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Development by: Forged Chaos
 

Introduction

by Ildefonse

This book contains information regarding the development of Trials of Ascension. It contains details about the current status, progress made, design decisions, as well as any other development related quotes.

FAQ

Are you still in touch with the rest of the old team of Shadowpool?

We stay in touch with some of the old crew (I even mentored one while he started his own business) but none of them currently have an official role with Forged Chaos at this time. That may or may not change given we have a successful KickStarter campaign. We'll certainly be looking for talent and if they are the best match, all the better!

Source: Forums (Brax), 13-09-2012

What's the current development status?

Trials of Ascension is currently in limited development by Forged Chaos LLC. You might remember them as Shadowpool Studios.

We WANT to move into full development but must first raise the funds and we've chosen KickStarter, a crowd-sourcing fund-raising website, to do that.

We are 'testing the waters' so to speak with this website. If the world can show us that there is indeed enough desire for ToA, we will post our project on KickStarter. There we will be asking the fans to 'put their money where their mouth is' by pledging to fund us. If they deem us and the design worthy of development by achieving our project's goal, we will move immediately into development.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Why use KickStarter instead of traditional development funding?

During the development of the initial design many years ago, we met with countless investors, investment groups and publishers. They passed us by. Not because they didn't believe we couldn't build it. We had a prototype to prove that wasn't the case, plus many of them told us outright it wasn't the team, it was the design. It was "too different" or "not main stream". They subscribed to the "copy-cat" model of investing, meaning they were looking for games that cloned what was already released and making a good return on investment.

With the idea of crowd-source fund-raising coming into its own, we have seen an opportunity to potentially fund ToA development through the ones that wouldn't let it die -- the fans. They get it. They understand the MMO world needs ToA. So much so that they wouldn't stop emailing us, even after the project shut down. Some going so far as to offer their time and even money if we would open the doors again.

A side benefit of using KickStarter is we won't be strapped by the confines put on us by traditional investors. We can develop ToA the way it has been designed and without compromise. The best part is we'll be able to pay back their generosity in spades with a plethora of rewards ranging from special access to development progress to becoming a permanent part of the game they helped fund!

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Can you tell us the differences between the new design and the old one?

Before detailing the changes, we should explain why the changes were made. The answer is scope. We want to keep the design at a realistic level so we can get the game into your hands. To do that we had to trim, but we did so always keeping the core ideas of ToA in place.

The larger changes are:

- Humans will be the only playable race
- Removed religion
- Removed mounts
- Removed ships
- Removed artifacts
- Shrank the size of the world
- Lowered the number of starting settlements
- Lowered the number of types of structures

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Will you do anything about these changes once the game is launched or are they permanent?

We will most certainly be doing something about them post-launch! We want some of these features as much as our fans do (it nearly killed us making some of these cuts!) and will be focusing on implementing them as soon as it's possible.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

What races will be in ToA?

For initial launch, the only race will be humans. The reason, again, is project scope. Post launch, we'll be working very hard to introduce new races as fast as revenue will allow.

We're making it a point to put in multiple stretch goals in our Kickstarter campaign for some of the other races.

Source: Official FAQ, 15-09-2012

Do you intend to put ships back into the game after release?

Yes, ships are something we'll, or rather you the players, will put back in later.

Source: Forums (Varl), 16-09-2012

On perma death and feedback from forum members

Perma death will not be for everyone, it will be a niche market for sure. We are good with this. There is a place in MMOs for games like WoW that cater to the whims of their players and there will be a place for ToA that doesn't. Not to say that we don't listen to your input and consider it in our final decisions, we have been doing that for many years and we are always amazed to see some of the discussions that have come about from this. Talk about some key information to draw your own conclusions by! You guys have given us some real headaches, and some really good ideas, many of which we have incorporated into the game. But getting back to perma death...we didn't make it the keystone of ToA lightly. Many hours of discussions, arguments, counter-arguments and just plain shouting matches have been the result of looking at every angle we could possibly look at perma death from. All in all we decided that to make a truly innovative, exciting, and challenging MMORPG, perma death needed to be in the core of the design.

