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Introducing Project: Gorgon

Discussion in 'Project Gorgon: Ask the Devs' started by Citan, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Citan

    Citan Project: Gorgon Developer
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    Hi, guys! We're happy to be back amongst the Stratics community -- it's been a while since we were on the developer side of the fence here!

    Back then, I was live team producer for Asheron's Call 2 and my wife srand was live team producer for Asheron's Call 1. We've kicked around the industry since then working on a bunch of other games, but for the past couple of years we've been working on a little indie MMO called Project: Gorgon. Stratics was kind enough to lend us a forum where we could chat with you about the game.

    Stratics is really the perfect place to talk about Project Gorgon because the communities for lots of older games are right here. And in many ways, we're an old-school game. We don't like that term because it makes it sound like we're shooting for nostalgia, and that's not it at all. Instead, it's about retaining some things that were lost among many newer games:

    - Community: we think having a friendly in-game community is key to having fun. We try to foster community in many ways, such as by using shared dungeons -- not instanced dungeons where you'll only see your group-mates for a few minutes and then never again.

    - Exploration: newer games often don't reward exploration nearly enough. They focus so much on directing you to the content that you don't get to peek in the corners yourself. But for many people, exploration is half the fun. We have lots of quests, but we also have lots of stuff for you to discover... and if you don't go exploring, you'll never find it. That's okay. Not everybody has to find every single bit of content!

    - Emergent Gameplay: we have a lot of systems that you might think of as "realistic", like being able to drop items on the ground, or buy second-hand items from vendors, or even jumping in a lake to put out a fire. Why did we add this stuff? These systems create a complex world for emergent gameplay to occur in. (Lots of game developers rave about emergent gameplay, but they don't seem to understand that it comes from lots of little systems interacting together.) Emergent situations are by far the most memorable parts of playing an MMO!

    Right now, we're running a Kickstarter campaign to pay for better art and get us through to launch. You can see our Kickstarter here: Project: Gorgon – An Indie MMORPG by Industry Veterans by EricHeimburg — Kickstarter

    We also have a pre-alpha version up and running right this instant. We're giving out keys to anyone who pledges on Kickstarter and we have a few access keys for non-Kickstarter people as well. If you want to see where we are before you kick in with a pledge, just e-mail [email protected] for one of those!

    A word of warning: this is an indie game. And let's not beat around the bush: the game is ugly. We need money to make it look better! The Kickstarter campaign is focused on raising money for better character models -- the ones we're using now are literally just stuff we found for sale on the internet. We have money to continue developing the game, but without your support it's going to take longer and we won't be able to afford to make it look the way we'd like.

    The pre-alpha version will be up for another two weeks, so please give it a whirl and see if it's something you're interested in. Going forward, we would be honored to have you as part of our alpha testing team.

    If you have questions, ask away!
     
    AirmidCecht and Syrus like this.
  2. Taylor

    Taylor Former Stratics CEO (2011-2014)
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    Welcome back! :)
     
  3. Recon

    Recon Guest

    Why do you need more money to make Models?? Are you guys lacking an artist all together?? It would be cheaper for you to find someone to help you for free , and profit share which alot of companys are doing rather than buying trash off the net and paying a ton, being a Artist myself, nearly have my degree in Game Production been doing this for awhile, i'm surprised by this move by you guys, I played AC1 for 7years since beta and on and off since, great game.

    But still surpise by this move and think its a very bad idea, because you still have the world to build properly with a good artist and such, animations and such, if you buy all of this, your gonna spend a ton, so my advise would be to find someone and pay them atleast to get you going there are plenty of artist out there, that will help you, and for cheap or as I said profit sharing what ever...

    Best of luck, good to see some old AC1 devs in action.


    PS: I can tell your on the right track for Game play mechanics and such, but your world looks flat, and yes its ugly, and if you keep wasting money off the net, still not knowing what textures to use and how, your gonna make an Ugly game.

    Even if you had someone make them all, you still need to know about proporation, scale, and such, you will need to know what shaders to use and when, there are so many things in art that matter, so if your not experinced with it, for heavens sake get an artist on your team, or your setting your self up for failure.
     
    #3 Recon, Oct 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2012
  4. Just want to say I am excited about this project and pleased to be among the alpha testers and kickstarter backers!
     
    AirmidCecht likes this.
  5. Taylor

    Taylor Former Stratics CEO (2011-2014)
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    Let's keep in mind that the title just opened for pre-alpha testing yesterday. :)
     
  6. Citan

    Citan Project: Gorgon Developer
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    Recon - we've partnered with many artists over the past three years, and we've gotten some great assets from those partnerships. And we intend to keep doing that! However, when it comes to character models, we've tried hard, but all our partnerships have been a bust.

    The thing is, pro-quality MMO character artwork is a vast undertaking, with hundreds of interchangeable parts that must be perfectly aligned. Someone with experience doing it could accomplish it in 400-600 hours of work, but someone who's never done it before will take a lot longer. That's a huge investment of time, and artists who can do this work can't afford to spend three or four months of their lives working for a percentage of profits on a game that ships in 1.5 years. They keep saying "but I need to eat or I'll die", which is some sort of weakness of artists, apparently.

    We also need the work done in a timely manner, or the rest of the schedule falls apart. We aren't hobbyists doing this in our spare time: it'd take a decade to make an MMO that way! We're working hard on the MMO, but that means we have to pay our bills with pre-existing money. If the art takes too long to get here, the schedule goes kaput. So even if someone could do the work over a long time period, it would be too slow.

    TLDR: at some point a game goes beyond "hey man you're an artist, can you help me out" to "I need a professional", and that point is, basically, MMO characters.

    Also, remember that the pre-alpha is using the web-downloadable version. Textures have been compressed all to hell, bump mapping is mostly disabled, etc., which won't be the case for the downloadable clients.
     
    AirmidCecht and Syrus like this.
  7. Proto Foe

    Proto Foe Adventurer
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    Welcome to the forums!

    Had the pleasure of talking with Citan, and the echo of Srand. They are very passionate about this project, and will keep plowing on with it....for me, you, him and that lady over there, the community!

    We will have an interview with them later this week, so please do ask questions! :)
     
  8. blode

    blode Guest

    dropping items on the ground is one of my favorite things ever
    I love seeing that a thing is really a thing outside my inventory and being able to litter walkways with said thing

    sometimes 7 swords is just one too many to carry, ya know?
     
    AirmidCecht likes this.
  9. Here are some questions:

    1) How large will the worldspace be? For such a tiny indie team, something on the scale of pre-expansion Asheron's Call is probably not an option, but one of the joys of AC1 was exploring such a huge world. Also will there be different climate types, such as snowy alpine mountain, vegetation-thick jungles, arid steppes and deserts?

    2) Crafting looks to be an important part of the game so far. Will there be any type of secured storage that players can use to keep crafting supplies so they are not lugging them around with them on quests etc? Any discussion of player housing? (ducks before srand can smack her for asking...)

    3) Will there be any limits on how many skills one character can acquire? I know that is controversial in gameplay circles, but I have always loved having the maximum freedom to explore the game on a single character, and to me, having artificial limits on what one character can learn is less likely to "encourage interdependence" than it is to simply push people into making armies of specialized alts. The current system of letting players "equip" two schools of abilities (and rearrange them anytime if they like) seems like a good approach, since it rewards specialists without penalizing the jack-of-trades types.

    4) The alpha so far has some amazingly original skills a player can take into combat, not just melee or magic, but psychology, calligraphy and others -- can you expand a little on some of the "most unique" skills Gorgon will have? Any rough estimate yet of how many total skills there will be -- and what are your personal favorites so far of the ones in development?

    5) Have you planned any unique methods of transportation, and if so will skills also be tied to using alternative transportations? Will we ever have boats? (I love boats :D )

    6) There are cows, yay! I love cows ^_^ what are the odds that waaaay down the road I could have a little homestead where I can raise cows, milk them, breed baby calves to sell to other players, and maybe even run a little bed and breakfast :p I have heard "animal husbandry" mentioned at one point and that sounds like some wonderful things are ahead...

    7) Have you given any thought yet to a game economy? It might be a little early yet but am curious whether there will be some unique aspects to trading and economy that you are exploring?

    8) So far it looks like Gorgon has a wonderful set of activities outside the normal "combat kill-kill-kill" focus of other MMOs. What percentage of activities do you estimate are non-combat activities? How important will those be to the player? Other MMOs tack on "crafting" as almost an afterthought, can there be such a thing as a "peaceful" player in this game?

    9) Will there be any dynamic weather or ecosystems?

    10) Will there be swimming? Underwater grottoes to explore?
     
