Last week I was the recipient of a personalised tour around the new browser based MMO, City of Steam courtesy of Gabriel and Andrew. I met them on Skype and immediately asked how soon we could get into the game, seeing as I hadn’t downloaded the game-client yet.
“Yeah, it’s a browser-based game, Adam,” Gabriel offered in the politest of tones.

Oh, sheesh, yeah … I knew that. I was checking to see if you knew that. And now that you do I know that you’re legit and not some scum-sucking nasty people pretending to be staff members on a new MMO just so you can steal all my photos of my dog.

I opened a window in Firefox and after a few minutes setting up an account which required an email address and a password, I was in, the game screen was loading, and there I was in City of Steam. Quite impressive really. I mean a huge barrier to MMO entry for me is the trouble in downloading and setting up a game client. There is almost no download here, and I was getting 60FPS from a server which was on the other side of the world. Admittedly the three of us were the only ones in there at the time, but when I popped in for the Alpha test on the weekend I was getting close to the same frame rate and no lag time. Impressive stuff.

After almost two hours of gallivanting around the city with my hosts, we got onto the subject of the common dumbest questions they receive about the game. My one was of course top of the list, so here they are, the top questions that make a game designer do an invisible facepalm:

Still no client download! When can I install the game?
You have already installed the web browser. There is no other download, client, or installation. The browser is all you need. Just click Play Now.

How do I quit this game? There’s no exit button!
I assume you meant to ask: “How do I close the web browser?” and “Does the web browser have an exit button?” The answers to which are: click the “X” button, and “YES”, respectively. (By the way, this is going to make this game very dangerous at people’s workplaces …)

Click to move? God I hate these games.
You can use WASD, click to move, click and hold or mouse steering.

WASD to move? God I hate these games.
…There’s click to move, too …

Why is the camera locked down in isometric view?
It isn’t. Camera movement is covered in the first 5 seconds of game play, in the tutorial, remember?

This is just another clone!
In your browser window, at only 2mb download, and you’re playing it in the airport on a laggy connection between flights, with impressive frame-rate and response time… Oh, we weren’t aware had that functionality. Actually, is there any other Steampunk MMO like this in a browser, or client?

Where can I buy a horse?
Umm … in another game. Not ours. We have steambikes and jetpacks coming in beta.

Is this game going to be like WoW or Diablo?
Considering we have less than 1% of their development budget, and ten less years to waste, I think it will play a little bit more like… umm… City of Steam. Even being compared to a AAA title is an honor for us, so on behalf of Mechanist Games, thank you!…
(EDIT: Pssst, more like Diablo)

I’ll have more thoughts on the game over the next couple of weeks. I have purposely left out my own dumb questions on the crafting system.