What does El Somni Quas mean? It is a game being developed by a team of six Czech and Slovak developers. It is based on Ultima Online, with old school PvE, PvP and realistic world. The game is aiming mostly at hard-core players because of its FFA mechanisms and complex game systems. Everything is made at Unigine and in 3D as you can see clearly from the screenshots around.
If you want don't want to miss any piece of information then visit and follow the ESQ Facebook page. But we will cover the game also here on Keen with unique articles.
I asked Level designer Zbyněk Juračka few questions to introduce not just the game but also the team behind. There are also some interesting posts at Czech gaming forum – Imperium which I have also translated for you hence you will not miss the information written directly by the big boss Demostenes.
1. Zbyněk, can you introduce the team behind your game? How many people is making the game? Have your numbers changed during the development?
ESQ team has six permanent members and few external co-workers helping with our web, learning how to work in the editor etc. There were few other guys who contacted us after last Friday when we announced the game publicly and one of them seems really promising as a music composer.
As the time went by some people came and left after brief period of time, mainly cause they realised that work on a project like this is very time demanding and the result wont come in a week
2. How do you manage all the work? If I have correct information everyone from the team is working mostly at home after his full-time job. You don’t sit next to each other in the office. How do you divide the work? Do you separate each part of the development and put some deadlines when does it have to be finished? Do you have regular meetings?
It’s true. We work at home in our free time. And because there are just six of us, everyone must be able to manage his work and the complete project is led by our boss Demostenes. From time to time we meet in person in Prague and twice a year there are workshop weekends in a cottage. This way of work means that each of us must be highly motivated and feel really passionate about the game. Without these characteristics, we wouldn’t be able to go home after our “common” jobs and start working again instead of playing our favourite games.
3. When was the day one for the project? When did it all start? Even for huge studios the complete process of creating a game can take many long years. How many hours do you devote to the development each day, week?
It’s hard to count. There was the Ultima Online’s shard called Endor (CZ + SK shard) which is online for ten years now and Demostenes takes care of it. But the first decision to transfer the game to the 3D dimension was made six years ago when the basic research started.
We give the game a lot of our time but it differs from day to day. Sometimes it’s just an hour, sometimes two and sometimes it’s better not bother to sit in front of the computer but watch a movie and gather some energy. However there are weekends when you work like a madman and sip a lot of cups of coffee not to sleep with your face on the keyboard.
4. What can you tell us about the game? Why is it being created in first place? What is the main motive behind all of this?
Original Endor arose in the time of Ultima Online. Respectively you had the option to either play UO or Lineage 2. And there was really no high-quality server to enjoy. In the Czech Republic there was Kelevar and laggy Dark Paradise based on the buggy Sphere. So you could only adapt or make your own project. It’s similar with ESQ just in a bigger scale. Current mainstream MMOs are ultra-easy theme park games with little demands put on players. Yet there still exists not a small community of players who like hard-core sandbox games like UO and they have no game to play. Yes, there was once the original Darkfall but what has become of it? Unholy Wars. And that is quite a different game. Another motivation is to preserve the world of Endor and its mechanics but in a highly modern design.
5. From the presented information ESQ is inspired by Ultima Online. But if you should explain and introduce the game to the players who have never played UO and know nothing about its gameplay, how would you describe it? What would you compare it to?
It’s impossible to compare Ultima Online to any present game because there is simply no successor. ESQ is first of all sandbox. It means that vast majority of your game time is organized by you and other players themselves. Nobody is holding your hands and helping you through an infinite chain of quests. It’s your online life. Have a meal, buy a horse, forge an armour and … don’t get yourself killed J. Big difference between our game and other current MMOs is in FFA (free for all) mode when everyone can attack you or even kill you. And yeah, take all your belongings. Of course with all the consequences which such act generates. This way UO worked and ESQ uses the same system.
More known information directly from Demostenes:
6. Will the game be pay to play or with micro transactions or free to play?
It’s not decided yet. The best way would be pay to play with monthly fees which are fair for everyone and doesn’t influence the game itself. But if the community will prefer micro transactions (which is statistically better for the profitability) then why not.
7. What hardware and engine do you use?
We own and will use hardware which will be necessary. Server and client is mostly made with C++, graphics is made on Unigine (Valley benchmark) because it’s the only engine which can be very well used to create an open world MMO (streaming, scenes optimized for thousands of objects, fluent transfer from many kilometres above the ground to just one centimetre, no problems with view of twenty or more kilometres, support of 256x256 km of terrain etc.) We were using Unity3D but there were big problems with performance and stability and just the transfer to Unigine threw us one year forward in the development phase just because there are implemented many of the features which are still missing in Unity3D. And what’s more the performance is simply outstanding. Scenes which were running at 5 FPS before are now running at 50 FPS. Unigine is much more expensive but still worth the price.
8. Why should the game attract players? What is different, better?
In few words? That the game is not for players used to play mainstream online games. We are reviving the old-school gameplay system. It’s hard to find another similar game on the market. EVE Online is the closest one but it is science-fiction and not fantasy. ESQ is also an MMO with single player style in mind. It means that you will not discover dungeons where could go 4 trucks next to each other. In other words there will be a big impact on the gameplay and atmosphere. Fifty players will make no difference if the corridor is just one meter wide. They will have to go one by one.
9. Is FFA project viable? In these times nobody wants to be penalised for death or lose amours, weapons, loot etc. which took hours to get or craft.
We think that it is. Take for example Darkfall. There is quite a big community around the game and players complains about the direction the game goes. It’s moving into the mainstream. Of course only a fragment of all players prefers FFA but we are not a big company which has spent 200 million of dollars and have to earn it back asap for some investors. We don’t need such money. And even 1% of all players who could be interested in our game will make tens of thousands people who miss the old-school MMOs. And this is our target group.
10. What phase are you right now in? When can we realistically expect alpha or beta for testers and later for players?
Alpha could be released in a year but many things can change. If a community funding would be successful then the testing could arrive much sooner.
11. Do you plan to have Quest GM system or only repetitive / dynamically generated quests?
Quests given by GM has proved successful. And because ESQ will never be a game with millions of players then it is also realizable. So yes we do plan this type of quests.
12. Don’t you have any video to show?
We have ready another screenshots and we are preparing a video which will show the landscape, cities, dungeons etc. Gameplay videos are going to be published later because there is still a lot of work to do. Be patient.
These are all the questions for now. But I am in touch with Zbyněk and want to publish more interesting articles concerning the studio, its members, how the world is done, how the fight is working, what can you expect from the craft system and many more! Just follow me or the Game page and don't miss any news! However the game is still in its early phase therefore new articles cannot be released every day or week. But when I will have the possibility and permission to tell you more I will not hesitate to do so!
If you want to learn more about the game from the official site then go here! If you don't understand Czech just switch the language at the top right side with the small flag.