Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Duels as a Casual Game

Duels an online game that is vaguely a strategy game with some vague action involved. When I came across this, I thought it was a great little casual game that you could play a little over lunch, have some fun and have some immediate feedback. The first few days were a lot of fun, and the over all concept is quite a good one, but after a while, it becomes tedious, there is less draw to bring you in and you lose interest.

The game. Well you sign up, it's free, you create your basic character, there are quite a few styles to chose from. You have a bunch of ability type points that you can put towards certain character strength, the usual such as stamina, strength, perception, speed and others. How you use them affect how your character performs and which kind of path you want to follow from being a warrior to a magician typer person. This is all quite fun and you can build on this quickly by gaining experience points from having fights.

Fighting is down to a few groups, basically a skirmish which is a quick one, doesn't affect your win/loss ratio but you also don't gain as much experience or gold. Fights, which allow you to gain more. There are also tournaments and ladders, they are basically the same thing but you can gain more gold etc.

You gain tokens which you can use to "buy" packs that include potions and weapons etc, theses you can either use or trade for gold allowing you to buy other things such as armour, animals and weapons. You can only carry so many things and equip your character with so much depending on the level of experience, this is where the balance is a bit lacking.

When you begin the game, it doesn't take long to level up, allowing you to use more items and get a better character. This is quite satisfying. As you go along and reach certain levels you are then allowed to wear more types of armour and follow certain paths to get more skills such as an assassin. Level 25 allows you to use what is called action scripts, these are spells or abilities that you buy and when used in a fight can gain you a huge boost in experience points. The problem is, by this point in time, it is taking more and more experience points to level up, so it becomes less of a thrill for a quick lunch time thing, and as your character gains more and more health, the fights which you have no control over but are pre-calculated based on your stats that you can view take even longer to accomplish. They were a lot of fun to view to begin with, but after a while, they just took to long so personally I couldn't be bothered which took a lot of the fun out of the game. I was only playing during lunch after all, if you were a kid at home it might have a larger hold where you could spend more time trying to perfect your character, but I lost interest as it became a chore to go through. I still check in on my character for a quick couple of fights because I do want to reach level 40, the final level to see what happens, but I really don't care any more.

Other points that make this game interesting is the idea of "noble stones", these are things that you can buy with real world money that can be used to enhance your characters abilities, or change abilities that you have previously selected. You can also use them to buy weapons and armour. These can be bought as one offs, or as a pack. You also have the option of a subscription, this provides a number of these stones a month and depending on the level of the subscription gives you more features.

I don't think it adds anything to the game and playing it for free is just as much fun, but it is an interesting concept, it could do very well especially if the game was very engaging, allowing you to tweak your character much further than you could by playing it without a subscription. The only problem I see is that the game isn't that engaging that those with the money would be willing to spend the money. Those who seem to get into this are under age to pay for the subscription, so they are losing out on the core market. On the plus side, there are no google adverts, which is a plus to you the player I suppose, but for the makers, a loss of revenue perhaps, but as the game isn't quite as engaging as Desktop Tower Defense which has a huge volume of people clicking too on a daily basis, which really does earn the maker a good sum of money from google adverts.

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