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  1. #1
    Goodfoot is offline Newbie Explorer
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    Default A letter to the developers, from a new member and Free Realms fan...

    I am new to Free Realms. I recently closed my World of Warcraft account, have been looking for an alternative, and am settled on FR. Now, I left WoW for basically two reasons:

    1.) World of Warcraft was how my brother and I spent time together. We have been fans of the fantasy genre as long as we can remember, and are consummate lore nerds. So we found World of Warcraft immensely engaging. However, after almost three years of playing, it became increasingly clear to us that we were never going to be the caliber of player - nor have the time needed - to complete or enjoy endgame content (raids). In turn, it became increasingly difficult to justify paying for a game that we were not going to see the full content of. To me it was like reading a book that was missing the last chapter, and only being able to hear about how it ended.

    2.) I am a Christian. Now I am not of the persuasion where I forsake all things secular, far from it. And I am not saying that World of Warcraft is anti-Christian, but they are willing to cross lines that I just cannot. Demons and Necromancy being involved in playable classes was something that always bothered me. I am talking about Warlocks and Death Knights. I tried to be “open-minded” and played alongside them under the justification that in the real world you occasionally have to deal with bad people (referring to the class, not the player). But for me, a necessary evil – if such things exist - should be a last resort, not the starring role. And saying “it’s just a game” does not cut it. The issue eventually troubled me to the point of genuine discomfort and disapproval.

    ---

    So I left WoW and have since been searching for alternatives. I started seriously playing around with Free Realms about a week ago and am truly enjoying myself. I have been reading through the forums and trying to familiarize myself with the lore and mechanics of the game. I know it is relatively new, and there is still a fair amount of development going on: as you have new ideas and try to meet the needs of your players. I think it is quite exciting.

    I adore “Children’s Entertainment”. I saw How to Train Your Dragon more times than I saw Avatar, I enjoyed the Harry Potter novels more than I did Dragonlance, and I am drawn to the Disney art style more than I am to Marvel Comics (did you catch the pun?). I attribute this to two factors: an appreciation for whimsy, and a love for having my heartstrings pulled. I am a sap.

    However, I am not the target age group for Free Realms. I understand that, but I believe that I represent a niche of MMO player that FR has the potential to draw in…and we have money to spend. We are the MMO advocates (mostly adults like myself) who love the fantasy genre, and love to be deeply immersed in it, but are looking for a kinder and more monitored community; along with gameplay that is challenging but not over-complicated or all-consuming. And while I don’t have access to statistics or market studies, I bet there are a lot of us out there.

    So please understand that what follows are not complaints. At best they are suggestions, directions I think myself and players like me would hope to see FR going in. Not because I am dissatisfied, but because I am thrilled with and believe in what you are doing. I have loved this stuff for as long as I can remember, and you are providing an avenue for me to continue loving it.

    Furthermore, I will not pretend that I have any more than the most basic understanding of the immense complexity involved in creating an MMO. I should also say that I have yet to play my FR character to the level cap on anything. Honestly I have been reading about FR more than anything else. But in the spirit of community input, here are my two cents:

    1.) Story:

    I admit at first I did not feel there was anything to grab on in the lore of FR, but in reading through the forums I discovered that was because - until recently - there wasn’t anything to grab. I am delighted to know that you are beginning to place your rungs. The mix of modern with fantasy is a great vehicle and you can create it all your own.

    So please just continue what you have started. Don’t be afraid to push the limits of your target audience’s attention span, or the boundaries of their imaginations. If that sounds condescending, I did not mean it to be. What I am saying is that J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis had the whole world of all ages reading, and I believe that is something you can accomplish with what you have.

    2.) Mini-games:

    I think that implementing as many aspects of the gaming world – racing games, card games, mini-games - into a single RPG setting is a bold and inspired move. I was put off and impatient at first, but then I realized I was having fun; instead of watching a progress bar waiting for three pieces of copper and a rock to wind up in my bag.

