Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Noob Island

There are some games that make you play for a few hours before you get to the actual game. Maple Story, for instance. You have to get to level 8 or 10 before you get an actual character class. The optimal build for some classes is the worst possible build for a beginner, so it's an unpleasant slog to start off with. You pick stats, and add points, and, two hours later when you get to the actual game, hope that the stats and points you have are decent.

Other games, like World of Warcraft, let you pick a race and class, and just turn you loose on the world. From there, you hope that you picked something good, and that your skills and bonuses are useful.

FBAO has Noob Island. It's a sandbox, basically; your character can change class (and race, if we have it), adjust stats, exchange equipment, and such. You're thinking "Would I enjoy playing an archer?" You can try being an archer, get a free bow, and go hunting. If that doesn't work for you, you can go back to the town square, talk to the mayor (or monolith or elder seagull or whatever) and become a dancer or priest, or such. It beats the alternative of having to start over again (and again and again).

Basic weapons are free for the taking. This is so if you're an archer, you begin the game as an archer. You don't have everyone start out hitting things with sticks, and then after a few hours some of them go do something else entirely. If you want to play an archer, you should be able to, at level 1, get a bow and arrows and start shooting them at things.

The free equipment is unsellable. It's the worst equipment in the game, so you'd probably upgrade right after you left.

The basic idea is that you should be able to customize your character. I'm divided on whether or not you should be able to create a useless character. I am quite certain that you should have to try hard to do so, and that you should be able to correct mistakes with some ease.

You can't advance past level 2 on Noob Island. If you change classes at level 2, your skill points get reset (so you can't have a mage with three points in swordfighting, for example)*. After you leave Noob Island you can't change stats or class. You can't go back to Noob Island either.

If you want to just skip Noob Island, you can probably get to level 2 in a few minutes on your own.

*: This is, of course, a bug that would get fixed after a year or so. In the comic, there are a few characters who've managed to do this. It just hasn't come up yet (and probably won't because it's complicated to explain).

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