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Nebula Online - No Cash Shop, No Hidden Costs & F2P

Shannon Doyle Posted:
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Space, the final frontier. Or at least it used to be, now it seems to be the focus of one of the many rising fads in the MMO industry. After the fall of Earth and Beyond, may she rest in peace, space options were few and far between. For years EVE was really your only option. With a steep learning curve and being called Spreadsheets Online it wasn’t exactly the most appealing choice to those who weren’t ready for what EVE had to offer. Star Trek Online came onto the scene oh so many years later, breathing a bit of life into the forgotten space sci-fi MMORPG genre. Importantly we're talking about ones that would have a lot of ship based interaction, you'll see why later on. Otherwise yes we'd have to include Anarchy Online, make mention of Dust 514 and make mention of Perpetuum. Today they seem to be everywhere, and I remember when I first started to take notice.

Gamescom 2012, I had a meeting scheduled to see this amazing MMORTS that was the dream of one man, no, one child. The game was Novus AEterno, creator Nick Nieuwoudt and his mother were there showing off his dream. My first thought was that he was so lucky that he has an awesome mom who was there supporting his dream. But my second thought was wondering if this was a sign that the MMO industry was finally returning to space. After that convention it really seemed like that was when everything took off.

In the indie scene two space based MMOs have really stolen the spotlight in recent times, Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen. At this point Elite: Dangerous has launched, and though it seems to be well loved for things like graphics and realism it has taken hits from people who don’t really think it’s an MMO. That isn’t a fight I’m prepared to launch into today. Star Citizen on the other hand is taking their time. They’re releasing modules, little tastes of what the game will be like while introducing grand ships that can set you back as much as $2,500. Say what you will about Roberts Space Industries, people really really want to buy those ships. Maybe for the grey market where they can and do resell or maybe just for the prestige. Maybe it's all starry eyed (pardon the pun) optimism over being back in the space games that launched these titles so long ago.

Still, even with the popularity of these two there are very few space based MMOs you can name in comparison to those in the fantasy genre. In fact, aside from Firefly which owes so much of its popularity to the Browncoats and the massive popularity the show had, and No Man’s Sky, I can only think of indie MMOs that are going into space. When you start looking into the indie scene suddenly all you can see is space (and sandboxes).

This leads me to my weekend Kickstarter discovery. While doing my weekly browse through Kickstarter I came across a hardcore sci-fi space MMORPG that has raised $10,000CAD. The game is called Nebula Online. 

Seeking a total of $130,000CAD and promising no cash shop, no hidden costs and no monthly sub, you have to wonder what it is going to do? Sure there will be a box cost when the game launches, but well wishes and a pledge to the United Federation of Planets does not keep the servers on.

The passion is there and the use of Unity probably will set heads nodding. Unity is becoming a greater and greater tool for games design.

Lets review some of the aims and claims though.

The modular ship design, reminiscent of Sword of the Stars, is exceptionally clever and certainly should get people excited. The planetary landing system rings true of what both No Mans Sky and Star Citizen hope to achieve. I doubt you'll be getting out of your ship in Nebula Online but the claim is glorious and tempting.

The limitless size of the game world suggests that it will be procedurally generated yet the very first stretch goal is adding new star systems. How will that work exactly? If there’s one thing I know about MMO players it’s that they love to put statements like “limitless game world” to the test. That being said if they do manage to pull that off I would be very interested to find out the method. A team, no matter how big churning out new star systems will never be able to keep up with the demands of the players, will they?

The various systems that they tease all have this ring of desire around them. The desire to make the game and play the game. To wander the stars and be out in the long dark. They have very clear dreams for Nebula Online and I for one wish them all the best.

But this brings me to one burning question I’ve not been able to shake. Why haven’t we heard of them before? They’ve been funding for a week already so, not only did I miss them last week on my trek through Kickstarter it seems that the word just isn’t getting out about this game. If you love space based sci-fi MMORPGs head over to Nebula Online’s Kickstarter campaign and see what you think. The campaign will be running until March 20th. Can they deliver for May 2016 though? That's the question. With over $100,000CAD to raise in the next 38 days, Space isn't the final frontier, the funding goal is.


Shannon Doyle