NCSoft’s New Game Reveal Revealed

By Alec Meer on July 29th, 2011 at 3:40 pm.

Sci-fantasy!

Revealed: a game will be revealed next month. However, this quasi-news is of note despite the lack of a name and a JPEG or two purely because it concerns the next MMO from NCsoft, and the impressive clutch of developers who are making it. It’s made by Carbine Studios, a sort of MMO dev supergroup headed up by Turbine co-founder and Asheron’s Call co-creator Jeremy Gaffney (who also worked on at least one of Ultima Online’s axed sequels), Fallout lead designer Tim Cain and Guild Wars’ world designer Jess Lebow – plus folk who’ve worked on the likes of World of Warcraft, Everquest 1 and 2, City of Heroes, Free Realms, Diablo II and StarCraft.

In other words, this is probably something we should sit up and pay attention to.

It seems likely this will be far more of a Westernised game than NCsoft’s last big release, Aion, so we’re probably not in for something grindy in the Eastern MMO idiom. Hopefully it’s also learned the lessons of Tabula Rasa and Auto Assault. I met Mr Gaffney a few months back, and he seemed to have The Right Idea About Things, plus genuinely convinced that this is going to be an immense release in MMO-land, so I’ll be paying attention to whatever this is very carefully. And I’ll get to find out what it is next month at Gamescom, on Weds 17 August. I’ll be sure to report back to you, hopefully excitedly.

Meantime, let the guessing begin. Over on Carbine’s site, all we’ve got to go on is a collection of environment concept art, given names such as Valley, Swamp, Forest, Desert and Wolves. This would seem to suggest a fantasy game to me, but perhaps those names are a red herring. Potentially the most illuminating is Battle, as seen at the top of this post. Who knows if that art style will be carried over to the game proper, but I like it.

Another element to mull is the business model. Will NCsoft go down the subscriptions route again, or does the Guild Wars up-front purchase hold more clout now? Then there’s City of Heroes going free to play…

Who knows. I keep inclining to thinking at Star Wars: The Old Republic has to be the end-stop of the age of expensive subscription MMOs, a last titanic blow-out, but maybe there’s still some life in MMO v1 after all – for the right game.

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63 Comments »

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  1. Tams80 says:

    I hope the business model is like Guild Wars, but then again I sort of don’t. For those a budget though, it certainly is more appealing, yet still profitable.

    But that’s getting too far ahead. I do like that artwork. I do hope if there are mountains you can actually go up them, as I do love a good fight atop a mountain.

    • runtheplacered says:

      I hope it eats babies. Then again, maybe I don’t

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      I hope this doesnt become a new joke. Or maybe I do.

    • Temple says:

      I wish people would read the article before commenting

      “Valley, Swamp, Forest, Desert and Wolves”
      THERE WILL BE NO MOUNTAINS!
      Day One purchase for me, I’m tired of mountains

    • Valvarexart says:

      “Highland Vista

      “Highland Vista” is an inspiring arrangement describing a region with majestic mountain views atop the tallest snow-capped peaks.”

      No mountains, you say? Then again, maybe you don’t.

  2. President Weasel says:

    I think I might be MMO’d out, but I’m intrigued by this. I wonder what it will be like?

  3. Bobzer says:

    Here’s hoping for a sandbox!

  4. Ashrik says:

    Sounds like there are a lot of chefs in that kitchen

    • Ian says:

      Well, you know what they say. Too many chefs are worth two in the bush.

      Or something to that effect.

    • Bennus says:

      I think it’s don’t put all your chefs in one pot, before they’ve hatched. Saved me many a time, that metaphor.

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      Hmm, I always thought it was a rolling chef makes light work.

    • BeamSplashX says:

      A chef who lives in a glass house is a chef earned.
      Blood is thicker than chefs.
      To err is human, leave no chef unturned.
      If the chef fits, it would be necessary to invent him.

      Guide to life, right there.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      And don’t forget to look a gift chef in the mouth to catch the worm.

    • gwathdring says:

      It takes a chef divided against himself to tango.

    • Highstorm says:

      Alright, this is getting out of the chef’s kitchen. Settle down.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Oh come on! Get with it! It’s not like this metaphor thing is rocket surgery!

    • Shuck says:

      “Sounds like there are a lot of chefs in that kitchen”
      Well, that’s every MMO, it’s just that in this case, we know who they are (or at least where they worked previously).

