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  1. Ember Sword x Token Trove — a Digital Collectible Marketplace PartnershipWe’re excited to announce a new partnership with Token Trove, an NFT Marketplace dedicated to games that makes it easy to find, buy, and sell digital collectibles. As part of the new partnership, Token Trove will support and maintain a section on their marketplace dedicated to current and future Ember Sword NFTs, such as land, badges, and cosmetics. So whether you’re looking to buy an Ember Sword NFT or want to sell a cosmetic collectible you’ve received when defeating an open-world boss, Token Trove is one of the primary third-party marketplaces to browse. Why we’re partnering with Token TroveOne of the advantages of Token Trove is their commitment to the games they work with, and their laser-focus on creating a secure and user-friendly experience. The Ember Sword page on Token Trove is unique and custom built to support the NFTs we release, and you can already now browse their digital Ember Sword land map and use their advanced filters to find precisely the NFTs you are interested in. Listings on Token Trove are entirely decentralized, which means your NFTs never leave your wallet until they are sold, and you can even have them listed on several marketplaces at the same time or bundle multiple plots of land to sell them at once. Since Token Trove manually approves every project before it gets added to their platform, their marketplace is safe from scam look-alike projects, and we hope you will all enjoy using it either as a buyer or seller. Ember Sword x Token Trove — a Digital Collectible Marketplace Partnership was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  2. It’s time to finally shed further light on the second iteration for THE premiere Ember Sword event — the Thanabus Cup. Those of you who were around for the first Thanabus Cup will no doubt remember the shenanigans and communal revelry induced by that event. Since then, our awesome community has grown by about 50,000 members. That’s a lot of fresh faces and boy are we excited to see how the second Thanabus Cup plays out with all these new and amazing people. So, for the benefit of the, as-of-yet, uninitiated, let’s take some time to explain the whys and the whats of the Thanabus Cup. For a more detailed look at the actual structure and mechanics of the Thanabus Cup, you can read our previous blog post “Introduction to the Thanabus Cup” What is the Thanabus Cup?The Thanabus Cup is a bi-annual event hosted on the Ember Sword Discord server, which pits all four nations against each other in a fierce, if at times unconventional, competition. The Cup is designed to strike a healthy balance between events which let an individual’s talent shine through and those that require every member of a nation to band together and work towards achieving that week’s goal. An event as epic as the Thanabus Cup requires some equally exciting prizes. We’ve got you covered on that front. At the end of every competition, a community member will win a plot of land, either because they have won an individual challenge or because they have been selected by a random draw to be that week’s winner. Furthermore, they will receive the unique “Competition Winner 🏆” role and, most importantly, the glory and admiration that comes with it! The main prize of the whole competition is the actual, physical Thanabus Cup, which is proudly displayed in our head office in Aarhus, Denmark, adorned with the name of the winning nation. And although that is a pretty epic prize, we would like to think that the real prize is the friends and experiences we pick up along the way. The Goal of the Thanabus CupWith the Thanabus Cup, we want to celebrate our strong community, as well as the four nations of Thanabus; Solarwood, Duskeron, Sevrend, and Ediseau. We initially set out to build a community event that would cultivate an environment where you, the citizens of Thanabus, could meet fellow adventurers and build meaningful relationships, even before you’re able to play the game. Throughout the first cup, we saw this happening more than we could have ever hoped, and we’re really looking forward to seeing where the next cup will take us! Thanabus Cup 2What’s new this time around?We’ve really taken our time this year to prepare some top-tier competitions for you! Fans of the previous Thanabus Cup can look forward to some returning events, as well as a fresh spin on some tried and true concepts. But that’s not all. Here are some teasers — we’ll be gunning for a world record and partaking in the largest and most intricate live event we’ve had so far on the Ember Sword Discord server, as well as just having a greater emphasis on live events in general. Know that we’ve tried to build Thanabus Cup II to be bigger and more ambitious in every way, so as to reflect our considerably larger player base. Of course, we don’t want to give too much away just yet, so stay tuned! So, when are we starting?Thanabus Cup II is set to kick off on the 6th of October, 18:00 CEST with our first event, which will be shared in the this-weeks-competition channel on our Discord server. You can expect a new competition to be shared in the same channel for the next 10 weeks, after which we will have our second-ever nation winning the Thanabus Cup! See you soon.We’re all extremely excited about what’s to come and we hope you are too! We’ve come a long way since the first competition and we hope that in the future we’ll be able to look back on this upcoming Thanabus Cup just as fondly as we do now upon the previous one. Good luck in the upcoming competition and we hope to see you October 6th 18:00 CEST! Thanabus Cup 2.0 Announcement was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  3. Hey everybody. We’re really excited to see how many of you participated in the community land sale application and are now eager to claim your land and get your hands on some badges. Unfortunately, you will have to wait just a little bit longer before we can open them up to you. As with each new NFT that we bring to the community, our smart contract code is carefully audited to ensure maximum security. Although the contracts for this sale passed this audit with flying colors, recently a security issue was found in the standard, open source (OpenZeppelin) contract which we base some of our smart contracts on. We immediately fixed this issue in our contracts, but to ensure a safe sale, we will have to go through our security testing process once again. As this is quite an intensive process, we’ve taken a safe margin and moved the opening date up by two weeks, to October 14th at 19:00 CET. We understand this decision might be inconvenient to those of you who have your money ready in your wallet and are raring to go, but our first priority is always making sure our NFTs are deployed in a safe and secure way for the entire community. An additional complicating factor for this sale has been the legal concerns surrounding the sale of badges in the US, as well as recent developments in China. This also led to a lot of questions within the community. By now, we’ve had the opportunity to delve deeper into the legal issues and we have to unfortunately conclude that, at present, we cannot offer the badges to people from the US, nor can we currently offer land or badges to buyers from China. It is important to note that the only badges are not available to our US audience and we expect them to be able to continue participating in the sale of land and collectables, as well as the game, just like all our other community members. Naturally, these limitations are as frustrating to us as they are to you, the community. Rest assured, we will continue monitoring the situation and working with regulators to bring the full Ember Sword experience to players, wherever they may be in the world. Now, onto the good stuff. In a previous post, we introduced you to the concept of badges and shed some further light on the Ember token, among other things. We promised you some further information, so in this post, we’d like to take some time to break down the nitty gritty of the badges and the Ember tokens. Community BadgesLast time around, we mentioned that badges are unique NFTs sporting some pretty epic perks and benefits. With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper and learn a little bit more about them. What are badges?Badges are unique Ember Sword NFTs, which, if you qualified for the community land sale, can be viewed here. With badges, we want to offer every qualified community member certain perks and benefits as recognition of their wonderfully worded entries. What are the perks of owning a badge?Badges are jam-packed with all kinds of exciting benefits: Owning a badge nets you a spot in the upcoming alpha/pre-alpha tests, just like the landowners.Furthermore, through the badge system, we will be distributing some of the first Ember tokens to the community, more on that in a little bit.Last, but not least, badge ownership is proudly displayed on your Ember Sword profile, so there can be no dispute that you have been here with Ember Sword since day one.How do I acquire a badge?Currently, badges are offered only to community members who have submitted a qualifying entry to the community land sale. The sale of badges will begin in tandem with the sale of allotted land on October 14th at 19:00 CET, and can be found here. Note — you do not need to have been allotted land in order to be able to purchase a badge. Being qualified is currently the only prerequisite to badge ownership. Although qualifying accounts will have first dibs at these badges, should there be any left after the first 7 days, the remainder will be made available for purchase to all community members with an embersword.com account. There are some things to keep in mind about the badges. Badges are not reserved for you the same way your allotted land is. They are provided on a first come, first served basisThere is a finite amount of them, and there will never be more than there are today. The distribution is as follows:  — 100 Platinum Badges  — 1000 Gold Badges  — 2500 Silver Badges  — 5000 Bronze BadgesCurrently, you can only purchase one badge per account, so pick wiselyMore information about the perks and benefits of each individual tier can be found here. Ember token distributionAs mentioned above, we are using the badge system to distribute some of the first Ember tokens to the community. This is done in the following way. Each tier of badge has a certain amount of Ember allotted to it. The distribution per badge is as follows: The Bronze tier includes 2,500 pieces of Ember The Silver tier includes 5,000 pieces of Ember The Gold tier includes 25,000 pieces of Ember The Platinum tier includes 250,000 pieces of Ember At a later point in 2022, you’ll be able to activate your badge to begin the release of Ember tokens. Once you’ve done that, you will begin to receive a steady monthly feed of tokens amounting to 10% of the total tokens allotted to your badge, until you’ve received all your tokens in 10 months time. This way, the amount of Ember entering circulation is spread out enough to not cause serious fluctuations in supply, as this would be bad for the game and the community. Speaking of Ember, let’s take a look at the token itself. Ember TokenEmber is our custom-built token designed to sit at the heart of Ember Sword and can be used for a vast array of in-game activities. For example, one of the many uses of Ember is to forge special materials you can find in-game into rare cosmetic collectables. Additionally, if you have a significant amount of cosmetic collectables from a lower tier, you can use Ember to fire up the forge and smelt them all down to produce a one of a higher tier, e.g. turning 4 common collectables into a rare. The common ones are burned in the process, but the upside is that they become even rarer and you get a higher tier collectable out of the process. Win-win-win, really. Pretty cool, eh? Alternatively, Ember can be used to breed new pets or mounts, as well as fuse them, essentially taking mounts of a lesser rarity in order to produce one of a higher rarity, analogous to the example given above. The examples given here barely scratch the surface on how players will be able to use Ember, but we hope that they are helpful in giving you context for the types of things Ember will be used for. That’s about it for this postWe would like to take this moment to once again express our immense appreciation for the enthusiasm and patience you have all displayed. We hope that we have managed to answer some of your questions about Badges and the Ember token, however, if by chance we’ve left something out, you can always consult our FAQ sections in the Ember Sword Discord server. Until next time! Community Land Sale Timing, Badges and Tokens was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  4. Hey there, you wonderful people! So, community land sale, eh? You’ve been very patient with us, so in this blog post, we’re opening the floodgates. Below you’ll find out how to check whether you’ve qualified, what the land purchasing process is like and what additional goodies you get out of the whole deal. Let’s dive in! Community Land Sale — The Finish LineIn our land sale update, we laid out the foundation on how we’re going to approach allotting