March 7th Discord QnA
– Steven’s extensive hour-long Discord QnA discussing the letter and addressing various community concerns.
Concerns over the BR, people claim Steven is out of touch with the community and want to know why the Battlegrounds for Phase 1 ended up changing into a Battle Royale.
The BR isnt about the BR, the purpose of the BR is to support development. It was not so much that the goal changed from Battlegrounds to Battle Royale, moreso that the Battlegrounds would have required additional designs that needed to be implemented such as class designs, objectives, additional mechanics, etc. However in order to create the BR, we only needed weapons skills animations, movement, populating the map, creating the map – All of this was easy to do and took less time. The battlegrounds for 3v3, 5v5, 15v15 does not allow for high population testing. Having multiple instances of such arenas does not test render replication from rendering one player in a single area to hundreds of players, having multiple instances of that spun up does not allow us to test this. Large population testing was only present in a game style which is currently the BR, unless we decided to build a whole new game mode for it.
Alpha 0 was a much bigger system, but was not using the new architecture. To update Alpha 0 with the new infrastructure would basically be creating Alpha 1. The timeline to get the Alpha 1 running was far more considerable than the time taken to set up the BR. It also gave us key stuff on account services, web traffic, etc. all systems that required us to be scalable for. The bottom line is – in open development, anytime something goes wrong results in negative publicity. The prize at the end of the day is still creating the MMORPG we are all working towards.
Q: What percentage of completion is the game at since you cannot give us timelines?
A: No percentage I’d be comfortable saying. Almost all of the key systems are in place, one of the key components is that backend architecture from apocalypse. The letter informing of the delay is not something I or the team wants to have to do as we cant do it until we have answers.
Q: Do you have a working hybrid combat system yet?
A: We have multiple working hybrid combat systems.
Q: What about constantly missing dates? Star citizen operates just fine and they never give any dates.
A: I agree, and that’s why we’ve also made the course adjustment to not give dates, it’ll be ready when it’s ready.
Q: You talk about how everything in development is going smooth, but we don’t see what you’re seeing. Do you plan to show us more mechanics?
A: 100% plans to show more mechanics in the future.Since September the studio has been crunching ridiculous hours, when developers are in the thicket of it, we lose the perspective on the marketing aspect and the front facing image of development. Which is why we brought on Toast and Margaret to be a face to the public, they are getting up to speed, tasked with producing this front facing image of development to show you guys. They are doing very good so far and will start releasing content on a weekly basis this month. There are blogs scheduled for starting next week.
Q: There’s been a lot of concept art but not enough mechanics shown lately. It pushes the theme of monetization and gives the community a negative feeling.
A: That is a valid point, I would mirror this with the fact that I’ve had that discussion with the team. Since we promised monthly cosmetics in kickstarter, however the resources that go into this are mainly a concept artist who puts stuff into the pipeline and it’s fine as it does not impact development. Again, we’ve been crunching hard since September, had issues in December that prevented us with continuing with our normal timeline to display work to the public. Margaret and Toast help with showing the development we have prepared.
Q: Perception is reality, how does the BR support the main game. People have a negative opinion due to the Battle Royale. How many did you have in-game and per match?
A: We had 86,000 registered accounts actually play apocalypse and we managed to get 200 players in a single match during the test a few weeks ago.
Q: Which part of Apocalypse is not representative of the MMORPG?
A: The key component of the Battle Royale mode of Apocalypse not being representative of the MMORPG is – The Hybrid combat. The special combat systems did not have specific design data and we wanted that data which we obtained from Apocalypse testing. So what we have in Apocalypse is one side of it that Hybrid system that helps build the system. The two combat styles (Action/Tab) have different tempo and I have yet to see an MMORPG blend them well. Games like Tera have soft target action combat, but I haven’t seen a direct correlation between the two. But that would be why this apocalypse gameplay isn’t representative of the MMORPG.
Q: It’s been so long since we’ve seen definite progress and the filter that view things through is skewered.
A: The plan is to execute the vision of MMORPG to release with expectation of what we’ve promised. We’re here to make sure we deliver on MMORPG, which is backed by my personal funding that makes up the largest portion of the game’s development. People might be upset, but once they experience the game, they will forget. And this will happen in a timely manner. Some people may disapprove with the direction now, but my prediction is that once the game releases to the standard and expectations of everyone, it will result in a good outcome at the end.
Q: It’s very hard for us backers to have the ‘Alls well that ends well’ mindset.
A: The reason I started Intrepid was because I wasn’t happy with how other studios considered options moving forward. We move forward with the best case and the recommendations of veterans in the industry who worked on some of our favourite MMORPGs. I expected some of this community response, but I strongly believe that people will forget development troubles but they won’t forget logging into the game. (Paraphrased)
Q: How does funding for game development normally work?
A: Most software development, banks will not leverage as they dont like that risk. Usually outside funds are raised through venture capitalists because they are risk oriented – however it isn’t something I have done.
Q: Can we see development progress in-game and not just art?
A: The content you’ll be seeing going forward is from the content roadmap, which will have information and news such as the backend tech for nodes, all through the UE4 editor where we create the game. The devs will be showing you how the tech works in the editor, this is all pre-recorded and is like an interview.
Q: Regarding the bear animation, the red tape around it, why did it take so long to release something so small?
