March Update: Every good thing comes in chunks

It has been a month since the site went live and things have been slowly but steadily progressing, notably with the addition of brand new members to the team. There shall be no dev diary this month – but instead we wanted to share a bit about the current aspects of development and how we intend to release the game down the road.

Indeed, one will set Return to the Serpent Isle aside from other fan projects, is that we have decided to release the game in an Episodic format. Now this might come as a surprise for an Ultima game – but after careful consideration it appeared to be a good decision when taking into account both the scope and the amateurish nature of this Mod. Return is a big and ambitious project – and crafting the game as a whole will probably take years – so we felt (and the NWN2 Engine offers us this possibility) it would be a good idea to take a more Episodic approach in developing the project, by crafting and releasing one Chapter at a time.

Of course the downside is that it will create a more linear game than originally intended – but the upside is to allow fans to be able to actually play the game sooner rather than later, and continuing from where they left off. In a way, you could compare this to the multiple milestone that had been released for the U6 Project – except crafted in a way to create a more cohesive story per release and allowing the players to keep their savegames and characters, which is something Dungeon Siege couldn’t allow.

Now the ultimate plan is still to release the full non-linear game experience at the end of development, but this way also allows us to focus our team effort on a single goal in order to offer something for public consumption as soon as possible..

So as of now, we are focusing on producing our first Chapter. We’ll obviously keep the lid on the actual content, but we will however reveal that this first chapter will consist of the entire Isle of Beyond where lies the city of Moonshade, and as such we are focusing on designing and crafting this area.

We’ve reached a first deadline last month, as the NPC list and count for the region has been finalized. In the coming month we will be working on expanding them into full profiles, as well as defining the actual region content.

In the meantime, our tech guys are also hard at work on devising or modifying game systems in order to fit an Ultima style (indeed let us just announce already that we’ll have a fully functional NPC schedule system!)

So this is it for this monthly update – we’ll obviously keep you informed as to how development will progress on the region.

Allow me to remind you all however that we are still in dire need of team members, especially artists (2D and 3D) and worldbuilders. So if you can help us: do not hesitate to join us!

As for those wondering WHEN Chapter I will be released?

When it’s done of course!

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