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All Posts by khanstruct

All Posts by khanstruct

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Hey everyone! Our team, Pillar 4 Entertainment has been working professionally as freelance developers for almost 4 years now. The contract work we do is necessary to pay the bills, giving us very limited time to work on our own projects.

Now, Chase Bank and LivingSocial (and hopefully you) are giving us a chance to really break out and show what we can do. They are offering 12 small businesses a chance to earn a $250k grant!

The only catch is, we need to have 250 people "vote" for us in order for our application to be considered and reviewed. Its very simple and takes just a second.

Go to this link: https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/
Then click Login with Facebook (no permissions, no "likes", etc.)
Then search for "pillar4" in Wisconsin.
Click VOTE!
If you're feeling especially supportive, you can also "share your vote" on your wall (not required).

Let us take it from there!

We have a lot of plans, including mobile games, multiplayer strategy and, of course, some very cool MMOs. For now, check out our site and play Starfall: Aphelion Squadron (built in just 1 WEEK!)

Thanks everyone! We truly appreciate it.

While I try to keep things updated around the net, its a lot of juggling and I sometimes forget some information on some sites.

The greatest contribution you can provide right now (and keep up to date on our status) is to "Like" our Facebook page. I'll see you there. Thank you all so much!

Just a quick update to show some of the old work that has gone into X-Shift. Please note that most of these images are a few years old (from the original days of development). Let us know what you think!






Back in 2005, our team was an online group of hobbyist developers under the company name, Phoenix Concepts. We began with a project called X-Shift, a cyber-noir MMO. While we worked tirelessly, having no funding and no experience ultimately wore the project too thin.

In 2009, the imagery and design of X-Shift caught the attention of a European investor. They approached us with an offer to purchase our company and fund the project. We gathered together the old team and reformed ourselves under the new company name, Pillar 4 Entertainment.

Working as consultants and freelance developers for our investor for more than a year, we built 3d cities and promotional demos for them which landed them millions in investments at conferences all over the world. Their company would later become Idea Fabrik, owners of the MMO engine, Hero Engine. Still, they never gave the green light to X-Shift and dodged questions as to the purchase of our IP.

In late 2010, we had a final, falling out with Idea Fabrik. The loss was sudden and unexpected, leaving our team in shambles. Foreclosures, evictions, repossessions and bankruptcy poured in.

Refusing to give up, we restructured ourselves into a software development company and began taking on contract jobs. We have designed and built software for several companies on platforms such as iOS, Facebook and webplayers, as well as standalone PC/Mac programs. This experience has helped us build a solid structure and pipeline for our team, though it barely keeps the lights on.

Pillar 4 was also in line to develop the new online game Total Recall, based on the upcoming movie reboot. We were ultimately beat out, however, by the Chinese developer, ZQGames who were able to produce it for less.

Our team consists of professionals from all branches of the software industry. Our members have done development work for government agencies, including the Department of Defense and Eduction. They have done programming for telecommunication companies and have been the sole contributor to two crypto-software patents. Our artists include graduates from Full Sail and Pratt Universities with multiple degrees in computer art and animation. They have done internships at Marvel comics and have won several awards for their work.

We have developed two in-house titles between contracts, including Starfall: Frontier, for Facebook and Kongregate. This game was essentially a glorified, multiplayer game of Battleship in space, and is currently offline. Our other title was Starfall: Aphelion Squadron, developed in a single week for the “Flash in a Flash” contest, and is available to play for free on our website.

We have been working to stabilize ourselves, all the while, keeping X-Shift on the shelf; undeveloped, but serving as a constant reminder of why we’re here.

Now, with the planets aligning and trends shifting, we are, once again, looking back to X-Shift.

Our plan is to seek a first wave of funding on Kickstarter. This funding will be used to develop a tech demo for the game. We will use all of our support there to build a presentation and send a message to other investors that our target market is strong, active, and committed.

We have not yet posted on Kickstarter. For now, we are simply looking to stir up some attention for the project and get an idea of the level of support we can expect. Please use this thread to pose any suggestions, questions or other feedback you have.

See below for information on the game itself, and thank you in advance.


X-Shift is an online experience that seeks to break ground in several areas. First, it is not being called an MMORPG.
Is it Massively Multiplayer?
Yes.
Is it Online?
Yes.
Is it a Roleplaying Game?
Yes and no. In X-Shift, you will take on the role of a character of your own design. The part of this that prevents us from using the term, however, is “game”. A game implies restrictions, an objective, winners and losers.

X-Shift is not a sport. You will not be running back and forth across a map, racing other players to objectives, killing 50 orcs or collecting 36 flowers to complete a quest and grind to “end-game” as quickly as possible.

