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Developer
From the heart of the Reverie, greetings!

Lead writer for Wizard101 here. Some of you know me by a different moniker: Blind Mew of Pirate101 fame. I took over as lead writer for Wizard in March of last year. So why am I only posting now? I wanted to wait until Empyrea was finished and had had some time to soak in to make my presence known here on the Wizard forums. As to my persona, it didn't seem right to use my Pirate name here, so I adopted The Custodian as my new nom de post. Being the guide through a realm of dreams and imagination was definitely appropriate for my position, and I figure I can be as mysterious as I want without breaking character. Pirate101 fans will tell you how much I love to be mysterious...

I must admit, it was with more than a little trepidation that I joined the Wizard team: as much fun as I had writing and worldbuilding for Pirate101, writing for Wizard is on a whole different level. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, I found myself painting a panel of a huge mural, a mural with 10 years worth of backstory, continuity, and themes already in place. I was also coming in to create the end of an arc, and not just any arc: the stakes were higher than ever before, and the dramatic demands of the climax were off the scale compared to the last two arcs. How do you handle Gods in a narrative, who in theory should be able to destroy the Wizard or even the entire Spiral, with but a thought? How can you solve their problems and keep the Wizard a central part of the story, and not just an observer?

Luckily, I'd been in the planning meetings and brainstorms for Wizard for a long time - I was there when when the shape of the 3rd arc was first sketched out, and my predecessors left me an excellent road map. I'm also blessed with a superlative team of writers: Zander, who you already know, and a second writer who shall remain nameless. Zander helped me get up to speed with the storyline, and keeps us on course with the continuity and lore I only sort of remember from my playthroughs so long ago . He's my rock. And my other writer? He's great too.

Creating Empyrea was a great experience, and I'm very proud of the results. The feedback we've gotten so far for the story and the reaction we've seen in streams has been very gratifying. But, being creative types, me and the writers hunger for more feedback! So let's talk Empyrea: what did you like? What didn't you like? Did you come away with any questions? Feel free to comment away.

Oh, but before we dive in too deep, I'm placing some bounds on our conversation. To save me the trouble of repeating polite denials over and over again, note the following:
  • I have nothing to do with systems design, in any capacity. Therefore, I cannot have a conversation about how useful spells are, relative difficulty, PvP, boss fights, or any such things. Trust me, with the head I have for math it's better that way.
  • I will not not NOT talk about what world we're going to next. That would be telling...

Survivor
Jul 05, 2014
47
Hello, Custodian!
Glad to see you're having fun with Wizard101!

A+ Student
Jan 18, 2010
1872
Welcome to the Message Boards over here at Wizard101!

A few of us were wondering when you were going to arrive and actually communicate with us wizards; so, it's very good to see you here.

Empyrea was another masterpiece done (good job to you and the team for that as well).

But, as you'd imagine, many of us have several questions and possibly even suggestions going forward!



Survivor
Aug 24, 2013
19
Squire
Feb 12, 2015
555
Nice to see you here! I've seen you as Mew on the Pirate forums, and so can provide confirmation relating to your secrecy, your that would be telling over and over again, keeping us all on strings. But I disgress into obscure details...

Anyway, hi!

Survivor
Mar 06, 2010
3
The Curator on Nov 26, 2018 wrote:
From the heart of the Reverie, greetings!

Lead writer for Wizard101 here. Some of you know me by a different moniker: Blind Mew of Pirate101 fame. I took over as lead writer for Wizard in March of last year. So why am I only posting now? I wanted to wait until Empyrea was finished and had had some time to soak in to make my presence known here on the Wizard forums. As to my persona, it didn't seem right to use my Pirate name here, so I adopted The Custodian as my new nom de post. Being the guide through a realm of dreams and imagination was definitely appropriate for my position, and I figure I can be as mysterious as I want without breaking character. Pirate101 fans will tell you how much I love to be mysterious...

I must admit, it was with more than a little trepidation that I joined the Wizard team: as much fun as I had writing and worldbuilding for Pirate101, writing for Wizard is on a whole different level. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, I found myself painting a panel of a huge mural, a mural with 10 years worth of backstory, continuity, and themes already in place. I was also coming in to create the end of an arc, and not just any arc: the stakes were higher than ever before, and the dramatic demands of the climax were off the scale compared to the last two arcs. How do you handle Gods in a narrative, who in theory should be able to destroy the Wizard or even the entire Spiral, with but a thought? How can you solve their problems and keep the Wizard a central part of the story, and not just an observer?

Luckily, I'd been in the planning meetings and brainstorms for Wizard for a long time - I was there when when the shape of the 3rd arc was first sketched out, and my predecessors left me an excellent road map. I'm also blessed with a superlative team of writers: Zander, who you already know, and a second writer who shall remain nameless. Zander helped me get up to speed with the storyline, and keeps us on course with the continuity and lore I only sort of remember from my playthroughs so long ago . He's my rock. And my other writer? He's great too.

Creating Empyrea was a great experience, and I'm very proud of the results. The feedback we've gotten so far for the story and the reaction we've seen in streams has been very gratifying. But, being creative types, me and the writers hunger for more feedback! So let's talk Empyrea: what did you like? What didn't you like? Did you come away with any questions? Feel free to comment away.

Oh, but before we dive in too deep, I'm placing some bounds on our conversation. To save me the trouble of repeating polite denials over and over again, note the following:
  • I have nothing to do with systems design, in any capacity. Therefore, I cannot have a conversation about how useful spells are, relative difficulty, PvP, boss fights, or any such things. Trust me, with the head I have for math it's better that way.
  • I will not not NOT talk about what world we're going to next. That would be telling...
Welcome Blind mew. As much as it's great to see you here in the Wizard side, It worries me and concerns me a lot more on Pirate101. I hope that doesn't change anything for future story updates for Pirate if any is in plans or coming. I'm a pirate big fan before being a Wizard fan and it concerns me and i hope we hear anh good news for Pirate sometime soon. Back to the main topic.

I enjoyed the writing of Empyrea 2 a lot but don't you think the world content was a bit short and the ending seemed a bit rushed? I'm sure there'd have been better ending or something for this arc.

Second, Does that leave the door open that the cabal could possibly be the next villain for arc 4?

Third, Any favorite character? Between Mellori or Bat, Which one did you like the most?

Finally, Is it any possible in the future to see more Pirate101 references in the future storyline updates? For example adding Taylor Coleridge's dialogue piece of part 1 where he said he was on the search to the stormgate to el dorado. Any plans to add more things like this?

Another quick thing, Is the "Young child" With the lucky guesses that Taylor talked about could be possibly our Pirate or Pirate Jenny from the Pirate101 side?

Thanks in advance.

Illuminator
Mar 31, 2009
1266
Greetings Custodian/Blind Mew!

I want to say that all in all, I enjoyed Empyrea. I think that the story was phenomenal (that's part of the reason I love Wizard101 so much!)

Pros:
Athanor was amazing I loved the Fire and Ice feel and the fact that there were Fire and Ice Dwarves. For me it made perfect sense. I also loved the nod to the fact that Alphoi and Gobblers are perhaps more closely related than at first seems. That would be an interesting thing to continue to explore.

I also am glad that we got to see Bartleby in a bit more action along with the other School Trees. I think that it is interesting that there is Tree Magic and that on the Door to Bartleby's Roots had a symbol for it which I can only assume may be important for us later down the line as Bartleby's Scion. I am also glad that we got to meet/face the Storm Titan even if he does get supercharged with the Aether (I actually don't have much experience with that as Test went to live before I could finish all the fights) and meeting Rat and Scorpion again.

Mandalla as a giant wheel in the sky was also an interesting place I thought that it was very mystical. I also thought that the Reverie was FREAKING amazing- I love that there are doors from various worlds to who knows where and that in the dreams it was like a mesh of worlds. I thought it was beautifully done and that the Custodian was an awesome character.

Cons:
I did not like the blatant level of fan service, especially to Star Trek. I am fine with having pop references (they are fun when you find them) but I just personally felt that the Star Trek and aliens vibe didn't mesh with the Spiral. I just don't see a Wizard using a Stream portal and photon torpedo. I think it's fine to reference pop stuff, but Steam punk for me just seems much more in line as opposed to computers and things, but that might just be me.

I will continue shortly...

Illuminator
Mar 31, 2009
1266
Continuation of thread/thought:

I did not like that each area in Empyrea was SO distinct. I feel that they should have been more related and not such a diverse group of Islands. In my mind Zanadu, Athanor, Nimbus, Aeroplains, are distinct enough that it doesn't make any sense why they are all called "Empyrea" whereas Ariel Shores and Mandalla I feel are similar enough that they could be within the same world.

I like that you utilized a lot of the lore that has been developed in the past. I also am curious to how often you personally read the message boards? The idea of the Springs Eternal and "The Headmaster" did they come from the boards?

I'm interested to hear your response!

Got to go for now....

exp613

Survivor
May 16, 2013
24
Hi Custodian!

As an older player, I've really appreciated your handling of the last couple of worlds. They've kept me very engaged and I've noticed other players were, too! The plot is now something we actually talk about, not something we just skip because it's absurd/redundant/dull. I've thought a lot about why things are working a lot better now, especially in regards to Empyrea, and here are my thoughts.

