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MUDdy Waters

Tim Eisen Posted:
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Chronicles of Elyria has never been a typical MMORPG but after reading the last two updates it appears that even the development will be exceptional with The Awakening, Kingdoms of Elryia, ElyriaMUD and the Exposition! Wondering if those ideas are exceptionally great or exceptionally terrifying? So am I but before we get into them lets get some things straight.

Alpha 1 is the first phase of game testing.

Exposition is the 3-month head start/building phase that sets up the royalty in the game and gradually builds from a PVE beginning to a PVP laden full launch; which is long after Alpha and right after the last phase of Beta testing.

Prologue: The Awakening is an offline, single-player experience that is designed to act as a hands-on test of some of our most important client feature areas.” “It's a first opportunity to get feedback from players, even before the Alpha 1.”

Kingdoms of Elyria “is a web-based portal that will allow players to play the Dance of Dynasties-it’ll enable players to form and change alliances, declare wars, fight for shared resources, and even invest in research.” “Kingdoms of Elyria will begin approximately 90 Elyrian years before the Exposition

The Prologue is an opportunity for us to test the game client, Kingdoms of Elyria is an opportunity for us to test some of the back-end databases, political systems, and other game mechanics.” Again this is long before Exposition.

ElyriaMUD “The idea is that by granting players an opportunity to get into the game in a strictly textual format, we can exercise and stress some of the server-side game mechanics even before pre-alpha.” Also long before Exposition.

“Events that happen in Kingdoms of Elyria will be mirrored in ElyriaMUD and vice-versa!”

I backed this company because they promised some really risky innovation, I never fathomed that applied to how they will test their game AS it’s being developed! Making an offline experience, a mini game for the aristocracy and a MUD all to test the features of the main game you are working on sounds like insanity! The MMO veteran in me thinks it might be too much of a task, but the fan in me hopes they can pull it off because it's a really interesting concept. The devil is in the details and it's actually quite clever, if it can be done.

Most of the crowd funded things I am part of send weekly or even bi-weekly progress updates and have forums to keep their players invested, and frankly, they often struggle just to do that! Soulbound is no exception having missed 2 of their deadlines since their Kickstarter ended. The store was pushed back again, now launching July 8th. Once again I am happy they were transparent about the delay and frankly I think with MMOs it’s generally better to delay and put out a good product later than rush and put out a bad one sooner. MMORPG fans are generally far more forgiving of the former than the later. But that is besides my point. It’s natural for me to see these games on top of the game and think to myself you are having trouble with your first deadlines, your launch deadline has been met with a wide range of skepticism, and now you are adding more layers to that concept!

But wait, obviously these concepts didn’t just come up in a meeting yesterday! They were thought of, planned and worked into the original launch date from day one. On top of that, if they can get the UIs in place these features could help get the game client and its features into testing even sooner than a full graphical playable version of the client would be. Features like the UI system, characters & character creation, inventory & equipment, world interaction, locomotion, identities, survival & resting, lifecycle, skills and crafting, combat, NPC interaction & AI, ecology, crime & punishment could all be tested without visual necessities! Equal parts clever and crazy, that might just make it genius!

I could be way off here but I think (risky words) the coded client and all of the laws and rules that govern it will be ready for testing long before a visual version with all of the slow handmade graphical stuff we all love is in place. Essentially Soulbound might be maximizing their use of a player base that hails heavily from the MUD and PNP universes. For many games a MUD would be lauded but for Soulbound it has been met with praise and excitement. They kill two birds, they test their tech and they keep their players invested. As if often the case with MMORPGs, at first glance what appeared to be crazy could turn out to be crazy smart.

Perhaps the craziest aspect is that things that happen in ElyriaMUD and Kingdoms of Elyria will impact the final game upon launch! This part might concern me the most because I have almost 0 understanding of how Soulbound will make this happen. Depending on timeframe or speed of play the history that is written pre-Exposition could have serious consequences on the Exposition thusly the fully launched game! When I backed this game wanting consequences I never imagined those consequences literally start as the game is being created!

The reality is we are making history here folks, and it’s too early to have it all figured out. I’m as fascinated as I am concerned about all of this process of development but none of us can say how it will all work until after it has, and even then some of it will be left up to interpretation. I’ve got my chair, my popcorn and I’m sitting on a porta potty so I don’t miss a chapter of the story of Elyria, both in game and development.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry