This is a little later than I would’ve liked, but I had an amazing time playing Civilization IV yesterday, so no worries. Here’s my impression of 9Dragons by Acclaim.
First of all, a few points of interest. I was required to move the camera via the right mouse button pretty much all the time. Whereas I frowned upon this in 2Moons, here it was more fluid and less of a burden. It could possibly be that I was having issues with 2Moons because I played that in the default windowed mode, or that 9Dragons runs at a lower resolution (that you can’t change… I don’t really mind that, but it would be NICE to have the option to change it). Either way, I had an easier time controlling the camera in 9Dragons.
Here’s a glimpse at the world of 9Dragons (great world map):
Big place, huh? Well, the locality I was in was mostly the training grounds for getting into the Wu Tang (the Tai Chi sword users). I started in Baiyun Village.
There’s more than one faction in the game: Wu Tang, Sacred Flower, League of Beggars, Shaolin, and a couple more that I can’t remember. Essentially it’s three “good” and three “bad” groups. You’ve got a wide variety of weapons from swords to axes to polearms to wheels (yes, wheels). I really appreciated the healing mechanic in this game. Everyone gets a self-heal where you meditate and you can regain your health and your chi (essentially mana).
Also, I really like how the names of the things you kill have different colors depending on your level. This next screen, I’m fighting a guy called “Timid Male Thief” (yes, there are “Timid Female Thief” and Aggressive and so forth) with his name in yellow which corresponds to him being slightly tougher than me, but it’s possible to kill him (and I did).
The skill training segment is particularly cool. In order to be able to use the skill you’ve just acquired at the skill trainer, you have to successfully train it up on a combat dummy. Here’s how it works: you talk to the trainer and buy a skill of your choosing. So, say you want “Basic Sword” and that’s what you shell out the coin for. Well, next you walk over to the combat dummies and (with your sword equipped) you double click the dummy and agree to start training. You get something like this:
Then you play a short mini-game where you have to left-click when the blue ball is in the red zone several times (there are three levels and each level requires 12 successes for a total of 36 successful clicks). I’ll show a “work in progress” on the next screenshot, but first I need to talk about something mildly annoying about the item system. It feels… I don’t know, kind of lacking. Here, let me show you:
Okay, the box on the right is your “bag” or inventory. I know you can get more bags, so space isn’t my issue. On the left is the character page and “paper doll” where you equip stuff. You can also access the bag via the character page and the bag will show up next to the paper doll on the right. If you left-click once on an item, you get a breakdown of what it does or is or whatever. If you right-click on it once, you equip/unequip the item (if that’s possible). It’s hard to explain, but I just feel that this equipment/item system is a little lacking. Like there’s nothing really special about it. The game’s primary focus is on learning and mastering the skills in the game and equipment/items feel a little tacked on to this. Looting is easy with frequent tapping on the spacebar (once per item nearby).
Those are really my only issues: the right click camera and the equipment/item system.
The things I love about this game are (to recap): meditation for healing and recharging (watch out though because you can get jumped when you do this), actually doing something to learn your skills (yay, mini-games!), obvious scaling of the enemies as you level (shown in their names over their heads), the disciple/master system (which I’d like to look into some more in the future), and the fact that the quests just pop out at you and are easy to find (and if there isn’t a quest for you to do, go level and one will show up, pretty much guaranteed).
I actually think I’ll leave 9Dragons installed for now so I can go back to it later and play around some more. I almost wish I could spend more time on it, but I’m still trying to nail down a play schedule for this project of mine and I’d like to give each game only a few days tops. I highly recommend giving 9Dragons a spin, if only to try out the nifty martial arts moves. I seem to recall that the magic or chi moves or whatever they’re called are particularly neat (I do remember having to do a lot of kiting as the caster though). In the meantime, moving on to the next game which will be ACE Online (another game I recall very clearly due to its relative uniqueness).
Until next time, Don’t Forget To Be Awesome!
Really quickly, before I forget this stuff, I just wanted to mention a few cool things in 9Dragons.
Essentially the game is set up so that when you finish a quest and don’t know what to do, go kill stuff. When you level, invariably you can grab a new quest. The game is very vocal when you get a new quest by telling you in a system message at pretty much eye level on the screen that there’s a new quest for you and also, on the map there’s an exclamation point where the quest is. Makes guessing who to talk to a thing of the past.
