May 14th, 2021 - Town Star
Jason "BitBender" Brink, Michael McCarthy, T. Elliot Cannon
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AMA May 14th, 2021
Youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__i46FOxbpo
[Time Stamp] Topic
Explanation and information.
Jason “BitBender” Brink(BitBender)
T. Elliot Cannon(Cannon)
T. Elliot Cannon Introduction
[5:49] T. Elliot Cannon Introduction
Cannon: Hardcore gamer since I was a kid with DnD and Coin Operated games.
Architect for 10-11 years
Jumped into the game industry around 1995 with Epic Games on Unreal and Unreal Tournament.
Worked at Crytek and did the Crysis games
Worked on the recent 2016 Doom reboot.
Last 3-4 years has worked on high resolution VR training for Air Force and Army
[7:40] T. Elliot Cannon is the new Town Star Director
Michael McCarthy will be able to focus on Mirandus Development
T. Elliot Cannon, with 25+ years of experience in the gaming industry, will be able to help bring Town Star to the next level.
Town Star Parallels with Other Games
[9:54] BitBender: What sort of interesting parallels do you see between these types of games? (Town Star compared to other games)
[10:04] Cannon: Most games are happening in the mind, regardless of graphics.
Most players want to do something that stems from their own mind.
Players want to do their idea, their plan, their strategy, their failure, their reward, their growth. All games connect in that way.
The magic in gaming happens in keeping someone’s imagination captivated and active.
Players should be challenged.
[11:46] BitBender: Did you say that the Air Force has a Kobayashi Maru simulation? Do they call it that?
Cannon: We used Unreal Engine to create digital twins/copies of aircraft so airmen could train at any base in the world.
It allows instructors to put airmen in situations they couldn’t train for in real life.
[12:49] Town Star VR
McCarthy: Mirandus is a first person game so we want to support VR if we can, too.
Town Star Complexity/Audience
[13:55] Town Star Complexity
McCarthy: One of the hopes for Town Star is to have the ability to play with friends and family.
Town Star can be complex, but there are players that are 8 years old and players that are 80 years old.
There will be more meaningful connections in the future in Town Star.
[15:38] BitBender: Given that you’ve been playing Town Star a lot now, what would you like to see come to the game?
[15:50] Cannon: You guys already have a massive list that includes tournaments; I’ll need to put a roadmap together- after that I’d like to look at other things to add.
Pushing someone to improvise in a game by changing the rules is a great starting point.
[19:50] The Desire to Improve
Cannon: A lot of great games have this attraction to them where players can think “One day, I’m going to be able to do that too.”
The journey to get there is grabbing information and putting your personal twist on it.
[20:43] McCarthy: Everything in the early days of gaming was fueled by tabletop games.
The concept of getting people together with fascinating solutions.
Early games were trying to replicate/deepen this experience.
If people are “on-rails” and forced into one solution, then there’s nothing to talk about- it’s not enjoyable.
Question and Answer Portion
[23:01] Community Member Statement: I like that people make Excel documents about Townstar, and their strategies are like treasures. You won’t find them online.
[23:15] BitBender: Sometimes you will find people sharing them, which is absolutely amazing and speaks to the collaborative nature of the community.
[25:52] McCarthy: The best suggestions in the world are in the Town Star suggestions Discord channel.
Some of them are not too hard to develop.
We are building this together.
[27:05] Question: Where can Town Star Reach? (What do you envision this being in the long run?)
[27:32] McCarthy: Elliot and I would like Town Star to be the place that you go to play a Town game or farm game for any reason that excites you.
We want to host big competitions, unlock competitions that fit into player’s lives with player created servers, and we want to unlock a massive grid that runs a huge simulation (persistent town/farm.)
We love that it’s a competition game but recognize that this competition game needs to be different so that everyone can play and compete.
We want to let players open up their own unique servers to run any type of competition they want.
There are a lot of players not interested in the competition aspect. They want to build and curate a farm or town. We want to take that simulation to a persistent game where you’re not necessarily competing.
[30:00] Question: Will there be fruit trees in Town Star?
[31:11] McCarthy: We would never just release a fruit tree.
What we would probably do is extend some of the confections like the pies; then we would build that entire chain up and down.
We always want to think about building the systems all the way through to what we call an “apex good” like blue steel, wine, and cake.
Discord Question and Answers
[33:38] When is the Town Star world map getting expanded?
[34:12] McCarthy: One way we could do it is work to get everyone a much larger map, but great ideas can come from everywhere, and Jason’s wife said that, instead of having one server, we should have multiple servers, kind of like poker tables. I love this idea.
We could have an easy server, and if you can make it to the top of that server, we could give you an NFT that unlocks the next server.
[35:30] Instead of making one map that’s much larger, I’d rather let players group and segment themselves into unique maps.
