As a fan of the original Everquest, I have been following Pantheon: Rise Of The Fallen since the Kickstarter campaign and looking forward to any details the team releases. While development has felt maddeningly slow at times, I can see the regular improvement being added over the past few years. The game looks to be shaping up well, hopefully, it will fill the void for those wanting to experience a modern version of a classic MMO while bringing in new players.
Producer Ben “Machail” Dean recently sat down with content creator Nathan NAPALM and spoke about everything from the Pre-Alpha 5 “Shake Out” sessions through to the possibility of underwater zones being included in Pre-Alpha 5 (PA5). Here are some of the highlights.
The PA5 “Shake Out” sessions are now complete, and the team is moving into PA5 this week. During the “Shake Out” a couple of issues surprised the team. There were some initial issues with the login servers which were able to be fixed and the switch for enemy aggro had been toggled off in the current build. Instead of deploying a patch though the team was able to manually turn on aggro for each PA5 tester.
According to Ben what will make for a successful PA5 is to have a playable experience from 1 – 50 with multiple zones. This experience will be rolled out over the coming weeks/month and s not expected to be a content complete version of the game. While many parts of the zones will be grey boxed PA5 testers can also expect to see additional art assets to be rolled out during PA5.
PA5 will not include PvP and a possible feature mentioned very early on, contested areas is not currently in the scope of development. For those who are fans of PvP Visionary Realms is still looking at it for the future but it needs to be fully considered/balanced.
Implementation of a raid being included in PA5 was also brought up and while Ben did indicate that one would be needed, though he couldn’t promise that it would be made available for PA5 testers. It was also confirmed that the ability to swim underwater would also be included in PA5 but no underwater zones.
Currently, two classes were available to play during the “Shake Out” session with two more classes being implemented in the upcoming PA5 session, thief and wizard. The other classes are expected to be rolled out throughout this Pre-Alpha phase. Unfortunately, for fans of classes such as the Bard and Necromancer, the focus for the team is getting the core game done first.
For those who are debating about if PA5 is worth it, Ben does provide some reminders. PA5 does wipe characters regularly and sessions are primarily focused bases testing, for example having the goal of breaking pathing within a given area. He recommends that if you are looking to just play the game then Pre-Alpha is not for you.
The original plan was for PA5 to be the last before Alpha. Before you get your hopes up though it should be noted that it will be a series of sessions lasting several months, in the producer’s letter he mentions PA5 will last “as long as it takes.” Also, Ben does say that there is additional work to be done in between Per-Alpha and Alpha and muses during the interview about if this in-between period should be called something else.
Ben also touched on the networking tech the team is working with and expects that once implemented fully server load will not be an issue going into Alpha/Beta. It was mentioned during the interview that Visionary Realms was even getting interest from outside companies concerning their networking solution.
Touched on during the interview was the complete recoding of the core game and how it would now help with speeding up development. Ben explores this further in the October Producer’s letter expecting that the changes will allow for rapid iteration, development efficiency, and greater scalability in the project.
So when will Pantheon: Rise Of The Fallen enter Alpha? It depends on many factors one of which is funding. As described by Ben Patheon is largely crowd-funded with a few investors and while the team is open to partnering with a publisher it has to be the right match. If a potential publishing deal doesn’t allow the team to make Pantheon the way it was envisioned, then it simply not a good match. Thankfully crowdfunding has provided Visionary Realms with flexibility in being able to find the right partner and Ben “Machail” Dean does reassure everyone that Pantheon will release even without a publisher, extra funding just helps to speed up development.
Full Disclosure: The author is a backer of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen