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First Look: Rapid Reality

Previews By Dana Massey on June 03, 2005

"The Chronicle", "Machines" and "Survival Instinct" to Debut New Service

When I met with representatives from Rapid Reality (the sister company of 404 Gaming), a small Atlanta-based game development company, I had no idea what to expect. I knew only that they were the developers of a hip-hop themed MMORPG. They came to the meeting and I must say – what they had to say was the last thing I expected. We barley spoke of Hip-Hop Legends, under development by 404 Gaming – only to say it’s release was delayed until mid next year, pending contracts with several recording artists. Instead, we discussed the plans they have for their sister company, the aptly named Rapid Reality. With a business plan unlike anything I have ever heard of in this industry, the team has plans and promises to build two MMOs by Christmas of this year and launch them on their new website MMOCenter.com.

The plan calls for players to pay one fee for access to MMOCenter.com. The team will take advantage of their technological background to rapidly produce MMORPGs of diverse types to fill the site. These games will be made quickly, having full functionality but limited content –lasting about three months. Then, based on which games are being played the most, they will work at expanding and making them into more elaborate experiences. Every six months they intend to release a new MMO to their subscribers without increasing the cost of their subscription.

MMOCenter.com launches on June 10th, one week’s time, and at that time, you will learn about the first three games they have in development under this model. The plan is then for two of them, for certain, to be available by Christmas – with an outside shot at three. “The Chroncile” and “Machines” are the two debut titles, with “Survival Instinct” set to be the third game. The team took some time to explain the basics of each offering:

The Chronicle

This fantasy title is set to be a 60/40 split of PvP to PvE. The main differentiator is that the game offers you the choice of playing a “regular character” or a “main character”. Like in a novel, the main characters are the heroes of the land, while the regular characters are more the supporting cast. This choice lets you tailor the game to your personal style.

In terms of the practical difference, regular characters are more like those players typically play in MMORPGs. They start out as no one and work their skills up to find their way in the world. Main characters on the other hand advance faster are stronger, can own land and lead factions. The choice seems clear, but like any good thing, there is a catch. Main characters can be killed. Permanently.

To be clear, the team estimates that 90% of the time they will not die in ordinary situations. The example they gave is that as a party is wiped out by a party of goblins, regular characters respawn normally, but the goblins would tie up the main character and take him back to camp. This gives him time to be rescued or escape, in a true fantasy adventure, rather than just drop dead. That said, if a player does play their cards wrong and is killed, that character is gone. Players take this risk when they choose to take the role of a “main character”.

The team believes this accomplishes a goal of dividing the casual and hardcore players. The PvP is balanced by the fact that regular characters cannot kill main characters, but can still disable and loot them. They want to both have an enjoyable experience and offer options for either to ensure they have a place in their games. They promise this theme through all their games.

The Chronicle also promises some higher end guild content, such as large-scale warfare and territory (risk-like) mechanisms. As this is the first of their rapidly developed titles, players should only expect three months worth of classic quest-like content to begin with, but this could rapidly change if the game reaches a decent level of popularity. Throw in the PvP elements, and enjoyment should expand beyond the quests they can put in.

Machines

Each of MMO Center’s games will fill a different theme. Machines is rooted in pop culture, but is a sci-fi game where robots are the only inhabitants of a mechanical world. Players, NPCs, etc. are all machines. The game moves more towards PvP than The Chronicle, with an 80/20 split being estimated. It also seeks to meld RTS elements, and FPS controls into a single game. Generally, the team was less expansive on this game, but in basic concept, it definitely looks interesting.

Survival Instinct

Their third planned title, Survival Instinct, is a post-apocalyptic MMOFPS. Their premise with this title asked, “what if the entire world’s infrastructure disappeared”. The internet, telephones, corporations, jobs, etc. One day – it was all suddenly gone. What would you do?


Their games are being designed to be shard based in nature, and have quite a few common threads. They are seeking mass appeal, in that they cater to both hardcore and casual gamers, and wish to avoid a few “community breakers”. These include illogical instancing, redundant gameplay, and what they see as too often a lack of internal logic in quests and stories.

As a company, they believe it is their role to earn your subscription and want to emphasize that all their games will be available under one fee. On June 10th, in addition to the launch of MMOCenter.com, they are also starting a pre-order program that guarantees players access into their beta tests, among a whole package of other features. Players can also expect to see actual screenshots and in-game video footage of their games. All their games are to be made available online through digital downloads and will continue to expand their interests in the future. One idea they have is to look at casual browser based MMOs as well.

404 Gaming/Rapid Reality have twenty-five employees. They aim to accomplish these lofty goals without outsourcing and using in-house tools and techniques that they would not elaborate on. From the images I was shown, these fully 3D games will look pretty good – although I was not shown enough to know for certain. I will be the first to admit I am baffled as to how they intend to pull this off, but if they can, I look forward to it!

MMOCenter.com will launch next Friday with full trailers and information available on their games. You can currently see some basic information and a teaser towards future projects on the site.

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