Frequently Asked Questions
- When will Pax Dei be released?
There is currently no date set for Pax Dei's release, but as soon as there is, we'll let everyone know. Test phases will be thorough to ensure a smooth gameplay experience. You can now sign up for the Alpha at playPaxDei.com.
- Will there be both a physical and digital release?
This will be a digital-only release.
- For what languages will Pax Dei be localized?
At first, the game will be available in English, French, and German. We will also provide support in these languages.
- On which game engine will Pax Dei release?
We are using Unreal Engine 5 to create the world of Pax Dei.
- What are the recommended PC specs for Pax Dei?
This is something we aren’t ready to discuss at this time. We will be able to provide more information on this closer to the launch.
- Do you have additional gaming platforms in mind for the official launch or Pax Dei's future?
The game is built for PC and is in development for cloud gaming platforms to become playable on any screen. We’ll share news on the full list of platforms at a later date. In the meantime, you can already add Pax Dei to your Steam Wishlist.
- Will you support more languages on Pax Dei Discord?
Based on reactions from the community, we’re looking forward to allowing more languages on the Pax Dei Discord as we get closer to the game's release. “More” not “all”, as we’ll want to ensure we properly support each additional language.
- When is the Alpha starting?
We’re still a few weeks away from a large-scale Alpha test. Rest assured that when we’re ready to announce it, we’ll publish official communication with all details.
We are running regular small playtests under NDA with our friends and family to test parts of the game we intend to have available for larger-scale testing. We’re sorry we can't add you to these playtests, but they will primarily be used to test specific features and setups in preparation for the Alpha which we can invite you to.
- How many players will you invite to the Alpha?
As much as we would like to invite everyone who expressed an interest in Pax Dei, the truth is that, right now, we don’t have a precise number in mind. We’ll likely grant access to the playtest in waves, depending on what we want to be tested and how stable our servers are.
- How do I know if I've properly signed up for the Alpha, and how will I know that I’m invited?
You'll know you’ve correctly set up your account for the Alpha as long as you have a green tick showing on the dashboard of your account management page. Your dashboard should look like the screenshot below.
As for being invited to the Alpha: we’ll contact you on the email associated with your Pax Dei account. More details on this once we announce the Alpha!
- What is the purpose of the token field included in the account management?
We added a token field to the Alpha sign-up to allow groups of friends and clanmates to play together.
The token can be a word or a combination of words. The most important part is not what it means but that you and your friends use the same token. The system will flag everybody with the same token as a group, and we will do our best to invite the entire group simultaneously. We can’t guarantee it, though. Depending on different factors, we could end up inviting only part of the group.
Also, be aware that we only use the token to grant access to the Alpha. It won’t force anyone to log in to a specific server or jump into the world in a particular region. You’ll still need to sync up with your friends for these parts.
In a nutshell: increase your chance to play with your friends by using the same token!
- Will you support more languages in the Alpha?
The Alpha playtests will all be in English for now. We plan to support more languages (starting with German and French) by the time we release the game based on the response we get.
- When will we be able to see some gameplay?
We are very eager to show you more examples of gameplay. At the same time, we only want to share examples of stable gameplay features that are ready for player feedback (no smoke and mirrors). We'll be pacing ourselves and sharing more and more over the coming months.
- Will PvP be strictly opt-in?
We want to make PvP feel more dynamic and more about social structures, roles, and positions of power in player-formed communities instead of just a static PvP toggle or zone restrictions. We don't want PvP to feel like a separate mode and create a gap between PvE and PvP players. PvP should be an integral part of the world and economy. We plan to offer players interesting and meaningful ways to opt in and dip their toes in PvP.
The goal is to marry PvE and PvP together by offering opportunities for both to bring value to the other party - be it facing the dangers of PvP or creating the best gear for PvP players.
The Heartlands will be restricted from PvP fights. Outside the Heartlands, players will have various options to choose if and how they want to experience PvP and how much they're willing to risk in doing so.
- Will players lose all their items in PvP? Will PvP be 'full loot'?
There will be value loss in PvP, and players will be able to decide how much they’re willing to risk for greater rewards. However, we’re not ready to share full details on PvP loot at this point.
- Will Pax Dei use any kind of fast travel system?
The game will feature different ways to get around, but as with many other parts of Pax Dei, there will be limitations and trade-offs when using them. The goal is not to trivialize travel and the logistics involved but to offer a way to play most content and join your friends within a reasonable amount of time.
- No NPCs, really?
You won't find any of the traditional MMO NPC cities, NPC quest-givers, or NPC vendors in the world, but you will find a wide selection of creatures and AI enemies in PvE. Players will inhabit the lands, build the towns, handle trading, crafting, etc.
Also, "no quest givers" does not mean no quest-like content. The world will be filled with lore and mysteries that require exploration, deduction, and collaboration.
Mysteries and clues will be found by examining the world, finding notes, and researching discarded books or artifacts. You will unlock recipes or clues that lead you towards dungeons or hidden treasure and let you access content and rare rewards that would otherwise be hidden or inaccessible to you.
- How many races? Can we play an elf or an angel?
As a player, you will only be able to play a human avatar that you will be able to customize with various traits to make it unique and your own. This is part of our “low fantasy” or “medieval fantasy” approach.
Regarding the creatures that you will find in the world of Pax Dei - friendly or less friendly ones - we want to take some time to introduce them, and to be fully honest, we want to keep some stuff secret. At the very least, we can say that some of them will be humanoid, but others… not quite.
- What class can I play? How will leveling work? Is it possible for one character to be able to do everything? Will skill points be limited?
There won’t be classes in the way you think about it: you won’t choose one in the character creation and stick to it forever. That being said, no classes does not mean no roles. There will be roles, but we are not ready to share the full details yet. We can share one crucial element related to combat, though: yes, the holy trinity Tank, Heal (Support), DPS will play a part in Pax Dei.
When it comes to leveling, we don’t have a global character level, but we have skills, and these skills have a leveling system. We will give more info about the roles, the skills, and how they interact (or not) at a later point (before too long™).
- What’s the business model for the game: subscription, micro-transactions, or another model?
We’re still working on the business model for the game and are not yet able to share the specifics. That said, a core pillar of Pax Dei is its player-driven economy, and ensuring it will run smoothly drives how we think and will make decisions about the business model. We’ll share details when we are ready to do so.
- How much will Pax Dei cost?
Monetization is very important to live service titles, and we want to ensure we get this right. At this time, we’re not ready to discuss this.
- Will there be NFTs/Blockchain technology in the game?
We’re building Pax Dei with Steam (which does not support NFTs/Blockchain) as the primary target platform. NFTs or Blockchains are not part of our plans for Pax Dei.
- When was Mainframe founded, and by whom?
Mainframe is an independent, venture-backed game developer founded in the spring of 2019 by 13 game industry veterans, mainly from CCP and Remedy. The studio aims to create the first open-world, massively multiplayer online game (MMO) built from the ground up for cloud gaming networks.
Our mission is to create a virtual world that millions will live in for decades.
- Do you all work in Finland or Iceland, then?
We do have offices in Finland, Iceland, and France. Still, some team members are spread worldwide and working from Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, and even Australia! We have 17 nationalities represented at Mainframe.
For us, the most important thing is that people work from where they are most productive, which can mean working remotely.
- When does the team meet then if you work remotely?
Mainframers in Helsinki, Reykjavik, and Paris meet regularly in their respective offices and try to share a weekly lunch. There are weekly online team meetings where everyone joins and shares company information and updates.
The game teams occasionally meet to workshop and plan together in one of our offices.
We also gather the whole Mainframe team once per year in a big summit, mixing workshops and fun activities to keep the team spirit and get to know each other better. We also gather to celebrate our milestones - whether online or offline - as we recently did for the announcement of Pax Dei.
- What’s the background of Mainframers?
We started with 13 founders from Finland and Iceland who represented all game development disciplines. Now (May 2023), we represent 17 different nationalities and a (super) wide variety of skills needed to develop an MMORPG.
Our current team consists primarily of Engineers, Designers, and Artists, but we also have a Publishing team, Producers, and people taking care of running the company. We are a small team considering the challenging vision we want to deliver to gamers, but we can do it. To keep the team small, we try to find ways to do things smartly, and we have also hired mostly people with seniority and extensive expertise and experience. We hope that in the future, we will be able to mentor more developers at the start of their journey with the game industry.
- How is life in the Mainframe office?
We are an online community at Mainframe. We are spread in several locations and split into teams (each team is developing a specific aspect of the game - the world, combat, the crafting...). Members of any feature team may come from any location. Our teams have come up with their own way of working together in the past three years. Because our work happens mostly online, our use of offices is finding its way. Our offices in Helsinki, Reykjavik, and Paris are centrally located and support everyone who wishes to work there with good / plenty of coffee and excellent company.
- Diversity is a hot topic right now. What do you do as a company regarding diversity?
We take on team members based on their skills and merits - everyone on the team should feel they were hired because they were the best candidate for the position. Our team trusts each other, and we are very open in our plans and discussions. It is a balance of inviting everyone into the conversations and ensuring we all spend our work time on the most critical tasks for each of us. It is not always easy, but we constantly evolve in how we work by being honest with each other and dedicating effort to improving.
When we have a chance, we hire for diversity - meaning that we tweak the role a bit to get a wider pool of applicants.
- Are you all gamers? What is your favorite type of game?
We are all gamers in our own way. Some of us play more on PC, some more on console, and others only play mobile games (thus why they don’t own a gaming PC…)! We also all have different tastes in terms of game genre, so overall, that makes a big potpourri of experiences - good and bad - that help us shape Pax Dei every day for the best.
- When did you start working on the game?
The game's concept was in the founders' heads for quite some time, way before Mainframe was founded. We really started working on it in 2019 when we launched the studio and hired more people to make it a reality.
- How many people are working on developing the game?
A bit more than sixty people are in our development teams (including artists, developers, UX, analytics, design, story, backend, etc.). We also have a dozen people in support teams handling accountability, human resources, publishing, and IT.
- Can you give more details about who invested in your company?
You can find all the details in the press releases that were issued for our two rounds of funding: https://themainframe.com/en/media/
- Looking at the pictures on your site (themainframe.com), you look like a bunch of old geeks… Are you all that old and that geek?
Funnily enough, the average experience in the gaming industry for the company is 15+ years… Are we old? It all depends on how you define “old”.😉 We prefer to say that we are experienced. And we want to put that experience into creating the game of a lifetime. Are we a bunch of geeks? Definitely! We all have our favorite universes and references, but we are definitely geeks, and proud of it!
- Do you have a video that shows the Building part of the game?
Yes! Even Two!
Building short clip 1/2 - Daytime
Building short clip 2/2 - Nightime
- Can I build anywhere on the map?
No. Building happens in the Heartland valleys and is disallowed outside of them. Additionally, some areas in the Heartlands that would break gameplay are restricted. For example, the Heartlands feature a pre-made road network and you cannot build on top of roads. You cannot build underground either. However, we do allow building on water, and indeed, waterfront buildings look amazing. In some cases, this does allow for building a bridge.
- Can I set up my plot on a dungeon entrance?
No. We want to guarantee that PvE areas that should be accessible to all, are accessible to all. And it is unlikely that you will find dungeons’ entrance in the Heartlands.
- Can I build in PvP areas and, if yes, in a permanent way?
We don’t want to go into any details on PvP right now, sorry! This should be covered in a FAQ dedicated to PvP. Please be patient :)
- Can I take resources from abandoned structures?
Yes, if a player tears down a plot, the items left behind become available to other players.
- If yes, does this mean that I could potentially claim larger, more complex buildings with my plot? And if so, are they/can they be larger than you'd normally be allowed to build in your single plot size?
You can’t claim the pre-made buildings, but you will be able to build extremely large buildings using the plot permission sharing inside clans.
- What could be some reasons to visit other players’ settlements? Could we get access to rare materials or recipes? Could we get access to their books or other discoveries?
We don’t want to go into specifics on this right now, but let’s just say trading will be a large part of Pax Dei. There might also be additional reasons you want to visit other people, like politics.
- Is there a mechanic that limits the number of structures that I can build?
The amount of land available is the only constraint. Each player will get one plot of land you can build on as part of a paid account, and we intend to add mechanisms that allow players to acquire additional plots.
As an aside, note we’ve noticed during playtests that clans often appoint a player to be the master builder, so if you’re really into building, try to find a guild that wants to make you this person.
- Are the houses premade, or can I build whatever I want?
You can build almost whatever you want from the building pieces in the game - see the next answer!
- Can I go crazy in terms of structure, or do I need to respect some architectural rules?
The building system features a physics system that forces structural integrity on the buildings, so your buildings will have to make sense from a structural perspective. As an example, while houses can be pretty big, you cannot build a house that’s infinitely high.
- In the long term, will all buildings look more or less the same?
We have multiple building piece sets and are looking to add more customization options to the houses. We’d love to eventually have a system that allows you to make a very diverse set of houses that can all look unique. We definitely won’t have all these features done by the time the game goes to general availability, and plan to keep adding features in the updates.
- When we go to build on our plots, how forgiving is the building system if we want to change our minds and start over completely, or if we mess up? Can we recoup supplies equally, or are they lost once placed?
We’re still debating exactly how much you’ll recoup when tearing down the houses. But we do want the system to be fairly forgiving.
- Can I craft furniture and decorative items?
Yes! There are a number of items you can build in addition to just buildings, crafters, and chests. For example, you can craft rugs, chairs, tables, etc. The selection of items in the game right now is not extensive as we haven’t gone into full production on this content set, and we’re looking to add more.
- Do they have value in the gameplay, or are those just for decorating purposes?
Some are usable and we do want to support full RP gameplay where you can nicely decorate your house also with usable furniture. Lights are especially helpful, with the dark nights you’ll experience in the game. We don’t currently know how extensive this prop set will be by the time you get to play the game, but we will be continuing to develop the game for a very long time, including adding more content over time.
- Can I design my own ones, or are those pre-set?
They will be provided by the game.
- Can I customize them to the colors of my clan?
The systems have many features to customize the items you can craft and we have the tech in place to enable features such as the type of wood used to craft an item changes the look of items made of the wood. We additionally have a system for clans to create their own heraldic symbol, which appears on some of the gear worn by the clan, and we are planning to support this in some items you can craft on your plot. We don’t currently know the extent to which we’ll support all of these features by the time the game comes out, so we’ll share more details on this later.
- How big are the Heartlands we're building in?
We're creating a separate FAQ about the world and will cover this question in detail. The Heartlands are pretty big, and there are many.
- There are no doors or signs in the videos?
The current game build doesn't have doors and signs, but yes, we want to have these as much as you do.
- Is there a height cap to how tall buildings I can make?
Yes, but the structural integrity system will block you from making buildings tall enough to hit the cap. We want to enable you to make large multi-story houses, but at the same time, we don't want the game to feature skyscrapers, so the tallest buildings will be somewhere around what you'd expect to see in the Middle Ages.
- Are the building pieces in the video final?
The video we posted doesn't show all the blocks we have in the game, and we're still iterating on exactly what blocks we have, so please assume anything you saw in the video is subject to change.
- Can I build on water?
Yes, we currently allow the plots to overlap water and probably will want to have this be the case long term. As you saw in the video we posted, lakeside properties are pretty awesome. In the current game build, you can place building foundation pieces underwater, as long as the bottom of the lake is close to the surface, so effectively you can build on the shore with slight overlap with water, but you cannot build let's say a bridge over a lake.
- I can't build outside of Heartlands, right? But what about PvP?
You can't build outside of Heartlands in the current game version. We want to have this eventually, but PvP building destruction that works in an MMO is highly challenging to have work in a way that creates a good gameplay experience, so we haven't made this yet. We're working toward having a solid core game at launch, and we planned PvP building for a game update. Having said that, we absolutely want to have high-stakes PvP in the game launch version - it's just the stakes are not related to building. The reason not to have the houses you're building in Heartlands be part of PvP is that we want the base game to be enjoyable to even those who don't want to participate in PvP directly. We believe even the hardcore PvPers deserve a resting place in the world to regroup and gather forces in preparation for the next battle.
- Does the game have roads? How do those work?
Yes, we have a pre-made road network, and we'll also cover this in more detail in the World FAQ. The short of it is: roads are intended for traveling the world, and you can't build on pre-made roads.
- You often talk about the “plot”. What is a plot exactly?
Good question! A plot is a portion of land that belongs to a character and that you can “claim” in the areas open for building. This portion of land is circular and vast enough to build a house of reasonable size and a couple of smaller structures. When you’re placing a plot, you’ll be able to pick the plot location in the Heartlands pretty freely and will see a preview of exactly what the area you’re getting is like.
- Do I absolutely need a plot to build a house?
Building only happens on plots, but the plots have a permission system that allows them to be shared between players. So yes, you will need a plot to build, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is your plot. If you have a group of friends and form a clan together, you can have multiple shared houses in multiple locations and work on those together.
- Can I build a house on someone else’s plot?
Yes, if they’ve given you permission to do this.
- Can I block access to my plot? To everyone? To part of my clan?
You cannot restrict access to your plot per se, but you can restrict who can access anything you build on the plot.
- Can people come to my plot and steal what’s in my house? Can they destroy it?
Only the players you’ve given permission to access your constructions on your plot can access your things. And yes, they can destroy it but also help you build more.
- How do sharing permissions play out?
We don’t want to talk about this level of detail right now - we’re aiming to make the system flexible so you can do pretty much anything you want with the permissions.
- If I link my plot to the plots of my clan and we build a huge castle, what happens if someone decides to leave? Is a part of the castle lost?
We’re well aware of this and we want to develop mechanisms that allow you to retain that plot of land for the clan.
- Can I decide to move my plot at any point? In that case: what happens to the building/props already on it?
Right now, you can move the plot at any time but would need to move all the things on the plot by carrying them from one place to another. We intend to offer tools to make this a bit easier but don’t have an ETA for this.
- What if someone claims a plot in the area we started to populate with my clan - to block us - and doesn’t want to move? Is there any way we can push them out or prevent this from happening?
There is no game mechanism at this point to force someone to move; you’d have to talk to the person and convince them to move. Note that the game very much favors cooperation, so there’s very little in the game itself that would motivate someone to do this - someone who dedicates their plot to blocking a clan instead of working with them will have a hard time playing the game.
- How long does a player have to stay idle to lose their buildings, or what has to happen?
We want the game shards to always feel alive, and to ensure this, it doesn’t make sense to keep inactive plots forever. Once a player stops playing the game, we’d therefore want to free the plot (or plots) of land the player has been maintaining, so that other players can occupy the space.
We’re thinking about setting up a grace period to make sure people don’t lose their house by accident, along with ways to allow a returning player to easily rebuild a plot so they don’t have to start from scratch. We haven’t made final decisions around this yet, and are looking forward to experimenting on this during the Alpha test.
- Can I take resources from abandoned players’ structures?
Yes, if they are truly abandoned.
- When we go to build on our plots, how forgiving is the building system if we want to change our minds and start over completely, or if we mess up? Can we recoup supplies equally, or are they lost once placed?
We’re still debating exactly how much you’ll recoup when tearing down the houses. But we do want the system to be fairly forgiving.
- How much can I build on a plot?
We haven't yet determined how large the plots are, so it's impossible to answer this precisely. The balance we're looking for could be described as "You can build quite a lot on your plot, but you will also want to work with your clan to use the combined land in your clan's plots as smartly as possible."
- Are there access controls in the plots?
We have an access control system that's being integrated into the items, and it will give you reasonably granular control over who can access things in your plot. We don't have a feature to restrict people from walking on your land, but you _can_ build walls, so theoretically, your clan could wall up the village - as people did in the Middle Ages.
- Can I build on other players' plots?
Yes - depending on who allows you to do so. We're expecting most clans will set up their plots so all clan members can build on all clan plots.
- What if a griefer builds a plot next to mine or my clan's plots?
We understand that players may encounter issues with plot placement, and we want to ensure that our players can resolve these conflicts. Our team has extensive experience working on multiple MMOs, and we are well-versed in the challenges that players can face.
- Can I modify the ground in the plot?
We don't support this feature, but you can build the foundations to flatten the land.
- Can I get more plots somehow?
In the current game, each player has just one plot, but we will eventually add ways in which you can get additional land.
- Making the World of Pax Dei
- Can you explain the difference between regions, provinces, and heartlands?
The world of Pax Dei is split into four main regions, plus four in-between regions. The four main regions are Gallia, Gothia, Iberia, and Anatolia. For the release, we are focusing on building a part of Gallia, whose terrain and atmosphere are mainly inspired by the southwest of France (with a pinch of a magical twist). A province is a large section of a region. We will have different types of provinces, but the heartland provinces are the most important (and biggest) ones. Another type of province is what we currently call the contested provinces - which, as you can guess, are related to PvP. A heartland province contains several home valleys (6 in the example below). And a home valley is a blessed land where players can place their plots and build villages.
Here is a sketch of the map used for the Friend & Family Alpha build. It contains one heartland province, and the named red zones ‘Maremna, Gravas, Tursan…’ are the home valleys. In the game, this province is a square of 10 km per side, but the playable area is ‘only’ around 70km² (27mi²). We aim to have at least two (ideally three) heartland provinces by the time we let people in.
- How huge is the world of Pax Dei?
It depends on what one means by “the world.” The entire world of Pax Dei won’t be available at release, and we’ll start with a portion of the world in the region named Gallia. We aim for at least two (or three) heartland provinces (plus some dungeons and another type of province we are not ready to talk about) for when we’ll open the doors to our world. Overall, that would give you a playground of approximately 150 km2 (58 mi2). Of course, it heavily depends on content production capabilities and some technical constraints, and we could end with something slightly smaller or far bigger.
- Will the world structure be shaped with heartlands at the center and the more dangerous lands surrounding this safe zone? Or will there be a few heartland provinces intersecting with dangerous zones, which implies adventurous travels and trades?
The heartlands tend to be closer to the center of the world than other areas, but that is not an absolute rule. Likewise, heartlands will sometimes border with each other, and sometimes they will not. It is a large, living world created with a few general rules and a lot of exceptions that give each place a different texture and character… In a nutshell, and to answer the question: both.
- Can you talk a bit more about the lore of Gallia and the rest of the world?
Gallia was one of the four great kingdoms that stood for eons but crumbled along with all the others and most of the civilization during the Great Downfall.
The region of Gallia was once one of the old seats of power in the world. Let's go clockwise from there through the known world. We have Thule to the East, then Gothia, Carpathia, Anatolia, and Helios to the high South. Then we have Iberia and finally Atlantis before returning to Gallia.
Gothia, Anatolia, and Iberia are the other three regions named after the ancient kingdoms of the world, while the other regions, being wilder and geographically further afield, never in recorded history were really encompassed by the Pax Dei.
Note that what is drawn up here is a schematic image of the world of Pax Dei. It is not quite this simple. The lands of the old kingdoms tend to reach more towards the center of the world, while the wilder regions stretch more outwards. Rivers, lakes, and oceans weave through the world, and mountain ranges and other natural or unnatural phenomena divide various areas making this more complex than it sounds.
And then there are the uncharted areas that stretch between the borders of “the known world” and the true edge of the world, wherever and whatever that may be. Some call it the Rimworlds, others call it simply Terra Incognita and simply mark “here be dragons” on their maps in order to warn off daring adventurers from roaming too far out. And who knows, there may well be unknown beings there and people yet undiscovered. These are lands of legends and myths, of which the only reliable known records stem from the First Crusade when Phaianos and Armozel, together with the Sons of Light, drove back the first incursion of the demonic legions into this Creation, over two thousand years ago.
Lastly, the reader should note that what we have talked about here is the “known world”, the Creation itself. There may yet be other material places undiscovered, created by beings strong in spirit, beings who do not necessarily find it beneficial to dwell under the eye of the Divine, for whatever reason that might be.
- Can you explain how you are building the world from a technical standpoint?
Our world generation process is semi-procedural, or what we like to say, procedurally assisted. We believe that a human should make the interesting decisions, while the computer should do what it excels at, filling in the details.
In very simplified terms, a human creates a map of the world, and the computer makes a 3D game world out of it. In software terms, our world generation pipeline runs entirely in SideFX Houdini, which is a great match for what we are doing.
In more detail, we start with three main inputs: a very rough height sculpt, an annotated 2D map of what is where, and a bunch of tabular data like what plant species grow in which biomes. First come the geological processes, erosion, lakes, river pathfinding, and such. Then we add the human influences, mainly road carving and modifying the terrain to fit the structures we want. Lastly comes all the plant life and other decoration, with only a minor influence on the terrain itself.
