Aether Story Live Q&A: Transcribed
Q: Can spells be cast at the same time or combined together?
A: Maybe. I can tell you it’s not currently planned, but the future is very bright and we’re going to be able to do a lot of cool things as the system gets established.
Q: Is there a reason you decided to not keep the hp of enemies as a bar?
A: Yes there is a reason. Our game is inspired by MMOs and JRPGs alike. If we take a page out of the JRPG book; traditionally, you don’t know what the enemies HP is. That’s an attribute of the unknown, it creates a sense of mystery and I bet you there can be a whole essay written on why JRPGs do that. I decided to take a page out of that book; not only because I respect that design decision, but also I admit it’s easier not to do something than do it. That’s why it was not included. I think from the beginning of the project I did not intend to hide the health. The original design was that if you clicked on any monster a little side pane would pop up on the side of the screen where you’d be able to see its health, the status health; the little inspector window. Recently, that window will only appear if you cast some sort of reveal or scan magic on the monster, so you can read the information on the monster. The current plan is that the Sage will be able to scan and acquire knowledge by using some mana and reveal the info not only to them but to everyone in the party. It’d be an AoE thing; you cast it once and it’d reveal the information about everything. It's just a little thing you can do in battle. Now keep in mind that does mean you’d have to add it to your hot bar so it’d be taking away a slot from another ability, so there’d be a cost if you want to know. I think the design you would use it to learn and memorize information and then remove it so you could use it as a kind of cheat so you’d get the information without counting the HP yourself. Keep in mind, that’s how you did the JRPG health on monsters; you counted the health. You’d count how many hits it took to kill something when you first discovered the monster type, and then you’d feel more familiar with it. The same thing with the scan ability; you could use it to discover stuff early, and then learn about it moving forward. That is the current design; like I said, if you disagree with that you can always make a suggestion and we can change it.
Q: I’m wondering if there would be more enemy variety? Like will some be bigger than 1 tile or have a different design other than just high stats?
A: Yes. Currently, the limitations of our battle system are very limiting. The fact that I was able to create as many variations in the battle currently is a miracle considering we only have 5 numbers we can tweak and we can visually change 2 things. It’s literally only 7 variables that make the battle different and I think some of you can tell, but it’s very limited at the moment. The plan is to expand it massively and having multi-tile monsters is one of the plans. Can you imagine a boss that has two legs, one on each tile and the head in the center tile-so that’s 3 tiles- and you have to switch between different parts of its body and target different things depending on the fight’s mechanics? That’s the plan; we’re currently working towards that.
Q: Will PvP eventually be a thing?
A: Yes. To start off with, PvP will be like a trade .You go up to another player, and you can be like, “Hey, I want to fight you, do you agree” and the other player’s like, “Ok; it’s on” and then you enter a little duel. It will allow party vs party so if the party leaders decide to duel each other then everyone else nearby in the party will be pulled into the fight as well, so it can be a thing. Then, PvP will be expanded from that point by including an arena or coliseum where it can be more tournament styled; that same fashion but more organized and ranked. We can also expand the system into having zones that will be more open world PvP, but it will be optional limited zones. It won’t be the whole game and the main story will not be taking place there, so if you don’t like PvP you don't have to go there. There can be high stake public zones and Instance based minigames like Capture the Flag (Battlegrounds basically); we can also work towards that eventually. For now, I will be working towards having PvP and Party versus Party dueling which will have no stakes. It’ll be for fun; to test out the system. That will be the first plan, and I will say that it’s a stretch feature for the Early Access; it will probably not come out not during the Early Access but probably shortly after the Early Access. It will be in the game before the 1.0 release so it should happen within the next year or so.
Q: Why did you add 7 stats when 3.5 of them aren’t any good?
