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World Review: Code of Everand


 
Main Review

Compatible with Operating Systems:
All

World Status: Operational


World Purpose: Education

Age Suitability: Juniors (below 12), Young Teens


World-Type

In many respects Code of Everand is your typical browser MMO. A high level of abstraction, low level of interactivity, isometric worlds and simplified battle scenes. Yet, at the same time, it marks a potential turning point: a MMO created and maintained by a government.

Right from the opening credits, it is clear what Everand is trying to do. This is a serious game, trying hard to dress up road safety just enough to be fun for kids to play, just like any other MMO. At the same time, if they are playing it, they are rote learning road safety.

Unlike many of these browser-MMOs, Everand is happy running in pretty much any browser that supports Flash 10 or above. Starting Everand is straightforward. At the initial login screen you are asked for a username, password, and 'a parent or guardian's email address'. This marked difference, together with a small piece of legalese strongly emphasizing that this is a Department of Transport creation, is the marked difference from most such worlds. The mechanics are of course the same as any other email-sign-up procedure. When you complete that, the following message is displayed:



THANK YOU for registering with Code Of Everand!

An email has been sent to your parent or guardian requesting their permission for you to play Code Of Everand.

If they do not receive it, please ask them to check their spam folder.


The whole world is set up like that. Any correspondence it is assumed, is going to a parent, and is worded appropriately. Functionally of course, its no different, but is a nice touch.

After confirming, and signing in, the opening text and animation starts to scroll:







  • Everand is a Peaceful Land.

  • But the people of Everand live in Fear.

  • Fear of the deadly Spirit Channels.

  • The Spirit Channels are streams of glowing energy filled with dangerous magical beasts.

  • They crisscross the land of Everand, making life difficult and travel perilous.

  • But a handful of brave adventurers are trained in the mysterious techniques needed to safely the cross Spirit Channels.

  • These heroes are the Pathfinders.

  • They devote their lives to exploring Everand, helping its inhabitants, and discovering its secrets.

  • What caused the Spirit Channels to fill with monsters?

  • Is there any way to clear the channels and heal the land?

  • Some say that the key to the mystery is contained in an ancient code hidden somewhere deep in Everand,

  • Waiting to be discovered.

  • That is why, on this great day, as you graduate from the Pathfinder Academy, you take this oath -

  • Help the people that you meet,

  • And search always for the Code of Everand.










Once this has finished (or it is skipped), it is time to create a character to use to play.


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Code of Everand's character creation process is simple, well laid out, and very obviously designed to be child-safe. The name creation process being an excellent example of that. You cannot type in your own name. This stops people typing in unpleasaant things. Instead, there are three sub names to choose from. Each is attached to a scrollable list, so clicking on the buttons next to it, changes the name displayed there. It is divided into first name and a double barrel surname. Each name is alphabetically pre-sorted to make searches easier.Oddly however, you press the down button to go up the alphabet, from Z to A, and press the up button to go from A - Z. Slightly counter-intuative but not enough to worry about.

When you are happy with your choices, simply click ok, and it is on to the next screen. The choices may seem limited, but the avatars are so small, it does not really matter.

The next choice is to create a pet - a frog, fox or owl who wuill accompany you always. As before, you givethem a name, this time from two lists, and choose a skin for them. It asks for a skin colour, but gives skin textures instead. Oddly there does seem to be a typo visible on this screen. It was created by an American firm, but for a British contract, yet it uses the American-English 'Choose Type and Color', instead of the British-English 'Choose Type and Colour'. A minor oversight, but one which is humourous considering it is supposed to be an educational construct.


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Once you have chosen your pet, the screen goes white - this will haappen often, as the loaading screen is usually a white-out - and the following image appears:



The tutorial has started. This fairly long-winded and step by step tutorial iss triggered every time yyou create a character, and doesn't turn off. It serves to discourage more than one character per person rather well. Still Adran takes us through using the inventory, combat, and of cousrse, how to cross the road, quite well indeed.

The World in Brief




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When you actually get into it, Code of Everand's world is much like most top-down flash MMOs really. The world opens up as a collection of separate rooms, with passable and impassable areas in them. Your avatar stands there with a collection of others, and if you desire to move, click with the mouse where you wish to go and your avatar will walk there.

Each room has one or more exit points, that you walk over to and stand on to go to the next room, and many have NPCs who stand there with an exclamation mark above their heads, telling you that if you click on them they will give you a quest, or advance one you are already on.

In addition to the normal exits, there are lines crossing some rooms - green, yellow, orange, red, or purple lines depending on difficulty. These are the spirit channels. Walk into one to begin to cross it. You can cross at a marked pathway, which indicates a point regularly cleared out where the monsters are weaker (zebra crossing), or you can cross at any other point, where the monsters are faster, stronger, and more numerous.

Walking into the line switches the view from a top-down isometric, to a first-person perspective in a white mist.

Here you have two arrows on screen. One says 'look left', one says 'look right'. Clicking on either, will tilt your head to the left or right. There you may see some traffic, erm monsters approaching. If you do, you prepare for them, laying down traps to injure them in the road. You yourself cannot cross yet. A monster runs over your traps, or maybe several monsters do, and each take damage.

You look left and right again, the views showing you the positions, and strengths of the various monsters. You place more traps. The monsters cross in front of you, triggering them. This continues until the last monster is killed.

Then you look left and right again. If all is clear, a new arrow appears, 'cross'. Clicking that, crosses the road. Sorry, crosses the Spirit Channel.

Kill enough monsters and you gain the experience to level up, plus some treasure which you can sell for money, or use to craft more and better traps. That is essentially all there is to Everand. The rest, buying new clothes, chatting with pre-stocked phrases, and completing quests is standard MMO faire.


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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.

 

Socialisers
The social life is the life for you. To chat, to roam, to gossip all day, and chatter all night. You are the heart of the party, and you are the soul. The drive to chatter, the need to gossip, stretching out, making connections, mind against mind, heart against heart. It keeps you going, it keeps you sane.

Because it is designed for children, and a government production at that, whilst socialisation is possible in Everand to an extent, you may only choose from pre-defined stock phrases to speak to the whole room you are in at the time. These appear in chat bubbles above your head, and remain there for several seconds. Clicking on another person's bubble announces who has spoken. You can use these in a very general way, to ask if someone is ok, or if their character needs healing, but no real meaningful communication is possible.

 

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.

One of the nice things about Everand for achievers, is it has experience levels galore. It just never runs out of them. Combined with the usual MMO experience grindmill, this becomes the standard way of proving you can achieve - by being a higher level than your friends. Nothing new there.

 

Educational
Virtual environments as classrooms, museums, theme parks, or galleries. Holding conferences or training for the job at hand. Holding their own, or beating back the physical for locational learning.


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Paid for by the UK government, specifically the Department of Transport, Code of Everand is first and foremost a training tool. It was designed to teach young children how to be safe on and around roads. At the same time, it is dressed up, just enough, to also be fun to play.

It took two years to construct, and was nearly cancelled twice, yet this MMO has actually succeeded in most of it's goals. It offers a safe environment for children to learn, and lends itself well to classroom usage. Even though it supports character levelling and skills, and many other mainstream gaming elements, the basic gameplay always remains the same. Its always about safely crossing a road. This means that even if one or two children zoom off ahead, they are still going over the core objective.

Exploration takes place using a top-down view, but the turn-based battles are experienced in first person, and part of the mechanics - looking around for monsters, then once defeating them, checking there are no more - requires players to look around the scene for threats in exactly the same way they would check an actual street. The monsters even look a little like cars and trucks. They are dressed up like lizards and toads, but caught side on, its not at all hard to see the similarity to motorcycles, trucks, passenger cars, in their general proportions. Again, not a coincidence.

Once they have had significant practice on the MMO, the habits it teaches: 'look left, look right, if it's clear check again', will stay with them, far more than simply teaching them on an actual road one or two times will.

 

 

Overall
Code of Everand succeeds very well at what it sets out to do: disguise a teaching aid as a fun gameworld. It was positively thronging with people during the review period, and a vast majority of those will be children.

The fun aspect perfectly disguises a very serious subject. Whilst Everand will not rise above the sea of browser MMOs, it is level with them, and gains its own share of the userbase. Everyone who plays within it for any lengtth of time, is going to fall into the habit of looking both ways to cross any 'Spirit Channel', and after all, isn't that the point?


(click for larger version)

 

Rating 71.5 / 100
Newbie Friendliness
10.0
/ 15
Community Values
12.0
/ 15
Believability
10.0
/ 15
Immersion
7.5
/ 15
Administration
10.0
/ 10
Automated help
8.0
/ 10
Code Integrity
9.0
/ 10
Entertainment
5.0
/ 10

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