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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 a the 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.   

www.citadelofsorcery.com

10 comments:

  1. Totally agree that people are reluctant to welcome new things. Especially what you guys are trying to do; give us everything we want in a game.
    To be honest, the graphics really turned me off at first. They looked as though they were pulled out of games from 2004, however when the comparison was made in this blog post (especially the grass and the shadows) I can see how much more advanced the system behind the graphics really is. There's just a little "je ne sais quoi" missing to put the crisp vivid cherry on top. However as was stated, it is still pre-alpha, so personally I'm not too worried, I'm confident that you guys will really come out on top of this.
    Also, after reading through most of the CoS site, I really like everything else you guys have come up with: the revolutionarily HUGE world, the story, the mechanics behind every single NPC, I could go on but my point is that everything seems utterly fantastic!
    Therefore, seeing as my only worry right off the bat was the graphics, it really tells a lot about the first impression the game had on me: there is only one minor kink in me absolutely loving this game. And this is just pre-alpha!

    All in all, I have great confidence in you guys and hope to see this game released ASAP! :D

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  2. Totally agree with your post. Not meaning to bash on Guild Wars 2, it's not that innovative if you look past the dynamic events, etc, it's still not much in terms of immersion and innovation. With that being said, Guild Wars 2 is still a great MMO, it's just that nowadays people are more comfortable in the current design and model of MMOs, they're not willing to accept innovation and change, willing to just mark it off as being to risky and ambitious. That's just my opinion, but to the Citadel of Sorcery devs, I just want to say good luck to you guys and hopefully I will eventually see the launch day of COS.

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  3. I have already backed the game on kickstarter. I just wanted to say you are doing a wonderful job and the games looks great. I can't wait for a chance to try this masterpiece. You and your team are awesome. Keep up the good work

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  5. Ive gamed online for over 14 years now. Mainly I play MMORPGs, RRPs, FPSs, and now MMO/FPS hybrids. But for a good while, Ive been pretty bored with MMORPGs. They are all static worlds, level based, and across the board speaking...boring. The three basic game features in order of importance for me = Gameplay of course is king, then UI features/functionality, then graphics. Graphics can be very nice though, strolling through games like Oblivion or Skyrim etc, on Ultra can help pull you into the game even more because everything looks absolutely incredible. You really dont get this full effect in WoW, its much too cartoonish. I checked out these updated screenshots here, and on every one the CoS screens look noticeably better than GW2. The GW2 screens are blurry, the CoS ones are crystal clear, and loaded with fine details. And keep in mind I dont hate GW2, I actually like it and think its graphics are ok...but obviously not near as good as the CoS screens here are. More importantly though are the revolutionary features being incorporated into CoS...a staggeringly huge incredible living non static world, non level based character development, no real set classes so you can basically multiclass.. learn what skills you want with no real restrictions that I see, not even limits on the armor you can wear so even a mage can start training to wear heavy armor and be a battlemage, for instance...the list of features being designed into this game are incredible...its about damn time someone did THIS type of MMORPG instead of following the "cookie cutter" junk that 90% of MMOs use. CoS sounds exactly like what Ive been looking for all these years. Im not rich, but even so Ive already did the $250 level donation, in my experience lifetime memberships to online games always pay for themselves the first year or two, so are damn nice. Not to mention all the other great perks at that level. If I wasnt poor I would donate much much more to CoS, for a game that has more potential than any other game Ive seen in all my years gaming online...I cant wait. Keep up the great work Phillip, and CoS crew.

    Cory

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  6. Mr Philip I see your desperate need to defend the visuals on your game but I have a question for u, who told u that graphics in GW2 regarded as the best in the market? I am knowledgeable when it comes to MMORPGs I read news in daily bases & I wonder do u have any idea what is coming in the future? u try to use like an escuse the fact that your game is in ALPHA stage so I have a game to show u that it's in ALPHA stage also take a look here:

    http://www.mmobomb.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Black-Deserts-screenshot-4.jpg

    http://s.pro-gmedia.com/videogamer/media/images/pc/black_desert/screens/black_desert_16.jpg

    http://www.freemmostation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Black-Desert-Online-40.jpg

    Games name is Black Desert in case u never heard of it, the guys behind these game create this stunning beautiful visuals with their own engine I haven't see so pretty graphics even with Cry Engine 3.

    So after watching what some really talented ppl have done do u still believe that your game have what it takes to compete with them???

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  7. Far more than enough to compete, CoS will be top notch. What other companies choose to do first in the development cycle has nothing at all to do with our choices. Comparing their Alpha shots with ours is therefore, useless. We choose to deal with the graphics last, as we are heavily tied to the technology we are developing, and do not wish to have to redo the graphics again later.

    I wish those companies the best with their games, I'm sure they will be very nice. But we believe we are building the best MMORPG in history. I don't really need to defend the graphics, the game will speak for itself when it comes out. And though we plan to have pretty graphics, that is not our first priority, game play always comes first in the making of CoS, and that's the way we are approaching the development.

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  8. I understand where the priorities stand with this kind of project u want most of all to succeed with all this kind of unique features u want to implement in your game & those things will be what it will make it stand apart from anything else in the market, I understand that very well & I wish u & your team the best, but don't think even for a second that graphics is of lesser importance & if u succeed in everything else this will be enough to guarantee commercial success for your game.

    I read that your team work 10 whole years in this very ambitious project many things change the past 10 years, kids nowadays r very spoiled with pretty visuals & more & more MMORPGs with such stunning visuals coming in the near future, so when u sound so confident that u can compete with games like Black Desert for example I can't resist to remind u how NPC's in your game looks like:

    http://i.imgur.com/QmVavdB.png

    & what those guys at Pearl Abyss did that bring reality to our screens literally:

    http://jolstatic.fr/www/captures/1876/7/53387.jpg

    I don't want to insult your game, your engine & the work u have done till now but I just speak the truth here, NPCs in your game looks completely lifeless with no expression whatsoever they r like robots, in the other hand NPCs in Black Desert looks like real life humans it cant be done better imo it's so good & realistic that some1 can say it's perfect, magical even.

    After watching this r u still that confident? I would dare to challenge u to impress me no matter how childish this might look, gamers love that stuff u know show me an example of what your game engine can do to make me change my mind :)

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  9. You do understand that ALL of the NPCs you are looking at are pre-alpha? I guess I need to go over what pre-alpha means for everyone. Pre-alpha means it is not at alpha. It means that much of what you see is placeholder. Placeholder means it is a temporary model that represents a model to be replaced later with the real model. These NPCs are placeholder art. Not one NPC you are seeing in pre-alpha is for the game.

    Even at alpha, which we are not, contains some placeholder art by definition, otherwise it would be at beta.

    Lecturing us about the value of good art is preaching to the choir, as I already noted, art is important to us, but will come later.

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  10. im honestly so hyped for this, when is the estimated release date? 2014 or 2015?

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