Zone 1 Monster Test and Progress Update

It's been a while since I've posted to the blog. A few "other job" things have gotten hectic lately, but I've still been putting in a decent amount of time on OrbusVR. I compiled a short video showing off the 4 monsters (out of around 6) that I have completed for the first zone, check it out:

You'll notice that lots of mechanics are now in the game that weren't previously, particularly both box and sphere telegraphs for attacks. There's also healing in the game now (in the form of the healing spell the Forest Golem uses). At this point finishing up the monsters in the first zone is just a time thing -- I'm planning on having around 2 more regular creatures, and one "world boss" that will take a little longer to design. You'll also notice a lot of things still not in the game, like the player's health bar :-). We're still in very early alpha at this point, after all.

Once the first zone is finished, I need to actually sit down and implement all the planned mechanics for the player classes. You'll notice the gameplay seems pretty boring now (and some monsters like the Forest Golem I can't even beat!) because only the basic bow attack and one special attack is in place right now for the Ranger. At this point I'm planning on each class having around 7 or 8 different abilities they can do, ranging from extra damage, to AoE, healing, stunning, and even laying down traps for creatures.

After the player mechanics are in and the first zone has monsters, my plan is to do a short pre-Alpha weekend where I put the server up and make the client available to people just to get on and make sure that all the work I've been doing so far works to some degree or another. I've already played a few times with my brother (who has his own Vive) and it seems to work fine, but getting 30 or 40 people online may tell a different story! Hopefully we'll be ready to do that sometime in September.

After giving it some more thought, I've also decided against doing a Kickstarter campaign. Although I've done one previously and it was successful and a very big part of growing my last project, I think that it's a bad fit for this project for a few reasons. In particular, I think any Kickstarter with the word "MMO" in it already has a huge (deserved) stigma attached to it. Pair that with "indie" and "small team" and you have a recipe for a campaign that is going to be very hard to pull off just from the get-go. In addition, I don't think I would be able to really ask for the amount of money it would take to "really" build out the whole project (probably $200k+) -- there's just not enough of a community / install base right now for VR to make a project that size a success. On the other hand, if I ask for something more modest (like say $30k), I run the risk of looking like I am being totally amateurish and unreasonable (who thinks they can build a whole MMO for $30k?!)

The good news is, I have had enough success thus far in what I've done that I can largely afford to self-fund this endeavor. I can work on the game full-time myself without needing it to pay me any salary, and pay for a smattering of artists to contribute their work on a contract basis. So, my goal is to produce a scope of work that is reasonable for myself and a few contractors to achieve in the next 6 months. If that means the game launches with only a few zones and no huge raids or dungeons right off the bat, then that's where we'll start. It won't be the "complete" game at launch compared to if I went and got a big investor and spent 2 or 3 years slaving away in a game development studio before it was released, but at this point I want to just treat this as a community project -- and that means getting something playable out the door as soon as possible for the community to start contributing their thoughts and enjoying the game that is ready.

Obviously at some point we'll have to cross the bridge of how to sustain the project long-term -- whether that's in the form of a subscription fee for accessing the game, or via timed releases (e.g. "new set of 3 dungeons and a zone is available now, pay $X to access it!), I'm not sure. But if there's one thing I've learned from my past successes, it's that the most important thing is to get a community going that is passionate about the project -- once you have that, you can always figure out a way to pay for it :-)

If you'd like to discuss this post, you can do so on Reddit here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4yjxrl/orbusvrzone1monstertestandprogress_update/

Riley Dutton

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