Frequently Asked Questions
- 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.