Preview – City of Steam (PC Web Browser MMO)

TITLE: City of Steam

DEVELOPER: Mechanist Games

PUBLISHER: Mechanist Games

GENRE: F2P Web Browser MMO

PLATFORM: Microsoft Windows

STATUS: Alpha Testing

RELEASE DATE: TBA

City of Steam is a free-to-play web browser MMO based in the industrial age. The game is being developed by Mechanist Games, who describes the game as “An industrial age fantasy set in a mechanical world during an industrial revolution where the boundaries between science and magic have begun to blur, where humanoid steam toilers patrol the streets and leviathan airships float just above the rooftops.”

Mechanist Games hosted an Alpha Sneak Peek Event, where members of the community and media could take a look at the game before it begins its actual testing schedule. I was given an opportunity to participate in this event and wanted to give our readers a preview of this upcoming game.

After logging into the site and loading up the game, you are treated to the opening credits as you see a fly-through of Central City, and then end up at the top of a platform to create your character.

The character creation process is pretty basic and seems unfinished. You can choose from one of nine races consisting of the Aven, Heartlander, Ostenian, Stoigmari, Draug, Riven, Goblin, Hobbe, and Orc. You then have four classes, Channeler, Warder, Gunner, and Arcanist to pick from. Beyond that you choose your character’s first and last name, gender, and hairstyle.  One of the most frustrating aspects of the character creation process is that there is no zoom feature, so you never really know what your character looks like.

After the character is finished, you can then choose to play the tutorial or skip it and go straight to the city. I chose to play the tutorial and you are introduced to a bit of history on the loading screen. Your character ends up on a train, where you must fetch your belongings, and along the way are treated to the tutorial of the controls, movement, combat, looting, etc.

Once completed your character is dropped off in the middle of a huge city. With no real direction on what to do next, I ran around collecting quests and completing a wide variety of introduction to the city zones and shops quests. A lot of the quests I was able to pick up were significantly higher than my character’s level and with no navigation; I became frustrated as to where I should be going next. I never found any beginner type quests, most of the dungeon areas were higher level than I was after the initial introduction quests and I never found any beginner type dungeons.

With not knowing what really to do next, I admired the beautiful graphics and music that the game has. I then browsed the UI to see what kind of things I could do. It appears that options have not been implemented into the game yet, so I couldn’t change anything. The full screen button was also grayed out, so the view of the game is very limited. There is no type of quest tracker that I could find and the map is limited to the mini map on screen, with a grayed out option for possibly a full size map. I found no actual camera control, which the game could really use since movement is all point and click. One thing I did think was actually very unique for this type of game is that there are several location signs around the city, you can actually fast travel to a certain location by clicking it on the sign. The ambient sounds of the game make the experience well worth it because you actually feel like you are in an actual city of that time period.

As I never was able to experience combat in the game, because every dungeon I found was higher level than my character was after completing the running around the city quest lines. I can’t really comment on combat, mobs, or the dungeons themselves. The UI in the game is very comparable to most MMOs out today and very easy to navigate.

Overall, for an Alpha test, the game ran smoothly, the servers didn’t crash while I was on, and the forums were abuzz with tips, bug reports, and comments. Mechanist Games seems to have a handle on the development of this game and are very responsive to their community in the forums. The game still needs quite a bit of work before it launches, but I believe that with all the feedback that was received the game will only get better as it goes along. The game definitely needs a dungeon tutorial, full screen option, and touch-ups on the character customization.

You can check out more information and sign up for the City of Steam Newsletter at the Official Website here.

PRE-RELEASE OUTLOOK: “Favorable”

About Tiffany "CeissaDesiste" Toms
Long time female gamer who has been playing all genres since the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 days. Freelance Graphic Artist, Web Designer, Beta Tester, and studied one year of Game Design. I play games on PC, PS4, PS3, Wii, 3DS, Xbox 360, PSVita, and Android. Freelance Writer, Reviewer, and News Editor/Asst. Director for Anjel Syndicate since the site launched! Part time employee of a major video game retailer.

Share and Enjoy

7 comments for “Preview – City of Steam (PC Web Browser MMO)

  1. Jessica Brown
    03/19/2012 at 20:28

    It’s funny.  These games keep getting better and better.  There was a time when browser and cloud-based games were very simple, but those days seem to be passing us by with Unity3D and Kalydo and these other plugins.  This game looks pretty good for an alpha build, that’s for sure.

    Does it require much from your system or is most of it computed on distant machines?

    Also, what plug-in are they using for this one?

    • 03/21/2012 at 01:01

       Hi,

      Andrew from Mechanist Games (developer of City of Steam), thought I’d answer your question directly.

      We’re using the unity webplayer plugin. There are various options to set the graphics to whatever computer you may have (remove shadows, camera culling distance, etc.). So the taxing of your system may vary but generally not a problem at all.

      Another thing to add is the size of all of this. The picture provided above of Gardenworks (one of the suburbs) is only 2.7 mb including all the sounds. Central and all it’s ambiance is only 3.2mb. Any of the dungeons are 800kb for the tileset and as you delve deeper it’s just a 20-30kb extra per level up/down. So we’re smaller than some of those flash games out there!

      Unfortunately it wasn’t obvious that the suggested levels for the dungeons weren’t really correct and even at level 4 you could get through dungeons designated 15-25. We’re in an early version and it was just something we didn’t get to before launching this test.

      Anyway, if you have more questions head on over to our forums as was stated and we’ll let you all know when we have an alpha version!

      Regards,

      Andrew
      Mechanist Games

      http://www.cityofsteam.com
      forum.cityofsteam.com

      • Jessica Brown
        03/22/2012 at 16:50

         Hello, and thanks for getting back to me!

        My knowledge of how Unity3D and some of these other plug-ins works is rather cursory, so could you provide me with a basic explanation?  I’m imagining that files must be parsed to your system while you play and flashed onto your RAM with critical files ending up somewhere like AppData, but that should mean that most of the processing, even for complex graphics, would be greatly reduced!

        This game does look really neat so I’ll look forward to it!

        • 03/27/2012 at 08:25

           Hi Jessica,

          Actually currently we’re running an “Ask the Lead Programmer” feature on our forum. I’m not absolutely certain of how Unity exactly does this. Something to do with LMZA compression that expands after being downloaded… So I’ve submitted your question to him and I’ll post it here (as well as our forum) tomorrow!
          http://forum.cityofsteam.com/q-a-ask-the-lead-programmer-t371.html

          • Jessica Brown
            03/29/2012 at 04:45

            I’m just a curious person, I guess!  But I am looking forward to reading more about this.  Thanks! :)

          • 04/05/2012 at 02:27

            Sorry it took so long to get you an answer!

            Here is a pretty detailed answer:
            A: There is no huge difference between the client-based apps and browser-based apps actually. The Client-based games require you to download all assets before you start the game. The browser-based games will only stream a very small core data into you RAM and allow you to start. Other assets will be streamed procedurally only when the players need them. In City
            of steam, the core data is only 2.2MB, and there is another 2M-10MB basic assets to be necessary for player to enter the first scene, after that, all data is procedurally loaded. Our artist do spend lots of effort to control the size of assets to satisfy the fast-delivery requirement. As for rendering cost, that’s the same. Graphics requires the GPU to process and present on your
            screen.

          • Jessica Brown
            04/05/2012 at 04:17

            Thank you for your reply!

            Based on that, it seems that it will be some time until cloud-like gaming can reach a point of almost total remote processing and get rid of the need for expensive end-user hardware! :P

            I still do look forward to this game. :)

Comments are closed.