Wizardry Online–A design review


I thought I would shake things up a little bit.  Since there are a metric butt-ton of review sites out there, I want to start taking a look at the design of the game to see if it’s really worth playing.     As the first of these series of posts, I’m taking a look at Wizardy Online

As per the website, “Wizardry Online is the most hardcore fantasy MMO ever created. The difficulty level is insane. The dungeons are brutal. There is no auto-healing. You will earn your levels. Your crimes taint your soul. Your allies could betray you at any moment. And when you die, you die forever. Are you ready for the challenge?”   Sounds, to me like, holy crap!  a MMO that plays like an RPG!

yeah..    about that…

Wizardry Online has got to be the most effed up design I’ve ever seen in an MMO.    Not just the technical problems (granted the game IS only a few days old, as of this writing) but just the game design itself.   I understand that this is pretty much a jRPG that was converted to the West, but seriously, who in their right mind thought this was a good design in the first place?

Would I recommend this game?   Not really, it make be an interesting time waster; but all and all I believe you’d get bored with in a week or so.   I doubt I’ll put much more time into it, myself.  

Let’s list out the some of the design issues:

02/01/13:

  1. When you try to login you are met with a ’Connecting’ screen.   This, to me, is not the same as being told I’m in queue to log in.  Just telling the user that you are connecting is frustrating because you don’t know what the program is doing.   On top of that,  there is no other feedback besides the words “connecting”, not even scrolling dots or anything to advise you that something is happening behind the scenes.
  2. You can’t change any of the video/audio option until AFTER you have connected to the game!?   Seriously?! 
  3. Can’t have lag if you are making an action game with jumps, which Wizardry Online does.   Being killed by Lag is a serious flaw in the design and proves that the code/servers weren’t  ready to launch. 
  4. Controls don’t need to be this complicated.  It seems in trying to make a ‘realistic RPG’ the design required non-MMO standard and complicated controls.  Which it doesn’t.    Really, who puts emotes on the combat skill bar? 
  5. The ‘Permadeath’ is bit misleading since you can’t really die unless your not paying attention.   When you die, (either from lag or being stupid) you still have 15 minuets to get back to a resurrection statue and be resurrected.   I do not know if  this amount of ‘fix me’ time gets smaller as you level, but nothing so far has shown me that death is really a problem, unless you go AFK for a while to close to a mob spawn point.
  6. Extensive server/code maintenance the first three days of being published is telling me that A) The code wasn’t production ready and rushed.  B) Your Quality Assurance team didn’t do their job or you didn’t listen to them.   I feel bad for your team having to go into crunch mode because management didn’t listen.
  7. Text takes WAY to long to display.   It looks cool, but it gets old after you have waited 5 seconds for text to display that you could have read in half a second.  Waiting for the ‘flashy’ text render to display the text is frustrating.  I want to PLAY, not spend 10 minutes of my session waiting for the text to display.
  8. I must confirm taking a mission, really?   I need to confirm if I want to turn in a mission?  After I’ve already clicked on the NPC to take the mission?    
  9. Bottom line, too many clicks to do anything.     Which also tells me that the game was created in departments that didn’t really talk to each other, could also explain the total lack of QA.

02/02/13

  1. Massive log in lag, people have been reporting being in queue for hours.  I know it’s a new launch.  But there is NO reason for this.   The excuse giving was “we didn’t know it was going to be this popular.”. Seriously?   What that tells me is that no one was watching the net or your forums.  Along with the lack of QA and cohesion of the design, this does NOT give me confidence in the on going management of the game.
  2. English translation lacking in some areas.   For example, using ‘depart’ in the channel selection form.  ‘Depart’ doesn’t even make sense in this context.
  3. So far I’m seeing VERY Cliché story lines.  Being a role-player (Pen and Paper, RPGs, and MMOs for a number of years) I’ve seen these tired stories and missions many times before.   What’s more problematic is that the stories don’t even follow the theme that was set up from the beginning intro movie and newbie missions.    The game into talks about you coming to the town in order to adventure and claim your stake in fame and glory.    Then the game seems to forget that aspect and sends you on standard ‘go kill 10 of these’ missions.
  4. Wizardry Online reminds me MUCH more of the original ‘Bards Tale‘ series more than anything from the Wizardry series.
  5. Because of the into I was disappointed to see a Hub based system.  I was hoping for a sandbox setup, since the whole intro is talking about adventuring being the ‘big’ thing.. and then you can’t adventure or explore.  You do what you’re told.
  6. Seems that every two steps someone stops you to have a char or start a cut scene.  This is very annoying.
  7. Now you can click to fast display text… Sometimes?
  8. As with any MMO, Forced grouping sucks.  No matter what your ‘numbers’’ say,   it is not fun running around with people that don’t know how to play.  Even worse when you’re shoved into your first dungeon and pretty much have no hope of moving forward unless you group or grind for more than a few levels.

1st Dungeon: Caligrase sewers

  1. Long load time even on an empty channel.
  2. Mobs re-spawn way too fast for low levels to make much (to any) progress.  Which means you will spend many hours in ONE area, not getting much XP because you are too weak to move forward and deal with the horribly fast re-spawn rate. Which isn’t much fun.
  3. The Town needs weeded..  seriously.
  4. Would think the inn and equipment vendors would be closer to where they are needed.  Not a map load screen away.    For a town set up to allow adventures to make their mark, why would the most needed vendors be so far away from the gates?
  5. Every time you level you need to click eight times to see what skills you powered up.    TOO many clicks, for no apparent reason.
  6. Use F to interact with everything… except people!?    Consistency doesn’t seem to be one of the primary design ideas.
  7. Report missions.. Not turn in?   I think this is a translation issue.
  8. Camping is almost worthless for mages because it doesn’t really do anything for your mana.   And why do you need to camp when you have a spring to drink from which heals 75% of your health/mana?
  9. Two clicks to return to town is annoying.   The ladder is out of the way and not something you are going to press F on accidently.   
  10. the whole process to Buy/sell items and equipment is very annoying and not thought through and makes the process a complete test of mental strength.
  11. View distance is lacking.  To me, this denotes need for engine update already.  There doesn’t look to be many polys being shown, but everything is bathed in a fog and greyed out like 3 feet away from your character.
  12. What’s up with the shadows?  They Flickr, along with a extreme haziness to everything.  This is not creating atmosphere its hard on the eyes
  13. Server downtime again.. And bad link to the forums from the launch pad.   (wow..)

02/03/13

  1. This patch updated the intro.. Really? So many problems with the game already and you ADD another click to log in!?
  2. Login worked.. Load times are MUCH faster.  Like playable faster.   (though now there is yet another click before you click to log on..)
  3. No help info on what items means.. WTF is the ‘Hardns‘ of an item?   the HARDNESS?   OK, and you couldn’t make the window a little bigger to say ‘hardness’ and a mouse over?
  4. And servers down again…
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