PAX East 2017: Jumping and climbing through Chronicles of Elyria’s pre-alpha

I admit to my weakness: Despite years and years of games using it again and again, I still enjoy the simple gameplay benefits of jumping between ledges. I like parkour. Admittedly, I like it in a purely academic sense, as my actual vertical mobility is somewhere between “no” and “hell no,” but I like games that allow you to dash hither and yon, springing from wall to wall, running along things, all of that fun stuff.

The pre-alpha build of MMORPG sandbox Chronicles of Elyria on display at PAX East did not feature that. It featured parkour that was more on the level of God of War’s process of mantling ledges, jumping between them, and so forth. Still, that’s a welcome change from the fact that far too many MMOs don’t even grant you that degree of mobility. Even in games that encourage you to move about with jumping puzzles and the like, how many MMOs allow you to actually use your hands to grasp a ladder?

The demo on the show floor put you in the depths of a mine. Why are you in the mine? That’s for philosophers to answer. Your real concern is getting out of the mine, or at least crossing the immediate obstacles between where you are and where you could be. This includes a little bit of fighting, but the big focus was on the game’s movement system.

Obviously, you couldn’t both fight and hang off of ledges; instead, you could toggle between combat stance and mobile stance. In combat stance, your hands were full; in movement stance, they weren’t. That meant that I was free to jump about, clamber along on narrow footholds, and the like.

It is, of course, important to note that this is still a very early build of the game without most of its features in a functional state. It’s not entirely fair to judge it based on the environment so much as raw functionality. In that category, it worked fairly well. While there were some ledges that looked as if I should have the option to climb when I couldn’t, the basic mechanics had that comfortable feeling of proper jumping and clinging. If you had told me it was an early test build for an action-adventure game, I would have found that plausible.

The movements were also suitably diverse and responsive insofar as I rarely to never felt that I would press a button and have an unexpected action take place, nor was anything beholden to picture-perfect timing. Traversing the mines was a simple matter and worked along predictable, comprehensible lines. Obviously, I also had the benefit of placeholder combat and a lack of fall damage to make life a bit easier.

Man must be ready to ramp everything.

Players will have fall damage in the full game, but I found out after the fact that it will be something which players can mitigate by using the crouch button to tuck into a roll upon hitting the ground. It requires some practice to get the timing down right, but when done properly you can really cut the incoming damage significantly.

It will remain a player skill test, however, as the focus will always be on player skill rather than any sort of leveling mechanic. That’s not to say that no in-game variables will affect your ability to parkour about; if you’re a heavy character wearing heavy armor with a low Strength and Agility, you’ll be less spry than someone in light leather with high stats. But you cannot, say, develop the skill to do multiple backflips between platforms. It’ll be about player skill rather than character skill.

Player skill will also be involved in finding ledges to grab on to in the open world. For demo purposes, the climbing points were clearly marked with bat guano, making it easy to tell at a glance what could and could not be climbed. This was useful, but it also led to the usual problems with any sort of third-person game using the mechanics, where you wind up looking for which points you can arbitrarily grapple about through compared to where you can’t. The full game, by contrast, is meant to make it much more open. You should be able to recognize without any special markers which ledges you can hang off of and which ones you can’t.

That extends to other elements of the game as well. For example, it’s entirely possible that one player may build a house in such a way that there’s no easy access other than the door for would-be assassins. But there will also be several windows that can be used as entry points… and the would-be assassin can always sneak in by dragging a ladder over and climbing the wall.

You can, however, rest assured that no one will just go through the wall. The philosophy described to me was, essentially, that it should cost as much time and resources to get through a wall as it takes to build one in the first place. If a player can just knock a hole in the wall with a sledgehammer, why take a week to build one in the first place?

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We also talked a little bit about the game’s open PvP philosophy. Obviously, players who perform criminal acts will be facing a penalty, but that penalty doesn’t do much to help the player who’s already been randomly shanked while doing something else. What will make the player who wants to not get shanked at all not feel the sting of losing gameplay time as a result?

The answer essentially boils down to a matter of not losing too much if you’re repeatedly killed. Within a cooldown window, for example, players won’t suffer repeated spirit loss if they keep being killed; camping your body and continuously killing you will result in you losing things, but you can’t lose those things again in short order. By contrast, the criminal penalties continue to ramp up without any cooldown, so just killing random players over and over will subject you to ever-harsher penalties along the way.

That doesn’t exactly ease the sting for Stanley when he was harvesting wood by himself, but it does at least mean that Stanley is more likely to be killed for his wood (ahem) rather than just killed over and over for giggles. And if the criminal penalties don’t successfully discourage that, they’ll be ramped up over time.

I was also told that the demo version on the PAX East show floor was already missing several subsequent developments to the movement system to make it more responsive and give players more maneuvering options. I do not, however, believe that wall-running was among them. (Sliding along ropes, by contrast, was totally there.)

The emphasis on movement that was on display certainly goes a long way toward making the game feel a bit more distinct, though. It’s something which is not commonly seen in games as an option for moving through locations, and the result is that it definitely helps convey a sense of high adventure. You may not be able to specialize in it in-game, but you can at least put together an idea of how to be truly acrobatic as you raid tombs. Or houses. Either one, really.

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Boston for PAX East 2017, bringing you expert MMO coverage from ZeniMax, Square Enix, Funcom, and everything else on display at the latest Penny Arcade Expo!
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15 Comments on "PAX East 2017: Jumping and climbing through Chronicles of Elyria’s pre-alpha"

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Fluffy Magical Unicorn

Glad for the emphasis on movement. I do wonder how latency will impact it. I do think that it’s going to boil down the same way every other ‘FFA PVP’ game does, though, but until developers can stop telling themselves ‘the playerbase will behave differently because its our game’ and actually deal with the culture they empower through their mechanics and the asymmetry of justice that exists in MMOs ( and no, their perma-death system does not do this), they’re still gonna eat the same floor that every other FFA MMO does.

