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State of the Game, June 2015

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Shadow Elusive
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State of the Game, June 2015

Kickstarter Backers, Paragon Refugees, My fellow Titans,

We are nineteen months since our Kickstarter concluded. Nineteen months that dawned with hope and optimism; that a new world would unfolded with a new generation fighting for either good or evil; that saw progress which was difficult to quantify, and even harder to explain due to its early stage of development. It has been, and still is, a hard and long road to travel.

But tonight, we turn the page.

Tonight, after a breakthrough in development on the Costume Creator, our development is growing and on track - moving the needle of our timetable in the right direction for the first time since the Kickstarter. Our male costume now has a wide variety of foundational elements completed, and our female is just behind. More of our volunteers are active than ever before; more of our people are engaged in the larger scope of the game than ever before; and now the path ahead looks brighter than ever.

Tonight, for the first time since the Kickstarter, we have a live internal test server that fully qualifies as being an MMO. Six months ago, we had to come to accept that we needed help in this area, so we licensed an off the shelf solution to then compare our own work against, and validate our own designs with. Today, this temporary fix has resulted in a leap forward in understanding and has helped us shore up our own work faster than we could of imagined. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every volunteer who has stepped forward to achieve this. We are humbled and grateful for your work.

Due to this step, we have begun the hard work of migrating the powers which had only existed in our head and on paper into a real environment where we can see them in action. While the theming for them does not exist as of yet, being able to witness, rather than imagine, the results of our design work has done wonders for our schedule. Coordinating with the costume design in order to create the themes will now be the biggest challenge for us.

One of our founders, Dr. Cameron 'Segev' Johnson now has a framework within which to set up and evaluate the AI routines he has been tinkering with for years. As a result, we expect rapid iteration of design, giving us a steady stream of prototype intelligence models to evaluate over the upcoming months.

The delays also gave us time to rethink areas such as our mission builder. Over the past nineteen months, new games have been released, with new ideas for how to handle the classic MMORPG quest. Also, the power given to us by Unreal Engine 4 has opened up new avenues for mission construction that did not even exist when we hit Kickstarter. What we thought we could do is now found to be too restrictive, too limited. As a result, we are revamping the design top to bottom, to give all of us the best mission builder possible.

Titans, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:
The shadow of doubt has passed, and the State of the Game is strong.

At this moment – with a growing asset list, bustling volunteers, and booming code production – we have risen from the shadow of fear and doubt to write our own future, together. It’s now up to us to imagine who we want to be when our game is ready, and for years if not decades to come.

We will talk about all the juicy details of that progress another time, but for now, there's a lot of overdue talk about the values underlying certain decisions we've yet to officially discuss.

Today, we have new tools to stop confusion over deadlines and targets, to prevent the wasted effort which we ran into early on. Thanks to these tools, our rate of progress has improved dramatically over the past year, with more items being delivered on time and accounted for than ever before. Critics have said that our goals were too ambitious; that we would fall apart and waste precious funds. Instead, we’ve seen less turnover than professional studios, and have more in the bank than we'd planned to have at this point when we launched our Kickstarter.

Every moment of every day we have volunteers busy doing something - be that writing lore, working on costume materials, designing buildings and more. Our volunteers have taken bold action to put their hearts and souls into this game, to make sure it is the best game we can make.

I am the first one to admit that we are not progressing as fast as we'd like, and that we have slipped on some deadlines we set. But not only are we working our best to keep moving forward and learning from those slips, every mistake we've made has provided us with a new opportunity to find a better way of doing things.

For example, last month we were to do the Memorial Wall, an in-game monument to those of you who backed us in the Kickstarter. You'll notice it at the $10/month tier level. Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, that was delayed, until the first week in July. Attached below you can see the model for the memorial wall, part of the sea wall destroyed during the Atlas Hurricane turned into a memorial to honor those who helped rebuild the city. We will be sending out the survey for putting your names on the wall in the coming weeks, which will be seen as a hologram cylinder spinning in front of the now closed gateway. We are using SurveyMonkey for this survey, in order to eliminate previous issues we had with our mail being marked as spam. Be sure to update your email address in Kickstarter, as that's where we'll be refreshing our email list from.

My first duty as the company president is to keep us focused on our target. In doing so, the question is not whether we are focused, but on if we all have the same target. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the deadlines instead of using our heads, then we risk getting bogged down in unnecessary work, and neglect the final goal we have of a new home for us all.

That’s why, over the past six months, we’ve done some leadership shuffling within the company. I no longer manage the coders directly, for example, with Bill 'Felix' Giffen, now directing the coders based on the plan developed by our leadership. It is not that I did not enjoy that work, it is because I was getting bogged down in one area, and was dropping the ball in others. Taking on too many tasks will kill anyones productivity. It is a challenge to remind ourselves that we do not need to do everything alone, that we have partners to turn to, and trust in.

Looking to the future instead of the past, making sure we match our desire with what is achievable, and relying upon each other - building our game requires each of us to meet new challenges and opportunities. That’s what we all need to be reminded of, what makes us exceptional. That’s what keeps us strong. And that’s why we must keep striving to hold ourselves to the highest of standards – our own.

Our optimism had us hoping that we could deliver everything by the end of this year. Optimism however did not meet reality. Instead, we are looking into next year before we have a complete game in beta. That does not mean we will not be releasing other elements ahead of time. Already, as mentioned before, the costume builder is looking to be ready for testing before the end of this year, and our hope is to include more than just the costume builder itself at that time.

Some have asked if money is the issue. Perhaps, they reason, we could deliver things faster if we sought out venture capital or sold to a publisher. Indeed, we could, but then our goal would no longer be the end goal. Rather than aiming to build us all a new home, we would have to aim to fill an investors return – to meet the demand of their portfolio. If and when we consider this option, it would only be on our terms, and for that we need far more progress than we have today.

Others suggest continuing donations, such as Star Citizen, would be the solution to speed up development. The reality is that Star Citizen was organized for that from the beginning, with the infrastructure in place to make maximum use of it. We had to build ourselves from scratch, and as such had we done a continuing crowdsourced fundraising, it would not have done much good at all and more likely have aggravated problems we have dealt with over the past nineteen months. But now that we have worked out the kinks in our development, and organized our management, that is no longer the case.

We will be opening up at the beginning of August a second-change crowdsourcing option, for the people who missed the Kickstarter as well as those who could not donate much at that time and wished to increase it,. This will continue for two months, after which we anticipate a transition to a more standardized model of revenue.

My fellow Titans, we are a strong, tight-knit family. We have made it through some hard times. Nineteen months after the Kickstarter, we have learned how to work together. We’ve laid our foundation. A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin the next chapter – together – and let us continue the work we have begun.
Thank you.


Written by - Nathaniel 'Doctor Tyche' Downes, Company President

Discuss the update here: http://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-state-game

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