Way back when, I wound up with a place in the Alganon MMOG closed beta. I really liked it. I haven’t really played it since launch, though, and there’s been a lot of water under the bridge at Quest Online, the developer. A change of management, bringing in Derek Smart (of whom I understandably have mixed feelings), lawsuits and more.
Anyway, Alganon went free-to-play last Friday, so I figured it was time for another look.
Back in beta, Alganon wasn’t really all that much to look at. It had decent, but unpolished graphics, though, as well as strong, witty, correctly-spelled and grammatically correct text(!)
Plenty of the game mechanics hadn’t been completed at that stage, but the writing was sometimes laugh-out-loud, and the gameplay was straightforward, challenging and fun.
Well, polish has been poured over the game. Graphically, it’s much improved, and a whole lot slicker. Most of the text is without error, and the attention-to-detail that that implies does show throughout.
Yes, there’s bugs, but no more than you’d expect for an MMOG title that’s just a few months old. Probably the most irritating is where a specific and otherwise ordinary mob goes troppo and winds up doing one-shot-kill damage on every hit (damage in the hundreds of thousands range) to any player unlucky enough to get into a scrap with it.
The other major glitch you’re likely to encounter is in the launcher itself, which cannot call home if your Internet Explorer options in the Windows Control Panel specifies a proxy; fix by adding an exception for *.alganon.com
Most of the rest of the game, at least at the lower levels, seems to run pretty smoothly. The writing is good, and the storytelling is fine for MMOG fare.
Character creation involves two distinct factions, the slightly superhuman Asharr, and the animalistic Kujix. Each character is also enrolled in a Family, based on the basic Bartle types. There are five (Alganon adds ‘Crafter’ as a fifth type).
There are four classes available to the player: A warrior, a ranged-combat type, a spell-caster, and a healer.
Each of the four classes can double up in combat roles, so there’s some versatility in the possible builds.
Alganon’s presently unique (so far as I know) in the fantasy MMOG space in that it allows character development based on realtime (both online and off).
The character can be set to study a variety of things which will provide improvements to character statistics, abilities, resistances or open up new quest possibilities. The character will work through that study queue whether you are online or not. At the earliest stages, new things can be studied in minutes. Later they will take hours or days to complete.
In short, you don’t have to be grinding online all the time to better your character, though the improvements from studies are incremental.
The free-to-play model that Alganon is using limits your level cap (to 30, instead of the VIP’s 50), and limits some of your other options (sending in-game mail is not available, and neither may you speak on some of the chat-channels) without buying the appropriate capabilities pack.
The free-to-play model is probably a good one. Alganon’s just not attracted enough players to give it that effective MMOG vibe, and to make the whole crafting dynamics quite work as intended. Starting on Friday, that seems to have changed, with a sharp rise in the number of people working their way through the lowest levels.
Back when I was in the beta, a number of people told me that Alganon was just a “World of Warcraft” rip-off. Mind you, I’ve also heard people say that EVE Online, Second Life and Lord of the Rings Online were World of Warcraft rip-offs.
I’ve never played or seen World of Warcraft, so I’m not the one to tell you whether it is or it isn’t a copycat, and I don’t really much care if it is.
I’m just here to tell you that it’s fun. Obviously, if you don’t like fantasy genre MMOGs, Alganon isn’t going to be the one to convince you, I shouldn’t think.
If you do, though – well, it’s free and I at least think it’s a good bit of fun.