The Wagadu Chronicles devs consider the challenges of building an afrofantasy MMORPG

    
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The world of upcoming sandbox MMORPG The Wagadu Chronicles has piqued a lot of interest, particularly because its afrofantasy setting isn’t something we get to see a lot of in our genre, let alone gaming entirely. Tackling that challenge was the subject of a video presentation from Twin Drums founder and game designer Allan Cudicio, who spoke as part of an event held by Games for Change.

In the presentation, Cudicio talks about representation of the African continent and Black people in gaming, how Wagadu is trying to break many of those design stereotypes, and the impact of colonialism on Black and African culture, which has erased most traces of ancient civiliations and thus made designing the game difficult in a very unique way.

“Colonialism has done so much damage to the African continent, to Black people, and then literal slavery, that as a game developer working on a Black and African-inspired game, we have to deal with these legacies all the time. It’s so much more work because we have to fight against centuries of destruction.”

While we’ve been following development of Wagadu for a while, the wider MMORPG gaming world might not be quite so familiar with the title, which is why the MMORPG subreddit gave the game a full feature, introducing the game’s world, its development team, and scads of artwork and design. As for Cudicio’s presentation, that can be viewed in the embed below, which is set to play right as the presentation begins.

sources: YouTube, Reddit, thanks to Protobear for the tip!
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Crafty_Youth5227

The open-world PVP will kill this game. It’s really too bad they went this route.

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Witches

The original setting is a step forward, but the usual pvp gankbox gameplay is several steps back, i expect a fate similar to that of Worlds Adrift.

It’s a shame that so many of these original games go the pvp way, i bet most of these would be financially viable with a different type of gameplay.

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treehuggerhannah

I backed this game because I’m really interested in seeing an MMO with an afrofantasy setting in particular and also just want to encourage developers to explore settings other than Fantasy Europe in general.

I’m not sold on the PvP aspect and this game may not be for me for that reason, but I’m going to wait and see. I wouldn’t be surprised if that part got quietly toned down, removed, or limited to certain areas or servers as they get further into the process and think through how their mechanics serve (or don’t serve) their design goals.

If it ends up not being a game I actually want to play, no worries. I’m still happy that I backed it so I could contribute in a small way to seeing an afrofantasy game get made.

MrEllis
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MrEllis

The PvP full loot, meh, but man I’m interested to see where this goes.

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Bruno Brito

I feel like the source material they have and the overall theme is great. I think the main issue is with the game’s concept being a PvP-loot game? That is what i think is the main challenge.

As for the source material challenge, i can’t say it’s the same experience but i have a friend who’s really into african religions. She has been on this self-discovery journey of being more aware and more in tune with her own heritage for a while now, and yeah, the fact that a lot of information about her own legacy isn’t avaliable because of how messy things were after all the colonization around the globe is a pretty major setback.

A good example is how the Yoruba pantheon was incorporated to brazilian’s Christianism as saints. Yemoja is basically a saint of fishermen and sailors. Most of the practical applications of african-american religions here are seen as “heretical and evil”. It’s not uncommon to see televangelists using these same religions as scapegoats to light the passions of their followers.

A while ago, there was a chase to a serial killer here in Brazil, his name was Lazaro. Because of some details about his faith, which by the way, were completely irrelevant to the case ( the cops only released it because they were being made to look like clowns, since the guy literally fled pursuit for almost 15 days ) and because of the more sensationalist media outlets reporting on that shit mentioning african-american religions as some sort of “evil religion”, there were several attacks to places of worship during that time.

A lot of the damage that black people suffered through the ages won’t be noticed as long as the debate stays surface level with white people. We’re still on that debate of “oh, i don’t own slaves, so i have nothing to apologize for” without realizing that the damage done to them as a entire heritage, legacy and culture is everlasting and probably won’t ever be healed.

I hope this game succeeds. The way i see it, it’s way more than a game, and we could use more well-intentioned artists trying to pass good messages through our medium of choice.

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Vanquesse V

bUt WhAt AbOuT rEvErSe RaCiSm
Seriously though, while I won’t play a game with full loot pvp I really hope this will be a success. We already have a near infinite supply of traditional European high fantasy games, so even skipping over the fact that this setting is really important and needs as many eyes as possible to see, just getting something that’s not yet another “world of warcraft, but we made the elves have roller-skates” cookie cutter clone is great

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Bruno Brito

And let’s be honest, playing as a tribal warrior must be so good.

Imagine how cool would it be for a ranged class to be a spearthrower like Atalantas in Priston Tale. Or a trap-maker. Imagine how godly must it be to have a savannah as a questing place.

If this game wasn’t PvP focused, i would be all over it.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I didn’t even realize it was PVP. My ancestors are from Ireland, Germany, Norway and England. I just assumed upfront that I was welcome to kindly get lost and never look back.