land to the most deserving entries. And the philosophy behind the process hasn’t changed. As a refresher — since we had such a staggering amount of submissions (35,000+ by the end!), we wanted to make sure that as many people as possible got land. Therefore, those among you who requested large amounts of land would only be allotted part of the land you requested. That still holds true, as we wanted to allocate land to as many deserving entries as possible. You might’ve noticed the number of entries above differs from the one in the aforementioned article. It does — by a margin of 10,000. Rest assured, we have combed through and ranked every single one. Where the process will differ is in how those selected will go about claiming their land. What that means is that we’ve worked out an elegant way to allow everyone to see if they qualified and which land has been reserved for them if they have. Those who qualified will also receive an email, but either way, you can head to embersword.com right now, where a new addition to the website awaits you. Log in and, if you have qualified, you should see a notification in the top right corner. Click that and you will be taken to the land purchasing page, which looks like this: Here, you can see your allotted land and a countdown to when the purchasing process goes live. You will be shown which type of land has been reserved for you — it will be the first type of land you asked for that you are eligible to buy. For example, if you wanted a town and a settlement, you were placed in the ranking list for both. If you then ranked high enough to get a town, your land selection page would reflect that. Simply put, everyone who has some land reserved for them has exactly one thing available to purchase — either a full city, full town, settlement plot or regular plot. A cool thing to note — because we are taking this approach, the land owning population of Ember Sword will welcome some 5000 or so new members to their ranks! You will have plenty of time to make your purchase — your land has been reserved for you, so you don’t have to worry about somebody yoinking, say, your settlement away from under your nose. Once you’re able to purchase it, you will have two full weeks to do so — from the 30th of September to the 14th of October. Do note that if you do not purchase it by the end of that period, your land will go back into rotation and will be made available for purchase to other qualified land owners or be included in the next land sale. Once you buy your land, you will receive it in your wallet immediately. You know us, we can’t really leave you with just one thing. For everyone who qualified, regardless of if they ranked for land or not, we got something special. Introducing Community BadgesRemember when we mentioned unique NFTs in our previous community land sale post? Well, wonder what they are no longer! As mentioned, if you wrote a qualifying entry, you will have the chance to purchase a Community Badge. Badges are a limited edition NFT that give you access to a bunch of perks. Even if you didn’t rank high enough to acquire land, you could still have qualified for the community badges. You can see if your entry has qualified here. Owning a badge gets you access to our upcoming pre-alpha and alpha tests. You also get a cool in-game representation of the badge that will be shown next to your name, an enduring symbol of how you were among the first to support Ember Sword. That by itself makes the badge a really cool collectible, but we’ve included something extra. An additional benefit is that you can use your badge at a later point in 2022 to claim its dollar value in Ember tokens at the same valuation as our upcoming private token sale. Normally, only large investors would get this preferential pricing, but we wanted to break the mould and extend you, the community, the same courtesy. As stated above, badges will be limited edition, meaning that we will not be making more of them once they are sold out. For legal reasons, citizens of the US, will currently not be able to claim the tokens owning a badge will unlock during 2022. We do not know how national legislation will evolve over time but will try our best to keep you informed of impactful changes. Naturally this does not limit your ability to benefit from the other perks of our badges. The process of acquiring a Community Badge is the same as getting your hands on land — log into your embersword.com account and check your notifications. If you’re eligible, you will be taken to the badge purchasing page: There are four types of badges — Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The different tiers allow large guilds, for example, to acquire a Platinum badge, so they can have an amazing war chest of tokens to start with, alongside the other benefits. At the same time, we wanted the badges to be accessible to as many people as possible, which is why Bronze badges exist — to give those most dedicated among you the opportunity to participate in Ember Sword early without breaking the bank. Do keep in mind that the badges are limited to one per qualifying account and, unlike allotted land, are not reserved — they will be sold on a first-come, first serve basis while supply lasts, from the 30th of September. They will remain exclusive for qualifying accounts until the 14th of October, after this the remaining ones (if any) will be made available for purchase to anyone with an embersword.com account. As with land, when you buy a badge, you will receive it in your wallet immediately. We will be releasing final details on the badges before the 30th of September. To close out this section, we would like to note that this new addition to the website will not just be used for the community land sale. In future, more cool opportunities will be made available through this new page. We will be announcing those as they approach, so stay tuned! Another thing to note is that the purchasing page will be accessible even if you haven’t qualified. In that case, the land and badges will be greyed out. Still, we worked really hard on it and we wanted everyone to be familiar with the interface, as we will be using it again going forward. That’s the juicy info. We have a bit of housekeeping to get to before we end this post. Let’s talk smart contracts. Upgrading smart contractsWith the changes in the way we’re delivering land to you being implemented, there is a necessity to upgrade our smart contracts as well, so that we are better prepared to handle future changes/upgrades to our NFTs. This means that the contract address, the unique identifier for the NFTs, is going to change, meaning that third party services, such as OpenSea and TokenTrove, have to be updated. If you’re using the contract address anywhere, you’ll have to update it to the new address. The new address will be automatically changed on OpenSea and TokenTrove. We will also be listing it in our Discord and website FAQs and announcing as much, as well as adding it to this article once the contract is live. And that’s all for this blog post, everybody. Thank you once again for your incredible enthusiasm for this community land sale. It has been a blast getting to do this and reading all your awesome submissions. If you have any further questions, our Discord has an FAQ channel dedicated specifically to the most frequently asked community land sale questions — #community-sale-faq. That, alongside our regular FAQs and our socials, are your best sources of up-to-date information about the game. Until next time! Community Land Sale — Final Stage was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  5. The Thanabus Cup is THE Ember Sword event of the year. It pits the four nations of Thanabus against each other for a large 10-week digital challenge that runs twice per year on the Ember Sword Discord server, drawing in thousands of community members.[;p Whether you’re considering participating in the hopes to grab one of the prizes, or this is your first time hearing about the Cup, this post serves as a general introduction to all-things Thanabus Cup. This is made all the more relevant by the second Thanabus Cup on the horizon (more on that soon!). The winning nation of the first-ever Thanabus Cup was Solarwood — congratulations! 👏 The Thanabus Cup BasicsHow is the event structured?The Thanabus Cup consists of 10 competitive challenges that the entire community can participate in, one for each week of the event. Players from every nation can submit individual entries into these challenges, after which their fellow citizens vote on which entry should represent their nation at the grand vote where the entire community votes to determine a winning nation. And here’s a little tease to spice things up - there will be a lot more varied competitions in the second Thanabus Cup, such as live-events. At the end of each challenge, points are awarded as follows: 1st place — 50 points2nd place — 25 points3rd place — 15 pointsThe nation with the most points after all 10 challenges are over wins the Thanabus Cup, and the players who submitted the 10 winning entries each get a coveted prize (more on the prizes below). Some of the Thanabus Cup challenges require team effort while others involve individual skill. To get an idea of the types of challenges that might be included in the next Thanabus Cup, have a look at the challenges from the first-ever Thanabus Cup: Music Quiz — A 4-round challenging music quiz Nation Pitcher — Create the most convincing and compelling pitch for your nation Funniest Meme — Submit your best memes Recruitment Frenzy — Invite the most new members to your nation within the next 48 hours Wallpaper Contest — Find or create the most impressive wallpaper Most Impressive Game Item — Grab a screenshot of your most impressive in-game item that you own in any video game MS Paint Extravaganza — Draw an Ember Sword-related piece of art using ONLY old-school MS Paint Lore Quiz — Dig deep into past podcasts, blog posts, and Discord messages to correctly answer the most difficult Ember Sword lore questions Poem Competition — Write the most inspiring, funny, or epic Ember Sword poem Movie Quote Quiz — Correctly identify which movie these famous, bit difficult, movie quotes are from Read more about the first Thanabus Cup and its winners. How to Participate in the Thanabus Cup Participating in the Thanabus Cup, even for just a few of the challenges, is super easy. Here is a step-by-step guide: Step 1: Join the Ember Sword Discord server Step 2: Join a nation through the #choose-nation channel Step 3: Check out the #announcements and #this-weeks-competition channels on Discord for more info about when the next cup starts (when it has been announced) Step 4: Follow the weekly challenges on Discord HINT: Have a peek at the #challenge-archive channel to see some of the previous Thanabus Cup entries. You know, “know your enemy” and all that ;) PrizesDuring the first Thanabus Cup, the 10 players who submitted the winning entries for each week’s challenge, won a free plot of Solarwood land and the “Competition Winner 🏆” role on Discord. The prizes may change for future Thanabus Cup challenges, but they will always make it worthwhile to participate and compete. At the end of the cup, the nation with the most points gets its name engraved in the illustrious Thanabus Cup that stands tall at the Bright Star Studios headquarter in Denmark for all visitors and staff to see. Additionally, the winners are celebrated all throughout Ember Sword, whether it be through social media, blog posts or the glorious in-game trophy that will be located in their nation’s capital. The RulesEach Thanabus Cup challenge has slightly different rules, so keep an eye out for the posts in the #about-thanabus-cup channel on Discord. The goal of the cup is to create a friendly competition that brings the whole community together to showcase their collective creativity and ingenuity. While the nations bravely compete against each other, we want to encourage everyone to stay light-hearted and supportive of every brave soul who decides to enter the Cup. Best of luck to all future participants! And keep an eye on our socials. We’re cooking something up that will be ready sooner rather than later… Introduction to the Thanabus Cup was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  6. We’re innovators here at Bright Star Studios. That goes without saying if you know anything about Ember Sword. In the spirit of that, this blog post is a break in our traditional format. We plucked our Executive Producer Loren and our Project Manager Allan away from their busy schedules to interview them about the process of producing Ember Sword. This blog sheds light on some of our chief development practices, habits and working structure. It also borrows some quotes from the two interview participants, as rephrasing wouldn’t do much justice to some of their unique views on game production. Let’s get into it! Hot take — making a game is hard frigging work. Spicy, we know. But, as far as collaborative endeavors go, game development is about as demanding as it gets. So how do we at Bright Star Studios go about creating an expansive project like Ember Sword? Well, we’re all big fans of taking a look behind-the-scenes on a project, so we decided we would shine some light on the daily goings-on here at BrightStar. We got our very own producer Allan and executive producer Loren together and asked them some hard hitting questions about game production in general and about Ember Sword specifically, so strap in. What are your roles & responsibilities?