    #9 Brash_Endeavors, Oct 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2012
  10. oh yea ---- the most important one -- will there be archery? :D I haven't seen any sign yet of bows or arrows but still have my fingers crossed those are still somewhere down the road...
     
    #10 Brash_Endeavors, Oct 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2012
  11. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    Isn't it funny how it's these little 'real' things that make us feel a part of the world instead of visiting in it?
    "I have an impact! This was my sword!" *drops on ground* "Look what I have done!" *picks it back up and drops it again 2 screens away*
    Seriously. I've done this :D
     
  12. tad100

    tad100 Guest

    I'm pretty sure this was mentioned somewhere on Eric's blog - maybe in the questions? And the answer was yes.
     
  13. GasaiYuno

    GasaiYuno Adventurer

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    It's an indie game, so you cannot expect it to me perfect. I'm sick of this generation bashing on indie games due to graphics, let alone even the big companies being bashed on due to graphics. Graphics =/= gameplay, remember this.
    With that said, if you're going to promote a friendly community in-game I'd suggest giving trusted players game moderator status tbh. This is one thing current MMOs lack right at start up.
     
    kelmo likes this.
  14. Citan

    Citan Project: Gorgon Developer
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    Great questions, here's a scattershot set of responses! - probably! It's the other ranged skill planned (along with fire magic). Animations are missing at the moment, so it's not in game. (But enemy skeletons have it.)

    Homesteading cows - uh, actually for some reason it never occurred to us to let you run your own farm, but we do have most of the pieces of that idea already, so it's not a big leap.

    The Animal Husbandry skill lets you breed two of your stabled pets together to get a new baby pet with attributes from both parents (with Lamarckian "magic genetics"). You can then sell those offspring in the market or use them in combat etc. One of the main goals will be breeding for colors and shapes -- though there are combat attributes to breed for also. All the planned Animal Husbandry pets are combat pets -- not cows and pigs -- but it's not much of a stretch to go in that direction. (This skill won't be in pre-alpha, it's still in development, but it will be in the early alpha, for at least a handful of breedable animals.)

    We don't plan to ship with player housing, but we expect to add it relatively soon after shipping. It'll be largely instanced, though. (It's the only place we're planning to use instancing.) The world just isn't big enough to have on-the-terrain player housing. Because we're a small team, we've opted to go for a small world that's REALLY densely packed. There will be 15-20 zones, and each zone is only about .5 square miles, but contains a lot of stuff to find and discover. There's also some "big-ass desert" type zones, where you can just run the desert for a long time, trading off density for a sense of scale... however, I doubt people want to have their player houses in the desert :)

    Dynamic weather -- we've been playing with some stuff in that direction, and we'll likely have dynamic weather that is influenced by players. The Weather Witch skillset uses tornadoes and tidal waves and such to attack, and I figure if you use enough weird weather constructs in an area, it will have an effect on the local weather. But that stuff is still experimental, we haven't figured out how it all should work yet.

    Swimming - yes; underwater grottoes - yes! There's actually portals to some underwater areas already, but they're closed off in pre-alpha. We don't have the art or mechanics in place yet.

    Vehicles - those aren't planned; our engine currently can't support vehicles you can walk around on. We can do the "horse pants" solution that so many MMOs do, where you literally become a person-on-a-horse, but we can't let you walk around on the deck of a moving boat. (It's just an engine limitation: you'd fall off the boat as it moved out from under you!) I would love to see boats at some point, though, they work well with the world design. I don't think we'll see horses, though. Instead there are various travel forms -- the aforementioned Weather Witch can turn her friends into fog for fast travel, for instance.

    Skills - my guess is there will be 90-100 skills in the final game, split among combat, combat support (like how Calligraphy supports Sword), gathering, crafting/creation, and NPC interaction. Skills are a huge part of this game -- we use them as the big reward in quest lines, and they're intertwined everywhere. All players can eventually learn (almost) all skills. (I say almost, because there's some specialized skills, like werewolf-specific ones or druid-only ones, that some players will never get.) Each skill has its own mechanics -- they all work a little differently, even the ones you might think are similar (for instance, carpentry doesn't work the same way as blacksmithing, which doesn't work the same way as tailoring or art appraisal or alchemy). There's overlap, but they each have systemic variations that you have to figure out and master. We hope the people who will be attracted to Project Gorgon will find it fun to constantly learn new game systems and figure out all the subtleties involved. However, we realize some people will instead see it as an insane mishmash of game systems. Potato, potahtoe. :)
     
    scoboose and Syrus like this.
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