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The Road To Alpha!

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    • Moderator
    • 9041 posts
    March 27, 2021 2:19 AM PDT

    The latest Producer's letter is live and filled with lots of great information, check it out at https://www.pantheonmmo.com/news/producers-letter-march-2021/

     May be a cartoon of text


    This post was edited by Kilsin at March 27, 2021 5:43 PM PDT
    • 1874 posts
    March 27, 2021 3:12 AM PDT

    Good news and long list. Let's hope for the best !

    • 1 posts
    March 27, 2021 3:31 AM PDT

    can't wat to test my hands are shacking.

    • 35 posts
    March 27, 2021 3:58 AM PDT

    Welcome Tehom! Very encouraging to see that's the path forward, and with Alpha in tracking distance no less! Can't wait for more dispositions to be put in. Should make those content uploaders clench tighter.

    • 3016 posts
    March 27, 2021 4:05 AM PDT

    Thanks for the information.

    For the benefit of anyone feeling that the end of the tunnel is near - I note that the goal for 2021 which is all they feel they can do with what they describe as a relatively small team is to flesh out their internal goals for what should be in alpha-1. Not to actually have all of this ready to go. So we will not be seeing alpha this year.

    • 15 posts
    March 27, 2021 4:55 AM PDT

    Here we go with some good news and some more caveats, to temper expectations.

     

    • 12 posts
    March 27, 2021 5:48 AM PDT

    12. We would like to add the capability to load ability/spell sets so you don’t have to spend a ton of time manually selecting spells & abilities you have already saved to a loadout.

    VR should prepare the code that handles the spell/abilities bar to be flexible, not only in terms of slot number but also to allow more bars to be in. I get the feeling Alpha-One players will mass report the current implementation as being insuficient.

    • 188 posts
    March 27, 2021 6:49 AM PDT

    I don't have an exact reference on hand, but I recall Joppa saying, in a stream or dev interview recently, that he wanted Alpha to comprise a fully fleshed out 1-50 experience. To be honest, that seemed very ambitious to me, if not unlikely. I am pleased to see that now you are shooting for a "mostly fleshed out" 1-30 experience for the first Alpha tests. Can you explain the thought process that went into relaxing the internal requirements for shifting from pre-Alpha to Alpha?

    • 113 posts
    March 27, 2021 7:39 AM PDT

    I can appreciate VR wanting to provide a good experience to testers.  However, it is an alpha test so there is a certain amount of understanding that comes with that even today.  This just feels like an attempt to hide the current state of the game to buy them more time to get funding.  If you're scared to show what's behind the curtain that's a problem.  I would argue that by opening up this state of the game to the alpha testers you'll get a lot more information a lot quicker.  Just rip it off like a bandaid guys and stay focused.  The longer you put off the inevitable the more likely you are to do the exact opposite of what your intentions are i.e. not dissapoint your fans.  If anything I would be focusing on finding someone to hire to handle the influx of information this is going to provide to take advantage of it while the interest is still somewhat strong.


    This post was edited by Frostyglitch at March 27, 2021 7:59 AM PDT
    • 1641 posts
    March 27, 2021 8:06 AM PDT

    IMO:
    From the letter..
    1 - All classes have been designed/done twice before and aren't now?  All their abilities are in the database, what's the issue?
    2 - Already been demonstrated in 2016.  Why not use that implementation?
    3 - It's not AI, it's scripting.  AI isn't actually real.
    4 - You have the god-mode network library you wrote in house, use that.
    5 - Global chat, ranks, a bank, and a calendar.  All solved problems.
    6 - Progression?  That implies tangible rewards.. which.. would be new..
    7 - What has Nephele designed in the past 6 months?
    8 - Regional or global?
    9 - If one is done, they're all done.  Just change the effects in the database and add another row.
    10 - If it's level gated, then the skill cap improves with level and skill increases with use.
    11 - Oh? What are they and what do they do?
    12 - Without a significant cooldown, all classes that can exit/enter combat, with this implemented, will bypass the LAS trivially.
    13 - Has it ever been demonstrated, publicly?
    14 - This has been discussed dozens of times over the past 7+ years, and you don't have it designed completely?
    15 - Why type of factions? NPC? What NPC races? Guilds?  What NPC guilds? Gods?  What Gods?
    16 - solved problem, give them tasks/quests.  If the UI is useable, it will be logically self evident.
    17 - what about all the models built over the past 7+ years?  What about what's in the Unity store?
    18 - Same as 17..
    19 - Not a priority to me, but I s'pose it matters to some.
    20 - What happened to 1-50?  Why the scale back?

    Currently, what is the launch day goal for the number of continents and number of zones, and number of zones per tier, globally, for Terminus?  Will Alpha have 10% of it? 30%? What's the target?
    Where's an updated world map?
    What updates have been done since the web site revamp of August 31, 2020, the sole reason for which was to make updates easier?
    When will the forums be updated?

    Lastly, the phrases "a big part of this year is" and "A little of both will be done before the year is over" implies there will be no Alpha before Dec 31, 2021.  True? False?
    While you've made it clear you're unwilling to provide a date for Alpha, is it currently a public design goal to reach Alpha and have Alpha testers testing the game before Dec 31, 2021?

    • 1163 posts
    March 27, 2021 10:40 AM PDT

    Kaynrath said:

    12. We would like to add the capability to load ability/spell sets so you don’t have to spend a ton of time manually selecting spells & abilities you have already saved to a loadout.

    VR should prepare the code that handles the spell/abilities bar to be flexible, not only in terms of slot number but also to allow more bars to be in. I get the feeling Alpha-One players will mass report the current implementation as being insuficient.

    Pantheon is going to have a limited action set. There will not be any more bars. In fact, originally it was only the original 8 or 10 slot bar. They only recently added the smaller top bar for non-combat abilities.

    Pantheon is not going to be like the MMO's have have 4 or 5 bars of abilities on screen at once.


    This post was edited by bigdogchris at March 27, 2021 10:41 AM PDT
    • 2159 posts
    March 27, 2021 12:59 PM PDT

    vjek said:

    IMO:
    From the letter..
    1 - All classes have been designed/done twice before and aren't now?  All their abilities are in the database, what's the issue?
    2 - Already been demonstrated in 2016.  Why not use that implementation?
    3 - It's not AI, it's scripting.  AI isn't actually real.
    4 - You have the god-mode network library you wrote in house, use that.
    5 - Global chat, ranks, a bank, and a calendar.  All solved problems.
    6 - Progression?  That implies tangible rewards.. which.. would be new..
    7 - What has Nephele designed in the past 6 months?
    8 - Regional or global?
    9 - If one is done, they're all done.  Just change the effects in the database and add another row.
    10 - If it's level gated, then the skill cap improves with level and skill increases with use.
    11 - Oh? What are they and what do they do?
    12 - Without a significant cooldown, all classes that can exit/enter combat, with this implemented, will bypass the LAS trivially.
    13 - Has it ever been demonstrated, publicly?
    14 - This has been discussed dozens of times over the past 7+ years, and you don't have it designed completely?
    15 - Why type of factions? NPC? What NPC races? Guilds?  What NPC guilds? Gods?  What Gods?
    16 - solved problem, give them tasks/quests.  If the UI is useable, it will be logically self evident.
    17 - what about all the models built over the past 7+ years?  What about what's in the Unity store?
    18 - Same as 17..
    19 - Not a priority to me, but I s'pose it matters to some.
    20 - What happened to 1-50?  Why the scale back?

    I really really wish these forums had thumbs up options because this is #%!@%#@ gold.  So much for Alpha in 2021, there's no way in heck we'll see all of that, or even a majority of that, done in the next 9 months.  Go go Alpha One 2022!!

    • 109 posts
    March 27, 2021 1:44 PM PDT

    Great info in this Producer's Letter!  Very good to see a basic roadmap laid out, especially for those not in the PA sessions.  Looking forward to the 10th and 11th of April :)

    • 41 posts
    March 27, 2021 2:05 PM PDT

    First of all, thank you guys for the great road map. I feel like this is definitely what I've been hoping to see and what you all mentioned you wanted to distribute.

    I did want to highlight one section that I saw as particularly noteworthy from the letter as it can be easy to focus on the amount of work left to do and the fact that there isn't a set date.

    "So a big part of this year is exploring options on how to finish Alpha One in a reasonable timeframe. Our current options are to add more resources or to descope some of the features for A1. A little of both will be done before the year is over." 

    This to me sets the expectation, albeit loosely, that we should expect Alpha One in 2021. I can see how it could be interpreted differently though. I think interpreting it as Alpha One in 2021 also reflects the tone from the January Roundtable. It makes sense to withhold specific dates until they absolutely know. I'm happy to see that they will be flexible on their goals and hopefully continue to increase their resources (Welcome Adam Mostel!). This seems to reflect their desire to get Alpha One in our hands and is mirrored by at least several community members who have made posts stating we will take Alpha even if it doesn't include certain classes or features. 

    Thanks again for the road map and all of the work you all are doing and I look forward to hearing of the progress made and of course...Alpha One!

    • 56 posts
    March 27, 2021 2:17 PM PDT

    vjek said:

    IMO:
    From the letter..
    1 - All classes have been designed/done twice before and aren't now?  All their abilities are in the database, what's the issue?
    2 - Already been demonstrated in 2016.  Why not use that implementation?
    3 - It's not AI, it's scripting.  AI isn't actually real.
    4 - You have the god-mode network library you wrote in house, use that.
    5 - Global chat, ranks, a bank, and a calendar.  All solved problems.
    6 - Progression?  That implies tangible rewards.. which.. would be new..
    7 - What has Nephele designed in the past 6 months?
    8 - Regional or global?
    9 - If one is done, they're all done.  Just change the effects in the database and add another row.
    10 - If it's level gated, then the skill cap improves with level and skill increases with use.
    11 - Oh? What are they and what do they do?
    12 - Without a significant cooldown, all classes that can exit/enter combat, with this implemented, will bypass the LAS trivially.
    13 - Has it ever been demonstrated, publicly?
    14 - This has been discussed dozens of times over the past 7+ years, and you don't have it designed completely?
    15 - Why type of factions? NPC? What NPC races? Guilds?  What NPC guilds? Gods?  What Gods?
    16 - solved problem, give them tasks/quests.  If the UI is useable, it will be logically self evident.
    17 - what about all the models built over the past 7+ years?  What about what's in the Unity store?
    18 - Same as 17..
    19 - Not a priority to me, but I s'pose it matters to some.
    20 - What happened to 1-50?  Why the scale back?

    1. These are the final iterations and not concept based.
    2. Need to be redone due to new iterations.
    3. Fair point.
    4. Yes, they have a library, but they still need to implement it properly across all systems. This takes a lot of time to test and debug.
    5. Not a fan of global chat. Guild, group and zone chat are much more important.
    6. Progression was always apart of pantheon’s goals.
    7. A lot. There’s more then one type of crafting system he needs to handle. Also keep in mind he needs to weave together harvesting and crafting in a way that makes sense. I would rather have Vanguards style crafting over EverQuest any day.
    8. Both would be neat, but I’m guessing global.
    9. Trust me, it’s a lot more then one row in a database.
    10. No idea.
    11. Good question.
    12. If a workaround or exploit is found I’m guessing it will be patched the same day or asap.
    13. Yes, it was on a CohhCarnage stream from around 3-4 years ago.
    14. Not a priority I’m guessing. From what the news letter says most of the PA session’s are timed and people have other things to worry about.
    15. All of the above, in EverQuest there’s over 750 factions. Think about the lore behind each one and the time it takes to come up with it. Writing everything must be a nightmare.
    16. I agree with your statement, plus the intro VR has made to show publishers.
    17/18. Unity store models and animations are place holders. However I would like it if they kept the shaman wolf attack where it's just kinda slapping the target around. "https://youtu.be/VO3MuXT7GrU?t=2803"
    19. Love me some good audio, but lets get real. People are going to be having their own music list playing in the background.
    20. Change of scope. It’s better to have a refined 1-30 alpha, then a half finished 1-50. Plus it’s still just the first session of alpha.


    This post was edited by Wyatt at March 27, 2021 2:58 PM PDT
    • 1878 posts
    March 27, 2021 2:45 PM PDT

    I appreciate the push forward.  That is what the community needs.

    Just so people are clear, this outline for alpha is very different than the outline we have gotten in the past (this is more detailed but it includes less over all...less levels, less zones, not "feature complete").

    Many have joked that VR can be in alpha anytime they want.  They just have to rename PA5/6 to alpha.  That is what this is.

    I am glad for it.  There are benefits to moving forward in name even if it isn't in the state that has been planned. 


    This post was edited by philo at March 27, 2021 3:37 PM PDT
    • 207 posts
    March 27, 2021 4:06 PM PDT

    eunichron said:

    I don't have an exact reference on hand, but I recall Joppa saying, in a stream or dev interview recently, that he wanted Alpha to comprise a fully fleshed out 1-50 experience. To be honest, that seemed very ambitious to me, if not unlikely. I am pleased to see that now you are shooting for a "mostly fleshed out" 1-30 experience for the first Alpha tests. Can you explain the thought process that went into relaxing the internal requirements for shifting from pre-Alpha to Alpha?

     

    Honestly, I don't understand what is so sacred about a level cap of 50/60 that every game and their mobile companion app seem to want to use.  Baldur's Gate (admittedly a different kind of game) and KotOR had level caps of the 8-10 range (BG1) and 20 range (KotOR).  There's nothing inherently holy about level 50.  I'd honestly rather an MMO launch with only 30 levels, because then every level up could be meaningful (add a new spell/skill, etc) without there being massive bloat.

    As it is, games get around this by either having tons of spell ranks (with the lower ones being "filler" at higher levels) OR big gaps in skill gains OR higher levels just upgrade spells (e.g. Stone 1 becomes Stone 2, etc), which would be avoided if you just had a smaller level cap to begin with.

    I honestly would rather see level 30 as "endgame" at launch, especially since the goal is to have level 30 raids anyway.

    • 207 posts
    March 27, 2021 4:24 PM PDT

    Also: "14. We need an LFG tool for people to find or fill groups."

    Heh, you read my post in General, then?

    Probably not, but it is funny on the timing.  :D

    EDIT:

    All of the above, in EverQuest there’s over 750 factions. Think about the lore behind each one and the time it takes to come up with it. Writing everything must be a nightmare.


    I feel this is one of those areas where they could REALLY leverage the community.  For example, give me a little faction somewhere with a blurb about their lore and I could make some ideas/quests even dialogue for it and toss back at you.  While they might not use it all, oursourcing this to the community would probably produce a lot, and then they'd just have to skim through until they found stuff they liked and tweak it to their needs before implementing it, which honstly would take less time than wiriting it all themselves, especially if we're talking 100-200 factions.

    While you wouldn't do this for major lore ones, for small factions here or there in little corners of the world, it would cut down a lot on that bog and give them a lot of different perspectives they could use as they saw fit for different NPC characters and mini-plots/quests.  Not to mention it would get the community involved, which is always a good thing.

    I guess this comes too close to their pledge tier that allows people to create a questline, but they'd essentially be getting dev work for free here.  Granted, why get for free a thing you can get someone to give you AND pay for the pleasure of doing so, but if we're talking tons of man-hours that you need to fill, this would make sense.  -shrug-


    This post was edited by Renathras at March 27, 2021 4:29 PM PDT
    • 79 posts
    March 27, 2021 7:54 PM PDT

    To Wyatt: well put. to vjek: While I understand your frustation,but its clear (at least to me as someone who went to school for programming) that you litterally have no idea how much and how long it takes to develop a finished code from a shitty phone game to something as complicated as a MMORPG.  while I cant say a whole lot since i found it (not to my liking) which in turns mean it kicked my ass and was way more than i was ready for.  As much as i want this game to release yesterday and can gripe and ***** about how long its taking... for coments like this to surface from people who obviously have no idea what it takes to produce this level of product, to me is frustrating... i dont mean to be rude. but i take your comments as hostile to say the least (degrading mostly) these are the guys that are building the MMO we want and need. the bottom line is there's a door right there. accept it or GTFO... 

    • 300 posts
    March 27, 2021 8:13 PM PDT
    This is the type of list I have been looking for. Thank you for putting it out there so we know what needs worked on. Looking forward to seeing more tasks completed.
    • 1057 posts
    March 27, 2021 8:48 PM PDT

    Great information to finally see.

