Saturn Valley Online, the Earthbound MMORPG!
As you might've noticed the server was down a few days ago (Oct 20ish), our webhost decided to put the server's IP in their firewall and block it so it couldn't synchronize anymore. I've contacted them and they fixed it. So, yay, server is back up and running.
If you're seeing this, then you have reached us on the new webhost. If the server is down, please note that it's probably because of this switch, it will be fixed as soon as possible.
It has come to my attention that some people wonder "what is up with the SVO development" and why it's taking so damn long to release something that (remotely) plays like an actual video game. So here I am, about to try explaining what the current state of Saturn Valley Online is.
Let me start by saying the current downloadable version of the game is still a lightly modified version of the default Netgore game client (which you can get yourself at netgore.com) with an Earthbound skin placed on top of it, hence the big red letters on the downloads page stating that is an "alpha test".
This alpha version is available for you to take a peek into the EB/SVO worlds and give you a chance to claim your character and maybe explore some bits of both worlds already. This also means most of the Earthbound game mechanics are NOT included yet in the live version. So you cannot properly battle an enemy, talk to an NPC, level up, progress in the storyline, ...
However, over the course of seven or so months Darkfrost and I (Skye) have been working on adding more stuff to do. With the help of Dangoss we added a whole bunch more Earthbound areas (up to Fourside at the moment) while Darkfrost coded bits of the mechanics whenever he felt like programming SVO things. Worship has been working on sprites which we'll be adding in the upcoming version while Sleepytimejesse (you might know him from the I Miss You fanmade album) is working on new area music for the SVO world. Dekuben is also working on adding storylines, characters and area concepts for the SVO world.
Adding existing content such as the Earthbound stuff is relatively easy, you just mostly copy paste graphics, replicate enemies and their stats, add NPCs where they are located as in the SNES game and so on. But programming game mechanics is on a whole other level. A huge and complex thing such as a battle system is no easy feat! It requires a lot of planning and tinkering to get it just right. There is no such thing as "copy paste" from the original game for this. All the various things, each and every single attack from every single enemy in Earthbound has, has to be programmed, and that's A LOT of battle moves! And that's just the battle system, there's a whole bunch of other things (chat system, leveling up, quests, storyline mechanism, ...) that are as complex and there's no guide or tutorial on how to write those. We have to figure it out ourselves while looking at how the SNES game behaves.
Have a look at the game credits here, please count how many programmers and designers worked on the game for as much as five years, as a full time job. Now look at our crew, there is just one programmer who, even though he has learned a lot of programming skills, is still at university studying. He does not get paid for doing this and has a real-life job to earn some money. As working on SVO is more like a hobby rather than a job, this also means sometimes we just don't feel like working on the game for a few days, or we just don't have the time to do so.
For all you people who wonder why after 4 years we have yet to release a playable version of SVO, please consider the above. We also switched engines in 2010 (vbGORE to NetGORE) which meant throwing out all of the custom mechanics we had for that engine and having to rewrite them for the new one.
I hope you can understand that with the few people we have working on SVO, during our spare time it takes a lot of time to get things working as we want them to. But trust me, we want to release a playable version as much as you would like to play one, the upcoming release is a big one with a lot of new mechanics, that's why it's taking so long. Would you rather have a buggy, crappy version of a battle system that crashes your game every few minutes or a somewhat polished working version that might be a first basic version but at least resembles Earthbound?
Once this major version is finished, we can do updates more regularly, like adding better item support, PSI, parties, troops and more content. Please don't forget we do not owe you anything. We are in no way obliged to work on SVO. We do this because we love Earthbound and we'd love to have a game you guys can play, discover and have fun in together.
If you ever wonder how we create the Earthbound world in SVO, take a look at this quick tutorial I recorded earlier.
And if you feel like messing around with it at well, you can download the editor by clicking here.
Server will be offline on June 2nd because of some harddisk maintenance. We're cloning the current system HDD onto another one that doesn't have a faulty SATA connection. This means more server uptime once the maintenance is completed!
Update: Server maintenance completed!