Working at the beach

Every year I head out to lovely Topsail Island on the coast of North Carolina for a “working vacation” during the last week in August. While I do get out and grab a little sand and surf, I spend most of my time reflecting on the last year, looking ahead to the future, and doing a lot of writing.

This year my focus is going to be catching up on some writing for Immortal Destiny, as well as polishing off a few areas of the overall design. I still have plenty of other stuff to deal with (mostly on the business side of things), but I find that being at the beach is highly conducive to my creative energies.

One of the things I will be focusing on is some writing for the Twelve Noble Houses of Siran. I’m thinking that I might start off by writing three quatrains (12 verses) for each, probably with a little send of the mysterious and prophetic. Thats the fun stuff. I also need to work out more on the background and flavor of each house, as well as the individual cultures. Fortunately I have a kick ass writer working on this stuff already (Andrea!) so I can focus on the bigger picture and let her take care of weaving the detail in what is going to be an incredible tapestry of lore.

Really, I can’t wait. We have so much really eye-popping stuff planned for Immortal Destiny, that it is very hard to not spill the beans and just post the big design document somewhere. Some of the people I have chatted with (various bloggers, podcasters, etc.) have probably noticed that if they catch me in a talkative mood, I will usually say a lot more than I had originally intended. Heheh.

Some of you have asked how we are doing, what stage we are at, when are we going to start posting screenshots, when is the website going to be updated, etc. etc. Well, the easy answer is “soon”. I was a bit preoccupied with my work at deviantart (Director of Prints) during the first part of the year (hey, we all need day jobs), I was still working heavily on the design stuff long into the night. After I left DA, I was able to focus on things full time…pretty evenly between design (mostly the core mechanics) and stuff on the business end. We found a funding source last September or so and we have finally reached the point where all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed.

I started putting more time into getting the core team expanded a bit and filling in a few holes, but intentionally keeping things small. There are dangers to growing too fast. Anyway, as any entrepreneur with experience will tell you, the funding process is usually a nightmare and the absolute hardest part of getting a new company off the ground. This is very true. The process for us has been much easier than it has been for me at other ventures in the past, but there have still been a lot of delays and unexpected circumstances. You guys wouldn’t believe the sheer amount of paperwork (legal and otherwise) that has to be done for something like this. It is even more complicated when the funding source is overseas (as I am sure anyone that has dealt with venture capitalists in Europe or Asia can quickly attest to). Anyway, we have had our fair share of delays and other problems, but we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. We should be making some announcements relatively soon, and I will probably kick off a hiring spree.

One of the reasons I have been slow to have the team update the website is that we don’t want to talk about the game too much just yet (I’d rather not give our “competitors” too many ideas), and I don’t want to be overwhelmed with people banging on our door for more information, or demanding we put up forums. People don’t like to wait, and it will be a few years before we are even close to a launch. We want to build our community slowly, and we want to focus the website on the story, the setting, the lore, and the gameplay. I don’t want to throw out a few generic screenshots and a few pieces of concept art like everyone else does. Our vision here is much more than another MMORPG on the block…we aim to change the industry. Anyway, judge us by the game, not the eye-candy.

So when will we update the website? Soon, and definitely before the end of the year (don’t be dismayed, we will update it much sooner than that). We will probably start doing monthly or bi-monthly updates at that point and probably feature a small story vignette about a particular character, event, lore, or feature. At some point next year we will open up the forums, and we definitely want to encourage early fan sites, fan fiction, fan art, etc. I think that sort of thing is pretty damn cool, so we will most likely be making some art assets and whatnot available to help out.

Anyway, things are moving forward at a pretty brisk pace with a few bumps in the road. It is pretty exciting and frustrating at the same time. You would be amazed at how many emails I get asking for interviews, updates, screenshots, more information, resumes, etc. etc. Keep em coming folks. I’m being a little picky about interviews and stuff right now (preferring the small guy over the big media sites), and we are NOT HIRING RIGHT THIS MINUTE (but we are collecting resumes!).

I’m going to start posting here more often now, mostly about personal stuff or some opinions on MMORPG design, artificial life, virtual worlds, cybersociology, and the occasional “dev journal” (even though I’m not a programmer heh). As usual, feel free to write to me or message me on skype (rrice919). Even better, buy my book or just donate some cash (my donation link is at the top of the page). Extra cash is ALWAYS a good thing and goes toward increasing my library, dental bills, and other fun stuff. Failing that, you can always send me cookies. I rather like cookies.