Keen is one of the bloggers into Darkfall, and yesterday he posted a video that was pretty amazing (I recommend watching it in HD if at all possible.) It really made me want to try the game out. Watching some of the earlier gameplay videos, however, reminded me way too much of early Vanguard, rife with graphical glitches. So I’m not quite sure what to think. At any rate Adventurine has been kind enough to make the decision for me, rationing game sales in such a way that serious effort is required to get in. As I’ve said before, I think this is a valid strategy in comparison to the retail-driven approach taken by Age of Conan and warhammer Online, as a means to avoid the gigantic launch spike and subsequent crash and resulting dispersed population. Frustrating or not, I believe that they’re taking the right approach here, but we’ll see if Adventurine is as good as CCP at making the post-launch development decisions needed to turn the game into a long-term indie MMO success.
The Chronicles of Spellborn is now in Open Beta, and I downloaded and installed the client last night. You have to activate your Acclaim ID in order to actually get into the game, however, and this is only possible during certain hours, so essentially Spellborn is rationing access in a similar way that Adventurine is. Hopefully I’ll be able to get in and try it out some time over the weekend.
The business model for Spellborn is for access to be free up to a certain (relatively low) character level, and limited to certain areas of the game world. If you want to go past that, you need to pay a subscription fee. Here’s where the problem enters: you don’t just pay your $14 a month and that’s the end of it. Instead, you havbe to buy “Acclaim Tokens” from the Acclaim store, and then redeem those tokens on a Spellborn subscription. The dirty secret of this kind of access mechanism is that the quantities in which one would prefer to buy tokens typically do not line up evenly with the number of tokens that desirable things cost. So you virtually always end up with leftover unspent tokens that you can’t spend on anything that you actually want. I have not yet looked at the numbers involved in Spellborn’s case, but if it’s true here, it’s the kind of shady practice that’ll make me not want to spend money to be a part of. So I may never dig into Spellborn past those early sample levels, but on the other hand, the net cost may, even so, work out favorably in the end. It very much depends on how much I think the game is worth.
The truth of the matter is that on the face of it, Spellborn’s gameplay seems less attractive than Darkfall’s, but its world seems more immersive, which is important to me as an MMO enthusiast. This is going on incomplete information, of course, as I have played neither title, and it may or may not be borne out by actual play.
Meanwhile I am still ignoring Warhammer, to which I will be subscribed until the middle of next month, but have been having plenty of fun with WoW, although I’ve been pushing so hard of late that I didn’t have it in me to play last night.
Also, GO CLEVELAND STATE! I am not a big sports guy, but I have to root for them, firstly because they’re a Cinderella team, and it’s always great to see that kind of story. Secondly because as much as I bitch about living in Ohio, Cleveland is still my hometown, and always will be wherever I am. And thirdly because Mrs. Ardwulf is a student at Cleveland State. She doesn’t much care for sports either, but I’m rooting enough for the both of us.