Earth Eternal: Short Review

It’s a REALLY short review (but bear with me on this): they wouldn’t allow me to play.

That came as a major shock. I didn’t set out to write about EE, I just wanted to have a look for myself, but this changed my mind. I’m probably not the target audience anyway, so take this with salt, but IMHO it raises some interesting points.

Alpha is the new closed-beta; closed beta is the new beta; beta is the new launch

The game is officially in Beta, I believe. Is that an excuse for what follows?

IMHO and IME: No. Within the context of “MMO’s”, and especially in the context of the web (look at the various Google products that are technically still in beta), you can no longer hide behind that as you once could.

I did experience a few small parts of the EE experience along the way, so here they are:

  1. You are not allowed to play the game straight-off; you are required to provide personal info etc before even being shown a screenshot of the game, let alone running the game itself
  2. Copy/Paste is disabled in the registration form. It works for the “name” field, but not for the email and password fields.
  3. My main email address is on a domain name that “Email provider is not supported, try another email address.”

(in desperation, I tried bugmenot.com, but unfortunately Sparkplay has already deleted the only account on there)

For any mainstream PC MMO you’d call this a bizarre over-reaction on my part (most of them would already have taken my credit-card number, so few people will stop to quibble about email address issues). But this isn’t one of those games…

“Finally, a real MMO for your browser”

(that’s the Earth Eternal tagline)

O, RLY?

Let’s get this straight. 15 years after the web became popular, you’re telling me that “the browser-experience” is:

  1. It’s Windows-only (!!!) [BTW: despite *already knowing* that I’m running a Mac, they take your personal info *before* telling you this]
  2. I’m not allowed to try the product before I use it
  3. I’m not allowed to use an email address of my choice, I have to use one that the website-ownser “approves” of
  4. The website-owner specifically writes code to disable basic features of my web browser

In a world of Kongregate – where I can play several MMO’s *right now*, on any computer, some of them with no signup – you’ve got to be kidding me.

I’ve known Matt for years, and I’ve watched with interest the trajectory of Achaea / IRE / Sparkplay. It’s been an interesting journey, from the years of declaring that 3D graphics were great but unnecessary for commercial viability (with his own Achaea the poster-child), to today’s VC-funded 3D MMO.

There’s an irony there, especially if you dig out Matt’s frequent public statements on 3D games in the past – but in context it all makes sense. I mention it pre-emptively, so I can knock it down :). Yes, Matt said such things – but at the time he also actively proved that you could make a living off non-3D games. He showed that with controlled budgets, intelligent business models, and controlled scope … it worked. It was small revenues, small profits, but it was profitable. Many of the lessons that he shared have been picked up over the years and re-used by 3D games in the race to drive down their own costs, and adopt more competitive business models.

So … I don’t care about the change in stance (hey, the world has changed a lot in that time), but … I do care that someone who taught so many people how to avoid the high-barrier-to-entry business models manages to shut me out of playing his first graphical MMO.

Compare and contrast…

I’ve already mentioned Kongregate. The vast majority of games there require no login, including some small (but grind-tastic) MMOs. The most recent substantial MMO to appear on there *does* require that you already have a Kong account, sadly. (Although, incidentally, if you install the Kong Facebook app, it silently creates an invisible account + logs you in, so it’s possible you’d play that MMO without ever knowingly creating an account)

I suspect that Sherwood still doesn’t require reg – when I used to play, it certainly didn’t, and IIRC from conversations with Gene, this was something he actively chose to retain. Ironically, I couldn’t double-check this: Adobe’s current installer for Shockwave has a chunk of badly written code that attempts to shutdown “all web browsers” before it will run – even if I’m only installing in one of the browsers.

So … EE may be a great game … and it may be launchable from within a browser … but it’s still fighting the browser as much as complementing it.

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