PlanetQuest and Russian Earl Grey
This article concerns the themes of what we know so far and how the development team tackles certain aspects, while preparing for the inevitable: the hype, the white paper and the influx of new players.
Now some of you have probably read the first article I posted, and I even know a few of you that thought “what a tool, Metamask is not hard to setup”, so you guys are fully aware of certain things that one of the developers have said to elevate certain concerns that I personally had. And to be honest, I really hope that it also helped a few of you to understand the sentiment the developers have, to repeat my self, the innovation, community spirit and most importantly the vision, both short-mid- and long term.
How does the Russian Earl Grey tie in into all of this? Let me explain with a few sentences. One of the developers and leads of the project, going by the name of Retro (not going to disclose everything, but if you already hang around on Discord, you know who this Mythical character is), at one point, started to spill the beans on the project all while being pressured by us. That was all while he was drinking tea, so since that time it has become a meme and a new way of exposing excitement when Retro joins the chat, saying he is drinking tea, so in essence, drinking tea (Russian Earl Grey as said by Retro) has become synonymous with new leaks and developer feedback on community questions. Now that is out the way, lets start.
In the last article I mentioned that the story is scripted, alluding that it is linear, and it may seem that way, where I personally believe with some parts of the wider community, that even though our choices matter quite a lot, we are being led towards certain events that just have to happen (a lot of different theory-crafting has been going on and some of it is on the Reddit page, I advice you to check it out) and yet again I don't get it right, more like semi-right.
By Retro: “We definitely have some outlines of how the story could have gone in completely different directions based on the vote, although having every possible direction fully worked out in advance (given the length of some story arcs) isn’t feasible.”
The best part of this project is the constant feedback and involvement of developers with the wider community, for example Art Director Jon McCoy, a visionary, has been somewhat cryptic in his messages when pressured by the community on the story and other aspects of the game. Now don't think that is a bad thing, on contrary, without an alpha or beta of the game out yet, the best part about the project, as of now, is the theory-crafting, the heated debates on weekly story-arch and the vote, the speculations, the discussions surrounding the tea-infused leaks, and the fact that developers have said that they constantly watch and spy on us, and we have seen that, where they join and listen in during the weekly but also randomly arranged voice chats the community does.
By Jon: “The Universe Council is always watching, so yes, your discussions can (and have already) influenced some of the storyline.”
Now I mention this because I think that we do need to keep certain secrets. Too many leaks and revelations will surely excite the community, but the mystery and coyness around the story is what is helping to build a strong sense of belonging and that in turn helps the organic growth of the community. I might not be alone in saying that I hope the developers continue on their path of small tea-leaks and not full out revelations. And when developers come out with messages like this:
By Retro: “Oh yes, we’re definitely enjoying reading your discussions and not shying away from taking inspiration from them now and then.”
By Retro: “Yup, every choice will indeed lead to a different outcome, which will affect future storylines as well and might lead to whole new storylines opening up. Many of which are still to be written because the range of possible story directions to be taken is pretty massive.”
It definitely shows the vision but most importantly the scope of their involvement with the wider community and how the community is a lead in our own right, and to get back to that old story of average Joe from the previous article, just think that you as a player, a member of this project, are shaping and creating a whole story, making choices that matter not only now but as far as the future.
The recent changes as to how we vote have proved to be of great importance to streamline the voting. The change has been introduced as means to enable the community to have those heated debates, and give a chance to those that came in late to still have the opportunity to join said discussions or just catch up on what has been said by the wider community, what consensus are we building as to the recent story-arch. The fact that there is now an official time-table for a voice-chat panel, where representatives of the wider community get on a virtual stage, and allow other members to raise their hand and put forward their theory, their own arguments as to why the faction needs to head in one or the other direction, is an addition I personally welcome with open arms.
I joined two of those but missed the third one as it was late for me since I am based in EU. In the first one, I came in, listened, said my piece and then continued listening to all the other amazing theories, while noticing the presence of one of the core team members, although he was all quite, it was amazing to see the engagement from the core team. And in the second one, to our slight surprise, another developer came in, and actually went on stage and was discussing some of the stuff we were saying, albeit with understandable reservation as not to expose anything or in anyway affect our own thoughts of the story-line and the effects it would have on our personal votes. Dedication and commitment, for me that is paramount for a successful project.
