Hollow Earth

MO:UL Season I: Review


Well, I wanted to wait until Exodus was over and, with Yeesha’s speech, I think it’s safe to say it is.

I’m reviewing this on Content, Story, Community, and Bugs. Content: What was released. Story: The story that went with those releases Community: How good the community was and what the community did/responded to the season. How creative we were, etc. Bugs: How many bugs there were, how bad they were, and how quickly they were fixed. Of course, most of this is from memory and so I will miss some things.

Content:

For the sake of fairness to the group of explorers I belong to (the so-called “Old Guard” who have been here since some point before Uru Live. Whether that’s DIRT or Prologue or UU) I will not count the initial journey ages or the hoods, Nexus, GZ, or City as content for Uru Live.

While this isn’t fair to Cyan (who had to re-code the ages to work with the new physics and game engine) it is more realistic to what I expect. I am going to count the PotS ages and areas and any ages that were not released in Prologue.

So what did we get? Quite a lot if you look closely. We got: Eder Delin, Eder Tsogahl, Negilahn, Dereno, Payiferen, Tetsonot, Minkata, Er’cana, Jalak, Ahnonay, Kirel, Phil’s Relto, the Watcher’s Pub, the Guild Pubs, and K’veer, as well as small areas like the spyroom, the silo, Myst Library, and the new Bahro caves.

Delin and Tsogahl, while they are re-textures of Kemo, they are still very unique and I enjoy Delin more than most of the other ages (I hope we get more of these mini gardens next season).

The Pods, while small and un-explorable, are fascinating in their variety and the age itself is a wonderful concept (the inverted zoo). The Urwin in Negilahn is thrilling to see even after the fifth time as is its re-textured counterpart in Payiferen. Dereno is a very good spot to relax in the game and Tetsonot is the sort of half-restored age a lot of people were interested in seeing. (I’d like to see more dangerous ages, though I’d like if they were larger than the pods.

Minkata was an amazing age with a wonderfully complex puzzle. It was also beautiful and had many of the small details that were lacking in the previous ages (the crates and flags in the holes). It is, in my opinion, the first “real” age we got in that it is the largest to date and, while not complex, had all the hallmarks of the old journey ages.

The Path of the Shell ages were pretty much as they were in Path of the Shell. Ahnonay’s changes certainly helped me understand what’s actually going on in Ahnonay (certainly better than the offline one did).

Jalak, I think, if the age with the most potential, and the one least capitalized on. A sandbox age with nearly unlimited kinds of games sits pretty much empty. Whenever a group comes there, most ofthe time it devolves into “lets run around and bounce stuff on our heads”

Kirel was a spectacular place to turn into the “guild hood”. While I’d have loved to have had it as the DRC hood (perhaps secretly being given out to DRC supporters) the Guilds are something much more interesting.

I hate to gloss over things like the Watcher’s Pub and Phil’s Relto, however Phil’s Relto is relatively unchanged. It’s not that quiet of a spot, and had I been at the reigns, I would have had Phil bring people there himself. In other words, you’d have to talk to Phil (who I would not have had as a color-babbling fool) and agree with his message (or at least want to come) to go to his Relto. But that doesn’t matter. I’m hoping more interesting events can happen there (such as book releases there, etc.). The Watcher’s Pub was redone very well and is quite spectacular now. I like the new motif, as it reflects how Kadish changed the area to reflect his ownership.

The Guild Pubs, while small like many areas this year, are impressive areas in and of themselves. I wish they would be used more (this is another area I see used less than it should).

Lastly, K’veer. Obviously from a cold perspective, nothing much has changed here. The door to the prison is gone, likely so that Cyan didn’t have to work on coding it. The new thing is the stained glass window and the outside. But if you actually walk through K’veer, there is something more. Again, for me it’s the idea of potential. Think of the groups of people standing around in this beautiful setting just talking. And also the potential of a future season and the potential of MYST V being added to Uru.

Story:

The story has, as you would expect given Cyan’s condition, been relatively light. Nothing like Prologue really. But, then again, Prologue also was made when Cyan had more money and more time to spend on interaction.

Before the episode system (which I think is good as it lets more people see events while still keeping it spontaneous) the story was very, very light and, while laying the necessary groundwork for the coming story, was not executed well. Nick’s flirting and the Anti-DRC-Movement were not well-planned and not taken well (I think largely because Nick’s character seemed too new and odd as no one had really explored Nick back in Prologue. This combined with Sydney’s rather exaggerated way of storytelling and her unique knack for getting people, including your’s truly, angry at her character and sometimes her OOC self).

Scars was one of the most impressive episodes. Wheely’s event took up several days with people logging in for hours and hours and days waiting for the slightest whimper from the character. This was, pure and simple, the largest number of people who had actually shown care for a character. If Cyan could make Scars every episode, Uru would succeed even more than it currently seems to be. The night when the Bahro appeared on the roofs and screamed, the “invasion” when Wheely was trapped and before she was killed was awe-inspiring. Sitting late at night with the lights off as Bahro link above you ripping off haunting calls keeps me interested! Cyan got this episode downright to a T. The only critique people gave was their dislike of the way Wheely was killed. A minor tangent: The two critiques of this event were that Cyan was exploiting the death of an innocent child to make a drama, and that the death was too gruesome for the rating. The second may have merits, though I personally find the severed heads and torture devices in Myst’s Mechanical Age much more frightening, scarring, and harmful to children than the alluded shredding of a teenage girl. — The first, however, I think is more of an exaggeration. All stories “exploit” to some degree. They are not exploiting but simply places where our emotions run high. People cared about Wheely and, whether or not she died “because” she was an innocent young girl doesn’t really matter. Because whenever a character dies, your emotions are being “exploited”. The death of a family member or a friend is exploited when you read a book with death in it or watch a movie with death in it. That doesn’t mean we need to outlaw death in drama. Nor should writers feel they need to get a more “unlikable” or “manly” character to die because they fear someone might not like the death of an innocent. In fact, in most cases the real world has far worse things than a teenager being torn to shreds. The lasting pain of child soldiers springs to mind, but there are others. — And that was more than a minor tangent, I realize.

A New Light was, in my opinion, light on story but heavy on content. Either Cyan had burnt itself out on Scars or they lacked the ability to do a Scars each month from the get-go. Regardless, little was really done in that episode, but the content (and the pellets) made up for it.

Familiar Voices seemed to go back to heavier storytelling. Once again, the Bahro were Cyan’s most powerful tool which they have yet to abuse. An appearance generated more interest than any DRC visit could. Phil’s return, while somewhat underwhelming (we had mostly all assumed what Phil said), still was interesting.

Deception continued that returning theme with Engberg and Watson returning. The episode had a sort of “coming together” theme and I somewhat expected the finale to be mostly all these returned people doing something climactic to drive the Bahro out (I don’t know, putting on rings and transforming into the D’ni Rangers? Easy to pick out Watson.)

On that note, Exodus. While less than what my expectations were (the name hinted to me at more biblical end of times-type story), the episode was very good. It was at least as good as Scars, though I don’t think it topped the first episode. Exodus had Bahro appearances, as others had, though now it was in even greater numbers and somewhat more dramatic (I had at least five Bahro swoop down from the GZ and the movements on it were very good. Like a dragon). The Bahro flying around the Arch kept people coming into the game (though less than the Wheely event). And, of course, Yeesha’s appearance; while not a shock, was interesting.

Community:

How good the community was is one of the things I’m reviewing as part of community. What that means is how well we busied ourselves when Cyan couldn’t. With parties and explorations, etc.

Overall, I think the community has been great. The people on the forum have been whiny in some cases, and some wave their payments to Gametap and make demands for things to be one way or another, but the people on the forum are not the only fans, nor are they the most important, the most representative of the entire community, or the most in love with the game.

The community reacted quite well to the numerous releases of Ages, areas, and ideas. Marker games can be found at a central site, as can Jalak games. When the Guilds were first nudged at by Nick, Calam (Kal) first began the Uru Assembly of Guilds. While I’m not particularly happy that neither he nor myself, nor anyone else who worked on the Guilds became their “adviser”, that choice also helps as it expands the number of people invested in the Guilds. The community continues to build more things and, while I don’t think we’re doing enough (and try to add new things as often as I feel I have time), overall we have done a good job.

Bugs:

Bugs are the tricky category to decide on because bug fixes are not as easy to remember as content releases, etc. So all that really can be said is how stable the game currently is. It is very stable as of now. There are a handful of bugs that are frustrating and some server issues (black screen bugs when Ahnonay was released) that really serve to me as a moral booster. The Ahnonay release seemed, to me, a great release. Yes, people waited for a while, but everyone got it and if you didn’t get it in the Pub, you could get it from someone else.

So let’s see:

Content: Plenty of it and a variety of new and interesting areas, puzzles, and rewards. 9/10
Story: While not of the level of Prologue, it was very engaging in most respects once the episode system started up. 7/10
Community: We were, in general, forgiving of Cyan’s problems and helped keep ourselves entertained. 6/10
Bugs: Almost all the major bugs have been squashed. 8/10

So overall, Season I get a 7.5/10

Advertisements

Filed under: Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Share this blog

Bookmark and Share

Tweets

Blog Archive

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 149 other followers

Disclaimer

All posts are my opinion only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others.
%d bloggers like this: