The map of Kingsreach: Check
World Map Concept: Check
Races and Classes: Check
We have whole regions (I am christening zones to now be labeled regions) that are fleshed out with terrain and biomes. We have areas within regions populated with their proper fauna and flora. We have areas rich with NPCs and quests and Perception ping diagrams ready to be installed once the programming is complete. We are moving onward and upward.
Wait. 2014 to now and we have one continent and a couple regions playable? What is that garbage? In the last Dev Stream we were given this screenshot of an overlook onto Silent Plains into Avendyr’s Pass, Wild’s End, Easter Plains, Azeris and Thronefast.
Barely anything was populated. You could just make out a few structures placed about the Silent Plains, no flora or fauna in sight. There were no towns in sight. A vast and empty world after eight years. So what’s up with that?
It may appear to the average consumer that this game has been limping along for years with barely anything to show for it. BUT that may not be the case.
During the Cohh Carnage stream July 2022, we were reminded that the largest technical pieces of the game’s development had been brought in game with the recent integration of the one-of-a-kind network stack the team has “marketed” as ViNL. With the swapping of ALL assets to the imbedded Unity HDRP and all rendering flowing through the native Jobs processing, everything that has been done to date on in house code is now in its forever home. Awww… so cute. So what, you ask?
Here is an older video, couple years old, of the team able to take things they created a couple years prior to this back in 2018 and transplanting the whole city of Hanggore with its completed assets to a totally new area of the map. This was done on earlier software that was exchanged with Maya which has more functionality, especially in conjunction with Unity. This means that anything they have previously made can, now that ALL assets are loaded into HDRP, be moved to wherever the devs need them.
Hold on! But what all assets to they have really? Come on, they’ve shown us some tree leaves during Project Faerthale. They keep telling us that they have a lot of art to do and they’re touting just now making the actual structures for humans after 5 years of showing off Thronefast, you say.
Actually, there is definitely more than you think. Let’s have a bit of a history lesson, shall we?
In 2014, the Kickstarter launched to much fanfare. There was lore and very early gameplay and, after a great effort, it just wasn’t coming together quite as they wanted. They rewrite the lore, the places in the world, the races and some of the classes (Last I checked, War Wizard is not a playable class). What about the art assets from that early time? Well…
Here’s a few building from back in the day. These were custom art assets that were made during the time. These were built near the Wastes zone (most likely on a continent now that will not be available until an expansion due to rewrites of lore) and near the Sunken Sanctum (also written out of canonical lore to date). Along with these were jungle docks, grass huts, beached pirate ships and…
Here is a portion of the Sunken Sanctum. Art assets for this enormous structure were created to build out an entire Sanctum, complete with large tower strangely resembling the Valley of the Watchmen drawings on our current concept map. And how about that statue? That statue was used in the first iteration of the Wraith’s home on streams back in 2017. If I’m not mistaken, I believe these fortress assets were also used there as well…
Go back and watch the stream in 2017 where they first discuss and show off some of Sorhiryth and the Wraiths. Looks like they added some moss and reused these early assets. Now, the wraiths have been moved again. Will they use these assets or do they have new assets and these are free to be used for something else? They point is, VR has not shied away from using older assets in new ways.
And what about the character assets; the clothing, the weapons from these last two pictures? They told us in the past few months that they have artists working on standard weapons for humans. So are they just now making weapons? NO.
Beside the weapons shown above, how about all the weapons that the orcs are using in Hanggore on more recent streams? How about the weapons staves used by the wraiths in the depths of Halnir? What about all the weapons donned by the denizens of Black Rose Keep? They’re all still there. They may or may not be styles for a particular culture, but can be repurposed for special items with some tweaks.
The armor and clothing is the same. Everyone got excited about this outfit during the Fortress Deviare demo…
Psh, that old thing is just one of many outfits that have been created for this game. Aside from the above, do you remember these?
And how about that get-up? Wonder what they did with that early design???
Now, I know it isn’t the same. Art models, however, are works in progress most times. All of the pieces here are made rigged to stretch to fit to a model’s mesh. All of the older outfits can be made to stretch to the new character models, and all can be changed, enhanced, scabbed, scrapped for parts. They are all useable assets.
