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The Consequences of Destruction

Tim Eisen Posted:
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Back in my day a vine was a thing I used to swing over crocodiles in Jungle Hunt. Nowadays it’s a place where you could watch someone playing Jungle Hunt for 6 seconds. Word on the e-street is it's all the rage with the younglings (likely because their attention span is about 5.5 seconds)-note I put that barb a few lines in knowing full well none of that generation read past the first sentence! Ha!

“Vine” also happens to be a place where CSE posts “behind the curtain” (six second) videos about CU’s recent accomplishments, like buildings being crumbled by fire…yes you read that right! Building + fire = crumbled! Whoa, whoa I say! Before you leave me hanging to go watch fire destroy castles keep in mind this isn’t Reign of Fire we got here, this is day one stuff. It’s good to appreciate how far we’ve come and wonder how much better it will get from this point onward but don’t go in expecting Gangbusters this early in development!

That said, these are fun times. Times when we can literally watch the game grow, not just in written updates, but visually. Things are getting pretty! Things are breaking and I don’t just mean code! Castles are freakin' breaking! Did dragons do it? I doubt it but I don’t care-I’ll pretend they did! I’ve been waiting YEARS for this! So...why did watching it feel so…unsettling?

(Puts on his Eeyore costume)

Don’t be surprised. In my opinion Eeyore is the great grandfather of My Little Pony. You should all have an Eeyore costume out of respect! Unfortunately donning such a fine garment often means I got the sad feels! I assumed the ping deep in my gut was the greasy tacos I just ate but it turns out it was the realization that things would never be the same again. Building destruction on this scale in a PVP MMO is a transitional moment. MMOs are breaking away from what was and evolving into what will be, but that also means they will likely never be what they were again. We can’t go back after this point. The games are changing too much.

“Bro, a castle crumbled, I think your reading into it a bit too much.”

You don’t understand! For years we’ve all asked what if? What if we could take over someone’s keep or house and instead of flip a flag…burn it to the ground! And here we are, its real, we are inches away and I can’t help but wonder about the consequences of such a shift. Did Pandora’s Box just open? If it did can Scooby and the gang ever put all the demons back inside? I doubt it.

Quality MMO worlds are a delicate balance of chaos and dev magic, how will building destruction change them? I’m not just talking about FPS here, I’m talking about us, the players. The psychological effects. The way our guilds and guild alliances will function. The decisions we make having personal game changing consequences on a large scale. Have we been given too much power? Can we handle the responsibility?

I found myself flashing back to a time long ago when I was a tiny Timmy desperately wishing for flight in my MMO. When I got it I loved it for all of 15 minutes before I realized it wasn’t nearly as cool as I had imagined. Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty cool, just not “Superman” cool as I wrongly imagined. Long term all it seemed to do was make the game world even emptier than it already was! Who knew? No one as far as I know. That is my fear, the unknown unknowns! How could we know? Even tiny changes can have huge ramifications in these delicately coded universes and here we are smashing buildings to pieces! I needed to meditate on the consequences of such a leap.

Three beers and chanting “sandbox” later I came to a conclusion. We aren’t on the S. S. Minnow. We are passengers on the good ship CSE with a crew of surly developers under the lead of Captain Jacobs and his first mate Meggs. If anyone is meant to sail into dark uncharted waters it’s the rag tag bunch of MMO vagabonds known unofficially as the CUniverse. The conclusion I came to was not to be afraid but to feel exhilarated by the thrill of the unknown and the pursuit for what has never been! Together we can figure out how to overcome any unforeseen unknowns (even the unknown unknown ones).

Coming back to live building destruction in an MMORPG; I’m not overstating this mechanic. This is a huge moment for the fans of Camelot Unchained. Yes other games have dabbled with it but I’ve never seen it done to this depth and certainly not in a PVP focused game. We will be feeling the consequences of this technology for years to come. Building destruction is more than a game feature, it is a changing of the guard in MMORPGs. I will still miss what was, but I look forward to the challenges of what will be. There is a lot of weight on the shoulders of the developers and testers to make sure this feature meets expectations. Test carefully. Critique constructively. But above all else, make sure it’s fun! Now, let’s see some more “vines” of those castles crumbling!


Tim Eisen

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