As I debate whether or not to delete yesterday’s post, I return to more comfortable subjects. For, you see, the world of cozy gaming continues to burst forth and wend into its own and, as ever, I remain lagging behind. For last year was announced what could prove to be a transcendent game for me and those like me. I speak, of course, of Palia.
In short, Palia aims to be the MMO version of your favorite cozy, non-combat, wholesome, slice-of-life, pastoral games. I toss out all these descriptors intentionally, as there is no unified approach to this genre as yet and its best to cover as many bases as possible. This type of game has been tried before in sundry forms and all (most?) have failed, but Palia has what others before it had not: money.
Funding is, of course, extremely important in this day and age, but I mean that mostly in jest. The real advantage Palia has and will have is a market, the true reason they were able to secure funding and get this game moving at an apparently smooth pace of development. This market abides in the wake of both changing demographics within gaming and a frustrating, isolating, terrifying global pandemic.
Today we see a younger wave of video gamers cannonballing into the hobby with access to countless outlets for their fandom. The shape of gaming, both on the table and on the screen, has altered greatly in recent years, though it stands to argument that this alteration by and large effects monetization rather than game development. So I do not myself as being too terribly removed from the kids these days. They can find personalities that suit their taste, who will “teach” them and recommend games and then, again thanks to modern internetting, they can go and get the games with relative ease on the cheap.
Besides being more inclusive and, so, garnering wider taste in games, this wave is also struggling through the grand pandino. What could we want more than a snug and pleasing game world to retire to after a long day of spiking cases and, now more than ever, actual infection?
Covid did not initiate the present crest of cozy games, even if it did draw me into it. Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, Ooblets, the aforementioned Glitch, and countless others did not spawn out of a spell of anxious homesickness due to a virus. However the terror and pressure of covid gave cozy gaming the inertia it deserved, as did some quality and dedicated content producers. The interplay there is fascinating and for the bigger of brain to study.
So Palia seems set to take the stage and then dominate it as a confluence of the old and the new. I’m extremely excited about it.
The dev team employs members from various gaming institutions, including Blizzard, and even takes a few aesthetic points from World of Warcraft. I therefore expect classic MMO elements and gladly, for there are few greater rushes than a hit from the MMO pipe. The team also appears doggedly committed to safe play, community, and combat-free (excepting hunting) advancement like many of the slice-of-life games I mentioned before. What could possibly be better?
For now I find I’m trying to mitigate expectations and enjoy anticipations. There is a slow trickle of content to be found by way of pre-alpha reports, Discord Q&As, and tweets, and so no fire hose from which to drink. It’s a weird and tricky position, to geek out in the same way I did as a teenager but now as a grownish man with children of his own to geek out alongside. I don’t know if Palia can or will drag me away from LOTRO, that polestar of my gaming world, but I do hope it gives Middle-earth a run for its money.