New Games are Weird

I was talked into playing Mabinogi the other day. It’s the first MMO I’ve played, but not the first I’ve observed or heard about in some way or another. I had fun playing, but towards the end of my second day I was starting to get a little restless. I found myself thinking back to when I first started playing MUDs years ago.

I don't think I ever started playing one on my own. It was always at someone else's invitation. And of course, in such a situation, they're always far more advanced than you are. There's a fine balance between getting help and leeching. There's a fine balance between them helping you out a bit and too much.

I actually feel kind of wussy, because I don't really feel like I'm learning things on my own. I'm asking a lot of questions and making constant comparisons to other games I know. I do it, and then I realize I'm doing it, and then I feel kind of weird about it. This may be some kind of natural cycle, but I should try to curb it.

The fighting in this game is pretty fun. I heard many times that there was considerable depth here, but now I'm starting to believe it. There are two elements that I like quite a bit: preparing skills and reading enemy attacks.

The combat is in real-time, so you have to think quickly. You can start preparing a skill, and depending on your proficiency in that skill, it takes a shorter amount of time to prepare. Meanwhile, the enemy or enemies you are fighting may also be preparing a skill. Only one skill can be used at a time, so you have to choose wisely.

Furthermore, at least a good part of the time you have to predict what your opponent will do. It seems like enemies fall into certain classes of behavior. For instance, some enemies immediately go on the defensive when you attack them. Others just charge you right back. Right now I find that it's easiest and safest with my limited hitpoints to be quite defensive, but watching others, I see that there are many opportunities to follow up an attack with another different attack. Being low level seems to limit my options considerably.

I constantly make mental comparisons with other games (read: MUDs), and in some ways the combat is more interesting. The choice between fully real-time combat and cyclic combat is always present. I'm leaning more and more towards fully real-time, but the intricacies of making that work well are a bit daunting. I don't want to mooch, but some of the things I'm experiencing here are crystallizing hand-wavy ideas I have floating around.

Now if only I could sort out these foundational problems... More on that later.


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