Friday, April 26, 2013

Developer interview: DC 'Terwyn' James, president Missing Worlds Media

1. What's your name, how long have you been involved in TPP, what role do you have, and what does it involve?

My name is DC James, and I've been more or less involved with TPP since the beginning. Officially, I'm the president of Missing Worlds Media. I'm very quickly learning just what it means to be in such a role, and I often find myself surprised at just how simple it turns out to be. The most critical role I have is metaphorically directing the sails. You can't change the wind, but you can adjust how you use it.

2. What other MMOs/games have you played in the past? What drew you to them? What makes a game enjoyable to you?

I've been playing games since I was a child, most often pen and paper roleplaying or more complex board and miniature games, but the draw has always been the same - being able to enjoy a common activity with my siblings and my friends. I could care less about impressive visuals, gripping narrative, or unique gameplay. The single greatest thing I enjoy about the games I play is the fact that I am able to share doing so with those I care about.

3. What server did you play on in COH? How long did you play for?
My home server was Pinnacle, though I branched out to Protector, as that was the server where my siblings were most commonly found. I actually had City of Heroes for nearly a year before I had access to a system capable of running it, so while I've only played the game for about six years, I was aware of it for seven.

4. How did you get your role – did you volunteer, were you seconded and did you expect to end up with such a senior role? Do you have any experience/qualifications that make you perfect for this role?
I would honestly be the first to admit that I really don't know what happened. One minute I was offering my knowledge and business skills to help put together a business plan, the next I was somehow running for my life trying to keep up with people who are vastly more experienced than I. I'm actually one of the youngest people in leadership of the project, if not the youngest.

5. Describe an average day working on TPP for you.
Lots of thinking, lots of reading, and a small dose of daily cranial trauma caused by direct contact with phalangeal bones and related tissue. That is a joke, there is no cranial trauma. In actuality, most of my time is spent investigating other games and studios to see how they are structured and typically operate, as well as meeting with the various teams to keep up to date on what is being done.

6. What's the best thing about working on TPP? What about the worst?
The best thing about working with TPP is that I am able to interact with people who have extraordinarily diverse backgrounds and skill sets, and am able to learn new things simply from just interacting with them. The worst thing about working on TPP is the fact that I often don't understand what people are trying to explain to me.

7. What are you most excited about in creating this game? What makes you most nervous?
The thing that makes me most excited and the thing that makes me most nervous are one and the same - the promise of what it means if our project is successful. Most of the work comes after we launch, and I honestly can't say what launch day will bring.

8. What's the first thing you'll do once the game goes live and you've logged in to the city?
People watching. I'd simply just watch the city become populated, and see how many people and characters I recognize.

9. Why should people be excited about TPP? Why should they trust TPP over any other MMO?
The same reason anyone becomes excited about a new product or project - the promise of new possibilities. We aren't doing this because we simply want to, we're doing it because we recognize that it fills a now gaping need in the community of games.

10. Give me one random, or interesting fact about yourself.
I can turn a metal bed frame into a radio. Learned how to do so from my father.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Phoenix Project Update: 'Monday', April 22, 2013

Note to self: Teach Seg how to use Blogger.


Missing Worlds Media Presents
The Phoenix Project
Update: Monday, April 22, 2013
By: Camerong 'Segev' Stormlord

This past week, many of you already saw our interview with Forward Compatible.

It's a nice one, featuring everybody's favorite beard along with some interesting tidbits of our work up 'til now and going forward, and we want to thank the nice people at that podcast for their time.

Speaking of interviews, one we did with Polygon should be in an article going live this week, and we're looking forward to seeing how that one goes. It's apparently a decent-sized one!

In news from our PR maven, we're at a gratifying 1,683 FaceBook friends, and starting to think about how to mark 2,000 friends. What would people like to see? Livestream event by which department, mebbe? Another dev Q&A? Any ideas are welcome! Less than 350 away, so we need to get started thinking about it, and we also want to thank you all for spreading the word, especially if it keeps accelerating. Also, we have more than 500 twitter followers (@MWorldsMedia, if you are interested and didn't know we had one), which is very exciting, as well.