A: It wasn’t so much showing it, but the manner it was being shown in. However I didn’t feel that it wasn’t major enough that deserved that attention, maybe I should have just hopped on discord and leaked it.
Q: Can we see things like the Bear animation, but more mechanic related?
A: Absolutely and this is what we’ll be doing moving forward and that’s what Margaret and Toast are here for.
Q: Can we not have moments of overhype about little things?
A: December, Jan and Feb are months where we had issues.
Q: Is there a better way for you to share content?
A: It’s being adjusted and will get better moving forward with content drops going forward. That’s what Margaret and Toast are here for.
Q: Mana forged armor sets, why should I care about getting them in the BR if I can get the same in the MMORPG?
A: The main answer is that the variety that will be present across them. The effort required to earn a cosmetic in the MMORPG might be greater than than the effort required to earn it in apocalypse or vice-versa. The means have to be considered.
Q: Do you still plan to keep the BR after release?
A: It depends on what the BR is providing. At the time right now, the BR continues to provide us data that is necessary.
Q: What % of the map will we have in the alpha and beta
A: For Alpha 1, 25% of the map. Moving forward it depends on the milestones we achieve. Our objective is 50% of the map in Alpha 2 and 100% by Beta. However this is a projection.
Q: Combat is extremely important for us and how it feels. It would be a great idea to put together the basics of the other classes and we’d like you to put out information on them as it would go a long way to satisfying the community.
A: It’s not a matter of finalizing the classes, but when we implement these classes into Alpha 1/Alpha 2, that’s when you’ll see theorycrafting around what people experience.
Q: At what point if negative feedback comes in on the hybrid combat will you take a step back from the drawing board? Since you are making a big leap of faith on this idea and trying out a new dynamic with risk.
A: Any time you innovate, you face risk. Everything we have today, was at some point innovative. So what we do is a ‘shotgun approach’ were we create multiple baselines and have the design team designers go back and lay out the foundation of what they expect the hybrid system to be, allow them to prototype and then you sort through them.
Q: That does not answer my question. IF those hybrid combat systems dont work, at what point do you drop it entirely?
A: Our contingency – If our hybrid system fails, is to switch to Tab-Target. However I do not believe it will fail.
Q: What made you decide tab-target over action IF it came down to hybrid combat failing?
A: It’s a traditional system that is well established. If we do switch back to tab, the other parts of the MMORPG are innovative enough to keep the players interested. However as to when we make that decision, is very hard to make. But definitely before launch.
Q: With all the cosmetics we’re seeing, we’re concerned the end-game armor will be dull.
A: The way I see it, things offered in the marketplace needs to be an alternative, not a higher rarity/quality.
Q: Concerned that outside of PI and the outspoken community members, other core players of the game may not get an input during development or voice their concerns.
A: We have extended Alpha 0 to the general community via random invites besides the PI and Alpha 1 testers, this ensured a healthy mix of MMO player demographic, ranging from players with lots of time to very little time. And the purpose of doing this is to have good sampling.
Q: Yes, but regarding similar feedback as A0 from A1, will you give out more keys?
A: The reason why I don’t want to hand out Alpha 1 keys, because those keys have some direct monetary value, unlike Alpha 0 which was invite only. I don’t want to undermine the value of alpha 1 by offering a lot of free keys. There’s also a lot of logistics that go into this as well, the engineers wanted to confine it to 10k players test.
Q: Why are you not lifting the visual NDA on alpha 0?
A: Because the moment it is released, it starts dating very quickly, because it will end up becoming the face of the project. We’re more content allowing a dry spell now until alpha 1 becomes available, to excite them with the world and the systems of alpha 1.
Q: What was the nail in the coffin for the Xsolla change?
A: It was a valid concern by the community and we looked into it and decided to make the change. The balance of stripe and paypal worked better for players in other regions.
Q: Studio represented events for the community?
A: We want to do more virtual events and events at trade events etc.
Q: Can we know about the name of the moon of Verra? Can we have a moon naming contest?
A: Who told you there’s only one moon? We have named the moon, it is lore related. I like that Idea, though.
Q: What about the #asheschallenge event etc?
A: (Community answered) That was an event run by Sarumonin that Steven wasn’t even aware of.
Q: Since we all don’t think you’ll be able to hit the previous timeframe/goal. There’s promises for the game such as the naval combat, various systems and so much more and it feels like there’s a lot of things that have to be filed out in a short time.
A: From a schedule standpoint, there’s 2 components. From a resource standpoint, we’re hiring more people as we mentioned in the letter. From a feature standpoint, most of those systems share or correlated in design, creating how those systems work fundamentally is shared. From that perspective, we’ll be able to achieve it by launch. However as I mentioned in the past, if there is a specific system holding up the release of the game, we will postpone the system as an update or expansion for the game to not affect release.
Q: Regarding Feature creep and the extensive features.
A: We won’t cut content. Again, I don’t foresee any issues with the feature list. If a particular system is holding up the game and as long as it isn’t a core structural system, we’ll release the game without it.
Q: How extensive do you expect your lore to be?
A: You will see aspects of the lore that are not just present in the game, from a film standpoint and there’s potential for the lore to have an expansion in that regard. It’s pretty deep.
Q: What’s your favourite AoC race?
A: Cant say that. However traditionally in past MMO’s I’ve played human.
Steven ends QnA due to having to get on a call. Thanks everyone for the QnA and says he does not shy away from such talks and appreciates them.