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Goblinworks - Ryan Avatar

Ryan Dancey's page

CEO, Goblinworks. Goblin Squad Member. 2,454 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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CEO, Goblinworks

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I am working on a bunch of material that will eventually become a blog about what we are going to get done in Alpha and therefore what the game state will be when we begin Early Enrollment but I want to be sure those estimates are solid before we describe them. I would like to do a little underpromise/overdeliver instead of the converse.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Iteration 1: You train a character for a month.

Iteration 2: You can redirect which character is being trained during the month.

Iteration 1 will happen first, and then Iteration 2. It is unclear at this time if we will get to iteration 2 before Early Enrollment begins.

CEO, Goblinworks

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I think the party size is too small. But there won't be any changes in Alpha.

CEO, Goblinworks

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There are three issues that we have to consider.

The first is the issue of hardware resources and user experience. We do not know, yet, the kinds of loads that we can support with our technology. The only way to really determine this is to run the systems under daily use and monitor their performance. We will find lots of ways to optimize over time so whatever we start with will improve as we invest resources in optimization but we won't really know what we will be able to support until we have real-life data.

So the first question we need to answer is "how many active characters can the systems sustain". We are 90% confident that we can support 1 logged in character per account for our projected number of accounts through 2017, so we think that is a low-risk baseline.

Obviously we can likely support many more.

There are two variables: Number of logged in characters per account, and number of accounts.

Depending on how we alter these values we will get different amounts of load on the system. Since we cannot know in advance how that load will affect the experience of the players we have to cautiously start with small values for number of characters and number of accounts and gradually raise them while monitoring performance to see what the effects are.

Due to our architecture this is not a single problem. We will have to look at logical-server-wide issues as well as physical-server issues. We may find that because of how character densities develop during play that a few physical-servers are overburdened, even if the logical-server is not. We may therefore have to think about ways to create natural forces in the game that disburse those concentrations, think about ways to augment the hardware for the impacted physical-servers, think about ways to distribute the loads to multiple physical-servers, etc.

These are common problems for MMOs and while we know we do not know what we will have to do, we do know that we will have to confront them.

Second, we have to consider issues of limited in-game resources. The most limited in-game resource is character names. People place a high value on character names and there are active markets for character names. The more accounts we allow people to create with little or no cost the more character names will be soaked up by people who intend to hold those names and try to sell them.

There are probably a dozen other in-game resources with similar constraints (Chartered Company names is an easy to identify one). Because of this we need to think through the implications of how we enable lots of accounts with no cost to be created. There are well understood ways to deal with these problems like having a character naming system that reverts unused character names after a certain period of inactivity, etc. But each of those systems requires the allocation of resources to implement - resources which could be better spent on adding new features, adding new components to existing features, and polishing and bug fixes.

Third, we have to consider the effects of character density on game systems. We have a game economy that is based on being able to do useful things with relatively unskilled characters. That implies that throw-away alt accounts have a substantial economic value, and that implies that people will be willing to manage legions of them to extract that value. That works at cross-purposes to our goal of making money by operating the game, and it impacts the experience of paying players.

The counter-argument is that many MMOs now offer a free trial or outright free play as a way to increase the total population of the game with the idea that larger populations translate into more satisfying game experiences for paying players. As the economic success of this model is effectively unquestionable at this juncture that's a very compelling argument.

However virtually all the games where that model is employed are games that are sharded. The operators can spin up an infinite number of shards to distribute loads. Since we intend to have one shard, the effects of lots of free players cannot be diluted in relation to the number of paying players. This suggests that a simple play-for-free option won't work for our game, at least at the start where the amount of paying players will be low.

Conclusion

I think that we will likely begin with a 1:1 ratio between paying characters and active characters. In other words, to begin, you'll have to pay for a character to be "active" in order to log that character into the game. The minimum amount of payment I expect we will begin with is a 30 day time increment. (There are some oddities because we'll have subscriptions and yes that means that subscribers pay for 28 days in February and someone who buys 30 days of time and uses it on Feb 1 will get 2 "extra" days. But there are 365 days in the year so if you are a full-year subscriber you will get 5 more "extra" days than someone who bought twelve 30-day time increments.)

There is no specific reason we should not let you pay for multiple characters to be "active" on a given account. There's no functional difference between 1 person paying for 1,000 characters and 1,000 people paying for 1 character. In fact, trying to do something useful with 1,000 characters will be suboptimal considering the network topology between us and you, but if you want to saturate the network and accept the downsides, who are we to argue?

