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Embers Adrift

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Embers Adrift in the Year 2525:


New Member
I will try my hand at making another thread! I'm a new guy, a self-proclaimed MMO theorist. I am searching for the holy grail like many. I have seen many different games, and I wanted to talk about the future of EA even though I did not dip my toes too far into it. I hope people will read and think about what I am saying, devs included. I made one other thread on combat, I believe, and I will not go in depth on that subject again.

Most people prefer YouTube videos to walls of text, but I can read much faster + I don't have to add any effects, supplementary clips, etc, so this is my method of choice when discussing things. Apologies to anyone who does not like what I have to say.

Here we have EMBERS ADRIFT. There is nothing wrong with it, at its core. We can agree on that, right? The bones are good. It's clunky, but a big secret is probably that clunky DOESN'T REALLY MATTER if the game is good. I don't think clunky is immersion breaking, but it may limit initial immersion. The clunk is more related to battles, but they have a trump card: the text box alongside, which is where most of the action can take place. In a lot of ways, Embers has the ability to be a game that hasn't really been done (at least in awhile,) to appeal to an audience that is different and left-behind by modern mmos, and, due to the technological set up, to grow in a way that is limited less by programming/graphics and more by developmental imagination. That last one is the most important, to me.

When a game is made, there is a 'vision,' and I believe the problem with this is that a team will go down with the ship before they believe they are compromising on their vision. I said in another thread: why not add bots? You can have stories for them, more branching scenarios, etc. The way combat is, having an extra damage dealer, a healer, whatever, is huge. It would allow the game to continue to be balanced for the ideal situation, and it would allow more people to get into the game. Bots are NOT BAD. They can drive your story. I've seen those thieves fight and self-heal, so the idea of an AI ally should not be out of the question. This would fix a lot of the issues without having to change the core game. It might seem like a compromise, but, simply, bots cannot do hard content. It will help create/balance content that is actually hard and THEN people can group, because they will already be there and they will be into the game. Of course, maybe like one or two heal bots could tag along in dire circumstances.

Then, one more thing I would like to address is, "What is endgame?" Again, Embers has potential to be different due to their leaning on text and the ability to add more and more text much more easily than it would be to add other things. I believe an ideal MMO becomes a world, and the end game is when you are living in the world. The end game is almost a social thing. It can be about having good gear, showing people your gear, special events popping up, but a lot of it is just hanging out, helping people, and maybe doing something you've done a bunch of times with a different group of people, or with the same group of people, hoping for something special to happen. Items and levels should not be the end-all of completion because A. people are going to hit that point or B. they can make it so ridic that it doesn't even matter (I played black desert and oh man haha.) Still, the end game in that was talking with people about stuff, doing the same stuff with different people, generally trolling around. It's not that hard to create an end game; what is hard is to create a robust community that can use their imagination. Someone spoke of grouping and how so-and-so streamer was good at creating groups, and I agree with the counter point that it does make people reliant on those people, but the idea is to have MANY of those people.

Again with the bots: those people who are leaders are not going to give up their spots. Consider that! So, if you have 3-4 strong leaders who are forming groups constantly, they are defining what content gets done and sucking the pool of players dry, possibly grinding the whole game progression to a halt due to the fact that this game is 'built as a 6 person mmo' but has low population. There are leaders (like consider me making this post, consider how this post is gonna go over. haha. I am someone who can form a group, and I do like to choose sometimes, but I also like to foster self-sufficient groups. That is my goal in MMOs) who won't get a chance to be a leader because they will have to go in under one of the established leaders and they will be competing for the player pool, like say they found 2 other people who they get along with, but the established leader has 4/6. You got 3/6 and 4/6 and it's highly likely in the end it will either be the three getting left out, or the two going back to the original group.

In that way, the design is flawed, and that is a huge limitation. Just because you set up a game as something, it can still BE that, but you need a midway point. I say ADD BOTS IMMEDIATELY (Arnold voice,) and then focus on fleshing out the game with more text/choices, more outcomes, more drops, even different drops from gathers, different ways to gather, etc just different things you can do to get different outcomes. Should be pretty easy.

I agree that bots could help alleviate the grouping process, but I do not agree with being able to take them everywhere like dungeons. I think it could be a good option for people wanting to solo to take between 1 and 2 bots with you to solo 2 or 3 chevs farming spots in the overworld only. I would probably do this all day long to farm more efficiently and faster than relying on people and their time agendas.

Saying this, I think the main core problem is not adding or not adding bots. The main problem is the hard-minded devs are not willing to open up the game to a broader audience. As I have said in my other posts, be careful with the niche audience, with the current pop numbers this game will not sustain financially and socially in time once the "veteran" players leave, because they are failing to attract new people. With the real numbers we have today, we have an average "live" population of what? 50, or 60 players? that's 500, 600 usd income each month. Is that enough to keep servers running and sustaining a studio? That's a question only the devs know, but from a business perspective, you're missing a lot of potential growth, both economically and in-game without opening your game a little.
Another important question to think about is, what will happen if your average population starts to decline and you start earning less and less than the actual income is right now without the possibility of attracting and renewing the population? it will eventually die out and it will not be economically viable and shutdown will be imminent. I have been in the MMORPG world market long enough to see which games will fail and which will succeed with only playing a few hours and reading the feedback and how the devs respond to it.

