Posted date / 01.11.17
January is traditionally a time for resolutions, reflection and remembrance, a time to look back at the high points of the prior year and a time to set goals for the year to come. Here at Visionary Realms, 2016 was a banner year that was filled with incredible progress on Pantheon, exceptional growth in our community and several new exciting additions to our team. 2016 saw us attain new levels of stability and reaffirmed to us that transparency and honesty are the core of maintaining the type of community that this game is designed for. Our community was both the pillar of our stability and the catalyst of our growth, and for that we are eternally grateful to you. Join us now as we look back at our top ten moments of 2016.
In a perfect world, developers would have unlimited amounts of money and complete artistic control over their projects, but with budgets that can eclipse those of a feature film and publishers with shareholders to appease, that’s simply no longer a possibility. While crowdfunding a game might be the most stressful way to get a game made, it is also one that allows the team the best ability to stay true to the core vision without outside influences. In September we made changes to our pledge tiers to streamline and simplify and in the process created a new lower price point pledge to give any more fans the ability to contribute.
We started the year strong with our Cleric reveal and kept up a pace that kept our fans happy and our team busy. Also featured this year were the introductions to our Rogue and Shaman classes and showing off our initial models of the Gnome, Human, Ogre and Archai races. We enjoyed showing off the fruits of our labor and look forward to revealing even more in 2017.
In March we sent Brad and the team to San Francisco to speak at the premier developers’ conference, GDC 2016. We invited teams from various media outlets as well as potential investors to see the game in person and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We are still continuing to benefit from the feedback and relationships made at GDC 2016.
Here at Visionary Realms, we know how important community is and we made a concentrated effort to hear and respond to our supporters in 2016. From newsletter interviews to weekly conversations in our VIP forums we kept looking for better ways to hear from you. You can even find our team members on Discord, Twitch and answering questions on fansite podcasts. And in 2017 we aim to do even better. Taking your feedback from this past year we are taking aim at even more regular updates, VIP roundtables, Q&As and more.
We saw a much greater presence in the mainstream gaming media, thanks in large part to the unbridled enthusiasm of our fans. With features on sites such as MMORPG.com, Game Informer and Massively Overpowered, Visionary Realms has started to get the type of exposure a title like Pantheon needs to succeed.
In November our team traveled to Los Angeles for Unite 2016, the Unity conference for developers, artists, users and fans. Brad and Corey gave a presentation of our current client and spoke about how the Unity engine has enabled our small team to have a big impact in creating a vibrant, living world.
“It was such a great period of time. The whole team really came together in the weeks leading up to the presentation to pitch in and make the best showing we could for the big stage. Unity was really great to us as well, as we were the first non-Unity team to take the stage. Getting to be there in person with Brad to meet other developers and see what they've been working on with the same engine was also really awesome and eye opening.” - Corey LeFever, Senior Game Designer.
“My fondest memory of 2016 was joining VR January of 2016 and having the honour to work with a team of devoted, passionate and incredibly talented people.” - Lynn Ashworth, Project Manager.
2016 saw several key additions to our team as we move closer to our ideal size of around 40 people. In January we added a new Producer in Lynn Ashworth, in May we welcomed World Builder Brendan Rogers, while October saw Senior Programmer Tod Curtis and Systems Engineer Pierre Cadieux join the team. In 2016 we also saw Systems Engineer Kurt Habetler, Senior Programmer Robert Crane and Game Designer Ken Williamson join the team. While there are still several more additions to be made to the team we are steadily moving towards the final numbers needed to see Pantheon to its completion.
In August we unleashed Brad upon an unsuspecting reddit and came away with a fantastic A.M.A. that exceeded our expectations. The furious pace of a live A.M.A. can be overwhelming and can leave many fans feeling flat as their questions zoom by unanswered, but Brad not only handled a remarkable amount of questions in real time, but went back later and combed through the missed queries and did his best to answer those as well. We’re not quite sure how Brad’s hands handled all the typing in such a short timespan but we could hear him laughing from his office for days afterwards: “See! I told you I could answer them all!”
While many of our fans might be shocked to see the December stream not taking home the top spot in our list, rest assured that we have good reasons for our choice for #1. Both the June and December Twitch live streams garnered a lot of praise from both fans and critics alike, with the difference between the two showing just how hard the team had pushed and how quickly progress was being made. The inclusion of CohhCarnage in our final stream of the year helped introduce a lot of new gamers to Pantheon and the overall response from those seeing it for the first time was very positive. One of our newest Senior Programmers, Tod Curtis had this to say about the December stream;
“My fondest moment, by far, was watching the game in action during the December Twitch stream. Seeing how much the game had changed in a short period of time to a fun, playable state was extremely rewarding. It certainly inspires me, personally, to continue the momentum into the new year.”
Our team put a lot of preparation into our presentation for the folks at GDC, and with so many members of our team assembled in one location, the decision to set up a live Twitch stream to show off our hard work made a lot of sense. It’s always risky for an indie game developer to show off their wares in a non-finished state, but that’s exactly what we did with our pre-alpha client, and with the greater risk came even greater rewards. Director of Communications, Benjamin de la Durantaye, had this to say about the event and he sums up what many of us felt perfectly;
“All of our Twitch streams have been a lot of fun but I will always remember the first one we did in March.
When you're making a game it's easy to become inwardly focused; head down, concentrating on the work. When this happens it can become difficult to be objective. You're so close to the project and you *think* you're doing well but there's always that nagging voice in the back of your head: "will other people like this? Is this the right move for this component? Do we need a little more of that?" Soon that little nagging voice can start to get you concerned. "What if they hate it? What if we've been wrong this whole time?"
And then, our first Twitch stream. We were all very nervous; I can't tell you how much. We knew *we* liked what we had made but were we just too close to the project and unable to see things objectively? Well, let me tell you, when the stream went live and the Twitch channel erupted in cheers, many of us were in tears. This was the first time we had been able to show the game in any great detail to an external audience so anything could have happened. Our nightmares were quickly squashed as the community was overwhelmingly supportive. It's an amazing feeling to have that kind of spirit and excitement backing you up. Nothing can compare to how the fans made us feel on the day the world first saw real Pantheon gameplay.”
Lead World Builder John Diasparra added his thoughts as well;
“We had all been working with our heads down for a while and it was really exciting and nerve wracking to finally put what we had been so focused on for all those months leading up to it. The testing sessions with the team are always a blast and I am always reminded of how funny and enjoyable all the folks I work with are. Finally putting the stream live and getting into the game, playing, seeing everyone's reactions, it's just too much for words. It was a truly impactful and cherished memory for me.”
Without the outpouring of community support that we received from the March Twitch Stream, there likely wouldn’t have been additional streams in June and December, which is why it captures the top spot in our list. You, our community, were the reason that 2016 was such an incredible year for us here at Visionary Realms, and we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.