“Mostly project management. Well, being a producer on a game is a bit different from being a producer on a movie, for example. I’m more of a project manager than a money manager. Doing more stuff along the lines of getting problems out of the way so that the team can focus on their core strengths and responsibilities” — AllanLoren is also involved with the financial management, but as a Founder there’s few things he’s not involved in when it comes to Ember Sword. “The role of Executive Producer can sometimes be a little bit nebulous. Sometimes these fields overlap, although I am involved in the financial matters, my main role is building out the product and game vision itself.” — LorenHow are roles and tasks assigned?The answer to this particular question was given via the form of a few colorful analogies, namely — Hats and Lego bricks. Yes, it’s just as fun as it sounds. So, hats. If a team happens to be in excess of a hundred people, then it’s quite easy for those working on a given project to have a laser-focused job description. However, if you have a small team working on a big project, then things can get a little more interesting. In this particular case, Allan defines roles and responsibilities as “Hats” “Maybe sometimes you’re wearing like 15 different hats, but as the team grows and we find a need for more and more specialists you take off some of those hats” — AllanLoren, has a different, equally colorful analogy. Building with Lego bricks! “When you start here, I’m going to give you like 4–5 different colors of Lego bricks, and you’re going to have to build the best tower you possibly can”Okay, sounds like fun. “But what you have to realize is that we’re growing pretty fast, so pretty soon there’s going to be specializations, so I’m going to come by take away your blue bricks and expect you to continue building an even bigger tower with other colors”“This is going to go on until you’re left with just red bricks, because that’s the thing you’re most epic at. Letting go of bricks can be hard for some people, but if you can handle it, it’s extremely rewarding”What Loren is referring to here, similarly to what Allan said with his hats analogy, is the changes a team naturally undergoes as it expands. You might have started out doing a few different things, and you were spectacular at one of them, great at two of them and sort of OK at one of them. As more and more people come in, they get to specialize in the things you’re not that great at because, turns out, they’re killing it with that stuff . Meanwhile, you get to focus on the stuff you’re truly epic at, thus, the team grows, becomes more efficient and the game you’re making gets more kick-ass by the day. Working from home vs. Traditional work environmentThe IT and development space has always needed to overcome the hurdles of working with someone who might be halfway across the globe. Scheduling meetings and aligning time zones can always be a giant hassle. However, after Covid, these things became more commonplace, and this type of working environment became not only completely normal, but also something which is expected. Quick disclaimer: “We don’t like Covid, we don’t like that illness” — Allan.Overall, unsurprisingly, it is quite beneficial not having to consider the geographical particularities of each individual employee and team member. This has always been the way Bright Star has operated, only now it has become more standardized and widely-adopted, as was mandated by the lockdowns. “That being said we’re building towards having larger groups in more centralized office locations, because that way of working is sometimes beneficial” — AllanThe key theme here is finding the proper balance and moderation between these two approaches to working. Yes, working from home is convenient as all hell and you don’t have to get out of bed as early, but, sometimes, with creative projects especially, it can detract from the magic a little bit. How does building Ember Sword differ from other projects you’ve worked on?“Let’s start with the obvious, we’re building an MMORPG. That’s already a totally different beast!” — Loren“Building a ship as you’re sailing across the ocean.” — AllanThis is usually the case when going about a project like this. The large and expansive world, combined with the blockchain integration and other decentralized mechanics are almost entirely bespoke technology built for Ember Sword, and we’re building up as we’re making the game. And that process requires focus and, sometimes, sacrifices. Probably one of the hardest things about game development is killing your darlings, and, while not as crazy as the terminology employed would imply, it can still be pretty hard to get used to. Essentially, when you’re working on a big project, your mind will flood with ideas, great and brilliant ideas about features and mechanics you’re going to put in the game which will definitely make it the best game anyone has ever played. However, the harsh reality of the matter is that sometimes, even the good ideas just don’t gel well with the rest of the game, for a myriad of different reasons. The concept might be too demanding, or it might not fit with the rest of the game mechanically, or it wasn’t that great to begin with. Here’s how Loren puts it: “You might find that what you originally thought was this amazing feature is actually detracting from other parts of the game. So yeah, sometimes you have to kill your darlings”The day-to-day of developing Ember Sword“We run sort of an adapted SCRUM” — AllanNow, odds are you might not have heard of SCRUM, so here’s some context. Yes, SCRUM does sound like something a pirate might say mid cough, but it’s also an invaluable organizational tool employed by the IT Industry. Let’s hear Allan explain it. “It’s basically running sprints. A sprint is like 2 or 3 weeks, and you plan for those 2 or 3 weeks in detail. Broken down to an individual level.”As gamers, we often see the finished product and cannot fully comprehend the amount of depth and complexity even the simplest features mandate in order to be enjoyable. “Most gamers can see a character walking on a screen and see some nice armor or cool loot, but we see animations, textures, how many skins do these swords and shields have etc.. Plus once these things are built as assets, implementing them is another thing with a programmer” — Allan.With that in mind, there is definitely a lot of work that goes into producing a big game like this and, as game makers, we like to gamify stuff. And, in a sense, SCRUM does that, where tasks are laid out at the beginning of a sprint, and you have this entire visualisation of the process, be it a Trello board or other such visual aid. It can be incredibly motivating and satisfying to get all of the tasks across the board. When is a game considered done?“Never”- AllanOkay, crude. But, seriously, he has a point. Ember Sword is intended to be played for years and years. Let’s hear Loren explain it: “We want to create something that will really stand that test of time. So, when is it done? Well, we would hope — never. We want to keep creating, building, and improving”The real question here is, because we have adopted this iterative process approach, how will features be put into the hands of players? The answer to that can be found within our quarterly release model, elaborated on in “Building Ember Sword with The Community” “What if we get a few thousands people into this world? How are the servers going to respond? We want to make sure we double check this. Of course we ran it with bots, but as soon as you let real life humans in there, they’re going to find a way to mess with your code” — Loren.Iteration is a normal process when building an MMO, and as more of the game is created and made accessible to the community, proportionally, more of the team will be moved to the role of live support, where they will monitor how the game is holding up and making sure everyone is having as good of an experience as possible. That being said, there is so much more we can talk about when it comes to game development as a general topic, as well as building Ember Sword as a project, but that’s a different topic for another time. Wrapping upThank you for taking the time to read through this, rather large, post. We barely scratched the surface of what goes into making a project of the breadth and scope of Ember Sword, as well as the daily fun activities we partake in here at BrightStar while we bring Ember Sword to you. In the meantime, in case you missed it — check out our previous blog post discussing updates regarding the community land sale, and showcasing just how awesomely powerful our community is. Until next time, everybody. Game Production on Ember Sword was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  7. Well, here we are with only a few days to go. The community land sale has surpassed all of our wildest expectations and it’s all thanks to you guys’ excitement! We have received an immense amount of submissions. So many, in fact, that it necessitates some changes to our timeline. Don’t worry, we’re going to outline everything in this blog post, alongside a couple of surprises to show our appreciation. Let’s get into it! Amazing, Crazy DemandFirst and foremost, we are once again blown away by the amount of applications we have received. As of this blog post, the total number of applications we’ve been sent is closing in on 25,000 — holy moly! Even more crazy to think about — the total pledged amount is around $130 million dollars. It’s safe to say that you guys are pretty amped for Ember Sword and we massively appreciate that you are willing to make such a commitment. We would, naturally, love for each and every one of those to be a part of our world, but, alas, there is only so much land. Therein lies the issue — we have more requests for land than we have land available in this community land sale… About 170x more. That being said — have no fear! We are working tirelessly to make sure we get Ember Sword land into the hands of as many community members as possible. With that, however, come some necessary changes to the community land sale timeline. Timeline ShiftBecause of the, frankly, astronomical number of submissions, we will need to extend the review period slightly. In rudimentary terms — there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to go through all of the applications and give everyone a fair chance. Consequently, the judging process will be extended by an additional two weeks, with verdicts expected to be ready around the end of August. That means that the remainder of the community land sale process will be extended as well. The new timeline, then, looks as follows: Selection process — from 1st to 31st of AugustContacting those selected — from 1st to 14th of SeptemberLand distribution — 15th to 31st of SeptemberLand AllotmentGoing through all of those entries and then allocating all the land will be quite the job, so here is how we’re going to get it done. First, of course, we will need to comb through all 25,000+ submissions, make sure they qualify and rank them in order of eligibility, to ensure the best ones get selected. Even in this preliminary stage of reading through your applications, there are a lot of fantastically written ones that absolutely deserve land. So many, in fact, that, due to the incredible demand, those of you who have requested large amounts of land may only be allotted a part of the land that you asked for. Don’t worry, though — we will not be splitting cities or towns, so if you’re allotted one, you are guaranteed to receive a complete city or town. Of course, even with us trying as hard as we can to allot land to as many deserving entries, there’s a finite amount of land to go around. We have thought about that as well. Even if you aren’t allotted land in this community sale, we wanted to provide you with as many opportunities as possible to still own a part of Ember Sword. Additional Benefits For Qualified EntriesYour reception and general discourse surrounding the community sale has been really awesome. Honestly, it feels nice knowing that the very best of you get a chance to be part of shaping Thanabus. So, stemming from that, for each nation’s land sale, during one of the rounds, there will be an accompanying community land sale, just like this one, meaning there will be many more opportunities for stand-out members of our community to become land owners. Details for when and how these will be taking place will be announced as they approach, as always. But that’s not all. We want to give as many of you as we can the opportunity to get early access to Ember Sword and also to participate in the very first sale of our Ember token, something which for many other blockchain projects has been limited to large investors. In order to do so, we’ll be introducing some unique NFTs, which will be available only to those that made it through the community sale qualification process. These can be purchased to obtain early access to Ember Sword, some cool perks and the right to claim a portion of Ember tokens during the private sale. More details on that will be announced at a later date, so stay