28 February 2005

A funny thing happened on the way to the improv.....

I only just noticed that my first entry appears to be written by some "Chtomelji" character, and not the typical "K" (which of course represents 'the artist whom will [at some indeterminate time that does not adequately translate to your pathetic Julian Calendars] also be Karl Erik Aune').
That occurred because I really started this here blog incarnation only to comment on another blog (since its free, I mitaswell relocate to here). The other blog is the calculated ravings of a now-former-Guildmate-and-forager-of-jewels-in-the-rosebeds-of-annoying-people. sHe and I are both engaged in a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game called The Saga of Ryzom.

Probably a mistake on my part, but my mistake to make. I started by playing a 2 week free trial (more like 18 days in my case) and I was so impressed with the crafting system that I was hooked. The usual materials are combined to make things, BUT the combinations with intra-special (as in species) varieties of each component (all raw materials in Ryzom are organic [you can construct projectile weapons; Guns don't kill people. NATURE kills people!]) allow creating a final object with a mind to controlling the traits of the product. You can opt to fabricate a sword with a bent for lightness, durability, amount of damage inflicted, or ability to parry an opponent's attack. Any such enhancement naturally detracts from the other traits somehow. I can't get what I really want out of life, but if I can assemble the appropriate components and prance about naked while chanting, I can create precisely what I want in Ryzom. (Naked prance-chanting is optional, but lots of fun!)

The serious drawback to Ryzom is its lack of documentation. Words really fail me here. I beleive Tycho of Penny Arcade would describe it thus: "They provided me with a manual that asserted in no authoritative terms that bananas might be yellow." What I mean by that is a manual does exist and it does describe character characteristics and other common terms while neglecting a LOT of specifics in many categories. New players start out on an island habitat that is separate from the Continent on which most of the game is played. This schism is a double-edged sword. Experienced players are suitably insulated from the annoying pleadings of neophytes (someone walked up to me and said "Give me something." No contingency, no courtesy, no shame.) while the new players are left to fathom the various nuances on their own. There do exist 'seeded' helper players, I think (real experienced people with characters in the training areas) but they dont appear to be accessible at all times. Since I journeyed to the continent I have met many experienced players who can and do answer my questions, but in my case this was too little too late.

One small example of lack of documentation is the skill "tree". A player gains 'skill points' with each successive level that can be spent acquiring skill or spell "stanzas" which becomes a new weapon in that character's arsenal for that specificskill class. The functionality of these stanzas, however, arent adequately explained in-game and hardly mentioned in the manual. Once purchased, the skill points are gone and you are stuck with that stanza, whether you needed it or not. (It turns out that some stanzas are not only optional, but could successfully be ignored entirely. Again, there isn't any manual or help file documentation to assert that) As a result I had to start a fresh character, this time avoiding the mistakes that I made because I couldn't make informed choices the first time around, wasting MANY skill points that should have been spent much wiser.

The above is one reason why many game reviewers have panned Ryzom. It doesn't feel like its ready for release, though its been out for how long - months? end this session

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