Thursday, February 28, 2008

Linux Free MMO Roundup Week Three: Planeshift

In honor of this being the third week of the roundup, we're taking a turn towards the third dimension. This week's game, Planeshift, is fully 3D, and open source to boot.

I first looked at Planeshift quite a while back, and while I was impressed with the ambition of the project, there just wasn't enough actual game there to keep me interested. It's been long enough since I promised myself I'd take another look, so that's just what I did. Let me say: Planeshift has come a long way from the stuttering crash-fest it was when I first encountered it.

After loading up Planeshift and going through the obligatory character creation stage, I was greeted with a lengthy tutorial. Some of Planeshift's gameplay elements differ from a lot of it's genre brethren, so the tutorial was quite welcome. While I worked through the tutorial, one of the first things I noticed was that Planeshift was running at quite a respectable framerate, something it didn't do in the past.

Now, Stendhal got a lot of heat from me last week for the way it handled NPCs, yes? Yes. Planeshift uses a similar method, but it's implemented in a far superior fashion. Like Stendhal, you talk to NPCs by, well, actually talking to them. Unlike Stendhal, this happens in a seperate chat tab, and it's entirely private. This turns out to be a good thing, because you're going to be talking with them a lot, and you're not always going to be saying nice things.

Quests are obtained easily enough by telling an NPC "give me a quest." Anything besides this simple exchange turns into a frustrating exercise in trial and error. Early after leaving the tutorial area, I encountered a quest in which a woman wanted me to deliver a drink to a nearby NPC named Aleena. I was told that there was some coin in it for me if I returned and told her how the Aleena liked the drink. I tried every variation of "Aleena liked the drink" I could think of, and was invariably met with "I'm just a bartender, I don't understand what you're saying."

Looking past that, the game is enjoyable. Combat is of the typical MMO "click and wait" variety, so if that's not your cup of tea, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. There is a large variety of other tings to do, some implemented, some yet-to-be-implemented, but this is definitely more than a simple grindfest.

Your milage may vary, but overall I'd like to say kudos to the Planeshift team on how far the game has come. I'll be keeping up with it with far more regularity than I have in the past.


Anonymous said...

After you posted this, the server went down the following day for a major upgrade (to Steel Blue 0.4.00). There is a list of changes to read as well.

kristofer said...

Thanks for letting me know, I'll definitely be checking it out.