So what is Mirage Realms?

Simply put, Mirage Realms is an ambitious solo project to produce a free to play MMORPG for the Android and Desktop platforms. My vision is to create a massively multiplayer game you can play at home or while waiting at the bus stop, reminiscent of old Super Nintendo classics in look and feel, but with a wide variety of game mechanics found in new and old titles. If you can imagine Zelda: Lttp combined with world of warcraft and harvest moon, you at home playing on your PC with your friend(who is running dungeons with you) playing on his phone on the train to London, you are half way there to understanding what the project is all about.

Early alpha photograph of the Mirage engine running on PC and Android

What do I want players to be able to do in-game?

  • Hack and slash their way through procedurally generated dungeon content with groups of others for sweet loot
  • Encounter puzzle rooms as well as just hack and slash carnage, push blocks, set switches
  • Have to accomplish several feats in order to complete dungeons (think master key, get the treasure, beat the boss)
  • Run around a persistent online world with everyone else regardless of platform, demolishing the local wildlife
  • Craft weapons, armour, potions, and runes from resources gathered and farmed
  • Fish and cook food with raw ingredients for buffs
  • Customise their character’s build with traits and spells
  • Form powerful guilds and fight PVP wars in special unsafe zones
  • Collect, enchant and upgrade full sets of procedurally generated equipment
  • Earn everything themselves, no pay to win micro transactions whatsoever – screw that nonsense

What is the history of the project, who are you, and where’s it going?

My name is Liam Stewart and I’m a 30 year old Java Developer from the UK. Mirage Realms is the realisation of a dream I’ve had ever since I lay awake at night thinking about the Zelda cartridge for the Super Nintendo and racking my brains as to how somehow there was information in it that translated to a playable experience on the TV. A few years later I’d bump into an online game called Tibia and it would hold my fascination for nearly 10 years, the idea of taking something that hinged entirely on multiplayer community interaction and smashing it together with one of the old Zelda games on a small portable device has been something I’ve always thought would be amazing.

Fast forward a bit and I’ve been working as a Java Developer for 8ish years, my early interest in games fuelling my passion for code – the thing is, I haven’t ever written any games in Java before and I know absolutely nothing about socket programming. The idea is there in my head, but individual people don’t create successful massively multiplayer online games! It’s too much work! Isn’t it?

Some of the first players ever!

5 years after I had those thoughts, here we are. I’ll be the first to admit I have no idea what I’m doing, yet I press on with every spare moment I get… and the crazy thing is… it seems to be working.

The future is an interesting subject for Mirage… I continue to deploy fortnightly updates in the long grind to something resembling a release version, my objective simply to create an amazing game. I get asked a lot if there will be pay to win features, are there donation privileges etc… the truth is I hate pay to win with a passion so that will never happen, and I don’t like rewarding people in a game just because they have spent money, it undermines the entire premise of time investment.

I have two strong design mantras that I have stuck too so far that seem to be paying off:

  • Seeing another player should mostly be a good thing!
  • Large community issues are likely resultant of a gameplay weakness

To illustrate this think about other grindy online RPG games, you are hunting away in your spot when someone else arrives… what’s the first thing you ask them to do? Leave! It would almost be better if it was single player at that point… that should never happen in Mirage. In addition, say a lot of players are frequently getting annoyed at each other for something… does that mean the game has a toxic community? I ask myself what situations are players in when they are treating each other this way – and in all my experiences of this so far it has always been due to a game weakness and could be fixed by asking “how do we make this situation a good thing for the people involved” and making code changes.

Players working together to bring down hard monsters

So what now?

Mirage is now in a state of open Alpha, so you can create an account and come join the fun either on Android devices or on the PC. Things will change, things will be broken, features are being added then deployed directly to the live environment so its all very gung ho still… though that said the focus is on stability and balance as we move forwards so as things are added they are polished to a solid standard of usability before things are built on top.

Accounts will not be wiped when we launch so you can rest assured that your dudes are safe, and patches that affect stats and things that you will have already accumulated will always be adjusted correctly so you don’t lose out, and there are no transactions in the game whatsoever so you can leave your wallets in your pockets.

I have learned a lot of hard lessons while working on Mirage, some have cost us many players, others have brought them back… one thing that I have consistently done however is rush code to get things done sooner rather than later, and this really shows in the code base. Now that I know there is a keen interest in Mirage, there is a market for this kind of game – I am taking the time to go back and re-architect the core engine so in the future things are much easier to add and maintain.

I don’t know when version 1.0 will be out, or if it ever will be out, but I sure appreciate you guys coming along for the ride 🙂

All the best,

Liam Stewart
The Developer