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Hopes and Fears: Project: Gorgon

October 10, 2012


After the fun I had with writing about my hopes and fears for Obsidian’s kickstarter Project: Eternity, I thought I’d do another Hopes and Fears entry about Project: Gorgon “an indie MMO by industry veterans” as they market it. This will be a series of entries I plan on doing every two weeks about the Kickstarter projects that have caught my eye. Without further ado I present to you Project: Gorgon, developed by Eric Heimburg and Sandra Powers, who have been previously working on titles such as Asheron’s Call 1& 2, EverQuest II and Star Trek Online.


So what first got me interested in Project: Gorgon? Well for one the fact that they market themselves as an MMO with a “quirky old-school feel” (I know drop the word old-school and I am sold… well maybe not quite but it goes a long way in catching my attention). The game is also said to be “designed for players who want to explore a deep world with… a tight-knit community that is friendly enough to actually chat while they group.” Well that sounds like just about perfect for an Explorer/ Socializer like me! So how does Gorgon (can’t be asked to write Project every time in front of it sorry) try to back this up with their game design and mechanics and what are the risks with it?

Well for one Gorgon includes the ability to drop items you do not need on the ground. I like this feature because it allows for the world to feel more “alive” as you go through it and stumble upon something someone has thrown away. Think of it like when you go through an area and you see NPC corpses and you go: “Hey, someone must be here!” and having this kind of experience on top of the “I see dead people” one, enhances the effect that the world feels “alive”. Only problem I foresee, or two problems actually, are: How long will the loot stay in place? Because if we have a lot of loot just lying around in places indefinitely that might cause performance issues. This of course is rather easily solved by giving the loot a “despawn-timer” but it’s something to keep in mind nonetheless. Another problem is that what happens if everybody starts just dropping useless stuff on the ground? I for one would find that very immersion breaking. The estimated low population of Gorgon might take care of that though, as well as an adequate “despawn-timer”. Anyway my hope and somewhat solid belief is that this little old-school addition will be a good addition towards making the game world feel more alive,  something that has been completely of the table in several other MMOs that have newly launched for some un godly reason. Only Guild Wars 2 made an honest effort at it, but it did not quite turn out as expected. In my opinion the every 5 minute centaur raids were more annoying than immersing. The question is also, will this mechanic mean we do not have an auction house or player maintained and stimulated economy, as all items can be “stored on the ground”  for players to pick up instead of an auction house? I hope not.


Another very interesting feature Gorgon tries to bring back is non-instanced open world dungeons.  Now what my hope for these are is, that they can serve as immersive locations in the world and ease the transition between the instanced parts of the world and the non-instanced ones, as there are no instanced dungeons. I some games (SWTOR) the instances are not even part of the non-instanced parts of the world, in others TSW (from the little that I played of it and please correct me if I am wrong) the instances seemed to be tucked in remote corners of the map, rather than having a prominent location in the game zone. The latter was something I always like in WoW and AoC, the group dungeons where there to be seen in the game zone, Westfall was built around Deadmines, same with Blackrock mountain being the central spot of Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes and you could not imagine Atzel’s approach without the magnificent structure of Aztel’s Fortress or Thunder River without the Xibaluku dungeon (I am not making these names up I swear) (both AoC). Now in the same sentence the dungeons are said to be large, so large in fact that you can’t really run into other people without seeking for them. While the fact that you can find other people in the dungeon also gives grouping the opportunity to be more dynamic, as it is highly probable that people will look for other INSIDE the dungeon rather than outside, I still hope that the developers don’t go overboard and focus so much on how cool the dungeons are supposed to be and neglect the rest of the game. Or on the flipside totally underestimate the needed size of the dungeons making them seem very crowded with PCs and not NPCs. The supposed size of groups being 3 persons also strikes me as rather small, but maybe it is prudent for a game that aims at a small user base.


Deliberately aiming at a small user base also gives me hope, that the game is designed with a lot more longevity, than the AAA MMOs, that seemed to solely base their success on the numbers of user’s they have and not on how “good” the game actually could be with a dose of realism. In other words the game will try to work with the user base it gets rather than throwing the towel in at the first glimpse of lowered subscription numbers. The downside though is that since the game aims for a small user base, it might be considered (and rightly so) niche, which might directly harm their plans on funding the game through Kickstarter, as it is not gaining that much attention (something the floundering fundraising seems to indicate). The small user base also seems to be the “magical solution” to how every problem I could identify with the game at this stage is solved and makes me question: What happens if the user base is significantly bigger or smaller than anticipated? Could the two developers behind Gorgon adapt to that? The fact that there is only two of them also raises the question how bugs and further development will be treated?


If Gorgon however gets backed (and I dearly hope it will be) I think t might be a perfect place for some of the older MMO player base to at least casually spend their time with likeminded individuals. I also think it’s laudable that Gorgon is designed with the old school play-style in mind, which in my opinion promotes more patient players and an overall more agreeable gaming atmosphere inside the game. Have I backed the project yet? No, alas my funds as a student are very much tied at the moment, but believe me if I was economically independent I would not hesitate to back most of the interesting and not so interesting stuff on Kickstarter, because hell the more games we get off the ground the better, then it is up for the consumer to decide. Anyway I hope that if not with Project: Gorgon, than with some other game, we can find a place for the more slow-paced and dare I say “old school” type of MMOs inside the modern MMO genre. What is your take on the question; is there place for an old school MMO and an indie at that or should only well established companies make MMOs? Does Gorgon on paper even stand a chance as a niche game?


Quick shout out at the end, if the stars are all aligned right my next post will be on Sunday (if not that means Jane Austen is still torturing me with “Emma” and you may send your nightly prayer and well wishes to me). Nonetheless if the next post is not there on Sunday it will be there on latest Tuesday and I will start looking at some RPGs mainly older ones, but starting with the relatively new Deus Ex: Human Revolutions, then I will move on to Planescape: Torment, NWN 1 & 2, KOTOR 1& 2 and possibly Witcher 2 and look at the different things I liked or disliked about the games, what made them good, what should be preserved and reused in other games and how some of the flaws the games have could have been avoided. For all of you that are completely and utterly bored by the topic and long for some more abstract game discussion or are: “Where for god’s sake are the MMO topics??!” don’t worry I will post about them as well. Have a nice weekend if yours like mine starts today!

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