Likes:
Use of recurring characters: For instance, Mellori and Bat who are complex and interesting. Their motives shift which causes us as players to think about who they are and what they want. And they question what they want and are doing. Mellori's introspective moment in Empyrea Part II was pretty great as she goes throughout the dreamworld searching for a sense of purpose. Everyone I talked to was shocked that Bat was not actually a villain.

Complex character relationships: I loved having a friend group in Empyrea Part II. Bat and Mellori have an interesting relationship together which made questing fun as well (also, can we address that romantic tension? *fans self*). Bat's confrontation with his brothers and Mellori defying Grandmother Raven was also interesting. I loved Ambrose (who's normally as interesting as watching paint dry) barking at the Arcanum Scholars at the beginning of Act II.

Plot twists and breaking plot expectations: Loved the Djinn betrayal in Mirage, Bat turning out to be good, learning Raven was behind Bartleby's illness. Mystery is compelling and we like thinking about it.

Dislikes:
At times, I think things get a bit rushed. I would have liked to know more about the lore of Spider's children and how it developed (I'm thinking of the Cave Painting and the description of the children - for instance, was Bat a shapeshifting Vampire? Didn't seem like it. Where'd they get that idea from?) Also, where did the Gods come from? You might not need to tell us exactly, but I think characters should wonder about it. Adding a part II...

Survivor
May 16, 2013
24
Part II:

Dislikes/Questions

So yes, it did feel like things were rushed a bit. I think we might have actually benefitted from a fourth world that could have dwelled a bit more on the lore, the mystery, the cabal, etc. There were a lot of things introduced, and I wanted more time with them to understand better. The cabal still confuses me. Are we done with them now? Was their leader the Admiral? I wanted more interactions with them to understand their viewpoint, delving into the imperfections of the Spiral and the impending fear of its destruction. I think we'd also like to know more about why W101 acknowledged the Wizard is from Earth and the mythology connecting these dimensions. Does W101 also acknowledge we're playing this game on a computer as a sort of portal to another dimension? Are we going to acknowledge the presence of other wizards who are involved in saving the spiral? As a writer myself, I would encourage you guys to sit in the tension more and use the plot to explore motivations. Let us see things from the Cabal's point of view - Raven's and Spider's as well. I'd also like to know more about how Spider came to be trapped in Khrysalis and his connection to the Arachnids there. Maybe that was discussed, but it felt a little hurried, and that's a major plot point. Also, are there more Gods? I think pacing affected the conclusion a bit, too, where - as much as I liked Raven and Spider settling their differences - it felt a bit contrived and could have benefitted from MORE conversations and more interaction between the two of them. Your audience is willing to put up with a slower plot as long as it's not shallow.

All in all, great job! The fact that the plot is being talked about at all is a real testament to the writing. As someone who loves stories, it was depressing seeing the plot being dismissed because it wasn't substantial. Even with flaws, your story makes us ask questions and debate like we never did before and it's great fun! Thanks for your work!

Mastermind
Feb 07, 2010
387
I'll do some questions from the storytime thread I made that Zander only briefly appeared in.

While discussing the operation in Sepidious's ink gland, it's mentioned that squirting ink makes squids go backwards. How exactly was that factoid relevant to the plan.

How does gravity work on the Mandala wheel? Is it localized so that up is always toward the center, or do you have to keep moving to stay basically under Samsara.

The Bat had to come up with a plan to keep Athanor from spinning out of control without the Paradox Chain to hold it steady. Won't that also be a problem for the other islands?

Survivor
Dec 08, 2008
41
The Custodian or the Curator?

The Custodian is the guardian of the Edicts of Raven in Zanadu.

The Curator is the guide to the place where thoughts meet called the Reverie.

Developer
John The Pirate on Nov 27, 2018 wrote:
Welcome Blind mew. As much as it's great to see you here in the Wizard side, It worries me and concerns me a lot more on Pirate101. I hope that doesn't change anything for future story updates for Pirate if any is in plans or coming. I'm a pirate big fan before being a Wizard fan and it concerns me and i hope we hear anh good news for Pirate sometime soon. Back to the main topic.

I enjoyed the writing of Empyrea 2 a lot but don't you think the world content was a bit short and the ending seemed a bit rushed? I'm sure there'd have been better ending or something for this arc.

Second, Does that leave the door open that the cabal could possibly be the next villain for arc 4?

Third, Any favorite character? Between Mellori or Bat, Which one did you like the most?

Finally, Is it any possible in the future to see more Pirate101 references in the future storyline updates? For example adding Taylor Coleridge's dialogue piece of part 1 where he said he was on the search to the stormgate to el dorado. Any plans to add more things like this?

Another quick thing, Is the "Young child" With the lucky guesses that Taylor talked about could be possibly our Pirate or Pirate Jenny from the Pirate101 side?

Thanks in advance.
I misspoke slightly in my introduction above: I'm the head of the writing group at Kingsisle, not just Wizard101, so I'm still also in charge of Pirate101 story and writing. I realize y'all are hungry for new story - I have plans, and look forward to the point when the schedule can allow them to be realized.

OK - SPOILERS BELOW. You have been warned.

As to Empyrea 2 being short or rushed, I don't agree, though I can definitely understand how that impression could arise. Let's look at each point in turn.

As to length - from the beginning of pre-production on Empyrea part 1, we looked at the story as one big unit: Empyrea 2 isn't a world, it's half of a story (and judging by number of fights, it's about two thirds the length of Mirage - Empyrea as a whole is longer by a third than Mirage or Polaris). Having each half of Empyrea be a full world in length, we deemed, would make the whole too long - Khrysalis had that problem. We may have erred on the side of caution, and are interested in your feedback.

As to being rushed - there are two factors here, I think. First, we wanted the pace of the story to seriously ramp up after Sepidious. The wizard's first foray into Empyrea was something of a mission of exploration, with some intrigue in the hunt for Bat. The Wizard had been effectively isolated from the rest of the Spiral behind that aethyr wall. But after Mellori got hurt, things get real. I wanted to instill real urgency to the plot. That's why we didn't do as much in the intact Samsara as we could have: Mellori was dying: what could possibly be more important than that? So the plot seriously moves. And once the second chain breaks, we hurtle you to the conclusion at a breakneck pace. All of that was deliberate. Did we step on the throttle too much? Maybe, but I really like the drama we achieved, and the vibe seems to have come across very well.

As to the climax in Husk and the resolution itself, there's more to say, but I have a character limit. To be continued...

Developer
John The Pirate on Nov 27, 2018 wrote:
Welcome Blind mew. As much as it's great to see you here in the Wizard side, It worries me and concerns me a lot more on Pirate101. I hope that doesn't change anything for future story updates for Pirate if any is in plans or coming. I'm a pirate big fan before being a Wizard fan and it concerns me and i hope we hear anh good news for Pirate sometime soon. Back to the main topic.

I enjoyed the writing of Empyrea 2 a lot but don't you think the world content was a bit short and the ending seemed a bit rushed? I'm sure there'd have been better ending or something for this arc.

Second, Does that leave the door open that the cabal could possibly be the next villain for arc 4?

Third, Any favorite character? Between Mellori or Bat, Which one did you like the most?

Finally, Is it any possible in the future to see more Pirate101 references in the future storyline updates? For example adding Taylor Coleridge's dialogue piece of part 1 where he said he was on the search to the stormgate to el dorado. Any plans to add more things like this?

Another quick thing, Is the "Young child" With the lucky guesses that Taylor talked about could be possibly our Pirate or Pirate Jenny from the Pirate101 side?

Thanks in advance.
... continued (SPOILERS):

The climax in Husk presented some serious challenges, and one of the biggest was the amount of dialogue we wanted to put into the scene. I didn't want you to race all this way and hit a wall of NPC theater. Also, the amount of art effort that goes into the high-end cinematics was a concern, especially in a year when the Wizard City update essentially amounted to a second world's worth of art. Raven and Spider have a lot of baggage - to have dived deeper into it would have taken a lot more dialogue, and (believe it or not!) I really am concerned about how long we let the NPC conversations go on. We wanted to keep the interchanges in the climax as lean as possible. Did we lean too far into lean? Your mileage may vary. I'm definitely interested in feedback.

Second: I'm going to say as little as possible about Arc 4, but we definitely haven't seen the last of the Cabal. It was always the plan that they'd be part of the story for a good long time, from their inception.

Third: I love Pork. As far as Bat vs Mellori, it's tough to choose: we love them both in the writier's room, especially the arcs we built for them. If forced to choose, I have to say Mellori, by a nose. We worked very hard to make sure her arc had a satisfying conclusion, and loved watching her grow up.

Fourth: As you might suspect, I love the idea of Pirate references in Wizard. I am, however, very cautious. Wizard is its own game, first and foremost, so I want to be very careful how we proceed. Small nods and winks like Colderidge's reference to El Dorado or the tangential connections in the Five Boxes are the sorts of things I want to do, and maybe have some familiar faces appear here and there, the way some Wizard characters did in Pirate.

