Yes, the word, “disruption,” has lost quite a bit of oomph in the past decade or so, especially here in Silicon Valley. Everyone’s doing it or thinking about it. Of course, disruption is as old as life itself. Survival of the fittest is based on it. Learn how to use fire, disrupt the status quo of those who don’t. Develop a self-moving carriage, blacksmiths starve. Sell things online and brick-and-mortars collapse. And so the beauty of Kickstarter is that it gives the littlest fish in the ocean a chance to grow legs and breathe air. Most of those fishies die before they make it. But Kickstarter allows light to penetrate, as faint as it may be, into that dark murky water.
Take for example, The Far Reaches, a new indie game currently on its fourth day of its 60-day run. It’ll definitely need to reach far to hit its goal of $60,000 (it stands now at just under $2000). And even if funded, the small Voyager Games team will have to work its tail off to get this MMO off the ground. Nevertheless, the spirit of disruption is here and it’s truly great to see.
On the surface, The Far Reaches (TFR), is derivative of other sandbox MMOs like Star Wars Galaxies. And the game could have spent more time in the oven before starting the clock. The video is a lost opportunity as well. But like other Kickstarter games, both funded and not funded, it promises something new, a game changer.
In TFR, the primary game changer is the NPCs that are more real than ever before. They have lives, not just programmed roles. They react. They learn. They desire. And because of this, the world is more organic than in other MMOs. At least, that’s the idea. It appears to be more concept than proof at this point. The video, the key marketing tool, could have explored this more – shown, not told – but instead it runs through several interfaces without really showcasing anything. It confirms that many of these indie games could benefit from solid business and marketing advice before hitting the crowd-funding circuit.
In any case, just like that fish staring at the blue sky, The Far Reaches can dream. And I do hope the dream becomes reality, that the game will be the MMO that creates a truly organic gaming experience. For instance, one could start a simple trading business in the game. Because there are limitations, a tragedy of commons situation occurs. The trader is attacked by raiders. He survives, hires a warlord for protection. The warlord becomes stronger. He invades others. Wars start. Planets get ravaged. More wars. Some traders get rich off of these wars. They establish their own empire. More wars. More deaths. More survival of the fittest. More disruption over and over again. And all of it organic – not influenced by any administrator or developer.
Everything starts small. Often they are muddled, not clear what it wants to be. I’m not sure TFR knows exactly what it will be, but like the NPCs it promises will walk its worlds, I do hope it learns, develops and takes its first breath of air. That’s the spirit of disruption, and The Far Reaches definitely has that going for it.