State of Aurory Address - April 2022
Things have been heating up for the Aurory team as we continue to reach milestone after milestone. April was certainly one of our busiest months as the team worked tirelessly to be able to ship the early access of Aurory in Q2. We have begun to reach out to the first group of testers for the early access, which will consist mostly of early investors and advisors. Shortly after, we plan to gradually open up access to Aurorian holders and $AURY accumulators (250+ $AURY), with a public open access version following after that.
As always, the team takes no rest. Here’s an overview of what the rest of April looked like!
Nexus aka the “lobby level”, required a lot of overtime and collaboration across all departments to ship in a timely manner. Nexus serves as a sort of tutorial level where players get to have their first experience in Aurory, while also being a central hub that provides bridges to other experiences in our ecosystem. Currently the main experiences that users can interact with in Nexus are the $AURY Swap machine, Aurorians on Expedition portal, and the Marketplace computer. Soon, players will be able to use other portals to access things like PvP and PvE.
As with most Aurory releases that will ship this year, this is only the first version and will be enhanced as the game evolves. In the future, we can see Nexus serving as, not only a lobby for accessing various experiences, but also a place to catch up on all things Aurory. This could take the form of feeds showcasing trending content or big news/announcements, community creations, displays/stands showcasing various partners/projects related to Aurory, and more. We have big plans for Nexus, so keep coming back regularly to check on what’s new!
Overall, Nexus is a benchmark for the Aurory team. Being the first playable version of the game that we are releasing to the public, we wanted to really demonstrate not only the experience of our team, but also our ability to synergize and coordinate together to build something impressive in a short period of time. We did all of this despite the whole team currently working remotely, and not yet having the advantage of face-to-face meetings and collaboration. Imagine what we will do when we have an office!
To give a bit more perspective on how we are feeling right now, here are some words that were shared by our Creative Director, Stephan, with the rest of the team last week:
“I've worked on a lot of E3 demos. A lot. And every single time, it was both exciting and exhausting.
But this Nexus and PvP demo...this is way harder than working on any E3 demo. You don't give the controller to people and run away at E3. You stay right next to them. You control everything. You guide people. You hide the things that are not ready yet. An entire PR team is there walking the floor to help and control the entire experience, the press, the interviews. But with this demo...even with a small group from our community. We won't be able to do that. Be right next to them to guide them and tell them it's normal if things don't work the way they are intended.
It's a demo, a proof of concept, and also an early access, all at the same time. So all in all, we are almost there! We are ONE big push away from a release candidate! I can see the finish line. Let's keep the same momentum and ship this demo! Quite honestly, good job everyone! You guys rock!”
As you can tell, the stress of taking on something that hasn’t been done before doesn’t phase the team and spirits remain high. The collective vibe is truly unmatched. We hope that it overflows through our work on this game and you are all just as excited as we are for what is to come!
To much surprise of the community, we decided to release the Marketplace in conjunction with Nexus. The main reasoning behind this was to demonstrate how different experiences can be accessed from the hub. In this case you can interact with a computer that will open our marketplace in a window, you may then trade Aurorians, Nefty eggs, airdops, and other collectible items using the $AURY token for only a 5% total fee (marketplace + royalty fee). Other cool features include the ability to vote for the best deals (Community Favorites), and to set offers for unlisted NFTs.
We had lots of great feedback and pushed the first update just hours after the release. If there is any feedback or feature requests you have, please head to our Discord and feel free to share them!
Early on in April, we made the decision to designate certain team members to work solely on PvP or PvE for better coordination. This allowed us to place high priority on the PvP mode while simultaneously increasing speed on the PvE build. All in all, it was a jam packed month for the whole team, but especially the Design team. Some big milestones they reached were the completion of all design documents, and the implementation of all dialogues for the demo. The team also had numerous playtest sessions to balance the Nefties’ stats and abilities.
The month also consisted of:
Designing Elo Rating System and leaderboard.
Designing the game’s structure (game seasons, PvE locations, PvP arenas, world map, marketplace, lands, tournaments, rewards).
Implementing dialogue tools and quest manager.
Integrating/balancing frequency of random FUD encounters in PvE.
Designing and integrating puzzles for initial PvE levels.
Validating half-arenas for PvP.
The UI/UX team has also been working on the closed access with the main focus being on the battle system and Nexus. The following objectives were of high priority:
Validating the UI/UX flow for the demo.
Integrating PvP UI.
Completing screens (loading, transitions and battle end).
Creating flow for the opponent’s turn.
Polishing battle elements.
Designing the web3 ecosystem around the game (wallet interactions).
There has been a lot of awesome creative work coming from the Art team throughout April. Starting with some beautiful new Nefty egg designs from one of our Senior Artists, Claire. Some of you guessed it already, there will be different eggs for different biomes!
We wanted to have a cool concept for hatching your eggs, so we thought what would be more exciting than watching them hatch into a Nefty right before your eyes using an incubator? The artwork above is the concept we have in mind, with some cool VFX to transform your egg into your newest Nefty team member!
On the Environmental Art side, part of the team was focused on creating lots of cool new arenas from various biomes that will make up the different settings that will be played in during PvP sessions.
Another faction of the team was heavily focused on polishing the levels for the PvE demo and Nexus.
On the Animation side, work has continued on different actions for certain Nefties, Sam, Helios, as well as FUD animations.
You’ve already seen how cool Sam is when opening a chest, but he also knows how to activate with style!
The consensus was unanimous, better than a hit from The Weeknd, you all liked the latest track made by our Music Composer. You can expect more harmonious music to come as new levels are added.
As many of you experienced in Nexus, and can hear in the video below, a game is so much more immersive when it has high-quality sound effects that make you feel like you are truly in the video game world. Our SFX Wizard has done a great job at producing those small, but impactful audible details for every part of the game in order to deliver the most well rounded experience for all the senses.
April was another big month for the Tech team, especially for the Web3 division, with our first Web3 product release: Aurorians on Expedition.
A nice success was quickly improved with constructive community feedback. You can read more about it here: AoE Guide.
In addition to AoE, there were a lot of man hours spent developing, testing and optimizing the Marketplace that was released alongside Nexus. With those two big releases having been shipped, the web3 team will now be setting their sights on delivering the next two big products/features that have also been in development behind the scenes for some time now. These would be the Egg Incubator program, and Nefties Defenders, a minigame that will be accessible from the Nexus.
Some other big developments in April were the addition of a few new members to the Tech team that we were excited to onboard. One of them being Julien Pellet, a former Ubisoft employee who will serve as our new Director of Technical Operations. After five years working in this position on Rainbow Six Siege, he will be the person making sure we have as little issues as possible with our servers and will be responsible for handling the different components impacting our community in-game.
Patricio Rodriguez, from Buenos Aires, was another big addition who formerly worked at Unidigital as a Unity developer on a few AR Projects. He then worked at MercadoLibre as a member of the CyberSec team. He will be helping us with our Back-End Services!
Some of the other Tech-related tasks focused on last month were:
Enabling connecting wallets and creating accounts through the Aurory page.
Enabling storage of data for the upcoming PvP launch and UIs for leaderboards.
Marketplace debugging, testing, and fixing.
Coordinating integration of Items and Data Persistence with Unity team.
Planning & Design for SSO (Single-Sign On).
ACL for AWS and other applications.
Planning & Design for observability.
Unity servers - managed infrastructure with code (terraform).
Supporting multiple Unity build versions on AWS.
Enabling HTTPS / SSL on Unity client.
Transaction scraper for marketplace Solana program.
End of battle detection.
Debugging Nefty selection inferface.
SSL support on connections to global registry, PVE/Battle server.
Sync up on interactions with DB & blockchain services.
A few words from our Executive Producer, Jon, on Unity Team developments in April:
“A lot of the efforts in April were focused on the WebGL performance and integration. The game looks awesome when playing in the Unity engine, but that isn’t the live environment. It was important for us to get there as soon as possible to really simulate what the end user will experience. I’m extremely proud of the team and what was accomplished from a tech point of view in April. Not only does the game look AAA quality, but it’s running directly from your browser too!
Another important topic is defining the Nefty’s attributes on-chain. We have started working on a system to support various attributes within each NFT that Unity will recognize and update correctly.
A big push was also done to better link the unity client to web3 services, such as Aurorians on Expedition, that is already live. We want players to be able to access the experience from the game directly. But we had to iterate on how that would look, so it’s not too counter intuitive for players, the UIX experience is satisfying and that everything makes sense. We are getting there!”
April marks one year since our first Medium article and tweet.
We have continued to work closely with our agency partner, Invisible North to provide them with feedback along with any required assets they need for the various video content that they are producing for Aurory.
With the releases of AoE, Nexus, and the Marketplace, our website has been undergoing some required maintenance and revamping. This includes an updated landing page that will be more intuitive for first time visitors, and an updated team section of our website that reflects the 60 members that we now have working for Aurory. The Manifesto page on our site will also now give the option to display the Manifesto in eight different languages (English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, Tagalog, Hindi, and Mandarin). Along with all this, we have begun discussions of localization approaches to the rest of our website and the game.
There was much more we could share about April’s behind the scenes with Aurory, but we are here to build an epic game, not to write novels! Overall, it was a packed month for the whole team, and we don’t expect May to be any different. The focus for everyone now shifts to the testing and delivery of the PvP demo in the coming weeks, and the same for the PvE demo after that. Make sure you join us on Discord as we plan to share more sneak-peeks and alpha in the lead up to our next releases!
As always, thank you to our lovely community for supporting us. We know you all want to play Aurory. Like Stephan said, we can see the finish line! Although we are aware that this finish line is only the start of another marathon, packed with regular updates, debugging, season passes, mini-games, partnerships, land sales, world championships, and much more. Aurory is here to stay!