Other sites about my books and games

Welcome to my Blog!
Most of my posts will be to do with the books I write, or the games I design. Feel free to stop by my personal web page, or the game company's web sites.

Philip Blood This is a link to my personal web site.

Citadel of Sorcery This is a link to our MMORPG website.

MMO Magic, Inc. This is a link to the game company where I work.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Citadel of Sorcery: Players are slow to believe.

The world is slow to accept change.  Of course, I knew that.  Ten years ago when I was kicking around the concept for an MMORPG that was twenty or so years ahead of its time, I knew I would face an uphill battle to get this game made.

When I gathered the core team of game industry professionals, all working at game companies at that time, I offered up three proposals.  Of the three, they all chose Citadel of Sorcery, even though I explained to them that this was, by far, the most difficult game to make.  They wanted to do something extraordinary, something new, and something that they could be proud they made for the rest of their lives.

I then explained that no one would believe us.  It was like saying, “Look, we’re going to build a spaceship that goes faster than light.”  Who would believe us, I mean,  not only hadn't it been done, but no one BELIEVED it could be done!  That was what it was like ten years ago when I penned the first design of CoS.  It was deemed… impossible.

After a couple of years of R&D, we finally started actual work on the game.  Now, about eight years later, we have managed to create our FTL engine, or in game terms, the T3D engine.  All the technology that was deemed… impossible now works.  That and other important elements now working include:

1)                         Generating an entire, unique, planet, 900,000,000 square kilometers in size, the full size of earth.
2)                          NPCs who live lives in our game world.  Currently we have run a test city that is fully populated with NPCs living their lives, they have jobs they go to during work hours, homes they sleep in at night, and they go out on the town during leisure hours. They can have friends, family, and are constantly making decisions on what they want to do next.
3)                         A live events system that is constantly changing what is happening in the world. Our world is alive, with new things taking place all the time. The system to keep these events running is already functional.
4)                         Proprietary in game tools that allow multiple game designers to work together simultaneously within the running game world, creating the living world and live testing it instantly so that more can be built faster and better by fewer people. It’s very efficient.
5)                          A Voxel/Polygon hybrid rendering system that allows us to render down to every blade of grass (not just a texture of grass), or a complete vista of forest all the way out into the distance, with every tree being unique. This brand new proprietary technology does not exist in any other game engine currently on the market.

So, back to my original statement, the world is slow to accept change.  Yes, we knew that, so we built all of this so that people would not have to accept the idea of us doing the impossible, we could show that it is possible.

But, recently we put the Pre-Alpha version of CoS up on Kickstarter only to find that people still don’t believe us.  Even after we have all that working, the majority of people still won’t back something this new and different.
We've actually had people posting telling us that the reason they won’t back our project is that is offers too much.   Too much?  Really, you want less?   I find it sad that people have become such cynics that they will not support something that attempts to give them everything they want, and instead only attack those that are trying to do something new and innovative.

Fortunately, not all humanity has succumbed to such lowly and base instincts, and still has it in their heart to believe in magic.  We named our company MMO Magic for a reason, because we are going to put some magic into a game genre that has become stale and lifeless.  Where if you are not a clone of what already exists, then you are not deemed valuable.

This brings me to another aspect of this, game looks.   We showed pre-alpha shots of the game, and were immediately attacked.   Of course, the first response we would have is, these are pre-alpha, not finished.  This is true, and our graphics will look much better before the game launches.   But even with that said, these reactions to the look of the game are unfair.  No, we don’t look like other games that players are playing right now, but looking different isn't looking bad. 

I look at recent games, like Guild Wars 2, and I find that their game does look a lot different than CoS.  Not better, different.  If I was to attack GW2 (which I don’t actually want to do, there is NOTHING wrong with the way they decided to make their game look) I could point out that a lot of what you are looking at is painted rather than real (shadows painted into the texture, not cast by the light source).  The whole look of their world is what I would call fuzzy painted.  That is the look they decided to go for, and within that goal they did a nice job.

The point is, this is just one possible look.  There can  be many styles of art.  Just because we decided to go with 'sharp reality' vs. 'fuzzy painting', doesn't mean our graphics look bad, they look like they are intended to look, different, and in our opinion, they look GREAT!

If you look at a building, and walk up close to it in CoS, you will find that it still looks sharp and real.  In most other games, if you walk up close, their ‘painting’ on the polygons turns into a blur.  As light sources change the world objects look kind of flat, but in CoS objects stay three dimensional with nice real time shadows and sharp images.  This also means that shadows and lighting change with the time of day, making our world (graphics) look real, not like a flat blurry painting
The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci looks nothing like a work from Picasso or Van Gogh, they are all radically different styles of art, none are ‘better’ than another.  Our style of art is our own, it isn't better or worse than others; it is the style we choose to make in our game.  We wanted sharp reality, so that’s what we’re making.  Here is a comparison between Guild Wars 2 and Citadel of Sorcery.  Please note that the differences we point out are a choice, not a good or bad.  We choose to make our graphics look the way we thought they looked good.  Someone else may have a different opinion, that is the way of art, it is subjective.  Still, we are not afraid of a side by side comparison of our Pre-Alpha art and the Finished art of Guild Wars 2.  Note the overall 'sharper' style of CoS over GW2, and then we listed some other things to note in each comparison.

Click on each image to get a larger view!

But, people are slow to change, in graphic looks, and in new kind of game play.  And so our Kickstarter campaign was slow to gather backers.  Many people want to wait and have us ‘prove’ it all before they give us their backing.  Sadly, this does only one thing, delay the day they get to play something new.

Still, there are a few who believe, and to them we say ‘Thank you’, for your optimism, for your understanding, and for your willingness to stand with us, and help us create a game that is new and different.

We will be opening up our own Crowd Funding on November 9th.  So come join us in making this game!  

However, regardless of any Crowd Funding, we will continue to work on this game, no matter how long it takes to finish.  And every dollar that IS donated through our own Crowd Funding will be put straight into finishing the game sooner.  

Here is a promise, we’ll make sure that the people who believed, the people that backed this project when others would not, ARE rewarded.  You will receive things that no other player will ever get, and you will be the first people into this new world.  Finally, you will also be the first to learn new things about the development in the game.  We want our backers to be part of the team, not just players.  So those that pledge on our web site crowd funding will be part of the Patron Team, with special access.

Come be a believer, join our Patron Team, and help get Citadel of Sorcery done even sooner!  Come to our web site on November 9th, 2012 and check out the new Crowd Funding rewards, or just talk to us and the other believers in our game in the forums.