written by Alastrom
I’ve made mistakes in the past. I make them presently as well, but it’s past mistakes I want to focus on at present. Shaving my head? Mistake. Thinking paisley button up shirts would ever be in fashion again? Huge mistake. Pineapple on pizza? I know, I know. Some things are unforgivable but some mistakes allow us to take a step back and evaluate what really matters to us. For example, I made some pretty big mistakes while running the community that would eventually become Reforged Gaming. But those errors eventually paved the way for something much greater. We learn more from failure than we do success. The greatest mistake any of us can make is believing that failure is the end of our story. In truth, it’s simply the beginning of the next chapter, if you have the courage to carry on. I’m speaking of course of a studio called Donkey Crew and a game known briefly as “Of Kings and Men.”
Of Kings and Men was a massively multiplayer “persistent medieval war” game that featured a vast open world and player driven experiences. If you’re like me, those words in that particular order cause a feeling akin to the dark clouds parting and a beautiful angelic figure descending upon the earth while 80’s hair metal plays in the background (good luck finding a picture for that, my dear editor.) Seriously, the game looked incredible. Like Life is Feudal meets Kingdom Come Deliverance meets severe gaming addiction. So why aren’t we all playing this masterpiece of a title? Well, the game went through some financial hurdles that ended with the lead developers leaving the project entirely. We’ve all heard the story before. A bunch of people get together with an ambitious goal but they have difficulties getting it financed. Along comes a Faustian investor who promises to fund the project in exchange for a controlling interest in the company. A downward spiral ensues and eventually the whole thing falls apart. For further information, see also “Everquest Next.”
Of Kings and Men has since been removed from Steam, so if you’ve closed this article to go looking for it (shame on you) you won’t find it there. You can still snag a CD key through some third party sites but it’s safe to say that players will never get to truly experience the vision that Donkey Crew put forward. So why are we talking about a dead game from a developer that most people haven’t heard of? Because everybody loves a comeback story. Donkey Crew is back and they’re working on a project that should have everyone excited. The game is called Last Oasis and from what little we’ve seen of the trailer it looked like Howl’s Moving Castle mixed with Mad Max. Players take on the role of tribal nomads who scour the earth in large Theo Jansen like walkers searching for resources while competing against other players with similar minded goals. I’ve now shown the trailer to my friends, neighbors, extended family and dog all of whom are as excited as I am.
The lore behind the game also offers some interesting mechanics for long term gameplay, something that is sorely missing in most online games these days. A cataclysmic event has left the Earth with two deadly environments and a small area in between that can still support life. The nomads are constantly on the move to avoid being over taken by the freezing and burning halves of the planet. In order to do this, they’ve built large machines that can ferry their people across the land in a constant struggle of survival. The game hints at a cutthroat nature needed to survive but it also offers the chance for nomads to work together as the economy is fully driven by the player. Combat looks to be a far cry from spamming attacks, the trailer took an opportunity to show opposing walkers coming into contact with players boarding one another before engaging in a flurry of melee. In short, there’s nothing else out there like it and that’s reason enough to board the hype train.
Despite the incredible trailer, there’s no shortage of vitriol from “OKAM” refugees who feel Donkey Crew took the money and ran. I had my own concerns in this regard but after doing my own research, I quickly fell in love with the developers. The project lead, Florian Hofreither, explained a bit about what happened with Of Kings and Men in a post on the Steam forums. While you should read it for yourself, the general theme is conviction. This is a group of people who have the strength to carry on when most people would have given up. We’ve all been burned by early access projects in the past and players have understandably become jaded. I don’t believe that’s the appropriate response to have here. Everyone deserves a second chance and I believe Donkey Crew is going to deliver on a game that’ll blow our expectations out of the water.
Yes, Donkey Crew has made mistakes in the past but they’ve clearly learned from those days and are making their best attempt to move forward. With so many large developers out there, it’s easy to forget that these companies are made up of people looking to build their dream game. That’s a cause I can get behind even if it means failing before you succeed. The game is currently in a closed beta phase and players are under a strict NDA, though they’re having a difficult time hiding how excited they are for what comes next. That being said, anyone is welcome to sign up and help bring this vision to life. I know I’m looking forward to building my first walker along with the rest of Reforged Gaming and I hope you are too.