Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spiral Knights

I fought Nomae so hard on it. No way was I playing some new online game, especially an MMORPG. But it was free, and I was bored enough to try it.

Spiral Knights is four-player Zelda. Imagine all the fun you had in A Link to the Past, but with friend! Sure, it’s the future, and there’s no Princesses, but you’re still running around with a sword, shield, bow gun, and bombs, hacking up the local monsters for fun and profit.

The freemium concept of SK is clever – you buy ‘energy’, which you use to play levels and for crafting. You naturally regenerate up to 100 energy a day, meaning you can play up to 10 levels without paying anything.

However, they are rather devious in how they latch onto your wallet. The first of three tiers of levels can be completed with gear purchased from vendors. Access to the second tier requires gear that can be crafted for less than the 100 energy you gain naturally a day. But the crafting energy costs shoot up dramatically, with the next gear upgrades requiring 200 energy each (and rising exponentially from there). Since you can only acquire 100 energy naturally, this mandates buying energy, right around the point where you’ve played enough to really build a taste for the game.

This additional energy can only enter the system through real money purchases, meaning you either have to pay real money yourself, or grind enough of the in-game currency to buy it from other players at market rates. Ultimately, you’re left with the choice of paying real money to progress as fast as your natural pace, or refusing to sink real money and being forced to alternate between skipping days of play and grinding money to build up the energy to craft to gear requirements.

So far, I’ve kept the purse-string closed. I’d have quit by now, but admittedly the multiplayer aspect drew me back in, and I’m still having fun.

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