Another quick thing: the young child was actually Sparck, who Colderidge picked up at Nimbus.

Developer
Oh, and by the way, you're not crazy, my name has changed. The Custodian was The Curator's original name in early drafts of the story, and it stuck in my head when I was creating my forum persona.

I am the Curator, now and hereafter.

As you were...

Developer
@Cemirror

Thanks for the kind words. We really wanted to make Bat and Mellori into characters with nuance. Plot twists are fun, but having good reasons why Bat or Mellori take rash and dramatic action was a critical part of fleshing out Empyrea's plot. Having solid arcs for Bat, Mellori, Raven, and Spider that interacted and didn't derail the through line was a tricky task, and I'm happy with where we ended up.

Ambrose leaving his office for the first time ever and get angry at people was something we jumped at the chance to do - as the very first thing that happens in Empyrea 2, it sends the message that the stakes are ciritcal now: all bets are off.

Dislikes: See above about being rushed. We'd always thought that Bat used his shapeshifting powers to infiltrate places like Zanadu and Athannor, but I'll admit that thread didn't get followed up on as well as it could have - at some point in the revision process it stopped happening on screen. As to where the Gods came from, that's a question I'm in no hurry to answer.

As for the Cabal - they're just ancillary players in this part of the story - they're using Spider, and he them, but a digression into who they are and what makes them tick would have slowed down the primary momentum of the plot too much. As I hint above, we are far from done with them. Their outlook and the root of their argument with the Arcanum have only been lightly touched on. You think you know what they want to do. But why? There's a lot left to tell there.

MORE conversations? Be careful what you wish for... Kidding aside, I said in another post that I'm always leery of taking things too far into wall of text land. I really wanted the end to be more than lots and lots of talking. In all my time here at KI I've pushed the length of conversations further when i thought it was absolutely necessary, but always with trepidation. Happily, I don't seem to have hit the limit yet. Or have I? We love the feedback...

Developer
average moe on Nov 28, 2018 wrote:
I'll do some questions from the storytime thread I made that Zander only briefly appeared in.

While discussing the operation in Sepidious's ink gland, it's mentioned that squirting ink makes squids go backwards. How exactly was that factoid relevant to the plan.

How does gravity work on the Mandala wheel? Is it localized so that up is always toward the center, or do you have to keep moving to stay basically under Samsara.

The Bat had to come up with a plan to keep Athanor from spinning out of control without the Paradox Chain to hold it steady. Won't that also be a problem for the other islands?
Sorry if I didn't answer all your questions last time, Average Moe. I get so caught up with the wonders of Life that I often leave loose threads lying about. To your questions:

A) If you'll remember, Medulla had old Sepidious on a break-neck course for the then remaining Paradox Chains, so slowing her down helped prolong the journey, providing time - and a veil of confusion - for the Wizard, Bat, and the Crew to make their way to Medullas Headquarters.

B) Since physics isn’t a subject I’m well versed in, I consulted my good mate, Qyburn Stellargaze, on the matter. From what I can remember, he said something to the effect of: because Mandala is spinning it creates a centrifugal force, which, I guess creates gravity? Qyburn was more concerned with the allergen content of my fur than fully answering my queries…

C) What I gleaned from Qyburn before he threw me out of his office was that Athanor’s unique makeup of constant melting and freezing essentially makes the island a giant steam engine, which in turn creates its own... wait for it… centrifugal force. That force would’ve sent Athanor careening through space, all the while indiscriminately flinging chunks of ice and lava (and Dwarves!!) outward until there was nothing left of the island, or it crashed into another body large enough to stop it.
As it relates to the other Chain islands, Qyburn said: "Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force". In the cases of Mandala and Neumia, that outside force that compelled them to stop floating aimlessly through space was the reprisal of the Song of Creation.

Did that all make sense? Because I’d be lying if I said I fully understood it myself. Isn't Life funny like that? How often do we speak to something without fully comprehending? If you don’t know that you don’t know, you can’t truly know that you don’t know. You know? Crikey, I’m wandering off again. Hope that helped! Cheers!

Survivor
Mar 06, 2010
3
The Curator on Nov 28, 2018 wrote:
... continued (SPOILERS):

The climax in Husk presented some serious challenges, and one of the biggest was the amount of dialogue we wanted to put into the scene. I didn't want you to race all this way and hit a wall of NPC theater. Also, the amount of art effort that goes into the high-end cinematics was a concern, especially in a year when the Wizard City update essentially amounted to a second world's worth of art. Raven and Spider have a lot of baggage - to have dived deeper into it would have taken a lot more dialogue, and (believe it or not!) I really am concerned about how long we let the NPC conversations go on. We wanted to keep the interchanges in the climax as lean as possible. Did we lean too far into lean? Your mileage may vary. I'm definitely interested in feedback.

