MMObility: The pros and cons of Tibia's browser version

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MMObility: The pros and cons of Tibia's browser version
Tibia screenshot
Tibia is an MMO that has been hanging in there for many, many years. You have to give it respect for that alone. When you add on the fact that the game seems to be updated relatively frequently and boasts a pretty good-sized playerbase, it becomes even more intriguing. I've played it in the past and have enjoyed the simple graphics and slower-paced gameplay. I like how NPCs chat with you, old-school EverQuest-style, and how there seems to be a lot more to the game than meets the eye.

There are plenty of eyesores, however. The developers recently released Tibia in a beta browser form. While the client was always easy enough to download and run on my multitude of devices, I always prefer to just jump into my browser and load it up.

I found a lot of neat little systems but also quite a few bugs or odd design choices. Colors and layout can be a problem, and I am not the biggest fan of Flash-based MMOs. Still, I am enjoying myself so far and look forward to more. Let's talk about what I found over these last several hours with Tibia's browser-based version.

Tibia screenshot
First, I want to be clear: Tibia truly is offering a game that is embedded in a browser. Whereas Free Realms is mistakenly referred to as a browser game, Tibia can even be opened in a new tab of your current session. Just hit right-click and "open in a new tab." Depending on the resolution of your machine, you might need to play in full screen to witness all that the game has to offer. UI elements can be hidden on smaller resolutions like 1366x768. On anything larger, like a standard gaming monitor, everything is visible.

"Remember talking with someone in Ultima Online, only to have to move to one side so your text messages were not overlapping? That feels dated in Tibia and could be solved by making speech bubbles that simply moved for you."

Unfortunately, the developers forgot to add some of the most important options for a game that already boasts tiny fonts and communications that overlay each other in game, similar to old-school chat in Ultima Online. Remember talking with someone in Ultima Online, only to have to move to one side so your text messages were not overlapping? That feels dated in Tibia and could be solved by making speech bubbles that simply moved for you. The font is so tiny and ugly in the chat channels that I have to strain to see it. I read somewhere that the client will offer a way to change all colors of the font, but I've seen no mention of size.

I know, I know, it's my new schtick to whine about font color and size, but not allowing fonts to be adjusted is about as silly as not allowing a player to move his UI around. Sure, it can be tolerable, but almost everyone I know has a preference when it comes to fonts and colors. It's unfair to those of us with vision issues to simply exclude us from the game. I have made it my new duty to expose horrible fonts and ugly colors in every game that I come across. Don't even get me started about color-blind issues.

What the NPCs say in that font is actually quite charming and helpful, though. An NPC asked me if I understood something, and I told him yes, and then he continued. Although he gave me keywords to respond with, there was some flexibility in what I could say to trigger the next section of speech. It felt more immersive than if I could say only one thing, one exact thing, to get the poor NPC to chat with me. Granted, I haven't progressed beyond the early levels (I'll soon hit 10 and 12), but so far the game has done a lot to slowly introduce me to the systems and mechanics that I need to know to work the game.

Tibia screenshot
"Slow" is the key word. If you need nonstop action or even a few moments of action, Tibia will probably disappoint you. Your character walks slowly, attacks slowly, and talks slowly. Everything is paced rather blandly. It seems as though mounts do play a part in the game, so there's hope yet for a speedier way to travel. I'm eager to grow my character to see how combat changes and how he adapts to different scenarios. For example, I went underground to kill rats and found myself literally surrounded at one point. I couldn't move through them, so my only hope was to injure one enough for it to move off or to kill one and move away from the group. I was able to switch to defensive mode and hold on to life, but just barely. Despite the glacial pace of combat, it was pretty intense.

There are a few levels of access, but premium access to the game entails several things. First of all, you will be able to get one of those wonderful mounts I mentioned earlier as well as fly on ships for travel. Sounds sweet! You also get better chat options and a larger social list. I gave up a long time ago on caring about MMOs that charge players for such basic things... as long as they offer plenty to go with the free account. It seems that Tibia has struck a pretty good balance. The fees are a bit below standard pricing for monthly access, so Tibia would be a great candidate for those sessions in between supper and going to bed.

Does the Flash client leave much to be desired? It does. But I love how you can drag and drop different hotbars and important features like a backpack around the screen, and I appreciate the fact that the game can be played on a toaster, but I would give anything for better font options. Perhaps they're in there already, but they must be hidden or still en route. The Flash version is in beta, after all.

Would I recommend Tibia? I get asked about game recommendations all the time, at least three times a week. I generally always answer the same: It's a free download. It's a freemium game. It runs in your browser and on your old laptop. Try it out for yourself. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you like a slower pace and an old-school feel.

Now, about those fonts...

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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