We believe that the worlds of online games have focused too much on creating heroes. These worlds are massive, yet cater to every individual, leading them to believe that they alone will be the greatest champion in it. In the midst of this, we forget the world.

The main character of X-Shift is the world in which it exists; Heliex, an enormous city of a dystopian future. Organized crime runs rampant, technology has saturated society, and corporations and information rule the world. When it’s not raining, heavy fog clouds the streets and steam rises from the gutters. Nothing is printed or painted anymore. Everything is neon and projected holograms, carving hazy contrast against the shadows of towering skyscrapers.

Explore miles of urban streets, from the glitz and highbrow corruption of Uptown to the seedy underbelly of Downtown. Visit the perilous docks, the Subterranean Housing Projects or the government-condemned Underwater Suburb. Beneath the streets runs the subway transit as well as the sewer system, now populated with poisonous vermin. Or, if you’re bold enough, explore the abandoned freeway on the outskirts of town, now overrun with wild beasts and mutations from the wilderness.

You are a citizen of Heliex and your life is in your own hands. You can become a private detective, corporate CEO, crime lord, computer hacker, famous musician or artist, or nearly anything else you can imagine. Customize your apartment to suit your style, then rent a storefront and operate your own business. Visit the dozen different dance clubs and bars, attend concerts or watch the deadly new game of the future “FUSE” in the Midtown Arena.

MMOVIE stands for Massive Multiplayer Online Virtual Interactive Experience. This is the best description possible for this type of “game”. X-Shift is a world that we will have built for you to live in. It is not a collection of mini-stories, played out by every individual who enters. X-Shift is a world in which you create your own story.

We’ve all heard the term “cyberpunk”. It’s an overused phrase that is used to blanket all futuristic, urban genres. (Tank Girl is cyberpunk? Really?) This image typically comes complete with flying cars, facial tattoos and plastic clothing. While we originally labeled X-Shift in this category, it never sat well with me. This is why we moved to the sub-genre, cyber-noir.

X-Shift takes the world of grayscale private detectives, subtle saxophone music and thought-provoking, voice over monologue and pulls it into a dark, high-tech future. We are looking to infuse a broader scale of emotions into our worlds. Moving away from pride vs. frustration, X-Shift will harness the subtle emotions of its players. It will pull you in, make you think and make you feel.

X-Shift does not only exist inside the game world. It also does not cease to exist when you logout for the night. The corporations you see in the city will have their own websites and social media pages. If you’re a hacker looking for information or a way into the databases of a corporate giant, search their website. Find contact information and make friends with one of their employees. It may be easier to get passwords and credentials from them than it is from their secured network.

This is not a boxed environment. X-Shift is being designed to saturate the real world, blurring the lines between the two and giving you the true experience of another life.

For more information on X-Shift, please visit our webpage
and Like us on Facebook

Well thank you for the kind wishes. And yes, there are some pretty steep challenges to having turn-based combat in a real-time MMO. But don't worry, I'm very good at what I do, and I think you'll be pleased with the results.

EDIT: I apologize. It does seem that I have a knack for being vague. I promise, its not intentional. There are several factors to consider in this style of game, and each scenario is often designed as a special case; "What happens if someone attacks a planet while I'm attacking it?", "What can I do on my planet if someone is in the process of attacking it?", etc.

While I won't go into the details of every situation, I can say that we've taken inspiration from Facebook games; specifically, how they handle non-synchronized game play in a multiplayer situation. While I'm certainly not looking to build a casual Farmville-esque game, the core fundamentals are useful.

I hope this answers a couple questions. I'll be able to show more as we continue. Thanks again.

The first paragraph says "Empire management meets turn-based, squad tactics".

Think 4X game meets X-Com.

Where are people getting this idea of an RTS?

Seriously, is this what this community has degraded to while I was away? How disappointing.

Kickstarter was formed specifically for this purpose, and I don't think indie-developers looking for community support is desperation, its common practice.

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that you haven't actually been to our website yet. You will see that we have a game on Facebook (you can even watch a fun little video on our site). You'll also see that Nova Tactics is just now going into production, so there's not much to show. We have, however, posted some of the concept art. You can also view a page from the upcoming graphic novel that will be released next month.

So if you're looking for screenshots of the game, you are correct, you will not find any yet. If, however, you'd like a list of our credentials, I'd be more than happy to provide them. We've developed software for use in all 21 international brands of the Marriot hotels, we've built a media player that has caught the interest of some VERY large companies (sorry, I can't name names on that one just yet), our programmers have developed software for the Department of Defense and Telco, and hold 2 patents on security encryption, and have done network programming for the US Marine Corps. We've developed games for Facebook, Webplayers, iPhone and iPad. And our presentations have earned companies more than 4 million dollars in investments at conferences all over the world.

SO! I apologize that I do not currently have more to show for Nova Tactics. As I said, its just beginning production.

Afternoon!

It's been a while since I've been on this site. Our team has been forced to take on some significant contract work just to keep the lights on. Still, we push forward.

Now, I've come back to ask for your help. We're about to begin our biggest project yet (to hopefully free us from the binds of contract work forever), and we desperately need your help to make it happen. The project will take approximately 6 to 8 months for beta.

We already have an investor who is interested, but needs us to bring our price down before he'll sign with us. To that end, we've turned to the community and Kickstarter.com.

Please, check out our project on the site, review it, post comments, "Like" it. And, if you like it, consider contributing. You'll get some very cool rewards!

http://kck.st/oqvDEH

I hope to see you in the game!

Regards,
Phil

Ask the millions of WoW players, who play while they're half asleep. Again, I'm not saying it won't work, or even that I personally wouldn't like it. I was referring to the "mass" market. Its largely why I prefer niche games; they aren't dumbed down.

There are new tools coming out all the time that make this closer and closert to possible. I know, I promote Unity3D a lot, but again, if you have solid understanding of C# or even Javascript, you can write a full game on your own. You'll want an understanding of Java or C to handle the server (Photon or Smartfox are good choices). If you're looking to do something on your own, you may even want to look into Peer to Peer options, like Badunma.

A one-man team could certainly make an MMO (if its his/her obsession). Making a successful MMO, on the other hand, all that takes is a fresh new idea that catches on. In that case, it could be the most simplistic idea in the world (Farmville, Bejeweled, Angry Birds, Minecraft, etc.)

There's an exciting era on the horizon. Games (even MMOs) are becoming so easy to create that everyone with a desire will be creating them. This means that we'll be seeing a surge in really... really bad MMOs, but we'll also be seeing some amazing new games come out that no one had even considered in the past.

Actually, the primary difference between P2P and F2P is the monthly sub, not box sales. Many P2P MMOs have a free download (with extra perks like buddy codes if you buy the box), and there are even some F2P MMOs which still require you to buy the game first (Champions Online).

You also have to consider that these games can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years to develop. Now, if the company is paying bills, salaries, etc in that time, that can easily be 50 to 100+k every month (for a modest development company). That equals about 1.2 to 5 million dollars that the company has already spent on this one game without receiving any money at all. (This is why these games are so risky to build.)

So yes, the primary goal of any MMO (free or not) is to generate money. Even if these developers are simply creating this game for the passion of the community, they still need to get something back just to break even. If you like a game, support it in any way you can. If you don't, don't. But if you're not paying for these games that you would otherwise like, don't complain when they close their doors and you see 12 more WoW clones churned out on the assembly line instead.

Originally posted by Morghulis

The best part is that they clearly don't understand basic economics. There's a reason Henry Ford became a very, VERY rich man and he had to pay the costs of the materials. The even better part is that many of the MMO players arguing in this thread REALLY don't understand economics and are still trying so hard. So very hard.

Did you not read the rest of my post? I actually posted the deceptive methods they used. Forcing you to turn cash into "MMO coins" in order to facillitate the hiding of actual prices, hiding the ultimate cost behind a variety of mechanisms (again, Allods Online starts off at $5 for a single rune, there're 13 rune levels and lots of equipment slots - can't remember exactly how many - and it ends up at something ridiculous like $10k for a single rune slot completely filled, you can't be competitive without getting at least level 5-7 runes in every slot) etc etc.

{mod edit}

Read up on supply and demand. The developer controls how much of something goes into a game, the players determine how much they want it (which, in turn, determines that price/value of the object). If something is incredibly rare and/or powerful, they can charge you however much they want, or, more accurately, however much they believe their paying customers will pay for it. You aren't one of their paying customers, but they're being nice and letting you play anyway.

First, as a game developer, I can tell you that the reason they use "credits" instead of cash is not to be deceptive. There are several reasons, but the main one is that if something goes wrong and you don't get your item, or you complain about something you bought, etc, its much easier to refund you digital credits than it is to refund actual money.

Second, and I think this is the most blindingly obvious, the game is free. {mod edit}

In the end, you pay money for a P2P game. In a F2P game you don't have to in order to play, but you can if you want to get the full experience. I would think that a F2P model is far more preferable to a 10 day trial in WoW.