A: I wanted there to be a variety of stats and good luck with coming up with a variety of stats and making them all equally good. I think I did a good job with the stats; I found 7 stats that are unique enough and will create variety in gameplay. The fact people like to say that they’re useless or say they’re bad, that’s just people being overly critical and I’m going to ignore that moving forward. There will be a lot of mechanics designed around the stats, even if the stat doesn’t seem useful now- not useless but not useful- they will become more useful as more mechanics are added to the game. The list of stats was bigger than 7 originally; there were even more stats, and I already pruned the ones that were gonna be not as useful and that were not fun and that is the design of the stats moving forward. I can talk about it a lot more another time, but I’d like to fit in a few more questions.
Q: When you think about it, is there a difference between combat in this game and Final Fantasy 7 except selecting an enemy costs energy?
A: This question is asking is there a difference between an ATB (active time battle) versus our battle system and there is a big difference mechanically. Because things can either cost energy or mana, some things will have no cost except a cooldown, you can actually do a lot more things at once in our battle system than you could in an ATB system; an ATB system limits what you can do with 1 action per bar fill up. In our system, you’re going to be able to do a lot of things at once if you manage your cooldowns, mana, and your energy. So if we were to say the battle system has just the energy bar and that’s it; it influences everything in battle, then yes the systems would be identical in mechanics,but the fact that there’s going to be and already is additional things in battle that do not cost energy and therefore are not similar.
Q: Are there any plans to have out of combat abilities or the ability to heal outside of combat?
A: There are plans to add field abilities which are out of combat abilities. They will allow you to do things such as sprint, blow up caved in caves or mine in the rocks, teleport back to town, and perhaps go invisible and go past enemies; there’s going to be tons of cool field abilities inspired by both Zelda and just common utilities you’d hope to have while exploring the overworld. I don’t know if being able to heal is a field ability but that isn’t a terrible idea!
Q: Are there factions players will be able to join or create?
A: Not exactly. I believe the plan at the moment is to go with guilds. You can make player driven guilds and those guilds could have guild versus guild pvp battles. So if there’s going to be factions in the game, it's going to be your guild. That’s the plan, but once we start designing it and the reality of it comes forward, it may not work out very well. What it might end up being like is like everyone’s guild will have to join an umbrella guild/bigger guild; that’s essentially a faction but it’s on the guild level. Perhaps we’ll create 3 mega factions and your guild leader will decide what faction the guild will be apart once created, and you can decide what faction you’ll be in based around what guild you're in, but the faction activities will be focused around the guild activities and not open world. If you’re in one guild and your friend is in another guild and you’re both in different guild factions, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play together. But there might be some guild only content you won’t be able to participate in together.
Q: Will there be chat bubbles over our heads?
A: This is a suggestion I’ve gotten many times and I’m not going to say no. As with everything I don’t plan on doing, if enough players suggest it and upvote it in the discord, I will change my course and I will do it especially if it fits with the overall vision and I don’t think chat bubbles over the heads goes against my overall vision. However, I will explain why I did not plan on doing it initially. First of all, I wasn’t sure if having tons of text in the middle of the screen would be annoying and get in the way of what you are doing. So that was a concern from the beginning. The second reason is that since it’d be rendering on the map and the map system has a horrible font, I'd have to make a new font; work I thought wasn’t necessary to do. I’m not opposed to doing it; like I said, if you really do want chat bubbles over people’s heads then be sure to find a suggestion and upvote it or if you can’t find it make a new suggestion and have people upvote it.
Q: Will there be an option to see others’ achievements?
A: So currently achievements aren’t in the game. Yes, when we add achievements you’ll be able to see other people’s achievements. I believe it’s up there already, so if you right click on somebody there’s an achievement tab. However, you may be asking about the Alpha Goals and no, Alpha goals are a private thing. If people want to share their alpha goal status with you they can, but this is like a precursor to the achievement system. I get what you’re going for, but achievements will be more of a public prestige thing that will be in the Early Access of the game hopefully we’ll add that as a stretch feature.
Q: WiIl there be gathering and crafting? Can you name a few?
A: Yes. I did name them earlier but I will repeat them: there will be mining, fishing, plant gathering, gardening, treasure hunting, maybe woodchopping (because gathering) and crafting there will be tinkering, crystal forging, armor crafting, weapon crafting, potion making, cooking, and teleport scroll making (which might become a cartography map making scroll kinda hybrid). There will be more, but those are what we’re working towards first.
Q: Why does the weight system seem so weird? Like freaking spices weigh the same as bread?
A: The weight system was not inspired by JRPGs or MMORPGs but by Western RPGs; in particular I think of Skyrim, Oblivion, and Fallout 3 and 4 and the fact is there needs to be a limited inventory in an MMO. You can’t have infinite inventory and you can't do the JRPG limit of 99 per item type. It just doesn’t work; there needs to be scarcity and management of resources so there can be more of an economy. So the second part of the question is why aren’t items weighed properly? That is a challenge to do. Since the weight system does not allow decimals at the current time, the weight system has a rounded cap out so something is either weightless or 1. There’s a lot of things that need to be between 0 and 1 and because we don’t have decimals it’s not currently possible. So I put it at 0 if I don’t care if you have a lot of them and 1 if I need you to have a finite quantity. Will that system be improved? Yes, we will probably add in decimal weight systems soon.
Q: Will there be in game benefits and bonuses to being in a guild?
A: I think being in a guild will provide, eventually, gameplay. There will probably be a guild system where guild members can come together and decorate a guild castle. That will add some gameplay for you to grind towards; that’s a bonus to have a guild hall that you can defend against other guilds; it can be an instance that other guilds attack you and you have to defend it. There could be gameplay involved in it and if there’s gameplay there’s probably going to be a source of gaining currency, experience, whatever. There’s also a cosmetic benefit of having your guild provide you a name tag above your name.
Q: Will there be a hardcore mode where you cannot trade or use your account wide bank?
A: Yes; I would like to play with that. I think with our small scale of our game currently it doesn’t make sense to do that yet, but I think it’d be really awesome where you can create a character, say it’s a hardcore character, have permadeath (so when it dies its deleted), and it have it’s own ecosytem. I think that’d be pretty cool, but it’s not feasible to do now because we don’t need to segregate the population and also because the game is buggy! People are going to complain like crazy like, “Oh my god I died because of a glitch and it’s not fair” so we’re not going to do it; it won’t be a thing let’s be honest.
Q: Any plans to expand the hunting log to include some sort of elite hunts or group hunts?
A: Yes; I don’t know if that’s going to fit into the hunting log system itself, but I do want there to be (and it’s actually planned; it’s in the works; it’s on paper) to add a bounty system where there will be a daily quest or an NPC or a sign basically -a bounty board- will say “Wanted: this creature” and you have to kill go kill it and killing that creature will be a group hunt or a challenging hunt that happens on the daily, but it won’t be in the hunting log itself.
Q: How deep will be the weapon crafting? Can you gather different materials and like, create a Mushroom Sword?
A: Interesting. So the crafting system will be inspired by the standard MMO formula where I create templates of recipes already where I’ll be like “You want this item? Gather these materials.” The difference is that in our game is that when you craft stuff, you might be able to craft stuff with empty gem sockets in them so then you’ll be able to place whatever stats you want. So you can craft an empty vessel that can hold just gems and then you can put whatever gems you want. That will make the crafting system a little bit more open-ended and hopefully make crafting stuff useful and on par with other content, but then that does make it so that gems will be scarce and hard to come by. We’ll have to play with it and see how it develops; we’ll probably develop and test out that system in the Alpha sometime at the end of this year or at the early next year and we’ll revise, iterate, and improve it as we get player feedback as with every other system.
Q: Will there be a long running main quest line in Aetherstory and will players be able to have an impact on it.
