REVIEW Chronicles of Elyria - The MMO of Dreams.
2 years ago • 514 Views

Note: If you'd like to join the community for this game please use my friend code: 2A03BD
Note 2: This is my understanding of the developer journals, I may have misunderstood some mechanics and features entirely, and I most certainly have skipped over them. I have tried to water this down as much as possible, but please take this entire article more as a reason to go find out for yourself on their website


Ah, the MMO...

A genre seemingly dead, yet somewhat alive; In a coma would probably be the best way to describe it. Why? Well, could do with the standstill and/or the lack of innovation, and the easily accessible multiplayer games out there, such as RUST and ARK of the survival genre. But that innovation thing is the big problem. You see, for those who are living on a rock in the middle of the Indian ocean, World of Warcraft dominates MMOs. While some MMOs started and stayed small time players in the market working hard to keep their niche player base, others just sort disappeared as quick as they existed, almost like bubbles. MMOs and their fans really haven't moved in the past decade and a half. EVE Online and WoW just sorta are the kings; they were early adopters of the MMO genre and people flocked to them, and back then showed new and wonderful things.

But there is a new player here to have a go at recreating the MMO...

Introducing Chronicles of Elyria.

Started as a dream in a bar almost ten years ago by a handful of game developers, the people at SoulBound Studios have poured their time, effort and dosh (roughly a million) into creating the player-run MMO of dreams. Calling the features and mechanics ambitious would be an understatement... unimaginable would be a closer word. Chronicles of Elyria is a MMORPG with a story and economy run by the players. NPCs are simply extras to help mold your characters' ripple on the world of Elyria and push their epic with some engine generated storylines; We'll get to that later.
Here is my understanding of what the game will be like:

SKILLS, LEVELS AND CLASSES

The game lacks an overall level and classes and replaces it with overall skills which umbrella over specific skills;

-Combat: which covers unarmed, one-handed, two-handed, thrown and ranged as well as duel wielding and sneak attacks.
-Survival: which is specifically the skills of surviving out in the wilderness. It covers finding food and water, tracking prey, bandaging wounds and navigation.
-Crafting: the art of turning raw goods into useful items, covers producing meals and drinks, armors and weapons, furniture and fine jewlery.
-Gathering: the skill of being able to procure raw goods from various sources covers identifying and handling organic materials (such as plant or animal based items) as well as inorganic materials (such as ore, stone, metals and gems)
-Deviant: the skills of thievery and stealth. This skill allows pickpocketing, purse cutting, crafting false identities, disguises and forging documents.
-Bardic: the skills and arts of academics and performing. This allows characters to play music for buffs and entertainment, reading forgotten languages on ancient documents, performing forensic actions to hunt down criminals and the art of map making.

These skills are taught by either books, NPCs or other players. Someone who has never done smithing will always fail and must procure some style of training to begin. Once someone has learned basics they will be of Novice level. Continuing learning and grinding of skills will eventually bring them to Apprentice, then Journeyman, Expert, Artisan, and eventually to Legendary if enough dedication is given towards a skill. Specific combinations of skills will create player made classes; perhaps you want to become an explorer and map the world? Survival and Bardic would be your best bet. Or perhaps become an assassin? Deviant and Combat would do the trick. But no matter what, it is for you to decide.

CHARACTER CREATION, SOULS AND PERMADEATH

On the subject of skills, I must talk about those learning it; your character.
From my understanding there are two separate entities when referring to "you"; your soul and your avatar (or character).

Your avatar is the physical embodiment you play as in the world of Elyria. You are born either as a ward of the state or into an actual player family (each of these have their pros and cons). Your character will develop skills, battle scars, physique and a story over your life time. They will eventually die of wound or old age, depending on how physically damaged they are or how many times they have been forced to "Plane Walk" (past KO, before perma death. Similar to WoW were you have to walk to you dead body). The average played life span is between 80 and 120 in game years, and each in game year is 4 IRL days (And each of these days will be a different season). But your character will die, and you can't stop it. When you die, you have the chance to pass on your belongings in a will. Perhaps, if you have a family, it will be your next of kin played by another person or yourself? It's up to you.


Your characters body will die, but your soul will live on. Your soul will have passive skill attributes given to it by default and over the course of multiple lives, affinity (basically karma) and talents; bonuses in specific skills and special abilities such as magic or the ability to soul walk when one pleases. Achievements are things that players do over time that are bound to a soul over the course of lifetimes; Maybe you were once the champion of the arena for a kingdom, maybe you were the master and founder of a very successful guild, or an adventurer who chartered far off lands never seen before; what you achieve is up to you.
Each soul is also given a "destiny" which can be unlocked by doing specific tasks unknown to the player. Once these tasks are completed the player will then be able to follow their destiny, and once completed will have changed the world of Elyria forever in some way. Perhaps it is your destiny to adventure into a deep dark ruin, battle great beasts and retrieve the blade of kings? Or perhaps it is your purpose to FORGE the blade of kings?! You'll never know unless you trigger it. Every soul is also given a soul mate. You don't know who they are, but they share a bond with you like no other soul; their destiny is the same as yours, their talents are identical and their skills are yours if you find them. You won't know who they are unless through pure luck you find them; you can tell if they are near you through some undisclosed mechanic. And if you're forced to plane walk while you're near them you will most certainly be able to find your body with ease and plenty of time. But of course, there is a catch; your soul mate may develop to become your rival through either affinity or politics (such as guilds or kingdoms)

