Realm Explorer Looks Intriguing, But Hmm

By Jim Rossignol on May 14th, 2012 at 7:00 pm.


John passed me the link to forthcoming Realm Explorer earlier today (through a special hole in the wall) and I studied it. I too, wasn’t convinced. Like Mr Walker, I wasn’t certain that this one had the right stuff. The idea was interesting – no doubt interesting enough for its own RPS post – and Realm Explorer looks like the kind of thing a nerd, introspective man like can get behind: sandbox, procedurally generated worlds, with RPG-like structure, multiplayer, mining, exploration, and all that good stuff. But there’s something about the mandatory Kickstarter pitch that underwhelms me. Sorry guys, but this unchallenging pastoral mix of Wurm, Minecraft, and old-fashioned RPG fantasy doesn’t quite get me on the hook. This could be one of the next wave of builder worlds, but something tells me it won’t be the next breakout success. Ultimately, though, you will decide, InternetBrain. It is in your hands.

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68 Comments »

  1. Catweasel says:

    The screenshots look kinda like Gothic to me, even if the game itself plays quite differently.

    • Alextended says:

      Double post… Baleet.

      Ok, I only edited this post and marked it for deletion after I thought the other post got approved… but now it’s back to waiting for moderation too for no reason… Lots of other posts with links seemingly don’t have issues… Including a spam bot…

      Eh… I guess I’ll wait and see what’s gonna happen…

    • Alextended says:

      That’s the vibe I got too, sandbox-like Gothic. Exploring landscapes like that should be pure joy for me. I like that they have a lot more than just vague ideas and concepts to show, however early it clearly is. I got a good vibe from it, I’m baffled there’s barely any coverage so the Kickstarter isn’t moving faster, and that Jim here didn’t find much to like. I doubt it would become a Minecraft scale success, but I don’t care about that, it looks right up my alley and I hope it gets made whether the Kickstarter campaign succeeds or not. The developers clearly have the dedication and skill needed imo. Watch their videos!

      Apparently I can’t post links to them or my comment is marked for moderation, and nobody unmarks it. I would have thought RPS would embed one or two…

      I was told they’ll soon have more footage to show some combat related stuff as well as a single player demo they will send to some people. Hopefully Jim will find more to like, even though it’s too early for it to show its full potential. I can’t wait to see more, whether it becomes a huge hit or not isn’t my concern, as long as I get to play and it works out for the developers enough to support it sufficiently and maybe even make more like it in the future.

      I personally got tired of Minecraft relatively quickly as it didn’t evolve in the direction I hoped for over time, so I’m glad this one’s going to have a more RPG-like direction with more things to do than just build stuff and basic fighting, though they still want to cater to the pure sandbox players too going by what they say.

      • Phantoon says:

        Jim is surely more careful with his endorsements than the newest member of the hivemind.

        • Alextended says:

          Woah, why so defensive and needlessly insulting with nothing but ignorance to back that intention up with? Did I imply Jim is evil by saying that I personally thought he’d like more of what they show here or that I expected a video or two to be embedded since he didn’t want to talk about it more? Or did I imply this is in fact going to be the next big thing to surpass all big things just because its direction suits my tastes (without even saying it’s certain to turn out great, as any unfinished game’s future is uncertain whether it’s on KS or not)? Christ, internet…

          Edit: perhaps you misunderstood the “barely any coverage” bit, that wasn’t about RPS in particular. They did just cover it…

  2. Kelron says:

    I’m always fascinated by the idea of these buildy-type games, but the only one that’s paced in a way satisfying to me is Terraria (and there I’m less interested in the building than the exploration and gathering). I’ve tried Wurm and Minecraft, but after hours spent chipping away at blocks to add to the latest construction I always feel like I’ve wasted the time rather than spent it playing an enjoyable game.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      I think Starbound might appeal to you. No set release date yet, but likely this year.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Disagree completely. I found Terraria to be quite boring after spending several hours “exploring” a cave that yielded zero worthwhile loot. For a game of this kind, careful attention being paid to the sense of progression needs to be there, and it just wasn’t simply because the worlds were procedurally generated. The pacing of the whole game was off, where it didn’t matter to the generator if it created a world where you had to spend hours going through completely boring caves before finding anything even remotely of use.