A: That is a very good question. Yes, the idea of AetherStory is that there’s going to be a backbone storyline that will run through the entire game. Right now, the main story is a preview which means that it starts at the beginning of the game -that’s the quest that gets you out of the lighthouse- and it continues through the shipwreck into the outpost, but then it ends. It’s not supposed to end. Because it’s a preview, it ended. Next week, if everything goes according to plan (but I’m not going to make any promises that it will), it’s going to be coming out on the 6th, but I’m going to be aiming for that. I want to release it when it’s ready; I don’t want to push it out when it's buggy like I did last patch, but we’re aiming for next week on the 6th. We’re going to be expanding the main story line to have a couple more beats, to have a couple more steps to it. Every couple of months, we will be expanding the main storyline to grow further and further.
The second part of the question was will the players have an impact on it and that is going to be extremely challenging in an MMO setting. I’ll be completely honest with you; I don’t think your actions will impact the storyline dramatically because we need everyone to be on the same relative story beat to be able to play together. However, perhaps towards the end of the game we can experiment with radical actions and impacts.
Q: Will there be nations in the game?
A: I’m going to interpret that as will there be other countries in the game that you can explore. There will be a lot of different countries to go through. Right now, we’re in the country of Spiertir, the noble land that Ravril is a lieutenant of. You’re going to be meeting the leadership of Speritir, and you’re going to be involved in that country’s politics. As the story progresses, we’re going to be traveling through different sections of Spiertir and eventually we’re going to be leaving Spiertir and going to other countries like Luthu'gor, Tanrica, Florestra, Demersa, and the Isles of Kilte. There’s even some spoiler nations that I don’t want to talk about at all that you’ll be visiting that are story based. We do have an 8 chapter story arc very loosely defined that will take us through all of that through the main story line.
Q: Will there be quests in the form of lore?
A: I’m going to interpret “in the form of lore” meaning quests that are built around reading and there will be a few quests like that but those aren’t very exciting, so we won’t have many of them. It’s better to show and not tell right?
Q: What is Aetherstory's theme?
A: Aetherstory to me represents the conflict between darkness and light and the entropy of the universe coming to an end. I know that might not seem to be the case with how the game is currently presented but as the main story develops, that is the main theme of the game that will be established over the years.
Q: Can you become a villain? Where the guards and townspeople hate you?
A: I was not planning on doing that but I think that having an area of the game having a dynamic reputation system would be fun to play with, but it’d be a subsystem for a specific area.
Q: Will we see anything from our donations when the game launches such as will we have to purchase anything if we’ve already put $100 lifetime in the game.
A: You probably will have to spend some more. First of all, if you donate a lifetime total of $20, you probably would’ve gotten 2 pets, but by hitting the $20 lifetime mark you’re going to get a starter bundle which includes some upgrades to the account that you would’ve paid for. Over the course of a $100, you would’ve unlocked a cape which you can show off and I’m not going to give capes out very easily and by the time you donated $100 -especially through Patreon- you would’ve gotten a lot of Perk keys, which are a form of currency you can use to unlock cosmetics once the game launches. So you’re going to definitely be able to acquire cosmetics without having to pay anything additional. However if we make a subscription service that focuses on Quality of Life upgrades, you’d have to subscribe to that. If you make any purchases through the game directly and not as a donation, that will not go to the donation reward system. That's very confusing, and I will need to make a blog post outlining all of that and will establish all of those things as they become more important and more at the forefront of our attention.
Q: I love your idea of chat skins being drops and/or purchased; do you have any plans for other content being available the same way?
A: Yes, you can actually see in game what those are. Pets, Costumes, Capes, weapon skins (weapon skins are basically ways to make your weapon look different in battle, you can unlock a prismatic weapon skin and when you swing your sword in battle a rainbow could shine out of your sword and attack the monster. It’d reskin your basic weapon attack to look different and be more fun), hairstyles, hair dyes, message skins, avatars (avatars are already there, when you’re in a party or target someone, this little box will be a little avatar you get to select and collect,) emotes (which are going to be little bubbles over your head on the map; it’s won’t make your character animate differently but you’d be able to express emojis above your head when you collect them) and titles (titles will allow you to prefix a small word to your name or maybe it’ll be above and below your name. The problem with that is that it’d take up space on your screen and I have reservations about that, but titles will at least show up when you inspect a character).
