Monday, 7 November 2016

And Still They Come : Revelation Online, Hero's Song

Almost from when I first began playing MMORPGs back in the very late 90s, third-party websites were an essential adjunct to gameplay. I don't think I lasted a week before I started searching for better information than Verant Interactive deemed sufficient for EverQuest players.

Caster's Realm, Allakhazam, EQ Atlas and a host of others found their way into my Netscape Navigator bookmarks but in those days knowing where to look up quests or guides or maps was only the first step. Next you had to find a way to access that information when you needed it.

In those days you couldn't even tab out of most MMOs reliably. Chances were you'd crash the game. For EverQuest it wasn't even legal to try because running EQ in anything but full screen was a bannable offense. The only way to do it was via the EULA-breaking EQWindows, which I never even downloaded.

Dual monitors may have existed back then but for most players the virtual worlds of their choice played out on a single 14" CRT screen. Most players' second monitor was probably a lever-arch file with a sheaf of printouts. I still have reams of pages from the three key EQ sites above in a cupboard somewhere.

Over the years third party websites have proliferated and increased enormously in sophistication and scope. Any MMO worth its salt has a wiki up long before launch. Twitch streams and YouTube videos have become mainstream alternatives to word-and-picture websites but as yet they show no sign of replacing them entirely.

Most resource sites are dedicated to one game. It's unusual to find one that caters to several unrelated MMOs, let alone one that's compiled and fronted by a single person, but that's what Dulfy.net appears to have become.

Dulfy was there from the beginning in GW2. She's so embedded in the process she even has her own permanent namesake in Tyria. I only really began to notice and rely on her regularly-updated, accurate information a couple of years ago and as far as I can recall at that time her site only covered GW2.

Since then it's expanded to include full divisions for SW:TOR, Black Desert and ESO. Checking something on Dulfy yesterday I noticed she's added another: Revelation Online.

I don't believe I've mentioned RO here before but I've had it vaguely in my sights for a while. I have the official website bookmarked and I pay attention to the mentions it gets on MassivelyOP and other news sites. My attention was first drawn to the game by the averagely-spectacular "World Trailer" but it was only when I found out it could be played (optionally) in full tab-target, WASD "WoW Mode" that I added it to my list of probables.  It also didn't hurt that it's published by MY.com, with whom I already have an account for Allods.

After a small hiccup, Revelation Online went into "Closed" Beta four days ago. Of course, its a beta that's closed only as long as you refuse to open your wallet. The final payment model for the game has yet to be announced (bet on Buy-to-Play with hyperactive cash shop) but right now you can join the Closed Beta for the price of a Founder's Pack, the cheapest of which is just $17.99.

Dulfy has an excellent New Player Guide that lays out what you can expect most clearly. I read it yesterday and felt myself getting flashbacks to several recent MMOs, most particularly to ArcheAge. Although it's been promoted with the usual sandbox features that have become de rigeur of late, RO looks, on paper, somewhat more PvE Theme Park oriented than either AA or Black Desert.

To quote Dulfy's guide

It is a high fantasy game with some scifi elements set in an ancient Chinese Wuxia backdrop. It has action combat, dungeons, raids, 3v3 Arenas, battleground (10v10, 20v20, 30v30), territory/guild wars, open world PvP, reputation grind and minigames. It has a very large open world with no load screens (unless you are teleporting around using waypoints).

All of which sounds very familiar. This, also from Dulfy, less so:

(RO) is not your typical Asian MMO grinder. Leveling up is easy but to actually progress in the game you need to do doing group content with other players. Endgame is all high end group content like hard dungeons and raids.

If I was in an MMO lull right now I'd stump up the eighteen dollars (or sixteen euros) and give it a run. Based on my previous experiences in ESO, AA, BDO and Blade and Soul over the last couple of years I could reasonably expect to get four to six weeks of fairly intensive play and have a lot of fun before suddenly stopping for no definable reason and never playing the game again.

Oh, and I'd get a dozen or more blog posts out of it and a month of increased page views for covering the new hotness. So there's that.

In practice, though, Revelation Online has landed at a bad time for me. I have the EQ2 expansion coming in a week or so and there's a good chance I will get Legion for my birthday, which is also just around the corner. With that and GW2 there isn't really a space in the calendar for yet another MMO.


Not that that will stop me indefinitely. I still want to take a look but that can probably wait until Open Beta, which will no doubt be the real soft launch. Can't discount the possibility I might still buy in early on a whim, though.

So far I feel no such draw towards Smed's pixel-art project, Hero's Song. That odd duck, which seems to be neither Massive nor Multiple, having no official servers, but which is definitely Online and purports to be an RPG in some not entirely clearly defined fashion, went to Steam Early Access today.

By most accounts I've read it isn't anything like ready. The consensus seems to be that its been forced out of the door by financial constraints. The first flurry of Steam reviews are very positive, though, with the almost universal caveat that Hero's Song has great potential but is currently nothing like ready to be played as a working game.

The comparisons to EQ and the suggestion that the game may be quietly re-using some of the more interesting concepts originally touted for EQNext have, I must admit, managed to shift Hero's Song from the  "not interested at all" pile to the one marked "hmmm...maybe one day", which is progress of a kind, I guess.

Once again, though, I think I'll pass for now. Too much on my plate already. And I have to leave some room for Heroes of SkyRealm.


6 comments:

  1. I actually got a key for Hero's Song through the Indiegogo campaign and they sent out the Steam keys last week, so I have it installed. The question is, when should I give it a try?

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    1. When it's a game and not an extended tech demo I guess! Although naturally I'd encourage you to start as soon as possible just so we can read your commentary on it.

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  2. I know I was personally interested in Hero's Song. It sounded like a really cool idea, and there is a lack of good persistent fantasy PvE games that you can self-host on dedicated servers (not home host) to play with friends. Most are PvP, are science fiction, or have dinosaurs.

    But when I looked into HS, it was so hard to get answers. On Facebook and on Twitter I asked if the keys given through Indiegogo were actually Steam keys (it didn't say anywhere, just "keys"), and what the system requirements were going to be (and not at launch, for the actual alpha).

    But there was just no answer or communication. That in an Early Access game just sends up huge red flags. So much in EA depends on you actually trusting the developer to finish the game to an acceptable level that is worth your money. When they keep you at arm's length like that, it just seems like they are keeping the door open to cut and run, without damaging their reputations too much by putting them on the line.

    - Simon

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    1. It certainly appears they have financial issues. Smed himself commented that they'd rather not be releasing the game to to Steam in its current state although he expressed confidence that they'd be able to fix it up as they went along. I can't see any reason other than lack of funds for going now.

      Whether it does go somewhere or just fades away remains to be seen. I wonder just how moddable it is? I notice there are already recommendations to play on a certain server because of the tweaks the team running it have made. It could end up being several different games before Pixelmage have even finished the first one I guess.

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  3. Dulfy was actually a SWTOR fan site first, GW2 stuff started to get added about half a year later. ;) She had an item named after her in SWTOR as well.

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    1. Ah, that makes sense. I did do some googling while i was writing the post to try and find out when Dulfy started etc but surprisingly she doesn't seem to have a wikipedia entry yet and there wasn't much clear information on how and when she got started. Of course I was using GW2 in the search terms which in retrospect wasn't a good idea!

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