Jade Dynasty had a double experience weekend from Thursday, September 3rd at 10 p.m. (Pacific PST) to Monday, September 7th at 10 p.m. (PST), since the last marathon session worked so well I decided to try it again. Levels have been hard to come by since I hit sixty and you really can't argue with double experience. I managed to gain five levels while finding out a few things that might have made leveling much easier before, more on that later.
I'd been doing most of my fighting in Skysong and Billows the last few weeks because it was just easier to do so. However, with the double exp I figured it was time to stop lollygagging around and go to Doom Bog, and am I glad I did. Doom Bogs' town is Brigand's Keep. It's a small wooden area on stilts over a large marshy area, with two upper bridges leading off to two small areas. It also has two renewable quests, gotten from Physician Berezi, which count the amount of kills you have for each creature. So once you've done all the quests lying around rather than hike back to town to refresh your list, you can keep fighting mobs for extra experience points. While that might not seem like a lot, anyone who has ever charted the fastest and best ways to get and turn in daily quests in WoW can see the innovation. Rather than having to waste time turning in quests back and forth, one can stay out in the wilderness indefinitely, or at least till your pot supply runs out. And if you haven't done daily quests runs in WoW then trust me, the faint irritation of traveling back and forth for quests is magnified tenfold when you've reached 80 and you're doing daily quest runs for the hundredth time.
One thing that takes getting used to in Jade Dynasty is the level shock. Nothing really ever comes quickly. The first dungeon starts around level sixty, the first PVP at ninety; a fact that can get downright depressing. Jade has 150 levels then you can Ascend, which I can't really find out anything about yet, but I have a sneaky suspicion to Ascend means more leveling. Anyway, since I didn't want to get into all that for another day, I decided to make another character. Lionhand is a Jadeon who's coming along quite nicely. I used the last day of the double experience weekend to make sure I got to 30. He's also my guinea pig and I'm experimenting with different parts of the game to see how they work. So while I'm talking about that let me explain Crafting and Enchanting.
Crafting in Jade Dynasty is rather easy. Each class gets a new suit of armor every fifteen levels. So five classes with three pieces of armor and one weapon, that's twenty recipes to either gather from looting and/or buying from your local craftswoman every fifteen levels. Unlike say Warhammer Online, crafting in Jade Dynasty is very cut and dried with no room for error. Each piece of equipment uses three different items. Usually a generic stock piece of which you'll need around five, then a generic stock piece you can only buy from the Craft seller again usually five of those as well, and then a class specific stock piece of which you usually need only one. Enchanting is slightly different. Each piece of equipment can be both refined and imbued. Refinement tends to reveal certain stat increases. Each level of refinement gives your equipment a higher single stat increase. Imbue takes all of the guess work out of it. You can imbue your equipment with whatever stat increase you want; from defense to spirit, attack to defensive resistance, there are many possibilities.
I have been receiving and hearing a few comments about the quality of Jade Dynasty. It seems to me that while the PC market is literally in the hundreds of millions worldwide, few games really are feasibly playable on the majority of computers out there. Sometimes as Westerners we forget the lag in spec most of the rest of the world follows. One of the questions I ask myself every now and then is who can afford to play this? Sometimes it seems to me that the gaming industry can't see the forest for the trees. Let's face it, gaming is an expensive hobby; the MMO market even more so. Getting an MMO worthy PC (to play a Western game) could send you back five hundred to a thousand dollars depending on your ability to put together parts. That's a pretty penny. Keeping it up to spec for a few years could put you down another 500 easy. In this then we see the problem the industry faces. I can't speak for everyone but one of the things that drew me to World of Warcraft all those years ago was simply my computer could play it, as opposed to Everquest 2. It was that simple. Sure, I liked what I was reading about WoW but I couldn't even play EQ 2 on my computer. WoW might not have looked all that impressive on my PC and watching flight paths was torture, but I could enjoy the game.
While I can't foretell the future I will say this some of the upcoming MMOs will have it easier than others. The MMO market is much larger than it used to be even five years ago. There are more computers in the world than all consoles ever sold, so why exactly would you try your very best to make sure your MMO couldn't be played on the vast majority of them. If the Wii has taught us anything it is that the masses want to play games. They might not play them as much as we do but they will come if you build it. Take a gander at your local Big Box store. Wal-Mart, Kmart, Best Buy, Circuit City, you name it; look at the computers that they sell. Now tell me how exactly any of those computers are going to play Aion for less than 1000 dollars. Most people don't buy computers for games. They do it for work, or for school. MMOs need to do more than reach out to casual gamers, they need to make sure that their games are playable on their computers. And therein lies the problem, sweet graphics are very nice, but the fact of the matter is that you can't sell a game that no one can play. The forest for the trees folks, the forest for the trees.
Anyhow I've reached sixty-six by Sunday, which means I can start thinking about doing my first dungeon. Cave of Fangs in Jadeon is a tough nut to crack and I think I'll have to find a good group for it. I've got three quests for the first one, but dungeons in Jade Dynasty can be killer, so I might hold off for a few levels just in case. Either way I plan on leveling Lionhand some more next week. Playing Lionhand was a huge surprise, and I look forward to more.