Bright Star Studios: Forging Better Experiences in Gaming and Technology in 2023 & Beyond
January 25, 2023
2022 was a year of change and evolution for the gaming and technology industries. The gaming sector continues to show tremendous growth, and the tech industry seems to be evolving on a day to day basis with the explosion of AI. The rapidly evolving blockchain and digital currency industry... well... it can be difficult to navigate. While there has been a lot of white noise swirling around us, we remained laser-focused on our core values and mission: to create better experiences for players, developers, and partners. It was a good year for our development, a lot has been achieved, and we are running full speed into 2023 with great positivity and eagerness.
I want to take the time to talk about what we have been doing at Bright Star Studios, where we are going and why it is important to forge better experiences for players, developers, partners and more. Of course, also Ember Sword --- why it will be fun, why our team and systems are focused solely around fun gameplay. And lastly, I wanted to reveal a little secret of ours we have been keeping under wraps...
For the uninitiated, let's start from the beginning...
In 2018, we embarked on an ambitious journey to create an MMORPG that would revolutionize the way people experience games online. As devout players ourselves, we recognized that accessibility, long downloads, tedious installs, patching and the black market were major pain points for both developers and players --- and knew that we could do better.
We initially started working with a well-known engine company, who promised us they would have the technology ready for us to execute our vision for accessibility and high performance anywhere within 2 years tops. Unfortunately, when it came down to it, they realized they could not actually do what they promised. They would need to completely start from scratch --- something they were not willing to do. So... just like that, we were on our own. Were we frustrated? Sure. But we did not question for a second that our vision to improve experiences for everyone, no matter where they lived or what technology they have access to, was the right one.
Project SERIUS engine was born. It wasn't our first engine, as a team we have developed and worked on 5 engines in total, but none of them could do what this one can do. It solves a TON of issues with the current stagnant model, it is faster, it is stronger, and it is going to create a massive impact in the market.
As we developed Project SERIUS for Ember Sword, we discovered that its capabilities extended far beyond gaming. It has the potential to transform multiple industries and create a more seamless and enjoyable experience for users everywhere.
We are incredibly excited about the possibilities Project SERIUS brings and can't wait to share it with the world. More on this to come, but now I want to talk about our flagship game in development, Ember Sword.
What is Ember Sword?
As we embark on this journey to revolutionize the world of online gaming, we're thrilled to share more on our latest title: Ember Sword, a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) that is truly pushing the boundaries of what's possible. Ember Sword provides an immersive, fast-paced experience that can be instantly accessed from any device. With stunning graphics, a wide range of customisation options, and intense real-time combat, this game offers a truly unique gaming experience. Players can explore a vast world full of adventure, mystery, and danger, while joining forces with friends and allies to achieve victory.
This is a gaming experience which is, no joke, playable on any device across the globe, within 10 seconds, down to a 3G+ connection. It's a mix of the fast-paced combat of aRPGs, combined with the isometric view and skill-based abilities of MOBAs, set in a persistent MMORPG fantasy universe. It was created, like most great ideas, out of a lot of frustration. We were sick of lengthy downloads and patches. We were tired of gaming for thousands of hours and seeing the big corporations, the behemoths, reap all the value that we, the community, created, or worse, seeing it stolen by shady characters on the black market. And finally, we were annoyed with the fact that although games have great peak experiences, much of the gameplay loops are still an unengaging grind.
What if we could create a fun and highly social game with all the features we love and make it accessible to anyone in the world, no matter where they are from?
What if we could make our own engine --- one that actually makes developing the game and the entire player experience easy?
What if we could help to eliminate the black market and bring things to the surface with complete transparency, giving players complete control over their own digital assets?
So, we started building in 2018 with the vision of "fun gameplay first" over everything else. We created a world that is ever changing --- where players can opt in to control parts of the game, such as capitals, cities, towns and villages. Games these days are formulaic, a bit stale, and the game world never changes. You could be playing any popular MMO and the capital cities where everyone congregates would stay the same for a decade, sometimes multiple decades with little to almost zero change.
Having player-owned land makes the game always feel fresh and vibrant, and we split profits with those who help keep the game alive, as it should be. We also use AI to generate events on the fly, sort of like an AI-GameMaster, which always is trying to make sure you are challenged. It uses machine learning to, well, learn from the players within the game, studying their behavior in order to try and deliver them an epic experience, or simply a relaxed one if that is more the style a player would be seeking.
