With the recent launch of Elemental: War of Magic, we now have the engine we need to start bringing the pieces together.
It's amazing how much has changed since we started the project. Our radical concept of people playing a game "for free" but being able to pay for additional content has become much more mainstream and is now called "Free to Play".
We don't have any due dates yet but things are moving forward.
Society continues to move along but at a very slow rate.
There's two ways of making a PC game. You can build a large team and create the game in 18 to 24 months or you can have a smaller team and build it over 36 to 48 months.
Until we recruit more game developers, we're having to take the latter role.
To give you an idea of the scope you have a game that needs a pretty good sized development team for the engine, features, multiplayer. You also need a very large art team. But you also have to have a large IT team to build the server infrastructure.
We are in the process of hiring more developers but there will be a ramp up time. What I want to do is avoid the label of "vaporware" and make sure we're very up front -- we are working on the game but this isn't something that's going to be out next year or something.
We have one full game development team presently at Stardock. Right now they're working on the expansion pack for Galactic Civilizations II. Then they will be working on The Political Machine and other expansion packs for GalCiv II.
My job is to help build up the Society team. To find developers who are interested in coming to Plymouth Michigan to make a truly remarkable game.
Things continue to move forward on Society. We're still a long...long way for having anything that is ready to ship. As a recap, Society is a massively multiplayer real-time strategy game. Unlike the typical RTS, warfare is the exception -- it is just diplomacy by other means. Most of the player's time is spent building their societies. That means designing their cities, providing for their people, developing a culture, dealing with the royal family, trading with neighbors, etc. Warfare is definitely an element But Society isn't about raising masses of troops for constant warfare. Such game mechanics would fall apart in a persistent universe game. After all, you don't want to wake up and have your empire destroyed during the night. Your skill will effect how powerful your society is overall.
There are many game mechanics we're still playing around with. Weather (as the screenshot demonstrates) on a global scale. Should the weather be real? That is, based on the server location? Or it should it be random? Should your population of Socians be large or small? Right now, we're increasingly inclined to have populations be fairly small (maybe a hundred people per province). That way, you can get to know each and every citizen of your Society if you want -- from the moment they're born, their childhood all the way until you send them off to war to get killed. And who do you sent off the war? How egalitarian do you want to be? Are you going to send your best and brightest? Your wealthiest? Every Socian is unique, some produce more than others in different areas.
What about your cities? How do you want them to be? If you think the ship design features in Galactic Civilizations II were neat, wait till you see how much you can do in the user-designed buildings (see screenshot).
So when will this thing come out? A lot of that depends on how many people we can get on the team. We are looking for game developers, .NET developers, artists, you name it. Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Game Developer". We're located in Plymouth Michigan (no external team members on this project, we need everyone in-house for this). But if all goes well, we should have a workable build late this year or early next year. So it's still a ways off. We fully expect to have a year-long public beta. There's no other MMO to model this after so we are going to need to be very careful about how to best roll it out there.
Things continue to progress. Much of Stardock's resources are currently finishing up Galactic Civilizations II. But within the next few weeks, most of the development team from GalCiv II will be migrating over to work on Society full-time which should get things moving.
Interest in the game remains very high and our goal is to have something interesting to show by E3 (May). So what is Society really about?
Society is a game that is about building up a virtual society. Your society continues to exist even when you're not on-line to play it. While it does have warfare, warfare is just one of many aspects of the game. Players have virtual ruling families that can be married off to the ruling families of other players to build alliances. They have unique resources that they can trade back and forth in order to build unique equipment.
What we think makes Society special is that we've come up with solutions to many problems one would tend to run into in a strategy game that exists in a persistent world. For example, buildng up some beautiful city over days and weeks wouldn't be very fun if it could be destroyed while you're sleeping. What we've done is create some new game mechanics.
Most MMOs take existing single player or multiplayer game mechanics and try to extend them to a persistent environment. Society, by contrast, was designed to be persistent from scratch. It's not taking some existing game design and putting it on-line. Its design only works in a persistent world.
Society development continues forward though at a bit of a slower pace as more and more resources are put into getting Galactic Civilizations II completed by end of year.
The team has been working to get in 10 scenarios that will act as both a tutorial and as a basic "this is what people do when they play Society".
For example, your Socians have problems. As ruler, you will want to solve those problems. So one scenario is to solve 5 problems of a particularly chosen Socian. Problems include not having access to clean water, wanting more entertainment, wanting some sort of good, wanting lower crime, that kind of thing. It's nothing that extravagant but it demonstrates that different people will have different wants depending on where in your society the person lives.
What we're focusing on first is the single player, single map aspect of the game. We know we have to make sure that part of the game is nailed down tight.
Once we do that, we turn the single map into a multiplayer experience.
And then after that, we place those single maps into the overall realm of a world. That's where things like your royal family and such will come into play.
Gameplay, thus far, reminds me a little bit of a cross between Simcity and Caesar 3. That's because the military aspects haven't been added in and we're still playing around with that kind of thing.
Once GalCiv II is out the door, the team will return to full power again and we'll be looking to bring in more developers and artists to help work on it. We also need more database and ASP/ASP.net coders incidentally.