Developer Three Rings recently announced their latest free-to-play MMO, Whirled. Unlike their pirate-themed Puzzle Pirates and cowboy-centric Bang! Howdy titles, Whirled will have a more freeform feel and rely heavily on user created content and minigames. We got a chance to chat with Three Rings' CEO, Daniel James about their latest creation.
GamesRadar: We understand that you've been an avid fan of text-based multi-user dungeons. What influences has this had on your games?
Daniel James: Text MUDs are the backbone of the entire MMO industry; WoW is little more, gameplay-wise, than a sophisticated graphical MUD. I love text games and would like to make another, but it wouldn't be a hack 'n slash MUD.
In terms of Three Rings' games we've actually spent a lot of time trying to escape some of the influences of traditional MUDs. For example by not including an overall level [for your character], avoiding the fantasy genre, etc. Whether this was wise or not is highly debatable; games about whacking monsters with big swords seem to do very well!
GR: Do you think the MMO genre is stuck in a rut?
DJ: Yes, but not for long. I think that there are a lot of very derivative, expensive MMORPG projects in development, and there will be carnage in that marketplace over the next few years as most of them fail. Incremental improvements to the established formula are unlikely to differentiate a game from the juggernaut.
However, I think there are lots of signs of impending change, with Korean titles making waves and folks with alternative distribution, business models, funding and design ideas coming to market. The combination of this MMORPG crater and spurt of MMO innovation will be auger in a new era of exciting games.
GR: Why should MMO fans be excited about Whirled?
DJ: Whirled is a fun game world designed for ease of self-expression and creativity. If you've ever hankered to make an avatar, or decorate your room with your favorite artist's work, or collaborate with a college friend to make a game, Whirled enables you to do so. Of course, it also encourages you to enjoy the creations of others; a spread of content that hopefully over time will be unrivalled by any commercial MMO. For MMO players this offers what is a hopefully welcome respite from grinding away towards the next uber-monster of doom.