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Rise and Shiny recap: Alganon

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Video, Events (In-Game), Reviews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Alganon, Rise and Shiny

We have all heard of the controversy surrounding Alganon. Essentially, it breaks down into a few basic points: it is a "WoW clone," and it is being run by Derek Smart, a say-it-like-you-mean-it development bad-boy. Many claim he looks for negative attention and enjoys arguing with players. To be blunt, I don't care what people think about Derek Smart. I have said it before: I actually believe that he reacts to negative attention the way other developers wish they could. I don't keep track of his battles, though; I keep track of what he has done in gaming. All I know is that before he was with Alganon, I did not enjoy the game. After he became involved, the game got better.

Concerning the "WoW-clone" issue: If I had a gold piece for every time I've heard that, I could afford that incredible level 50 mount! (*snort*) If I took a moment to break down all games that have similarities to WoW, this article would be much, much longer than it needs to be. WoW was successful, and the industry takes cues from success. WoW took its own cues from other games before that. Still, does Alganon take more from WoW than, say, Lord of the Rings Online?

Read on, and let's discuss it.

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Alganon making the switch to the full free-to-play model

Fantasy, Business Models, News Items, Free-to-Play, Alganon

It's been quite a while since we've heard much from Alganon, with the last major game announcement having been the switch to a subscription-free model back in April. The team over at Quest Online has apparently decided to take that philosophy to the next level, as on Friday, August 13th, the game is going fully free to play. The client will be free to download and play indefinitely, with no time limits. There will be certain restrictions on new accounts, with a lowered level cap and ability cap that can be ameliorated via microtransactions.

Said microtransactions are also the game's way of compensating players who had already purchased a copy of the game, with existing purchasers getting several caps removed automatically. The full details, as well as details on a special offer within the first week of the game's free-to-play launch, are outlined within the official announcement. Alganon is certainly no stranger to controversy, but it remains to be seen what the MMO community at large will think about the game in its newest incarnation.

Alganon steals press release from BioWare

Fantasy, News Items, Humor, Alganon

The comedy train that is Alganon just keeps on rolling. Ethic over at Kill Ten Rats alerts us to a press release for the newly relaunched fantasy MMORPG that copies, nearly word for word, the verbiage used by Bioware to promote Star Wars: The Old Republic almost two years ago.

"'Traditionally, massively multiplier online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression,' Derek Smart continued. 'In Alganon, in addition to these we've added the fourth pillar to the equation; a story. We delivered a fun, immersive adventure that gamers expect in a top quality massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, we're not done yet. A whole new adventure with new updates will follow soon, starting with a consignment house, new classes, PvP and much more,'" proclaims the offending release.

Sound familiar? That's probably because it was posted a while back on The Old Republic's official site:

"Traditionally, massively multiplayer online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression," said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and General Manager/CEO of BioWare and General Manager/Vice President of Electronic Arts Inc., "In Star Wars: The Old Republic, we're fusing BioWare's heritage of critically-acclaimed storytelling with the amazing pedigree of Lucasfilm and LucasArts, and adding a brand-new fourth pillar to the equation – story. At the same time, we will still deliver all the fun features and activities that fans have come to expect in a AAA massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, Star Wars: The Old Republic is set in a very exciting, dynamic period in the Star Wars universe," reads a BioWare release dated in October 2008.

Check out Ethic's post over at Kill Ten Rats. Additionally, Massively has contacted Quest Online for comment and will update the story as information becomes available.

[Update: Quest CEO Derek Smart has responded with this post over on Alganon's official boards.]

One Shots: In with the new

Fantasy, Screenshots, One Shots, Alganon

With the recent relaunch of Alganon including a change of model to something more akin to Guild Wars than the original box & subscription model, there are quite a few people taking a look at the game and reporting back on their impressions. Today we have a lush One Shots taken recently by Todd L. who has been checking the game out as well. He writes in to give us his impressions on the view in the above screenshot: "I was out adventuring in the woods of Alganon on my Healer and stopped for a second to take in the scenery in the forest before getting back to the tasks at hand. What a great view!"

From big to small MMOs, we love to see what you're doing. All you have to do to take part of the fun is to email your image to us here at oneshots AT massively DOT com along with your name, the name of the game, and your thoughts/description of what we're seeing. Please make sure your image is at least 1024 pixels wide, and has as little UI showing as possible. Yours could be the next one we feature here on Massively!

Alganon re-release: worth all the hype?

