “see” souls, making it difficult to use stealth to avoid them.
After the prototype 1 audit meeting, Josh and I came up with a plan for what we would like to see the team tackle in prototype 2. Josh has previously mentioned a few of the goals for prototype 2 which include fog of war, character voice sets, crafting, stores, AI patrols, and the melee engagement system. Besides the expanded feature implementation, we are going to put our pipelines to the test on another set of new environments and creatures before moving into production.
The plan for prototype 2 is to create a small village with a handful of buildings to enter, including a shop and inn. To the east of the village is a medium sized wilderness area with access to a small cave dungeon interior. The prototype also includes a large dungeon (I won't spoil the contents of the dungeon, because some of the ideas in the prototype will eventually make their way into the shipped game). All of these areas are connected by a complex multi-stage quest with several objectives (some optional) and with many different ways of completing it.
The team has been working on a second prototype for the past two weeks now. Here's a sample on what each department has been working on.
Dynamic Cloth - We are doing further research into character dynamism, and are creating capes for our characters to equip.
Dungeon - Our goal for the dungeon is to make an interior area that lives up to the IE games. The dungeon has a variety of rooms that are unique and organic.
New Monster - One of the new monsters we are creating for prototype 2 is an Ogre. He has already gone through the concept and modeling stage and now is off to be animated.
Complete Bestiary - The bestiary list has been worked over a few times by the area and narrative designers. We are now pretty close to having a complete creature list!
Class Abilities for the Monk and Ranger - The Monk's "wounds" resource is in, and next up is the mechanics for the Ranger's animal companion. The class progression for the Monk and Ranger has been designed out to level 12.
Town Guard A.I. - How do guards protect the village when you start casting fireballs in the town square? They beat you down... or at least try to. The guards will hook into the reputation and faction mechanics, which tells guards when they turn hostile towards the party.
Fancy Material Shaders - We now have fancy materials for creating shiny armor and translucent ghost skin. Another set of shaders are "Tint maps" materials that enable the customization of skin and clothing colors just like in the IE games.
In the future we will go into details into the design and implementation of the systems and features. Is there a particular feature that you would like to know more about? Tell us what you would like to see us talk about in future updates on our forums. We will be taking an update break next week so the team can focus on prototype 2 work. Thanks for reading and see you in two weeks!
Thanks to everyone who contributed feedback to our visual demo last week. While we are still working out some aspects of our environment art, we appreciate both the kind words and the suggestions for improvement that we received.
Due to all of the coverage we received, we noticed a lot of new folks asking about the game as well as past backers who may have missed a lot of the updates that have happened since the Kickstarter campaign ended. We thought it would be a good idea to restate what Project Eternity is all about and update our FAQ.
While much of this has been covered in previous updates, we have also included a few new tidbits of information in the details.
What is Project Eternity?
Project Eternity is a party-based fantasy roleplaying game inspired by the Infinity Engine games (Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Icewind Dale 1 & 2, and Planescape: Torment) set in an original world created by Obsidian Entertainment. The camera has a fixed axonometric (high angle) perspective (with zoom!). The environments are 2D backgrounds combined with 3D characters and visual effects.
Project Eternity's team is focusing on three core ideas that will capture the Infinity Engine experiences players loved so much:
Unique, beautiful, dynamic environments that encourage and reward exploration.
A story that is both personal and far-reaching, with believable characters and factions that create compelling dilemmas for players.
Fun and challenging tactical combat that can escalate in difficulty through the use of optional game modes.
What does "party-based" mean in Project Eternity?
At the start of the game, the player can create and customize his or her character, choosing from six races and several ethnicities, eleven classes, and a number of cultural backgrounds. Over the course of the game, the player can expand his or her party up to six total characters. The additional characters include eight companions designed and written by Obsidian as well as any new characters players would like to build at the Adventurer's Hall.
What is the combat like?
Project Eternity's combat will feel very similar to the combat in the Infinity Engine games, which used a "real-time with pause" system. In such a system, events between combatants occur simultaneously, but the player can pause the game at any time. The player selects and commands one or more of his or her party members to issue orders, ranging from continuous activities, like making standard attacks, to the activation of limited-use tactical abilities, such as spells.
Like the Infinity Engine games, Project Eternity will support auto-pause features that allow players to establish conditions under which the game will automatically pause (e.g., if a party member becomes unconscious). It will also feature a slow combat toggle that can be used with or in lieu of the pause feature. In slow combat, players can manage the flow of combat without needing to halt the game entirely.
What are the different races we can play?
Players can select from six main races found in this part of the world: humans, elves, dwarves, orlans, aumaua, and godlike. Orlans, aumaua, and godlike are unique to the world of Project Eternity, though godlike have similarities to "planetouched" races in other settings. Orlans are small humanoids physically notable for their two-tone skin, extensive body hair, and extremely long ears. Aumaua are large, semiaquatic humanoids with a diverse array of skin patterns, elongated heads, and semi-webbed hands and feet.
