September Newsletter

Things have been quite around here, too quiet! My cave creeper sense has been tingling in anticipation of a newsletter release.. and here it is!

Pre-Alpha 3 was wrapped up last month and the team is hard at work to have all classes are ready up to level 40 for Pre-Alpha 4 later this fall. We are treated to a Q and A around a redesign of one of the playable races, The Skar.

We were never satisfied with the initial rendering of the Skar, from an artistic or mechanical perspective. Those two areas of consideration are actually what prompted us to go back to the drawing board.

The first attempt was a “shot in the dusk”, not total darkness.

I love this quote from Jared Pullen..

From the get go we knew that the Skar were by far our most chaotic player race, given over to pursuits of violence and carnage the likes of which most other Terminus races wouldn’t even dream of. The catch cry of the Skar is not “Prepare to die!”... it’s more “I like your face, I want to wear it as a helmet...” 

There is also discussion around Skargol, the starting city of the Skar. This (like so much of Pantheon) is an area I am very eager to check out! It sounds like an amazingly cool and creepy place to start out a new character or to visit as a tourist. ;-)

.. the Dead Sheer; a towering spear head of splintered rock on the scale of a mountain peak, erupting upwards like the withering digit of a fell and angry devil. A grizzly monument to torment and despair it stands, adorned with the shrivelled remnants of past victims whose blackened bones cry out from the very rocks. All this amidst an acrid wasteland pocked by fetid acid pools and barren rock stained by chemically unstable mineral compounds that leach upwards from the very bowls of Terminus. It is a vile place, a hazardous place. One does not simply walk into Skargol…

Lastly we get the opportunity to see more of what’s under wraps with Pantheon’s development. This month’s focus is on one of the new, not yet seen city zones, Faerthale. The city is coming along and will be available during Pre-Alpha 4 testing. I really love the thought being put into developing this zone..

There are several unique experiences you’ll discover in the zone and each of them are expansive enough that it doesn’t make your adventures feel like micro-adventures. They’re also not so large that they feel empty. On top of it we need to ensure that all of the experiences in the zone fit into the overall zone thematically and practically.

Speaking of Pre-Alpha 4, the team is hard at work finishing off all of the playable classes to level 40. This is a large order to fill when you consider what needs to be done around spells and abilities. It’s an iterative process and needs balancing against everything else in the game.

An even larger portion of the design comes down to the spell and ability matrix. This is the heart of every Class as it defines what those Classes can do. A lot of time is spent going through these spells and abilities one by one and bouncing them off of each other. They need to work as a conceptional design but they also need to be realistic in terms of programming and they need to stay true to the overall style of the game. A lot of check and balance discussions happen over the spell and ability matrices.

It’s an iterative process and needs balancing against everything else in the game. This is where testers come in and eventually post-launch players. It’s a process which never really ends!

We’ll then test the classes with all of their new abilities internally in different scenarios and fix bugs and tweak balancing issues. We catch and fix a lot in this stage but it’s nothing like having hundreds of live testers trying thousands of things we could not account for. For that we are forever grateful to our PA testers. This balancing is a lifelong process as new players and new scenarios arise. So Classes are far from a fire-and-forget approach. Their growth and evolution will continue through Pre-Alpha, Alpha, Beta and well past launch.