Sins Of A Dark Age Enters New Age, Drops RTS Bits

By Nathan Grayson on January 9th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Sins of a Dark Age ain’t what it used to be. In spite of my totally sly, semi-misleading opening remark, I don’t necessarily mean it’s worse. However, I have no idea if it’s better either. It’s just, you know, different. In short, though, Ironclad’s decided to remove the RTS-like Commander role from its MOBA flagship, so now it’s hoping to weave between the toes of titans like DOTA 2 and League of Legends by emphasizing RPG aspects. “Realm Quests,” as they’re known, are triggered by a Left-4-Dead-ish Quest Director and introduce special conditions into otherwise standard MOBA matches. “Imagine dealing with the threat of a vermin carried deadly plague, welcoming the arrival of timely reinforcements, ordering your own personal troops, escorting a merchant convoy, hauling back stolen treasure, racing to gain favor of a powerful ally or even working cooperatively with your enemy against a deadly common threat,” says Ironclad. More details after the break.

So Realm Quests are spawned at the Quest Director’s behest, and they apparently become priority number one for both teams as soon as they enter the field. Ironclad gave the following example:

“The Quest Director decides it’s time for ‘The Veric Plague’. Mobs of plagued Verics will then begin spawning at fixed locations in the jungle. These aren’t like normal creeps though because they will attack anything that comes near them and can infect players with their rabid bites. However, this form of the plague is not all that dangerous. Players have the option of attempting to race the other team in collecting infected Veric pelts in order to create a biological weapon of sorts. They can either collect them by killing plagued Verics or by stealing from enemy Heroes by killing them. The first team to collect the requisite number of plagued Veric pets wins the Realm Quest and the loser is now infected with a nasty plague debuff for a certain length of time.”

So it stands to vary up the standard flow of matches pretty significantly, and Ironclad’s promising to come out the gate with more Realm Quests “than can possibly spawn in a single match.” Meanwhile, the plan is to add many more as time goes on, then divvy them up into various rotations.

The hope, then, is that SOADA (which I will definitely shorten to SODA from now on) will feature worlds that feel more alive and spontaneous than the current MOBA crop. And certainly, that idea seems to mesh a lot better with MOBAs’ individual hero focus and pacing than traditional RTS resource-collecting and unit commanding. But will it be enough to yank players away from the poisons they’ve already picked to sate their MOBAholism? Obviously, it’s impossible to say at this point. I sure hope so, though. I hope so because SODA.

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29 Comments »

  1. Bhazor says:

    Well, fuck.

    So much for the real time Total War game I was hoping for when this was announced.

  2. Scroll says:

    It was announced as a Moba anyway. I just wished they dropped the Moba bit and not the RTS bit. A Fantasy sins of a solar empire sounds pretty great to me.

  3. Josh Wanamaker says:

    There goes my interest in Sins of a Dark Age. I did an interview with Ironclad at the GDC last year, and the “commander” aspect, with all its neat RTS mechanics, got me incredibly interested in the game. It’s been far too long since we’ve seen a developer attempt to give one player command authority over others, like in Savage, or Allegiance, or NS1/2. I was really looking forward to this. Ah, c’est la vie.

    • KDR_11k says:

      MOBAs are too small scale for a commander role IMO, with 5 people on a team you can coordinate well enough on your own. It’s Battlefield-sized games where a commander really benefits the game. The dynamic objectives sound a bit like Section 8′s dynamic combat missions but those weren’t triggered by an “AI”, they were based on the feats (mini-achievements) that the players on a team got. Making them based on a randomizer doesn’t sound like a good idea if you don’t want people to feel like they were getting screwed over by the random number god.

      Section 8 was the kind of game that could have used a commander role as team coordination was pretty difficult in that.

      • mouton says:

        Natural Selection 2 kind of disagrees on the matter of scale.

  4. Xzi says:

    Jumping on a bandwagon, much? I don’t see how these developers don’t realize that the audience for a given game type/genre is already stretched quite thin. And while all the questy bits do sound better than what is found in other MOBAs, that’s not why people play them. It’s a competitive genre, and most people want less getting in the way of direct confrontation with your human opponents, not more. MMOs do a better job of mixing PvE and PvP, anyway.

  5. lordcooper says:

    I -was- rather interested in this one.

  6. neolith says:

    Bummer, I would’ve preferred the RTS parts over the MOBA parts. In fact, I’d love to see a well done singleplayer RTS again. The last good one I remember playing was CoH…

  7. maximiZe says:

    Please think twice about using Riot’s special snowflake term “MOBA” as it still is hilariously stupid.