    I love the mini-games, and I think you have implemented them in such a creative way. When my brother and I would have our what-would-be-our-dream-MMO conversation (typically after an unsuccessful night of raiding) the idea of an in-game arcade is something I would always bring up.

    All I would ask is for more. I am particularly fond of “marble poppers”.

    3.) User Interface:

    Okay, maybe one complaint. The UI could stand to be made more accessible. As it is, I find it awkward and frustrating to manage. There are times I have trouble finding what I am looking for, and the heavy use of scrolling and pop-ups becomes tedious. The key-binding system needs to be fixed; it took me a while to realize I had bound a key to an item slot that was labeled for a combat ability. But please, please, please don’t fix it by getting rid of it.

    However, with all that said, I will be the first to say that it’s really something I should give more time to get comfortable with. I also realize that Free realms has been made available for consoles. And that presents a completely different set of criteria to make the UI work. I can only imagine the problems of trying to create a User Interface that is manageable for both formats.

    So in this case I may just need to get over it…but there you go.

    4.) Downloading the Client:

    May we get an option to download the client…pretty please? Members-only? Sure, absolutely, whatever.

    5.) Combat:

    Here is the one everybody has something to say about, I know. And truthfully, this is just my brain thinking out loud for anyone willing or interested in hearing it. So if you’ll allow, here are my humble suggestions.

    Okay, I have read that originally the combat experience was more “WoW-like” (I promise not to use that term again). As I understand it, in December there was a massive change to the Free Realms combat system. The idea was to make it more Arcade-style, but there are complaints that it is not challenging enough. I agree and disagree. Here is what I would do if I were all powerful and knew what I was talking about.

    a.) Boss Fights:

    The existing Gauntlet style combat model is great. That is something I would not want to lose. And for “trash mobs” I think it is a hit. I haven’t whacked at a monster-spawner in years and it is great to be doing it again.

    However, the place where combat becomes disenchanting is in Boss Fights. I agree with similar suggestions in the forums that Boss fights should be a greater challenge, and that there could be more of them. The pace should slow down at a Boss Fight, and require a reasonably careful and tactical use of abilities to win.

    I would suggest that bosses have the typical and familiar multi-phase mechanics: where they may call new spawns to their aid and/or are able to use the same “drop” abilities as players. They should have significantly higher “hit points” than “trash mobs” and take a few minutes to get through. I’m not talking about a ten minute Raid Boss fight, but something akin to a good Instance Boss.

    I don’t think this would be beyond the capabilities of your target audience. In fact, I have known 12-year olds that would be far better at it than I would be. In other words, I believe that you would have more kids telling their parents what to do than the other way around. But everyone would have fun.

    b.) Combat Abilities/Item Slots:

    The original four-ability model was a good one, and I think the new system of “drop” and weapon abilities is a good one. They should get married. And all attacks being AoE to dispense with targeting is stellar. So, here’s what I think: there should be a 4/4 system. For example…

    4 Combat abilites:

    - a low damage/cost, spammable basic attack with a small AoE
    - a medium damage/cost DoT, medium cost, instant cast on a cooldown with a large AoE
    - a high damage/cost, class-based castable attack with a medium AoE
    - the weapon-based attack, high damage, instant cast with a large AoE that dumps the energy pool (just as it currently does).

    4 Item slots:

    - one for a health potion
    - one for an energy potion
    - one for a defensive drop ability
    - one for a damaging drop ability

    In the case of the Medic job, or any other “healing class” that may come up one day (say, perhaps wizard and the upcoming druid job …hint hint). Perhaps they lose a standard combat ability and the weapon combat ability in return for healing abilities: making it useful to have more than one healer in a group.

    For example, The Medic may replace the basic attack with a spot heal, while a Druid loses the DoT Attack for a HoT. I know, that is not so subtly WoW-ish, but I am just throwing it out there. And the weapon attack could be a large group heal saved for desperate situations. Also, it would be a lot of fun – and this may already be the case – if there were “drop” healing abilities in instances. Oh yes, that would be a lot of fun. Of course this limits the solo-capabilities of these jobs…but there could be non-combat questing compensations.

