Monday, September 3, 2012

Playstation Home Literally Has An RPG In It Now

It's a bit of an odd thing whenever Playstation Home actually has something worth-while to bring up because I end up skipping over it for a bit unless I am really just starved for news.  Case in point:  The Playstation Blog post that shows it off was posted August 30th which was....well, some days ago, in which time I'm sure the 'game' itself has released (at least it seems that way from the comments) so I can speak of it as a thing that exists, instead of a thing that will come to be.  Which I think is something equally interesting for Home, as there really isn't a whole lot of spaces or ways nowadays that allow things to go right up until release without it being spoiled or leaked out in some ways, even ill-conceived iOS ports seem to get leaked days prior to them being announced in a formal capacity.  So having a platform, any platform, where you can just develop something and then go "Hey, guess what, here is this thing, it comes out tomorrow, have fun!" is a thing that is pretty interesting at its base.

Of course, when you say "RPG" in a format that is basically an MMO, you sort of get an image in your head before anything else comes out, so really one has to wonder just where Mercia:  Fractured Realms ends up on the scale of things.  It seems more like your Action-RPG fare, where the battles seem real-time, something that is become more and more commonplace it seems.  Though to say that the style of the game, the look of it, is standard for the fare you've got in the genre would be a little bit of a lie.  From what little I've seen, Mercia seems to have its roots far deeper in "God of War-style gladiator fantasy" (though not completely) than "Generic high-fantasy" that is rampant in online settings for reasons that I'm sure none of us could begin to come up with.  This is at least one good sign, one good thing that Mercia has going for it, which makes it a wash when you bring up the name, because Mercia is a dumb name and "Fractured Realms" is.....a really generic subtitle.  Honestly.

What Mercia offers in terms of gameplay is something that is a little up in the air for my comprehension as it's one of those things I suspect I would have to play to understand fully.  Which I'm not going to do, of course, so you'll have to bear with me as I muddle through it all.  Looking at screenshots provided in the PSBlog post, it seems that most of the buttons have all been remapped to things that....well, make sense for them to be mapped to, meaning you're not getting Home's standard fare of controls.  However from what I can tell the game is based, obviously, on Home's own physics engine and simply allows you more 'freeform' movement in the form of attacking and casting spells, though I imagine animations in the game are unique to it.  No shuffle-run to get around the world of Mercia, or at least I should hope not since it would probably wreck the 'immersion' you could have right there on the spot.  Well, as much immersion as you can have when you are literally playing an MMORPG inside of an MMO without breaking space and time in some fashion.

It is certainly a thing, and a thing that is interesting in many ways, much like Blueprint: Home is, which seems to reinforce the statement that Home really is a big, big world that many people are choosing not to explore.  Not that I can particularly blame anyone for that, as I've been choosing that myself, but it's more for lack of time and for worry of the ridicule I'd receive if my PS3 YLOD'd whilst 'playing' Home.  Which once again leaves me sitting here and wondering why they have not dreamed up and showed off some sort of "Home Away From Home" thing for the Vita which is -like- Home, but not Home since obviously the Cross-Play would be absurd.  I really doubt I would have to worry about the integrity of my device while playing something like Home, which would make it all the more enticing.  I could surmise that they are indeed working on something in the planning stages, but in an attempt to not pull the same mistake they did with Home (as in talking about/showing off things that will never be implemented as imagined, ala Trophy Room, Pets, 'real' travel).  Stating it once again - if they were interested in making something Home-like for the PSP, the Vita is that much more tantalizing, and Home itself has likely proven itself to be a proper cash cow (because, surprise, there -are- people playing it, even if it's not us, same as most Mobile games and Free-to-play Asian Grindfest MMOS) which is always good in business.

I can't help but shake the thought that there is something....unsaid about Mercia - something that makes it not quite as big a deal as one would imagine and/or hope for.  That it's inside Home itself seems damning enough for some, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the actual possibility of there being a fully-functional 'game' within Home that bears the scope that Mercia seems to offer.  It has a world, places to explore, dungeons to conquer and loot, or all of these are things that it is telling me it has, certainly.  Even if it's not as big as it claims to be, as it looks like it can be, this is a big step since it opens the door for further attempts like this.  Granted, I don't see anyone beyond the dedicated Home developers like Lockwood Publishing actually -doing- anything like this in the future, but stranger things have happened.  If the right developer smells the right amount of money, anything is possible, and that will only draw in more and more.  And then maybe we can finally look forward to Home exiting the Beta phase.  (Hey, if Minecraft 'did it', there's hope for anything.)

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