Revision: February 20, 2017
This FAQ is a living, evolving document. While we certainly endeavor to make the answers as accurate as possible, we also reserve the right to change or modify these answers as we get closer to beta and release. Some details are also intentionally left out because they warrant testing and tweaking during beta before making those details final. We will also be adding new questions as they occur to us and come from the community.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is a new, modern, high fantasy MMO currently in development incorporating both new and classical game mechanics. Please see the What is Pantheon page for more information.
Pantheon is most definitely a modern MMO with modern graphics and new and exciting features and mechanics. There are already emulators out there that are clones of earlier MMOs and Visionary Realms has no desire to make another emulator. That said, we also feel that many of the features and mechanics of previous MMOs have been abandoned in more recent games, resulting in a less challenging, compelling, deep, and social experience. Pantheon, therefore, will indeed bring back some of these conventional mechanics and ideas but with a fresh perspective, some tweaks and revisions. We also understand that while gamers’ tastes don’t fundamentally change over time, their situations, lives, and responsibilities do. Likewise, some game mechanics often associated with earlier MMOs involved inordinate amounts of downtime, overly severe penalties, too much competition over content and resources, and even downright boring or overly repetitive gameplay. Our intention, therefore, is not to bring back ‘everything’ from the old days, but rather to pick and choose those which make sense and are needed to make a fun, social, cooperative, and challenging game.
While some MMOs have been designed with the goal and desire to appeal to all gamers, all of the time, we at Visionary Realms believe the future of MMOs is all about making more focused games, targeting specific gamers with distinct preferences. Pantheon is first and foremost a deeply social game. Players who desire cooperative play, working together as a team, and the shared experiences that result from playing with other real people to overcome challenges will enjoy Pantheon. Players who want an MMO to be their home and to interact with communities and player-driven economies will find what they are looking for in Pantheon. Why? We feel that, at least recently, the MMO players who enjoy these elements have been orphaned. In fact, the Visionary Realms team feels they are part of this orphaned group. And it doesn’t take a lot of research to find countless articles, blogs, and posts full of players looking for the kind of experience we aim to offer in Pantheon.
Absolutely not. There are many younger players out there who enjoy cooperative and social play. They love playing PC and console games, regardless of genre, with their friends and against the game’s AI. When these younger gamers play Pantheon, they’ll find that cooperative play, but in a lasting, persistent, and content-rich virtual world. Millions of players have been exposed to massively multiplayer games in the last 15+ years. So, while we’re not trying to appeal to everyone, Pantheon will attract a large group of gamers, both young and old.
This is a tricky question to answer, primarily because ‘camping’ means many different things to many people. To some, camping means sitting around in one place for hours on end with lots of downtime and lots of boredom too. To others, it means moving to different locations, establishing a foothold in a dangerous area, and then often having one or more members of the group ‘pulling’ mobs back to that foothold. The developers of Pantheon are interested far more in the latter than the former. If done correctly, this style of gameplay can be a lot of fun and also provide opportunities to socialize. That said, while Terminus is more of an open ‘sandbox’ world and not about moving linearly from one quest hub to another, establishing footholds in the depths of dungeons will not be the only way to advance your character.
In many cases, we want to bring back the gameplay of pulling and splitting packs of mobs. To facilitate this, players will need tools that make this possible. These tools will come in the form of spells and abilities that allow you to ‘lull’ or ‘pacify’ the mob. In cases where you must deal with more than one mob some classes will have the ability to cast spells like ‘root’, ‘snare’, ‘mesmerize’, etc.
This is also a tricky question to answer because ‘too much’ downtime is subjective. We feel our target audience does enjoy some downtime, whether it’s to take a bio break or to do some socializing. But we also feel situations with too much downtime or repetition can be boring, even for our specific audience, and we will endeavor to avoid it.
Yes. While most content will be designed for groups, there will typically also be content that is soloable. Some classes may solo better than other classes.
There will be an entire system of features and mechanics to help people find new friends and others to group with -- there is no one special solution to such a challenge -- it must be a priority and addressed from many angles.
Some quick and easy examples, of course, would be to reward people who don't know each other to group together, to help them stay in contact, to allow to share personal information if they want, to allow searching for new friends if that person chooses to participate in matchmaking. The main point is that we'll be doing all sorts of things to proactively bring people together and KEEP them together.
This is the opposite of something like a dungeon finder that randomly brings in people you need to do an instance, you then do the instance without speaking a word and once the instance is over the group disperses. This is what damages communities and prevents true social interaction.
Keeping players interested and playing a long time, whether in one session or spread out over days, involves creating compelling gameplay. Player rewards, levelling, earning new abilities, and acquiring more powerful items at a reasonable rate are some ways to make your game sticky. Add in that grouping with others will be encouraged and rewarded and that people will be making new friends in-game and you have a situation where your comrades need you to log in with them in order to advance. Most people who want to be part of a team, to be a team player, respond well to this pressure.
As for how ‘hardcore’ Pantheon will be, we’ve said it wouldn't be as grindy, and the type of grind we were referring to involves tedious repetition. But that doesn't mean Pantheon won't be difficult, or involved, or require time invested in order to advance -- in fact, virtually all MUDs and MMOs are built around time invested as the primary advancement mechanism. Pantheon will both challenge and entertain you .
We’re building Pantheon from the ground up to make sure the game is fun at low levels, then tackling the next set of levels, and most importantly making sure it’s fun all along the way. This is a development philosophy that we really embrace. Having seen and been part of projects that weren’t made that way, we’re very convinced our approach to Pantheon is the way to go.
