Tag f2p

Trust Is Such A Fickle Thing

Sad Orc

Naaaw, the Orc is sad at the state of affairs at gPotato.

It’s only been a week since gPotato answered the storm that the players of Allods Online stirred up on the official forums and blogs across the Internet. Darren Allarde, associate producer for the game at gPotato, even went on Massively Speaking to talk about the controversy. Somehow, it feels like ages ago.

And for the players of Allods, it was an eternity ago. Even though nothing was really said about what was going to be done to the cash shop prices, it seemed like the community gained a bit of trust in the developers again. At the same time, we did expect more to be said. Since there was really no more info than “we’re looking at it and discussing our options”, and nothing changing in the cash shop since last week, gPotato would do well to keep talking – no matter how impressive their communication last week was, especially for a F2P game.

Over the course of the last week, new problems have been brought up by the community. Reports of speed hacking have started to circulate (which is always tricky in a PvP-game, you have to sift through the real reports and the typical “you ganked me, so you must have used a hack-crap), gold spammers have set up shop in the Zone channels (making it even more useless than it was before). There seem to be no active GMs to battle the ongoing problems either. The silence on the forums is deafening.

Gold spam in Zone chat

Is this Aion at launch? No, it's Allods in beta. And the spam kept flowing...

I’m losing hope in Allods and gPotato. I count the hours before the first reports of bots start to appear, how the gold spammers spread out by using the mail system, how speed hacks become more and more common. And despite the game only having two servers, which should be easy to police more or less around the clock, I doubt that gPotato have what it takes to turn this game into what it could truly be.

gPotato, you impressed us all last week. But it’s not enough. Faith in the way you are handling Allods is eroding fast. You need to keep talking, you need to tell us what is happening to the game. You need to communicate more with the Russian devs, give us more information about what is going to happen in the next patch or the patch after that. Where do you want the game to be when you “launch”? You opened your mouth, your current silence seems more like you’re only waiting it out, hoping that the problems will all go away.

I am finishing up my feature about Allods tomorrow, hopefully it will be published in both Swedish and English tomorrow or later this week. It feels odd, but it will end on a rather sad note. My faith that Allods will actually live up to its potential is gone, unless gPotato suddenly turns around and start talking to us again. I will leave my mage in Yasker’s Tower, waiting to see what happens from this point on. I do hope to return soon.

Time passes quickly in the MMO-sphere and trust is such a fickle thing.

Edit: A few minutes after I posted this, gPotato posted on their Allods Twitter about a new announcement. True enough, they have now posted on the official website that they are “making revisions to a majority of the Allods Online item shop” and that these changes will go live sometime during this week. They thank everyone for the feedback and that they’ve “revised pricing so that more people can participate in this feature of the game”. No actual news on what kinds of revisions they are doing, but I guess we will see later this week. Have they learned their lesson?

I knew I should have waited posting this entry until Monday was offically over…

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)

If I Could Improve Allods I Would…

Risen Mage

Hey, Gordon, look! Undead underboob! /giggle

You know me, I’m more of a lover than a hater. I’m all about the constructive criticism, man! And since I’ve been busy playing Allods Online the last couple of days, I thought I’d write down some thoughts about what could make the game really great. It is a good game, the writing and the setting have me transfixed! But it could be better, by just improving a few things.

Let’s see, here’s what I’d like to see improved before the game goes from “fake beta” to “launched game”.

Fix the chat interface. Right now it’s hideously clumsy, lacking features like player created chat tabs or custom channels. Just a couple of simple tweaks to bring it up to modern MMO standards. Also, please let us block out shouts. I know you have to use megaphones for it, just like in other F2P-games, but that should be the shouter’s problem – not mine.

Fix a bunch of annoying quests. One of the most annoying quests I’ve encountered so far was Late For Work!, in which I was supposed to pick up three crates of wine for a guard. The only problem was that only three crates spawned, usually right after an enemy spawned two feet away. It was camping galore. You might want to track quests like those before someone rage quits after their umpteenth crate is stolen by a summoner.

Add a quest item tab to the bag, Age of Conan-style. I know you want to sell us bigger bags through the item store, but be nice! Usually a lot of quests point to the same mobs or areas, which is great and all. But the bag has a tendency to fill up really fast, especially when there’s a lot of quest items involved. We got a reagent tab already, a quest item tab would not be too much to ask for would it? It’s 2010, after all!

