[PLEASE NOTE: This article was written during the first open beta phase, several months before the release in early December 2009. I have not played the game since and I probably will not touch this game in the future to update these impressions. I'm sure some issues I mention here have been resolved. Please keep in mind that the views noted here refer to an early open beta of the game. They do not necessarily represent the game as it stands now.
Regardless of that disclaimer, I would not touch this game again for any price. I wouldn't play it even if it was free. There are better MMOs at every price point--even if Alganon pulled off most of the features they promise it would barely be a competitive product.]
Alganon’s NDA is gone as of yesterday. Here are my impressions for several hours put into the open beta. I saw enough of the game after about six hours to permanently turn me off to it. Under no circumstance do I recommend you buy this game in its current state. I don’t think even if they work out the bugs it will even be worth playing because of some very lazy design work that permeates each mechanic in the game.
Here are some of Alganon’s claims (from its website). These parts of the game that led me to download the beta client:
- “dynamic quests specifically for the character”
- “Taming animals and controlling creatures with magic” will be important.
- “Much of this history is available to the players through the library, but much of it must be discovered. “
- “The game will ship with a total of two races and four classes; however, there are so many variations in skills, abilities, and specializations that the results guarantee no two characters will be alike. “
- Crusades are player-given quests to do certain big tasks like “wipe every orc from the face of the world”
- “our default auction system will support a number of internal tools to help determine the current market price for merchandise, as well as demand.”
- “Actions are what characters carry out during game play, such as a special attack or a tradeskill, etc. Abilities represent a point-based distribution system allowing the character to focus on specific class-based specialties. Skills are the underlying methods of growth in utilizing certain areas of class-based focus, such as a character's skill in swords, or a specific profession. Studies are the core support base for all other systems, allowing characters to grow over time at the same rate as all other players.”
- Players collect information and contribute it somehow to the library. Seems like some kind of in-game wiki/thottbot. Also a way for spreading achievements.
- A complex faction system. “Each character will have the ability to enhance or lower their standings with these different groups, races, and organizations. A character's standing with a faction can affect many things including what items, they can purchase, what areas they can enter, and what creatures are hostile. “
This game is awful.
- Interface blatantly copies WoW’s. Where it is different, it is worse.
- Lots of graphical and interface lag.
- Graphics are ugly. Worse than WoW—even if you play WoW on medium quality settings and this game on ultra.
- Everything is half-assed. I don’t see any signs of polish.
- Character creator was slow and ugly. Characters look ugly. Changing how a character looks often doesn’t seem to have any effect on how he actually looks. Character creation is worse than WoW.
- “Abilities” are actually a dumbed down copy of the talents from WoW. They’re available from level one. It’s really exciting to get a talent that grants me 1% cost decrease on a skill when I’m level one.
- Abilities reference actions that I don’t actually have. I can buy abilities to improve actions I’ve never seen.
- “Studies” are a time-based skill advancement system like EVE’s. It just gives you bonuses to stuff for having played longer. Because we’re in a level-based game system, it’s nothing but a reward for subscribing to the game for longer than everyone else. Who knows if it’ll help casual players catch up because character level probably completely trivializes any effect the studies have.
- REALLY long initial loading times. I have a solid-state harddrive, a core i7 processor, and six gigs of RAM. Are they kidding me?
- Quests are all of the “kill 10 bugs” variety. I was given one quest that was a “find this thing and pick it up” but the thing was nowhere—it just did not exist in the world. And even if I did find it, I wouldn’t have known to interact with it because the interface is so weak.
I couldn’t suffer through this game long enough to see all of the promises in action (if they even exist in the game). From what I’ve seen, I feel confident saying that almost every promise is a WoW feature relabeled or a copy-pasted feature from another game that doesn’t particularly fit.
This game tries to directly compete with WoW, and it will never win. I’ll be surprised if it lives for very long in the market, considering it has just about nothing in the way of innovation worth noting. It would take way too much work to make this game fun, but even if it does get cleaned up, it doesn’t stand a chance against WoW in the theme-park market.
If you’re going to release a theme-park MMO these days, it must be solid from day one. Even if a game is very much hyped, it will suffer from a rapid drop off after about a month. For an obscure and un-hyped game like Alganon, I don’t see a way for it to succeed in this market. It has no hype and it doesn’t deliver.
Alganon is a great example of how to make an MMO that has no chance of success: it copies without perfecting, it adds without improving.