The process also creates a lot of other data than just the 3D environment. A game like ours requires a lot of auxiliary data for things like resource distribution, pathfinding, player map, and so on. It is important to us that we do not edit the world manually, as that would mean making changes would be harder.
- What makes it different from other MMO worlds?
First of all, this is a world we intend for people to feel at home in, to be at home in, so naturally, we allow them to build a home, a home that matters and gives their existence meaning. We open avenues for people to come together around their dwellings and cooperate and build villages and towns with all that follows, and obviously, that will set their mark on the world. Secondly, we build this world with the concept of verisimilitude in mind. All things are worked and reworked and reworked again until they are natural and believable, even the unbelievable ones. It brings normalcy and readability to the world in general and creates real reasons for the anomalies people stumble upon.
- Will there be an in-game map of the world? Will we be able to see everything from the map right away or only already explored areas?
As soon as you log into the game, you can see the whole map of the province you jumped in. The map has no fog of war, and it gives information about the topography, the biomes, and some point of interest. It won’t give the resource areas, the mountain passes, or the villages the players raised. Some areas, especially dungeons, will have no maps at all, leaving it to the players to explore the lay of the land and create their own maps. On that topic, we want a player's knowledge to be more important than his character’s. As such, knowledge sharing and trading between players, in and out of the game, is something we want to encourage, and we have no doubts that some of you will take great pleasure in creating maps with diverse points of interest, whether right or wrong…
- How will the transport system work in the game?
While we do not want to make life particularly hard for people running simple mundane errands and projects, logistics and transport of materials will play a part in the economy. To give some examples, there will be some ‘teleportation’ system for the individuals to facilitate dungeons exploration, but you won’t be able to teleport two tons of gold ore simply.
- Are there areas that you will only explore once and won’t get back to them again because the creatures and resources have become obsolete?
In our game, we strive to make every resource valuable and useful throughout your entire journey. Even the simplest resources have their place. Whether it's building walls for your village or equipping warriors with weapons and armor, the demand remains constant. Just like in real life, even if you've mastered the art of crafting steel, you'll still find yourself in need of iron. At the beginning of your adventure, you may find yourself gathering these resources on your own. However, as you explore and progress in the world, you'll have the opportunity to rely on other players who are newer to the game or experts in their respective trades to fulfill your resource needs.
- How can a player make the world his own? How creative can we be with our interaction with the world?
A player should be in full control of his own land. Likewise, Clans will put their mark on the world by organizing villages and communal buildings they work on together. Clans that decide to cooperate and become allies can create larger social units and should therefore gain control over more land and building features than those who choose to go at it alone.
- What kind of biomes will we find in the world of Pax Dei, and how will they affect our characters?
In our quest to create a world that feels authentic and familiar, we've placed a strong emphasis on verisimilitude. We believe that by making the environments and transitions between biomes believable, we can offer players a truly immersive experience. Our goal is to transport you into a world that feels both authentic and grounded rather than purely fantastical. As a result, you'll find that our biomes often partially overlap or interweave, adding to the sense of realism and exploration. Currently, we have four distinct forest biomes that each have their own unique characteristics. Additionally, we have a couple of captivating mountain biomes, along with several open lowland areas and swamps that provide a different flavor to the landscape. Each of these biomes offers its own visual aspect and various ways to navigate and explore. Furthermore, they are home to specific endemic flora and fauna, as well as shared species that add to the rich diversity of the world. However, it's worth noting that the distribution of minerals across the world follows geographical factors, such as terrain and elevation, rather than being tied solely to specific biomes. Again, this approach helps add depth and realism to resource gathering.
- How are biomes connected with each other?
They usually continue seamlessly from one to another, depending on geographical factors and bodies of water. We aim to make a real and believable world.
- What kind of creatures will be met in Pax Dei?
We want our world to have some verisimilitude, to look like a plausible medieval world that can resonate with the mental image we all share about the Middle Ages. If one was walking around in the forested areas in Pax Dei, one would obviously expect to run into individuals representing Europe’s typical forest fauna: rabbits, boars, deer, wolves, and bears... So you’ll have these. And because our world is not the real world, but a fantasy world where “myths are real, and ghosts exist,” one might also run into unexpected creatures that could qualify as mythical or fantastic, or even demonic. Not everywhere and not every time…
- What kind of resources can we find in the world? Are those all useful for crafting?
All resources we can think of that will be useful for crafting. Having said that, we won’t be implementing everything at launch because we want to update the game content in perpetuity, and we are only starting with Gallia. Other regions will all have unique materials and resources that will add diversity horizontally and vertically.
And as we are talking about resources and ‘horizontal development,’ it is a good moment to give an example of how a game like this can expand inwards rather than endlessly adding new areas and gear tiers. To a layman, a piece of wood is just a piece of wood, while to the expert woodworker, each type of tree and even every tree in the forest has specific qualities and uses that someone with an untrained eye would never think of.
