Pantheon interview offers glimpse of economy, housing, and more

MJ Guthrie
M. Guthrie|01.27.14

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Pantheon interview offers glimpse of economy, housing, and more
With the imminent shut down of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes on the horizon, eyes are turning to the upcoming Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen project spearheaded by one of the earlier fantasy game's creators. Brad McQuaid, first known for his work on the original EverQuest, is looking to fill the niche for old-school games that focus on group content and slow progression.

How much will Pantheon fit the bill as the go-to game for all those old-school gamers looking for a challenging new home? Before the weekend announcement caught everyone off-guard, we nabbed McQuaid and Director of Development Salim Grant to find out a few more details about the game and its economy (no bind-on-pickup!), crafting, housing, and classes and races.

Massively: The name of the game has certainly generated some discussion. How was the name Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen decided? Is there a particular history behind creating this name? What other names that were being considered?

Brad McQuaid, Chief Creative Officer, and Salim Grant, Director of Development: There was a lot of thought put into the name. First, Pantheon was chosen because the world of Terminus has a lot of different pantheons of gods, goddesses, and demigods. They were brought to the world along with their followers and the actual landscape of the shard that was ripped from their homeworld and merged with Terminus. As you can imagine, many of these deities are not keen on the idea of there being competition. A storm god, for example, is used to having complete control of the weather on its homeworld. Now, on Terminus, it discovers there are other storm gods. This creates an environment where there are tensions and even wars between gods. The player finds him or herself in this world of conflict, where, at least until higher levels, she or he is pretty much a pawn trying to stay alive and to become more powerful. We think this is a great environment for us to tell some really sweet stories.

Rise of the Fallen was chosen because the player's character was once a hero long ago. He has awakened in the current era and has found himself stripped of the abilities and items he once had, and he wants that power back. As he explores the world of Terminus, adventuring and trying to stay out of the path of these warring gods, he begins to rise in power himself. No longer is he a fallen hero; now he has risen from the ashes to become a force to be reckoned with.

You mentioned that the purpose of Kickstarter was just "to get the ball rolling on development" and that other funding opportunities will be visited if the basic goal is all that is reached. What other avenues will you be looking to for additional funds?

It all depends on how much we receive from Kickstarter. The usual avenues would be investors and game publishers.

Along those lines, if additional funding is not acquired, then what are the long-term plans for the features whose funding goals are not met? Will crafting and housing (slated as $3.5M and $4M stretch goals, respectively) be off the table completely? What will happen to the game if the Kickstarter goal is not met?

If the stretch goals are not met sooner as opposed to later, then we'll do our best to implement them after the game has launched, as expansions, digital downloads, and the like.

You have a game tenet that focuses on economy, yet player crafting is not even a consideration until the $3.5 million stretch goal. Can you describe how you envision the economy working, with and without crafting? For instance, will there be an auction house focusing only on looted drops? Will looted items be Bind on Pickup?

Most items will be tradeable, so we expect a vibrant economy. When crafting is added, whether sooner or later, that will add to the economy because items won't only be found while adventuring but also as the product of crafting.

The emphasis on old-school, hard-core group content brings to mind a focus on raid content, and raiders are known for storming through content at a quick pace. What convinced the team that there's enough demand for this type of gameplay to merit a game centered on it? And what plans do you have for keeping raiders from burning through content too quickly, especially on a smaller budget?

We're confident our target audience exists because we see the posts, we receive the emails, we see the emulators, etc. As for raiders and the consumption of content, we plan on having fewer levels that take longer to advance through. This means more content per level. We also are going to be careful to put our efforts into building content (dungeons, overland adventure areas, etc.) that is actually going to be used. It's a travesty when, in some games (including Vanguard), players can simply power level and skip all of that content. Not only did they miss out on some fun regions, we also pretty much wasted our time building these lower and mid level areas or cities.

Aghram in Vanguard comes to mind -- it's a huge, beautiful city, but it's always empty because there's no reason to go there. Our character advancement system includes achievements that must be met, many of which require the player to perform tasks around the world.

Ogre class emlemWith two classes being announced per week, does that mean you already have 10 classes scheduled for the game (not counting any stretch goals)?

We plan to have eight classes at launch not counting stretch goals.

Likewise, with one race being announced per day starting the 22nd, will that go daily until February 22nd (for a total of 32 races), or is there an earlier end date? How many races are planned in total, not including the stretch goals?

We will be revealing races daily starting January 27th through January 31st. We plan on launching with five races not including stretch goals.

And will there be restrictions as to which races can be which classes?

Yes, there will be race/class restrictions.

Although player housing isn't a consideration until the $4M stretch goal, can you elaborate on what type of system you'd implement? For instance: Will it be instanced, relegated to plots in neighborhoods, or able to go anywhere? And what would the decorating parameters be?

The $4M stretch goal is for instanced housing and guild property, much as it is in EQ and other games. You can find a plot of land, build a house, and then proceed to decorate it. You can then invite friends to come hang out at your place or visit theirs. There will be many items you can use to decorate your house, some totally decorative, but others that are actually useful items in-game. You can place those on walls or in trophy cabinets to show them off. This is one of several ways we hope players will hold on to many of their items instead of handing them down to lower-level players. Twinking is fine, but we want to slow the process of mudflation.

When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!
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