DAoC meets CoD? Support former Asheron’s Call EP and Ultima Online Exec and Reloaded Productions in quest for brand new action-MMORPG!
First things first
We have just posted Update 3, with a video showcasing the Environment, as well as the Click to Move control system (check out Update 3 for a preview!)
Hailan Rising is produced by Adam Smith, former Producer of Knight Online, and Jess Mulligan, formerly Executive Producer of Asheron's Call and Executive Director of Ultima Online as well as dozens of other games.
Adam and Jess have been working nonstop this year to complete what we feel is the best action-MMO in the market today. With inspiration from games like Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest, Borderlands, Ultima and even a little bit of Call of Duty-style instant action, the team brings together the best elements in classic MMOs into an expansive world of islands and forests to be explored, conquered and dominated.
The team has a full vertical slice with a great action-MMO battle system. But now we need your help to expand the game world, complete the territory control system and scale the game to support tens of thousands of simultaneous players. With your support we’ll be able to start the beta in early 2013, and as a supporter you will get unique in-game items only available to Kickstarter backers. As a stretch goal we have also lined up iOS and Android versions of the game.
Target: create the most intense PvP-focused MMO possible, with free-form character builds, territory control and random loot, while letting you jump into the fun right away!
Easy - right? Let's find out what we have been working on...
In most MMOs, there are many hurdles to overcome before you ever get into a PvP battle. Is your character of a high enough level? Are you using the flavor-of-the-month build? Do you have powerful top-tier gear?
As a result many MMO players never bother with PvP because it’s easier to just keep doing PvE quests. We think there is a way to elegantly combine these extremes into one unified action-MMO, while still being a true RPG.
Hailan Rising has a full PvE system (so for those of you who only want to raid and never face an enemy in the field, that’s not a problem). However, a lot of attention has been paid from the start to the PvP system (and in a later update we'll also discuss territory and RvR).
Unlike other MMOs, the power gap between brand new characters and veterans amount to only a small competitive edge for those that have been in the game longer. It’s nothing close to the ridiculous over-the-top power-difference between a level 1 and a level 50 character in most other MMOs.
The real advantage you gain with time and experience is knowledge of how to play your chosen build, and how it stacks up against builds of other players.
You should also be in the game playing and having fun immediately without the need to wait for some arbitrary “endgame." In fact, players themselves will be contributing to the game world simply by showing up and being ready to engage in battle.
We’ll keep this one short and sweet: everything you pick up is randomized, so nobody should ever be running around in exactly the same stuff with exactly the same stats. Even more so, the most powerful items in the game drop as part of mob loot, and those powerful items can never be purchased from the in-game store (we will tackle the store mechanic in a specific update to come).
We are not even sure how many million combinations of armor and weapons exist in the game; it’s simply too many to count! But that also gives you as the player ample opportunity to explore the game and the game world to pick up great new stuff after each battle.
Think of this as a "Class-less" and “Character-level-less” game. In a pure mathematical sense it does have more than 4 billion (!) possible ability combinations (each of which could be called a ‘class’), but due to the sheer number of possible combinations, we tend to think of these as simply “ability sets” or builds.
At the start of the game you pick 5 out of 46 abilities from something we call "The Etherea Tablet." During your first period of in-game progress you will be able to add up to five additional abilities. Kills in both PvE and PvP yield additional Etherea Shards that are used to permanently upgrade abilities. Each of the abilities is rated from +1 to +5, with a very small power increase for each upgrade.
This means that you define your own build in Hailan right from the start. We presume you will pick abilities based on your preferred gameplay style (and of course create an experimental build or two along the way).
If you like heavy armor, take that ability. If you like shooting bows, take that ability. There are 46 abilities in total, some passive, some active, and messing around with the ol’ abacus we realized that there are 4,076,350,421 possible builds waiting to be explored.