The people who got game time with their Kickstarter Rewards will get tokens equal to the number of months of game time included with those Rewards. They'll be able to chose when to use those tokens, and the tokens will be 30 day tokens. So if you wanted to play in the 1st month you were eligible for Early Enrollment, you'd use 1 token, get 30 days of game time, and then if you did not use another token, your character would become inactive and you could not log that character into the game. If you had more tokens they would sit in your account management screen until you decided to use one more more. You will therefore control when you use the game time you have received.

Inactive characters won't get XP. They probably should not be able to have crafting jobs that continue to advance, nor count for any "number of character" mechanics. There may be issues in implementing those rules in the short term and for the sake of speed and simplicity we might not try to implement those limits to begin with, so there could be some gamesmanship around doing things on the last day of a character's active game time which break the spirit of this system. We will evaluate the severity and impact of those corner cases if and when the issue becomes meaningful.

At some point I would like to have some mechanism for a test account. These are virtually required once the game reaches a certain level of population - after the early adopter pool is exhausted, later adopters are very wary of playing a game they cannot try before they buy. But that is a problem for a much later day, maybe not even before Open Enrollment.

There is a potential that we may decide we have the ability to support some amount of "Free to Play" accounts. That would be awesome from a population experience perspective. If it is also awesome from a revenue cost perspective and a game mechanic perspective, we'd love to do it. But it is too early to determine if it is possible, or desirable.

CEO, Goblinworks

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@albadeon:

If coin has weight and mass, the economy becomes crippled. Merchants cannot move enough coins fast enough to the market hubs to engage in production at scale. As a result, Letters of Credit (LOCs) will emerge to replace coin. These will be agreements between players to credit and debt large amounts of coin by proxy. The LOC system is opaque to us which means it will be filled with rampant fraud and abuse - but at the top end, where a web of absolute trust will develop, really big concerns will have a workable system. Result: new players, players excluded from the top end, and anyone other than a documented "Real Person" will be unable to operate in the LOC economy and will be cut out of becoming a meaningful concern in production.

If coin has no weight or mass, the Settlement will divide its wealth among a large number of proxy characters that will be created expressly for this purpose. The wealth will be loaded onto them, perhaps a several hundred or a thousand of them, and in waves they'll scatter from the Settlement in all directions of the compass. When they have reached a safe distance, they'll log off. After the battle is over, they'll be carefully logged back in, one at a time, when local security can be ensured, and their coin will be transferred out of the area under guard, or, if the Settlement was saved, they'll run back to the Settlement and re-deposit the coins. Other players might manage to stop a small number of these runners, but they'll never get more than a tiny fraction of the coin.

Remember that this extraction isn't going to happen on the day of the siege. Sieges take a long time to prepare and are the culmination of weeks of effort and skirmishes and reduction of outer defenses and structures. The Settlement will have days and days of time to prepare to protect their wealth. So they always will.

Result will be a system (looting Settlements) that rarely actually gets used.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Mechanic: If you destroy a Settlement, you get some portion of the coin in that Settlement

Behavior: If a group feels there's a reasonable chance they might lose that Settlement, they'll pull every unneeded coin out of that Settlement and move it to a secure location.

Result: A game mechanic that has no material impact on play except for the rare corner case where a group was cohesive enough to organize and create a Settlement, but not cohesive enough to do the obvious thing when that Settlement comes under siege.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Lets say that the average cost for a reasonably good item that is not often threaded but is often used (i.e. it will be consumed regularly via destruction) is 1,000 coin. Based on the current rate of coin drop that is not a very expensive item.

Let's say we have 50,000 active players in the game, of which 1% consume this item weekly. That's 500 units being consumed a week, or 500,000 coin of value.

So someone who wants to operate at the top of this market is looking at making multiple-hundreds of thousands of coin valued transactions on a regular basis.

And that's just a fairly low level item.

Let's think about commodities. Right now a steel sword requires 3 steel ingots. Steel ingots require 10 iron ore. So that's 30 iron ore per sword.

Let's assume that 20% of the player population has a sword, and they lose that sword through misadventure once a month. 10,000 swords a month requires 300,000 iron ore to be mined. Will the price of that iron ore be 1 coin? Several? Even if it is just 1 coin, 300,000 coins of value per month are going to be moving through the economy. And that's just for a low-level sword.