Yes, linked to our Perception system. If your perception skill is not high enough or the wrong type, what may be visible to others will not be visible to you.
Yes, a new player will be able to download and play Pantheon to a certain level for free, with a minimum of impediments. It's important to us that players, especially those who might not be familiar with classically-spirited MMOs, be given a chance to acclimate and truly enjoy the game. That said, some restrictions on these free characters may have to be made in order to avoid them being used by farmers, griefers, etc.
Yes. While many players may use other chat clients we still want to implement optional voice chat in-game. Most likely you would only hear and be able to chat with people in your group and guild as hearing everyone around you becomes a cacophony of noise.
Pantheon is being designed on a proven foundation of MMO mechanics, gameplay, and systems design. It’s being built to support grouping, teamwork, community, and shared experiences. It’s also about having a clear idea of who we are making the game for and not sacrificing features that make MMOs sticky in an attempt to appeal to everyone.
It's also about priorities, keeping to a budget, and experience. The Visionary Realms team has members who were key architects of an MMO that has been running since 1999 and another that ran seven years. We are confident that if in the past, by harnessing teamwork and community, by creating environments conducive to building true friendships, we were able to entertain people for months and even years that we can do it again. In fact, with the online gamespace having grown so considerably in recent years we are confident that a significant number of MMO gamers will be drawn to a truly social game, to Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen .
We are definitely fans of alternate ruleset servers, be they PvP, role-playing focused, hard-core focused, etc. That said, our ability to offer alternate ruleset servers will depend, at least at launch, on how many servers we need and can support in total.
In addition to money coming in via crowdfunding, several angel investors have participated in seed funding. This has enabled us to put the team on payroll as well as bring on additional developers. We are currently seeking an additional round of funding to enable us to continue to build the team, specifically more artists and world builders. If you are interested in investing in Visionary Realms and Pantheon, click here.
Absolutely. While crowdfunding is not Pantheon’s only source of development resources, it is and has been an important one. Click here for pledge and sign up options.
We are absolutely committed to upholding our end of pledge rewards, including pre-alpha, alpha, and beta testing. That said, it serves no one and no purpose to bring people in too early. As soon as the game is ready to bring in outside testers, we will honor our commitments to do so. At this point, however, it is too early to commit to any specific dates.
The great thing about Unity is that it can target different systems. We will absolutely have a PC client. We hope to have a Mac client as well if it makes sense as we near release. Any other clients would come after launch. It depends on the timing and where Unity is at, and the time that it takes us to make sure the client works on each platform. PC first, and then Mac; then we’ll see where it goes from there.
The answer is “most likely.” We’re unsure of the timing yet, but we’re in talks with other publishers that could help us out with that. Everything in our database is set up to support localization, so it’s just going to be a matter of timing and when it makes sense to do so.
Nothing is set in stone. Our servers are all cloud based, so it will be easy to setup servers in different parts of the world as necessary.
While it’s an interesting idea, there is no current plans to support private servers.
Minimal. It’s a major resource cost for us. We’ll add it where we can do it well and consistently if it makes sense to do so. Otherwise, we are going to stay focused on other areas.
An important aspect of character development in Pantheon is obtaining powerful spells and abilities. In MMOs it is common to find rare items out in the world, whether by adventuring or by crafting, but abilities and spells are more often learned from trainers or even just given to player when his or her character levels up. In Pantheon, however, many of the more rare and exotic spells and abilities are found not at the local trainer but from a wise sage hiding in the depths of a dungeon or at the top of a remote tower. Through a game system we call “The Living Codex,” players will be able to manage both standard class abilities and these powerful and rare abilities.
The Living Codex serves as a ‘spellbook’ to manage “Essential” and “Transcendent” spells and abilities.
The first section of The Living Codex is labeled “Essential” and will contain the host of standard abilities characters can naturally learn throughout their lifetime.
The second section of The Living Codex is labeled “Transcendent” and is built for the scribing and intensifying of powerful Prime Scroll abilities.
In Pantheon many of the most powerful and exotic abilities can only be found out in the wilds of Terminus from heavily guarded treasure vaults, the depths of dungeons, and from unimaginable locations. These most powerful abilities are written on legendary parchments known as Prime Scrolls.
Spells and abilities that are learned from Prime Scrolls and stored in The Living Codex as “Transcendent” abilities.
The Prime Scroll will only fill the top portion of each page; underneath, there will be three empty sections that the player can mark with special items which will further enhance the primary ability. These three sections are detailed below:
• Seal of Amplification
o Amplifies the bonus modifiers from Mana Climates that affect the Primary Scroll’s mana color. More powerful seals will increase the bonuses.
• Brand of Resilience
o Lessens the negative modifiers from Mana Climates that affect the Primary Scroll’s mana color. More powerful brands will decrease the penalties.
• Signet of Synergy
o Applying a Signet of Synergy to an ability will unlock different class-specific synergy effects that can be used in combination with synergy effects from other classes, sometimes to awesome effect. However, the Primary Scroll ability must be capable of synergy effects and not all are.
You may be limited to a subset of your abilities for the next encounter, causing you to have to intelligently plan ahead and memorize the spells most effective against the upcoming enemy. Likewise, you'll want to memorize spells that counter the upcoming mob’s abilities. Lastly, you may have some abilities that work synergistically with others in your group. But the key point here is that these tactical decisions can be made right before the actual encounter. Then, say you move on deeper into the dungeon and are about to confront a different boss with different abilities and a different disposition, it may make tactical sense to prep different abilities. So yes, you are limited to that extent (you cannot simply use any of your 80+ abilities whenever you wish) because planning for the battle ahead and doing so effectively is key to Pantheon. The exact number of spells, abilities, feats and actions one can prep is TBD and won’t likely be finalized until Beta. What’s depicted in screenshots showing the UI is not final.
