The concept and design team continue to work their way through the Tundra and Taiga, creating creatures in the food chain and gaining a better understanding of the unique play elements of those biomes. This week, they introduced a new creature. It's yet to be determined whether it's an apex predator, or whether something hunts it, but what we do know is that it hunts larger mammals and other animals on the plains of the Tundra. One such animal is the Domino Fox. But what kind of creature would hunt an animal as fast as a Fox? Especially one with 'armor' on its face? A creature that doesn't attack from the front. A creature that attacks from above...
Meet the Pteroguin. The Pteroguin, or 'Terrorguin' as it's called around the office, is a thing of nightmares. It's a Pterodactyl-Penguin. It lives in dens, not nests, along the cliffs in the Tundra. Adventurers dumb enough to get caught out in the open will first hear their shrill cries and then see their shadow looming beneath them. Like Eagles hunting rabbits, anything spotted by the Pteroguin is in a dire place.
They do not land and fight, creating an easy target for would-be champions and explorers. They dive down and strike and snap at their prey until they render it unconscious, and then land near it to rip pieces of flesh away with its serrated, saw-like teeth. Make no mistake, the Pteroguin hunts to kill. If you face one of these baddies, recognize that if you don't get to shelter quickly enough, you'll be following a silver chord back to your body.
Aristocracy & Establishing Settlements
The Aristocracy are the Mayors, Magistrates, and Barons. To transition from landed Gentry to Aristocracy you must follow a path of development for your land, growing it from one kind of settlement or another. Let’s talk about how you do that.
First, you, or you and some friends, buy three parcels of land next to each other, put a building with a few beds on each one of them (enough to hold 10 people minimum), and put a well in the middle. That creates a Hamlet. Everyone within the three parcels of land get water automatically when on the land. That means while your thirst still goes up, you won't die of dehydration. At the same time, having a house and a bed means your fatigue won’t drop while you’re on one of the three plots of land.
Now, Hamlets are not registered. So aside from the benefits already described they provide no additional benefits. You can call your hamlet whatever you want but it won’t show up on any maps unless you mark it yourself. If you want any benefits beyond this, you have to expand.
If you expand your collective land up to a minimum of nine (9) parcels in more or less a square, build a Tavern, and grow the number of community members from 10 to 25, your Hamlet becomes a village. In addition to the benefits provided from any of the other structures you build on the land, having a Tavern on your land means that with fields, farms, or another source of raw food on your land your Tavern can begin to service the village, preventing starvation whenever you’re within the presence of the settlement.
Now, hamlets and villages have no system of governing as they’re generally going to have no more than 3-5 players living on them. Everyone who owns land in the village is a Village Elder and should have a say in what happens in village matters. Whoever owns the most land is naturally going to have more say.
As with hamlets, villages can be named whatever you want, likely won't show up on maps, and don't have to be registered with the county. But if you register, you get certain benefits. Namely, the Count will likely want to build a road, put it on the maps, and if you build structures with crafting stations that are "open", then NPCs from nearby areas might travel and join your village. They may then purchase land nearby to help grow your village.
As you continue to grow your land, build new structures, and expand the community size it will follow a similar pattern. Here are the actual requirements:
Hamlet: 3 Parcels; 10 people; Well
Village: 9 Parcels; 25 people; Tavern
Town: 25 parcels; 75 people; Town Hall
City: 49 parcels; 150 people; Courthouse
Capital: 81 parcels; 250 people; Monument
As your hamlet grows into a village, into a town, etc. so too must your infrastructure grow. The well we first built only covers a 3x3 area. So as you expand, you'll need to put in more wells, fields/farms for food for the taverns, windmills, etc. Of course, any plot of land along a river automatically gets water. So no need to build additional wells there.
Now, once you get to the point of having a town there is a Town Charter that is filled out. The person "in charge" of the town is the Mayor and everyone else are members of the Town Council. This is similar to Guild Leaders and Officers in other games. Generally speaking, the Mayor of the town will be the person who owns the most land under the town. But it doesn't have to be that way. Whoever registers the town charter with the county is the Mayor, regardless of whether they actually have the most land or not.
