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MechQuest Critical Analysis II: Too Small Team?

Posted by The Peanut Master on December 25, 2008

Reporting from Las Vegas (with a bit of free time on the four and a half hour drive ;)):

The question I will be addressing in the second installment of the MechQuest Critical Analysis series is: Does MechQuest have too small a team? This is yet again a very deep and complicated question that touches on a lot of different ideas, so I’m going to try the best I can to answer the question. Feel free to use the Comments section to voice your answer to this question as well.

Disclaimer: I’m going to be making a lot of assumptions on the true roles regarding the staff members of MechQuest. I know absolutely nothing more than any of you do and am only making educated guesses on the members, and my estimates may be wildly off mark. Regardless, I do think my overall assumption, especially in comparison to the other games, is relatively accurate, and represents the “true” size of MechQuests’ team. Feel free to disagree. ūüôā

Here’s my short answer: Yes.

Here’s my long answer: Let’s start with the AE staff members who we know for sure work on MechQuest. Warlic. Hmmm… ummm… oh yeah, Warlic. Let’s see here… ahh… wait, did I forget Warlic? Oh right, okay. Alright, enough funny business. We know for a fact Warlic works on MechQuest because he posts nearly all the Design Notes and is the game master of the game. And while we’re on the subject, he does a fine job of running MechQuest, imo better than Cysero, Galanoth, and Artix. However, he can’t do it alone, and that’s where the issues start coming up. ¬†

As we live in the real world, we should know that something as big as creating a fully-functioning RPG requires more than one game developer, and MechQuest is no exception. Let’s cut to the chase: After Warlic, it’s difficult to find more staff members.¬†Go to¬†this¬†link to see a nice, tidy list of all of AE’s employees. After Warlic, here’s the list of staff members who supposedly work on MechQuest: Zhoom, Rolith, Maegwyn, Jemini, Korin, Alac, Seahawk, and blues. Let’s go through each one individually.

Zhoom:¬†Zhoom is an¬†interesting one, as most of us associate him with DragonFable (to my knowledge). However, it is very likely he also works with MechQuest, even though I’m not sure he’s ever been mentioned alongside MechQuest. Tough to say with him, although it would appear he does do coding for MechQuest (in addition to DragonFable). He has to be considered a key game coder for MechQuest, because Warlic sure can’t do it alone.

Rolith:¬†Then there’s Rolith. By now, I think we all would agree that he has devoted most of his resources to DragonFable. He almost never posts MQ DNs but has made consistent posts for DF’s DNs, and is the key behind plenty of DragonFable features. MechQuest? Starships… and more starships… and that’s it. I’d hardly call him a major MechQuest coder, minor at best.¬†

Maegwyn:¬†Maegwyn, who doesn’t actually create and develop releases, does play a critical role in MechQuest’s development. She is one of the head moderators for the MQ Forum, and plays a huge role as the middle ground between the players and the staff. She also squashes tons of in-game bugs directly, and plays an important role in the planning and testing of releases. While she may not be on the same level as some of the higher-up staff members, she plays a big enough of a role in MechQuest’s development to play a major role and get full credit for it.

Jemini and Korin:¬†These two appear to be the main animators for MechQuest, and I’ll give them that respect. While they probably also work on DragonFable, they probably also do the heavy lifting for MechQuest, and I will give them the benefit of the doubt here, even if they haven’t been specifically mentioned recently.

Alac:¬†I separated the other animator, Alac, from the pack because I don’t believe she really works on MechQuest much. It just seems so obvious she works on DragonFable the most, involved in large-scale full blown quests nearly every week, while never being mentioned at all in MechQuest. She may have something to do with MQ, but it is probably minor and nothing special.

Seahawk and blues: Neither of these forum moderators actually create things for MechQuest, and while I am sure they are both instrumental in their own respects (blues for game balance, and Seahawk for forum management), neither really directly relate to MechQuest game staff like a true employee does.

So out of these assumed nine staff members for MechQuest, how much do they really come together to create? Let’s call it an even 6 (Warlic – 1, Zhoom – 1, Jemini – 1, Korin – 1, Rolith – 1/4, Alac – 1/2, ¬†and Maegwyn – 1, rounded up 1/4 for convenience). Yikes. Compare 6 (or 9 if you’re so inclined) to the numbers of the other two RPGs (approximated numbers since there are so many):

AdventureQuest: ~15
DragonFable: ~16

And again, yikes. While AQ and DF have nearly identical teams (and I’m sure AQWorlds is hovering around there as well), MechQuest hasn’t even hit double digits. That is very revealing and tells us a little something about how AE prioritizes its games. It is very unfortunate how little attention MechQuest is really getting, especially because it probably needs the most, considering its young age. If AE wants to actually push MechQuest to reach the heights of AQ and DF, they are going to have to start giving MechQuest the attention the other games are getting, because if it doesn’t happen, the lack of pure willpower will consign MechQuest to an unfortunate fate.

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13 Responses to “MechQuest Critical Analysis II: Too Small Team?”

