Friday, July 19, 2019

Boxes On Boxes on Boxes on Boxes: Project: Gorgon

Project: Gorgon is both complex and idiosyncratic. These, along with a palpable sense of the genre's past, are its primary selling points. On Steam, where the game currently enjoys an enviable "Very Positive" rating from just over 650 reviews, this would count as typical:
This isn't a hand-holding theme park MMO like many that are out there at the moment and, because of this, it may not appeal to a broad range of gamers.
They aren't kidding. I suspect most people playing MMORPGs these days would hold their hands up in horror and run away screaming from some of the same systems and mechanics its avowedly niche audience praises so highly.

Take storage, for example. I have made something of a speciality of studying storage and inventory options in countless games over a twenty-year period. I have never seen anything like Project: Gorgon.

Here's the breakdown on the wiki. I looked at that for the first time this morning because I didn't want to make any ill-informed suppositions based solely on my very limited experience in the game itself. Reading through the list I can immediately see that a) storage is even more abstruse than I realized and b) the wiki is, as yet, incomplete.

P:G's wiki is an interesting pointer to the community surrounding the game. Wikis often are. EverQuest II, for example, has such a superb wiki, so complete, so accurate and above all so up to the minute, that you would think it had to be a hugely successful game with millions of players.

It's not the size of the audience that makes a wiki; it's the dedication. And also the attitude. No-one is questioning the commitment of Project: Gorgon's players but they are a particular bunch. I have never seen a wiki that opens with an admonishment for using it:

 Even the Secret Worlds Legends wiki doesn't call you out for daring to look things up!

Inventory and storage in Project: Gorgon is the most dislocated and abstruse I have ever seen. At first sight everything looks quite familiar. You start with a "Backpack", as you do in virtually every RPG ever made.

It's one of those notional packs rather than an actual item. About the only obvious option Eric and Sandra seem to have eschewed are bags themselves. Your character has no "bag slots" and crafters don't have an option to make bags (although, as we will see, they can make inventory space).

There's the expected bank storage, too. An NPC called Hulon runs the Vault in the main starting town, Serbule. The Vault is connected to a centralized system, meaning anything you put in there can be accessed from any zone that has a Dilapidated Council Storage Machine, or so the wiki tells me. I haven't field-tested that yet.

Vault space is also extendable by payment of in-game monies. So far, so familiar. Next come some other options I've seen in various games over the years. Individual NPCs will offer storage based on your faction with them. Faction, known as "Favor" in P:G, is an important game mechanic, controlling all kinds of things from the price you get for selling your junk to the recipes you can learn.

Then there are, supposedly, chests just sitting around in the world into which you can place items, something I remember very well from the Baldur's Gate series. There's apparently one on the tutorial/starter island but I can't remember using it.

As far as I can tell, if you put something in one of those it stays where you left it and if you want to get it you have to go back there. That used to dirive me to distraction in BG so I can't say I'm thrilled to see it making a comeback.

Much more welcome is a system I ran into yesterday, when I crossed into the low-level zone of Serbule Hills. I had a conversation there with an NPC, who told me I could sleep in the stables for nothing and use the storage in his Inn.

That storage turned out to be accessable by way of a bookshelf, which seemed weird, but then everything in Project: Gorgon is weird.  Only when I came to read the wiki did I discover that the bookshelf is a "zone access storage point". I think that means that, if I make pals with an NPC in Serbule Hills and they let me leave some stuff with them, I can find and retrieve it from the Inn without having to go back to the NPC.

So far, so complicated. Ah, but we've only just started! Skipping over Shared Storage (account -wide inventory accessed via Transfer Chests in a handful of towns) and Guild Storage (self-explanatory, ditto) we come to clothing.

In Project: Gorgon pockets are a thing. I'm not sure I've ever played an MMORPG with pockets before. If I have I've forgotten it.

I first noticed this one yesterday, when I was in The Bazaar browsing. Ok, in P:G the place where players set up to trade as though they were NPC vendors isn't actually called The Bazaar but it's so incredibly reminiscent of the system introduced to EverQuest with the Shadows of Luclin expansion that I'm always going to think of it that way.