{mod edit}

It should be noted that no one can say that twitch combat won't work in an MMO. Exhibit A: MAG. I know, people will say its not an MMO, but! It's online multiplayer, twitch combat. And yes, there can be over 250 players in a single match, I also know that you rarely ever see most of them. Still, there are typically more people in a single area, fighting, than you would ever see in an MMO.

So yes, twitch combat can be done (and done well) in an online game. Whether or not it should be done is a different story. In a game like MAG, the entire point is PvP/RvR, so it works. I don't suspect it would go over well for the casual player doing crafting if their only option was to setup shop in the middle of a warzone.

@djodars: Which brings me to this point. It wouldn't work in a mass market MMO because many of those people don't want to always bring their A-Game; most of them don't even have (or want) an A-Game. They want to relax, craft, socialize, progress, explore, etc.

Originally posted by ScrimMaltese

Look at Warhammer lore, then look at the original Warcraft lore. If you can find much difference between the 2, post back here, because there is virtually none. 

This goes to show, that all you have to do is change the letters around in some words, and you have a new IP. Blizzard tried to license the Warhammer IP for the original Warcraft games, but when they were turned down by Games Workshop, they continued with the game anyway. I wonder who's laughing now?

However, I would rest assured that nobody really cares about your MMORPG ideas. Every Tom Dick and Harry has their own ideas and some of them have the means to produce them. No idea is really better than any other idea, it's really all about the execution of that idea. Thinking that anyone is going to steal your ideas, without actually producing a product and making millions off of it, is a rather far fetched. 

Actually, that's because World of Warcraft was originally supposed to be World of Warhammer, but they lost the rights to use it, so they just changed the title.

But! Medieval Fantasy is Medieval Fantasy, and they all copy from each other. But, you don't see Tolkien stomping around his house, pouting about it... assuming he were alive.

No one wants your idea, no matter how awesome you think it is.

Still, the moment you have an idea, its yours. If, for some reason, you feel the need to take Blizzard, Bioware, or anyone else to court to claim they stole it, you just have to prove it... and good luck.

Originally posted by Sovrath

I think some of you are being a bit too harsh.

Not entirely "off" but harsh.

Look, I don't like the graphics/art design either and it does look dated. But this is a small indy company that is trying to do something different. We need these guys.

We just do.

Big companies won't push the envelope if there aren't huge profits to be made. And we don't really have a plethora of indy titles that are screaming "we can fill this niche".

Unfortunately this game will probably not attract huge numbers because it does look dated. However, from my recent experience with EQ (original flavor not cookies and cream) I can say that after a short while, if one allows oneself to become immersed, one can forget that the graphics are dated and take what the game offers "as is".

I really hope this game does well.

I'd completely agree with this. I think the big mistake happening here is that they're really promising more than they could deliver. No, this game will not shock me, it's not going to be a runaway success, its not going to change the face of the MMO industry. It just won't. It's indie and amateur.

That being said, we really do need these small groups pushing the limits of design and gameplay. It looks like they're trying some new things, and I think that's great. Just don't go around saying its going to be the greatest game ever. It won't, and no one will take you seriously.

Originally posted by ActionMMORPG

 Tough group quests to get epic mounts for Paladin and Warlock.  Now they are just purchased from a trainer.

Ah, I remember trying to get a mount in UO. I had to find a grandmaster animal trainer, then head out to a dangerous part of the forest and protect him while he worked to tame a swamp dragon (this could take a few minutes to well over an hour). But in the end, my necromancer had a very cool dragon mount :)

Originally posted by graffix_75

How is HE dead or failed if Bioware is using it for SWTOR and not to mention Bethesda, well ZeniMax Online studios is also using it for their upcoming MMO.

You ever see Hero Engine mentioned anywhere on the SWTOR site? Ever wonder why not?

They licensed HE and stripped out some useful tools. The developers themselves said they stopped accepting updates from Simutronics part way into development. Its not being built with Hero Engine, HE was simply licensed and some of its fragments were used in Bioware's own design.

Beyond all that, I never said the engine was dead (just that it should be). I was simply saying the sad dream of Heros Journey is dead. Really people, it's been 12 years, why on earth would you think this is still going to somehow appear out of nowhere?

HE is outdated, sluggish and difficult to get the hang of.

My suggestion would be to check out Unity3d for the client, and look into Badumna, which is very easy peer to peer networking with some arbitration servers.

Yes, peer to peer is not secure and your game can be hacked. On the upside, if someone hacks your game, that's great news! That means people are actually playing a game that you, yourself created!

Seriously only focus on getting it done and playable. A buggy, faulty indie game is a million times more impressive than people who simply claim they have a great idea.

Unity basic is free and really simple to pick up. Check out 3dBuzz.com for some great intro videos.

Good luck and have lots of fun doing it :)

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