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VWN World Review: Sacred Seasons
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World Review: Sacred Seasons


 
Main Review

Compatible with Operating Systems:
Win 98 Win 2K Win XP Vista

World Status: Operational


World Purpose: Gameworld

Age Suitability: Anyone


World-Type

Sacred Seasons is a gameworld. Designed and constructed using Flash, it attempts to show a cohesive world, using the MMO paradigm, and two dimensional graphics in an isometric-appearing world. Drawing cues from the BattleOn series of MMOs, this world is nothing special, instead being almost a checklist of every clich? and bad design decision in MMO history.

Things start out fairly well, with a lovely dramatic opening speech, each line illustrated with a careful drawing, to illustrate the meaning.

You have always known there is a world better than the one we live in.

Where the mountains scrape the skies, and the canyons vanish into darkness.

In this world, everything has a spirit.

From the great wolves of the Coldwoods to the majestic oak trees of Belroot, they all work together with mankind to shape the destiny of the Heartlands.

The greatest of these is the Cycle. Spirits of the seasons who keep peace and harmony in the world.
In the festering corners of the lands, the Bore Lords and their armies have arisen. Spreadign like a cancerous plague.

To the North, below the arctic circle, the first of these has gathered his armies and marches southwards towards one of the last city-states of Mankind.

?Shikaakwa, the City of Air.
If it is to survive, champions must appear; men and women who will stand firm against the coming cold and drive it back.

This is their time.

This is your time.



After that wonderful introduction, the first of many clangers is dropped. When it finishes loading, if the computer is running Windows, the world starts. If the computer is a Macintosh, the world sometimes starts. If it is a linux flavour, it dies horribly every time. The developers are aware of these issues, but for some reason have created a flash based environment that only reliably functions on Windows. A fairly major strike one for the system.


A beautiful start belies the horror waiting for you



Assuming a Windows PC is used, things move swiftly onwards to the character creation screen. Twelve classes are available to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. They are divided into four groups of three: One group for each season as a basic classification system. That is however, about as far as things go. Customisation being limited to changing the clothing and hair colour, or buying new equipment later on.

Once a class and colour scheme are chosen ? both can be changed later, the character is placed in the city of Shikaakwa to begin play. Play is all it is. The plot that seemed so interesting, isn?t quite forgotten, but neither is it advanced. Instead, the typical MMO route of 50 shard servers and dungeon instances is the way to go. Repeated play unlocks new areas of exploration, but areas already visited do not change. In other words, there is no lasting impact upon the world of a player?s presence.

Whilst there are plenty of quests to occupy the player, each takes the same format: Fighting through a dungeon of X number of fights. Once this is completed, return to the quest-giver for a reward, of either silver or gold coins, that can be used to buy equipment. Each fight gains a set amount of experience points, and when sufficient experience is gathered, the player?s character advances a level. Fairly predictable all in all.

One aspect that is readily apparent is that there are not enough quests to keep the player occupied for very long, and many of them have very high level requirements. The world supports 999 player character levels, and many will take a very long time to achieve. So, Sacred Seasons falls back on the old standby: Grinding. Players are expected to kill the monsters in the same dungeons over and over and over again in order to gain the experience needed for each level. Running through the same dungeon 10, 20, even a hundred times in order to gain the experience to ascend another level is not uncommon, resulting in a monotonous grind that feels more like work than pleasure. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why the population of this world is somewhat low.


The world-screen. Simple, uncluttered, and lacking something.



Progress can be accelerated a little by the use of gold coins to buy equipment. Gold is given out at the rate of 2,3, 5 or 10 coins for various quests, some of which can be repeated daily. Silver coins can also be used, the difference being hundreds of silver coins are gained in every battle. Silver bought weapons are inferior to gold bought weapons, and silver cannot buy armour. Yes, you guessed it. Gold coins can be purchased in bulk through use of a credit card. It becomes yet another implementation of the same tired old rhetoric.

