mmo-a-week: week 5: florensia (incomplete)

Time was actually short this week. I spent a lot of time alternatively between work, a closed beta, and Borderlands. Lots of Borderlands. And some Dawn of War, come to think of it… but anyhow.

The game I had wanted to look at this week is Gatheryn. They’re nominally in “open” beta, but put testers under a clickthrough NDA. So… they go on the list with all of my other closed beta games of interest in stead.

After a lot of debate and consideration, I’ve decided to just go ahead and give Florensia a shot and be done with it.

Week 5: Florensia

character portrait

Florensia looks like a pretty generic Asian sort of MMO. The Western publication of the game is handled by the same folks who’re publishing Ragnarok Online and Hello Kitty Online in english, so I figure it’s worth a look for that reason alone.

Registration and Download

Since I’m short on time, I’m going to start with the download first. Hmm, official download URL requires I use Akamai’s download manager? How… quaint. My other options are the normal sort of big queued mirrors… I’ll try the downloader.

Interesting, it appears to be some sort of custom BT client that displays progress via my browser? Weird.

And… after a few minutes, it started making my network connection act a bit wonky, so I gave up with their method and just started retrieval from my favorite supplied mirrors.

And now that that’s running (1gb installer, about 1 hour eta if I throttle the download to play nice with others on the network with me right now)… it is time to register.

Registration is minimal. The only real survey question is a standard “where did you hear about us?” sort of deal. I find it funny that banner ads aren’t listed. If they’re spending enough on marketing that I am aware of them as a result of this… they should probably be capturing success metrics from this. Oh well, their loss. I clicked “other”.

Standard issue confirmation email wound up in my junk folder…

And after confirmation, it says it likes my registration. They gave me 10 BP for my trouble, some sort of micro-currency it seems. They have both AP and BP. Shrug, I’ll find out what those are if I wind up caring, I guess.

Research and Waiting

Looking around the web site, one of the first things I discover are the controls. WASD + QE are reasonable enough for moving around in first person. Autorun is bound to F. That’s good to know.

Ooh! Pretty. They have boats. With cannons. Ships are also driven with WASD, but with naturally different behaviors. No complaints there either. I wonder what are the odds that I’ll wind up driving a boat before Wednesday afternoon? I’m thinking about 5%? We’ll see.

Other default keybindings look pretty tolerable. In fact, they’re pretty common keybindings for a western mmo (‘I’ for inventory, ‘K’ for skills, ‘J’ for quest journal, etc). I take that as a good sign, maybe the translation here will be decent. This one appears to be Japanese in origin, so that might explain it.

Anyway, enough with the buttons. This boat thing, it intrigues me. I investigate it further.

It appears that you can build your own custom warship. The sample screenshots lead me to believe that the system will be out of reach financially during the course of this test, but you never know.

Looks like you can equip 3 different weapons at a time and quick swap between them. All weapons are of a fantasy swashbuckling nature. They provide a helpful grid of weapons available to each class and a basic graphic of how the weapons compare to each other.

weapon types

I find it interesting in the extreme that dual pistols apparently have better range than a rifle πŸ˜› Curious.

Hmm, what else can I find out while waiting for the download (24% complete)…

Skills are learned from books and are improved via skill points. Fishing seems to be a major economic activity and is the only source of some important items. Everything keeps referencing ships and crews… so maybe I’ll start off with one?

Questgivers are apparently identified by scrolls floating over their heads. There are separate quests for land and sea. Yup. I’m convinced now. If they don’t give me a boat tonight, I’m going to mumble and whine a lot.

Torpedoes! I must have a boat!

Names of places on the world map remind me of southwestern UK… with a bit of colonial Massachusetts for flavour.

It appears that a lot of equipment drops with 1-5 “seals” on it. These seals may be broken at the appropriate vendor to improve them. Sort of locked plusses. Nothing terribly unusual here, but good to know before I start wondering. In the grand tradition of this sort of game, there’s always a chance of failure (and even catastrophic failure?) when upgrading items, and you can farm special items to improve your chances of success. They also have a standard style item upgrade system that probably uses similar NPC’s and items to the seal system.

It appears that PvP is not yet implemented, but is planned for a later date.

Character classes… Explorers are agility based shooty types. Mercenaries are tough melee types. Nobles are mages with pretty clothes. Saints are nature priests. So, really, they have a standard Fighter/Thief/Cleric/Mage 4 class system, just with vaguely thematic names.

Naturally, there is a class specialization system, but since they require level 40 to upgrade, I don’t think I’ll be seeing that any time soon.

Hmm, what should I roll? Last month, I did: archer, archer, sort-of-paladin, medic with a crossbow. I think it’s time to try raw magical glass canon. Noble it is.

