The F2P Bandwagon gets bigger…

Everyone who saw this one coming, put your hands up…


(from Greek frigga meaning “Friday”, tris meaning “3,” kai meaning “and,” and deka meaning “10”) is fear of Friday the 13th.

A Reason to Enjoy Friday the 13th – F2P!

Yes, you heard right we don’t have friggatriskaidekaphobia.  After much thought and planning, Alganon is going Free to Play!  This means no purchase is required to pick up the game and continue exploring the world of Alganon.

Okay, yeah that’s just about everyone, except you over in the corner, you can go back to your Farmville game there.

The chart is as generous as EQ2 and LotRO in some areas, but not so much in others:

I’m not sure this is the right move for Alganon, but then, I’m not sure at this point what would be a good move for Alganon.  I’m a sucker for a new world though, as you ought to know if you dropped by here yesterday, and I never got beyod the basic starter areas for Alganon, so I’m sure I’ll dowload the client and give it a try.

At the very least, I’ll know at that point if they’ve fixed the longstanding bug know, keeps me from actually logging in and playing the game.   Still, I don’t want to be too harsh.  Given all that the game has endured from the business end of things, its not half bad.  There isn’t anything really to complain about, but theres nothing really to write home about either.

For now though, I’m going to go take a nap.  School’s back in around here, which means early mornings have returned to my household, and the evidence of lack of sleep is that I just had to look up “either” because I tried spelling it with an “a” and then without the “i” before I gave up and Google’d it.  Oi.

The Fourth Pillar Debate

So what’s bigger news, that Derek Smart plagiarized from some of his competitors MMO’s – or that six years later, a new MMO can still make that claim with a straight face because nobody has been able to fufill the promise of the mythical fourth pillar?

LotRO has probably come closest to giving players that, admittedly.  But its hard to say really because people mean so many things when they say “story.”  Some people want lots of quests.  Some think that means plenty of solo instances.  Some feel it means the opportunity to be heroic and have an impact on the game world.  Some hope that it means the creation of a dynamic world, with scripted and hosted GM events.  Others say its time for story to be something the players do, with a storytelling system along the lines of SW: Galaxies, or CoX.  Some say it just means having enough space and sandbox to play in and the stories will write themselves – the drama of EVE Online’s null sec wars makes a story of its own in some sense.

All of these things have one common thread though, one element linking them all despite the different forms they take.  For their to be a story, their must be a change of some sort – within the character, the player, or the world – and preferably all three.

MMO’s have their roots in RPG’s of the table top variety.  Maybe its time to draw some strength from those roots.  RPG’s revolve around players and a GM, or in some cases, a troupe of players sharing GM duties and maybe even characters too.  Should MMO’s begin to offer a “GM Package” subscription that gives a basic tool kit to allow for quest creation and npc manipulation? 

Do we need to lower server populations or travel options so that players deepen their interactions with each other? 

Do we need to spend time and money for the better development of AI in MMO’s (face it, the AI in MMO’s is rudimentary compared to other games)?  NPC’s in The Elder Scrolls series open and close their stores, travel to and from their homes and places of business, have dynamic inventories, even steal from each other!  And yet *none* of those things is present in MMO’s, even the latest and greatest ones.

Anyway, bottom line – its not plagiarism if its a long time concept in the genre.  And if Alganon is the one to finally pin the tail on the donkey, more power to them.  Maybe when they are done with that they can start, you know, fulfilling the promises they already made.   Like finishing up the races and classes they promised two years ago…

You Need Help

From this month’s new Alganon Newsletter:

Our character creation system has also received a major upgrade. Players will now be guided through an on-screen wizard to aid in the creation of new characters. This new system provides plenty of descriptions to aid you in making decisions during the creation process.


Dear Alganon,

Unless your huge overhaul has included releasing all those other classes and races you promised, and not just the basic four classes and two races in the game now,  I’m not sure how much “help” and “description” people need to figure it all out.  Thanks.  PS – I still can’t launch the game, even with your new patches. 

~ Hzero

Welcome to the New and Improved Alganon Character Creaction System.

Race:  If you’d like to play a good but arrogant race, pick race 1.  If you’d like to play an evil and misunderstood race, pick race 2.  Congratulations, you are finished selecting your race.

