It's been a while since I visited Remanum, an interesting trade-based MMO brought to us by Travian Games, the same studio that brought us Travian and other interesting titles. I was initially turned on to the game's non-combat options simply because combat is used so much that many of the current combat systems are outdated or just plain boring. Non-combat, or optional systems for play like trade and exploration, are the hope for gamers like yours truly who cannot stand to play a game as though they're clocking in to work.

The only problem with Remanum? I suck at, well, trading. I know that I can grasp the principles of "buy low, sell high" and other market staples, but I simply can't grasp the finer nuances of buying and selling. I have a brother who seems to have a natural way with numbers, but I've always been more of an artist. Numbers and me just sort of stare at each other from across the table.

So why do I like Remanum so much?

I'd like to quickly go over some of the more obvious reasons a game like Remanum attracts me and yet surprises me. To start, the game's art is right up my alley. I love art that feels like a painting. Illustrations, cartoons, all of those are perfect for a browser-based game. Flat illustrations are better for performance and accessibility. In fact, the art throughout most of Travian Games' titles feels as if it has been done by the same team of artists. While that's a likely possibility, that's not always the case in studios the size of Travian Games. When I look at an upcoming title like Rail Nation, I want to play it, now. Let me play this tiny train MMO, now.

Remanum also packs in a great, easy-to-follow tutorial and help section. I've had great experiences with German developers and publishers. Innogames also comes to mind when I think of a foreign publisher that seems to have no issues with localization and building reliable, flexible titles. There's a balance that's hard to achieve when making tutorials, but Remanum has it. The help section is just as easy to use and pretty much covers most of the game's bases. Even for a player who generally looks at trade math as something to be suffered through, the ease of entry in Remanum kept me moving forward. It's a smart way to keep new players around.

Now, about that mathy stuff. Oh, sure, it's easy for many of you to grasp. It really is. But like a lot of otheryous, I have no real issues with working the market or tweaking the numbers or whatever the stock masters call it these days, but getting deep into the nitty-gritty promises to bring a headache on. There's a certain flow to the game that I seem to be missing out on, a particular ease of play that eludes me. Sure, as I mentioned, the tutorials and help sections help me out, but I still seem to be missing a key ingredient.

Of course, becoming a better player is sort of the point of gaming, isn't it? Well, it's one of the points. Playing poorly or in any way someone sees fit is just as important as becoming a master. I believe that, so then why do I want to become better at Remanum? Why do I want to contribute the most resources or denarii and gain the most reputation, or at least help my city grow large and prosperous? What is it aboutRemanum that pulls these standard gamer emotions out of me?

The answer must come from the fact that, from the beginning, new players are placed within a community, a community that is filled with other players who depend on each other in order to perform well. Sure, I can play solo and gain enough reputation to grow my own city, but I also want to help my larger city gain prestige and grow. As it does, I get the benefit of picking up some of the reputation that trickles down from the city. If all city members work together, we all benefit.

"Remanum and many seemingly simple browser-based games are quietly keeping the MMO in MMORPG alive. While social and mobile game mechanics entertain millions, they aren't always persistent."

I can also run for office in the city and gain extra reputation that way. Of course there's no way in heck that I would ever grow to the level of holding an office, but the mechanic is a simple way to make players feel more connected while also making them feel as though they can actually impact the game. I can vote on those who decide to run, form relationships with them, trade with my fellow citizens, use them to gain valuable information, send out shiploads of goods in the hopes of turning a profit -- all of these mechanics are built to make players participate in the game together. Remanum and many seemingly simple browser-based games are quietly keeping the MMO in MMORPG alive. While social and mobile game mechanics entertain millions, they aren't always persistent. MMOs depend on persistence.

I think my desire to do well in Remanum must come from two main issues. First, I want to get better at something that I normally suck at. Or at least, I want to use my intelligence to conquer something that I haven't studied on in a long time. Second, I love how Remanum encourages playing with other players in real time, over persistent goals. Sure, there are a lot of persistent, "real" MMOs out there, but they will slowly taper off, mark my words. Those massive persistent worlds are very expensive to make. Browser-based games will possibly be some of the last truly persistent titles on the market one day.