At this point you could acquire them ahead of time but that is not set in stone. An important factoid however: not all of your abilities and spells will be on trainers sitting in safe spaces in villages and towns; rather, the more exotic and desired abilities you'll have to learn from NPCs whom you'll have to find -- for example, an ancient sage found in the depths of a dungeon or at the top room of an ominous tower. You may also have to find research abilities or acquire them through rare drops.
Spells have a chance to fizzle or do less damage because of a resist and this applies to both players and NPCs. We feel this will add an additional level of tactics, knowledge, and challenge.
Most spells can be cast when you are moving, however they will more often than not slow down your movement speed. Some spells will require you to stand and not move; likewise, some spells may not slow your movement speed. Additionally, while most spells are spoken, some are gestured, the latter being very handy when an area is silenced by a player or NPC.
Pantheon is a traditional level based system with skills and abilities that are unlocked and practiced as you level up. Some customization and specialization will be present, but never to the point where a warrior ceases to be a warrior.
Pure melee classes could possibly use mana in certain situations. We are not ruling out mana as a resource for any class (as well as other resources like endurance). Whether that class will rely on mana heavily or not, not all of them will. Warriors, Rogues, and Monks might use different colors of mana situationally.
Yes. Other than abilities and spells, there are a large variety of passive skills that are available and level up with your character.
There will be certain extreme environments in the game to which you’ll need your character to become acclimated. There will be six at launch: Frigid, Scorching, Toxic, Anaerobic, Pressure, and Wind Shear. Each of those extreme climates will have tiers associated with them corresponding to how punishing they will be to the player. For example, you may be able to survive in a Tier 1 environment without any acclimation, but you would certainly experience some detrimental effects like a weapon or movement speed penalty. The higher the tier the more detrimental and severe the effects would be.
The process of becoming acclimated is carried out through equipment modification or special equipment allowing you to absorb resistances altering the physical composition of your body. Your character will have different slots like chest, legs, hands, arms, feet, etc. to which you apply these items. We will reveal more details as to how exactly this will work and how to change acclimatization as well. We want it to be seamless and also plan on having different environments within environments, such as the scorching environment found in the frigid environment of Amberfaet.
Nine. Please check out the Pantheon races page for more information.
One’s race and class should definitely result in a different experience and playing an alternate character should feel reasonably different. As for significant racial penalties, like experience penalties, we don't think anything like that will be necessary in Pantheon.
We like all of that in general -- the question comes up though: to what degree should these factions matter and does this sort of thing slip into PvP territory? If it does, you'd only see it in PvP servers. But changing your factions so NPCs will react differently to you -- this is all key to the game -- our faction system will be quite robust. Yes, you could betray your home or default factions.
No. While the world of Terminus will consist of vast landscapes and epic dungeons, there is no reason to require players to play long, contiguous gaming sessions. Players will be able to play a couple of hours, logout, and return later to continue their journey. There will also be mechanics and features to both help people get together and group and also to make lasting friendships. To further facilitate this there will also be ways for players to keep their group together even if some members of the group can play longer than others or at different times.
We sure hope so. The female playable characters in Pantheon brings up an important point: they will be very attractive, heroic in appearance, a persona anyone could look up to; but they will not be overly sexualized. We want all players to be proud of their character and their appearance.
On a high level, overall, there must be balance. If not, everyone would feel compelled to play only the race/class combination more powerful than the others. That said, what race you choose will involve receiving different racial innate abilities that can and will be handy while adventuring. So, there will be times when the race you choose is to your and your party’s advantage, other times neutral, and other times to your disadvantage. Same with classes. They will all be useful in any serious dungeon or other adventure area but one may be more advantageous in certain scenarios and situations.
Yes, to an extent. For example, the Coldark Dwarves will most likely start with a degree of acclimation. It would be easier for Dwarves to reach the Tier 1 threshold for frigid climates.
No gender locking – we don’t see the need or advantage.
Yes. While there are some nuances to faction and alignment adjustment, evil races such as the Ogre, Skar, and Dark Myr will have a hard time getting close to good race cities. This is not set in stone, however, as you can adjust your faction and alignment through your actions in the game world.
There will be a standard set of options available compared to modern MMO standards -- there should be a healthy amount of options for you to choose from.
The game world will contain thousands if not tens of thousands of items. That said, there can never be a 1:1 ratio between what you are specifically wearing and how you appear to other players. What you’re wearing does show off what you’ve accomplished, how high level you are, and what adventures you have undertaken to inspire others. Cosmetic gear will also be available, with players selecting how they want to view your character by toggling between adventure and cosmetic.
Something similar may be added post-launch but currently we’re focused on primary class advancement through leveling, skills, abilities, spells, and items.
Yes. There will also be bags and also other high level containers that reduce the weight of that which they contain.
Yes, through the Mentor System. Mentoring temporarily de-levels your character and allows you to group with them. You will either scale down or assume the character you were at that lower level (TBD) and be a huge help. This will enable players to group together without one being overpowered and content trivialized.
The Mentor System is voluntary although there will be incentives to mentor, giving your character certain advantages (points, recognition, and other rewards – the details are TBD). We want to encourage people to help new players. Additionally, there will be incentives to create alternate characters through the Progeny System (where when you reach a certain level you can create an alternate level one character who will have some advantages over a brand-new character).
