Live Forever In Mortal Online Open Beta

By Jim Rossignol on February 1st, 2010 at 2:08 pm.


RPS Beta Army, you are hereby required to conquer Mortal Online, which goes into open beta today. “But what is Mortal Online?” Well, I’ve only gone and answered that particular inquiry over at Eurogamer by performing the ritual of the preview ritual here. In it I explain:

Mortal, being developed by Swedish studio StarVault, is focused on creating an experience that lives up to the legacy of Ultima Online: returning to that philosophy of freedom and player co-operation while at the same time carving out its own niche with modern tech. Mortal Online is powered by the Unreal 3 engine – employing a new landscape engine to create an immense terrain – and is played with a first-person camera. While StarVault has evidently been galvanised by the Ultima way of doing things, its game has a look and feel of its own. You might be able to grind up resources like in UO, but exploring a 3D world is quite a different experience.

And so on. Anyway, go, see, beta, conquer.

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63 Comments »

  1. Captain Becardi Jagermister says:

    Awesome!
    It’s like that one game that came from the same region that is informed by the same thing…
    If only I could recall the name, I’d put “2.0″ after it to state my opinion on this… Unfortunately, I can’t remember it.

    Though, I wonder if this will have the really cheesy sounds in it as well. Might as well check it out, i’m sure a dev team will get this formula right eventually!

    • Captain Becardi Jagermister says:

      This is really going to bother me all day now.

      What was that game’s name? Jim reviewed it on Eurogamer, and it got a 3/10…
      Y’know, the one where you could loot everything from a slain enemy, so many folk decided to run around naked. Where the advertisements stated people could join epic armies and lay siege to any and everything, but the game turned out to be played as many skirmishes between small guilds?

      Man, someone help me out… I can’t live like this!

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Kieron reviewed it, and it was called Darkfall.

    • Captain Becardi Jagermister says:

      Darkfall… Yep, that’s it. Thanks. Whew.

      See you guys in this game, though. Fear not, just look for the noob killing other noobs and you will have found me.

    • manveruppd says:

      Wasn’t really from the same region either. Unless you live on Jupiter and anything smaller than Siberia is just a blip on the map for you.

  2. Arathain says:

    Downloading! I shall give it shot.

  3. volsung says:

    “It came from the same region”? Europe? Because as far as I remember, Aventurine is a Greek developer, not Swedish, which makes quite a difference.

    Even if the basics are more or less the same, the way they’re done in MO is quite less forgiving (and more AWESOME).

    I don’t think it should go open yet, tho.

  4. catmorbid says:

    Such are the pains of being and indie developer, that one must release far before reaching perfection. At least MO has an open beta, unlike DF, which only promised such. Anyway, MO is unique in many sense, I strongly urge everyon to check it out!

  5. def says:

    Too bad the majority of MMO-curious folk have been kicked in the balls by so many titles these last years, really promising ones like this one and Allods will have considerably less people even willing to try a new game for the next few years.

    Except for the ever vocal, but small in numbers, WoW fanboys in denial. “Screw WoW! [insert soon to fail MMO name here] will be so much better! See you losers!” These buy the initial game and maybe pay for one or two extra months and after that they go crawling back.

    And what’s best: Blizzard has adapted. Been away for 3 months? No problem, invest just 10 hours more per week and you’ll be back to the desired equipment level in no time.

    Honestly, I can’t see any new MMO succeeding in a way that WoW, LotRO or EVE-O have done.
    Niche games like all those pesky asia grinders maybe, but the western MMO market is about as promising as the vampire movie genre.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Putting EvE-O in the same basket as WoW on this aspect is a kinda bold statement imho (considering EvE has emerged and survived through quality, regularity and plain design courage while WoW has done so by the sheer pressure of a gaming industry giant). In fact, EvE-O success is just a proof that a well managed and well thought mmo is able to pierce through without an important marketing backbone actually.

      It’s probably a little bit harder than before, considering the amount of past and present online games do not make anything labeled “massively online” a seller anymore, but it’s probably for the best.

