About this project
Ever, Jane is a virtual world that allows people to role-play in Regency Period England. Similar to traditional role playing games, we advance our character through experience, but that is where the similarities end. Ever, Jane is about playing the actual character in the game, building stories. Our quests are derived from player's actions and stories. And we gossip rather than swords and magic to demolish our enemies and aid our friends.
Try to win the sympathy of Lizzie Bennet by telling lies about your rival, as Mr. Wickham does, but be careful. The system will notify someone if they are being talked about too often and a good sleuth may find the player who is spreading such rumors. If you are caught in your lies, the consequences you intended for your target will hit you two-fold.
The current prototype provides fully functional infrastructure for both the gossip and the invitation systems as well as a 3D village in which you can walk about, bowing and curtsying to people appropriately. We have a tutorial that walks you through the basic mechanics and UI. There are no balls, dinner parties, or mini-games yet nor any ability to travel between villages. We need additional funds to build those. And that is why we are here.
In traditional MMORPGs, players have stats such as Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence. In Ever, Jane we use Personality Traits that fit with the major characters in Jane Austen's novels.
Players can choose to be like Marianne Dashwood preferring Happiness over Duty. This decision will gain the admiration of those around her who enjoy her lightheartedness, but will offend those like Mr. Knightly who prize duty.
Personality traits are raised (and lowered) through daily activities in the game, starting with the gossip system where what people say about you can affect your reputation and status.
In addition to gossip, we provide an invitation system that allows players to invite one another to various events in-world. The invitation system can be used to enhance one's personality traits but it requires strategic thinking. If a player invites a person of higher Status with the hope of improving their own Status, care must be taken. If the player invited rejects the invitation it will harm rather than improve Status. If the invitation is accepted, but out of Duty rather than Happiness, the Status will only improve slightly. On the other hand, if the player invited accepts with Happiness, Status improvements may be as much as doubled.
Trying to understand how other people will react to you is part of the Jane Austen character experience. For more information on Jane Austen's use of strategic thinking, see http://goo.gl/ZocpSI
The two major events in Ever, Jane are the balls and dinner parties. In each case, players must acquire the requisite accoutrements before attending. Balls need gowns, formal attire and carriages. Dinner parties require formal clothing and while, unlike the balls, characters may walk to the party, most will want to acquire a better form of travel.
The juiciest gossip snippets can be found at balls and dinner parties. They also present opportunities to vastly improve ones personality in whatever direction one is aspiring. The dutiful man can capture points by dancing with every wallflower. The happy hostess can earn points by providing outstanding meals to her guests.
Characters in Austen's novels occupied themselves with various pastimes. Ever,Jane will provide activities, called mini-games, that emulate the character's daily lives.
The ball is one mini-game with dancing its own skill to be acquired and exercised. At dinner parties we will have games of Whist as well as other puzzles and word games. Men will want to hunt and fish during the season and women will enjoy sewing, embroidery, and playing the piano-forte.
Mini-games will allow players to increase secondary personality traits which enhance primary traits and open opportunities for unique activities and events.
Similar in functionality to guilds in your more traditional MMORPG, the family is a collection of players who play together to increase family status. Family status is reflected in each individual player's scores so preserving and helping the family become a critical part of game play. Nothing can prevent a family from having a Lydia among them, but the more fortunate families may also have a Fanny or an Emma. The family must pull together in crises lest everyone in the family be hindered from the best virtual life has to offer.
The quest system allows us to create story lines involving the various players in the game based on their goals, situations, and the story arc of the village. The gossip system keeps us informed as to the goings on in the village and allows the development team to actively curate player experiences through quest modifications tailored to player's own stories.
In addition, our forums provide a place for players to publish their stories as they live them in the world. This allows visitors to their village to catch up on the local gossip prior to visiting. Or they can rely on the local town gossip.
The Art in the game is all done by Renee Nejo with the occasional bit of engineering art by our founder, if you can find it. You can find more of Renee's work at reneenejo.com.
We are assuming a 15% overhead from the funds we collect to cover PR expenses. In addition, server costs should run approximately $600/mos. for 500 concurrent users (CCU) beginning in May 2014.
The remaining has been broken into four iterations of approximately 6 mos. each at $21K for payroll to support the existing staff.
