Armando Luis Alvarezis creating The Fey Lands, an MORPG on Unreal Engine and Steam
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The Freyed Lands
Is an online multiplayer role-playing game by Armando Luis Alvarez, built using Unreal Engine, Blender, MakeHuman and World Machine, running on Steam. It is currently in development.
So who do you think you are?
I'm an independent filmmaker, actually. I come from central New Jersey, with a Spanish father (via Cuba) and a Texan mother (via... Texas). I'm very much a modern half-elf - never quite fitting into either culture. I've explored life as a student, a photographer, a musician and a filmmaker.
I started in an internship with, and continue to work for Thomas Allen Harris, a prominent activist in the African American community, on the award-winning Sundance and Berlin featured documentary "Through a Lens Darkly" and the upcoming TV show "Family Pictures USA".
My first legit on-set experience was on the bitcoin-funded Crispin Glover art house film "Aimy in a Cage" as assistant director and post production supervisor for writer/director/producer Hooroo Jackson. It's a hugely powerful and important statement on feminism and issues of austerity in a surreal alternate universe. (Art house isn't dead).
After that experience, I took it upon myself to write, direct and produce my own full-length film "Engrams" which I wanted to film all over Eastern Europe, before news of the refugee and banking crises hit. We went through with production regardless, filming with friends and strangers in Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Poland, Belgium and Holland in September 2015, and I successfully signed the movie's rights to Global Genesis Group at the American Film Market a year later. The film is now available on Amazon Prime and I encourage you to check it out. Drop a review for me!
"Engrams" tells the story of a young man who believes he can cure depression by triggering happy memories. When his girlfriend destroys everything that defines her personality, it starts a chain of events that sees him through a wild goose chase through Eastern and Western Europe.
What makes you think you can make an MMO?
What makes you think I can't? No, but really - Unreal Engine is so awesome, Epic Games is so accommodating, and Steam is so easy. With so much open source and creative commons software available such as MakeHuman and Blender, the time is ripe for creators to start making our own worlds with the tools programmers have made available, much the same way there were (and still are) hundreds of unique MUDs before graphics ever entered the picture.
In a very meta fashion, I want to make some of those same Unreal Engine tools available to players through the game to create your own worlds, instead of just playing around in a theme-park. For the record - I plan to have both in-depth story elements and free-form sandbox elements.
Can you teach me how to use blueprints?
Yes! One of the main goals of my YouTube channel (youtube.com/iamisandisnt) is to share every step of the development process, and to educate others who are also trying to use blueprints for their own creations. I've found most of my education comes from YouTube channels such as Titanic Games, Totally Unreal, Alen Loeb, Matthew Wadstein, the official Unreal Engine channel and plenty of others - so I see this as a wonderful opportunity to give back.
Whether you're a patron or not, I'll always be eager to demonstrate and explain my blueprints to other Unreal Engine developers! Every now and then, I do a proper tutorial, too!
If subscribers request it, I'll make a point of doing more proper tutorials!
So is this an MMO or not?
Actually, it's more like an MORPG. I'm thinking in terms of Minecraft, with individually hosted and customized game worlds, but hopefully much larger (100-200 players online at the same time seems to be manageable in tests people have performed using Unreal Engine, or as seen in Ark, which was also created using Unreal Engine).
Of note: Unreal Engine has great, easy to use peer-to-peer design features. I can plug code in, take a few seconds to compile, and playtest my vision immediately. If I were to use dedicated servers, in order to test any multiplayer features, I would have to build the entire game out to an .exe and test using an external dedicated server, which would need the update uploaded and/or installed before testing on my own PC. As a first-time developer, it's simply not feasible, and my imagination is peaking even in this somewhat limited capacity anyway.
After years and years of playing MMORPGs, I think lowering the size of the player count will help immensely - not only do you get to know the individual players on a server better, but each server can develop in dramatically different ways, allowing me as a designer to implement more variety because it's not like "well if the players do this, and the world changes, that's it, nobody ever sees the other side of the story", or "well players can't build in starting cities because" - no - each server will have its own variation on the world story's evolution and its own interpretation of the rules so as to administer their policies directly through peer moderation (players as GMs, whitelists, custom server rules, etc). Besides, who isn't sick of the endless zerg?
How did you get started?
I set it upon myself to learn the basics of C++ over a weekend when I built my new PC in June 2016 - nothing crazy, just stuff like the difference between a bool and a float, and I used Unreal Engine in C++ to make a very simple game with three "races" that had different run speeds and different stamina gain-rates.
After that, I basically took one look at the Unreal Engine Blueprints system and never looked back. Using nodes on virtual graph space with colored wires to connect just works intuitively with my brain, and I get a lot done just using the Blueprints system by itself.
I have talked to someone who recreated WOW using packet sniffing and they basically said they would be willing to port my game over to C++ and/or put it on dedicated servers after I'm done building it, and with a resume like that I'm willing to believe it's possible. In the mean time, I'm planning on relying on the Blueprints system and player-hosted peer-to-peer servers, just like Minecraft, for a cozier gaming experience with more familiar players.
I started with MUDs such as Gemstone 3 and DragonRealms on AOL, and of course real-life Dungeons and Dragons. I played everything from Ultima Online, which is perhaps my biggest influence, to Asheron's Call when it came out. I played Everquest a little bit at first but I couldn't dig the graphics, even at the time. World of Warcraft was of course like a dream come true. I played Tabula Rasa and all of the WOW clones such as Rift and Warhammer, but nobody has come close to re-invigorating the spirit of a shared world like those early games prophesied.
What are your gameplay designs?
This is a deep question, but basically I want to give the players a rich world they can explore and make permanent changes to, with a real economy that fluctuates from town to town, and physical objects you have to account for carrying in chests on a wooden cart, as opposed to a bottomless inventory in your "bags".
All players have the same amount of attribute points, but when you level up, you can redistribute points to slowly go from flat average to min-max in your preferred direction, or some sort of hybrid. You also get downtime (crafting/foraging/etc) skillpoints that accumulate, thus encouraging endless leveling but keeping players within reach of one another. With this system, early players are still at a disadvantage, but uber high level players are only as good as their build and their wits, with no level cap.
There is already player housing / building much like Ark/Rust but already much better with the ability to snap any object to any other object at any angle, and to copy the rotation of an object already placed to snap to it directly.
There will be a system close to permadeath, but with an opportunity to recover your lost characters from an epic quest (so if you can finally defeat the lord of the underworld, you get all your dead characters back).
When you log out, your player stays in the world, and you can set different AI modes (this already works in-game, though I haven't made the AI do anything yet). The purpose is that you can build your own castle, fortify it with various characters you make and level up yourself, to defend your main character, who you keep hidden away deep in a dungeon beyond traps, etc. Other players might attack, or if the server chooses to run a PvE-only care-bear mode, you can simply decorate your palace to your heart's desire and set your logged-out characters to /dance.
There are ten races with two sub-races each, and I've designed a unique system where I can use the same armor model on each race, despite huge variations in size, which is great for streamlining the content creation pipeline.
The Court Faction:
- Humans: Goth or Moore
- High Elves: Moon or Sun
- Dwarves: Mountain or Hill
- Lizardkin: Ksar or Mun
- Avian Elves: Greco or Romani
- Dark Elves: Svar or Myr
- Fey: Satyr or Minotaur
- Ogre: Fomorian or Oni
- Sylvan Elves: Dryad or Nymph
- Batling: Vesper or Desmodus
As far as the look of the game, I have set up a Pinterest board where you can see some of my old school, AD&D 2nd edition style aesthetic taste.
I want the game to have a blend of low fantasy and high fantasy, such as early seasons of Game of Thrones, where the grandiose spectacles are contrasted by realistic, rustic environments.
F2P? P2W? Subscription?
None! Buy to own.
Please subscribe so that I can do things like rent an apartment, buy groceries, and function as an adult human being while I work tirelessly to make this thing happen!
You can watch my regular lengthy dev streams at www.youtube.com/iamisandisnt/videos
$5 of $2,000 per month
1 of 2
If I can afford rent and overhead, I'll rent an apartment and work full-time on the game.
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 8 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 8 exclusive posts
Recent posts by Armando Luis Alvarez
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