I am not going to delve further in to the story as that can become a 5 hour read, but there will be some bulletin points on different theories crafted by the community on Reddit, if not yet, then very soon, so keep a look out for that, another way for the community to gather and for those still not involved, to get involved.
So far, things that we know for certain, is that the game is browser-based and is running on in-house created Genesis-engine, and will be a MOBA-style game. All of us have seen the incredible concept art as well as in-game pre-alpha shot of the Desert type planet and how rarity will affect the look of it (check out the Genesis engine article on the Official PQ Medium if you haven't yet).
What we have been discussing in the community is how the game will be played, and I will start with these nice snippets:
By Retro: “Due to the way PlanetQuest works, with so much of its content being generated procedurally or by some form of AI, and due to the very specific gameplay premise and desire to support in browser play, it made sense to build a custom solution.”
“Yes, the team is working on the planet surface generation capabilities of Genesis, which indeed will be generating the mission areas on the planets that you’ll be making your way down to as well.”
“As a planet owner you’ll definitely benefit in some ways from the value generated by the players on your planet and in some cases even beyond that…”
So what can we take away and sort of speculate on with tying this three gems together? Well the missions will be planet tied (nothing mentioned about space and space battles as of now) and it has been speculated that different planet types will have different resources and different rewards tied to them. What is interesting is the ability of the Genesis engine to procedurally generate the mission areas, meaning that the fauna and flora attached to a specific archetype of a planet will also be generated, and that could affect the resources and rewards, and in turn - the potential in-game market or p2p trading. Now how will that work in practice is a bit of a mystery right now, and we have to take in to consideration this gem:
By Retro: “Yes, in fact, getting your friends to join your party would be as easy as pasting them a link.”
Which could be interpreted as joining while already in an instance or joining up as a party before heading into a mission-area, makes me wonder how in-game resources allocation will pan out, and the fact that you could stumble in to other players whilst on a mission with your party, how instancing would work in general. I know, this answers and speculations bring even more questions than answering the current ones. We also had semi-confirmed rumours about some form of missions or community challenges that could involve up to 30 players at the same time, now that is great, but how will it work? Will we be able to be all in the same instance? How will the rewards be calculated and awarded?
To maybe be able to somehow get a grasp of how it may play out in the end, we might have to take a look at one of the inspirations for the developers, and that is an old game called Infantry Online (its has been revived by its community and is great fun to play even for the younger generation amongst us that never had contact with it).
The premise of Infantry Online is similar to that of PlanetQuest: future, rebellions, factions, while in IO it was all about Solar System, in PlanetQuest it will be much bigger than that. Now gameplay wise, I can already see potential similarities of IO with PQ considering everything we know so far. From the way IO is played, to the structure of the missions, except PQ will have much better graphics, which is kind of obvious, if we even look at the picture above.
You party up, you get in to an instance on a planet as you do with a zone (mode) in Infantry Online, there could be different rules for different planet rarities, and they could be grouped up in to different leagues, which in PlanetQuest could be arranged by planet arch-type or vice-versa. In Infantry Online, you have different set of rules both gear and life/death wise depending on the zone (mode) you choose to play as well as what league you play (during Sony ownership of IO servers). Example would be, you head of to a Capture the Flag mission with your team, you fight with pre-selected gear and a big diversity of purchasable weapons, again, depending on the zone (mode) there are different rules so keep that in mind. For example in PlanetQuest own Skirmish league, you might have 5 team slots for a game instance, where after 3 deaths of a specific player, that slot is gone and that player spectates from the side-lines, and to win, a team will have to either eliminate the enemy team or until one team holds all the flags for a certain amount of time, as in Infantry Online where it is holding all the flags for 20 seconds. Another mode could be PvE specific, where you head in and fight AI creatures.
By Retro: “expect more avenues to open up as time progresses, new roles, new gear, new creatures etc.”