Of course there are critical trade-offs for picking your final set of 10 out of 46 – since no game is fun when players become overpowered demigods. Instead much of the challenge comes from defining the character you want to play and what abilities you will give up to become that character. More importantly, who in your party will cover 'the other' abilities during a fight? We expect this will lead to heated 'religious debates' with clan-mates about the best builds. These debates are ones you as an early Kickstarter supporter with early access to this game will surely win :).
And – we think this is really cool – if you come up with a build that has never been used before, you’ll get to give it a name, and others will see that name when they pick that combination in the future!
MMOs provide a great feeling of accomplishment and progression, but the moment-to-moment gameplay is often composed of long stretches of dullness punctuated by brief flashes of awesome (don’t tell us you've never watched Breaking Bad on a second monitor while doing your dailies or waiting for a raid to start).
Because PvP combat in most MMOs means using mechanics that were designed to make you good at, say, killing 10 rats, you’re often not well-equipped to have a thrilling exchange of blows with other players. PvP in Hailan Rising combines the character progression and tactical decision-making of traditional MMOs with the intensity and pick-up-and-play nature of an FPS (of course minus all the machine guns and actual shooting of bullets).
We’ve made individual battles much more active than in other MMOs specifically by adding two additional skill-based mechanics: "Combo" and "Slide."
"Combo-ing" means simply picking the right moves and counter moves and stringing them together. What's unusual about Hailan's combo system is just how central it is to winning a match. The longer the combo, the more special bonuses you’ll fire off. Of course, doing this effectively requires you to get very familiar with your chosen build, your enemies, and the context of your current engagement.
The "Sliding" mechanic is very different from the classic "sit-and-click" attack system in most MMOs. Sliding allows Hailan to be a dynamic action game, and it feels a little like a quirky "loophole" in the targeting and movement system, but is in fact a core mechanic. The goal is to match the frequency of your attacks and weave in and out of the enemy’s attack radius using what looks like a 'sliding' motion while they try to do the same to you. It's an incredibly unusual mechanic, hard to describe and best experienced by playing the game. This mechanic arose organically during play testing. Watching the best players and guilds square-off against one another with this mechanic will truly be a sight to behold.
These form the basis for a truly tactical game where the individual skills of players, as well as the coordination of entire groups and clans, will matter in every single battle.
What we really want out of PvP is a reason to do it for the long-haul; some ultimate purpose to make each battle more thrilling. Sure, it is fun to wail on each other for a while, and it is fun to brag about being at the top of the leaderboards, but then what?
Our answer to that is strategic territory control. Anyone, be it an individual or guild, can capture one or more of the many ancient fortresses that dot the countryside, and doing so grants strategic benefits such as a minor bonus stats AND in some cases the ability to tax anyone else in the territory. Own two of them and get two bonuses, own three… you get the idea.
There’s a real reason to capture and defend a fortress and to start building alliances with other players. In fact recruiting players to your side is another critical aspect of the game, and will lead to a long running RvR-style mechanic.
You may own it now, but others want it… and they’ll be coming to take it. The more you’re 'worth' the bigger target you are for everyone else, meaning there’s never an end to the conflict.
If we hit our stated target, then we will use the money to complete the PC and Mac versions of the game.
If we exceed our target and are able to reach $500,000 or more, then we will have a team specifically port the game to tablets, something that's technically pretty straight forward as the game uses the Unity3D engine. We have already tested the game’s portability, and with down-sampled graphics it will work on a tablet. If we reach the stretch goal, we will also be providing free tablet versions of the game to all Kickstarter supporters at the $20 level and above.
As a side-note, we plan to keep separate realms per 'input-type'. If you’ve ever played a game where console players and PC players can compete directly, you know that input type separation between realms is critical.
However - Adam's 'secret-ultra-stretch-goal' is strategic participation by other devices. That means designing a whole new race (a flying race or an aquatic race for example) that can participate in the SAME battles on the same servers (which works technically) but using a completely different strategically complementary rule-set, geared to the tablet input type. However, this 'secret-ultra-stretch-goal' is only attainable if we reach a backing level several times higher than the core game requirement itself.
