Oort Online: Preview Part One

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Over the coming year or so we will be following the progress of Oort Online, recently added to Steam Early Access and brimming with potential.

Lee Rand Writes:

I’ve been running the Frugal Gaming review and writing team for almost a year now. Much of my role is finding games worthy of our time and coverage. On a daily basis my inbox fills with PR companies looking to have their games get some coverage. Nothing makes my heart sink mote than seeing the words ‘Voxel based building’.

Oh my word, another bloody Minecraft clone.

To my surprise and joy, when one of our writers previewed Oort Online earlier in the year, he really liked what he saw. PREVIEW HERE

So here we are and Oort Online reaches its Steam Early Access release.

How is it?

The game runs as smooth as butter, in our group time with Oort Online and in my time playing solo, I experienced no problems.

Zipping around the worlds at high speeds is a hell of a lot of fun, and potential for a myriad of home-made mini games on that alone.

The speed and smoothness of travelling between worlds is also a bit of a marvel. The worlds available are beautiful. The lighting, the particles in the air, the colour palette, the weather effects; they all blend together to create a really charming and unique vibe within the worlds.

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Is it a Minecraft clone?

Well, it will never get away from the fact that in many respects, it is. You can build, crafting is not yet implemented, but is on the way and as mentioned above; it’s voxel based (shoot me).

But Oort Online has other aspirations. RPG elements, dungeon crawling on the cards, patches of personal land so that your creations don’t get trashed by other players as well. The developers are keen to get not only feedback from players, but direction. Oort Online looks and feels confident that it knows where it’s going and wanting the early adopters to be part of that.

Recently I read an interview with David Braben in regards to Elite Dangerous, he said “we’ve created the rooms, now we just need to fill them with furniture.” That sums up Oort Online as it is at the moment.

Wonderstruck do seem to have a clear vision (that really is taking shape very well), hopefully they wont be swayed into turning Oort Online into a PvP warzone and it keeps the innocent and charming feel it has now. There’s a beautiful childlike quality to Oort, long may it live and evolve.

I’m confident in Oort Online’s future, we will be continually previewing the games as those updates come in, so more soon. The price does seem to be an issue for some, I do feel that the £26.99 tag could put a lot of people off for an early access game.

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Adam Belcher Writes:

Oort Online – ‘Oort’ is a strange noise I make when I want my 6 month old to give me a cheeky smile, and as of November, I now know it’s also a beautifully coloured voxel based sandbox game from Wonderstruck.  Currently in Alpha, this collection of uninhabited worlds is ripe for the taking, currently armed with a pickaxe, axe and shovel, the landscape can be sculpted to your wants,which when done so creates materials to rebuild with.

On first entering a desert type land my survival instincts kicked in, and I immediately went about creating a makeshift hut, once a roof was over my head I set up a fire to generate light and heat, and waited for the darkness to set in.

The day and night cycle in this game is very pretty, from a red sky at dusk to the soft blue of early-morning. I sat on my roof, surveyed my land, watching the horizons, looking for friend or foe, but no one came.

I returned weeks later, this time with real friends, as we explored the rich coloured lands, swung from trees using the grapple hooks and skated across a frozen path using the hooks to move at speed;whilst still mesmerised by the surroundings.

The worlds of Oort Online have been built on a solid foundation, it’s now up to the developer to mould this with the help of the community into their piece of art, I am looking forward to coming back and revisiting the sky-lands of Iielo, in the very near future.

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Ian (MrBadDog) Writes:

I read a rhetorical question recently – ‘When does a clone become a genre?’ It certainly provoked a lot of thought, we don’t call first person shooters – Doom clones or platformers – Mario clones, but every time I see a game which is similar in appearance and play-style of the juggernaut that is Minecraft, that is the first thing which pops into the mind, ‘it’s just another block building game.’ So, is it just another duplicate trying to cash in on the overwhelming success of the aforementioned?  Or is something else entirely?

