Over the past few months we have featured a number of articles talking about the sandbox MMORPG Divergence Online from indie developer Stained Glass Llama. Last week I logged into Divergence Online and streamed a little over an hour of gameplay with its creator Ethan Casner.
Divergence Online bills itself as a hardcore sandbox MMORPG and stresses above all else player freedom. That freedom was readily apparent during our playtime. Once the game is complete Ethan plans to have a limitless world that has no borders. The further out you push into the oceans the world will generate terrain to raise from the seafloor creating additional continents and island chains. Ethan also wants to do away with load screens. This was evident during our play session. I cranked the draw distance up to maximum levels towards the end of the stream to see how my system could handle it. I did experience some slowdown but I never encounter a loading screen or a zone line.
Already the benefactor of one successful crowd funding campaign, raising over $24,000.00 to create a working alpha, Ethan is reaching back out to the community to seek additional funds to help kickstart Divergence Online to the next level. He has a modest goal of only $15,000.00. Some might say it is even a ridiculously low number. I asked Ethan what he could actually accomplish with $15,000.00 and he said a number of things. Mainly keep the lights on and pay rent. With a small agile team they do not have the overhead of huge developers and do not have asinine (my word not his) budgets. Ethan does hope that they can raise about $35,000.00 to achieve all of their goals. I do have concerns about their use of crowd funding to raise money multiple times. Ethan made it sound like they were not opposed to running another crowd funding campaign after their current one is finished. This leaves me wondering how many times you can go to the well before it runs dry.
The big news of the night was Ethan finally laid the business model for Divergence Online out for his loyal followers. The game will have a box fee and a premium subscription model. This model was not picked at random either. Ethan conducted a poll on their website and over 80% of the respondents wanted a retail box sale and subscription over the game being micro transaction based. The good news for current backers is that if they have already contributed to the crowd funding campaigns and their contributions equal more than the box fee they will not be required to pay the box fee. They will receive a retail copy free in thanks for their support when Ethan needed it the most. The subscription will also be optional. So the game is what most consider buy to play. The subscription will allow you to unlock the “blocks.” The blocks are ferrocrete that allow you to build free form buildings across the landscape.
If you are looking for a sandbox mmorpg with a sci-fi setting I encourage you to take a look at Divergence Online. This game is not for everyone but if you are tired of walking a predetermined path from quest hub to quest hub and want to forge your own road this game once finished could be for you.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com and RTSGuru.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen