It would be easy to take one look at Trove and dismiss it as a cutesy entry into the MMORPG genre that is increasingly hanging its hat on the term “voxel.” To do so, however, would be a mistake. It is no secret that Trove is inspired by Cube World from Picroma but instead of blatantly ripping off that indie flash in the pan Trion has spent the past two years developing Trove and has iterated it into something more.
In the summer of 2013 I, along with most of the gaming community and YouTube, were swept away in the fury surrounding the craze that was Cube World. In July I penned an article talking about what I really enjoyed about Cube World, what a voxel was, and the questions I had for the game going forward.
The last question I posed in that article is now the easiest to answer, was Cube World a fad? As it turns out, yes, yes it was. While Picroma did an amazing job laying the ground work for the game and filling it with potential it appears all development on the game ceased sometime in early 2014. They have also been silent on their website and social media since that time. As such it bled players even though a core may still remain.
I also had a few other concerns with Cube World but it appears Trove has an answer for all of them. To begin with the leveling curve in Cube World started off extremely steep and flattened out in the middle. You could have easily been required to kill 50 mobs before you would gain your first level. While not a deal breaker it was a bit of a kick in the teeth. It appears Trion has addressed this issue with Trove and through normal play I was level 5 within an hour of game time.
The next question I had dealt with Cube World’s longevity. This question wasn’t focused on how long the game would be supported, it was in the context of how long a player would be entertained and feel like sticking around with the game. Cube World had a robust gathering, crafting, and cooking system. What it did not have was a building system. Trove has all the features that Cube World had and added in a world builder. You can spend your time between two different modes. One is focused on adventure and exploration. The other allows you to build. You will be able to collect items and stack cubes to make new and interesting designs, buildings, landmarks, mountains… think Minecraft. In Cube World you could wander around the world and possibly run across villages and towns. In Trove you can go out and build them yourself.
In addition Trove has a more robust selection of classes for players to choose from. While Cube World had 4 classes Trove currently has 11 all with a variety of abilities and more in the development pipeline. Earlier I mentioned that Trove shouldn’t be dismissed as cutesy but it is definitely full of shtick. I dove in headlong with the Candy Barbarian…. Hard candy and gum drops are employed to destroy your enemy and see them driven before you. No word on whether their women are audibly lamenting or not. In addition to this oddball class you have examples such as the Boomeragner and Pirate Captain to provide more comic relief.
Quests also provide Trove with a sense of longevity that was absent in Cube World. In the age old debate between content and system development I’ve leaned towards systems taking on a bigger role. It’s hard to build anything without the proper tools. Content is devoured quickly by gamers and with more robust systems in place to support procedurally generated content developers can arrive at a place where they are not strained to constantly develop content to satiate their player’s appetite. Cube World has the content with worlds but with only a daily quest they didn’t have everything they needed to support them. Trion’s use of their questing system not only helps give players something to do in this sandbox but it is also used as a guide and tutorial system for new players.
Trove also adds another layer to the game that was absent entirely in Cube World. There is a zone that interconnects the worlds that you will adventure. It’s a hub of sorts where you can do some fishing and crafting. When Trove was originally conceived Trion kicked around the idea of players being able to complete worlds and once certain conditions were meet the world was gone. During testing they realized that people didn’t really like this idea. Players wanted to have some sort of permanence to the game. Tangible proof that they had made their mark on the world. That mark can’t really be seen or felt when the world disappears after you “beat” it.
Another way that players can make their mark on Trove is by developing items and having them implemented in game. Players can create and develop art and submit them to Trion in hopes they will be imported to the game. Trion has also run contests that has players submit their ideas for inclusion in Trove and receive rewards for their efforts. Taking this idea to 11 Trion is currently having a contest for players to submit ideas for a Shadow Titan. This will be one of the games bosses.
While Picroma’s game may have only had a fleeting amount of time in the limelight it could have lasting repercussions on the MMO industry. Cube World convinced a AAA developer to take a chance on what most would view as a niche game. In a time where consumers and pundits alike lampoon larger developers for constantly playing it safe Trion took a risk and hopefully it works out for everyone. If the current queues are any indication it appears that Trion may just have a little success story on their hands.