Project Faerthale is broken down into monthly goals, and this month’s goals have us all quite excited. By the end of March we should see a new area populated with an encounter that will be playable in a basic form.

Much like our approach to worldbuilding, we are doing a “graybox” version of the event. This means that not only are parts of the environment left untextured, but also the basic sequence is laid out from start to finish in a primitive form. During our event there is a weather-type occurrence. This is broken down into a set of effects that we can block in, like slowing the player down or pushing him or her back. The animations, visuals, and sound may not be fully implemented yet, but we can start to see how it comes together. We’ll continue this process through the entire event, blocking in basic conditions and effects. By the end of the month we should be able to play through the entire event and get a feel for how it plays.

This is an important step because sometimes something sounds fun on paper but in practice it doesn’t have the same quality. When that happens we have to consider why it isn’t fun. Are there a few minor things that take away from the enjoyment? Is the implementation off? Or does the idea itself just not translate into something fun to play? You have to be prepared for that possibility, too, no matter how small a possibility it is, and that’s why grayboxing is such an important step. If changes are needed, you haven’t gone down the rabbit hole and burned a lot of valuable time polishing things you end up not using.

So, as I mentioned, the entire team is very eager to try this event by the end of the month. Then April, at least in part, will be spent refining it and adding in more layers of finishing.

One of those many layers is visual effects.

As you may have noticed, we had an opening for a Visual Effects Artist for Pantheon. That is no longer the case. I’m happy to tell you that the position has been filled by a wonderfully talented individual by the name of Fernando Flores. Fernando joined us at the beginning of the month and has already dived head-first into the world of Terminus to infuse some incredible visual effects that make the world—and the game as a whole—come to life. As a VFX Artist, he not only works closely with Creative, but he’s also working side by side with Programming as there are a lot of technical aspects to VFX. He is working closely with Technical Artist Bruno Rime and they are making magic happen. Like, literally… they’re working on magic-based visual effects.

In terms of game systems, things are being fleshed out there too. Senior Designer Corey LeFever has completed a deep design on crafting and CTO & Lead Programmer Daniel Krenn and his team presented a first pass of it this past week. It’s a very basic system right now. This iteration is serving as placeholder so we can block out the tools and UI needed for the full system, which will come later. Sorry, crafters—no full crafting system yet, but it’s now blocked out in game, so it’s coming!

Also, Programming has been working diligently on the climbing system. We always wanted Pantheon’s climbing to be engaging, so we’ve worked it into Project Faerthale. While the idea itself is relatively straight-forward, its potential impact is much greater. Design is thinking of clever ways to use it in the environment, in the story, and even in some events.

And that’s what’s happening at Visionary Realms this month. Soon we’ll be able to play through the special event, climb the walls, craft some equipment, and enjoy some magical sparkles. Can’t wait to share more in April!