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DAWN PATROL, PART DEUX [Author: myschyf]

The game itself is a CGI script and on the Kingdoms website GL-Jeff says it took him three days to write it. Its ridiculously simple. There are no graphics. Its not even a true-text game. Its sort of a quasi-text quasi-GUI game. One makes a character by choosing a character name and picking a race from a drop down menu. The choices are human, troll, ogre, drow, some other stuff I didn’t recognize, and some I’ve undoubtedly forgotten. I tried the first four and there doesn’t seem to be any discernable advantages to picking one over the other. After that there are two windows sitting side-by-side. One has a drop-down menu for the monsters you can fight. You start by fighting a magician’s apprentice and go up from there. The other window has a drop-down menu of all the people you can fight.

Every time you kill a monster you get one stat point in each stat (which you do not roll or pick to begin with). Every time you go up 10 stat points you go up a level. So you start out 10 in each stat at level 1. When you reach 20 in each stat (which would be 10 kills later) you go to level 2. How do you fight a monster, you might ask. Well I’ll tell you how. You click on the button that says ‘fight.’ I kid you not. After you do that some text scrolls by that says:

“You hit the magician’s apprentice for 10 points!”

“The Magician’s apprentice swings and misses!”

“You hit the magician’s apprentice for 10 points!”

“The Magician’s apprentice swings and misses!”

“You hit the magician’s apprentice for 10 points!”

“You have slain a magician’s apprentice!”

One tends to ignore the text after seeing it once. Killing a monster nets the above-mentioned stats, some gold (depending on the level of monster killed) and text informing that you are tired. Clicking a button that says “rest” takes care of that pesky little problem however. Well that’s the extent of the game. Occassionally one dies but in that case all that is needed is clicking a button that says “revive.” So the game is clicking fight, then rest, then fight, then rest over and over and over and over and over again.

Yet there are people that were playing that game all day long. There are people in this game that are level 600 and over. I had the window open while I worked and checked back periodically. And what, pray tell, would these people be doing? Why… they are pking newbies! That’s right folks. Grief playing at its finest.

Now did I mention that you get nothing for killing another person? Well that isn’t entirely true. If you go into an area without a king you can be the king. If you kill the king of an area you get to be the king. If you are the king you can set and collect taxes. With the taxes you can buy better armor and weapons. I think the best armor you can get — if my memory serves me right — is somewhere around 134 million.

But the PKs aren’t killing kings. They are just mindlessly killing newbies — for which they get… wait for it… nothing. The newbies lose nothing because when you die you lose nothing. Not stats, not experience, not levels, not gold… nothing. You may not even get bragging rights if said newbie is not paying attention to the message banter.

Now you may ask yourself, why is Myschyf telling us all this? Well it could be that I just wanted to spend an hour telling you about a lame game. But honestly, I think every developer out there should spend an hour or so playing this thing because, even though it is simplicity itself, this game gets two basic things right that the other games out there today and those being planned, get so wrong.

The first thing it does is reward you in some fashion for every single move you take. If you kill something — you gain. Period. It may be only one point, it may be only 2 gold. But you gain. Unless you die of course. But that brings us to the second thing it does right. The penalty for dying is no advancement. That’s it. You lose nothing. So all you lose is a minute or so when you die. There’s no going back to a check point, no retrieving a death pile, no tromping all over hells creation to find your corpse, a minute or so is all you lose. Just the amount of time it takes to click revive. It kind of takes the pain out of being pk’d.

Now why anyone would spend more than an hour looking at this (and really an hour is about 45 minutes longer than is needed) game is beyond me. Yet it managed to keep an IRC room full of people busy last night. And there are people upset that the server is down right now. God forbid they should be deprived of their god-given right to be assholes. Which this game gives them ample opportunity to be. However the damage they can cause is so minimized and the game is so insubstantial that the other thing it does is give one a window to look at these people through. As I watched this afternoon I found myself wondering if the average age of those playing was 15 and under and entertaining the horrifying thought that there might acually be adults in this crowd. Nonetheless what is quite clear is that these people were there for no other reason than to cause grief. There just isn’t enough game there to be into the game. And these are the people inhabiting (or in the case of UO and EQ — being banned from) the games we play today and will play tomorrow.

The final reason every developer should play this is to experience the ecstasy that is tendonitis coming from clicking fight, then clicking rest, then fight, then rest, over and over and over and over and over and over and over…..

They can massage their poor, tired wrists as they design their next game — hopefully with the thought that tendons wear out and repeated clicking can be bad.