Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising launches

Just a PSA to remind you all that Heatwave Interactive’s MMO Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising launches today. I guess there was a headstart program for those who pre-ordered, but I haven’t heard much about what’s going on.

I kind of liked G&H back when Perpetual Entertainment was developing it, but then it died. When Heatwave resurrected it, I liked it again for its old-school charm. But as the beta progressed, Heatwave modernized the game, which was probably a smart marketing move, but it kind of made the whole experience feel a bit too “me too” for my tastes. I liked it when I had to read the quest text in order to figure out where to go, for instance. But then they added a guide system to remove that challenge.

The Estate System sounded pretty interesting, but by the time that rolled around I was drifting away from MMOs and there wasn’t enough there to pull me back in. So I’m sitting out this launch, though I wish Heatwave the very best of luck.

The last time I played, and it was a while ago in beta, the combat engine was still kind of janky. I loved the gladiator’s (the class I was playing) animations when they flowed smoothly, but too often they’d stutter, or you could see models change from animated NPC to corpse. Likewise, in a quest that had me destroying cages, it was jarring to see the model switch abruptly from “intact cage” to “broken cage.” These just seemed like technical rough spots that hadn’t yet been polished out; I’m hoping they have been for launch.

I seem to be forming a pattern here. I liked Rift a lot more in beta, before they made it more marketable and mainstream, and same thing here. Maybe I need to re-sub to Dark Age of Camelot or something. Maybe what’s got me drifting away from MMOs is all the hand holding and lack of challenge?

Anyway, congrats to Heatwave for the launch! And again, here’s hoping the game finds its niche. I’ll come and give it a try eventually, when that MMO itch starts up again!

Gods & Heroes Dev Diary: Estates

The good folk at Heatwave Interactive reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in sharing some info about upcoming MMO Gods & Heroes with my readers, and of course I said I would. I haven’t personally found much time to get back into the beta (or any other games, really) since my previous post but I’m hoping to get more hands-on time this weekend.

This dev diary is about Estates. I know lots of MMO players who enjoy housing. Well Estates seem to be housing on steroids. It sounds as though you’ll spend time improving your estate; adding and improving buildings, and as the estate gets more elaborate you’ll get access to better minions. Sounds fun, at least on paper, and I can’t wait to see how it works in game.

The diary is also unique for another reason. As I mentioned, Gods & Heroes was in development by Perpetual before they gave up on it in order to focus on another game. Heatwave Interactive bought the unfinished game and are finishing what another team started. The devs here are pretty frank in referring to the things they’re fixing and improving. This isn’t a super-slick marketing-driven dev diary. It feels a lot more ‘real’ than most similar videos from other teams. I enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

The resurrection of Gods & Heroes

In October of 2006 I went out and picked up a copy of the now defunct Massive magazine (a short-lived publication from my one-time colleagues at Computer Games Magazine, nee Strategy Plus). Why? Because it had a code to get into the Gods & Heroes beta. G&H was an in-development MMO coming from Perpetual Publishing.

It took until August 2007, but I finally got into the beta. Along the way Sony Online Entertainment announced they’d be a “co-publisher” of the game. Then they backed away and said they’d be a marketer for it. Meanwhile Perpetual kept laying people off. Then in October of 2007, they canceled the game to focus on the other MMO they were working on: Star Trek Online. Needless to say, Perpetual never published STO: they went bankrupt and faded from existence.

Fast forward to February 2010, when Heatwave Interactive announced that they’d acquired the rights and assets for Gods & Heroes and were going to publish it in 2011.

Today I once again entered the beta of G&H, and what a strange experience it was. After a few minutes of playing I started recognizing areas I’d been to 4 years ago. The graphics feel kind of old (though they aren’t bad) and the gameplay feels a bit like a throwback. Quest NPCs have markers over their heads, but you have to read quest texts to know where to go to complete a task. There’re no “Go here to complete the quest” markers or anything like that.

I liked it, even if things felt kind of rough to me. One of the big draws of G&H is that you eventually form squads of yourself and NPC minions. I didn’t get too far into that now or in 2007. I got one minion and she’s essentially a DoT so far. A pet. We’ll see what things feel like when I have a few minions.

I can’t see G&H being a mainstream hit; it just doesn’t feel modern enough. But for us old-timers who were playing MMOs way before WoW came out (or who fondly remember Vanilla WoW), it might offer some nostalgic fun. I only played for about an hour so I can’t give any deep insight into the game yet. But I can’t help but hope that Heatwave carves out a niche for themselves. I was really disappointed when G&H was canceled and I’m delighted to see it getting a 2nd chance.