Class:  If you’d like to play a tank, pick class 1.  If you’d like to play a healer, pick class 2.  If you’d like to play dps, pick class 3.  If you’d like to solo, pick class 4.  Congratulations, you are finished selecting your class.

Family:  If you’d like to explore, pick family 1.  If you’d like to PVP, pick family 2.  If you’d like to raid, pick family 3.  If you’d like to socialize, pick family 4.   If you’d like to craft, pick family 5.  Congratulations, you finished selecting your family.

Wow! That was difficult!  We are pleased to have been able to bring you this new system to help guide you through the enormous and complicated task we set before you.  Enjoy the game!

Just So You Know

The next two weeks are going to be pretty nutter around here for me.  I have a ton of work to do and family life is still off kilter as my wife continues to recover from surgery.  Sadly that process is taking longer than normal – turns out there is a good bit of secondary nerve damage in her leg as a result of the surgery.  Nobody really wants to blame or sue anyone, but its just been difficult to get a handle on her pain and find ways to get the nerve regenerated.  Because of all this, I’ll still be posting, but at a reduced rate.

Until then, I’m following the unfolding Derek Smart/Alganon story with high interest.  I even updated my Alganon client to see what changes they have done since they have gone F2P for the time being.  However, in an odd deja vu moment, I seem to be unable to play.   Poor Alganon, will it ever get it together?

I also want to give a hat tip to this great post, I’ve been meaning to do it for awhile.  And when you are done, check out this great followup to that great post.

Alganon “Review”

I’ve been putting this off.

Mostly because I just don’t have a whole lot to say.

I played the beta, talked about my errors with other players, found they had already been reported.  I tried all the classes – all four of them.  I tried all the races – all two of them.  I, like many before me, noted that there is nothing original in the game.

And that seems to be the debate – in liberally sampling from the genre to create a kinda of “MMO – Alganon Remix” – did the creators do something good, or something bad?

From the business side of things – we just don’t know yet.  Clearly the strategy is obvious – to be successful yourself, imitate others as closely as possible.  Pepsi is like Coke.  Of course there is differences, but – they are still much alike.  Same with Pibb and Dr. Pepper.  Sprite and Sierra Mist.  Chaos Mage and Dwarf Engineer.  Blood Elves and Sephiroth.  You get the point.  So, the Alganon people might be on to something.

But MMO’s are complex creatures, and there is more to the game than the business side.  Was Alganon fun?  Not even remotely.  The highest I leveled anywhere was 5.  With a human ranger type.  The only thing original about the class was that I got access to an HoT early on.  And the weapon graphics looked cool.   Crafting was point, click, and wait.  And there were very few recipes.  On the bright side, I actually wore some crafted armor early on because the quest rewards overlapped badly – I got new weapon after new weapon – but no helm or cloak or anything.

That said – there was nothing really *bad* about the game either.  It didn’t crash, the quests were plentiful and the mobs were of good density and respawn rate and challenge.  The starter areas were laid out well.  About the only thing I can complain about was combat and mob distance.  Often my ranger would shoot once and then move over to her sword/axe combo immediately, hitting even while the mob was still far off.  And I could still use my ranged abilities inside combat with no penalty, muss, or fuss – the melee/missile switch is automatic and consumes no time.

Good and bad, the overwhelming sense of deja vu gets to you very quickly.  Alganon may have done tooo good of a job of imitating other MMO’s (and not just WoW btw).  They may have been shooting for Pepsi, but I think what they got was New Coke.  The lack of classes and races reinforces this – you get the bare bones vanilla of tank, ranged dps, melee dps, and healer.  And the races as well – human and night elf….err, whatever they are.

Ultimately its just sad – because the innovations Alganon does bring to the table – the study system, the idea of player “families” (with their own sets of quests and targeted rewards) – are pretty nifty.  Here’s to hoping that somebody (a good, strong dev perhaps?) takes those parts of Alganon that are good and elevates them into the spotlight. 

Otherwise, when people want vanilla MMO – back to WoW they will go.

What Drives Gamers Nuts

Follow, if you will, the sequence of events here, especially those highlighted in RED:

SilverElf4,You have been added as part of the last wave of Alganon beta testers before its launch on October 31, 2009.

