I Don’t Want To Steal Your Style. I Just Like Your Moves, Baby.

Hello there everyone! I’ve been invited to be a guest on the show and didn’t want to come on all empty-handed and what not. I figured I’d do a little something to spur some conversation. I’ve recently been playing in the closed beta of Allods online, and also the launch of Alganon. You may notice that both titles have been compared to a certain game called World of Warcraft. In fact, all the talk about WoW clones had me thinking about what these games really have to offer.

We are living in a post-WoW world here people! A game has come in and reshaped the way we think about a genre. Although it has happened to things far more important than gaming, we are witness to our vacuum tube hobby imploding and scattering particles of inspiration out towards future development houses. We’re now able to see the effect of what something revolutionary has on future iterations. Let me get to the point. I’m making WoW out to be the atom bomb aren’t I? Okay I’ll stop.  I just find it mind-boggling that WoW has created its own aesthetic.

Allods and Alganon aren’t the first to use WoW’s design. Its stylized nature and overall cartoonish presentation is, for some gamers, the whole reason they will never enter Blizzard’s Azeroth. Earlier this year, Runes of Magic’s release reminded us that WoW’s specific aesthetic was popular enough to be imitated. Torchlight took it a bit further, completely committing to a cartoon world and using lessons learned by WoW to make the most out of textures and lighting in creating an expressive dungeon crawler. Finally, Allods and Alganon cement the idea for me, with their attempts at interpreting what makes WoW’s look work.

I’ve spent the most time with Allods Online in closed beta, so I’ll start there. I’ll just say it plainly that Allods, as a opposed to Alganon,  is more successful at creating an art design that seems inspired by WoW, instead of ripping it off.  Allods does this in a few ways that attempt to jar the viewer into realizing that Allods does not equal WoW.

Like Torchlight, Allods Online takes the general design philosophies presented in WoW and applies them to a foreign setting and lore. By doing this, opportunities to create set pieces modeled in that aesthetic, yet are also alien to it, are produced. That’s pretty interesting, isn’t it? With this, a player familiar with the look of WoW can feel a sense of nostalgia while still experiencing new content, and newcomers can experience a design method that has been proven in its quality.

Allods Arch
Architecture foreign to WoW, but of the same design philosophy

Allods Online understands some of the elements that makes the WoW experience engaging.  It includes a variety of races and starts with an engaging tutorial that introduces your character’s place in the world. The game has a few features that are neat. Being able to charge certain spells that have long casting times in order to blast off an instant cast, and having the primary stats of my class highlighted were nice.  Allods Online feels more like a love letter to WoW than a clone.

Charged Spell

Charged Spell Goodness

On the other end of the spectrum lies Alganon. This title just released yesterday and I’ve put about fourteen hours into it so far. I’ve spent most of my time exploring the world and mechanics that the developer hopes will bring new players to its doors.

This experience started where it usually does for me: the game’s website.  Actually, take the links (Features,World Evolution) over there and read up on the game’s features… go ahead… I’ll be here when you come back. They sound pretty friggin’ sweet, don’t they? Well, the few that I’ve gotten to check out do add some great fun to the game. The way they’ve worked in the EVE-like alternative leveling system keeps you checking back in, and the family system seems to have some neat advantages. By the time I was done reading that information, I was pretty excited about the game.

Where the game hit me in the face was in its no holds barred lack of restraint when ripping pages out of WoW’s book.  For every moment that I find some actual enjoyment in the game, I find three or so art assets that seem to be taken straight from WoW. Guild tabards look the same. When creating a Kujix (Evil Faction) character, I was met with a symbol that looked like WoW’s Horde symbol.

Yet the moment that stopped me in my tracks was when my character went and died on me. Until then, I wasn’t quite sure what would actually happen. I’ll just tell you it looked like this, but fuzzier:

Corpse Run

That reminds me! There won’t be any Alganon screenshots to prove my points. Its screenshot command is broken, and Print Screen just gets you a pic of the desktop. Away we go!

A lot of the game mechanics that Alganon offers sound great.  One example is its “World Evolution,” which seems to be attempting world-changing events a la Asheron’s Call. I’d like to think that the developers, Quest Online, are using WoW’s art design as a launching point to house a unique play experience. There is no way to tell, though, since elements like “World Evolution” will take time to see any real outcome. Hopefully, as new content comes out, they push away from the WoW aesthetic, because for now it just seems like an unfortunate crutch.

At the end of the day, I’m amazed that Alganon is not going free to play. I wish the best for them and hope they can get a strong following to continue full development. There! I don’t have to feel like a jerk anymore!

I’m done now! See you around! Thanks to the CM crew!

-    Blamefulgecko

3 Comments to I Don’t Want To Steal Your Style. I Just Like Your Moves, Baby.

  1. December 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Tried using Fraps to grab screenshots? I always use it for all games that either refuse to do screenshots or make them into grainy jpg-files.

    Allods seems interesting and maybe worth a shot for their original style, but Alganon is a complete copy of WoW. I wouldn’t touch it with a stick.

  2. Tork's Gravatar Tork
    December 7, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    We appreciate you looking into Alganon and appreciate the candor of your article. We are proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with Alganon so far. WE, any MMORPG, are always in a state of improvement and we are continuing to improve Alganon day-by-day based on the feedback we receive from our players. -Tork, Alganon Community Manager

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