Once I had the game patched and running (and the offending program removed), it was time to get down to brass tacks. Community Detective has largely been concerned with traditional subscription-based MMOs to this point (detours into the lands of Global Agenda and Runes of Magic notwithstanding), so I'm branching out a bit this week to the realm of free-to-play.
Despite its cash-shop missteps and death-penalty brouhahas, Allods has a certain allure, and I figured it was time to answer a few burning questions. In no particular order: What the heck is an allod, what kind of community can you expect in one of the larger F2P games, and what sort of customer service is on offer from gPotato?
The graphics, in particular, are some of the most appealing I've experienced in an MMORPG, F2P or otherwise. There are also some chuckle-worthy touches in terms of animations. My League Mage plops down and proceeds to file her fingernails if I'm AFK for too long, and my Empire Sorcerer takes to reading some sort of whirling light cylinder (and he also looks like the gruesome lovechild of Tim Burton and H.R. Giger).
All that said, you're probably here to read about the community.
As the week progressed, I did have better luck, and I was able to ask my customary questions and take the general pulse of the Allods community. My first question was as follows:
Responses were generally helpful, though there weren't a lot of them regardless of the time of day or day of the week that I asked. For my second question, I opted to ask about transportation.
Despite the large number of players running around, the majority of the ones I approached seemed somewhat aloof, and I was only able to group twice during my time with the game. People generally do their own thing, it seems, and as the game is pretty solo-friendly through the newb lands, this isn't too surprising.
Interestingly, I had the most luck (in terms of responsiveness and friendliness) during my weekday afternoon play times. This is a marked departure from every other game I've covered over the life of this column. Prior to Allods, I've always had the most luck with community interaction on evenings and weekends (Eastern time).
Finding the help interface isn't the most intuitive thing in the world, either. I hunted around the in-game UI to no avail, eventually settling for the help button at the bottom left of the store window. This opened up an external web browser and directed me to gPotato's main site. After logging in with my Allods account info and clicking through a few more help-related menu options, I arrived at a trouble ticket submission form.
While I'd love to be able to give you a few more data here, I simply don't have it as of press time, though I will update the article if and when gPotato gets around to responding. If you've had dealings with Allods customer service, feel free to share your experiences in the comments.
[Update]: I was contacted by the Allods team the day after this article debuted. I was informed that my support ticket could have been lost due to an internal issue that is currently being resolved. I was also made aware of the fact that the Allods support staff usually responds to customer service issues within one or two days when said issues are submitted via the game's official forums or via email.
That about wraps up Community Detective's first foray into Allods Online. Despite the help ticket unpleasantness, the game itself was surprisingly enjoyable, and I'd probably stick around if I weren't heavily invested in a couple of themepark titles already. Oh, and before I forget: An allod is a shattered piece of the planet Sarnaut, left to float in the vast expanses of the Astral after the Great Cataclysm. I'll see you in two weeks for another look at MMO community and customer service.