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All Posts by JC-Smith

All Posts by JC-Smith

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This is good news. Looking forward to trying it out.
Originally posted by Ozmodan
Originally posted by LoverNoFighter

The Repopulation is SWG's spiritual successor.

The only light in the dark MMO tunnel.

Huh?  The repopulation is nothing like SWG.  Where in the world did you get that idea.  Full loot pvp has no place in an indie game ever, unless they can magically players to using only their client when playing the game.

The Repopulation only features full loot on hardcore servers. There is no PvP looting (or much in the way of any penalty for PvPing) on normal servers.

There were a couple nice bits of news for The Repopulation today.

First the game was Greenlit on Steam after a very short campaign.

Second it reached its first stretch goal, and with it the first creature mount has been added to the game. We have been working on this for the past few days in anticipation. There is still a bit of work to be done mechanics wise, but you can see a screenshot of the first mount in game below.

 

Bugs can be expected in an alpha. They've completed an important milestone in getting the game into the hands of players, and I'm sure the money they generated from the alpha sales will help them reach future goals more quickly. I'm looking forward to seeing the final product.

I don't want to keep rehashing what is said in every one of these threads. But this Kickstarter is a stretch goal campaign. It's about generating money to try to get some often requested features into launch. Those features would not be able to make it into launch without delaying the game under current budget constraints. This campaign gives the community a chance to see them hit release.

It's really no different than having an early adopter/pre-order store on your web site, which just about every crowd funded game does. The only difference is that because there is a 30 day window, it ensures that any stretch goal met during this campaign will make it into launch. After that there will not be enough time to guarantee that.

I don't like it in PvP games, because I feel it's unfair. In PvE games, while I am not thrilled by it, it's less of an issue. We'll all hit max level eventually.

The sheer numbers would win it, but it would also be somewhat inefficient. You lose efficiency as your team size increases, but you can also get a lot more done by sheer brute force.

It really depends on who is making the design decisions though. If you have 50,000 developers and they have many people brainstorming and working out the best mechanics unselfishly that would be pretty hard to beat so long as they all had an idea of what was possible, and what was not. Not 50,000 random people. If you have one person making the design decisions and the rest just doing the work though, that could have the potential for disaster unless the designer was amazing at what they did.

A second interview on the same channel happened last night. You can see the recording here: http://www.twitch.tv/deadpoolyplays/c/3491922

This includes some fly by footage, and a long 3 hour Q&A session.

Brad doesn't always get a fair shake. Obviously he's made some mistakes, but who hasn't? Live and learn.

He's a good game designer though, and I wish him luck with his new game.

@Jacxolope: Most of the things you have said have been address previously but here goes:

- The Repopulation was designed  using heavy use of generation and funded it all out of our own pocket initially. It was certainly a smaller scale project at the time, but players liked the ideas and it started receiving interest. We had a good team but everyone was working day jobs. Kickstarter at that time was brand new, and we never really even considered using it. A few months before the first Kickstarter (18 months ago) users started a thread on our forum and kept suggesting it. They basically sold us on the idea. We figured whatever amount it brought in could be used on contractors to help bring the game to market more quickly. It wasn't about give us $25k and we'll make a game. It was about whatever money this does generate will be spent to beef up the games team so that we can build a better game.

- The years of the engines costing you a million up front are gone. There are indie programs for everything nowadays that allow you to minimize your start up cost. A lot also goes on officers, power, and hardware. For an indies, working on their own computers in their own homes though, the cost is largely based on salaries or contractors. If your team is working for free or for cheap, as most of our team is, that significantly lowers the cost. Nobody makes fair market value on our team, and much of the team is foregoing pay. In some cases so they do not violate no compete clauses, and in others because they simply believe in the project and want to see it completed, knowing that there are budget constraints that simply won't allow it.

