Realm Of The Mad God Has Ruined Me

You bastard

Sometimes, a game comes along that’s the absolute last bloody thing you need right now. There are many things I need right now: time, a haircut, lunch, the extension of about 48 deadlines, someone to do my shopping for me, a cat that can empty its own litter tray, a keyboard that doesn’t give me an RSI, a teleporter, and even more time.

There is but one thing I don’t need right now: a horribly compulsive action-RPG MMO that tickles just about every lizard-part of my brain. I want I want I want I want. I want to level up, I want a better bow, I want to get to the bigger monsters, I want to show that cocking Mad God Oryx just who’s boss. (The boss is me. Or at least it will be. One day. Soon. Yes, Oryx. Soon.)

It’s everything I hate about action RPGs. It’s everything I love about action RPGs. It’s everything I hate about browser games. It’s everything I… oh, you get the picture.

I log on, I pick (or continue with) a character picked from a small roster of class archetypes, more of which are unlocked as I progress with the others, I get out there, I wander around a huge pixel-art 2D landscape and I hold down the left-mouse button. It’s Diablo as a twin-stick shooter, able to creep towards bullet-hell while being absolutely, resolutely shackled to loot’n’xp hunger. I could probably play it forever. I really do not need this right now.

We’ve written about it before, but in fairly cursory fashion each time. Guess Jim and Quintin aren’t as weak-minded as I.


It’s the compulsive core of action RPGs like Torchlight ripped out, everything even tangential shorn off and then the evil, glinting heart of obsessive reward-desire dropped into a new context: the most selfish, least social MMO you’ve ever played. ROTMG is full of other players, some of which seem to be constantly but briefly and cryptically communicating on the general chat channel but most of which are just charging towards the nearest ‘quest’ (actually just one of the constantly-spawning minibosses) as fast as possible, holding down the left mouse button to spam fire at any monsters they encounter on the way and trying to grab any tasty loot that drops before anyone else gets there. Other players, especially later in the game’s cycle, are helpful – even vital. When my character’s just a wee bairn, though, I don’t want anyone else to come anywhere near me. I want to kill all these monsters. I want all the loot. I want the experience. I want I want I want I want I want.

Which is, of course, always why I eventually die. This is a game with perma-death, built upon roguelike values but tossing them into something that is absolutely, gloriously moronic. If Dungeon Siege III had been this… well, I don’t know what I’d have said about it, or thought about it. RoTMG makes perfect sense. It’s honest like no other action-RPG is: it doesn’t pretend the reason we’re playing it is anything other than the reason we’re playing it.

That reason is:


Me. The things: give them to me.

The experience points: give them to me.

Give it all to me.

Back to perma-death: this is the game’s single greatest feature. I’m caught in a delicate balancing act of trying to collect loot for my own character, along with carrying around a few trinkets for another class I can play later. Now, I could go and deposit them into my cross-character vault, but a) that means an interruption of the action/compulsion and b) doing so will lose my current geographical position. That doesn’t really mean much. Nothing, in fact – if I’m quick enough, I can wander back to my server and click on another player near where I left off to teleport to them. But it seems to matter. So I don’t do it, and instead I carry around impossibly precious weapons, spells and armour for other classes and… You know. You know full what bloody happens. Dead.

It’s bad enough to die in a game like this – you lose your progress. But now you also lose the helping hands that surely, surely would have meant your next character would be the character. And, of course, the next player to stumble across your grave can help themselves to all your goodies.

Death doesn’t stop me, of course. Straight back in. This time. And dying does involve cashing out to some extent – if your class made it to a high enough level, it might have unlocked a new class, like rogue or necromancer. It also earns you Honour, the amount of which varies depending on the level and accomplishments reached by the time of your death. This can be spent in the in-game store on…

Ah, the in-game store. Yes, there are microtransactions. Much of what’s in there can be bought with Honour, but if you want the big and exciting stuff, like a wolf-pet, you’ll have to buy some gold. I haven’t done that yet. I think I will soon.

Do you hear me, you bastards? I think I will.

They got me. The fuckers finally got me.

I am not a micro-transactor. I’ve done it a few times, but only in the name of a review. This time, it seems to make sense. I want to tip the odds in my favour, I want a shortcut to being able to battle the bigger, weirder, more loot-tastic creatures that appear towards the end of a session.

