Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 26, 2009
Write your own Alganon review!

This is an experiment. Today the NDA for Alganon drops, in preparation for the game launch on the 31st. I haven't played Alganon long enough to write a really qualified review, so I have decided not to write one at all. But as I did hand out 10 Alganon beta keys to readers, and I know some other readers got into the beta by other ways, I'm leaving the floor to you guys on this one: Write a "user-created" Alganon review in the comment section of this post!

You don't have to be a great writer, or write a long review covering everything. Just write what comes naturally, to be part of what will hopefully become a greater whole, a quilt patch review so to say.
Can't see any official notice on Alganon's website saying the NDA is down. Will be back to post my "review" when they make it official.
Hi, i played a bit with it. Coming from wow, there is no adaptation time (it even feels even a copy / paste of wow tbh). Done a few levels, up to 4. During that time, i found the game pretty and pleasurable to play, but some quests weren't working. The crafting system wasn't looking to work either, or insufficient feedback was given. Mobs were having pathing / hitbox issues. Overall, i'd just say writing a review on it doesn't look serious, no way the game is ready for launch. Also, no way the game offers enough for me to buy it and pay a monthly fee. Could show promise, thou. I liked the offline training feature, and the old fashioned quests. TLDR : it needs a few more beta months and serious work on feeback. Such blatanly copying of wow might be a legal issue.
Can't see any official notice on Alganon's website saying the NDA is down.

Don't worry, I have it from the Alganon people directly that the NDA is down starting today.
Read : Such blatanly copying of wow might ALSO be a legal issue. at the end of my "review" :)

Please note i'm writing this as a solo player POV.
Ok then! Here goes..

I got into one of the earlier stages of beta, back in the summer. I played on and off, probably for a total of less than 20 hours in all, spread over a couple of months.

The highest level I reached was 6th, largely because there were at least two complete character wipes and I lost several other characters to unrecoverable character errors. Consequently I know the starting areas in some detail and the rest of the game not at all.

Alganon looks like WoW. Really, really like WoW. The graphics look better in game than they do in screenshots, but they are too big and blocky for my taste. Character and mob models are generic and uninspired and animation is pedestrian. They are functional enough, though.

Quests are equally generic, almost perfunctory. There's some humor, not entirely appropriate in context, but generally the quest text is bland and uninvolving. If there was any overall backstory or plot, it didn't make itself plain in the first half-dozen levels.

Gameplay is, yet again, generic. The range of combat/spellcasting abilities, for such low levels as I played, isn't bad, but inevitably its very simple. Quite fun, though.

So far, not only is there nothing you haven't seen before, there's nothing you haven't seen done often, and better.

There's the much-vaunted Study system is, as far as I could tell, just another way to learn skills. You select a skill and your character learns it whether you are on or offline. This then opens other skills, etc. I couldn't get any more excited about this than any more familiar points-based skill system but it is, at least, a bit more original.

Performance was mediocre and the game is buggy. (I should state that it's been a couple of weeks since I last played, and there have been a couple of patches in that time. I tried to log in to check today but the login server is down). Last time I played it was in no way ready for a live launch, and in my experience no MMO goes from that stage to "polished" in two weeks.

Crafting I never even tried.

Overall, the problem was that I never got the urge to keep logging in to Alganon. I certainly didn't dislike it, but it was so bland I literally forgot I had it on the PC until I'd come across some blog link or news item that would remind me to give it another look. Contrast that with Fallen Earth, where I got the free trial key this weekend and have played non-stop ever since.

To sum up, Alganon's a very familiar post-WoW MMO that looks like a lot of others in a crowded market. It's not particularly nice to look at, the gameplay is routine and it's not very polished.

If it was F2P, then that might not be as bad as it sounds. I'd certainly keep it on my PC and play it occasionally. It's very clear from the website that the designers are professional and articulate, and that in itself keeps me hopeful that it could improve.

If they go ahead with their original plan to both charge a purchase price for the game AND a monthly sub, then it doesn't have a hope in hell. It will compete directly with Runes of Magic, which is very similar, better known, much more polished and free.