- This project has been in full scale development since 2011. Though we dabbled with other engines before that, we didn't go into full scale production until 2011 when Hero Engine became available and after having a few months to familiarize it ourselves with it (at the end of 2010). I'll give you a fun fact. It was announced months after Everquest: Next, which will ship after The Repopulation. And it's had a smaller budget in that time than EQ: Next probably spends in a month. If you try to go by traditional MMO budgets, that should not be possible. You'd be hard pressed to find any MMO which started development after us and has already shipped, or which is significantly further along than we are. You can't think in the same terms money wise when your talking about indie developers. A little bit of money can stretch a long way. We certainly may have been overambitious in our initial time frame, and we apologize for that. But in general development has gone on at a smooth pace, minus a couple of setbacks.

- We don't expect anyone to pledge. When there isn't an option available though, players request it. The features from this Kickstarter are largely in part player requests. There's threads about them on our forums, and emails to our staff, as well. We for example planned to ship with vehicles only. Users want mounts, they add some value to tamers and have a coolness factor. They've asked repeatedly about this over the years. We agree, but since the functionality is covered in vehicles it's hard to pull programmers and artists off other stuff that is needed. This handles that problem and allows those features to get in game. That's what this Kickstarter is all about as we've stated before. If people want to pledge, the option is available. If they don't feel comfortable pledging or don't think the game is worth pledging to, we'd invite them to apply for beta or check the game out when it launches.

- The $50k isn't enough argument is common, but it's not a valid argument. The reality is that setting a goal too high is counter-productive. For one, if it looks like your project is falling behind and won't hit it's goal, people stop backing, which makes it impossible to reach. You need to set a goal that you are pretty confident you will reach. It's not uncommon for games to reach that goal several times over in the campaign, much of it is momentum based. If a project needs $100k or it can't be built, it makes sense to set a $100k goal. If you don't reach it you scrap the idea or go back to the drawing board. Repop isn't a project like that. If we never reached our goals the project wasn't going to cancel. It would have just taken longer to build and not been nearly as good of a game as it is becoming. So for us it would have made zero sense to set an high goal in either campaign. The pledges help us immensely, but we'd find a way to moonlight the game to launch no matter even in an apocalpyse. Too much time has gone into this project and it's too far along already to even consider otherwise.

- To say that a second Kickstarter is not okay, but an ever-running online store accepting the same pledges for the same thing doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Most of the upcoming crowd-funded titles have on-site stores where players who missed the Kickstarters can continue pledging. Over time those will make more money than the shorter Kickstarter campaigns, though less per month. They don't really obsolete what Kickstarter does though. Kickstarter is also a promotional tool. It's easier for some people to use, and it's shorter windowed approach is ideal for something like our current stretch goal campaign. It makes a lot of sense given it's intended goals. And it's helped introduce the game to new players, which also benefits existing players.

- The logic of sucking your older backers out of money because they have to help it get done, isn't accurate. To give you a good example of that, under 12% of this campaign's backers are bump ups who pledged to previous campaigns. The bulk of those are new players who weren't around 18 months ago, or didn't feel at that time that the game was worth backing. We do get bump ups from previous backers, but in general people back and then just wait for launch or their testing invite (quite a few are already testing). Our backers don't need to have any concerns about the game getting built. They should welcome these types of campaigns because it helps us build a better game at launch. If our goal was simply to push the game to market, we could likely have the game ready to ship in under two months. Our goal isn't to put out a buggy and incomplete product though, it's to carve ourselves a nice space in the MMO market. Rushing to launch does not accomplish those goals. We'd much rather deal with some players being upset that it took us longer to get to market than they had hoped, than to deal with players not playing the game after it launches because it needed more time in the oven.

Originally posted by DAOWAce

50,000 initial goal.

That is nowhere near, in any universe, enough to make an MMORPG.

Their stretch goals show the story, honestly.

This campaign is really all about the stretch goals. The game has been in development since 2011. Part of the funding will go towards beefing up the current content team, but the main purpose of the campaign is raise enough money to get some of those fringe features into launch.

For example the first stretch goal is tameable mounts. The plan was to launch with vehicles (which are already in-game), maybe add mounts post-launch. But it is something that kept being requested. It allows us to contract out some things to squeeze these features into launch without delaying the game by pulling people off other things. Stretch goals which are not met, will become pushed into post-launch features. As a result setting a higher goal really would not have made much sense in this case.