Twelve. Please check out the Pantheon classes page for more information.
Yes, here is the current plan:
Pantheon does indeed use a class based system and those classes do fulfill roles especially in group and raid contexts. There will also be opportunities to focus each class on more specific and specialized roles, especially at higher levels. That said, because we feel it’s important that classes fulfill distinct roles, creating interdependence is vital to a fulfilling social and cooperative experience. If everyone is the same, this simply cannot be achieved. Likewise, if every class is absolutely unique, grouping can become overly complicated and, in some cases, certain classes could be less desirable to have in a group than others. To avoid this, Pantheon will use a quaternity system consisting of tank, healer, DPS, and crowd-control.
When mobs flee and run into another pack of mobs, a simple root is sometimes enough to keep things under control. During a more challenging battle controlling the mobs through mesmerize, root, or stuns so they are rendered inactive will be key to surviving the encounter.
Encounter Control is something that will also be a part of Pantheon. When you encounter atmospheres and climates, for example, certain classes like the Druid may be able to alter the surrounding environment. Indeed, changing the climate could have adverse effects on a boss encounter. As an example, a frost shield used by a boss mob could be made much less effective or even completely useless by a Druid changing the atmosphere to a scorching climate.
Controlling mobs and rendering them inactive to keep control of the numbers of hostile NPCs in a fight or preventing additional mobs from joining the fight will be a critical component of Pantheon’s combat mechanics.
We are indeed open to adding them but only if done correctly and with care. If implemented poorly later classes can have diminished roles in the world and in lore. We are committed to not taking shortcuts, to doing things right, and we are tenacious enough to execute on these commitments.
Yes, but it’s still uncertain whether or not they will be available at launch. Either way, they will be unique and important classes.
We wouldn't say warriors are masters of all weapons, no. They are masters of some weapons and this may vary by what race of warrior you are. Warriors generally have the most varied melee combat skills like parry, dodge, riposte, dual wield, etc. But other classes will be very formidable in melee combat as well -- they'll just express their lethality using different items, skills, and tactics.
Crafting is an important part of Pantheon. A big emphasis is going to be on cooperation between adventurers and crafters. There exists a symbiotic relationship, not competition -- both adventurers and crafters will need each other. With as many horizontal content paths as we’re going to have, you’re going to want to seek crafters for those very specific situations. Instead of having to farm a specific piece of gear, it might be more beneficial to find a crafter with that recipe.
Some items drop when you kill a mob while others are harvestable and others are crafted. Other than a few class-specific rewards, such as epic quest items, many items will be craftable. Crafting also goes hand-in-hand with dropped items by allowing players to customize their gear. Players can often bring items to a crafter to customize and tailor them to their specific needs. Since a customized item is meant specifically for your character the item will likely be bound (un-tradable) but this allows the crafter to squeeze out some additional power from a dropped item. That said, it is possible (TBD) you could later break down the item into components allowing another crafter to use those materials to augment something for you in the future.
To some degree although special crafting areas require some significant combat effort to reach. Players who are both adventurers and crafters will greatly benefit from being masters of both.
Some items in Pantheon require certain climates to create. For example, located in Amberfaet is The Anvil, a naturally occurring region in the zone and a scorching environment inside a frigid environment. Crafters will be required to acclimate to the scorching environment to eventually use The Anvil for crafting.
Yes, secondary skills like fishing are fun and something different to do, perhaps during some downtime.
Housing isn’t currently a planned release feature. Doing housing properly is a big deal. We don’t want instanced housing or open world housing where urban sprawl takes up half the world and people can’t find a place to make their home. Post launch, we are looking at some ideas that affect gameplay such as Outposts that guilds could set up in areas appropriate to their level, and other players could visit their outpost. When they are done, kind of like the Wild West, you can pick up your wagon of stuff and move your Outpost. Again, this idea would be a post-launch feature.
Having a player-driven economy is an important part of Pantheon and we want a heavy focus on player-to-player trading. Items need to come in and out of the economy regularly. Keeping items scarce and adding item sinks to give reason to donate or sacrifice your items will be important to the game. With some exceptions (quest items, epic-quest items, crafter customized items) almost everything in the game will be tradable. We want exotic items found in one end of the world to be very valuable elsewhere.
We want the player to respect and even fear the environment, but also to be enticed by it. A big part of achieving this balance is making sure there is an incentive to avoid death. While the details of this system are not yet fleshed out (and will likely be tweaked and changed a bit during beta), you can expect death to be something you’d rather avoid. That said, if a death penalty is too severe, it can keep players away from some of the more challenging and rewarding content, and we are keeping this in mind as well. So death will sting, but it will also not involve losing an unreasonable amount of experience, or levels, or a permanent loss of items.
Yes. You will be able to /drag a corpse (assuming you have /consent). There will also be spells like Resurrection and Call of the Hero so that groups can stick together and keep going.
We are pleased with the amount of progress we’ve been able to make with the resources we have. Currently we have multiple zones up on cloud servers and can play, test, and balance the core playable classes including combat, travel, and the abilities/spells/stances/actions for each base class. The foundation and core gameplay elements are present. Once testing, tweaking, and balancing is complete, we will continue forward, testing higher levels, adding more zones, and implementing any remaining features and mechanics.
We are working hard and prepping to bring in pre-alpha pledgers, and then alpha pledgers after that. The game must be ready, but we are heading strongly in that direction.
