Greetings once again and welcome to another long catch-up blog. There is so much to cover this time around, and many changes to the overall direction of our project that will be outlined. Going forward, you will see big changes in the way we handle development, and we look forward to hearing your feedback about them.

Alpha Release Progress

I'm sure Alpha release progress is the topic that everyone is most interested in, so I'll cover it first. Around the last week of November, our team shifted from a feature implementation and prototyping development stage to an aggressive content development and content testing phase. With a new focus on content creation came the demand for "actual" art as opposed to "conceptual” art, pushing us to develop on a far more consistent basis. It has been a long road of rebuilding and organizing the map around new assets, however we're making great progress and looking to put the finishing touches on the map this week.

Night Time View

With that said, I'm sure you're wondering, what's next. Our team has been vigorously integrating new models into the map, while our coding team has been running parallel with the content, quality assurance, and marketing/business teams. The content team has been delivering tons of great content... SO MUCH GREAT CONTENT!!! Currently, they're dependent on us coders to implement it into the game as our toolsets are very primitive, coder-centric, or just flat out raw, yet simplified code. We've been slowly developing tools that will allow content designers/writers to implement and test their own missions, NPCs, and mobs. However, we're quite far from that being a viable tool to use. In the meantime, we'll continue on as we have been. For example, our Content Director has been doing mob scripting for the new starting area mob group, The Starborn, which includes 287 mob classes of varying levels.

The programming team has been hammering away at debugging, implementing content, and polishing our character generator. The latest iteration of the character generator represents how it will function in the final game, though art and styling may change over time. We have a few major elements that we're working to implement, and they are Origins, Genetics, and Profile in the Persona panel of the character generator.

Our marketing team is also gearing up for Alpha release, and building their launch campaign for the project. Alongside them, our business team is preparing for the Steam launch and resuming talks with interested investment parties as they start planning to strengthen our infrastructure's integrity. Our plan is to have the Alpha run for at least 1-2 months. The first phase of testing will be reserved for those that have donor status with the project. As people donate money they will, of course, be given immediate access to the game. They will also receive all of their accumulated donor rewards that are available in the game at that time. Over time we will also add additional testers drawn from people registered on our forums and later, open testing to the public at large. The Steam launch is pivotal for us and is anchored loosely on how financial negotiations mature with interested parties, and how well the Alpha is received by our players. We're in no rush to Steam, and it has always been our goal to have a well-established and highly refined product before heading to that market.

Character Generator V3 Progress

As always, we have continued to improve the character generation experience. We've expanded the traits concept into an element we're now calling Genetics. Genetics is a two-sided aspect of your character, and for each Benefit you apply you're forced to apply a Detriment. These pools are designed to give your character interesting passive abilities and properties, while still presenting flaws into the system. If your character has a Benefit such as Far Sight, they are able to see a greater distance than normal people; an ability that allows some ranged sniping attacks to work as an actual long range sniper attack. You’ll also have to pick a Detriment that is of an equal tier in order to move forward with character generation. Many of these Genetic properties affect gameplay, so choosing what is right for you will be very important part of character generation.

We are also expanding Origin implementation into the gameplay spectrum and beyond basic roleplaying elements. Players will see their chosen Origin affect dialogue choices, NPC responses, and in some situations, faction or organizational alignments. If, for example, your Origin is scientific and its sub-class is robot, you may interact with “cyberphobic” factions that speak to you with harsh tones and may not even associate with you at all. The same as some cyber or robotic groups refusing to associate with true, organic humans.

Character Generator
Character Generator

The final element of the character generation process being implemented is the Profile panel. This page takes defining your character to the next level. Instead of writing a simple biography or description of your character, you'll be able to target specific regions of your character and annotate unique details so that viewers can read a deeper, more focused account of your character. If your character has a cybernetic eye, simply select that eye inside the Profile panel and describe any details you'd like to share about it.

