Minecraftbut With Connected Worlds: Oort Online

By Alice O'Connor on August 5th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

Journey into mystery. (Little KG reference for you there, gang.)

“It’s like Minecraft but…” I always feel lazy and petulant saying this. Have we reached a point where we should come up with an actual name? We don’t say “Doom clone” any more (or update it to “CoD clone”), do we? Seems to me this’ll happen one of two ways: one Minecraftbut will be popular yet different enough for comparisons to seem strained, or Minecraftbuts will become established enough that no one cares everyone’s tweaking the same blueprint. Maybe not quite yet.

Meet Oort Online. It’s like Minecraft but servers are connected to each other by portals, and it’s got fancier effects layered over its voxel landscapes. And it’s a lot more expensive to play right now.

The grand vision for Oort is oodles of distinct worlds with giant monsters to hunt, ruins to plunder, shops to run, and so very many things to craft and build. Creating portals lets players into other worlds (servers) which have different landscapes and conditions, and different blocks and species to swipe. It’s a grand vision, but relies on Guildford-based devs Wonderstruck Games getting money to add all these things. Right now, it’s a multiplayer landscape with digging and building.

Features like those combat, crafting, farming, creatures, and those vaunted portals are split up into modules, and players vote to decide which the devs will tackle next. While this does mean folks know exactly what they’re paying for, should funding run dry it’d leave big features missing entirely rather than just a bit shoddy. That’s unremarkable in this crowdfunded, Early Access age, but if I could control my eyebrows independently, I would raise one at the pricing.

$95 (£56) gets you access right now, while $50 (£30) offers alpha access in “early 2015,” it’s $25 (£15) for beta access in “mid 2015,” or $15 (£9) for a copy once the game’s finished, which is estimated as “late 2015.” Star Citizen and Elite‘s high prices work because they target old people who long for a taste of The Good Old Days and have proper jobs to afford it. A lot of Minecraft’s fanbase is littluns who, well, can already play Minecraft with all their friends.

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33 Comments »

  1. aepervius says:

    What made minecraft sucess is a few things as far as I can tell :
    1) people using it as lego in creative mode and doing a lot of nice stuff
    2) people using a lot of mod to make complex magical or technological stuff ,, assembly lines, rituals, expanding vastly the vanilla gameplay
    3) servers with coop or pvp random game

    It is difficult to say from the description but modding is most probably out as it would make the server incompatible. As for 1 maybe there is a market for people visiting creations of others, but that sound improbable.

    At this point of development it is difficult to say, but i think it is at best a very limited market compared to MC.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      The problem with making a game similar to Minecraft is that Minecraft is so moddable, why make a standalone game?

      • Faxmachinen says:

        Indeed. Unsurprisingly, inter-server portals already exist in the Minecraft mod qCraft.

        • WaytoomanyUIDs says:

          I was just going to mention this. What else does it provide other than portals? The monster and creature designs do look nifty, but so do the ones in CubeWorld and Planet Explorers.

          And starting off at £95? They’re having a giraffe! Minecraft succeeded because it was fun unique and cheap as chips if you got in early and it’s still a good price.

    • pullthewires says:

      It’s also cheap, and was from the earliest stages. Aren’t the devs here putting off a lot of potential early adopters and hence hardcore fans/evangelisers?

    • Tei says:

      Minecraft was already a success before all the things you mention (yes, before coop, before proper mods)

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      And it’s a testament to the strength of the core game in Minecraft that modding remains so popular, despite it being an utter nightmare of navigating myriad mod download sites laden with shitty ‘downloaders’ and malware to find the one version of the mod that works with that other version of the modloader, both of which work with that other mod on this particular version of Minecraft, but probably will break after the next major version release.

    • p14c3b0 says:

      Really? I always found the most compelling part of minecraft to be vanilla survival. Creative mode isn’t really that special, there were voxel building games before. Also mods aren’t really needed to make this game interesting for me.

      • GallonOfAlan says:

        Yes I prefer vanilla survival too – but it’s not true that there were creative-style voxel building games that were even beginning to be in the ballpark of what Minecraft gives before Minecraft.

  2. Chalky says:

    Minecraftbut sounds like a mod you want to avoid.

  3. LionsPhil says:

    We still use the term “roguelikes”.