I notice, however, that it no longer says on the FAQ that the game will be subscription-based. It now says "See our purchase page for more information." but I couldn't find a Purchase Page. I hope they have some payment scheme like Wizard 101's, with a Freemium moel and no charge to download the game. Otherwise it's going to be a very sad launch.
Having played the beta for a total of a month and a few days and having survived several character data wipes I found myself uneasy about playing Alganon in the future as I had already played through the starting areas for five times. Such is the fate of the beta-tester and I guess I shouldn't complain about it, if it were not for the fact that these areas were severally not fun to play at all. The whole experience was reminiscent of vanilla WoW but with a lot less style, polish and originality.

Starting areas can be discussed separately, but there is not a lot to be said about them apart from the fact that yes - there are kill 10 rats quests there, fetch-and-carry quests - all lacking any kind of a big encompassing storyline or any engaging plot for that matter.

I should probably stop right here, because my characters never got past level 7. The main selling points of Alganon (crusades, deities, GM's playing in the world) were evidently outside of my reach and required additional leveling to do - so I presume that a masterpiece of a game might be hiding behind that level-grind-WoW-alike. I just never got around to getting there.

I can comment on the studies system, though, which is another big selling point. And to be frank - I think it was dragged by it's ears and forced to sit in a game environment not entirely suited to it. My main problem with it is that it is simply inconsistent with the game mechanic on the logical level. I mean, in EVE it is quite clear that your character has all the time in the world to study different skills during long hyperspace flights or mining operations - it is consistent and plausible. But here - I click on a study and run off to fight some wolves and ten minutes later, *ding* - my character somehow has developed knowledge of etiquette. Also - when you have such a system you ought to provide a detailed description of what a study does - things like 'makes you slightly better at combat' is no way to go...

Other than that - character statistics system is painfully familiar, even though the warrior is called a 'soldier' and there are many skills that level as you level and don't seem to bear any significance.

I would say that Alganon is a poor man's WoW if it wasn't for the fact that it comes with a monthly price tag...
I tried the beta around the time when Tobold gave out the keys. I had fairly low expectations, but hoped it would be a good distraction for the last couple weeks before Torchlight's release. Planned to start first with a Soldier, but the launcher noted a serious bug with that class.

My first session began with noticing a flashing warning icon that I hadn't set anything to study. Since the study feature was one I was quite interested in from previews, I clicked on it, and started to queue up studies. As soon as I clicked to queue the third study the client crashed. Total play time less than a minute.

The next day I tried again (avoiding study). My experience was similar to MetaManu's above for the few levels I played. Mob pathing was also a problem, and the UI seemed unfinished in places. I found some of the voice greetings of NPCs to be irritating quite quickly. Spell casting graphics seemed like placeholder art.

Overall, I think Alganon would have a difficult time succeeding even as a free-to-play game in its current state. It needs months of development work, and I doubt the community will give it that much time before dismissing it as a failure (like Vanguard).

Finally, the beta was enough like WoW to make me consider resubscribing. Instead I downloaded Runes of Magic and am having a lot of fun with it. (RoM has a few glitches but is a solid game with interesting mechanics like the dual-class system.)
I have played a bit, not enough for a full review - but enough to make up my mind about it, which may be review enough.

I'll start with the difference from WoW (and other major fantasy MMOs) - and then move on to the similarities.

The single feature that stands out to me in the skill training system, which is straight out of EVE. You queue up skills which range through crafting, resistances and stat improvements, and these are studied in real time. The upshot here is that 'launch' characters will always have more skill points than you do. You are also motivated to log in from time to time (and keep an active subscription), if only to queue up new abilities.

An interesting system, just not enough - in my eyes - to overcome the rest of the game.

The interface and the majority of gameplay are straight out of WoW - so much so that it is distracting. I spent no small amount of time noting to my wife how many interface details (mini-map, zoom buttons, player/enemy display, quest log, action bar - although the keyring button was moved) were apparently designed to be as identical to WoW as possible. Familiarity of interface is one thing, but I found this to be creepy.