But most of all I want the additional storage space for saved loot. I want an armoury full of all the great stuff I’ve found but otherwise have to discard, either through death or lack of space.

And then, when I have done this, when I closed my eyes, prayed for forgiveness and finally placed my lips around the dread phallus that is microtransaction, then I will be the ready to fight the Mad God himself.

Oryx. He only arises when enough of his minions have been defeated by the server’s players. He sends snakes and pirates and goblins at first, but soon darker horrors appear. Liches, Dwarf Kings, poison-spitting cubes, fire-spewing elementals, Ents, demons, Cthulhian squidmen…

That’s always where I die, when his real guards start to appear. Last a bit longer, make it through these minor gods and I, together with everyone else on the server, will be summoned to his lair, to fight him. To do the same damn thing I’ve been doing all along, but with more compulsion, more selfishness, more purpose attached.

And oh, the loot I might get. The honour. The loot. The honour. The loot.

I’m new at this, Oryx. But I’m coming for you.

And yet… I must never play this game again. It’s the only sane thing to do.

Don’t you dare start playing it yourself.


  1. skinlo says:

    Best game I’ve ever played…

  2. crainey92 says:

    I must say I’m compelled to click the “Don’t you dare start playing it yourself”. Great, just what I need.

    • FakeAssName says:

      clicking that fucking button just made me waste the entire day!

      also: that cash shop is a total rim job!
      80 gold for $1.00
      500 gold for $5.00
      1,200 gold for $10.00
      7,000 gold for $50.00
      15,000 gold for $100.00

      each 8 slot storage chest is 500g, new characters cost 600g – 1000g, pets are around 600g.

  3. Pop says:

    I love it, discovered recently the quickest way to advance is always to join a group tackling stuff just a bit harder than is strictly sane for you to be involved with. Dodge, dodge, dodge; sponge of the mutual XP rewards like a symbiotic heroing leach, and you can go all the way. Made level 20 once, but death closed over me like soil over a coffin.

    Out in the badlands, everyone gets overwhelmed sooner or later. The badlands are just minotaurs and robot men and beholders and graves of the lucky few to reach that hallowed point: where death is a welcome end to a moment of blazing glory.

  4. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Those graphics make me think of Half Minute Hero. This is a good thing.

    • johnpeat says:

      You’ve not seen Half Minute Hero on the 360 then? :)

    • Wulf says:

      The 360 version which is damn near identical to the PSP version, you mean? I’m confused by your point.

      (I own the game for the PSP and I’ve watched videos for the 360 version. They’re pretty much the same game. Except one works in context–on a mobile device that you can play anywhere–and the other doesn’t work at all.)

    • johnpeat says:

      I think you need to clean your specs/visit an opticians…

      The 360 version is a Wind-Waker-esque dog’s breakfast of a thing.

      link to

      So much so that you can – apparently – toggle the PSP ‘pixel’ look back on if you prefer it (if you have any taste that’s EXACTLY what you’ll do).

  5. johnpeat says:

    That is absolutely amazing – the design of the ‘tutorial’ is inspired, the game is amazing…

    Shame it’s written in Flash tho – one mouse button, limited size, easy to lose focus :(

    Make it better – NOW

    • Mctittles says:

      Some of the better flash programming I have seen in awhile. I’m impressed, and being a programmer since Actionscript 1.0, that says something. Only wish they would add an option to play at a larger size. The arrow keys still work in fullscreen flash or could have it fill the browser window.

      Also devs if you are reading this. I found a trick a couple years back to track the mouse outside of the screen on certain browsers that loose it. If you fill the screen with an invisible rectangle with a mouse out event you can still track mouse position from outside of the screen :).

    • Drawde says:

      If you’re using Firefox just press ctrl++ until you’ve reached the desired size

  6. Hoaxfish says:

    holding down the left mouse button to spam fire at any monsters they encounter

    “t” toggles autofire

  7. noobnob says:

    Are there any options to disable all of the damage numbers, level up messages and player names? Last time I played, my experience was similar to the second picture in this article.

  8. MiniMatt says:

    The cat is perfectly capable of emptying it’s own litter tray. It simply chooses not to. It has staff for that sort of menial work.

  9. Dana says:

    Holy crap thanks Alec. I played this game long time ago, and totally forgot about it. So I just logged only to see my Rogue is still there ! Splendid !

  10. Kaira- says:

    I thought I’d just give it a shot. And yet here I am, half an hour later, still playing.