    • gwathdring says:

      Rocket surgery sounds difficult. And awesome.

  5. doubledope says:

    until they get rit of the formula (g*time)>skill where g=grinding I will never touch a wow style MMO again.
    Therefor I really like Realmofthemadgod. Grinding only lasts about an hour and after that you are slaying gods like there is no tomorrow with skills that are normally needed for japanese sidescrolling shooters.

    • Premium User Badge

      Diziet Sma says:

      This comment makes me want to check that out. :D I saw the RPS posts about it but didn’t actually read them. Now I have something to read.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      I’ve never known an mmo where being patient at grinding something made you a good player. You might have all the vanity tabards and stupid side quest pets but grinding making you become a skilled player? Not a chance. (sources: WoW, EVE Online).

      Realmofthemadgod feels a bit more like fun except for the f2p spend mechanics overbearingly pushing you toward spending real cash money on utter piss. I mean it’s a pretty good way to kill your lunch break but it’s spread a little thin. I can almost smell the Farmville.

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      @Stephen

      RoTMG isn’t that bad with it’s micro-transactions: The prices are a bit steep, but the character and bank spaces you can buy are all permanent so it won’t milk you for a pseudo-subscription like some F2P games.

      There are a few vanity purchases like pets (permanent) and colours/patterns to replace your class’s default appearance (lasting as long as that character survives), and only a couple of gameplay-impacting purchases (large hp/mp potions and dungeon keys – neither really worth buying since dungeon entrances drop often enough and potions have no cooldown so the size doesn’t really matter).

    • doubledope says:

      @Stephen Roberts:
      What I’m trying to say is that I don’t like the concept where invested time is more important than actual skill of the player. Let’s first look at an example that has some level up system but doesn’t necessarily give the upper hand to the player with the most time invested: Call of Duty. I know, it’s far from a RPG. A player with all the perks/ weapons at the highest level has a slight advantage over a player that just enters at level 1 but the low level player can still kill him thus the factor skill is more important than the time invested.
      I have played a lot of WoW when it was released and the problem I had with the game is that skill doesn’t really matter that much. Of course it’s not completely out of the equation but better armor/ weapons and thus stats always outnumber skill. And to get the best armor/ weapons the player has to invest a lot of time, either by grinding mobs with a 0.001% drop change or raiding high level bosses. Therefor players who have other things to do than play it all day have a huge disadvantage. It will be fun and enjoyable for some time, but after a while it gets really boring as gaming and the fun it generates for me is more than just mind numb clicking on things.
      I never said that grinding or investing time makes you a skilled player, I said that time investment give you the upper hand in battles. ( > is greater than, not leads to)
      And about RotMG: The great thing is that there are no weapons/ armor purchases, only potions and pets and other visual stuff. There is absolutely no need to buy anything to enjoy the game. I bought some ingame items as a way to say thank you to the developers where my ingame spend money equals what I would pay for such a game: about 10 to 15 euro.

    • Ragnar says:

      RotMG seems far more grindy to me. It’s very gear dependent for killing things, but the random drops mean that I get most of my gear as discards from others. And there’s very little end game. It’s an hour or two of grinding to level up, then 15 minutes of god killing until I somehow go from full health to dead. Repeat. While skill helps to keep you alive, the best strategy seems to be to stay in the back, and use other players as shields, since one moment of lag will kill you.

      As far as the WoW raiding end-game is concerned, skill > time + gear. Gear is needed, and it helps, but skill is far and away more important, and will more than make up for insufficient gear. Healers in particular are far more skill dependent. The one exception is main tanks, who are very gear dependent.

      The problem with WoW raiding is the huge time commitment it takes. 10-15 hours of schedule play time is more than I can devote right now. Although even there, skill greatly diminishes the time required, and while I still played, my guild was tied with or ahead of most guilds playing twice as much.

  6. pkt-zer0 says:

    So this is what Tim Cain has been working on for the last 5-6 years or what? Hmm.

    • Tuco says:

      He left the company, anyway, so let’s hope he will jump on the indie bandwagon or something, just to deliver us another good RPG.

  7. Xercies says:

    I really wish NC Soft would make single player games, with there level of artistery, put on a sandboxish world with a great story it probably could be turned into something fantastic. But with now you get a bog standard MMO experience with a niceish world.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      Yes, please! I despise MMOs. Give me a great world with an interesting story. To me, Worlds that do not end = worlds that have little purpose.

