Friday, June 28, 2013

When They Said The Subscription MMO Was Dead...

...clearly they hadn't seen The Hammers End.  Neither had I until I stumbled across it  by  chance while visiting looking for something else entirely.

Lemme guess. A goblin stole your pants, right?
The Hammer's End is a new MMO that seems to have sprung fully formed from the void. Developers Adventure World Studios eschew the traditional route to market. Not for them the seemingly-endless PR campaign building up to a series of limited-access events ending in an "open beta" that goes on and on. No weeks, months, years drip-feeding content reveals in "exclusive" interviews. No competitions or giveways with counters ticking down the limited number of precious keys.

Pretty flowers, elegant UI
None of that. They just made an MMO and launched it. They put up a one-page website with a description you could fit on a postcard, threw in a Download button and bingo! Take it or leave it.

What is it then? F2P, cash shop, all that jazz?

Nope. It's free to download but if you want to play it it's $14.95 a month.


Ok, at least tell me it has a free trial!

Sure it does. It lasts an hour. One hour and then whatever you happen to be doing, you're done. Game over, out you go. Want to finish that starter quest? Better pony up that $14.95.

Pickable flowers means Gathering's in. Crafting? I have no idea.
And y'know what the weirdest thing of all is? I probably will. If there wasn't so much going on in MMOland right now, what with the FFXIV beta, that interesting low-level Rift event, the Aetherblades over at GW2, Greenskins reaching City of Steam and FireFall going live in just over a week I'd have paid my $14.95 already.

That's my pet. He's a...I'll get back to you on that...
It really does look like an interesting MMO. I can say that with authority because I spent a whole hour playing it. It has a very pleasant old-school vibe, gameplay and graphics both. Apparently they built their own in-house engine and they've used it to make a very atmospheric, attractive world. Well, a forest. That's as much as I saw, but it was a really foresty forest.

The art design seemed convincing and coherent. Most importantly, THE  passed that most crucial test; it felt like a proper place.

The controls all worked, the UI was minimal and elegant, the whole thing felt...professional. From comments on the thread there are 50 levels followed by an AA system, it has a number of non-instanced dungeons and the world is sizeable. I'd also second the comment that claims "You can definitely feel the "Everquesty" influence" . I could, in spades.
Have mallet, will travel.

Oh, and as you probably already figured out from the screenshots, you can play a weasel. Or is it a beaver? Don't fancy that? Try a Brownie then (they look more like bixies who got dressed in a hurry to me) or a frog or a lizard. It's a woodland animal MMO.

If there was one thing that could possibly make this Everquest-influenced, cartoon-animal populated, $14.95 a month retro-graphic MMO more commercially viable, what do you think it might be? Go on, take a guess.

Yep, that's right - non-consensual open-world PvP!

Cheese and springwater? Why, yes we do!
Get to level seven and it's every weasel for himself. If you ever meet someone of the other faction, that is. (It's Brownies and Weasels vs Frogs and Lizards, in case you're laying odds). With current populations estimated in low single figures by a couple of commenters on that thread you're probably safe for now. If you're still nervous maybe best wait until they turn on the other three servers I saw listed when I made my weasel - another PvP server and two flagged PvE. Nothing like being prepared.

Still and all, I'm going to play this thing. If it had some kind of F2P model or a normal free trial (a week would be the minimum you'd expect) it'd be in my rotation right now. I'm willing to give it $14.95, one time at least. But if I'm paying I probably should be sure I have at least a few hours to play  and this, as I mentioned, is a busy time.
There's no place like Bind. There's no place like Bind.

So I'll have to get back to The Hammers End when I have a suitable lull. I just hope it's still there when I'm ready for it.


  1. I've always wondered why that sort of payment scheme isn't used more often. There's a low barrier to entry with a price point like that and a month is enough time to get a good feel of a product. ANd then if people stick around the developers are getting rewarded for it with a regular, understandable profit

    1. I tend to agree, although I think you'd need a bigger publicity push to make it work commercially. The one-hour trial thing was interesting. I'd have said that was counter-productively short but in fact it was long enough for me to see enough to decide I would lay down the $14.95. Only not being able to see where the time to play it would come from stopped me giving them money right away.

  2. That looks really interesting. If it wasn't PvP I'd try it :-( Maybe they will add PvE servers.

    1. Well they have two listed so they're obviously willing to serve that community. Whether they'll be able to gain enough interest to justify multiple ruleset servers is another matter.

      Anyway, PvP doesn't enter into it until level 7 and you won't get there in the free hour so give it a run! It's incredibly fast to set download and they don't require any personal information at all - registration consists entirely of making up an account name and a password and that's it, in you go.

  3. Hmm no human race, and 1 hour only of "free" time? Definitely not for me or my guild. At least I know not to bother trying it now. They mention nowhere on their postcard about the 1 hr thing. :)

    1. You should try Dragons Prophet - they only have humans! That's not a recommendation by the way...

    2. Hehe I love the disclaimer at the end Bhagpuss. :P Gonna give it a look see anyway, thanks! ^_^


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