Your questions, answered!

Depths of Erendorn
December 14, 2021
December 14, 2021

Hello all! 


We’d like to express our gratitude to KiraTV for the coverage and reaction video. Also, a big thanks to the viewers for a lot of the positive comments that have been made, as well as the constructive criticism and pointers that we can use to continue improving the game. 


We’d like to clarify a few things and respond to Kira’s questions, as well as a few comments the public has mentioned.


Is Depths of Erendorn an MMORPG?

We wouldn’t actually class Depths of Erendorn as an MMORPG. It does have MMO elements to it so it’s not necessarily inaccurate to refer to it as one, but it’s more of a MORPG than an MMORPG (losing the ‘massively’ part to it). We think a more fitting description is that it’s an ‘Online Classic RPG’. Whilst it’s perhaps subjective as to what games classify as a classic RPG or not, there is certainly an argument that as of right now, no online classic RPG exists in the games market today. Whilst obviously biased, we feel it’s important that at least one does, for those who desire that type of online RPG experience. The core gameplay loop in its most basic form is players forming groups of up to 4 from the safety of settlement hubs, venturing out into the world and exploring the dungeon depths (which are both instanced), and being unaware of what awaits them each time they do so. 

Art & Graphics

We came to the conclusion over the last year or so that it was time to share some of our work, give people a first look at what we're making, and share the vision as to what the game is. Models/environment/animations/VFX/GUI and everything that you see in the pre-alpha trailer that’s related to the game is a work in progress and subject to improvement. We have concentrated on having many things at a first art pass rather than having fewer things at final passes. The player models you’re currently seeing in the pre-alpha trailer are actually enemy models that are on their first pass. Some of these models are getting overhauled entirely. We would also like to say that whilst some online games have amazing-looking models, they quite often struggle with mob and enemy diversity. As we currently stand, we have over 300 enemy models made (around 80 of them ‘unique’ models). Whilst they are all at a first pass and may be rough around the edges, it is a lot of content for players to encounter. They will all go through multiple art passes to have them looking better over time, and we will continue making more models and content at a fairly fast pace. The trailer was also recorded in UE4, and we are in the process of upgrading to UE5 which will of course further enhance how the game looks.


Development Time

In regards to our development time, our timeline up until now is as follows:


2015 - 2016: Foundational design on a huge design document of what the game is. Creating a huge world, stats, races, lore, rules, etc from scratch. Zero development. 


2016 - 2018: Development starts. For the first several years, we kept the team fairly small (between 4 - 6 people). The rationale behind this is that in the first couple of years there was a lot of concepting, exploratory ideas and we figured it’s where most mistakes and misdirection would occur. All very natural processes at the beginning of a big project. It’s far better to do the above things with a small team than a bigger team, as misdirection and mistakes especially are very costly when they happen with a larger team e.g. Paying for and informing 50 people that almost everything they’ve worked on in the last 6 months was a mistake and needs to be thrown away! 


2018 to current: As per the roadmap on our website, you can see that we started expanding the team fairly rapidly once we had really nailed down exactly what we wanted the game to be. 


As we’re sure many people reading this are aware, it often takes big companies with existing teams anywhere from 4 - 8 years to successfully make an online RPG or MMORPG. This means they already have the people needed in place, they have everything set up, all of the infrastructure, etc. When you start with no company and no team, with no setup or infrastructure, it of course takes even longer. This is just the nature of the beast. 


Experience

In the first several years of the project, the team consisted of a small number of people that didn’t have a lot of experience. We took our time to concept and prototype the game, and we leaned heavily on trying new ideas. We adopted a first principles thinking mindset as to how an online classic RPG could be made in the modern-day. As an indie studio that is self-funded, we didn’t have to answer to any investors, publishers, or other third parties, and were able to take our time to explore a different way of building an online RPG that we wished to play ourselves. Once we had really nailed down what we wanted the game to be and had moved past the ‘heavy exploration’ phase of game design, we were comfortable enough to expand the team at a much faster rate, which can be seen on our roadmap. Now that we’re 5 years into development, the people who have been working on the project from the beginning actually have quite a bit of experience now. Coupled with the fact that a lot of people who have joined in the last few years as we expanded the team had previous experience before joining, puts us in a great spot to deliver on everything that we wish to deliver on. Overall, we certainly wouldn’t claim to be the most experienced development team, but sometimes fresh eyes, new ideas, and a different way of looking at things can be just what an industry needs to shake it up and see some improvement to it.


Kickstarter

We have been self-funded for a little over 5 years, and this will be pushed to 6 years to reach a playable alpha before we’ll likely do a Kickstarter. We don’t have unlimited capital so we can’t self-fund it forever. Being able to receive funding from people who like what they see and optionally choose to back us, makes sense. We are also keen to build a good community and get early feedback so we can continue improving the game before full release. 


As gamers and frequent visitors (and backers!) to Kickstarter ourselves, we have of course seen the sad state of things in recent years from online games in particular on Kickstarter. We absolutely understand people’s skepticism and we would suggest that if you’re not sure or comfortable, wait until the game is further along and we have more of the game to show you. Backing a project on Kickstarter (or backing any project anywhere) shouldn’t be for everyone, as a variety of factors must be considered for each individual. It also shouldn’t be considered as simply playing the full game early. You won’t be playing the launch version of the game and builds will have bugs, issues, unbalanced abilities & stats, and jank. Whilst various alpha/beta tiers to Depths of Erendorn will be via paid tiers, open beta and of course full release will be free to play. 


We currently have 3 years of both weekly and monthly devlogs, where we vigilantly document the key elements of our ongoing development. By the time we reach Kickstarter and the first playable alpha, this will be around 4 years worth. 


Turn-Based Combat

We are aware that turn-based combat isn’t for everyone. One of the biggest complaints of turn-based combat is how slow it can be, and how you have to wait a while for your turn. Previously, we had a more traditional turn-based system that meant each player took their turn individually. When we play-tested this, we ran into the same problems other games using this system had, which ultimately led to our solution of creating our own version of simultaneous turn-based combat. The way we implement it differs from other simultaneous turn-based systems in that all the players can take actions and see them executed in real-time. You don't lock in your actions and wait to see it all play out. If you want to move and attack an enemy, you and the rest of your team see it happen straight after you have actioned it. Once we tried it like this, we felt it was a major improvement on both the turn-based and simultaneous turn-based systems we see today. As a result, the game feels much more responsive, fast, and engaging.


One other thing we’d like to point out is that in the more traditional turn-based systems of each individual player taking their turn, it forces the overall design for players to have limited actions, in order to hurry along combat. By removing the constraints outlined above, it allows us to give players more actions per turn than they would normally expect in a turn-based game, thus expanding out the depth and skill of our combat system.


We don’t wish to be confrontational by saying this, but we aren’t trying to develop Depths of Erendorn for everybody. There is perhaps an argument that the reason many people have felt rather underwhelmed by online RPGs and MMORPGs of recent years, especially from the larger triple-A companies with big budgets, is that they have tried to cater to everybody. It’s ok if some people don’t like some of the features that we have for the game. We know there will be some people that will.

Business Model

We are very happy with our proposed business model. We are very satisfied with the number of people out there that would/could enjoy a game such as this. We believe that if we deliver a good game, there are plenty of people who would be willing to play the game a lot and tell their friends about it, as well as enjoy playing together with them. Once a core player base is formed, some players may be willing to spend some money on optional cosmetics that they like. We know not everyone will spend money, and that’s ok. 

Procedural Generation


There have been some questions/comments regarding procedural generation in games, so we wanted to expand on our use of it in Depths of Erendorn. As multiple people have already pointed out, the age of information has negatively affected hand-crafted, tailor-made content by developers within online worlds. We have largely lost the feeling of mystery and unknown adventure that some of us may remember in the late 1990s and 2000s whilst playing these games. In addition, no games studio in the world can keep up with the demand for fresh new content at the rate that it’s being consumed. Something has to give, and we need to get back to that feeling of unknown adventure and mystery that we have now mostly lost. In order to attempt to do this, we are using a mix of authored content and procedurally generated content to provide additional variation to the adventures you go on and the dungeons you will encounter. 


The world will have a ‘static’ or authored landscape, and that doesn’t change. However, the enemies, events, and dungeon depths entrances that get spawned within it will vary considerably. Once players enter the dungeon depths, we will lean more heavily into procedural generation. Every dungeon has randomised layout, enemies, events, as well as randomised loot. To help break up elements of the dungeon, we will have authored set-piece content that spawns within them. We aren't using pre-made modules placed together in different orders as you see in games like Warframe. Each dungeon is unique based on its own seed and other factors.


We think that the combination of all of the above will help to bring back true unknown adventure each time you leave the safety of the settlements with your party, as well as breaking up some of the ‘samey’ feeling of procedural generation that isn’t guided.


Thank you

Quite a few of us will be starting to wind down for Christmas and New Year now, as we need a good rest after a lot of hard work. After the holiday period, we will be getting our heads down to keep focusing on development, while trying our best to keep to our targets for 2022.


We wish you all a great holiday (if you celebrate it) and we’ll see you all in the New Year!


If you have any questions, want to know more about the game, or fancy joining our growing community, you're always welcome on our Discord -

https://discord.gg/yd4VjaGbac

Thank you.



-DoE Team


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