Things look ‘meh for Mortal Online

I’ve been following Mortal Online since before Darkfall hit retail. The game promised a lot of cool features in a totally sandbox environment. It was the Ultima Online for this generation of gamers, all wrapped in a beautiful 3D veneer.

Except, with launch sometime within the next two weeks (all we know is “March 2010”), I’m less than optimistic.

I played for a while during open beta. The game looks more intuitive than Darkfall did even after it launched. Right from the get go, the game seemed to scream out its sandbox-i-ness and beg you to build a castle. The problem was, it gave you no direction on how to do it. Actually, it didn’t give you direction on virtually anything. So, the result was a bunch of people stripping down naked and mining/logging the starter town.

It was a desert, so the place looked like the worst kind of nude beach. On the internet, there is no shame. Any female that dared log on was instantly surrounded by naked male avatars asking her to take her clothes off. The one who did was boxed in– literally– so she couldn’t even move to escape.

But, I could look past all of that if the game was good enough. It’s beta, descriptions and tutorials and limitations get added later.Okay.

Staring me in the eye, however, any time I tried to have some fun, was the absolutely atrocious performance. My computer isn’t brand new but it’s certainly no clunker either. I’ve got a pretty powerful processor and a 260GTX and 3GB’s of RAM. Even still, the game never left the mid-teens for frame rate.  With the graphics low, too, where the game really looked unimpressive.

Again, it’s beta, but this close to launch, I doubt they’ll be able to do much to bring it up to acceptable performance levels before it hits retail. Hopefully they can, (and they need to, or else they’re going to be dead out of the gate) because this isn’t the game that’s going to convince many people to upgrade. If they wouldn’t do it for Age of Conan, Mortal Online won’t stand a chance.

All of that aside, Massively pointed me towards their launch press release this morning.

We are very happy to announce that Mortal Online will launch in March 2010. As most of you know, we implemented the features planned for release and even managed to get in a few more that were initially planned for post-release. We are currently focussing solely on bugfixing and polish.

The main focus lies of course on the desync problems which both the SV programmers and the coders from EPIC are working hard on to fix. The largest part of problems in the game right now is directly related to the desync between client and server.
We are confident that with the next patch on Monday most, if not all of those problems will be solved.
It has been a rough ride for both the followers of the game as well as everybody here at Star Vault. MMOGs are never finished and we will, of course, not slow down with the constant improvement and development of the game after release. Mortal Online will release with the core features that we promised but will of course grow and mature with every patch.
There are still a lot of brilliant features round the corner and Nave has just started to grow.
This is a very important time for both Mortal Online and you, the supporters, followers and players of the game. We will continue to make the game that all of you and we ourselves want to see.

Even if we ignore their poor spelling and inconsistent spacing, there’s cause for worry here.

Is it just me, or is there a distinctly negative vibe coming from this release? When I read it, I couldn’t help but feel like they were saying “yeah, the game isn’t that good, it’s sucked for us too, but we have to launch, so buy the box and we’ll work it out.” Generally, these kinds of messages are sunshine and roses. This one sounded more like the kind of release that comes five weeks out of the gate and the developer is treading water. Replace “Mortal” with “Champions” and “SV” with “Cryptic Studios” and nobody would ever know the difference.

Color me disappointed. This game looked distinctly cool in an old-school kind of way. At this point, I couldn’t see buying the box until it’s less than thirty bucks and has another six months of development going for it.

Judging from the comments on Massively’s post, I’m not alone.

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