Archive for November 28th, 2009

I know, I know, that’s a terrible pun.  I do that sometimes.  English just lends itself well to such… malleability.

I played in the Allods Online closed beta a little while back.  (They are having another one, too, so if you’re interested, go sign up!)  As always, I didn’t get a lot of time in the game, but what I did see at least has me looking forward to playing it a bit when it gets a full release.

The Massively preview that I referenced last time I wrote about Allods Online has perhaps more than I really have to offer, so I would suggest that as a starting point.  I do have some screenshots that I wanted to chime in about (out of 173… I take a lot of shots).

Before I get to that, though, a few thoughts (noting that this time, I can’t remember where I read these things, and what inaccuracies exist about the lore are entirely my fault):

One, what exactly is an “Allod”, anyway?  It turns out that an Allod is a chunk of habitable terrain floating around in this sort of… space… Etherium-like… thing.  (The Etherium is Treasure Planet’s “outer space”… which is a strange sort of space with breathable atmosphere and unidirectional gravity… unless there’s a spatial distortion or baby black hole.  Treasure Planet isn’t a terrible movie, but the physics are just so… WRONG.)  Apparently, people used to be constrained to their local Allod, whilst the mage priesthood maintained the means to travel between them… until someone went and discovered that you could just go sail around in space, looking for other Allods.

So, we have some sort of power hungry magehood (the mage version of a priesthood, of course) conspiring for population control, rebels trying to set everyone free, power struggles between the Empire and the League (I’m not sure who is closer to the mages, or if they are a third faction that nobody likes), and Gibberlings.  These guys are sort of like a cross between Gnomes, Ewoks and Gremlins that are born in triplets and fight as a trio.  Yes, they are player characters as well as NPCs.  It’s a lot of fun to play as Gibberlings for me, but then, I wasn’t traumatized by Teddy Ruxpin or Tickle Me Elmo.  Player response to these guys will be varied, methinketh.

Oh, and ships.  Did I mention ships?  Apparently, ship combat is meant to be the “endgame”, or at least a significant part of the non-noob experience.  At some point, you can get your own ship and sail around between Allods, complete with combat and crew cooperation.  As in, you may need other players to man your ship.

I can’t shake the Puzzle Pirates feel of that.  In PP, you can solo a lot of things, and have a lot of fun playing alone, even on your own little sloop (and I hope Allods Online lets you solo ships), but the really crazy (fun) and rewarding stuff is done on ships with other players.  If the ship combat (including manning separate stations) in Allods Online can be even partially as fun as PP (but in 3D, wooooo), it’ll be worth digging into.  PP has PvP and PvE on these group ships, and both can be a lot of fun.  I lean more to the cooperative PvE (the PP equivalent to raiding, I suppose), but PvP can be a thrill at times, too.  PP is player skill based, though, which is, as always, significant when it comes to game design.  We’ll see how much player skill means in Allods Online.  I’ve never considered outleveling someone else to really be a “skill” when it comes to PvP.

Of course, the land-based DIKU standard MMO fare will appeal to some, and the ship combat will appeal to others.  I haven’t read anything on raids, but perhaps that’s still in the pipeline.  The DIKU combat doesn’t have an “autoattack + hotkeys”, rather, it’s all hotkeys.  You need to trigger your basic attack.  This can be good or bad, depending on how you play.  I had fun with it, but I’ll admit, I miss the old brainless autopilot combat sometimes (and I want more involved combat sometimes, too).  Either way, it’s something a bit different than the gorilla standard, while still being accessible.  Time will tell if that’s a good idea.  (I lean more to DDO if I want more involved combat, but hey, to each their own.)

OK, so… pictures.  I’m hiding them behind the More link for cleanliness’ sake, and for anyone who happens to be tuning in via dialup.  There are plenty of pictures after the break, for better or worse.

Bottom line, I’ll be playing this in the next beta, and I look forward to playing once it’s live.  It may not be my permanent MMO home, but it bears investigation.  I do heartily recommend it to anyone interested in MMOs, if only to see what the Russians are up to in game development.  (Apparently, there are some solid game studios in Russia.  I welcome this, since “Western” and Japanese games could use some competition.)

Pictures after the link: (more…)

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