Thursday, October 25, 2012

On Legos and Pirates

Oh Pirate101. How I have mixed feelings for thee. Let me count the ways.
My Pirate101 adventure has been very interesting. I got invited to play during the closed beta and got to around level 18, if I remember correctly, before I had to stop playing for a few reasons. Mostly because I had other commitments as in jobs and school and things. I also had just recently started playing Glitch, which is a very fun game that I enjoy more than any game I've played in the last five years. But I must admit that P101 became a drag after a while. Example:
P101: Go here and defeat more things.
ME: But it takes me 15 minutes just to fly-sail there!
P101: Sorry you have to defeat more things.
ME: I can't I'm almost dead.
P101: Go do it lazy.
ME: Oh boy.
RANDOM PLAYER: *a random player joins your battle*
ME: Noooooooo!
P101: Now defeat five times the bad guys.
ME: *throws computer out window*
Okay that was an over exaggeration. But honestly, P101 felt much more grind-y at a lower level than W101 did. Which is something that doesn't really do anything for me. I'd rather solve puzzles or do something clever than kill a bunch of baddies.

The premise of the game I really like. I think the story is much stronger than that of Wizard101. Which is great. You want to move forward in your sophistication as a developer, right?
Speaking of which I think the graphics are much nicer than W101. I oohed and ahhed when I saw it for the first time. And the puppet shows? Pure genius.

But really gets me about Pirate101 is the contradictory nature of the game. It's pirates, for the family. When you think of it logically, it doesn't make much sense; pirates steal and kill and break many international laws, and "family friendly" indicates that some morals will be upheld and not many people die in horribly brutal ways.
I read an article back while P101 was still in Alpha and they were promoting it, and it said that Kingsisle was attempting to draw in more tween/teen aged boys with this game, as well as bridge the gaming gap for kids ("from Club Penguin to WoW" is something I hear often about this game and W101).
If that truly is their mission, then, from my experience, I think they failed.
One of my best friends is the exact demographic they are trying to pull in with P101. He was the friend that originally got me into W101. He is much more "hardcore" than I am. His reaction to P101 after playing it with me for a while: "Blah." Initially he was impressed because he liked it better than W101, but soon he got really bored. I must note that he has way more patience for grinding than I do. But, now that I think about it, is not saying much.

Something that both of us didn't like was the fundamental set up for gameplay. It's turn based ground. Huh? We both found it very awkward and kinda pointless. We both play Star Trek Online which is truly a "run around and shoot things!" kind of game play. We both felt that would have been more straightforward in P101 than turn based. Also turn based does not do much to "prepare" you for the more traditional style MMOs, because it's such a specialized style of fighting. In the end I felt like they were doing it just to keep their E rating and because they did it in W101 too, and not because it added anything to the game experience.

And then their is the what I like to call, the "cute factor". I must admit when I scrolled through the name list I made a ton of comments such as: "'Helpful'? I don't think that there is such a thing as a 'helpful' pirate. ... 'Kindly'?! The heck?" I also will admit that I yell at the computer screen when I see pink pirates. In fact I do not know why there is even a bright bubble gum pink option for a pirate flag. This must be an error. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against pink. In fact my desktop wall paper right now is a plethora of pink nebulae. I love pink. However pink pirates break the roleplay of the game. (Especially because in a historical context the color coding of pink = girls didn't come about until the 1940s. cough cough.)
Aside from that, there is also the fact that all characters end up looking less ARGH! and more like a Rankin-Bass claymation Christmas special.
I'm scared, but for the wrong reasons.
I think that there is a middle ground. One word: Legos. Legos aren't really girly or boyish. They are pretty neutral. Look at the success that the lego franchise has had. Good gravy! I think that we have all the lego Wii games. Actually they're one of the only things that everyone in the family can agree to play together. Well, and Mario Kart. You're laughing. I can tell, but hear me out! Lego can take something like for example Star Wars which was not designed for kids and make it totally harmless for kids while still being true to the spirit of the movies and entertaining. So maybe Kingsisle should start shooting for the "lego ground" to really capture the largest audience as possible. I think that their product would improve.

Today I got to the end of the free-to-play content on P101. I could finish off all the side quests I have laying around in my log and grind for some more nautical xp, but I'm not going to because that sounds dreadfully dull. Thus ends my interesting adventure with Pirate101.