      Minecraft is different (read: better) because its goal of building is much more easily attainable in the pace I wanted, not the pace the game randomly decided to generate.

      • Wisq says:

        Liked them both. Terraria as more of a game, Minecraft as more of a sandbox world.

        I played vanilla Minecraft a bunch, but it got pretty boring pretty fast compared to Terraria, and for a while I considered Terraria the better of the two, or at least certainly the better game. But I just recently started playing with Minecraft mods (particularly IndustrialCraft and the Tekkit pack), and I haven’t looked back so far.

        Either way, they both need to be played multiplayer to keep my attention these days, as I’ve essentially “finished” singleplayer in both and there’s little appeal left there. Minecraft actually needs multiplayer+mods while Terraria only needs multiplayer, so one could perhaps say that vanilla Terraria still beats vanilla Minecraft in my books. But once you take into account that Minecraft has all those awesome mods, is adding a mod API in 1.3, and is going to merge singleplayer and multiplayer to make modding easier, Minecraft comes out on top overall.

  3. Keirley says:

    The idea definitely seems solid, but it doesn’t appear to be anything genuinely original. And they are rather asking for a mental amount of money, considering they don’t seem to be established names like Double Fine or Brian Fargo.

    • Desmolas says:

      Thats a very fair point, they are relative unknowns. But setting the bar very high straight off the bat is probably a good way to raise the ‘percieved worth’ of the project if you get what im saying.

      Its a matter of time before one of these projects fails miserably, and when it happens…kickstarter as a model for raising game dev funds will collapse almost entirely. Everybody is on the bandwagon while the going is good.

      • RSSeraphiel says:

        I am one of the developers of Realm Explorer. I think our budget estimate is fairly reasonable if you consider what is involved. We are talking about a team of full-time expert programmers for 6-8 months and as well as artists, composers and other resourced provided on contract. The work we’ve already done would cost well over $250k if we were paying cash for it — since all of our founding members are software developers we have been working for no pay, but we have spent well over $100k out of pocket on art assets (models, textures, etc.) and other resources already.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Did the music industry collapse after the first flop? Did the car industry disappear after the first crash? Of course not! One failure doesn’t invalidate a whole model. Don’t be silly, you overly dramatic person!

    • Shuck says:

      This is what bothers me about Kickstarter – it takes superstars like Double Fine/Fargo to generate even the modest sums of money required to fund a technically unambitious, low-budget game. Everyone else basically has to have the game already funded (i.e. a team of developers all worked for free for 6-12 months) and almost finished just to get enough Kickstarter funds to pay for some music or semi-polished art assets or a bit of marketing (which is all those the $40K Kickstarter efforts are good for). Most Kickstarter drives are not paying for the game development.

      • Alextended says:

        I dunno, The Banner Saga raised 700k. I don’t think having The Old Republic on their resume really helped that much, and they only had very few things to show for it too… FTL raised 200k after asking for just 10 too… I mean, okay, FTL was far more developed, but I can’t hold it against these guys that they haven’t yet self funded a game of this scale to that extent, it takes quite a bit more to bring to a sufficent level to allow people to sample it.

        • Shuck says:

          People getting more money than they ask for is nice, but they’ve already clearly invested quite a bit of time/money in their projects, and weren’t asking for full development funds. It’s giving people strangely deflated notions of what game development costs (which most people already have), and it makes it harder for people to ask for anything close to full development budgets via Kickstarter. Also, it creates weird dynamics, where people get bent out of shape when, for example, the Sherlock Holmes Kickstarter effort to raise $55K failed and they revealed they didn’t need it for development, apparently under the illusion that the sum would have made up a substantial portion of the dev costs.

          • Alextended says:

            I must have misunderstood your point. I think it’s great it can fund or help fund these low to medium budget games. Of course it won’t replace the budget a publisher can provide for an “AAA” game, I don’t think anyone has illusions of that ever happening outside some potential exception (just to be safe). But that’s not so bad. These are often passion driven efforts, you probably wouldn’t even manage to find a team large enough to require that sort of budget with the same passion, to the extent that it could dillute what the game initially tried to be when there are so many more voices involved. And really, what’s the alternative? Either you have other means to self fund, or you don’t go indie. More funding options for this or any level of development are good, even if they don’t work out for everyone.