    • vivlo says:

      same here. but a little disappointed that you can’t sell things though :(

    • AshEnke says:

      Same here, but it was 8 hours yesterday and it’s already been 3 hours today. Thank you. Very much.

  11. Dominic White says:

    Alec Meer has learned.
    He has learned being ruined.

  12. Kdansky says:

    It was quite a bit less fleshed out when I played it very late last year and burned I don’t know how many hours on it. I believe I have gotten over it by now. At least, I hope so. It’s quite brilliant, really. I just wished there was more than one special ability per class, or any customization beyond what ring you choose.

  13. Grubblik says:

    Oh bugger, there goes the afternoon, good find Alec, thankyou

  14. jokomul says:

    I was having a lot of fun with it until I realized the only way to obtain more gold is to buy it with real cash. That’s always a turnoff for me.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Why would you -need- gold, anyway?

      At any rate, I like the way how they refined the game. There are dungeons now accessible through temporary portals, for example. Nice little game.

    • jokomul says:

      not entirely sure what gold is used for as I just started playing, but for some reason it’s just always a turnoff for me when I see that in a game. I’d rather pay a membership fee to unlock more content. but if you don’t even need gold, as you say, then I guess it’s not that bad.

  15. _Jackalope_ says:

    Tried this the last time it was written about. I killed a couple of monsters and then a maruading gang of other players horribly murdered me. It was brilliant and very funny, but I haven’t played since.

    • cyrenic says:

      If players could kill you before, that’s no longer the case when I just tried it.

    • Mr_Initials says:

      It was probably pirates or elves.

    • notjasonlee says:

      no kidding. can you imagine if other players shots damaged you?

  16. Animachine says:

    Kinda wish I hadn’t clicked that link now, lol.

  17. Terics says:

    Every once in a while I few friends and I get on Skype to play this. Good times.

  18. Mozai says:

    Played this a long time ago, but unable to play it now. I keep getting ‘Security error #2048″ (and yes I deleted my Flash cache).

  19. Colthor says:

    “…I closed my eyes, prayed for forgiveness and finally placed my lips around the dread phallus that is microtransaction…”

    Bravo, sir.

  20. Hybrid says:

    This is way more awesome than I remember it!

  21. royaltyinexile says:

    Damnit, damnit, damnit.

    …this is just like when I discovered captain forever.

  22. Chunga says:

    I think the game is really nice, in fact I love it. Even when I get out of the tutorial session, out in the open and get… killed in a matter of seconds.

    BUT, sorry, I have a hard time accepting the flea-infested thing that is browser games. I get all ADD on it and can’t concentrate on a game if it runs in a browser. I know, I am a sorry old dinosaur.

  23. Bahumat says:

    Some games are meaty feasts. Some are fine lunchtime repasts of bread, fruit, and cheese.

    This game?

    It is a bucket of Nerds candy.

    SO MUCH TINY COLORFUL AWESOME FUN that you do not so much chew upon as just shovel great handfuls of little bits into your mouth. :D

  24. Premium User Badge

    Waltorious says:

    I feel it should be noted that this game’s humble beginning was an entry into the TIGSource Assemblee competition. It was a two-stage competition; in the first, everyone submitted art assets (graphics and sound), and in the second stage everyone made a game out of those assets. I believe this game uses a fantasy tileset that was one of the most popular entries in the first stage of competition.

    For those who don’t know, TIGSource is an online community of indie developers and is run by Derek Yu, of Spelunky and Aquaria fame.

    • Fyda says:

      Indeed! In fact, the artist who created said tileset was none other than… “oryx”. I thought the name of the dark overlord in this game was an homage to the artist, but I could be wrong. :)

      Any folks interested in the lovely pixel art should see the original submission thread.

  25. Danc says:

    Appreciate the kind words!

    Re: Gold
    You don’t need gold to play the game. Pretty much all the content is available for free.

    If you want to support a very small indie crew (4 peeps!) you can buy dyes, potions and keys. But if you don’t want to there is still the entire game just waiting to be played. I figure it is better to give gamers real value and if you fall in love, maybe you’ll willing buy us dinner and roses. You know…for love of the game.

    Re: Coop
    The game is mostly coop. XP is shared and many of the loot drops on bosses are soul bound. As long as you participate in the fight, you have a chance of getting loot that is all yours. Still working on it but loot should keep getting better. We wanted to make it so that players feel good about grouping up with strangers and adventuring about together.

