written by Alastrom
Life is Feudal:MMO, the game that let you quit your desk job and live the exciting life of a dirt mobility expert, is getting a face lift. You might be surprised to learn that we were once fairly involved in Life is Feudal. We took part in wars, we built a small kingdom and we even ran a private server to hone our military expertise. We spent about a year in Life is Feudal: Your Own, the smaller server based game and then about six months in the MMO. In all of that time, our fondest memories of that game are how much we hated it. Look, I won’t try to convince you that the game launched with stunning reviews. Combat was buggy, servers were unstable and the only thing harder than the grind was keeping the fruits of your labor from burning down if you decided to take a break from the game. The majority of Reforged Gaming doesn’t have fond memories of their experience in feudal survivalism. But everyone deserves a second chance.
Calling itself Patch 0.2.0, Life is Feudal MMO is overhauling several key experiences that were a major concern of the games infancy. The map, which was an astounding size (441 km²) is roughly tripling in size (1296 km².) The developers have cited a number of problems the old map brought and believe this new size will give players more flexibility in the way they shape their kingdoms. Having struggled to carve out a piece of the land ourselves, this new map offers an exciting opportunity for players to develop more freely. Our clan, the Stone Wardens, had the misfortune of settling right in the middle of two warring nations. It left us in a precarious position that threatened our survival from day one. Cunning negotiation made us a valuable ally to one such kingdom but it dramatically stifled our ability to build the way we wanted to. I’ve never faulted the game for that as I’m a huge fan of organic evolution in gaming. But a bigger map means we can be the players we originally set out to be. Be it a hidden keep in the northern lands or a capital city in the south, a larger map doesn’t force players to trip over one another when it comes to claiming land.
The larger map is, in my opinion, the key to making this game work. Part of the problem with previous iterations was that a single “guild” could build a city and claim all of the resources they needed to make it work. That means there’s no reason to work with any other player city. This means that any player that isn’t a part of your guild is an enemy. Even though alliances existed among various clans, they were all temporary. War is eternal and eventually, all surviving groups grew large enough that they succumbed to fighting one another. I think this led to the failure of the game in the long term and it feels as if BitBox is taking steps to remedy this problem. Increased skill trees push players into more diverse fields. Increased trade ability gives us incentive to actually trade. A larger map means you’ll have to travel further to claim the regional materials you need from distant lands. All of this encourage player cooperation. I’m not saying I want a peaceful feudal experience. I’m merely expressing that the game needs a reason for us not to take swords to one another at every opportunity.
Something else the game was lacking, which this patch begins to address, was activities to do when you’re not building your kingdom. Let’s face it, no one wants to log in to play for a few hours and fill that time with what most would consider “work.” The addition of NPCs is a great step in the right direction, but I feel Life is Feudal needs to expand a players ability to enjoy the game in past time. For lack of a better term, we need to be able to run laps around Dalaran, ala World of Warcraft. Players need to be able to goof off, to match intense labor with a certain level of silliness. I’m not calling for Life is Feudal to change its core game play, but I would highly encourage the developers to add a few additions to the game. Give us bards, people who play music in taverns. Give us the ability to gamble on a game of cards. Let these things be a way for players to augment their game experience, through non critical buffs or the restoration of stamina. NPCs give combatants an entertaining way to hone their fighting skills but what about the person who isn’t interested in combat. A blacksmith should be able to finish hammering out a new sword and then head off at the end of the day for a pint at the tavern. Your long term players are looking for a medieval simulator. Continue to tailor the game to those expectations and I believe it’ll be something people enjoy for years to come.
I’m excited to visit Life is Feudal again and I hope you are as well. The game is making an honest attempt to try again and if we’re lucky, they’ll succeed. It truly is a game unlike any other, where large medieval battles can take place between warring nations. For players that want to truly experience a survival game, the challenge of building a settlement is its own reward and keeping that settlement going is an ongoing struggle. Bobik, BitBox CEO, has said he’ll be hosting an AMA February 1st to help players better understand the direction the game will be taking. Until then, we can all pass the time honing our skills on Life is Feudal: Your Own, the smaller server based version of the game.
A new day dawns…