And in fact, the first resource document that was written for this project was a 72 pages treatise called “Trees in Pax Dei,” listing 21 different species of trees, the conditions they need to thrive, an overview of their material properties: hardness, brittleness, grain size, how they burn, the difference in qualities of their sapwood and heartwood, which fungi grow on each, what fauna follows them, as well as listing mythical and magical properties they might have. Needless to say, everyone will start the game as a layman when it comes to identifying the different qualities of wood, but as the game progresses, old knowledge is rediscovered, and hidden lore is unearthed, some will no doubt start seeing the forest in a different light.
- Do resources respawn? Does the world feel “alive”?
Generally speaking, resources will respawn unless a character has claimed the land they were on (i.e., different rules apply on resource spawning when it comes to players’ plots).
- How are resources distributed?
While the most basic resources can be commonly found, most resources tend to be distributed in an asymmetrical pattern. Their exact location and their abundance are dependent mainly on geological factors. Hence, people who spend some time out and about looking for specific resources should relatively quickly learn where it is best to look.
- Are there any weather effects? Do they have any impact on the gameplay?
Yes, there are all sorts of weather effects, rain, shine, and fog, in different measures. Primarily, weather affects the scenery’s mood and the in-game visibility, but we can't say it affects flora, fauna, or resources in the game. We also can’t say if gameplay can impact the weather. If it does, it is yet another layer to the world’s mysteries players will have the opportunity to uncover during their time in the game.
- Can you give us more details on the night/day cycle? How does it work?
The daytime is markedly longer than the night, simply because in this world, the eccentricity of the elliptic orbit the sun follows as it revolves around the earth is relatively high.
Also, we want the night to be meaningful, and we want it to impact gameplay itself. Of course, the night should affect visibility, but also the mob spawning, the availability of the resources, and perhaps, even more… After all, it is common knowledge that some magic potions must be crafted when the moon is full… right?
- Is the “night” a real night? Can you see a moon and stars in the sky?
We still need to balance how dark and long the night should be. We want torches to be useful, but we don’t want the night to become solely frustrating. No matter what, we want the night to be meaningful, and as such, we want it to feel real.
And yes! You can see stars, constellations, the moon and the different moon phases, aurora borealis, comets, shooting stars, and other celestial omens the Divine uses to communicate the danger of impending disasters to her children.
- An introduction to Pax Dei’s shards, servers, and zones
As you may know, the World of Pax Dei consists of a few regions (Gallia, Anatolia, Gothia…) split into several provinces (Ancien, Merrie, Kerys…). A province is a very large geographical area with several valleys interspersed by big mountain ranges. In specific provinces called heartland provinces, we have multiple valleys we call home valleys, and those are where you can build your home. And, of course, you also have dark dungeons and caves that mainly exist below the surface of these provinces.
But how do these geographical features map down to actual physical servers, and how do they affect how you play the game?
The first choice you will face when creating a new character in Pax Dei will be the selection of a specific instance of a World, also commonly referred to as a Shard. Even though the world of Pax Dei is geographically vast, it can only accommodate a certain number of players in total. This is why we run multiple copies of the world, each being identical but completely independent of the others in terms of actual inhabitants. Each such copy we call a shard.
We estimate we’ll start with a maximum population in a single shard of around 7,000 players. A single shard is run wholly within one physical cloud hosting center. We will run shards in different availability regions worldwide, e.g., North America and Europe.
The factors that will mainly influence your choice of shard will thus be the following:
Latency to your main game computer
Seat availability, as some shards might be full
Shards where you have many friends already playing
From a computational point of view, a shard consists of a large collection of various servers and cloud services, each of them fulfilling a specific function. The most numerous ones are what we call zone servers. This is because the simulation of a whole world is much too computationally heavy to be handled by a single hardware instance and is thus divided into smaller computational units that we call zones. A single zone server is a Dedicated Unreal Server that handles the simulation of a specific part of the world, e.g., one home valley.
At any given time, you, as a player, are automatically connected to a zone server. Whenever you move across a zone boundary, your connection automatically moves to the adjacent zone server. This is what we call a zone transition. In most cases, these transitions should be seamless, except for a few important exceptions:
Transitions between different provinces or into dungeons will typically incur some loading time as the client loads an entirely new map
There is currently no visibility of other players or NPCs across zone boundaries
As mentioned above, a zone server is a dedicated Unreal Server handling the simulation of a small subsection of the world. Eventually, a zone server can also become overwhelmed with too many players. Currently, this limit is around 150 players, but it is expected to change with better hardware and optimizations. To avoid having to close off zones when the maximum number of players is hit, e.g., during peak hours, we introduce the concept of zone instances instead. The mechanism is such that when we surpass the maximum number of players in a zone, we distribute the whole set of players within a given zone boundary between two or more separate instances of the zone. Each zone instance is actually running a separate zone server for the same zone, but players within a given zone instance can not interact with players in another instance.
