Flyff is a play-for-free 3D MMO with that anime style that today's youth hungers for. In my quest to devour all MMOs in existence, I took it upon myself to give Flyff a shot. Akela: He plays weird stuff so you don't have to.
Here's the immediate take-away: Even though their tagline is 'Fly for fun', it's not immediately clear how the flying will occur. A lot of their advertising features great-looking airships, people soaring through the air on their own, fabulous critters wafting along, etc. In my initial hour, though, Flyff gameplay followed the standard, whacking things with a sword until they dropped loot like so many naughty piñatas.
Flyff's character creation screen is light, offering the barest minimum of customization. You get to choose name, sex, hair style, and face. Strangely, Hair Color is present, but greyed out. This must be available to paying customers or something, though if that's their idea of teasing you with must-have content, then they'd better put their PR guys on danger money now, baby.
Logging in-world for the first time is overwhelming: there is a ton of flying text crowding the space, and I don't mean text about flying, or even words that are drifting through the air nonchalantly. I mean a great deal of what you see is advertising from the other players, hawking their wares. LOUDLY.
I have no money, so I decide to leave town. One thing I've noticed, however, is that it's really difficult to discern what buildings mean. Where's the weapon shop? Where's the Inn? Is there a library? Nothing is clearly marked, and the architecture, while whimsical to be sure, provides no recognizable visual clues. This is what Dave was talking about in this post, earlier this week. Sometimes you can run up to a building and its title will zoom in from nowhere, but without that, there's really no way to know in which direction you want to go if you need to relieve yourself. These things are important, people! I'm made of polygons, but I have needs!
I pressed 'M' to look at a map and found, off in the distance from where I was standing, 'Fountain of Dead Person'. I am just unfamiliar enough with this world not to know whether this was a place of tribute, or a dungeon. I decide to leave curiosity at home for a change and just head out of town.
Here I am whacking away at a flying eyeball, as one does. How exactly the eyeball is blocking me is not only puzzling, but downright creepy. Maybe it's got kevlar eyelids. Combat is simple enough; double-click on your target and you'll have at it until it's dead, whereupon it will drop a coin and an item of some sort. Easy. I find this familiar and welcome. It won't be until later that the oddness returns, as I venture further out into the wilderness and encounter the oft-maligned and misunderstood 'Small Pukepuke'.
The less said, the better.
I go to town (figuratively, of course; I know at some point I'll have to go back to the land of Generic Buildings and Aggressive Commerce, but right now I'm happy killing things. Let me be happy!) and eventually hit my first ding. Level up!
I can now put points into my attributes. The first part of this is easy -- I only have 4 stats to improve: Strength, Stamina, Dexterity, and Intelligence. It's the next part that confuses me at first. Opening the Skill Tree window, I see I can put my new Skill Points into something called 'Clean Hit', which is a slower, but more powerful strike. I see other skills, but those won't open up until I've put enough points into Clean Hit. Eventually I will, then discover a weird mechanic where the first two skills will complement each other -- you can stick them next to each other in your Action Slot, where hitting the 'C' key during combat will trigger the employment of both of them. You can have Clean Hit as its own usable skill in the F-Key menu, engagable at any time, but the second skill, 'Flurry' can only be used in conjunction with Clean Hit. I end up spending far too much time trying to make Flurry go into the F-Key slots before finally consulting the Help. By this point, the fun of murderdeathkill has gone, so I trudge back to town.
It's there that I stumble upon the Hair Shop.
Aha! Here's where I can change my hair color! And it's only going to cost me 4,000,000! A bargain! Seriously, I'm starting to wonder about the design philosophy being displayed here. You don't want me to know which buildings are which, I have to slaughter more wild beasts than anthrax just to change the color of my hair ... what's next? You gonna charge me to log out?
Figuring the real money's to be had in Quests, I wander around town for about 15 minutes (it's not that big a town, but again, where is everything? I don't know) until I find the golden yellow exclamation point hanging above someone's head. It's nice to know some things don't change. Seriously, if I ever see something like this hovering over someone's head in real life, I'm gonna do whatever that person asks me to do, whatever it is, 'cause I need the cash.
So, it turns out this girl's lost her puppy, in an area of the mountains guarded by the 'Grownup Lawolfs'. I'm too polite to say so, but I'm pretty sure the puppy realized it was less hazardous among snarling, voracious canines than living among the Berserker Vendors of Blandtown. I accept the task anyway, 'cause, hey: EVERYONE STOP SHOUTING, I DON'T WANT YOUR 'CHEEPDRAGONEGGBOARDSCHEEP'.
Despite all this, I think I'll keep playing Flyff. Something about it appeals to me, and I'm dying to know what's at the Fountain of Dead Person Gift Shop. I'm hoping for earplugs.