Craft of Gods: First Impressions

Interested in Craft of Gods? This intrepid reporter actually bought a damn key, after frustration on their empty test server -- and is thinking of staying, for the promise beyond the bugs, and for the community.

This game is currently in the "paying for beta" stage, but if you check them out online, you'll see that they've been very responsive to the community (which does seriously rock, btw, maybe *because* it's so small atm).

Developed in Russia for an Italian company, the community is pleasantly international.  In my small guild the population is from all over the EU and US, and I have seen Russian, English, Italian, French and a couple unidentified eastern European languages (sorry, can't tell Polish from Czech from Albanian without the special characters at least).  My guild uses English but I can tell that there are others in local languages.

Yes, the graphics are an odd mix of old-school and recent graphics (advanced shaders are used, wind-in-grass, but then all shadows are stencils, models/meshes are a bit shy of detail, mob/character animations are laggy/jerky).  There seems to be an unusual mix of client side and server side asset and action management going on, which puzzles the heck out of me -- there are a lot of glitches that can be solved by going to the system menu and reconnecting, which seems to synchronize the client and server databases and straighten you out.  I am not a game engine internals person -- I know just enough to be a danger to myself and others -- but this speaks of something truly unusual in their architecture.

One of their major issues is that they are trying to (presumably) stave off goldfarmers and such by creating a test server, and without significant player guides, the community /global *is* their player guide, so the trial server sucks.

That said, if you want story -- go read the lore on the game site.  Everything that you are doing as a low level character is building up to a demigod-level conflict in the world, but unlike seriously story-driven games like LOTRO, you are not likely to be familiar with proto-slavic mythology to pick up cues.  The cues are there in the lore, and they don't go beyond stating your destiny as a hero to get you involved in the melodrama before you have proved yourself, explored, integrated in the community, and established your character.  And that's a plus in my book.

The game is not terribly grindy if you do the quests, explore just a bit (gather crafting resources, say!), and then at around level 7 or so, go from one starter area to the next (running a small gauntlet of red mobs, unless you are human, on the bright side.  If you are human, good luck!).  It doesn't hold a candle for grind for most PVP games I've seen come out lately.

The game will include player housing and player election villages (this is to say, not dictated by guild affiliation) which sounds to me like SWG housing.  The skill system is far more level dependent than SWGs (*sigh*).  The factional warfare is two player factions and a neutral faction coming soon (which, I'm not clear if Atlantis faction is going to include players or not).

I love the mount system.  So far, I've had a brown horse, a red and black giant tarantula (my favorite for awesome looking ride), a snow leopard (my favorite for performance), and a red fox.  In less than 4 days of play.  To get a mount, you walk up to it and charm it.  If it is tameable (not every critter is -- this might change more as they get more models in game as the riding models are waaay different from the mob models), you get some number of seconds that it gets to attack you before it is tamed into a mount.  My experience is that I can charm a mount about twice my level without dying before I get it.

There is no "bank" system, but each village has a chest for *local* storage.  Although this is also a bit buggy (they lost my entire inventory my second day, in one chest), the GMs are very responsive, and can get your inventory back for you in a couple hours.  Did I mention that "playing for beta" thing?

It's a wonderful game so far for those of us who rate high on explorer and socializer on the Bartle tests.  Lots of stuff to kill.  Achievers might want to wait a while, since the game's sandboxy, undocumented bits don't lend well.

This game seriously needs more wiki-like resources, but the server just opened, and most of us are still under lvl 10.  We'll probably do more metagame when we stop rushing to 20, to get the first dungeon runs together.  Then, the metagame will likely start expanding, as it does in games with strong internal communities.

If you have questions about the game, ask away.  Since the test server is without community, I can't recommend it to people at this stage, although if you buy the game they give you a couple codes for 10 days on the player server, just released today, so we'll be seeing a social expansion of the trials on the real server.  They should seriously offer these keys to people who follow them on Twitter or somesuch to expand their base in a quality way.

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