Technology & Research
In most MMORPGs technology is static, so it’s important to understand what we mean when we say technology in Chronicles of Elyria is dynamic. To do that, we first need to define what “technology” is. In Chronicles of Elyria, technology is represented by the set of all products and components people know how to create, as well as the set of all materials they know how to gather and process.
As indicated in Design Journal #9: Crafting & Professions, the knowledge of how to craft items or process resources is represented by "recipes" or "patterns". As your character learns new things, the number of recipes they know will expand. When we talk about the advancement of technology, we mean the introduction of new, never-before seen patterns and recipes.
These new recipes can introduce the processing of new materials for Gatherers, the construction of new components for Producers, and even the ability to create all new, never before seen items. As can be seen from the screenshots and renders in this design journal, these can range from things like clocks and telescopes, to war machines like ballistae, all the way to modes of transportation like gliders.
What’s not shown in this design journal is that technological advances can happen across all of the Producer and Gatherer skill trees, allowing for the development of new medicines and poisons, new methods of scribing, and even new construction materials. Now that we know what technology is, let’s learn about how it evolves in Chronicles of Elyria.
Passive vs. Active Research
When designing the research system, we had to make a choice about whether we wanted to make research active or passive. An active research system would be one in which players proactively spend time tinkering with things, experimenting, and well... researching. We really liked the idea of that system, however we felt like - and this is a first for us, that it would over-complicate the game.
What we were really looking for was the pride and achievement that comes from discovery, the collaboration that can exist when multiple people set a goal and try achieving it together, and the excitement that comes from seeing the world evolve and change.
As a result, we opted for a passive research system in which research happens automatically in the background without players having to spend time doing the research. Our first instinct was to just let players do research while offline using their OPCs, but this created problems because while we wanted some research done by OPCs, we wanted the most challenging research to be done by players.
In the end, we settled on a system that lets us be a partner in determining how quickly new technology is introduced into the world, while giving players full-control of which technology is added.
Research in Chronicles of Elyria is a process of trial and error that is integrated into the every-day act of crafting. Once you attain Expert rank in crafting a specific item, you can choose to spend additional resources each time you craft the item to study some aspect of it in order to solve a problem. These can be things like making a blade stronger, armor lighter or more flexible, or livestock live longer. It can also be problems such as adding reflection to the surface of glass.
Your percent chance of solving a specific problem is based on the amount of research you, and others, have contributed to solving the problem. Some problems require more research than others and you won’t know how much research is required or how far along you are. In this way, research may feel a bit random, but it’s not. The more research you pour into something, the more likely are to discover something.
Research vs. Production
When first crafting a new item you’re invariably focused first and foremost on making sure you’re able to create the item at a passable quality. However, after you’ve attained the level of Expert for that specific item you’re sufficiently capable of making the item that you can instead optimize for either advanced knowledge or faster production.
Beginning at Expert level a slider will appear on your crafting UI which begins in the middle with "Quality," and then extends to the left and right toward two different values. To the left is "Research", and to the right is "Production". Where you put the value of that slider affects many different aspects of the particular crafting or material processing you're about to do. It effects:
Whether or not you have the potential to discover something
How much fatigue you have after crafting an item
The cost of performing the crafting or processing in terms of resources
How severe the risk of failure
Move the slider more to the left and you’ll have a higher chance to discover something. Move the slider to the right and you’ll suffer less fatigue from the crafting process and will be able to push out more items more quickly. Regardless of which direction you adjust the slider, doing so will cost you more resources and also increases the risk that you’ll experiment or work beyond your capabilities and end up destroying your resources, or worse, injuring yourself! After all, one of the biggest blockers of innovation and automation is personal risk.
Risk vs. Reward for Producers & Gatherers
While Champions and Explorers are often seen as the heroic characters in the world, Producers and Gatherers are no less important. While Producers never have to leave the safety of the village, there’s still ways for them to take risk, and as a result, change the outcome of the overall story. The further you move the slider to the left or right on the Research vs. Production bar the more risk you take.
