Thursday, August 23, 2018

It's The Beginning Of A New World

This week's big talking point in MMOland has to be the unheralded info-drop on Amazon's New World. Until now we knew almost nothing about this title, other than its setting, an alternate, magical version of the 17th Century.

Massively OP seem a little confused over the timing of the reveal but no-one's questioning the authenticity. Interestingly, the last time any significant information emerged about New World it was also described as "possibly leaked", making me wonder whether there's anything truly accidental about any of this.

The M:OP piece is a tad misleading. I'd recommend reading the full article at TechAdvisor, which gives a good deal more detail and some important context. For example, the "full loot" PvP alluded to in Massively's bullet point list, is heavily qualified in the article itself, which says

"...currently when you die you drop all of your gear which can then be looted by other players"
That "currently" is crucial. This is a game in pre-alpha. Unless Amazon come out and state that full loot is a core game feature, I'd bet it won't make it out of beta. If it even gets that far.

That said, there's no glossing over the bald facts: New World is a PvP game.

 Or is it? Even the blatant
PvP seems to be at the very focal heart of the game
is more nuanced than it first appears. "Seems to be" is either a bet-hedger or an admission there's a lack of hard information. And what's with that "very focal heart"? Does that mean PvP is everywhere or concentrated somewhere in the center? I can see why Bree thought this might be a draft text.

The supposed emphasis on what sounds almost like forced socialization is also heavily tempered in the full text of the TA piece. While it does indeed say that

 "The game puts a very heavy focus on social features and everything that comes along with player interaction"
it goes on to clarify that
"Forming guilds to take on greater challenges and build your empire... will be a good idea if you want to survive".
That's really not so different from any other MMO, is it? Greater challenges almost always require guilds. We tend to call it "raiding" in PvE or "guild vs guild" in PvP. You're hardly going to be building an empire on your own, are you? I wouldn't read that as meaning there's no place for solo or small group play at all.

The article goes on to explain how empire-building might work in practice: 
You can capture land and build upon it, creating outposts and bases for your guild to operate from which can house more advanced crafting stations giving you access to better gear. Your territory can expand over time... You will be able to tax players that wish to operate or build within your territory, which allows their structures to be under your protection for a price.

So far, so familiar, but the crucial part, which I've pulled out for emphasis, is this:

"...territory control ... will be a large part of the 'end game'."

Taken in context, this suggests to me that New World's end game is very similar in concept to Ashes of Creation's. A never-ending tussle between guilds and allainces to rule the roost and rook the peasants.

As a prospective peasant in both games I strongly expect to be able to wander around largely oblivious to the machinations of my rulers. I will be beneath their notice and they will be above mine.

The writer of the piece, Sean Bradley, did at least get to play the current demonstration build, so his assessment that it feels
" a survival game in the vein of Rust, Conan Exiles or Ark"
 can probably be taken at face value. That's not appealing to me and neither is the choice of action combat rather than tab targeting and hotbars, although I will concede that it was inevitable. No-one but MMO nerds want WoW-style combat these days and Amazon wants to cast its net a lot wider than the pre-existing niche audience that, bizarrely, WoW now represents.

And yet, even here there's a hint of grey in the black and white. The current build allows you to lock to a target using Tab. Sean also describes it as "very fluid and responsive" and "not too fast or slow", which is encouraging for a pre-alpha.

Like Telwyn, I found a lot of the Massively:OP summary off-putting. I was inclined to cross New World off my wishlist completely. Having read the full article at TechAdviser, however, my interest has been tentatively re-ignited. It's not a long read but there's a lot in there, more than I've singled out for attention here. I recommend anyone even vaguley interested in New World to read the whole thing.

Finally, and most importantly, this is a game in closed pre-alpha. A lot can change. A lot will change. There's a "sign up" for alpha available on the website that consists merely of registering your interest on your Amazon account. It takes five seconds. I've done that.

It still doesn't look like my kind of game but who knows?


  1. It sounds like a bit of a throwback to the Ultima Online style of PvEvP.

    On one hand, I can see the potential appeal if balanced well to encourage players to band together to take on hostile PvE environments with good social support tools, that might then extend to PvP style territorial control. Sort of a blend of oldschool with newschool.

    On the other hand, plenty of past examples of attempts at this are already littering the landscape after rapacious griefers and trolls have had their way with dozens of survival sandboxes. With no shortage of further high profile variants such as Fallout 76 coming along to try their luck.

    I’m not sure if the population dilution of today can support a big persistent MMO anymore, but who knows, they may not need hundreds of thousands of players, but just enough to keep things afloat and making a profit.

    1. You have to think that Amazon won't be happy with anything less than mass market success for any of their games. I just can't see them settling for something even on the scale of EVE's niche success, for example. They'll want to be FFXIV at the bare minimum, preferably WoW, if we're talking MMOs. Not sure what the benchmark would be for survival games - Ark?

      They do use Ultima as a comparison in the TA article. It's amazing how many devs still think remaking UO is a good idea. I'm not sure there's any evidence that it's ever commercially successful.

    2. Does Amazon need mass market numbers though for New World to be a success?

      If for example, NW is positioned as another "service" in the Amazon ecosystem, say bundled with Prime or Twitch subscriptions, then it doesn't have to be an overwhelming success in the actual MMO niche. It adds value just by being there.

      In fact, Amazon could well regard NW as a "loss leader". We all know how MMO players like to "live inside" the world. If that world also happens to inside of (or contiguous to) an Amazon "warehouse" of goods and services, why would you ever have to leave?

      In the US, at least, you could do all your shopping, have it delivered to your door, and never have to log out. How's that for poop-socking?


    3. Theoretically, I guess. I generally think of Amazon as being pretty ruthless, though. They've already canned one game and they haven't even released anything yet. I find it hard to imagine them being content to have their name linked to anything that's seen as underwhelming. Worse yet, unnoticed.

  2. No offense, but I find few things less useful than speculating over an alpha game which has no date even for open beta.

    1. SOme people enjoy pointless speculation for its own sake and I'm one of them. Plus, it's Blaugust. I'll take whatever I can get!

  3. Eh, there's PVP and there's PVP... That description sounds to me like BDO, where you're available to be attacked at any point over lvl 50, yet after 2.5 years, I still only need one hand to count the number of times I've been attacked outside of a grind spot.

    The more important question, and the one alluded to obliquely by Gevlon, is what happens to you when you die? Respawn with functionally no penalty (BDO) or podded and full loss unless insured (Eve)? There is a lot of space within those poles for ambiguity.

    The other question, that the Ark references hint to , is 'how many people per server?', but I guess we'll have to wait to find out how that goes.

    And then, of course, whenever anyone cites UO as an exemplar, I think 'pre or post Trammell?'

    1. I think they quoted 1000 people per server, didn't they? Hang on, it's in the TA article...

      "The world aims to feature up to 1000 players at this moment in time, although the tentative goal was tens of thousands at some point."

      So, definitely "massively multiple".

      I also think it will end up closer to BDO than UO. If there really is full loot though, the respawn rules will be irrelevant. Al anyone will be thinking about is their stuff.

      I don't play EVE so I don't really know how the insurance there works, but I can't figure out how it would work in any MMO I 've ever played. If it worked like real life, you'd be partially out of pocket after every claim (the Excess) and your premium would keep going up. If it's a gankbox you wouldn't be able to afford to insure after a few kills. If it's just a set cost that doesn't change and you get full re-immbursement then surely there'd be runaway inflation?


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