Q: Will we be able to reroll into another class for a fee?
A: No. That’s a flat no. If you want to be another class you’ll need to create another character. You’ll be able to for a fee to unlock more character slots and there’s a fee to change your appearance or gender (there will also be in-game barbers to change just your hair), but your class itself? No. If you want to play another class, I’ll encourage you to create multiple characters.
Q: What are the plans post launch of the game? Will there be DLCs and updates?
A: The game will be launching in Early Access in the Spring of 2022. That will involve a game that is more or less feature complete, there should be enough spells in the game, some professions in the game, enough dungeons in the game, and mechanically it should all be there: we should have guilds, friends list, some of the staples you’d expect the game to have it should all be there or shortly after. Then we’ll be working towards getting the game relaunched at 1.0 release or a full release of the game. What will happen at the Early Access point is that we’ll switch into development of adding content: lots and lots of content. The game’s world should triple, quadruple in size and the level cap should increase up to level 20 before we say the game is ready to go. After that, there will be additional content updates, additional level cap increases, new zones, new quests, and there probably will be new features. There will be updates to the game and those updates will be free; it doesn’t make sense for an MMO to say “Ok everyone’s that level 20, that’s free but we’re increasing the level cap to 30, there’s going to be a lot of new content, but only the people who can afford $10 can access that''. That segregates the player base, so for the health of the MMO, it’d be better for everyone to experience the new update, but we need to figure out ways to monetize the project. If we cannot get enough monetization from the cash shop, of selling cosmetics -not pay to win but pay to look pretty- and we can also sell quality of life stuff; basically if those things don’t bring enough income in to fund the development of the game moving forward, we may have to sell expansions with a price tag so they can fund future expansions.
Q: How far ahead will spells go in the game?
A: I think this is asking when spells will be added into the game. Spells will be added to the game hopefully by the end of the year; we should have a whole set of spells. Right now. There are 2 spells in the game and every class has 1 ability. By the end of the year, I hope to be around… Let me put a sidebar here: The challenge with this isn’t that I can’t add a lot of spells into the game; the problem is pacing the spells in the game that makes sense for the level. By the end of the year, the level cap will probably be 10, but I don’t want you to have a ton of spells at level 10 and I don’t want to just give you a lot of temporary spells just for the Alpha, but I need to test spells. So what will probably happen is yes, I will be giving out 20 spells in the game by the end of the year but I‘ll be removing them and taking them away from you after the test is over because the fact is the spells have to be paced better. So that’s the conflict and I don’t like the idea of taking stuff away from you in the Alpha because that feels bad, but it is in Alpha and I may have no choice. So by the end of the year, I hope to have 20 or 30 skills and abilities in the game.
Q: When will the first Skill be added?
A: I think that question means what’s the first profession that will be added since skills are already in the game? You already have your class ability, in fire, and in water; those are all skills in my opinion. You have a skill in fire, a skill in water, and a skill in your class ability. Those are all skills, but I think the question means profession; what’s the first trade skill to be added? That answer is already in the game: cooking! You can level cooking up! So what’s the next profession to be added to the game? I think I’ll be adding the next set of trade skills all at once so we’re not going to be adding one; I think I’m going to add a couple at a time. What’s currently at the top of the list is fishing, potion making, crystal crafting/ gem crafting (same thing), gear crafting, mining, and treasure hunting. Those are all really close at the top and I got to pick 2 or 3 to work on since I can’t do them all at once.
Q: When can we expect guilds to be in the game?
A: Guilds are a bonus feature; the game does not need them at this point in time. So if guilds are added anytime soon, it’d be something I’d squeeze in if I have some extra time in one of the patch release cycles and that means that it could happen anytime! Any month from now and until the Early Access, guilds could come. If I can’t squeeze it in, I'll make time before Early access; I’ll make time in Spring to add it in at the last minute.