    • Kid_A says:

      Stupid, but due to popularity it’s become the standard – you try explaining to LoL players that they should call it an ARTS or an AoS-like. Also partly because most LoL players aren’t even aware of the game that spawned the genre (Aeon of Strife) because they’re too busy throwing around huge Riot-funded prize pools as evidence their game has in some way “won” against Dota 2.

      • Slaadfax says:

        Someone used the term “lane-pusher” a while back, and I find that fits much better than MOBA (discounting, of course, games without lanes like Bloodline Champions). Although, ARTS seems a decent moniker as well. I don’t see the term used often, but real-time tactical (with or without the ‘A’) might also work.

        Of course, it’s really not worth sweating the nomenclature. Yes, while “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena” provides about as much description as “A Piece of Software Entertainment,” it’s become the standard descriptor.

        • mouton says:

          The phrase that MOBA stands for is so meaningless that I bet 90% of players already forgot what it is about or never learned it in the first place.

        • KDR_11k says:

          ARTS usually refers to games that have a single directly controlled unit among a bunch of RTS-controlled units, whether the player just jumps into one of the regular units or has a dedicated special unit. Games like Air Mech, Uprising, Battlezone, Glory Days, Carrier Command, potentially Spellforce. MOBAs don’t have players as commanders over other units and the one unit they have is usually controlled in an RTS style. And while I would call DoW2′s campaign a strategy RPG I don’t think that moniker works for MOBAs either.

        • DeVadder says:

          I like lane-pusher a lot more than ARTS because it includes the non RTS-like controlled ones like Super Monday Night Combat and most importantly Smite.
          Which is also awesome and more people should now about it. Smite i mean. If anyone needs a beta-key: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?5247-Rock-Paper-Smite

        • Eschatos says:

          Lane pusher sounds dumb. Use “Tower Offense.” It sounds good and it’s rooted in previous game tradition.

    • Tuco says:

      Any remark how stupid is supposed to be at this point it’s completely pointless.
      it’s widely accepted, it easily identifies a specific genre so it works just fine.

      Beside, it’s not like other genres are typically labeled under very clever definitions (shooter, shoot’em’up, beat’em up and so on).

  8. Jdopus says:

    They actually stripped it out quite some time ago. I originally signed up for the beta because it sounded like such an interesting idea, but I only got in after they had taken the RTS elements out, it’s pretty much another cookie cutter Moba now and I’ve never been a fan of that genre.

  9. Atic Atac says:

    Who are they making this game for? Do they even have a target market? I do think that the vaguely-MOBA market is pretty much non-existent. Also you don’t go up against LOL and Dota 2. It’s about as easy to succeed in this market now as an MMO. Please make something different and not try to succeed by modifying the lighting strikes of others. :/

    Like others have said. The fantasy RTS market is wide open. One could see something like Total War or just something totally different succeeding….hell even Sins with Swords would be different and original enough.

  10. -Spooky- says:

    Another MOBA with the same boring map. I don´t get the point on this. It´s so hard to develope other maps, with the same “i´ll defence my towers and crush the enemy on a other point” mechanic?

    • JackShandy says:

      Think of it like chess.

      • DK says:

        There’s a reason nobody is playing Khess, a game that works exactly like Chess but from a different developer. Chess exists – there is no target market for a Chess ripoff. MOBAs exist – there is no target market for yet another MOBA clone.

        • Eschatos says:

          Except your point falls apart when you consider League of Legends.

  11. Droopy The Dog says:

    Gorramit! First Demigod drops all the more RTSey bits, now this one too?

    Why does everyone change their minds about it, is a moba/RTS hybrid not as fun as I imagine it to be?

    • KDR_11k says:

      AirMech seems plenty fun.

    • Gnoupi says:

      I guess that it has to be quite hellish to balance on one side, a commander with his minions, and on the other side, champions which are supposed to feel powerful.

  12. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I came away from the beta unimpressed, realising it’s really not the game for me (btw thanks to whomever it was on the RPS forums that gave me a beta key!). I was hoping for something like SoaSE but in the Dark Ages. Boy was I wrong.

    I generally don’t like moba-style games and this one did nothing to change that in the slightest. But I gather there are people who will.

  13. jeanjoan421 says:

    up to I saw the paycheck which was of $8989, I didn’t believe that my friend woz like they say really earning money part-time from there computar.. there great aunt haz done this for under twenty months and as of now paid the dept on there condo and bought a new Buick. we looked here, http://www.bit90.com