Godlike are not a separate race, but a phenomenon found among all races. They are individuals whom many people believe were transformed by the gods before birth. Godlike have distinctive appearances that invariably make them stand out from other people, with different cultures and individuals holding wildly different biases toward or against them.
All of the races have different ethnicities from which the player can choose. For elves, Wood and Pale, for dwarves, Mountain and Boreal, for orlans, Hearth and Wild, and for aumaua, Island and Coastal. Humans have three ethnicities: Meadow, Ocean, and Savannah. Godlike can be found among any race and their appearance always sets them apart from their parents.
This is an Aumaua male and female hi-poly head model. The facial colors and texture will be coming later.
What about the classes?
Characters may be one of eleven classes: barbarian, chanter, cipher, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, priest, ranger, rogue, or wizard. The "core four" classes (fighter, priest, rogue, wizard) are most similar to their traditional tabletop analogues. The non-core classes, barbarians, druids, monks, paladins, and rangers, are somewhat similar to their counterparts but differ more significantly. The two completely new classes are the chanter and the cipher, which are unique to the world of Project Eternity.
Traditional classes vary in how high- or low-maintenance they are based on their traditional counterparts. E.g. fighters are generally lower maintenance than wizards. However, the advancement system allows players to bend those roles, making higher-maintenance, active-use fighters or more passive wizards (for example). Class balance is important to us, but we also want playing each class to feel distinctive and complementary to other classes.
What will the art style be like?
Our art style is fairly realistic and uses a somewhat subdued, natural color palette, especially in outdoor environments. Character proportions are also fairly realistic. Equipment designs and proportions are based on their earthly historical counterparts, with an overall emphasis on function in their form. However, because this is a fantasy game, many environments will also be fantastic, with unearthly architecture, unusual materials, brilliant colors, and beautiful embellishments when appropriate.
How about the setting and story?
Project Eternity is set in a world created by Obsidian Entertainment, where mortal souls are bound to an eternal, and often mystifying, cycle of life and reincarnation believed to be watched over by the gods. Though cultures and individuals have different beliefs about the nature and purpose of this cycle, it is only recently that mortals have made significant advancements in understanding its fundamental mechanics through the science of animancy.
The story takes place in a small nation in the world's southern hemisphere called the Dyrwood (DEER-wood). The Dyrwood is a heavily forested, coastal region where colonial powers from across the ocean have settled and formed an uneasy relationship with the local residents, tribes of orlans and elves who are protective of the ancient ruins of Eír Glanfath on the forest's interior. Eír Glanfath was an ancient melting pot of races that built elaborate, often massive, structures out of a living shell-like substance called adra. Though the fate of the ancient Glanfathans is unknown, their dangerous and complex ruins show evidence they possessed extensive knowledge of how souls work. For this reason, all of the surrounding colonial powers aggressively fight for the chance to explore and plunder Glanfathan structures, often bringing the local tribes into conflict with their relatively new neighbors -- and the neighbors into conflict with each other.
The central character in the story is a newcomer to the Dyrwood, a man or woman who is caught up in a bizarre supernatural phenomenon. This event puts them in a difficult position, where they must explore the new world to solve a series of problems that have been thrust upon them.
What engine does Project Eternity use?
Project Eternity uses the Unity engine in addition to proprietary features developed at Obsidian.
What platforms will Project Eternity be available on?
We will be releasing Project Eternity for Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. It will be available through Steam and GOG.com.
Will Project Eternity use any form of DRM (digital rights management)?
The GOG version is DRM-free. The Steam version works like any other Steam game and does not have any added DRM. There is no online requirement to play the game nor any additional DRM imposed by us.
What languages will you be supporting?
In addition to English, Project Eternity will be released in French, German, Spanish, Polish, and Russian.
What resolutions are you supporting?
Project Eternity will support resolutions from 1280x720 and up. Our environments are rendered out at a high resolution and support a wide range of scalability.
What other cool stuff will be in the game?
Thanks to our backers, players will have access to both a player house as well as a full stronghold in the game. Also, players will have the chance to explore all fifteen levels of the backer-funded mega-dungeon, the Endless Paths of Od Nua. Players who want a more extreme challenge can enable up to three optional game modes: Expert Mode (turns off "helper" features), Path of the Damned (dramatically increases the difficulty and complexity of encounters), and Trial of Iron (only one save game, party death = game over, save game deleted).
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading!
Season 1: Cowardly Cops, Meddling Merchants, and Shrouded Hills. And trash bins. Article by Chris Avellone, Creative Director
We’re doing something different with the Arcanum playthroughs with this update – instead of filming a large portion at once and then releasing that one session over several weeks in small 10 min chunks, we’re going to release smaller updates that allow us to respond more quickly to your feedback on the playthrough and then iterate on the next playthrough. In this episode, Avellone explores the small town of Shrouded Hills, deals with cowardly constables, explores trash bins, and finds out more about the cryptic ring from the Zephyr’s zeppelin crash. Virgil guest stars.
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