first impressions of WISH
there's always that tangible excitement when you unwrap something new ... and there's nothing like a beta where you get to explore virgin territory and go out and break things. i'd totally forgotten about wish for a few months after i applied, so the beta invite was like finding a $20 under the couch cushion. it also gave me a totally clean slate -- few preconceptions or expectations.
kudos to mutable reams for many things, including (a) their overtly reasonable NDA, (b) their decision to outsource the beta, and (c) their fundamental understanding of what a beta is all about (yes, we're really here to find bugs and examine gameplay ... this is early enough in the development cycle that it NOT a glorified load test and/or carrot to the fanatic).
nice clean download. close to 500MB. not sure of server load, but it was fast ... and allowed multiple download http threads. install was pretty disk intense ... seemed to stall and was tempted to shut down, but i went for a snack and it finished just fine. fired up the client, paged through the NDA and configuration screens and proceeded to character generation. no surprises here.
the engine is pretty polished - very solid. the look is clearly inclined more toward realism (as opposed to caricature like AC2 or WoW). as befits a work in progress, different things appear further developed than others -- for instance, trees are impressive in their look, variety (both inter- and intra-species), swaying animation and transparency. the ubiquitous goats are animated well, looking almost like mocap rather than keyframe, and the variety of their movements created a decent pack impression (though more variety on speed and orientation would further improve it). otoh, the player models offer considerable less variety and customization than more mature games, and it seemed to me that a lot of texture maps will need to be refined prior to release. an adjustable gamma would also be nice, as it's quite dark at night. all in all, better than expected given the state of the game.
customization: bunch of different races ... fewer character options that i expected. but it's still early, no big deal. no beard on the female dwarves? interesting design decision.
profession: chat with NPC to pick a profession (warrior, rogue, mage, cleric ... veiled as hand/skill/mind/will). cross a bridge, chat with more NPCs to pick specialization (you choose varying concepts: attack from distance, heavy attack, dexterous defense, heal comrades, etc.). then you cross back over the bridge to chat once more, accept the choices, and voila, you're a mage. imho, i'd rather be able to make my choices more explicitly rather than conceptually, but that's just me -- it took me a few tries to get the char i wanted ... and i needed to delete and recreate each time. otoh, there seem to be ample opportunity to correct a 'wrong' choice -- you can change your locks later on, and easily memorize the spells that you need.
movement / camera
i was not a big fan of mouse-only movement coming in to this ... and i'm
still not. i am getting used to it slowly, but i can't say i'm fond of it. it
will be interesting
to see how long it takes noobs,
myself included, to become intuitively attuned to the interface
not much to say, it's quite incomplete at the moment, except that it's all html-based with hyperlinked direct access to your HDD's file structure. i'm not sure on MA's stance on 3rd party apps, but the help system seems to be an intriguing method that one could use display user-developed content to your client (ranging from simply augmented help systems to more in-depth apps). i believe that MR will soon allow support help (and other GUI elements) to be moved to a secondary monitor: nice touch!
on a few occasions, i found myself playing and enjoying the game (and wishing there was more content!) -- looking for things to do, rather than things to break. frankly, that's a very good thing. to me, it reflects the fundamental nature of the stability and maturity of the important components (engine, mechanics, immersiveness, vision) -- and that means MR can concentrate on gameplay, content and balance. in other words, they can focus on their core competency, world-building (as opposed to building the world). and that's the recipe for success, my friends.
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