Archive for October 28, 2009

“MMO Cloning Technology” or “MMOwned”

October 28, 2009 3 comments

Alganon is a name I came across occasionally in the last few weeks. It is a new MMO being developed by Quest Online, originally slated for a release on October 31, 2009.

The game was previewed by the guys over at That’s a Terrible Idea, as well as Tobold and Eldergoth. And the verdict was resoundingly unanimous: Alganon simply sucks.

Evizaer on That’s a Terrible Idea says: “Alganon is a great example of how to make an MMO that has no chance of success: it copies without perfecting, it adds without improving.” Tobold words are not much different. He sums up the game in the simplest terms: “Alganon is just plain bad.” You can also read Eldergoth‘s detailed and painfully honest (p)review here if you are looking for a much more in-depth look.

I haven’t played the game myself, but the overwhelmingly negative feedback prompted me to look up the MMO, and see what all the fuss was about. In that regard, I suppose their FAQ turned out to be a gold mine. Here are a few nuggets:

“With all of the features, technology and design going into ALGANON, the only thing that will pull you to our game is what it ultimately becomes.”

failtrainAll aboard the fail train. (Note: we will simply ignore the million graphics and UI issues brought about by ‘all the technology’ for the sake of keeping this about 7,000 words shorter). If the ‘only thing’ serving as a selling point for your game is what the game will eventually become, you have failed in just about every category that judges your abilities as an MMO developer. In addition, Alganon charges nearly the same amount as any high-end, mainstream MMO, and requires a monthly fee. Given the sheer lack of polish, and the unabashedly scathing previews from bloggers and industry veterans alike, it is surprising to see Alganon move the release date from October 31 to December 1st. As if an added month of development will magically fix the plethora of issues identified.

It’s a sure shot recipe for disaster, and Quest Online is hell-bent on drowning in the misery of their own creation, the sooner the better!

“Who is your target audience?”
“Any gamer who wishes to be immersed in a large-scale fantasy world where they will have fun, build customized powerful avatars, interact with a virtual community, and explore a vast world of creatures, companions, interesting secret locations, and much more.”

And grandmothers with arachnophobia and a secret fetish for oatmeal raisin cookies. Oh and dead people.

“How large is the world?”
“The continents of Ardonya and Harraja are huge! The domain of Asheran Forest, for example, is larger than the entire playable space of some other games. Many of these areas will be opened up sometime after release, allowing a progression for your character’s exploration long after you begin your journeys.”

frigginhugeAre they *this* huge or *THIS* huge? Asheran Forest being larger than the entire playable space of some other games is a dubious statement since ‘other games’ is as broad a definition as it can get. Incidentally these boast-worthy areas will be open ‘sometime after release’, implying that any sado-masochist willing to fork over $39.99 is buying an incomplete, gimped game where even content you paid for will be kept locked till the developers feel like releasing it to you.

Here is another stellar example of marvelously generalized statements that are about as vague as… something. (Get it?)

“What kind of environments and creatures will I encounter in my journeys through the world?”
“There is a huge amount of variety in the terrains offered in Alganon.”

But at the end of the day, the one thing that baffled me is as follows:

“The core game is designed for single players to have a rich and fulfilling experience on their own if they choose….”

wherethefiseveryoneThis is in the FAQ’s of an MMO. Enough said.

Edit: As reader Leto pointed out, this could simply imply that the game does not force you to group. But there is a clear and present difference between forcing you not to group and encouraging you to stay solo. Champions Online is one great example. The game at no point blatantly tells you to go at it solo, but it is designed in a way that encourages solo play and subtly takes away the choice of grouping. If the same is the case with Alganon, in their pursuit to provide single players a ‘rich and fulfilling’ experience, then once again they have failed to meet basic objectives.

It really says something about the game when you can conclusively and concretely establish that it will not be worth your time, effort, energy or money, despite having invested nay a single second of playtime in it. Perhaps this will serve as a deterrent case study for Quest Online, and budding MMO development studios.

Categories: Alganon, Review