Tobold's Blog
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Real Life review

Real Life (RL) is a rather controversial game, many people love it, but others can't stop complaining about it. So what I'll try in this post is to give a balanced review of Real Life for the average MMORPG player, some of which don't seem to be too familiar with it.

On the technical side, Real Life is astounding. Super-high resolution 3D graphics, more than photorealistic, and complete with full surround sound. Servers are up 24/7, and all maintenance is localized, thus Real Life never stops. But while the technology of Real Life is as modern as it could be, the game design is a bit old-fashioned and behind the curve: Ultra-harsh death penalty with permadeath, possible loss of equipment, and no quest system except for quests and errands you might receive from other players. Real Life is an ultra-hardcore sandbox game, and we all know the problems that this sort of game has.

While certainly realistic, the harsh death penalty makes players think twice before trying anything adventurous. Risk avoidance then leads to long stretches of the game where nothing much happens, which can be a bit boring. As a consequence Real Life is one of the few games where the crafting and tradeskill part of the game is more popular than the combat part of the game. Well, truth be told, combat in Real Life isn't much fun anyway. But in consequence many players spend a lot of time in RL doing player-given errands and quests, and that often involves grinding the same stuff over and over.

Real Life has no level system, instead your character progresses by learning skills and collecting gold and gear. The skill learning system has diminishing returns, so while learning new stuff early on is relatively easy, it takes more and more effort to advance further once your skill is already high. There are no classes either, although people have a habit of using their best skill as descriptor, so a guy who is good at the baking tradeskill might call himself a baker. While the system gives players the maximum freedom, it is somewhat unbalanced by the random starting conditions: Players start with a random selection of traits, talents, and heirloom items, and those who got lucky from the start have an advantage over those who started under less favorable conditions. Nevertheless, as Real Life is a full sandbox game, there are means to overcome even bad starting conditions given enough determination.

As there are no levels nor caps on the skills and gear you can accumulate in Real Life, there is some discussion about what the goal of RL actually is. There doesn't appear to be any end game in the classical sense. A lot of players think that getting their skills high, getting a lot of currency and gear, and ultimately taking part in the player housing system is the goal, and then follow that up by mentoring new players along the same path. Others are opting out of that system, and pursue different goal. As always in MMORPGs, that leads to players accusing each other of "playing it wrong", and complaining about the n00bs who should learn2play.

In spite of these flaws, I will spend the next three weeks concentrating on Real Life, and in consequence won't be able to play World of Warcraft. Even blogging will become extremely sporadic while I'll be playing RL, as I am taking part in a special holiday event which involves exploration of different zones. I recommend trying out Real Life, especially at this time of the year.
Very succinct review of RL. I've been playing it for 27 years, and I tend to voice similar complaints, especially with the long stretches of boring activity.

I did invite my son to play, and of course, he had to go through several years of starting zone quests, and learning the controls.

He seems to be enjoying the game though.
RL is way too much world and not enough game for me. Really don't know why you like it so much ..

Anyway, have fun ;)
I'm sick of people spending all their time playing Real Life. Get a life people, don't you have anything better to do?
What's also great is that you have very little problem with lag, only if you took certain consumables. :-P
My biggest complaint with RL right now is that I can't seem to find any quest givers in the zone I'm stuck in. I tried grinding my tradeskills up to see if I'd gain access to new ones but I'm pretty sure that there's something wrong with the game. I'm getting pretty frustrated with RL right now so I'm considering going back to WoW until the devs can fix the game.
"I'm getting pretty frustrated with RL right now so I'm considering going back to WoW until the devs can fix the game."

The problem with that is that the devs don't communicate with the playerbase enough. They just keep expanding the gameworld even though we can't even explore more than the main areas and the first expansion, moon.

It almost feels like the devs have abandoned us hardcore population while searching for the true casual subscribers. I think I'll quit soon if they don't change their ways!
Interesting thing about RL is you have no choice over character creation whatsoever, and are only allowed one character. In addition to what you said about it being random staring conditions, you are only allowed to have one character per account. Although the game makes up for this by having virtually unlimited options in game.
Omg, you CAN'T properly review RL after just dabbling with it for 40 odd years. To play it properly you need much longer!
I'm waiting for RL to go fully free-to-play before wasting any time on it.
"I'm waiting for RL to go fully free-to-play before wasting any time on it."

Well, it's already full of cash shops and some regions are free to play already.. that's where the real rich people always move too (Monaco, Luxemburg etc). And even if you exit the region, you don't have to pay a fee as long as you're just visiting other regions. Pretty neat huh?
I wish I'd made it into the beta for Real Life. Back then all the zones weren't mapped, and a lot of them hadn't even been discovered yet. There also seemed to be a far more extensive PvP system back then.
I agree. War isn't fun anymore with those nuclear bombs! What did the developers think ??
In other news, I'm a little sad it took me until the final paragraph to realize where I'd heard of this Real Life MMO before. :<
I love the outdoor zones in RL, but you have to watch out for some of those high level mobs. Personally I think the devs need to nerf bears. :)
I actually got through two paragraphs before it occurred to me. o_o

Some of us RL players trust just too much for our own good.
@tobold What zones will you be visiting? Will there be screen shots?
Can you play it as a casual?
The graphics in Real Life are overrated. Mrs Bhagpuss and I often find ourselves comparing certain zones to similar ones in other MMOs and RL frequently comes off worse.

Speaking of zones, although RL is often touted as a "seamless world" with no zone transitions or instances, there are actually countless places that are just plain inaccessible unless you are keyed or flagged. There are a vast number of buildings, all with doors, but only a handful that you can just enter at will, for example.

