Middle of Week 4

I met with my dad for dinner a couple nights ago. He's worked construction all his life in one form or another. His work has been featured in architectural magazines. He co-wrote the test for the masonry contractor's license for the State of California. He's also read about every fantasy and sci fi book ever written and plays World of Warcraft more than anyone I know. I was telling him more about the Dawnshine project, the culture, the building materials, etc. He's going to help me a lot with the building concepts. He knows a lot about ancient history and construction methods. So it was a helpful talk. I just wish my dad didn't talk with food in his mouth. That bothers me so much. But what can you do?

So I'm finishing up a temporary gui for the Character Creation process. I'm happy with 90% of the classes, but we might end up tweaking one or two of them. We won't be announcing any of them until they're working in the engine and we're happy with their advancement customizations. Some of them are unique, most are very unusual, and the ones that are similar to what's in other games, still have a lot of interesting twists. Still, my concern isn't that people will steal ideas from us. My concern is that we promise to have feature X and struggle and struggle with it, and either can't get it to work right or we come up with a better idea and don't want to feel constrained. My word is really important to me, so I'm really careful about making promises.

With that in mind, the crew at Loki's Planet want to announce their teaming up with us. So I have to write a press release about Dawnshine. That's harder to do than you might think. We're not announcing many features at this time. And although it's incredibly awesome that Dawnshine will be the first ever MMORPG released in the Hard Fantasy style... um... most people don't even know what Hard Fantasy means or why that's a cool thing. Hard Fantasy is an amazing genre, but it's really, really rare. Really rare. It goes against everything that is the core of what fantasy is, so to most people, you explain it to them, and they give you a, "uh, what?" expression.

In simple terms, the elements in sci fi that cause science fanatics to argue about Warp Coils and Tachyon Beams is what makes for good Hard Sci Fi. But no one argues about similar mechanics in Fantasy. The reason why is people just shrug their shoulders and say, "It's magic. The whole point of what makes it mysterious is that you don't know how it works." That's the whole point of fantasy. In Hard Fantasy, there is no mystery. Everyone knows exactly how magic works, or at least the highly trained do. Thalos and Lokana are both Gods in Dawnshine, but even they could be killed if done in a specific way. Their magic is also highly restricted to the same laws of the universe that binds everyone else.

This is counter productive to what most people love about Fantasy. But, in exchange for giving up the ability to hook people with unpredictability, Hard Fantasy offers a stable platform which makes it easier for a story to center around characters rather than events. Magic is no longer the central theme to the story, but rather a back drop to it. This way, we get to focus on a character's personalities, goals, conflicts, struggles, etc. If magic in the story is unpredictable to the reader / player, it can keep them from getting invested in that character. After all, who sits on the edge of their seats knowing that any danger the heroes get in will just be solved by some new magic spell that the author just made up on the spot? Well, in Hard Fantasy, the reader / player already knows all the tricks the heroes have up their sleeves because it's been established and the author can't break their own rules or it's not Hard Fantasy any more. It's a subtle difference that makes Hard Fantasy a very unique genre--and one, I think works fantastically as an MMORPG genre just waiting for someone to create.

Will most players care? Probably not. But that's why we plan to make Dawnshine a really fun game just in case.

Aside from that, here's what we're working on:

Half the programming team was out of town this week, so it was a short meeting. The team is working on getting the camera to move to different scenes depending on which faction you select during the Character Creation and Selection screen. That way, you pick the Neg Wath and you see a forest scene, pick the Sawkarans, maybe you're outside a sun temple or something. I noticed the camera's really messed up in the engine right now. I'm guessing a programmer tweaked with it, broke it, and decided to figure out what's wrong with it tomorrow.

We're getting a ahead of the concept artists, so the modelers are going to start modeling basic stuff that doesn't really need concept art for--bowls, rocks, simple tables, etc. To be honest, everyone's moving faster than I planned they would, so people are getting ahead of me. Plus the team keeps growing by a couple new people each week on average. I'm spending a lot of time scrambling to keep up with everyone.

Nothing to talk about right now. I need to clone myself so I can manage the project and get all the writing done I need to do. I really hope we can start posting some Dawnshine fiction and lore a month from now. I can promise you guys are going to see a freakish amount of details about the game lore--far more than anyone's ever heard of from an MMORPG. Dawnshine is definitely a game lore nerds and role players will love.

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