Q: When will the map be expanded?
A: We are working currently on tons of new maps -as you see while I’m answering questions there’s maps on the screen- there are currently 3 areas of the game that we are working on concurrently. The introduction to the game-it’s not necessarily a tutorial island but it has a story driven island that will anchor the story in a bit more excitement- that’s really close to being ready to go. The plan is for that to be released before the year ends definitely. Then there are 2 leveling zones that are being worked on. One is like 80% complete and the other one hasn’t even been started but those will be coming out before the end of the year as well. Once all 3 of those are added to the game, the level cap will be increased with each one. By the end of that, the level cap will be 10. The map gets expanded; the level cap gets expanded. They go hand in hand. So if the map’s not ready, the level cap doesn’t get an increase.
Q: Will there be solo farmable content?
A: Yes. So currently the Abandoned Windmill Instance Dungeon is group based and it requires you to be in a party. But if that dungeon had a main storyline objective inside of it, the dungeon would have a different gateway to it. It’d ask you, “Would you like to play this solo?” “Would you like to play it in Story Mode?” would be the exact phrasing. If you say, “Yes I’d like to play the dungeon in story mode”, it’d become scaled to be obtainable for a solo player so you can complete the quest and experience the content of the dungeon, but probably it’d have a few things removed. Difficulty of the bosses will be drastically reduced, any group based puzzles will have to be removed because you can’t complete them yourself, and the loot table will be radically diminished because if it’s that easy to do, then you can't give out the rewards the people in parties would be fighting for. So for farmable content, I would say that there will be professions you can farm like mining, fishing, and getting goods and crafting things- that will be a solo farmable content- and there will be solo daily quests you can do which will be a form of farming. And if you have any other ideas, please be sure to put suggestions in the discord.
Q: What’s going to be the first major update?
A: So the Early Access release is what I consider the first major release and that should include most of the professions, a couple of dungeons, a couple dozen spells and skills, and I’ve been talking about it the whole time with all the other stuff I hope to add to it, guilds, PvP, all that. The first major update past that would probably be the things I missed, so if I didn’t quite get PvP in, PvP will be coming shortly after. If I didn’t get a certain profession in, we’ll be adding that later. I mean, the list of stuff that’s pushed back into this stretch goal area will all be coming down the road eventually so it’d be hard to answer what will be the first major thing.
Q: When will we be able to fish?
A: I would like to have fishing before the end of the year, but we’ll see if we have time.
Q: What’s your favorite part of Aetherstory?
A: My favorite mechanical part of Aetherstory is the battle system. That’s the core of any JRPG and what I have planned for it I'm very much looking forward to. I’m very excited for it and the current version of it shows the potential. It’s not perfect, but it’s my favorite part.
Q: How long have you been working on Aetherstory, with help and by yourself?
A: I’ve been working with Laguna (Mark) from the beginning, he was there from the conception of the project, and we’ve been working together for the last 5 years now. I think the anniversary of the project is August, so we’ve been working on it for 5 years and we’ve had a splitting of work between us. I work on mainly the art and programming, and Mark works on the storyline, the world, and the mapping. That’s not to say we don’t share the roles; I’ve done my share of mapping and quests and he’s done his sharing of trying to program quests and he was involved in a lot of the game design and programming stuff; even if it went over his head, he was there to be a sounding board. It was an interesting combination to be able to work with someone else with a completely different skillset than you, and that’s why Aetherstory has so much world in it as it is. Most Alphas at this stage of development don’t have 2 or 3 zones of content, they usually have 1 example zone. We were able to split the burden up and create content and features.
Q: What is the biggest difference between what you thought making an MMO would entail initially versus what it actually entails after all these years?