So far I have agreed with everything that has been said in this thread but I must add the fact that perma death is a key element to keeping the game fresh and exciting for ALL players. It eliminates the high-end character bloat that has players who have reached the end-game state wondering what is next? When is the next "expansion" coming out so I can get to the next end-game, conquer the next big boss, obtain all the coolest new items, wear the latest styles, and last but not least....achieve all of the achievements available and once again wonder...."When is the next "expansion" coming out?"

If this is your idea of what an MMORPG should be then ToA is most likely not going to be the game for you. However, because you have taken the time to read my post I will give you some cudos for keeping an open mind about perma death to at least become informed and make up your own mind based on the facts of what perma death in ToA is all about. I salute you and wish you the best in on-line gaming. ;)

Source: Forums (Loestri), 16-09-2012

Can you guys pull it off?

Thanks for asking the tough question -- can we actually pull this off if we get the money? Of course any answer I give could be perceived as bias since I am one of the owners of the company but I'll take a jab at it anyway.

I can tell you that we had a working prototype last time around. It was far from feature-complete mind you but we were well on our way. We were logging in to the server with a a small bit of the world built, beta island as we called it. We had the human and arrwic models on the island (although no animations on them yet) and we were all flying around as pixies amongst the embedded SpeedTrees. We had libraries of concept art, orthos, models, renders, textures, animations, music, etc. I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting...

This was from owners that started off knowing just about zero of how to design and develop a game. We poured a LOT of our own money into the development, assembling a team of talented artists and coders and slugged our way through the monstrosity that was our original (and far too ambitious) design document.

We learned a massive amount of design and development along the way, most of which was reflected on the website over the years.

In the end, no, we didn't make it, but I can promise you it wasn't from lack of dedication or know-how. Every single person on the team was dedicated to levels that sometimes bordered on insanity. They just needed to pay their bills and the design was bigger than our wallets. Simply put, what stopped us last time wasn't talent, dedication or vision. It was just the lack of money.

Our new design has been trimmed back to an achievable scope. We've had independent sources review our design for development time and risks. From that we've come up with an amount of money we'll need to not only develop the game but to cover various unforeseen hurdles we may come up against.

In closing, regardless of anything I can say or how I say it, you will each have to decide for yourselves if you believe enough in the design -- and us -- to be confident in knowing we'll deliver on what we're promising. If it turns out to not be enough and we don't meet our goal, nobody will be out anything and we'll know ToA wasn't meant to be.

Varl in reply: "Well said, boss. That pretty much sums up the last 12 years of our lives, and as all of you can imagine, we certainly don't plan on having 12 years of our lives be for nothing should we reach our needed funding requirements. I just wish we could show you the demo we had up and running. Man, that was so cool to know our team made a live, working demo with flying! I was so pumped to be able to fly a pixie around. Our programmers and artists were some of the best to work solely on the hope, and we fully intend to find similar people should we reach our KS needs and pay them this time! lol"

Source: Forums (Brax), 18-09-2012

Will the world and its creatures keep on living and doing their things, even with no players nearby?

I'm going to add a splash of reality here before perceptions get too carried away.

We have to walk a fine line between server resources and "no player present nature simulations" that are being hinted at. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming of a real world where you could squish your toes in the mud, have plants sway to the side as you walk by, and know those baby bear cubs will some day grow up and maul your neighbor, we have to concern ourselves with the finite resources our servers and bandwidth will allow.

Don't get me wrong! I would love a living breathing world as much as anyone else here, and we have many designs in place to 'fake it' but technology mandates that we can only go so far.

Source: Forums (Brax), 19-09-2012

As I read recently (can't remember where), the illusion often is all you need to achieve what you're after.

Source: Forums (Varl), 19-09-2012

Will you try to block 3rd party communication programs?

Technologically, trying to prevent people from communicating in a game and adhering to in-game chat only just for the immersion is almost as hard as finding funding for indie game development.

Source: Forums (Varl), 01-10-2012

What kind of development experience do the developers have?