Transparency & Involvement

One of the biggest complaints from a lot of our supporters, both new and old is that they feel we’ve lost what originally made us so special to them; the transparency and openness we used to have between developers and our community. We’ve recently ran into a lot of brutal setbacks, like when over the course of two months, we lost our entire 3D art staff, and really weren't sure what was the best way to discuss it. Naturally when people hear that such a thing has happened, it just sounds bad and can even bring a sense of detriment from some people's perspectives. Being an undermanned development team is not good, losing an entire department on top of that is even worse. But, one thing that we've always done is press on and work around our problems. After talking more with the people at our studio, we came to the conclusion that we should just be more open about such things.

Your concerns matter. We've learned a lot over the last few years, and we're working to better ourselves as a studio and individuals. Going forward, you will see far more transparency from us in regard to the day-to-day developments of the game, the studio and the team.

We've also been listening to your opinions regarding our involvement here on the site and in the forums. It has been our desire to be more active, and many times we find ourselves having to choose between spending time developing the game or spending time in the forums. In most cases, we conclude that as players, you'd want us to focus on getting the game into your hands. The demands for us to be more active has been heard, and with development a bit more relaxed as we prepare for the Alpha launch, we are working harder to structure availability so that we can interact with everyone in the forums and social media more frequently.

The New Schedule

As part of the new venture to be more aggressive with involvement and community interaction, we'll shortly be shifting to the following schedule:

  • Monday - Community Developer Day: We'll post a topic and you'll tell us how you'd handle it if you were developing the game instead of us.
  • Tuesday - Lore Release Day: We'll share a sample of lore from our game's universe.
  • Wednesday - Heroes/Villains Face Off Day: We'll pit your heroes against our villains, or your villains against our heroes and see who the community feels would win. A special forum thread will be opened for character submissions and a detailed template will be provided.
  • Thursday - Top Screenshots/Videos Day: We'll compile our favorite screenshots and videos of gameplay from the latest Alpha build, and share them on our site and social media outlets.
  • Friday - Patch/Week in Review Day: We'll post an in-depth review of progress made throughout the week, and share any significant news that should accompany that progress. Once the Alpha has launched, Friday will be target patch days with the goal being to have updates available just in time for the weekend./li>
  • Saturday - Dev Talk Livestream Day: We'll be in-game interacting with players while following up on the fidelity of our patch release from Friday.
  • Sunday - Power Recharge Day: We'll most likely be relaxing on this day and preparing for Monday, but may be hanging around in-game observing.

More so now than ever, we're focused on stability, continuity, and consistency. This is the first steps towards establishing the social presence that we want to convey.

Steam & Business

The topic of the Steam release has lingered for quite a while unanswered. With Valve currently awaiting a review copy, our focus remains on delivering a worthy game. We believe that we have a strong and capable community and many features such as the career mode that will attract players from many other MMORPG classifications. Right now our goal is to deliver a content-rich experience with all the depth and interactive elements associated with a true roleplaying game. Until then, we'll continue to build, expand, polish and refine.

Regarding business, we're returning to the tables of interested publishing and investment parties and working towards better establishing our business. Very soon you'll see our network expand as four other games from four different teams launch their websites on the SHOGN network. Expansion will bring more exposure to Valiance from a wider range of MMORPG players.

Conclusion

There were a few more topics I was looking to touch on with this update, but I've reserved them for a follow-up blog post. As always, I want to say thank you to everyone that has donated to our cause, and to those who have supported us with their faith and votes of confidence. So thank you. Thanks for encouraging us, for believing in us. We're still at it, and there is much more to come! Until the next post...

Log in to comment

ryokoryu's Avatar
ryokoryu DeathClutch wrote:
Great. I dig the whole new schedule. Really looking forward to the whole new Heroes vs Villans. Hope you dont do the whole going rogue that coh had.. It just wasnt the same seeing Villans on the Heroes side.
That was some of my favorite content. I loved making heroic masterminds and bad tankers. Also the noble koolaid corruptor when water powers came out was epic.
AEGIS's Avatar
AEGIS I actually have tried to stop saying "soon" or "shortly" or things like that (though they still may slip out now and then) and usually respond with something along the lines of "when it is ready".