The goal is that soon this year (2017) the very first group of players (pre-alpha pledgers only-- not alpha pledgers) will begin to be invited to help test. The game must be ready and have enough content. Then in Alpha we plan on having the entire continent of Kingsreach ready for testing. We don’t like to be evasive, but the timing must be right so our players can give us meaningful feedback, bug reports, etc. These earlier phases are traditional tests, rather than something along the lines of ‘early access’.
Pre-alpha means that the game is still under heavy development. Some mechanics may not be in the game yet and everything you see could be changed before release. Next is Alpha, and then Beta. We stress the semantics because we have Pre-alpha, Alpha, and Beta access available at different pledge levels.
Ideally, we want to be in testing for a full year -- this approach helped launch past games in a solid, balanced way, and we want this for Pantheon as well.
There are many variables involved and developing a massively multiplayer game is not an easy thing to do. Our goal is to be in alpha and beta testing at some point during 2017. The launch date is to be determined. Important: these dates are not set in stone and subject to change.
All dungeons are open world. There are no plans for instanced dungeons at this time. The dungeons will be very large to handle multiple groups of players. More shards/servers will be added if overpopulation becomes a problem.
Yes, there will be Raid content in Pantheon. That said, the majority of content is being designed for grouping, with the remainder for soloing or raiding.
We're trying to avoid the term 'End Game' because it has evolved into something far different than what it literally means. In some games, the perception that the true game, the ‘fun’ game, doesn’t begin until the 'end game' came to exist. The reason why isn't super important and varies depending on the game but with Pantheon you won’t be compelled to rush to the final levels.
First, even if you could rush to maximum level, you would be incredibly ill-equipped to handle high-end combat. Because you found some way to rush (perhaps a bug, etc.) your character won't have what it needs to do well at the higher levels. Second, most content in Pantheon will be designed around grouping, with smaller amounts designed for soloing and raiding. Pantheon is not primarily a raiding game, though we know many in our community enjoy raiding. Same with soloing -- it is not Pantheon's focus, but some people like to solo occasionally. Also, there is no reason why we couldn't have, say, level 20 or level 30 raids. In other words, there is nothing magical or special at the final levels that somehow allows you to experience an aspect of Pantheon that was previously hidden. That is not the case. We want the game to be fun and adventurous, finding skills and items throughout your entire experience from low to max level. Lastly, we will be launching expansions frequently enough to keep ahead of most players and raising the level cap as necessary.
First, if you go around kill stealing and bothering other players your reputation is likely to suffer and you could even be blacklisted such that people refuse to group with you. In terms of the actual mechanic, the player or group that does the most damage will receive the experience and loot (note: this is not yet set in stone and will be evaluated during alpha and beta testing).
Repeated griefing and harassment will become a Customer Service issue. If a player consistently ruins the fun and entertainment of other players he or she will no longer be welcome to play Pantheon.
By creating plenty of content, a large world, not allowing shards to become overpopulated (for example, by quickly launching new shards), possible systems and rules within specific shards, and if things get out of hand to involve Customer Service (GMs). Above all, we want to use positive reinforcement by making sure that there is enough content and an epic enough world to minimize these issues.
We also want to make sure there will be plenty of great items and choices for adventuring all over the world – for example, we want to avoid there being just a single sought-after item for a specific class at a specific level. Similarly powerful and valued items will be available elsewhere in the world.
Absolutely. We will begin putting that program together in Beta or earlier. Additionally, we will also have a guild outreach program and mentoring system. Onboarding and helping newcomers get acquainted with the game is very important to us.
We are keenly aware of this issue. With Pantheon, we’ve been building the client's architecture from day one to be as dumb as possible and only sending the bare minimum of information.
Our reaction to multi-boxing is to try something first before we even entertain the idea of artificially restricting it. We want to make combat, especially mid and higher level combat, so tactically intense, with so much going on, so much to do, so much to counter, so many companions to keep alive and the timing of many abilities crucial, that multi-boxing is extremely difficult if not impossible and likely far inferior to having an actual real person in your group.
There will be plenty of / (slash) commands that players can assign to hot keys. Likewise, the GUI will be customizable. However, players will not be able to create hotkeys that automate playing their character nor chain a long list of commands together.
Yes, the UI will be customizable and skinnable. We will likely avoid, however, true scripting languages that might allow a player to create macros that automate gameplay.
There will be a limit to group size (currently 6-8 players, but that’s not set in stone) to add a tactical element in terms of group configuration.
Raid size has yet to be determined. There may be a limit, or encounters might be made for different raid sizes. We will experiment with this number in alpha and beta.
We don’t have hard limits in mind. It might affect gameplay, if a mob is zerged it might flee or call in reinforcements. In terms of an arbitrary hard limit for a guild, we don’t see a reason to do that. We will also have a robust guild management system.
Yes, pretty much all of that and more.
There will be both offensive and defensive targets. Beneficial spells and abilities will be directed toward your defensive target, while harmful spells and abilities will be directed at your offensive target. Some spells and abilities, primarily area-of-effect spells, will involve targeting the ground or area around your foes.
There will be a traditional auto-attack system. Passive abilities will trigger automatically during combat (dodge, parry, etc.). This gives the player the time to focus on selecting abilities and spells (magic missile, fireball, counterspells, deflections, etc.) based on what’s going on tactically in combat.
We realize that some MMOs have used a more ‘action’ oriented combat system, where you click on different buttons to attack, swing your sword, dodge, etc. With Pantheon, combat will still be action-packed and require close attention, using tactics, as well as reacting to what mobs and other players may be doing. In fact, so much will be going on that you will not want to have to worry about whether you are swinging your sword or not -- you will be casting spells, assuming stances, countering or deflecting your opponent’s moves and spells, and more. Additionally, while you can either click directly on a mob or simply use the tab key to change targets, there will also be a subset of spells where you can target the ground (for example, some area-of-effect spells).
The player will have enough time to react to what the NPC is doing (counterspell, deflect, move out of the way, etc.). Combat is more involved and the player will need to pay attention, but it is not ‘twitch’ in the way a first-person shooter is.
We’re considering it. We don’t want to create a detailed combo system but we like the idea of synergetic abilities and the opportunity for players abilities to open up possible actions for others. We will reveal more in the future.
Combat statistics, formulas, weapon damage, weapon delay, resource pools, regeneration, etc. are all things we are constantly tweaking and monitoring. While we are at the point we need to be right now, we don’t consider anything final. Tweaking and balancing an MMO is an ongoing process.
Yes, what sort of material your weapon is made of and the body type of your target will matter. For example, scale, bone, and slime body types mitigate slashing damage, while crystalline body types take extra damage from piercing attacks.
Absolutely. Ranged throwing weapons and archery will certainly be in Pantheon.
There may be a few rare, extremely powerful AOE spells, that could affect others in your group. You’ll want to use them judicially and make very sure your group is positioned correctly. That being said, this would be the exception, not the rule.
Mobs that you kill have a chance to drop loot. The loot you obtain after defeating a mob should make sense relative to the type of mob. In other words, pelts and fur should come from animals, and swords and shields from sentient beings. Rats will not drop breastplates, unless perhaps they are really big rats who just finished eating your friend. Items will not be the only thing a mob may drop -- in Pantheon, many of the more rare and exotic spells and abilities are found not at the local trainer but from a wise sage hiding in the depths of a dungeon or at the top of a remote tower.
Our desire to bring back the value and personality of items drives our item design. This means that the frequency of upgrades will be slower and when you do get a new piece of gear not only will the experience be memorable but so will the item. We want you to collect your items and be able to remember their names. When you get that epic item or rare drop after an incredible dungeon crawl, we want you to be in awe of what you have accomplished and the reward that came from it. Items will be memorable, deserved, cherished, and desired.
There will also be many ‘situational’ items. Please see The Pantheon Difference.
Lower level items will have their limits. Many will not be ‘magical’, limiting the types of mobs you can engage. That said, the first few levels should go fairly quickly and then advancement will slow as the player gets into the meat of the game. Roleplaying-wise it’s traditional to start with more basic equipment, then gain access to more powerful non-magical gear, and then eventually magical gear and even planar gear. High level items will include procs (the ability to cast spells themselves), bane bonuses, regeneration & spell focus bonuses, and more.
We recognize that the items you gain from your adventures, or the hard-earned gold coins, are yours and that you should be able to do with them whatever you want. This means that no-drop and bind-on-equip items will be the exception, not the rule. Epic weapons or items used for quests may be restricted, but the majority of items will not. That said, some quests may require you to turn in an older item in order to complete them. You will also be able to sacrifice items at altars in temples in return for valuable and long lasting ‘buffs’. So, while the game will not stop you from handing down most items to other players, it will also encourage you to remove older items from the player-driven economy by rewarding you accordingly.
In general, there will be no hard level limits. High-level items will scale down to prevent too much power in the hands of a low-level character. There will still be lots of reasons to trade in your items such as sacrificing them at temples for long term buffs, augmenting your items, etc. Over time, this will cause more powerful items to trickle down. It is, however, our responsibility to stay ahead of that curve by introducing new content with better items to drop and craft. It’s more difficult to design properly, but we feel it creates a much more vibrant and open player driven economy.
Mobs have a variety of AI dispositions. For example, some mobs stand their ground while others flee. Some may go after certain classes or races. The tactics used against mobs, especially boss encounters, needs to involve a great deal of variation and avoid simplistic 'tank and spank' behavior where possible.
We will have a mix of social aggro, social linked, solo pulled and a few other varieties of mob behavior. An example would be the scout/alarmist mob -- if they see you attack an ally of theirs they will run away and call the entire camp to come back and attack you. In this example, it will be imperative for a group to somehow immobilize that NPC.
Yes. In fact, with our better mob pathing, they can be even more dangerous.
Yes. Dragons play a significant and unique role in Terminus. There will be all kinds of Dragonkind -- drakes, wyverns, wyrms and true dragons which are also a large part of ancient lore.
We are considering either using the traditional subscription based model or a model where the player buys the game and then has the option of purchasing mini-expansions or ‘modules’ after launch. Either way, the game’s world will continue to expand, more content will be added, as well as new features and mechanics. Visionary Realms strongly believes that the revenue model of an MMO needs to match the game’s target audience. Because of this, Pantheon will not be ‘freemium’ or have ‘cash shops’ -- building your character and advancing in-game will be based on time invested and tactics used, not on how much money the player has in real life.
No, absolutely not. The first 5-10 levels of the game (details TBD) will be absolutely free, with some limitations to throttle potential abuse. Nor will there be a physical box you have to buy (although we are not ruling out the option of purchasing a special, premium box for those who like to have something tangible to go along with their virtual world). We feel strongly that you should have the opportunity to play and experience Pantheon for a time and then decide if the game is right for you before having to pull out your wallet.
