Updated Thu, Dec 20, 2012 by gunky
The steampunk genre is a curious one I never fully understood. For one thing, I'm pretty sure that people in the 1890's weren't typically wearing top hats and rusty welding goggles together at the same time, but that seems to be a fairly standard steampunk fashion combo. It gets even more curious when you throw in fantasy elements like elves, orcs, goblins and magic. Orcs with bowlers and burly muttonchop sideburns lumbering through filthy, steamy streets and grumbling to themselves in thick Cockney accents, elves trying to figure out how to use magic to make their zeppelins fly straighter, goblins using steam-powered rail guns and weaponized Tesla coils to stage train robberies... it can get out of hand pretty quickly.
That's where City of Steam comes in - right at that tipping point. It is more properly labeled "steam fantasy" than steampunk, but it contains elements that will appeal to the steampunk crowd and to fantasy MMO players. It is set in a high-magic world experiencing an industrial revolution - transportation and production are becoming mechanized by steam power, clockwork and magic. It's actually way more fun than that sounds - check out JeffPrime's Beta Impressions from a previous round of closed beta testing.
This week we got a guided tour of the third round of closed beta by Gabriel V. Laforge, Communications Manager at Mechanist Games.The first thing Gabriel wanted to show off was, understandably, the dungeons. This is where most of the PvE questing takes place, and there are a lot of them. In the starting city, called Refuge, there are a good handful of them, all in slightly different locales. Each dungeon has its own set of challenges. We started out with The Glut, a sewers-type dungeon, and did both challenges there. One involved finding and opening all the chests and the other required killing all the monsters in the place. Each challenge had a time limit, and the chest challenge was much shorter. Gabriel advised me to only find and loot the chests and not bother with smashing all the crates and barrels and other loot containers scattered around, which was good advice. Between the two of us, we managed to find all the chests with only a few seconds remaining.
The challenges reward daily prizes, which means that players will have a reason to run them over and over. The challenges for The Glut rewarded health potions and Challenge Orbs, which can be used in a Transmuter machine to generate semi-random items, ranging from chest keys to steam-bike mounts.
There are some interesting systems in place in City of Steam that are totally handy and convenient but also have perfectly rational lore-logic behind them that you just don't see very often.
A lot of games have personal storage vaults or chests or lockers, for example. These chests or crates or vaults or whatever are usually stationary objects that magically contain all of your stashed belongings no matter where you access them from, and these are usually only located in major population areas or rest centers. There's no logic behind your stuff being accessible from every storage chest in the world - it's just there because that's the game mechanic.