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Columns: Waiting for a Cloudburst

By Tim Eisen on May 24, 2016

Waiting for a Cloudburst

A storm is brewing outside. It looks like it might rain, we need the rain. The cruelty is that is won’t. It will rumble. The wind will kick up dust. The clouds with burst with lightning and - nothing. A few sprinkles just to tease us with what could have been and nothing. It’s spring but the grass looks faded and the tress look wilted. We could use that rain. I’d even say we are desperate for it. Water is being rationed and still, it doesn’t come.


12 years I’ve been waiting for the rain. 12 years I’ve been chasing what was. It’s been so long I’m not sure I can even recognize it if I ever see it again. Every time I think I might see it on the horizon it turns out to be a mirage that lingers just long enough to ensure I’ll follow it, to the next dune over where it appears again egging me on father than I should go.

I’d hate the MMORPG genre if I didn’t love it so damn much. I was happy in my ignorant gaming bliss, then one day I tried out Star Wars Galaxies and suddenly almost no other games will do. I’ve lived for MMORPGs from that game on. I enjoy other games. I dabble in them. They are good for killing a few minutes but even at their best they are nothing compared to a good MMORPG. I have yet to find a game that can transport you to another universe outside of this diabolical genre, and so I keep chasing those mirages.  Crowfall will launch, but only when its ready. A decision I completely agree with, and one that crit me like a rogue popping out of stealth.

The delay didn’t bother me, not in the least. I simply thought “this is the way of the MMORPG, I knew that going in, I can’t fault the team for being short on staff, they can’t really control that and all things from the outside indicate they are working as hard as they can, and in fact testing looks great.” It was only a few days ago that I noticed a dark cloud had been hanging over my head. A sort of irritable chip rested firmly on my shoulder. I realized it was related, and I got angry. Not at Artcraft for delaying. Not at developers. Not even at crowd funded MMORPGs. I got mad at myself.

I thought, we are in a gaming renaissance right now. I’ve been lucky enough to watch it evolve from Pong to living virtual worlds! As someone that invests so much into and gets so much out of gaming this is incredibly special, and yet I’m so busy looking away to the future, to the horizon, craving the excitement of what will be that I’m unable to enjoy what is! But I counter myself.

I look at what sits before me and I see very little if anything that can come close to the MMORPGs of yesteryear and I see even fewer that have the potential of MMORPGs of the future, so I sit here and do the only thing I can do, I wait.  I wait for the rain to come and the mirage to solidify. I wait for Sieges and I wait for hauling and caravans and Eternal Kingdoms and even launch! The delay just means I keep doing what I already am for a bit longer before I can scratch this 12-year itch.

Perhaps the single most positive aspect of a crowd funded MMORPG is that I feel like I am among an ocean of brethren that share my feelings. We are alone, but we are not alone. If ACE or the Crowfall community that I am embedded within take anything away from this, the positive of it is that I’m sad, irritable and longing because I so badly want to play this game.

But who better to wait than us? Those of the old school that crave a game which calls back to a harsher era when down time often competed with play time! Maybe we were born for this? Maybe the process to make an old school MMO isn’t that different from what it felt like to play them? Maybe it’s a metaphor with some hidden meaning we have yet to really figure out?

Speaking of hidden meaning, a few weeks ago ACE put out a small newsbit about the secret language they are making for the game. Yes, you read that right and if you are like me, you got excited.  As someone who dabbles as a professional propagandist (graphic designer) I had noted the cool symbols all around Crowfall, especially when magic is in use. It turns out they don’t just look cool; they are all cleverly designed to mean something as well.

This is dangerous territory for a superfan that is always looking for an MMORPG related tattoo! The problem is, until I know exactly what all of them mean I’ll have to refrain from getting them permanently placed under my skin. I certainly hope they add more of these symbols. In time they will have their own hieroglyphic language for fans like us to run with. I will caution, from JTodd himself “As a final note, I want to ask you to remember that this is a work-in-progress. This language isn’t settled yet (by any means!) so things may change and ideas will certainly be expanded between now and launch.”

I hope they not only continue to expand it, but that they push it as much as they can as long as they maintain significant meaning. That is what makes the idea so exciting to me-that they look cool and have real meaning that relates to their appearance and use. I can’t wait to see what they do with it, unfortunately, like I said, waiting is still all we can do. 

Tim Eisen / In my columns I walk the line between fan and critic as I document the development of Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, and Chronicles of Elyria.