          • Shuck says:

            Sorry, I’m meandering, ;) but what I was getting at is that the “big boys” are the only ones who can come in with the expectation that they’ll get a full development budget for even a low-cost game. For everyone else that’s a very rare and unexpected surprise that occurs after the point where they actually need the money. (And this is just with low-budget indie games; Kickstarter doesn’t remotely scale up to fund anything close to AAA projects right now, and I doubt they ever will.)
            I’ve been having discussions with other developers as to whether Kickstarter is actually worthwhile for most indie teams – others have been making the argument that it can be useful to generate awareness of a project, but since teams are going to be generating the majority of the development costs themselves anyways, it may not make sense to go that route. Since Kickstarter takes a percentage (on top of credit card processors, etc), it can be more advantageous to small teams to start monetizing their project earlier (the stage at which they’d be showing it off on Kickstarter) and just getting the rest of the development money from players directly. It’s nice to have the option of using Kickstarter, but it doesn’t, on its own, solve the funding issues for the majority of people who get money that way.

  4. Matt_W says:

    It is, however, laudable that they went out on a limb and chose a medieval fantasy setting for their RPG world.

  5. celozzip says:

    ahem, so your brought this to our attention to tell us how derivative it is and we shouldn’t spend our money on it but ultimately the choice is ours? okay…

    kelron – i could never get into minecraft or terraria like others but the portal puzzle creator has fulfilled that need i think, even though i can’t think of any decent ideas.

    • Greggh says:

      I for one got somewhat excited to see this game… but I’m not setting my expectations high… even Minecraft bored me to hell after playing 200 million hours of ‘sandbox’ing.

      Goals are somewhat overrated (see Achievements), but are nonetheless enticing.

      • RSSeraphiel says:

        One of the ways we want to make the game potentially more interesting is to offer more objective-oriented multiplayer game types. While I don’t want to go into too much detail, since our team lead handles most of the PR stuff, I will say this will involve things like multiplayer co-operative game modes (like defending your town from an ever-stronger army of invaders).

        We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves in terms of all of our possible ideas, especially if they may not make it into the day 1 release, but we are all long-time gamers so we have some ideas for some really great multiplayer features :)

  6. WJonathan says:

    Sure, THAT’s what that hole in the wall is for…

  7. Zancrowe says:

    i really do not understand RPS’s treatment of kickstarter-projects.

    they report a underwhelming project (“Sorry guys, but this unchallenging pastoral mix of Wurm, Minecraft, and old-fashioned RPG fantasy doesn’t quite get me on the hook.”) while simultaneously not giving a shit about really interesting projects that can back up their pitch with actual DEMOS like

    Skyjacker and Kinetic Void

    There are real genuine awesome ideas there like the Shipbuilder in kinetic void or the awesome customisation and soundtrack(imo) in Skyjacker.

    And both Developers give frequent substantial updates and answer their backers but at this rate they will not get funded.

    really RPS should seriously consider which "indie" kickstarters they support. by "indie" i mean studios/developers/projects not already known by everyone and their mum.

    i repeat both kickstarters offer DEMOS to download and obviously besides being in alpha you already feel the passion with which these guys are developing the games.

    take a look for yourselves:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/digitilus/skyjacker
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/seanpollman/kinetic-void

    • Greggh says:

      RPS’s editors probably (and I’ll make it all caps: PROBABLY) avoid getting too excited about Kickstarter because it can prove to be just a fad… Crowd sourcing (in general) needs a bit more maturation before being so widely diffused as a new mean of endorsement.

      • Zancrowe says:

        Yes i totally get that but both projects offer playable DEMOs, which shows the guys know what they are doing and are already deep in development and they really need the cash and rps only reports about the big guys like Doublefine adventure/Republique/Carmageddon everyone knows about already and you know what NOT ONE of these projects had a playable demo for backers to decide if this will sail or fail.

        • RSSeraphiel says:

          We are going to have an early playable demo out within the next 2-3 days. I am not sure if it is going out to the general public or just to select sites / reviewers, and it’s not going to be nearly complete in terms of the final feature set of the game, but it will show that we do in fact have a game in the works and not just some hacked-together video clips of 3d editor tools as some have accused us of.

          It’s a lot easier to get a good demo out when you’re already an established studio with significant financial resources. We are working on our spare time as we all have day jobs and are hoping to be able to finally focus full-time and get a great game out that players will enjoy.

          If you have any questions or comments about our game please leave a comment on our KickStarter page and one of our developers will be happy to answer your questions. Thanks!

    • X_kot says:

      To be fair, this isn’t a blog dedicated to scouting Kickstarter projects. The editors comment on games from a variety of sources, and not all of them are intended to be positive promotions (e.g., the smirky AARs of the street cleaning and modern farming simulators). It’s a general-interest blog.

      Thanks for posting those two projects, though – they don’t interest me, but it’s neat to see what ideas are percolating out there.

    • Alextended says:

      I don’t think this looks at all underwhelming. But even if it did, the point of Kickstarter is to help develop it into more than they could without additional funds (or at all). It also takes a bit more to develop this type of game to an extent where the public can sample it and understand what it’s all about, it’s not apples to apples that they haven’t yet had a public demo like those other games managed. And anyway they might post about these too later, you don’t have to trash another project to pimp what you like. Ideally they’d all get some coverage so the people can decide for themselves, preferably with a bit less pessimism from the journalists involved and a bit more effort in showing what they’re trying to achieve. But yeah, the biggest Kickstarters didn’t even have any game footage to show at the time.

      • Zancrowe says:

        really i did not trash this project at all i merely quoted what RPS had written.
        If you think that was my intention than well.. all i can say is it was not.

        my only goal was to shed a bit of light on 2 awesome projects with less than stellar prospects regarding their funding while simultaneously questioning rps’s inconsistency of kickstartertreatment.

        i mean no one is holding a gun to your head and force you to donate only because rps posted about it and a few sentences can not really take that much time for the editors to cobble together.

    • Reapy says:

      Looked at those two games and I don’t think there is anything there that would strike me there as fitting something I would see pointed out at RPS to get excited about.

      In skyjacker, at a glance on the page and video I didn’t really see anything too unique going on. There was talk about exploding modules on ships, but in the gameplay I didn’t really see anything showing me why I would want to target specific components. All in all it looked just like most every other space shooter out there. RPS typically looks for unique or interesting takes on gameplay.

      Kenetic void, first I thought it was a kinect game, which was me reading it wrong, but the name is pretty close. Looking at it, I saw a gal civ ship editor in play, and yes, that aspect is pretty neat, but I don’t see anything all that interesting in terms of what the game world will be like in which you play with those modules. What will you end up with? X3 with modular ships? It just does not tickle the ‘oooh that is new and clever’ funny bone.

      Both of these games do not have enough of the gameplay defined that is going to make it worth chucking money at. But again I didn’t donate to the big kickstarter projects, but at least those guys have a proven track record of design. You can’t just say ‘I want this sandbox faction do missions ship game’ and make it be fun.

      I would say both of these games should go more along the lines of alpha funding rather than a kickstarter.

      • Zancrowe says:

        right i guess you have a point there regarding the world of Kinetic Void and if it will bore you to death but on the other hand you have to realize that these features are just not implemented yet since they started with the editor and fleshed that out first before doing the rest.

        you have to concentrate the development on a certain feature first if you only have 2-3 people working an a game and not jump wildly around doing one day this and the next something else its just inefficient.

        curse you people with different opinions and tastes than mine !11! xP

        guess i just hoped with the rise of kickstarter and the necromantic resurrection of dead genres we would see a return of the good old spaceshipbattlesimulators aka freelancer or independence war as well, but it seems i have to wait a while before i get my hands on one of these. sadface.jpg

        lets hope starlight inception will not just be a shitty vitaport

        • Reapy says:

          I want a game like this too, but I didn’t really see anything blowing my socks off here. Maybe try starfarer? I threw my money at that game without regret, is very playable and really fun at an early stage. Though it’s not 3D, it still gives you a really great ‘fleet battle’ feel.