Time estimates are based on the 15 mos. it took to build the prototype which contains the gossip system, invite system, login, networking, servers and preliminary art.
- Sleuthing system (part of Gossip)
- Character Customization
- Post (writing letters between characters)
- Visiting complete with calling cards
- Dinner Parties
- Travel between villages
- Carriages and Horses
- Subscription authorization
- Customer Service Tools
- Upgrade gossip to use language parsing
- Card Games
- Additional Artist
A character artist with animation skill will improve the look and feel of the characters while allowing Renee to focus on the environment, which is her specialty.
Music and drawing provide additional mini-games for players.
- Additional Programmer
- Estate Planning
An additional programmer will allow us to hammer on the quality of the servers to provide a more robust experience. It will also allow us to implement systems in a more timely manner.
Estate planning for those fortunate enough to own estates gives players the opportunity to use tools to modify their environment.
- Additional Designer
An additional designer will allow us to provide a more sophisticated algorithm for managing personality traits and aid in building the player based economy.
The Regency period was a fascinating period for landscaping and we hope to explore the removal of formal gardens and replacing them with swamps and hermitages as part of the activities we provide.
- Hire full time QA
As the project grows, a full time qa person becomes increasingly critical to ensuring we don't break more than we fix and that our product meets the standards our users require.
Animal husbandry, gardening, and providing food for the village are part of the lower subscription level options we wish to provide.
- Hire a producer/project manager
- Player Based Economy
A producer or project manager would provide direction and guidance for our growing team and free the CEO to work on building the company and not just building one game.
To complete the fun, every virtual world needs a player based economy where artisans and crafters can sell their wares and the wealthy can indulge their whims for the latest fashions.
Risks and challenges
Ever,Jane is not just a game, it is a service and running a service 24/7 provides a unique set of challenges. My experience managing the team that ran ~650K simulations on 10K hardware servers across 3 geographic locations on Second Life has prepared me with an understanding of the challenges. My work with the Customer Support team prepared me for the kinds of tools we will need to build to provide quality service.
MMOs require a huge amount of content. By building our villages with modular housing and stitching together village elements we will provide content that appears different but is made of core building blocks. If you go behind the houses in the current village you will see evidence of some of those building blocks as we have not put the backside of the village together yet. In addition, our quest system allows us to build quests very quickly.
Even the best tested servers crash. The servers for the prototype run via a keep-alive service which respawns any server that crashes. The servers can come up and stay up in any order. In fact, the only way to kill our servers is through a program called KillServers which prohibits the keep-alive services from respawning them so they can die.
Scaling is another challenge of MMOs, particularly at launch time. Our servers are set to spawn new villages when the population of a single village reaches a low water mark. This allows us to maximize the experience for players by preventing any one server from getting overloaded and lagging. Our servers are virtual servers which allow us to grow our hardware when the spawning of software servers begins to overwhelm the hardware. For the demo, updating a server to double it's memory took approximately 30 minutes and was as painless as a server is capable of being. Unless we outpace Softlayer's hardware, we should be able to scale.
Community is everything in an MMO. We need a critical mass in order to make the game fun and we need to build and nurture that community. We are working hard to bring the Janeite community into our world, as well as traditional gamers looking for something unique. The Janeite community is very strong and active and their cosplay community is amazing. In addition we have a community manager who is wonderful with people and has experience building on-line communities.
We plan to run our service live throughout development to allow our backers to help us set the direction for the game. This will allow us to launch with an established community available to bring in newcomers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Does the game reflect the legal distinctions between men and women at this period, or is that playing field leveled in the game?
We are striving for historical accuracy as much as possible and so the male and female playing experiences will be quite different. Only males can be heads of family, inheritance passes only to the first born male, though of course one can disinherit should one want to.
Men will be able to hunt and fish, women to sew and embroidery. Men must invite women to dance, women must sit out if they decline. As much as possible we will create situations to emulate Regency Period Social Etiquette. That's half the fun!
No, you don't need an account. Just make up a username and password and unless it is already taken, you should be fine.
Is the game going to be playable by subscription, or free to play, or more like Starcraft where you buy the base game and then everything is free until the next expansion?
We are using a hierarchical subscription model.
Free-to-play allows you to be a peasant and you have 3 months to find work or starve (or poach, but you can go to jail if you get caught).