This separation only applies to direct player interactions, but the persistence of the buildings, amongst other things, works across instances, meaning the buildings are visible to all. Once the zone population levels go down, instances merge together. For regular operation, after a shard has reached maturity, instancing should only happen in exceptional cases, but it might be common at the beginning.
Apart from zone servers, the rest of the backend handles coordination between zone servers, transactional game logic, communication, and persistence. There are situations where the clients connect directly to this backend through secure APIs, e.g., for authentication. Still, in most cases, the zone servers are the ones communicating with the backend to specific services such as inventory service, resource management, etc.
All of this infrastructure is then deployed, coordinated, and scaled through a Kubernetes architecture running on top of a cloud infrastructure.
- Can you explain what a backend engineer does exactly?
A backend engineer is someone who works on any of the services that reside in the backend but also in the interaction part between the zone servers and the backend. Typically, backend engineers define and implement the APIs used in communication between Unreal and backend services. They will also determine the data structures and persistence logic for all persisted data in the master database. Finally, they will also work on deploying and monitoring all the underlying infrastructure.
- How is the cooperation between the backend and the front end working?
Mostly, this interaction will go through some well-documented APIs. The API defines all the operations that are allowed for a given service. The backend will also validate and enforce that the API client is authenticated correctly and has permission to call the given function. The API response is then typically data or validation that clients use to display to players through a customized UI.
- What is the biggest challenge when working on an MMO like Pax Dei?
The biggest challenge is how complicated the tech stack is. The whole tech stack comprises various components, some being 3rd party components (e.g., the Unreal Engine or PostgresDB) and others fully developed in-house. Most of these are not specifically designed to be used in an MMO. The functions of these components range from physics simulation, graphics rendering, AI behavior to transactional integrity and high scalability of server transactions. They cover multiple programming languages and must be built and deployed in perfect harmony to function all together as intended. Finally, testing an MMO without actual players is difficult, hence the importance of early user testing.
- Will there be language-specific shards, or will all players be able to play together?
It is something we want to monitor. We will start with no special language restrictions, but some shards with clear language bias will probably emerge. We will make our best effort to surface this kind of metadata to players to help them make an informed decision on which shard to join. We also don’t want to force you to play in a specific region. We mean that if you are a European player and want to play with friends in the US, you should be allowed to do so (while accepting more latency).
- Will we have some shards dedicated to PvE without any PvP interaction?
No, the plan is currently that all shards will be identical.
- How many players will be per shard?
We will start with a target of about 7,000 players per shard (in 3 to 4 heartland provinces). As we bring more heartland provinces online, the maximum population per shard will grow accordingly.
- With the expected high demand at launch, how do you plan to avoid queues?
We can spin up additional shards as needed to accommodate more and more players, but the zone-instancing mechanism will also help mitigate the initial load per shard.
- What are your plans to minimize latency for the players?
Shards will be available in different geographical regions, so new players should be able to find a shard that is geographically close to them. Furthermore, the combat system and typical MMO interactions are such that they are more tolerant of lag as compared to first-person shooters.
- Will you have weekly maintenance? Will it be different per region to respect the time zones?
We design our system in a way that they shouldn’t need maintenance except for major client and server updates, but, at the moment, we still need to do some downtimes and sometimes complete wipes of the Worlds. The selected time frame will certainly attempt to minimize disruption for players.
- How will you manage the population of the Worlds? Do you plan to allow character transfers?
Yes, definitely. It is necessary for players' quality of life and population management.
But, let’s split this question into different cases: moving a character from one World to another is pretty trivial, so that is something we will undoubtedly allow (as an extra service or for free if the goal is to desaturate the population of a given world). Moving a plot and the building(s) on it is a far more complex beast. We can’t simply transfer the buildings as the space could not be available in the new World, and we can’t easily move the buildings to a ‘similar space’ because the buildings' structure depends on the terrain they’re on. Ideally, we will have a system that lets you save your building structure as a blueprint or at least put all their components in a magical bag (don’t ask about the lore behind this, please). Finally, when it comes to Clan transfer, we are currently considering it, but because of multiple reasons (priorities, workforce, unfinished features…), we can’t say it will happen before too long. We will provide more details on transfers and their availability later.
- If I want to play with my friends, how can we ensure we'll be in the same World? Can I join them even if their World is full?
When a World becomes overcrowded, it will be locked to safeguard the quality of service. So, our objective is to strike a balance between preventing overcrowding and ensuring friends can easily play together. The key here is to be smart about the indicators we will use and how we guide people towards specific Worlds. In critical situations, we would like to be able to offer character transfers from a crowded World for free, as it’s one of the best ways to ease overcrowding. We will provide more information at a later time.
- What is your stance on third-party programs and add-ons?
We're open to third-party programs and add-ons (as long as they are not about cheating), as we recognize that these contributions can often enhance user experiences and provide valuable functionalities. However, at the moment, we regrettably lack the necessary resources to offer proper support for them. We genuinely hope that in the foreseeable future, we will be in a position to provide the support you deserve. Rest assured, we will keep you informed and share more information as it becomes available.