For those of you who have had your heads under a rock for the past week, I'll give you the lowdown- Equestria Online is an entirely fan-made MMO project that has existed for some time now, but was recently brought to the spotlight again in the form of a panel at BroNYCon.
From what I heard of the event, the demo presented was extremely impressive. Unfortunately, what was recorded at the show was not of the highest quality (and apparently flickered so much that it had the ability to cause seizures.) In that vein, the EQO team has recorded a new demo of the pre-alpha software build and put it on their Youtube channel. I'll be going through that in an in-depth review after the break!
Before I do though, be aware that this team is looking for experienced concept artists! You can find the application form on their forum here. I would highly recommend checking that out if you want to lend some talent to this team.
Like most MMOs, Equestria Online is striving to provide excellent character customization, and even in this early build you can see the possibilities. Not everything is implemented yet, but you can change the color of the coat, the mane, the eyes, and have quite fine-grain control of the cutie mark, which has three separate parts to it. Future iterations promise hoof styles, stallions, and other goodies.
Upon entering a server, this is where you currently spawn. The keen-eyed among you will recognize it as Ponyville's central park (though there is a real park beyond those houses!). As this was recorded for a Livestream, you can see the other developers playing around as well- an assuring nod to the network code, which will be critical when the game goes live.
On a side note, the sitting down pose is beyond cute.
The pegasus race has the ability to fly, of course, and you can see that demonstrated here. The animations are understandably a little rough, but one would assume they will be refined and tweaked.
As I watched this segment, I found myself guilty of forgetting the crucial fact that gets lost sometimes about this game: it's all fan-created work, and it's all done for free on their own time. The fact that this is so easy to forget is a testament to how well put-together everything is so far. I could easily imagine sitting down and playing this game right now, even in its unfinished state. The fact that it looks and feels so much like a studio-produced game is pretty staggering to me.
Interiors are being developed as well, of course. As the mini-map implies, this is the interior of Sugercube Corner, with an NPC manning the cupcake stand. They don't talk much at the moment, but a dialogue system is in place.
A quick overview of Ponyville can be seen here, and here you can get a real sense of scale for how big this town is. Scroll back up and compare the buildings! It's quite impressive.
Friends lists have been implemented, of course. Can't have an MMO without a friends list!
Here you can see how the dialogue or speech bubbles will work. I wouldn't be too worried, little NPC pony- BroNYCon is totally over. You're not late anymore!
There is much more to the video, which clocks in at about a half an hour long. I encourage you to check it out and see for yourself why this might just be the game that you want to be playing in 2012. I know I will be!
See you in Ponyville, everyone.
EquestriaOnline.com | Coming When It's Done™