      Hell, the mmo genre started with a masterpiece such as UO and only seemed to emerge with WoW, so I’m not convinced that we could draw a reliable model to what works and what don’t. Would be too easy maybe.

  6. Jockie says:

    Shall give this a shot. It does sound a little bit harsh and unforgiving, but it also sounds like it has great potential for player controlled universes and ‘emergent gameplay’. It probably like EVE requires a decent group to play with to get anything out of the experience though.

    • Jockie says:

      Kind of, my usage of it meant gameplay that arises not so much through design, but through interaction or cause & effect.

      Griefing is a part of it (perhaps an undesirable part) but griefing can have it’s own positive consequences such as forcing players to set ambushes, rely on stealth, form unofficial alliances, or doublecross etc.

  7. scottossington says:

    Fallen Earth is independent and while I can’t say for sure that the player base is thriving it does seem to be growing. It has a lot of the same, from what I hear I have never played EVE, mechanics as the aforementioned game, craft pretty well everything needed in game….actually thats all I know about EVE. I have been playing Fallen Earth for a couple of weeks and am enjoying it a lot. From what I understand the graphics and game play have improved greatly. I am however curious about this game but unfortunately not as a FPS. I like to see my glamour boy in action.

  8. PixelCody says:

    I’ll let Darkfall and Mortal battle it out for a few months before signing up for a month in one of them during the inevitable summer gaming lull. I haven’t grasped the differences between them from any previews released so far.

  9. mandrill says:

    Slow-ass texan DL servers for a European developed game? I like that they’ve got a torrent but its even slower. I’ll be giving it a shot once I get installed in about 12 hours :/

  10. Zombat says:

    Why is it that every new game I play some SOB’s already nicked my name? It used to be unique back when I created it for BF2.

    But anyway, has anyone played Darkfall recently – is it any good now?
    And how to does Mortal Online compare to it?

    • The Great Wayne says:

      I have yet to try MO, but as far as Darkfall is concerned, well… it’s imho badly managed development wise and the remaining community isn’t the healthiest around (few subscribers but a lot of whining/griefing/exploiting/bitter guys among them, afair).

      It’s probably better than it has ever been, but it’s not quite enough to justify playing this over EvE or even UO.

    • Meneth says:

      I resubbed to Darkfall 10 days ago and so far it seems pretty good. The amount of subscribers seems to be rising too, as I usually see several other people in the starter areas and at the easy spawns.
      There doesn’t seem to be all that many PKs around, and even fewer griefers. The two times I’ve been PKd so far the PKs have only taken the most valuable stuff and let my armor and other stuff of low value be.
      When it comes to MO vs. DF, I have no idea except the little people have said in the Race Alliance chat on DF, where they say that DF is much better than MO, but as they’re playing DF, they’re pretty biased.

  11. The Great Wayne says:

    Hmmmm, gotta try this one. As a former UO/EvE veteran who also played Darkfall for a while, there’s at least one essential thing that MO seems to have over DF in its player character design: a skillcap.

    This in itself is a hint toward a clever concept and makes me more interested than whatever looks like Darkfall would normally.

  12. Morti says:

    alright, downloading. RPS guys, do make a post if you form an RPS guild of some sort… i hate playing mmos solo

  13. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    Yawn. I’m getting sick of ‘MMO’ as a gameplay style. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a sucker for big populations and persistance in online games(and as such games like Brink and Global Agenda are really appealing to me right now), but if I play another game with numbered actionbars and cooldowns again, I will probably hang myself with my mouse cord.

    • Excalibur101 says:

      Is that even possible? Mouse cords are pretty thin. I think it would snap before anything would happen.

    • the_fanciest_of_pants says:

      You make a good point. Hey I have a spare guitar string within arms reach, that’ll do it!

    • The Great Wayne says:

      You didn’t play Global Agenda did you ?

      Because I fear your actionbar/cooldown nightmare is waiting for you there, too.

