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Findle the Gremlin Gadgeteer

I am always up for exploring a new video game, so I was very pleased to be invited to the private beta-test of Mythos, the new mmo from Flagship Studios, the original developer of the Diablo franchise of games.

I barely remember signing up for the beta months ago, but the invite came on a night when I had a few hours free, so into the game I went.

Downloading and installing the game was painless and within 15 minutes I and my first avatar created: Findlewick, a cigar-smoking, bespectacled gremlin with some serious attitude (that’s his ugly mug above.) He was short, grumpy and had kickin’ hair. I liked him right away.

The choice of character races and classes was a refreshing change from the standard elf/dwarf offerings (although I am a big dwarf nerd) of other mmos. I always like mixing a bit of technology with magic, so I made my little gremlin a machine building specialist (he can set little wind-up robots into the path of approaching monsters and make them go boom – very fun to watch.)

I am disappointed with the isometric perspective of the game, that only allows players to see other players, npcs and monsters in with an angled bird’s eye view. This is a hold-over from the Diablo games, which I never really got into so I don’t have that nostalgic attachment to it. I’m a real fan of immersive, 360 degree-viewed environments. But I’ve played enough computer rpgs in the past to get past this detail and enjoy the restricted view of the world.

There are many things to like about the game: it is beautiful to look at when you’re in 360 “vanity mode” which let’s you see your character but move him/her/it in that view. Movement is fast and the combat is easy to learn. The skills tree looks complex enough to engage a character-leveling D&D nerd like myself but simple enough for a casual player to pick up. I also really like the system of finding/buying maps to uncover new areas. It gives the player a real sense of exploring the world.

Despite all this, Mythos still plays like an mmo (that’s because it is obviously.) I really want to love mmos but I just don’t get why developers can’t get past the”kill x number of monsters” quests. I get why these quests are used: they’re self-contained, not affecting the overall world story, easy for npcs to repeatedly dish out to players and they are low-stakes learning for new players still figuring out the game. But they are so boring! And in a game that uses instanced dungeons (as this one does) there’s no reason for it (well, there probably is, but I’m not a game programmer, so I don’t know and don’t really care, I just know I find it very frustrating.)

Nothing says “treadmill” more than repeatedly chasing and slaying wolves/rats/whatever over and over again for the sole reason of delivering the teeth/pelts/whatever to the quest issuing npc. And when this gamer feels like he’s on a treadmill, the game ceases to be a game and becomes work. Give me “delve into the depths of the goblin cave and rescue the kidnapped dwarven miners” over “collect 100 beetle shells and return to me” any day.

Grinding and treadmills are my biggest complaints (and the complaint of many, many others) about mmos. It’s what made me play World of Warcraft for less than a month and one of the main reasons I only played the beta test of Pirates of the Burning Sea for a week (that and the fact that the game consistently crashed on me.) I love playing games online with hundreds of other people, I just hate feeling like another worker in a country-wide wolf-pelt collection business.

All that aside, I will spend some more time in Mythos in the coming weeks and see where all my wolf-hunting and beetle shell collecting will take me. Hopefully it’ll get me off the treadmill.

Oh, and to anyone looking for beta-invites – don’t ask me. I ain’t got any, sorry.

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