Thursday, October 18, 2007

Waiting To Wait

When I first saw an entry on The Linux Game Tome for a new free-to-play MMORPG I was somewhat excited. For a long time it's basically been Eternal Lands and Planeshift. I like Eternal Lands, that's been established already, but I've played the hell out out of it. Planeshift, while I applaud its developers for making an open source MMO, just really isn't to the state where I find it playable to the point of being fun. So when Regnum Online entered the picture, of course I had to try it out.

First off, let it be known that you're going to be waiting. A lot. When I visited the download page and saw the installer was only around 1 megabyte, I knew there would be additional downloading in my future. After registering on the Regnum Online site and launching the, um, launcher, the download began, although it wasn't too long. I arrived at the character creation screen. Standard stuff. After creating my character, that's when the real downloading began.

It started off saying it had loaded 1 of 1000 or so resources, and that it was downloading about 30 resources. No big deal, I thought. Then each number started climbing. Not just what I had downloaded, but what was left to be downloaded. Eventually I was at 500 of 1200 resources downloaded, then 500 of 1300. After a while, the upper limits stopped increasing and I rode out the rest of the download. Finally I was in the game world. Sort of.

I was initially greeted with a sky, some hazy white geometry, and some green boxes. Must be a graphical glitch, I thought. That's when I noticed, in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, a progress bar. It was downloading, again. Then what the hell did I just download? I waited, and eventually, various textures started popping in to place. Overall, I'd say the wait was about 5-10 minutes.

Once I was finally into the game I was, well, underwhelmed. Barren landscapes, blocky looking characters, and poor performance. Oh, and weird controls. Like many MMORPGs, you can control the camera by holding the right mouse button and moving the mouse, while you move your character with either the arrow or WASD keys. The problem is, your character doesn't move relative to the camera, it moves relative to itself. So if you press the forward key, your character it going to move forward from its own point of view, not yours. So more often than not, you position the camera directly behind your character so movement doesn't feel awkward. This method works, but leaves you wondering why you can even move the camera in the first place.

Gameplay is your standard MMO combat. You click twice on an enemy, and wait until one of you falls down. Somehow, this feels even less fun than usual in Regnum Online, perhaps due to the slow speed of the combat. After making it this far, I'd almost had it. I decided to run to the biggest town on the starter island to see if it got any more interesting there. It didn't. I logged out, and deleted the game.

This is the bottom line: If you want a full 3D MMO on Linux that is fairly complete, well, now there is one. I didn't find it very fun, and maybe you won't either. But, hey, I've seen positive reviews, so maybe it just rubbed me the wrong way. Still, I doubt I'll ever touch Regnum Online again.

No comments: