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The Saga of Pantheon's Development Thus Far

    • 4580 posts
    April 26, 2021 2:45 PM PDT

    Hey all, 

    I recently made a video which chronicles Pantheon's development process from day 1 until now, since it's obviously been a long and sometimes confusing process. But I think now is a good time to zoom out and really take a look at the entire history, in hopes that we as a community can start to clear some things up. However, I understand that many people prefer reading over watching a video, so I wanted to provide you all with a text-only version as well, which you can find in this google doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PqhBekQxtG-g9oVHnWnicCgx7rl360M6YEcGZ2f44kI/edit?usp=sharing

    On the last page of the doc, I included all the sources that I referenced in the making of this script, if you'd like to do some more digging on your own.

    If you’ve been following the game for a while, you may be able to think of some details, both good and bad, that I didn’t include. But for the sake of being concise, I decided to stick to the main events that have shaped the overall development path of Pantheon. I hope you'll learn something from it, and I hope that will allow for more productive conversation moving forward.

    Baz

    • 811 posts
    April 26, 2021 6:27 PM PDT
    Good deal pal. Appreciate it.
    • 36 posts
    April 26, 2021 6:52 PM PDT

    The sources are great. Keep it up!

    • 20 posts
    April 26, 2021 6:56 PM PDT

    One of the best videos you've made to date!  That's quite a bit of research and I remember "attempting" to kickstart it way back then. 

    • 2793 posts
    April 27, 2021 3:05 AM PDT

    Nice one, Baz.  A lot of work went into that!  I took the liberty of making notes on the timeline and points that seemed pertinent to me. I'll put it here in case anyone is interested in an even smaller summary than Baz's vid! Please correct me if anything is wrong.

    Sept 2013: VR founded by Brad + 9

    Brad: Publishers pushed for Vanguard release before ready. Wanted to avoid that, and other, mistakes. Opted for kickstarter.
    Used Unity to make a basic demo for kickstarter campaign
    Kickstarter goal $800,000 with aim to maybe release 2017
    Pledges got to $460,000 = $0 the way kickstarter works
    Criticism about the "Help us make your game" high-level design philosophy and community lead plan vs. publishing design plans
    Over 300,000 people pledged to 'just an idea', though, which let them know they had enough of an audience

    Feb 2014: Launched own website, pantheonrotf.com

    April 2014: Halted due to no money for wages, so people had to go earn a living

    May 2014: Restarted with volunteer team
    Put together Proof Of Concept to get funding
    Persisted as 'hobbyist' project

    End 2014 - early 2015: Needed business focus, but Brad wanted to stay out of that, so team underwent shake-up
    Chris Rowen became CEO
    Tim Sullivan became CFO
    Chris Perkins promted to Creative Director
    Etc

    Early 2015: Fresh start with 80-90% of game 'scrapped' though pillars and tenets remain

    Brad asked Chris to developer a 'co-vision' with him and things like Climates, Artifacts, Atmospheres, Perception, Dispositions, Mastery and Climbing were included and Chris working on detailed design began in earnest.
    Lore details changed to align though high-level concepts maintained.
    Continued using Unity since it allowed world building of a funding showcase to continue without 'coders'
    Brad planned to revisit, making own assets once they could afford to

    Sept 2015: Seed funding from private investor
    Launch of company website visonaryrealms.com
    Relaunch of game website pantheonmmo.com
    First livestream of the game

    Apr 2016: Disposalist pledges!

    Dec 2016: Cohh channel streams began

    Apr 2017: Series A funding
    Expansion of team
    Semi-private pre-alpha state with external testers and focus groups

    Oct 2017: Twitchcon announcement of pre-alpha

    Dec 2017: Pre-alpha with 100s of VIP backers

    Apr 2018: Brad at PAX East mentions Pantheon should be in alpha toward end of year. Emphasis on "should".
    Goal moved to allow greater focus on "closer to launch-quality art and polish"

    Dec 2018: Beginning of Project Faerthale with the goal of "bringing together the full Pantheon experience, with all of the systems, animations, models, sounds, and effects one would expect to see in a modern game"
    Realised that continuing with then-current (backed into a corner with hard-coding) practices, they wouldn't be able to ship the game. Vanguard 2.0...
    Though Pantheon appeared to be progressing toward completion from the outside, it required major underlying change to move forward.

    Oct 2019: Daniel Krenn (Lead Programmer) moves on. Kyle Olson (15 years coding Unity) takes over and starts to rebuild.

    Nov 2019: Brad passes away. VR is even more resolved to deliver on The Vision and "make worlds, not games"

    Jan 2020: Chris Perkins steps into additional Creative and Programmer Producer
    Greenlights Pantheon re-factor
    Unity assets replaced with grey-boxing and performant custom assets
    Remaining hard-coding replaced with flexible tooling
    Use of tools like Houdini

    Sep 2020: Pre-alpha returns with new build

    Dec 2020: Project Faerthale complete. Core systems replaced. The "Evaluation Build" complete to show publishers and investors.

    Jan 2021: Seven figure private investment announced. 'Full funding' is still not achieved, though even in 2020 - before this investment - Ben Dean made it clear the 'current velocity' of crowd-funding was enough to launch eventually.
    This investment will be used to push for alpha with thousands of players.
    Ben Dean: "we have turned down offers that would have provided us full funding but required us to give up creative control. We’re not interested in selling out like that..."

    March 2021: Alpha To-Do list shared. No time scale, but steps needed.


    This post was edited by disposalist at April 27, 2021 3:05 AM PDT
    • 3583 posts
    April 27, 2021 6:27 AM PDT

    Thanks for the summary. 

    Thanks for the summary of the summary.

    • 1944 posts
    April 27, 2021 11:13 AM PDT

    Very interesting to read as I didn't have a clue about how the game started and in which conditions.

     

    I like how it endured many difficulties and admitted errors in management, while still beeing driven by passion.

    • 4580 posts
    April 27, 2021 1:58 PM PDT

    Great bullet points Dispo, thanks for doing that! My only note is that ~3,000 people pledged to the Kickstarter, not 300,000 - if 300,000 people had pledged, I bet the trajectory would have been much much different :P also love that you included when you pledged lol, looks like we pledged around the same time!


    This post was edited by Bazgrim at April 27, 2021 2:00 PM PDT
    • 518 posts
    April 27, 2021 3:34 PM PDT

    Love the video I agree with Arkonis this has to be one of your best to date. I wasone of the original Kickstaters and have been watching the game since than and tons of interesting facts your bring up I did not know about. After the kickstater ended I took a little while to pledge again but I think I made a an account right off? Anyways not sure when I made my second pledge but my profile has February 17, 2014.

    • 811 posts
    April 27, 2021 6:23 PM PDT
    God damn I thought this thread was deleted for a min. Glad I can come back and read more
    • 1293 posts
    April 28, 2021 6:38 AM PDT

    Well done.

    • 4580 posts
    April 29, 2021 7:26 AM PDT
    Thanks for the kind words all. Please feel free to share the video or google doc with anyone you come across who wants to learn about Pantheon. I think this will serve as a solid foundation for the discussion.