Article by Guest Writer and Commercial Tester Joseph "Ferox" Denise
Editor's Note: Here on MMORPG.com we are planning a two-pronged look at the upcoming MMORPG Roma Victor. First, we sought the aid of Joseph "Ferox" Denise, a long time fan and commercial tester to give us his look at the game in this preview. We will follow this up with a second preview from one of our Staff Writers to bring you the best possible information on the future of this title.
For those of us who have wished to live a very particular dream; to live in a virtual recreation of The Roman Empire, there is an addiction on the horizon. There is a gem of a MMORPG in testing that defies all current development trends and actually brings something truly unique to the genre.
The game that I am talking about is of course “Roma Victor”. In development since 2001 by a small group of self/privately funded developers called “RedBedlam”, who in my ten years of MMORPG testing have turned out to be the most dedicated and fun-loving bunch of gamers that I have ever had the pleasure of testing with. Never have I seen a developer staff so appreciative of their fans and so willing to hear our suggestions. Since I started testing RV I can remember clearly at least three times where suggestions on the forums actually led pretty swiftly to significant changes in the game itself.
The Dev team is in the game with us answering questions and working nearly every night. I can personally say that I have had the pleasure of engaging in witty banter and some pvp with the lead developer on a few occasions and every other “god” I've met in the game has been just as obliging towards the players. In an industry where the community seem to always be largely ignored it is a refreshing sight to see.
Now I know you are all sick of me blabbering on about the developers for a few paragraphs, however as a fan I do know that how the dev team presents itself and treats the community can mean a lot to the players themselves. Now we shall get down and dirty with the Commercial Test in progress?
It is hard to give general impressions of a game that follows a different development process to the traditional alpha/beta/open beta setup. The GOCaT system employed by RedBedlam has always followed a different set of rules, and cannot really be judged by “open beta” type standards. What I can say for sure is that all of the major systems and dynamics of the game are fully functional and in the game itself. The GUI works well and is intuitive; interaction with the world is simple and straight forward.
For instance if I want to interact with an object I would point my mouse over it and hit the space bar. This would bring up a dialog box describing the item and any vital statistics and along the right side of the box would be any options available that have to do with the object. As far as I can tell, the only major thing that seems to remain is the job of finishing up adding all of the content and of course stressing the hell out of those server clusters to make sure we will all be in one world without that dreaded lagmonster rearing its ugly head.
During the Test at the moment, they seem to have decided on two servers; one being a stress-test server that has all the systems and content added slowly for profiling purposes, and the second having more content yet less players to test the systems themselves under optimal conditions. I'm on the second server at the moment and they often seem to take things away and add them as they see fit to test the effects and although this can sometimes inconvenience the testers, it helps the game in the long run. After all the testers are there to TEST the game and make it better, not to simply play a game for free!
It is hard to compare Roma Victor to any MMORPG in the last ten years. If I had to choose, then many things about the gameplay would be more close to the original Ultima Online than any other I can think of. It is a challenging game that does not make things easy on you like an EQ or WOW kind of game would. The combat, purely skill-based character advancement and diverse crafting systems are all extremely realistic and historical. There are no /tells, the world is half scale of our real world, and the economy is the most true to a real world one I've ever seen in a MMORPG. All of this in my opinion means that we finally have the chance to see a true virtual society come into being.
Virtual 180AD: Live as a Roman or Barbarian
You say you want to become the general of a legion as I do? Or perhaps fight as a gladiator in the many arenas that dot the countryside? Perhaps you want to be a rich merchant or even a simple farmer, fisher or potter. Perhaps you want to join one of the barbarian tribes and fight against the tyranny and oppression of the Romans. You really can do it all in Roma Victor.
The developers have gone to extreme lengths to recreate Europe as it was at the time of the Emperor Commodus around 180 C.E. I get a chill when I think that the Roman fort that I'm running around in within the game is exactly how the REAL roman fort was in the same place in the real world almost two thousand years ago. This commitment to historical authenticity makes the world feel alive. Many testers have already formed or joined highly active Roman and Barbarian militias - they train and equip themselves and at the time of writing they are preparing for their first major open battle!