Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Phoenix Project Status Update, Monday, June 24, 2013

The Phoenix Project
Status Update, Monday, June 24, 2013
By: Segev

Some hard news hit our community this past week. I do not wish to belabor it, because nothing I could say could really do justice to the emotions people felt and still feel. Our community is strong, and we will persevere. The Phoenix Project mourns along with the rest of our community.

This is not new development, but I would like to take the occasion to talk a little bit about how we plan to memorialize those who have departed who have left a mark upon the hearts of this community, because it has come up before. We want to remember without dwelling upon sorrow.

Titan City is a place of hope - whether for justice, or for personal advancement - and so while it will not forget, it will not be a city-sized mausoleum. Instead, it is a city of rebirth, where we look to the world of tomorrow while we remember those who came before. So, let us meet more of the city, and see the story behind an area very relevant to the emotions we are all feeling right now.

Following World War II, the city set aside a plot of land, as many cities did, upon which to create a memorial. For Titan City, they chose to make a memorial garden on a hill on the edge of Rhinehart park. The garden is surrounded by a decorative black wrought iron fence, having a brick-paved walkway which leads past an open grassy area filled with statues of heroes. On the west edge of the grassy area there is a lily-studded pond fed by a small formal stream that winds its way through a simple maze of lavender hedges. To the east, the brick walkway leads past a small information kiosk with information on each fallen hero memorialized here into the hedge maze. Trees of varying ages and species dot the maze, providing shadow for visitors. The maze itself is filled with nooks and corners, some empty and some holding elegantly carved wooden and ornately forged iron benches. Each bench has a plaque on one arm, naming the fallen hero it is dedicated to, and every tree has a plaque embedded in the brick beneath it. At the top of the hill there is a circle of apple and cherry trees. Inside the tree circle, there is a formal Victorian gazebo painted white, with scarlet and yellow roses climbing on trellises around the support pillars. A bed of violets, chrysanthemums, calla lilies, tulips, and snapdragons circles the gazebo, with four brick-paved walkways through the circle into the gazebo itself. We will not forget our great ones, our friends, our heroes and our beloved companions. This is how we choose to do so, with taste and decorum, with honor and reverence, and still keeping the city as a whole a place of growth and forward-looking hope.

This monument is a place for us to stop and remember and to introduce new players to our history, without making newcomers feel they're walking through a museum or mausoleum just by entering the game. I wanted to talk about this because I feel it important to discuss just how we will memorialize people in our game. Let us pray and hope that we do not have more names to add to this memorial before the Phoenix Project launches. We will always remember our friends.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Phoenix Project
Status Update: Monday, June 17
By: Segev

The response last week to our announced date for the Kickstarter was overwhelmingly positive, for which we here at the Phoenix Project and Missing Worlds Media thank you. We're really excited about it. As most of the work for it is already done, we've begun shifting our resources and our volunteers' time towards working on some of the more boring to discuss, but still critical for a fully useful program, aspects of design. We're testing XMPP-compatible third-party clients for windows to use with our already-functioning server; unfortunately, while there are several clients that provide the functionality we seek for Linux, Unix, and other operating systems, we've yet to find a good one for Windows machines. If you know of one that supports, in particular, voice, please feel free to chime in. While ultimately we're going to code our own client for use in-game and to interface with out-of-game communication, we'd like to stress test things and get our main bulk of conversation to our own XMPP server. As voice chat is part of what we wish to support, we don't want to do a half-move while that's only functional for non-Windows users.

One of the more exciting things is a successful construction and import of a modular character frame with numerous options to turn on and off. We currently utilize components from the Cryptic open license animation rig, so will not be in our final game, but the off-the-shelf animation rig verifies that Unreal works with our approach. Congratulations and thanks to warcabbit for getting that working! The next step is to import our customized assets.

This image, again, uses off-the-shelf components from the Cryptic animation rig. The important note is that these components are modular, and can be "on" or "off." They're key to making the customizable avatars we all expect. Currently, all of them are turned on in this image, which is why it looks so blocky. As stated, we will be replacing these GPL elements with our custom components as we get them designed; that we can load this means we are that much closer to loading our own when they're ready.

This is only a part of what has us feeling very excited. We mentioned last week that certain things were ahead of schedule. While the product itself is still quite some ways off, our avatar builder has many of the pieces of underlying code set up and in place, putting us much further along on it than we expected to be at this time. The list of currently-functioning "moving parts" of the avatar builder includes:

* Scaling of body parts
* Asymmetrical scaling
* Character view rotation
* Zooming in and out on the character
* Texture changing
* Color tinting

There's not a lot to look at on the UI side of things, but here's a glimpse of what the rotation and zoom controls look like right now. We will be developing a more customized UI to go with our look and feel for the game. But this is what the basic controls look like for functioning camera elements.

