A look at Project Gorgon (Jan 2021)

The comment by bhagpuss in my recent post about railroading in MMOs made me want to play a sandbox MMO again:

“I do find it ironic that Classic WoW is now considered to have such a freewheeling, open attitude to questing and to be so non-directive and non-linear in its gameplay. […]”

Of course, in my opinion, the gameplay has to be compared with where WoW is standing now, because even the “good old” Classic WoW loses against any sandbox MMO when it comes to being non-directive. My post was directed at the non-sandbox MMOs that I’m currently playing. But, as I said, his comment got me thinking and apart from wanting more freedom in my “themepark MMOs” (who wants to be shoved into any attraction a themepark has to offer… imagine being forced to enter “It’s a Small World” in Disneyland…), this made me realize that what I probably need is a sandbox MMO to even things out!

I am not sure – does Trove count? Because I do want to play it more often again, I just find the feeling of having to catch up with everyone and everything again and having to level my character up a bit tedious. And this shouldn’t be part of a sandbox game. But other than that, this game does give you the freedom to go where you want and to build in and expand your cornerstone and your guild world.

Anyway, as the title already says, I opted to take a look at Project Gorgon again. I backed it on Kickstarter in 2015. It has arrived on Steam at some point (with a “very positive” rating) and development is ongoing. Slow, but ongoing. Or I think it is slow, at least, as it is still in Early Access. The graphics are nothing spectacular and I thought they were outdated even back in 2015. But they do their job! The interface is nice and clean, though.

I decided to create a new character and get the starter experience again. Also, my older character had a lot of invalid armor items and I did not feel like figuring out where and how to get new stuff. There are no character levels. Instead, each skill can be levelled up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything but the tutorial island and a very small part of the first zone, Serbule. So, we’ll see where my adventure will lead me this time. So far, I haven’t left the tutorial island… I like the sword skill, so I am probably going to keep it. My secondary skill may become psychology again (can’t help it…) just as the very first character I played.

Project Gorgon has no quest givers with a quest icon over their heads, by the way. You can talk to NPCs and then sometimes they give you a quest. Sometimes they also only mention something which gives you a hint on what you can do, but there is no mentioning of how to do that. You can also open your Quest Log (which comes with a notepad to write down hints for solving some quests) and look at “Stuff to Do” which gives you a list with optional hints for the various areas. It is nice if you’re lost and don’t know what to do or if you want to make sure not to miss anything. I am mainly looking at it on this tutorial island, because I want to leave it, but I don’t want to forget anything important. You can also easily unlock and level several skills here.

But I also read that you can return to the tutorial island later. So depending on how impatient I get, I may hop off soon…

We will see how long this urge for a sandboxy MMO will last until I long to get back to the guided tours!

8 Comments

  1. I backed P:G’s Kickstarter too, but since it went into Early Access I’ve barely touched it. I actually played it more when it was in the open alpha or beta stage prior to that. The thing about that comment of mine you quoted is that it sort of implies I preferred the pre-WoW less directive approach but really I’m not at all sure I did. I just didn’t have the points of comparison I do now. When I do play Project:Gorgon, rather than getting drawn in by the lack of handholding, as I think I would have done fifteen or even ten years ago, now I bounce off it.

    It reminds me of something we always used to say about student life – when you’re living it for the first time it feels like you’d never want to live any other way but once you’ve passed through it, found a place of your own, got some money behind you, become used to a more settled, affluent and most especially comfortable lifestyle… you don’t ever want to go back. That said, I think there’s a sweet spot somewhere along the way, where things are just comfortable and settled enough but before they’ve become routine and predictable and boring. That’s the place WoW was in back when it had those huge subscription numbers. I think quite a lot of people might go back to those times, given the chance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t want to quote everything you wrote in there, so I just used the part that got me thinking… the problem that I have with all the “railroading” is that once in a while, I enjoy the open approach of sandbox MMOs. It is nice to play a game that is designed not to hold your hand and guide you and direct you to where they want you to look!

      I never liked student life much and was really glad to find a job and finally be able to move out of my parents’ place. :) But either way, you are right. I wouldn’t want to go back. I’m not sure if maybe, when it comes to settling and routine, we are consuming new content in MMOs much too fast nowadays. Even though we don’t have as much time given our jobs. Or maybe because of that: Because we can’t just spend a whole afternoon and evening playing a game with no goals because we have to work and do chores, cook, clean the kitchen, etc. we do prefer to be guided on what to do and how to get the most experience out of our gaming time. At least, usually. But I’ve just never been a fan of having only one to three quests and having to do a zone before I can get the quest to start in a new zone. I like having more options. So maybe, the retail WoW experience just isn’t for me anymore. My perfect MMO would allow me to have both worlds: Enough sandbox and themepark options. Usually, a good housing system does the trick, but the MMOs I’m still playing (Guild Wars 2, LotRO and WoW) do not have (good) housing systems to play with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “My perfect MMO would allow me to have both worlds: Enough sandbox and themepark options. Usually, a good housing system does the trick, but the MMOs I’m still playing (Guild Wars 2, LotRO and WoW) do not have (good) housing systems to play with.”

        You might want to take a look at Black Desert Online. I think it has a really good mix. I’ve been on lots on unguided, pretty great adventures, and have also spent a lot of time with the housing system. On the other hand the game tells me that I’ve completed well over 2000 quests by now, so…yeah. :-)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I have and I didn’t like it at all (not that I got that far, but back when I tried it, I also knew there would come a time where PvP couldn’t be avoided if the other person wanted to attack me – I hate forced PvP). I also didn’t like the housing. It didn’t seem to be bad, but for me, a good housing is more like in Rift where I get a map that maybe has a house but also surroundings and if I want to, I can even build my own house with individual building blocks. But the game itself wasn’t something for me anyway.

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  2. I didn’t back it, but I recently bought this game via Steam, due to a friend’s recommendation.

    I only played it for a couple of hours, then uninstalled it again. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t have anything that made me want to ever play it again either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s too bad! :( And yes, it is something I am going to figure out, too. Is it something I want to play or not? Because the first time I played, it was fun, but it just didn’t “stick”. And I didn’t play much then.

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  3. Well, I’ve actually played Project Gorgon to the ground — maxed out a few skills, raided, and done high level content. I have to say, it’s ok to leave tutorial island and not see everything. :) What you really need to see is a Saturday afternoon poetry slam . . . that’s when things get really crazy. Poetry, Bad Jokes, Lag, Buffs that allow you to fly . . . all of that. Also, I have to suggest you try out an animal curse. I’ll never forget the first time I was turned into a pig by accidentally drinking a bottle of “what looked like” a health potion. Good luck, and I can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just found your comment in the depths of my spam folder… sorry about the delay!

      Okay, then I’ll probably try to get off now. I was in the dungeon that requires another player and I didn’t feel like looking for one. I probably could have, because I’d never been alone on the island, but eh, too lazy. :p

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