You can see that very quickly, at fairly small player populations (compared to Theme Park MMOs) we are getting into the realm where million-coin accounts are not going to be exceptional - they'll be basic capitalization levels for the top end of the crafting, harvesting, and logistics groups.

And that's before we even begin dealing with the effects of warfare, major character-built structures, etc.

CEO, Goblinworks

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I think that right now Coal is the fundamental unit of account but that may just be a bad assumption.

You need Coal to make magic swords and everyone is going to want a magic sword and Coal only drops in any meaningful amount in one hex. Iron (the other major component for swords) is dropped all over the map. So the rate at which swords can be made is dependent on Coal, which means Coal is therefore a proxy for value in the game's economy.

You also need Leather Strips. I do not have the Leather Strips recipe. But I really really want one.

BTW, I will trade Coal for recipes and recipes for Coal. If you wanna make a deal, post your offer here or on the Alpha Forums so everyone in Alpha can see the market prices.

CEO, Goblinworks

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@H20sw - we discussed our options. In the end, based on resources and other limitations, we could have Alpha forums now and keep them closed to all but Alpha participants, or wait several weeks and have forums that everyone can access. This is an internal resource allocation thing, not a technical limit of the software.

We decided we would rather have the Alpha forums now, and deploy the tech talent on other features and polish in game even if that meant they're going to be of limited availability.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Here's the difference between EVE and Pathfinder Online.

EVE

In EVE, you have a queue of skills your character will train. If the time required to train one of those skills exceeds 24 hours, you can queue it up but you can't queue anything after that long training time.

So you could pay for a monthly EVE sub, and manage your skill queue, training skills and doing nothing else. (You can buy a PLEX, and sell it on the in-game market for ISK, use that ISK to buy the necessary skill books to unlock new skills to train, all without leaving the busiest market hub in the game). You could, given unlimited time and unlimited PLEX, train every skill in the game to the maximum level.

Skills are prerequisites for using various ship hulls and ship modules. They also have effects on your character's abilities.

So technically you could sit in that market hub paying for monthly subscription time and buying skill books with PLEX and train all the skills you need to fly the largest ship in the game fully equipped with the most powerful modules in the game, and provided you could get to a place where you can fly that ship, and that someone would transfer ownership of one to you, with the modules included, you could board it, and take command, never having flown a single mission on any other ship or used any ship equipment ever in the history of your character.

The limiting factor is 100% realtime, plus your willingness to buy ISK rather than earn it, and your social connections to get access to hulls and modules not regularly sold on the markets. Zero impact from your actual in-game activities.

Pathfinder Online

In Pathfinder Online, you gain XP in realtime which goes into a bank. You can log in and find a skill trainer to exchange banked XP for skills. You could, if you wished, pay for a monthly subscription for a long period of time and never log in, then, when you decide you are ready, log in and start buying training.

You will discover however that even though you might have a huge amount of XP banked, you cannot buy all the training you want. After the first couple of ranks of a particular Feat are trained, you start to run into prerequisites.

Some of those prerequisites are ability score increases, which also come from purchasing training. But you will find that you can't purchase enough of those kinds of Feats without running into other prerequisites. Those are related to earning Achievements.

Achievements reflect things that your character has actually done in game. Some of them are easy to get - a couple of hours of generic adventuring will provide quite a few of them. So you do that, then you go back to the trainers and you can spend more of your XP and get some more Feats. You repeat that cycle, but you start to notice that the time required to get the next set of Achievements you need to unlock the next round of Feats to train are becoming increasingly time consuming to earn.

Eventually you reach a point where the time required to get the next batch of Achievements has become pretty substantial. You've reached the point in the game where you are gated more by what you are able to do while you play than by how much XP your character is earning.

So if you paid for a long period of subscription time, and gained a huge bank of XP, you would not be able to replicate the experience of the pilot in EVE - you can't just train your character and never interact with the world.

The character who starts playing on day one and actually plays the game - going out into the world and doing things related to the kind of abilities that the player wants that character to have - will have a substantial advantage over the character who is created on day one but that is never used and is just a reservoir holding XP.

(This is one big reason I say that Destiny's Twin is cool, but it's not as good as a "second character". Because you have to choose to either do things to earn Achievements with the Main, or with the Twin, but you can't do both at the same time. So you'll have to decide how you want to allocate your game time "doing things in the game" and you can't treat the Twin as just a convenient alter-ego of your Main.)