Your MyAlganon account “SilverElf4” has been upgraded to have immediate beta access. You don’t even need a beta key!

Simply login to your account and click the “Beta” button to get instructions on how to download the client.

Once you are finished downloading, installing and patching the beta client use your MyAlganon login account name and password to login and play the Alganon beta.


I received my invitation to the last round of Beta testing before launch and was very excited.  I have downloaded the client from but when I run the client and put in my account name and password, it tells me that the information is invalid and will not download the installer.
I’m not sure what to do.  I used the same account name and password as I used to access the page with the beta client as supplied in the email.
In regards to your issue of not being able to download the client, we’d like for you do try and manually re-enter your beta key again on MyAlganon. To do this go to you profile page, scroll over My Account and select Enter Key. Right now, this will take you to a purchase page, so you need to click the “Already Purchased Alganon? Click Here to enter your game key” link found just about the Billing Information section. Enter you key and try downloading the installer again. Let us know if this works for you, and if not let us know and we’ll go from there. 


Yeah…so I forwarded that original email.  That was about 30 hours ago…still no response.   Contrast this with Fallen Earth, who hit me up with multiple emails back and forth within 24 hours.  My issue is now resolved and I played the game last night (more on that in a later post).   Meanwhile, Alganon, who issued me this invite on Saturday, has emailed me once in 4 days, and has not resolved my issue, and indeed seems to have revealed a deeper issue. 
My only real question is – how does this happen?  Is this a case of game developer specific “left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” syndrome?  Different departments not talking to each other, etc?  Does that also explain the poor response time as well?

Redesigning the Tank

MMO players are simply amazing. No matter what “it” is, if it’s possible in an MMO, players will not only find a way to do it, they will find the best way to do it. The best example of this is the trinity of MMO combat. The idea of healer/tank/DPS wasn’t created by a game designer. It was created by players!

So speaks Hue Henry, Lead Data Designer working on Alganon, one of the new MMO titles currently in development.  And I keep coming back to it.  Is that really true?

Did players in Everquest and Ultima Online invent the taunt mechanic?  Or develop the idea of aggro by sending in the warrior first?  Hue suggests this was a change from PnP RPG’s where the idea of character is king.  This leads me to believe though that he’s never played PnP, given the existence of terms like “powergamer” and “munchkin” – terms which define almost exclusively the player base of MMO’s.

That one stung didn’t it?  Tell me its not true…

Anyway, Hue goes on to say that Alganon will not mess with the holy trinity of classes – tank/dps/healer. And in fact, he bows to their inevitability:

Many MMO designers think they can outsmart their players and make a game where this trinity doesn’t exist. I’m not that arrogant.

I am.  I think there is a different holy trinity of classses waiting to be discovered for the game gutsy enough to do, one that will tweak the way parties are created/grouped/run and give some originality to a new game.  And games need that!  Look at Vanguard – original classes that created new mechanics, like the Bard that allowed players to create their own abilities, or the disciple with his martial arts healing.  All except the tanks.  The same trinity there too – good guy sword/board tank, nuetral dual-wielding tank, bad guy two handed tank.  Bleh.

And for my inspiration, I do return to the PnP RPG scene.  Hue is right about that.  Until DnD 4th came along and tried to put MMO’s on paper, it didn’t quite work that way.  You did have roles for the characters, but they were slightly different:  offense, control, support.

Warriors and Wizards were there to hammer things into submission.  Thieves and Bards were their to make sure that there were no surprises, and that the battlefield would favor the heroes.  And Clerics and Druids were there to make sure that your people did work better in a group than alone, and that they had less chance of dying in that group as well.

And enemies weren’t programmed to go after the person hitting them the hardest and the fastest.  They were controlled intelligently.  To go after the party where it was weakest.  To use its own control and support in groups.

So what if we get rid of aggro, get rid of taunts?  What if characters abilities are arrayed in those three categories, rated primary/secondary/tertiary.  And what if we get rid of the white hat/black hat paradigm in tanking?  What if there was no tank?

What if the guy at the front of your party was wearing robes and a pointy hat, surrounded by a forcefield, paired side by side with a gal in chain, wielding a spear or a short sword?  What would your new “tank” look like?

the new tank...