Second: I'm going to say as little as possible about Arc 4, but we definitely haven't seen the last of the Cabal. It was always the plan that they'd be part of the story for a good long time, from their inception.

Third: I love Pork. As far as Bat vs Mellori, it's tough to choose: we love them both in the writier's room, especially the arcs we built for them. If forced to choose, I have to say Mellori, by a nose. We worked very hard to make sure her arc had a satisfying conclusion, and loved watching her grow up.

Fourth: As you might suspect, I love the idea of Pirate references in Wizard. I am, however, very cautious. Wizard is its own game, first and foremost, so I want to be very careful how we proceed. Small nods and winks like Colderidge's reference to El Dorado or the tangential connections in the Five Boxes are the sorts of things I want to do, and maybe have some familiar faces appear here and there, the way some Wizard characters did in Pirate.

Another quick thing: the young child was actually Sparck, who Colderidge picked up at Nimbus.
That's GRRREAT news right there for Pirate! Can't wait for those plans! In advance, I cannot wait and will keep playing and waiting to see it coming! :D

Also i didn't know the child was Sparck. That's actually very interesting to know that. More like surprising!

And with that, Comes more questions:

What happened to Morganthe after she fell in a free void space? Is there possibilities to see her making a return someday?

Any favorite Empyrea 2 fights? Personally i loved the Trident and Titan fights. These 2 were hilarious and epic at the same time.

What about the hidden lands and broken shores? We haven't seen or heard anything about them ever since Khrysalis

Is it possible to see Mellori making a return in 4th arc?

How's your translation to Sybil's words? Is it a good sign or a very concerning bad sign to something bad?

What is under the new crack under olde town? Seems scary and interesting..

Where did Rat and Scorpion go after we have defeated them in Husk and ported to the teleporter they had behind them after their defeat?

Survivor
Apr 28, 2016
1
Welcome, Blind Mew. Thanks for taking your time to answer questions here. I figure I should address some seemingly very big plot holes that I've noticed and have been picking at me:

1. In Arc 1, we're told that the Titans were created by Bartleby and that they are his children alone. However, in Arc 3, it's revealed that the Titans are Spider and Raven's children? This seems very conflicting. As a direct quote from Bartleby, "I sang the Dragons, Tritons, and Giants into existence, but my children began fighting each other, splintering the First World." Is there any explanation?

2. At the end of Empyrea Part 1, we're told by Zander that the Wizard is from Earth, and is therefore not of the Spiral. Yet in Arc 1, we're told by, I believe Gamma or Ambrose, that Earth is connected along the Spiral just like every other world. The direct quote is, "The model of the Spiral is right here. See? Every world is connected along the Spiral, even yours!" This seems to be directly conflicting.

3. At the end of Empyrea Part 2, we suddenly must face the Storm Titan (and his Aethyr Titan form, of course). This seems very of the moment and overwhelming, especially as we heard nothing of the Titan until we entered the Husk. Was he planned to be the final boss all along, or were there perhaps some last minute changes?

Anyway, thank you very much for your effort in Arc 3's story. You did a great job, aside from some other nitpicks that were probably not under the writing team's control. It's appreciated as always.

Survivor
May 16, 2013
24
@The Curator

Hey, thank you so much for responding to me! We love hearing back from you guys! Also, sorry if I assailed you with inane questions! Think you're right about limiting sedentary dialogue.

Here's a few ideas, based on what I'm hearing from you. (Also, Spoilers, everyone else)

What about combining dialogue with battles to avoid walls of texts? For instance, what if at the end of Empyrea we'd gotten into a three way battle with Raven and Spider who are fighting us AND each other at the same time (and arguing, too). The logistics of this wouldn't be so complicated (Raven and Spider on the same side of the dueling circle, using "sacrifice minion" type spells on each other), but maybe with every 25% of their health depleted we see some dialogue flash above the dual. I say this because wearing them out might have extended the tension and FORCED them to have the heart to heart, making the reconciliation less abrupt. Not that you need to go back and change it, but I'm thinking in the future. It's not inconceivable to talk and fight, and the dual can deepen the plot more than just defeating the enemy and getting to the next scene. A thought.

I think I might still suggest some more moments where we see the characters acknowledging unanswered questions. At the end I was sure (and excited) we'd hear more about Nothing in Part IV, but didn't get a sense that the Cabal had any role left to play. If someone had said "I wonder if this is the end of the Cabal" at the Arcanum, that would have assured me they weren't just being dropped and intrigued me as to their new role (as I am now, based on your comment!). Or having the characters try to interrogate the cabal members during the fights would have helped, too. Just a few more moments like that would have been nice, having the characters acknowledge the loose threads/the unknown to give us confidence that they're still important.

