Hi, we’re Petroglyph, developers of End of Nations, an upcoming MMORTS due out next year. The guys at MMORPG were nice enough to let us contribute a few developer diaries explaining exactly why you – the MMO gaming audience – should be excited about End of Nations.
So, what exactly is an MMORTS? Basically, it’s a game that incorporates many of the successful (and appropriate) elements of the MMO genre into a massive online RTS experience. Things like cooperative and competitive multiplayer, social features, player progression, loot, persistence, and metagame experiences.
The definitive MMORTS game has yet to see the light of day, but not for lack effort among some very talented game developers. We understand that MMO players have some pretty high standards when it comes to the MMO experience, so we’ve looked hard at what’s been done right, and not-so-right, within this particular genre to create the game MMO and RTS fans have been craving for so long.
Start at the Beginning: Persistence
Undeniably the most important MMO feature to get right is persistence. We want to make the player feel like they’re a part of a living, breathing and chaotic world. The Warroom is the player’s window on the world of End of Nations, giving the player a global combat map, social updates, a friends list, and much more. From the Warroom, players can jump in and out conflicts all over the globe at will; whether it’s helping friends defeat a boss or joining a group quest line for a sweet piece of loot. The point is that the battle is unending, and there is something happening in this game world 24/7.
With drop-in gameplay via the Warroom, travelling from place to place is seamless. Generally, players enter battlefields through accessing the world map. Thus, travel to the entry point of a battlefield is pretty much instant. Some battlefields are accessed through driving to a certain point in another battlefield, but these are more of the exception than the rule.
Your player HQ is also a persistent part of the MMO experience. This is an area that’s off the field of combat and invisible to other players, so when you’re sleeping the enemies you’re sure to make can’t come and blow it up. Your HQ is where you do manufacturing, which is very similar to crafting, using materials and plans you acquire to create new units and research super weapons. Research and development takes time, but you’ll see your HQ evolve every time you login, making it look exponentially more badass over your in-game lifetime. We’ll go into more down and dirty details about your HQ in a few weeks.
A Massive Player Base
What’s a massive world if it can’t hold a huge number of players? In EoN, we’re creating a world where thousands of players can play concurrently, something that has yet to be done successfully in previous MMORTS games. We haven’t reached a technical limit on the number of players on one map, but from a design standpoint, 50 players or so feels about right for the big test map we used. The game creates multiple copies of these public instances when some arbitrary playability threshold is met, much like the way Everquest II works. Private battlefields also create multiple instances, one for each group that enters, so the upper limit is more of a technical issue than a design issue.
MMO + RTS = MMORTS
End of Nations is 75% RTS, 75% MMO, and 25%-30% RPG. This totals to more than 100% because the MMO and RTS parts aren’t mutually exclusive, and even stand alone RTS games had some elements of role-playing already with unit veterancy and campaign game story-missions. The idea was to identify the aspects most enjoyed by players of both genres, making sure that whether you’re an RTS or MMO gamer, you’re going to find something to enjoy in End of Nations.
The nature of RTS games means that more skilled players will have an advantage over less skilled players, all other things being equal. In a PvP battlefield, this can be intimidating to new players and is the general reason why RTS games are so off-putting when it comes to online gameplay. With End of Nations, gameplay is primarily focused on PvE for commander advancement, story progression, missions, and MMO compulsion loops. Player skill generally affects the speed of progression rather than determining outright victory or loss. This means the player has a much more pleasant experience as they progress through the game than they would in a traditional RTS online experience. Whatever their skill level, the player progresses at the rate their ability allows without the demoralization of being repeatedly crushed by other players.
That being said, PvP is a core gameplay element in End of Nations, and those that enjoy that kind of experience will be well taken care of. Players are also free to eschew PvP entirely if they wish, and we believe there is a large majority of RTS players that fall into this category and are looking for a game like End of Nations to satisfy them.
What’s the Story on the Story?
We’ll be diving deep into the story a bit later on, but we can tell you there is an overall arch enemy in the Order of Nations (OoN), the tyrannical superpower that established control after the global meltdown. There will be countless opportunities to engage the OoN across a wide variety of challenge levels throughout the game. However, like any MMO game, the ultimate boss is never truly and completely defeated as the content such as battlefields, missions, and encounters must remain available for new players and even for existing player to revisit. There are mission chains that chronicle the player’s advancement through the story and thus, from the player’ individual perspective, the story advances.
That’s it for now, but please check back soon for the next installment in our series – the class overview!