Ryzom is a pay to play massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by the independent French studio Nevrax. The game launched in September 2004 under the name 'The Saga of Ryzom' and received little attention at the time. In August 2006, the name was simplified to 'Ryzom' for marketing purposes. Ryzom is labeled as Science-Fantasy by the creators due to storyline elements that are typically found in both science fiction and fantasy genres.
The game's engine, NeL, was created by Nevrax and licensed under the GPL.
The game earned the Best Story award at MMORPG.COM's 2005 Reader's Choice Awards.
Nevrax began development of Ryzom in 2000.
On November 20 2006, Nevrax announced that it would enter receivership sometime in December, and, on November 21, confirmed that “Nevrax as a corporate entity will probably cease to exist in a few weeks” and announced that “several companies and/or individuals are actively engaged in negotiations to take over Ryzom”.
On November 14 2006, the Free Ryzom Campaign was launched in order to gather enough funds from donations from the community to purchase Ryzom and release the game as free software. On December 14, the Free Software Foundation pledged a donation of sixty thousand dollars.
On December 21 2006, Nevrax SARL was eventually sold to the owners of GameForge AG, a German company specialized in webbrowser games, who started up GameForge France SARL as a 'sister company' and transferred all the rights.
On September 28 2007, all Ryzom subscriptions changed to "Free period" without any communication from Gameforge France.
On October 1 2007, the Tribunal de Commerce Paris declared that Gameforge France had filed for bankruptcy for lack of payments since August 27 2007. According to an announcement made on October 2, the default procedure in case of failure to find a new buyer will be to shut down the game within three weeks. The "three week deadline" passed, and the game servers continued to run, albeit with large amounts of lag. It was later revealed that GameForge had not even fully paid for the Nevrax assets, which were then returned to the original liquidator.
As of early November 2007 the servers were running normally with periodic resets.
On January 30 2008, an announcement from GameForge stated the possibility of the servers being shut down in the first week of February.
On second week of February 2008 all remaining game servers were shut down.
As of early March 2008, the generally accepted, but unconfirmed by the company concerned, speculation was that SpiderWeb International Limited were in ownership of all assets.
On May 5 2008, the Ryzom forums were taken offline.
On June 17 2008, Thaxlssillyia reported that www.ryzom.com had been updated to announce the return of Ryzom. No actual date had been specified. No new owners of the game were announced either.
On June 26 2008, the Ryzom forums were put back online.
On July 10 2008, the Ryzom splash page was updated to a ryzom character on a computer monitor sitting on a washing machine looking device with the name Aniro on it, the monitor says "Aniro DOWN power failure! Insert a new Bolobi and reboot". With the forum links at the bottom of the page with other language links to the forums.
On August 03 2008, the Ryzom web site was back up and running. You were able to use your old account name to look at your account, but could not subscribe to a paying account. It stated that all payments are suspended at this time.
On August 12 2008, the Ryzom trial period was opened to all those with pre-existing accounts, including those who had free trials.
On August 13 2008, the game could be downloaded from the Ryzom website. Account payments and sign ups were still suspended. Only people that had valid paying accounts and people with active trial accounts at the time of liquidation were able to log in and play or post in the forums.
On August 17 2008, in what was being called "Stage 3" in the Ryzom forums by the developers, everyone with a valid or unsubscribed account in good standing were allowed back into the game for free at this time. Account creation and payed subscriptions were still suspended.
On August 20 2008, "Stage 4" was announced in the Ryzom forums: for an unspecified limited time, everyone was able to create a new account and play the full game without limitations.
NeL engine features
Ryzom was built using Nevrax's NeL engine. Its features include:
- Dynamic model degradation: Model quality and polygon count lowers as more entities appear on the screen, allowing several hundred entities rendered at once for massive combats. Fully customizable settings allow this feature to improve as hardware does.
- Dynamic terrain degradation: Terrain polygon complexity lowers as the maximum polygon count is approached.