tuned to our socials. So, there you have it. We continue to be humbled by the unbridled passion the Ember Sword community continues to demonstrate and look forward to making Ember Sword a great experience together with all of you. And, of course, if you haven’t yet submitted your community land sale application, make sure you get it in before July 31st. Until next time, everybody! P.S If you’ve missed out on some of our recent news, be sure to check out our recent blog post and podcast delving into our approach to building the game hand in hand with the community. Community Land Sale Update was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  8. You guys have been clamoring for info on just how we envision Ember Sword development going forward. Fear not! Over the next couple of weeks, we have some blog posts and podcasts planned that delve into different aspects of creating the game. This is the first of those — a look into how we plan on incorporating our community into the dev cycle. To explain our approach, we must first take a little stroll down memory lane. Cautionary talesRemember Diablo III? After reading that some of you went: “Oh yeah, I had a lot of fun with Diablo III” Or maybe: “Yeah, that one really let me down.” But odds are that the most universal reaction is a Vietnam-style flashback to 2012 when the game was released and promptly taken to the court of public opinion. The verdict, Error 37, still faintly echoes through the recesses of our minds. For the longest time, games have been released in a way which was conducive to creating a mismatch between the vision of the developers and the expectations of the community. Thus, the past is littered with cautionary tales of unfettered community expectations colliding with the reality of a hyped-up release falling flat on its face. Remember No Man’s Sky? It’s actually a pretty deep and engaging experience now, but the memory of that disastrous launch still haunts some of us to this day. So, what does this have to do with Ember Sword? Our approach to building Ember SwordWe are excited that the relationship between game makers and their audience is becoming increasingly collaborative and symbiotic, making the whole process of producing a kick-ass game not only easier, but also interesting and fun for all parties involved. With Ember Sword, we are quite fortunate to have one of the best communities on the internet. We want to make sure that you guys feel listened to and involved every step of the way. We have a very clear vision for the type of experience we want to create, and we want to make sure that this vision is properly communicated with you, by letting you know at any point in time what we’re doing and what we intend on doing in the future. This is reflected in our recently revamped website FAQ, for example. In short - the intention is not to have a big build-up of expectations culminating with an eventual release, but instead a communal and transparent development process with incremental small-scale releases. We want to do this not because we fear that we will not meet our players’ expectations, but because, given our awesome community, it’s the only way we see the game going forward — a collaborative effort. After all, at its core, Ember Sword is about player agency and their impact on the world. The current state of thingsAs of this blog post, several fortunate community members, sitting at an undisclosed location surrounded by stacks of NDA’s 8ft. tall, are playtesting Ember Sword in a pre-alpha testing environment, making sure that all of the core technology of the game functions as intended. That includes things such as net code stability, environment rendering in different browsers, etc. We are taking our time with this process because we want to make sure that, once Ember Sword becomes available to a wider portion of the community, it has a good foundation to stand on, so that our iterative creation process can then start taking shape. Where do we go from here?Once we are sure that the fundamentals are working as intended, we will begin letting more and more community members into a larger play space to further test our tech, while controlling the influx of new players in order to keep the growth manageable. The first additional influx of players during the pre-alpha testing period will be those who are land owners. They will join our alpha testers in trying out various tech systems. More players also means more will be required of our network infrastructure, which we are very excited to stress test. All of this will happen later this year. Following this, in early 2022, our first official piece of Ember Sword content will be made available to the land owners — the capital of Solarwood. This is also when we are planning on adding more to the game over time, while letting our community interact with the very early beginnings of the game. All of this is to facilitate a manageable, iterative building process, to ensure we are consistently making the best game we possibly can. Once at this stage, we intend to gradually increase the player base, making Ember Sword accessible to more community members, while simultaneously adding new features, expanding the playable area with new locations and so on. The general flow of releases will follow this model, until all nations have been added to the world of the game. So, that is our plan for creating Ember Sword alongside you! We continue to be humbled by the support and passion of our community, and we are excited to be able to shape the world of Thanabus together. Building Ember Sword With The Community was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  9. This new blog post series aims to highlight some of the most active and prominent members of the Ember Sword community. Want a chance to be highlighted? Be an active part of the Discord community, participate in events like the Thanabus Cup, and help others in the community. “Bihzy” has joined the partyBihzy has been an active member of the Ember Sword community since February 2021. In a few short months, he has participated in and won one of the Thanabus Cup challenges, has created multiple pieces of fan-art, and has been a familiar face on the Ember Sword Discord server where he has sent over 6000 messages (yes, 6k, not 600!) 👏 A few days ago, we sat down with Bihzy to ask him a few questions so we can all get to know a bit more about the man behind this awesome Solarwood Sigil: What are your three favorite games of all time, and why?Ultima online — I was always gratified in how the interchangeability of skill points functioned. The option to level up a specific skill (Archery) and later be able to switch the points to another (Swordsmanship) is a convenient ability. I also enjoyed the opportunities to get deeds to land/plots through questing. Skyrim — is another one of my favorites. There is so much to do with no exact way to approach the game. You can get lost in a quest that’s within another quest or goal. The original Doom — The true origins of my interest in gaming. Heart pumping, gory, action-packed while attempting my first speed runs. I loved it. How did you first hear about Ember Sword?Through a friend/colleague (SCOPEdeez) I game, crypto/day trade, and invest with. We started in BTC/ETH/ADA and eventually moved into NFTs starting with NBA Topshot. We dabbled with a few other blockchain games and then found Ember Sword. As avid gamers/investors, we understood how true ownership of in-game assets will be the norm in the gaming industry’s future. Ember Sword has huge potential to be a pioneer in this. Which Ember Sword nation do you belong to?The dark jungle Nation that’s called Sevrend. The lore for it is amazing (Well done Sam👏) and I genuinely connected with how the Sevrendri had to cope with their situation and the toxic environment. This type of determination and “ride or die’’ mentality shows that the people will stand tall in the face of adversity. I see it like this; the Sevrendi are self-governed and too “Damned” independent to follow orders from the Republic. Deal with it. What made you excited about Ember Sword, and which parts are you particularly looking forward to?When I heard we could build a guild and own land that generates passive income through local/global fees, that’s what got me excited. I’m also looking forward to building an economy-based guild within Ember Sword that’s truly “play to earn”. So overall, owning land or at least being part of a guild that shares its earnings is something I look forward to. If you could ask the Ember Sword development team one question, what would it be? Tell us more about guilds: the possibility of renting land, co-ownership, and how guild leaders can equally distribute resources amongst the guild members? 3 questions in 1 :) Note from dev team: Renting land is something we’d love to be able to support eventually. Co-ownership gets tricky — but we’ll be looking at ways to make it easy for guild leaders to distribute resources to their guild members. Are you planning to create a guild, and if so, are you recruiting members?Yes, it’s called F8 Guild and we are on the path to establish a formidable presence throughout the Play2earn metaverse; especially in Ember Sword. Our goal is to purchase a City plot for guild members to earn, play, and fight on. F8 Guild is also offering Axie scholarships, valuable airdrops, along with a chance to earn through in-game, and discord, competitions. We are currently recruiting members, mods, and officers. Feel free to join us on the path to earning passive income, while gaming, on our Discord: https://discord.gg/3VGZwVSs6b or look for me in the Ember Sword Discord under the name Bihzy#1111 Would you mind sharing the Ember Sword fan-art you’ve made?I had a troubled youth, and art, becoming a graffiti artist, helped to keep me out of trouble (for the most part). I created my Ember Sword concept art using a few different paint apps and a special digital pinpoint pen. They took a lot of time/hours but when I zone into my artwork the daily stressors of life seem to melt away. I’m at peace then. I still need to draw the sigil for Duskeron, Edisau, and an original remake of the Ember Sword logo. I’m also going to create and submit skins, emotes, animations, etc. to Ember Swords Artist Workshop. So make sure to look out for that in the future and give me (Bihzy) a vote 🤞. You won one of the Thanabus Cup challenges. Which one was it?The Art contest, but I nearly lost to boodog’s wallpaper (iykyk). This was literally the most tedious artwork I’ve ever done, but I’m glad I was able to complete it in a timely manner. I feel accomplished to know I won 1 of the 10 Thanabus tournaments. Will there be more? Note from the dev team: Yep, there will absolutely be more Thanabus Cups in the future. The Community Spotlight seriesThanks for reading this very first Community Spotlight post. More will arrive over the next months, some of which will feature some true Ember Sword old-timers who have been part of the community ever since 2018! Stay tuned. Community Spotlight: Bihzy was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  10. You read that title right — we are doing a community land sale! What is a community land sale, you ask? Fret not! This blog post will go into a bit more detail about what the sale is, who it’s for and how to participate. Before we get into that, we wanted to address the purchases made off-site during the previous Solarwood land sale. The community land sale is, in part, a direct response to people missing out on land due to these and other issues during the first sale. We realized that nullifying all purchases not made through our site would be a very destructive operation and take a lot of time and effort away from actual game development, which is something we want to avoid at all cost. Rather than being punitive, we decided to instead run this special sale, focusing on giving the most passionate members of our community the chance to become land owners. Let’s get into how that is going to work. What is the community land sale?The community land sale is a special event in which up to 6,000 Solarwood plots will be made available for purchase. The purpose of this sale is to give some of the amazing guilds, groups and individual members of our community who are passionate about owning land in our game a way to become a land owner in Ember Sword. If you’re a great guild-in-the-making, a long-time community member with a passion for being the best land owner you can possibly be, or a group that came together during the land sale to secure your own piece of Thanabus but unfortunately missed out, this sale is for you! We want people like you to lead by example as land owners in Ember Sword, so we’re giving you the chance to become one! The community sale differs from a regular one, as it will be on a case-by-case basis, meaning you will have to fill out a form on our website explaining why you want to buy land and what role you plan to play in the Ember Sword community. Upon completion of the form, we will evaluate your application, and, if selected, you will be sent instructions on how to purchase the land you want. Keep in mind that, because of the limited supply, you might not be able to get all of the land you requested on your form. We will fulfill your needs to the best of our ability, whilst being mindful that everyone gets a fair