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PC Preview - 'Wish'

by Mark Crump on May 27, 2004 @ 1:58 a.m. PDT

Wish defines a new category of online game, the "Ultra Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game" (UMMORPG). Unlike existing MMORPGs that confine players to a server with only a few thousand other players, Wish's highly-scalable server cluster infrastructure allows the game to support tens of thousands of simultaneous players in a single shared world. Wish is the first massively multi player online role playing game that truly tells a story, and lets player actions have lasting implications on the world.

Genre: MMORPG
Publisher: TBA
Developer: Mutable Realms
Release Date: TBA

“Back in the day” I was a D&D geek. Granted, that day is 20 years gone, but I have fond memories of sitting in a library basement playing D&D with my friends. When MMOGs came about I jumped on them, hoping they would deliver a fine role-playing experience that would hearken back to the days of my youth. The problem is none of them made good on this promise as static camps, power-leveling and time-sinks ruled the day. Wish could be the game that breaks out of that mold and actually delivers a true role-playing game.

Your average MMOG game has multiple shards, or worlds, that people play on--EverQuest, for example, has around 40. Wish is planning just one server because they want to focus the live team on being able to promote live, real-time content. Their goal is to allow the GMs to interact with groups of people and shape the game’s content through that interaction and not from quests anyone can look up on the Internet and get a walkthrough. Frequently an in-game newspaper will be published and if you do something noteworthy, you’ll get a mention; do something heroic and the live team will build a statue in your honor.

In Wish, once you’ve killed a group of monsters they are gone and won’t re-spawn. That’s a sharp contrast to EverQuest where you can kill an NPC, set your egg timer for 6 minutes and come back to find Misty ready to be slain again. There’s no instancing in Wish, either, as the team wants to focus on an inclusive, not exclusive experience.

There are seven races, but no classes/archetypes. Instead the more you do something--like swing a sword--the better at it you will get; its similar to Ultima Online, if you are familiar with that system. They also promise a deep crafting system and the best items in the game will be player made. They want to make crafting a group experience as well, where one person gets a resource, hands it to someone who can use it, who in turn crafts an item another person in the chain can use. You’ll also be able to sell your wares through an NPC, eliminating the need to stand in one zone spamming, “Bronze Sword for sale 10gp”.

The death penalty is reasonable as well where you can either do a corpse run, pay an NPC to summon your corpse for you, or use a necromancy spell to call the corpse. Since the game isn’t experience based, you won’t loose xp or levels.

The graphics in Wish are serviceable--they aren’t as great as EverQuest 2’s, but they are slightly better than Dark Age of Camelot’s. The particle effects, especially on some of the spells, are well done. During the demo and the brief period I explored the beta I didn’t find them distracting and that’s good enough for me.

Wish looks like it will do a great job at grabbing the attention of people who flock to the servers devoted to role-players. The big challenge is if they can pull off the interaction between the live team and the players. It’s been tried by SOE with their premium service in EQ, but EQ was never designed for this level of live content. It’s also a given, but the live team has to play fair. Another problem with the live events in EQ was that the GM’s would create almost un-killable monsters and destroy hundreds of players; Wish can’t let “developer ego” rule the day. While the days of MMOG games being able to take a mulligan with an unstable launch are over, Mutable Realms really needs to make sure the game is stable enough to not require many bug-fix patches when they go live, since they’ll need to demonstrate through implementation that they can pull off the live content. But that’s what the beta is for, and they’ve shown willingness to push back release dates to ensure the quality is there. While they are treading into untested waters rife with the high expectations set by die-hard role-players, Mutable Realms gets a round of applause for attempting to break the genre out of the static quest doldrums the industry is mired with, and attempting a true role-playing experience.

Mutable Realms are starting the second phase of Wish’s beta soon, and look for the game to ship in Q1/’05.


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