Why this is good design

The realtime training system pioneered by EVE solves a number of design problems. The biggest problem that it solves is that it allows us to control, absolutely, how quickly a character can unlock certain character abilities. In games where your character gets better simply as a function of your play, things like DPS and XPS are proxies for realtime training. But they're not great proxies because so many different people play the game at different rates and you are forced to make design choices between optimizing for the people at the very top of the power curve who are playing an absolutely min/maxed character in a mathematically optimal way, or for the 99% of the rest of the players who are doing something less "perfect" from a gaming perspective - starting at slightly less perfect and going down to "barely doing anything right".

The MMO community has shown time and again that it is capable of finding ways to level up characters faster than the designers "thought they could". The result is that game systems which were deployed in a half-finished state get pounded by rapidly advancing characters and the blowback is that the content is boring and grindy. (Or worse, doesn't exist at all, and characters run out of things to do and players therefore exit the game).

With realtime training we, the designers, control when you will be gated in to various content and nothing you, the players, can do can speed that process up. So you can be as efficient as you want, min/max to your hearts' content, play 24 hours a day without any sleep, and you won't be able to get ahead of our plan to deploy content.

We can then tune other parts of the design to be more interesting to the vast middle majority of the players rather than having to tune to the most efficient players. The Achievement system allows us to provide you interesting things to do but we don't have to ask you to do them 24x7x365. So if you don't play that aggressively you will find that in general you're able to "keep up" with those who do (there's an economic risk because those 24x7 players will generate more economic activity than the people who don't but we think we can manage that on the backend.)

CEO, Goblinworks

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We're actually building a list of what is NOT going to be in Early Enrollment, which may be more useful.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Ideascale is a test of a system. The test seems to be going well.

There's a difference between something that we will put into the game no matter what, and something that has to be prioritized and balanced against other functions and features. We have a list of stuff we are going to put into the MVP and when someone suggests one of those things I tell them in the comments and close the idea.

There are lots and lots of ideas that people have suggested which are a part of our plan but which we have not prioritized or thought about the various tradeoffs that will be required and those have been left alone.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Don't worry about it. I read all the ideas and if I think that something is too close to a feature that will be in the game I usually take action.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Ok, there are now a bunch of ideas that have been flagged for moderation.

One is "Simple and Advanced Contract Mechanic Options", submitted by "Community Member". I assume that's some kind of placeholder for an account that has not been configured with a public name.

That idea has had the following transaction history:

Events [ 6 ] [-]
Flag Status Changed from Approved to Flagged 1 hour ago
Status Changed from Active to Pending Approval 1 hour ago
Status Changed from Pending Approval to Active 16 hours ago
Flag Status Changed from Default to Flagged 19 days ago
Status Changed from Active to Pending Approval 19 days ago
The idea was posted 21 days ago

Ideascale does not allow me to see who took these actions, although I'm pretty sure the status change 16 hours ago was me responding to the PM that kicked off this investigation.

I have altered the Ideascale defaults. It now requires more than 1 report of an idea as abusive, and more than 1 report of an idea as a duplicate to shift the idea into moderation. We'll see if that helps.

CEO, Goblinworks

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PS: if people are actually gaming the system that would be a sign that folks are taking our Crowdforging commitment seriously and that's good, even if that particular behavior is bad. :)

CEO, Goblinworks

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We need to investigate. When an item is flagged as a duplicate, I get an email. I review the idea and the duplicate suggestions from Ideascale and if I judge there are close enough matches I merge the ideas. There have not been more than three or four a week after an initial surge of duplicates when we opened the tool. However yesterday after I was asked to investigate, I found 20+ ideas that had been set to a status other than "Active". I do not think I received email about duplicates regarding those ideas but I have not verified that yet.

Prior to investigating further I have some speculations:

The system may be reacting to people submitting a large volume of ideas in a short period of time

The system may be reacting to submissions of ideas by people who have previously submitted ideas with lots of negative votes

The system may be detecting what it thinks are sock puppets

The system may be flagging what it thnks are known problematic users or users from various blacklists and anti-fraud services, etc.

The problem may be people gaming the system to kill ideas they don't like

I will look into this today and see if I can determine what is happening and why.

CEO, Goblinworks

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A class is a definition of what your character is. A role is an acknowledgement of what your character has done. This is a subtle but powerful difference and it allows is to break free of a need to focus on balancing large segments of the game design against one another.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Server is GO for extended Alpha testing this weekend! Alpha testers check your email for an update plus a Howto Crafting Guide!

