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.

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    Blog post: Town Hall - June 14, 2021

    Welcome to our inaugural Town Hall! Over the past week, we've collected many questions in Discord and asked you to vote on which of them you'd like to see answered the most. We're still tweaking the format a little, but we're excited to dig into your questions. So here are the top ten questions! More or less. We combined some questions when we could answer multiples at once, and we answered a few other questions along the way.

    Note that lots of these questions are about detailed game content or mechanics, so some of this stuff may not make sense unless you've played a while already.

    Deldaron asks: What skill specializations are currently planned and when can we expect to start seeing more in game?

    There's several upcoming skills that might end up being subskills. For instance, another question -- this one from Lunaera -- asked if a vampire skill is still planned. It is -- and whenever we get around to adding Vampirism, it may be a sub-skill of Necromancy, or it might be its own skill -- I can't really tell until I prototype things and see what makes sense! (To be clear, Vampirism probably isn't fitting into the dev schedule this year, but I have some fun ideas when we eventually get to it.)

    In terms of definite sub-skills, only one comes to mind: the Axe skill will be a sub-skill of Hammer. It will be added with the Dwarf playable race, which isn't happening very soon. (Not this year, in other words!)

    Orcs will have a new combat sub-skill also, but it's not locked down yet. (There are a couple of possibilities.)

    We've discussed specializations of crafting skills, too, but that's just in the prototype-and-experiment stage.

    alleryn asks: For each of the following pieces of content, which aspects of implementation are completed and what are the major remaining obstacles to implementation?
    1. Animal Genetics/Animal Husbandry
    2. Player Housing
    3. Mounts
    4. Orcs
    5. Dwarves
    6. Weather Witching

    Okay, this is one of those format tweaks we still need to make -- next time we'll have to disallow multiple-part questions, because this is six very different topics! But a lot of other players asked about the same things, so let's run down them quickly.

    Animal Genetics/Animal Husbandry: Last year we wrote the genetics engine and the husbandry UI that lets you breed pets in your stables, but we ran into problems and couldn't get the system launched. But as it happens, we're back to working on this system right now! And I expect the first animal-husbandry-enabled pet will arrive in a month or two. Most likely the first genetic pet will be wasps/bees, because it's the closest to completion. We'll add genetics to the other pet types in later updates, and we'll use the same basic genetics system for horse breeding, also.

    Player Housing: Player housing is 0% complete. It's barely in the design stage at the moment: we've decided roughly where in Statehelm the houses will eventually go, and that's about it! Housing will end up being added after we "launch" the game (meaning after we leave early access).

    Mounts: Mounts were blocked for a very long time by limitations of our animation system. We've finally gotten over that hurdle, but there's still a lot of code to write. And the thing is, we were blocked on mounts for so long that we have a bunch of other features and content in a partially-completed state, and some of that stuff is closer to being finished. So the exact order everything gets done is kind of up in the air. We're definitely going to finish Animal Husbandry first, since horses will use that system! Beyond that, I'm not sure how the cards will fall exactly. But mounts will happen this year.

    Another question, this one from Plaximos, asked if we'll have mounts beyond just horses -- a magic flying carpet, for example. We almost certainly will have other mounts, but horses are the focus of our initial launch.

    Orcs: Orcs are roughly planned out in terms of their racial limitations, special features, and so on. I've done some prototyping and I'm excited to get in and start coding and implementing everything! There's just one problem: Kur.

    We've decided the player-allied orcs live in Kur, and Kur looks like shit. It's one of the oldest outdoor areas in the game, and it was designed for Unity 4. (And it actually looked significantly better back in Unity 4!) So we need to do a major graphical overhaul of Kur at some point soon. That's what's holding up orcs. I'm not really sure the exact order that those things will happen, but fingers crossed that orcs make it in this year!

    Dwarves: Dwarves are only in the early planning stage. They'll arrive after Orcs are added, and also after Statehelm is added. I don't expect they'll be added until next year because there's just too much other stuff in line in front of them.

    Weather Witching: Weather Witching is basically cancelled. There are a lot of reasons, but the biggest is that I already stole all the best ideas for the skill and used them in other skills. So there's not a lot of new stuff left for weather witching to do! It was going to be another pet class, with mostly short-lived pets, like pet rainclouds and so on. If I wake up one morning inspired to do the skill, I'll do it! But until then it's not on the development radar at all.

    Flitter/Sylvea/Qaelis asks: Do you plan on expanding the pet families in the future? Ex: wolves, chickens, cockatrice, droach?
    This is something Sandra is excited to work on in the future -- she has a history with MMO pets -- so I'm sure we'll eventually add a bunch more tameable animal families. But we have enough pet types right now to cover all the basics, so this is the sort of thing that will probably get added in monthly updates after the game leaves Early Access. At the very least, there won't be any new pet types until genetics and husbandry are implemented.

