December 21, 2011

I Guess The Doctor Is Too Busy Guiding People Through Tutorials To Actually Help.

Today I played a Doctor Who MMO thing.
I was just looking at it and then I learned you could be a cat person so of course I played. I am a very predictable furry.

Basically, if you want to play a lot of shitty in-browser versions of Puzzle Fighter, Bust-A-Move, Pipe Dreams, and Sega Swirl, this is really the game for you.

You make your dude, and then the Doctor picks you up in the TARDIS! Whoo! I will give the game this: it looks really nice. It’s clearly flash-animated so that every animation isn’t individually drawn, but it has a great art style that looks really nice, and the little animated version of The Doctor is spiffy. Anyway, you go into the TARDIS and the Doctor says things like “Blah blah blah time crisis blah blah blah probably going to fight all the villains from the show since it’s relaunch in sequence blah blah.” And then he gives you a gadget, which is TOTALLY NOT A SONIC SCREWDRIVER because it sucks and you have to play little minigames to do things. Either that, or the Doctor is just really, really fucking good at Bust-A-Move, because he can unlock a door in like a second and it takes me clearing like 3 boards of Bust-A-Move to do that. Then you go out and you fight some of the plastic people from the first episode using your PUZZLE MINIGAME POWERS. I assume you eventually move to other times and places and fight other enemies from the show, but I certainly didn’t get that far. It’s also weird that, if I have gone back in time to the point where the plastic people were invading, then Earthlings don’t know about aliens. I’m a cat person. Shouldn’t they all be fucking terrified of me? World going to shit and whatnot? Or do they just assume the furry convention is in town or something? I assume they have furry cons in London.

Anyway, back to the game. Another thing I will give the game credit for is this: you really aren’t doing like… typical video game stuff in theory (although in execution, it’s just puzzle minigames, as I’ve said). The game has you unlocking doors, interrogating people, rewiring gadgets, and distracting enemies. You’re not running around with a gun and shooting people. You’re doing what the Doctor does in the show, which is to the game’s credit. You team up with a bunch of other players (in theory. This beta didn’t seem to have that working.) or if you solo, you get some AI characters to help you. You assign them to tasks and you do some yourself, or help them do them faster. “You barricade the door, you keep the woman calm, and I’ll hack this computer!” Again, in theory, really like the show, but in practice, it’s just playing board after board of these puzzle games, so it gets old fast.

The conversation, or “wits” minigame as they call it, is especially kind of bad. It’s like Sega Swirl, except there are ways to make special gems that do things like clear a whole line. In practice, this means that once you start a combo, it can kind of go on FOREVER. I had a combo last for a solid minute without me pressing anything in the game. And that combo didn’t give me enough points to finish off the task I was doing. Thanks, game!

The game’s microtransaction system really confuses me too. Going on missions and upgrading your gadget and whatnot requires “Energy.” The game always said I had 0 Energy, and was asking me to buy more, but it let me do everything anyway. Sometimes there was a number to the left of my Energy, which decreased when I did stuff. Maybe that was my actual value and it was a bug? In any case, it was not explained how Energy works. Is it a currency that regenerates over time, like in Spiral Knights? I kind of doubt it, though, as it’s required to buy clothing and TARDIS decorations and shit, so I assume it’s just a straight up microtransaction currency. If so, then that just seems really, really stupid. You have to have some way to keep free players coming back to play the game, so they’re tempted to spend money, whether that be “You can only play so many turns a day, unless you spend money” or “You can go in this special dungeon if you spend some money” or “You can play with this sick gear if you spend some money.” But just requiring a purchase to straight up play after a trial period, especially when your game is like this? That seems dumb. Then again, the BBC is stupid enough to price Doctor Who seasons at like 90 dollars in America for no fucking reason, so maybe that’s just that tendency shining through. Either way, the game doesn’t explain how this stuff works clearly, so who knows.

I… can’t suggest you try it? I mean, go for it, if you want. You don’t have to be a cat person. You could be, you know, a human. Or some green dude with a weird forehead. And maybe it’s just being aimed at kids, and that’s the problem. I mean, I could see having fun teaming up with my kid or whatever and playing this stuff. But I dunno if it would keep a child’s interest much longer than mine, unless they really, really wanted to see the outcome of the little stories in each level. Eh, I dunno.

…shareware MMO?

Comment by Cris — December 21, 2011 @ 12:51 am

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