It’s been a few days and the dust has settled so it’s time to offer up some thoughts and opinions on Release 5 and how things seem to be progressing. I’m going to take a queue from the Forums and list my thoughts on the new features.

One thing I find frustrating is we don’t get a lot of documentation or explanation of how to use some of these new features or what the old versus new way is supposed to look like. I’d like to see a  very generic overview of how to test them. Lots of things are getting added and I have no idea what they’re even supposed to do. Feels like I’m missing out on a lot.

Combat and Magic Skills
– I think these will be quite good when done, but we don’t have much information on what they do and how to use them. In fact, I didn’t figure out how to add these to combat bars for hours. I assumed they were broken and never tried to actually drag them around. Once I did get them working they were pretty cool, but standing around in town while everyone practiced their magic moves by setting swaths of people on fire got old real quick.

Linear Lighting Model
– I didn’t really notice a difference. I think the game looks good either way.

Add On Store Conversion (Website)
– No idea what this is or what it means.

Weekend Access Keys (Login)
– No idea what this is or what it means.

Crafting
– Spent a lot of time with Crafting this time around and while I think it’s pretty neat, I think some of the recipes are a little too involved. Making the sheet or ore at the Smelting table, then taking it over to the Smithing table just so you can hit it, is realistic, but slows things down for me. I’m sure some people love that level of details, but that’s not what I want. This is an adventure game and I want to get out there and make something happen. It’s great to make some of this stuff and there is a neat sense of accomplishment to making your own armor, but let’s not over-engineer the process.
– I used the SotAWiki to find recipes. Supposedly these are discoverable, but that is way too damn time consuming for me. Sure, getting a recipe from a quest or after completing a level or goal is cool, but I’m not going to randomly toss things onto the table and see if it sticks.
– Moving items around on the Crafting tables was far too complicated. Grabbing tongs and grabbing a chunk of goal was too damn precise. I would click a dozen times before actually hitting the right pixel that grabbed the tongs. That was very frustrating.
– Selecting multiple items in the inventory was slow as well. There should be some sort of right-click to select one, left-click to select them all sort of thing. Yes, holding Shift grabs them all, but it all felt confusing to me.

Compass
– Hardly even noticed it was there. Didn’t do much for me.

Overland Map Polish
– Lots of debate about this going on. I think it’s neat, but I’m not sure of the point. Is this simply a way to travel or will something happen on the road between towns? I know it’s supposed to represent the cloth maps, but it feels familiar and out of place at the same time. Again, I think this is one of things where we need more information on what exactly this is supposed to do and how it’s supposed to work.

Combat Floaties
– What the hell does this mean? What was I supposed to be looking for?

Health Bars
– Again, didn’t even pay attention

New Creatures
– I liked the new creatures. Admittedly, there aren’t many of them. We have the usual Skeletons and Kobolds. I like the Chest Mimic and had to beat one down. The Satyr was an interesting change. Gonna need more monsters though.

Traditional Combat Shortcut Bar
– Again, no idea what this was supposed to look like.

AFK Mode
– Another one of those features that is kind of neat visually, but it became a pain in the ass real quick. People were sitting in front of crafting tables, on the stairs, in front of doors, and just getting in the way. I like the idle tag, but just another example of people taking something neat and abusing the hell out of it.

New Vale Scenes
– What do you mean? What was I supposed to see?

Player Housing
– First of all there were no lots to claim in this release. As expected, unless you jumped in within the first 5 minutes, you were out of luck. I got tired of clicking signs and rock pavers only to find the plot was claimed. We need to go back to rotating plots or severely increase the number of lots.
– This makes me concerned for how the “land rush” will work out when the game is released. It’s going to be too easy to get shafted out of a land plot.
– While some of the houses looked great, some looked like Fred Sanford lived there. Leave it to people to utterly trash an area and get their junk strewn all over the lawn. Some of the houses look like an 11 year was at the helm just throwing out everything and the kitchen sing. Some looked nice with flowers and plants out front. While the service for 6 of Bone Thrones was sort of amusing it looked like utter crap. If this is the future of housing, I’m going to be sorely disappointing.

While I really like the game and the way it looks, there is a staggering amount of work to be done. I still don’t feel there is a lot to do in the game. Unless you want to stand around and cast spells on villagers or go through the entire list of emotes, or craft until you’re blue in the face, there isn’t much to hold you’re interest. If there are quests to go on, I have no idea how to find them. If the story of the game was in place and you were set to talk to villagers in each time and start your adventure, I didn’t see it.

To be honest, I think the whole housing aspect needs to hit the back burner while the actual game is developed. The emotes, decorations, housing, combat shortcuts and the like all need to take a back seat to actually developing the “adventure” part of this game. There simply isn’t anything to do. Most of the dev cycles are for – in my opinion and for what I want to play – frivolous window dressing. The meat of the game is missing. The quests aren’t there. The combat is need major work. The skills, leveling and exploration don’t really provide any real entertainment value. It’s just one ridiculous looking house after another and taverns full of people cycling through a list of emotes.

I want armor, sword, shield and a quest. Point me toward danger so I can combat some monsters and get some gold. Without that, this other stuff doesn’t mean anything to me. I want an adventure game, not a medieval Sims game.

Give me the story. Give me the quests. Give me something to do.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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