    Eeveon asks: Any plans for some customization for the animal forms (fur color or what have you)?
    Yes! But what forms those take will be unique to each model.

    The bipedal races can all share armor, but the animal forms each use a unique 3D model, and none of those models can share items. For instance, there's a pork-pie hat that can be worn by cows, deer, and pigs, but internally those hats have to be implemented individually (they share texture memory and other resources, but have to be customized per animal). This is why cows can't wear the hats for deer or vice versa. Configuring hats for each model is surprisingly time-consuming, which is why there's only a few in the game so far. We'll be doing a few more of those, but not all animals can really take advantage of them. For instance, no matter how much we want to, we can't put a tiny top-hat on the raven: it doesn't look right when flying.

    The story is similar with colors: most of the animal forms use unique textures, and we can "tint" that texture to have any color, but doing so usually doesn't look good. Instead of programmatically tinting the art, we usually need to make separate textures for each color. Unique textures take up a lot of video memory, so we can't do a million variations. We'll probably end up adding a couple of color variants for each animal. But a few of the smaller animals may be amenable to a "tint" approach, in which case we might let you pick from all the possible colors of in-game dye. It really depends on the exact technical details of each animal form.

    Beta Notus asks: What is the Council-approved name for the planet/planetoid the current majority of Gorgon takes place on?
    There isn't one. Since the majority of humans don't realize that there's life on other planets, they've never needed to differentiate their planet with other peoples' planets, so they just call their planet "the Earth". As in... the ground. This is similar to most real-world human languages.

    In contrast, elves call the world Fennyra, in honor of the long-deceased god of crystals. (It's a long story.)

    Sages use different names depending on their need: they may call it Fennyra to distinguish it from other nearby planets, or if they're discussing dimensional travel they might use the planet's fairy-exit designators ("U39X" and "U39Y").

    And, of course, aliens (a/k/a "demons") have their own names for this planet and solar system, but few sages know those.

    (I should also mention Alharth: that's the name of the continent the game takes place on, and it's a very large continent. Most people -- even most elves -- live out their entire lives on Alharth and have very limited interaction with other continents, so Alharth is often used as a synonym for "homeland".)

    Brakor asks: Will there be more complex group encounters? Like bosses/elite mobs having mechanics that require coordination/unconventional strategies?
    If you have ideas for specific things you'd like to see, I'd be interested to hear! Creating group encounters is a tricky art that I'm still mastering. In my experience so far, it's pretty easy to create interesting group mechanics -- but "interesting" isn't always the same as "fun"! Many mechanics end up being hard to telegraph to players, or have unfortunate side-effects when implemented in a non-instanced dungeon. But if there's some exciting mechanic you've seen in another MMO that you think would work well here, please share!

    Lackforagoodname asks: How are you all?
    Hey, thanks for asking! We're still here -- all of us on the team survived 2020, and so far 2021. This feels like an accomplishment! Back when COVID first started, I was feeling pretty complacent about how this would affect us: we worked from home already, so our lives wouldn't change much. But I didn't count on the sheer amount of anxiety, depression, medical trauma ... well, I don't need to explain to you: you were here too! But in terms of productivity, I'm sad to say that 2020 was not good. We worked as hard as we could, but ultimately we didn't get a lot of big milestones done.

    But the past few months have been a little easier. We managed to finally hit some milestones (the animation-system rewrite and the VIP launch), and we're making better progress than we have in a while. I've been feeling more productive recently; I have ADHD, which makes it hard to work on things if I can't drum up enthusiasm for it. And for the first time in a long while, I've started feeling enthusiasm for work again! (I'd talk about the stuff I'm enthusiastic about, but I don't want to jinx it.)

    The other really bright spot is our newest team member, a programming contractor named Nick. He's an expert Unity developer who's been helping whip our game-client into shape. You've seen some of his work in the latest update! He added all the storage-UI improvements, among other things. We're super happy to have more engineering bandwidth, and I'm hopeful that the money from the new VIP plan will let us expand the team further!

    Malechna asks: Can you tease some of the planned zones that we haven't seen yet? What kind of environments can we expect still? I'm particularly interested in knowing more about Sedgewick Forest.
    Sedgewick Forest is a dense forest. We first prototyped it back when we were using Unity 4 or 5 and at the time, we just could not get the framerate to work when there were hundreds of trees on-screen. Unity has much better tree technology now, so there's nothing especially blocking us from implementing Sedgewick, but it's not on the critical development path: it's an area for levels 35-45, and we already have some areas for players in those level ranges. So it's not super high-priority, but we'll add it eventually. There's already a bunch of backstory written for the area. Here's what it looks like with the Unity 5 trees:

    [A flyover view of Sedgewick Forest: dense, dense trees.]