At this early stage it’s hard to tell, but the foundations have already been laid for something which looks very promising indeed. The voxel landscapes look absolutely stunning, the lighting effects are astonishing and each of the realms I visited have their own distinct look and atmosphere. Each world has its own server but, with the use of portals, players can quickly and easily visit these lands simply by walking through, there are no complicated menus to navigate or painful loading times, it’s seamless.

324510_screenshots_2014-11-24_00010Presently there is very little to do, we are restricted to just building and mining or when mood arises you can always play with the grappling hook, an ingenious addition, it’s an absolute pleasure to use and depending on its application, pulling yourself across the ice to build up speed for example, much fun can be had. It’s when we look to the future that Oort Online becomes truly exciting. Promises of guilds to join or form, hunting huge and distinct monsters, running your own shops, building entire cities and pillaging across the different lands. It sounds truly wonderful and I hope Wonderstruck can deliver.

The current price point maybe a little too steep for some and in its current build it I find it very difficult to recommend. Saying that however, the developers at Wonderstruck are working very closely with the community, updates are constant and feedback is acknowledged and welcomed. I have high hopes for this game and I’m genuinely excited to play it as it progresses. This maybe the title which can finally step from under the Minecraft shadow and present players with a genuine alternative.

As Oort Online evolves, we will update.

 

Oort Online – Frugal Gaming First Look

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Oort Online could be the best thing to use Voxels since Minecraft, maybe even better.  There are so many block building games out there now, we’ve covered a couple here on Frugal, and to be quite honest most of them are absolute pants. I’m convinced that Oort might be something different, something better, and before you stop reading thinking it’s just another clone of the hugely successful Swedish export, just have a look at the trailer below.

First up it looks absolutely beautiful, where other developers are happy just to use plain old simple blocks, Wonderstruck are really pushing to make Oort a real stand out visually.  Having had the chance to go hands on with the game, currently played through my web browser, I was absolutely awestruck at how good Oort looks in action.

One of the biggest draws, for me at least is how easy is it to experience all the different worlds currently available in the early build of Oort.  Not having to put in server numbers or ip addresses, if you find a portal, just walk through it and you’re there.  Peering through these magical portals and seeing a living world on the other side is quite magical.  You can be standing in the sun on a woodland hillside, and right in front of you is a snowy mountain range, just step through and you’re there, no waiting, no loading times, and no messing about trying to log onto a different server.

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I’ve spent hours over the last couple of weeks exploring the strange lands and discovering what other players have been building.  It’s a truly immersive experience and the list of features the developers plan to add has got me rather excited for what Oort will end up becoming if funding allows.

Having decided to forgo Kickstarter, the Wonderstruck guys are self funding via their own website.  With no arbitrary goals to reach, the money pledged it already going to good use.  As the total increases so do different aspects of the game that the team will be able to develop.  At the moment Oort is hovering just over $80,000 and that covers the base game with multiple worlds, building and mining and also weapons and combat mechanics.  The next target met will add crafting mechanics and a recipe system.  A nice feature is that backers will be able to vote on the next feature to be unlocked for funding, it’s a much more organic, community focused and open way of developing games and I like it.

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$15 will get you a digital key for the game at launch, $25 and you’ll be able to jump onboard with the beta when it launches.  There are loads of Youtube vids out in the wild covering Oort and the devs have started doing regular streams via twitch if you want to find out more. Lots of crowd funded games ask for cash before having anything to really show, Oort on the other hand is playable right now if you back at a specific level.

Not everyone feels comfortable with the whole crowd funding scene, but there are more ways than splashing the cash to support Oort Online if you like the look of it.  Oort has flown through the Steam Greenlight process in pretty much record time.  In just 5 days it had enough community support and it’s now definitely going to be releasing via Steam. Even though the Greenlight Campaign is over you can still check out and follow the page and it’s a great way of showing support and also keeping an eye on Oort as it develops.

I was lucky enough to be given access to Oort to help with this preview, but I’ve still pledge at beta access level, thats how much I believe that Oort is going to be something rather magical.  As with all early access games, I’ll be doing a more in depth preview when the beta launches and a full review upon release.

Oort Online can be found HERE

The Steam Green Light Campaign HERE