I was looking at a crafted cloth shirt when I noticed it had inventory slots. Twenty of them. That's a lot of storage in a shirt! The shirt was far too expensive for me to buy and test so I don't yet know whether pockets come with any kind of size restrictions. I somewhat doubt it. Project: Gorgon is logical but not in any way realistic.

 According to the wiki, Tailors can add pockets to armor or clothing to increase inventory capacity, which is a very solid option for crafters but that's just the half of it. To increase your inventory by way of gear you don't have to go bespoke.

As the wiki puts it succinctly, "Increased inventory space also appears on many pieces of equipment as a part of the random aspect of equipment drops". Now there's a thing. Inventory space as a gear stat. Again, if I've seen that before I can't recall where. Imagine the dilemma on checking the loot from a dead monster and finding a pair of pants with worse combat stats than the ones you're wearing but an additional twenty inventory slots.

We're not done yet. There's more. And weirder. One of your characters primary stats, Endurance, has the effect of expanding the size of your Backpack, presumably by increasing your carrying capacity. This in a game where items appear to have neither size nor weight. I rescind my earlier statement re logic.

Endurance is improved by taking armor damage because of course it is. If you want more bag slots just pick a fight with a monster and let yourself get beaten up. Makes sense, right? About as much as having your storage capacity reduced because you lost a boss fight, anyway.

Oh yes, that's a thing, apparently. I wouldn't know, not having fought any bosses, but P:G does have a unique take on death penalties. When you lose fight to a boss bad things happen including but (I'm guessing) not limited to your head expanding, a spectre pursuing you and your backpack shrinking. Whatever curse you get stays with you until you do the only thing that can cure it - beat the boss that gave it to you.

By this point you might be thinking Eric and Sandra must surely be out of ideas but I saved the best for last. Discovering the Dimensional Folder on an NPC vendor yesterday was what prompted me to write this post.


A lot of MMORPGs have temporary storage options and expanders. Renting inventory space is a prime source of income for many an Eastern import. But even those games don't go so far as to combine temporary purchased storage with RNG.

The Dimensional Folder is a potion you drink that makes your bags bigger for an hour. How much bigger? Try it and see. Oh, and there's a smal but by no means insignificant chance it could make them smaller. And it stacks, so if you don't get the jackpot pull the handle again. And again.

At first it sounds completely crazy. Then I thought of all those times I've been deep in a dungeon or out in the wilderness miles from anywhere, with full bags and loot lying on the ground I couldn't pick up. How handy would it be to take a swig from a flask and add a few slots to my bags? It wouldn't matter that they only lasted an hour. It would be long enough.

I'm sure there are more peculiarities and quirks to be found when it comes to Project: Gorgon's storage solutions. Some of the ones already there may not stick. It's a game that's constantly evolving, partly in line with the whims of its creators and partly in response to feedback from players.

It's very much not a game for people who like things to be neat and tidy and laid out plainly with instructions. Learning how to play is part of the fun. Even when it comes to something as simple as putting your stuff into storage.

Next up, Gameplay. Might have to wait until I've actually played a little more, though. Which doesn't look like it's going to be a problem.

3 comments:

  1. On a more positive side, you can search items in all of your storages even in open world and there is an option to teleport crafting reagents to you if you level your teleporting skill, which already makes it better than FFXIV.

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    1. I wanted to work the bit about searching into the post but I wasn't 100% sure about how it worked. The reagents thing I didn;t know about - that will fit nicely into the gameplay post I'm planning, which is going to include how mechanics that other games include as basic features are tied to skill acquisition in P:G.

      I hope the post doesn't come over as critical of the systems P:G is using. I really like both the complexity and the weirdness and I also think the developers have a very clear understanding of what they're hoping to achieve with the systems and mechanics they're employing, which is a lot more than you can say about many MMOs!

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    2. For some reason I used general reply instead of replying directly to your post.

      Personally I didn't find it critical, especially since my first experience was very similar. Combat skills could be very overwhelming too with tradeskill synergies (like Unarmed + Meditation or Sword + Calligraphy), bonus levels, spread out trainers and so, and so on. Devs included explanation for most of the stuff in the game, but I mostly struggle with keeping everything in mind.

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