My problem was that I skipped the extended tutorial. How much tutoring could I possibly need? This was just another MMO, only this time wearing the togs of a Mad Max or Fallout universe. I'd been sat in my pants playing MMOs before this game was even a twinkle in the designer's imagination, and there was nothing, nothing, I couldn't figure out for myself. Right? Well, half right. I hadn't realised that the end of the extended tutorial delivered a free horse.
A mount at the end of the tutorial sequence! How many MMOs can boast that? None, as far as I knew, and so I padded away into the post-apocalyptic night, entirely unaware that my smugness would lead to suffering.
I barely paid that extended tutorial query a second thought as I paced about the starting town on foot, trying to find out why the food had been poisoned, and killing conveniently ghettoised local baddies. Everything seemed to be where I expected it. Dudes with quests littered the town, each crowned with a little biohazard symbol to signify their interactivity. It didn't take long to find a shop where I could trade in my loot for ammo and new trousers.
The apocalypse has never been more popular. While literary figures such as Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood give us grim, cautionary novels like The Road and The Year of the Flood, movies like John Hillcoat's adaptation of The Road, The Book of Eli (written by erstwhile games journo Gary Whitta) and even 9, the Tim Burton-produced CGI tale of sentient soft toys being hunted by machines, are all coming soon. In games, Bethesda's long-lived Fallout 3 will soon be joined by Valve bringing us more survivalism in Left 4 Dead 2, and both id and Gearbox are honing open-world, RPG-tinged, Mad Max-style first-person shooters.
Fallen Earth - an independently-developed post-apocalyptic PC MMO set in a Mad Max-style society living in the Grand Canyon - will go into open beta next Monday, 17th August.
According to the official announcement, you'll be able to register to take part and download the client at Fileplanet from 5pm UK time this Friday, 14th August.
Fallen Earth boasts a classless, skill-based advancement system, detailed crafting and a first-person shooter gameplay style. We saw it at GDC back in March and liked the setting, but thought the execution was rather rough-and-ready. It will be interesting to see how it's come on in the last few months.
Think it takes a publishing sugar-daddy and big budget to make an MMO? Think again.
The MMO market is a strange place: a land of boundless opportunity, or at least perceived to be, going by the tales of hardy adventurers into the unknown like EverQuest and EVE Online and, of course, the great explorer World of Warcraft, who ventured deep in-country and found riches beyond imagining.