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Odeon
16-01-2012, 10:47 PM
Hello world!

I thought I'd start with that since this is my first post. Anywhat...

So I've been playing a certain indie MMO - 100% developed by a team of four or five full-time devs - for, let's see... about four and a half years now. Because of the size of the dev team, it's taken them that long to get out of the "alpha" version of their game, but it's absolutely brilliant in a number of ways. It's had a group of dedicated players (deemed "testers" because of the alpha-ness of it) that has risen and fallen in size since it was first made available to a small group of people back at the end of 2006. I've sent a handful of emails to the RPS crew about it over the past couple of years (with the first one sent back when I first started reading RPS), but I've yet to see a single post about it. I thought maybe it would have been mentioned by at least one person here on the RPS forums, but I can't find a single mention of it so far. I could have missed it, but performing a forum-wide search for the game's name yields 0 results.

Anyway, it's just made the gold/final/live update of the game available to an even smaller "closed testing" group of players right at the end of last year. It was literally downloadable for the first time on December 31, 2011. With it finally being player-testable, I figured I'd start a discussion about it and share what I've written in the emails I've sent to RPS. Hopefully this doesn't result in too many TL;DR responses and I hope that my words do the game justice.

I sent this to the general contact email back in December of 2010:

Hello gents,

I am unable to find any mention of the Russian MMORPG AfterWorld on your site, so I will assume that you have not yet heard of it.

The main web page for the game is www.AfterWorld.ru (https://service.mail.com/dereferrer/?target=www.AfterWorld.ru&lang=en), which includes links to the player-build wiki, the official ("Tech") forums, the player-made forums, and a number of other important pages. There is plenty of reading to do if you are interested in the game and I must admit that I've read almost every bit of information on nearly every one of these pages (and more!). I am pretty well addicted to AfterWorld and since it is a small indie game with little to no advertising budget, I do my best to help spread the word about the game.

It is currently in the alpha testing stage, though only technically so because it has been in continuous testing since 2006 and the developers will soon (hopefully early 2011) be releasing the update that will change the game in several significant ways:
1. It will go from AfterWorld Alpha to AfterWorld: Survival, which fits with the game's story line as has been released so far.2. It will go from using the Torque Game Engine to the Torque 3D Game Engine.
3. It will expand dramatically in playable space, weapon and tool count, and player base (this last is my assumption based on a significant number of people that currently play Entropia Universe waiting for the Survival update before putting any real time into it).
4. It will go from free-to-play with donations helping with player advancement to full RCE (real cash economy, just in case ;-) ).
5. It will most likely add areas where PvP kills can be looted.

It's a post-apocalyptic world set in the year 2066 (soon to be 2067 since it's calendar advances at the same rate as the real world calendar) after some unknown anomaly wreaked havoc on the general populace by means of a future technology involving cranially-implanted nano bots. PvP zones currently outnumber non-PvP zones by 5 to 4 (though two of the PvP zones encompass far more area than any of the non-PvP zones), but the most recent information from the devs indicates that this will change drastically with the massive Survival update, making PvP areas far more common than non-PvP ones.


In addition, it has rather unique crafting and skills systems, plus it's very fast and fun to play. There's lots more I'm leaving out, of course, but feel free to ask for any other info. :-)

I sent this directly to Alec since he was labeled the MMO guy, only to find today that he hasn't bothered with them since 2008 8-/:

Hello Mr. Meer,

That looks like the greeting you get from those Nigerian scam emails, but this is not one of them. Sorry if that disappoints.

In fact, this is a recommendation to check out a wonderfully-entertaining PC-only game called AfterWorld (no relation to the web show/series - is that still going? I stopped paying attention a while back). AW, as it's referred to by it's players/addicts, is set in the year 2067, but with the same date and time as "real life" and takes place some decades after a series of events that leaves a bulk of the human poplation mentally fried or dead. The back story as it has so far been presented centers around the development of nanobots that are inserted into the brain to increase all manner of forms of human intelligence, but some military test causes a massive EMP that makes the nanos go bonkers in everyone's noggins. The locale is "back-woods Siberia," which has mostly lost all of its snow and barren tundra qualities for reasons not yet explained, and new players begin in a quarantined area to help them recover from the EMP-induce brain scrambling and become productive members of society.

The game can be played in either first-person or third-person views (which can be changed on-the-fly, with third-person having a number of different distances from the avatar) and combat is much like a standard face-paced FPS, requiring real life speed and skill in both PvP and PvE. There are nearly 100 different skills in the game so far, with many more to come in the near future. Each skill can be improved individually, but every activity results in many different skills being increased, and there are no skill level caps or limitations. So every single player has the potential to become "uber" at anything and everything that can be done in the game - combat, crafting, or mining, with TONS of variation in each category. All items that can be carried and used by a player - weapons, armor, healing kits, mining gear, temporary enhancers, and more - are crafted by other players, with no base value placed on anything at all - not even loot! Nothing in the game has a value that is determined by the developers of the game itself, so all values are player-derived, meaning it is truly a "free-market economy" game. There is only one item that does have a designated value so far, the Realty Investment Certificate (http://wiki.afterworld.ru/wiki/RIC (https://service.mail.com/dereferrer/?target=http%3A%2F%2Fwiki.afterworld.ru%2Fwiki%2FR IC&lang=en)), which only one of is given to any avatar from the game's Government NPCs.

There is lots and lots more that I could drone on about for this game (I've been one of its obsessed addicts since I started playing it in 2007, so I know almost everything about it), but that would probably do more harm than good. Instead I'll point you to some videos of the game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkyyXU086_s (https://service.mail.com/dereferrer/?target=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3 DIkyyXU086_s&lang=en) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70CuicP1d5g (https://service.mail.com/dereferrer/?target=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3 D70CuicP1d5g&lang=en), which show previews of the soon-to-be-available, and promising-to-be-very-massive Survival update of the game) and tell you that there are plenty of player-made videos on YouTube as well, but they all show the current version of the game. The current version looks as old as it is (graphics are from 2006), but Survival is MUCH better and shinier-looking. Some preview pics of Survival are below, and they're only small because of the way that images are displayed at the main site (http://www.afterworld.ru/media-lib (https://service.mail.com/dereferrer/?target=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.afterworld.ru%2Fmedia-lib&lang=en)):

http://service.mail.com/callgate-6.50.2.0/rms/6.50.2.0/attachment/view?folderId=14&messageId=ODI5NW1fDGRha%2BuTs3F0rok7U4ViDQ8G&attachmentId=20111117053933.21084maild0@gmx.com

http://service.mail.com/callgate-6.50.2.0/rms/6.50.2.0/attachment/view?folderId=14&messageId=ODI5NW1fDGRha%2BuTs3F0rok7U4ViDQ8G&attachmentId=20111117054014.21083maild0@gmx.com

http://service.mail.com/callgate-6.50.2.0/rms/6.50.2.0/attachment/view?folderId=14&messageId=ODI5NW1fDGRha%2BuTs3F0rok7U4ViDQ8G&attachmentId=20111117054212.21084maild0@gmx.com

http://service.mail.com/callgate-6.50.2.0/rms/6.50.2.0/attachment/view?folderId=14&messageId=ODI5NW1fDGRha%2BuTs3F0rok7U4ViDQ8G&attachmentId=20111117054241.21082maild0@gmx.com

The main web site for the game is http://www.AfterWorld.ru (https://service.mail.com/dereferrer/?target=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.AfterWorld.ru&lang=en) and the player-created, -updated, and -run wiki for the game is http://wiki.AfterWorld.ru (https://service.mail.com/dereferrer/?target=http%3A%2F%2Fwiki.AfterWorld.ru&lang=en). The wiki's got just about anything you could want to know about the game as it currently stands, but if you have any questions, please shoot me a reply.

Enjoy,
Odeon (my forum name for AW)

The next day I sent to Alec:

Oops, I forgot to mention a few big details.

First, it's completely free-to-play using microtransactions instead. However, the microtransactions themselves are handled in a rather novel way that is linked to the fact that all player-used items are also player-crafted. To craft any item, the player pays a small fee to an in-game terminal which handles the actual production of the item being crafted. All such items have a crafting cost associated to them, which is only the cost of the fees paid to use the terminals. The cost of the matierials and item's required production plans have no attached value from the game's developers.

