Last week we’ve shown you a little video of our new studio in Belfast, but not much new in terms of Gameplay.
This time, I want to introduce you to the concept of our game. Because it may be a lot different than what you anticipate. We’ve been thinking about this new concept, and fleshing it out, over and over again. Naturally, in a team of our size, there are many different opinions to be taken into account, some based on objective criticism, and some backed by subjective preference, both equally valid.
So, without further ado, let’s get started on:
What is Melee?
Melee is what we call a “persistent medieval war” game. The core of the game is conflict, war, ownership, and battles. Each round will be a couple of months long.
In this time, you build up your family, a group of individuals with different skillsets. Each family will support around 5 individual family members. The idea here is to remove the tedious but necessary tasks from your direct control and instead let you focus on more engaging content. While you are out exploring the world, your family members will be stocking up on lumber, producing ore or crafting all of those iron fittings that you really need.
- Combat – set your character up with the equipment and skills you need to win confrontations. This can be on the battlefield, in “illegal” robberies or simply defending yourself.
- Exploration – There are things to be found in the world, old forgotten techniques or misplaced technologies. They may allow you and your team to craft newer and better items which none of your fellow players are able to create. Explore the world, share, sell or hoard these precious finds.
- Industry – while the core game is about war, the reason for the war is the industry, and everything produced in the industry will, sooner or later, be consumed in war. Different locations give you different natural resources in different qualities, so you will have to trade with other players, or on a larger scale, other cities, to get what you need.
- Economy. Everything in our world is created by players, it’s hauled by players, used, sold, traded and bartered. No items will exist that is not made by players. It is player run, and fueled not by hoarding more things, but to conquer your opponents.
- Leadership – a big part of the game will be about taking command. We’ll allow players to create their own mechanics in which to govern with, be it in city management or commanding battles. We like putting players in charge. It’s your world, it’s your story, we are simply providing you with the tools to enable that and enjoy the ensuing drama. And drama there will be.
Now let me make a separation right here – Melee will not be a survival game. While you do have the ability to craft weapons, and live a hermit life, this is not what this game is about. Instead, Melee will be a complex social game about conflicts and decision, and it will make heavy use of one mechanic to make sure that the gameplay is very different from a survival game: Symbiosis
Symbiosis in Melee
So, reading up to here, have you been thinking: “Ok, so me and my guys, we’ll find a good place where to build our castle, and then we’re just sitting there, grinding skills and equipment until we can fight”? Because that’s not how it will work, not fully at least. One of the most important things in medieval times was manpower. And for that you will have to open your gates, and let people live in your city. People you don’t know. People you might not even trust. Instead of having an outpost full of streamlined loyal and trustworthy companions, you have a more or less strictly run city, which you are sharing with the world. Whatever you do, you will be in competition with other cities, that also want to attract new players.
How will you run your city? What will you do if, for example, some citizen of your city gets robbed or killed outside your gates? Do you not care? Are you giving your citizens the impression of not being able to defend them, risking losing them for another city? Because they are giving you taxes and resources, so you better make sure that they feel welcome here. How far would you go to make players feel at home?
Do you give them a place to build their own home? Will you have separate city areas for slums and more “appreciated” citizens, or is this important blacksmith that just came into your town forced to be living next to the low-life peasants?
What happens if you have two players in your city, both trying to build up a specific industry, and rivaling each other? What if one decides to sabotage the other, will you sort it out, expel one of them, or just watch what will happen, eventually turning your city into an area without rules and laws, encouraging a survival of the fittest?
You will need those citizens if you want to wage large wars, and the citizens need you to protect them and provide them a fair and save environment to thrive… Or another good reason to stay with you and not your rivals.
As the name “Melee” suggest, every combat encounter will feel intense, personal, and challenging. No matter your level, at the end of the day it’s still a question of your personal skill who will be triumphant in a combat situation.
Our game is about conflicts, combat, and wars. Therefore, we want to make sure that, whenever you feel like it, you can join a battle, and every battle will have some influence on the large world.
The most simple way is to fight what we call the “instant battles”, which are similar to how you played battles in cRPG – you have different servers with different gamemodes and maps, and you are put on one side. Those battles have no political implications, you can play with or against your friends, they are there to improve your skills, and also to earn a bit of money. Said money is coming from Faction taxes, moving the wealth from the Top to the Bottom, and making sure that inflation is never screwing you over.
This is the other side of the coin. These battles are initiated by faction leaders, with obvious huge political implications. You can conquer other towns, or raid them, or burn them down. Those battles are waged in whatever environment the players built, and now it’s time to see if the castle design you figured out is up to the task of withstanding an attack. By drafting an army, you will take the characters living in your city and turn them into soldiers. While the individual characters are not in danger per se, it will make a difference if you have a city made out of lumberjacks and tradesman, or hardened soldiers and fighters. Those armies will move slowly across the world, and once they have reached their destination, it’s time to let the tacticians of your team shine. You will have access to many different siege weapons to take control of the Battlegrounds, and those Battles will demand everything from both your soldiers and your leaders, because small mistakes on either side can change the face of the political map, and the power balance between factions.
This is the goal we are having for this game. It is ambitious and experimental – as far as we are aware, nothing like this exists so far. This is not a game for everyone, but it is something we want to see happen.
I personally can’t wait to see all the small nuances we planned out to come together into one big game, and put the social aspect of multiplayer games into focus, because for me, that is the most interesting part about multiplayer games.