The first issue is debugging. Feedback forms flood in from frustrated players wondering why their player got stuck in a rock, or how many times they have to click on a food to eat it before the act is finally committed. This stage of alpha or beta testing multiplayer sandbox survival games are long and frustrating, and will take us a long time to get through. Allowing players to purchase an early access version of a game is essentially allowing them to play a game through most of its development life as opposed to having the game developed then tested internally, causing the player to simply wait a year or more before even touching the game. This is a concept that a majority of gamers don’t grasp even after clicking the “I Understand” button below the disclaimer from the developer stating that the game is in development, and that they should expect bugs and crashes. This forces players to choose between waiting for a long time before getting to play a game they’ve been anticipating for a while, or playing it while there are many issues that can potentially cause the experience to be less than satisfactory. We are now at the stage where games like Reign of Kings will see long development lives that include us as part of it from start to finish. With a game type so demanding of pioneering and discovering new ways to develop dynamic experiences, we can expect a game chiseled by player experience and feedback, building a stronger finished product.
Player experience is the most important thing of course, and developing a game that caters to the player is a tough task. This job is made all the more difficult when hackers fly through the sky blowing up everyone or in the case of Reign of Kings, spawn whatever they want and place it in the sky. Hacking is a difficult thing to tackle, as people will always find ways around every defense put up. Cheating is fun sometimes, and the freedom it brings with it can make games much more fun than they were before, but when hacking ruins someone else’s experience, you lose players. There will never be an end to hacking, and in a sense, that’s an impressive and terrifying thing. To reduce instances of hacking ruining the experience for players in a server, anti-cheat applications and protocols are much more advanced, but not perfect. This bottleneck has made it possible for a larger amount of players to enjoy a game longer before a hacking epidemic breaks out, leaving only the hackers playing the game, flying around through walls and blowing each other up. Reign of Kings does in fact have an anti-cheat application that launches during runtime, however playing through a handful of servers with flying objects shows that the application needs a few improvements.
Interaction with another human player has become one of the most terrifying things in the world. Simply seeing another player running around in the distance immediately fills you with the uncertainty of their intentions. Are they killing players for their items, for fun, or as part of a clan? Do they want/need help, care to team up, or would they like to trade? Most likely, they want to sink their sword into your face, as it’s much easier to kill someone and take what they have instead of negotiating a mutually beneficial trade or letting them simply pass with a hello. For the record, both of those things have happened to me in my play sessions in Reign of Kings, the latter being a quick second hilarious moment. Centering on player interaction, this type of game can only evolve to host a wider variety of features. Already present in Reign of Kings are the exploration, combat, crafting, and building mechanics. Combine those with conquest and guild structuring, and you’ve got a big foundation to build off of with future content-rich updates. Depending on the direction the developer takes, providing a toolset for importing models and game logic could further boost the success of the game, leaving the modders to fill in the gaps.
As of right now, we are in the early access era, with many games funding development through a sort of pre-order that lets gamers play the game before it’s even finished. This is fun, frustrating, and can make some proud to be part of the development. In years past, providing feedback to developers was near impossible, and today, we the audience are given a voice, and it’s completely possible for the developer to hear that voice and better shape new games to fit closer to our ideal game experience. With many of the tools still being debugged and perfected, Reign of Kings is a unique amalgam that provides an excellent experience while playing a role in the bigger picture, solidifying the establishment for future titles in this vein of gaming.