Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dawntide Beta: Various Thoughts

The Dawntide beta client has finally reached a point of stability for me where I can actually play the game! Below are a few thoughts cobbled together from notes I jotted down over the past few days (some I may have mentioned previously).

  • You eat bread and water for some reason, though I see no visible change to my stats or messages telling me that I'm fatigued due to hunger/thirst

  • Food is eaten automatically if you have some in your pack. Water is only consumed when you do it manually.

  • You gain stats randomly as you use skills. Much like Ultima Online

  • Inventory is weight-based rather than slot-based. You still have slots in your pack for organization, but if you start running out, extra slots appear as long as you can carry the load. Nice feature!

  • There are issues selecting inventory slots when they overlap with the action bar at the bottom of the screen. Fortunately, you can move the windows around.

  • You get no information at all about what a recipe requires or what exactly it makes (besides the name of the item) until the recipe is purchased and learned. Considering how expensive recipes can be, it would be nice to be able to get a little more info before I purchase it.

  • The search feature doesn't work on the vendor menu.

  • Crafting skills up very slowly

  • Corpses have no visible indicator that they have been skinned. There should either be a visual clue, or when selected, the corpse should say something like (skinned) after the name if it has already been skinned. Doesn't make much sense that I couldn't tell just by looking at it.

  • Cooking basic meat requires no tools or even a campfire. Apparently you just lay raw meat out in the sun for a while and call it a day.

  • You use 'guts' to make bowstrings in-game. This is inaccurate. Sinew is used to make bowstrings. Guts are used to make sausage! Perhaps they were thinking of strings for musical instruments, which do use 'catgut' (not made from cats).

  • Five minute spell buffs are a micro-management pain. The more skilled you are at the spell school for the buff, the longer it should last.

  • There are no player-made campfires! This is a travesty! I'm starting a campfire petition!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dawntide Open Beta Journal #1

Note: These experiences are from the weekend on July 2-5th, 2010.

For various reasons, it's been a while since I've checked in on the Dawntide beta. But now that the game has officially entered open beta, I thought it was time to pay it another visit.

After the expected patching and updating (which went very smoothly), I logged in to find my old characters had been deleted. No big deal. I quickly make a new character, choosing to start with skills in Lumberjacking, Carpentry and Fletching, as well as some basic combat experience.

I login to the familiar newbie town and immediately notice that every tree in town has been cut. Fair enough, I spy a few green-tops still standing across the bridge out of town, and head out to begin anew my career as an aspiring lumberjack.

As I wandered the landscape looking for more trees to harvest, I also took the time to practice my combat skills on the local rabbits and ducks.

Combat is the typical pick-target, push various attack buttons type. You do have the option of entering different stances (Balance, Force and something else). Each stance builds up specific stance points that can then be used to trigger other abilities. The combat animations seemed to be mostly nonexistent (they would occasionally fire off for special moves, but otherwise, combat was nothing to watch)

I tried harvesting a flower poking up from the ground, but after the casting timer wound down, the flower vanished and I received an error message telling me that my skill was insufficient to harvest this item. Would have been nice to get that message before the timer. It would also be nice to not deplete the resource.

Looking at the mini-map, I see a castle-type structure not far down the road. Perhaps it's another town? As it turns out, it was just an empty one-room keep, with a guard outside. But across the road was a camp full of vendors. Alas, none of them specialized in Fletching. I did however, find a general vendor who sold all sorts of random items and recipes at discounts. This vendor would also buy items!

Well, in theory anyway. As it turns out, everything I had was considered worthless. But the vendor did provide a couple of cheaper than normal recipes as well as an Icicle scroll. Magic! I had started the game with a single 5-minute buff spell, which I used every chance I could raising a couple of magic skills in tiny increments (and actually, you can just recast a spell over and over as long as you have mana, gaining skill the whole while, but that sort of mindless repetition bores me too quickly). But now I knew a real spell, one that would bring icy doom to my foes!

Heading back towards the main town, I scan the horizons, searching for something to practice my new Icicle spell on.

Image of a mushroom-headed giant I do spy this monstrosity in the distance, but having a healthy respect for my newbie status and my general lack of knowledge about the game, I give the mushroom-headed beast a wide berth.

Continuing onwards, I see a small, wee bunny hopping in the grass nearby. Perfect! Target bunny, cast spell, and... er.. well, nothing. Did I miss? Did it not work? I have no idea as there was no animation or text report. Hmmm. Let's try that again. Still nothing. So I do things the old-fashioned way, beating the bunny to a pulp with my hatchet and left hook. So it wasn't a ghost bunny (another common bug with the game world), perhaps I was doing something wrong. In my next combat encounter, I try mashing the spell button during melee. It seems to cast the spell, and maybe my animal foe lost a larger chunk of health than normal, but it's difficult to tell without any sort of combat feedback (sometimes numbers will float up from the target, but this also seems to be inconsistent). I try again a few more times and surprisingly, during one encounter, I actually do see spikes of ice shoot up from the ground underneath my opponent! OK. So I guess it is working, again it was just the animation

Next objective: How to make money? In my previous foray into the world of Dawntide, I recalled making bows for money. But looking at the vendor prices this time around, I didn't have enough cash to purchase any bow recipes. Looking ta my options, the only one that seemed viable was selling lumber. So I started a new career as a Carpenter, cutting down trees and making them into boards to sell to the vendor. After doing this for a bit, I was able to purchase the hunting bow recipe and discovered I also needed to know how to craft a bowstring. Alas, that recipe was another 3 copper!

Luckily, the general vendor had some pre-crafted bowstrings for sale! Seeing that as a much quicker option (I had no idea what sort of materials might be requested of me in order to make a single bowstring on my own), I purchased 10 or so and set about to crafting. After a couple of sad failures I had success! A Hunting Bow of my very own! Using up all of the remaining bowstrings, I managed to create two extra bows to sell. Looks like I had finally reached a point of being profitable!

Having finally achieved one of my initial goals, I now needed some arrowheads to go with the many arrow shafts and feathers I had sitting in my pack. But on my way back to the vendor, I was suddenly disconnected from the server (an unfortunately common occurrence) and decided to save that journey for the next Journal.

I really haven't been keeping up with the development of this game, but from looking at their news page, they seem to be on a steady patching cycle, which is always a good sign. At the moment, the random disconnects and crashes are way too common for me to want to spend much time in-game. Hopefully these technical issues will be cleared up soon and I can venture back into the online world of Dawntide without the frustration of having to login again every 10 minutes.

Short Summary: Has potential, but still has many technical hurdles to overcome.