share. Prices will remain the same as the first Solarwood land sale, meaning land will still be discounted by 50%. Our website features pricing cards with up-to-date pricing for each type of land. The community sale will be in USDC. Prices of USDC and USD are 1:1 — identical. Keep in mind that only those of you that are selected for this sale will need to purchase USDC, so you shouldn’t rush to get some right away. If you are selected, you can follow our guide on how to purchase USDC, located here. Participating in the community land saleTo be eligible to take part in the community land sale, you have to fill in the application form. The form requires you to fill in some contact info and features a couple of questions designed to, as mentioned above, show us how you will approach land ownership. The application process will run from the 8th to the 31st of July 00:00 CET. After that, we will be evaluating and ranking your submissions until the 16th of August. If you have been selected, you will receive an email letting you know how much of the requested land has been allotted to you and how you’ll be able to make your purchase. After that, you will have until August 31st to complete the transaction. Your land will be distributed by the 17th of September. And it is as simple as that! Should you have any questions, we have updated the FAQ portion of our website with information relevant to the community sale. The community and staff on the Discord server are also always happy to help. We are looking forward to receiving your submissions! Community Land Sale Announcement was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  11. Ember Sword Land Sales — USDC Purchasing GuideBlockchain is a pretty complex thing. The process of acquiring crypto currency can be very tough to navigate. With that in mind, we figured creating a guide on how to acquire the currency needed to buy land would be very much welcome. So, let’s get started! The community land sale will be done in USDC on the Polygon network (formerly Matic). They will be referred to as “Polygon” and “Polygon network” in this article, but it should be noted that a lot of the processes relevant to the land sale still bear the name “Matic”. If you already have USDC on Ethereum mainnet you can move these tokens to Polygon using their bridge (more on this below). Before you get started on that, however, you will need to have a crypto wallet. Already have funds and want to convert them?If you have left over wETH from the first land sale, or have other currency, you can convert funds from your existing tokens to USDC on Matic directly using QuickSwap. https://quickswap.exchange/#/swap Go to QuickSwap and make sure you’re on the Polygon network (in the top right corner).Choose which coin you want to convert to USDC and go through the QuickSwap interface.How to create a wallet account:It is important to note that you don’t have a username and password in the traditional sense when it comes to a crypto wallet. Instead, upon creation, you have a public wallet address for transactions, which can be shared publicly, and a private address and key phrase, which should never be shared anywhere. The moment you share those, you have effectively lost your wallet, as there is no password recovery system. With that disclaimer out of the way, an easy way to create a crypto wallet is through MetaMask. Here’s how: Add MetaMask as a web extension to your browser: https://metamask.io/download.html Be sure to permit the pop-up at the top of your browser, should you receive one.Click the MetaMask symbol in the top right corner of your browser. This will open a new tab.From here, you can create a new ‘Wallet’ or link your current one.To do this, you must now enter a password for your new MetaMask account.Additionally, a specific order of random words, a secret backup phrase, will be generated for you. That is your so-called “seedphrase”, an additional layer of protection. Write it down! It is very important that you safely store your backup phrase. If you lose your passphrase and password there is no way to recover your wallet! We are not able to recover your wallet for you, so store it safely!Your words will now appear scattered on a list. Click them in the correct order, as your unique sentence was built.You have successfully created your wallet! After accepting terms and reading their ‘Welcome’ message, you’re ready to trade!Connecting your wallet to the Polygon networkTo participate in the land sale, you will need to have access to Polygon. Now that you have a wallet, here’s how to connect the two. First, follow this guide on configuring Polygon on MetaMask: https://docs.matic.network/docs/develop/metamask/config-matic/ Then, go to https://wallet.matic.network and login using your newly created MetaMask wallet. After you click login, you’ll be greeted with a new window, asking you to sign a message. This confirms to Polygon that you own the wallet. Click “Receive” to show your wallet address. This is where you want to receive your USDC. Note: This is just a test wallet, so your public wallet address will be different from this image. The information on the image has been omitted to avoid accidental transfers to this address.How to purchase USDC:There are many options out there when it comes to purchasing USDC. Places like Binance and Coinbase are but a few of the options. They function similarly enough, so, for the purposes of this tutorial, we will be focusing on Coinbase as an example. Keep in mind that buying directly on Polygon will not work if you are a US citizen. If that is the case, the other option we have listed will work for you, although it does incur higher fees. How to get USDC directly on Polygon (lowest fees for small amounts; not applicable to US citizens):You can buy USDC from Transak directly using a sepa transfer (lowest fees, but slowest) or via credit card (higher fees, but faster). Keep in mind that the processing time of Transak may be a bit slow. An alternative to Transak would be Ramp, though the fees there are a bit higher. With that said, here is how you go about it: Go to https://transak.com/ and scroll up. You will be greeted by a prompt to “Buy crypto for your wallet”.Select the amount of crypto you want to buy in whatever currency you want. Make sure to select “USDC Polygon” from the list of crypto currencies to buy.Copy your wallet address from https://wallet.matic.network/ and paste it in Transak.Buying from Coinbase (note: has high Ethereum network fees for small amounts):First go to https://www.coinbase.com/signup and type in your information.Read the privacy policy and pick your notification-preferences.Once you’ve made your account you’ll return to the ‘log-in’ section. Enter your given verification code — received in either your mailbox or on your phone.Verify your identity with either a passport, Driver’s License or National ID Card. You can upload it via webcam, phone camera or a file on your pc.Next, add your bank card.And there you have it! You have successfully created a trade-ready account on Coinbase!Purchasing USDC works as follows: Create a new Coinbase account (as detailed above) or log in with an existing account.On their homepage, click ‘Buy/Sell’ near the top right corner.In ‘Buy’, choose USDC, and then, below it, choose how you want to pay for your USDC.Enter the amount you want to purchase.Click ‘Buy USDC, complete the verification and you have your very own USDC!Transfer USDC from Coinbase to your wallet Go to https://www.coinbase.com/dashboard.In the top right corner, click ‘Send / Receive’.At ‘Pay with’, make sure you have selected USDC.Under ‘To’, you have to enter your public wallet address. To do this, go to https://wallet.matic.network/ , log in with MetaMask, click Receive and copy your public wallet address.Paste the address into ‘To’. If it says “invalid address”, it’s because you haven’t chosen to pay with USDC below.Choose how much you want to send and write a note (optional).You have successfully withdrawn USDC from Coinbase to your wallet!Moving USDC from Ethereum mainnet to PolygonOpen https://wallet.matic.network/, login with MetaMask and click “Move funds to Matic Mainnet”.Enter the amount of USDC (named USD coin) you wish to move to Polygon. Note that this transaction might take a few minutes to complete.One final step — you will need to add the USDC token to MetaMask as it doesn’t show all coins by default. Click your wallet extension in your browser, then select “Add Token”:Use the following contract address for the USDC token: 0x2791Bca1f2de4661ED88A30C99A7a9449Aa84174 The token symbol and decimal precision should fill automatically. It should now show how many USDC tokens you have in your wallet. Alternatively you can go to https://wallet.matic.network/ , login with your MetaMask wallet and search for “USDC” (or USD Coin) to verify your balance. In the event that you did not receive any Polygon tokens you can go to https://matic.supply/ and receive 0.001 Polygon for free; Which should last you for a couple of transactions. You’re done, you have USDC on Polygon and are ready to participate in the land sale!Receiving land in the community land saleIf your application has been selected, you will receive an email letting you know how much of the requested land has been allotted to you and how you’ll be able to make your purchase. Then you will have until August 31st to complete the transaction. Your land will be distributed to your wallet by the 17th of September. Ember Sword Land Sales — USDC Purchasing Guide was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  12. On May 27th 2021, we held our first land sale, and it was a bumpy ride. Technical issues arose, which made continuing it harder, and we had to abolish the parcel system mid-land sale. First off we would like to apologize to everyone affected by these issues, although not all of them were within our control, some certainly were. We take responsibility for those issues and will be making sure to solve them, as well as working with our partners to make sure that the issues that were outside of our control are dealt with in future sales as well. That being out of the way, in this article, we’re going to take a look at what happened during the land sale, and what we plan to do in the future. We’re going to address some popular concerns from the community and how we plan on avoiding some of the things that occurred when we have our next sale. So what happened?Once the doors opened over 25 000 people hit the land sale website. While our website performed well under the circumstances, the amount of pressure this caused led to 2 external services going down, as well as the block explorer. Although the Polygon side chain stayed operational throughout, the RPC endpoint went down due to the sheer amount of traffic. This also caused the map syncing to go down, so we couldn’t actually see how much had been bought — how many elements had been sold was a bit of a mystery at that point. The after effects of this are still being felt. For example, some 300 or so plots to this day don’t show their image on OpenSea and other marketplaces. Their metadata is in need of an update, which requires a contract update on its own, which will take some time to go through. Technical issues arose during the land sale which made continuing it harder, and we had to abolish the parcel selling mid-land sale, instead allowing people to buy individual plots directly. In the case of a parcel — a city — that’s 16 individual land plots. If one of those land plots failed to load its metadata, was already sold, or was otherwise missing, the entire parcel became unavailable for sale. So out of 16 plots, if 1 is sold and 15 are waiting for the picking — the entire parcel transaction doesn’t go through. With people bypassing the Ember Sword website this happened more than we’d like, so the remaining 15 plots couldn’t be sold and transactions on whole cities would fail. And it was very hard to keep track of in real time — the map wasn’t syncing up, and the chain explorer was behind by 3 hours. Not having an up to date image of what’s going on was very limiting. We could only fully see it after the fact, and we couldn’t act as quickly or appropriately as we would have liked to, which was tough. Overall, this was a huge challenge from a technical perspective. A lot of the third party services we used struggled to keep up with the pressure, but thankfully persevered in the end. We also took a long, hard look at how our own end points were holding up — and plan to scale these up for future map based land sales as well. We’ll also work towards no longer relying on public services where possible — for example by using our own Polygon nodes, which will have the full history of the blockchain, and provide our team and the land sale page with up to date information during future sales. Things sold out incredibly quicklyWhen the tech issues got cleared, everything got scooped up immediately. People wanted to get a piece of Solarwood at the low rates it was offered at. The process of preparing a land sale, even a small one, takes a lot of time. Despite this, we purposely limited ourselves to about 7.5% of the land available in the game world. A first time land sale, after all, is almost expected to have some problems, and now that we saw what to expect first hand, we’ll be ready to prevent what we can, and tackle the