41% done downloading…

I’ve exhausted the official site. They have about the level of information I’ve come to expect from imported Asian MMORPG’s. It’s time to look for some wiki goodness…

The first Wikia site I see is a complete joke. Looks like somebody imported a bunch of data from the official site and stopped. The second one is not much better. Yup, two useless Wikia sites. Sigh. At least the second one has a newbie guide (which is just a list of what mobs to grind from level 1-19), but they don’t even have the imported data from the main site.

53%…

There we go. “Florensipedia” is what I was looking for. It’s slow, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was running off of a cheap VPS or a home DSL connection, but either way, it’s a wiki with useful stuff… but it likes to drop connections? Sigh. Not going to link there in the event that the weight of one more mighty anchor tag breaks them entirely.

I wasn’t able to find skill lists there either… this is kind of annoying now. I guess I’ll have to figure that all out in game. Oh well, they did confirm that I’m going to be very squishy and should probably heal often and put some stat points toward increasing my HP. I think I can manage to do that.

And I think I’ll just wait for the download to finish and pick up from there.

Installation and Startup

The total download was a hair over exactly 1.0gb. Decompressed

It’s a standard Nullsoft installer… but the default destination folder is “C:\Netts”… which… just… whatever. (Turns out NETTS is the original developing company). Let the game become installed! Here’s hoping that I don’t have to patch too much. It’s installing EU version 1.08.17, I wonder what’s current? The install page talks about making sure you download a current build so you don’t wind up having to patch forever… but I only saw one version available anyway πŸ˜‰

Hmm… all of the sound effects are standalone wav files. Those could be fun to play with… But not as much fun as the BGM mp3’s πŸ™‚ Looks like the game also installed 5 languages worth of localizations (English, Chinese/Taiwanese, Korean, and Japanese). Queueing and playing some BGM before actually launching the game, just because I feel like it…

Happy pirate music! Yay!

Ok, now we attempt to launch.

Hmm, language selector on the patch client lists a bunch of European languages + Turkish as options.

The “Start” button does not work, but does not appear to be greyed out. It took some time for it to start patching, but it’s going now and looks like it will be a few minutes – but nothing worse than patching Everquest after not playing for a month or two.

Eventually, the patcher sped up, but it still took a few minutes.

And default run mode is 1024×768 windowed. Login screen is happy bouncy 80’s anime intro sort of instrumental. Something about highschool kids who can’t seem to make it to class on time and spend all their time embarrassedly wondering if so-and-so from class C likes them, etc…

Login server is not being very responsive. This is not promising. Closing and restarting… gave me a helpful dialog that says “Now Game Playing AllGameClose Launcher restart”, which clearly means… what?

The start button is not enabled, I wonder if it needs to patch more but is being slow about it? Hmm, no, it’s not doing anything. I’m pretty sure I’m not just being firewalled off for having a US IP or something like that, the patcher is displaying an American flag along with all of the European ones as part of its random animations…

I’m going to reboot my machine, just in case something got wedged somehow.

And that worked. Not sure what was up, but not going to worry much any more. It looks like the current build is 1.10.26, so not too far behind the binary from the download mirrors.

Logging in worked fine and I am given a choice of 3 servers to connect to. They’re labeled EU, US, and GER. I think I’ll stick with the US server. From there, I have a choice between worlds “English2” and “Latin”. I’m half expecting them to ask me for my preferred character encoding next ;P

Hrm. The word “Checking” is hilited in red next to the languages. It won’t let me connect to them. I go back and look at the other regions and they list more servers with language indicators… and the “Checking” notice.

A quick search of the forums shows that this means the servers are in maintenance mode. Argh.

A further search of the forums shows that I’m actually attempting to connect in the middle of their weekly scheduled maintenance window. Double Argh. They block off 2-5 hours for these windows and likely only took the servers offline 40 minutes ago. Sigh.

I really am not going to get much time with this game. As a result, I think I’m going to post this review in two passes. This first part will contain the details of my first session, whenever that happens should be published somewhat normally.

The second pass (hopefully published in a day or two) will contain details of another session or two and my takeaway – and will likely just be appended to this post.

First Session

Haha! I just can’t win. They had extended maintenance today to work on a new system they are deploying (fleet warfare it seems?).

After the second maint window finally closed, there was yet another patch to the client… and I’m in! English2 is condition “Normal”. The client version number did not increment after this patch.

Receiving character information… Woo creation! New character… Noble… created. I am Land L 1, and Sea Lv 1. Yay localization. Connecting for the first time to the city of Roxbury.

I can click to move or WASD. The keyboard movement isn’t as smooth as I would like, so I am probably going to be clicking a bit after all.