CEO, Goblinworks

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I would suggest that if you have a character that loses XP or items when you log out and back in, you should delete that character and start a new one. There may be some cruft in the system that won't get fixed on older characters.

If a particular guard hates you (because you attacked him) ... they never forgive or forget. So if you're in that condition, you probably want to make a new character. If they just are generally mad at you because you've attacked other characters, your Rep will regenerate as long as you're logged in.

CEO, Goblinworks

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You made a +2 Sword?!??? Awesome!

CEO, Goblinworks

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Unity 4 (which we are using) is a 32-bit platform. Unity 5 has been announced and a 64-bit feature set. When and if we migrate to Unity 5 is something not currently on our roadmap.

CEO, Goblinworks

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We define the next generation of MMOs as much smaller, much less expensive and therefore not focusing on cutting-edge graphics like the current generation.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Sorry for the service interruption folks! Paizo's internet connectivity went down early this morning and servers and systems are just now coming back on line. Please accept our apologies for the lack of access to Zog during the downtime.

CEO, Goblinworks

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The advantage is that you may be effective against lots of different opponent types, you can use lots of different keywords, you can inflict and leverage lots of effects, you can optimize several different builds, etc.

It shouldn't be about having overwhelming damage against individual targets. That is just the road to making high level characters death machines versus newbies.

CEO, Goblinworks

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It would be terrible to have one-shot kills in an MMO.

CEO, Goblinworks

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I think you should think of rogue abilities in two buckets.

Bucket 1: Sneak attack

Normally this happens due to having another character apply the flat-footed condition on the target. In other words, it's something you do with a partner, not something you do by yourself.

Bucket 2: Stealth

Normally this is an ability you would use when trying to avoid being detected while scouting or spying. Sometimes you might get lucky and manage to make a Sneak Attack against a foe because of your stealth, but that would be the exceptional use of the ability rather than the common use.

And then you should think there's a 3rd bucket that hasn't been discussed much:

Bucket 3: Rogue skills

This is stuff like picking locks, setting traps, using magical devices, etc. You may find that many rogue characters rarely engage in PvP and are instead competent adventurers who use these abilities in the traditional manner associated with the tabletop game.

CEO, Goblinworks

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My intention is that you will be able to have an unlimited number of characters on an account and that you can have as many of them gaining XP in parallel as you want to pay for. You should be able to log into an account multiple times in parallel.

We haven't built ANY of that tech yet. So those plans are subject to change.

One thing I am super sensitive to is the idea of someone farming names by making hundreds of characters that they will never use just to tie up names. So we will have to have some way to deal with that problem, tbd.

CEO, Goblinworks

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I'll get that fixed.

CEO, Goblinworks

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I created this graphic as a way to show the arc of the progress of the game.

Evolution of terrain over time

CEO, Goblinworks

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This is an Alpha

Getting "Alpha Access" to an MMO turned into a marketing thing and so a bunch of companies monetized their late-stage beta testing by calling them "Alpha tests". I can't fix that.

We could make up a whole new term for what we're doing now, but that ship sailed with the horse from the barn. We did make up a term for "Beta" and while we've backslid a couple of times in general I've been pretty ruthless about making people in the company say "Early Enrollment" when they want to say "Beta".

C'est la vie. Can't spend braincycles worrying about stuff that can't be fixed.

CEO, Goblinworks

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It will drive some people nuts to not have the absolute highest "Number" in some value. Those people will be fundamentally incapable of training some Feat that isn't making that "Number" get bigger. They'll never be training Rogue Feats if they're on the Fighter role path.

It will drive some people nuts to not have trained every single available option. Those people will be fundamentally incapable of waiting to train something else if they could train something RIGHT NOW. They'll be very slowly becoming expert at everything.

Between these two poles there will be people who make strategic choices to pursue diverse training for diverse reasons. As long as we don't accidentally create a situation where the best way to pursue the Fighter role is to take Rogue feats, we'll be reinforcing the value of the Roles without constraining people's choices about how diverse they want to make their character's abilities.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Pryde wrote:
On off-topic question, how large is the team working on PFO currently?

There are currently 20 full time Goblinworks employees including me plus Lisa.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Ok, let's break this down a lot so we can be on the same page.

When you look at a frame of rendered in-game footage, you are seeing a huge matrix of things.

