August 21, 2023
An important update about Evercore Heroes
I’m writing to you today to share some important news about the state of Evercore Heroes, an update on the Closed Beta, and the times ahead for both the game and Vela as a studio. I’m going to be as open and transparent as possible with you all and just say some of this is not even fully figured out on our end yet, but we wanted to just be direct and tell it like it is without delay.
First off, I would like to thank each and every person reading this - whether you came into Evercore Heroes during the Closed Beta, if you’re seeing us for the first time, or you’ve been with us on Discord through early testing for years. Ultimately, myself and my two co-founders created Vela to deliver great, innovative co-op experiences, and even though we are entering the most challenging period of our company’s life, we want you to know we will keep pursuing that vision with you.
The Evercore Heroes Closed Beta has been the culmination of years of hard work, and we see the potential of the game most especially in our co-op teamplay and unique competitive PVE. We’re proud of the work the entire team has done on the game so far and the community we’ve built with you, but frankly the Closed Beta has not met our expectations as players or as a business. As such, there are some major changes we’re announcing today.
In short, Closed Beta is transitioning on to a new phase. We did not meet all of our goals and thus have to make some difficult changes to the Vela team while we work on a refined vision for Evercore Heroes, which will focus on the best elements of ECH.
There is a lot of information and context here, but we wanted to be an open book. Read on for the full story.
Closed Beta Summary
As we’ve done since even before Pre-Alpha, over the past two months we’ve taken your feedback and applied that in combination with our vision to the experience we’re creating together.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the Closed Beta:
Evercore Heroes has a strong core idea centred around co-op teamplay and competitive PVE, but there are a lot of things getting in the way of realising the full potential.
- Over and over we’ve heard that for the vast majority of players, the co-operative gameplay with our diverse hero roster and the idea of competitive pve stand out as strong points. Since day one, we have set out to make a deep, masterful experience that you can enjoy with others online with less of the negativity and harassment we all deal with. We’re proud of the core of the game, and going forward will look to double down on these best two elements even further.
- Many players expressed their frustration learning how to master the game. Strategic choice is an important part of a match, but we know for many players learning to master those choices and the corresponding rewards didn’t always land.
- All Live Service games go through growing pains, and while the service was fairly stable, we had issues early on that negatively affected you all as players. Namely rewards issues, game breaking balance bugs, and difficulty finding games. Issues are to be expected, but we had a series of issues in a row that we were unable to react to quickly enough, so it always felt like there was something getting in the way of fun.
You’re all a genuinely awesome community, but we need to develop a better two way dialog on where we are vs where we are going.
- I think there was a lot of engagement from the team with frequent interactions, but we could have said more in regards to the bigger picture. Specifically, we didn’t communicate a roadmap, issues we saw, or respond to you when we were acting on your feedback (which we did quite often). All of these things were planned for and in flight, but there were too many things going on and we dropped the ball. You all deserve (and will get) better from us going forward.
Making a new genre of game stand out, from a new studio with a new IP, is the hardest it’s ever been in the industry, and we should have driven more awareness.
- Let me assure you, no one thought that getting the word out on ECH would be easy (especially in June 2023), and from what we can see you all did a lot of helping along the way (🚪). All I can say is that it’s brutal out there as many studios are harshly realising, and we didn’t do a good enough job telling our story to a wider audience.
- We chose to work with our own platform as well, which while it has many advantages, makes it even harder to be discovered. Going forward, we’ll work to expand access to ECH and go further in our vision to let you play where and how you want.
As a result of the above, the Closed Beta also didn’t meet our financial expectations and instead of continuing on as is, we have to take some difficult but necessary steps, starting with a major impact to the team.
Major Impact on the Vela Team
Effective today, we have made some major changes to the team size at Vela, reducing the team headcount significantly across all departments. This is unfortunately a painful, but necessary move to be able to continue to pursue our vision for Evercore Heroes in a responsible way going forward.
The team size will phase down over the coming months, as people work out their notice periods and eventually transition out of Vela. So while people will still be around at Vela for a period of time helping build the next version of Evercore, the difficult news about their roles ending has been delivered already.