It is hard to describe all the possible zones (modes) of the game, especially with the revived Infantry Online that is available for free at the moment, but if you check it out and then consider some tea-leaks or official information coming out regarding Planet Quest, you will probably spot the similarities as well.
By Retro: “Actually some of the key gameplay elements are inspired by a veeery old game called Infantry Online.”
One interesting aspect I want to quickly note is the travel system. At the moment we don't have any information on as how the space travel between planets will work, we have theorized about it though. One of the community members and also my buddy (Cea Barr) accidently pulled out some information from one of the developers while they were discussing their love for Stargate and how it relates to the Shard potentially being some form of a portal (a story related item, with strong involvement in recent story-arch’s) and how it might be connected with the 5 Squadrons and the light that consumed them. Somehow, what the developer said but was still coy about, reminded me of Infantry Online travel system with “golden rings”, where you step over them and it transports you in to the next instance. So the similarities are definitely there, we just have to find them.
I will leave you with your own research to do if you really would like to explore the full spectrum of similarities and end this rant here as talking about Infantry Online makes you want to play it.
Whitepaper and the Sale
A very important issue for most people, both those involved and those yet to join the ranks of the Federation, Empire or the Union.
By a miracle, I have been able to see one page of the whitepaper, nothing important so don't think I know more than you. It was pretty much an intro, and to be truly honest, did make me want to continue reading, but there were no next page, but a cold shower of “you are not ready to get the wisdom just yet Danny”.
But there is a whitepaper, and matter of fact, it will be released very soon, either in two weeks, or by our pulled efforts, this coming Monday (31/1/2022). Why I say two different dates? It is because of this:
“Originally we planned to release this in two weeks time, however, we also noticed that in comparison with our warm & generous community of over 160k here on Discord, our Twitter is looking very lonely.
As such, we have decided to challenge the community by introducing a milestone of 50k followers on Twitter! If we can reach this milestone together with the community’s help, we might accidentally leak our full Whitepaper in 5 days.”
The whitepaper will allow everyone to finally gaze at the wisdom behind the project. This will bring immense hype to the game yet again, and force the core team, and their little helpers in form of Mods on Discord, to go in to battle mode. Now that sounds like a war is coming and has some form of a negative connotation, but by battle mode I mean the need for the team to be ready and to make sure that all the technical and integral for onboarding aspects are working as if oiled by WD-40. While the Mod team, which has actually been recently expanded by the grace of the Ambassadors Program (all links will be provided at the bottom), will have to put on their best mood shoes, a welcoming smile and heartfelt desire to help the influx of new recruits in anything they will have issues with or have questions about, and knowing most of them by now, I am confident the job will be done with excellence. To quickly mention the Ambassadors Program, it is core teams new way to organize and onboard new talent in form of mods, content creators, community translators. Yet again this shows the dedication the core team, or as we know them, the Universal Council, has to maintain the organic growth of the community and its inevitable expansion.
After the release of the whitepaper, or as I personally call it The Wisdom, since I have an own theory on the story and it’s potential ties to the whitepaper (Mirmir — Wisdom in Norse mythology, find more connections on the Reddit page as mentioned earlier) the next milestone as far as we know, will be the first Planet sale. So before I end this little article as not to take even more of your time, I would like to leave you with this, that not only made me chuckle but made me even more excited for the immediate future:
By Retro: “cough… might have some $4m in asks from guilds and the like on planets already …cough… so there’s definitely some pricey planets in there …cough… more details later of course, wide spread in price points …cough… equal opportunities for individual buyers/community members to buy planets of any rarity too of course …cough… more info to come in February …cough… seems like that tea went the wrong way for a second there…”
As you can see, that Russian Earl Grey is really a good tea, we even joke about crowdfunding to get him couple tonnes of it, as we love it when he drinks and spills some of it.
Hope this little article incited you just a bit and you join our community. And for those that already signed up, it may have given you some information that you might have missed.
I have an awesome article waiting to be published, it just need’s a bit of time to mature, and it will be out. That one is something you wont want to miss, I am 101% sure about it.
Best regards, Danny “Moscow” Rush.
Embark on an epic inter galactic journey to discover and own unknown worlds, between the stars of PlanetQuest.
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