An Experiment in Accelerated Release Cycle MMORPG Development
Sokpop Collective is an indie studio that offers a new game every month for a small subscription fee of only $3 per month. These games are designed to offer between 30 minutes to 2 hours of gameplay and cover a wide range of genres. The most defining feature of a Sokpop game is the minimalist artistic style. As of the time of writing, three of the Sokpop games fall under the MMORPG banner, with two of the games being graphical and one being a cute, simplistic take on text-based MUDs and early text-adventure games. Tomscape is the first of these three games we’ll be covering.
Mortal Online has a development period of over a decade and still has numerous bugs and issues. The Internet is littered with MMORPGs in varying states of decay despite years of development time by multiple talented artists and developers being dedicated to many of these games. The Tomscape experience seems to be less a game and more participation in an experiment — an experiment of whether a functional MMORPG can be crafted in less than 30 days.
In Tomscape, you are a bird. You get into slap fights. You have three attributes that each start with 1 point: attack, defense, and health. You gain 3 additional points to assign each level up. Movement is click-to-move. Attacking is click-to-attack. You select the target, watch the damage numbers go back-and-forth in a turn-based fashion without any active participation, and hope for the best. Given it’s a permadeath game, it’s best to avoid encounters if you aren’t clearly going to defeat the foe. You can regain health by sitting in ponds. Nine achievements are available on Steam and are obtained by killing each of the enemies for the first time (frog, sheep, rat, villager, guard) and for specific level-up intervals (5, 10, 20, 100). I obtained 6 of the 9 achievements, not seeing any real point in continuing. There’s no in-game story, quests, or really anything to draw the player into the world. With a group of friends, this could potentially be a good 30 minute time waster.
Tomscape has charming, minimalistic graphics and sound effects and no meaningful long-term gameplay. I didn’t see another player during my entire playtime and given it has a 0% rating on Steam after five reviews despite other Sokpop games being received positively. With a release cycle of one-game-per-month, there’s likely to be the occasional dud. That’s Tomscape. The MMORPG with no roleplaying, no players so not really massively multiplayer, and no meaningful gameplay loop or mechanics.
If you want to check out this game before it’s taken offline, you can get it from itch.io (https://sokpop.itch.io/tomscape) or Steam (https://store.steampowered.com/app/1135120/Tomscape/). I’d recommend looking at other titles by Sokpop Colllective instead, though.