Welcome to Project: Gorgon!

Project: Gorgon is a 3D fantasy MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game) that features an immersive experience that allows the player to forge their own path through exploration and discovery. We won't be guiding you through a world on rails, and as a result there are many hidden secrets awaiting discovery. Project: Gorgon also features an ambitious skill based leveling system that bucks the current trend of pre-determined classes, thus allowing the player to combine skills in order to create a truly unique playing experience.

The Project: Gorgon development team is led by industry veteran Eric Heimburg. Eric has over a decade of experience working as a Senior and Lead Engineer, Developer, Designer and Producer on successful games such as Asheron’s Call 1 and 2, Star Trek Online and other successful Massively Multiplayer Online Games.


Dev Blog, July 7 2017

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Hi guys! I didn't have anything too groundbreaking to report, so I skipped a blog post there. But that's not to say we aren't working hard! In fact, it's been frustrating, because we have some really interesting things in the works, but I don't want to talk about them too soon before they're ready.

Case in point: the new GUI is still in internal testing. Even though it's up and running here, there's still so many little bugs, glitches, and loose ends that I'm not exactly sure when it'll be ready for broader testing. (If we released it before those things got fixed, you'd just report all the bugs we already know about... a waste of time for everybody.)

We're also working on low-level graphical stuff, new server features to support the VIP packages and Kickstarter rewards, and a lot more.

All of that is really important stuff that has to get done... but I hate not having anything to show for it in the short term. So last week, I decided it was time to take a little break from that stuff to add some of the high-level solo content the game needs. This batch of content focuses on New Prestonbule, a cave in the mountains of Gazluk. The existing NPCs in there have some new neighbors, everybody has new Favors, and as always there's new skills, techniques, and items to discover.

Mushroom Farming

One of the new things to learn in New Prestonbule is Mushroom Farming, a skill that I first prototyped long ago. If you look in the JSON files that we export for 3rd-party tools, you'll see that Mushroom Farming's skill ID is 7, making it older than Gardening (#9) or even Dying (#8). The problem was that, years ago when I first tried to implement it, there just wasn't "room" for the skill. You could easily find all the mushrooms you needed just by walking around and picking up mushrooms.

But now that we've added a bunch of new kinds of mushrooms (with more on the way), it can be tough to find a large supply of exactly the kind of mushroom you need. Hand-picking wild mushrooms will always be a core way to get shrooms, but Mushroom Farming will let you grow specific types of mushrooms in larger volume.

Like most crafting skills, this one works a little differently than the others. I don't want to explain how it works in detail here because I need feedback on whether the system is "discoverable" without external instructions -- so I want you to go in blind, so to speak. But I will say that the goal is for Mushroom Farming to reward patience and planning, without being especially cumbersome in other ways (such as needing super rare special components). Like all new skills, it'll need tweaking, so we'll see how it goes. (I'll also mention that it requires Mycology 60.)

The Lore Avalanche Is Slowly Building

I've also been devoting some time to fleshing out the lore of the game. Lore has often taken a back-seat during alpha. But as alpha draws to a close, more of the game's lore will start finding its way into the game. A lot of the books and documents that explain the world are being written now (mostly in my "free time"). The game's lore was originally just a bunch of bulleted lists and scribbled notes, so it's been rewarding turning them into real stories. I'm not sure of the timeline for when the bulk of this lore will make its way into the game, but I'm prioritizing lore that's important for gameplay, and some of that will show up very soon.

From a gameplay standpoint, one important area of lore involves the gods responsible for the undead. These gods, together called the "chalice gods", are responsible for the magical powers that let undead beings exist in the world. Necromancers manipulate this undead energy, and in some cases necromancers will need to be cognizant of where that energy comes from. (And the chalice gods are important for more than just necromancers. After all, vampires were another Kickstarter stretch goal... and I'm hoping to add lich-dom as well...) With that in mind, I expect that some of the lore pertaining to these gods will make its way into the game soon.

Dwarf Lore

Occasionally we'll be ret-conning lore that's already in the game, but that's pretty rare. A few facts and numbers ended up being different, but most of the core ideas are the same. I think the only really big "philosophical retcon" is the dwarven race.

When I first designed the game world for Project: Gorgon (which, again, was just hundreds of pages of lists and notes on spiral bound notebooks, written six years ago!), dwarves were a minor enemy race. They were a race in decline, slowly dying off, and very bitter about their place in the world. In fact, their primary god, Ormorek, is the god of Bitterness!

In fact, there are a few places in-game currently (such as the notes under Eltibule Keep), where you learn that dwarves could be hired to do work, but you get the impression that they were malicious in how they followed instructions -- sort of like a genie that twists the words of a wish to hurt the wisher. And they would use every opportunity to further their own ends, even at the expense of their supposed allies. They were dickbags, in other words.