    Re: Pain of Permadeath
    The trick I’ve found is to have multiple characters going at once. That way if one dies, it isn’t quite so soul crushing.

    Re: 2048 error.
    Been getting a couple reports of that. It is a general error that Flash throws when it can’t make a connection. 99% of the time it has to do with internet weather and will eventually connect after a refresh but there are some persistent connection issues (about 5 reports out of almost a million players) that we haven’t been able to track down. Looking into it.

    Thank you everyone for playing! Realm is just starting out…there is some cool stuff in the pipe.

    take care,

    PS: Due to all the traffic there is now a new European nexus. You should auto join the right server if you are close enough geographically. (You can also manually select from the server button on the title screen)

    PPS: Random geekiness:
    1) Realm runs in a 3D engine in Flash…in the options (ESC) you can set up screen rotation and play the game with tank controls
    2) We simulate 25,000 AI enemies on the server. Yes, Oryx has a private life. And a wine cellar.
    3) Hundreds of projectiles, enemies and players on screen at once in a secure and responsive web MMO is crazy tech. Alex and Rob did amazing things here.

    • notjasonlee says:

      sweet! do you intend to implement trading of any kind?

    • jamesgecko says:

      There’s already trading. Say some fellow wants to give you something. You both go somewhere secluded, the other guy drops stuff on the ground, and you start to move forward to pick it up when suddenly another player runs through and steals it.

      Your nemesis drops it on the ground and picks it up again, taunting you. You watch, helplessly, unable to click fast enough to retrieve the treasured contents of the purloined sack. You have been gamed. You have lost! Good day, sir.

    • Danc says:

      More secure player-to-player trading is on its way. In the meantime, you probably want to trade only with people you know and trust. (I don’t trade at all…just gift things to people)

    • Thants says:

      Fullscreen would be very nice to have. It’s annoying to be frantically clicking and have to worry about clicking outside the window.

    • Danc says:

      Looking into full screen options. Here’s a minor hack that folks have been using. Perf is not guaranteed, but it may work for you.

      link to

    • notjasonlee says:

      thanks for replying! glad to hear trading will make it in…it’s such a shame not to have it at the moment. ugh, now i am about to take the plunge and buy a second character slot.

  26. Dakia says:

    Dang you guys for showing me this!

  27. Ktanzei says:

    “O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved the addiction to virtual items.”

  28. DOLBYdigital says:

    I love you RPS, don’t ever change….
    I’m clicking the button that will surely lead to hours if not days of time gone with the wind

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      So I joined the game, ran through the tutorial, ran outside and killed a couple snakes and a pink cube…. then all of a sudden the screen starts shaking and this Mad God starts screaming at everyone….

      Next thing I know, I am inside his lair and running circles around this thing that is killing everyone around me like flies….. i dodge his attacks and somehow survive and killing him….. pretty sweet first impression :)

  29. amateurviking says:

    Ok just emerged 9 hours post-clicking the link that I should not have clicked, what has changed with the world?

    • Stijn says:

      I can only echo this. I have no idea what makes this game so addictive, but the past few hours have vanished into a black hole, never to be seen again.

    • Comradebluesky says:

      I’ll guess four hours are gone with me. Maybe three. Damn this game and its fun!

  30. paulsoaresjr says:

    I did a “test drive” video of RotMG a while ago for those of you that do not want to sign up without seeing it in action first. :)

    • Vinraith says:

      You can play without signing up, it just doesn’t save. I played that way for about 15 minutes, got bored, and went off to do something else. I think I may lack the gene that makes one susceptible to addictions of this kind.

  31. blacksun_redux says:

    The music.

    Ohhhh the music. Driving onwards, repeating endlessly.

    I’m an-ex player. Successfully sober about 3 months now. But, when playing, the rush of XP farming off of higher level players, being where you should not be, and temping fate by not warping back to the home base..that rush is great.

  32. SpaceAkers says:

    yehhhh already sunk 2 hours into this guy.

    legit game.

  33. plectophera says:

    Where did my last 10 hours go?

    EDIT: You evil man.

  34. Surgeon says:

    I refuse to play any game which unfairly labels happy chickens as evil.

  35. vexis58 says:

    This game would not be nearly so addicting if not for the music that constantly plays, urging you ever onward. I want an MP3 of that so that I can play it on infinite loop while doing other things (like the PvZ Ultimate Battle song or the Pokemon Black Team Plasma Battle) because it’s just one of those songs that easily gets me into the “zone”.

    I linked it to two friends, one of them who rarely has the sound turned on on her computer said she played it for 5 minutes once and didn’t find it all that fun, and the other said “no thanks” because he thought it looked weird. Too bad. I was just mesmerized by this game for two and a half straight hours, and don’t regret a minute of it. It really does condense the MMO experience down into its most basic elements.

    I wish there were more information on the items regarding what classes CAN use things, rather than just telling you that your current class cannot. I don’t want to be cluttering up my 8 bank slots with items that can only be used by some class I’m hella far away from unlocking. I’m finding that I have to keep the wiki open in a separate tab to look up the items I find.

    Also, props to the game devs for an excellently built tutorial. Having each instruction written in large text on the ground as I was walking over it made it very easy to absorb information while moving at a steady pace, without having to stop and read paragraphs like other games like to do. It also seemed to be very good at answering questions I had right as I thought to ask them, so I very rarely found myself confused about anything.

  36. MartinNr5 says:

    Damn you all to the fiery pits of hell for posting about this game, both the OP and the comments!

    I have stuff to do that must be done today but I want to play this so bad you have no idea.

    Bah! :(

  37. BurningPet says:

    Great game. just wished there friendly npc towns where you could trade items.

    Anyone knows if theres a map of the land?

  38. cairbre says:

    Dam you………

  39. Turbobutts says:

    I was much more fun without the cash shop and lobby overhaul. Also NECROMANCER BOSSNESS UP IN THIS!!

  40. Robsoie says:

    There are multiple world maps depending on the current build :
    link to

    When you spawn on the map after leaving the “nexus” , click on those little arrow in the upper right of your screen, on the mini map to get a more complete zoomed out view of the map.

    It is helpfull to get an idea where your next “quest” will appear (the red square) , so you can move to that direction and get near before the quest actually appear on your screen.
    Additionally, it is helpfull to locate big groups of player so you can teleport yourself by right clicking on them and choosing “teleport”.

    Beware, in the center of the world maps is the location of the most strong and difficult monsters (and so where you’ll get probably the best items) , that’s usually there that you’ll find every higher level characters playing, and where you have chance to die in 1 hit when you’re low level character as i noticed first hand :)

    fun little (but big on the technical level) game, thanks for pointing me to hit RPS

  41. zbeeblebrox says:

    I love how the first screenshot is this insane madgrab pile-on of players leveling and collecting…and this one dude on the edge yelling “I CAN’T SEE!” hahaha

  42. luckystriker says:

    I was somehow teleported to the Mad God’s cave at lvl 10. I ran around picking up awesome loot from the dead higher levels, and waited for the Mad God to die. He died, got lot’s of XP then somehow ran into a static dmg. dealing item and then died myself. NO! Awesome game though, I’m addicted.

  43. TollTheRavens says:

    Why… Why did I start playing this? I cannot stop… It will not let me stop…

  44. foop says:

    Damn you, Meer.

  45. ZephyrSB says:

    Gah! I remember playing this soon after that contest it was part of. How on earth did I manage to forget about this?

    Honestly…please…remind me how I forgot about it. I don’t need this to devour me…..

  46. iWHUT says:

    If you’ve ever lurked on , if you’ve ever logged on to your favorite chat room that accompanies this one stop shopping flash paradise and had you’re name called out in welcome, then this little link my be purple for you. You may even have the game’s developer, LordTim, friended. (Not just fanned.) I sure hope it is, because THIS ( link to ) is the source from which this game spawned, and it’s a great play. So thank us ranting in Kong chat rooms about the lack of multiplayer so someone can show someone else why Staff is obviously superior to Shock while some shy nubile, and innocent player says “I like invisiblity.” and soon logs off.

    Thanks us! I didn’t even know this existed until now! HEHEHEHHEHEHE. I must prepare to pwn with my vet skillz. See you in there!

  47. sinister agent says:

    Damn you, RPS. I thought I’d give this a quick look and I’m still playing an hour later. I’ve found myself soloing a lot, and once I realised I could pick up extra items and not just potions, I’ve taken to picking up stuff I have no use for and dropping it off at the Nexus just to watch everyone scrabble for it. I feel a tiny beam of happy when someone picks it up.