First Steps In Allods Online

Man, I look good.

Allods Online has gone into open beta, with the promise that no characters created during this beta will be deleted once it’s over (similar to how Runes of Magic did it). That more or less means that the game has launched, but still giving the devs the freedom to make huge changes to the game with the excuse that “it’s only beta”.

But seriously, the game could have launched now. It feels polished enough and the servers have made an amazing job at staying pretty stable under the onslaught of players that tried to get in to the game from day one. Sure, they’ve crashed at times, but all things considered Allods Online could just as well has been released. And considering that the cash shop, which is how gPotato is supposed to make money off this game, has opened…well, if money is involved, I guess the game has (actually) launched.

What attracts me to Allods Online, despite it being a pretty standard Diku-MMO filled with ten kill rats-quests all over the place, is primarily the art. While it might look like a WoW-clone at first glance, the character and environmental design in Allods is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The graphics are not advanced though and it’s bound to run on most computers. Fraps keeps ticking up way past 100 FPS on my machine, which feels pretty odd. Loading screens are fast.

Quest text

Contraband...right.

The other thing is the humor, which is both charming and adult. I came across one early quest on the Empire side, where a football fan asked me to gather pine cones because sharp objects had been banned from the arena for an upcoming football match between warriors and shamans. Another quest had me looking for “contraband” in a smugglers den, where the contraband in question were nothing more than nude elf magazines (which orcs love, by the way)…

There has already been a lot said about gPotato’s pricing in Allods Online’s item shop, on both side of the argument. I will leave that for now, but there is a discussion about it in this (now rather long) Buzz about Allods. Instead, I’ll just state that I am a bit worried about how the game is actually being run. Despite the obvious anger on the forums over the move, I have yet to see a dev or community rep try to calm people down somehow.

I was also struck by the complete absence of any help function or report button in the actual game today, as a discussion about marijuana raged in Zone chat. I didn’t mind what was said, same old back and forth between pro and anti camps that will never get anywhere in a chat channel in a MMO, but I felt that it had no real place there. Seeing no GM step in, I looked for a way to contact them – if not now, then for future reference. I found nothing. Am I blind, or is there no way to turn to the GMs when needed?

I guess that scares me more than any price that gPotato will put on things in their cash store. How will Allods be run? Will there be active GMs? Will we have direct avenues to contact them if need be? Or will Allods turn into the kind of bizarre cesspool of a MMO that we all dread, with constant flaming in chat channels and an increasingly annoying bot problem (haven’t seen any yet, so don’t panic)?

Did I mention that the starter zones is a bit crowded?

I don’t know. Right now I just try to ignore it, dreaming of the days when we are able to create our own chat tabs and custom channels. I am having fun just exploring the pretty and strange world that is Allods Online, but just because a game is “free to play” I don’t expect any less from the developers here compared to a subscription based game. Monetize any way you like, but I will hold you to the same standard as any other MMO. I believe that’s important, both for my sanity as a player and for the market in general.

I have high hopes for Allods Online. It can turn into a really good MMO, with a proper place in the tough MMO market, if the developers take care of their bizarre and Gibberling infested baby. Death to the League!

Update with question: I keep seeing references to a rune that is supposed to cost anything from $600 to $6000 in the item shop. Where does that comes from? I can’t find anything of the sort in the actual game. Can someone point to a source?

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

24 comments

  1. Carson says:

    I don’t know my runes, but from a comment on the article you linked:

    “AT around 15 you get your patron quest and they teach you about basic runes. You’ll learn about combining runes. You can do this till a rune reaches level 10. To go from a level 1 rune to a level 10 rune will require a bunch of the same rune(over 500 if my math is right) plus almost 900g worth of gold dust and almost 26k crystal chips which are bought from the CS. Considering that 50 crystals go for 1200 potatoes atm if you buy the big packs. And yes they do drop from game but 26k of them would still take a long itme to collect.”
    - Warden

  2. pasmith says:

    Does any F2P game have devs or customer service responding to comments in forums, or any kind of in-game GM? I always kind of thought the games were just thrown out there and you had to take them or leave them.

    Well, with the one exception of D&D Online, since it comes from a reputable company.

    I would *love* to be proven wrong though!

    Oh, I just thought of Perfect World Entertainment. Since we know two of their community managers its safe to say that they do have folks monitoring the forums, I guess.

    • Petter says:

      Does any F2P game have devs or customer service responding to comments in forums, or any kind of in-game GM? I always kind of thought the games were just thrown out there and you had to take them or leave them.

      Most of the time, no. They don’t. But shouldn’t we really expect the same? They want our money, we have a certain standard from sub games. Shouldn’t we expect them to run the same operation, while just monetizing differently?

  3. Scott says:

    Not that I play *that* many F2P titles, and I’m a big-time casual tourist when I do, but I don’t recall seeing or even hearing of GM’s in any F2P except Holic which was a small, cutesy F2P that was canceled last year. A GM would stop by several times per day just to chat and see how players were doing, any issues and just to say hi.

  4. Saylah says:

    There presence of GMs is felt a bit in ROM because they’re always broadcasting warnings in World chat. I have more than once seen GMs or Devs in the game. You can tell because they’re riding mounts that aren’t available so we swarm then until they move on.

    They have not posted a this isn’t a mistake message and we hear you’re upset. Their message I think made it worse. But not to worry, they will be adding more items soon. Pfft. While this foobar doesn’t change the fundamentals of the game I enjoyed, it does change my gaming session. I will be forced to w-a-l-k back to NPCs to vendor more frequently, not take items I could vendor in order to pick-up a quest required item and I won’t carry as many consumables which impacts crafters. And this is a game where the quest required items routinely consume 1/3 of the little pack space we’re given.