Risen dance moves!

Me and Massively's Krystalle, rocking it up in Nezebgrad.

Fix the darn cash shop. Yes, it’s only been a few days since it was unveiled and yes, most of those days have been during the weekend. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt, I am still playing after all! But stop looking like greedy goblins and make us want to give you money. Be our buddies and sell us cool stuff, everything from vanity items to bag space or things that make travel easier. And don’t even consider that mount with a measly 15% speed increase unless I buy extra food from the item shop. Do you want us to love or hate you?

Now on to one thing I think should stay exactly the same!

Please don’t make leveling faster. It’s good where it is. Fatigue is a pretty odd mechanic, but I haven’t had any trouble with it so far. Don’t bump experience for mob kills, let them stay as low as they are, and don’t increase quest experience either. If all the people complaining about the game being slow leave, Allods will be so much better off. Or I will, at least.

I really like Allods, I do. I think it’s fun, despite the obvious lazy quest for experience grind. But the writing is so good, I can’t believe that the poor devs who obviously put a lot of work into the writing and the world design might get screwed over by the idiots in economics or marketing. If the conspiracy theories mentioned by Keen are correct, I hope the contract between gPotato and Astrum Nival crumbles and someone like Frogster picks up the game. The Runes of Magic cash shop is far from perfect, but it at least makes sense. Also, look at the steady stream of updates that are released for RoM. I think Froster/Runewaker are doing a pretty good job there.

No matter what happens, the future is sure to be interesting for Allods. Will it bomb? Will it soar on the wings of F2P success? Will I ever reach level 10 so I can wear those gloves that dropped off some random mob? Who knows?

But how about you? Anything about Allods you want to fix, or do you just wish that we’d stop talking about it already?

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)

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)

Champions Store gets retconned

Somewhere, at some point, someone decided that microtransactions and subscription based game could actually go hand in hand. Champions Online is one of the games that have adopted this philosophy, and one of the justifications that people tend to bring up is that World of Warcraft has been doing something similar for a long time. Blizzard began with server transfers, but these days they offer both complete makeovers and even a faction change for your current characters.

Want to look like this? It costs about $3.12.

Want to look like this? It costs about $3.12.

There is a pretty major difference between World of Warcraft and Champions Online, though. Server transfers, faction changes or makeovers are not really needed in a game that only has one shard, one faction and that lets you change your characters whole appearance more or less at will. The major difference is that Champions Online offers the kind of stuff you are used to see in the item shops of free to play games, like Maple Story or Runes of Magic – new costumes, more character slots (which is also something you can buy extra in for example Guild Wars), emblems and action figures (CO’s version of vanity pets).

When I saw the store the first time, I raised an eyebrow since I didn’t think an item shop had a place in a subscription based game. Extra services, fine. Extra items, no. But the same thing can be said for SOE’s item shops in Vanguard or EverQuest II, and since Champions didn’t include things like XP-potions, I didn’t mind much. I would never pay more for costumes in CO (unless it was really, really, really cool – luckily I think CO’s character design is an atrocity towards good taste, so I doubt that would ever be an issue), and I’m fine with few character slots. The stuff in the Champions store had nothing to do with gameplay, so screw it.

Until now, when the store is suddenly offering full retcons for your characters. In more general MMO-terms, it’s a full respecc for your character. That you can buy, for real money, since a full retcon is incredibly expensive using the regular in-game currency.

Read more

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)

Gold Spam Nation: Why buying gold makes you an asshat

Or “Why trying to exaggerate your way out of being an asshat is not working, you’re still an asshat for buying gold”.

Gold spam at its finest.

Gold spam at its finest.

If you’re not playing Aion, chances are that you’ve still heard about the gold spammer problem the game is currently facing. Take a look at the picture to the left, that’s the Looking for Group-channel on my server (Castor-EU), a snapshot of about 5 seconds. The thing just kept rolling and rolling in a never ending stream of gold spam. If you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s not only one spammer – there are actually two of them captured in that shot and there were probably more of them lurking about. In a game that doesn’t even have a free trial yet, which means that the spammers are using paid accounts, that’s a quite impressive amount of gold selling right there.