Ryzom-specific technical features
- Network Code able to handle several hundred entities in an area using a maximum of ~2500 B/s and down as low as 250 B/s when alone in an isolated area.
- RAID (Realtime Army Invasion Deployment) engine: Allows massive combat involving hundreds of players vs. hundreds of computer-controlled enemies in the same area or multiple areas throughout Atys, simultaneously. Waves upon waves of enemies can attack entire regions at once which must be countered by a cooperative mass player movement to kill a boss.
The game takes place on the planet Atys. Unlike normal planets, Atys is an enormous tree large enough to sustain an atmosphere and multiple ecosystems on its surface and within immense networks of branches and roots.
Four distinct humanoid races, or “homins,” came to exist on Atys hundreds of years prior to the game's current timeline (although it is not specified how or why) and developed into separate, fairly isolated societies in their own favored ecosystems. Interacting benevolently with all four homin cultures, but hostile towards each other, were two additional and far more advanced races: the magical Kami and the technological Karavan. The Kami are depicted as elusive, chaotic, playful, and highly protective of Atys, while the Karavan are more secretive and have never been shown outside their environmental suits or far from their machinery.
In the game year 2481, the homin races were decimated when the hostile, insect-like Kitins were accidentally released from their home deep within Atys's root system. Surviving refugees from all four homin cultures began working together in 2485 to rebuild a single, mixed society in relatively remote areas. Soon came the added threat of the “Goo,” a spreading infestation that renders areas uninhabitable and drives wildlife mad with rage. At release, the game year was 2525.
Major content updates
The makers of the game issue some updates in the form of chapters. These chapters are in turn part of Episodes which move the game's ongoing storyline forward.
- The Saga of Ryzom was released in September, 2004, and was the base upon which the Chapters were built.
- Chapter One was released on November 1, 2004 and was titled Changing Times. This update featured the addition of a merchants system in which players could sell their crafted items using vendors. It also featured the revamping of several of the game's key systems, including prospecting and harvesting. The update received a lukewarm if not negative response from the game's players due to the extent of the changes.
- Chapter Two was released in three parts with the first being on December 13, 2004 and third on January 13, 2005. There was no title for this chapter. Major features included the addition of the encyclopedia system and the addition of player mounts.
- Chapter Three was released on December 19, 2005. There was no title for this chapter. Major features included the introductions of PvP outposts as well as major changes to the game's fame system.
- Revamp of the New Player Experience was announced on June 15, 2006.
- Ryzom Ring was released on October 3, 2006 and offered players the ability to create their own content.
Ecology and environment
The Nevrax team has striven to make Atys simulate a realistic environment. Various creatures have differing AI
based upon their species that allows them to perform many realistic behaviors, such as migration and movement as a herd. Carnivores, for example, will attack specific other animals for food, and certain animals hunt in packs.
The game also features changing seasons and weather effects. Weather effects include rain, snow, and wind. Tied to the season and weather changes are the movements of animals and availability of harvestable materials. For example, a certain type of sap may only be harvested during spring rains and be unattainable during other seasons or weather conditions. Weather conditions can change minute by minute. Each game season (spring, summer, fall, and winter) lasts four realtime days.
Playable character races
The four races that can be played are collectively known as homin
. Each is intimately related to a distinct ecosystem and has its own starting city. There is little mechanical difference between races, and no difference in stats or abilities.
- Matis — A proud and noble race of forest dwellers. They have mastered the art that is a fusion of botany and genetic manipulation, and consequently they have constructed their kingdom and castles from massive trees grown for that very purpose. They are closely allied with the Karavan, while their imperialistic tendencies tend to put them at odds with the other cultures.
- Tryker — A fiercely independent and hedonistic race of lake dwellers. They build large floating cities on their lakes, and networks of wind-powered water pumps around them. They are officially allied with the Karavan, though many take a neutral path or side with the Kami, which tends to distress the Matis.
