Legends of Equestria is an upcoming fan-made MMORPG based on the My Little Pony franchise. It will allow players to become a colt or filly from one of three races, explore an open world, earn one of six Talent Marks, fight their way through dungeons, and more. The Open Access release was originally scheduled to go live on August 19th, but was delayed to September 10th due to a cyberattack that occurred on July 5th.
I recently had a chance to ask the development team several questions. We discussed the challenges of creating a fan-made game based on an established universe, some of the content that will be included in the Open Access release, what the first story arc will be about, and more.
Due to the team’s organizational structure, several team leads provided answers. They are as follows:
- Writing Team Lead Mystic Morning
- Implementation Team Lead Rattletrap
- PR Team Lead Galapagois
- Moderation Team Lead Perry
Me: What inspired you to create a My Little Pony MMORPG, rather than a fangame in another genre?
Galapagois: We all first came together as fans of My Little Pony, and the project started because those first team members wanted to replicate what the community around the show had done in the online space, but in a game world; to use that passion for the show and community as inspiration for an MMO experience. There’s definitely other genres and things we’re passionate about, and Legends of Equestria is by no means the end of our team’s journey, but it’s this one that really brought us together, and kept us going for five years of development; it’s the vision that we’re committed to.
Have any particular difficulties arisen due to the volunteer nature of the development team?
Galapagois: It’s sometimes difficult to get the kind of talent that we’re looking for. We’re a volunteer project, which means we can’t offer payment for the work people do; that means attracting people to join us just out of passion for the idea isn’t always guaranteed. There’s also the occasional drop-off on commitment, since everyone is working on the game around their own busy work, education, and social lives. But we’ve always kept that in mind, and managed to progress despite these difficulties, and there are so many gifted and generous people within this fandom that we’ve always been able to push forward!
My Little Pony is a franchise with fans of all ages, and fans that take it quite seriously, at that. With that in mind:
- What sort of lengths have you had to go to in order to ensure that it remains an all-ages game? Perry: We have created a pretty comprehensive word filter to help regulate in-game discussion, and on top of that we have a large, trained, and committed Moderation team that enforces very clear and communicated rules, and we don’t give a whole lot of leeway with them. We also of course scrutinize our own team’s work to make sure it adheres to our own rules for acceptability. Because of the standards we’ve set, we’ve garnered a very proactive audience and community, who understand the rules and are, by and large, nearly as interested in seeing them followed as we are. From the start we knew that this project wouldn’t just be for fans of the show, that it could be something parents play with their children, and so we’ve built everything around that accordingly.
- Have you found it difficult to implement ideas that you’ve had within the confines of the franchise’s canon? Galapagois: We’ve certainly drawn inspiration from the franchise, but because we obviously don’t want to infringe on anyone’s copyrighted expression or trademarked properties, we operate outside of it a lot. It’s sometimes a challenge to balance that against meeting the expectations of the fandom and not straying too far from our original vision, but it’s important to us that the project is our own, not just a clone of someone else’s ideas, so it’s worth the effort.
- Have you gone outside of the franchise’s canon in order to implement any ideas that you’ve had? Mystic Morning: In a lot of ways, yes! We’ve created an entire new world backstory with thousands of years worth of historical events; a pretty extensive cast of characters to befriend, locations to explore, dungeons to conquer, and species to interact with, and a completely original and engaging storyline to drive players forward throughout the game.
What will the game’s first story arc be about?
Mystic Morning: Players will start off as foals, learning their own talents, what they want to do in the world, and as they grow a cast of main characters will grow alongside them. The first story arc even follows that group as they grow together, the problems they encounter, and the changes they want to bring to the world. We don’t want to give too much away just yet, and have been keeping a lot of the story under wraps for the time being; we really hope that players will find the final product to be a very personal experience, something that we feel is sometimes overlooked in MMOs.
Will later story arcs continue the plot of the first story arc or will they be their own stories altogether?