The bottom line is we have no titles under our belt. We gained a pretty massive amount of experience during development of ToA the first time around. We had nothing and achieved a prototype that was presentable to investors. No easy feat considering there were no (affordable) frame-works for MMO development like there is today.

It's perfectly acceptable to us if that's what stops someone from pledging. It's your money and you should only spend it on things that you deem worthy.

Source: Forums (Brax), 15-10-2012

Are the developers currently working on ToA?

We said we're not developing unless funding comes through but we just couldn't hold back.

Source: Forums (Brax), 17-10-2012

We are in what we call "limited" development, meaning we are doing what we can with the time and budget we have while we get the hype of the game up. With a successful KS project we will be increasing our staff and beginning "full" development.

Source: Forums (Loestri), 23-01-2013

About hunting & survival

Ever since we started on this project, I've always envisioned that if, for whatever crazy reasons, we couldn't get the majority of the game coded the way we want it to be, we could always go for a "Deer Hunter Online" styled game. Heh. You know, just hunting and surviving, and avoiding being eaten yourself by bears, etc. Of course, having this subsystem a part of everything else that will be in TOA is just awesome, I think. You don't like PvP? Try being a survivalist then, on your own out in BFE, which includes fending off brigand players.

Source: Forums (Varl), 27-10-2012

Are there any plans to make a Mac or Linux client?

Right now plans are for PC only, including Windows 8. If we can raise enough funds, we'd love to make ToA Mac friendly.

Source: Forums (Brax), 31-10-2012

As is planned right now, no. I would say look for that as one of the stretch goals. We do recognise there are a lot more mac users out there than there used to be, and we want to be able to allow as many people as possible to play. That said, a lot of the macs can have Bootcamp of virtual machines installed, with which you can run either Mac OS X or Windows. And I don't see why ToA wouldn't work in the Windows boot-up.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

I've seen some old ToA trailers on YouTube, are they yours?

Just to be official about the unofficial trailers -- we had nothing to do with the creation of them.

Source: Forums (Brax), 16-11-2012

How is work progressing on the design of the world?

We already have the regions sculpted and textured and are working on the wilderness areas now.

Source: Forums (Brax), 20-11-2012

Don't you think the planned world size is a bit too small?

There are also a lot of other factors to consider when judging a world based on its mathematical size. Environmental effects, weather effects, no minimaps, no initial directional devices, and oh ya, creatures that want you over for dinner. If all these factors still make you think the world is too small, we'll expand, but I promise you that chances are great that you'll be so busy doing the myriad of things in TerVarus that the LAST thing you'll be thinking about is whether the size of the planet is sufficient.

Source: Forums (Varl), 22-11-2012

Will there be a one life counter server?

Forget the in-game means to die; those will be prevalent enough. I'm still not sold on the idea of a one LC server due to technicalities that will kill you that's out of your control. That's the major reason why we're going with 100, because you can just never anticipate when some technical issue will kill you. I don't know about the rest of you, but to lose a character I've been working to keep alive for months due to a glitch, lag or some other technicality, is too hardcore for me. Like Dewru said, S&M. Bigtime. I've played Diablo hardcore too, and while I did enjoy them while they were alive, those deaths were not cause by technicalities.

Source: Forums (Varl), 24-12-2012

About testing navigation without compass or map

Last night, Brax and I ran some test scenarios where I couldn't use a world map we have for navigation. I had to turn off the automatic compass our engine gives us, so I couldn't tell which direction was which. Then, he would tell me to pop to a specific area and he would follow along with me following me with a compass, map and all the bells and whistles GM mode gives us. Once there, he would tell me the direction I was facing and where I had to try and get to.

It sounds easier than it was, and we both know the world layout very well because we're both making it! So, we ran 3 experiments last night and let me tell you all that these experiments were in their simplest forms, basically, run from X to Y in 15 minutes without compass directions and without referencing our map. I have to say that, even with some of our areas are in their most basic undeveloped form (which you'd think would make it easier to find a location, but it's actually very much harder), I still got lost. Badly. All three times, I'd make a wrong turn one direction and that was all it took for me to get lost and completely turned around. And you guys think our world is possibly too small?  My longest test run lasted 38 minutes at run speed for the character, and the distance I had to travel wasn't even close to the longest possible run in the game. Also, I didn't have delays or hazards messing with me along the way (other than brief stops trying to get my bearings based on what I could see).

