Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blog Banter #8: The modern re-make of a game

Welcome, welcome to the 8th installment of Blog Banter, the monthly blogging extravaganza normally headed by bs angel , and for this issue by Terry Bosky of the Game Couch. Blog Banter involves our cozy community of enthusiastic gaming bloggers, a common topic, and a week to post articles pertaining to said topic. The results are quite entertaining and can range from deep insight to ROFLMAO. Any questions about Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month's Blog Banter subject is as follows: "Which game would you like to see a modern re-make of and why?" The question was proposed by fellow Banter group member Zath.

So let's see, the re-making a game, that's a big one. Which game to choose from? What to re-make? Modern eh? Allow me to deviate slightly from the question and look at a game that was recently launched. An MMO to be precise. It's an MMO that I had high hopes for, one I had a lot of fun beta testing and covered here on a few times. But it's an MMO that ultimately failed and saw it's server shutdown, it's community disbanded.

This game, this MMO, was SEED.

SEED was a different kind of MMO. One where combat had no place, and where roleplaying was king.

SEED was all about:
  • Sci-Fi MMORPG
  • Personalized stories
  • Social/political gameplay
  • Believable NPC's
  • 3D comic book graphics
It was not about:
  • Combat
  • Character classes
  • Standard quests
In the MMO genre that's quite an undertaking. It's even more so for a newcomer to the industry. The game was developed by Runestone, a Danish developer about to lunch its first game. And though they had great dreams for SEED, their inexperience in the gaming industry proved too much for their fledgling enterprise.

It's difficulty, and ultimate failure, in becoming a successful MMO had little to do with the game itself. The roleplaying non-combat approach was very much innovative in the MMO genre, and still is today. And with the visual direction they took with cell-shading, this little game had all the elements of a winner. As with many MMOs, they did have trouble with the launch of the game, and it wasn't completely polished when it shipped. But many games today had similar beginnings and yet, were eventually successful. EVE Online being one of those MMOs with a less-than-stellar launch. Not every MMO launches with the roar of a WoW, an AoC or a WAR.

The major obstacle for Runestone, one that resulted in the death of SEED, was its inability to find a publisher and the funding to push the game ahead, as its subscription increased. An important detail in the lifespan of any game, even more so for an MMO which works more like a service than a product, and so which requires more funding in its initial stages.

So to go back to the initial question of this blog banter, what would I change and why, well not much about the game itself. I think that Runestone did a fantastic job in that respect. I just wish that had put as much efforts in finding a publisher willing to appreciate their vision and their leadership in the MMO space. Maybe they did. Or maybe they should have secured such a publisher at the very early stages of the games development. That's the "What".

As for the "Why", well that's simple: a successful cell-shaded Science Fiction MMO with a great lore, where game play would have been focused on roleplaying and not combat. Something that still not available today.

I just wish SEED had had the time to mature and grow to its full potential. We'll just never know.

Blog Banter Participants:


Anonymous said...

X-Com: UFO Defense. Greatest game ever, 15 years old, crying for a remake!

Anonymous said...


I'm not too familiar with these games, but they sound great too me! The only MMO I have played is Phantasy Star Online.

Nice article :)

CrazyKinux said...

@JohnW - Maybe an iPhone or iPod touch version, since the game was a freeware for WindowsCE. Looked cool though.

@Silvercube - Too bad it canceled though.

Anonymous said...

Added you :)
And I think it's horrible people aren't taking as any chances as they used to, when it comes to creating or publishing a game. They want to stick to the same formula that's been working instead of trying something new. I've never played this game before but I'm a fan of anything that's got personal stories and character interaction wrapped in artistic design.
(By the way I was ancient secrets, it's just that I messed up my account sign-in).

CrazyKinux said...

Thanks for the add Triage. I was a bit late in submitting my post to Terry.

As for games like SEED, hopefully we'll have a chance to see more in the near future!