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Soulbound Studios Wants to Bring Meaning Back to MMO Life

William Murphy Posted:
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What’s this about Families?

From the moment your character enters the world they are part of an NPC or player-ran family. Families fill many of the same roles as guilds in other MMORPGs (there are guilds in CoE as well, but they play a slightly different role which Jeromy will talk more about in journals to come). In CoE, Families are your primary support and social network. Your family members also have a vested interested in making sure you’re successful and can answer any questions you may have. They also provide an initial source of wealth and income until you’ve found a lucrative occupation of your own.

The similarities between guilds and families don’t end there. Families are one of the key ways of measuring success in CoE. As your family grows, the wealth of your children, grandchildren, and the rest of your lineage can be funneled back into the family’s collective pool of wealth. As you grow your dynasty, you can expand your holdings and increase the size of your land and noble house.

It is on these lands that players will create villages, massive fortresses or burgeoning hamlets. By leasing your land, or renting out your buildings, you’ll work together with others to build a kingdom, gaining wealth and status.

But what would all that land and all those cities be without some form of Government?

Chronicles of Elyria pushes the boundaries of what is possible in sandbox MMOs with the introduction of a new contract system. Implicit contracts such as laws, and explicit contracts such as those in trade agreements unlock unlimited possibility for creating unique occupations and un-planned metas. With contracts, it’s possible to have player-made quests where players provide their own rewards for contract completion. You could ask for escorts across dangerous lands, request certain animal skins for the armor you’re making, or any number of other tasks. The system allows for more creative fundraising as well, such as setting up human-run mail delivery, as the game won’t have generic mailboxes doing all the work for you. If you want to get something to someone, it’s going to take the work of a player to get it there. It can be you, or you can enlist the help of an adventurer, effectively making you the NPC that assigns the FedEx quests and the story behind them.

The same system extends to running governments, as nobles can use an RTS-like interface to create laws and to issue region-wide requests for resources. They can ask for blacksmiths to make more weapons, and even call to arms against neighboring towns that get on your bad side. Like real-world contracts, there are mechanics in place to help enforce the contracts (or the laws), but like the real-world, there is always the ability to ignore the contract if you’re willing to pay the consequences.

With all that said, you don’t have to be the micro-managing type to take part in governing in CoE. You can live your whole life on the road, visiting towns and taking up the tasks of the local government. You can live the life of a mercenary or bounty hunter. Or, you can live the life of a baron, making sure your little outpost one day becomes a massive fortress, feared by all who stand in its shadow.

And lastly, what good would all the aging, dying, and family and governance stuff be without a real struggle to survive?

In CoE, not only do you have to contend with monsters and wildlife in your adventures, but you’ll have to survive the environment as well. You’ll get cold in wintery regions and need to layer your clothing to ward off elements. You’ll get hot and dehydrated in the desert climes. You’ll need to rest and eat to keep your energy up and remain effective in battle. Setting off on an adventure won’t be something you do Willy-Nilly. You’ll need supplies, and since you won’t be looting epic “Swords of Badassery” off of random wolves (crafting matters and plays an important part in CoE), you’ll need to be properly equipped to go into battle. If you die? Well, you’d better make it back to your body to retrieve your items.  And if you don’t make it back to your body? Well, then you’ve got bigger problems.

So how does this all sound?

Chronicles of Elyria is one massively ambitious idea for an MMORPG. There are so many more layers to what Jeromy and Eddie shared with us, and they’re excited to share them with you. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until PAX East before we can actually get our hands on the game to see if Soulbound can deliver. In the meantime, we’ll be looking forward to Jeromy’s journals to see how Soulbound Studios progresses. In a lot of ways, it’s a dream game not just for Jeromy and Eddie, but for the MMORPG playing community at large. I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say I’d love to get my hands on a game that delivers everything I wrote. For now, we’re definitely paying attention.

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William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.