Further, the method of healing in this game isn’t by potions (yet, I think). It’s meditation. You just plop down and take a few seconds to heal and regenerate your chi. It’s pretty cool.
Also, you can tell if things are going to be difficult or easy to kill by looking at their name. If it’s Red, stay away because it might just kill you for looking at it weird. If it’s Orange, it’ll be tough, but it’s kill-able. If it’s Yellow, it’s not so tough and it’s okay to give it a shot. White is on par with your level, Green is weaker than you and Blue is the weakest. These colors change as you gain levels to display your capabilities. For example, you encounter a Fox with it’s name in Green. You kill a bunch and level up and suddenly, the Foxes all have Blue names. Time to go kill some hardier stuff. I’ll show some of this in screenshots later.
For now, DFTBA!
This game is another Acclaim free-to-play with micropayments. For some reason, the constant rotating of the camera with the right mouse button is less annoying here than in 2Moons. There’s no WASD movement in this game. It’s completely controlled by left-clicking where you want to go. W switches your weapon, A is for auto-attacking your target, and S opens your skills screen.
I prefer the graphics in this game to the graphics in 2Moons, but that’s probably due to the bloom levels in this one. The bloom smoothes out all the edges. The music sounds a bit more environmentally appropriate and the tutorials have actual voice actors with accents to help you understand how to equip your weapons and how to use them.
After playing for about 40 minutes, I came across this player who asked me to be his disciple. Apparently when you’re on while your master is on, you gain a serious bonus to your hit points and chi. Great system. Oh, also, the skill training system is actually a short mini-game with a sliding ball and you have to click when it’s in the red zone. This is for combat skills like using a sword, though, and I’m not sure if it applies to all of the skills in the game yet.
I’m still playing with it and I’m actually enjoying myself. I encountered a bug that is remedied only by quitting the game and loading it back up again where you can’t do combat at all while you’re under the effects of this bug. Irritating, but I looked it up and yeah, restarting the game fixes it.
I’ll get down to playing it some more in the near future.
Until next time, DFTBA!
It’s time for my general impressions of some of the basic game play mechanics in Acclaim’s 2Moons.
Initial disclaimer: I gave this game a try some time ago and made a variety of characters and so forth. Trying it out again this time was an opportunity to focus more clearly on a couple of things for the purposes of analyzing the mechanics. I’d like to emphasize that I’m not here to comment on how awesome or un-awesome the game is, I’m just trying to see different game play mechanics in practice and see what I like best about the game I’m testing.
So, I hopped into 2Moons and snagged a few screens of the elements I was talking about in my In Progress posts. Here’s hoping I can put them in here with a minimum of fuss!
2Moons has a common base mechanic of zooming in and out on your character with the mouse wheel, moving your character via the left mouse click on a location or the WASD keys, and rotating the camera via the right mouse button. I found it very frustrating that I had to continuously rotate the camera while moving in order to see where I was going and I believe that a chase camera is something very important in a game like this.
I would like to point out a couple of cool elements that made the trip into 2Moons (however brief) worthwhile. First is the Auto Potion option:
Second, I’d like to point out the NPC Find pull-down menu on the local map:
Third, the available quest menu, first as an exclamation mark in the upper left of the screen to keep it out of the way and second as a list in the upper left when you need to see it:
Those three elements definitely appeal to me. Thumbs up to Acclaim for innovations and the like. Thumbs down for scenes like this keeping me from actually getting to NPCs in common areas:
I know it’s hard to read what all that text says, but you’re not missing out. I’m actually relieved to be done with 2Moons and hope I find more cooperative and less demanding camera work in the next game! I hope to have another game on my list looked at by the end of this week. Here’s hoping!
Until next time!
EDIT: I forgot something I thought was really cool: If you kill something and it drops loot, you hit the spacebar and your character automatically picks up the loot. Very nice feature for those of us who remember Diablo II fondly but are tired of clicking a lot. Also, like in Diablo II, if you hold the ALT key, it shows the loot on the ground. This is a cool mechanic that should be in any game that has open loot drops.
