Monday, 7 May 2012

Over Here! I Think You Missed One! : Realms Online

In that way things have of coming together sometimes, Zubon at Kill Ten Rats posted something recently about Salem, an MMO known in so far is it is known at all for its aspiration to permadeath. He came to hear of the game via Heartless, who had posted about it along with two other in-development MMOs, Otherlands and Dominus. Heartless headed his piece "The 3 MMOs you ARE NOT paying attention to but should be", somewhat ironically since one of the three, Dominus, had gone dark only a day or two earlier.

Zubon not only hadn't been paying attention to these titles but as he clarified he'd "stopped actively paying attention to game development years ago". Meanwhile, SynCaine had a busy discussion popping under the post he'd evocatively and provocatively titled "I Miss Massively". In the course of that thread Saucelah observed of Massively that " most of their stories are just write-ups of PR releases", an inarguable truism about which I observed that it was precisely as an aggregator of press releases that I found Massively most useful.

I do like to know what's going on. Even if I have no plans ever to play a particular MMO I still like to keep an eye on its progress. For heaven's sake, I still drop in and lurk on the Alganon forums once in a while! Massively's feed sits in my blog reader and I scan the headlines daily. If I spot an MMO that I don't recognize I'll click through and read the whole article. I'd been vaguely following the development of Dominus, Salem and Otherlands that way for months.

I have (had in the case of the now-defunct Dominus) no great interest in the first two but Otherlands is an MMO I mean to play so I sat up when they recently invited applications to alpha-test. I'm broadly in favor of beta-testing MMOs but I'm more ambivalent about alphas. I'm interested in giving feedback on gameplay but not so much in doing unpaid work to ensure the server architecture is solid and the game engine functions.

There are exceptions. I am quite hyped for the upcoming City of Steam alpha, scheduled to begin sometime in July. I'm hoping for an invite to that one not only because I very much like what I've seen of the game so far but also because Mechanist Games' idea of an alpha test looks rather like some other developers' picture of a game that's fit to launch.

There's been much discussion of late on the pros and cons of paying to beta-test. Gamigo, producers of Otherlands, aren't asking for your money yet but they've found another way to twist your arm. They've combined the publicity hype over winning a place in their alpha with an application process that makes it clear that all you'll win is the opportunity to do some serious work for no pay. I read the application form and decided to pass on their generous offer. I'll wait til open beta or launch, thanks all the same.

So I knew about these MMOs and many more from scanning the headlines, which is how I ran across Realms Online. Or Regnum. Same game, two names. When I noticed this news release a couple of weeks back it piqued my interest. Mrs Bhagpuss had been asking if there were any MMOs we hadn't played that have animal races and I hadn't been able to find any. Then up pop these Lamai, looking something like bushbabies waving swords.

Off I went to the website to look at this new MMO. Only it isn't. New, that is. Realms Online is about to celebrate its fifth anniversary in less than three weeks' time. So much for me having my finger on the pulse of MMO development. Or indeed my eye on the ball.

More surprising than my ignorance (pretty much anything would be) Realms Online appears to be something a lot of people seem to have been asking for - a Dark Age of Camelot clone. Out for five years, servers on three continents, known under two names, filling a gaping three-way RVR market hole, how did I miss it? Was it just me? Did you all play it years ago and now you've all moved on, leaving me to step out of character creation into the snow just as the servers merge? For the love of Mike, it's Argentina's most successful MMO! Oh, wait a moment...

Anyway, I've found it now. It's downloaded and I've played it and so far I like it. It's very old-school, feels like an MMO from quite a while before WoW and I very much doubt I shall ever give it a shake you'd call fair. Too many MMOs, too little time. Especially if new old ones keep creeping out of the undergrowth to ambush me like this.

Still, whenever I feel the urge to be a viking bushbaby with a sword, Realms Online will be my go-to game. And who among us can honestly say that's an urge they'll never have?





2 comments:

  1. Wasdstomp gaming wrote a few pieces of his discovery, love, and subsequent falling out with Realms Online. I'd start from the bottom and work your way to the newer posts:

    http://www.wasdstomp.com/search/label/realms%20online

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  2. Ah thanks! I'll have a read through those.

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