The combat is similarly straight out of WoW. Warriors have a red 'anger' bar, which is very much like (if not identical) to Rage. Casters play just like Mages.

[Lets be clear here - when I say copied from WoW, I don't mean in the way that LotRO or EQ2 seem similar to WoW. Almost all MMOs share elements, that's fine. Alganon feels specifically like an attempt copy of WoW]

It is also a beta. A bit buggy. The animations feel off, some of the quest text doesn't quite work, pathing is simply wrong, and ranged attacks regularly clip though the environment - but all that is fine. This is a beta.

Sure, it needs a bit longer to cook (longer than the handful of days it apparently has till launch) but that may all be fixed sooner or later.

Bugs aside, I think I see what they are dong here, and it is somewhat interesting. There is perhaps a game here for someone. Just not me.
Alganon is in pretty awful shape. Ranged combat is wonky--and most of the classes fight at range. Spells weren't triggering correctly when I last played, a problem that breaks half of the game. THere are just so many polish issues and gaping bugs with the game that there's no way someone will come from WoW and say "oh, this is comparable enough that I'll play it for its few small innovations or for the new scenery."

I played a ranger and half of the "abilities" (read: talents) that were accessible to my character referenced abilities that I did not have and would not get for several levels, if at all. It's almost as if they didn't think at all when they designed their WoW-clone features, even though they could've literally cloned them and had better results.

The game mechanics are basically systems from every game pasted together without much thought. There's a passive skill gain system like EvE that's pasted over a weapon skill point gain system with use like UO that's pasted over a simple leveling progression scheme like WoW.

Characters are differentiated by "abilities" which are talent trees in each class that are simplified versions of WoW talent trees. But most of the "abilities" clearly were given no thought. At level 3, a 1% decrease in the stamina cost of an action is LESS THAN ONE POINT OF STAMINA. All of the abilities were like this.

Graphics and sound are qualitatively and quantitatively worse than WoW. I found nothing pretty. Character looks customization was broken--the characters look like crap anyway. The terrain is quite blah.

Significant lag even at low ping (which I thought was impossible) renders the game a task to play. I had some graphical stuttering on my machine--my machine runs Crysis smoothly on high (maybe ultra) settings.

This game is in no shape to release. It needs a lot of polishing, but even after a few months more of polishing the game systems might be too bland, copy-pasted, and poorly-designed to be worth anyone's time.
I got a key from Tobold in the first week of October (3 weeks ago) and played up to level 8 over the course of 3-4 sessions for a few hours each time. After running out of quests in the intro area, I explored a bit and found a teleporter gate which took me to a deserted capital city. There I kept falling through the terrain and crashing the game. After each game crash, I would need to reboot my PC; otherwise the game would give me a blue-screen of death upon restarting. I had no hearthstone to return me to the original area, so I gave up playtesting at that point.

The other significant bug I haven't seen mentioned in other reviews is that monsters didn't aggro as long as you continuously cast spells at range. (I played a mage.) So my attack sequence would be: cast 5 or so fireballs in a row, wait for them to all hit the mob (reminiscent of the PoM-Pyro combo in old WoW), then wait for the mob to aggro and come at me with 10% health, and finish him off with one more fireball or an instant-cast. The only skill was trying to get the mob to drop dead at my feet exactly, so I wouldn't have to run up to him to loot it.

Also, setting the auto-loot option crashed the game.

I haven't played in other betas, but I find it hard to believe that such major bugs could be fixed in the span of a month. I took notes on another 20+ less-serious bugs, but stopped when I realized the degree of the major ones.
It's hard to add to what's already been said. Aside from the fact that it is still very very much in beta, and thus hard to really review the game itself when you are dealing with so many crashes, character wipes, and non-working features, it comes off as vanilla wow, as many other people have said.

There are some interesting ideas here, like the study system and the houses, but overall I hesitate to "review" it because of how little functionality I got out of them. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt if possible.
The fact that they think this game will be ready for release in under a week is laughable.

At least other so called "WoW clones" have enough of their own ideas that they don't have to literally rip off WoW's UI design.

