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If you haven't been following the ongoing development of Visionary Realms' ambitious MMORPG Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen particularly closely but would still like to know where the game stands development-wise, you can now fill in the blanks, so to speak, by reading the latest official newsletters. The one from January looks back at the game's development throughout 2017, and the February one puts a spotlight on the current state of the game. And for those of you already following the game's progress, these newsletters also talk a bit about Pantheon's harvesting mechanics and its Elves. An excerpt:
IT HAS BEGUN!
Pantheon's Pre-Alpha era has officially begun! If you ask anyone on the team, this is the most significant milestone of the year. The dawn of Pre-Alpha marks the beginning of Pantheon's public consumption. For the first time, people beyond our development team have stepped foot in Terminus - hundreds of people have begun exploring the Human capital zone of Thronefast. They are leveling, questing, exploring, documenting and testing, testing, testing.
The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive and constructive. Already, we have tracked down some particularly nasty bugs, received extremely helpful feedback on several of our game systems and have experienced the joy of playing Pantheon alongside hundreds of fellow players. It has been a huge step forward in Pantheon's development and extremely validating to us and our efforts. The next round of Pre-Alpha testing, what we're calling Pre-Alpha 2, is set to begin in a few short weeks. I can't wait to see where this next round will bring us!
- The Perception System and our first start-to-finish Storyline is moving along nicely. The Pre-Alpha testers will be able to experience the first fully intact "leg" or chapter of this Storyline in the upcoming testing phase. This includes not only the story content (dialogue, characters, who/what/where/when/why), but also the experience as a whole, including all mechanics, UI art, audio, etc.
- The Combat System and ability design has taken a huge step forward with the hiring of Jason Weimann late last year. Since coming on the team, Jason has been hard at work revamping our Ability tool (the interface designers use to create the sophisticated abilities that our classes and NPCs will use) as well as creating the functionality for some of our more in-depth combat system mechanics. More information on those mechanics will be coming soon. With these elements in place, the differentiating aspects of our combat and class design will begin to take shape.
- On the Class design front, we are focused on the Ranger and the Dire Lord right now. While the Ranger is not exclusively a ranged combat class, the time we spend fleshing out the Ranger's ranged gameplay mechanics will go a long way towards informing how we approach ranged combat in our NPCs and certain environmental scenarios as well. This is exciting for us, because physical-based ranged attacks, be it arrow or tomahawk, single shot or a battalion volley, is not something we've been able to show off yet. And as for the Dire Lord, I know many of you are curious as to what this class is all about. The mystery currently shrouding this class is fitting - we're excited to reveal more soon!
- NPC encounter design has been a priority with the release of the Halnir Cave zone for Pre-Alpha 2 testing. Pre-Alpha 1 testing took place in Thronefast, a large outdoor zone. Halnir Cave is the first true dungeon we are releasing for testing and as such we want to capture the essence of NPC dungeon encounters as fully as possible for our testers to experience. Everything from NPC placement, ability arsenal, special behaviors, defining minor and major boss mechanics, itemization, etc. It will be a true dungeon experience ripe for testing.
- Our NPC AI is moving steadily forward, including our Disposition system (one of our differentiators). In a nutshell, Dispositions are designed to be a unique behavioral layer of AI that certain NPCs will have. These unique behavioral tendencies will need to be identified by players through observation and experience, and at times will require the skill of players trained in the Perception system. We currently have 6 Dispositions in and working: Angry, Alarmist, Pyrophobic, Predator, Sniper and Animal Lover.
- In addition to our Dispositions, right now we are taking a closer look at NPC caster AI to fine tune their movement and arsenal selection during combat. We're asking questions like: how smart should their spell selection be? What spells should they prioritize and why? How often should they use ability combinations to stay at range, or get back to range?
- Lastly, constant work is being done on tuning and balancing the game as a whole. The Player vs. NPC power, stat distribution from levels 1-50 and how all of this plays into ability tuning, itemization - really, every aspect of the game is touched by this. We remain committed to making Pantheon a well-tuned experience from start to finish and so we will continue keeping a close eye on this as we move forward.