At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date Screenshots
Dave Wickham PC/Mac Nevrax Nevrax It's an MMORPG. Guess. 3rd October 2006 Here

Ryzom Ring preview

Back in 2004, French developers Nevrax released their MMORPG The Saga of Ryzom, which Matt reviewed, giving it a favourable score. Then World of Warcraft happened. Pretty much every MMORPG except for Lineage II was forcefully kicked out of the public eye (with L2 hanging on thanks to its massive Korean fanbase), to be replaced with WoW, WoW and WoW. Since it's evident that you simply can't compete with WoW using a standard MMORPG formula, Nevrax decided to make their MMORPG different; thus was born Ryzom Ring.

Ryzom Ring brings the player into the world of content creation. This free Saga of Ryzom expansion will allow people to create their own scenarios for others to play, using fairly simple, user-friendly tools — in the demonstration we were given, a basic working scenario was created in around an hour, even with commentary on how it was being made. When a scenario is created, it will be available to others via the "Ring" (which is currently broken, with it being in a pre-release state, so we can't tell you how that'll work exactly), and will stay available until the creator goes offline and nobody is left playing it. In addition to this, if people don't want to have to stay online, Nevrax are considering allowing users to pay a small fee (a few Euros per month) for persistent scenario hosting.

Scenarios are fairly flexible, with each one being able to contain an infinite number of acts. Acts in Ryzom Ring are the logical separation of scenarios, and are essentially different levels within them. They can take place on different maps, with different units and different goals, though it obviously makes sense for them to be a continuation of the storyline.

During play, the creator of a scenario can either act as a normal player, or as an invisible dungeon master. This allows for a greater degree of flexibility and potentially more enjoyable gameplay. For example, instead of having to rely on automated triggers to set off events, a dungeon master can watch the action and dynamically set off events. Dungeon masters can also interact in more direct ways, such as taking control of creatures, weakening opponents, killing NPCs, and even triggering new acts when they feel it is appropriate.

One interesting feature is that of collaborative editing; as a scenario creator, you will be able to give your friends access to edit the scenario, allowing you to work in unison, dividing the workload between you. This will both speed up development, as different people can concentrate on different areas of the act, and allow for greater creative review, as other editors can give their opinions of the scenario as it's being developed.

At release time, it's likely to not be possible to create your own objects for use in the editor, which will perhaps be a slight disappointment for people wishing to expand their scenarios further. This isn't a technical limitation, but a legal/social one. The developers basically don't want people using trademarks or cloning Lula 3D, for example. They do plan on working around this in the future somehow, so there is the potential of having greater flexibility in scenario design further down the line.

Having had a play with Ryzom Ring myself, as well as watching the demonstration, I must say that it looks very promising. Whilst the concept of user-created content in games isn't new (take a look at, for example, Second Life and maps/mods for other games), the implementation looks to be simple and should be well integrated.

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