rest of them faster in the future. But, of course, so far that’s just our point of view, and it’s a little limited — we need different perspectives to make sure we’re going in the right direction. Luckily we also collected a lot of feedback from our community, which is always super helpful when it comes to keeping our finger on the pulse of what’s going on and what we can do better. With that in mind, let’s get into some things the community wants to know! Improving communicationDuring the land sale communication was a bit hectic. In a Discord community with over 20 000 registered users, the mods really had a run for their money. Some recorded how many direct messages they were getting — it was at a rate of over 1 message per second. At the time, our main focus was working out the technical errors — we wanted things to run as smoothly as possible, so communication went on the back burner. We tried to make a clearer line for communication — the mods locked down the Discord, a lot of channels had a limited time mode, and we centralized everything into one channel. We recognize our community has grown very rapidly, and we’ve learned our lesson here — we plan on expanding our team by bringing in more community facing staff, so we can meet your needs more efficiently. With more manpower and a better system in place, it’ll be easier to communicate on all channels. We’ll have ready and accessible responses to the most frequently asked questions, and direct everyone into the right channels. With a lot of our communication, we waited until the information was set in stone on our end, in order to ensure people got the correct and final version. Navigating what we could and couldn’t tell everyone was a bit of a challenge, and we also had to get that information across in a clear and understandable manner. A good example of that is the map — we released it the moment it was accurate and final, and we were sure everything on it was going to be sold. In future map-based land sales, we’ll make sure we have the full map accessible the moment the land sale countdown starts. The user experienceWe plan to make things easier by educating the community on multiple fronts — clear guides, video tutorials and nice visuals for the entire land purchasing process, from start to finish, are in the works. A lot of the existing materials are going to be updated, as many of you requested. The idea is to make sure everything is communicated clearly and efficiently, and to ensure a good user experience. Due to the nature of blockchain, some people had trouble setting up wallets or losing money due to making mistakes along the way. Others circumvented the site, yet still didn’t manage to get land. That’s definitely not the kind of experience we want our users to have — of course, we helped those people out to the best of our ability. But what we really want is to prevent this from happening at all. Simplicity and ease of use is what we’re after in Ember Sword, and blockchain is no exception. How are we going to deal with people bypassing the website?Essentially, we’re going to make a centralized set up in the sale where people have to go through the website. A blockchain is basically a public database, meaning anyone can send a message to the blockchain at any time and buy something. That’s essentially what you’re doing when you buy something on the website. It’s not our website sending a message. Rather, it’s your browser sending a message to the blockchain. We’ll force those who tried to bypass the website to go through the website where only the content creator (that’s us!) is allowed to call a specific function of the contract. Thus circumventing it, and invoking the smart contract directly, becomes completely impossible — that means those that were circumventing the site can’t sneak past us anymore. The chain is trustless — no one, not even we, can manipulate it. We try to do as much on chain as possible, and we’re fans of the ecosystem it provides. You’re definitely going to get that piece of land you put your money in. But it’s also important for us to use the best possible approach to give everyone the same opportunity to buy land. We also have to operate within certain legal frameworks that require that we get at least some information from you. So we have to make sure that there’s absolutely no way — no matter how tech savvy or intent on getting your desired plot of land you are — to bypass the system that everyone uses to get their piece. Looking at the stats from the land sale, we did get a wide distribution of ownership — a lot of smaller buyers were able to snatch up a few plots of land or a settlement, so it wasn’t just the virtual real estate giants who were buying large chunks. Looking back, this was a momentous occasion for us. Just to reiterate: We are scaling up our infrastructure to handle more traffic, including our own Polygon nodesWe are expanding our community management teamWe will be making key information, such as maps, available earlierWe will be improving and expanding our land sale guidesWe’ll be implementing technology that ensures sales only take place through the websiteSolarwood Land Sale Retrospective was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  13. Games Industry veteran Randy Breen joins Bright Star Studios as Advisor on forthcoming MMORPG Ember SwordEA and Star Wars alumni, Breen’s arrival comes a week after the game’s first virtual land sale that saw network servers deal with record-high workloads during the sell-out event AARHUS, Denmark — June 7th, 2021 — Danish game developer Bright Star Studios is honoured to announce that videogame veteran Randy Breen has joined the Ember Sword development team as an advisor. With over 18 years of industry experience at Electronic Arts and LucasArts, Breen will help the Bright Star Studios team deliver on its vision of creating an immersive MMORPG with a true play-to-earn economy. Breen’s appointment forms part of the latest growth phase for innovative MMORPG Ember Sword following its $1.5m virtual land sale last week and recent studio investment of $2m from angel investors. “When I first saw Bright Star’s vision for Ember Sword and its play-to-earn mechanics, I felt I was witnessing the next sea-change in gaming. It expressed a new way to play that placed players at the centre of its world, economy and development,” said Breen, Advisor on Ember Sword. “What drew me to the project is the game’s high production quality and the team’s commitment to making a truly great MMORPG. It pays homage to the genre with a rich world, deep story and complex evolving combat — all areas in which I have years of experience to offer.” Breen has an illustrious career in the games industry. His career began at Electronic Arts, where he grew from Assistant Producer to Executive Producer and Creative Director before becoming the head VP of Development at LucasArts. During his time there, he guided many beloved Star Wars games to PC and console, including Star Wars Battlefront, MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies and BAFTA award-winning RPG Knights of the Old Republic. Bright Star Studios will harness this wealth of experience and expertise to help bring Ember Sword to life. Bright Star Studios recently announced that it secured over $2 million in funding from multiple investors to help deliver on its vision for Ember Sword. Last week also saw the successful completion of the game’s first land sale that sold out in just six hours, with all of the regular plots being purchased in under an hour. The sale of 12,000 in-game plots of virtual Solarwood land generated a total of over $1.5M. Bright Star Studios intends to use these funds to further the title’s development, enabling the team to create a high-quality and immersive player-first gaming experience supported by an innovative play-to-earn economy powered by the blockchain. Ember Sword will be available via client and browser, meaning that players can access the rich MMORPG world and economy within seconds, ensuring a frictionless experience without compromising visuals. More information is available on the official website, and players can keep up to date with all the latest developments on Discord and Twitter. Website: https://embersword.com/ Media Kit: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-dEHwiKgR0fkp6g1cq-pbVvMCfBAD5Fj Medium: https://medium.com/embersword Discord: https://discord.gg/EmberSword Media Contact: Alex Beech: [email protected] Big Games Machine: www.biggamesmachine.com About Bright Star Studio: Bright Star Studios is a passionate team of Award-Winning Venture Founders, former Pro-Players, World Champions, Game Industry Veterans and MMO fanatics carving a new path forward for MMORPGs across PC, Browser, and Mobile through a modern rewrite of the games industry business models in favour of the user, exciting competitive gameplay, and instant playability. Ember Sword is our love letter to MMORPG gamers across the world. About Ember Sword: Ember Sword has the fast-paced combat of ARPGs, combined with the isometric view and skill-based abilities of MOBAs, set in a persistent MMORPG fantasy universe. Ember Sword has pioneered a new MMORPG ecosystem for ownership of in-game items and trust-based Player-to-Player trading, built on three core principles: Decentralised ownership of cosmetic items and the premium currencyA distributed trustless system that prohibits fraud when trading cosmetic itemsNo limits, which means cosmetics can freely be traded in-game as well as on third-party marketplacesGames Industry veteran Randy Breen joins Bright Star Studios as Advisor on forthcoming MMORPG Ember… was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  14. A few days ago, we finally announced our land sale to the world. Since then we’ve seen a wide range of responses — from gamers that raised concerns over not being able to afford getting their hands on a city, to members of the blockchain community being positively surprised by the opportunity to pick up cities and towns at these rates. Above all, however, many people have been asking for more information on the details behind land, collectibles, the upcoming ERC-20 token and how they interact to power the game, whether you’re a virtual real estate mogul, a casual or even a play to earn gamer. In this article, we’re going to delve into some of these details and share our vision for the world of Ember Sword. Understanding Ember SwordWith Ember Sword, we are building a full fledged MMORPG experience for a massive audience. We’re creating an experience that’s accessible within seconds by just clicking a link and is intended to eventually be home to millions of players. In Ember Sword, players will hone their skills, go on epic adventures and earn or buy unique cosmetic collectibles. From swords, to pets, to mounts, to emotes. These cosmetics not only define the look and feel of your character, they carry with them the unique history they went through in the game. Some of the most successful mainstream games today, such as Fortnite, rely on a cosmetics based model to generate revenue and fund the continued development of amazing experiences for their players. This model works wonders for the gameplay experience as it does away with the frustration that comes with pay to win. This is where the comparison ends, however. Mainstream games keep these extremely valuable collectibles (the market for skins alone is estimated to be 40 billion dollars a year, around 1/3rd of the total videogame market — not accounting for any secondary trading volume) locked up in their walled gardens. On top of that, if there is a premium currency that can be used to buy them, that too is kept under lock and key in their databases and, once obtained, can never be cashed out. With Ember Sword, we want to open up this economy by bringing the premium currency and collectibles on to the blockchain. This lets players buy and sell rare collectibles, in and outside of the game, earning themselves an income in tokens. We do this through a combination of NFTs for Collectibles and an ERC-20 token which will be our premium currency, allowing owners to trade their digital assets on third party platforms without breaking the terms of service. The ERC-20 TokenThe premium currency of Ember Sword will be an ERC-20 token. This enables the premium currency of the game to be tradable on exchanges, have limited supply, and much more. The revenue generated by land comes in the form of this ERC-20 token. Let’s take a look at where land fits into all of this. How land works in Ember SwordThe thriving economy of Ember Sword is centered around land. As players venture out into the world, this is where they will go on epic adventures and earn rare collectibles and tokens. Naturally that means we’re investing a lot of time and resources into making exploring these lands a unique experience. At the same time, we realize that in the end, what you do on your land is as much a social experience as it is a designed experience and that the game itself could benefit from letting the community shape some of the vital parts of the world themselves. This is where land ownership (in the form of ERC-721 NFTs) comes in. With land ownership, we want to enable our community to help shape the design and social experience of the world and allow them to share in the revenues this generates. We do this by distributing 