Friday, June 21, 2024

What A Difference A Year Makes... Or Doesn't

I was halfway through a post about how the Tarisland launch wasn't going so great, when I tried logging in for a second time and found most of my problems had been of my own making. In my defence, the whole login procedure does feel like a bit of a mess and definitely more so than it was in beta. 

There was one big plus - I was able to patch up the beta client and use that for the Live Launch without having to start over from scratch. After that it all got a bit confusing. 

I took advantage of yesterday's pre-launch update window, using my email and password from beta and that all worked fine. Then this morning, a couple of hours after the game went Live, I tried to use the same details to log in and they wouldn't go through. 

I tried logging in through Google using the same email address instead, which entailed re-authorising the account. That may or may not have duplicated my registration, I'm not sure. I didn't get a new notification so probably not.

If at first you don't succeeed...

Whichever account it was that I logged into, it was able to get as far as server select but there I was stymied by two messages, One told me the Recommended server (EU2) was down for maintenance and the other that the original (EU1) was full. 

All the time this was happening, the introductory video, complete with bombastic music and voice acting to match, was playing on a loop in the background. I think I heard the whole thing all the way through at least three times. It made it very hard to concentrate so it's quite likely I missed something or messed something up. 

I guess it must either have been that or the maintenance was just about to finish because when I tried again a few minutes later, intending to check the sequence of events for the post I was writing, I was able to log in right away. All of that didn't put me in the best frame of mind to be impressed and neither as it turned out did what |I saw when I got into the game. 

I first played Tarisland almost a year ago, on 27 June 2023. I was very positive about the experience.  "The whole thing feels rock solid", "I felt like I was home!" and "I had a very good time" were just a few of the compliments I handed the game back then.

I wonder if Stylist Tony has any red hair dye?

Here's where the old "Better in beta" thing (First cousin to the Early Access paradox.) raises its grizzled head. If I had such a good time a year ago, will I still have that good a time now, when nothing feels quite so fresh and new?

It's too early to say for sure but my money's on no. Not because the game's changed. If anything, more because it hasn't. I mean, they've had a year so I imagine they;'ve done something with the time but I just skimmed that First Impression post and everything I said then still holds true so whatever they've been working on it clearly wasn't the starting experience. The difference is, this time I'm not likely to be pleasantly surprised by how good the game is - I'm much moe likely to be mildly disappointed it's not better.

I'm not going to go over the same ground again, though. I paid the first thirty levels or so some pretty good attention last year and I bet there's not much different about them now. Not much point rehashing the experience unless I find something different to say about it.

I'll most likely skip "First Impressions" from here on in and just put Tarisland on the "Posts About Stuff I'm Doing In Games I Play" pile, at least until I run into something I haven't written about already.

What I am going to do, probably unfairly, is briefly compare and contrast Tarisland with another game in that stack, Wuthering Waves. The main reason it's not a fair comparison is that Tarisland is a full-fat MMORPG, while Wuthering Waves is, at most, a co-op RPG. The way I'm playing it, it's a straight-up solo game. 

Dang! Wouldn't you just know it? My character's lost her memory - again!

That said, there are some strong similarities, not least that both games are translated, fully-voiced Chinese imports with open-world settings and cartoonish graphics. A year ago I described Tarisland's translations as "varied", something I also think would be a fit description of the English version of Wuthering Waves. The difference between the two is that the translatio in WW varies from exceptional to average import standard, whereas my immediate impression of Tarisland this morning was much less generous.

I think what's happened here is that my benchmark for a good translation has been raised by a few titles I've played since I was in that first Tarisland beta, particularly Wuthering Waves and Once Human. Neither of those is anything like as good as they could be - I've yet to play any translated F2P title that maintains a naturalstic English tone throughout - even the best of them have wonky passages - but they both have moments that impress. 

The real worry, however, is that the translations that make the best showing do so in the early stages, where a lot of care has clearly been taken to get someone who does genuinely speak modern, demotic English to give the final version a polish. They all tend to drift down to something closer to Google Translate later on but Tarisland's translation is already slipping a little right out of the gate, with some infelicitous phrasing and text that doesn't match what's being said.

Now that looks weirdly familiar...

Graphically, Tarisland does look good but not, in my opinion, as good as Wuthering Waves, which continues to make me happy just to look at it. Once again I feel as though my own preferences may have altered in the last twelve months. The fact is, I've watched a lot of anime since then and played a fair amount of anime-inflected games. I think I have slightly less affection for the chunkier WoW-style look Tarisland affects than I did a year ago. 

Also, I think maybe it is an affectation. Looking at the screenshots I took today, there's a bit of a cut-and-shut feel to some of them, as if someone had grabbed some NPCs and scenery out of one game and pasted it into another. In the shot above, the grass and that mountain split down the middle could have come straight out of Wuthering Waves but in the shot below almost everything feels like it was lifted from the Tauren starting zone. They barely look like the same game.

The third comparison that doesn't go in Tarisland's favor is variety of content. TL is very much a HIgh Fantasy MMORPG with all that entails. The opening cinematic is ludicrously portentous and terrifyingly overwrought and from what I remember about the storyline, it's just one damn crisis after another and an awful lot of fights.

Push harder at the back or we're never getting up this hill!

By contrast, while Wuthering Waves also has plenty of that, it also has lots of saving cats from trees, posing for bad portrait painters, parkour, puzzles, theater performances and all kinds of nonsense. I'm starting to realise I might be more interested in saving cats than saving the world. Is that bad?

None of these potential drawbacks is going to stop me playing Tarisland. I liked it plenty last year and I'm sure I'll find a lot to enjoy there still. I could certainly do with a tab-target MMORPG I haven't sucked all the juice out of yet and this one will do just fine, for now. I don't think I'll be clocking up four-hour sessions every day but I'm sure I'll keep noodling away at it indefinitely.

And that's about all I have to say about it for now. I really just wanted to record the fact that the game launched and I played it. From here on it's just going to be another game I play, sometimes.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide