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Ok, it's been a couple weeks, and while I have only scratched the surface of what I can do in this game, I wanted to share my experiences up to this point, which is mostly just Tindrem but, yeah, there's a lot to MO so far - some good, some bad, all extremely subjective.
Almost everyone here is familiar with the game's features, so this is primarily about my experiences and what's been notable to me so far. Besides, it would take several pages to write anything that even remotely does the crafting system justice. Hell, one could right an entire article just on how to use, tame and equip a donkey.
The download was quick, but then took 2 hrs to patch. Wait… that was only part 1 of 3. Part 2 was chugging along at about 200kbps and I was looking at another 4+ hours to go until I saw a post by Thraelios on the forums suggesting to restart to re-queue and that kicked me up to 1,800 or so. There was also a torrent option and some 'Desura' option, and in hindsight I should have taken the torrent. Mortal Online is a monster of a game at 27+Gigs, but most gamers should have that kind of space to spare on their rig.
Tutorial and Help Chat
It's short, easy and it introduces you to combat, gathering, crafting, taming, and using skillbooks. The tutorial also ends with equipment and a nice chunk of silver to get you started. Make as much use of Help Chat as you can, because after your first 48 hours /played your character is kicked from it. One thing the tutorial could do better is to explain how to skin a pig, because A) it was the single most asked question in Help Chat and the NPC guards in the zone are killing the pigs on the newbies sometimes which means even when a player does understand what to do, the guard-killed pig isn't dropping the loot to do it, confusing the players further. Then again the guards may just be part of the tutorial, teaching the players how most mechanics of MO are pretty well thought out except for the frustrating, unintended side effects of them.
Starter Town Tindrem
If you didn't care for the dark side of UO, pack your bags and head to Meduli or Fabernum RIGHT NOW. If PKs at the local hunting grounds, bank thieves, dirty fighting in the graveyards, speed looting, and chasing greys is your thing, then welcome to Trinsic… err, Tindrem. This is not to say that these things don't happen elsewhere, only that Tindrem has it in spades.
Areas of Tindrem
The Garden is the tutorial area, and it is a place to gather from low-yield nodes and to whack pigs for some extra cash and do some relaxing, low profit grinding/farm in relative safety.
The Sewers have a couple of entrances and are home to brigands and possibly some other stuff. When you ask in town, it's hard to tell if people are being serious about what's down there or if they are messing with you. Whatever the case, bring a torch! There's no lighting in the pipes or corridors and you will get eternally lost, begging for a ray of light to peek out from some corner somewhere.
The Town Center has the bank, mailbox, stables and crafting area all conveniently close to each other. You can focus on what it is you would like to do right now rather than how you are going to get to and from the place to do it.
The Graveyard could be the result of great forethought or it could just be a crazy fluke, but it seems like one of the most well-designed parts of the starter city. However, to understand why I would make such a claim about the seedy underbelly of Tindrem, one has to understand the way the loot system in MO works.
Because of the above rules, there is a steady supply of armor, sellable items and cuprum (MO's copper pieces) just laying around the graveyard, waiting to be picked up. Any newbie can walk into the graveyard and have a full suit of armor, a pile of cash and a bag of sellable items inside of 20 minutes.
Due to the graveyard's location inside the city, the chance of a PK being there is rare. From what I've experienced the past couple of weeks, most newbies that die there, die for the following reasons:
The Tindrem graveyard can be a lucrative location for everyone from the broke player looking to quickly get back on their feet to the person who likes to make bank by farming the heck out of a convenient corner of the starter city. From a design standpoint, it really shows off how well some of the game's mechanics work. The unfortunate humor of it all, is that Tindrem graveyard is also the biggest home to one of the most broken mechanics (not that I have any solution for it) in the game, which is blueblocking.
Tindrem's cast of characters
Mortal Online is an MMO where your professions aren't carved out for you. You find an opportunity and seize it. Tindrem is filled with people who found a niche and capitalized on it. Some players trek out to tame donkeys to bring back to sell to other players as mounts and pack animals. There's the kill/loot PVE crowd and the scavengers that follow them around skinning, butchering and looting the remnants. There are the players that risk heading out to collect grapes, springbok carcasses and other resources to fill orders for really good coin, and there are the players that seems to always get PK'd the minute they step out the gate, which of course makes for good income for Liferuiner and the handful of other PKs that prey daily (sometimes hourly) on the unaware and unprepared.
Then there's the graveyard crowd ranging from the blissfully naive newbie to the bored veteran PVPer, the latter often so impressed with his own douchebaggery that you can almost swear that's the scent of AXE coming from your router when they roll up to the gates.
You, of course, have the recruiters, the merchants, the thieves, the crafters and even a smattering of roleplayers throughout the bustling starter city of Tindrem.
I can't get enough of this city. It's so "Britannia" in so many ways.
