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I've beceome less intersted in AAA MMOs as time goes on, and have been looking to the indie market for a breath of fresh air. There's actually a game called Citadel of Sorcery that started a Kickstarter campaign. They certainly have some big ideas. Who knows if they'll pull it off in the end, but I'm willing to toss a few bucks their way to help them out. I mean, I don't expect it to look and play like a triple-A game, but I'm more interested in the ideas and mechanics, and this game sounds pretty interesting in those areas. What good is a game that has a lot of spectacle if it's not engaging or emersive? That's been my issue with many of the MMOs of the last few years; I'll play for a month or so, then quit after I've felt that I've seen what it has to offer.
A few things that grabbed me about this game:
1. An earth-sized world... literally. It will take you months (of real time) to accross portions of it. It's all procedually generated, so it's probably not going to be as interesting as something that has been handcrafted. However, they have a lot of systems to govern how it develops. And what I like about it best is that the transition between different biomes will make sense and be gradual. Sudden changes in environments always kind of bugged me. Plus, they are still doing a lot of handcrafted content.
2. NPCs that live their own lives. It's kind of like Oblivion on steroids. I really doubt they are going to have voice acting or anything, but the NPCs are supposed to be more than just some lifeless robots spouting off a few lines of dialogue. They're all supposed to have jobs, friends, hobbies, and the ability to interact with other NPCs ina variety of random occurences. They claim that not even they know what the NPCs will do. I'm sure there is going to be inevitable not-so-intential hilarious NPC behavior, but as long as it's not game-breaking, it might be kind of endearing. I'm not expecting the interactions to be as good as scripted stuff, but at least it wil be different, and it will be entertaining none the less.
3. No traditional questing... not even close. I don't really know all that much about it yet, but it's supposed to be quite dynamic with the quests lasting maybe a week of playtime. Quests have never been a huge draw for me, especially what passes for quests these days. I'm a bit apprehensive about this, but the fact that are trying something unusual and ambitious has gotten my attention.
4. The world changes. Because so much of it procedurally generated, it will continue to change. Trees will grow (slowly), the terrain will erode and there will be seasons. Also, monsters stay dead, which seemed like a weird thing to say when I first read it. What they mean by that is that mobs have some type of agenda and are inherently different. For instance, if you have an altercation with an enemy, it will know you and may even hunt you down. However, once it's dead, it's dead. I don't know all that much about it yet, but it sounds interesting.
5. No classes or level cap. I'm not even 100% sure if there even are levels. There are like 1800 some odd skills that you can choose from, and they can be leveled up in some fashion, but that's all I know about it. But there's one thing for sure... no end game. For realsie reals this time. You never stop devleoping your character, and you will never run out of space to explore.
They built it up quite a bit, and I doubt it will live up to everyone's expectations (but what game does?), but it stands out to me, and it seems like a game that I can actually get engaged in. It may not have the spectacle, and it may not be as tight as a game with 10x the budget, but it definitely sounds like a game that I can lose myself in. Hell, I could just walk north for a few months. I suppose some will find the prospect of that boring, but that's why we have so many WoW clones.
I realize that this turned into a plug for CoS, but it's the main indie game that I have my eye on at the moment. If you have any info about any others, please share. What are your thoughts on the AAA market today, and do you think there is hope in the indie market?
Oh, just a side note, I don't work for them or anything. Check my history if you don't believe me. I'm just an MMO fan that wants to see something different, but has realistic expectations.