This morning we announced that Antilia will be re-designed as a single player game with a multiplayer option via player-run servers. If you missed the announcement, a replay of today's live stream is available:
The decision to change a project's direction like this never comes easily, and has been something that's been in consideration since February 2014. I am sorry that this change will disappoint players that were specifically interested in an MMORPG experience, but after much consideration we have concluded this will result in a better Antilia. With this change, we'll be able to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to create Antilia while also lifting design restrictions that are preventing us from including the sort of creative-style gameplay we would prefer to design.
No More Restrictions on Creative Gameplay
When designing anything that will be a part of an MMORPG, that 'massively' requirement factors into everything. Something as simple as letting one player give something to another player radically affects the balance of the game, and in a successful MMORPG, maintaining game balance dictates everything. As soon as balance is lost, it effects the in-game economy, and a radical shift in any economy is never good.
As we're giving our gameplay systems a second pass, we are frequently finding this requirement directly in competition with the kind of gameplay we want to create. We want to create game systems that have a creative aspect to them - systems where if a player uses that system in a way we didn't expect, doesn't provoke an emergency meeting at 2:00 AM to patch that creativity out. I would like to design a magic system where players will do things with it I never even imagined, and I want to be wowed by what players create, not fear it. My point is not that MMORPGS are inherently a bad medium, but we've come to the realization that as creative people it is not a medium we enjoy working with. I'm sure experienced MMORPG developers could have told us this from the outset, but sometimes you have to explore the possibilities and decide for yourself if you can work within the limitations.
An Open Door to Community Content via Mods
Over the years, we've received a lot of requests for things people would like to see in Antilia. Sometimes the answer is "yes", but often requests have simply fallen outside our plans for the lore, the style of the world, or are just too specific for a single player. In this re-design, we can finally make use of the incredible modding potential that comes with owning our own custom engine and tools. By making these tools fully available, without concern that they will be used to exploit a closed MMORPG environment, the potential for Antilia really opens up. Creating a new fur texture, clothing item, or even a whole new playable race could be just a matter of running the editor and saving a new content pack.
A Better Environment for Story Telling
Over the years we've put quite a bit of work developing lore - describing the different races, their cultures, historical characters, and even their languages. The MMORPG format has been noted as a difficult space to tell such stories in. Often, much of that sort of work is hidden behind in-game books, awkward cut-scenes, and walls of quest text. To that end, we are interested in creating a single-player "Story Mode" - which uses all the same gameplay systems as Sandbox, but in a more carefully designed, linear way. Stories in Story Mode are comprised of chapters, with each chapter being able to more finely control the game environment in a variety of ways to lead the characters through story events.
Obviously this is quite a significant change for the project, and it will take more than just an afternoon announcement to fully describe how things will be changed. If you have questions feel free to ask in the forums, and we'll continue to provide information as we have it.