The Vela Team is honestly the most talented group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with in my over twenty years of gaming, and it’s truly sad that so many have to move on. We will be supporting them in any way we can to take the next steps in their careers, and we ask that you give everyone involved some space to deal with their changing circumstances.
Our first priority right now is taking care of the people who’ve been impacted, so please check out our Linkedin page for details on how to contact us if you have any available opportunities, and we’ll circulate information as much as possible.
Evercore Heroes Enters Maintenance Mode (for now)
While we work on the next major iteration of Evercore Heroes (more on that below), we are going to keep the game alive in its current form, with some key differences. Our goal here is to keep the game available for the community as long as we can support it financially, and for you all to be able to enjoy it with more friends.
Here are some of the key changes, which we’ll be going live with maintenance mode aimed for Thursday the 24th of August 2023
- While in Maintenance Mode, the game will have open access for all, simply by creating an account.
- Founder’s Packs will no longer be available once Maintenance Mode begins.
- Everyone coming into the game from now on will get the Free Battle-pass, as the Founder's Battle-Pass is only for those who already purchased it in Closed Beta.
- There will be 8 heroes available to all players by default, including our newest hero Ace (Click here for the spotlight)
- All prices in the store have been reduced by 50%
- The Creator Program is still available, with 10% of in-game item purchases going towards creators (thanks to our friends at Nexus.gg for working with us closely here).
- We will keep access to servers available 24/7, but we may have to make changes based on population at a later time.
- Unfortunately with the team size changes and our focus on the next iteration of ECH, there will be NO UPDATES to the experience during this period - no balance updates, bug fixes, etc.
Project R: A Focused Vision for Evercore Heroes
So, where do we go from here? Enter, Project-R.
We started out with the codename “Project-V” for what would eventually become ECH. We started with a vision to realise three specific points: Have a great experience with friends and others online Build an experience with deep mastery Allow players to invest in something meaningful to them
Over the course of development, the design direction evolved into what we now know as Evercore Heroes. A good example of this evolution was adding Competitive PVE during Pre-Alpha testing, in order to increase the mastery possibilities.
Taking this Vision-based approach along with what we’ve heard from the Closed Beta, we are already working on a change of direction to Evercore Heroes, with the goal of doubling down on co-operative teamplay and competitive PVE.
While it’s still early days, here are some of the details that I can share so far:
- We are going to keep the strong, roster based Co-Op teamplay with tank, damage, and support roles with our unique heroes.
- We want to fully realise Competitive PVE to a level we have not yet, changing from abstracted, optional competition to full visibility and more (PVE) interactions
- Example: direct visibility and competing with other teams for the same objectives - no more wisps!
- Strategic gameplay decisions will be much more clear via a new format, and rewards much, much more impactful, which should result in a lot more variation between games.
- Part of the fun of PVE is the danger of losing to the game, and we want to bring that challenge back into the ECH experience.
- Rest assured for those of you who love Lumerea and our heroes, they will still be the stars, with even more potential for stories and adventures.
- All Closed Beta players will be invited to help us test early versions as soon as we’re ready this Fall.
Our goal is to return to you as quickly as possible with more information, but it’s important we get it right. Additionally, I want to reaffirm our commitment to you all as our community, and along the way we’re going to be very open with what we’re doing, including offering playtests of Project-R to everyone who participated in Closed Beta. We’re serious when we say we’re going to evolve this game alongside you.
This has been the hardest period of Vela’s history so far, and ultimately I know it’s even harder for the people on our team impacted by these changes. None of us wanted to be in this position, but the best of this team's incredible work will live on as Evercore Heroes evolves into its new form. Everyone on the team has been amazing and professional during this time, and our focus now is to just support them as much as possible.
Project-R is the future of Evercore Heroes, and we’re confident that this direction will ultimately deliver on the full potential of ECH. While we continue to work on that with our remaining team, we hope you and your friends enjoy the game in its current form.
Thank you again for continuing to be on this journey with us,