    • Grygus says:

      I played both Guild Wars expansions as single player games. It’s true that you can’t get to the very end of the story without grouping up, but I rarely finish single player games anyway. I had a good time running around with my AI bots; killed a couple weekends doing it. it was worth the price of admission to me.

    • Chalky says:

      Yeah, Guild Wars can certainly be played as a single player game (it’s not an MMO, after all) but also it’s not technically made by NCSoft in the same way as games like Lineage and Aion are – just published by them.

  8. razgon says:

    I’m sure you are free to not buy it – Fact of a matter is, according to supply and demand, its the kind of stuff people will buy and play in the world of MMO’s.

    edit: Man there is a lot of comment deleting going on!

    • Bantros says:

      Looks like it’s not allowed to hate fantasy MMOs day.

      Annoying that they are so many of them, most of which inevitably fail anyway. Then something like this comes along with some nice concept art and you just know most likely it will be more of the same

  9. Arca says:

    If they’ve learnt the lessons that other MMO’s have been taught time and time again then this could be a game worth waiting for.

    If not it’s just going to be another rubbish MMO that fails to beat World of Warcraft.

  10. tungstenHead says:

    It seems like MMOs are always made by a startup company comprised of veteran MMO designers or fresh-faced youngsters with a gleam in their eye. Failing that, they’re made by studios that have been making nothing but MMOs for the last ten years. It’s like the pedigree for a purebred dog. The more veteran MMO designers I see on a development team, the more I expect the dog to be inbred and mean.

    That’s just a metaphor. I’m sure the people at Carbine are very lovely.

  11. Raziel_Alex says:

    Are there enough people on the planet to play all these MMOs?

    • razgon says:

      No, but its a social responsibility that MMO developers are aware of, and are trying to remedy. Simply put, the people who play MMO’s are less likely to procreate, thus leading to less people to play the game in the long run.
      This is why the developers have added sexy time to many MMOs now, with scantily clad lads and ladies to rouse the blood of the players, ensuring future generations of MMO players exists.

    • Raziel_Alex says:

      MMO players bred like cattle.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Some would argue they are cattle.

    • Grygus says:

      It’s hard to say; in 2004 nobody thought it would be possible to have more than 500,000 players in a single western MMO. Today that would be a disappointment for a lot of publishers. MMOs have been remarkably uniform in a lot of ways; I suspect there is still a large untapped market out there if you can figure out what people want that they aren’t getting now.

  12. Tei says:

    Good news in principle, but NCSoft are even worst masters than EA. NCSoft like to close mmos that seems succesful, but not as much as intended. :-P

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      NCSoft haven’t shut down many MMOs: Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa were both shut down relatively soon after release because they flopped terribly.

      Lineage 1 was shut down recently because most players had left or migrated to it’s sequel, and anyone who had an active account at any point this year was given free copies of Lineage 2, Guild Wars, City of Heroes and Aion, along with two months of gametime for *each* of those games and various in-game gifts… so I’d say they’re a lot more considerate than most.

  13. CaspianRoach says:

    ANOTHER NCSoft’s MMO? How many dozens of those they have already? Why do they feel the need to publish more?

    • applecup says:

      It’s called “money”. The more people they can get to give them more money, the happier they will be.

      Shocking, I know.

  14. Eldiran says:

    Oh boy! A new MMO! Haven’t seen one of those in a while.

    I wish I had something meaningful to contribute but unfortunately I’ve recently developed a condition that compels me to mock any and all MMO-related developments.

    • nmute says:

      i’d like to see a developer say “yeah, we’re giving it a good bash. we like what we’ve come up with but, who knows,” when describing their new MMO project.

    • Shuck says:

      @ nmute: That’s pretty much how I interpret all the press releases, once I translate it out of PR-speak.

  15. Waste says:

    Something else they can shut down when it doesn’t generate enough profit, yay!

  16. ScubaMonster says:

    That’s certainly an impressive resume for the developers. Asheron’s Call is particularly exciting. But, that doesn’t mean the game will expand on any great ideas of all of those previous games they worked on. For all we know it could be yet another cookie cutter MMO.

