We have some work to do to get the community active again, to continue work on the game itself, albeit at a slower pace at first, and to continue to simply get the word out there about the game. Here's some of what we're working on:
1. I've been posting a lot in the Apprentice Developer forums because I'm starting to re-build the Pantheon Team. But I need to also start posting on the other forums that many more people have access to. I'm going to do that as are some of the moderators and others who I've begun a project relationship with.
2. I'm going to be doing blogs, at least once a week, about all sorts of things. Posting the high level design of the Climate system, for example, was received very positively. So you'll see more of that. Also, I get a lot of questions about how does one build an MMO, or even a computer game in general. So some of my blogs will be about that. In general you're going to get a lot more information from me about MMOs in general and, of course, Pantheon specifically. I've also made the decision that some of the more unique ideas behind the game that we were holding back (the sekret sauce) just doesn't make sense in a crowdfunded start-up endeavor like what VR is doing. So I'll be posting and talking about some of those ideas as well (tease/example: different types of mana, colored differently).
3. Lore! We're putting together a new lore team (more on this later in this update). We will be building on what is there, making some changes, etc. The high level vision of the story and lore behind Pantheon was put together collaboratively, while a lot of the details put together by team members and volunteers. Building on what’s there we will do so with respect and appreciation to those who came before us. But there will be a few tweaks here and there -- I can say right now that the Dark Knight class will be re-named (unless Jim Lee calls me up and wants a DC universe shard to collide with Terminus -- then we can talk Dark Knights :)
The first bit of lore we are going to focus on is the WarWizard... they've been mentioned briefly, but their role in the history of the world will be fleshed out and we will have brand new art from JP Targete depicting a WarWizard that will accompany the details behind these guys. JP is simply a concept art genius and did quite a bit of the concept art we've already posted and used, like the city of ships, the city with the arch and waterfall, etc. We look forward to working with him in the future as well.
And then here's the big announcement:
4. WE’RE BUILDING A NEW DEVELOPMENT TEAM. The game is entering a new phase right now. We need to put even more together about the game for the community and for, in the near future, potential investors. As mentioned earlier, development of the game continues, albeit right now at a slower pace. We are looking for volunteers who can help us during this phase and, if everything works out as planned, we hope that some of the volunteers will be part of this new team going forward. So development continues, that development will be shown to the community, and one of our goals (along with continuing to make the game of course) is more to show potential investors in the next 1-2 months.
This new dev team and how we're approaching it is different... certainly different for an MMO I think. I've learned a lot about remote development in the last 6+ months. It still doesn't beat an office, and having an office with actual employees is still a very real goal once we bring in funding. But it's also not what it used to be either... it really is a way that people can come together from all over the world and work on and build a game. Traditionally game development positions are as follows: management, programmers, designers, and artists. The new Pantheon Development team, however, because of it's nature (remote development and because of the crowdfunding component) is going to be broader than that.
First, team members will begin as volunteers. This is because 1. we don't have the funding right now to pay, 2. we're a little weary and concerned about setting a bunch of people up as remote, paid contractors like we did when this project started, and 3. because since these people are not necessary local to VRI’s home base in San Diego, we need to take the time to get to know each of these volunteers, spending time with them on teamspeak or skype, having them deliver some assets for evaluation, etc.
When we do bring in funding and restart that campaign to reach out to Angel Investors, Publishers, and the like, and when we can have an office and paid employees, we will then look at the volunteer force and, on a case by case basis, determine if that person wants to and should become a contractor or, if they can re-locate, possibly a full employee. But, in the meantime, I think this is a very exciting start. So many people have contacted me wanting to help with this project, and I remain very humbled by it. And some of those people have the talent we are looking for as we re-build the development team.
The second thing, because of the remote nature, the community involvement, how this site is structured, etc., is that there will be more official positions/jobs than the typical manager, programmer, designer, and artist set-up. We are adding moderators and lore writers to that list, and possibly more positions TBD. The Moderators position is the first part of the team I am focusing on. We need to do a lot better with this site and building community. There are quite a few of you who are part of this site and community, but we don't hear from you often. This is understandable, as posts by me and other people involved have been insufficient and simply not as exciting and fresh as they need to be. As mentioned earlier in this announcement, that is going to change. More posting and more blogging is coming. The Moderators group is going to be a huge part of this -- not only are they going to moderate, but they are also going to be posting about various game-related topics as well, and making the general forums an active and interesting place to browse and lurk and hopefully a bunch of you will start posting again as well. Lastly, they will also be reaching out, outside of this site, answering questions on other boards, and trying to drive traffic here, so we can grow this community, again not just larger, but healthier and more informative and open as well.
If you are someone you know might be interested in being part of this new volunteer force and team, please email me directly at email@example.com and let me know. We need people familiar with Unity, both from a programming and art standpoint. We need designers. And we also need more moderators and now lore people as well.
Anyway, there will be more details forthcoming, but this is a good start. Pantheon lives and we will not only make it through this period, but we'll come out of it stronger, with more people involved, with the community better taken care of and informed, and with demonstrable progress, both for the community to check out as well as potential investors. I am so blown away and humbled by all of the people who have been reaching out to me and volunteering their time, advice, etc. I had no intention of giving up on this project before all of that. Now I am even more strengthened and encouraged than before. Building this new dev team is going to be fun and interesting, and I think in many ways someone unique as well.
In closing, the first change you are going to see is that members of the official Moderators Team are going from purple to green to identify them as part of this new dev team. Programmers, Artists, Designers, Unity experts, and Lore Writers will follow.
I think 'rising from the ashes' is going to be challenging, yes, but also a great deal of fun. I certainly look forward to being more involved, especially with the community, and especially talking about features, new ideas and game mechanics, what’s involved in making MMOs, etc.
-Brad "Aradune Mithara" McQuaid