We're a small team with limited finances so we can't give a definite date right now.

What we are working on is a way to better communicate where we are in the development plan (yes we have one) so you can see our progress and what remains to be done before we move to the next phase of the project.

More on that... er... um... soon. (d'oh)

...

I should start a "Soon Jar" and toss a quarter in it every time I use that word. That would probably help support my coffee habit! B)
Pyrion's Avatar
Pyrion I am glad to hear about the game again. As a donor i would love to have a rough estimation on when alpha will start, you kept saying "soon" for a bit too long =). I understand your problems and if you would say "late summer" it would at least set a time frame. As of now, i only know "soon" which in my language means in the next few weeks (which has obviously not been true).
ivanhedgehog's Avatar
ivanhedgehog DeathClutch wrote:
Great. I dig the whole new schedule. Really looking forward to the whole new Heroes vs Villans. Hope you dont do the whole going rogue that coh had.. It just wasnt the same seeing Villans on the Heroes side.

I loved seeing villains redeeming themselves. Lack of side switching is one of the big fails of SWTOR
AEGIS's Avatar
AEGIS ivanhedgehog wrote:
It was only a three hour tour! The skipper was a mighty sailing man, what could go wrong?

ivanhedgehog's Avatar
ivanhedgehog AEGIS wrote:
Anothername wrote:
But... err... I cant deny reading the part where you "lost" a whole art department about 3 times in a row.

Yeah, not sure what happened. They were taking a little vacation and we never saw them again...

:O

It was only a three hour tour! The skipper was a mighty sailing man, what could go wrong?
ZeeHero's Avatar
ZeeHero Thanks for responding. Money is kind of short right now for me but I may be donating to the project very soon thanks to the professionalism I see in this project, and my hopes for an alternative to Champions Online, which I loved but is kinda dying.
AEGIS's Avatar
AEGIS ZeeHero wrote:
Did you replace your lost staff yet, or expect to have a replacement soon?

Also I would like to know if the Valiance character creator will allow the same detail of customization with character faces as it does with bodies. the face is an important part of a character, helps define them as a person.

We've contracted two artists and will be looking for more soon.

Characters will have 212 customizable body elements that we are in the process of attaching to the associated sliders. Many of them are facial elements, I'll get a count of them for you shortly (in a meeting as I type this).
DeathClutch's Avatar
DeathClutch Great. I dig the whole new schedule. Really looking forward to the whole new Heroes vs Villans. Hope you dont do the whole going rogue that coh had.. It just wasnt the same seeing Villans on the Heroes side.
SavageFist's Avatar
SavageFist Great to see a substantial update. :)

I'm sure you didn't look forward to posting it but it is appreciated nonetheless.

As far as the mention of getting to Steam, I say good, take your time. That is not a place you want to make a bad first impression.
ZeeHero's Avatar
ZeeHero Did you replace your lost staff yet, or expect to have a replacement soon?

Also I would like to know if the Valiance character creator will allow the same detail of customization with character faces as it does with bodies. the face is an important part of a character, helps define them as a person.
Kid Rad's Avatar
Kid Rad Great update! I have to say, I'm very encouraged by the move toward transparency and community outreach. I will now definitely be donating, and look forward to the alpha testing when it becomes available.
AEGIS's Avatar
AEGIS Anothername wrote:
But... err... I cant deny reading the part where you "lost" a whole art department about 3 times in a row.

Yeah, not sure what happened. They were taking a little vacation and we never saw them again...



:O
Anothername's Avatar
Anothername Oh, look. A new borderline color at my avatar. ;)

But... err... I cant deny reading the part where you "lost" a whole art department about 3 times in a row.

came to mind.
AvelWorldCreator's Avatar
AvelWorldCreator As I said in a off-topic statement in another thread, good job on the character creator improvements. You've done that despite staff shortages and that says a lot about the rest of your team. I'll keep an eye out for people when I can. Harder to network on your behalf but I'll try.