Planeshift mini-review

Posted by Luo Hei of dsgp.blogspot.com (spanish)

There are lots of articles on the Internet explaining why you should not try to make a MMORPG. Well, seems these guys didn't get the message. Or maybe they started long before the articles were published.
I found Planeshift in 2000 I think, but the project predates 1992. I was a newbie Linux user looking for games to relax with after the long research sessions usual in the first days with a new operating system. It was not playable and useless to me, as I just had a few hours of internet access from a friend's office, a couple of days per week. It has been a long wait until finally a really playable version was released, and in the meantime we have just tasted a tech preview where you can connect, create a character with a buggy client and do nothing, a Molecular Blue Release where you can connect, create character and do nothing with a buggy client now based on the Crystal Space engine and at last, Crystal Blue, the current Open Beta release.
In Crystal Blue you can create up to 4 characters in a totally different and new form, the currency have been changed from previous IMHO annoying method of harvesting randomly spawned crystals to a more logical based on trias, the world currency. You can fight mobs, use a couple of weapons, cast spells, mine gold or iron, level up skills, trade with players or NPCs, loot the corpses of your kills, duel, play in teams and join guilds. You will miss armor (there isn't armor available) and shields are merely a decoration on your arm. Also the quest system could be difficult, as you have to find the right phrases to answer questions. That takes a lot of typing, don't expect a window with all possible dialog options. In the future it will be possible to craft weapons, ride animals and do many other fun things.
But it is possible that when you read this review and try the game you will find something completely different. This is not a definitive release (it is more an incremental release), as it is under continuous evolution in the form of content and client updates. A nice detail of the updater system is that it supports proxies (updating a game such as Anarchy Online requires a major hacking of my firewall and proxy settings, although that issue seems to have been resolved). It is a painless process once you know a few tricks. There are usually an average of 60 users, but the total registered userbase is about 45000. I haven't noticed much lag and game goes smooth with my usual 1400 ms ping time. The server now is set to admit 200-300 concurrent users, but the code is able to handle thousands of players.
The client provides the 3 usual camera modes and runs pretty stable and with good framerates on my crappy Intel 865 video card. The memory requirements are a bit high: 512 Mb, but I think it is usual to find that amount in hardcore gamers PC's.
The game interface isn't as complete as it should be, but you can customize a quick command bar to avoid typing. The chat system is distributed in a few channels: system, tells, guilds, auctions, so that you can easily view or monitor activity; until now, the best chat system I have seen in online games. You can customize the widgets position, show or hide them.
The chat system provides an special channel: Help. This Help channel is attended by advisors, more experienced players that can answer newbie questions. Any player can become advisor by using the /advisor command. This avoids problems with newbies being annoying with shouts in the wrong channels and the usual derived discussions.
Even when some bugs and problems arise while you play or after updates, and the development process has been painfully slow, you can actually have fun with Planeshift. More important, this game (and Eternal Lands) prove that no matter how hard it is, you can create a MMORPG with commercial quality if you have the motivation and enough patience. This gives the game a special sense of value, at least for me. I strongly recommend that you take some time to try it if you like online RPGs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what is also so refreshing about this game is that the rawness of it keeps out the hack and slash ten year olds. It's also amazing how satisfying it is to complete a quest after struggling for a jolly long time with an NPC conversation.
The community is also very friendly and generous to new players.

2/19/2007 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it's now 2007 and there have been quite a few updates and quite a few more things added such that now it actually feels like an MMORPG and not like an alpha test of a map with some models. It really has evolved a lot since I first discovered it a year and a half ago

Best time to try it is now :)

6/05/2007 9:56 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Lots of changes game grows more dynamic all the time. If you are used to commercial competition you may have a higher standard than this game can compete with. If however you are a roleplayer you will be refreshed to find a place that that is actually emphasized.

7/26/2007 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent game, and for visual, interaction (other players & combatants), quests and character building it's worth 9/10. Plus its free.
The downside...and this is a very big one.
The interactive combatant server gets switched off, so does the main one. You can be left for hours if not days with no warnings or set times, wondering whats going on. Overall 4/10.

7/30/2007 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok as a game. A bit complicated for quests, and difficult to learn how to craft.
Forever crashing! And worst of all the basic rules in the game keep changing.
Give it a try, you'll soon get fed up with it.

8/18/2007 6:58 AM  
Blogger Asphyxia said...

i played it, i liked it, im hooked..

8/30/2007 9:53 AM  
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