Monday, September 19, 2016

A Couple Of Comments On AdventureQuest 3D And DCUO

It's not uncommon for bloggers to claim that the true measure of success is found not in page views or followers but in the quantity and quality of the comments they receive. That's certainly how I see it.

Five years ago, when I was vacillating over whether or not to take the step up from commenting on other people's blogs to starting a blog of my own, perhaps the biggest concern I had was the risk of opening a comment column to...well, to the world. After all, I certainly wouldn't want to wake up of a morning, sit down with a cup of coffee and find myself confronted with some of the comments I'd made.

In the end I decided to risk it. After all, as Wilhelm observed in his magnificent Ten Glorious Years post, in extremis you can always just switch people off because "life is too short to put up with that sort of thing".

Judging by the moss on the boots I'm guessing this place gets a lot of rain.

So far, fingers crossed, that hasn't been necessary. Most of the comments here are well-intentioned, good-mannered and a pleasure to receive. I'm very poor at checking my spam folder so most of the automated nonsense there goes unseen. Apologies to anyone who may have had a comment left there to languish but there are only so many hours in the day.

The best thing about comments is how much you learn. I try to fact-check before I post but this is a blog not The New Yorker and sometimes I just wing it. It's great to be corrected or be given fresh information by better-informed readers who just want to help, not score points.

Last week I had two extremely welcome comments that I was happy to put to immediate use. One was from an anonymous reader who explained, with appropriate links, how to access the nested levels of DCUO's Style tab so that I could undo the creation error that gave my new character banana-yellow lips.

Tell me again. Why can't we just start here?
It turns out that was a "Make Up" option. I vaguely remember fiddling with that in Character Creation to see what it did before deciding it didn't do anything I wanted. It seems that when I closed the window I left the pointer in the yellow quadrant of the color chart and that's how it saved. Thanks to the anonymous commenter my Hero now has lips that match her face and I have a much clearer idea of how to use the Style tab.

The other comment was from Kaozz of ECTMMO. She was one of the few people who read my  recent post on how much I was looking forward to trying AdventureQuest 3D. The AQ3D fan club doesn't seem to have many members in this neck of the blogging woods. It might just be me, Syp and Kaozz because that post probably had the fewest views of any post this year.

Although I mentioned in the post that Artix Entertainment was planning on doing some Closed Beta giveaways I hadn't come across any on the MMO sites I read and I hadn't taken the trouble to look any further. Luckily Kaozz had spotted that there were keys to be had at, a site I haven't looked at in years, and thanks to her alert in the comments I was able to snag one of the last few.

They were down to a hundred and fifty or so by the time I arrived and that had dropped to just over a hundred in the time it took me to make and register new accounts for both and AQ3D. It's not a quick process, let me tell you.

I'll come back when you're ready.
There's no NDA as far as I can tell so I'm free to say that getting the game itself up and running is very quick and easy. I've only played one session so far so I've barely got a feel for the game yet. Still, "First Impressions" matter and so far mine are very positive.

Character Creation was very simple and straightforward. Four classes, two genders, one race. Some basic appearance choices. In and out in a couple of minutes. That leads into a strange kind of limbo wasteland introduction that I didn't really understand, where your character is confined to a very small area with never-ending skeleton spawns and a quest to find a wheel for a wagon to get you out of there.

I couldn't find the wheel and the quest interface was far from clear. After a few frustrating minutes I gave up wheel-hunting and just clicked on the "Travel" option the goblin-analog was offering. A swift loading screen and intro movie later and there I was in the real starting town of Battleon.
Sorry, I can't concentrate on what you're saying with that...thing...watching me.

I'm not entirely sure why we don't just get sent to Battleon directly from Character Creation or what the whole "I can't take you until you get me a wheel" thing was all about. That needs some tidying up or I need to L2P. From then on, though, everything was much clearer, smoother, better explained and a lot more fun.

It's apparent this is still beta. Most of the buildings and some paths to other areas come up short with an abrupt "Currently in Development" screen. There's plenty to be getting on with, though, with some nicely humorous, occasionally disturbing, quests and some delightfully designed creatures to kill.

Combat animations are fluid and satisfying and the UI overall is slick and extremely easy to use. The cross-platform aspect of the game is evident in the clustering of controls at the sides and corners of the screen, where thumbs will naturally find them on a phone or tablet. They work perfectly well for a mouse-clicker as well. It's an elegant solution.

Prime example of meta. Her full name is Robina Hood and she puts the gold on the monsters that you kill so you can loot it. Of course back in the glory days of EQ we literally did do that...
From reading the developer posts on the AQ3D website I was forewarned that leveling in this game is not the blink-and-you'll-miss-it afterthought you might expect from something with such child-friendly graphics and cross-platform aspirations. Well, they weren't kidding. It's flipping slow!

I played for a couple of hours and my character is around 10% into Level 3. What's more, everything is a tough fight. Take on a mob one level above you and expect it to be close. Get an add and expect to die. Go in the Level 4 dungeon at Level 3 and don't plan on making it past the first pull.

I died a lot. A lot. There doesn't seem to be much (any?) penalty for dying other than the delay and the shame but there doesn't need to be. This is a world that requires you to pay attention from the get-go. Try yoloing this and you will regret it. When you wake up.

Surprisingly nihilistic. Or maybe fascist?  Definitely not kitten and bunny talk anyway...

The writing is interesting. The whole game has an off-kilter, meta feel to it, a kind of post-post-modern sub-ironic knowing-yet-innocent stance that reminds me somewhat of Project: Gorgon. This is fantasy gaming for sophisticated gamers who come with an innate understanding of the layered patina of the form. Or else it's for kids. Same thing, really.

Anyway, I enjoyed it. I will play more and write more as I learn more. Whether anyone else is interested I guess we will find out from the comments - or the lack of them.


  1. For an incredibly simple game, I thought AQ3D looks really good. And the combat is surprisingly serious. There are some things I don't understand yet. Is it the case that there's no in-game map? Or character sheet? What does leveling up actually get you? Is there skill progression or do you just always stick with your starting skills? It's a surprisingly intriguing game, but also just not a game that seems terribly interested in explaining itself!

    1. Those are all great questions and I don't have an answer to any of them. What's more, neither does the official website as far as I can tell. I'm guessing that people who've played the previous two AQ games might find it all a lot less mysterious but who can say? Have you ever actually heard of anyone playing AQ or AQ Worlds?

      If anyone wants to take a look and try to work it all out for themselves, Massively OP is giving 2000 keys away right now...

  2. No map, no need at the moment as you can just teleport to any map.
    There is a character stats sheet, you see it by clicking your or other players icons.
    Levling up increases stats and usable items.
    At the moment there is no skill progression, and as far as I know, there never will be, or rather, there isn't any planned, they do plan for a class progression system, unless that has changed since they said it.

    1. Thanks! I did notice that Artix were talking about another class, the Dragon Slayer, in the interview on MassivelyOP. That interview also suggests that the main "keep people playing" mechanic for AQ will be continual, new live content, which appears to be what they do in their other games.

      Apparently "AdventureQuest has been updated every single week for 14 years" and by updated they mean "new monsters, areas, maps, cutscenes, features, weapons… ". That's mind-boggling. They also clearly don't expect people to play 40 hours a week, just to turn up for each content drop, complete it and then play something else until the next one. It's a very interesting take on running an MMO and I probably shouldn't be burying my thoughts on it in a comment...

  3. I created a warrior and quickly became nauseated due to the inability to invert the mouse y-axis. Until I figure out how to do this it's unplayable. Looks like a cute game, otherwise.


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