Who are we again?
Production and Development: Hailan Rising is Produced by Adam Smith, formerly Producer of Knight Online, with contributing Executive Producer Jess Mulligan. Jess was Executive Producer of Asheron's Call, contributor to Anarchy Online and Executive Director of Ultima Online.
Jess started working with Reloaded Productions a year ago, and has spent the past decade advising several Indie Game Studios in the throes of end-stage-production and delivery. The rest of the team crucial to Hailan Rising's design and development previously worked in a wide range of game and media companies including Gas Powered Games, Blizzard, Pitch Black Studios, Realtime Worlds, Icarus Studios, Warner Brothers, EA, Oberon, MGM, Disney Online and FUN Technologies.
Corporate: We are a small game studio called Reloaded Productions (http://www.ReloadedProductions.net) founded in 2010, and we create content that gets published on the GamersFirst.com portal (and this content is also distributed through many other outlets, like Steam). We’re not a monolithic mega-corporation (like EA, Activision etc.) and in fact we are highly dependent on volatile funding sources to complete new projects.
Kickstarter Funding: Instead of using traditional financial backers or simply borrowing money from banks (those volatile sources noted above), we felt our game, as inspiring as it was to us, would be just as inspiring to others that share our sentiments on PvP MMOs, as well as sharing our excitement with cross-device MMO games. Given how far along in the development we have already taken this prototype, our path to completing the game with sufficient funding is very straight forward, and we hope to start delivering the first Kickstarter backer-awards in just a few months (!).
Thank you for your time reading and watching this. We sincerely appreciate all the help and the assistance we have received from the community so far, and are hoping you will join us in supporting our quest!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The risk with any game project is simply that the game does not get completed for one of many reasons. While the risk in this project should be smaller than in some other game projects by the team already having built a fully functioning "vertical-slice" as it's called in game project lingo, and full client-server prototype, and having already a rather complete initial game system, there is still significant work remaining to complete the full territory control system, add the additional art, complete the full combat system and expand the terrain.
On top of these issues we all of course also face general business risks, economic risks and other untold factors that could stop the project from completing. But, given the progress to date, to the best of our knowledge today, if this Kickstarter project funds with your help, then the game will in fact complete and go live in mid 2013.
PRODUCT NAMES, COMPANY NAMES, LOGOS, BRANDS, AND OTHER TRADEMARKS FEATURED OR REFERRED TO IN THIS CAMPAIGN ARE THE PROPERTY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE TRADEMARK HOLDERS. THESE TRADEMARK HOLDERS ARE NOT AFFILIATED WITH, NOR DO THEY SPONSOR OR ENDORSE RELOADED PRODUCTIONS, OUR PRODUCTS, OR THIS CAMPAIGN.
So do you have to pay for the good gear, or will you only earn it in the game? (asked by Kickstarter mail)
Actually we will have a whole separate update on how the gear mechanics and in-game transactions work. But in short, you need to earn top level gear through game play (or potentially by trading with other players that have earned the gear on their end). In fact; top-level gear CANNOT be purchased, but HAS to be earned through the game itself!
What do I do with the Kickstarter unique Armor in case I find something in the game with better stats? (asked by Kickstarter mail)
Ah - we have not yet talked about the 'cosmetic' system. The Draconic Armor you get as a Kickstarter backer may be the coolest looking armor in the game (and would be comparatively rare). However, its stats (per the prior FAQ) is actually NOT top level from the start (you cannot buy top level stat gear). The Draconic armor just happens to have a very unique look. BUT, if you find new armor when you play and you like those stats better, then you can simply KEEP the unique look of your Draconic armor, but "replace" or "overlay" the stats from the gear you find in game onto your Draconic armor(!). We'll have a separate update to show how this actually works in practice (if you have played EQ2 the concept of cosmetic armor vs stat armor will make sense if you have used the Hero's Forge system).
So (paraphrasing a long email from 'Chris') how are you going to complete a PvP game? Where is the lore? Isn't Unity just for mobile games? Will Unity satisfy the "PC Master Race"?
Hello Chris, Thanks so much for your perspective - and an extra special 'thank you' for your Kickstarter support! You raise many valid concerns - all of which I am happy to answer. The Lore and skills will be the subject of their own update. In short the lore is cool and revolves around a world submerged by a flood of "biblical" proportions.
MMORPGs are of course a huge undertaking, and fortunately we have already completed a large portion of the initial game as part of us building the prototype.
The team working with us on Hailan has extensive experience in bringing games to market. We are using Jess Mulligan as our Exec Producer (you can check out Update 1 which we are just about to post), and yes, $275k is a lot of money, but it’s the realistic amount needed to complete the PC and Mac versions of the game, and we are looking forward to engaged gamers like yourself supporting our effort.
As for reinventing the "MMO Format" - this is not exactly what we hope to do. As the former producer of one of the most PvP focused MMORPGs ever made - what I can tell you is this; a PvP based MMORPG's "end-game" is self-propelled by the community. Not the developer. The PvP and territory control works as self-generating content (“Eve Online” and even the board game “Risk” are extreme examples of PvP and territory used as ‘content’). With a proper action-MMORPG extra content updates are important and will come over time, but initially a great engagement mechanic between players is the first critical driver of "in-game fun."
Our focus on PvP did necessitate reinventing the character progression system. So if anything is ‘new’ it’s designing the core game to be PvP first, with PvE added on later, instead of the other way around (most MMOs that start with PvE first and ‘bolt-on’ PvP later, often with less than stellar results for the PvP portion). That’s why we keep tossing around words like “FPS” but without machine guns. The fast paced action versus your opponent will keep you coming back for more.
We haven’t talked about it a whole lot, but we do have a full PvE game underneath as well (killing the Tree-Ent, the Troll, giant spiders and other strange creatures, and in fact a whole valley of NPCs and mobs) and even a cave system. Killing mobs in PvE also gets you one of millions of loot drop items (really “millions”), so PvE-only players will in fact like this game too. However, by necessity and due to the expense, expanding the PvE world further comes later on, so the goal for the moment is to focus on really great PvP to the point where it becomes self-sustaining. In future expansions we plan a dual approach; first adding more raiding PvE content, then deepening political systems attached to the territory control system.
Other than that, all of your typical MMORPG control sets are still there; WASD Third Person, First Person, Click-to-Move, etc... The game feels and controls just like any other MMORPG - we just are not forcing you to kill 10 billion rats for the sake of experience points. As a hardcore MMORPG player since Day 1 of EQ (as an aside, I actually personally became an NPC in one of the EQ expansions which should give you a sense of just how much I played EQ1 & 2) - I can tell you that I do NOT have one fond memory of the grind - the happy memories all came from community interaction, high end PvE raids, and intense PvP.
As for the use of the Unity 3D engine - I completely agree with your apprehension, especially considering what Unity has been most used for. We are only using Unity to render the 3D world. The front end uses the Unity renderer, but everything under the hood is our own self-developed MMORPG engine to support hundreds of simultaneous players in your proximity. On that note however - I will happily declare that Unity is a POWERFUL little engine when used correctly (but it can completely blow up when going past its limitations). There are other games using Unity to great effect right now (games like Offensive Combat as an example of a recent FPS in Unity that looks very nice). And yes - the "PC Master Race" is very hard to satisfy (and let's see if 'they' are willing to take a flyer on Hailan Rising as well).
Again, you have no idea how much myself and our entire team really appreciate both your support and connecting with us.
We highly encourage all with concerns to bring them to us (as you have done). We are always happy to let enthusiastic gamers participate with our development process as we go along! Looking forward to connecting again!
At the moment unfortunately Unity3D renderer does not support Linux. We presume the game will run under Wine, but short of using that type of tool, the answer is 'not yet'