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Building Ember Sword With The Community


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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.

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Cautionary tales

Remember 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 Sword

We 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.

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The current state of things

As 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.

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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.

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