No matter how much planning or preparations you make for a video game convention such as GamesCom, you will always discover a hidden nugget while walking the halls. You never know what to expect, but something draws you to the game – you simply have to drop whatever preparations you made and just look. This was one of those games, Novus Aeterno – a game that drew us in with only two words, persistent and MMORTS. Now, I have seen what the industry considers to be an MMORTS and I just want to say to those developers – you’re kidding yourselves. That’s probably what I wanted to say to this developer, but with a small burning curiosity and hope that this wasn’t one of those titles.
TaiTale Studios had a small meeting booth in the business section of GamesCom, we stopped by to have a chat with their appointment manager to figure out whether or not the game was worth looking at. The guy was convincing, he assured us that we would be impressed and began to explain that the game was created by a 20 year old guy by the name of Nick Nieuwoudt, with a small team of around 20 developers. I’ve never personally met with a developer who is younger than me, and I am young compared to the industry standard. We decided we had to meet this crazy young guy, who may be making a real MMORTS.
Managing to secure a meeting, we were entering just as Sony Online Entertainment were leaving their own meeting with the developer – and sounding very impressed. That doesn’t necessarily say much to me, but it at least had to be better than some mock up browser game. Sitting down in the cramped little space, we shook hands with Nick, the Lead Game Designer of this upcoming MMORTS and began staring at a screen showing not a browser game, but a very sleek looking, full-fledged game. There were no pre-determined build slots or energy bar, just a fleet of ships orbiting a planet awaiting orders. The excitement rose, now all I needed to hear was that there is no matchmaking and no lobby system, but we will get to that later.
It’s always fun chatting with developers and publishers, some are so clueless about their game – and games in general. We often have quite a lot of fun with them, but at the end of the day it can get extremely annoying. It was refreshing to instantly hear Nick talking about Starcraft in extreme detail with Cody, who some may know is also an avid Starcraft player. This guy was an actual gamer, in fact he had started creating this game when he was 16. It was refreshing after a long day of meetings, and this guy while young, seems to be really switched on. We dove straight into the hard questions, is this a REAL MMORTS?
The answer pleased us immensely; yes it is definitely a true MMORTS. Players take on the role of overlord of their own galactic empire, building it from the ground up in a massive, seamless world. Players settle, control, and conquer galaxies of up to 30,000 players – in a universe which has no limit to its size. That’s 30,000 players on one massive seamless map, no loading screens, no matchmaking, just never-ending chaos. There’s no end to the match, even when you log off A.I will take over for you. This is a persistent MMORTS like you have never seen before, and that’s hardly the coolest part of the game.
Players will be offered tools to build a galactic empire, this means colonizing planets and building infrastructure that will produce resources and fuel your economy. Economies, trading, colonizing planets, are all just a means to an end however – you need an army. Well, you don’t really, you could be everyone’s friend and gain power through politics and non-violent means, but that’s hardly the point. The point is you need an army, because the only people who believe in winning an RTS through pure diplomacy and friendship are people like Tobias Masters.
So for those ruthless military leaders, you’re going to like this, each unit is not some pre-determined unit with fixed stats. Units need to be manufactured, but there’s more to it, you need to determine how your unit will be built – engine type, thrusters, weapon choice, etc. There are several different ways to customize each component, and everything is made by players. Those who are looking for an RTS that will let them play a game over the long haul will fall in love quickly.
Novus isn’t about quick 15-30 minute matches, it’s about endless wars for control over a massive galaxy. The strategy minded player will lose their mind over the amount of macro and micromanagement tools available to them while the hardcore RTS player will enjoy the purely tactical fights. Nick was ambushed during our meeting by a player, he came in with multiple waves of heavy hitting ships. Nick only had a small fleet, and he was in the middle of a conversation with us, yet he still managed to completely wipe out the enemy attacker through a few well thought out tactics. It made clear how much depth is available for players, and started to cause our mouths to produce saliva at an extremely fast rate.
After a lengthy chat with Nick, we were convinced that this title could potentially change the course of MMORTS games forever. We congratulated him on his work so far, and left two very impressed journalists. We truly are excited to see more about this game, and if you have been dying for an MMORTS, you should be too. There’s definitely some epic things going on over at TaiTale, you just wait and see.
Official Site: NovusAeterno