- Zoraï — A spiritual and tranquil race of jungle dwellers. They build their temple-cities within naturally fortified areas of the jungle. They seek enlightenment through their close relationship with the Kami, whom they revere as the living embodiment of Ma-Duk. Zoraï are born with genetically grafted Kami masks covering their faces.
- Fyros — A tough and obstinate race of desert dwellers. They have mastered much fire technology, which they like to build into their weapons and architecture. Though not prone to religious belief (preferring to see tangible evidence where possible), they have allied themselves more with the Kami and Zoraï in recent times, a process much influenced by the friendly relationship between their rulers.
- Kitin — The Kitin are an insect-like species with several sub-species. In the game lore, they caused a catastrophe known as the Great Swarming, in which massive numbers of Kitin killed many of the inhabitants of Atys. At the time of the game's launch, the Great Swarming had finished and the remaining survivors (the player characters) were rebuilding what had been destroyed. A constant Kitin presence remains among the creatures of the game, and there have been occasional invasion events.
- Higher Powers — There are two higher powers in the game: the Kami and the Karavan. They are enemies, but are immune to each other's direct attacks.
- * The Kami — The Kami are a magic-based race that are written in lore to be the protectors of Atys. They follow a formless entity called Ma-Duk, who they claim is "the Life Giver that created Atys".
- * The Karavan — The Karavan are a technology-based race. It is written in the lore that they are not from the planet Atys. It is unknown who they really are or where they really come from. They follow a female being named Jena, who they claim is the "Goddess of Atys and Mother of Hominity".
In many other MMORPGs, each character has a single class
, and predetemined benefits and new abilities are gained based on experience points
. Ryzom has no classes and no overall character levels. Instead, each character gains levels independently in the fields of weapon-oriented fighting, magic, crafting, and harvesting simply by performing appropriate acts (killing enemies with a sword for fighting, assembling jewelry for crafting, etc.). Each level gained in one of these fields awards the character 10 skill points that can be spent on new abilities specific to that field, spent on general character improvements, or simply saved.
All abilities are built of components called stanzas. Each stanza defines one of the ability's effects, costs, or usage restrictions. Players may assemble actions out of any legal combination of stanzas their character knows. For example, if a player wanted to make an attack that strikes all enemies which are engaged in melee with a circular weapon swing, causes extra damage, and also leaves its victims bleeding, he would assemble the Circular Attack stanza, an Increase Damage stanza, and a Bleed stanza. (He would then have to add enough credit and restriction stanzas to balance the beneficial effects, such as a high Stamina cost to perform the action, or a moderate cost but the limitation that it can only be used after parrying an enemy blow).
Harvesting and crafting
Components for crafting can come from the corpses of killed animals or from hidden resource deposits scattered throughout Atys. Different ingredients provide varying benefits to different characteristics of the finished object. For example, when crafting a mace
, using a certain kind of animal bone for the head may produce a hard-hitting but slow weapon, while using a particular wood may produce a weapon that is fast and gives a large bonus to parrying enemy attacks, but causes less damage. Further complicating things is the fact that any ingredient may occur in one of five classes and with a quality from 1 to 270, all of which affect the attributes of the final product.
Harvesting is a complex and sometimes team-oriented procedure. The player must first locate the desired materials using prospecting skills, as resources give no visible sign of their presence. If he does not have teammates to aid him, he may need to balance his work between extracting the resource and treating the extraction site to prevent it from collapsing prematurely or exploding. The site's location and the harvester's own skill levels both affect the maximum possible quality of the extracted resource.
The first expansion Nevrax introduced was called The Ryzom Ring. The expansion offered players the ability to create their own content in the form of scenarios. The expansion works by giving players a WYSIWYG
editor to design content in. After designing their content, players upload it to the game's main servers. Other players may then access the player-created areas through terminals located in each race's capital city.
Ryzom offers a portal for open source development of their GPL licensed engine NeL, which the game Ryzom is based on.