Mystic Morning: There’s a central thread running through the background of at least several of the early story arcs which all funnel together into the story’s conclusion. Possible future arcs would continue the atmosphere and theme, and despite being new stories, will continue the legacy and themes that made Equestria a world where players can feel comfortable and instrumental. Each arc will be comprised of a series of individual adventures, but a lot of things that happen on the way will really come into focus as the story goes on, and when put together they’ll hopefully make for a strong continuous narrative.
Will there be any differences in the story, gameplay, etc. for those who remain foals, as opposed to moving into adulthood?
Rattletrap: Players who choose to remain as foals won’t be able to progress as far as those who grow up; it’s a bit similar to choosing not to level up in other MMOs. There will be a basic foal storyline that complements the main storyline, but is not required to complete it, and there are foal-only quests as well. Certain quests, areas, items, and events might be unavailable to them, or just too hard to complete without the adult tier abilities and progression only available to grown-up characters.
Other than cosmetic differences, are there any significant differences between the three races?
Rattletrap: Each race has access to specific abilities; pegasi can fly, unicorns can teleport, earth ponies have a really fast sprint. They also have different sets of Talent Marks that are only available to each race, in addition to the shared Talent Mark options, so that each race feels unique and will feel a lot different to play as. There are also certain quests, particularly at the start of the game, that are specific to the player’s chosen race. Players will be able to create multiple ponies per account, though, if they want to experience all of it!
Most of the six branches of expertise are fairly self-explanatory, but what role will those who specialize in Animal Care or Partying play?
Rattletrap: Choosing Animal Care as a Talent will allow the player to work with an animal pet to implement extra abilities, and provide boosts to some existing ones, beyond what a normal pet owner would be able to do. Partying Talents give access to a specific subclass of attacks, buffs, and soothes around the theme of partying.
How many dungeons will be included in the initial Open Access release?
Rattletrap: We intend to have two large dungeons for players to experience in the Open Access Release: the foreboding, gnarled mess of the Bramblewoods, and the mysterious ruins of Ancient Athamanes. Each of these dungeons will have their own unique story to them, with quests to help players experience everything they have to offer. These dungeons will be uniquely scalable, meaning that groups of players of different sizes will still be able to experience a challenge without it being too easy or too overwhelming.
We’re working hard on additional dungeons and challenges, but we can’t guarantee that these will be in a presentable state for the Open Access Release; we do, however, intend to have them implemented in an update in the near future!
What do you consider to be Legends of Equestria’s “endgame?”
Rattletrap: We intend to keep developing the game as long as there is developer passion and audience interest. Certainly, we want to follow through on the three-arc story we have planned out so far, and the culmination of that story could be considered an ‘endgame’, but there’s a lot more room for growth in what we have. In terms of gameplay, players can currently progress up to level 50; we want our dungeons and events to be scalable, so that players will always have a challenge to take on, and we’re committed to adding more so that there will hopefully always be something around the corner to add more to the experience.
How often do you expect to release new content updates following the release of Open Access?
Galapagois: It’s pretty hard to gauge how long anything will take us, given the nature of the project; predicting how much time each member will be able to volunteer outside of their normal work/college/personal lives is pretty difficult given how much that can fluctuate. Bug fix updates will be rolled out pretty much whenever we manage to squash one, and we’re aiming to have content updates coming out every one or two months, to make sure there’s always something new on the horizon to look forward to. We can’t say for sure that we’ll be able to hit that target every time, though – only that we’re committed to seeing it through.
Already in progress, we have new zones, dungeons, mobs, story, bosses – pretty much everything, really, and we want to make sure everybody gets to experience them with us. We’ve dedicated five years to developing Legends of Equestria, and we don’t see the passion that drove us all that time stopping any time soon!
You can keep up with Legends of Equestria via the official website. The Open Access release is currently set to go live on September 10th.