Keeping my eyes out on this but atm, Chronicles of Geriatrica does not sound as fun to me as I’d hope it does. xD

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Stephen Donohue

I’m sure this indie gankbox will be a huge success like all the ones that came before. No matter what punishments you have in place for ganking, there are enough sociopaths out there who only have fun by ruining someone else’s. The reason these games never keep a stable population is that if you don’t engage in ganking, you only stand to lose, there’s nothing to gain.

You can spend an hour gathering crafting materials just to have someone run by, kill you, and be off on his merry way in all of 30 seconds. You’ve just lost an hour of limited game time (I’m assuming your an adult with a job) and there’s no guarantee you won’t get killed again if you go back out for another hour. It doesn’t take long for non-pvp oriented players to decide that it simply isn’t worth it, otherwise all these indie-sandbox games wouldn’t be closing or have only a tiny playerbase.

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Desperado Wells

The one recurring point here seems to be “I don’t want to be ganked”.

One of the defining points in CoE thus far is that you will enter into a community as soon as you enter the game. Think of it like a mega-guild. As soon as you enter the game, you have a whole structure of people whose best interest it is to keep you safe and happy. If you want to go chop wood, rather than wandering off and punching a tree, you contact a local Mayor and ask if they have any gathering parties going out. Head out with them, to a location they know is safe, or with an escort.

I’ve played a string of games that could be called predecessors to CoE, from Mortal Online to Darkfall, and ganking was something I was confronted with for sure. But ganking was certainly not all I experienced in those games, and I definitely have an interest in finding a game that has similar elements but has honed the experience. If you personally came away from those games with nothing but QQ, sure, this might not be for you, but there is still a sizeable group of people waiting for the right Sandbox Open PvP MMO.

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Dug From The Earth

So basically… all those gamers whose normal procedure is to start an mmorpg solo, learn to play it, get experienced with it, and THEN join a guild/community, are gonna be hosed.

There is NO good reason to have fully open ended PvP like this unless you are specifically catering to the PvP crowd (specifically those that enjoy ganking). The problem here is, the game is also catering heavily towards rpg mechanics that the non-pvp gank crowd would enjoy.

Its like opening a restaurant for Vegetarian Catholics and Vampire Atheists to eat at.

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nerdSlayer

You keep parrotting the same thing. We get it, you dislike PVP focused MMOs. This game is not for you. However, for those of us who want a PVP focused MMO we do believe there are systems that can be implemented that can deter rando-gankers from being the norm.

I love full loot open PVP, but I do know (like any other PVPer with a brain) that without checks and balances populations get cannibalized. However just uselessly spouting “it doesn’t work!” and trying to argue that a game with a depth + open PVP is catering to the wrong audience is ludicrous.

Us PVPers want an RPG as much as anyone else…hence why we believe in open pvp.

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SmugglerSteel

Yet another game that will boil down to a gank fest. There will never be penalties enough to stop that behavior. If the penalties are steep people just create alts to do their ganking with. It just doesn’t work and pretty much as a PVE player I tune out the moment I hear open world pvp. A shame this game held promise but it’s now on my ever growing list of ‘skip it’, due this current obsession like push of open world pvp.

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Desperado Wells

There seem to be a few reasons this game will not suffer as much from these things. For one, making an alt will cost you another account. You will also need to level up your skills on that character, which takes time. Think Mortal Online. You can’t exactly be ganker ready in a few days.

On top of that using towns and interacting with other people will be important. Sure, you could make your own bandit towns, but that makes you just as vulnerable to raids as everyone else.

NPC’s will make up a good portion of the world population, and they won’t want to deal with people who have prices on their heads.

I dunno, maybe you are right, but I don’t see where this ‘yet another gank fest’ attitude really gets anyone. Why not read a little about the game, or if you are that jaded that you can’t be bothered, why participate in the discussion at all.

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captain_seli

This is exactly why I think CoE will NOT be a gank fest. Money is the real kicker here. What other game cost you 30$ a pop to create a single character, which will ultimately DIE FOR EVER if it looses all its spirit?

Gankers will be hurt badly in the RL pocket.

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Dug From The Earth

Um, there are PLENTY of wealthy gamers out there are wouldnt skip a beat at spending money in a game if it meant them doing what they enjoyed doing.

Money is NOT going to be the thing that draws the line at keeping people from ganking/trolling other players.

necropsie
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necropsie

Definitely agree. I refuse to be the subject of someone’s gankfest, and if I can’t play the game by my own terms, I will simply not play it. I still don’t get it – offer the option of turning PvP “on” to players and let them slaughter each other, but don’t force me to participate. How many successful open pvp games you know?

shaggellis
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shaggellis

Sorry this game doesn’t want to hold your hand man…..

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Dug From The Earth

It feels like they are trying to take two entirely different groups of gamers and force them into the same game together.

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Oyjord Hansen

Pass.

The open PvP never had and never will attract a decent player base. We are all “Stanleys,” farming wood at one time or another. Why should we provide fodder for the maladjusted basement trolls? I refuse to mindlessly enable the sick.

Hard pass.

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silverlock

I had no issues with the PVP in BDO when I played it. As long as the penalties are harsh enough the gank for the lolz crowd will just go somewhere else.

Solaris
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Solaris

Same with DAoC. Totally open PvP, but one of the most amazing communities I’ve ever played with.

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