    • Torgen says:

      Wow, it would be hard to decide which game I’d spent more time in- Ultima Online or Asheron’s Call. AC had real projectile physics, back in the days of rudimentary 3D, and I always dreamt of winning the lottery, licensing that engine with the HUGE view distance and the ability to physically dodge projectiles regardless of your character’s stats, and making a MechWarrior MMO.

  17. Epsilon says:

    Timothy Cain left carbine studios recently.
    http://i51.tinypic.com/k4xjj8.png

  18. Rhalle says:

    As much as I want to believe the letter that Carbine released the other day, I just can’t make myself. The “We make games because we love them, and we make games that we would want to play” sounds so nice. And then it goes on to describe how they’ve come up with new and revolutionary ways to make the same experience rewarding for new and veteran MMO players alike. When I hear that know the first part is a lie, and the game will be shit.

    And it’s not really going to be an MMO, I’d reckon. It’s going to be some bastard OMG (online multiplayer game) thing.

    • Shuck says:

      ‘The “We make games because we love them, and we make games that we would want to play” sounds so nice.’
      Every company working on its own IP says that, and they mean it. It doesn’t mean they make games worth playing, however…

      “And then it goes on to describe how they’ve come up with new and revolutionary ways to make the same experience rewarding for new and veteran MMO players alike. ”
      Again, I’m sure they really mean it (though it doesn’t make it true). If you’re making an MMO (or OMG), especially a generic fantasy game, you have to believe you’re doing something revolutionary, otherwise you’d know from the start that it was doomed to failure and never even start development.

  19. MD says:

    Woah, slow down Alec! Don’t drop this sort of news on us without a warning. There should have been an announcement several weeks ago that the date of the reveal would soon be released.

  20. Dave Mongoose says:

    That concept art at the top reminds me vaguely of Outcast…

    I’m interested to hear more about it, but it will need to do something a bit drastic to stand out these days: We’ve got Guild Wars 2 (no sub, freeform questing), The Secret World (ARG-style puzzling) and The Old Republic (highly personalised storylines) all attempting to revolutionise aspects of the MMO formula.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it was free to play, given the other games in NCSoft’s catalogue.

  21. der jester says:

    I’m actually looking forward to this. A lot of people I knew and worked with at Blizzard moved over to Carbine and from what I’ve seen and played, it’s enjoyable, as long as it get’s a bit more polish. I wouldn’t say they revolutionizing MMOs with the game, but they did hit a lot of the proper notes. It would be nice if they had more content on the website than the same stuff they’ve had for the past 5 years, but I suppose after the crap press release they had announcing the studio “A bunch of guys who worked on WoW and a bunch of other MMO’s are working for NCSoft now.” I can see why they haven’t said much.

  22. blipmusic says:

    Please, be a sand-boxey, spiritual sequel to Asheron’s Call (1/ONE). Please, be a sand-boxey, spiritual sequel to Asheron’s Call. Please, be a sand-boxey, spiritual sequel to Asheron’s Call. Please, be a sand-boxey, spiritual sequel to Asheron’s Call.

    The exploration fun I had in AC 1/ONE still hasn’t been topped, not even remotely, by newer titles. No real “high level zones” just go far away enough from any town and an Ash Gromnie bites your shiny metal behind (you’d wish you didn’t choose that metal armor at that point). Yum. I miss my slow-exploring dagger warrior.

  23. GrassyGnoll says:

    When will somebody do a Glorantha MMO, using the original runequest as a starting point.

  24. Styngent says:

    A big MMO is a lot like a cheap prostitute; much easier to fall in love with pre-release. Then, to extend the metaphor, you wonder why you ever handed your £30 and credit card information.

  25. Premium User Badge

    uzihead says:

    Jason Hayes is also in the Carbine team (you know, Diablo series and WoW soundtracks), which is cool.

  26. ocybin says:

    The characters in the photo above remind me of the fantasy races in Asheron’s Call 2. It would be cool, I think, if they made a new one- since their take on classes enabled more individuality.

  27. Casshern says:

    Why the hate on NCsoft? Lineage, Lineage2, CoX, all gems, Lineage just shut down NA server which started in 1998 while the asian servers are still going strong . L2 has still one of the best community’s I’ve seen in MMO’s. And let’s not forget Tabula Rasa, who’s short time will remain with us forever. Just saying that western MMO company’s like blizz, mythic.. could learn few things. Except it’s allways asian grinder this asian grinder that. But Mmo’s catered at 14 year old’s bugs me way more.