I love pointing people towards projects with potential. Today I want to share with you Pathfinder Online, a fantasy sandbox MMO currently in the very early stages of development by Goblinworks. I could give you guys a lot of the big picture ideas, but their FAQ already does it for me.
How is Pathfinder Online different from World of Warcraft or any other fantasy MMO?
Most fantasy MMOs, including World of Warcraft, are “theme park” games. In theme parks, you’re expected to work your way through a lot of scripted content until you reach the end, and then you play end-game content while you wait for the developers to release more theme park content so you can continue to advance your character.
The other end of the MMO spectrum is the “sandbox” game. In sandboxes, you’re given a lot of tools and opportunities to create persistency in the world, then turned loose to explore, develop, find adventure, and dominate the world as you wish. You and the other players generate the primary content of the game by struggling with each other for resources, honor and territory. There is no “end game” and no level cap.
Pathfinder Online is a sandbox game with theme park elements. You’ll be able to create your own place in the world of Golarion, complete with complex social and economic systems. You’ll form ad-hoc or permanent groups ranging in size from small parties to large settlements and even huge nations, and interact with others in your world in a realistic, unscripted fashion. You’ll also be able to participate in scripted adventures, though, with the outcome of those adventures helping to determine the shape of your world. [Source: Official FAQ]
I often pine for the mechanics of sandbox games. I talk about worlds where players create social units and fight amongst each other for the upper hand. The times when death was a bad thing and not a form of quick travel. I talk about adventures instead of quests, skills instead of levels, persistence instead of scripted temporariness, and what it was like to play games not focused on getting to the end but instead living in the world as if it were real.
Pathfinder Online has several blog entries that take these ideas and expound upon them, describing why they’re important to Goblinworks. I encourage you to read what they have to say on the various subjects. I’ve read and agree with a lot of the things they’re saying.
There is a long road ahead for Pathfinder Online. The picture Goblinworks paints is, to me, an ideologically perfect one. Whether or not this game even launches, it’s the ideas I support and want you to support as well.
Thanks to @Merketh for tipping me off to the Goblinworks blog entries.