Then came the Kickstarter, which had a stretch goal of playable dwarves. And I found the dwarven lore was terrible for a playable race.

It's been a few years now since the Kickstarter (!) and I've slowly sussed out how I want dwarves to be. They aren't a race in decline anymore. They're a race that has risen and fallen many times over the centuries, and currently they're at a low ebb, but they're far from the morally decayed creatures I'd originally imagined.

Dwarves are now technologically very advanced. They're mired in wars on many fronts, but instead of slowly losing those wars, they're slowly winning, thanks in part to their technological innovations. Dwarves are also master miners, of course, and the god of minerals, Umrad, is now their primary god. The god of crafting also takes the form of a dwarf -- not a human, as I had originally planned.

But perhaps more important is their personality change. Of course, we're speaking in very broad terms here, but stereotypical words that other races use to describe dwarves include patience, wisdom, directness, and compassion. Dwarves live over 200 years -- not as long as elves, but still a long time -- and they understand that real change takes time.

They're very socially conservative, and they're extremely blunt with their opinions, which can cause some problems with other races. But they are fiercely loyal to their friends and family, and their sense of honor and friendship usually overcomes other qualms. For instance, they call elves disgusting perverts and make fun of them constantly, yet the dwarves are the elves' staunchest allies on this continent, and have been for over a thousand years.

As for Ormorek, the god of Bitterness, he's still a dwarven god, but his back-story has changed, and the way dwarves treat him will help to reflect their patient and surprisingly compassionate nature.

Moving to a 64-bit Client

(Now for something more technical... it's important though!)

Lots of people report crashing when leaving Gazluk and going into Gazluk Keep, or vice versa. (And occasionally from other zones, but those are the most common.) What's going on here, and why don't we fix it already?!

These two areas are both pushing the limits of what Unity can do in a 32-bit address space. Gazluk's terrain is absolutely huge, and Gazluk Keep is our largest dungeon. But while these areas are PUSHING the boundaries, they haven't gone past them at all: they still fit comfortably inside the 32-bit memory limitations.

The problem comes when you switch from a medium-large area to one of these two huge areas. (Switching from Gazluk to Gazluk Keep, or vice versa, is going from a huge area to another huge area, so it causes most of the crashes.) When you switch areas, most of the game's RAM is reclaimed so that it can be used by the new area, but little bits and pieces remain loaded into memory. And sometimes there's not enough CONTIGUOUS memory needed to store certain huge blocks of Unity data (such as the terrain in Gazluk, or the occlusion culling data in Gazluk Keep). This is unfortunately not something we have direct control over, because these gigantic blobs of RAM are needed (and managed) by Unity itself.

We're looking at various solutions, including "slicing" Gazluk's terrain into pieces (or perhaps remaking it into a smaller locale), using third-party occlusion culling tools for Gazluk Keep, and more. But those solutions won't be ready right away -- they'll have to wait until after the new GUI is done, at the very least. And I want the crashing to stop in the mean time!

So this next snapshot will be the last one that uses a 32-bit executable. In the snapshot after this one, the game won't even start running unless you have a 64-bit version of Windows to play the game.

Why the switch? Because most of our players have a 64-bit OS, and they also have more than 4 GB of RAM. (6 GB seems to be typical.) The 32-bit executable can only access 4 GB of RAM at most, but when we switch to a 64-bit executable, the game will be able to use whatever RAM your machine happens to have. If you have at least 5 GB of RAM, that should be enough extra space to prevent most Gazluk terrain crashes. It's not a permanent solution, but it's a way to keep you from being interrupted by lots of annoying crashes.

We haven't officially supported 32-bit Windows for a very long time, but I know that a handful of players have been able to make it work on older computers by setting the graphics settings REALLY low. Unfortunately, those players won't be able to even start the game on their 32-bit versions of Windows in the update after the next one. (The very next update will still be 32-bit because I want to add a little pop-up notification giving those players a heads-up.)

I apologize to the people who are affected by this, but the number of people in that boat is very small relative to the number of people that will benefit from the switch.

(This discussion has focused on Windows, but we'll be dropping 32-bit Mac support, too. However, I don't think there's been a single 32-bit MacOS user that's logged in for months... so really, only Windows users will be impacted.)

So that's where we are! The ETA for the next update is "very soon" or "as soon as I get sick of adding quests and NPCs". 3-5 days, if I had to guess -- but don't quote me on that!

(Discuss this blog post here: https://forum.projectgorgon.com/show...og-July-7-2017)
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