      On a more on-topic note however, games such as Darkfall and – it seems – Mortal Online are in fact trying to move away from that classic target/hotskill bar/cooldown pattern by injecting fps elements in the medieval mmo genre.

  14. Resin says:

    I’ve been following this game for over a year now. It differs from Darkfall in many ways. Many interesting promised features, who knows how well they’ll actually deliver but as far as I’m concerned this is my most anticipated game of 2010.

  15. Arathain says:

    I propose any guild ought to be called Rock, Paper, Shield-Bash. Anyone got anything better?

    • Falsus says:

      Rock, Papyrus, Shield-Barrage!

    • Jubaal says:

      I’m waiting for a feudal Japan MMO so the guild can be called Rock, Paper, Shogun.

      I’ve got a horrible feeling at the end of this loooong download it will say that you need to pre-order to get access.

    • Tei says:

      Panda eat, shoots leaves…
      wait.. got it wrong.

  16. salejemaster says:

    do you have to buy this to try the open beta or?

  17. scottossington says:

    anyone know if you have to stay in First person all the time for this game?

  18. Devan says:

    Jim, you should include the email address you used so you can get referral bonuses … or whatever they give .. for all these beta signups.

  19. EaterOfCheese says:

    Gonna give it shot.

  20. Wulf says:

    There are three things staying my interest in this.

    1. The Unreal 3 Engine

    I don’t know why people want to use this for anything other than a shooter, because the problem with it is that everything looks like plastic. This isn’t so noticeable in a shooter, where armours can indeed look that way to a degree, but in a fantasy game it stands out like a sore thumb, and everyone looks like an action figure (skin, clothing, everything).

    In all the screenshots I saw, this was true.

    2. Races?

    Their races are almost ethnicities, as only one or two of them look genetically diversified enough to classify as a race by the official definition, and this strikes me as amazingly lazy. The choices are: You can play a Human, a Human, a Human, a Human, a Human, a Human, or a Human.

    So why not just offer Human as the only choice, like Ultima Online? If they’re really going to claim to have races, they could at least have some fun with it.

    3. PvPeens, Ho!

    They state in their FAQ that the game is based around player interaction – PvP, but what’s mildly irritating is that they also go on (elsewhere in the FAQ) to say that the game is like Ultima Online. Except, that makes it nothing like Ultima Online, it only makes it like Darkfall.

    The problem here is that not everyone is clued in to the full story of Ultima Online.

    UO started off as a PvE game, PvP was introduced in late beta because a small, vocal minority kept throwing wobblies about how they couldn’t kill other players. The game then went gold, but due to the introduction of PvP, the game starting bleeding subscriptions, with people dropping out (mostly roleplayers, who’d found a home there) who’d become fed up with the player-killing. A non-PvP shard was then introduced, Trammel, which is pretty much where all of the intelligent, loquacious players went, a regular land of thespians it was, leaving the PvP shard (Felucca) filled with the “PH4T L3WT D3WD!” sort (and yes, many of them did talk that way back then).

    Therefore, from my perspective, Ultima Online was a game about player cooperation, it was about exploration, creating player-run towns and so on, it was also a real haven for role-players. The problem with a PvP-focused game that has no PvE shards is that it encourages “PH4T L3WT D3WD!” over “Hail, friend!”, which isn’t exactly appealing to me.

    So I think I might give this one a miss. Tone down the plastic looks, add some decent races and a PvE shard and this could be something special, but right now… eh.

    • Darthus says:

      Haha, PvE shard for a game designed the ground up around PvP, that makes a lot of sense.

      And I completely disagree on your point 3. I agree that UO was a game designed around player interaction, that’s what made it genius. And I agree the indiscriminate addition of PvP ruined the game. But that was because it was an afterthought. It’s just the same as adding lumberjacking to the game when it’s not made for lumberjacking and it being totally unbalanced or ill fitting. There were many player interaction based solutions to their PvP problem, it’s just that they added it haphazardly, and so they required a haphazard solution.