Let me tell you something. If I can get lost trying to traverse even our most simplest of scenarios, you guys seriously have your work cut out for you because, there's going to be SO much more conditionals you will have to deal with that I didn't have to deal with last night, it'll almost be unfair! *evil grin*

Now, that said, let me be equally fair; being properly equipped and prepared for those long expeditions across Tervarus, you'll be improving your chances of getting there dramatically imo. The days of striking out on your own to explore the world definitely are NOT over (I plan on doing that myself!), but they won't be the pedestrian walks through the forest to grandma's house like so many other games embrace. Good luck. You definitely will need it.  *another bigger, evil grin*

Source: Forums (Varl), 27-12-2012

My favorite parts were:

Brax: Do you want a compass heading?
Varl: Sure.
Brax: You're going West.
Varl: West?? I thought I was going South-East!

I gave Varl 15 minutes to get from just outside the jungle areas to deep within the jungle to an area called Thornvine. It took him 38 minutes, 1 life counter (watch your step!) and two separate assists: one to help him find his bearings and the other to let him know he passed a needed entrance even though he was within 50 meters of it.

Varl didn't go that far at all for 38 minutes of non-stop running. He moved through about eight areas. There are about 120 areas in the world. Also, there was no stamina fatigue to worry about, no vegetation, no monsters or PKs, etc. Just some nicely sculpted and painted terrain.

Source: Forums (Brax), 27-12-2012

I've seen some old screenshots floating around the web, are they still correct?

Now that's an old screenshot! Our graphics are already shaping up to be much better than what you see in that pic. We won't have the jaw-dropping "make you faint from the awesomeness of it all" level of graphics but they will be of a quality that won't hinder the rest of the game either.

Speaking to this -- lighting has become the bane of my development existence. I have wrestled with it for weeks now and I think I'm finally getting the basic day/night light levels just right along with the distance fogging effects. Not easy stuff to nail down!

Source: Forums (Brax), 29-12-2012

No, they're not. They're actually very dated. Compared to what we have now, they certainly show their age. Don't get me wrong, the engine and the graphics at the time were ok, but even the screenshots that we showed were pre-alpha. The screenshots that we can generate now will pretty much blow those away.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Are you already working on the game world?

I worked 6 hours yesterday in the engine sculpting 13 areas, and before I realized it, it was 12:30 AM. I got several composite transition areas done, and I have to say I surprised myself how well they turned out. I love this new technique I'm using, and no, I won't tell you what it is. ;)

Source: Forums (Varl), 06-01-2013

Are terrain altering GM events a possibility?

Terrain deformation real time is a big unknown at the moment, but I'm doubting it. Why? I don't think terrain can be set up to behave like that, but hopefully our programmers may prove me wrong.

BTW, thank you all for making this thread. Your ideas will help a lot and go into MY personal GM vault, and even if some never get used, they will be useful for inspiration and imagination.

Source: Forums (Varl), 07-01-2013

Do you plan to make forests with a truly high density of vegetation?

We're wanting that level of density but don't hold your breath. It tends to convert FPS to SPF. :)

Source: Forums (Brax), 12-01-2013

Has working so close with the community made things easier or more difficult?

I'm only going to speak for myself, but this time around we're looking to crowd source versus hunting for a publisher. And that changes a lot of aspect as far as public relations and dealing with people in general about your designs goes. Again, I can only speak for myself, but it's much more freeing to be more transparant with you guys. Understand, I always have to walk a balance between keeping some things close to the chest. Not just out of complex or ego, but trade secrets as wel.

I love sharing stuff with you guys, we've shown you guys more in the three months that we've been live with the website now than the whole time we've been live last time.

In addition, your input has been fantastic. We couldn't ask for a better community. I haven't had to ban one person, I haven't even had to warn somebody yet. So you guys have definitely made it much, much easier. Thank you for that.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

What do you plan to do in case some aspects of the game need to be balanced and how would you introduce these balance changes?

Well, in one word, organically. We're going to hold the nerf back as much as we can. We do understand, and hopefully more mature players also understand, that sometimes we're certainly fallable. We might get some things wrong, we'll back it out if we have to. But the whole idea is to tweak our issues with increments, not to ramp the dial from a 2 to a 10. We want to go from a 2 to a 3, see what it's like, then a 3 to a 4, see what it's like. And that's in the non-critical problems. Mind you, if we find there's a critical bug, we're going to be all over it.

We're going to balance over powering organically, and not "in your face". Like I said, sometimes that'll be the case and we will just have to do that. But know that for the most part we'll be looking at the incremental approach first.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Do you plan to do something about over-achievers or power gamers, if they find ways of getting things (skill gain, becoming a mage or adult dragon) faster than you intended?

Yes, we'll kill them. ;)

Well, my first thought is perma death. They're going to be racing along just like everybody else. But if they're over-achievers or power gamers if you will, they're going to be playing the game just as much as anybody else, and at a more intense level. Which means, death will probably find them more, which means that character will come to an end faster.

That aside, we'll be watching. We'll have algoritms in mind to monitor general stats of people that'll flag us if skill gain is showing to be at an unacceptable rate, that sort of thing. We can then follow up with an investigation, mainly for the macroers or someone that's found an exploit. We try to think of everything, but know that we probably won't either, so we'll be ready to counter balance things. Again, organically.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Are you willing to make big changes to the balancing of the game if the need arises or will you be afraid to anger the players?

I've never been afraid to anger you guys ;)

We'll do what's right. We won't listen to the squeakiest wheel. We'll do what's right by our vision, and what serves the followers of that vision the best.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Will beta tests still use a separate island?

No, that idea was to prevent people from knowing TerVarus before it was time, but we've come to realise that we need you guys running around every nook and cranny of it, trying to help us find any problems with the terrain and that sort of thing. And bugs, of course. Terrain bugs, that sort of thing.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Will players be able to create paths or roads between settlements over time?

No, not right now. We'll certainly look into allowing you guys to lay down special models that essentially resemble roads, but that's in the future.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

Would you be able to climb up higher slopes, or will you simple keep walking in place like in other games?

Loestri: Well, we're going to have terrain that's too steep to climb. We had a choice to make with the Hero engine. To make a completely seamless world, where you can go in any direction at any time, or to, well… let's take a couple of steps back. Seamless means different things to different people. I define it as, no loading screens. It doesn't mean you can go in any direction at any time, it simply means when you move into another area you're not hit by a loading screen. Things are loading in the background as you move into the area. Any kind of load screens, we're going to keep them to an absolute minimum. But that said, we have to build the world in a way where you can't go in any direction for as long as you want. We have to design the world in such a way that it keeps you within the area that we've built. And that's where a lot of the terrain comes from that's impassable, to keep you within the world. Technically, the Hero engine allows us to create a planet the size of Earth. But I don't think you'll like the subscription rate to support such a thing ;)

Varl: And the time it takes for us to get it out ;)

Brax: Now that said, since we're talking about areas, the world is turning out to be much larger than you realize. We talk about this a lot here. When you don't have a map, and you don't have a compass, the world gets very large, very quickly. But that's a good thing, you get to know your local area. That opens up a whole industry of guides and local knowledge, I think that's great.

Actually just the night before the podcast I was showing the guys a new place that I've been sculpting, and I got lost. And I've been sculpting it for the last day or two. So I guess to sum it up, don't worry about the world feeling boxed in. It doesn't have that feel, it truly doesn't. We've got volcanoes, we've got high mountains, we've got valleys and swamps, lots of forest, jungle, plains, deserts, scrublands, you name it. We've got arctic, and we've got a number of easter eggs in there for you already. The point being, don't get hung up so much on the fact that you come up against impassable terrain. It's there by design.

