There was, for a while, a theory that implosion of the high-end MMOs was inevitable but boutique online games would fill the resulant void. The trend towards big MMOs switching to free to play has at least delayed that collapse (and quite possibly extended it indefinitely), and sadly we haven't really seen as dramatic a rise of smaller, more esoteric and/or indie MMOs as hoped. There are a few for sure - e.g. Wurm, Darkfall, Love, Darkwind - but really the expected explosion of alterna-virtual worlds seems to have centred around Facebook games, digi-playparks for kids and, abstractly, Minecraft multiplayer. So it's good to see an MMO in the relatively classic sense approached by what appears to be a resolutely indie developer.
The Missing Ink, whose open alpha is expected next month, has an especially charming art style - paper cut-out adventurers tally-hoing through a distorted 3D world - and the added bonus of a personal sandbox construction sub-world for each player. I don't entirely grasp how all this works in practice, but it looks both lovely and ambitious.
And quite funny too, hopefully:
I'd advise peeking at the website for more glimpses of how the game itself looks. I'm a bit worried that the cross-platform compatibility with iOS and Android versions means the fighty-questy stuff could err towards the overly lightweight, plus of course there's the free to play issue, but all this remains to be seen. I'm certainly intrigued.
There's some sort of closed alpha going on right now, but the doors should open to interested passers-by at some point next month. The video suggests the alpha is open already, but that doesn't appear to be the case as yet.
Apparently the devs are, like me, based in Brighton, so for all I know they're working on the game in the building next door. I'll pop around there and check - maybe I can get an exclusive preview! If I'm not back in half an hour, it's because actually there's a murderer living in that house and he's killed me. I leave all my RPS shares to my cat.