Fun For the Whole Family!
Ten Ton Hammer's Preview
of Sony Online Entertainment’s Free Realms
By Garrett Fuller
Sony Online Entertainment has a full platter of MMOGs that are
currently in the works, everything from online card games to expansions
to existing products. The Ten Ton Hammer team had the opportunity to
see one of those upcoming games, Free Realms, during the SOE Gamer Day
in May. Interestingly enough, Free Realms isn’t a typical SOE
product and instead is designing the style and game design of Free
Realms around the idea that the game should be a title the whole family
With both hardcore and casual MMOGs having a high success rate
in the market, it looks like Sony is trying to build a game where you
can play with your kids and still get a quality game play experience.
We only got to see a few videos of the game and received a brief
summary of what can be expected from the titles. From those tidbits of
information, we’ll relay to you our impressions of the family
MMOG, Free Realms.
The game takes place in a fantasy setting that has a cartoony,
Shrek-style sort of look to it. The artwork is bubbly and bright but
isn’t so over the top that it can’t satisfy both
the younger and older gamers alike. This is certainly a game geared
around the younger audience and the artwork reflects that. Overall, the
movement of the characters and NPCs looks fluid and polished, which
adds an element of complexity to the graphics. The lighter style of the
game certainly looks to enhance the fun factor of a title that everyone
When Free Realms was described by the SOE employees, it was
set up as a game that parents can play with kids. SOE is designing the
game to have fun content for children to enjoy, but also have a level
of depth as well. The game is being developed in such a style that
whether you can play for five minutes or five hours, you will be
satisfied with the end result. As the MMOG gaming generation gets older
and our kids start playing video games along with us, titles like Free
Realms looks to bridge the gap in age among players and make MMOGs that
are enjoyable for everyone.
As far as features in the game itself, SOE has plans to
establish several MMO design elements that work well within many games.
Players will be able to keep pets as part of their development.
Let’s face it, everyone digs having a pet to run along with
their character. Another huge area for customization will be player
housing. Housing will give players a home base to work from and allow
even further personal features for players to enjoy.
While the game sounds pretty kid oriented, don’t
worry yourself; SOE claims that there is plenty for adults to do too.
Quests and combat will be included in the game. Players will fight it
out with monsters and bad guys throughout the Free Realms. You can take
your character and pets on all sorts of quests in the game to gain
favor and abilities. Along with the quests and fights, Free Realms will
also contain large amounts of mini-games, fluff activities that any
player can enjoy. The mini-games will allow players to log in and have
fun even if they have a short amount of time that night.
From the ground up, Free Realms is being developed as a
free-to-play game. You don’t need to pay a dime to enjoy the
game with your family and friends; SOE will support the game with paid
advertisements. If you want to adventure into an expanded version of
the game, there will be paid areas for players who choose to
participate in this enlarged world.
SOE plans to implement direct item sales throughout the game,
meaning that you can buy items, weapons, or other player items with a
credit card or other form of purchase. Micro-transaction games seem to
be increasing in popularity and this particular business model has
worked well for game developers in Asia. If you’re a parent,
however, make sure to keep an eye on your spending.
There you have it! From what we’ve seen of Free
Realms, the game looks to give a strong game play experience to both
young and old players alike. As of yet, there is no time frame on when
the game will be released, but now that the game has been announced,
you can rest assured that more news will be on the way soon. Keep an
eye out for Free Realms so you can finally sit down and play an MMOG
with your kids.