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Stuff, Mainly Ryzom

Thus, I don't have to rewrite my explanations and opinions of stuff because of losing them to the bowels of the forum.

Author: katriell

How Ryzom creates the sense of a living world

Posted by katriell Saturday May 9 2009 at 1:21PM
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Origin (Participle is me): 

 - Seasons, day/night cycle, and weather. All of which have actual effects on the world and its inhabitants.

- The animals are herbivores and carnivores, not undead and grotesque monsters. The only things that could be considered monsters are Kitin, giant insects who are the enemy of the playable races and can be considered a non-playable race.

The animals and Kitins interact with each other: carnivores and Kitins hunt herbivores; some herbivores defend each other or even other species of herbivores and some run away when a fellow is attacked; when attacked by another mob, sometimes a creature stands and fights and sometimes it tries to run away.

Animals also interact with players: a curious herbivore may target a player and run up to them to sniff them. The Yubo is a particularly interactive animal, begging at players and peeing on their shoes.

Nothing just stands around waiting to be killed...well, unless it's one of several combatant plant species, in which case it can't move. Anyway, there are migrations depending on season, which makes travel challenging because you need to figure out a safe route through a given region for each season. Animals have assorted idle animations that add realism and liveliness to their behaviour, including sleeping, eating, etc.

- There are no stealth abilities, so travel is a real challenge. Especially in regions with dense high-level aggro, it is thrilling and interesting to wend your way between packs, watch out for predators being dragged into your area by fleeing herbivores, and bear in mind that different carnivore species have slightly different aggro ranges. Using offensive and/or defensive abilities in these circumstances is a crutch liable to get you killed unless you're in a group. On that note, sometimes there are large treks composed of multiple teams, traveling between all four capital cities to escort new players collecting teleportation pacts.

- What resources can be harvested in a given location depends on the season, weather, and time of day/night. The resources' quality is also determined by that.

- In harvesting, the planet itself fights against you.

First you have to find a place where resources exist, using knowledge imparted by other players, or by using a tracking ability. Then you have to make one or more resource nodes spawn by using a prospecting action.

There are several bars displayed over a resource node, and you must monitor them: the time until the node disappears, the amount of resources left in it, Source Life, and Extraction Risk. There is also Kami Tolerance, but it isn't really relevant at this point.

If Source Life reaches 0%, the node disappears prematurely and may cause the area to be temporarily depleted of the resource you were harvesting. If Extraction Risk reaches 0%, the node either explodes (direct damage to you) or releases a toxic gas cloud (damage over time).

These bars can be raised by the abilities Resource Preservation and Ground Stability, respectively. Thanks to Ryzom's stanza system of ability customisation you can combine those and raise both bars at once.

Depending on the source mode (displayed in System Info), one bar may lower faster than the other, and the damage caused by an explosion or toxic cloud may be significantly more or less severe.

- Many details and environmental effects in the world make it seem alive. Trees and grass sway in the wind, small patches of fog form, insects flit around, spores drift up from the ground - some of them beautifully luminescent, and much more. Grass isn't the only microvegetation, nor is microvegetation evenly distributed; in some places flowers abound, and in others, a diversity of ground cover is scattered around. The lore is full of mystery, and the world reflects this with runes carved in half-buried desert roads, pictograms covering the buildings of the Zoraï race waiting to be deciphered, ruins deep in the jungle and abandoned campsites, a whole forest of strange trees that burn in summer amid an ever-present layer of ash and blossom with leaves and grapes in winter...

- NPCs go about their own business. Civilians wander the cities, hawkers and prospectors and hunters and so on traverse the wilderness, tribes patrol, and bandits attack anyone who approaches their camps.

- Breathing. Everything breathes - player characters, NPCs, animals, Kitin, and even the planet itself in its own way.

- A unique world. Atys. It's a planet consisting of a giant spherical plant, teeming with alien life and growing. According to its slow growth pattern, the surface is just beneath the newest layer of branches (the Canopy). The branches comprising the surface have, for the most part, grown massive and close, their bark becoming ostensibly similar to the crust of a normal planet. Beneath that, there are many layers of roots, the highest of which is known as the Prime Roots. There, the animals are pale and the flora is often bioluminescent.

Ryzom is science-fantasy. The two main factions are the Kami, magical entities who claim to be the avatars of Atys's pervasive life energy Ma-Duk and preservers of nature, and the Karavan, high-technological bipeds who always wear suits that completely cover their bodies and faces. The Karavan preach of a goddess called Jena, and a legend that Homins (the collective term for all four playable races) came from another planet as slaves to a "dragon", but were rescued from that dragon by Jena.

The Homins are in the process of recovering from the Kitins' Great Swarming, which destroyed their cities and almost their civilisations. Many of them fled from the continent(s) where that happened, taking refuge in the Prime Roots for a while, then resurfacing in their current location. Having lost much knowledge in the Swarming, the Homins are apt to rely on the Karavan and Kami for their history and because those factions ostensibly provide teleportation and resurrection. The Kami and Karavan also both fought against the Kitin during the two years Homins hid in the Prime Roots. But their accounts of Homin origins and history differ. With both vying for the faith of Hominity, just how manipulative are they being, and what is the truth they hide? What is the Dragon, if it exists at all, and what does the legend mean when it prophesies that the Dragon will eventually reawaken and consume Atys? What relationship do the Kitin have with Atys? What about the Goo, an infectious material that has overtaken swaths of the surface, diseasing the bark - what caused it, and can it be cleared away as the Kami wish to do but cannot? Who is Elias Tryton, a person who opposes both Kami and Karavan and descended into the deeper Roots in search of something that could make that opposition effective, and will he return?

The mysteries of Atys are not to be answered in static, fake-epic quests. Rather, when Nevrax owned Ryzom, there were live events that advanced the storyline by varying amounts. Things happened that were only witnessed, participated in, and influenced by the players who were there; truly epic stories were created from unique experiences. I and others hope that Ryzom's new owner will continue that. writes:
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