A few weeks ago, Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre wondered aloud about which MMO has had the best year so far. For this week’s Overthinking, I’d like to expand that a bit and ask which games are the biggest and best and most important and influential this year on the whole. Instead of asking our writers to pick one, I’m asking them to pick three games that represent the MMORPG zeitgeist, using whatever combination of criteria they wish — revenue, playerbase size, hype, anticipation, update cycle, and so forth. What should we be paying attention to? Which games are a sign of the times? And just who is dominating in 2016?
chronicles of elyria
Official Site: Chronicles of Elyria
Chronicles of Elyria’s successful Kickstarter last week summoned many comments from our readers about how many games they’ve Kickstarted — and how it’s more than they’ll ever actually have time to play, even if they do ever release. Turns out a lot of you really are backing the dream as much as pre-ordering! One thing I found fascinating is the impression that no Kickstarted MMOs have actually launched. Quite a few have (Elite: Dangerous, Ascent, Guns of Icarus) with quite a number more in a playable early access state (SOTA, The Repopulation at one point), but the impression seems based on what people backed rather on what all is out there.
I thought it’d be fun to take this weekend’s Leaderboard and poll you folks on how many MMO Kickstarters you’ve backed. Let’s stick to more heavily online games rather than small-scale online games, and feel free to include games that you’ve backed through websites after the Kickstarter itself has closed out.
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Chronicles of Elyria’s Kickstarter successfully funded at just over $1.36 million following its SpatialOS integration announcement and tech preview video. Massively OP’s own Andrew Ross explored the game’s anticipated features and mused on its many challenges in a long-form piece earlier this week. Those missed out on the Kickstarter will be able to participate in further crowdfunding efforts on the game’s official site.
Meanwhile, Fragmented reintroduced the Jabberbull and polished up the vehicle system, Project Gorgon patched its last patch, Vigor Roads was Greenlit on Steam, and Elite: Dangerous’ Horizons season launched for Xbone players. Post-apoc survival sandbox Edengrad is new-come to our list, but frustratingly, Mars-themed survival sandbox ROKH was forced to cancel its flagging Kickstarter, citing a lack of visibility. The developers say they are still planning the early access launch in September; founder packs with bonuses akin to those from the Kickstarter will be available.
Indie FFA PvP sandbox Chronicles of Elyria has officially been Kickstarted for over $1.36 million dollars, well exceeding its original $900,000 goal in spite of a canceled pledge from at least one potential “king” tier supporter in the last few hours of the campaign.
Donors helped the game unlock a few of its proposed stretch goals, including a new environment artist, the wards of the state character template, a new programmer hire, and religious statues, but it fell short of its goals for a new animator, tavern games, pet customization, underground building, and multi-platform support. Mounted combat would have been achieved at the $2.25 million mark.
Following its announcement yesterday that Chronicles of Elyria will make use of the SpatialOS platform for handling the massively multiplayer scope of the game, Soulbound Studios also released a technical preview video demonstrating a few of the ways players will interact with the gameworld. Says the studio,
“The video demonstrates a character’s ability to, using their left and right hands, interact with a large number of objects in the world; picking them up, putting them down, stashing them in pockets, and using them as tools on other objects. In addition, the video briefly shows stealth, and one of the more deviant activities available in the world.”
The game’s Kickstarter is set to successfully fund in less than 24 hours. Massively OP’s own Andrew Ross explored the game’s anticipated features and mused on its many challenges in a long-form piece earlier this week. The video is below.
Soulbound Studios has just announced that Chronicles of Elyria will team up with a tech startup called Improbable to make use of its SpatialOS platform. CEO Jeromy Walsh says that the platform is how the studio will “get a hundred thousand players spread across the largest geographic area in a video game to date” in a timeframe that is “faster than most people think possible, and with a smaller team.”
“SpatialOS is a distributed operating system that enables developers to create simulations inhabited by millions of complex entities, and allows game worlds and other simulated environments to run seamlessly on thousands of servers in the cloud,” reads today’s press release. “In order to create the dynamic and immersive MMORPG experience in Chronicles of Elyria, Soulbound Studios will be building their Soulborn Engine and the rest of the Chronicles of Elyria back-end on the foundation of SpatialOS. With support for load balancing, recovery, replication, and cross-process communication, SpatialOS provides the core fabric and infrastructure required for Chronicles of Elyria.”
The game’s Kickstarter is set to successfully fund later this week. Massively OP’s own Andrew Ross explored the game’s anticipated features and mused on its challenges in a long-form piece yesterday.
Anyone on the MassivelyOP team will probably tell you that I won’t shut up about Chronicles of Elyria. There’s so much to like about the game Soulbound Studios wants to build! Like many of you, I backed the game, and I’ve been literally battling to keep myself from donating $500 max to the Kickstarter; so far, I’ve backed at only the $40 tier, and I’ve never gone over $35 for any Kickstarter in the past. I don’t easily part with my money, especially for a game in development. While Elyria has a lot going for it, I’ve noticed recently that the developers and some fans might have gotten a little over excited since hitting their funding goal, and I’ve seen people comment about pulling out their funds because of this. The team recently released some answers to some good questions on Reddit, but some answers still feel a bit too optimistic. Maybe it’s time we bring things back down to Earth.