Unless you make everything one or two shots, combat is never going to be realistic. You justify it with armors and energy shields, because longer fights give room for more strategy. Either that or you embrace the one shots and play it as that. Either way your giving up something.

Repop combat is strategic. You need to deal with things like positions, momentum, energy (you balance how much is spent to shields vs. armor), openings, diving/rolling, and cover. That would all go out the window if the first time your hit with a flame thrower you writhe around in pain and are unable to control yourself until you die, or if when you poke your head out you will be one shot. There's certainly merit to both game styles, but in general MMO combat isn't anything close to realistic. You try to find the style that works best for your game.

I can't really speak for how much Bioware did or did not modify the engine. In general everyone will start with an engine and heavily modify it. So I'm sure they did a ton. But it would be impossible for me to speak about how their renderer performs in comparison to Hero 2 because I just don't know. I don't even know how much their renderer resembles Hero 1.0s. Bioware certainly has capable programmers and I'm sure they customized it for their needs.

I did have a contract to build a database for TOR when it launched though. So I did snoop a lot of the client files while digging out all of the data. From that, I'd say that it was mostly the same as what I see in Hero Engine with some extensions added. The animation system used XML rather than AAS scripts, and I was impressed by the sheer number of animations they had. I think they did a great job there. They used a Hydra system that was new. The FX and particle systems also had some extensions but the bulk of those would plug directly into hero engine, just that there were some things they added (it's been a couple years now I don't recall the details) things they clearly added on their own and would not work. The spec system and area files were pretty similar to Hero Engine's stock files (I didn't notice any differences on those but I didn't spend a ton of time on it).  But hard to say how similar the renderer is, or what changes they made on the server side, as I only looked at the client site data and my focus was on digging out the quests, items, npcs, etc. It was a fun job though since I was already working with the engine at the time, one of my more enjoyable database builds. Without knowing the extent of their renderer changes impossible to say. Either way, Hero Engine 1.x had improved quite a bit also between TOR and the time we had our hands on the engine. The seamless support that is currently in the engine did not exist in the TOR era, and I'm sure there were a number of other things that took divergent paths as Bioware's renderer went with things that made sense for them and Hero Engine was improving completely detached from one another.

I can definitely discuss the difference between Hero Engine 1.x and Hero Engine 2.x as I was able to see those changes taking place. The 2.x renderer is a big improvement and included HDR Rendering, improved Shader support, better shadows, performance improvements, instanced materials, stereoscopic rendering, better font support, etc. It was a pretty significant upgrade.

Originally posted by Phry
Bioware had to do 'massive' amounts of work on the engine itself just to do what it does with it, and while this is using an earlier version of the engine, even after all the work they did, it still doesnt scale that well, so much so that open world PVP is a huge problem, and we're not talking even about 'hundreds' of players, but just a few 'tens' of players in an area.

Couple notes here. First Bioware bought a version of the engine that wasn't ready to be sold. It was being developed for their in-house game (Hero's Journey) and Bioware approached them about licensing it. They knew they were getting an incomplete engine. And while Hero Engine continued to be developed for years from that point, Bioware didn't receive any of the updates as they had forked out on their own and stopped taking updates, as is common practice.

That having been said, the issues that TOR had with Open World PVP have little to do with Hero Engine. They have to do with Bioware's design decisions. Bioware put a huge amount of customization into TOR and used poly counts that were much higher than most other MMORPGs. There was nothing wrong with those design decisions. Their target audience was solo and single groups of players, small raids. Given their target audience their decision made sense. Players want customization. They want the models to look good. It wasn't a game that was really designed with Ilum in mind as a focal point.

Of course all that customization does come at a price. There are a lot of state changes, and a lot of textures being used. If their focus was open world PvP they probably would have given less clothing options and used lower polygon models. Keep in mind in an MMO your dealing with multiple parts to make up your appearance, and those parts are generally each using their own texture. This makes instanced rendering of characters difficult, and instanced rendering is much more efficient. This problem grows multipliciously, so the more customization you have the less likely it is that players will be sharing the same models and textures, and the less efficient it gets for each additional character on screen.

