Friday, May 17, 2013 3:53pm
We've committed ourselves to bringing Antilia to Kickstarter
, and project planning has progressed well. I spent several years as a professional project manager, and the skills I learned are invaluable in selecting goals, documenting tasks, and creating a realistic budget. It is quite a departure from our normal style of development. While I have set yearly development goals and milestones in the past to keep the project moving in the right direction, with the Kickstarter we will need to deliver all of what we promise. It is critical that we set the right goals and then meet them to the satisfaction of our backers.
These decisions were some of the hardest I've made. Naturally, as the game dev, I want to see every feature make it to the final game. We discussed almost 50 features and enhancements for Antilia - and even then some gameplay systems relevant to Taipii culture couldn't even be considered yet.
When making decisions, our mission is to make Antilia a game that:
- Is easy for new players to install, get in-game, and learn
- Performs well on computers that meet the minimum required hardware
- Is available for play 24/7
- Is fun to play, even after hours of play-time
- Provides more opportunities to engage in gameplay with friends
- Enables players to be creative within the context of the world
- Will continue to grow beyond the Kickstarter
With that mission in mind, and to reduce our minimum budget, we've identified the essential required improvements, while placing additional content and cosmetic improvements into stretch goals.
First off, let's cover the server and performance improvements that Antilia needs:
- Official Installer - While a "zip" file gets the job done for testing, an official installer would help new players get into the game quicker and with fewer issues.
- Performance Improvements - We need to set a minimum target platform that is clearly communicated in the Kickstarter, and rigorously optimize Antilia's client to ensure it runs smoothly at a good frame-rate on that hardware.
- Moderation System - In the open alpha, Antilia's testing community has been great - there have only been a couple of incidents where serious moderation has been required, primarily involving new accounts who were often just clearly trying to make trouble. As the in-game world grows, however, we'll need a better system for moderation and managing moderators than we currently have.
- Server Stress Testing - While Antilia's server has been designed as a "cloud service" that can scale to handle thousands of players, testing that hasn't yet been in our reach. The server will need to be rigorously tested, and bottlenecks in the server code will need to be identified and eliminated.
- GUI Improvements - Centered largely on confusion that arises over crafted items all looking the same in the inventory, the 3D inventory needs to be completed, so that players can quickly distinguish their crafted and customized items.
- Control Customization - We're not all used to the same controls, and differences in mouse resolution have made Antilia very difficult to play for some. As Antilia's gameplay becomes more action-oriented, it is essential players are able to adjust their keys and mouse sensitivity to have the best experience.
- Fix Critical Bugs - From the alpha tests, there is a fair list of bugs that we'll need to fix. From friend lists that disappear to player characters that load last - we want to make Antilia the best game it can be.
- Server Budget - Included in the Kickstarter will be a special budget to ensure the server stays online post-Kickstarter for at least 1 year. Once all the Kickstarter goals are complete, we will release the game and start working toward expanding it.
New Gameplay Systems
- Player Trade System - As Antilia's skills and crafting systems provide an ever growing array of custom items, players are going to need a way to share and barter directly with one another. This familiar system allows just that, while ensuring both parties agree to the final exchange before items change hands.
- New Workstation System - The 'workstation' concept is already established in Antilia with the cooking rack, smelting furnace, and anvil - but we'd like to replace the current stale window-based interfaces with real gameplay. The new workstation system will offer a shared, 3D, physics-enabled space where one or more players can move things around, use various tools, and perform cooking and crafting tasks together. This system is the foundation upon which future cooking, smelting, crafting, and mini-games (card games, etc) will be based.
- Economy System - While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about exciting new gameplay systems, when a game's economy is broken it hurts everybody and has quickly ruined some games. The new economy system will allow us to create local economies which value rare imports over local products, and will track the supply and demand of items across time and region, as well as skill efficiency and drop rates. This will allow us to keep an informed eye on the markets, and allow us to respond quickly to bugs or exploits that might otherwise require a server shut-down.
- Training System - "How do I fish" is the most commonly asked question in-game, followed closely by "where is the hammer?" The training system will help new players get familiar with the game, learning the skills that they are interested in at their own pace, and in a way that is fun and introduces them to the NPCs and the lore.
- Player Houses & Buildings - Antilia now has collisions, and that means we are finally able to start placing buildings in Antilia. I'll admit it - I'm something of a housing junkie when I play sandbox RPGs. Saving the world is good... but buying properties and customizing them is what I really enjoy. With the Kickstarter, players will be able to own multiple buildings, furnish them to their liking, and invite friends into their space or open their door to the public.
- Books - In case you missed this year's April Fools, books are coming to Antilia. Books will provide needed insights into the history of the Taipii and their culture, and may serve as a springboard for some quests.
- Quests and Quest Journal - You may not need a quest journal to fetch Sakouv's hammer - but as the game expands and quests become more complicated, an organized quest system and journal become a necessity. This familiar system will guide players through multiple objectives, and help players get their bearings again if they have to pick up a quest again after logging off.
- Status Effects System - Another familiar system that would greatly expand Antilia's combat system is status effects. Well prepared foods will offer boosts to players - filling health and energy bars faster, and crafted items may boost wielders stats, or inflict special effects on enemies against which they are struck.
- Party System - The best part of playing an online game is, of course, playing along with your friends. Adding more multiplayer opportunities is part of our mission for this Kickstarter. The addition of a party system will make it easier for players to work together as a team with their own chat channel, and give healers easy visual access to information like health and status of party members.