I like the idea of giving players a lot more maps.
[36:49] Cannon: I agree with you 100%. I think adding more maps and the poker table analogy would work really well.
People might want to try different strategies in different brackets.
I think the tiering idea would have an immediate level of attraction.
These experimental ideas of doing multiple different types of maps, and even thematic maps, can be fun.
[38:24] BitBender: I would love to compete but I would get my ass handed to me so amazingly badly that I wouldn’t even think to participate, and I know there are a lot of people that feel that way.
If we segmented and pulled those top players and put them into an area where they could refine themselves and compete against top players, that would leave a lot of room for top players.
[38:58] McCarthy: I consider Town Star an E Sport for everyone. I’d love to have those top tier servers make people famous and get their names out there.
[40:05] Will we get servers where there is a total gameplay clock that will allow gameplay to be paused? For example, a server where the tournament is 5 days, or 120 hours of total gameplay, and you have 7 days total until the competition is done.
[40:50] McCarthy: There’s a mechanic that they have in other games, which I hate because it has been used by other companies as a monetization mechanic, but it’s the energy mechanic. I just wanted people to be able to play Town Star as much as they want.
In other games, the energy mechanic gives you an amount of moves to perform before you have to pay. I never liked that, but if we removed the “pay to get more energy” mechanic, and instead gave everyone an hour or two per day but then it turns off, that might be an interesting solution for people that don’t have as much time to play.
[42:07] Cannon: It’s a lot like pregaming before a sporting event. There’s a lot of practice, coaching, and strategy, and you know that when the clock starts you know you’d better show up and execute your plans well.
[43:05] McCarthy: Here’s a fun one we have the technology for now: we could have a 4 or 6 hour competition.
[45:24] Discord wants to know about airline delivery in Town Star using jet fuel, and they’re curious about the Boom Bot.
[45:35] McCarthy: There are promises we’ve made to the community; those are all going to be fulfilled.
We have this concept of jet fuel. We want to do a cargo jet; it would ignore pathing constraints and allow you to fly in a direct line to the city.
The Boom Bot is another promise we’ve made; we think it will work like a trade vehicle you could send to someone’s town and it would be a dummy. It would randomly shoot a shell or missile at someone’s town to destroy a building.
These types of things could be checkboxes on a custom server, allowing players to decide whether or not they were part of the game.
[48:44] Will there be a cargo truck?
McCarthy: The answer to that is absolutely yes.
BitBender: I wonder if that will be an NFT dropped to the node network before too terribly long. Just wondering out loud.
McCarthy: I do think it would make sense to have two more ground vehicles with varying capacities.
[50:13] How can we get Town Star into more player’s hands? (Asking about mobile apps and why Town Star is not in app stores.)
[50:47] McCarthy: Our mission is to let you own your own content and own these games. That mission is diametrically opposed from the mission of an app store or play store, where you have to make sure everything that ever happens ensures they get 30% of your company’s revenue.
There is some murky wording in the terms of service for the app store and play store. They reserve the right to shut games down if there are any violations.
We can’t let Town Star be shut down because we implement something new or cool that empowers you guys to own content. We can’t let Google or Apple say, suddenly, “You’re done.”
It’s not impossible that we could be in there. However, Town Star is playable in a browser and it works pretty well. We’re playable on all devices. It would be slicker if it were on a playable app but it’s not reality at this point.
I think the big players will see what we’re doing and will change their ways.
[55:29] Elliot, do you plan on reading the Town Star suggestions board?
[55:43] Cannon: Absolutely. We can’t build this whole thing together unless we figure it out and listen to each other.
Right now, I’m in this download mode; I’m downloading the history; everything that you and Michael have been working on with the community.
You don’t want to get into a feedback loop where you’re just listening to your top tier players all of the time. All of these players are seeking fun in a different way. Good game designers listen to all feedback from everyone.
The way we’re making Town Star is much more collaborative; we’re building this stuff together.
[57:00] McCarthy: We need a better way to track and pin the suggestions and have people be able to vote on them or something like that.
Some things that seem simple are extremely difficult to make, and some things that might seem very hard are actually quite easy to make.
[1:01:48] How big would you like to see the Town Star team become?
[1:02:01] McCarthy: Size is not always the answer. Sometimes, size can destroy a development team. The best thing to do is to have a smaller team with an incredible toolset. I would like to see Town Star be 15-20 hyper functional people with great tools.
That might change if Town Star Forever goes live, because there might need to be an unbelievable amount of content for that.
[1:03:24] Cannon: I agree completely. Some of the most magical, fun games I’ve worked on are done with 10 to 12 people.
If you get that small group of people that are super passionate then they’re connected like a band might be. They can improvise at a moment’s notice. Larger studios cannot do this.