January 31, 2012, 16:18:03 |
Max 200 character-levels: Ankama is basically emphasising numeric value over content, and variety. It artificially stretched a character's development, so there is minimal impact from gaining a single level which makes levelling boring (it becomes a steady drip of negligible upgrades). It also creates grind (fighting the same type of monster for ~10 levels in some cases), and repetitive "strategy" (tactics which are effective against melee-tank monsters will be just as effective against the same sort of monster 50 level later, even if they're of a different species).
Learn-by-doing: Their main reason for sticking to this is to "not be Dofus". Their current implementation is a simple focus on numbers again... 100 levels per spell, 15 spells per class... and for the professions (both harvest & craft).
There are other methods of learn-by-doing, but they generally have more "rules" (and since Ankama have a hard time explaining even the basic mechanics in the GUI, it's probably a bad idea). Since the game has 200 levels, "learning" is tied to a similar numeric progression (i.e. you can't "forget" about something by "not doing" it for a long time as that could effectively "de-level" you).
Learn-by-doing is the reason why the elemental spells are mostly about damage (or healing) amongst other things. The changes to support spells show that they understand at least some of the flaws in this system, but are unwilling to out-right change to something different.
Combat is shallow: The value of turn-based games is that you are given time to think about your approach, but also offer a variety of actions to perform at any time.
Where Wakfu has "move and shoot", other games offer things like stance (kneeling, laying prone), resource management (reloading weapons, equipping different inventory), attack variations (quick-shot, aimed shot, rapid fire, aimed rapid fire all with the same item). Where Wakfu has "stand behind a tree", others offer stealth (standing out of line-of sight actually removes you from that player's vision), proper terrain (destroy the tree so you can see them, hide up-stairs, stand away from/under a cliff so the difference in elevation prevents line-of-sight). None of these examples are "class skills" but are simply open to anyone.
Wakfu's combination of small fight-areas, and overlaying the fight onto the "world-map" (i.e. the area you're in while outside a fight is basically the same as you in a fight), means most players have very little space to really maneuver... fights boil down to a short walk and a punch, or a walk away and shoot.
The implementation of Initiative is basically another round of slow bonuses, rather than a dynamic way of altering the turn order to reflect "fast" characters. Facing offers little more than damage bonuses, ignoring its possible effect on line-of-sight.
The learn-by-doing system effects this, essentially dictating your strategy before the fight has even begun. In some rare cases you might be forced to use "off-build" spells, but it is unlikely... and this will crystallise your build even further.
Politics and PvP have no incentives: These are minor additions to the game at best, and a pain at worst. There is little risk, and little reward in either... except the possibility to grief.
Politic's most noticeable "use" is the manual administration of challenges. Other games would've left these as basic quests, or achievements, exotic crafts, or even dropped loot.
The criminal system has little effect as a deterrent, where misplanting the wrong seed is as punishable as killing the farmer. If you get caught it's a dull wait in jail. It makes you a PvP target only to those stronger than you.
PvP is very rarely between 2 equals, with the emphasis on 200 levels meaning a wide spread of player levels, it is often easier to simply win through superior level/equipment/etc. Classes often function as rock-paper-scissors, where simply choosing your opponent based on class can mean you have every advantage in terms of spells before combat even starts. It does not feel competitive when some gets steamrolled.
But win or lose, PvP gives no fundamental rewards either way, except to fuel the pointless criminal system.
As a side-note, that because combat takes place in a "bubble" it is impossible to flee a stronger opponent. There is only death through injury, or surrendering. Other "open world" PvP games generally allow the weaker character to use their wits to escape. Wakfu's nature means it simply can't let people "flee" safely as that'd mean you could simply flee any time the fight is against you.
Classes are not distinct: There are 14 classes, each class has 15 elemental spells, and 200 levels. Again, this is a bad combination of numbers... elemental spells are tightly limited by the "learn-by-doing" design so they deal mostly damage. Often this simply means a tweak in spell cost or element. Some have distinct effects, but these do not really progress as the spell is levelled (often this is restricted as a way of "balancing" combat).