Because of the problems Aion is having, the discussion about gold buying being OK or not has cropped up again. It keeps popping up, for a reason. It’s a controversial subject, after all. I can see all kinds of side to the phenomenon, but there’s one thing that always gets me – the ridiculous justifications some people bring up to excuse their gold buying. It’s not enough just to say that they are too lazy to get their hands on the gold, the blame is often shifted on the game developers instead. Most of the time, this is absolute BS. SkyRi has given me an excellent example in his comment on Insert Awesome Aion Name. He’s written a post about it himself on Aion Insider, but it doesn’t really say much about the subject at all, so I’ll stick with the comment – that’s where the juicy stuff can be found.

Read more

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)

GRTV: F2P-ranting

I get to rant about free-to-play vs subscription based games on camera for 10 minutes. Phew. And yes, it was a really, really bad hair day. It will have to come off!

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)

Let’s talk Free Realms, shall we?

So, the Free Realms NDA dropped last night – I found out just as I had written my last Twitter update for the evening, about to jump into bed. Luckily for me, the urge to play some Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 on my DS was stronger than staying up and writing about FR. Since then, a few people – such as Tipa and Stargrace – have had time to at least give some initial impressions of what might just turn out to be the MMO-equivalent of Harry Potter and Pokemon rolled into one (sorry, Wizard101).

So, yeah – here’s a screenshot.

I tried to make a character that looked a bit like me – or as I would’ve looked if I lived in a fairy tale, actually had any form of muscles and had the face of a cartoony male photo model. And yeah, ever wore shorts. Which I never do. And I currently have a mustache to go with the goatee, so he doesn’t really look like me at all.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s get down to the impressions instead, shall we?

First of all – the world in Free Realms, supported by the beautiful graphics, is awesome. I love it to bits. The design is great, thought through and consistent. I love the little details and it invites me to explore more of it. Yes, it does borrow, sometimes quite heavily, from World of Warcraft, but with a new sense of…style? Runes of Magic took a lot of inspiration from World of Warcraft as well, but where it failed to find a design language of its own (except for Varanas, which I really love) Free Realms does a much better job.

Free Realms is a MMO filled with mini-games, as most people already know – actually, from what I’ve seen so far, everything is a mini-game. Cooking, harvesting, cart driving…even the combat is a form of mini-game. I haven’t explored that much yet (I’ll get back to why later), but I have never been attacked by a random mob, instead it’s a matter of walking up to a monster and see what kind of combat-based mini-game is associated with it. If you’re used to dodging aggro in any other MMO it might feel a bit weird initially, and it might actually change at later stages in the game – feel free to comment below and correct me if I’m wrong here.

Now, from what I’ve seen, the mini-games will make or break Free Realms. One of the reasons why I haven’t really explored as much as I could have done is that I’m afraid that there will be a character wipe when beta ends. Runes of Magic never did that, launch for that particular game was more or less a patch and off we went, but that’s more of an exception than the norm. There probably will be a wipe at some point, either from closed to open beta or from beta to launch, and I am really worried about replayability. Right now there is one tutorial and one starting area – I’ve already quested and mini-gamed my way through them twice (both my SOE-accounts got flagged for the beta). I can’t really see myself doing it a third time…

With that said, the mini-games can be a lot of fun. The go-kart racing is great fun, even though it is mostly a more primitive version of Mario Kart. The combat is pretty standard so far, but I don’t have that many abilities to choose from yet so that might improve later. Cooking is probably the mini-game I enjoy the least, it did get old pretty fast, even though I can see myself getting hooked trying to finish off my various meals with as many bonus points as possible at some point in the future…

As much as I am enjoying Free Realms now, I do see a few problems with it. Leaving the whole “it’s a game for kids”-issue for now, I wonder if the game ever will actually give an incentive to get organized. Right now there is no guild functionality, it will be added around launch, but will there be a real reason to work together in a guild except for having a private chat channel? I am not talking about raiding here, of course not, I would just like to see what guilds actually can accomplish in a group. It is a MMO, after all.

Which leads me to my second issue – is it MMO enough or does it use too much instancing? Saylah (of Mystic Worlds) comments on this issue on Tipa’s blog entry linked above, saying that she “can’t count this as an MMO anymore than most people do GuildWars”. She also asks if that changes later in the game, which is a valid question related to what I wrote about the combat mini-games earlier. Instanced MMOs make me want to cry, so I’m hoping for a more open world at higher levels.

The final part of the puzzle for me is how the item shop is supposed to work when the game launches. It’s not available now, neither is the membership option. How will that be balanced with the rest of the game? If I don’t become a member, I will lose out on three of the game’s jobs, a bunch of mini-games and some quests. If I don’t spend money at the cash shop I can’t have a permanent pet. Becoming a member or not is all related to the two issues above (paying a monthly sub would mean actually playing enough to warrant a subscription), but if the item shop isn’t handled right I won’t even go near Free Realms again.

As of now, I’m cautiously optimistic. I really like Free Realms and would love to see it evolve – it’s only in closed beta, after all. I want to see my issues resolved in one way or another and I’d love to play it now and again for a long time. It might even be worth finally getting that SOE Station Access, since FR-membership will be included in that package. I’ll get back to Free Realms over and over again, most likely.

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)

Runes of Magic, first impressions

The mage. Not a very fun class to play so far.

The mage. Not a very fun class to play so far.

At the same time as my download and patching of Runes of Magic was done this morning, I noticed that Beau had written a post over at Spouse Aggro about the general prejudices against f2p-games. It was a nice read since I was quite eager to give the free to play Runes of Magic a try after reading Saylah’s many posts about the game (especially the post about player owned housing and crafting). I’m a sucker for player owned housing, something most of my friends already know, and since I’m completely burned out on World of Warcraft right now (which is a post in its own right), I started up Runes of Magic with an open mind. I hoped to find a game that, although not as polished as bigger AAA-titles, would be able to charm me.

I didn’t, at least I haven’t found the charm yet. I haven’t played very much of it, granted, but right from the start it felt way too much like a World of Warcraft-clone. Lord of the Rings Online is similar to World of Warcraft in many ways, but it does its own thing at the same time – Runes of Magic looks like a poor man’s version of WoW. Not only is the visual design similar to World of Warcraft, so is the gameplay. So far it has nothing that would convince me to stick with it, except for getting my own house – and I might as well play Everquest II for that.

O'RLY?

O'RLY?

I don’t mind the RMT at all, I actually think that it’s a good idea in games like Runes of Magic. What I do mind is that I can’t help feel that Runewaker and Frogster come across as quite greedy when there is no option to buy permanent pets (at this point). At first I thought that the same thing went for the mounts, but luckily it didn’t – there are both time limited mounts and permanent ones. But there is just no way that I’m going to pay real money for a pet that will disappear after 30 days.

And please, don’t even get me started on the thong the female rogues start out with…

I will keep logging in now and again. After all, it is still in open beta and there’s no reason to cancel an account for a game that is free to play or to uninstall it until I need the space on my hard drive. Perhaps it will get better as time goes by (just adding in all the missing sounds would instantly make it a lot better). Perhaps rogues will get real pants. Perhaps the greatest challenge is getting through the starter areas. Perhaps the challenge is to be around players with names like “Slipknotroxx” without going crazy.

First of all I need to reroll before getting deeper into the game. The mage wasn’t all that fun to play. I hope I will be able to find a class that I instantly like. If it wasn’t for the questionable fashion sense of Taborea’s female rogues, and that I’ve played one for years, I’d probably go for that. But I guess that the typical warrior/priest-combo or a more experimental class combination (warrior/scout?) might do the trick for me. We’ll see.

Do I recommend you to check out Runes of Magic? Of course, it’s free and you might instantly like it. But if you are looking for a new MMO to keep you occupied until Ulduar hits the live WoW-realms, I think you should look elsewhere.

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)

Sap of the world-ash, wonder-tree!

The Ranger Camp in Silan.

The Ranger Camp in Silan.

Yesterday I decided to log into Ryzom again, something I haven’t done in ages. My main reason was to see if they payment plan was in place or if the game was still f2p – it turned out that it was still free and after a brief patch I found myself looking at the character selection screen. I am glad they didn’t change it yet because I finally got some stuff done in the game.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still a big noob when it comes to Ryzom. So far I haven’t even left Silan, the newbie area, and haven’t left for the Mainland yet. I’ve recieved all kinds of advice on when to leave, but I’m sticking with the easiest one – getting all my actions to level 20. It might be a mistake, and I might regret it later, but to be honest I can’t stand Silan anymore. I’m done with magic and fighting, so I’m currently harvesting around the Shattered Ruins in order to get harvesting and crafting up before I get the hell off the island.