    I’m very sad about this. I won’t stop playing immediately but if the day comes that I get tired of walking back to vendor items or being broke because I have to destroy things before I have a chance to vendor them, I’ll be gone. Walking back and forth isn’t my idea of fun. Ugh, it bothers me for new games to come out and give more fodder to the WOW is the universe of all gaming. I loved WOW but I’m over WOW. Unfortunately, these new games aren’t doing their part to replace it. Geez Louise!!

    • Petter says:

      Yeah, you’re right – Runes of Magic is different. While the CS in RoM might not be perfect, at least Runewaker/Frogster seem to at least be close to sub games in the way they treat their game. Having met the Frogster guys several times, they are certainly different from what Pete describes above; the “throw the game out there”-crowd.

      Unfortunately, these new games aren’t doing their part to replace it.

      I think you hit the nail on the head there. They easily could become at least a reputable option to WoW and give it some competition. They could show us that F2P actually is a viable option to sub games, giving us the same worth for our monthly money. Most don’t, instead they overprice their cash shops and make us actively look for ways to accomplish the same in-game instead of even considering the CS, until we – as you describe – get bored and leave. That’s not a good way to monetize your game.

  5. I have to wonder why the game is still in open beta if it’s basically ready to go and characters won’t be deleted. My gut says that it’s because the developers want to tweak and customise the cash shop part of the game and really get it nailed whilst still sitting under the pretend flag of “it’s not official yet” thus basically letting them get away with any sort of crazy experimentation.

    • Petter says:

      Yup, I think that’s exactly why. The cash shop is in, after all. Which means money is in circulation. Which means we’re paying…the game has launched. Period.

      • Saylah says:

        Agreed they brought the “open beta” comment in their lame post. That’s fine. Bad buzz travels faster and last longer than good vibes. It’s theirs now to live down. I hope they get their heads on straight but it does show where their minds set really resides. I’m very sad about seeing them in their true colors. It’s a business and before this, they had my wallet at hello.

  6. It seems like a pretty standard thing for f2p mmo’s to not delete you open beta. It was the same for Bloodymare, Dragonica, Runes of Magic and a couple others that I’m can think of right now.

    Some of them do throw some curve balls your way on the item shop but the closest f2p that was this high profile was Runes of Magic. I really enjoy ROM’s cash shop. They have 10+ dollar horses on there but they are well done and go on sale regularly.

    I’m comparing that 20 dollar bag to that and just don’t see where I’d ever want a few more slots more than a giant lizard mount for half the price!

    The big issue is that, compared to Allods great art design, ROM some times look pretty shoddy! Hope they get the cash shop under control.

  7. I’d say it’s extra important to have great community managers for a f2p title. If anything could make me inclined to use real money in this type of game it would be the “we are family” thing that can develop when the people behind it show that they care about what their audience think and feels.

    • Petter says:

      Agreed. Especially with only two servers, having a few GMs (one or two for each server) hanging out in the starter zones’ chats would work wonders I believe. I loved that in Ryzom, where a CSM was more or less always around in Universe chat and actively chatted with the players.

  8. [...] don’t just take my word for it. Petter at Don’t Fear the Mutant and Dickie at Rainbow MMO each have a nice “First Look” kind of post up (ergo the [...]

  9. Brian Inman says:

    My understanding from the responses I received on my blog is Runes are similar to something like an enchantment in Warcraft, or talisman in Warhammer. The only difference is the price.

    I was corrected on my blog, and a level 10 rune which would be god mode supposedly would cost $68,500. Yikes!!!

    I think right now the cash shop is way overpriced, and figured I would just avoid it like the H1N1 virus. More and more beta players tell me that the devs may say its optional, but that perfumes buff your hp/mana pools too which makes them more mandatory to stay on a level playing field.

    • Petter says:

      I said it on Twitter, but I guess I should add it here to as a reply to you – it just sounds way over the top to true. It might well be, but it sounds too crazy for me to believe it right now.

  10. [...] it’s almost offical launch and cash shop blunder. Petter, the one who does not fear mutants, sums up his thoughts on the game. Meanwhile Keen isn’t a happy chappy and doesn’t like the goings on with it’s [...]

  11. Criss says:

    The item shop is a bit pricy yes, but you don’t have to use it, people buy stuff from the item shop and then sell it on AH for gold. So you can always get everything by paying with gold. The way I think of it… 60 minutes spent in-game it’s still 60 minutes of my time, if I can make $30 in 60 minutes of work, then it does not make sense for me to waste hundreds of hours in-game farming for gold, just so I can get an item that I can pay with $30. This is the point that most people just don’t get. Your life is not made of dollars, it’s made of time. You can transform that time into dollars. Why waste 100 hours of your life to get the gold you need to pay for an item that you would otherwise get with the dollars you earn in 1 hour of work? Does it make sense to you? Time is time, no matter what you do with it, you will never get it back. So the question is, how will you spend it…

  12. Katie W. says:

    Awesome game! Can’t wait to play this but the item shop prices turn me off.

  13. Hi there mates, how is all, and what you want to
    say on the topic of this article, in my view its genuinely awesome in support of me.

Post a comment

Copyright © Don’t Fear the Mutant
Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

Built on Notes Blog Core
Powered by WordPress