This game won't even get off the ground. I'd be amazed if 10% of the beta testers stuck around for the live version. That would probably be a blessing in disguise though...maybe if they fizzle before Blizzard can notice them they won't get sued to hell for blatant copyright infringement.
My review is sitting in draft mode in my blog, just waiting for the NDA to drop. It's rather too long to post in a comment here, though, and has some screenshots too.
Most of what I am thinking has already been stated, but there are a few things I'll give my own casual/explorer/roleplayer viewpoint on.

The first thing I noticed was character creation. I did a double-take. Had I just logged onto WoW? I mean, they even copied the -font- in some places. I find it hard to believe that they're getting away with that. I tried to design a decent male human, going for the classic "drunk old Priest" look, and couldn't find anything that looked remotely decent enough to represent me in game. So I finally just settled on a look and logged on.

Once in the starting area, you discover that that the undead are encroaching on the human lands, and you must venture off to destroy the Lich Ki... er, Necromancer responsible. Not only that, but it appears that the Silith... I mean, -bugs- are taking over the forest. *cue eye roll*

I journeyed around a little bit, accepted quests and in general not being very wowed by the game. It's kind of sad when your most exciting experience is discovering how to jump into the air just right so that you appear to be floating as you walk. Combat was as Changed described. I was playing a Priest, regardless of the bug that was making him unable to cast his heal spell (that's er... -quite- a bug there), and it didn't really matter. I would stand far enough back so that I could blast things with my ranged spell (without any aggro) and discovered how many hits it took to take everything down with a final hit from my Wand weapon (where it then aggroed and died instantly). Mana regeneration did not matter in the least. By the time my spell went off, I had that mana back. If things really gave me a hard time, I also discovered a bug that let me switch between my melee and wand weapons that let me attack as fast as I could switch them.

The landscape was very bland and tedious. There wasn't a single moment that I stopped to look at a house or vegetation because it was interesting. None of the buildings could be entered, and thus were as useful as painted cardboard boxes. The NPC voices were -completely- messed up (males sounding female, voice actors suddenly changing on the same NPC), which I suppose is forgivable for a beta, but the number of NPCs with this problem was unacceptable. There were several voice actors that shined, to point of me wishing they had just played every part instead of some developer throwing their grandma (you know the NPC I'm talking about) into a recording studio and handing her a script.

What I don't get is how everyone else here got the "Study" feature to work! Mine just told me I didn't have any points to allocate into Studies, and didn't tell me how to earn these so called "points." I thought I might get them by leveling, but around level 6 or 8 I realized I had earned nothing. I talked to every NPC I could find to perhaps learn or earn these things, and could -not- figure it out! Perhaps another Priest bug?

Despite other reviewers' claims of game instability, I recall crashing to desktop just once, -maybe- twice while playing. It did bug me that I couldn't find another living player anywhere I ventured, and I always thought that maybe if I just got to the capital city I'd find them, but I never got that far. I grew bored of the game as soon as I arrived into the second town, which continued the plot of the first. I didn't feel connected to this lore at all. All the undead in Alganon weren't "ravaging their lands," they were in fact, quite a trip away from "their lands" in a place just far enough from town to make it a drag to run there and back to find that you forgot a quest in the area to pick up the first time around. After this happened a few times, I shut the game off. It just felt like a bunch of nonsense. I felt like I was being punished every single time I had to run back to an area because I missed just -one- thing!

A lot longer than I'd planned, but I hope that this kind of feedback reaches the people at Alganon. Perhaps we all just have expectations that are too high?
OK I got a blue post on the beta forums confirming that the NDA is indeed lifted.

My thoughts are at: Alganon NDA lifted, here are my thoughts

Executive summary: "Alganon, as it stands now, is unattractive, unoriginal, uninspired and unfinished .. I cannot see any way that three more days work by Quest Online is going to make Alganon anything other than the poorest title I have ever seen on the market."
Long story short this game is in no way ready for release and wasn't even playable for me.

I attempted to play last week after downloading the beta client from Fileplanet.

