Yes, a great long title. What is it with Asian market MMO's and their weird titles? Look guys, just grab an American businessman and sit him down in front of your website and let him play the game a bit.
That's it. No more mistranslations or weird quest text.
Other than that, "Imagine" is a great game that I got into a while back. I noticed the similarities between it and Mabinogi, namely in the combat system. It's almost a turn-based system, but real time. I remember when Final Fantasy XII came out, tons of fanboys and girls were upset at the games departure from the actual turn based system in favor of a "real time turn based" system. This is how Imagine and Mabinogi feel, sort of. Kind of. A bit.
It feels actiony and fast, but chunky. The hits hit HARD, the explosions and magic have nice effects. All in all, I am loving it. But it does take some getting used to. Which brings me to my main point: second tries have a way of making things clearer.
See, I go in circles. I get obsessed with different things at different times, switching from game to game, character to character (save for a few favorites like Rikoo.) I loved the look of Imagine, and once I got the hang of it I loved the combat, but it didn't stick around past the next round of obsessions.
With my recent "playin' only free games" experiment, I had to go back and re-examine many of the free titles on my list. Luckily, I still had most loaded on an older machine, which conveniently is inside my new office space. Most of them patched up and allowed me into the game without a hitch, but some I am still working on.
But when I got into Imagine (this time around), the first thing I remembered was how nice looking it was and still is. I knew the character creation was limited at first, but I loved how my character felt young, solid and a little futuristic. The game made sense from the beginning, since I had played before, and I got through the tutorials easily while having more fun. The combat was flowing better, it made more sense. The world seemed a little deeper. This pointed out to me a possible weak point in a game: the beginning tutorial.
So much depends on those first few moments of an MMO. You know what people say about first impressions and how they can make all the difference. A game should be no different.
Imagine is already carrying you away with it's setting, (unique) it's look (a "more serious" Anime) and it's game-play (cool effects, nice combat.) It needs to step a step further into mystery and story and a few steps out of combat. Well, I should say that the combat intros are fine, but it should give you a better idea of who you are and why. You get some story at the beginning about the giant tower, end of the world demony type stuff, but you should "play" through a discovery of some more lore, perhaps you are introduced to some kind of "librarian" that shows you sample of demons and explains something about their language, their history? I just want MORE than the game currently shows you at the beginning.
This reminds me of one of the main issues I had with Spellborn (this was before the new tutorial, but even with the tutorial it is still an issue) which was that immediately in the game I felt closer to the developers sense of humor rather than my sense of awe. The game is awesome looking, runs great and can really blow you away. And there from the first few levels are quests with pop culture references and jokes. Just because the game looks "cartoony (but still beautiful) " doesn't mean it cannot take itself more seriously.
Later in the game the world becomes much more serious, but in this new MMO market of "..if I don't like it within an hour, I'm going to delete it from my hard drive.." I think it is SO important to give the player a sense of the awe that the game can deliver, without having to wait until the "serious" levels. But, I understand that they want you to have a sense of accomplishment, and one way to do this is to have your surroundings become more epic and heroic looking as you become more epic and heroic.
Imagine is pretty "serious" from the beginning, but I would like it to take a step further.
But back to my original point: the perfect recipe for a "different" (if you don't enjoy it that much at first) MMO is to give it some time and return to it later. Give it a few patches, let it add on some story or some items. Let it simmer a bit. I am really enjoying Imagine now that I have an idea of who the hell I am, and why I want to tame half-naked ladies with giant wings (besides the obvious.)