    Unfortunately, “minecraftlikes” is a bit of a mouthful.

  4. Chuckleluck says:

    My head is really confused on whether it wants this game or not. The art style is very pretty, but interconnected worlds and fancy graphics are already moddable in Minecraft. And the pricing – I’m relatively interested right now, but not $95 interested. And I’ll probably forget about the game in a week or two.

  5. valrus says:

    “landbox games” maybe?

  6. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I’m happy that MMOs (which this seems to be selling itself as, rather than a minecraft-but) are moving towards player-built environments. The promise of a player-shaped world is one I’d really like to see, but MMOs have been mostly themeparks recently, and survival games with building tend to be a bit gank-y and deathmatch-y for the cooperative building stuff to really come out. But this has it as its big thing, Archeage apparently has that as a big thing in the endgame, and I think Everquest Next (not Landmark) had it as a bit of a thing (though I may have remembered that wrong, SOE have gone pretty silent on the non-Landmark EQN). Like the resurgence in space games, if more developers try it, interest may snowball and it increases the chances that someone’ll nail it.

    I do realise we’ll have some teething problems as the hi-larious parts of the internet build swastikas and genitalia everywhere and write rude words/racist comments with buildings, (may be why we’ve got so many themepark MMOs recently,) but if developers are brave enough to deal with that sort of thing then there could be some fun times ahead.

  7. sharkh20 says:

    John McClones.

  8. darkhog says:

    We already have name for that genre of games. It’s “Block Building Game”.

  9. xcession says:

    The portals thing sounds great, until you pause a second and realise you’ll just be walking between endless worlds where people have fashioned giant veiny penises, 8-bit mario sprites a kilometer high, and 1:1 ratio version of the USS Enterprise. Unless that stuff is locked down it’ll be characterless.

  10. quietone says:

    Old conventions are good conventions: Yet Another Minecraft Clone (YAMC), courtesy of YAUP (Yet Another Uninspired Poster)

  11. Tei says:

    I think they have hit a interesting balance betwen the size of the cubes and the size of the stuff in the world. Making cubes have weird geometry is a nice feature, and that don’t affect all.. so perhaps is more a variable heigh thing?

    They seems to have good eye for a dramatic fog, different sizes on different distances. The engine make all of it looks glorious.

    It seems a good contender to steal minecraft king of sandbox games. At least graphically.

    The kickstarter stuff is okish. In a way is a evolution from what Notch did. The temptation to pay 20$ and get a demo is high. Because … theres already a demo? the page don’t make that point clear. or maybe is me. There is planed a demo, but it already exist?

  12. Entitled says:

    “A lot of Minecraft’s fanbase is littluns who, well, can already play Minecraft with all their friends.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s precisely the point of inflating alpha prices, to filter out the average audience.

    These prices are high, because they are NOT trying to be popular at the moment, if anything, a small core of devoted fans who are willing to keep reporting bugs, post ideas, and generally interact with the creators, are more valuable than the buggy simplified prototype going viral and tainting the game’s reputation for millions.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      That’s true, but they do still need enough people to actually fund the game.

      • Entitled says:

        The different prices are also crowdfunding stretch goals. Compared to a common Kickstarter, their $15 offer is the “main” tier, while the $95 and $50 tiers are premiums. It sounds pretty likely that they never expected all that much of their revenues come from thse ones, it’s just one of those “hey, in case you happen to be rich or super-hyped, here is this too…” options.

    • Tei says:

      That, or they trough is how much they can ask for it, withouth scaring too much customers that theil make less money.

  13. Turkey says:

    I don’t think there’s any rush naming this genre since 99% of these games never reach completion anyway.

  14. derbefrier says:

    For the record star citizen only costs 40 bucks for the base pledge package, which gets you a ship and a copy of the game. Elite was the expensive one(and still is but totally worth it). Though star citizen is like crack you start out with a base package and before you know it you have a constellation in your hangar…

  15. Everyone says:

    I’d be far more excited by “Oort Offline” … the idea of playing in my own world or having a world shared with a few friends is great, but the idea of opening my world up for anyone to pass through and do what ever they want, well, not so great. I don’t want to log in one evening to find giant penises from bedrock to sky … I’ve got nothing against giant penises, but there’s a time and a place for them and that’s when they’re on redtube or whatever, not in my game worlds.

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