1: The 3D models

2: The textures on top of those models

3: The terrain and environmental effects

4: The shaders which are rendering aspects of those models

5: The particle and other effects applied to those models

6: Lighting & shadows

7: Ambient occlusion

8: Level of Detail changes based on distance from camera

9: Effects added to the frame (lens flare, for example)

10: Animation (keyframes and "tweened" frames)

All of that is transformed by the rendering engine into a frame of data which is then processed by your video card and then displayed on your screen.

When you say "graphics", the layperson means "the look of a frame of the game when displayed on the screen". But when you say "graphics" to someone who makes videogames, you have to talk about what part of the graphics you're referring to.

We just replaced the whole animation system in Unity with a 3rd party tool because Unity's system could not keep up with the demands we were putting on it. Let's do a deep dive into animation to explain the complexities involved.

At the heart of the animation system is a "rig". This is like the skeleton of a body. (In fact, the parts of it are called "bones"). The rig is hand-built for each model. The rig for a dwarven male is different than the rig for an elven female. The rig has coded into it various "rules" about the kinesthetics of the model - how far do its joints bend, etc. Our rigs are built not only to manage the skeleton of the body but also things like hair, clothing, accessories, etc.

The rig is controlled by an animation script. Each thing a model can "do" has a script. Our animator hand-builds these scripts by manipulating how the rig deforms over time - it's a little bit like making cels in an animated cartoon. Each "frame" of the animation is slightly different than the previous frame. There is a bunch of software that mediates between the script and the rig and does things like simulate physics (gravity), determines linkages between elements of the rig (the cape shouldn't overlap with the boots, etc.)

The animation system combines the terrain, the rig, and the animation scripts with a physics simulation, and it determines at any given point what frame of which animation should be playing and how the rig should deform based on that animation in relation to how the model is positioned on the terrain. It also has to be able to extrapolate between frames of animation scripts - it has to know, for example, how to transition from a full run to a walk to a stop.

So, to play a single frame of animation and thus produce a single frame of completed and rendered on-screen content, the system has to:

1: Morph a 3D model based on the current state of the animation

2: Display that model with textures layered on top of it in the right order and not allow them to interpenetrate (you shouldn't see the models' white BVDs when they're wearing clothing)

3: Light the model correctly and from the lighting system produce appropriate shadows

4: Apply any effects like particles, blurs, flares, auras, etc.

5: Apply any camera effects (lens flare, etc.)

So when you say "the graphics are terrible" or "the graphics are fantastic", you're talking about the effect of the completed process. But when you ask us "do you think the graphics are terrible or fantastic", we can't really answer that question. We'd have to produce a list of about 100 different aspects of the "graphics" and rate them individually.

Now if you want to ask what our visual target is - our final destination - my answer is that the closer we get to AAA expectations the better. With enough time, enough money, and enough talent, Pathfinder Online could look like Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto V. That's the direction we will go. How far we will travel will be a function of many inputs.

CEO, Goblinworks

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If I think there's a reasonable chance a name would draw a cease & desist and/or a copyright infringement or trademark infringement claim, we'll require that it be changed.

If I think someone is making unreasonable name change requests and they don't desist when warned of the consequences I'll ban them.

CEO, Goblinworks

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If someone objects to a name and makes a reasonable case that the name is objectionable, we'll entertain it. Sometimes "someone" will be our staff. So far, I don't think anyone has made a reasonable case that "Tink" is objectionable.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Ah so we come to the differences between Classes and Roles at last. It's been 2 years in the making.

There are no characters who are "Rogues" and no characters who are "Fighters". There are characters who have pursued training in the Rogue role and characters who have pursued training in the Fighter role and some characters who have done a little of both.

The character with 4 levels of Rogue doesn't have to be better at stealth than the character who earned 4 levels of Fighter, because what equality of Stealth means that that the Fighter character is an older character than the Rogue. It means that the character got better at Stealth at the cost of not getting better at Fighter-type Feats. That's a meaningful choice made by the player of that character, and it's ok.

CEO, Goblinworks

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We absolutely are emulating the style of the art from the books. That has been a critical objective of the art team from day one.

CEO, Goblinworks

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We have updated the Goblinworks privacy policy. You can see the policy here.

There is no material change in the Policy except that we reversed certain terms that assumed that Paizo was handling our eCommerce and we were receiving data from them. Now the policy assumes that we are handling our own eCommerce and that we are sharing data to them. We also reserved the right to use 3rd party providers to send you email newsletters and promotional offers but we notify you that we won't allow 3rd parties to send you their own unsolicited commercial email.

