Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Five Ways KingsIsle Can Keep Worlds Fast-Paced and Fun (3-4)
Recently, I've observed some comments on major gaming websites and various other places describing KingsIsle games as taking a turn for the worse in their later levels. These people couldn't be more wrong, however, as the intensity picks up swiftly and the excitement builds.
A form of these concerns, however, was very real, and can still be seen on both Centrals and around the community. That is the worry that a game is becoming work. There's a fine line here between making things too easy and changing them to the point that they become this arduous "work" described by so many, and it's important to stick to that line. However, if you have to lean, lean to the easy side!
To help prevent any future complaints about this, I'm dishing out five ways that KingsIsle can keep their worlds in both Wizard101 and Pirate101 a fast-paced and fun experience. Sure, fighting Morganthe in a future area should be tough - but getting through what'll likely be an instance four or five times will turn it into an extremely negative gaming experience. With my player's perspective, I hope that these five tricks will be passed on to KingsIsle on both ends of things and taken into consideration with future worlds.
I started with numbers one and two HERE, so if you haven't read those, check them out first. Otherwise, let's get started.
Number Three - Difficulty works on a slope, not a curve! Okay, so maybe it works on a slight curve, but for the most part, an increase in level means tougher enemies, but not more of a challenge. Having more cards and more battle possibilities does make for more complex battles, but you (KingsIsle) must keep in mind that children are playing.
When we first started Wizard101, things weren't too difficult at all. In fact, Lost Souls could be killed with any successfully cast starter spell. It wasn't until later that the odds were changed and our growing power called for more intense enemies. Worlds and worlds later, we're learning one new spell in a ten-level period if we're lucky, and it's normally later into those levels. Not only that, but our new range of powers is being given to enemies, just one rank behind ours. Boss battles have almost become like PvP - your opponent is nearly as evenly matched as you are with their health being the player's times four or more, nearly the same rank of spells, plus a minion and a load of pips to start out with.
You have to make sure that you're taking into consideration that we're still our same characters as back in Avalon, just ten levels stronger and one expensive spell up. So, when the next world is released, I hope we won't be seeing 6,500 health monsters running around the streets.
The same applies to Pirate101. However, they decided not to use the typical curve. Instead, they took their "marker of creation" and made a squiggly line. Pirate101 is a great game, don't get me wrong, but it has battles that are extremely easy and battles that are extremely difficult. The problem is that I've looked at these, and it isn't that my class is built for only a certain type of battle, it's that the health and power of the enemies is extremely out of line in places. The classic example is Buster the Crab, one of those first bosses in Skull Island. He's on the edge, but the number of times that I had to repeat him was quite agitating.
Now take the Cool Ranch quest that everyone hates - the Bumbaloons. You see, pirates need to collect eight pieces of meat from these creatures, which are mixed with Buffaloons. Despite running right into a pack of the Striped Bumbaloons, I had only one in every battle that I did. That, quite honestly, is one of Pirate101's biggest flaws - what you see is not what you get. This disallows pre-battle planning and strategy, as well as efficient quest completion. Furthermore, the difficulty of the battle is out of proportion. Maybe players should have to battle the Duck of Death a couple of times to win, but flying buffaloons? I died about as many times as I successfully completed a battle with these guys.
Each game has the potential to do very well with this third recommendation if KingsIsle takes the time to iron out each wrinkle in the system.
Number Four - Boss, mobs, boss, mobs. Change up the pattern! Let's all be honest, Wizard101's Azteca was long. I liked that, but some didn't. However, even with my fondness of the world, it has some problems. In Azteca, we see more of these patterns than ever - fight a boss, fight mobs, fight a boss, etc. I think the pattern should be changed up here.
In Azteca, I noticed fewer items along the streets than ever. Instead, a mindless "zombie-dino" somehow "stole" everything we happen to be after. What if, when wondering a set of catacombs, there were no mob fights at all. Instead, mobs wondered up and down the halls, which were about two wizards wide. Careful planning and map use would allow you to avoid these creatures altogether. Fail to pay attention, and you're pulled to the nearest chamber to fight!
You (KingsIsle) have the potential for some neat navigation-type puzzles likes this, or simply puzzle in general. The Temple of Storms back in Krokotopia was a fantastic instance - multiple bosses to fight as well as rooms of puzzles to solve.
Pirate101 does incorporate ship battles, which lighten things up. A couple world down the line, though, I'm hoping players aren't thinking "boss, mob, ship battle, boss, mob, ship battle." To prevent them from doing so, use similar tactics to change things up - creative puzzles, hard-to-navigate caves or channels, etc.
One trend that I'm seeing that I don't like is the "this road is blocked by these unavoidable enemies... and these ones... and these, too" pattern. Careful!
That brings and end to tips three and four - stayed tuned for five! Thanks for reading, and see you in the Spiral!