    • woppin says:

      U3 engine has nothing to do with that look that you dislike. Doom 3 based games looked the same and it’s entirely due to the assets the development studio chooses to create. The plastic-like overly-reflective stuff is due to devs getting all foamy at the mouth over specular highlights/maps and while I agree it’s pretty irritating when games like Bioshock, Prey, Doom 3 and UT3 all have far too much of it, it’s really nothing to do with the engine.

    • Wulf says:

      @Darthus

      While I appreciate the post, I think you missed my point. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing or that your reply was misplaced though, so let me explain.

      The thing that bothered me was the comparison to Ultima Online, since Ultima Online is a game about player co-operation, exploration, and building, the best private servers only expanded on this. As you pointed out, PvP was a very shallow addition. Now my point is this: Either PvP is a shallow addition to this game, and a PvE shard would help, or PvE is the focus and the game is absolutely nothing at all like Ultima Online.

      Ultima Online is much more like A Tale in the Desert than anything else, and certainly not a PvPeen fest, filled with PvP elitism, and the PvP elitism was a problem I had with Darkfall. This is why I prefer games which are PvE focused, or games which don’t allow PvP elitism to impact the rest of the game/community (such as it was in Guild Wars).

      What I’m trying to get at here is that if there’s no avenue for a person to have purely PvE fun in this game, then this game is diametrically opposite of Ultima Online, and therefore I cannot at all understand the comparison. A PvE game that had a PvP addition that was quickly retracted via the addition of a PvE shard (which most players used) isn’t the same as a PvE focused game.

      I’d love to see another Ultima Online, but if Mortal Online is that PvP focused, then Mortal Online isn’t it. Wurm came close though, as did A Tale in the Desert. But I feel that comparing a game like this to Ultima Online is like comparing a MUD to World of Warcraft.

      So I guess my point is that this game would have some hope if it were more PvE focused, but being PvP focused it can’t hope to ever be anywhere near as fun or detailed as UO.

      Just my opinion, anyway.

      @woppin

      I stand corrected.

      It’s just that I’m so used to seeing it overdone in Unreal Engine 3 that I began to associate it with that, but you’re right, Id’s engine also does it to a ridiculous extent. Now that I think of shots of Rage, all that comes to mind is “Oh my gosh, a plastic desert!”. I actually looked up a screenshot of that to make sure I was remembering it right. So that certainly supports your claim.

      I suppose this is why I like the Source engine so much, I don’t know whether it’s incapable of these effects or whether Source developers just don’t use them, but this plastic effect is rarely present, and wasn’t in Left 4 Dead 2, either. I can learn to love most graphical effects, even bloom, but that plastic sheen is one that completely turns me off.

  21. invisiblejesus says:

    woppin’s right, UE3 often looks plastic but it doesn’t have to. I can see why one would think otherwise though; UT3, Bioshock, and god knows what else all look like shiny action figures running around. Borderlands and Mass Effect 2 both prove that it’s possible to avoid that with UE3, though.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep, point well taken.

      That was actually one of the reasons I liked Borderlands, was the absence of that horrid plastic sheen.

  22. Jockie says:

    @ Wulf, I think the races are meant to be ethnicities, the difference being that different ethnicities have different inherent talents, ie. skills that they’re slightly better at to start. No idea if it’s in the beta but back during Starvaults initial deluge of info they had plans for a blood-line mixing system, where you could mix and match the races for different abilities and visual pay-offs. Dunno if that’s your idea of them having fun with it, but it’s not quite as vanilla as you might think. Fairly sure they were going to throw some pseudo-orcish race in there as well, but don’t quote me on that.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m just spoiled lately, that’s what it is.

      In Champions Online, I was able to throw a cybernetic werewolf together, and things even crazier than that, in Guild Wars 2 I’m greatly looking forward to the Charr. It just seems disappointing to use the word ‘race’ for an ethnicity, and I think they should just base it off different skill pools. Think of Magic: The Gathering, the mages there had a similar thing going on to what the ‘races’ do in Mortal Online.

      I don’t know why, but to me it feels like a bit of a rip to advertise a game that has many races, only to find out that almost all of those races are just Human ethnicities, and they were only calling them races to advertise that they have multiple races. It just seems dishonest, somehow. I’d have been much happier with it if they’d just had ‘Human’ as the only race and then took the Magic: The Gathering approach, and just offered all these differences in stats as based on profession, lifestyle, or even belief.

      Point is: If something is going to use the word ‘race’, it could at least try to justify it a bit. If the only choices are–as I said–Human, Human, Human, Human, Human, Human, Human, Human, or Human, then there’s no need to offer Human 9 times, just offer Human once and different professions.

      When I see race, I like seeing something that’s really visually different, something that has a wildly different culture, something that’s a little bit out there. I felt disappointed with the use of ‘races’ there.

  23. Davee says:

    Ah yes, I’ve been monitoring this one for a while now, and I got in last stress-test. Very basic, some content lacking at the moment, but I still like it!
    Now it’s Open Beta time! *prays the lag from last night be gone*

    Anyhow, where shall the RPS-hivemind set up a meeting? Any ideas? I’d say Fabernum.
    Directions:
    http://mortalwiki.org/wiki/Fabernum
    http://mortalwiki.org/w/images/c/c5/Myrland.jpg

    And for you paranoid out there; it IS open, no credit card details/whatever necessary.

    EDIT: There’s a big content patch coming soon, introducing more wildlife, combat tweaks and new areas! And apparently hidden stuff. Yay!

  24. Davee says:

    And for anyone who hasn’t seen the latest trailer (shame on you Jim for not linking this!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxRgzgscTBQ
    Go watch now (it’s very… indie)!

  25. Harlander says:

    Well, yeah. Intrigued, I started downloading this. Now it’s patching, through a ghastly-slow torrent. Estimated 24 hours to download a 400mb file? Er?

    Hoping that a direct-download link to the patch would be available, I stumbled upon this pearl of wisdom from the forums.

    The patching process contains thirteen steps. Thirteen! This includes several instances akin to the following:


    Step 7

    You will go past the 450mb mark and you will get a error that there was a error with the download, exit out of the updater, and restart it

    That’s an expected part of the patch process?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that the state of its patcher bodes ill for the production quality of the game itself…

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Don’t know what you’re talking about, I’ve downloaded the patch at a steady 1 mb/s and installed it. No errors, no strange maneuvers needed to make it works.

      Was actually surprised it worked so smoothly, as even bigger titles beta of the past were often filled with bugs about patching.

  26. The Great Wayne says:

    Ok, so, started trying it, two things:

    - Be warned, when creating your character, it is naked. And i’m not talking barbie and ken naked, so if you got children running around and/or are against complete nudity just be careful.

    - The character creation system seems quite complex. Apparently your race define your starting attributes, but you can cross breed to tweak the numbers. Haven’t been able to test this extensively as it seems only one character type is available atm.

    Also, the age of your avatar plays a role in your attributes too. The older you make him, the less strong/dexterous he is but the more psyche/intelligence he gains. Other things like size of your character are variables that you can improve and which have an influence on gameplay. Interesting concepts.

    • Davee says:

      ‘Tis be all true what he says.
      Be prepared for an onslaught of naked newbies running the streets when you log in at first (although you do start with rags at first, but they are lost when you die).

  27. mandrill says:

    First impressions of the beta:

    My first character was immediately stuck in the scenery on login, with none of the suggested solutions making the blindes bit of difference. score -1.

    My second character finally figured out how to equip an axe and chop some wood but upon returning to where I saw some NPC and crafting tables had discovered that they had inexplicably vanished. This is due to lag apparently and is an incredibly common occurence.

    I realise that this is an open beta but at the moment it is not playable in any meaningful way. Laggy, lacking polish and I would guess that the lag lies in the network and database code being far from optimal and having memory leaks all over the place. I surmise this from the fact that after a reboot the server is fine for about 20 mins and then it starts getting laggy again very quickly.