    I'm very interested to see how the PA5 results go for: "The focus of these sessions will be on combat tuning, particularly on itemization, and even more specifically on the stamina stat. We are looking for data on how gear is affecting your combat, and how stamina is affecting your gameplay"

    One of my strongest curiosities is how attributes, combined with itemization affects combat.  For me "personally" it is a major deciding factor on character development - which starts at character conception for me.

    • 8 posts
    March 28, 2021 12:32 AM PDT

    While the list for the road to Alpha seems long and meaty, to the best of my recolection this is the first time that mention of Alpha has been made officially! That is fantastic. That said, I am anxious for Alpha to arive. I also know that depending on the libraries in place, testing modules, etc. will dramatically affect the time for Alpha. For instance the tester that was developed for the ?Farthanol? project  that allows the team to rund 1,000 combates at increasing levels and then determin if the trend line is within the bound of thier expectations is a fantastic tool that I would think reduces the time to develop a class. The rendering tool that was developed for enhancing the UI and allows going from Grey box to a fairly fleshed out UI is fantastic. Indeed, I expect that much of what is needed in the engine is able to take advantage of what has been done. However, the network is not part of the Engine and that can make or break the game. My hope is that they willl be just a diligent about the tools for creating and testing the Network Stack. I look forward to following this progress.

     

    So while I would like Alpha to be announced for Summer, let alone end of year... I am content to see the raod map and hopefully see progress with each post going forward.

     

    Lastly, I just want to say good job, well done VR. I believe in the values and methodology you have taken and look forward to adventures in this new and exciting world of Terminus!

    • 428 posts
    March 29, 2021 3:20 AM PDT

    This is good news. We know where we are and what needs to be done and where the work is being targeted. 

    "It's not AI, it's scripting.  AI isn't actually real." 

    Of course, AI is real! Definition:  Artificial intelligence is a type of computer technology which is concerned with making machines work in an intelligent way.

    Scripting is telling the computer to do specific tasks in specific orders with some logic control, AI is concerned about using scripts to understand the data it is presented with and deal intelligently with it. It can then apply the results of those choices (whether it was a good or bad) to modify future processing and potentially cause a change in that behaviour. AI can, over iterations, changes its output depending on what it learns. 

    Scripting is about applying rules to a given set of data perfectly, every time - the data is without context. AI is about trying to understanding what the data actually means in the first place and applying a rule that is most appropriate to that data - contextual data. Scripts are used to build AI. AI is emergant from those scripts as the AI learns and modifies its own behaviour based on the data available. 

    In the same way, it is incomplete to say a story is a grouping of sentences. A story emerges out of the meanings of those sentences. AI is more than a number of scripts, it emerges out of those scripts and its associated data and how it decides to apply rules to the data it is measuring.

    You have the god-mode network library you wrote in house, use that.

    I didnt realise the limitations and scalability of the "god-mode" network library was made public, where, please, tell me?

    I think it best to leave decisions regarding which library is most appropriate for the project to those that know the Pantheon code inside and out. It's like saying that we should use a submarine for a taxi. It can carry people, it can move. But is it right for the task? No! Just because something can perform a function does not mean it should. Is it easy to use? Is it efficient? Is it fast? Is it safe? Does it fulfil all requirements? etc.!

    I could go on with other proclamations that have been erroneously made, but honestly it isnt worth our time.

    VR have kindly given a list of things that need completing for Alpha One to occur. It is good to see VR being transparent about what needs to be done. Constructive criticism is one thing that should be employed, but that criticism has to be logical, complete, correct and justified. Uttering unsubstantiated assertions is counterproductive. I totally get the gripes of the game not being ready and the delays and the lack of clarity. Here we have that clarity and vision. 

    Keep up the good work VR. Looking forward to more and more.

     


    This post was edited by chenzeme at March 29, 2021 8:44 AM PDT
    • 195 posts
    March 29, 2021 8:54 AM PDT

    Any alpha news is good news to me, thank you for the update.

    • 324 posts
    March 29, 2021 5:40 PM PDT

    I'm really happy with the 2021 progress.  When anything is announced for availability I always assume the last possible date of that year.  Thus I think Alpha was going to be December 2021.  Anything sooner than that...good going.  I'm no programmer, but we've heard how VR had to redo a lot of work.  That takes time.  I've worked at a start up company and it's hard to do.  I'm impressed VR is getting better at letting us know stuff.  Good job.