Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mortal Online Open Beta: Day One

So the Open Beta for Mortal Online began yesterday. The client was available via torrent, but it seems today they simply have a direct download link.

Anyway, I had no technical issues with my setup. The download worked fine the first time around, installation was simply extracting the files from the zip, the updater ran, showed me the most recent patch notes and downloaded everything successfully (though there was a significant pause before the download actually started).

When I first tried to login at about 11pm PST last night, the servers were down. I checked back about an hour later and they were up, so I tried again, go in, and was soon making my first character.

The rough edges were immediately apparent. There were no mouseovers telling me what all the stats I could edit were for, there was no info about what differences there were between the races. I ended up just kind of speeding through the process, eager to see the world first-hand.

Waking up in the game world proved to be a laggy affair. My hard drive was given a thorough beating as the scenery and textures slowly popped into place. So the first thing I did was go and turn all the graphics options to the lowest settings. Some took effect immediately (such as turning off shadows), but something else I did (not sure what) said a client restart was required. But I was impatient, and once the trees had finished loading, the client seemed much more responsive.

There I was, in front of a nondescript wall in a forest with a bunch of other similar looking players, all with our starter axes. Of course, it was only moments before one of them came at me with murderous intentions. Luckily, being in combat stance causes you to move slower, so I was able to get some distance and give myself time to figure out how to wield my own axe! Once that was done, it was back into the fray! A few awkward blows were swung (combat feels very clunky), a few hits made, but no deaths that I saw. Quickly tiring of this, I instead turned my axe on some nearby trees, acquiring some wood. I noticed a small deer grazing nearby, so I decided to try my axe-wielding skills on the local fauna. But as I approached, the deer ran! It stopped a short distance off, so I tried again, and the same thing happened (though I did manage to get in one swing first)! It was a very cool moment to realize that this creature had some sense of self-preservation, and that I would probably need a bow to kill it.

Giving up on the slaughter for the moment, I scrolled through the very strange and confusing skill tree interface, trying to figure out if I had any crafting skills and how to use them. Alas, that quest was unsuccessful, but I did discover a Snooping skill! So off I went towards the nearest player who wasn't swinging their axe at me. Success! I could see in his pack, and it looked just like mine, empty except for a bit of lumber. Obviously this player either got some warning message about my actions (or he was just paranoid from all the axe-wielding maniacs in the vicinity), because he spun around and took a swing at my head. Departing the area quickly, I decided to just snoop as I was passing others, rather than standing around waiting for them to get angry. It was a mixed bag of failure and success, but it was interesting to notice how cautious everyone was. Noone attempted to run through you if they saw you coming and most people seemed to give other players a wide berth!

A short run down a nearby road and I found myself in a town. It had a number of buildings and seemed to be a decent size, but it felt oddly empty. The buildings were just lifeless husks, and all of the NPCs seemed to be gathered in a central market area, standing about in random spots (at least I saw no pattern in their placement). I checked a few of them, and all of the ones I saw seemed to be selling raw materials. Seeing some other players around, I again tried my hand at Snooping. Unfortunately, one of the players called for the guards, and I was quickly slain.

Now this was something new (in an old-school sort of way). Rather than being transported somewhere after death, I instead became a ghost. I couldn't see the nearby players or NPCs any longer, and the scenery gained a sort of washed out and smeared effect. I checked the in-game help to see how I could return to a more fleshy state, and found that I was supposed to look for the 'white lines' which would tell me where the priests were. I looked around and saw a number of white pillars of light extending into the sky. The brightness was supposed to tell you how close they were, but with the Death effect making everything blurry, it was difficult to get a good read on the markers. I made a brief stab and tracking what I thought was the brightest one, but when I climbed up to a second story and it appeared to be beyond a line of hills, I gave up and used the beta suicide option, which transported me to the closest priest. I expect that experience will help in the future when trying to locate a priest for resurrection, but they really should try and make it a bit clearer.

Once I was back in the land of the living, I made sure that I still had my newbie axe, and went to sleep next to a nearby tree. I was going to try and create another character before calling it a night, but the game crashed when I logged out.


In this short adventure, I could tell that the game is very unpolished and unfriendly to new players. There seems to be a severe lack of feedback given. A number of times I would try chopping a tree and receive no message about success or failure. My Snooping attempts never told me that I was being flagged as a criminal (which I assume is why I was guard-whacked in town). When first starting the game you're given a list of starting areas to choose from, but no information at all about what the differences between them might be. Melee combat is extremely crude. Supposedly they have a major combat patch on the way, but until it's implemented, I can only comment on what's actually in-game.

Despite all of this, I did feel engaged and I'm eager for another chance to dive into Mortal Online. Hopefully I'll be able to allot some more playtime this week and get a better idea of how the game works and what it's all about.

My next goals are to craft something and to learn a new skill! Oh, and maybe kill someone!

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