Monday, March 11, 2013

Mail Call: Regnum, The Missing Ink

Checking some of my many email addresses yesterday I came across a message from NDG Studios, operators of Regnum Online (aka Champions of Regnum, formerly known as Realms Online, not to be confused with The Realm Online). Despite having one of the worst identity crises in MMOdom, Regnum (let's settle for that) seems to be doing rather well for a six-year old game that gets very little publicity.

I discovered it very late and first wrote about it just under a year ago. It seemed quiet then, although certainly not moribund but things may be looking up. I'd already noticed that each infrequent time I remembered to log in there seemed to be a patch, which I always take to be a healthy sign, and both the website and the launcher got makeovers which make them look very handsome, but the capper came in the mail: Regnum is now available through Steam.

Wanna race?

Being on Steam (provided your game actually works) can't but be a good thing. I don't know an awful lot about how Steam operates or how difficult it is for a game to gain access to the platform, but NDG were stoked about getting Regnum into the line-up, as well they might be. They were so stoked they thought they'd celebrate by sending me a Hyena.

They sent me a load of other stuff too - a lockbox, some elixirs, the usual festive package, but it was the Hyena that caught my attention. It's a limited-duration mount that lasts 30 days and it looks great. I had no plans at all to play Regnum this month but I'll be darned if my little fox-lemur is going to miss the opportunity to ride around on a mean-looking Hyena.

So, congratulations Regnum and thanks for the ride.

Not looking quite so bright, at least not yet, is the Kickstarter campaign for The Missing Ink. Pete at Dragonchasers has a piece up about Kickstarter that gives chapter and verse on some of the drawbacks. So far my hand hasn't entered my pocket for a Kickstarter campaign.

I've followed several and they've broadly broken into two camps: No Hopers and Dead Certs and
Adventure ahoy!
it seems pointless for me to contribute either way. In every case all I'm interested in is playing the game when it releases. I find most of the inducements and sweeteners are largely irrelevant and I don't suffer from the inexplicable desire many seem to have to "donate" to what are, after all, commercial businesses. About the only time I can imagine getting my credit card out would be near the end of a campaign where success looks touch and go and my contribution might have material significance.

The first tranche of MMOs I took an interest in on Kickstarter all failed hard, at least as far as their campaigns went. Storybricks carries on, in some mysterious way, behind closed doors. Dark Solstice also appears to have withdrawn behind a veil, leaving only this tantalizing glimpse of what may one day emerge in its place. Panzer Pets, it appears, took the Kickstarter hint and gave up. Their website remains but nothing has been updated since the campaign crashed and burned.

Glad you clarified that.
Red Bedlam and The Missing Ink start a long way ahead of any of those. They have a fully working and eminently playable beta up and running on the PC, which they are actively and effectively developing. The game is already fun and very well worth trying. The Kickstarter campaign is for additional funds to bring it cross-platform to iOS and Android (although the Kickstarter verbiage only mentions Android in the leader and then goes on and on about iPads...).

So far they have 29 backers and have made just over 10% of their very modest target. I foresee another limp failure. I hope I'm wrong, because not only do I like The Missing Ink very much, I'm pretty sure I'd like it even more on a Tablet. I just hope that if they do fail on Kickstarter it doesn't put paid to that prospect altogether.

Meanwhile the Old Big Beasts continue to maunder out of the primordial gaming swamps, drawing lost worshipers in hordes. For now, I'm happy to sit back and watch them fight it out.


  1. Storybricks should be able to announce something soon. Honestly, it's killing me not to be able to say more. But, I'm respecting the NDAs we're under for now.

    It's highly exciting news. :)

  2. Excellent news! Look forward to that.

    One thing I meant to ask in your recent "Ask me" thread but never got round to - have you seen/played any of the Story Nexus games?

  3. Not super extensively. I took a brief look at Fallen London when that first came out, but it hasn't been on my radar since.

    Did you have any specific thoughts on it? I probably should take another look at it sometime.

    1. I hadn't visited their website for a while and I was surprised to find that as well as Fallen London (or Echo Bazaar as it was when I last played it) they now offer a whole toolset for making your own version and loads that have been made with it. If I had time, which I don't, I'd have a play around with it.

      It clearly doesn't allow for anything like I understand you to be aiming for with StoryBricks - namely NPCs with convincing, individualised, unpredictable, heuristic reactions. It does seem to allow for quite a deeply nested, recursive and fragmentary narrative to emerge from seemingly unconnected decisions, though. It's another approach to telling stories through gamelike actions which is why I connected the two in my mind I think.

      I remain to be convinced that any narrative is best-served by using a gamelike structure to tell it. I'm more taken with the possibilities of gamelike structures for non-narrative "stories" as seen in Journey or The Endless Forest. The evocation of a dreamlike state seems like something "games" could do better than other media, whereas narrative is largely something games do worse.


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