A FOCUS ON "FUN GAMEPLAY FIRST"
Ember Sword features multiple continents in one big shared world. It is highly social, with plenty of community based and guild-friendly features. Such as for example, if you are a streamer, we use integrated streaming methods which saves you bandwidth because we will be streaming the game directly to your choice of platform, like Twitch or YouTube, rather than you having to stream both the game and your own feed at the same time. You are going to be exploring various types of biomes, in a fantasy world where nothing is off limits, so you will have to keep your wits about you.
It is classless, meaning that you don't need to adhere to any sort of special build or abilities in order to have fun or join a guild etc. How you play, and your playstyle is completely up to you and what matters is how you apply yourself. This is a playstyle we know is very hard to achieve, as having a class based system makes game development and balancing a whole lot easier to create, and hence why it is the preferred choice of developers --- but we believe that this also limits people's creativity. It limits how they can participate in events, and not to mention, limits their fun, because who wants to be shoehorned into playing a specific role, or having only specific abilities. It also means that you cannot buy your way to the top. You have to have a lot of skill and talent to get there.
There is going to be a wealth of PvE and PvP experiences to enjoy. From the open world featuring a plethora of challenging quests, creature encounters, crafting and forging, to the cavernous dungeons for groups and raids which require cooperative play in order to be completed. We want our players to get social, which we will achieve through competitive content throughout the vast world --- which is going to be big, 16x16km² to be exact.
Of course all of this will be done in the browser --- but make no mistake --- this is not just another browser game. This is a fully functioning highly competitive MMORPG. Having a game accessible via the browser is made possible by our own proprietary engine, Project SERIUS which allows for much higher accessibility, allowing hundreds of millions of users to enjoy it as opposed to a few million.
The importance of a transparent and self sustaining in-game economy
As gamers ourselves, we have taken all the best features from all the games we love, and put them into Ember Sword. The combat, questing, raids and in-game economy is going to be epic. The whole economy is designed around not giving, excuse my language, a rat's ass about the state of the world economy, about crypto, nor about the markets. We have from the get-go designed Ember Sword to have its own self-sustaining ecosystem. We care first about fun.
THERE IS NO BUY IN --- AND YOU CANNOT PAY TO ADVANCE OR WIN IN THE GAME.
Focused on a positive player experience with the economy, we will release a set amount of digital collectibles into the game every month --- based on the amount of active players (which will be minted on-chain) and then spread out through gameplay encounters and other achievements. This allows for maximum scarcity, and previously mentioned transparency, because everyone can see what is being minted, how many, and even be able to see the individual minting number of collectibles. For example, a player can have the first hat #1 of out of perhaps #1000 hats.
This means that we, as developers, do not need to waste any time worrying about what sells, nor what will be profitable for the future. We only need to ensure this is a fun experience for everyone.
We also considered harmful bots, and bot farming when we initially came up with the strategy and concept for the game --- because if you have easily achievable collectibles, or items, like in most MMORPGs, you will attract a horde of botters, and player farms to exploit these methods to gain a profit. However, by making items less of a chore, focusing more on gameplay and personal gameplay style, we severely hinder the use and need for bots --- because no one is going to buy these items on black markets when there is no need for it. And collectibles? Well, bots aren't going to be able to farm them, as they will require you to actively participate in the gameplay. To sprinkle on top of all of that, we also use AI to monitor the game to make sure we keep botting to an absolute minimum.
Blockchain. Is it really needed? What does it add to your game?
Ember Sword is a Free To Play game which utilizes blockchain technology to ensure transparency and rightful ownership of digital collectables. It's not a game made because of blockchain, nor do you need any experience using the technology. You will not need to know how to operate a digital wallet, nor will you be asked to buy anything upfront at all.
We use blockchain because it gives us the advantages of an open ledger, where we and our users can track everything, transparently and openly, creating much more trust between us and the end user. We cannot cheat our community by recreating old collectibles and rereleasing them, because players would be able to see them minted. And furthermore, the economy of the game is contained within a token, where again, everything is transparent. There isn't really much difference from any other MMORPG with its own in-game premium currency, and an auction house or marketplace for items. The only difference here is that we allow players to trade if they so wish, easier tracking, a trusted system where everyone feels more like a true member of the community.
