It is a law of the gaming universe that, when one says one isn’t going to do any more beta applications for the foreseeable future, 18 million games with interesting premises and beta applications will rear their ugly, bug-ridden “test me!” heads.
First, there were the tantalising rumours regarding CCP’s World of Darkness MMO. If anything came of that at PAX, I haven’t heard it. Squib, meet damp.
Next, The Secret World. Since this one did have a beta application process and was in fact inviting everyone, their dog, and their Elder God chia-Pets to apply, I applied. Looking forward to this. MMOs built by non-storytellers work, but we’ve been there and done that. I’m hoping that one built by a good storyteller might end up being something special. But, you know, I’m not getting hyped or anything.
Then Werit went and interviewed some chap on some game I’d never even heard of: Dawntide. Call me irreverent, but that sounds like a laundry detergent to me. Werit being the sneaky crafting dog he is, he asked crafting questions … and I was hooked. I’d have done a beta application except they’re not accepting any beta applications right now. Curses! Foiled again!
I’m getting faint echoes of Vanguard’s development from 3 years ago, but that could just be me and nothing to do with Dawntide itself. The crafting seems… about on par with other “crafting heavy” games, meaning we’ll have to mine the ore so we can make to moozles that will make the doozles that combine into woozles to eventually allow us to make one, probably rather crappy, longsword. That stuff always sounds great on paper (especially to a crafting junkie like me) and yet almost always ends up being a huge, un-fun, complicated pain in the arse when it’s actually implemented — which isn’t the fault of the implementation so much as of the basic idea. I’ve yet to see a subcomps/interdependent crafting system that works as well as its designers (and fans) thought it should — which isn’t to say it can’t happen, and my hope springs eternal.
The character models seem — scuse my harsh — fugly, but I got used to weird proportions in SWG and Horizons, and ultimately that’s not what really matters to me. Besides, this is a relatively early beta phase, so who knows what modellish changes may yet occur.
One major thing I noted about Dawntide was the one-server setup they’re planning to go with. As far as I’m concerned that’s the way to go if you want to have a strong community and a strong player-based anything. Yeah, yeah, one server is small, but not every game is an 800lb gorilla and it seems the Dawntide team are smart enough to actively avoid designing Yet Another WoW. Just because WoW needs a gazillion servers doesn’t mean every other game does.
“Open ended character development” is also on the cards, apparently. That seems to be a buzzword these days, and it’s a very popular one, except when games companies have a brain-fart and end up making it too expensive to ever change your character if you screw up, want to go in another direction, or discover that the powers you picked are buggy and you’ve ended up gimpier than Gimp McGimpy of Gimpsville. *cough* Cryptic *cough*
So, well, we’ll see. I signed up for the forums, so maybe I’ll remember to check now and then to see if they’re allowing another round of beta applications.