Initially, you may just be risking the loss of materials and perhaps the destruction of your tools, but by moving the slider out further you risk the loss of your building, personal injury, and maybe even death.
But, as with adventuring, with great risk comes great reward. If you regularly go out on a limb to push the boundary of innovation, you can expect to achieve greatness within the technological community.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
When trying to decide how a game mechanic should work, I often look to our reality for hints and guidance. In the case of Technology & Research, innovation in our world has often occurred as a result of effort to solve a specific problem. At the same time, new ideas and technology often happen due to experimentation, trial, and effort.
In Chronicles of Elyria, we mimic this behavior by allowing players to determine which types of problems they want to solve. Any time you move the “Research vs. Production” slider to the left of center a button becomes active which, when clicked, gives you a list of problems you’d like to solve or things you’d like to investigate with respect to the item you’re creating. This is one of the most exciting parts of this system as the list is dynamic and changes based on several different triggers!
Event-Driven Triggers: You may have the option to research new technology based on changing world state such as the advancement of the story or going to war with another kingdom.
Skill & Mastery-Driven Triggers: If you get specific skills to a certain mastery, the synergy between the different skills may provide you with additional research opportunities. For example, achieving mastery in certain carpentry and tailoring skills may provide you the opportunity to research interesting new technologies.
Resource-Driven Triggers: Having multiple resources in your inventory that can be combined together in new and unique ways can often provide you the ability to do research. For example, if you’ve got copper and tin ore in your inventory and attempt to make a copper bar, you may be able to research bronze.
Location-Driven Triggers: Some technologies require characters to be in specific locations in order to unlock specific technologies. This makes sense intuitively. After all, it doesn't really make sense for someone who's land-locked to be researching boat-making.
Based on this system, there is some amount of meta-game thinking allowed. We want players who understand the relationship between certain materials, the components they make, and the final product to play a role. If I, as a player, know how to construct a telescope, I should be able to use that information when guiding what I research to eventually lead to the discovery of a telescope.
Another important thing to note about this system is we may provide a large number of prompts, across a wide number of skills without actually having the assets or mechanics in place to support the research players are doing. But, by monitoring and observing what players are researching it communicates to us what the players’ interests are and can push us to implement additional technologies.
Guilds & Educational Institutions
While it's possible to do research or increase production on your own, it's much easier to do so if you're part of a guild or educational institute. Guilds and Schools often have advanced versions of the crafting stations which allow added benefits.
Schools often have crafting stations which allow for safer research while guilds may have versions that allow for safer mass-production. As well, if you do research as part of a guild or school, your ability to discover something is based not only on the time you've spent in research, but also the time everyone else in your guild or school has spent in research. This can result in dramatically increased chance of discovery.
There is a trade-off, however. If you perform research on the equipment of an organization, such as a Guild or School, you're implicitly agreeing to share all discoveries you make with the institution. The effect is quite different depending on the institution. If you make a discovery as part of school, they will turn around and make the information freely available to everyone. On the other hand, a Guild will often go and Patent the technology, granting them sole and exclusive rights to utilize the new knowledge.
Patents & Implicit Contracts
Patents are a Kingdom-wide system that allows non-royalty or nobility to create laws through implicit contracts. These implicit contracts prevent others from crafting an item or processing a resource without breaking a patent law. Can others still do it if they know how? Sure! While Patents protect the investment someone has made in researching a technology, it's still up to the individual to enforce the implicit contract.
Patents give the owner exclusive rights to use a technology for a period of three real-world weeks. After the first three-week period of time the owner can request an extension for another three weeks, however this is often very expensive. After the full six-week period of time, or if the owner chooses not to file for an extension, the patent falls off and it becomes acceptable for anyone to create the technology.
I hope that this glimpse into what's to come in the development of Chronicles of Elyria, has at least grabbed the attention of a few of you.
Chronicles of Elyria Website: chroniclesofelyria.com/
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Feel free to ask me questions about the game, I've read into it, just so I could help you nerds out.