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Soulbound Studios | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Development  (est.rel 2017)  | Pub:Soulbound Studios
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Columns: From Game to MMORPG

By Tim Eisen on February 03, 2017

From Game to MMORPG

News this week was thin and once again located on the Elyria website, not emailed to all the backers. In the interest of transparency, I believe all crowd funded games should make every effort to keep as many of their backers as informed as they can without negatively impacting the process of development. I hope Soulbound can get back to emailing all backers sooner than later. I’ve even heard a rumor they plan too. As noted the news was thin but I think it could have been thicker.

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A sample of what we got follows; “Some of the aspects we've been working on are difficult to show. Rather, they should be experienced, such as the sound of your footsteps on different types of terrain, ambient noises while in town or out in the wilderness, the way it feels to move around, the speed of your run, the height of your jump, how heavy you feel when you land, etc. It's been a while since we did a video, so we'll get some in the pipeline soon so we can share at least some of that kind of thing. Something else that is in progress, but without an obvious way to show it, is our integration with SpatialOS. We are crafting an online game and we are building our foundations now. The Prologue will be offline, so the first chance to see this in action will be when Kingdoms of Elyria and ElyriaMUD are released. It's happening though, I assure you!”

In that I see a ton of news, some of it really exciting like further integration with SpatialOS which has become a bit of a fascination for some fans. Soulbound noted it was news that is best shown but I would have been happy to have some of it described more deeply. It seems like Soulbound is still searching for a happy medium with their updates. I’ve given them plenty of credit for their around the studio updates of old wherein we got a snap shot from several areas of development and I’ve given them some hell when they went too deep and ended up confusing some of us. Now it seems like they are a bit too shallow.

It’s certainly a tricky art which is why we’ve seen so many crowd funded games hit, miss and change their update style over time. Hopefully Soulbound can get back to something that looks more like the around the studio update that I was so fond of. Not just for little old me, but because it seemed to give the clearest description of development and how it was progressing on multiple fronts.

Looking at the above I’d love to hear more about SpatialOS, how it works, how its working for Soulbound and what they plan to do with it. I see plenty of room for describing the process of adding footsteps that sound different on different terrain, how they found their fluidity of movement, weight, etc. Maybe they don’t think we would be interested in that content but I’d wager many of us would find it fun to see behind the curtain more than we currently can. Part of the joy in following a crowd funded game is learning more about the challenge that is producing one.

The most visible progress is happening to the game world itself. It’s looking pretty. This is a MMORPG so our version of pretty graphics is different from a single player game but I stand by my statement. The look of Elyria has an old-school vibe but with modern detailing. For me it calls back to the MMORPGs of old but not in a dated way, in a familiar way. If this is the base layer from which they will scale up, or the top layer from which they will scale down I don’t know. Every MMORPG I’ve ever followed does one of the two eventually.

The style of the architecture, the lushness of the forests and the scale of the mountains have me wanting to jump into the world and run around. I’d likely head right for the tallest peak just to see if I could climb it. If I could I’d be jumping off it shortly after. Why? Just to see what happens! I spend a lot of time in MMORPGs doing silly stuff just to see if unpredictable things occur. That thought brings me to a question. How does this fleshed out single player world translate to a multi-player version?

I’ve seen MMORPGs and MMORPG worlds built in many ways. I’ve even heard of one that put most of the develop cycle into audio! Can they take this pretty world and add thousands of players? What is the process for that? That fact that I understand so little of it gives it a mystery which makes it my fascination of the moment. I wonder because to date we’ve seen only a single player in most of the images. Does what they’ve built so far support multiplayer or do they build that in later? If so, how?

These are questions I’ve asked about many games. Its why I know every studio seems to take a different approach to the process. I can’t say I know if any path is the one most traveled or most successful. Most often it seems many paths can lead to the same conclusion, a launch. Hopefully we will learn more about how Soulbound plans to transition this world into a multi-player world over the course of development. Massive multiplayer is of course the cornerstone of our genre. It is the single most important aspect. Its naturally one of the steps I’m always most interested in, especially because history’s shows us the results are so varied – especially in games that feature open world PVP. 

Tim Eisen / In my columns I walk the line between fan and critic as I document the development of Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, and Chronicles of Elyria.