Source: Podcast (Brax), 14-01-2013

We probably won't see any new races until a year after launch.

"I don't know Mr. Frodo, we may yet see the Shire again..."
Samwise Gamgee

Never underestimate the power of the devs. Since you don't know our schedules it is difficult to make a statement like that with any validity. But keep your chin up because we have surprised ourselves with how quickly some of our features were designed, and even re-designed. So it may just be that we surprise you some day with a couple new playable races that you weren't expecting! :)

Actually Psi Kahn has a pretty good assessment of Hero in that it is a great tool for creating games such as ToA. Of course the amount of work that will go into each of the playable races will be more than just changing a few skins and adding a few animations. We are wanting to make each a culture in itself with possibly different items or at least item styles along with different architecture and language, etc. I guess what i am trying to say is that each race will be a significant time/resource commitment but because of certain similarities we may be able to re-use certain fundamental coding (think foundation) and hopefully shave some time off of development of each race.

Source: Forums (Loestri), 18-01-2013

About the pre-alpha screenshots, I expect that the "naked" areas will still be covered with more vegetation later on?

Yep. We're still working on the flora. What you see are just some test trees we slapped together for scaling and scene poly count purposes.

Source: Forums (Brax), 01-02-2013

Will night time in the desert be cold? And how long will it take to cross them?

Desert nights will get pretty darn cold. I'm not sure exactly how long it will take to cross at this point. I just added the additional areas to the region last night. I will say that you'll have no landmarks (or next to none) to guide you and turning your reticule too fast will get you quickly disoriented. It happened to me as I was sculpting, lol. I had to switch to camera/fly mode and zoom out to get my bearings.

Source: Forums (Brax), 01-02-2013

About generating land masses and oceans

We were trying all kinds of ways to generate land masses back then but I suspect you are thinking of what we had planned for the oceans. Since open ocean areas (once beyond the sight of land) can be the same, we were planning on putting you into a grid of these areas and just tracking the number of times you crossed it and in what direction. Assuming you met a certain distance on a given direction, we would start to load the approriate land areas and you'd see land in the distance that you could land on.

That was just one of many approaches we were trying. As for land, I've always leaned more towards the hand-crafted approach.

I would still like oceans to be vast and that's still possible given the above idea (with some tweaks). This way land masses might seem small (even though they aren't), travelling from one continent to another would be a big decision for a player to make.

It's easy for us to add land. Varl has become very good and fast at building up areas. It will simply come down to time because post launch we'll be busy entertaining you via the GM Live Team, creating new innovations, introducing new races, etc.

Source: Forums (Brax), 02-02-2013

About character models

When I viewed our character model for the first time it blew me away. I am very proud of the level of quality we're achieving given our budget. You too will get to lay eyes on the model - just not yet.

Source: Forums (Brax), 13-02-2013

How many servers/shards are planned for launch?

We're planning on one server for launch but will be ready to deploy more if needed.

Source: Forums (Brax), 17-02-2013

Can we expect to see more human-like races to be added because they are easier to develop?

Human-like races are actually tougher to include because of their supporting assets. Things like clothing, armor, structures and interiors (styles of beds, tables, etc.) means we have to build a lot of assets if we are to give them their own culture and history. And if it hasn't been mentioned, races won't be able to wear the same clothing and armor. Elven plate will fit ... elves and elves only. Elastic armor and clothing hasn't been and won't be innovated in ToA.

Source: Forums (Brax), 19-02-2013

So in what stage of development are you now?

I will throw you a bone to chew on...

We are in the late stages of Design and the EARLY stages of Development. Sorry but not only can I not give you more than that but i don't WANT to give you more than that.  Yea, yea I know...nothing like stating the OBVIOUS Loestri!

Source: Forums (Loestri), 24-02-2013

Can you talk about the changes in scope you have made to the game design?

It was painful to cut some features from the old design but we knew that it had to be done if we wanted to keep the budget down and launch the game in a reasonable amount of time.  That said, I think the decisions we made really do preserve the core ToA experience and even make it a tighter game out of the gate.