I’m going to start off by saying that this time around I started playing WHILE irritated with things.
Already after a few seconds of moving around, I’m irritated with the camera and the movement controls. Further, I find it very extraneous to have a run/walk toggle in the R key when it actually serves no purpose whatsoever to walk in this game. You move FAR too slowly when you walk and it takes a long time to get anywhere even while running.
Also, I’m of the opinion that music really sets the atmosphere and I find that the TWO tracks that alternate in town get old rather fast (however decent they are).
I wish there was an in-game control listing so I could… ah, found it. Okay, hitting the spacebar picks stuff up, great, good to know! Of course, like in Diablo 2, holding ALT shows the stuff on the ground.
Okay… yeah… I think I’ve gleaned enough from general game play to give my overall (admittedly sparse) impression. Look for that in the next post.
Once I’d fixed my whole password issue, I managed to get the game up and running. I picked a server and looked at a list of “classes” that had associated genders. Apparently the Azure Knights can only be male (and all the girls are very good looking) but I liked the name so I settled on that class. Then I was prompted with a starting location. I chose Loa Castle because I liked the picture they gave it. Yay, frivolous decisions?
I figured out the controls pretty quickly: Right mouse drag to move the camera, Left mouse click on a spot or WASD to move there. Further, after looking at some of the standard screens (Character, Inventory, Area Map) I did actually remember playing this game once upon a time. Haha! I remembered something! Success!
While poking through the game options, I noticed something really cool: Auto Potion settings. Basically the game has an option to automatically use a health or mana potion if you reach a certain percentage of health or mana. The default settings were 82% and 20% respectively, but they’re on sliders, so it’s easy enough to change them… of course, the sliders are VERY sensitive. In two clicks, I dropped the health one down to 75%. It’s cool to see something like this in a game, but it seems to be kind of, I don’t know, unadvertised? Not obvious? Hidden? I don’t know how well it works, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for.
There’s this exclamation point at the upper left of my screen and clicking on it reveals quests that are appropriate for my level 1 Azure Knight. I don’t know as yet if they’re the same quests for everyone (I have a hunch that they are), but I also don’t know if there are any class specific quests in the game (apparently the main quest is tailored to each class because it led me to an Azure Knight specific trainer). Oh, but one of the coolest things ever is this “Find NPC” pull-down menu on the area map. I was able to find the NPC I was looking for in just a couple of clicks… unfortunately, it’s a bit of a walk to get there, but I could use the opportunity to get familiar with the city I’m in, so it’s not a wash. (Edit: Okay, I didn’t realize just how often I’d need to use the “Find NPC” thing in the area map. It’s a tool you HAVE to use if you’ve NEVER played the game or if you’re just not familiar with the area you’re in.)
I’m not sure I like how there’s no option for a “chase camera” in the menu. I’m not a huge fan of moving the camera around ALL of the time. I like having a button to switch between “mouse look” and “mouse control” modes. There’s also no obvious auto loot option (yay clicking the ground for stuff you can grab) and it’s sometimes rather hard to select targets for attacking (moving targets suck). Auto attack is very nice though, but my character seems to “walk fight” as it were. I mean that he winds up traveling across the area while beating on his target. This could be a problem if I were in a very aggressive zone or (in this case) if I wind up hitting another monster because the first one was pushed up against the second one and I killed the first one and whacked the second one with the same blow but wound up not continuing to attack the second one because my target for auto-attack was dead and so I had to select the second one and hit auto-attack again in order to keep from dying. (Woo, run-on!)
Interesting side note: I didn’t know moths and beetles had red blood.
I find it highly annoying that everyone’s personal shop was covering up the NPC I needed to talk to. There’s no way to target aside from clicking, so I got rather annoyed with all of the obviously AFK players. Oh, and the constant spam of “gold-farmers” (I assume that’s what they were advertising) in the chat channel was extremely tiresome. I eventually turned to party chat and left it there.
Interesting side note: I didn’t know large lizards that look like oversized iguanas had green blood.
Okay, it was at this point where I found myself getting highly aggravated with the camera PLUS all the AFK shops in the way of the NPCs I needed to talk to so I could continue the “tutorial” quest tree. I decided to stop playing for a bit. More of 2Moons later after I’ve chilled out some.