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Soulbound's First Test

Tim Eisen Posted:
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MMORPGs are a vile demon. It’s almost as if they, by their own nature, are determined to destroy all those who dare attempt to work on them. They do not discriminate, they take all souls and their hunger never ceases. The demon that is Chronicles of Elyria (COE) is no exception. Just days removed from their Kickstarter COE challenged Soulbound Studios! Did they overcome it or fall victim like so many before them? All that and more in this week’s COE column!

I know Soulbound has been working on COE for a while but that was before the Kickstarter. Things change when you accept money from thousands of adoring fans that never stop pressuring you to feed them more info and get the game out on time. I have to assume it’s a lot of pressure, especially for a young team facing so much adversity in the form of skeptics and naysayers and especially snarky writers.

Soulbound has a lot to prove but it takes more than just the brevity to rage against the machine. Patience, intelligence and the willingness to adapt on the fly but the stubbornness to stick to your guns when necessary are all valuable characteristics for a MMORPG studio. Going into the Kickstarter I wondered what kind of traits Soulbound collected. Online store issues gave us our first look.

Soulbound ran into their first challenge on their first item! We all know a million dollars will help get this game moving but I don’t think any backer nor anyone at Soulbound thinks that is all they need. As expected they are adding a storefront in order to continue accepting funds post Kickstarter. I assume they were hoping to keep the momentum going so they made it a priority item and were hoping to have it up and running as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, as if often the case with MMORPGs, things are alive and they change as you apply them. When they went to apply the store they bought it didn’t function as well as they hoped. What started as a shortcut to save time has cost them some.

“In this case, as we began integrating the technology we realized there were a few shortcomings we'd have to overcome. First, there was no support for upgrading purchased items from one package to another. Then there was no way to limit the number of items of a set that could be purchased. After that we found out that while stuff could be purchased with virtual currency as well as real-world currency, there was no support for purchasing the same items with both. And the list goes on...” Jeromy Walsh Owner/CEO.

Fortunately, Soulbound showed those positive attributes that I mentioned before and applied them along with some tech savvy. They decided to make their own storefront while using the payment systems from the online merchant that they bought their package from. I couldn’t help but see this as a micro example of exactly what Soulbound is going to do with COE itself; obtain pre-made tech and reconfigure it to suit their needs.

When it came down to it they explained the issue and moved the storefront dates back to Tuesday July 5th- Friday August 5 th. Test passed! Or was it failed? You forgot! We are talking about the demon that is a MMORPG here! If there is one thing this demon hates more than developers, its due dates! In fact, I’m starting to think the only thing MMORPGs like is trapping us in beta purgatory! (Glances at MMOs on Steam confirming his suspicions.)

Kidding aside Soulbound handled this first test very well and I really liked the format of their first update. I felt like we got a nice little snap shot of everything the studio is currently working on. They could use another piece of concept art or two just to liven things up a bit but overall it was a good first outing.

Giving us so much detail on their first issue showed me they are willing to be transparent even when the news isn’t ideal. Most importantly, they didn’t spin it, they explained it, addressed it and explained their plan going forward. What more could we want? A newfound religion maybe? How about 5? (Transition sentence points awarded...)

Elryia will have FIVE religions. That sounds like five too many for one of my characters, the one who rejects the Gods after being mistreated and challenges them instead. I hope there is an option for him even if it’s a more difficult path, in fact I hope it is. Too often Developers forget that some of us like to take no path and embrace the challenge that follows. Don’t worry, I always make a zealot (maybe he is a bit of a fanatic) that uses his beliefs to justify his actions. I also make a peaceful monk that is pretty chill, except when he has to defend his beliefs! Then there’s the merchant who only cares about money and the collector obsessed with rare things and the “Jedi” marooned on a foreign planet and… Hi, my name is Timothy and I am an Altaholic.

“Which religion is correct, if any, won't be revealed for quite some time.” That's an interesting line from the update. The idea that one is the “correct” belief is certainly a polarizing one, even on fantasy terms. I can smell the fires burning. When followers of 4 out of 5 religions find out they picked wrong pitchforks and chaos will follow! Frankly I look forward to it. That sounds fantastic!

Let’s hope whatever that one is it can slay the greatest demon of them all: creating a MMORPG! On second thought maybe we should leave that up to Soulbound. They won the first fight but the war is far from over. I can’t wait to see how they battle through the rest of development.


Tim Eisen

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