An enormous flashing questionmark on the screen finally gets my attention. I click and am presented with the help system – which seems fairly informative. Chat is somewhat active, and it’s all in English so far πŸ˜‰

I walk over to the nearby questgiver and click him… and am assaulted with a full screen modal dialog on the meaning of questgiver icons. It takes a moment to realize that the only way to close the window is a goaway box in the NE corner.

Once the infernal window is gone, I have a normal JRPG style chat dialog. Big horizontal window along the bottom of the screen, buttons, portrait of the speaker. This guy totally subscribes to the Mad Hatter school of couture. The “Quest” chat option is blinking blue. I think I shall click it.

He provides me with a truncated list of quests – some of them are too long to fit in the space provided. Hmm, I suspect I’m going to encounter a lot of these issues where the translation is truncated for space.

And yup. The minute I click the first mission to get its details, there are clipped and strangely wrapped bits of dialog. Oh well, I’m going to stop mentioning these because I suspect I’ll get nowhere if I keep mentioning every one.

Going through the first several steps of the tutorial quests (these are your weapons, equip them; these are your stat points, spend them) provided exactly zero reward. The final reward is a few potions and an instruction to get ready for sea… but no real direction beyond that.

Mmm. I have Zero experience. That’s kind of novel for just having completed several (however trivial) quest objectives.

Looking at my quest journal, I need to talk to some guy named Stephen. It won’t let me track the mission, so I’m gonna have to wander town for the guy it seems. My other mission is to kill some mushrooms, but that’ll wait until I’ve done all of the talky quests.

Combining these two bits of information (“prep for sea”, “find Stephen”), I walked toward teh docks and successfully found the npc in question.

shipbuilding interface

Ooh! Steve’s gonna help me make a boat πŸ™‚ Whee!

A few hiccups of clicking later and a full window appears, showing me a shipbuilding interface. Unfortunately, I’d clicked through the instructions to get to this point and there are no tooltips.

They give me a basic ship frame which I finally activate by right clicking (after failing to drag it into various boxes on the display).

Help dialogs show up to explain that my boat isn’t done yet – it needs a sail it seems. I suspect the dockmaster will give me one separately. Time to exit the building interface and talk to him again.

Sure enough, he gave me more pieces for my boat… and not just a sail. I’ve got a cannon and a floaty magic rock and stuff to add. It costs me 1g to assemble the ship from these parts and I appear to have a boat that can kill things now.

After a few more discussions with the dockmaster, he sends me back to the mad hatter for training on sea skills. Ooh! Click-to-move has basic pathing around corners.

Awesome. My reward for learning how to fire my cannons and heading back to the docks is a bunch of grilled squid to make my crew happier… and once again I am without anything to do… and I still don’t have any exp.

Hmm. Well, either I can set sail and blow things up, or I can go find those mushrooms I’m supposed to kill. To sea!

getting eaten by a giant lobster
about to set sail

And after a bit of wandering, I shot a giant lobster and it sank me before I could return to port. Oh well. I think I’ll hunt those mushrooms after all. This suspicion is confirmed by the first NPC I see upon respawning in town – another quest to hunt mushrooms. Fine, I’ll do it.

Argh! Seriously? The first mob I see upon leaving town on foot is level 15. Level 5 giant lobsters in the water and level 15 giant frogs and lizards on land? Where are these newbie mushrooms already? Maybe I left out the wrong exit? Mumble.

Woo! While wandering town looking for the other exit, I found another questgiver (they are actually hilited on the map if you look closely). This one actually gave me 50 Land Exp for saying hi πŸ™‚ 25% to level 2…

Killed the first mushroom outside of town – 81 Land Exp. I’ll ding 2 off of the second kill here πŸ˜›

Killing mushrooms. Killing mushrooms…

fireball!

There is some combat lag when I activate my attack spell. I don’t know if it’s my network or machine or the server. Nobody else in the zone is complaining about it, however, so it’s probably on my end.

Almost dinged 3 off of the 8 kills for the first mushroom mission. Time to look for second quest’s mushrooms… It looks like mobs come in the standard 3 sizes here. You get the weak, normal, and strong varieties of each farmable mob. Additionally, I would be surprised if they didn’t occasionally spawn boss level versions of everything.

Level 4 from kills and I’ve completed the two kill quests and 1/3 of a drop quest (which I hope will continue dropping off of other things out there). Time to head back into town, turn in, and grab the skill books I couldn’t afford earlier.

Oh, nice. Shopping interface has a cart that you can confirm actions on. No accidental purchases is always a win.

So I can wield swords and little magical crystals. They started me with one of each. There are spells I can only cast when wielding a sword, but the sword itself doesn’t seem to do as much damage when autoattacking. This is likely the fault of my not having put any points into strength… but still. Also, the sword doesn’t increase my fireball damage, so I’m not very motivated to spend skill points on this sword-only skill tree. Will have to wait a few levels and see if maybe if it’s worth hot-swapping weapons in order to use the ability.