The biggest change is that we've reduced the race line-up to just humans.  Loads of people loved the diverse player-races we had planned in the old design, and we certainly hope to re-introduce many of them at some point. In the meantime, we think humans will be a great starting point for launch.

Beyond the race cuts, we removed the religion system, mounts, ships, and shrank the size of the starting world.

Again, we intend to revisit some of these features down the road through content updates and introducing Innovations, but for now we’re focused on getting the core game ready for launch.

Source: MMORPG.com (Brax), 27-02-2013

What are your plans going into 2013? Do you see a beta in the future before the end of the year?

Our immediate plans are to continue development on ToA while raising as much awareness as we can before launching our Kickstarter campaign.  If our Kickstarter succeeds, we will transition into full development.  We're constantly surprised at how fast things are coming together but even so, I wouldn't count on seeing a beta by the end of this year.

Source: MMORPG.com (Brax), 27-02-2013

About character animation syncing

It looks like they had their speed over terrain not synced with the animation, resulting in the slide/forward moonwalk issue.

I don't want to reveal our animations yet but there is a lot of energy and effort going into them. I've seen a number of animations for the ..... almost got me there! .... and they are very impressive.

Source: Forums (Brax), 04-03-2013

About using the Hero engine

It is my understanding that Bioware modified the source code of the engine so much that you wouldn't recognize it as the Hero engine. That's not to lay blame by any means(!), I'm simply stating what I learned while doing our due diligence on which engine to use.

We've said it many times now - we're not going for bleeding edge graphics. We'd rather put those resources into a better game play. After all most of us will forgive less than "omg!" graphics but break our game play and out come the pitchforks and torches. Don't get that mixed up with thinking we're going to use stick figures either! I think our models are very impressive considering the budgets we've put on them (money, vert count, texture maps, etc.)

We are being very iterative with our work as well, meaning we're testing and retesting to see how the engine handles what we want. Just last night I loaded an area with some trees while monitoring the FPS. All was looking good so I doubled the tree count. Frames dropped hard. Very hard. I loaded the tree models into SpeedTree and brought the tri count down about 10%, compiled, and reimported. Frames improved by over 30%. 10% degradation in the tree models for a 30% increase in FPS - I'll take it! I decided to mess with their texture atlases a bit and squeezed out an additional 5-7% gain in FPS.

That's a very long way to say we're very aware of the concerns others have had with SWTOR and Hero and are doing all we can to ensure ToA is a success. After all, we'll be the ones in the unemployment line if it doesn't. ;)

Source: Forums (Brax), 09-03-2013

When you do a podcast is the discussed feature something that your are actually implementing or are you still in the design stage of the process?

We are describing our designs. If we could implement this stuff as fast as we're covering it, why would we bother with KS? ;)

Source: Forums (Brax), 11-03-2013

Will development of ToA last 4-5 years?

It isn't going to take us 4 to 5 years to complete ToA. Not even close.

Source: Forums (Brax), 12-03-2013

Did you post-process the screenshot at night somehow?

We didn't doctor the screenshot at all.

Also, see that squiggly line thingy in front of the light? That's a very very large tree. And the campfire itself was very small.

Source: Forums (Brax), 15-03-2013

About making design changes

Designing a game world is very much like hitting a moving target. Sometimes you think you nailed a design, then comes along a simple "what if" that completely trashes it. We recently had such an incident where a number of you pointed out some flaws in our reputation system. After wishing the fleas of a thousand camels would decent upon all the naysayers armpits we calmed down and realized they were right. So, we revamped the system. Some of you will like it and rejoice. Others not so much. Just know that our decisions are what we feel is in everyone's best interest and to make ToA as real yet fun as possible for everyone.

Source: Forums (Brax), 19-03-2013

Would stretch goals shorten or lengthen the development time of ToA?

The idea for any stretch goal is for it to NOT lengthen the development time line. I seriously doubt it would ever shorten our time lines though. Loads of variables to consider though. Some of our planned stretch goals would be relatively easy to complete while others ... not so much.

Source: Forums (Brax), 16-04-2013

The End