So it’s been two months now since our release and it’s been a lot of fun. I think Epitaph is definitely sailing ahead into new horizons and damn it feels good to have people on board. I have already made one post on Narratives, but because it’s one of my main projects at the moment I thought it could do with an updated post detailing our progress and a few other bits and pieces.
Narratives, for those who don’t know, are Epitaph’s version of the traditional MMO ‘Dungeon’, except it has more of an emphasis on story-telling. It has all the things you would expect from a dungeon such as trash mobs, bosses, killing and of course, loot. Bosses are a fun thing for me to do, because I really like character writing and I like to come up with lively backgrounds on our villainous bosses and why (if there is even a reason) they have fallen from grace (were they even graceful?). Bosses, for me, are a big part of a Dungeon, and not just for the loot. Why the hell is this guy here? If he’s a zombie, how did he die here? Why does he have the abilities that he does? These sorts of things can help tie in the environment with the character; after all, the boss and its environment are so connected with each other that they are practically one entity. I think we have some neat bosses in store.
On the notion of Bosses, something you may all be seeing in the very (very) near future are ‘World Bosses’ – they will act just like the bosses found in Dungeons, but they’ll be out in the open. They may spawn in Dunglen, they may spawn in Braellen – hell, they may even spawn in the Factional areas. Keep an eye out in the patch notes for when this might be in!
We’re still a little way away from releasing Narratives, but they are certainly in high-production right now. We have all the Narratives being worked on simultaneously right this very minute (literally right this minute) and so the ones making the first release have been LOCKED IN. There was a list of Narratives and I chose which ones I thought would be appropriate for first release, and we’ve gone with those. That doesn’t mean there won’t be more released down the track, but for the Narrative patch we’ll be releasing with six Narratives at least. That’s a fair amount, remember, because each one is practically the size of a new area with hand-crafted stories, descriptions, NPCs, boss-fights. There’s very little in the way of randomized content with these Dungeons, and because of that it’s more intimate. I say six Narratives at least, because if we finish with time then we may be able to work on another one two, but it really all depends on time constraints.
So how it works currently is like this:
There will be several “neutral” Narratives scattered about the world that anyone and their mother can go on in and experience the story (or even just smash up a few punks) inside. There is no constraint as to who can go in or anything like that. Narratives will be scaled for player skill and level, and even group size. So before you go in, you’ll be able to choose things like ‘weather effects’, ‘night and day’, ‘3 or 5 man groups’, and in the case of the group size it will scale the NPC strength as well as what sort of loot drops.
The second lot of Narratives will be ‘faction-based’, which means only those of a particular faction may enter. So each of the three major factions will have their own Narrative, and it will be in theme with their respective faction. They will work almost identically to the neutral dungeons, but may offer more in the way of Factional-story progress. In terms of loot, I won’t say whether or not there will be any difference between these ones and the neutral ones.
Speaking of loot, it’s one of those things that can really hurt a game. I remember back on World of Warcraft when gaining loot “was” fun – I enjoyed 5 man dungeons, and it was neat getting all the pieces of a set together (and even just watching others get it). But I’ll say one thing right now: I did not, and do not, enjoy the raid content that WoW turned into. I don’t wish for Epitaph to become WoWv2.0 in terms of loot and gear. Gear on Epitaph needs to be more “fun”, instead of “compulsory”. If I had my way, item management here would be even more strict! (not really, but I’m not a fan of a “perfect” inventory). I will not give any more information on how loot will work just yet, but I will let you all know now that I won’t be just cramming something together, or even just thrown in some WoW-style looting system.
The final thing I want to speak about is how these Narratives will change depending on the choices and actions people make. Every so often while adventuring with your group into these dungeons you may (or MAY NOT) be given a choice on how to proceed. This may (or MAY NOT) drastically change the outcome of the dungeon. This is part of a handler called the ‘multichoice-handler’ and it allows to easy manipulation of events that can change paths, bosses and story. It’s still in the works (the handler isn’t, but how it applies to narratives is) so I don’t want to promise too much with this but it’s certainly something I’m trying to incorporate into the Narratives. I want this to be THE thing that makes these Dungeons something more special.
Ok, and without further ado I am going to release the names of three Narratives that will be making an appearance with the Narrative patch. They are:
Zombies Are Forever.
The Cursed Grail.
And that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more Narrative information.
 I will speak about this in more detail in a future blog post.