There's still a lot to be done, but this is major progress under the hood!

Finally, we would like to thank Minotaur for stepping in to help as a forum administrator, and to welcome Zombie Man as our Online Community Manager. With the impending shift to the new site and forums, the extra volunteer to keep an eye on things is definitely needed. Minotaur's presence in a much earlier time zone will also help facilitate closer to 24-hour administration. Zombie Man will be helping us maintain more steady contact with our community, both by managing overall forum and other community-facing site design and by generally being our voice and ears should there be anything the community needs to hear or has to share with us.

With the push to recruit and grow between now and September, he will be pivotal in helping us organize community events and providing aid to all of you in telling your friends and circles of acquaintances about us! He will also be helping in scouting out conventions and making contacts to do more panels and other group events. If you have any desire at all to do something in a physical group of people in your area, let him know. He will help pick out somebody to be the physical site manager for that event and help direct any resources you might need in that direction.

We're very pleased with the response we've had so far, and we know many of you have a lot of pent up energy just waiting for ways to help out. Planning and attending fun events designed to spread the word is one way you can help and do so more or less to your own schedule. Art assets have been collected for your use, and more will be coming. We're also listening; if you have requests, let us know, and we'll see what we can do!

As always, we want to extend our hearty thanks for your support. You, the community, are vital for this project, and you've risen to the occasion every time. We're humbled and honored to be able to work on something like this project with all of you.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Phoenix Project Status Update: June 10, 2013

The Phoenix Project
Status Update: June 10, 2013
By: Segev

For the last several weeks, we've been talking about the Kickstarter, and all we've been doing towards it. As we've come closer and closer to the mark, we've had more time to take stock of where we are. As the full set of materials for the Kickstarter site and its accompanying PR assets are all but wrapped and tied with a bow, our business team is evaluating it and making sure all our numbers add up. We're putting together the business strategy for all the things we will be releasing through the campaign to reward and keep your - our audience's - interest piqued for the duration.

An evaluation of our goals as a project, a business, and most importantly a community, has revealed that several of our technical and creative thrusts can be developed more fully much more swiftly than we realized. We only get one shot at the Kickstarter, and we want to really prove to you that we're going to deliver with your support. After careful consideration, we have determined that we can make it something spectacular with a slight delay. Our materials are all but ready, and before long we will be able to launch at the drop of a mask, but we can do better. To show it, and to give people time to save up cash for when the big day arrives, we are officially announcing the Kickstarter for the end of the Summer.

That's right: On September 8, 2013, the Phoenix Project kickstarter will begin! It will run until October 11.

This will give us a little time to work on a few additional spit, polish, and technical and creative developments that make it more likely that we'll succeed. We know it's important to the future of the project that we hit the target. Not only does it prove the strength of our community and the viability of our market, but in so doing it opens up the possibility of outside funding. It demonstrates how serious we are. So, while we have enough to make a strong KS, we want to make it iron-clad.

But still, we recognize and are thrilled that there are those of you who are burning to do something now. It may interest you to know that we're now officially the biggest COH community on FB, which is awesome. We've done our sums and have worked out that if everyone who 'likes' us on FB donated to the KS, they'd still have to each donate a sizeable amount to help us reach our goal. But times are hard, and while we want to give you the chance to put a bit aside, we also don't want to ask too much from you financially. It wouldn't feel right. So, in the time between now and September 8th, we're calling on you to help expand our community! Help spread the word, rustle up your old SGs - please help us in a real recruitment drive between now and the kickstarter 'live' launch - we need to find as many of the COH community as we can, we need to create a real buzz. We need people hyped up. The more people we have, the less we need from an average donation and the further the generous donors' large sums will go. Moreover, the more we prove what our community can do when it wants to support its goals.

Our new web site, with a smoother sign-up system, will be up within the next few weeks. In the meantime, signing up on the forums is not the only place to be a part of this. Get your friends to friend us on Facebook so they can more readily see our weekly updates. Ask your tweeter friends to follow us on Twitter @MWorldsMedia for news and links to new materials as we get them ready. Email us to be added to a mailing list (using the subject line "Sign Me Up to Find Missing Worlds!") that will be used for special announcements and to help us integrate it with our new web site.

We're so excited by your support, and we now want to turn you loose to really grow our base, so that on September 8th, we can blow everybody's - even our own - minds!