The pet system, though, is superb. There is a simply incredible variety of options and many pets can be trained to a very high degree of skill. Mounts are also first-class, although there are quite a lot of restrictions on where you can ride them.

All in all, Real Life offers an overwhelming degree of choice, but to get much out of it you really have to be more dedicated than is probably sane. It's a game that only true hardcore players will umtimately find satisfying, leaving the rest of us to play other more casual-friendly MMOs.
Real Life sucks. I especially hate the "Aging" debuff given to veteran players. The worst part is that you can't remove it and it keeps stacking until it eventually kills you. Total crap.
RL is a hard game to jump into at this point because of how old it is (8000 years old or so now) something like 90% of the game world's resources are controlled by 1% of the players, who are either the oldest family guilds on the server or hard-core economic PVPers who clawed to the top. Fortunately there are in-game pets and Brewfests to keep the rest of us distracted and (fairly) happy.
There are guilds where trade goes as intended. However there are some really messed up guilds where you must donate 40-60% of your loot and tradeskill earnings to the gbank and they distribute it among the n00bs because they "need more gear". I say they just suck and should l2p.
Brilliant post, love it!

I'm sad that you failed to mention that RealLife is a Pay2Play game. I tried it out today, and ended up spending almost $10 of my own dollars on lunch for my toon when he got hungry. This seems like it would easily be the most expensive MMO yet.
It's free to play for a while but that's only through the tutorial. After you get out of the tutorial is when they start charging you for every little thing.
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*faceplants on desk* is so entirely beyond time for me to go to bed. "Really, I haven't heard of this..."
A fantastic review! I too recommend you all to try RL, as it is a game with enormous potential.. you might even learn things of great personal value.

RL is the greatest game ever made!
I actually googled "real life mmo" before I realized what you are talking about. :-) /blush

I was willing to try it anyway. Thats a good sign isn't it.
Real Life is a really fun game, but I have a problem with the mount system. You get your first mount at level 16 or 17 (depending on what starting zone you came from), but you have to keep spending gold to repair it. Once you're level 25 or 30, you'll probably have enough gold to replace your original mount, but every 5 levels you have to buy a new one.

At least WoW has lifetime mounts and trams that always run on time.
Here we go another Real Life fanboi.
I'd go for it, but I hate the human character models. And worse, there's no other race to go for, although I read on the wiki that there's rumors of secret races.

Human, bleh!
At least its fully PvP, although in major cities those guards are pretty tenacious and will keep trying to track you down long after you've ganked some random noob.
This is a great review, but as I read the comments from other Players I have literal tears in my eyes from suppressing the LOL. Not virtual tears, these are real, honest-to-god wet tears made out of real water! That's how amazing the FX are in this RL game.
It's amazing how much content is available IRL. My character went to the internet in RL and read about the game, and had no idea it was the same RL I was in at the time. I'm just so used to how many different things there are out there, that assuming two are the same is almost certainly wrong.
Whatever the drawbacks of RealLife, there is one thing that makes up for it.

The level of physical interaction is just mindblowing, and the possibility to have your toon reproduce is just brilliant.
You actually create the next generation of players.
You actually create the next generation of players.

Careful, Mat!
You cannot know what kind of player will control your offspring !

In my opinion, the by far worst design descision in RL is that you need to spend a fixed amount of money every day/week/month to have something to eat/drink/ somewhere to live.

Although these fixed costs can become meaningless if your cash flow is high enough, they can also dominate your entire char for decades if he failed at some important early milestones or were created in the wrong place/by the wrong chars.

Although there are a lot of in-game groups that try to remove that limitation, it remains until today and can turn a life of 'I want' into a life that consists of a permanent 'I must'.
Anyone find it odd that Tobold and Syncaine both disappear into RL at the same time?
RL is a harsh but satisfying game. Harsh rewards structure, rarely fair, often not even fun. A few griefers but not as many as you would expect. Probably has to do with the in game realID system that is used.

Now, if we could just figure out what the Game Designer's objective was...

interesting thing about RL is you have no choice over character creation whatsoever, and are only allowed one character. In addition to what you said about it being random staring conditions, you are only allowed to have one character per account. Although the game makes up for this by having virtually unlimited options in game.

This is exactly my biggest gripe with RL. And if your char is gimped are are screwed forever - there is no respec, no rerolls. More you play more you realise how hopeless screwed you are -and look at envy at those who got lucky and got optimized FOTM. Many of those actually brag about "skillz" without realizing that they got lucky with stat roll.

To make it worse there is also very harsh stat loss penalty just for playing the game, which makes your character completely useless by level 80 or so.

And options are not unlimited, they are largely determined by your template and starting are (which is also random, but you can change the are though once you level up a bit)

I was sometimes considering deleting my account because of all this crap.I am often dreaming about creating my own game allowing optimizing and choosing stats for your toon.
The rock star and politician classes are OP. They need to be nerfed.
The biggest difference between Real Life (TM) and something like WoW? No rezzes. And you only get one life. Boo.
No respecs? Are you kidding? I originally specced as a radio personality, then respecced into (in no particular order) meteorology, logistics, systems analysis, music education, composition.

Respecs are available if you want to spend the time (rather than gold). And, you're not limited to dual-speccing either.
One thing I enjoy about RL is that your character isn't limited to any sort of gender or racial stereotypes when it comes to the dating system, aside from repercussions from other players, I guess. And obviously you can't reproduce with someone of the same gender as you, but there are other options available in most areas.

The system is pretty open, though I hear there are some servers that are trying to get the developers to take these options out. Weird, if you ask me. It's amazing how many people allow other characters to affect the way they play!
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