Relaunch Plan Preview
It fell into their laps, here's what they plan to do with it
When Rapid Reality purchased the Aura Engine late last year, Endless Ages was thrown in. The move slipped under the radar, but according to Adam Ghetti, it may turn out to be one of the biggest parts of the deal.
Endless Ages is an MMOFPS that was first released in 2003. It received lukewarm reviews and quickly disappeared from the minds of most gamers. Yet, it hobbled on and still has a few subscribers. They could have easily just moved it into the MMOCenter one-subscription fee plan and left it there for future subscribers to their other titles, but instead they’ve taken a different approach.
For current subscribers, this means little. They’ll be able to keep playing the game as it has always existed and get a free beta account to-boot. Eventually, however, when Endless Ages in its reshaped form is complete, they and their characters will be absorbed fully into the title and the original game shut down.
In the meantime, Rapid Reality has diverted a solid amount of resources to fixing the game.
When they examined the game that had fallen into their lap, they discovered a wealth of content most subscribers didn’t even know was there. It became clear to them that the issue was not a lack of content, but that what did exist was near impossible to fully explore. They also identified outdated graphics, interface and other issues as keys to holding the game back.
And so begins Rapid Reality’s mission to re-educate the public on Endless Ages in the hope that people will give it a second chance. It’s a tall order and they admit the game will probably never morph into a massive hit, but they do deserve credit for fixing up an existing title they’d never really planned to acquire.
First they showed me the graphics. In Endless Ages, players play as either a human, either male or female; a blobic, a large and slimy character; or an amphibian, aka a frog man. They remodeled all four options fully. The new look is solid. They have a cartoon feel, they move well and. In short, they’re more than acceptable and a mile better than they were before.
Beyond characters, they intend to redo as much art as they can. At the state I saw it, they’d gotten rid of anything terribly offensive and little touches like the way their heads follow where they look and the eyes of the amphibian move around, really helped. They also did a good job of using air, land and underwater to maximum effect.
In the original, the items were extremely visually limiting. Rapid Reality has added hordes of weapons, armors, jet-packs and other toys for players to earn and do battle with. The game almost felt like a cartoony version of Tribes once they got suited up and started flying around.
Rapid Reality also hopes to streamline the performance of the game They’ve seriously cut down the number of textures used – a key thing in beating a video card into submission – and not at the expense of quality. They’ve also added desktop client support, meaning you can play Endless Ages like any other MMO and not just through your web-browser.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking any game run through your browser isn’t going to be very good looking. Not true, says Rapid Reality. A feature of their Aura engine – which will apply to all their games – is that they can run through a browser, despite being fully 3D, modern looking titles.
The first point in every review I read of the original Endless Ages was the way players controlled their characters. Rapid Reality saw this and addressed it. Players can now control their character any way they like, but most importantly, the traditional WASD/mouse first-person mode is an option.
Other additions include new mounts – mechanical as well as bestial – a massive new zone, bigger than any that existed before, called IA-South, a completely redesigned UI and a host of bug fixes.
There is a public beta for the reworked Endless Ages tentatively on the books for April with a full relaunch as part of MMOCenter a few months later. At that time all existing, active characters and accounts will be moved over to the new game.
I left Atlanta with one major concern: how are they improving the game itself? They showed how they’re making it easier to look at and simple to use, but beyond that they were coy. Perhaps we will hear more in the coming weeks.
Ultimately, while I saw the game in action, I never did get to try it or see it played in a world with other people or NPCs on the prowl. There are a lot of questions to be answered, but let’s face it: they have nowhere to go but up.
This level of rebuilding a game from the ground up has probably never been tried. Rapid Reality seems intent on preserving the spirit of what they believe was a good, if poorly assembled, game. With a fresh coat of paint and a more structured and easier to navigate gameplay experience, plus a little marketing muscle, it will be interesting to see how it goes.
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