Sandbox MMORPG Dwell hits Steam Greenlight

Gather resources, craft tools, find shelter and survive the night – that’s the typical experience in most creative sandbox games like Minecraft and Terraria. But the sense of danger on that first night is soon forgotten as strongholds grow more and more impenetrable over time.

Dwell: The Drifting Worldfrom Tempe-based developer Brady Welch, adds a new variable to the sandbox equation to keep things exciting: organized player-versus-player combat. The game hit Steam Greenlight on Oct. 25 and, if approved, should be released in early access by early 2015.

Welch, a student at Arizona State University, calls Dwell a creative sandbox MMORPG. While the game is clearly influenced by Terraria and Minecraft, Welch knew the game would need something new to avoid being just another clone.

The X-factor for Dwell, Welch said, is a PvP system that pits entire villages of players against each other in a fight for supremacy.

After surviving long enough to build shelter, players can invite others to build near them and eventually create a village. Players can then build defenses and use the “claim” system to help protect the village further.

“The level of complexity is pretty high in terms of village creation,” Welch said. “You can create your own walls, allow different permissions for players and you can basically have any style of government you want.”

The majority of the game’s PvP combat will take place during village raids, Welch said. But unlike Minecraft, players will have a chance to react to a raid even if they are offline.

Raids are usually initiated by one group placing a bomb outside another village’s walls – but it won’t detonate immediately.

“It will send a Twitter notification to the villagers and explode within 12-24 hours,” Welch said. “That’s the idea of claims. They protect your area, but they don’t protect it completely.”

Village raids should be common occurrences on servers that Welch said could accommodate up to 1,000 players. Dwell will have two server types: one that resets the world every 6 months and another that remains persistent, Welch said.

The procedurally-generated map is plenty large to house that many players, Welch said, with a traversal time of more than 2 hours on foot. It includes more than 40 block types which can be combined to craft housing materials, pirate swords, ninja attire and more.

While PvP is a focus, Dwell doesn’t neglect player-versus-environment encounters, Welch said. The game’s underworld is filled with high-level monsters that are capable of destroying any player creation. They also drop the best loot.

“It’s rewarding, but it’s dangerous,” Welch said.

Dwell‘s combat system features charge-up attacks, a blocking mechanism and both mêlée and ranged attacks.

“It’s not extraordinarily complex, but there is a lot of depth,” Welch said.

Welch’s team includes three artists, including one from Slovakia, and an IT specialist who helps with the servers. The game’s artists take inspiration from the Zelda, Pokémon and Dragon Quest series, Welch said.

If Dwell‘s Greenlight campaign is successful, Welch hopes to release an early access version of the game at a reduced price in winter 2015.

“It’s going to require a lot of community feedback, so I don’t want to sell it as a full game and I don’t want to advertise it that way,” Welch said. “We’re not looking to make money with early access.”

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