I have not been following Dawntide for more than a few days. Why? Honestly, there are games being developed, in beta, and currently released that simply do a better job at grabbing my attention. It wasn’t until I started to read their forums and understand what this game is all about that it was added to my radar of games to watch.
Bringing back that ‘Ultima Online feel’ is a growing trend. In an interview with Massively, Christian Hummeluhr (Producer) said, “We want that “real world” feeling that Ultima Online had back. The great thing about UO was all the different kinds of players playing in the same game…” Yup. I needn’t say more because I trust anyone reading this already knows what I would say.
Alright, so the sentiment is there but we all know that’s never enough. What are they doing that would make me even remotely interested? Since I can’t see what they (Working as Intended, the devs) are doing, I have to rely on what they are saying. They’re telling us that you can be a master blacksmith and have your goods be relied upon. They’re saying the economy is entirely player driven. Players can have their own structures, cities, societies, government, ships, armadas, and so on. The world, an island, is spacious and designed so that players populate it with the aforementioned things. Then it’s all about living in this “real world” and fighting for territory against other factions or supporting your faction with your crafted goods.
There will be 50 skills and each will come with associated benefits/perks. Skill gains come from use. This sytem works when it’s implemented properly. For example, it works in a game like EQ where you swing your sword and increase your sword skill. It doesn’t work in a game like Darkfall where you shoot your spell in the air and increase your spell skill.
While the Dawntide team is obviously making a game similar to Darkfall and Mortal Online, and the rest of the “We want to bring back UO” games, they have a rather insightful outlook on how their game may succeed where these others are failing. Christian Hummeluhr points out that Darkfall’s problem is/was brutal atmosphere comes from the extreme focus on combat, and lack of equal focus elsewhere. [Edit: Comment #30] All these games are saying “We want blacksmiths to be able to be blacksmiths and play the game how they want and get a truly equal experience of gameplay” and all that jibberjabber. The problem is that none of them actually follow through and make it an equally fulfilling, dynamic, and fleshed out role in how the game is meant to be played. If a game, like Dawntide, can talk the talk, point out where others have erred, and then do it right, then perhaps they really can make it happen.
The crafting is where I believe Dawntide will truly succeed or fail. They’ve come right out and said that their crafting will be like UO and SWG, and they explain the crafting system in such a way that it sounds exactly like SWG. That is a wonderful thing. Having templates that can be altered and experimented on by the player based on skill level, method, resource quality, etc., is a much better way to craft than using a “list” of items. It allows for players to create, to some extent, the items. I was devoted to the crafting side of SWG almost exclusively for two years. I conquered the economy on my server and set up an empire of galactic proportions with other crafters that truly governed who would win battles. We would sell our items exclusively to one faction or guild and actually be retained for a fee to offer the highest quality food, weapons, and armor only to certain people. As a result, we played a direct role in the combat.
Crafting is where Dawntide will get my money. A fantasy game using a similar crafting system to SWG will make me a subscriber. However, all of this in theory means nothing. It comes down to how they implement it.
As others have pointed out, including the devs, this game is giving off a SWG meets UO vibe. That vibe = good. Trying to actually live up to that vibe = dangerous. Failing to live up to the vibe will crush you. Asking players to place your game up against games that have been deemed a gem of time means that if your game fails to deliver then the players will be merciless in their persecution.
Dawntide looks average in its presentation. Their website is modest. Their graphics are simplistically elegant. This game’s success hinges upon implementation of great theories. It hinges upon their ability to deliver a game that’s meant to be played by someone wanting to stand around crafting just as much as someone wanting to go out and PvP.