Players can form up in groups of up to five individuals to ease the load, and charge into battle together in the instanced dungeons. Groups are very informal, with the first five characters to enter a given fight taking part in it. This brings up the issue of leeching, or lower level characters diving into a fight with much higher level characters, uninvited, and there solely to gain a share of the combat experience for the battle. Rather than a complex system of deciding merit by who contributed the most damage in a battle, Sacred Seasons simply takes the total experience, divides it by the number of survivors, and assigns them all the same. Thus, leeching is extremely profitable for the lower levels, rendering it very common.

In fact the official advice given by the world administrators for this problem is the very helpful:

Leeching, which is defined as entering another player?s battle without prior invitation and not really contributing to the battle's success, for the purpose of gaining experience points, is not against the rules, but it is highly frowned upon. If someone has been fighting at a location that you just showed up at, it is polite to go to another server. If a newcomer refuses to leave, it is suggested that you go to another server.


There is no real goal in Sacred Seasons, with the point to just keep levelling, keep grinding, to compete with other grinders. The world itself, remains static, and unchanging, aside from the occasional addition of new dungeons to grind in.

The World in Brief

The world of Sacred Seasons, is a collection of static rooms, with backgrounds painted on, and areas rendered passable or impassable to suit. Portals link these rooms to one another. Step onto a white portal and move to another room. Step onto a red portal and enter a battle dungeon. Inside each dungeon are anywhere from 1 to 6 further red portals labelled ?battle?. Enter one of these to start that battle, against a strictly controlled number, and type of enemy which always has the same strengths, weaknesses, and hit points.

When all battles in a dungeon are completed, stepping outside and re-entering resets it ready for another try.

Battle itself is a side-on affair, where the type of attack is chosen from menus, ?item?, ?attack?, ?skill?, ?leave?. Each character has a set amount of time to make each action and the battle carries on without them if they fail to act. Leaving a battle or dying results in no experience for that battle.


The battle-screen. Up to five players against up to five monsters.

 

Sub Reviews

Here at Virtual Worldlets, we look at all worlds, whether for entertainment, training, medicare, industry or military use. Thus, we have the situation where different uses judge by different criteria. Below are a series of sub-reviews, each tailored to a different aspect of the world.

Explorers
For some, its the thrill of discovery, the freedom to strike out, to pioneer. Whether its mapping new lands, or exploring unknown fields of endeavour, to be first, to boldly go, this is what explorers live for.

Sacred Seasons does start out small, and expand into an ever-larger series of outdoor ?rooms? as your character levels, providing an incentive to gain more power, complete more quests just to see what is out there. However, because the world is completely static, once areas are unlocked, they never change. Over time, the urge to explore becomes less for many players, because no matter which server they are on, everything is in the same place ,and always will be.

 

Achievers
Work, work work. Everybody... You have this burning desire to succeed, to achieve renown, to be the best in whatever field you set your sights to. No matter what, you must be the best... What will you be? A powerful warlord? The leader of a town? You're ambitious, and crave power? This section is for you.

With 999 available levels, and 12 classes, there are an impressive number of options for achievers. One of the greatest goals of this world is to out-level everyone else, and whilst it is quite common at time of writing, to see characters in the 300s as far as levels are concerned, no-one who is not staff, has reached 999 at this point ,and much of the greatest clamour is on passing the level of other players and nearing the top of the leader board.


A wide variety of class specialisations and levels are possible, giving the achiever something to focus on.

 

 

Overall
Sacred Seasons is a disaster as a world and as a game. It is essentially nothing more than a pointless treadmill, for all but a small handful of powergamers. Indeed it seems that catering to this particular mindset is the world?s whole point.

With use of design elements long-abandoned by the mainstream MMO industry, this world is worth visiting only really to see why those particular design decisions were cast aside, and emphasise the need for change in your own worlds.

 

Rating 52.5 / 100
Newbie Friendliness
10.0
/ 15
Community Values
5.0
/ 15
Believability
5.0
/ 15
Immersion
5.0
/ 15
Administration
5.5
/ 10
Automated help
7.0
/ 10
Code Integrity
9.0
/ 10
Entertainment
6.0
/ 10

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Client OS:Win 2K, Win 98, Win 2K, Win 2K

World Purpose:

Age Suitability:



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