A New Look for the New Alganon
In December, Alganon launched for the first time. This launch, now termed a 'soft launch' by Quest Online, introduced the game as a subscription-based MMORPG. Unfortunately, the launch lacked the success hoped for. Players saw Alganon as being released only partially finished. The game was lacking instances, a unique UI, and both environmental and server stability. After a heated change in leadership, and hard work from the Alganon team, the game is preparing for an official relaunch as a subscription-free MMORPG, with a long list of features and improvements to win over players.
The change is palpable from the first moment you log in and create a character. The character creation system has been updated. Previously, character creation was completed on a singular screen that marginalized the choices a player made in their race, family, and class. It operated under the assumption that players had researched such information before logging in. The new character creation system is a multi-part process that aims to inform a player as he makes these same choices. In the first step, players are presented with their two racial choices, and given the lore background on each. The second step, choosing a family that the character belongs to, is treated in a similar fashion. The final screen will appear more familiar to previous Alganon players, offering character customization options and class choices, but with a major difference. On the right hand of the screen, players will find a summary of the class they've selected, including their primary and possible secondary roles, and the role of each talent tree available to that class. This entire process takes the same amount of time as the previous character creation, but informs a player with a robust amount of information to guide their character decision.
Character creation isn't the only place returning players will find improvements to Alganon. The game looks, and feels, better. Adjustments to both the network transport layer and in the .PAK system - how the game transfers data on a technical level - have helped load times drop significantly. There is no slugging through the world, or pausing at a city and waiting for its NPCs to load. Although I did experience some heavy load on my computer when Alganon was running in the background, the game performance itself was robustly improved and after several hours and sessions of playing, I never once experienced the client crashes that were so common before.
In addition to general performance, the environment itself has also become more reliable. In my review of Alganon, I recounted "repeated mishaps with the terrain;" everything from rocks to trees seemed to have a capability of snagging a character and getting them stuck. When I returned to Alganon, it seemed that the 3D environmental details no longer had it out to get me. I revisited the same areas that already had shown their spite, but I was unable to replicate the problems I had before. Also gone are the invisible enemies that would appear when least expected. A new NPC navigation system also makes sure that NPCs respect the rules of a 3D environment, no longer running through objects or traveling underground to reach their targets.
Major changes to the UI system have already made their way to Alganon. The UI is now more customizable, broken up into several parts that can now be repositioned by the player, and may be scaled. Expanded functionality of the quest tracker, quest log, and support for bindings to four-button mice have also been added. Most anticipated, however, is a completely redesigned UI look that will offer a "more unique and distinct feel for Alganon." The new UI will not be seen until the Alganon re-launch, but has QOL Staff "really excited." It's reasonable to assume the new UI will deliver on having its own unique design in the game world. The re-launch will also support mod development and timestamps for chat and combat logs.
Also promising for the Alganon launch are new starting zones and instances. Both Asharr and Kujix will begin in a Temple of their gods, giving players a chance to dig straight into the lore of Alganon and become more immersed in gameplay. Instanced content will also become available for players levels 8 and up, with 14 total instances for players to explore. Like other new content, Quest Online promises to introduce new AI and encounter types to keep players interested and entertained.
If you're looking to come back to Alganon expecting to find a different game, you won't. Alganon has kept its core gameplay the same, instead focusing on improving itself, not changing to be something else. That very attitude, however, is exactly what Alganon needs. It is pulling on its strengths to refine itself and break away from the "WoW clone" mold. More importantly, Alganon is seeking to fix its flaws and present itself as a commercially ready MMORPG. Hopefully, these changes will help propel Alganon into a healthy future.