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DragonFable: Release Analysis, 03/05/2010

Posted by Stelarinna on March 29, 2010

Late, late, late. My apologies. If I detailed the entire chain of events which delayed this writing, you would begin to wonder what I’d been drinking last night. (For the record, orange juice.)

I must also apologize for this post’s brevity–I’ve begun using the Dvorak keyboard layout in my quest to learn touch-typing. Well, I can now touch-type with some proficiency, but at a rate of about 17 WPM. Ah well, speed will come with practice, and at any rate, it’s an improvement over the first evening’s 3. What does this have to do with the DF review, you ask? Well, my drastically-reduced typing speed (not that it was much to begin with) means that I’ll spend more time over less material, and I don’t exactly care to spend 7+ hours over this stuff.  Therefore, the obvious solution is to write less so that I won’t have to sit at the computer for such ridiculous amounts of time. Better for me, but worse for you.

Ravenloss
Quest Releases: Market District

…Whatever happened to Riadne…? You can’t just ignore the main romantic interest, y’know.
Plot and Story Design
This quest contained quite a bit of development, both character- and plot- wise. Not only did we find the Ember Key, we learned more about Tomix’s past, even seeing how he became so… odd-looking. Plus, there’s even a new and intriguing NPC! What’s not to like?
(Well, there’s the fact that we got yet another infodump, which is… not normally considered good storytelling technique. This is one of the rare cases where it could actually work; I’m just worried that we may come out of Ravenloss knowing too much.)
Art and Graphic Design
As with most quests, superb. Not only did the overlying schema fit together perfectly, there were plenty of the small details that make AE’s art so distinctive. The flies buzzing about untended wares, the unfriendly eyes peering around run-down tent-flaps, the flowers lying scattered on Vaal’s statue; all contributed to the atmosphere of realism. With the simple addition of a few minor in-quest NPCs, the ChaosWeavers begin to gain a new dimension as a people in their own right, not just another enemy to be defeated.
That said, the combat backgrounds are meh. Not because they were badly-drawn… but because I should have said combat background. (The inclusion of a single Stairway doesn’t really count, considering that it only appeared once during a quest which had multiple stairs.)
Quest Layout and Walkaround
Interesting, though not quite exceptional. The two branches proved a nice touch, along with the multiple stairs and the progression from waste-dump to open marketplace.
::Item Drops: Spectral Belts
They are belts. They do not have art for me to critique. However, I can and will comment on their stats.
Stats are mainly Defense-oriented, with a bit of Crit thrown in for good measure. The Elemental Resistances are very good, especially for Fire and Light. I’m not sure what Fire and Light belts are doing in a dark undercity but that’s beside the point.
They do seem to favor the higher levels, but then again, Ravenloss seems geared towards mid-higher levels. And we can always use more belts; though I must say, some necklaces would not be considered a waste of server space, either.
Common Sense Factor (Personal Opinions)
This quest originally had a scaling bug attached where the enemies’ HP/MP values scaled to the player’s. I think it was a side effect of the new guest-scaling feature. The sad thing is that when I first played the (bugged) release, I only found it somewhat difficult, even testing my level 51 on the high-level-punishing quest. I guess that says something about DF’s player power curve.

NPC Releases: Aspar
He looks suspiciously like Greed. It’s a good thing that as the embodiment of Kindness, Aspar is above suspicion. (He is above suspicion… right?)
Design and Artwork
As I mentioned in the summary, it’s very like Greed’s. However, I rather strongly suspect that it’s a common trend among the Elemental Spirits, and doesn’t point to any special link between the two. Indeed, Greed’s apparent desire to avoid detection when Aspar appeared points to an ongoing conflict… Which does make sense, as greed and kindness, while not precisely opposites, are intrinsically opposing forces.
History and Relevance
Seeing more of Tomix’s past as written by Alac is always interesting. These new developments opened up the storyline a great deal, besides holding one’s visual interest with a compelling storytelling format. They also raised some intriguing questions about the dynamics between Aspar and Greed (incidentally, why does the spirit of kindness have a personal name, while we still refer to the spirit of greed by an attribute? Psst! Biased, AE, biased!), while explaining Tomix’s, ehm, interesting appearance quite nicely.
Common Sense Factor (Personal Opinions)
I find myself wishing that just once, another character would betray the player character. Aspar’s slip in using “was” points to his potential in that respect, but somehow, I doubt it will happen.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––

The Locker
Quest Releases: Undead Pirate Attack
Half interesting and half not so much. It reminds me of the half-living pirate bug.
Plot and Story Design
The first half of the quest does not deserve a “plot” section. The second half of the quest might deserve a small “plot” section.
…Very well. I might have exaggerated a bit. After all, we did come to see what we’re expected to do in this area; namely, to rescue Aquella and obtain Captain Davey’s locker for him, besides the obvious goal of wresting the Water Orb from whoever the final Undead Pirate Villain happens to be.
Art and Graphic Design
Yes, necrotized pirates do count as newly rereleased art.
Quest Layout and Walkaround
Perhaps this quest’s strongest feature, the layout was simple, yet contained an intriguing twist; after finding and defeating the enemy(ies) attacking a randomly specified location, one must return to the Crossroads in order to face the boss and unlock the cutscene. Solid, secure, …quick! What’s a sufficiently positive word I could use to describe it?
Bugs and Balance Issues
Several bugs used to infest this section. Apparently they have all been placed in the collection labeled “Fixed”.
Common Sense Factor (Personal Opinions)
In case you didn’t notice, I do not hold a very great opinion of the Water Orb chain so far. The initial release was stellar, showing a great deal of promise. The releases after that… not so much. The plot rambles along, appearing never to go anywhere or do anything, with the main attraction being smooth gameplay. It’s still far too early in the chain to tell for sure, of course, and certainly the DNs seem to imply that the next releases will step the pace up, but the Water Orb saga as it currently stands just doesn’t have enough content to satisfy me. (I blame an overly critical inner editor.)

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2 Responses to “DragonFable: Release Analysis, 03/05/2010”

  1. nonaka said

    Wow, I never noticed that Greed didn’t have a name. How biased.
    The spy in Falconreach is going to betray the player character, so betrayal is coming even though it’s been about 3 years since he or she was mentioned.

    • Stelarinna said

      Actually, it is biased. Every Elemental Spirit that we’ve met so far has a name except Greed; at least, every one that I’m aware of having met does (Pandora, Aspar). The question is, is bias against greed and selfishness such a bad thing? I think not, and I assumed that my readers realize it as well.

      Sadly, you are wrong about the long-neglected Falconreach spy. It is impossible for such characters to betray our side, due to the simple fact that they were not on it to begin with. It may appear to be a betrayal from the player character’s viewpoint, but it is not.

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