Bringing Storytelling Back to the Game: Revival

Revival is the rebirth of the player-driven, sandbox, fantasy role-playing world. Player agency, world persistence, and absolutely zero compromises are the cornerstones of our quest for a living, persistent, dark fantasy role-playing world. – Revival mission statement

There is a lot of discussion in the MMO world about sandboxes versus themeparks and what each term means. To most people the phrase “themepark MMO” would be illustrated by by Warcraft, FFXIV or really any other MMO where your characters’ class, story and progression through the world are on rails with few (if any) choices that impact that world. A sandbox on the other hand usually denotes a less restricted world where you can create your own game experience. EVE Online would be one, and to a lesser extent games such as ArcheAge. Unfortunately to a lot of players that simply means that open PvP is allowed and one can run around low-level areas killing new players and generally being as big an asshat as possible.

What I’ve always dreamed of is a proper sandbox environment that can be used to tell your character’s unique story. You want to open a shop, or raise cows? Go for it. You could be a courtesan, a spy, an assassin or a mercenary bodyguard protecting vulnerable travellers from robbers. The world is defined only by the limits of your imagination.

This is what I’d hoped for with World of Darkness, and why I’ll always see that as being a massive missed opportunity for a truly unique game. Although I’m generally not a vindictive person I will forever and always hold CCP responsible for this; they took WoD, treated it like a redheaded stepchild, ignored and starved it, and then abandoned it in the woods for the wolves. You bastards.:D


Revival just might be the new hope for a something really different: if they do even a fraction of what they’re promising, if the game actually launches in anything like the form that they are hoping for. They have such big plans, and everything that I read ticks those sandboxy, RP-based, story-centric boxes for me.

Although the website suffers from tiny grey text on dark backgrounds, making the wall-o-text blog posts painful to read, there are a lot of Big Dreams therein, such as their description of the concepts around building a living world:

“Revival’s Theleston is a world that both responds directly to the players and evolves over time, both naturally and through direct player action. We accomplish this with the following features:

  • The game world changes organically over time
  • Changes are caused by the actions of the denizens of the world
  • Powers of the world, including players, attempt to advance their agendas, further driving change
  • The Karma system interacts with agendas, influencing and being influenced by the gods and great old ones
  • The live storytellers act as agents of the gods and major powers, adding content to the game in response to player actions and playing key roles on gold servers for maximum impact”


Intriguing. I know that I have a tendency to get excited waay too early over games, but I’m so feeling this one.

Other elements of real life will be reflected, such as the ability to have sex. Interesting…possibly. There will be a real death penalty, the consequences of I’m still not sure I understand, except that players may spend time as a ghost in the spirit world, where you may or may not be interacted with by other players. There is (fingers crossed, ERMAHGERD!!!) taming and training animals. Ships and naval combat.

All of this gets my tired old RPer’s heart aflutter…and I am thinking of characters and their stories. I bought a tenement, which I can’t do much with at this time. I’m actually wishing I’d invested in a larger house. And I have my fingers crossed so hard that all of these dreams come true. :)


2 thoughts on “Bringing Storytelling Back to the Game: Revival”

  1. Ravven,

    I totally feel you on the World of Darkness tragedy. WoD is probably the most underappreciated license in gaming. CCP owns this incredible,lore-rich universe, and does absolutely nothing with it. Any new materials for the WoD have only been possible because of several successful Kickstarter campaigns. It’s mind boggling just how idiotic it is to let such a rich IP sit and rot.

    Like you also mentioned, Revival came out of nowhere to fill the hole and provide the experience that WoD was supposed to provide for me. When I first learned of it, I thought there was no way people were going to take the gamble to fund Revival. The virtual real estate was not cheap, and Illfonic was not a developer house many people had ever even heard of. But slowly I started to see more and more references to Revival. So one day I started to consider buying a house. It didn’t take long to realize everything I had been considering was quickly becoming the property of someone else. I bit the bullet and bought a manse at a fools price. With the release of the Housing module, I’m feeling much better about that gamble.

    Walking around in my house for the first time really drove home what Illfonic is trying to do with Revival. The feeling in the house was tangible and intoxicating. The structure was empty as could be, but the air felt heavy, and there is already a sense of mystery, dread, and untold stories in the detail and art that Illfonic has put into this tiny piece of their world.

    At the same time, this experience was bittersweet. Because we’ve been given a sweet taste of a delicious world, a brush stroke of a grander masterpiece, that could quite possibly never see the light of day. The gaming business has been in such turmoil, with failed crowd funded projects becoming an almost daily headline. Because of that I find it very difficult to get my heart set on Revival. So many things can go wrong. The news that they had to lay off a well liked, key member of the dev team last week really drove that point home to me.

    But Revival HAS to be made. And it has to contain the vision laid out for seekers on the website. It’s brilliant and beautiful. Offensive and alluring. Revival will be genre changing if Illfonic, with their tiny but dedicated team can somehow pull this off.

    Who knows? Maybe we’ll pass in the streets of Crown’s Rock someday. I just hope it’s not as I’m running towards my burning house!

  2. WoD makes me sad. :(

    Do you know why Illfonic decided against the crowdfunding route? It seems like such an obvious solution for a project like this. I would have supported it, and I rarely support kickstarters just because so many have failed or seem like cash grabs. This is worth supporting.

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