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…

AION goes free to play (for the US as well!)

After seeing success with the free-to-play conversion of Lineage II, NCSoft has announced that later this spring they will be taking Aion free-to-play with patch 3.0, Ascension.  A new f2p site announces that Aion: Ascension will be utilizing the “revolutionary Truly Free model” from Lineage II and improving upon it.  Have a look at the trailer:

 

NCSoft is promising that all lvl 1-60 content currently available plus the newest content in patch 3.0 will be available and fully accessible to players for no cost.

We understand that an active player population contributes to the fun factor for the entire player population, so we want everyone to experience the game as it was intended.  If you like the game, we’d appreciate a purchase from our store (game developers need to eat too!). If you don’t like the game, can’t pay, or don’t want to pay—no worries, it’s on us!”

Here are some of the key features of Aion Truly Free:

  • No subscription fee. Play for free!
  • No account restrictions. Visit any zone, chat in any channel, sell any amount of stuff on the trade broker—nothing is off limits!
  • Robust countermeasures to combat game abuse. We’re dedicating a ton of resources to preventing account theft, botting, and real money trading.
  • No hassles. Create your account, download the game, and play!
  • No harassment. Don’t worry, we won’t hound you with constant offers or promotions.
  • A lot of great stuff we’ll reveal more about leading up to launch!

 

Along with going “Truly Free”, patch 3.0 will bring other significant changes to Aion including new Zones and Instances, a raised level cap (lvl 60), a mount system, and player housing.

For players wanting a head start, NCsoft is hosting a “Rallying the Troops” event which will give new players an extended no time limit trial, whilst returning veterans will have their accounts reactivated free for 14 days. In addition, everyone will enjoy permanent increased XP as well as other boosts to help level and gear up to experience the new content faster.

You can visit Truly-Free.AionOnline.com for more information and to sign up for the free trial.

 

“Fallen Earth” going F2P

GamersFirst Reloaded Productions Studio has acquired Fallen Earth LLC (and it’s 12 employees), and plans to make the game Free to Play over the next few (~5) months.   After the change it’s planned to allow freebie accounts to access everything in the game with some items and services being held for the paying players by using an in game store.

Exteel: Free Giant Robot Deathmatch MMO

If you’ve ever wanted to climb into a giant, customizable battle robot and have blazing gun and sword fights with other giant robots, your desires are about to be fulfilled. You can do it all, for free, in the new MMORPG Exteel. Filled with Robotech-style mechs waging war in a series of futuristic environments, Exteel is a straight-ahead arena fighting game. And it rocks. Tweaking your build and jumping into a Territory Control battle is a great way to spend 20 minutes on your lunch break.

Exteel strips the RPG right out of MMORPG. [and that makes it an MMO.. not an MMORPG – The PogoWolf] It’s all about the fighting. From the main screen, you can set up or join any of the usual modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Territory Control and a variation called Last Stand that lets you team up to take on computer opponents. Players can form clans and move up a ranking system. Each battle earns you experience points to upgrade your pilot and credits to upgrade your mech. You can also buy NC Coins from publisher NCSoft, which in turn can be used to purchase a new paint job or that sweet Hellrazor Plasma Shotgun.

Running through the tutorials gives you enough credits to upgrade your basic trainee mech, and from there you can spend a little or a lot to outfit your robotic engine of destruction. I’ve been having a lot of fun with a modest mech I equipped with just a $5 outlay.

With no real storyline to speak of, Exteel is not quite as compelling as, say, a good Battletech MMORPG would be, but it has some high points:

  • Low system requirements. You can run this game on a pretty modest PC rig.
  • Lots of mech customization options. Massive swords, rocket launchers, winged jet packs, and a variety of color schemes are available.
  • Cool maps, including a futuristic sports arena, a city criss-crossed by highways and filled with hoverbuses and laser tanks, a space battleship and high-tech military installation.
  • Purchasable skills. With the right weapons equipped, you can trigger a sweet combo with a single button push, like impaling your opponent with your energy sword, then blasting him point blank with a sub-machine gun before kicking him away. pwned!

Check out Exteel.

[Via iO9]
============================================================
03/19/2013: Update [PogoWolf]
The game was discontinued on September 1, 2010.     However, rumor has it that Exteel 2 is in development.

Coobico Mixes MMO With Social Networking

There’s a mix of casual MMO and a social network. It’s Flash based, it’s free, it’s part strategy, part RPG, and it’s coming out in the first quarter of 2008. Its name is Coobico.

coobico_03coobico_04templewc9

Game Mechanics: Building your settlement

The first structure of a new village is always the cityhall. Its construction-plan is obtained after picking up a settlers’ quest. Place the cityhall as the center of the new settlement in your most favorite place – maybe you like to settle down somewhere near other villages to take advantage of their infrastructure; or maybe you want to claim your piece of land in a remote place.

The cityhall enables settlers to add more structures to their village. Each structure is build in a similar pattern: pick up an according quest, place the building, then pay for its costs.

A village has a score recorded in Coobico’s leaderboards: its land-value. With each new building, a village’s land-value is increased. This boosts the owner’s highscore, but also raises the price of constructing further structures. Other important city-stats are Wellbeing and Productivity. Wellbeing indicates the quality of living; it’s influenced by a lot of factors like the amount of industrial estates, the level of greening and the quantity of hazard-spots close to the settlement. Finally, a village’s productivity adds up all its economic activities from trading goods at a merchant to harvesting resources – even if bargains in a village are made by non-residents.

Settlers will need to increase their village’s land-value as good as possible whilst balancing their productivity and wellbeing, and, of course, keeping all of their structures in good repair.

bank2nh0blacksmithbrickyardrg5coobico_02

About Coobico:

via http://mashable.com/2007/10/04/coobico-mmo-socnet/

Although every MMO is, in fact, some sort of social network, many companies are trying to find that special niche where gaming and social networking meet. Coobico is, as the founders say, a mix of casual MMO (casual, in the realm of MMOs, usually means that you don’t have to leave your family, quit your job and spend the rest of your wretched life living in a tiny apartment, permanently hooked to the screen, to be successful in the game) and a social network. It’s Flash based, it’s free, it’s part strategy, part RPG, and it’s coming out in the first quarter of 2008.

Although this date is relatively near, the game seems to be in early stages of development – concept art and hints on gameplay with an occasional tiny in-game screenshot are all you can find out about the game at this time. An interview with one of the founders, Lutz Winter, reveals that the intended game audience are 30 and 40-somethings which aren’t interested in endless grind, but a more casual mix of fun gameplay, chat, and other social networking features. In the interview, the game is compared with desktop titles like the Settlers but also online successful titles like Habbo Hotel and Gaia Online.

The game is developed by Linking People, a Hong Kong based company founded by three web developers from Germany. S. Wetzel, J. Martin and L. Winter have mostly been designing commercial and promo web sites; we’ll see how well they’ll do in the socnet/gaming arena.

[Via Curse]