  1. 0rik said

    Yeah, this game really doesn’t get enough attention. It has the potential to be as good, if not better, then the other AE games…

  2. ZamuelNow said

    I’d argue that the battle engine for MQ has already surpassed DF and AQW by far.

    While it seems rather blatant that MQ has a smaller team than the other games, I’d say that they do the most with the least. From my own (small) programming experience I’ll say that any testers like Maegwyn and blues should be counted as a full “1” instead of a fraction since testers catch the things you don’t as a programmer. Sure things like the Equinox slip through but everyone is human.

    Also, it took me a while to find it but Maegwyn is Assistant Game Administrator for MQ so she’s got a little more access to some things in the game than it might seem at a glance: http://forums2.battleon.com/f/fb.asp?m=15208375

  3. Sir Dorigo III said

    Also, Zhoom is working on AQW and hes crucial there as well, so Its hard to tell how much he can do for each of the three games.

  4. Zeke said

    You are FAR underestimating the power of Maegwyn and her bug-squashing.

    Getting rid of bugs and glitches are essential to the game. There were some pretty powerful bugs in the game.

    I have to agree with Zamuel. MQ >>>> DF >> AQW, IMO.
    ~Zeke~

  5. alabamapitty said

    I think AQ’s battle engine, while completely different from the other three, falls in the area between MQ and DF. Just my opinion though. MQ does an extraordinary job with the numbers it has, and I think adding anyone to the payroll would only complicate manners. Yes, MQ’s team is small, but not too small.;-)

  6. Seriyu said

    I had always preferred AQ’s battle system above MQ’s, but MQ is a close second to be sure. AQ’s system seems to be more malleable, for instace. they can just add another button or two to the sub attack menu if they want to add special effects or attacks.

    And as a side note, I find it funny that whenever people are comparing games, they leave AQ out. It’s like a forgotten grandparent. ūüėõ

  7. Thanks for the comments everyone. As for Maegwyn, you’re probably right, I have definitely underestimated her. I guess I just don’t consider to be on the same level as the real staff members, such as Warlic, Zhoom, Rolith, etc., which is why I didn’t count here as a full “1”. I can see both ways though. And even if I were to count each of the staff members as a full 1 (making 9 total), it’s still painfully obvious that MechQuest’s team is smaller than the others, and I still see that as a pretty big problem.

    It really helps MechQuest’s case that as you guys have said, MQ’s battle system is far superior to DragonFable (which is too simplistic and damage-oriented), AdventureQuest (imo choppy, slow, and limited), and AQWorlds (let’s just say this: A LOT of holes). MechQuest’s team does the best with the least, and while they have the smallest team, if I had to pick one game master and one game development team to work on MechQuest’s future, it would be Warlic and the current game staff. I only wish AE would give MechQuest the support it gives the other games, as doing so would not only push MechQuest into elite status, but easily prevent it from decreased attention and ultimately decreased production.

  8. ZamuelNow said

    Well, the biggest problem with DragonFable’s battle system isn’t the classes but rather the enemy pool. More innovative enemies would help it immensely.

  9. Oh, I was talking about the way our battle systems work, but going into the enemies separates it even more.

  10. StJason said

    Completely off topic, but I had a thought about mechquest’s battle system. What if it was moved to real-time? Basic numbers would stay the same, but instead of having turns, turns become X number of seconds, maybe two. So you’d have to time your weapons pretty well, or you’d be sitting without power and/or active weapons. It would also give the Perception stat something to do.

    I’ve thought for a long time now that MQ was the unwanted stepdaughter of AE. Which is a shame, as it is also the most distinctive of the four games. With some TLC, Mechquest could be a real star, but instead it’ll lurk in the background while Dragonfable and AQW gets everything. (AQ is so big, hoary, and convoluted, I’m looking forward to the sweep so that we can get rid of much of the old junk)

  11. Zeke said

    @StJason: What? That is REALLY off-topic. Besides, MQ is a turn-based RPG that is in its “prime.” They can’t just change the entire battle system >.>

    I personally think MQ is better than the others. AE has learned from DF and AQ’s mistakes.

    Perhaps the REASON that the team is smaller is because they have learned from the past, and don’t NEED as big of a team, because of sheer experience.

    Of course, DF and AQ need larger teams because, being older, they have TONS more bugs and balancing to do.

    ~Zeke~

  12. alabamapitty said

    I don’t know Peanut, the AQ battle system is really good. Not as good as MQ’s, but definitely a close second. You have everything where it needs to be, the weapons, spells, and armors work well together, and all the battle effects are beautiful. I don’t find it confusing, it just takes a little getting used to, which can be said for all games. That said, MQ does still beat it, if only by a tiny margin.

  13. mechquestlord said

    stjason if they changed the battle system for mq then there would be a massive anger rising in people throughout mq so ae would be spammed by all who could spam. and flamed. and voted down. and everyone who knows where they are would be interrogated by mq players. and the game would become as hated as the removal of betting in blackjack. DONT GET ME STARTED ON HOW FURIOUS I WAS WHEN BLACKJACK BETTING WAS REMOVED!!!!111oneone

    Edited out the page stretching spam. -S

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