Improved Gameplay Systems
- Character Creation Improvements - When it comes to character customization, more tends to be better. More fur patterns, better color options, character history, bonuses and handicaps, and of course, the ability to pan, rotate, and zoom the character preview.
- Movement, Acrobatics, and Collision - We recently added collision detection to Antilia, and as you can imagine the next thing that happened was that we discovered a whole bunch of new ways the player can become stuck. Suddenly players can fall off an object between two objects, or fall off a rock into deep water. For the player's sake, some basic new movement options such as jumping and treading water will need to be added - as well as the emergency /unstick command.
- Skill System Improvements - While our current skill system gave us a start, it really needs an overhaul. We are discovering there are a lot of skills that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to level up in, and needlessly over-complicates some disciplines. We've redesigned skills to focus more on leveling the discipline, and allowing players to make choices in spending earned XP to unlock boosts & perks, as well as to customize and tune their performance with the skill.
- Combat Improvements - With a new skill system, status effects, and the party system - combat is already going to become much more diverse in Antilia. But it needs more than just that - it needs improved hit detection, lots of new enemies, lootable corpses, ranged weapons, duel-wielding options, and a lot more interaction, intensity, and opportunities for strategy.
- Magic Improvements - I'm a big fan of unique magic systems in games - as I like to say, "I want a game where I finally get to weave magic". I posted a few shots of our prototype magic system briefly in the last post, and I'm eager to see a refined system like this in-game. From drawing out complex traps that specifically suit the landscape, frantically throwing simple weaves at moving enemies, to designing custom patterns and enchanting them into the swing of a staff or sword - I want Antilia's magic system to give players a true sense of learning and mastering the Taipii art of magic.
- Fishing Improvements - While it could be argued that Antilia's fishing system is fine the way it is, after all it provides something that is easy to do while chatting with other players - changes to the skill system are going to require it to be updated. As we make these changes, I'd like to make fishing a little more challenging and a little more rewarding. We will focus more on other gameplay systems that are in greater need of improvement.
- Cooking Improvements - With the new workstation system in place, we can replace the current UI based cooking system with something much more interactive. Players will design their own recipes, and then cook and combine ingredients as the flavor profile changes in real time. From a first-person perspective, players will experience the horror of overcooking fish at a fully interactive 3D workstation, and pots of mushroom soup will vividly burst into flame! (Ever wonder why the red mushrooms are called "Fire Makachii"?)
- Crafting Improvements - While the crafting system is already quite versatile, allowing players to customize their crafted creations for an endless variety of looks, we'd like to again move away from the UI based gameplay toward something that is more interactive and multiplayer. In place of a set of sliders, players will select what part of the crafted item they would like to change by heating it up in a furnace - and then adjust that area by applying various tools such as hammers to shape it. By turning crafting into a game system, the system will be a little more difficult to abuse by using boosted foods to quickly restore energy and mass-producing non-custom items.
- Lantros Peninsula - A vast new area of Antilia to explore, more than doubling the size of the explorable world! The Lantros Peninsula includes the City of Lantros from which the Kisan gods rule, the Tent Forest, the Red Fields from which silk can be harvested, and is known for its cold and windy weather!
- Ruins to find and explore on Kasau and Lantros - Also included will be ruined structures on both Kasau and Lantros. These structures can be explored repeatedly for treasures, and will include secret paths that require magic, a key, or solving a puzzle to access.
- New Caverns on Kasau and Lantros, and Underground Ruins - The caverns will be expanded with new areas - including underground ruins and new, dangerous enemies.
- New Clothing Designs and Accessories - While few color variations of two clothing sets got us through Alpha, we all want to see more clothing options and of course, armor. (Not to mention a wider selection of head gear...)
- Improved Audio & New Music Tracks - While Antilia is visually stunning when the detail settings are turned up, sound and environmental effects have lagged behind, and should be improved.
That's quite a list! But there is yet another list that goes with it, containing even more things that have been requested and we'd like to see - sewing, alchemy, mounts, pets, boats... Considering this post has become an epic wall of text, however, we'll save the discussion of Stretch Goals for next time!
When I wrote the first draft of this blog post, even I was surprised by the number of things on this list, which prompted more developer discussions over what items we could make stretch goals, or split into an improvement with additional content in a stretch goal. I delayed the post by several days, and I scrambled to do a rough budget for the project to see if we were still near our ideal funding goal. By the time we tuned the budget and accounted for the 'costs of doing a Kickstarter' - we're a little above where I wanted to be, but I believe it is well within our reach. I think it is better for the project to get the job done right with the right goals and the right budget than to get it wrong.
For a long time, there has been an option in your user profile to "Subscribe to the Antilia Newsletter". Starting with our next blog post, we will begin emailing the contents of the post to those of you who have checked that box, to make it easier for those of you who are eager to hear the latest news, but don't have time to check the website every hour, day after day.
So if you're interested in receiving the Antilia news posts via email, please edit your profile
New Concept Art
I'd also like to present another enemy concept from Kathryn - one which might find lurking just outside of base camp:
From her description, it would seem this critter is fairly passive unless you bump the bamboo it is resting on - but if you do, be prepared for some "hate". (There is also an odd note which Jeremii contributed regarding the harvesting of its hate, but that might not make it to the game.)
Discuss "The Antilia Kickstarter Goals"