A: I knew from the beginning making an MMO as an indie was crazy. I’ve said my motto was often “I am just crazy enough to do this” and I don’t care if I fail. In a weird way, after years of working on it, it somehow feels more realistic than when I set out on it initially as the reality of it being a glorified chat room that has graphical avatars representing data being sent through a chat basically became realistic and I was able to grasp it better. When I started working on making an MMO, I didn’t know what classes were basically, I didn’t know socket communication, I didn’t know how to make the screen move, the central game loop, state machines; I knew nothing except back in web development, My background is in PHP back-ins, connecting a database, making forms and making interactive and dynamic pages, not even web design its web development. It’s making business controls and panels and reporting and stuff fright. Taking that knowledge and applying that to development was a journey and even after all these years I’m still learning new things.
Q: What piece of content or game system seemed easy to do but turned out to be extremely difficult?
A: *laughs* I know the answer to that. This feature here: the rain and the fog you see scrolling was conceptually a very simple thing but turned out to be a nightmare. It was so bad I couldn’t finish programming it myself. I had to pull in help from 3 different people from the community to help me get this to actually work. The reason is that if we scroll out it’s actually it’s a moving image layer and needed help figuring out how to get it to loop around fso it’s an infinite canvas and the program here is using some modulus and some sort of rounding magic to make to clouds appear to be smoothly scrolling forever but there’s a snapback that occurs when the image lines up perfectly from one to the next and it just snaps it back and always keeps it on the screen. This is magic; this is math magic. This was a system I did not think would be this complicated to do. That would definitely be it; the overall system. You can call it the weather system but it’s not weather really; it’s just image overlays that we can use for weather and other effects.
Q: What’s a code struggle you still haven’t solved to this day?
A: *laughs* Can I say the memory leak? I think it’d be the memory leak guys. That’s an ongoing struggle.
Q: What is the memory leak?
A: It’s an issue within the game where things aren’t getting unloaded properly. Currently, I’ve identified a lot of the memory leak is occurring from battles and how did I determine that? I determined that because when you run dungeons the leak happens faster when you run dungeon versus when you don’t run the dungeon and what’s happening within the dungeon? You’re going in and out of the dungeon a lot. Last night I narrowed down that the problem with battle is that the textures, the bitmaps, the images, are remaining in memory. Actually every time you have a magic spell appear on screen; the fireball for example, that will stay on screen basically. It’s hidden but it's in memory, it stays there. Over the course of an hour, how many fireballs do you see? That's 100s of fireballs and they’re all remaining on screen, they’re not animating anymore but their texture memory is still there. I did identify that last night and I fixed it; it’s staged for a patch coming out today or tomorrow that will reduce the memory leak, but that’s not the memory leak in its entirety. It’s that times 100 because even that alone wouldn’t cause the amount of memory cause increase; its that idea across every system of the game and I have to comb through it all looking for the issues.
Q: How long have I been coding?
A: I have been programming for about 16 years; I started when I was in high school doing web development and I started learning more complicated programming such as game development about 11 years ago?
Q: Of what games that inspired Aetherstory, which game would you liked to have been a part of to develop if you could go back in time?
A: I am a big fan of the Squaresoft games- that’s what they were called in that era- I loved them, but I don’t want to go back and be a part of them. From learning about them, it was a very intense work culture and I don’t know if I could keep up with it. It was just a few key people producing the game, it was intense right? If I could go back in time and change the way the perception of how the game was created, then it wouldn’t be the game anymore right? So I’m overthinking this question right? But I would’ve loved to be a part of the development of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 5 and 6. However, as I’ve said, I don't think it's realistic to think that way even if time travel was realistic.
Q: What drives the creative process when developing the game for so long?
A: I’m going to interpret that as what keeps me motivated. Passion. That’s one word. Passion. If you wake up everyday and there’s only one thing on your mind on what you want to do other than work on Aetherstory, then there’s no other explanation than passion.
Q: What are you personally most excited for?
A: I personally am the most excited for professions in the game and player housing. I think those are going to be awesome. Even though they’re not the main cores of the game, I want to bump them up and prioritize them so badly but I can’t. I have to get the battle system more fleshed out first.
Q: What JRPG games do you like most, old or new?