$5.00 per month puts you at the merchant/farmer level where the best you can do is earn a lot of money and your children marry into a gentrified family due to your wealth.
$10.00 is the basic subscription and lands you in the gentry at the level of a second son or a daughter. You have a very small yearly stipend but you are gentry so you get to do all the gentrified things.
$15.00 is the equivalent of a first son. You get a stipend and land.
$25.00 gets you a title and an estate
$50.00 gets you a royal title, an estate, and your own town..
We also plan on having private servers, though we have not put a cost on them yet. Primarily I am doing that for educational institutions so they can protect their students by having only students of that institution playing. But others may choose to buy or hire them for whatever reason – just for one evening for a private party, for instance. They simply will not connect to the public servers.
We haven't yet decided, but at the moment it is one. However, given that the male and female experiences will be so very different, we may decide to allow two. We don't see a need for more than two, but will get community input on this.
How much customization for player-characters will there be when it comes to looks height/weight/etc?
We plan on providing character customization with height, body type, hair styles, faces, and clothing styles.
Can you delete characters? Will there be a safety net of some sort in place to recover characters if they're accidentally deleted and or hacked?
At this time we have no ability to delete characters. We will certainly archive characters for at least three months, to allow people to come back if they wish. At the moment, we haven't considered the details of all this.
Is there a plan in place to retain the player base (such as periodic content patches, holidays, limited time only events) in order to continue generating revenue for upkeep on game and such?
Yes. If you participate throughout the campaign you will see some of the things we hope to do (though on a limited basis). We will be putting together events, creating customised quests and plan on actively curating the game.
"500 concurrent users" seems a bit low. Do you have any plans for server upgrades when you reach the peak or are you going to cap population and leave it at that?
“500 concurrent users” is the estimate we're using for our budgeting only. It is possible we can get twice that many or more players on the servers at the same cost, but I prefer to budget conservatively. We have no server cap in mind.
The servers have been set to create a new village when a given number of players has been reached – at the moment, this is 150. Our servers are in the cloud (we use Softlayer), so we can easily deploy new hardware at any time when it becomes necessary.
Are you anticipating "gold sellers" and hackers which will inevitably come, and how do you intend to counter this and protect user accounts (more asking if you are anticipating, understandably the nuts and bolts are top secret)?
We haven't yet spent much time worrying about this. We have very big “ban hammers” and will not be afraid to use them. We will be outsourcing all credit card transactions to a company who specializes in these, as it does require expertise. At the moment, we have secure, but simple, encryption on our inner servers; this will be far more robust for the final product.
Graphics are important and I love the style, what kind of computer specs are you aiming for with your intended player base? (like low requirements for a more general audience (eg World of Warcraft) or high requirements (eg Battlefield 3) for a more specia
We are going with the minimal specifications, as defined by Unity (our game engine). I am trying to get hold of these. We see ourselves as opening up a new market, and many players won't have high-end gaming machines, so we plan on making sure we look good on lower end hardware.
We will provide historically accurate racial diversity. This only becomes an issue where we get into aristocracy and with ethnicities that had not yet migrated to England at that time. If the historical accuracy interferes with the fun of the game rather than adding to it, we reserve the right to decide to ignore it further in development. For now we believe that we can manage these issues and maintain the historical accuracy without conflict.
Owners of estates have more status than owners of cottages than owners of townhouses and than non-owners who have to live with others to survive. The Estate gives you privilege and responsibility. You will have more income so you will be able to employ more people to maintain your estate and do all the necessary work for managing it while you have more responsibilities to ensure for the well being of all the villagers. And with a royal title, people must bow to you more deeply and for longer periods of time while you just nod your head.
Our current plan, in pre-production so likely to change slightly, but not significantly, is for the estate to take a full land block and have an adjacent land block for estate lands. It's BIG. The cottages will sit two to a land block. The townhouses will sit 8 to a land block. We may want another size that is 4 to a landblock or we may make the townhouses slightly bigger. But relative size should be similar. Farms will take up a full land block with the potential to purchase additional blocks. Church and cemetary take up a land block. Etc.
I expect that heads of families will hold the estates either through their subscription level or by having all the family members purchase the estate for the head using our marketplace. Having an estate comes with an income, but that income has to cover all the costs of maintenance for the estate as well as income for servants. It should be a very interesting player economy.
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