There’s no question at this point about whether or not Chronicles of Elyria will be funded. There is, however, some question of whether or not it will fork, launch, and be positively received. Why is this ambitious game going to succeed when other ambitious games have failed? According to an update on the game’s official Kickstarter page, the answer comes down to rope bridges. Not in the sense that the game features more of them, but in terms of developmental philosophy.
The idea is that a rope bridge is the minimum necessary structure to get from one side of a gorge to another; while it’s not permanent, it’s enough to be flexible and to cross a gap. Development on CoE has been moving with that same philosophy, building the minimum necessary, testing it, and then iterating on that basic development. The actual description is a fair bit more involved, but the hope is that the philosophy will allow the development team to be more flexible and more open to changing needs.
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Chronicles of Elyria’s bid for Steam Greenlight status was successful (though the team won’t commit to launching on Steam), Fragmented got a new patch, and Richard Garriott hinted at future projects for Portalarium past Shroud of the Avatar.
Over on Kickstarter itself, it looks as if Midair is going to fund next week, but ROKH seems to have a long way to go in a week to duplicate that feat. Victus Game is new to our watch list too; it’s more of an MMORTS, and it’s asking for only about $15,000.
But if you’re sick of Kickstarters, there’s always Goat Simulator: Waste of Space, which takes a few swipes at a certain notorious crowdfunded space MMO:
“Visit space today or get old waiting for that other space game that you already paid for! Crowdfund a space colony and get other people to pay for it and do all the work! Endless space full of planets to visit. But seriously it would take forever to go there so why bother? There is one planet nearby though. Go to that one. Fly and shoot stuff in space, because nobody makes games about flying and shooting in space anymore!”
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding this week and the roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!
The testing pattern for Crowfall is going to be just a little bit different moving forward, with an emphasis on having fewer phases over longer periods of time rather than its current rapid-fire testing events. The game did find the time to show off the making of a Druid spell and the Druid in action this week as well, though, so perhaps the net effect won’t be too noteworthy to the average fan.
- Asta is actually launching out of beta on a set date, in flagrant disregard for the accepted free-to-play method of just opening the cash shop and never actually saying, “We’ve launched now.” That’s happening on May 31st.
- More news has come out of the Chronicles of Elyria. Your mage is “no,” your non-human is “no,” your PvE server is “no,” your commercial building is “here’s how that works.” There’s also a rundown from the recent AMA on test timing which promises that it’ll start as early as Q1 2017, but there are no hard dates.
- Had you given up on the MMO side of Life is Feudal? That was silly of you, then; it’s in testing now.
- There’s an active targeting system for Riders of Icarus, if you want it. You’ll be able to try that out in the game’s third beta phase.
- Want to play Trinium Wars but don’t want to drop money on it? It’s free-to-play now, with the more valuable editions still costing some money. It’s also still in early access… probably. It’s hard to tell these days.
Plus, we’ve got that whole list below. You know, the list. Something on there that ought to be changed? Let us know down in the comments.
The Chronicles of Elyria team submitted itself to the wilds of an AMA on Reddit earlier this afternoon, allowing players to bombard the developers with questions about the soon-to-be-Kickstarted MMORPG. Here are some of the highlights so far:
- Pre-alpha/alpha 1 testing will begin “as early as possible,” potentially “as early as Q1 2017, with beta beginning in the summer.”
- CEO Jeromy Walsh previously worked at Microsoft developing automated test infrastructure; Elyria’s will be similar.
- How will the studio pull off something so ambitious? Experience, partly, but also middleware. “We’re leveraging as much middleware as we possibly can,” Walsh says. “We don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, and where others have made progress and have license-able technology available, we’ll be looking to leverage that.”
Chronicles of Elyria’s latest Kickstarter update is all about commercial buildings, which would sound super boring if this were real life. But it’s video games, and commercial buildings should be music to a sandbox fans ears!
“While each of the crafting buildings that are part of this IP table are pre-constructed blue-prints, in general, in Chronicles of Elyria there aren’t specific patterns for specific building ‘types,'” says Soulbound Studios. “What dictates a building’s type, with respect to the Settlement system, is a set of rules based on what the contents of the building are. For example, if you’ve got a room of at least Medium size, with a bar, you’ve got a tavern. So when we list the commercial buildings, what we’re really offering you is a single room building with one of the following ‘workstations’ in it.”
On the list of workstations that convert these buildings so far are tools including spinning wheels, paper presses, abacus boards, cartography tables, and alembic sets, each of which is a big clue to activities in the game.
Chronicles of Elyria’s latest Kickstarter updates lean to the informational side. Up first is a run-down of its next stretch goal, Wards of the State, which is basically a fancy way of saying players who don’t want to begin as a member of a family as a trade-off in advantages (which seems a rather fundamental concept).
“A Ward sacrifices the financial and social support system which comes with a family, in exchange for additional character customization and more flexibility,” says Soulbound Studios. “Wards are able to select any gender and have a point distribution system they can use to set their starting skill values and character attributes.”
A follow-up post covers some of the game’s most frequently asked questions. Mages won’t be a character type you can select for yourself, and you won’t be playing anything but humans. Soulbound is making no room for a PvE server, either.