Part of this is driven by the Iop class. As the class most closely defined as the "damage dealer", all other classes must simply "not be the damage dealer" in order to keep Iop distinct. So, that's 13 classes with 15 spells all of which "must not deal too much damage" but at the same time are tied to "deal/heal damage".
Another part is that Ankama have tried to ensure each class has multiple possible builds, this basically breaks each class into 3 builds, one per elemental. So, it becomes 42 classes, with only 5 spells each. And again we hit the "200 level" flaw... since you're effectively condemned to playing that "sub-class" for 200 levels, it becomes a grind.
Each class has been given a "thing", Sacriers have Angrrr and position-manipulation, Feca have both glyphs and armor, Pandawa have barrels, Sram have invisibility and backstabbing, Osa have pokemon, etc... I would say Osa have Dragon form, but it is not that distinct from Enutrof's Drhellzerker (summon pet > enhanced form > altered spells). While these are obviously unique to that class, they generally take a backseat, only modifying combat a little bit. Given that combat is quite shallow... it doesn't really alter much, tweaking the basic "move and shoot" design.
Lack of incentive: Achievements, equipment, levels, spell-level all boil down to numbers or tick-boxes, basically grind. While they may be trying to build a sandbox MMO... they've simply built a theme-park without any rides, and a few broken stalls. While they talk about Ogrest being the final goal... the same sentence mentioned the Dofus being the goal of Dofus, something which is still impossible in Dofus atm because they haven't added them all yet. Of course, that's a level 200 goal... but where's the "filler".
Subscription-based design: This is more of a personal choice really for me, as they've decided to make a subscription game they need a way of making money from their product. It only really consists of 2 noticeable things, innate healing and haven bags.
Combat is based on the idea that everyone enters and one side is victorious. Part of this is that you have full health. Combat can often leave you near death, or at least heavily damaged.
This means it's impossible for you to rapidly kill monsters and then enter a new fight... something important when trying to travel through "dangerous" areas with aggressive monsters.
However the flip-side of this is the healing method. You can either sit around for a while, or eat bread. Sitting takes time, and actually takes longer the higher your level, and obviously longer the higher your max health is. This is because sit-healing is not done on a percentage% amount (which would mean everyone would reach max health in the same time), but a fixed number. In the same way, bread only heals a fixed amount... but bread takes your time in a different way. Bread costs time through resource-gathering, or bakery-crafting... if you simply buy it, you're effectively trading your kama for someone else's spent subscription-time.
Bread is also a bit of an oddity, in terms of how it gets a distinct profession, bakery, at the same time as cooking exists. You have to "grind" just bread, until you get "good" bread. Arguably farming is about making resources just for bakery, but there are a couple of other professions which use farming resources too.
The Haven-bag issue is more about logging in, or out, and has been reduce in the recent updates. Basically, you can't be playing the game (fighting monsters, exploring, etc), and in your haven bag at the same time... this comes into play when you're trying to use your havenbag to sell things. Being logged-off obviously means you're not taking up "active time" on the server even though it is still subscription-time... the other solution is multi-accounting, one in a havenbag selling, the other "playing".
Along with the various forms of grind, "stretched" content, etc, this is all about wasting your time "between" fun... and time is money in a subscription-based game.
Content: A lot of the things, such as crafting, the same monsters of ~10 levels, harvesting resources could be reduced by adding more of each at the same level. This is stretched content from "200 levels"... Ankama add higher level monsters, or equipment, or recipes, or resources, and effectively build a very long thin tower, rather than a wide foundation first. If my class is poorly suited to Gobballs, or I'm simply bored of fighting them, let me be able to choose from 3 or 4 other species to kill. Hopefully, this can be fixed over time, much like bugs and balance get "improved".
This post has been edited by GoldfishGod - January 31, 2012, 16:19:41.