Dark and Light, the Pre-Play-Review
Oct 24, 2005 23:32:00

Dark and Light is an enigma at this point. The advertised scope of this game is immense. The screen shots clearly demonstrate proficient development, artwork, and design. The website is executed perfectly and is better than those presented by more renown game studios (see Turbine for what not to do.) Nevertheless, the hype is relatively low. What gives? A point by point analysis is required.

The Website: As mentioned, the site is professionally executed. Not much more could be done before release.

The Lore: Lore is commonly overlooked by most players (including me) and even when it is extremely deep (see WoW, EQ) it rarely crosses the mind of most players as they drift off to sleep after a night of slaying mobs. The impact of the world's lore pales in comparison to uber drops and cool looking armor. Right? Games with insignificant lore do not seem to be lacking in fun as result (see Lineage 2). Nevertheless, Dark and Light has spent a considerable amount of time developing the lore of the land and even if we're not eager to uncover its intricacies, or bother reading the lengthy passages on the website, I am of the mind that the back-story and zeitgeist of a game is impacted in a critical fashion, in mood, immersion and realism.

The Land: The landscape designers are brilliant. The lighting developer is a genius. The screen shots of the landscape are beautiful. This is largely due to the 30 mile horizon which I haven't seen done properly since Project Entropia. Based on what I've seen I'd like to ask Project Entropia to please pass the torch to Dark and Light.

The Player Characters: Not good. The characters are awkward, disproportioned, poorly textured and dressed like beggars. This weakness is heightened by the sharp contrast to the lush surroundings these hobo-avatars find themselves in.

The Races: Dwarves, gnomes, orcs, humans and the usual 4 brands of elves. All the fairies and half-trolls in the world cannot make up for this lack of originality. But this isn't as bad as...

The Classes: Let us see what we have here. Warrior, Archer, Paladin, Dark Knight, Cleric, Monk, Druid, Enchanter, Illusionist, Necro, Sorcerer, Shaman, Ranger, Thief, Bard and Barbarian. It is shocking that a game released in late 2005 would play to these stock classes. Familiarity certainly helps us choose a class we can expect to like, but as the saying goes it also breeds contempt. I can hope that the Dark and Light versions of these classes are fresh and new, but I sense a rehashed EQ line-up.

Features of Note:
  • Zoneless world: I'm a big fan of zoneless worlds except for the fact that most of the zoneless worlds we have seen in the past utilize a tile-based system, which I suspect is in place here as well. The primary downfall of tile-based systems is a tendency to have very few variations in terrain. Bridges, narrow walkways, overpasses, complex buildings and the like are commonly left on the drawing board. Lineage 2 did a nice job with their tile based system and of course World of Warcraft build a flawless zoneless world. So, it can be done, but I'm naturally skeptical.

  • One world server: This is a big plus, UNLESS they did what Guild Wars did. Guild Wars instanced the heck out of everythi
    ng to attain a single world and they killed any hope of building a solid community in the process. This is one of those areas where too much of a good thing can ruin the system. There are distinct benefits to supporting separate game servers outside of the reduced deployment complexity and cost. Those benefits can be compared to the benefits of small class sizes in schools. Better relationships, better content distribution, and less behavior problems.

  • Fly around freely: Flying works for City of Heros because distances are not really obstacles anyway, but in a game that boasts 15,000 square miles to explore, flying does little more than shrink the size of the world and create screen shot opportunities. Dark and Light has hang-gliders, parachutes (!?), and dragons to support your screenshot habits.

  • Automated transportation and warp system: Automated? I don't know what this means, but again, it sounds like it is going to be easy to travel long distances in mere seconds. This hurts the scope of the world and the pacing of the game. Guild Wars included the ability to port wherever you want whenever you want and it truly damaged the game. Location means nothing in Guild Wars and as a result, the layout and construction of their world means nothing. Hopefully Dark and Light properly restricted porting and flying to avoid these pitfalls.

  • Seasons and Weather: It is about time someone included seasons and real weather! Looking forward to it. This is another fantastic feature that enhances the already awesome landscape.

  • The most intriguing and perplexing feature listed is this:

    "Entirely dedicated to evolve according to gamers in-game decisions and strategies: DnL? game rules will allow gamers to manage their own DnL? storyline, create their own events to set their plans of conquest..."
    What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

    All in all, I'm interested enough to give this a spin and you can bet that as soon as I do, I'll be back here either eating my own words or validating them.

    Submitted by Brent on Oct 24, 2005 23:32:00 CST (comments: 0)


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