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E3 2012: Spacetime Studios demos another smash Legends hit


If you're a fan of Spacetime Studios' mobile MMO Pocket Legends or any of its brethren, you're in for a treat. The studio's next installment in the series, Arcane Legends, promises to deliver more of what all gamers crave: a standard hack-'n'-slash dungeon crawler feel, with more weapons, more environments, more lore, and more of just plain ol' fun. For free.

Players who haven't experienced any of the Legends series will find it familiar yet entertaining. Spacetime is entirely dedicated to gaming software on all platforms. Pocket Legends was its first foray into the market, and thus was born Star Legends and Dark Legends, each with its own style and flair. Arcane Legends delivers more of what the previous titles offer.

I was able to sit down with Fernando Blanco, Director of Marketing, at E3 to see a demo for the game, which the studio showcased on two tablets -- including a Kindle Fire. It was quite impressive.

"We've essentially built up a best-practices of game design in Arcane," Blanco told me during our interview. "We took what people really liked from Dark, we took what people really liked from Star, and we combined them."

The game stays true to the original formula by giving players a choice of three classes: a Warrior, a Rogue, and one cool-looking Sorcerer. Immediately there was a noticeable improvement in the visual quality of the game. Textures, polygons, and environments were more lush and alive. Hanging banners literally swayed in the wind. Action animations combined polygonal graphics, and cel-shaded graphics to give it a more animated feel. The lighting was certainly more dynamic and vibrant than in previous titles.

Charge attacks and combos have returned to Arcane to give a more rounded action experience. Auto-attack was removed, so there are no more click-and-wait mechanics. Spacetime kept the same control style with the virtual joystick (if it's not broken, don't fix it!). Along with these changes are inclusions of more special items, rare drops, and enough quests in the world to satisfy the casual and even hardcore gamer. Destructible environments are included, so if you hate tables, kegs, and chairs, feel free to destroy all the wooden creations in the game to your heart's content.

What's refreshing to see is that there is more story for the newcomer than in the previous titles. What often can suffer in mobile MMO games is the lack of story, and Spacetime is planning to reveal its game story in chapters.

"This game starts with the story of a dark wizard who had found a way to open dark portals to different places," Fernando told us. "These portals are bringing in goblins, orcs, and so forth. Your adventure starts in your hometown, which is being overrun by these goblics, orcs, and other bads. You make friends, you're exposed to more of the content, and eventually you make your way to fight the dark wizard. I don't know if that will happen at launch; I think it will be a progression. The first chapter is getting out of your hometown and the initial areas."

The demo I saw was quite responsive, as I could see the character's action on one tablet almost immediately repeated on another. The two tablets were tethered to an iPad 3, so the expected level of delay wasn't present at all.

To add to that, the artificial intelligence was boosted. Enemies will try to dodge your attacks instead of taking damage like a table, keg, or chair would. Other ranged enemies, such as casters, will hang in the back and avoid your character at all costs. Every interaction with the enemies just felt dynamic. The game's mechanics are more realistic and solid than in the previous installments, and it's clear Spacetime learns from every game it creates.

When the presentation was done, I touched on some previous limitations from the original Legends titles:

Massively: I've read that users of the previous titles weren't satisfied much with the very closed environments. They were tired of going to small room after room after room. Will there be more open environments to the game?

Yes. A lot more. There's always that itch of players who like the dungeon crawling and they like interior spaces, but there's also the appeal of being able to walk from this town to this town and having it be unbroken, not just "I walk through a portal and I'm in that other town."

Will there be any transfers of items or currency between games?

If you have a DL or PL account, you'll start off with an Arcane account. We're looking into other benefits with having a cross-lined account. One of the things we wanted to do initially was have your purchases cross games. This was our belief from the inception that if you purchased platinum from Spacetime, you should be able to utilize it in any Spacetime game. Unfortunately, if a user pays a certain amount on a storefront, that currency has to be locked to that storefront.

Did you have any closing comments you wanted to leave for readers?

We love you guys! We'd love to continue to share with you guys some of the pieces with the ongoing development. I think they're really going to enjoy this one because it has all the action from DL, but it also has all the fantasy from PL. It merges a lot of the great elements together. It's going to be faster and more fun than a lot of what's been out there before.

Arcane does have a higher system requirement than the previous installments. If you're a mobile user running some of the latest hardware, then you'll have no problem running Arcane. Smartphones and tablets should run the game just fine. Arcane Legends is slated for an August release. It will, to everyone's delight, still be free.

Thank you for your time!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 4-7, bringing you all the best news from E3 2012. We're covering everything from PlanetSide 2 and SWTOR and ArcheAge to RIFT's and LotRO's upcoming expansions, so stay tuned!

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