I probably have a much lower bar than most, because my gauge of graphics begins and ends with:
I know... Low bar. For me, the answer to both those questions is Yes. From my crazy jagged sword to the goofy look on my donkey's face to the vistas I can view from mountaintops, the graphics of MO are satisfying to me. Some of the lighting effects, especially in the graveyards, are downright eerie, and the world itself is up there with Vanguard and EQ on my list of virtual worlds well-suited for explorers looking to lose themselves in the uncharted corners of an unknown realm.
Where the graphics are weakest are in the animations, but that's where I tend to give a small team a pass. I've seen what goes into creating the animations for a 3D game of this size, with a thousand or more animations (not frames, animations) for just the player characters alone. It's no small feat to create what they have, so when my female character runs like she has a bat up her ass, I just let it slide.
Holy [mod editing] [mod edit] [mod edit], what the [mod edit] is [mod editing] wrong with sandbox developers when it comes to user interfaces? It's like they are all on a quest to see how small and unintuitive they can make each button and interactive element. Every last one of them from indie to AAA seems to leave the UI design up to the engineers and programmers, both of which are the least qualified to create anything a human being has to interact with.
In the middle of battle, I'm spazzing out enough trying to stave off the raging lunatic that already has me out classed when it comes to PVP skill. The last thing I want to fight with is 4px-wide buttons, tiny fonts, and sluggish drag-n-drop panels. This isn't a StarVault thing, it's a sandbox dev thing. If I die in combat or get robbed at the bank, I want it to be because I'm old and stupid, not because of a crappy interface.
Sometimes when you log in, everyone is named 'Humanoid'. Sometimes it doesn't matter what they're named, because you've got a while until they are even visible to you. The latter is especially troublesome when logging back in outside of town where the chance of getting attacked by an invisible player or mob exists.
There's also the whole "I'm minimizing now because screw you" thing and player animation glitches that make it seem like someone is dropping through the floor occasionally or even sliding up a wall. Most of the bugs are simply amusing or only slightly annoying, but there are a few that can really tick a person off or, at the very least, frustrate the heck out of them. One thing that seemed guaranteed is that each play session there was at least one bug or glitch that made me say to myself "Really, StarVault? Really?"
F2P vs P2P
In F2P, the effects of your skills are capped at 60 but you can still gain beyond that. I've seen several good F2P fighters and I personally didn't feel very limited by F2P, but to really get the most out of your character you'd need to subscribe. One example is the Backstab skill for dagger users. It does a significant amount of damage, but it can only be unlocked after you reach 80 dagger, meaning it is out of reach of the F2P player. F2P players also can't buy houses, which is an understandable limitation.
But let's get down to playing the game…
After a few days of learning the game and discovering that most of the mechanics and terminology are straight out of UO, my friend and I set out exploring the nearby towns. Both Meduli and Fabernum had very convenient layouts and were far safer than Tindrem.
Fabernum was truly entertaining in every regard. The graveyard was outside, making it more of a place for PVP and PKs than for scammers and blueblockers. Inside the town there is a fight ring where people could be found dueling in the evenings. The local rulers, The Guttersnipes (GUTS), live up to their name as territorial brigands, and there are usually several patrolling and looking for a fight. One rather memorable scene that I stumbled upon was one member outraged that someone slighted GUTS and his team mates let him get away with it. "No one talks like that about GUTS in our own backyard! Get out there and kill him NOW!" Whether it was bravado or genuine harsh authority, this guy, BLEED, barked the order and the other guys headed out on the hunt. It was really cool to see.
Over in Meduli, it was the most messed up little lovefest right smack in the middle of a warzone. Everyone in town seemed to get along, and the number of thieves there seemed noticeably lower. Mining nodes, trees and gatherables border the little town, so gatherers and crafters were regularly bustling about. Outside the city was the hovering fog of the graveyard that was at times dead calm and at other times littered with corpses, mounted invaders, and people running for their lives.
Around this time I discovered http://mortalonlinemap.info, which is not only a great map for getting un-lost, but I left it running on my laptop to watch the PVP updates that occasionally scrolled the bottom of the screen.
On the topic of getting un-lost, the lack of a map was an enjoyable experience for me, especially since I like playing the hunter type. Knowing the lay of the land comes far easier when you are learning locations and landmarks in your travels. I often sought high ground to look around and get my bearings on where I was, a task doable in MO because mountains are things you climb and cross over, not just a cheap way to do a zone boundary.
I have since fallen in with a crowd that is looking to expand their kingdom, and I left all behind in Tindrem, bringing nothing but a pickaxe and my donkey on my journey south to the city of Bakti. It is from there that I will continue my journey, a journey I very much look forward to resuming this evening.
To be continued…
So far, I'm enjoying MO. It seems leaps and bounds ahead of the game I played in beta about four years ago. The community and the gameplay currently have me hooked, but I think I only got there because I'm a lot more forgiving than most MMO gamers.
There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
"Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre