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Ryzom Ring E3 Preview

Dana Massey Posted:
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The last E3 article shows us one of the more interesting ideas

The folks at Nevrax chose a radically different direction when they decided to expand The Saga of Ryzom. We’ve been hearing a lot about the Ryzom Ring for months, but at E3 2006, we finally got to see it in action.

The demonstration was simple, Milko Berset of Nevrax ran me through a scenario he had set up in advance. As he did each step of the quest, he showed me how it worked. Then he made a new, simplistic scenario from scratch before my eyes. All of this took under forty-five minutes.

The Ryzom Ring is a new, free expansion that allows players to create their own instanced areas and run them. It lets players be dungeon masters. For those who enjoy the free service, the areas are only online when they are. Players can have their missions running 24/7 for 5 dollars or euro a month. These scenarios are available to players on every Ryzom server, no matter who created them.

The tools were visually indicative and easy to use. In god mode, the dungeon master is invisible to other players, can run fast, teleport around and basically do whatever they want. Through menus, they can drop down items, creatures and NPCs to populate their world.

Compared to other development tools I’ve seen, the Ryzom Ring editor was impressive. It was easy to use, easy to understand over the developer’s shoulder and seemed as if someone with only moderate technical skills would have no problems at all figuring it out.

Most things you can do in the gameworld in front of you can also be done through the map in the top corner. For example, if you have a creature who you want to walk a specific path, you can set the way points by clicking the map. In seconds, they’ll be walking the pre-determined path around the entire map.

One downside of the first iteration of the Ryzom Ring is that players have no control over the terrain. All areas are pre-fabricated by the developers. You can choose from a variety of terrain types, climates, etc. However, the basic terrain, waterways and trees are pre-made.

Despite this, the tools also allow for a good amount of flexibility in terms of on the fly content. Not only can GMs make pre-fabricated scenarios, they can conduct on the fly stories. In GM-mode, they can take over NPCs, move them as they wish and talk in their voices. The tools in this respect are not perfect, for example you can only inhabit one NPC at a time, but they do provide more than enough control for a great number of live role-playing scenarios.

The tools are full of important visual queues that make things easy. For example, when you drop NPCs near each other, green arrows appear on the ground linking them together. They’re in a group and will act as a group unless you tell them not to. Little touches like this make crafting content much faster, more intuitive and harder to screw up.

Players also have access to a variety of triggers. With a few clicks you can set it up so that when a player enters a certain area, monsters run over the hill and attack. These are essential to making realistic and entertaining quests and the sheer number of variables available should make the possibilities near limitless.

The Ryzom Ring is not perfect, but as far as a development tool (public or private), it is among the most intuitive I’ve seen. It looks like it will be easy for even the newest of players to master. For a smaller game like Ryzom, the Ring is a bold experiment and should appeal to more than just the MMORPG crowd. The Neverwinter Nights online community has been making content for years in much the same way. Ryzom Ring promises to be the next evolution of that community.

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Dana Massey