OK, so maybe they have some outfits, you say. And maybe they have some pieces of terrain and buildings they just haven’t shown off for awhile that are waiting to be placed on the newly created terrain on OTHER CONTINENTS. What are we gonna fight? We’ve seen bears, foxes and bunnies, vale hawks, wolves, but what about other stuff? You mean like skeletons, ghosts, banshees, orcs, werewolves, rock golems, Nightwolves, Lycandrells, snakes, lizardmen, evil dwarves, Tohrn elves, goblins, imps, raid bosses, group bosses, ratkin, spriggans, giants, spiders, and bandits? Oh, yeah, we’ve already seen all of those as well.
Goblins and imps, what? Yes, they’re different, as are another unknown species…
And let’s not forget that these are reused, recolored and readorned for different places around the world for different factions, different subspecies even. Let’s take a look at Lycanthropes as an example of this.
According to the lore, there are three different kinds: Lycandrells, Nightwolves, and werewolves. Did you know we have already unofficially seen all three of these in game streams?
Lycandrells (by the way, this was the first time we saw any lycanthrope models, and VR nor the community at large even took notice of this major reveal, except me):
So, why is it that so many casual consumers have such a negative look at where Pantheon is currently? Well, it is simple to take away from the content put out by VR that very few things are actually done because “done” is subjective.
Most games are created under the cover of night. Final Fantasy 16 has had an announcement made about its main characters and some footage for the past two years. Nothing else has ever been seen since. Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part Two is slated to come out by Square Enix winter 2023 and nobody has seen any footage of anything related to it. Consumers are used to seeing things that are polished and ready. This has been stated by VR multiple times. They are waiting to show things to the masses when they have a certain level of polish and when they hit milestones they clued in the public about. They have also made it clear that they are not interested in showing off everything they are doing. There must remain some mysteries for the consumer. And some things slip in over time and aren't highlighted right away. Remember the last Developer Stream where they showed off “new” mining nodes for gems?
Here’s a picture from A YEAR earlier in the depths of Halnir Cave…
Chris Perkins said that these nodes would not be lying on the surface, but these particular gemstones would only be found deep underground in hard content. Ta-Da! They were in Halnir’s Cave a year earlier. The game is meant to be explored. They pick a specific race and area to highlight to show off mechanics and art and exploration. Did you know they had a Wild’s End stream way back in 2017? Things change, but art assets have been maintained and groomed over the years, but the content has been there.
You have seen above content for sandy beaches, jungles, ships, docks, and buildings that have not been show since. South Saol had a stream as far back as the Wild’s End stream. Most of the work done in 2014 and 2015 was on desert and jungle assets, ships and volcanoes, and black rocks. In a not so distant post, one VR member mentioned the black sand beaches where the Archai reside and that they have seen them.
I will leave you with one more anecdote. Let’s look at a region of the concept may, Vae Wood.
Notice the circular tower on Vae Wood? We have already seen areas of Thronefast in other articles in “THE MAP” series that have been cleared off for massive structures that reside on the landscape. Take a look at these areas released with THE MAP back over a year ago…
These highlighted areas can be perused at your convenience on the HD version of THE MAP released by VR a while back. They clearly show areas on the map that have specific terrain manipulation for structures. And look, they’re even in circular fashion…
I do not doubt that there is a lot more art, story, modeling that is to be done. But if you think what you’ve seen lately is what VR has, you need to not overlook the hidden gems.
Leader of the Resistance Against the Corrupt House of Amensol
Great deep dive benonai! A ton of stuff gets overlooked by the community and doesn’t become part of the discourse. I really want to make a video now about all the creatures we’ve seen, as you pointed out. And I made a big deal about the lycanthrope models too! Heck, I even got that sweet screenshot of the werewolf in the mists. Cheers!
Yup the werewolf was all you, sir. And I snagged the other image from Deviare from you as well. It was rather strange at the time that we hadn't seen concept art or discussed them and VR never touted it. Then there they were.