    I don’t think stuns, fears, and snares are entirely necessary. As it is, what I have pulled out of my addled noodle is complicated enough, but I think would provide a variety of attacks that would make combat and Boss Fight tactics more engaging.

    c.) Tiered Difficulty, Groups, and the “Heroic”:

    At present, there is an indicator on each encounter with five points that shows the difficulty of that encounter. I suggest taking that system a step further. Put in another indicator that makes the instance adjustable to the size of the group. One point for one player, two for two, and so on and so forth with a maximum of five. The difference can be a simply a matter of higher hit points and damage taken. I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, but you see where I am going.

    And if it is a possibility, please give us Heroics. Again, just bump up the damage taken and mob/boss hit points. What would be the pot of gold at the end of the Heroic rainbow? I don’t know: mounts, decorations, pets, smoothies? You are immensely creative people, anyone who looks at what you have done so far can tell that. You could think of something original and worth it, I know.

    If I have learned anything in my MMO experience, it’s that you’ll be shocked how many times a group of people will do the same thing over and over again: so long as it is challenging and there is something for them at the end.

    ---

    Well that’s all I got, and now I am going to button my mouth and go to bed. If any of this is overzealous, incompetent, or already there…just ignore me. Just know that I am totally stoked about your game and felt like writing down what I thought. If you made it this far I appreciate your time and attention. Regardless of what happens for this game in the future, I look forward to what lies in store for me in Free Realms…

    Thank you,
    - Christopher Goodfoot

  2. #2
    RandomPlayer's Avatar
    RandomPlayer is offline Master Gamer
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    Default Re: A letter to the developers, from a new member and Free Realms fan...

    Firstly,
    Welcome to Free Realms and Free Realms Insider!

    On the subject of your combat portion, I hate to be such a specific person, but there is a key difference between the Gauntlet games (if we're talking about the same thing) and the current combat system of Free Realms: Gauntlet's attacks target a single enemy while Free Realms's attacks target all foes within the AoE. Gauntlet does have weaker grunts, yes, but they are generated at a much more rapid rate than FR's monster spawners, though the FR MS spawn slightly stronger enemies. In detail, they're not exactly the same. Sorry, I tend to stress details like that.

    As for the complaints that the system is no longer challenging, I would think, like some others do, that the player is simply too high in possible strength as opposed to a combat minigame's limited difficulty. If the current level cap were 3/4 of its current cap, stats remaining the same, we may hear more complaints of the games being too difficult rather than not difficult enough.

    Also, in relation to a group difficulty adjuster, combat is already adjusted to reflect the number of players. I believe enemies simply have their health multiplied by the number of players participating, from 200 to 600 with three players playing, for example. My apologies if that's not what you meant.

    Nonetheless, you've some excellent ideas, though I'm rather confused on the subject of "Heroics".
    Status: Quit FR since I never liked FR at all. Will probably not post anymore.

  3. #3
    Marshall Onyx's Avatar
    Marshall Onyx is offline Amateur Gamer
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    Default Re: A letter to the developers, from a new member and Free Realms fan...

    he said a lot
    Sincerely, Marshall Onyx

    It Is Not Immaturity To Grow Up To Be What You Already Are... A Proud Member Of...
    FREE REALMS
    Marshall Onyx
    A Proud Member Of: Insiders
    Its Dying

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: A letter to the developers, from a new member and Free Realms fan...

    Welcome aboard! Refreshing read, good insight, and it will be nice to see what direction things move in the future.

  5. #5
    Alieza Marie's Avatar
    Alieza Marie is offline Pro Gamer
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    Default Re: A letter to the developers, from a new member and Free Realms fan...

    I defidently see where you're coming from. Though I never really had interest in WoW.
    Welcome and Enjoy. Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

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