We also told you to contact us instead of Paizo if you have questions about the Access and Control of your personal information and we removed references to using Paizo's system to view the information that we store about you.

We have updated the Terms of Service. Right now this only applies to Alpha testers.

We added the following to the Terms of Service (you can't see these unless you have Alpha access, so I'm posting the new Terms here):

Terms Of Service wrote:

Naming Policies.

Do not use the name of any historical person, any modern religious figure from any major world religion, any modern political, military, or entertainment figure, the name of any character in any fictional work, or the name of any named NPC in any work published by Paizo or its licensees.

Do not use a name that would be likely to offend or harass other players.

Do not use a name that implies you are a member of the Goblinworks staff, or the Paizo staff, or have any official position with the game's operations (i.e. don't call yourself a "Gamemaster" or "GM").

Do not use a name that could be confused with a game mechanic (i.e. you can't name yourself "Critical Hit").

Any name that you choose for your character, company or settlement is provisional. At Goblinworks' sole discretion we may require you to change that name and we may change the name ourselves if we deem it necessary.

No Children.

Pathfinder Online is appropriate for players aged 13 and older. If you are not 13 or older you cannot access the game or use goblinworks.com.

No Adult Content.

When creating character names, company names, settlement names or typing in chat channels that are not "opt-in" (such as General or Local) do not submit any material that the general public would classify as "adult content," offensive, or inappropriate for minors.

Communicating in-game with other Users and Goblinworks representatives, whether by text, voice or any other method, is an integral part of Pathfinder Online and is referred to here as "Chat." When engaging in Chat, you may not:

Transmit or post any content or language which, in the sole and absolute discretion of Goblinworks, is deemed to be offensive, including without limitation content or language that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, sexually explicit, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, nor may you use a misspelling or an alternative spelling to circumvent the content and language restrictions listed above.

In addition you agree you will not harass, threaten, stalk, embarrass or cause distress, unwanted attention or discomfort to any user of Pathfinder Online.

CEO, Goblinworks

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There are so many variables that go into the "graphics" of an MMO it's very hard to discuss one element of them without discussing the impact on others.

As with all things in Pathfinder Online, our objective is to implement the "minimum viable" level of a feature, then decide over time how and when to iterate it.

As a result there are a lot of parts of the graphics package for which I really only care that they exist, not that they are aesthetically awesome. Getting them to work at all is a huge step. Getting them to look great can be done iteratively.

For example, we are creating a gigantic world. There is no way we could hand-craft that world with the staff and resources we have. So we needed to build a system that would allow us to create large segments of terrain procedurally. So far I'm really very happy with the tools we've built in general. We made mountains and forests and deserts and we can make more of them in huge quantities within our existing resources.

Right now the terrain is built with very large macro level features - the divisions between hexes of different types and the major elevation changes being the most notable, followed by the roads and the rivers. We have made almost no effort to try to create "interesting" places within the landscape - the interesting geography that does exist is almost all an emergent property of the procedural generation.

But you'll probably notice very quickly that none of that terrain is particularly advanced in terms of its visual elements. There are trees, but there are not many different types or sizes. There are a lot of sharp angles in the deformation of terrain rather than smoother more organic curves. There are very few "features" in the terrain besides the resource nodes - and right now the resource nodes themselves only come in a small number of varieties.

The hard part was making huge amounts of terrain. We got that done. Making that terrain more "interesting", and increasing the number and variation of the elements of the terrain, and figuring out how to make it appear more aesthetically pleasing can come over time if that is determined to be the plan.

Your average game reviewer will look at what we've created and give it a low "score" because that's honestly what it is. Compared to terrain created by a huge team of artists who have years of time to build objects and programmers to write shaders and create hand-built merges between objects and ground and lighting and particle effects, etc. Pathfinder Online is not going to earn a very high "score".

On the other hand, there are people looking at what we've produced, with the size of staff we have, and the budget we have, and the timeline we're on, and they're shaking their heads and wondering how the hell we pulled it off. That's a very nuanced perspective and it doesn't reduce easily into a "score".

We have to sell people on the idea that we will, eventually, have AAA class graphics and we will eventually have achieved the kind of aesthetic that meets or exceeds AAA expectations. But we won't have that for a very, very long time. Instead, we'll have a series of incremental steps where things get very slightly better, continuously.

