chronicles of elyria an interview
In the world of fantasy gaming, an old rule can be said that when one adventure ends, another is set to begin. Chronicles of Elyria, developed by Souldbound Studios, is a new and ambitious MMO coming to PC’s worldwide. Described as an MMO that focuses more on the spirit of the player, Chronicles of Elyria offers a unique experience, with a large range of functions to perform and paths to take. Recently, the studio launched a Kickstarter to help fund the completion of the game, as well as its intended goals.
As of this writing, the game is more than 70 percent funded. To accompany the launch of CoE’s Kickstarter, Brian Snyder, the Content Director of Stack Up dot Org, spoke to Jeremy Walsh, the Owner/Creative director of Soulbound Studios and the man behind the project. Brian and Jeremy sat down for an interview over Skype on the afternoon of Thursday, May 5th. 2016. After the pleasantries, Brian got into the heart of Chronicles of Elyria and the ideas Jeremey was putting into the game.
This is just a short excerpt from the full interview presented in the video.
Stack Up: “For everybody out there that may not know, what is Chronicles of Elyria?”
Jeremy Walsh, Owner/ Creative Director: “Chronicles of Elyria is a new, in-development MMORPG that has been in design for probably over a decade at this point, and we are just at a point, and a small team of people have banded together, to turn what has been what is uh….my passion project for a long time into a reality. That’s where we are. In terms of what it is, it is the MMO that everyone has been waiting for. It’s the One that we have been promised. One with a dynamic, changing world. One where the character changes and dies, giving meaning to the choices that you make. It’s the human condition. It is us attempting to recreate the feeling and emotions of reading your favorite fantasy novel into an MMO.”
Stack Up: “Your title is Owner/Creative Director…What does that mean and what is your role on the project?”
Jeremy Walsh, Owner/ Creative Director: “So Uh…Owner, just means that I was the one that was willing to put up the money to make it happen.”
Stack Up: “Fair Enough.”
Jeremy Walsh, Owner/ Creative Director: “The creative director part comes from the fact that I’ve been working on the design of this game for over a decade. At this point, all kinds of creative decisions about features, functionality, gameplay mechanics, all that drives through me. I kind of oversee all of those elements. But interesting thing is, that has not been, historically, my background. While I have been a dungeon master and game master for about 20 years for various pen & paper role-playing games, historically, I’m a game developer. I am a game programmer by trade. Actually, think is good for us, that for someone making the design decisions has the technical background to see whether something is feasible or not.”
Stack Up “When did the original idea for Chronicles of Elyria germinate? When did the whole thing come into fruition and you decided to move on this?”
Jeremy Walsh, Owner/ Creative Director: “Well, the original idea came in 2000, and I was in college at the time, pursuing degrees in computer science and psychology. A friend of mine recommended some fantasy novels that I had never heard of, and that was ‘The Wheel of Time’ by Robert Jordan-“
Stack Up: “OH YEAA!”
Jeremy Walsh, Owner/ Creative Director: -“Yea haha….So I was reading through ‘The Wheel of time’ and so…..for one of my classes, we were working on writing design documents or specs. And so, I wrote a quick spec for an online game that I would make. At the time, I was a playing Ultima online and a Mud player, creating text-based dungeons and stuff. So I wrote a little design for an online game I would create, given the time and energy. And of course, it was just for fun at that point, in time. But, I had put it down after college, and would pick it up again periodically. Since then, its been one of those projects I’ve been coming back to and would want to make happen.”
Stack Up: “Let’s talk about the game itself. One of its major features, and it’s one of the first things you mention on your Kickstarter that you have running currently, that aging and death aspect of it. Why is that so important to you guys?”
Jeremy Walsh, Owner/ Creative Director: “There’s a couple of things with that. The most obvious, it creates a very dynamic and immersive world. In a lot of MMO’s, you sign in and everyone is either the same age or different because they chose to make their character look a little different. It’s permanent. They’re always stuck at that place. And so, the world doesn’t feel like a living and breathing place. It’s not. It’s static from the get-go. So, we wanted the world to feel more immersive and dynamic. If you are going to spend the majority of your time looking at your character, that seems like the first place to start to get that low-hanging fruit of making the world look like it is changing. Ultimately, the reason why we did that is because we felt that it solves a lot of problems seen in current MMO’s. I can tell you this, having been a Game Master myself, they call this ‘Game Masters/Dungeon Masters Conundrum.’ You start out and your players are fighting rabbits, and you eventually make your way up to dire wolves, facing other villagers (as well as) evil people. And you keep going, until you hit some cap, uh..level cap. At which point, they are literally facing the Gods of whatever universe that is. At that point, there is nothing else to do. They have literally done it all. At that point, most game masters / dungeon master gracefully retire their party, in order to start a new adventure. We have never been able to do that in MMO’s before. You end up with this problem where every year or two, you have to release expansions with bigger and better and greater things. That forces a lot pressure on content and design teams to keep adding value to the game, instead of making what’s already there better.
We saw that with aging and dying, we don’t have to worry about level caps. It takes more than one lifetime for a person to reach what you would consider peak performance. At which point, they are already pretty old and fighting against time already. They get an opportunity to restart. Because the players are already young, they have the opportunity to re-do their world. They are at a different place in their world because they are at a different age. The world has already changed since the last time they were there.”
Stack Up: “Now, this is tied into what you’re calling ‘Souls’ right? Where that is kind of your persistence in this world?”
Jeremy Walsh, Owner/ Creative Director: “The benefit of Chronicle of Elyria is that it has been in development for a long time. It has a lot of ‘bake time’ as I like to say. What that means is that a lot of these mechanics have been thought to death. For every new mechanic that we thought about and said ‘This solves a specific problem,’ we realized it would oftentimes introduce other problems. And so, we had to spend some time reiterating it until we came up with something that we were really satisfied with. And in this case, it started with aging and dying. But, when you have an aging and dying system like this,where your character perma-dies, in an MMO world, it can feel like your progression is being flushed. You know like ‘ I spent a year, making this character. And I watched him grow old and die and I have nothing to show for it.’ And so the Soul system was introduced as a solution to that problem.
It’s not actually your character that is your character, as in most games. It is your soul. That’s really the part of you that really contains your progression. So while you’re incarnated into a body and you grow old and die, it seems your progression is pushed aside. Then you take that soul, which is your real progression, and that reincarnates in a new body. So, there is a ramp-up period to get back to where you were before. But, there’s just something cool and awesome to play a reincarnated version of a past self. Even cooler that when players come into the world for the first time, they are going to be picking souls that are assigned to them from a random pool. But, these souls have all been in the world before. They all have, potentially, some past lives as well. And that’s part of the player destiny. That is you don’t know who your soul was in a previous life and what he/she played in the story.”
Chronicles of Elyria is slated for release sometime in 2017. Check out their Kickstarter page and website for more information.
You can also listen to the full interview on the video at the top of the page!