Emerald Kingdom Alpha Client!
Yes, we have the client. It’s here in our grubby little hands. We have been playing with it now for about 2 and a half weeks. We’re still doing a few things internally with it, and yes…we’re getting it ready to get it into the hands of you folks who have been patiently waiting. But we have our baseline Emerald Kingdom client. What does it do? It does quite a bit when you get right down to it. Remember, as I have said before you really don’t sit down and “make an MMO”…you actually make tools to make an MMO. So, lets start with our tools and talk about how we got here.
StoryTeller, our tool for creating worlds, is very near it’s 1.0 Marker. While it lacks the sound and story system, those are next on the list. While those systems are very important, they are blocked by the fact we need to get some other things working first. Story and sound/music don’t mean much if you have no place to use them. Right now, here is what StoryTeller can do:
- Create a world & set defaults for that world such as starting map, default loading screen, default mannequins (body/char)
- Create scenes & set defaults for that scene: scene size, what other maps the scene connects to, the loading screen, etc.
- Link those scenes together so you can travel from one to the other.
- Load props, and set the isometric boundaries for those props.
- Place props onto a scene. (we even have awesome tools like eye dropper, spray can, etc for this)
- Demo a scene. (Walk around in the scene, using the editor, so you can test what you have built without loading the client)
- Create basic items.
- Create animations (anims), and load animation sheets.
- Specify default animations.* Select, Delete, etc.
- Save those scenes onto the server.
- A whole host of less sexy, but nonetheless important features. (author profiles, change passwords, others, etc)
When Emerald Kingdom gets released to the public as a Free to Play product, we will release StoryTeller to the public, so they can create their own worlds, even their own MMO’s. That’s why it’s so crucial to get StoryTeller right: we don’t want people to have to go through what we did to simply create a vibrant, immersive world. While the release of StoryTeller to the general public is a long way off, it’s important to realize that the philosophy behind it has never changed: creative people should not necessarily need to speak to a code developer to simply engage in the act of being creative.
So, with our tool in hand we have begun building Bolton, and Notlob. They will be the test environments. Bolton is designed to be a symmetrically laid out city, and Notlob will be a very non symmetrically laid out town. Bolton and Notlob will be connected to each other by way of various environmental maps.
Getting back to the client then. The client is really the viewer for the world, when you get down to it. But the client also is there for you to interact with the world. But more than that, it has to be able to connect to, and interact with an ever changing world. Part of our plan is: no code updates unless necessary. When we make changes to the world, the client has to understand those changes. Why? Because we think patching code for changes in world content are dumb. We really only want to patch the client when we need to support a new feature or function.
As StoryTeller, and our underlying engine and technology, as well as our roadmap are pretty gelled at this point, it’s time to turn our attention to the client, and more specifically building it up, and adding the game play.
The Alpha client is the platform for this. Right now, it can do a lot, depending on how you look at it:
- Successfully load the world/scenes
- Walk around the world. (click to move. Keyboard movement eventually)
- Walk from scene to scene.
- Chat globally.
- Private chat (/tell)
It does not seem like a whole lot, but it’s nearly what we need to get started. So, what’s left before we get started?
- Bug Reporting. We need a way for you to report bugs from within the client itself.
- Auto-Update. When we push a new client build, your client needs to update automagically.
- Some more UI pieces: bug reporting button, we also need to implement the actual button for preferences/settings.
- Nice to have: Collision. (right now, you can walk through walls/props)
The first three are absolutely necessary to begin testing. The last one is high on the priority list. But once the first three are done, we will begin inviting people to start testing the Alpha. Some of the things that will be coming initially once the alpha is in your grubby little hands?
- Clothing and Arms.
- Collision (if it’s not already done yet)
- Basic items.
- Something(s) to kill.
- Something(s) to talk to.
- Building interiors.
So, as you can see…a great deal has been accomplished and we have a great deal more to do. But, we’re having fun doing it. The other thing we are counting on is that you will have fun testing it, and giving us feedback. As we start to add more and more game play elements player feedback is going to become more and more crucial. If we did not want feedback, we certainly wouldn’t ask for it.
So, in the next week or two, keep an eye on your email. Those of you who have signed up may be one of the lucky initial testers. As we add more features and gain more stability the pool will grow until the alpha testing becomes more and more open. But, from the point we send out that first invite…well, that’s when we push the lead loaded cart down the steep hill.