Oh, by the way, there is a weird soul-based subscription system..? Apparently once you perma-death (which is no easy feat) you have to cough up around 30 USD to start a new character? I don't really know, I'd love someone to clear this up for me, but a "Spark of Life" apparently should last as little as 3 months and 3 weeks to as long as a full year, which is good value since that's roughly 7 USD per month if you last as long as the minimum

TRADE, CONTRACTS, CRIME AND "OPCs"

Chronicles of Elyria removes the well known trade system and market houses and instead picks to go with contracts and player based couriers or merchants. Trading is done in two ways; face to face where you simply exchange goods or services to receive goods or services, nice and simple, and there is over trade agreements.
You sign a trade agreement (or contract) with someone when giving them a task or making an order/promise for items with a written document to prove it to them or authorities. Say, for example, you are a mercenary and have been tasked to protect a merchant shipment or cart, and in return you'll be paid. You both sign the document, you do the task and you receive your payment. But what if they want to swindle you? Then you have a document to prove it and can be given a bounty token, which depending on the laws of ye kingdom will allow you to have authorities go after them, to rob their house in compensation or to brutally murder the goy. Or perhaps YOU swindle them? Well they can do the same and go after you for not delivering, and you'll have to either flee or change identities through the use of forgery and disguises. However, what if you want to set someone up? With the skills of forgery you can trick authorities into allowing you to go after the poor bastard and stealing his stuff with a fake document.
And how would you get caught? Well, someone with forensic abilities might be able to identify a fake document, and will have you jailed or executed by authorities for your vile ways; as you should be, criminal scum!

What happens when you go offline? You don't disappear, you become a "Offline Player Character" or OPC. You can "code" your OPC to do specific tasks, such as act as a vendor or guard a specific area. But what happens if you die when offline?..I actually don't know. But it's safe to assume you'll either want to go somewhere safe in the middle of nowhere or be guarded by other characters.

EDIT- OPC deaths while the player is away will begin your Spirit Walk on your next log in. Permanently die after ~30 IRL days if you don't log in


CITIES, BUILDINGS, MAPS, RESOURCES AND RUIN

From my understanding of the game this is how it is; there are finite resources, but items that aren't so easy to replace such as metals can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio via a smelting process. Cities and buildings are also made by the players of CoE in a style that I'd say is similar to Starwars Galaxies and RUST or ARK. But the finite part of environments creates dilemmas and problems; people demolish a forest and don't plant new trees? Well the trees won't be coming back naturally. People manage to flatten an entire mountain? It won't ever be coming back either. The Soulborn engine, an engine that creates the stories, recognizes player developments and other dynamic things, and will work server side and separately to the Unreal Engine, with the ability to recognize new towns and cities through different criteria and account for them. For example, a leader has amassed enough people and resources to start building a town, then a city and eventually a kingdom. The game will start to work around this, marking on a server side map this creation. Cartographers begin creating new maps marking this city with the name of "Derginsaw" and the engine will recognize this and so on. But the city is one day attacked and razed mostly to the ground, and is left forgotten. Eventually cartographers will start not marking this place as a city, or not marking it at all and the engine will eventually turn it into a dungeon of sorts for adventurers to explore for ancient treasures and, more importantly, more old maps which will show the way to other ruins. But let's say Derginsaw was captured by a different faction, and the king wants to rename it to "Krathlanaw"? Well, he'll have to pay a huge amount of cartographers to update their maps with this new name and make it the mainstream name (like Constantinople Istanbul) and eventually the Soulborn engine will recognize this change on the back end. Oh, by the way, maps are created by players, which means people will go out of their way to map new areas, then detail them with different things such as forests and names, and then sell these to people so they can be copied or used for navigation. This hefty job will be most valuable to tacticians, adventurers and anyone who likes knowing where the hell they are. You will also have to rely on sun dials to reliably get the time of day,use a compass to find north and use astronomy to find where you are at night. Players also have a "Sensory" mini map which will show temperature, smells and sounds heard by the character, allowing you to notice finer details impossible with current technology, such as the smell of wood and cooked meat from a nearby camp that you haven't seen yet whilst hunting for bandits.

Conclusion:

There is so much more I could get into, and I'm sure there is plenty I have missed, but there are resources out there and I implore you to go read the dev journals, to read the posts on the forums, to watch the dev Q&A streams and learn more about the MMO of the future. While it isn't out yet, the kickstarter has been announced to start May 3rd, and this scares me a little. Currently, this amazing game looks almost complete, there is only so much I can listen to before I begin to have my doubts, and all Chronicles of Elyria is to consumers is simply a concept, and I hope to dear god that they deliver, but it's worth keeping your eye on this.


Farewell, and I hope to see you in the lands of Elyria!

Edited on Monday 7th of March 2016 06:10:42 PM : 
Added para about OPC deaths
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