We think we've chosen the game title, but we're not telling you what it is just yet. ...maybe that would be a good prize for 2000 friends!

We're all hard at work on a super-secret project, which we'll be announcing soon (tm). We're so excited about it that it's killing us not to share it already. I've had to animate a couple zombies just to fill in for those taking the week off dead for tax purposes.

All this hard work swells my heart with pride in this community; we couldn't do it without the volunteerism shown. The most common place people offer to chip in is in the writing and editing areas, and while we love having more, the editing department is in the process of streamlining process to accommodate it all, so there's a brief bottleneck there.

Still, if you're energized and looking for something to do with that energy, or know people like that, we need artists, we need coders, and we're starting to see marketing people (though obviously, that's a tricky part to work). QuantumHero, who has been one of our longest-running volunteers (and whom I met - online only - back with trying to set up Media Day, for those who remember that part of the SaveCoH effort), is very excited to be at the same convention as Matt Miller this week in Chicago. She's created her own distinctive shirt for the occasion, and will be at the SaveCoH fan event later. It's rather unofficial, but I'm sure she'd be delighted to say "hi" to anybody she meets there.

Speaking of conventions, we're going to have a panel at Phoenix Comicon coming up next month. Our Game Architecture and Composition leads will be there, as will our Creative Director (who you all know as Cerulean, SithRose, and AlabasterKnight). This will be an official event, so stop by and see them, please!

We're looking at trying to show up at CapeCon, as there's no more dedicated group to the spirit of this community than the folks at Cape Radio and their listeners, keeping the light on in the dark at our refuges and havens and temporary homes. Let us know if there's anything you'd like to see from us leading up to or at that event. (We need to talk to the guys in charge of that, come to think of it; we might be able to help out with the organizing or something.)

Finally, in sadder news, I'm sure everybody recalls the tragedies at Boston and in West, TX this last week. One the act of reprobates not even worthy of the title of "villain," and the other a shocking tragedy.

I've seen our community share its sympathies with those areas. If anybody is in those areas who knows of ways we can show our heroic spirit to help out, please speak up. Let us remember our motto since this all began: "We are heroes, and this is what we do."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Phoenix Project's Weekly Update Monday, April 8, 2013 (honest.)

Missing Worlds Media Presents:
The Phoenix Project's Weekly Update
Monday, April 8, 2013
By: Cameron 'Segev Stormlord' Johnson

A lot has happened, and a fair bit of progress been made, but not all of it is ready for prime time, which makes this update feel a bit sparse. Still, our artists have been assigned orthographic work to do in preparation for proper transition of 2D art assets into 3D models. This is a form of projection wherein an object is drawn from a standard array of mutually-perpendicular ("orthogonal") directions in order to capture all angles in an analytic fashion and show off all parts of it in a standardized way.

For instance, here's a street lamp created for our project in orthographic projection:Image
In addition, client-server connections have been tested and found to work. Load-testing is yet to be done, but they functionally interact.

Since our gracious press maven, Rae, composed the update last week, I will go ahead and share a little of my own view of the panel at NorWesCon.

First of all, I want to thank the NorWesCon staff for their invitation and warm welcome, and especially the pawtaws crew for their hard work on behalf of Missing Worlds Media and the Phoenix Project to make the panel happen. Thanks to their printing and displaying and including the flyers in the swag bags for guests, we had a surprising number of people who had never heard of our efforts prior to seeing the flyers show up. Roughly half of the audience - which was respectable in size (my week-old memory is telling me roughly 25 people were there) - were made up of such people. Some had played and mourned the loss of the first of the superhero MMOs, while all were curious and interested in seeing what we were doing.

While Doctor Tyche, Voltknuckle, and I had a slide show for presentation, the audience participation allowed us to skip around and show exactly what people were interested in. It was also very cool to meet so many of our crew and our community in person.

One really cool thing that came up, which sticks in my mind, was the question from the audience about rogues' galleries and nemeses. It came at a time when we'd just been discussing bases and base building, and whether those would play a role in the gameplay, and it hit me: trophies. The Batcave, the Fortress of Solitude, the Watchtower... pretty much any super-hero secret base (and, presumably, a few villainous lairs) contains a trophy case, because it makes a great storytelling tool and a way to call-back to some continuity with past adventures. We can use this! Trophies can drop along with other items in missions, and be placed in your living space or secret base. They will mark a villain you've fought as somebody worth referencing again. Your trophy case will develop your rogues' gallery, until each hero has his own made up of once-randomly-generated foes, and may even help develop personalities for them.

This idea really excites me, at least, and we're pretty sure we can make it work, coding-wise, though we're only just beginning to investigate it. Storytelling-side, we have a few irons in the fire that aren't ready for publication yet, but we think they can make this happen, too.

The base building will not be mandatory to play the game, but it will start to help flesh out your characters' unique stories and influence their games. It will be more than "just" a "vanity" project, and really something that says something about the way a particular character "feels." Not every base element necessarily will do this, of course, but there's a rich vein to mine here. And we've only barely scratched the surface, I think.

Anyway, that's a glimpse into my own head as how things fall out after I get the privilege of being on a panel with you, our audience, to talk to. Stay tuned for next week's update for more on how things are developing!

I can't wait for the update at the end of this month.


Monday, April 1, 2013

The Phoenix Project Update: Monday, April 1, 2013

The Phoenix Project Update: Monday, April 1, 2013
By Lauren 'Rae' O'Neill

While Cameron, Nate and Andy are recovering from the chaos of Norwescon, I've bravely stepped in to take over the update for the week.

Obviously, the biggest event for us was our first ever panel which took place on Friday at the Seattle-based convention. We're grateful to everyone who came along to spend some time with us and to find out more about what we're trying to do.

The guys gave a presentation, which we're hoping to get up on to YouTube at some point for those who didn't make it to the panel, and people were really positive. But perhaps more importantly it was a good chance for the team to meet each other face to face for the first time, and some of the people who we hope will one day be playing the game.

So the 'any questions' bit turned into more of a brainstorming session, with you guys telling us some of the things you'd like to see incorporated in the game. Perhaps the most common thing was the possibility of having either mounts or vehicles as a travel power. We've taken this on board and Nate has been dispatched to see if this is something we can include.

Amongst the information in the presentation we showed was a quick overview of how The Phoenix Project came to be, a potted history of Titan City and the universe the game will be set in, and some information about a few of the organisations - both heroic and villainous - that will play parts on the adventures you're going to have. Our art team provided us with some beautiful screenshots and concept art, we talked about the various powers and concepts you'll be able to play with, and our business team put together a brief overview on how we're hoping to fund the creation of the game, and the business and subscription models we're looking to run to ensure that everyone who wants to play, can.

It was a successful panel, with some feedback that we'd never have gotten otherwise, and we have already started looking at a few other conventions that we hope to get to - time and money permitting, of course. We're painfully aware that spending money and time talking about what we're doing to do takes away money and time we could be spending on ACTUALLY doing it, so we're trying to strike a careful balance. That said, of course, if there's a convention near you that you'd like us to think about coming to, let us know and we will see if we can make it.

While Nate, Andy and Cameron were shmoozing with you guys, those of us who weren't in Seattle were working our collective backsides off in our various roles. April is already looking to be a very exciting month, and we've got a couple of interviews and podcasts being lined up and some really exciting things going on behind the scenes. By now you've all seen the screenshots we posted up a few weeks ago, and with all the work that is going on as our world gets bigger, more assets are imported into the engine, our World in Progress is looking more beautiful by the day.

On a sadder note, those of you who frequent the Titan forums may have seen that Mercedes Lackey lost her mother recently. Mercedes was a huge part of #SaveCOH. There was barely a waking moment where she wasn't battling to keep City of Heroes/Villains from closing down. It was heart-breaking to hear of her loss, and we are all keeping her in our thoughts. If you get the chance to head over to the Hail Mary sub-forum at the Titan Network boards, people have been leaving messages of condolences there and I know those words mean everything to Mercedes at what is undoubtedly a very painful time for her.

In conclusion, and because I don't have any screenshots to share with you, I've added a picture that you might be interested in. We might not be as big as other gaming companies, but we do have more people talking about us, and that's really freaking cool.

Stay gold, everyone.