First of all the character creator is the worst one I've ever seen. The character models look terrible, like a low budget copy of the WoW human and night elf. There are only a handful of adjustments, for instance a few different faces but it was difficult to tell much difference between them. There was no way to zoom in on the face as you were creating. There were not many hairstyles or hair colors to choose from, but the only hair colors that looked natural were the dark ones. When you changed the hair color the eyebrows automatically matched, so if you went with bright blonde hair you had bright blonde eyebrows to match, it looked horrible.

You have to choose both a first and last name at character creation which threw me off because I didn't have a last name prepared.

For some reason the client opened up for me in a windowed mode by default. On the character creation screen there was an "options" button which I pressed, and after several minutes of locking up it finally crashed me.

I loaded up again this time going straight into the world. Once I loaded I couldn't move my character. I was getting about 2 FPS. All I could see of the game were two NPC's standing before, and there were wolves nearby. The wolves made a very annoying growling sound non stop. I couldn't open any menus. Finally I crashed again and just gave up.
For those who have played both, how would you say this game stacks up to Runes of Magic? Both games seem to shamelessly be of the "WoW except..." variety.

Runes of Magic seems have one pretty beefy exception being that it's an item shop game. So it seems to aim for a pretty good niche with people who want to play WoW but not pay the subscription.

Alganon has a subscription, which seems much more to compete directly with the real deal.
In reply to Gary, the biggest difference between Runes of Magic and Alganon is that RoM is a well-polished fun-to-play game. There are some glitches in RoM (largely geometry ones where you can appear to sink into the ground or float in air), but most of these are completely harmless.

In some ways Runes of Magic is less of a WoW clone than some other games--it has several interesting major differences from WoW including:

The dual-class system: at level 10 you choose a secondary class, and can easily switch which one is primary in almost any town. This helps a lot in providing group healing/tanking as most people will have either healing or tanking abilities in their secondary class. For example, a mage/priest (primary/secondary) will do good DPS while being a capable secondary healer. If a group needs a primary healer more than the DPS, they can quickly become a priest/mage doing more (and more efficient) healing and still have some decent DPS output.

Also, every individual combination of classes gets unique "elite skills" that help balance out and synergize the class combinations. (A rogue/knight for example gets defensive elite skills, while a rogue/priest gets several crowd-control elite skills.)

Talent points similar to XP rather than the usual 1 talent/level. Each monster killed or quest completed gives some talent points, and a lot more are given at each level up. In the beginning you get enough talent points to fully upgrade every option, but soon you will want to choose some talents to fully develop over others.

An interestingly complex item upgrade system. This is an area where it is easy to spend lots of money in the item shop, but you can also get most of the upgrades reasonably using in-game currency.

Player housing: Not as advanced as housing in Everquest 2, but still it is nice to have your own space. Basic housing is free, and decorative furniture is cheap with in-game currency. Expansions in house size, or furniture that provides bonuses like rest XP or faster crafting are decently priced in the item shop.

Daily quests are available from level 1. Completing these daily quests (up to 10/day) gives good XP/gold rewards, and also gives you tokens in a secondary currency which can buy some item shop stuff. This also has economic effects on the primary currency, as one can often simply purchase the items required for the daily quests.

While much of the crafting is similar to WoW (unfortunatly mostly useless other than consumables and late-game magic items), they have an interesting specialization system. There are 4 gathering professions and 6 producing ones. A single character can do *all* of these 10 through the first tier (level 20), then 6 of the 10 through the next tier (level 40). The next tier only allows 3 professions (usually 1 production and the 2 gathering ones needed for it). The final tier only allows 1 master profession (a production one since there are no master gathering skills at this time).

In short, there are plenty of differences that make RoM well worth exploring for people who are a bit tired of WoW. (I leveled about 10 characters to 60 or 70 in WoW, and am currently taking a break until Cataclysm.)

One thing I would note is that the opening levels of RoM are *extremely* easy for anyone who has previous MMO experience, but it starts getting reasonably difficult around levels 10-15 or so. (For example it is quite possible to get to level 6 or 7 without even seeing a monster that will attack you first.)
I wrote a pretty lengthy review -- enjoy.
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