A: That is hard to rank if I had to rank them- which it’s not asking me to rank them- but not in any order, my favorite JRPGs that influenced me include the original Final Fantasy 7, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 5, Legend of Dragoon, Final Fantasy 8 and 9, and Final Fantasy 12. Those are the ones that inspire me and the ones I like the most.
Q: Will you do more voice acting?
A: Currently there is only 1 voice acting in the game, I don’t think it’s considered voice acting, there’s a mimic slurp in the game. WilI do more sound effects? Maybe. But there won’t be voice acting in the game. But when I demo a patch I will always do voice acting on stream while I play the game. So if you want to hear my voice make weird voices, you can watch the stream while I play the game and voice all the characters. How much fun is that?
Q: What’s the hardest part about making Aetherstory?
A: Probably managing my time, the team’s time- in other words, managing our resources or assets, trying to make sure everyone is moving in a positive direction is challenging, to stay positive and to make sure everyone is moving diligently and towards a goal. One of my biggest weaknesses would be managing the team’s morale when things don’t go according to plan; people definitely on the team and generally- as this is human nature- will lose their motivation and as a leader I need to be able to empower them, be there for them, and support them during dynamic shifts and changes of plans without losing their respect and that I think would be the biggest challenge of working on Aetherstory.
Q: Who created your glorious avatar; I love the little guy with the hat.
A:That is basically a black mage from Final Fantasy; in particular, it is inspired by Vivi from Final Fantasy 9. I drew that 15 years ago when I first created my online persona. I needed an avatar and I drew it that long ago and it’s stuck with me all these years. It’s not very well drawn but hey it doesn’t look terrible.
Q: Are there any features you’ve thought about adding but unsure how to add them: logic or code wise?
A: Yes, I would really like for the game to have pixel based movement. Right now the game’s movement is grid based and the reason it’s grid based is not only because it’s easier to do, but I couldn’t get pixel based movement to work correctly. If I had a better mathematical mind, there may be pixel based movement in the game. I don’t know how feasible it is to refactor the game into that; if I was able to handle that -and there’s so many systems, it’s not as simple as changing the movement algorithm; there’s a ton of other stuff you gotta deal with like cutscene engine, server communications, there’s whole bunch of stuff- but that’d be something if I could magically have a lot of time and knowledge I’d probably change.
Q: What’s the most important part of you about making this game? Like the most important thing for it to have, be about, or goal?
A: Well I set out for make this game to be a multiplayer, multi-inhabited world and my goal is to have a community and to have citizens of this world: you the players to live in it and create a sense of something that doesn’t exist and part of that end to that goal would be to allow you guys to manipulate and change the world. One of the things I had at the very beginning of the project was this roleplay thing where the longer you play the more roleplay points you’d get and the roleplay point could be used as a currency to shape the world (within reason). For example, if someone accumulated 1 million roleplay points; maybe they could own a building and roleplay they own it and it’s theirs. If someone gets enough points maybe they’d create a war and one of the towns in the game gets destroyed and all the citizens have to move into a campsite nearby and the world would be living and breathing and changing. I don’t know how feasible that is, I'll be honest with you. I’m not making promises with you, but that is one of my dreams; to allow a set of game developers and game designers to work with the community and shape the world around the storyline the players create. I don’t think that’s the direction we’re going in anymore, but I’m keeping my eyes open for the potential to bring that back in some capacity.
Q: What’s your favorite in game spot and that you’re most proud of.
A: I don’t know; I like a lot of the areas in the game. It’s hard for me to pick my favorite; there’s some areas I don’t like, but there’s a lot of areas I do like. I think I like the areas of the game that have lots of nature and waterfalls and water and plants and colorful. I’ll show you guys really quickly one of them. This map is not complete, but it contains I think a very pretty area (the lighting system has not been added yet)
Q: Did you ever play Secret of Mana and why are they the best games of all time?
A: I have played Secret of Mana and this is probably not going to be well received, but I am not a big fan of it. I don’t hate it by any means, but it’s not my jam.