Obviously, the number of people who will accept such a thing is much lower than the total number of people who buy videogames or play MMOs. That's why we built our business plan around the idea of having a very small population of paying players which grows slowly but steadily over a long period of time. We don't have to start out with a "high score" because we don't need to attract several hundred players on the first day. We just need to find a couple of tens of thousands, out of millions, who can accept the fundamental idea of incremental improvement and we'll be ok.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Having graphics that are no better than 80% as good as AAA has no meaningful market effect. People who care about graphics will hate the product. Since we won't be anywhere close to 80% of AAA I can't worry about it. If it's a fatal flaw, it's an unfixable fatal flaw.

CEO, Goblinworks

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The Tank mechanic is not having hit points and armor. It is having the ability to force enemies to attack the Tank. The Tank needs enough hit points and armor to survive being the focus of the enemy's attacks. If it can force the attacks and survive them, you inevitably produce the Trinity.

Once you introduce the ability to force an enemy into an illogical act (attacking the tank not the DPS), you have broken the need for the support or DPS to do anything other than optimize thier core function. If the designers don't assume maximum optimization, the encounter will either be too easy or utterly impossible. That is what creates the Trinity.

Don't make the Tank possible, you don't get the Trinity.

CEO, Goblinworks

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From the blog:

Alpha Server Access

We want to concentrate player activity during the Alpha especially as we begin so that we can be sure our team is available to monitor servers and diagnose the inevitable problems. We will begin the Alpha with a limited window of availability to play, and as the Alpha proceeds we will gradually lengthen the window until we’ve reached 24x7 live operations in preparation for the start of Early Enrollment.

Each week we’ll make an announcement of the Alpha test hours for that week. This is the first week’s announcement:

To begin the Alpha server will be available from 3pm to 6am (Pacific) on Thursday, and from 3pm-6am (Pacific) on Friday.

NOTE: At this time, the client is only available for download when the Alpha server is available.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Yes, it will likely be Wednesday until we are open on Wednesdays then we'll back it up as needed.

CEO, Goblinworks

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The Trinity depends on Tanking. Tanking defined as "the ability to control and focus the attacks of the opponents and absorb those attacks".

If the Tank mechanic is introduced it means that the other classes can be fragile and one-dimensional because they aren't supposed to be hit by the most damaging attacks the group will encounter.

In D&D and Pathfinder there are no Tanks. The Wizards, Cleics and Rogues are very likely to be targetd by high-damage effects and attacks. Those characters must diversify away (gear and character abilities) from purely dealing damage or purely supporting the Tank or the result against a GM that plays the encounter intelligently without pulling punches will be a TPK.

Our PvE enemies should attack the Wizard even if the Fighter is trying to stop them. And the Cleric and Rogue need to think that when they get close enough to support or sneak attack, they're at risk of getting whacked too.

That's not "the Trinity".

CEO, Goblinworks

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If we made the mobs slightly faster than the fastest character build and stopped them from giving up when they exceed a certain radius from their start point we would have a very different game. :)

CEO, Goblinworks

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Our Twitch Channel just went live!

CEO, Goblinworks

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There are a number of bugs that are affecting the inventory system which are being addressed for the next build of the system. As a result we'll be doing a wipe of the Alpha characters after the close of the server early Saturday morning (6am Pacific time).

You may have noticed that if you log out and log back in you will lose all your accumulated XP and may lose all your inventory items. You may also have noticed that the resource nodes for rock aren't producing copper or iron. You probably didn't notice that the monsters are not dropping the first level of crafting recipes for many craftable objects, but they are not. So right now you can't craft anything meaningful.

This will be a common occurrence during the Alpha period. When we make significant changes or bug fixes it can put the database into a compromised state and it's safer (and more useful from a testing perspective) to wipe the data and start over rather than attempt to upgrade older data to the new configuration.

CEO, Goblinworks

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We watched you guys try to get on top of that mountain for an hour. It was a looooong hour.

CEO, Goblinworks

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My experience is that this is the worst way to get votes.

Putting up 20 ideas just means that everyone who visits the site when they are "Fresh" is going to ignore 19 of them.

You'd be far, far better off to post one a day, or one every couple of days, preceded by an attempt to lay some groundwork elsewhere (i.e. here) for why the idea is worthy of the consideration of thousands and thousands of players.

If you got one idea into the top ranks, that would be something significant. Putting 20+ ideas is just spamming the wall and diluting any impact you might have hoped to get.

CEO, Goblinworks

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I bumped it to 40 on review of how many votes things are getting.

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