Second, all in-game money is 100% related to actual, real-world money. To get in-game money, you send money to the developers via PayPal in the form of a donation (for the time being) and your avatar receives 10 times as much in-game money as what you donated. So if you send $10 US, you get 100 AWDs (AfterWorld Dollars), minus the 3% fee charged by PayPal for the transaction. There is not any single item that costs 100 AWDs to craft (though some of the highest items do cost a bit more than half that much), with most items costing less than 10 AWDs to craft and lasting quite a while during repeated use, so a little goes a long way in AW.

Third, the reason that sent money is currently called a donation is because the game is techincally still in the final testing stage. Once the game officially goes gold/live/final/whatever-you-prefer-to-call-it, all sent money will be considered a "deposit" into an avatar's account. This is actually the way that it works now, but without all the final paperwork in place (EULA, Terms of Service, etc.) they have to call it a donation. And even though the game is still in the final testing stage, anything produced, purchased, or in any other way acquired will remain on the player's avatar and be transferred to the final game when it is released - i.e. no skills, items, in-game money, or anything else will be wiped.

Last, when the game does go live, it will be possible to withdraw money from inside of the game to be transferred back to a player's PayPal account. There will probably be other options as well, but no word of more details about the process have been shared. This is the RCE portion I referred to in the subject of my last email - a Real Cash Economy that allows for back-and-forth transfer of real-world monies to and from the player's game account. I have only seen this done in one other game, called Entropia Universe, but that game is designed and run as a casino, where the loot from killing every mob and the results from crafting any item are a pull on the "one-armed bandit" that is their slot machine. I wasted very little time and money on that experiment when I saw how very stacked the odd were against the player and for the house.

Again, if any of this is confusing, odd, or in any way lacking, just let me know and I'll do my best to clarify.

Odeon

I'll apologize again for the length and I hope the pics don't end up too screwy and all, but I put a lot of thought into those emails. I had to remove about half of the images I originally included, but they can all be seen at the game's web site anyway.

Odeon
17-01-2012, 05:02 PM
Okay, maybe I should have broken my post into separate posts instead of one big, long one, but in the end it's the same idea: lots of text to read. Plus, it felt like artificially trying to raise my post count, so instead I put everything into one post.

Here's the Cliff's/Spark Notes version:

Indie-made, player supported, non-sponsored MMO
Free-to-play from the ground-up, designed not to eat up as much cash as possible (everything usable in the game is player-made and the game only eats small crafting fees and not much else)
Skills, items, money, loot, and everything else that are gained/made in Alpha will be transferred to the live/gold version (no character wipe)
Setting is post-cataclysmic (after everyone's brains were scrambled, essentially) Russia, Asia, and Middle East (so far) in the year 2068 ("In the not-too-distant future/la la la/Next Sunday AD/fa la la")
Players start in a quarantined area to get acclimated and because of the story line (you have to be rehabilitated back into society after your brain gets scrambled)
Most technology survived the cataclysm (it wasn't a "true" apocalypse, so there are weapons and tools of all manner to play with), but it's obvious that most people are gone and things are a mess
The world government is in shambles but is piecing itself back together to try to return order to the chaos
There are all manner of insane-looking mutated beasts and robots roaming the wilds
There are all manner of resources to collect for use in crafting
There are all manner of weapons, tools, and other items (including vehicles*) available for crafting in a system that makes logical sense at every stage of the process (Best. Crafting. System. Ever.)
Combat feels much more like an FPS than any MMO I've ever played (SWG, WoW, etc.) and is much more fun than most
Collecting resources requires an axe to chop down trees, a pick to mine rocks, or earth-scanning devices to find metals and mineral in the soil
The skills system makes logical sense and does not have any artificial caps or limitations to what you can do - if you want to be a jack-of-all-trades and be the best at all of them, you can do that; if you want to be the best at any one thing, you can do that too
The world is a seamless expanse that covers more area than any other MMO I've ever played (it can take hours to run from one end to the other with no stopping if you don't have a vehicle)*
Vehicles range from personal dune-buggy-like cars to cargo trucks to armored personnel carrier-like things (and more!)*
There are societies, corporations, and political parties* for any player to start, join, and/or run
Corporations are able to build up vast production systems for producing all manner of refined resources and craftable items and have financial control over owned regions of land*
Political parties are still a bit of a mystery, but there are hints about the ability to control land regions
And the game has only just begun!

* This feature will be available in the live/gold Survival update