Once again, nitpicking aside, we're loving this convo and your hard work! You're awesome!

Survivor
May 16, 2013
24
Okay, thought of something else. Super sorry I'm posting again; this topic has gotten me terribly excited, and it's so fun hearing from you. Okay, exercising self control after this, promise.

I'm wondering if when people are saying the plot feels rushed, they mean some of the emotional moments didn't feel earned. I went back and watched the climax again and remembered how weird I felt when Bat told his brothers he loved his friends, which felt a little dubious. I didn't sense we'd actually spent enough time with him for that, although I did believe he wanted to save the spiral.

I think that's my sense about Raven and Spider, too. I kinda wonder what would have happened if there'd be a more show and less tell. Imagine if instead of Raven and Spider having a conversation leading to Raven's heart change, (though keeping Spider and Raven's argument, maybe in a fight) a cutscene where Raven tries to attack Spider and Mellori jumps in to defend him, kind of blocking him with her arms. Raven and Spider then look at her in shock and realize how strong Raven's love for Spider really is, then look at each other, and Raven says "What have I done?". Again, not that you at all need to change anything now, but maybe more showing instead of telling might have solved the "rushed"/unearned dilemma? Okay promise that's the last I'll say about it!

On that note - I do keep hearing from players that they like the cutscenes. They're very cinematic, and it makes you feel like you're "playing" a movie. Hadn't mentioned that yet, but they are a real win. And very rewatchable.

But anyway, you guys are great, and I hope you feel vindicated for all your hard work. No one talked about Khrysalis' plot this much when Part II came out; we were just thankful it was over (though Cob was kinda cool then, still). We're all going to be pretty despondent if we don't see more of Bat and Mellori. You made having a squad on w101 feel pretty essential!

Survivor
Jul 05, 2014
47
Personally, I loved Empyrea because it had a variety of color, and it was just the right length- so basically everything Khrysalis wasn't.
As you know, Khrysalis was supposed to be some kind of game changing world with exciting story plots, but I feel like that people got to tired of the blandness of the world and didn't even bother to read the storyline.
Empyrea didn't do that.
Empyrea had different kinds of areas and bold, vibrant colors to make the world look appealing, and all of the characters didn't look identical to each other.
I like to compare worlds to Khrysalis because it's considered the game's downfall and the most dreaded world because everything looks the same, and you get the idea.

Very good job to everyone to helped make the storyline and the models for Empyrea!

Developer
John The Pirate on Nov 28, 2018 wrote:
That's GRRREAT news right there for Pirate! Can't wait for those plans! In advance, I cannot wait and will keep playing and waiting to see it coming! :D

Also i didn't know the child was Sparck. That's actually very interesting to know that. More like surprising!

And with that, Comes more questions:

What happened to Morganthe after she fell in a free void space? Is there possibilities to see her making a return someday?

Any favorite Empyrea 2 fights? Personally i loved the Trident and Titan fights. These 2 were hilarious and epic at the same time.

What about the hidden lands and broken shores? We haven't seen or heard anything about them ever since Khrysalis

Is it possible to see Mellori making a return in 4th arc?

How's your translation to Sybil's words? Is it a good sign or a very concerning bad sign to something bad?

What is under the new crack under olde town? Seems scary and interesting..

Where did Rat and Scorpion go after we have defeated them in Husk and ported to the teleporter they had behind them after their defeat?
@John the Priate:

Let's see if I can answer in the right thread this time.

Morganthe: We're going to leave her fate unrevealed for now. I won't rule out the possibility of a return, but don't foresee it happening anytime soon.

Favorite fights? Hmmmmmmm... I'm very fond of the Headmaster fight and how it creates a different structure within itself. I like how Rat and Scorpion work together in their fight. And some of the side quest fights are really cool - go play What Big Lies You Have in the Aero Plains, if you haven't already.

Hidden Lands and Broken Shores: We have a history of name dropping worlds and then taking our time to get there. Look how long it took us to get to Empyria after it was mentioned, after all. We're leaving them open as potential future places to go.

Mellori: maybe. I'm not opposed, though I'd like to wait at least a little while before seeing her again.

Sybil: the ambiguity is very deliberate, but I'd trust Ione's reaction.

The crack in Olde Towne: That would be telling. But don't worry, you'll find out...

Rat and Scorpion went to the the Shadow Realm. Where's that? Well, that's a bit of a mystery. But Spider had to have someplace out of Raven's sight where he could hide from her wrath, what with his weakened condition and all. The Shadow Realm is that place. We may deal with it more later, but I'm content to wait.

