A new light on the MMO horizon: The Chronicles of Elyria on Kickstarter
Do you like to play MMOs but you don’t have the time to be competitive in the grind-intensive games of today? Are you tired of having to farm the same quests over and over? Annoyed by the fact that you can’t touch other people’s stuff in many a modern title? If you answered “Yes” to any or all of the questions above, you should definitely keep an eye on Chronicles of Elyria on Kickstarter. A small, independant team called Soulbound Studios has set out to bring an MMO to market that will include a number of innovative ideas. As of yesterday, the game’s makers accept donations via the most popular crowd funding platform. If you’re wondering what the fuss is about and what possible reasons you should be watching Chronicles of Elyria, here are just a few.
1. Create your own dynasty: Characters Age and Die
Probably the most radical and difficult to stomach idea in the game is the fact that, unlike in just about every other MMO, your character will age and die. How long exactly a life lasts is up to you, but the idea is that it will be somewhere 10 and 14 months typically. During that time, your character will visibly grow, age and eventually wither. Actions such as dying or killing other players shorten the life expectation, while more heroic feats lengthen it. However, not all is lost once the time is up and your darling faces perma-death, and you can earn credit towards your next incarnation during your virtual life-time. Your character can be re-born and inherit some of the skills and a significant portion of the accumulated wealth. Player-created families struggle to gain land and influence and forever shape the world to their liking.
Additionally, while the prospect of losing game time due to how you do in-game (and to some degree to the whim of others) sounds frightening, in reality the cost will be somewhere in the ballpark of $30 – $60 per year, which is a lot cheaper than most subscription based games out there. To keep players motivated the game awards Story Points. These are earned by completing various activities, generally being online and active. Players can spend them on in-game rewards “between lives”, presumably to further the cause of your soul. Earn enough and you get a ‘free next life’, that is a new Spark of Life for your future incarnation. The concept is dubbed “Earn-to-Play” and another key feature of Chronicles of Elyria.
2. Dynamic World without pre-determined quests
There are not pre-programmed quests in Chronicles of Elyria. Instead, the developers created an AI-based Story engine that creates them in accordance to the status of the world. The concept sounds vague, but the possibilities are very real: A nation is losing a war. The commanders of the army need supplies, or cover for retreating troops, or maybe ambush a strong enemy leader to stall their advance. Other narratives might be more player focused. Thanks to the survival elements in the game that’ll have your character starve if not eating regularly, a journey through the desert might just get a little more exciting than pressing “W” long enough.
Other than the story engine, players will also be able to create “quests” through a binding contract system. Need a rare resource but don’t have the means to travel into the dangerous area it’s found? Hire someone to get it for you. Need your finished products shipped to another continent, but don’t own a boat? Hire someone to ship them for you. Just make sure to add enough collateral in case they run off with the good. Someone ran off with the good anyway and is supplying your competitor? Hire someone to kill them for you to teach a lesson.
The ambitions of the game are high, the scope the designers aim to bring to life is enormous. If the developers vision come true, you will be able to ascend from a lowly peasant up to become a lord or even king, commanding vast resources and waging wars. Yes, wars, which adds strategy components to the game as you amass your armies and conquer enemy territory.
3. “Casual friendly”
The concept of appealing to non-hardcore players is probably not the first one might think of when hearing about a survivalist MMO with harsh death penalties. However, the first generation of players who have enjoyed early MMOs like Lineage and the likes are now, for the most part, in a situation where they cannot dedicate several hours each day to a game in order to stay competitive. Or perhaps the players simply don’t want to. Regardless of the background, the game will feature multiple options to keep you playing with others even though they put in more hours, and remain in the thick of it despite not being around from 21:00 – 03:00 every day.
Among these is the adjustment of a lower-level character’s stats, so that they can complete content together with higher leveled friends or family members (both in-game and out). Also, when logging out of the world, your character stays behind and is now run by the AI, presumably doing what you programmed it to do. So you can still run your shop and even train skills while not logged in. Of course, you’re still attackable. The AI will try do ward off attackers, but there’s still a very real chance to log back into the game to find your character has been killed. You have been warned.
On families, the game will feature in-game marriages as well as bringing children into the world. Just like in the olden days, worrying about successors is important if you want to bring your name to fame. In addition, creating a character in an existing family will limit your options to a certain spectrum of genetic alterations, giving it an even more real-life flair.
4. Make Crafting Great Again
Other than raw materials used to create items in the player driven economy, the appropriate skills are also needed. And this doesn’t just refer to the skills your character needs to make a hammer sing on an anvil or to harvest the juiciest of crops. Crafting takes the form of a mini-game and the better you do in that, the better the items that comes out of it. Another neat idea that could serve to make the game all the more revolutionary, if implemented in an engaging fashion.
The game doesn’t come with a built-in minimap. Instead you will have to buy one from a (player) cartographer. The map maker has the ability to craft genuine items or even fake ones, possibly leading you astray and even into ambushes. As such, reputation will be a very important trait for any craftsman. How this gets implemented in the game remains to be seen.
5. Closed Economy and Limited Resources
In a sobering reminder of our real world’s limitations, the amount of resources in the game will be finite. No endlessly respawning nodes to provide you with virtually unlimited iron ore. The economy is closed as well, meaning there are no real money sinks or sources. Everything flows in circles, and money is what drives that circle. In addition, the environment is fully destructible and thus the world will never be looking the same way twice for different characters. The potential here is enormous, both for truly memorable feats as well as very heinous acts.
History is littered with the corpses of MMOs that tried to turn great ideas into amazing games, but failed due to one shortcoming or another. Whether Chronicles of Elyria rises to the sky of gaming fame or crash, burn and meet a similar fate is yet to be seen. The game’s success is inevitably intertwined with the Kickstarter campaign. How the crowd funding goes is materially important because developing games takes time and money. But more than that, the campaign serves as a measurement of interest and support for the bold ideas the developers are trying to bring forth. Given that it was funded to 25% within the first 10 hours of being available, signs are good that it is indeed going to come to fruition. If it ends on an equally positive note remains to be seen, but if you’re interested in supporting a new and bold MMO, backing The Chronicles of Elyria on Kickstarter might be worth a shot. Also, there is a number of limited slots to get the game cheaper, so if you’re already intent on buying it, head on over and reserve your slot.
You’ll find the campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/soulboundstudios/chronicles-of-elyria-epic-story-mmorpg-with-aging
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