Book of Travels is hitting my expectations right down the middle

Might and Delight made my day last week when it released a 30-minute video of Book of Travels’ gameplay (with developer commentary). It’s the first time that we’ve actually seen this micro-MMO in action, and I’ve been very curious about what I spent my Kickstarter money on back in 2019.

The good news is that after watching the video, I feel like my expectations for Book of Travels are exactly in the right place. I’m not under- or overestimating it from the articles to date, which is a relief. I think it speaks well to how the devs have been portraying this “serene” title in media.

What we have here is an extremely chill gameplay experience, where BoT actually makes an effort to immerse us into this world and roleplay (if internally). From watching it, I would say that this is a survival-lite sandbox MMO where you pick a direction, explore various maps, pick up useful items, react to various local events, and pretty much follow your whims.

I really liked our glimpse at the (still unfinished) character creator, which takes pains not to give us the boring MMO template but inject a lot of thought and personality and subtlety into it. You can pick character traits that offer both positive and negative options (which is bold of them, I approve) and you actually “roll” for your starting gear. The only thing I didn’t like was the restriction of having to pick a random name — allegedly for the sake of immersion and not wanting to have to mod names — which is something I hope they change before launch.

The gameplay fields are really neat and dealt with in a way that you don’t often see in games. It’s an interesting blend of 2D and 3D, where your character can walk toward the camera to reveal what’s downfield while what’s upfield gradually fades into the distance. Coupled with the dreamy visuals and the outright lovely music and the sedate walking pace, it’s such a refreshing change from the dash-everywhere-and-kill-everything approach of most MMORPGs.

So if you missed it, you might want to check it out:

Can Book of Travels give me a road trip experience?

You best believe that in 2020, I am following the development of Book of Travels very closely. It’s not just that I spent a bit on the Kickstarter and hope to get in for the early access launch later this year, but that I am extremely curious to learn more about the shape and form of this “tiny” MMO.

Perhaps what’s of greatest interest to me is if this game can provide, even in part, something that I miss from most modern MMOs — the experience of going on a lengthy quest, both in terms of distance and length. A good road trip, in other words. The modern MMO is all about quest hubs and fulfilling objectives very close to “home” without much in the way of travel, development, and resolution. You’re doing things, a lot of things, but it’s very far removed from the road trips that we see in fantasy movies and in novels — and even in single-player RPGs.

I love going on a road trip, real or virtual, because the sensation of moving, of constantly discovering some new place is heady. That’s what I’m hoping that Book of Travels will provide, because from what I’ve read from the developers, this definitely seems like a game where you’re encouraged just to go out into the world and travel it, bumping into encounters here and there.

Last week the developers revealed the “endeavours” system, which sounds a little bit like public quests in that they’re encountered in the wild (versus a quest hub) and may require multiple people to complete. From the few examples of the four types of endeavors, these are striving to offer roleplay flavor and world interaction beyond mere combat. That seems pretty flexible to me.

In any case, we are definitely a ways out from playing Book of Travels, so I probably shouldn’t be dwelling too much on it right now or else I’ll find myself frustrated by a lack of game to play at the present. But I do hope that there’s a fun road trip waiting for me down the line.

I’m kind of falling in love with Book of Travels

“Serene” “Emotional” “Pastoral” “Roleplay” “Calm”

These aren’t usually keywords that get me really jazzed about a game, but you know what? We have our fill of loud, boisterous, in-your-face titles. Maybe it’s high past time we had a quiet, contemplative, and incredibly immersive experience.

Up until this point of my life, I’ve only Kickstarted two things (Ashes of Creation and Project Gorgon), but now I’ve added a third: Book of Travels. Ever since I originally wrote a news post on this newly announced “tiny MMO,” I’ve become deeply intrigued with this concept. The combination of a hand-painted art style and a slower paced RPG world that’s far more thoughtful than your typical combat-centric game really appeals. I’m so tired of the fact that the term “RPG” has been boiled down to combat, levels, and gear. Those things are fun, but I want more. I want a well-rounded virtual life where all aspects are thought out.

This might be that game. Or something, at least, worth investigating.

Book of Travels definitely is marching down its own path without much concern whether or not it will be a mainstream hit. There are tantalizing hints as to what the game might offer, with references to choosing your own path, a heavy emphasis on exploration, skills that tie in to your character’s personality, and magic systems that are highly unconventional (magic tea, anyone?). Then there’s this:

“Events that are usually trivialized in RPGs are instead made into strong emotional moments. Witnessing a death, for example, will weigh more heavily on your character for each day that passes, but by visiting the deceased’s resting place, your grief will be transformed into a new energy – one that will remove that weight and strengthen you instead.”

Can’t remember the last time an MMO dev sat down and spent time thinking about how your character feels — and then included that as a game system. That shows a team that’s throwing out the overused playbook and is starting from the ground-up (which reminds me a LOT of Project Gorgon’s team and attitude). And I’m really rooting for it.

My 2020 gaming dance card is starting to fill up, but right now Book of Travels is at the top of my must-play list for next year.