Ryzom is very, very different from other MMOs, both game design and world design are nothing like in other games. It feels a bit like EVE meets an ordinary fantasy MMO sometimes, but since I’m still on the starter island I have no idea if that statement is really true or not. I hope I don’t chicken out when I’ve reached 20 with all my actions, but I’m aiming to leave Silan and find a nice guild to work together with in the near future.

A Karavan embassy.

A Karavan embassy.

At this point I’m not sure if I would actually pay for it nor not, so the new owners still got some time to convince me why Ryzom should be my new MMO-crack. The stanza system, where you build your own actions, is a lot of fun to play around with and the more skill points you get when levelling up, the more creative you can become. I am looking forward to see more of the game, if you happen to play in a EU TZ-based guild and want to have an inquisitive game journalist around, please let me know and I’ll look you up.

I am glad to see that there is a bit of activity in the chat channels, especially Universe. I hope there’s enough players to keep the game up and running when you have to pay to play again. There’s currently only three servers to choose from (with three different languages), so I hope that Ryzom isn’t that expensive to run. The new payment plans are fairly cheap as well, which I hope can attract new players. Ryzom, together with Chronicles of Spellborn, is a MMO that deserve to stay around for a long time as an alternative to all the players that are looking for a completely different online experience.

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)

Wizard101, first impressions

timothy_firehaven

Timothy Firehaven, my novice pyromancer. His boots are blue, they don't match my outfit.

For being a semi-F2P MMO aimed at kids, Wizard101 really has been making the tour of the blogosphere lately – especially thanks to Saylah and Tipa. The latter is even planning on writing a couple of guides for the game and has already published a great deck building article. So of course I had to download it and give it a spin.

First tip, if you happen to be an adult and decide to try it out – do not do it while your WoW-fanboyish friend sits behind you, playing Fallout 3 on your 360. It was kind of hard to deal with the constant sighs and “you’re insane”-comments, so I kicked him out after a while. But it felt like he had a point, because Wizard101 is clearly not aimed at my age level.

Let’s get that out there first – it’s a game for kids. It becomes obviously clear straight at the character creation screen, with a talking owl and a old wizard showing you the ropes. You can’t pick your own name, but have to choose from a wide variety of different first and last names, and if you ever thought the profanity filter in other MMOs was advanced you’ve seen nothing yet. Wizard101 won’t even let you curse in Swedish (trust me, I tried) or write numbers. A/S/L? Not so much. If you are under 13, you can’t chat in the first place so you have to choose from predetermined sentences instead.

I am not saying that as a bad thing, not at all. The game is not meant to be played by people used to the rather mature chat channels of EVE Online. It’s a sweet, cute experience where you get to level a wizard in a fairy land, together with your friends, not a MMO where you try out new creative ways to combine words for genitals because your epic loot was ninjaed. The topic of kids on the Internet is always tricky and sensitive and there’s probably more than one GM screening the game’s chat channels constantly.

A low level fight between me and a ghost.

A low level fight between me and a ghost.

In a time when more and more players start to get fed up with the typical level grind and the more or less identical gameplay that we’ve seen since the dawn of MMOs, it’s very refreshing to see a MMO aimed at a young audience take a shot at innovation. The use of card decks, fights were new players can get involved (or flee) atany time, and great possibilities for customization, Wizard101 feels a lot deeper than it initially feels. I am sure that it would’ve been a lot easier for KingIsle to copy any other MMOs PvE-system, dumb it down and present it as “kid friendly” than sticking with the system they chose in the end, which I guess says a lot about how much energy went into creating this title. And then there’s the whole balancing of PvP…

I will probably jump into Wizard101 now and again, just to see how it evolves. I won’t be paying any money for it, but I would easily let my kid play it (if I had one, that is). Having only spent a few hours with it, I really respect what KingIsle created – a good game for pre-teens that doesn’t treat them like idiots. And with one million people having signed up according to the creators (which is not the same as active players), they might be on to something. It will be very interesting to see what impact Free Realms have on W101, though.

All I know is that I want one of those cute pets that everybody except me seem to have. Damn you, KingIsle.

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)

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

Built on Notes Blog Core
Powered by WordPress