Monthly Archives: November 2011

Minor Tweaks, Huge Gripes

Have you ever seen something to glaringly stupid you just wanted to take over and fix it? This is a story about that, and why we refer to Rappelz as “Crappelz.”

I’ve mentioned Rappelz before. No other MMORPG has had the community Rappelz has. It’s the one thing it has above Guild Wars (which, for the record, is an amazing game and I highly recommend it).

For a taste of what’s so terrible with the game, ever since I started playing there have been promises for a “third job class” and certain skills that have never worked. Server crashes are far from unusual, changing gear quickly causes people around you to crash out of the game, and even something like teleporting or switching characters can cause your game to crash. When there is a “hard mode” for dungeons that ports you back to town if you log out, the incessant crashing of servers and your game is a major annoyance.

On the November 15 maintenance, we got a major update to the game: Epic VII Part 3 — Ascension. The update came with promises of Master Classes (their response to “third job class”), new instanced dungeons (none of the prior dungeons were instanced), and a new golem pet. Those were the advertised changes, but there were many more, and some that should never have been made.

The big one is the HP/MP bars, including the ones on screen above players’ names, the ones listed in the party menu, and your own in the top left corner along with your exp % and level. The original design had subdued colors, smooth lines, easy-to-read font face and color. The exp bar was divided into segments so you got an idea of how far you were just by looking at the progression in regards to the lines. Overall, it looked very classy and modern.

Now the HP/MP bars are now BRIGHT green and blue. Like highlighter bright. Like someone dropped some radioactive material into the dye bright. They are also smaller now, and the numbers for your current/max HP and MP are white and in a super-bold font. White font on a neon background? Brilliance. On top of that, the exp bar is no longer divided up into sections.

The entire top-left menu looks like crap. It’s squished together, difficult to read, blocky, and looks like it belongs in a game far less-developed than Rappelz, which is now over 5 years old and one of the biggest titles in Korea. The update made it look like the many many other F2P MMORPGs that use monospaced font and can fit their entire gaming population on a single server with room to spare.

This isn’t just about looks, either. The new hp bars make playing the game significantly more difficult, as well. Previously, it was obvious when someone had low or falling HP/MP, because the background was black, making the difference stands out and easing the stress on the poor healers’ eyes. Now with the neon bars, you’d think it would be even easier to see the difference. You would be wrong, due to a couple key facts:

  • Fact 1 — The HP/MP bars are now thinner, giving you a single thin line to watch for.
  • Fact 2 — In addition to the HP/MP bars being colored, the outlines of said bars are also colored. The same color.

In conjunction, these two facts means it is incredibly difficult to see when someone’s health drops. Healers need to see whose HP is dropping. Breeders need to see whose pet’s HP is dropping. Tanks need to see if other people are taking damage. Everyone in the party needs to snap into action if the healer starts taking damage. All of this is near-impossible if you can’t actually SEE the HP bars dropping.
 

Improvement — You’re doing it WRONG!

 

As a disclaimer, I understand programming and running a game of this size is not an easy task. I don’t mean to sit here and complain about something so minor as what my hp bar looks like. However, the HP/MP bars were fine how they were before, and they shouldn’t have been changed. Instead of fixing things that needed to be fixed, they changed something that didn’t need to be changed, and made it significantly worse to the point that it is a hindrance to gameplay.

Fix the servers; fix the lag; fix the broken skills; fix the unstable game; fix the empty strings; fix the descriptions for skills, items, weapons, armor, pets, etc so they are actually correct. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

Adventures with NaNoBoston

So I realized I’ve not made a NaNoWriMo post yet. Here’s a little anecdote from yesterday’s write-in at the Boston Public Library:

We have a goal board on which people write their name, username, starting word count, goal word count, and ending word count. When you reach your goal, you ring the goal bell and everyone applauds (albeit quietly, as we were in a library, after all). This being the first write-in, we were getting several newbies and Travis, one of the MLs, explained the goal board to a few people already. He had just explained it to one poor, unsuspecting chap when I decided to make use of the goal board, something I rarely do. With him standing there gazing at the entries already on the board, I added mine as follows: Read the rest of this entry