Developer
TheCashmania on Nov 28, 2018 wrote:
Welcome, Blind Mew. Thanks for taking your time to answer questions here. I figure I should address some seemingly very big plot holes that I've noticed and have been picking at me:

1. In Arc 1, we're told that the Titans were created by Bartleby and that they are his children alone. However, in Arc 3, it's revealed that the Titans are Spider and Raven's children? This seems very conflicting. As a direct quote from Bartleby, "I sang the Dragons, Tritons, and Giants into existence, but my children began fighting each other, splintering the First World." Is there any explanation?

2. At the end of Empyrea Part 1, we're told by Zander that the Wizard is from Earth, and is therefore not of the Spiral. Yet in Arc 1, we're told by, I believe Gamma or Ambrose, that Earth is connected along the Spiral just like every other world. The direct quote is, "The model of the Spiral is right here. See? Every world is connected along the Spiral, even yours!" This seems to be directly conflicting.

3. At the end of Empyrea Part 2, we suddenly must face the Storm Titan (and his Aethyr Titan form, of course). This seems very of the moment and overwhelming, especially as we heard nothing of the Titan until we entered the Husk. Was he planned to be the final boss all along, or were there perhaps some last minute changes?

Anyway, thank you very much for your effort in Arc 3's story. You did a great job, aside from some other nitpicks that were probably not under the writing team's control. It's appreciated as always.
@TheCashmania

Ah, here we go! We've been waiting for these questions...

1) There are a few things going on here. The most critical point is that Bartleby speaks of each Titan in the plural - DragonS, GiantS, etc. The implication there is that each Titan was actually a race of people. The way we like to look at it, Raven and Spider created the three Titans, and then Bartleby sang a song that multiplied them into species of lesser beings, the inhabitants of the First World. And do bear in mind that at the point he was telling you all this Bartleby was a bit of an unreliable narrator...

Why didn't we bring this up in Empyrea? We thought about it, but there was enough to talk about already.

2) Earth, in my reckoning, is tangential to the Spiral. They come into intermittent contact and can said to be connected, the way gravity in our world connects the surface of the earth and the atmosphere, but they are not contiguous parts of each other. Now, if Earth isn't "in" the Spiral this actually raises a whole lot of other questions that are far juicier - is the wizard the first person from Earth to enter the Spiral? Were they the last? Is there anything else out there?

3) The Storm Titan was always intended to be the final boss. It seemed to come out of nowhere because Raven kept her cards close to her chest - Storm's stormy nature resonated enough with the storminess of the aethyr that he could better his way through it in a way she herself could not. At a more dramatic level, the notion of fighting a God (much less two) at the climax of the arc was never an option, in my opinion. Even with Bartleby's intervention, I think Raven would have dealt with you even faster than a Thanos finger snap. So the Titan served as an ideal enemy - suitably epic, but whose potential defeat didn't stretch my credulity too far.

Developer
@EXP613

Thanks for all the pros!

I was concerned that Athannor veered away from the through line of the plot, but at a thematic level it drives home the primary theme of Empyrea quite well.

The Alphoi/Gobbler connection has a lot of potential. But then I really love gobblers. At a time in the arc when the plot is getting so dire, I want to be sure we don't lose touch with comedy.

It was high time, we felt, for Bartleby to exert some serious presence in the story. Things had focused so much on Raven and Spider, but there's a third pillar of the cosmology. Now that Bartleby's eye is back, I'm hoping he can be much more present from now on.

I'd wanted to meet the Storm Titan since I started playing Wizard, and at one point was trying to get him to show up in Pirate - an unfinished patch of pantheon is just too tempting. The Pirate idea got dropped (it was way too shoehorned in), so I was very glad to finally give him some screen time.

Mandalla as a wheel was one of the first ideas we had for the place. I was initially worried how the idea would work graphically, but the art blew me away and surpassed any expectation I had.

Reverie is may favorite part of the update, for many reasons. I'm also quite fond of the Curator.

Cons:

The star trek references were hard to resist. I'm very fond of reference and homage (as Pirate players can tell you), but your mileage may vary. In the end, they were funny, and we wanted to make sure we had lighter moments in such a dark place.

The variety of environments in Empyrea was an experiment we embraced early on. We wanted to try something seriously different. Ultimately, I think the results were mixed. The fact that I'm left wanting to spend much more time in some of these places tells me we may have taken it too far.

As to previous lore, not only was this the end of an arc, it was also the 10th anniversary - remembering the past was essential. The Headmaster was a chance to go gonzo in Reverie, to throw the rules were out the window.