Ok, so now I’m starting to actually sound my age. I was reading a blurb about Saga the MMORTS that is currently in open beta and that got me thinking. In a nutshell Saga is an real time strategy game (similar in many ways to now “traditional” RTS games like Age of Empires/Kings, Warcraft II, Command and Conquer, StarCraft, etc.) except that its been translated to a persistent multiplayer environment.
According to their FAQ:
Saga is persistent and played online in a massively multiplayer environment. Every building you build, troop you buy, and piece of land you conquer remains with you as long as you play the game. That means every time you fight your friend, you wont have to rebuild your castle from scratch. It also means every time your buildings get damaged or your troops killed, they stay that way unless you repair or ressurrect them. Troops gain experience over time, meaning that they move with you from battle to battle, improving their skills and finding exciting new armor and weapons to equip themselves with.
If that weren’t interesting enough, Saga’s has adopted the free-to-play, pay for booster packs model that an number of games are implementing in one form or another (e.g., Legends of Norrath and basically any other TCG or even MMO with micropayments). In Saga’s case, new and additional troops can be purchased in booster packs.
I used to be an RTS fiend back in the day, so I’m intrigued to see how this plays. Particularly since the “build” is essentially taken out of the game. But as a concept, its an interesting “new” idea that many games are trying to implement in lieu of (or in some cases, in addition to) subscription fees. Seems many game companies are starting to think more like the toy companies of old and less like software companies. Imagine if Blizzard had implemented something like this in StarCraft… we might never have seen WoW and they’d still be gazillionaires.
I say “new” because when I was reading about Saga it hit me where I had seen the idea before: toy soldiers. Yup, growing up we spent countless hours in “PvP” battle with our Airfix 1/72 scale plastic toy soldiers.
Every time we went near the hobby shop behind the old Sears in the San Antonio Shopping Center in Mountain View, California (still a place of myth from my youth where the pantheon of the gods of geekdom resided among the model trains and Estes Rockets which used the forbidden “D” engine…). Each trip I clamored for some addition to my modest collection, fiendishly hording my allowance like a miser saving for that great good thing. A new box of 8th Army men one time, a lorry the next, Paratroopers, the Marines and the mother of them all: the Mobile Rocket Launcher.
I still have quite a few in a coffee can somewhere just waiting for when the balloon goes up. Believe me, they’ll be ready when the cabbage crates come over the briney. They certainly have enough experience after the carnage of the Great Garden Assault and the dreaded Shag Carpet Campaign (from whence the fallen left this earth for Halls of Vacuumalla never to return). Talk about replayability.
Pay for them once and then they are free to play. Want to expand your set? Buy a booster pack of Commandos. Oh, and we could collect them and trade them too and did. Ah, nostalgia. Now where is that old coffee can?