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Bruno Brito

I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be tho. I’m not speaking for the black movement as a whole nor even for the developers, but i’m going to argue that they don’t want people to just go away because the game “isn’t for them” in the concept of theme.

I think what most of them want, is for people to understand that if you’re able to realize that this game has a specific theme and it has a specific target audience for this theme, and you don’t demand changes to the theme if you’re not part of the target audience, then it’s fine.

I for instance, would only argue for changes on the design parts, like the full-loot PvP idea, which defeats the purpose of trying to show more of the non-toxic playerbase the wonders of african culture.

I think NO ONE wants gamers to go into this game saying “oh, it’s too apelative and it forgets white people exists”, yeah, that’s the point. I guess you’re welcome to play for the concept and if you want to experience the african fantasies ( i would love to get a friend of mine to play it with me ), but if people get there and start ranting about non-eurocentric standards…yeah, they can sod off to New World which has that in spades.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

That wasn’t really what I meant, but I didn’t clarify it. I didn’t see it and say “Oh, no white people, this game isn’t for me.” It was based on something that happened when I went to see the Black Panther movie. A group of other patrons made it *very* clear that being white and blonde, I’m not *allowed* to enjoy it, not welcome, and not wanted.

And since I’m not suicidal enough to try to argue with a group of people who *each* had nearly a foot in height and a hundred pounds on me, I just turned around and left.

I think the setting is potentially interesting. I think the devs want all the players they can get. I’m pretty sure that other *players* would be more than happy for me to go the hell away.

Anyway, doesn’t matter if it’s a PVP based game.

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Bruno Brito

A group of other patrons made it *very* clear that being white and blonde, I’m not *allowed* to enjoy it, not welcome, and not wanted.

And since I’m not suicidal enough to try to argue with a group of people who *each* had nearly a foot in height and a hundred pounds on me, I just turned around and left.

Yeah, there are people like that. I’ve been lucky enough not getting involved with anyone who was this much radicalized ( and i get where it comes from, so i don’t really judge, albeit i find self-defeating ), but i’m still sorry for your experience.

Again, i’m a firm believer that as long as we don’t try to change the theme or speak from a place of knowledge about it, when it pertains to their heritage, and we keep it at mechanics and design, it’s all good.

As for your issue with players, so…here’s the thing: You’re probably right because if this game is full-loot PvP, the griefing will be terrible. I think ( and hope ) they change their mind about that. No one can flesh out the setting when your lookers and roleplayers are getting stabbed through oblivion.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Anyway, it wasn’t the setting or the character designs that would have been the problem. Given the choice, I normally play *cat people.* I’m entirely happy with the thought of making characters that are not “me, but inside the game.”

Honestly, I don’t quite understand the people who DO think that way, and who stomp on the idea of (for example) adding character customization to a survival game. Especially when they usually slap everything down with the “I have a sandwich” argument. (As in “I have a sandwich, therefore no one else can be hungry.” Or: “It doesn’t apply to me, therefore it can’t be relevant to anyone else.”)

But such people exist, and many of them are very passionate about defending… something, I’m not sure. I know I’ve accidentally kicked off what amounts to forum wars by asking if a given survival game allowed you to make a female character. (The answer is usually no, and people will *aggressively* defend the lack of any customization.)

Prior to knowing about the PVP, my feelings on this game were entirely based on my (very limited) personal experience that says that I’m very likely not welcome to be interested in the setting by a portion of the community. Just like with most survival games, which I’ve learned to largely ignore at this point. I don’t enjoy conflict with other people, and it’s easier to just stay away.

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Bruno Brito

It’s complicated, for sure. I get that this game will have contentious design choices for character creation if it is with a specific subsect of people in mind, and i get the asks for expanding on it, but i’ll take it as a oportunity to create a cool character that’s not really me. Going with a OC vibe.

All in all, i feel like the game itself will have issues with the PvP problem. All the rest is kinda secondary as long as it’s a gankbox.

MrEllis
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MrEllis

So are mine, and I literally never felt that way. Dunno, man…

Leyaa
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Leyaa

And here I thought the game was roleplay focused.

Didn’t even realize the game had full loot PvP, if not for the comments of this article. So I say thank you to all who pointed that out, as full loot PvP is something I don’t like and won’t play as well.

Was kind of looking forward to the title. Still hope for its success, if only to stir more developers to go for other settings than the traditional European fantasy theme.

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Bryan Correll

A pvp focus is definitely the wrong way to go for this game. Everything else about seems to be aimed at the sort of players who want to immerse themselves in the game’s world and lore. It’s the most interesting game-world to come along in a very long time. Western Europe and Eastern Asia have been done to death in MMORPG’s. I really hope the developers can accomplish what intend to, but full loot pvp is mostly attractive to players who don’t give a damn about a fully realized game world.