Fantasy, Patches, Reviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Alganon

For starters, there are two things that I will not cover in this look at the Alganon re-launch:

  • Derek Smart: I am still not that familiar with the man. I am familiar with his games, and familiar with the snarky jokes made at his expense, but I do not feel it has any bearing on how much or how little I enjoy a product that he is involved in. His religious beliefs probably affect his life and thus his work more than most things, yet I do not care to read about them either. To put it as he does in his forum signature: "Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them."
  • "WoW clones:": If we spend any amount of time comparing user interfaces, monster types and general looks, we will be here all day. I am a fan of 30's crime novels, a genre that definitely "borrows" stylistically from itself, but I do not dismiss the use of subtle details that separate different authors from one another simply because they sometimes feel the same or are set in the same universe. Let's not compare vehicles for the content, let's discuss the actual content.

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Alganon finishes changes, announces relaunch

Fantasy, Launches, News Items, Alganon

Alganon has been going through some huge changes over the past few months, and while sometimes it seems like it's taken a back burner to other things, the Alganon employees have been hard at work behind the scenes.

Their work paid off yesterday with the grand reopening of Alganon's doors, accompanied by a hearty thank you to the fans from Derek Smart: "We appreciate the valuable feedback from the testers as well as those who bought and played the original December 2009 release. The continued enthusiasm and dedication of players around the world, and the help they gave us in helping to finish and fine tune the game is very much appreciated."

Fine tuning might be a bit of an understatement, as the game has gone through an overhaul from the business model up. Yesterday's relaunch announcement provided an overview of what you can expect from the new-and-improved Alganon, so take a look and see what you think of the new direction the game has taken. Keep an eye on Massively too, as our own Beau Hindman will be taking a detailed look at the changes very soon.

Quest Online responds to David Allen lawsuit

Fantasy, News Items, Free-to-Play, Legal, Alganon

Lawsuits aren't necessarily a fact of life in the world of video games, but they seem to be a bit favored over words when two parties just can't seem to get along. David Allen, the gentleman formerly in charge of Alganon's development, has opted for legal action in the matter of his removal from the company, which was followed by Derek Smart taking his position. While Smart has responded to Allen on his personal blog, Quest Online has taken the opportunity to attempt to put the record straight in a more official capacity.

According to the official statement, "the company's members, forced to make a decision between David Allen and Derek Smart, unanimously voted to remove Mr. Allen as managing member thereby leaving Derek Smart as President of the company." Those who have been following the debate since the beginning will note that this matches Smart's depiction of events. The company states that it will defend itself against untrue allegations by Mr. Allen, and that they are confident the courts will see that there were no unfair actions taken on their part. The unfolding legal drama certainly has succeeded in stirring up more interest in Alganon, but only time will tell how the legal side will play out.

Alganon reveals much of the overhauled launch experience

Fantasy, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Alganon

It's easy to get wrapped up in the war of words between the inimitable Derek Smart and the equally inimitable David Allen, but the whole reason behind that back-and-forth is a game. Much of the news coming out about Alganon has been both sides sniping at each other, but it looks like the development team has been hard at work revamping the game for an April 28th launch. As the website has slowly been updated, they've begun posting more and more information about what's due out when the game goes live... which promises to be pretty extensive.

There's more about the various cash shop items that can be purchased with the new "subscription-free" model, which follows a vaguely Dungeons & Dragons Online pattern -- increased experience gain, bonuses to study speeds, limited-duration enchanted equipment. The starter areas are also being revamped, with the Asharr Humans starting in the Temple of Argon (which may or may not contain an eye) and the Temple of Xukiss becoming the start point for Talrok Kujix characters. And as expected, the feature list prominently states that Alganon's graphics have been overhauled, especially for the UI. With a little over a week to go, it should be interesting to see how the new iteration of the game plays out.

Alganon founder David Allen strikes back

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Alganon

Derek Smart is famous for having the subtlety of an Imperial Walker, so it's only fair that we give the target of one of his laser-focused rants the chance to respond. In a press release over at PRWeb.com, Quest Online founder David Allen addresses his role in the development of the troubled MMORPG known as Alganon, as well as the fallout from the hiring of Smart and the events that led to Allen's departure.

"Mr. Smart began a smear campaign attacking my credibility, first privately among the investors, and then publicly. As many have read on various internet websites, Mr. Smart has made disparaging remarks concerning my professional work and comments that could lead others to question my loyalty, honesty, and ability to successfully create, build, run, and manage a multi-million dollar MMOG development company; something I have been doing successfully for over four years," Allen wrote.

He goes on to state that he has filed a civil suit against Smart, and paints a bright picture regarding the future of Alganon. "I am confident that during the process of resolving this conflict, the truth will prevail and the factual account of the activities associated with the development of Alganon will become known," Allen said.

Massively interviews Alganon's Derek Smart

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Alganon

Amidst the recent flurry of GDC announcements, it's possible for people to miss what's been coming out of some of the smaller studios. That being said, almost everyone with some game industry knowledge took notice when it was formally announced that Derek Smart would be taking charge of Alganon. It helped that Mr. Smart, well-known for his vocal nature and not shying from controversy, almost immediately took the opportunity to set the record straight regarding the management change. (And then set it even straighter.)

