|We love browser based MMOs with quality. So we are proud to introduce you a very special project by Mechanist Games, about a world of industrial actions and explorations, from the mind of David Lindsay, City of Steam Lead Designer.|
David Lindsay: Well, City of Steam and Mechanist games can all be traced back to the beginning of an idea: The World Machine. In 2003, I began writing the first version of the setting and the game system as a pen and paper roleplaying game based on 30-sided dice. I can be brutally honest in saying it was a great learning experience, but the game was pretty awful to play.
The second iteration of the game was also pen and paper, called The New Epoch, and was sold as a downloadable PDF on gaming sites. It was from this, that the game began to arouse interest.
It was with the support of my wife and two keen friends that we started JWGames, a humble indie development studio of 3, which soon grew to 7. We worked in a tiny apartment, survived week to week, took part time jobs and thoroughly enjoyed it. And after a year and a half, JWGames attracted more investment, so we founded Mechanist with the help of our newfound friends.
At the very core, we're much the same as we were in the beginning. We believe games are a great form of art, we are passionate about playing and making games, and we respect the integrity of our players and the community. That's our company philosophy right there.
MMORPGITALIA: What's the secret to reproduce a real steam punk feeling inside a MMO? And the main problems about that.
David Lindsay: Well, actually we never use the word steampunk here. We call it an industrial-age fantasy. The steampunk genre tends to be grounded in real world history, like Victorian England. But hey, we do have steam bikes and monocles, so if the shoe fits... okay, we're not going to fight the word.
In terms of art, industrial/steampunk can not be done by half. You have to go all in. Industrial flavor permeates everything, from the tiniest insect to the entire world. It's like a lens or a looking-glass that colors everything else.
This is simultaneously both the solution and the problem. Great industrial settings require everything to be designed with an eye to function. But that means everything needs to be designed, from scratch! We had to get out or geometry set and calculators before we could even get the world working. Even yesterday I spend a few hours tuning the motion of the gears making up the world machine.
Furthermore, industry suggests design and function, so we can't always fall back on "it's magic!" to make the world believable. This is not to say we don't have fantastic wonders, but we really try to ground them in believable technology. Those springs, pumps, wires and magnets all have to line up in a semblance of design, as if everything came from a blueprint. And if things do arise spontaneously, we have to make fiction to support that too. I mean, how does a machine make another machine?
You can see in a lot of our higher end armors and weapons that they have wires, valves, gears, and components other than fantastic alloys. Even our most ornate equipment is also, at least somewhat plausibly, functional.
And of course, there needs to be a rich social and political context to the races, classes, monsters and factions. Newspapers with conflicting propaganda, loudspeaker announcements, steam-powered guards and disaffected rebels all help to create a believable microcosm of life in the world at large. Every corner of the world needs to be represented in this cosmopolitan melting pot.
MMORPGITALIA: Could you talk about the settings that the player will meet in the game? How big will be the game's universe?
David Lindsay: The game is entirely based in the City State of Nexus, right next to the World Spire. The player begins in one of the largest urban centers of Nexus, a dilapidated and troubled region called Ebonwax.
We decided very early on that we would do some areas very well, rather than do a lot of areas very poorly. One of my personal gripes about recent MMOs is that these huge game game worlds are so lacking in detail, so feature sparse. In City of Steam, the world detail density is very high, so there is a lot of exploring to do in every location. You will never run across a barren plain for 2 hours to reach your quest destination -all our zones are hubs or "dungeons", and you can take the railhauler wherever you need to go, instantly!
Right now there are 9 large hub areas, 6 of which are finished, and hundreds of instanced action/exploration levels. But we've left ourselves a lot of room to grow both geographically, narratively and demographically (as far as races and classes go).
click next to continue