In the first update of 2023, Chronicles of Elyria's developer Jeromy Walsh states that the work on Kingdoms of Elyria, and by extension Chronicles of Elyria, is still humming along, despite being the only dedicated developer on the project now. However, despite this, Walsh states that the Kingdoms of Elyria: Settlements project will be released by the end of this year.
The latest dev blog by Walsh recaps the progress made in 2022 quarter by quarter, such as rethinking how apples would be cut from trees in Chronicles and Kingdoms of Elyria to ensure mechanics carry over from Kingdoms to the full MMORPG. Walsh also stresses in his Q2 recap the mantra he's held firm to for years, that development on Kingdoms of Elyria is in fact development on Chronicles of Elyria.
"But it’s important to understand that KoE isn’t just world-building. The development of KoE is the development of CoE. All the art assets carry over. All the design decisions and data carry over. All the back-end engineering and gameplay mechanics carry over, etc. If you are waiting for us to “stop development on KoE and return to development on CoE,” you are missing a subtle, but crucial element of our approach to developing CoE. When we say, “we’re working on KoE,” it’s just a short-hand way of saying “We’re working on the domain, settlement, and land management mechanics of CoE, which is being made available to an audience that likes colony sims and grand strategy games, before integrating those things into the MMORPG.”
However, Walsh is keen to keep 2022 in the "rear-view", as details that the mounting challenges the studio has faced have taken a toll. Citing "mounting legal fees, shrinking staff " as well as being away from active engineering for "60%+" of the year in order to try to raise funds for the studio, Walsh states that "2023 has a lot of great things going for it."
In the devblog, Walsh acknowledges as well once again the dismissal of the lawsuit levied at Soulbound Studios after the company announced in 2020 they were shuttering (only for Walsh to walk that back a month or so later). Walsh acknowledges too that the lawsuit is now making its way through the Appeals process, but states he believes the appellate court will "reach the same conclusion" as the Magistrate and US District Court.
However, as a result of "being forced to eat" another $50K in legal fees and the appeal itself, Walsh states that the last full-time developer has left the project. This isn't surprising given that the studio was relying on Jeromy's own personal funds to stay afloat as detailed in a previous devblog.
In Walsh's words, the team is now "back to being a studio of one." Walsh states this is a boon, allowing him to shift focus back to "driving the game's technical design and engineering." Walsh also says that while he's the only full-time "engineer/designer," he still will rely on a "small number of on-demand contractors" for asset creation.
Despite this, Walsh states that backers should expect more news in the form of monthly updates, the next of which is scheduled for February 13th. From there, Walsh is set on releasing current updates every 2nd Tuesday of the month for Chronicles of Elyria as he aims to release the next Alpha for Kingdoms this year. This means the whole timeline has shifted, as earlier last year Walsh estimated Settlements for 2022, with Chronicles of Elyria releasing estimated to release in in late 2024.
"To achieve this, I have set aside all external work on fundraising and am now focused 100% on the development of KoE/CoE. With me back in engineering, that means new features and functionality are finally being added regularly. That means forward progress toward Alpha 2, and with that, more gameplay videos and updates to the public."
However, Walsh is also scaling back the features coming with Kingdoms of Elyria: Settlements, moving some of the promised launch features to "stretch goals." This is so that Kingdoms of Elyria: Settlements can ship "later this year." What those features getting the launch axe are might include the "number of biomes", "planned game mechanics," and more. However, Walsh promises that post-launch, patches will be coming to release some of these "stretch goals."
All of this is with the aim of launching Kingdoms of Elyria: Settlements by the end of this year. In the meantime, Walsh states that backers will be getting a roadmap, as well as a complete, transparent look at all of the development progress made thus far in the design and engineering of the game.
Finally, Walsh rounds out the post by letting backers know that early access forums should be opening back up, as well as a new private discord that will allow players to talk about Elyria without it being public.
You can read the whole post on the website. Chronicles of Elyria's development has been rife with struggles, from shuttering the studio back in 2020, walking that back later on that Spring, and the impending lawsuit (and subsequent victory lap when the lawsuit was dismissed). All this has led many in the community, from backers to outside observers, to simply wish for Elyria to end and move on.