At first glance, it would appear to be an MMO, at least from the UI, but there is nothing on the Kickstarter page or video that it is a multiplayer experience [ETA: Wilhelm dug out the press release – it is indeed single player]. But that is an interesting thought…first lets looks at the project itself, then we can tackle a biblical MMO.
The project itself is…well, from a vision perspective its quite fun. The story of Abraham covers a decent chunk of Genesis and being a part of the Abrahamic caravan is a good setting for some OT (that’s Old Testament for the unitiated) adventure. There’s some exploration, some intrigue and sneaking, some combat, and plenty of decisions and places to plug a fictional character in at. But there is a lot left out too – no David, no Solomon, no prophets like Elijah and Elisha to make fun of pagans and make it rain miracles. In truth, you won’t need a lot of special effects for the portion of Scripture that the game covers.
As for the design crew itself – well…not all that inspiring. Its not so much the lack of RPG background – if there is anything the fan community has proven over the years, its that good games (or should I say good storylines) can come from anyone with some dedication and a smidge of talent. For me its the four or five people (they say four and then give five bios) on the “advisory team” for Biblical accuracy. None of which has any academic credentials. Not a one. Instead we have guys who are presidents of country clubs and golf foundations, youth pastors and blog writers. At least they had the good sense to include an advisor of the Roman Catholic persuasion (without whom you are leaving out around half your audience), though I’m sure his appointment to the advisory committee is news to the RCC.
I guess if you are just looking to make sure you follow the biblical story to a verse, you could really do that with anyone. But if you want to get all the backstory, settings, costuming, language, and interactions right, those are the wrong four or five guys to talk to, unless they have degrees that for some crazy reason they decided not to include in the bios listed.
The idea of a biblical MMO is not really all that crazy. There are indeed plenty of settings for it. Personally I think the book of Judges makes for an excellent setting – plenty of chaos, different people mixed together in the land, skirmishes and petty kings, trade and roguery. You could play any number of cultures, and number of roles, and it would make for a nice sandbox mix. You have Ehudian Assassins, Manassahian Adventurers, Asherim Druids, Samsonian Strongmen, and more.
Of course, allowing a setting like this also eliminates the funding for it. The biblical heroes of Judges are as amoral as they come, so Evangelicals are not going to be on board. And while Judges does grant us female heroes, its also about as un-politically correct a time period as you ask for. Racism, sexism, prostitution, you name it, you got it. So that cuts out the Mainstream denominations as well. And if they don’t fund it, how certain can a neutral publisher be assured of success? What if one or both groups boycotts? On some level any publicity is good publicity, but on another level, it takes a solid cash flow to keep those servers up.
I’m sure at some point a biblical MMO will hit the ground running. I’m also pretty sure it won’t take on the vision that I think would make it great. But I have to believe that given the crazy amount of money some people are willing to throw at anything that gets them some sort of biblical experience, its probably only a matter of time.