50% of the revenues generated inside the Ember Sword world amongst the land owners in the form of ERC-20 tokens. Naturally, we want to make sure that these rewards for land ownership are distributed in such a way that benefits the game and its community the most. This means the distribution will, in time*, be weighted based on the amount of value generated on and around your land. Therefore, as a landowner, you’ll be able to increase the revenues and value of your land by putting it to good use. *= It’s important to note that we want to build this system together with the community, making sure everyone is fairly rewarded. Because of this, we may start out with a distribution that simply takes into account the purchase value of the land held and slowly shift to having more of the distribution determined by the actual value the land is generating in-game. Land generates value in the game in a variety of ways. For example, collectibles might be found there, or facilities such as the exchange might be used for trading. Generally, it is safe to say that getting more players active on your land will give its value a nice boost in the future. How this is accomplished differs depending on the type of land. Although we don’t have a crystal ball, we hope this difference in land types and pricing will offer something for every type of owner. Regular land and, to an extent, settlements are accessible to the average gamer and really something where a large part of their value is generated by players actively participating in the game. Bringing your friends in to play with you, going adventuring on your land or even setting up a small guild or the right facilities in your own settlement will help the owners of these plots to generate value. Of course, you might be able to get your hands on some land close to a town or city, or end up owning some other as of yet unknown landmark in the world. When it comes to towns and especially cities, things are a bit more high level and strategic, owing to the fact that these are home to many of the core buildings and services in the game that players need to make their way in the world. Towns and cities will likely become hubs for the largest of guilds and frequently visited sites for countless players, generating large amounts of value and activity. As the owner of a town or city, you’ll mostly want to ensure you’re offering the right mix of buildings and facilities on your land and are either running a guild yourself, or providing a home for one that doesn’t own its own real-estate. If that still sounds like a fair bit of work, don’t worry. In the future, you’ll also be able to rent (part of) your settlement, town or city out to others. How value gets distributed to land owners (math ahead!)So you want to get down to the nitty gritty and see some numbers? Let’s run through an example together: A player walks into a nearby city and sees there’s a buy order for a collectible she owns. She sells it for roughly $100 worth of tokens. The exchange takes a fee of 7%, leaving her with a tidy sum she can spend on an epic looking bow. So far, so good. This is the way exchanges work. In fact, for those familiar with the blockchain space, cryptopunks were good for 181.78K ETH ($447.74M at the time of writing) worth of such transactions. This is where things get interesting though, because 50% of the exchange fee (worth 7 dollars) is distributed to the land owners. That means there’s now 3.5 dollars worth of tokens to be distributed among our land owners, just based on this one transaction. First, the amount gets split into two parts — the global reward (for all land owners) and the local reward (for landowners in the local area of the transaction). For now, we’ll assume 1 dollar goes into the global reward pool and 2.5 dollars go into the local reward pool, a roughly 30 / 70 split. The local reward pool gets distributed over the roughly 20x20 plots centered around the transaction, while the global reward will be distributed across all the plots that have been minted. If the NFT was found in-game, the local area part of the reward would go to the area where it was found, not just where it was sold. When it comes to distributing rewards, different plot types have different token reward multipliers as shown in the table below: Regular Plot: 1 Settlement Plot: 10 Town Plot: 50 City Plot: 125 To keep our example simple, let’s say the 20x20 plot local area is split among 3 owners: Owner A: 16 city plots, 3 settlement plots, 81 regular plots. Owner B: 8 town plots, 2 settlement plots, 90 regular plots. Owner C: 8 settlement plots, 192 regular plots. Their reward multipliers would be: Owner A: 16x125 + 3x10 + 81 = 2111 or 73% Owner B: 8x50 + 2x10 + 92 = 512 or 18% Owner C: 8x10 + 192 = 272 or 9% Based on this distribution they would each receive the following dollar value in tokens from the local pool: Owner A: 2111 / 2895 x $2.5 = $1.82 Owner B: 512 / 2895 x $2.5 = $0.44 Owner C: 272 / 2895 x $2.5 = $0.23 The same math would happen for the global reward pool, distributing the remaining 1$ worth of tokens across all the minted land. For the sake of your sanity, we won’t be providing example math on that one. Well, that was a lot of math! Hopefully, it helps some of the more detail oriented amongst you to play around with the value of land in your heads a bit more. The point is, all these transactions add up. As Ember Sword grows and brings aboard more and more mainstream gamers, capturing just a tiny piece of that 40 billion dollar global cosmetics market should reward our land owners with regular earnings, making Ember Sword possibly the first game where you could value your land based on the revenue it brings in every month. And better yet, by putting in the extra effort to offer better facilities and organize engaging activities for players on your land, you’ll both boost its value and make the game a better place for all other players. Building the world togetherWe hope this article shines a bit more light on the crypto economy of Ember Sword and what to expect from land ownership. As a team, it has always been our goal to build a game with and for the community. Allowing players and community members to own their own stake in the Ember Sword world through land is only the beginning of that journey. Behind the scenes, we’ve been working with some of the brightest minds in the blockchain space on our token design. As we’ve hinted at already in a couple of live streamed events, we believe in creating a game that’s bigger than the team behind it, a game that is truly owned by our community. The right token design, including a pathway to future governance, will definitely be a key part of that and we look forward to sharing more about our steps in this direction as the work progresses. The Vision of Ember Sword & The Land Sale was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article
  15. By Samuel Horton Kritana lowered his head as he brought the open tea infuser towards his nose. He closed his eyes and breathed in, delighting his senses with the perfume unique to the vegetative tracts of Duskeron. A flitter of images crossed the inside of his eyelids — an orange forest, silhouettes of ancient satellite dishes along the horizon, scorched sandstone pillars. Kritana opened his eyes as he snapped the tea infuser closed. He gingerly lowered the meshed device into a steaming cup of water. A faint moaning echoed from outside. Kritana paused and turned towards the balcony. Upon listening, there appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary. He turned back towards the table and resumed his methodical process of bobbing the tea filter in the water. The key was to not scorch the tea or have it burst; his former students to the south had worked far too arduously for such a precious gift to be compromised. Another dehydrated moan emanated from the outdoors, drawing Kritana’s attention once more. He frowned as he looked back towards the balcony. He would not have suffered this most any other day, but this one was particularly muggy, resulting in him vacating the Headmaster’s Quarters. Even as a native to the desert, Kritana had his limits — just as he had limits when it came to obnoxious students imitating cats in heat directly outside his auxiliary workspace. There was no further caterwauling to be heard — Kritana resumed his care for the tea. Perhaps it was serendipity that he was relegated to continuing his work in the open air of the balcony. Afterall, he had a prior engagement planned with Professor Flame; Halley’s Comet was due for its closest approach that night and as two of Thanabus’ keenest minds, they intended on marveling at its magnificence. A long, exasperated moan — nay, a shout — filled the air. Kritana lurched with a start, resulting in the tea infuser bursting open, spilling out its contents. Kritana stiffly leaned over the cup and looked down, to see his once-beautiful beverage reduced to a porcelain bog. Kritana stood up straight and sighed. Kritana lifted the teacup off its coaster and headed to the open door. He stepped through the doorframe and began descending down the steps spiraling along the interior of Apsis Tower, gazing into his pitiful experiment all the while. His first order of business would be to dispose of this rubbish onto the guilty culprit’s head. A sweaty pupil in his early twenties was climbing the stairs and barely stepped out of Kritana’s path. “Ah, Headmaster? I wish to discuss-“ “My assistant, Felix, has all the answers!” Kritana declared, his eyes not leaving the teacup. “But, Headmaster,” the young man said hesitantly, “I am Felix.” “All the answers!” Using his shoulder, Kritana pushed the heavy wooden door open and stepped out onto the front steps of Apsis Tower. With the Sun drawing sweat out of him, Kritana squinted as he walked up to the trimmed hedges nearby and flipped his teacup upside down, emptying its contents. As he flicked the teacup for extra measure, he heard that familiar whimpering noise — the bane of his afternoon. He turned to see a sixteen-year-old boy sitting at the top of the steps on the opposite side, tightly hunched over and with his face buried in his lap. This young man was of dark complexion, handsome, toned, well-groomed and dressed in distinctly ornate gold-colored robes. Kritana immediately recognized him as being a native of Duskeron. He meandered over to the young man and looked down at him. “Though the waters here are more plentiful, the thunder from tears cascades just as loudly as they do in the desert,” Kritana mused. The young man went stiff, before jerking his head up to see Kritana towering over him. “Dalc- Headmaster Kritana!” he exclaimed, as he struggled to cover the face-shaped tear stains on his robes. The young man stood up and faced Kritana. “What could possibly chill you on a day like this?” Kritana asked. “Oh,” the young man said with a feigned, cocky grin, “sometimes a man just needs to cry, to show that he can if he wants to — that nobody is perfect, even if they look it. There are plenty of stars in the sky and they’d all be lucky to have their light reach us. Sure, you may have had that one star that burned brighter and seemed to have been made for you — that one that just went dark one day — but that light was years older and not on the same wavelength. You know what I’m saying?” Kritana stared blankly over his spectacles at the young man. He watched him fidget, with his mouth contorting as he trembled. “I have no idea what the hell you are saying.” The young man burst into tears. Using his sleeves, he covered up his eyes, as he slowly turned around and began taking the steps down from the doors of Apsis Tower. Kritana looked around, to see students and professors alike casting perturbed glances as they passed. This was certainly not what Kritana had in mind for his afternoon leisure time. He took a step forward and wrapped his arm around the student’s shoulders. Before the young man could react, Kritana directed him back towards the tower. “Come,” Kritana said. “You are in no shape to galivant across the campus — and, I am struggling to fix my beverage. Perhaps we may help one another during this mutually dire hour?” Kritana led the young man into the tower and climbed the stairs together. Though Kritana was sixty, keeping up with his companion was hardly a challenge, with the youngster dragging his feet with every stride. Kritana stopped outside his office midway up and silently waved his hand, beckoning the pupil to enter the muggy room. Kritana exhaled with a hoot as he entered the office, fanning the air around his face. “I propose we first gather refreshments, before making our timely ascension to the lower balcony, as the Sun is rather boisterous today, wouldn’t you say? I’m going to indulge in some tea from back ‘home’ — would you care for some? Or, perhaps something stronger?” Kritana asked, as he looked up towards the cabinet behind his desk. “Chilled Enceladus?” Kritana looked at the young man, then back at the cabinet, where an old half-filled blue bottle was glistening at the top. Kritana cast a bemused expression at his pupil, expecting a sarcastic grin. But, no; the boy was deadly serious. Brushing aside the child’s insolence in this confusing time, Kritana chuckled and wagged his finger. He opened the cabinet and extracted a small bronze can from a lower shelf. “I have here a coffee bean