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Republic the MMO

March 15th, 2005 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

One of the truly great disappointments of the last five years was Elixir’s Republic: The Revolution, a political strategy game that promised so much in the years of development but shipped as a pared down linear strategy role-player with many fewer options and a bloated 3D engine that most people used as rarely as possible. It was billed as the most ambitious political strategy game ever, but had clearly bitten off more than it could chew.

Elixir Studios, with new partner Nicely Crafted Entertainment, has returned to the Republic name for a MMO sequel to the post-Soviet political sim, but this time it is former Commies in space. Republic Dawn: Chronicles of the Seven will cast the players as citizens of a distant galactic republic on the verge of collapse after a devastating attack. Player actions will determine the fate of the government – will they help build up a new and stable government or will they hasten the end of the national infrastructure?

This is not the Republic you remember. In fact, I have no idea why the move to outer space was necessary. A terrestrial fictitious nation would be both more manageable and accessible to those players who want to play in a political sim. In an interview with CGM’s John Callaham, Ben Simpson of Nicely Crafted Entertainment said that Republic was more of a concept than a game, so the change isn’t a big issue. Besides Elixir and NCE were working on similar separate projects, so sticking the Republic name on a game they build together seemed obvious.

MMOs rely on giving the player a way to measure progress daily. It is not immediately clear how this would work in a game whose driving engine is political survival. Simpson talks about PvP and PvE, but I’m not sure what the E would be. He talks about players forming political parties and political/economic conflict. NCE has already built a MMORTS, Time of Defiance, and will certainly use their experience here to inform Republic: Dawn.

With a scheduled release of 2007, the mere existence of this game is speculative. The dominance of MMORPGs in the online world is demonstrated by my failure of imagination in trying to conceive how Republic Dawn would work in the real world. Will players flock to a game where everyone can’t be president? What if one party takes over the Senate and starts using it benefit its own members, to the detriment of everyone else in game? How will NCE navigate the tricky line between “All’s fair in politics” and “Why should people keep playing this?” Will there be one Republic, or one on every server? How would casual players be hooked into a world where their input into major decisions is handicapped by their infrequent play?

The small scale success of A Tale in the Desert is certainly informative here, and I hope the NCE takes its lessons to heart. ATITD is not your usual foozle-whacking MMOG and still manages to keep subscribers. The success of a Republic: Dawn will depend on finding a player base for a game for which the model is a player run world with no real combat at all. It would be nice to have a MMOG that did not have elves and orcs and that asked players to really try to affect the world they lived in.

Like the initial Republic, I am really looking forward to what comes of this. Hopefully I won’t be let down again.


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