  28. Arathain says:

    I logged on. It was so laggy that turning round suddenly meant the game engine went and took a bit of a lie down for 20 seconds or so. I found a shop, which was a bunch of identical hooded blokes standing around perfectly still in an empty building. I equipped an axe and found a tree. I used my gathering skill which made a little cooldown timer appear and count down, with no animation or anything. At one point I got some wood, but only once. I went to another tree. Sometimes, when I pressed the skill button I would do a tree-hitting animation. I got no wood at all. I logged out and went to go watch a movie. I may or may not log back in.

    Zero feedback, zero guidance. I realise this is not meant to be a handholding sort of game, but this is going a little far. Not ready.

  29. The Great Wayne says:

    It’s the problem with everything labeled “open beta”, sometimes it’s a free cookie, sometimes it’s actually a beta. Naturally, most lambda dudes around always expect the first. Well, this time it’s the second option.

    To people feeling lost, there’s a big message in the middle of your screen when you login, prompting you to type “h”, which open the help interface ingame. Said help contains more or less everything there is to know to play MO. Seems that taking the time to RTFM isn’t such a bad idea in this case.

    Actually the main problem with this open beta is the lag. It’s awful, I’ll not try to test it while it’s in this state, as much for my own mental sanity than to avoid burdening the server even more while not being able to play the game at all. Still, this kind of things happens more often than not with open betas, so no big deal.

  30. manveruppd says:

    To anyone trying to get in on this, the installation client on http://www.mortalonline.com/downloadbeta is corrupt, don’t try to download it. There’s a mirror on atomic gamer which works http://www.atomicgamer.com/files/83503/mortal-online-installer-downloader

    However, wouldn’t recommend you use that installer either. It’s currently trying to download the game’s assets and it’s using up 55% of my CPU time (and this is a 3GHz C2D, hell knows what it’s doing with those clock cycles!), clogging up my internet connection, and only managing 50kbps on average.

    There’s a torrent at http://games.softpedia.com/progDownl…oad-46543.html
    I’m not totally sure it works but I’m gonna give it a go because the installation client has exhausted my patience.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Used the torrent they gave on the beta download page yesterday, worked well for me.

  31. manveruppd says:

    You gotta admit, the patch notes are intriguing:

    - You will now dismount your current mount if you get overweight while mounted.

    :)

  32. Jockie says:

    Finally got around to trying this, but the current lag situation is making it basically unplayable. I persevered for a bit of an explore and to familiarise myself with the game mechanics, but i’d forgotton how dull this kind of mmo is to begin with. Spending hours harvesting wood to make a practice sword, by pressing a hot key over and over seems to be the recommended way of starting out, not sure I have the patience.

  33. Javier-de-Ass says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    “It came from the same region”? Europe? Because as far as I remember, Aventurine is a Greek developer, not Swedish, which makes quite a difference.

    it was initially just a small norwegian developer doing darkfall, called razorwax. they moved to greece and formed aventurine and built the bigger team they needed down there.

    darkfall is actually super awesome now. such a great game

  34. Morti says:

    I got this downloaded and installed yesterday, and only today was I able to log in. Apparently the servers were down… and there is nowhere to check the server status. Brilliant.

    Anyhow, i logged in, created a character, selected a town randomly (because god forbid for them to make a brief description of the place) and went into the game.

    First, no tutorial. At all. As said above by someone else, do press H and rtfm.

    I started looking outside the town for some critters to hit n’ kill… there were none. Apparently all there is to be done is to hit rocks and gather minerals, or trees and gather wood.

    Lag is awful.

    There seem to be no quests. NPCs are poorly labeled or marked, you gotta spam Tab hoping to target something, then guess what you have targeted.

    This is a bloody mess. I don’t know how this made it to open beta, considering that’s usually the previous step before going live… but this , this is terrible. The best example of FUBAR you’ll ever come across.