from Grimchester, Sevrend. Their mayor, Nana Mara, is a delight and an old friend. The people from the southwest,” Kritana said, as he loaded up a silver platter with accessories, “though ununified and in many shades, host many of the best in that harsh land. Forgive me; Chilled Enceladus — it is exceptionally rare and that one bottle required feats beyond most life purposes. There is a saying that accompanies it: ‘The best will arrive, when you arrive at your best.’” Kritana turned around, to see the young man sitting in a chair, his face buried in his hands, with tears dripping between his fingers. Kritana hurried around his desk and kneeled down in front of the young man. “Was it something I said? I am sorry; I did not mean it as any slight towards you.” “No… Well, yes, actually… A little bit of everything,” the young man said as he looked Kritana in the eye. “Anymore, I know I don’t understand much of anything. I mean, I thought I understood Sevrend until I didn’t… Then, I thought of that drink as anything else, until I hear from someone like you that it isn’t a privilege, so much as a trophy… I’ve been given so many participation trophies, Headmaster.” Kritana shook his head, “How could you have such a perspective, young man? I see a good heart, yet your appreciation for not only the common touch, but reality in general…” “I’m still trying to figure it out. I always figured that running through the hanging gardens — Mom’s vineyard,” the young man mused aloud. “‘Mom’s vin’ — who are you?” “Mars Scarrow.” “Do you mean to tell me… that you are the son of Trade King Noss Scarrow?” Kritana asked, his voice tainted with fear. This day was metamorphosizing quickly and it had finally reached a point where he was dealing with the emotional crisis of the heir to a foreign nation — with the wrong words, it could become a diplomatic crisis. He abruptly turned around and reached for the Chilled Enceladus at the top of the cabinet. “Please, no,” Mars pleaded, “it’s perfectly alright! Coffee will do. I’m trying to empathize better and feeling humble is a grand place to start.” Kritana nodded, as he turned back toward the table. He slowly took his seat, groaning from a lifetime of physical and mental exertion bearing down on him in a single moment. Kritana locked his fingers atop his great belly, eyeballing his pupil from over his round spectacles. He smiled at Mars. “Why don’t you tell me why you feel humble?” Mars arched his back with his eyes closed as he reclined against the steps of Smyrill Library. He enjoyed the feeling of the marble ridges against him and the aroma from the deep woods of Solarwood. He took in every sound; the different birdcalls, the fluttering of leaves and the wind sweeping over the heaping terrain, from the small mounds to the majestic Hills of Creation in the distance. The woods were so very populated by fauna that a hermit could never truly be alone in these parts. Mars opened his eyes and looked over to his right, to marvel at Tina sitting a short distance over on the same step. There was a particular attractive quality to her, with the way she wore a simple loose-fitting gray wool shirt, yet seemed so far from common, as she stoically gazed out onto the world. The way the Sun met her light-brown skin and reflected off her steel eyes, without eliciting so much as a flicker of her eyelids, it made her both insatiably desirable and stunningly intimidating. Mysteriously in lieu of those keen triggers of the five senses the rest of Mars’ surroundings provoked, there was an indescribable magnificence, when it came to Tina. “You know, I have two years to go at Burkhalter’s. But, you don’t,” Mars said, as he watched for a reaction. “How does it sound, you accompanying me back to Majda and meeting my father?” “That sounds awful,” Tina said, without breaking her gaze. “‘Make way for Prince Mars! Yet, who is that slight-looking Sevrendi peasant? Why, I presume it’s his elephant’s private dung girl, of course!’” “Don’t be like that. We could have you dressed so nobody would think anything out-of-sorts about you.” Before Mars could blink, Tina was staring directly at him, lobotomizing him with those steel eyes. If he could make a wish upon a falling star, it would be for it to strike him right then and put him out of his misery. Perhaps the right topic change would backtrack him out of this minefield. “No Dusker courtesy, then. How about your father… Asher?” Tina looked away and stood up, facing away from Mars. “Asher, who sent me on a one-way trip here six years ago — never telling me why? Asher, who frightened away my friends growing up, saying ‘humanity could never be trusted’? Asher, who never let me take up his last name, despite claiming me as his daughter? That ‘father’?” Mars hung his head and considered his predicament. He understood that the differences in both age and background were coming to heel with Tina’s impending graduation and the couple had neglected to seriously consider these plans in the time leading to this impasse. Tina had generally not held this radioactive mood, meaning it was only recently weighing heavy on her mind, as well. Mars rose to his feet and walked up behind Tina. He placed his hand gently on her shoulder, ushering her to turn around. She hung her head low, gazing down at her loafers. That piercing intensity was lost, once more reminding Mars that she was not steel or extraterrestrial — despite her efforts to appear so. Like him, she was a child of several nations, with no firm grounding with the coming-of-age. “You are the smartest woman I have ever heard of; you could still accomplish great wonders here in Solarwood. Are you wishing to stay?” Mars asked. “I’ve spent far too long in Claudius’ toy castle,” Tina said, as she looked out towards Apsis Tower, peeking from above the tree line. “I need to keep moving and be somewhere beyond the eyes of the Republic.” “Like back home, in Sevrend?” Tina shook her head. “I don’t know if I can look Asher in the eye again — not after so long without hearing from him. Maybe,” Tina smiled at Mars, “we could find something beyond either of our visions, out in the dunes of Duskeron — the real desert — away from Majda.” Mars opened his mouth as he considered his words. “Tina… I don’t think that can happen. As I come into my own, I’m going to be drawn only further towards Majda… And… I need to be there, as the world changes.” “What are you talking about?” Tina asked with a confused smile. “Well… there are certain calls that are made and in the long run, it’s best that I’m there for them — for instance, a new trade agreement.” “‘A new trade agreement’?” Tina asked suspiciously. “Like one that my father made with the President, which provides Republic territories with unilateral prioritization,” Mars said, his voice wavering. Tina stepped back and gazed at Mars, her expression full of horror. After what seemed like a painful eternity, she spoke, “‘Republic territories’… Ediseau and Solarwood… bartered with Duskeron, leaving what little corner out, I wonder?” “Tina,” Mars said as he stepped forward, “I didn’t ask for this, nor do I want it. But, this is bigger than you and I; if my father doesn’t engage with the Republic and these invisible walls remain, who knows what will happen? He needs all the help he can get.” Tina turned and walked down several steps, before wheeling around to yell, “What more can you give? Are you going to lick Claudius’ chamber pot next, Trade Prince?!” “I will, if it means not going to war!” Mars shouted. “A deal bartered between the father of my love and the monster who scraped my ancestors away to Sevrend, like leftovers from a plate,” she shouted, her voice cracking from anguish. “What was he supposed to do? They were criminals!” Tina turned away and stared out towards Apsis Tower. Mars began gingerly taking steps down the stairs, careful to not make a sudden movement — as if his girlfriend were ferocious wildlife. Tina remained motionless, purposefully hiding her terrible rage away. “Please,” Mars said, “I need you to talk with me. In fact, I need you now more than ever. We can get through this, but that means you need to talk. Please, talk. Please, talk to me. Talk to me.” Tina remained motionless. “Talk to me, damn you!” Mars shouted. “What did you just say to me?” Tina shakily asked, as she slowly turned towards Mars. Her eyes were full of tears, but she was not pitiful; with her teeth bared and her rage comprehensive, she was more terrifying than anything Mars had ever seen in his life. “I will turn your desert to glass if you speak of my family again!” “Do you mind?” a stern voice cried out from within Smyrill Library. An elderly woman in a gray robe stomped out and stopped at the top of the steps. She looked between Mars and Tina. “This is a library, not a theater!” “Then give my buddy a hand and help Claudius burn books!” Tina bellowed. She stormed off down the path, leaving Mars and the librarian staring in disbelief. “That was yesterday. Now she’s gone,” Mars said, as he ran his finger through the residual coffee grounds at the bottom of his mug. “Are you going to try and win her back?” Kritana asked. Mars looked out over the campus. Through the thick of their heart-to-heart, he and Kritana had somehow made it up to the much cooler balcony. With a grimace, Mars replied, “I meant every word of what I said. I can’t elope to the desert and leave my father to deal with the Republic alone.” “My Trade Prince, I may be unmarried, yet I am all too familiar with the motions of love. Even the most compatible relationships will have uninsulated points of contention. For you and Tina-What’s-Her-Face, yours is politics,” Kritana explained. Mars looked at Kritana and nodded, “We successfully avoided it for years. But, I never sought it out; I was born a politician. Like with the Chilled Enceladus, I didn’t earn it, so much as I was bottle-fed it. In the end, Tina was another casualty, broken against my silver spoon.” Kritana nodded as he stared out over the campus. “She’s wrong about Claudius, right?” Mars asked. Kritana leaned forward, as he set his teacup on the Ottoman to his left. He looked at Mars and asked, “Are you familiar with the Temple of the Autonauts?” “That old, charred building on Unmajestic Boulevard?” “It was the final place of worship for the now-extinct Autonaut religion, comprised of the belief that we were sparked by twelve metal deities. My earliest days were spent in acolyte robes, sweeping the halls and lighting cube-shaped candles, beckoning our overlords to save us from ourselves. It was never for me,” Kritana said, taking care to look Mars in the eye. He cringed as he continued, “You can imagine the disappointment my father felt when I pursued a life of unadulterated science… and the pain I felt… when he was killed, along with his entire congregation.” Mars perked up. “His congregation?” “The last Voice of the Autonauts… The last high priest. The bombing tore my heart asunder and nearly brought me to an early end twenty years ago. But, there was one man who held me together. He reinvigorated my passion and ensured that I would be the next Headmaster of Burkhalter’s Academy,” Kritana said. “I owe him my life.” Mars gulped as he looked out into empty space. Kritana could almost see the cogs of the young pupil’s mind turning before his eyes. Mars stood up and walked out onto the balcony and stared down at the cobblestone two stories down. He held his hands behind his back and began tapping his wrists. “During your darkest hour, you learned to regret straying from your father.” Kritana stood up and walked to the spot next to Mars. “I needed to become my own man. Every path we take in life means that another is unexplored. Sometimes, it hurts to realize that other lost path. But, yes; the passion of my mind cost me the passion of my heart.” “Yet, in that darkest hour… Arch Claudius was that man… He was there for you.” Kritana frowned as he turned towards Mars. Alas, Mars was not sorrowful or even contemplative anymore; he was beaming with enthusiasm. Kritana looked over his glasses at him. Those cogs in Mars’ mind were no longer turning, as a conclusion had been made — a wrong one. “Well…” Kritana began to speak. Mars beamed with enthusiasm as he walked past Kritana. Pacing aimlessly, he chewed on the callous on his index finger as he made vague swiping motions with his other arm, trying different imitations of swordplay. “‘Trade Prince’, ‘Heir to the Dusker Trading Company’… but then, ‘Champion of the Republic’… the ‘Seeker of Unity!’” “Young Scarrow…” “Unstable doors fall off their hinges, only to be replaced with resolute iron ones! I owe you everything for this — as will my father! Thank you for the coffee!” Mars shouted, as he bolted down the stairs. Kritana was left standing alone on the balcony, flabbergasted. He looked over the railing, to see Mars bursting through the front doors of Apsis Tower. The young prince sprinted in the direction of the Government District. Kritana looked down at his Ottoman, where his empty teacup was sitting. He picked it and the coaster up and looked inside, to see the fine bits of leaf resting in miniscule mounds in the small brown puddle at the bottom. Despite his best efforts, the Dusker tea had settled poorly. “Oh, dear,” Kritana muttered under his breath. The Ways of Parting was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. View the full article