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: The Life and Death of Charged Pig

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[If you're looking for info about the upcoming Fairy playable race, stay tuned -- there'll be a blog post about that soon! This blog post isn't about upcoming features at all -- it's behind-the-scenes design notes about recent game updates.]

The Life and Death of the "Charged Pig" skill
Have you ever noticed that all the talking pig NPCs in the game mention that they obtained sentience after being struck by lightning? Probably not. But they do! And this is because of a skill I've long planned to add.

I've often used animal skills as an opportunity to experiment with game-mechanics ideas. The Pig skill was my first try at making a "bard" combat skill. It's been rewritten several times since I first added it, and it's evolved into its own unique group-support style -- one which doesn't step on the Bard skill too much. But it took lots of iteration and experimentation to figure out what would work, and I was able to apply some of those lessons to Bard.

The Charged Pig skill was also intended to prototype something. In this case, it was prototyping "combat sub-skills". The Charged Pig skill didn't have its own combat bar; instead, you could mix-and-match Pig and Charged Pig abilities on the Pig skill bar. This would give the Pig skill some needed solo viability.

(Sidebar: You may be thinking "why bother?" Why not just add more abilities to the existing skill? Adding too much content to a skill makes it harder for players to use. That sounds counterintuitive, but consider treasure-effects: right now the Sword skill has a dozen or so combat abilities, and there are unique treasure-effects for all of them. Since you only use 6 of the 12 abilities on your skill-bar at once, half of the Sword effects you find in loot aren't useful to your particular build. if I added a bunch more abilities to Sword, along with new treasure-effects, it would get harder and harder to find treasure that worked for your specific combat style. When its broken up into sub-skills, the game only gives out sub-skill-specific treasure if you're actually using the sub-skill. That's one benefit; there are similar "compartmentalization" benefits with training, unlocking, crafting, and base-items.)

So I implemented Charged Pig, allocating a full month to work on it since it would need lots of experimenting. I created a handful of unique abilities, added some treasure-effects, worked out all the logistics of how the skill interacted with XP-earning and loot tables and so on. Then I created a pig character and started testing it, and realized I was missing a bigger opportunity. Charged Pig did add more soloing power to the Pig skill, which was nice... but since I could only use a total of six abilities, I ended up losing too much of the fun stuff from the Pig skill. What Pig needed was a new partner skill, something more solo-oriented that could synergize with the skill.

So I turned Charged Pig into a regular combat skill. That way, you could use six Pig abilities and six Charged Pig abilities at the same time. That made a lot more sense! In fact, all of the animal-form combat skills could use another viable partner skill, so Charged Pig evolved into Warden, which is a combat skill usable by any animal.

But a full combat skill requires a lot more work than a sub-skill: it needed more abilities, a LOT more treasure, and unique content to go with it. The earlier experiments used up a lot of the time available for the skill, though, so I crunched to create all the new abilities and treasure, while Sandra created the Wardens' special home, the Sacred Grotto. (We came up with some fun content ideas for the grotto that couldn't be implemented in time, so this is just the first version of the place.)

The Warden skill has one other unique mechanic: special daily quests. This would have been impossible to fit into our schedule, except that I'd already written most of it in an earlier prototyping session. That session resulted in adding gardening almanacs, oddly enough. Which is why, internally, the daily warden quests are driven by their own hidden almanac! But even with the technology handy, we still had to actually write the quests that used the feature.
So, in short, we worked really hard to flesh out the Warden skill, and I think it turned out pretty well, especially for the first version of a major combat skill. Of course, we'll continue to improve and iterate on it over time.

The Charged Pig skill, on the other hand, is dead. It remains in the data files, but it'll only be used for internal testing now. It did its job as a prototype sub-skill, though, and the first "real" sub-skill will show up soon! The first one will probably debut with the playable fairy race. Later, I expect to use sub-skills to provide some weapons diversity, among other things. For instance, the Axe skill will tentatively be a sub-skill of Hammer; Spear will be a sub-skill of Staff; there might eventually be a Greatsword skill which is a sub-skill of Sword. Each sub-skill will add a few new abilities to an existing skills' repertoire, as well as unique requirements, unique treasure, and unique training.

Warden vs. Druid
Many animals can be druids, but pigs can't. There's nothing explicitly preventing pigs from being druids, mind you, there's just no equipment for it. Druids need to be holding a wooden item, and pigs don't have hands. Other animals have workarounds: for instance, cows can get wooden "cow shoes" made for them by a player carpenter. But I intentionally didn't give pigs an item like that because I knew they would eventually be getting the Charged Pig skill. Druid and Charged Pig don't play the same, but they cover a lot of the same ground, and they weren't designed to stack.

Then Charged Pig evolved into Warden, which is usable by any animal. So now several animal forms can use Warden and Druid together. And yep, it's unbalanced. They share too many of the same tricks, and those tricks stack, and it's too much. It's not "oh crap shut everything down now" levels of overpowered, mind you, but it's something that needs to be addressed during balancing.

Keep in mind that the goal of the Warden skill is to give the animal-specific combat skills (like Cow, Pig, Spider, etc.) a new partner skill, to make those skills more useful and interesting, especially for solo play. If the best partner skill for Warden ends up being Druid, then Warden is a failure at its goal!

So right now I'm leaning toward disabling the Warden+Druid skill combination for balance reasons. I'm not yet sure what game mechanic will prevent the pairing, though. (The silver lining is that once that's done, I can add druid activation-items for pigs.)

Evolution of Game Storylines
(Important background info you may or may not know: the game takes place on the continent of Alharth, where the druids are run by the god Dreva. But on the distant continent of Fosulf, the druids are run cooperatively by Ri-Shin and Au-Shin together. They're much older gods than Dreva, and although they're technically allies of Dreva, there's also a bit of hostility. Dreva is a young hotshot god who has decided to "police the gods", and that doesn't always make you popular with other gods.)

The Charged Pig skill also had its own storyline. It was fairly silly, because we're talking about flying pigs with electricity powers, and that seemed like it should have a lighthearted storyline. The story was that Au-Shin, the god of Animals, got into a huge fight with his brother Ri-Shin, the god of Plants, over who had dominion over fungi. Both gods felt that mushrooms should be in their domain! This debate had been going on for millennia, and it was slowly destroying their friendship.

Due to this impasse, mushrooms had been considered "off limits" by both gods. But then Ri-Shin declared himself God of Mushrooms, and created Mushroom Treants (tentatively those might have ended up being the Myconians, or they might have been a new variety of treant... I didn't get that far into the details).

Au-Shin was outraged at his brother's betrayal, but in public he had to continue to support his brother. It would be devastating for all of nature if animals and plants became enemies! So Au-Shin worked in secret. He created a covert team of intelligent animals to fight these fungi. Pigs are great at sniffing out mushrooms, so Au-Shin chose them as his secret agents. His friend, the god Lo-Maj, helped him bestow powerful electricity powers on them which could even let the pigs fly for short periods.

Like I said, it was a silly storyline. It's basically just enough of a story-hook to create some quests and rewards and so on. But when Charged Pig turned into Warden, the story also shifted. As soon as I started writing the Warden NPCs, I realized I needed something more serious in tone, because it was feeling too silly: I couldn't create any story tension at all. The new storyline still involves Au-Shin (with a little help from Lo-Maj), but all the other details have changed.

In the new storyline, Au-Shin decided to gain more influence on the continent of Alharth. He created dozens of magical lakes and springs that could give animals intelligence and powers. These worked well for a few hundred years -- a very short time by godly standards -- until Norala, the god of the hunt, decided to put an end to it. Her influence is very strong on Alharth and she refused to let other gods move in on her territory. So she directed her werewolves to stamp out the Wardens and destroy their magical springs. She was very successful, and Au-Shin was forced to abandon the project.

The Wardens you meet in-game are some of the last of their kind. After suffering terrible defeats from the werewolves, they've retreated to the Hidden Grotto, one of the last remaining sacred springs. And it's precious! There's a secret community of intelligent animals that use the grotto to give their children human-like intelligence. If the werewolves win and the grotto is destroyed, all future offspring will remain normal animals. So the Wardens are fighting for their survival, as well as the happiness of their children and their children's children.

That's a little more meaty! Abandoned by their god, they're fighting for more than just their lives... they're fighting for their whole way of life! That's good stuff! But the Warden NPCs still ended up being more light-hearted than I intended. I just can't manage to write talking animals that aren't a little silly. It's harder than it sounds! But the new backstory took the silliness down a few notches, and gave them a lot more depth than they would have otherwise had.

And when I step out of my "game writer" role and step into the "game producer" role, I can see that the backstory does its job: it provides some interesting quest-hooks, story locations, tangible god-politics, and a jumping-off point for additional systems in the future.

Next Blog Post: Fairies!
I originally intended to end this blog post by revealing that the playable fairy race was coming soon. But then I forgot and tweeted that info a couple days ago, ruining the surprise.

So... you may have already heard, but: the playable fairy race is coming soon! This is an advanced race. It's a more difficult game experience than the existing three races, especially at first, but it also offers new benefits and opportunities. My goal is to create a different game experience than humans, elves, and rakshasa have. Not "better", or "worse," but "different". That's a pretty ambitious goal, though, so in the initial launch, the balance will probably be shit. But it's beta, so we're gonna beta-test it!

Since fairies add even more complexity to an already-complex game, you really need to understand some of the game's basics first. So the fairy race is "unlockable": you'll need to use a different character to complete a level 40 quest, which unlocks the ability to create fairy characters.

I have a lot more info to convey about playable fairies, and they deserve their own blog post. I'm working on that now, but the game-mechanics are still in development, and I need to get a few more details locked down first. In the meantime, I answered a few questions about the fairy race here: https://forum.projectgorgon.com/show...airy-Questions

(Discuss this blog post on the forum! https://forum.projectgorgon.com/show...of-Charged-Pig)

Updated 01-30-2020 at 08:43 PM by Citan

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