Naturally, Massively asked for an interview. Mr. Smart was kind enough to answer a number of questions from us, ranging from future plans for the game to his place within the overall structure of development. Love or hate Alganon, his responses should be of interest to almost anyone with some knowledge of the game or the man himself. Check on past the cut for everything he had to say regarding the game, its present, and its future.

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Derek Smart and ex-Alganon employees butt heads

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Alganon

News of last week's shakeup of the Alganon team has been sparking a lot of talk in the gaming community, and the fans aren't the only ones with something to say. Derek Smart is taking Alganon back to the drawing board in a big way, but he's still finding time to maintain his policy of very open communication: "The fact is that in our industry, the less you say, the more people will fill in the blanks for you."

You're not going to find many blanks to fill in here. Gamasutra reported the news Monday, and Smart posted some clarifications to the story in the comments section. He had quite a bit to say over the next 24 hours, and Hue Henry and Jason Blood stopped by to add their voices to the conversation as well. The discussion that followed was interesting to say the least, and offered quite a bit of insight into their thoughts on the matter.

The comments section, while long, is well worth a look, particularly if you're familiar with the participants or a fan of Alganon.

Derek Smart: big changes in store for Alganon

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Alganon

"Dave Allen didn't 'depart'. I fired him back in February for insubordination and for acting against the best interests of the company, the LLC investors (who I represent), the game and the team."

Well, there you go. Wednesday night we brought you the news that David Allen was gone from Alganon. Shortly after that, Derek Smart spoke out in a big way regarding the event. He has a lot to say and the full post is a great read. He pulls no punches and he seems to have a lot of plans, but you can follow along after the jump for the highlights.

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David Allen leaves Alganon

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Alganon

It's been a strange ride over at Alganon of late. The game's announcement of a shift to a subscription-free model came out on the heels of David Allen's statements that the game would never go even remotely free-to-play. It seems that it didn't exactly happen on his watch, as Quest Online has just announced Mr. Allen's departure from the company. There's no reason given, although speculation can (and no doubt will) run rampant. Replacing David Allen is Derek Smart, creator of the Battlecruiser 3000AD game series, and something of a contentious figure in the gaming world.

The company continues to push forward that the game's "official" launch is in mid-April, after having retroactively turned the opening in December of last year into a "soft launch." What this means for the game as a whole is still uncertain, although the number of shakeups of late certainly don't suggest that it's been a resounding success thus far. Alganon players should keep their eyes peeled for any news about the game, as a new president usually means that there will be some significant changes in store.

Alganon moves to a "subscription free" model

Fantasy, Business Models, News Items, Free-to-Play, Alganon

We've just hit the four-month mark from the launch of Alganon, but it turns out that Quest Online has been paying more attention to their business model than was externally apparent. The game is moving from its current subscription-based model to a "subscription free" setup immediately, changing up a number of elements of the game in an effort to stay competitive. As the official announcement takes pains to point out, they have no desire to make the game completely free-to-play, which means that the game will retain its cover price, but there will be no subsequent fee for play.

Similar to Dungeons and Dragons Online, the game will be converted to using an item shop complete with various items, as well as the option to speed up the game's Study system substantially. Customers who have already pre-paid for subscriptions will be given a certain amount of currency for the item shop as a payback, as well as having their accounts given a special "Citizen" status as a show of good faith. The release also sets the game's "official" release as April 8th, an odd move to be certain. Alganon is making some large-scale changes, so take a look at the full press release for more information.

Alganon gives preview of class updates with first expansion

Fantasy, Classes, Expansions, Previews, Alganon

The first free expansion for Alganon, titled "The Dawning," has been getting a fair bit of talk from Quest Online. They've been a bit longer on talk than on details, however, leaving us largely to guess what it might contain aside from promises of new dungeons and large changes to the game world. Some of the silence has been broken now, however, with Systems Designer Josef Shindler breaking word on several upcoming class balance changes in the game. The most recent small patch contained a number of small class tweaks, but there are more extensive changes for everyone in the future.

Mages are currently in the best place, from the design team's perspective, but there are plans to allow characters specializing in one type of damage to branch out to other elements without sacrificing damage. Healers are also going to see some changes to damage, as their focus on one element makes them susceptible to enemies who are strong against it. Meanwhile, Rangers will see an extensive overhaul in terms of damage buffs and their operation in groups, and Soldiers will see several tweaks to their Anger generation to make its buildup and release more strategic. While it's not a great deal of information, it's good to see the design team keeping themselves hard at work on improving Alganon's overall class balance.

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