As a developer you can't really have both, it's a compromise. The more customization and the higher resolution textures you use, the less efficient you will be rendering, but the better you'll look. If you go the opposite direction you will render much more efficiently, but players may complain that your game looks dated. Or you can try for some place in between. That's a balancing act that you the developer needs to make. I think TOR's decisions made sense for their game. They catered to what 95% of their players would be actively doing most of the time (questing, leveling, small groups). But those decisions also are a big part of the reason that the game chugs in a busy Ilum. Yet Ilum is generally what gets brought up when people criticize Hero Engine. It's just not a fair evaluation.

Last but not least. It should be noted that while Hero Engine has its own renderer, that's just a small part of what it is. It's the other features that make it an MMO engine and not a rendering engine. If like in the OPs situational post he had $10M to work with, he could if he so desired replace Hero Engine's renderer with Cry Engine, Unreal Engine, or whatever other tech they desired. It would be a bit of work, but the point is that rendering is just one of the things that the engine does. When people criticize TOR's performance in Ilum it's general the rendering that they are referring to, and Hero Engine 2 has a vastly improved renderer from when TOR was released. Not to mention TOR did a number of their own changes to the renderer.

I think in general, your best off using a licensed engine than you are building your own engine these days. If you have specific needs maybe its worth the time to build your own needs, but most everyone licenses these days for a reason.

Having had a lot of experience with different engines, I do feel pretty strongly that Hero Engine is your best bet as an MMO engine. There are better rendering engines, no doubt. Hero Engine is adequate as a renderer but certainly not cutting edge. But when your talking about the overall package, it's a great engine for an MMO, and I'll explain why.

The largest draw is the collaberative design. That's huge. Being able to have your artists and programmers in the game while they do all the work is big. You can have people critiquing what you are doing, as your doing it. And there are a number of useful tools to make the design easier when in-game. For example, if there's a spot with a seam in the terrain, or where players are getting stuck you can use the GM Notes system to leave a note that other players can click on and it will take them exactly to where you were standing and facing when you created the note. Even better you can draw and scribble on the screen to point arrows to the problem points and leave a full description on what the problem is. You can also make these types of changes while the game world is running, doing live changes as players are playing.

The scripting system though is also a big draw. HeroScript has some odd symantics but it is a solid scripting engine. But what is really cool about their set up is how you can compile and submit your scripts within seconds and have the effects immediately applied to a running world. It makes it easy to tweak changes. In an engine that isn't designed as an MMO, this is often not the case. I can tell you from past experiences, we used to spend so much time commiting changes, restarting area servers or world servers, waiting for them to load, relogging in, etc just to test these types of changes.This one small simple thing saves you SO much time and allows you to be more productive.

There is a good frame work for handling MMO specific functionality like specs, spatial awareness, dynamic parts, and seamless areas. Each of those things is a reasonable sized task to build on its own. And you at least know with Hero Engine that these features have already been through years of testing and evolution. That's important.

They also provide you with some good working examples of how to common MMO tasks, which is helpful in the early going. It's a complex beast so expect a steep learning curve initially. Once you get past that though it's pretty easy to work with.

I normally avoid these types of threads. Someone linked this to me so I wanted to come in and give some quick information about the "Why a second kickstarter?" question. It's a valid question. I think in general people do need to do their research any time when they do a Kickstarter. I think there are a lot of good projects out there, and there's also a few bad ones that will hurt the reputation of others. There's nothing wrong with people being skeptical about a product they haven't personally played.

It's become commonplace now for crowd funded games to have an on-site shop. They all pretty much do that after their campaign ends, and for good reason. There is a demand for it. Players want those pre-order perks and want to help support products. Players ask for it, so sites support it. We began doing the same with our Early Adopter program for those very reasons. We received a steady dose of emails or posts by people who missed the Kickstarter and wanted to back the game.

