Soulbound Studios must be extremely confident in the launch date for their online store otherwise I don’t think they would have stamped another one on the launch. Monday, October 3rd, 2016 is the official opening. This purchase phase is unique in that it is 28 days of almost everything offered during the original Chronicles of Elyria (COE) Kickstarter. The early bird specials and the $5 tier will not be offered but everything else is essentially identical to what was offered prior. As with most crowd funded games after this phase there will be another phase but the prices will go up.
Many lessons are learned by fire and the store was certainly a big one. While we have a date as well as some future pricing information I was left wondering if we are going to be able to upgrade, downgrade or sell or current tier purchases with this storefront? Hopefully we get that info before or near store launch.
Update #42 left me scratching my head about another launch, that of the actual game-more specifically the game’s servers.
“The other slight difference to our original Kickstarter is the addition of server-specific Tiers. Before the launch of the store on October 3rd, we'll be giving a survey to all of the nobility to indicate which server they'll be playing on. Based on that, the Count, Duke, and King tiers will indicate which server they're on, in specific quantities.” In my MMORPG experience picking a server is one of the single most important decisions one makes when starting a new MMORPG. It’s a decision that requires research and often a guild meeting or two, especially in a strategy heavy PVP game! It’s not something I imagine many guilds are going to want to do blindly.
Technically every sever will be identical with an exact copy of the game running on it. The reality is the types and kinds of players, especially the established guilds, that pick servers will seriously impact the experience for players on that server. Having stumbled my way onto an unofficial role-play server back in the old day’s; unique rule sets, even if unofficial, is another factor to consider. Add onto this the Kingdoms of Elyria dance of dynasties and Elyria MUD political wars as well as the 3-month head start and being asked to pick a server this far out feels extremely uncomfortable. Then again I’m usually in a semi-serious PVP guild. Maybe the majority of players don’t take server selection so seriously?
As always seems to be the case with crowd funded MMORPGs I’m left with far more questions than answers. Does this mean our backer accounts are server locked? Can I make an alt on another server? Does that mean if I make an alt on another server they start out with none of the backer benefits of my main? Are server transfers a possibility? If they are how might that change the entire concept of the game? How often would they be allowed? Can you have a PVP game full of political subterfuge if people can jump servers at first loss? Oh crowd funded MMORPGs you are a diabolical addiction but I do enjoy the speculation phase. So mysterious, so exciting, so full of potential! It’s the decision-making phase where things tend to get darker.
“As promised, funds raised between now and December 31st, 2016 will apply to stretch goals. Beyond that, funds will be used to hire additional staff, spend more time on improving the quality of the code and assets, etc, but no new functionality will be added to the game.” I had to read that twice just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. A crowd-funded game studio putting a cap on things to prevent feature creep? Feature creep has brought down nearly as many MMORPGs as fanboy feedback! This is a relief! Besides, they already have enough expanded content on their hands with Kingdoms of Elyria and Elyria MUD.
“Each Tribe represents a group of Mann that has gathered in a single biome or region and through a process of evolution and adaptation, has acclimated in the best way possible to their surroundings.” This is a subtle quote but one I wanted to note because they specifically mentioned utilizing evolution and adaptation in their designs. I believe that thought process has been helping them produce some really interesting concepts and I wish more games did the same. Making something cool because it’s cool is less interesting and far less immersion maintaining than designing a universe as if it were based on real mechanics with a touch of magic applied to them. I wonder if they could program in some live adaptation both in physical form and AI? That could be really interesting!
The last thing I want to do is pose a question to you. Winter is coming. As of December 2016 COE is approximately 1 year away from launch. Does that leave enough time to thoroughly test all the features? Looking at the complexity COE will offer my initial opinion is not unless all of the base mechanics are implemented and Alpha begins in December 2016. I don’t know what Soulbound’s plan is but that would give them an entire year of adding, refining and testing features before launch. If MMORPG history has taught us anything it’s that it would be incredibly difficult, but not impossible. That’s my take, what’s yours?