I haven't played an MMO in last 10 months and I haven't missed it at all. Before that I was doing my routine check on wow's new expansion, which turned up to be barely enough enjoyment to prevent me from saying that I haven't played an MMO in the past three years instead. The truth though is that I haven't cared about MMOs much, especially those in development, for a very long time. That changed when I decided to check on the progress of Crowfall and Camelot Unchained.
When these two games were announced, or to be precise when I "heard" of them, my enthusiasm for MMOs was already low enough that the only reaction those news produced from me was a shrug and the thought: "Cool games, too far down the line though."
I decided to check on their progress a week ago; somehow a bell rang in my head that reminded me of those two games and I found myself having time to do so.
I say check on the progress because that was the intention, even though of actual progress to show for there seems to be very little. What I did however was reading about what these two companies were planning with their games, what they had done so far and what the two games were meant to be like once completed. Something, most of the players who already pledged money to them, I am sure did on day one.
Initially, between the two, CF caught my attention the most, because of how diverse the macro-game will be thanks to the monthly reset of campaigns. This, along with other innovative ideas, made me think that it was a really brave approach to developing a game, with many mechanics that are so different from anything out there right now. No marketing department telling them how many copies monthly resets will bring, they just decided to take the chance and even if someone might not like that feature per se, what we as players should appreciate is the balls it takes to do something innovative not knowing how it will turn out.
At first my superficial opinion of the two games was as follows:
CF - Many new features and potentially a new way to play MMORPGs, either they pull it off and it will be great or they fail to implement it and it will fail soon after launch. Still, I might enjoy it.
CU - A DAOC reboot. It takes courage to go against the market though, betting hard on features aimed at old-timers. Will probably not sell enough copies to stay alive but those DAOC nostalgic players sure must be happy.
I am glad to have realised that, after further investigation, CU is a lot more than a DAOC reboot. The more I read about the features they expect to implement the more I like the game as a whole. Meaningful racial bonuses, boons and banes for each class, non-mirrored classes, crafters providing all the equipment and faction-pride like in the old days are all things that I always looked for when trying new MMOS, but always ended up disappointed. The racial bonuses above all, I have always loathed the fact that choosing a race is merely aesthetic.
In the end I also realised that CU team, between the two, is actually taking the biggest leap of faith. As for CF, introducing new features is always daring but you are bound to attract attention because the players will want to give it a try. The risk lies mostly with the fact that you don't know if those features will work and how many players will remain interested after launch. For CU instead, they are actually focusing on features that have been discarded by the MMO masses in the past years (for reasons best left unmentioned). For example, learning that you have to travel by boat to get somewhere (no teleporting around) is enough to actually dissuade a potential customer (one of those game-hopping content-locusts who just wants to have a look, for a fee). CU developers seem to me like an EU4 player who creates his custom nation at the beginning of the game giving himself a difficult start on purpose because he is going to enjoy the game better. That's the way I like to play EU4 by the by.
I haven't pledged yet because I wouldn't be playing during alpha stages though I am glad someone else did, otherwise they would not have worked on these games for the past few years. Players who pre-purchase so early should not be considered one of the problems this genre has: while giving money away so early, when the developer has nothing to show for, can and is exploited by most companies, without the pledging approach we would also have no chance at all to see innovative or niche games come to life.
I am glad that I took some time to look into these two projects recently. Even in the eventuality that they fail to deliver, or they turn out not to be as good as fans expected, they are great examples of how MMOs should be done:instead of asking the marketing department what the sales projection for a certain feature would be, they just do it because it fits the idea they have.
In the end, after years of having no expectations in the genre, there is a game on the horizon that I am excited about. I wonder how many other players are counting on these two titles to save the MMO genre for them, before giving up entirely.