Dusktreaders - Great Plans Call for Great Solutions
Oct 30, 2005 21:49:00

Dusktreaders, a gothic-themed game from virgin game studio Granite Games is a system that appears to be in search of solutions for many of the reoccurring pain points within existing MMORPGs, particularly those problems that vex players who truly are "leet" and require a challenge worthy of their time.

Dusktreaders appears to be in the pre-alpha stages of development, though evidence suggests that some early alpha testing is currently or has previously been exposed to a select group of players. Further evidence of its early stage of development is a lack of in-game content such as screen shots or models. Artists are a selective bunch and rarely want to unveil half finished work, so the lack of substantial content at this early stage is to be expected. The theme of the game suggests a heavy use of our favorite types of foes, vampires and werewolves. I sense a Van Helsing inspired world. Actually, I encourage a Van Helsing inspired world, as long as it is executed with flair, grit, and a good measure of blood. (and sexy vampire babes help too.) But this is all a guess based on the forum discussions, fiction, and lore. Not much detail regarding the world is in place yet.

However, what is in place at this time is promising.

The web presence is uncluttered, but rich with material to absorb and ponder. I dare say that if the website art, logos, desktop wallpaper, and concept sketches (some of which are strong...some otherwise) are any indication of the look and feel of the system, those of insidious inclinations will feel right at home in Cantele, the world of Dusktreaders.

The Dusktreaders FAQ brought an interesting design topic to light. One question always asked: Is the system level or skill based? Granite Games answers this in the only way that I consider reasonable: It is a hybrid. Both level/class and skill/ability selections appear to weigh equally on the design and development of a character. This makes perfect sense to me as it provides the necessary balance (if implemented correctly) along with the desired flexibility and character uniqueness opportunities. And then Dusktreaders ups the ante with another concept:
"Dusktreaders' Achievement System: Other games discourage finesse in tackling advancement because the safest and easiest way to get levels is to ?grind? XP. Say good-bye to the XP grind of old. Rather than leveling-up through XP earned from killing monsters, you gain levels through completing missions. We denounce the notion that players must hack-and-slash their way to the top level ... We also toss aside the notion that ?camping? the same spot for hours on end is fun ... To make everybody's advancement experience unique, there will be multiple ways a person might achieve their next level, but all ways will involve strategic and tactical proficiency."

Who likes the grind? Who likes top heavy games? Who likes winning all the time without challenging game play? Hmm, the answer is: Not me and I dare say, not many high end players. Social players probably do not want to be bogged down by too much failure, strategy, or complexity, and that is acceptable. But there is a market out there for high end players. Which leads into creative solution number two.
High end players? You mean raiders?
"There will be no parties greater than six people on a mission, however some of the hardest missions will require great precision and tea
mwork -- in effect acting much like raids from other games. We are set upon rewarding skill rather than rewarding raiding groups with the most players in them."
Ah, the return of the swat team. It is about time someone decided to put the kybosh on zerg raids and focus on what is important. The skill of the players. In fact, many of the features discussed by the development team seem to circle endlessly around this concept of bringing player-skill and player-intelligence back into the MMORPG world. (I say "back" because it hasn't always been entirely missing.) They also make it clear that they are not talking about twitch skill, but team work and creative use of the skills. The skill system is simple yet unique and employs a very interesting classification system involving toggled, instant, and duration based skills. I do not know what it all will look like in-game, but I must admit I like what I see (or envision).

It appears that there are no races and I appreciate Dusktreaders cutting against the grain in this way. Guild Wars did this and it did not seem to have a negative impact on their system. There are only 6 class areas currently listed on the site, which seems brief, but depending on how they are fleshed out, it could work. Again, Guild Wars took a similar approach.

From this point on, I am going to keep close tabs on the progress of this release. This unknown studio may find itself promoted from Insurgent to Challenger, but only time will tell. Details regarding the look and feel, game engine, and other logistics of the system are sparse leaving little substantial material to judge, save for the ideas and objectives presented, which are, in the opinion of this opinionated writer, simply grand.

Submitted by Brent on Oct 30, 2005 21:49:00 CST (comments: 0)


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