          The weapon interplay is really great, roughly based on mech warrior + heat management in the form of “flux” management and a bit more weapon variety.

          Campaign has some hints of a grander thing, and I guess you really can see the light at the end of the tunnel here… not only that but the dev has really shown that he already knows how to make a game fun, which while it seems a simple thing to do, is actually quite a hard task.

  8. Was Neurotic says:

    Well I’m thoroughly intrigued by this one. I’ve always wanted an MC-type game, but with ‘proper’ graphics and a lot more structure to it, and this blighter looks just the ticket.

    • Mattressi says:

      Yeah, this is one of the few Kickstarter projects that truly interests me. Wurm was ok, but it felt like more of a game about menus than sandbox world-building and overall just felt clunky. From the video, Realm Explorer seems a lot more fluid – and as a bonus, has much better graphics.

      I’ll definitely keep my eye on this, though I won’t fund it (I just don’t have the money to be buying something that may never come out or that might not end up being a good game. Certainly if it’s released I’ll check it out. Even if it’s just Wurm with better graphics I’ll buy it, really.

  9. Greggh says:

    Yeah, X_kot got an opinion similar to mine.
    RPS really is all about PC gaming, in general, sometimes taken TOO DEEP into those occluse subgenres – specially when Mr. Rossignol writes his articles XD

  10. Gloam says:

    The main guy has horrible hair. You can count me out if I have to stare at THAT for hours upon hours.

  11. irongamer says:

    Ok, is Kickstarter pushing a full on bona fide video gaming renaissance? Is this just an outlet for people that can’t get their idea passed the “numbers people” at big corporations? Or is it just a growing cesspool where anyone can try to be a developer?

    I see a lot of projects fail, so maybe people can weed out the crap, but there are quite a number of interesting projects getting very close to funding or meeting funding.

    I’m curious what other RPSers think. RPS should due a piece on the possible ramifications of Kickstarter, if they haven’t already… I may have missed it.

    • Alextended says:

      It’s an alternate and/or supplementary funding option that works out for some and doesn’t for others. It’s not the second coming but it’s very welcome. And no, it’s not just lesser publisher rejects that go indie as shown by Double Fine and others. Publishers of course have different profit goals than a much smaller company would so they wouldn’t necessarily work with certain niches some love, as a rule or based on timing. But there are definite risks involved for pledgers so you have to choose wisely as always.

      • irongamer says:

        You don’t think it has any longer term impact on the business of game development? It will just be a subsystem that rides along side the standard game studios and have no overall impact in the future of development?

        • Alextended says:

          Exactly. The other funding options (self, loans, publisher work, the indie fund, whatever else) are still there for those who have the means for them, and this isn’t one that will suddenly work better than others for everyone, so I don’t think it’s going to have some huge impact (beyond personal opinion where getting to play a Wasteland 2, Jane Jensen games, or anything I really want is huge for me). I think it’s not something even the success stories would like to use repeatedly. It’s not guaranteed to work again and that’s not a good position to be in for any company, however small. The goal should still be to manage and have enough success, via later sales, to self fund from that point, though another attempt or two may occur for borderline cases. Otherwise they’d be better off to abandon that niche and in the case of Double Fine for example they would go back to things publishers accept to work with, like their recent games.

          • irongamer says:

            To me it feels like another chink in the armor of top down hierarchical systems, thinking, and development. It may only work for some projects but there seems to be more and more network (crowd) based production/consumption models that are starting to be successful (Esty is another one).

    • Zenicetus says:

      I don’t think it’s possible to evaluate Kickstarter as a concept, without the individual projects it funds. Some are just cool ideas with nothing to show for it, others are more well-developed.

      I’m an avid PC gamer, and as a retired old fart, I have some money to spend on my gaming hobby. I’ve never funded a kickstarter game yet, because they either seemed like obvious titles (or re-treads) that would get funded anyway, or just games that seemed too dicey, or not that interesting.