This Kickstarter campaign is really about stretch goals. Those stretch goals are all features that either are requests on the web site or things that we personally had planned as post-launch goals. These get brought up and our answer has always been that we'd like to do it but probably don't have the resources to do them at launch, but that we'd squeeze them in if we could. These are all great features though that would enhance the game if we had the budget for them, but that wouldn't be worth delaying it for. Now we could have done a stretch goal system using an in-house store, but the problem is that if we want to guarantee something for launch it needs to start being worked on now. If we had a stretch goal on the site and it was reached 4 months from now, there would be no way we could get that into launch, there simply wouldn't be enough time.

Kickstarter fits well into that approach due to its short campaign window. It allows us to figure out what type of budget we'll have to work with and to lock down our features by the end of January. Any goals that aren't hit here become post-launch goals. So in our case, I'm not sure why people would find concern with a second Kickstarter. It began and we turned off our on-site shop. The difference between this and the in-house shop though is that it allows us to provide our players with a more accurate roadmap more quickly than we could otherwise, and the Kickstarter also helps expose the game to new players who may not have been aware of it.

One last comment on vaporware or pitching an idea. It should be noted that this game has been in testing for a while. It's been at three major shows, with playable versions on the floor at PAX Prime. Where most projects do enter Kickstarter as ideas looking to raise funding to build the game, this is already a developed product. Every single feature on that Kickstarter feature list is already functional in alpha testing.

Is it worth taking a chance on? That's really up to the end user. I can understand people being hesitant. There's nothing wrong with that. But I hope this post clears up a few questions.

Originally posted by Ringbus
  Carmack?

That irrelevant hack? The only people who care about John Carmack are silly little fanboys who for whatever reason lap up his self-promoting PR about himself.

There are a lot of important people in game development these days. Carmack ain't one of them.

Carmack certainly isn't as relevant as he used to be when it comes to driving cutting edge graphics. But his importance in the history of game development can not be understated. For a solid ten years you always looked forward to the next Carmack engine because you knew it was going to blow everything else out of the water. From BSP trees, to modding, multiplayer, dynamic lighting, it was revolutionary feature after revolutionary feature, which much of the rest of the industry copied and learned from. And as I said in my previous post, when everyone else was hording trade secrets, he was freely speaking about how they worked and helping the industry as a whole.

Ironically he was a guy who pushed heavily for 3d acceleration and embraced it and other technologies, and those technologies reduced his edge over the competition. The larger teams and more modular approach today draw the spotlight away from individual brilliance. But it's rare to find a game developer who doesn't have a ton of respect for the guy.

To me Carmack jumping on board a few months back spoke volumes. It tells me that Rift is legitimate.

Carmack drove gaming to smooth first person shooter states (Wolf3D), then to a more true 3D with Doom, and to the next level with Quake. Then he pushed heavily for 3d acceleration, GLQuake is really what helped legitimize 3d accelerators and make them commonplace. It also streamlined modding. And what you have to love about the guy is he always gave back. Back when his technology was head and shoulders above the competition, he was allowing guys like Michael Abrash to write books on how it worked, and releasing the source code to older techs. Perhaps he sees this as a chance to push the limits once again.

Just a quick note. You will not be able to buy real equipment or resources as someone had suggested earlier in this thread. The equipment you can purchase will be shells, which are purely cosmetic.  Stats wise they are the same as what you can start the game with at character creation. The stats in Repop come from fittings which will not be for sale.
Originally posted by moonrunner

then closed beta so open beta not  likely til late 2014 and more kickstart streaches and I don't see it's release till 2015.

The stretch goals are intended to bring on additional staff as to not interfere with the games release schedule. The funds for each stretch goal will be used to bring on additional staff, some of that will be exclusively for those features, and the rest will be going towards the content development team. So the stretch goals should do the exact opposite of this. The bottleneck for the Repop is adding enough content to a very large world.

As far as beta dates. Beta previews are starting in March. In a nutshell those are backer openings during the last phase of alpha testing. They will be used to stress test the servers. Each week the number of players will be boosted significantly. This will be a short phase of testing before moving into closed beta. There is no firm launch date, and never has been. Once beta has begun the players will be a part of the input process as to when the game is ready. When players and the staff feel that the game is good to launch, it will launch.

You do not want to rush an MMO to market, it's completely counter-productive in an MMO. Too many promising titles have been down this road in the past, and the results speak for themselves.

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