    The area I'm currently working on, and which will probably be added to the game next, is Povus. This is... well, WAS... a Rakshasa city west of Rahu. Players will discover that the city is largely abandoned, and there's reasons why. Povus is intended for solo players of level 65-75.

    [The abandoned town of Povus.]

    Statehelm is our most ambitious "urban" map. We're working to make it feel like a dense city. There's lots more work to do, but it's coming along nicely.

    [An (eventual) busy street corner in Statehelm.]

    Another question, from Corinthin, asked about the level range for Statehelm: the city itself is aimed at level 90s-100s, and it is surrounded by several other outdoor areas (still in the planning stages), relating to the demonic army invasion. Those areas will range in level from 80 to 110-ish.

    We have a couple other outdoor areas that aren't on any time table: like Sedgewick Forest, they're "fill in" maps, which aren't strictly necessary for the game's progression. Other areas already exist to cover those levels, so it's not imperative that the fill-ins get added immediately. A few will get added before Early Access ends, the rest later.

    After we leave Early Access, we have one more major city-hub planned: Ormala City, which is a huge lawless place beyond the Council Lands. Ormala will be surrounded by several outdoor areas with a vaguely "ancient Greece" theme. (After all, this is where you'll actually fight the titular Gorgons!)

    Rutting asks: Are there plans to have level 80 recipes for crafted animal-specific gear before Statehelm comes out?
    There's lots of nooks and crannies of content that haven't been added yet, but will eventually. Actually, I may be able to add those into the Povus update, since it's a crafting-centric area anyway.

    Plaximos asks: What is the future end goal of the skill Gender Studies and what is the vision of how that skill will be ultimately further implemented. Is it connected to marriage in any way.
    There isn't really any big plan for the skill. I guess we should start from the beginning: technically, Gender Studies is one of the oldest skills! It was added in early alpha, when I was prototyping everything I could think of and used old college textbooks for inspiration. (This is also when I added skills like Psychology, Geology, and Forensics.)

    I prototyped some different gameplay ideas, but my ideas were too tacky (or dumb) to be used. For instance, I imagined that maybe high levels in Gender Studies would get you a commerce bonus with NPCs of the opposite sex. But that seemed more appropriate for a "Charm" or "Persuasion" skill... it doesn't have much to do with Gender Studies, and putting it there seemed kind of gross.

    So the skill didn't end up having any use, but I accidentally left it in the game data. Some time later I added Corpse-Talking, and I needed some more skills for corpses to be able to teach. Gender Studies was just sitting right there, already set up as a skill... so I added it to the list of arcane stuff that Necromancers can learn by talking to the dead.

    Over time we've added a few more ways to earn Gender Studies XP. But what's the actual point of raising the skill? Mainly just synergy levels. For instance, if you raise the skill to level 20, you get +1 Compassion level. If you get it to 30, you get +1 Psychology, and so on. Beyond that, it'll probably be used as a gating skill for NPC dialog. There's a secret organization in Statehelm full of people who are very unhappy with how gay and lesbian humans are treated in the Council Lands. (You may know what I'm talking about if you've talked to enough NPCs!) I'm imagining that players will be able to join this organization and undertake some quests on their behalf, but you'll need a modest level of Gender Studies skill before they trust you.

    Flitter/Sylvea/Qaelis asks: Why are there so many rabid deer? Deer are at extremely low risk of rabies compared to bats, raccoons and foxes.
    The problem is that townsfolk consider any aggressive deer to be rabid. If it runs into town and bites people, they just assume rabies! In actuality, those deer may have any number of reasons to attack: perhaps they're starving, or perhaps they're sentient (and angry). Or perhaps they're being mind-controlled by a wizard. Or... perhaps they have rabies.

    Unfortunately due to a lack of veterinarian services in Alharth it's not practical to triage these sick deer, let alone treat them, so they have to be put down. But fortunately, there are very few reported instances of these deer actually transmitting rabies, so you should rest easy. Perhaps the druids can find a way to help in the future.

    That's it for this round of Q&A! Thanks for submitting your questions, they were all over the place -- which is great! We'll do another round of Discord Q&A's next week, in the town-hall channel, so if you haven't joined Discord yet, here's the link: https://discord.gg/projectgorgon. If we didn't answer your question feel free to ask it again! But this time, please keep it to one topic per question, and let's say a max of three questions per person. Thanks!
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    Last edited by Citan; 06-14-2021 at 06:27 AM.

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