Furthermore, we use the chain to record your item's unique history in-game. This means that when you attach one of your collectibles to your character, they will begin to generate a history of what has been achieved with them. From epic moments where you defeat monsters, bosses and encounters, to special occasions. Say goodbye to boring old memories, say hello to sharing those epic moments forever!
Now. Let's get onto Project SERIUS. Why is this engine a 'game changer'?
The technology behind Ember Sword, our homemade proprietary engine, Project SERIUS, is a next generation piece of technology which allows for major improvements across a number of different sectors --- not least for gaming. What sets this game engine apart from others on the market is its speed and scalability. Our engine can process large volumes of data quickly and efficiently, allowing developers to create complex and immersive gaming experiences with a fraction of the time and cost required by other engines.
It allows for easier, more cost effective development which is completely accessible on any browser app or device. This means that any player in any region, down to a 3G+ connection, can now play a AAA game without delay, and without having to wait several days for a download and install to go through. This allows Project SERIUS to penetrate markets previously untapped due to a lack of bandwidth or more technical limitations. Game changer.
Today there is still a lot of stigma surrounding games delivered through a browser, as in the past, these games used to be made with for example flash, and were usually, very simple, especially in terms of graphics. In today's world however, the browser is perfectly capable of delivering high end experiences --- the only limitations here are the technology available through the browser, which in turn is what needs to keep evolving. And it absolutely has evolved, with the emergence and optimization of wonderful applications such as WebGPU, WebAssembly etc, which allows for better performance and development on the web.
If you imagine your browser as a terminal, you can start to imagine that with an internet connection, and if everyone had decent bandwidth with somewhat decent computers, you could deliver practically anything through this 'terminal'. I personally envision that in the future we won't even need an operating system, (like Windows) and instead we will only have terminals (literally browsers) where everything we need is delivered through. From apps for Photo Editing, Music Editing Software, to Video Editing, practically anything you can think of could be directly, smoothly, and safely delivered right to you through your little terminal window. This limits the need for all of us to have huge harddrives, or even massive computer towers. We truly believe this is the future, and that we, as Project SERIUS developers, are absolutely working towards.
Right now, Project SERIUS is focused on developing and delivering experiences for games, starting with Ember Sword. But we are already getting it ready for multiple other industries where it can do wonders. From enabling much better video streaming (think faster/better way of loading and playing videos on streaming platforms) delivering users specific experiences for retail applications, augmented and virtual reality, to automobile solutions and home improvement. All of these sectors can make good use of instantly delivered experiences that are platform agnostic --- available to reach more people around the world. Game changer.
WHAT'S COMING IN 2023 FOR EMBER SWORD?
This year, we are going to be showing off a lot more of the game. From game quest loops, more of the open world, a full dungeon experience all with groups enabled, world bosses, fun encounters and puzzles for you to solve and defeat. It is going.. to be.. Glorious!
What we have in the pipeline, is at first, the good basics of what every great MMORPG needs. We will release a small section of the current game world where you will get to experience how quests work, the various biomes you will come across within the first nation called Solarwood. You will get to see how pieces of player-owned land can look, learn how our fun and intricate crafting system works, and experience some PVE. There will be a variety of monsters to hunt and defeat, and finally you will have to team up with others to take down a world boss, which is a monster type which spawns out in the open world, and requires multiple people to take down. This also includes having fun in the Arenas, which will be the PVP experience, where you can do anything from 1vs1 to 2vs2, 3vs3 and so on.
Which leads me to the final part, combat, where we hope that you will enjoy the various types of skills and abilities introduced to begin with, from dual wielding cool "pistols", to the more traditional sword and board warrior, to cool magicians throwing spells. There'll be a bit of everything for everyone.
The goal is to have something in your hands around April --- don't kill me if the timeline changes a bit, it is game development after all --- and then again after the summer where we plan on having a really fun dungeon experience ready for you to try out.
Personally I cannot wait to finally show all of you what we have in store. It has been a few years of development, both for Ember Sword and Project SERIUS Engine. We continue to make great strides further in this ever changing world, and despite the current turbulent market. 2023 is going to be THE year for Bright Star Studios as we edge closer and closer towards the first release of Ember Sword. I know you all are going to love it.
We will continue to communicate more details as to what exactly you are going to experience in the upcoming features tests and demos. We are also going to talk more about Project SERIUS, and why exactly it is a piece of marvellous technology, both for game developers, and gamers alike.
Thank you for your on-going support and we appreciate each and every one of you.
Always remember, even in the darkest of nights, the stars shine the brightest.