I'm not saying to make the game the travesty of modern MMOs like Retail Wow or some Asian p2w are, but make it more friendly to a broader audience listen to real feedback, make the game more convenient (QoL features, traveling times, teleporting, etc) and most important make the game more attractive, introduce a better class system, introduce magic, magic skills, and improve the "we are all melee but with slightly different skills trend". The main problem right now is people and with all the strategy schemes you're making, it's clear that you're not making progress in attracting and retaining them.

If a AAA studio like the Wildstar devs failed, what can you expect from a small studio to happen?

I think you can have a clear vision of your ideal game design in theory, but in practice (and with lots of empiric data backing it up) it is obvious that your own niche group you're targetting is asking for you to change things because your own vision doesn't translate well to gameplay. They want to call this game home. Start making changes or the brick wall is just a little far ahead.
I'm really torn about where I am on the subject. This is the closest I'm probably going to get to what I'm looking for. Slow deliberate combat, low number of hot keys, and a classic feel. I really want this game to succeed, as I could see myself playing it up until the year 2525 and beyond. The only other game that might come close is Pantheon, but it's not there yet. This team actually has a playable game and it's quite good!

I don't claim to have all the answers. I really don't have any answers right now. Travel could be cut down a little, perhaps. Make monoliths travelable for a cost, or maybe use it like a summoning stone. Right now, the hardest part of the game is really the population. I want to go and do all my quests but can't really find groups to do so. My other option is to just forget them and grind exiles and get to 20, where I feel there will be a lot more people. I guess I could come back and solo them later, but I really want to do it on level.

I'm in no hurry, because I know there isn't much at 50, I'm just torn on the path I want to take. I don't know any meaningful feedback that would help either. It just sucks. There's a great game in here somewhere, and I want folks to be able to experience it.
I appreciate both posts, especially because I am not like a 'founder,' but one thing Cola touched on is the (at least implication) fact that with an indie game of this level, you are buying in like 50/50 with devs. Meaning, that it's "our" (again, I say our with caution because I haven't played much) game as much as theirs, and that must be understood. I had NO IDEA this game had only 50 people active and such. That was not my expectation when I started playing, and it's surprising, to be honest. I don't know how you fix that. I agree with Brei in that I don't see anything that screams change, except I do want more skills obviously. More just "stuff" but the travel, the stuff they already fixed like getting your bag back for money (I haven't experienced that, but I find that an interesting change... and as a 'hardcore gamer,' I dislike it,) all of that can stay in. The slow paced combat and having to only use a few skills, if that is your wish, is also doable. My mind is full of potential ideas for how this game could work in so many ways AS IT IS NOW, but it just needs more stuff. However, none of that matters without more people, and how do they get more people?

First you need a good game, and I didn't have any big problems getting into the game, even when I was just whopping some animals, but once I realized that I would have to find a buddy pretty fast, I was like ahh. I enjoy figuring out the game by myself a bit. I probably could have put my nose down and done more grinding, but I just wasn't feeling it that much. I was surprised how easy it was to grind up gather stuff and what a mess it was to grind up combat. Up to a certain point, leveling shouldn't really bad hard IMO. The bot idea was just the only thing I could think of to make up for fewer people, and yeah, bots should have limitations, but you want people to always be able to play your game in SOME way, so you can go do something with bots or solo or whatever.

There needs to be a huge bustling, social world to have the kind of group base that they want, and I think they could do that with ai characters, to at least get people on their feet. Like I said, I feel as though I can see what this game COULD be, and I would enjoy playing it. Changes are IMO necessary, but the programming / work required would be minimal. At least, that's how I see it, but who knows.

I support the vision of the devs, but I do hope they listen to their founder level vets and remember it's a joint effort with an indie game, but also, as said, don't forget that there have to be new players, too. New players don't need new shiny things IMO as much as they just need to step into a world that is working and see it moving and want to get involved.
Yup, it's a great game :) I'm having fun in between breaks, enjoying new features each time I return. (I like exploring, gathering, crafting, hunting, chatting - usually solo - just 'Being There'.)

But the population has faded - chat is quiet, trade is rare, town is dead :(
Peaked at about 50 players over the last weekend.

Eloa and her twin Elloa are doing a great job in the community, the devs are committed and skilled.
But likely working for little pay. Neither fair nor sustainable.

Did my bit - bought 5 copies, dragged friends in, mentioned Embers in P99, informed Blues News - but it just hasn't taken off.
I want Embers to succeed - but I'm pessimistic about the future.