Hmm. Quest turnins weren’t worth very much. 1000 xp for two quests. I was earning 130 per kill of a level 2 mob. At least they gave me some cash for my trouble. I’m 44% to 5 now and am confident I’ll be able to afford my level 6 spells.

So far, all of the item drops I’ve had were for other classes, but now I’m off to slay dodos for some reason. Who needs quest text? Not me! Fireball! Level 5 dodo = 267 exp. Four of these are worth more than the quests I just turned in. Oh well.

It is possible to miss with spells. I guess my next couple of stat points are going into dex. Sigh.

Finishing this next pair of missions takes me 47% into level 5. New skills are unlocked at level 6. I think I’m just going to grind the strong dodos until 6 before returning to town (since I doubt the turnins will be worth enough to do the job). 316 xp for one of these guys vs 500 for the mission turnin? Sigh.

Ooh! I can change screen resolution. Looks like they support a good variety of options.

I have decent hp/mp regen out of combat and haven’t had to pause very many times. It appears that sitting down rapidly increases your regen rate (and it only takes a few seconds of sitting to regen all 600 of my mana, my fireball costs 43). Potions are abundant, but not spammable, so that’s nice. At first glance, I like the regen mechanics.

95% to 6, time to turn in and learn new toys. Hmm. The level 1 sword spell is actually a short term buff to increase sword damage. I’ll give it a whirl. New clothes and weapons available from vendor at level 5 means I’m dressed in blue in stead of red now. Ahh tinted equipment sets.

Upon talking to questgivers in town, they send me in circles around the entire city, talking to ever vendor two or three times… for a total of like 3% of a level. Sigh. After the dust settles, I have a few more missions back out of town, including one to kill some of the strong dodos I’d just finished grinding. Oh well.

I think I’m gonna go test out these new toys and then give seafaring another go.

Sigh. Skirts flip up when casting spells. What is this, Lineage 2? Mumble. Actually, it’s not quite so egregious as all that – it doesn’t hover for 5 seconds, etc… I only noticed it because of an accident of camera angles just now. In L2, it didn’t matter where the camera was, the frilly underthings were everywhere.

ice + fire

Hmm. Well, the iceball does damage like the previous rank of fireball, has a 6s cooldown, but lands a pretty good snare. It also looks like it might be a small AoE, but I’ve not seen any real evidence of this. The sword buff certainly makes swinging my sword worthwhile… but it doesn’t switch to autoattack when I open with a spell like my cariad (magical floaty rock weapon) does. This makes sense in that the sword is a melee weapon and autoattack would make me charge in… but it’s still a hair inconvenient I think.

After further experimentation, I disbelieve the tooltip. If iceball has any area component, it requires the mobs to be standing on top of each other. The snare component is strong enough, however, that it renders any notion of using a sword pretty moot. I can blast things of my level into ash before they come even vaguely close to melee range now. This is gratifying.

Spells queue (at least one item deep). It’s always refreshing to see a game get it right. If I press two buttons in a row, please wait until the first action is done before performing the second one. It’s nice, you can tap an attack spell while the animation for the first spell is going and it’ll just work without complaint.

And now back to the boat!

Actually, I think I’m going to try to buy a more durable ship this time around. I’ve got 4.1k in my pocket, and individual parts for entry level ships look pretty cheap. 186g total for a brand new level 1 ship, complete with some accessories I can’t equip until level 2. Sounds good. It cost 74g to repair my broken tutorial ship.

successful sea battle

Much better this time around. It also helps that I found the level 1 and 2 mobs to fight. First kill was worth over 90% of a level. Looting corpses at sea is difficult, and of the four kills I got, two of the corpses disappeared before I could loot them. The other two didn’t drop anything worth the trouble. I dinged 3 for my trouble and had 14g in repair costs when I arrived at port… which qualifies me for a quest to go sink some pirates, and one to harvest the big lobsters πŸ™‚

And I think that’ll have to wait for later.

Initial Takeaway

So far, I’m a little impressed. The game is playable and interesting. It lets you get to the seafaring right away – even if the system is a bit difficult to learn. Land-based combat doesn’t disappoint me, it’s much better than it could have been.

I didn’t get a chance to try my hand at fishing since it costs a precious skill point – and I spent my one experimental point so far on the rapier skill. I’ll try fishing tomorrow if I get a chance.

The chat channel is very active, and most of it is the inane drivel of kids who shouldn’t be allowed on the internet. There was guild posturing and name calling and people with names like “sn1per” and “ipwnzu”. Really, it’s everything else you’d expect from the lowbie zones of a free-to-play MMO that has active players.

All told, everything is largely predictable, but nothing is so horrible that I dread my next session or two. In fact, I’m only quitting right now so I can get to work on time πŸ˜‰

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