Pantheon isn't a casual game -- it's a hard-core challenging game. Another example that has proven that a hard-core game can be successful and popular without appealing to everyone is Dark Souls. The future of games, especially MMOs, is making them the best that you can for your target audience, not watering them down to try to appeal to everyone. The reason why Pantheon will work using a subscription fee is because of the type of player we are targeting, the emphasis on community, grouping, matchmaking, and shared experiences. The primary reason other MMOs have not been able to retain players for more than a couple of months, invalidating the sub model, is because they are not sufficiently sticky and social.
Pantheon is primarily a PvE (player vs. environment) game. In fact, when we say ‘environment’, we don’t just mean NPCs, but also contending with climates and atmospheres, the very world itself. That said, we understand that a portion of our target audience also enjoys player vs. player. Our experience is that separate PvE and PvP shards is the answer, however it is too early to predict how many PvP shards we would launch with. That being said, we will definitely launch with at least one player vs. player shard. It is also worth mentioning that when we do eventually focus on PvP we will do so such that tweaks and changes to classes and races in order to make PvP more fun will not affect the balance of Pantheon’s PvE experience. As the game grows there could be additional variations of PvP shards and more attention paid to the unique gameplay mechanics associated with PvP.
The issue with balance and PvP vs PvE is not one that is that difficult to solve but it does require planning: you just use different formulas and data - you don't cross your streams. That way, if we need to make Paladins in PvE more powerful, we can do that without disrupting PvP balance. And vice versa.
Gaining experience by any means, including killing mobs, finishing quests, etc. is still the fundamental way to keep track of a character’s vertical progression and accomplishments. That much is similar between earlier MMOs and Pantheon and, really, between almost all MMOs. The Perception system is our answer to boring quest hubs and being told to accomplish things that really have nothing to do with the environment and the lore. By using your Perception skill, by finding Perception triggers, and by following them where they lead, you will be doing 'quests', but quests given to you in context by the environment. You can be rewarded in just as many ways as a traditional quest: experience, items, a quest token, etc., as well as with special skills and abilities.
Through the Perception System, players can become a Keeper and quest dialogue is recorded in your Tome of Keeping. Keepers can utilize two skills to progress through the Perception System: a passive skill called Insight, and an active skill called Investigate. Once you’ve completed a Perception Quest, you won’t be bothered by the dialogue in the future. Hints and keywords are given to help direct players, no specific instructions will be given.
It is very important that most quests can be picked up at any point in time. While it can be challenging from a design perspective, we feel it is integral to the success of the system that players can do the content on their terms. In theory, a player could get to max level without participating much in the Perception System and then become a Keeper at level 50. We have some ideas for this to happen seamlessly.
Certain quests completed through the Perception System can unlock additional content. For example, if players had not talked to a specific quest NPC and gone through the questline, they might not have a key to access certain parts of a dungeon.
If you want to find out if an NPC has a quest all you have to do is… talk to him. We will NOT be utilizing the ‘over the head icon’ approach, and there will be no punctuation or other symbols above NPCs’ heads. You will either have to begin a conversation with an NPC or an NPC may begin one with you. Likewise, the environment itself will give clues and help you start or pick up a quest.
We want you investigate your surroundings and gather information and interacting with NPCs is a big part of that. So don’t be shy, speak with the inhabitants of Terminus and engage the world!
Story and lore elements are essential to our Quest system – they need to be meaningful and give purpose. But as a player you should never feel overwhelmed with a bunch of quests that are nothing but mundane tasks. When you get a quest the intent is that it will be epic in nature and reinforce the fact that you are a resurrected hero. More specifically, Pantheon is not a ‘quest hub’ game, where you move to one level appropriate hub, do a bunch of quests in that area, and then move to the next hub; rather, you will need to search out and find quests by interacting with PCs and in a less linear and more ‘sandbox’ style setting.
Absolutely. Some of the most memorable gaming experiences stem from the adventure involved in obtaining and earning ‘epic’ weapons and items. These quests should be class defining moments and fill you with a major sense of accomplishment when completed. Whether hunting for clues to start a quest or trying to figure out the right thing to say or do in order to get to the next step, epic quests will be a significant social component of the game.
There will also be quests for epic, class defining abilities.
Absolutely. Virtually all quests (both traditional and perception triggered) will be based on the lore of the world.
It is still too early to say, but it could vary based on context.
There were a lot of reasons we chose Unity, and they all had to do with the positives of the engine, not necessarily the negatives of others. Much of the decision came down to the fact that it is an engine that enabled us to get to work quickly without requiring an expensive and large team. Unity has also allowed us to rapidly develop the game itself and will also enable us to deploy to multiple platforms with minimal effort. Unity is truly a ‘game engine’ and not just a ‘graphics engine’. It also supports the use of higher level languages like C# and the easy inclusion of a variety of plug-ins. These features and more allow the Pantheon development team to focus on making a game first and not an engine. We are a lean, mean team and we want to spend the majority of our time making the game itself, not tweaking and modifying the core of a graphics engine or having to also build a broad suite of tools or add-ons.
While Unity originally may have been geared towards smaller and more simple games, a lot has changed since then. Unity’s developers are committed to providing an engine every bit as capable as any other professional game engine. In fact, we have a special relationship with them and they are excited to see a major MMO being developed using their technology. Here are some of the AAA games that are using the Unity engine:
● Deus Ex: The Fall
● Might & Magic X Legacy
● Gloria Victis
● Wasteland 2
● Dead Trigger 2
● Kerbal Space Program
● Call of Duty®: Strike Team
● Endless Space
● Shroud of the Avatar
A longer list may be found here.
Most modelling is done in the latest version of Maya. For sculpting, ZBrush is used in most cases and 3D-Coat in some cases. Texturing is done in Substance Painter with everything then brought together inside Unity. We’re also writing custom shaders as necessary. Other software includes World Machine and Mudbox for terrain and some other baking software like xNormal and Knald.
Pantheon will have meaningful travel -- players will need to travel to new areas and face the dangers that come with such a journey. That said, there will be spells like 'Call of the Hero', which summons an ally to your side if they are grouped with you. There will also be a caravan-like system, where a player can log out whilst in a group and then log back in and still be with the group, even if that group has moved. There will also be additional ways to help groups come together and stay together. But it's also important to note that this doesn't mean people will be able to travel as they please, to anywhere in the world, at a whim; especially if they haven't travelled there by foot or horse at least once (e.g. players will need to unlock certain regions by travelling there first). More details to come as we get closer to beta and launch.
Yes, there will be a variety of mounts, as well as spells and abilities that can be obtained which increase travel speed. Players will also be able to acquire items for their characters that allow them to climb vertical surfaces.
While there will certainly be flying NPCs, whether or not players will have the ability to fly is undecided at this point. What we can say is that if we do offer flying mounts, either before or after launch, the goal will be to make travel more fun; not to allow players to avoid, bypass, or skip over large chunks of content.
We've not finalized how sea travel will work at launch, but eventually you'll be able to sail ships around the world (definitely post-launch). Before all of that is implemented, however, and by launch, some limited class abilities like those that teleport you over land would likely teleport you over water as well.
As for Swimming, it is not only an option but a very important skill with one of our player races being aquatic. Spells and items that give your character underwater breathing can also be obtained.
Pantheon is a zone-based game as opposed to having a truly seamless world, although this could change as technology and tools evolve, either before or after launch. Regardless, however, our current technology and tools allow us to create truly vast, rich, and detailed zones. Players will not be running frequently into zone borders. Our larger zones also allow us to create long vistas and views, and in almost all cases, if you can see a location you can travel there.
We have lots of overworld adventure areas and overland dungeons where players don’t need to zone into but there may be several groups hunting there. Even in underworld and dedicated dungeon areas, they will be open world as well. It is all part of the shared experience we really want to capture.
Pantheon will support instancing to a limited degree, using it primarily for storytelling in a linear fashion, perhaps at the end of an epic quest. The vast majority of content, however, will exist in non-instanced shared zones.
Overcrowding and too much competition are indeed problems that have plagued both MMOs with and without instancing. If there are not enough players around, it can be hard to group and socialize. But if there are too many people around, the world feels crowded and people have to wait for encounters or spawns, or even compete for them. Our answer to this issue is twofold: first, primarily during the later phases of beta, we will determine how many people online at one time in our game world feels right -- neither under-crowded nor overcrowded. Second, if and when a server’s/shard’s population grows too large, we will launch a new shard with incentives for players to spread out. And with our harnessing of cloud hosted servers/shards, this is actually something we can do dynamically, easily, and quickly.
We love the idea of bringing back a wide level range of content in the same zone. While some areas in a zone may be for low levels, other areas may contain higher level content. We want high and low level players to occupy the same spaces, encounter each other in their travels, and inspire players to reach higher levels.
Yes. Additionally, dynamic weather is planned.
Yes. In fact, one of our playable races, the Dark Myr, is an underwater race. It is important to note here, however, that while the idea of exploring underwater areas and discovering ‘Atlantean’ ruins is a compelling one, many implementations of underwater content and gameplay in other MMOs has left some gamers with a negative impression. We are confident that we can provide compelling and fun underwater zones as well as an interface and ability to move underwater that is not frustrating. Additionally, our goal of having underwater zones is not only to provide a different feel and atmosphere, but also to create areas where different tactics can come into play. Underwater exploration and combat is more of a 3D experience, since you can be attacked from any direction, including above you and below you. Some good examples of this are the Battle Room from the book and movie Ender’s Game and the combat in the nebula between Kirk and Khan in the original Star Trek 2 movie, where Kirk outsmarts Khan by attacking from above using his familiarity with 3D space to his advantage.
Yes. One example is the climbing skill which will be an important part of every player’s arsenal. Improving that skill will determine what type of faces you can grab onto and climb. One of the keys to vertical ascent and progression within dungeons, say Amberfaet, is the ability to climb. Climbing won’t be limited to only climbing faces. Certain classes, like Rogues, will have ropes that you will need in certain environments where there are no surfaces to climb. There will be several different climbing surfaces.
Not just GM events, but an intricate Event System to keep the world more dynamic and a commitment by the live team to revamp older zones to keep them popular as well.
Pantheon is definitely more open world and ‘sandboxy’ than many MMOs, but it is still at its core a game system, not a true sandbox sans rules. But the key point is that you can go where you want to go, take on whatever you want to take on (though you may die trying), and travel to wherever you can see (assuming you don't freeze to death en route). So, the decisions are yours -- you are not being led around by the game on rails, with only so many options or decision points.
Yes, absolutely. To have an open, living, breathing world, it is important to have dynamic faction relationships between the denizens of the world. From the get-go, you will be making decisions and actions that will affect your faction standing with races and the various people-groups in the game world. Alignment will also play a role -- not only might your decisions affect your factions but you will be affecting a moral alignment as well. Some factions will respond to faction, while others respond to alignment, and some to both.
We test consistently in both and plan to support both. There are indeed areas where one view may be advantageous over another.