      On the other hand, I just pre-ordered Endless Space because there is an actual game there, with early access to the Alpha build and feedback to/from the developers. That’s a model I can support 100% with my money.

      And frankly, while I enjoy reading RPS, the more it gets infected with Kickstarter crap, the less I’m interested in coming to this site. And get off my lawn!

      • Alextended says:

        They’re PC gaming news whether they’re on KS or not. Double Fine planning a new adventure or a Wasteland sequel being created are not things the RPS audience would care about just because they started off of whatever funding model, in this case KS? The same courtesy goes for unknown names, imo, as long as they have something more than big talk to show for it, which most do. Besides, almost any as of yet unfinished game they post about could be cancelled or end badly, regardless of the funding. I mean, if it was previously a reviews-only site that only posted of products its readers can already buy I might have agreed, but it wasn’t. Your personal tastes deeming them retreads or unworthy don’t have much to do with their place on RPS, you’re free to dislike them, post about that, or just scroll past… Or like them.

  12. Love Albatross says:

    Does it have an overall aim, an endgame? This is what’s stopped me playing Minecraft, Terraria and probably Day Z quite soon. I want objectives to work toward, not just doing stuff for the sake of it.

    • Mattressi says:

      I certainly hope it doesn’t. You might not have noticed, but a lot of people enjoy Terraria, Minecraft and Day Z for what they are; not what they could be if they’d just be turned into a story-based linear game. If you don’t like open-world sandbox games, this likely isn’t for you – find a different game.

      • Love Albatross says:

        Did I say I don’t like sandbox games?

        Terraria was along the right lines by having boss characters, some of which only appeared if you did certain things. That’s the kind of thing I’m after.

        If you envision how a sandbox game with objectives might work then I’m sorry you have such a weak imagination.

  13. Gap Gen says:

    I miss the days people wrote about non-hypothetical games. I blame post-structuralism blurring the lines between physical objects and the symbols that denote them. That, or the wave of Return to Castle Wittgenstein clones.

    • pertusaria says:

      Thank you *so* much. That’s hilarious.

      In other, less important, news, XKCD today is a good dig at the logic of Kickstarter.

    • Gap Gen says:

      “Return to Castle Wittgenstein” is an old PC Gamer back page joke. I suspect it was the work of Jim, but I’m not sure.

  14. Blackcompany says:

    I once made the claim that, if someone would offer up a game that was 50% Minecraft, 50% Oblivion, I would throw money at them.

    This seemed like the closest I was likely to get to the opportunity. So, yeah…tossed some money in the pot. Doesn’t look like this one will get there, but I hope it does so.

  15. Bob_Bobson says:

    Cheers for the article Jim. RPS got me into the flawed beauty of Wurm Online, for which I am grateful despite the many frustrations at Wurm for not fulfilling it’s potential. The Realm Explorers pitch screams “We want to be Wurm Online, but better” to me. First KS project I’ve thrown my money at.

  16. Nackertasha says:

    It looks like minecraft if minecraft were actually, y’know, a game rather then a creation tool with a game tacked on. SOUNDS SWEET.

  17. Urthman says:

    EXPERIENCE EPIC ADVENTURE!

    (subtitle to video of a man walking past three sheep in a meadow)

  18. Shodex says:

    Wow, why is there so much hostility towards this game? I think it looks quite cool.

    That Yogventures game got funded 227%, and this looks so much more compelling. Why is this Kickstarter doing so miserably?

  19. Vinsurgent says:

    This article is really disappointing, and just doesn’t live up to RPS’s standards. No game in existence has the combination of building and character options that this pre-alpha game has. Minecraft has nowhere near the same breadth of character customization, while Wurm is stuck with abysmal presentation and controls. Yes, this game is generic fantasy, but we have already have countless games with a deep/narrow setting, restricting options to whatever the designer thought was cool. PC gaming needs true breadth and emergent gameplay, not prescribed character tropes.

    I and countless others want a modern sandbox where we can customize our characters, build homes, change the landscape, and LAN with friends. Afaik, Realm Explorer is the only game that meets this criteria.

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