ShonkyJune 10, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Posted in General | 4 Comments
Tags: choice, fallen earth, game design
I got the Fallen Earth Mobile Companion yesterday, from the Android Market.
But before we go any further down this particular rabbit hole, a few words about this particular white rabbit:
I’m not a professional reviewer. I am not unbiased, and I don’t especially wish to attain that particular state of grace. Take what I have written with a pinch of salt, and feel free to make up your own mind. I shall be honest about what I feel about the software. You shouldn’t take it as gospel acclamation.
Furthermore, my phone is a G1. It is a year and a half old, and there are much faster Android smartphones out there. It is on the T-Mobile network, which has some “issues” when it comes to 3G coverage and connection. It has a notoriously bad battery, and I know how to drain the battery in about an hour by using a combination of multiple apps and using the aforementioned 3G.
Having said all that, I love my G1. It keeps me sane, during the bad times.
But enough preamble; onwards to the could-have-been-a-review-if-I-was-all-professional-about-this-stuff.
The overriding thought I have about the Fallen Earth Mobile Companion is that it’s launch proves it to be very much *of* the MMO genre.
Yes, you guessed it; it’s been released way too early, and could do with a good few months to iron out the bugs and add a decent sheen of polish to it.
There are connection issues, random bugs, not all of it works properly, and the interface isn’t that responsive.
Connection is vital in this app. It’s only a scant few megabytes in size, which means it’s constantly accessing the game servers for information requested. If it loses connection, it times out and throws a connection error out. It can take a long time to bring up a screen, and there’s no sort of progress bar, just an hourglass icon. And because of all that connecting and reconnecting, it doesn’t so much as eat my battery power as inhale it. Be warned.
Then there are the bugs. It’s not showing me all the crafting recipes I have, by a long shot. It seems to have decided to show me a random selection of recipe groups. And I mean random. According to the Science tab, I only know the Dye, Weakness Gas, Refine Adhesive and Gunpowder recipe groups. Huwah? The crafting queue is quite happily showing me make Motorcycles, but according to the Fallen Earth Mobile Companion, I don’t have the first clue in how to make them. The same goes for the other Crafting skills. It makes no sense.
It also has a habit of locking up. If I’m looking at what’s for sale on the auction house, and touch an entry to see more details about it, the app locks. Deader than a doornail, and I have to go drop out of the app and go back in it to sort it out. This is actually a change from earlier, when I could bring up item details.
Quite often, I need to press an icon two or three times to get it to operate. Maybe that’s my phone, but I’ve not had a problem with slow or unresponsive apps before.
There are other polish issues. The auction house will show me what’s for sale, but not how many items in a stack if the item is stackable. And there’s no way I’m going to gamble my chips away by effectively bidding blind.
Not only that, but when I slide out the G1 keyboard, the view remains staunchly portrait. Even when using the chat function, and I’m typing away on aforementioned keyboard, the app refuses to change its pro-portrait stance.
Call me some freaky freaky-face, but I like being able to type on the hardware keyboard without it appearing at 90degrees on screen. Never mind the typing window inextricably occupying half the screen, whilst the software keyboard occupies the rest of the screen.
Why? It makes no sense. It’s nice to see what chat I’m responding to, never mind being able to respond in good time if new chat arrives whilst I’m typing.
Oh, and sometimes it’s nice to work in widescreen.
Those are the major gripes. There are a good few minor gripes, but I can live with those.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though.
The Comms function works nicely, apart from the polish issues. I think the Friends pane works better at telling you who’s online better than the actual game does, and whilst the only community channel available is Clan, that’s fine by me. Chat works in good time, and has even informed me when chat is occurring whilst I’m on another part of the app.
The Character screens are quite well realised. Showing character stats could be better realised, but inventory and equipment screens are nicely done.
The maps are nice, and quite well realised on the small screen. Not much use, but pretty nonetheless.
The crafting queue is useful. It’s quite surprisingly nice to see how close something is to being finished when logged out.
Do I think I wasted my money?
Possibly. At the very least I handed it over way too soon. Or I have the wrong phone or OS; maybe it works perfectly on the iPhone, and it’s only shonky on Android. Or the G1.
But shonky it is, and I really hope they’ll get their act sorted out, and improve and update this app as often as Fallen Earth LLC have improved and updated Fallen Earth itself.
If they do, then “Mobile Companions” could well be the next big thing to happen to MMOs. Because as a proof of concept, the Fallen Earth Mobile Companion shows that this kind of thing will work. AFK Interactive now need to show that it will work *well*.