Apr 2018:Booster Tower

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Area of the Month for April 2018 is Booster Tower!

A template format for your review is below; click 'edit' at the top of the page, copy-pasta from the ---- to the next ----, and fill in the gaps!

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    • Post-reviews, Booster Tower was altered too significantly to note every change here, thanks. 9/27/2018



Player: You!(Class/Level)

Review Date(s):


Descriptions: X/10

How does the area's room descriptions(descs) work for you? Do they give you a good idea of the area? Do things that stand out in the desc and NEED explanation GET that, either from flavor text(extra-descs) or NPCs in the room or anything?

What about mobiles(mobs) and their descriptions? Can you get a decent mental image of who or what this NPC/monster is? Do they respond when you talk or interact with them?

Some areas have interact-able objects like fountains. Do they stack up well also?


Balance: X/10 (OR N/A)

(NOTE: combat will be most accurately gauged when your character is in the area's suggested level range.)

If this area has combat, how does it feel? Does anything jump as horribly overpowered and impossible to deal with? What about the flipside, anything far too easy to beat?

Are purchased or rewarded items at the appropriate strength levels? Is the effort required to obtain rewarded items reflected in their usefulness (or uniqueness and fancifulness)


Attractions: X/10

Why would you suggest someone come to this area? Is it just a good place to grind experience(lots of mobs)? Does the area provide a chunk of good gold and loot?

What about the quests? Does this area's quests feel properly done, or is there some part of it that you feel needs work?

For towns, are the shops good? Any other non-combative attraction for the area?


Connections: X/10

How easily and well does this area connect to its nearby areas? Does it make sense thematically to be connected to the areas it is?


Personal

Any comments you'd like to make that you don't feel apply to the other sections can go here!



Player: Scribble(Knight/16) - TOKEN'D

Review Date(s): 4/1/2018


Descriptions: 4/10

The descriptions of the mobs are short and sweet, which is fine. They describe them rather well, but just somewhat unimaginatively. The Snifits all share a description except for one, describing them as Booster's "three main toadies" even though there is a fourth. This fourth one is also a shopkeeper, but looking at him still reveals his condition as if he were killable.

The room descriptions are easy to ignore and very short. A few are even one sentence. The room you are sent to after taking the trip there refers to the event that sent you there, even though it's possible to leave from this room and then go back through it normally, obviously not having arrived there the same way as you did initially. There are very few things in the room descriptions to look at and nothing in them is ever important, every important interactable object and mob being plainly visible in the room.

While reading the descriptions does help mildly paint a picture of the area, the tower is more or less a free for all killing spree zone without much to look at. The only location within this area that is actually interesting to read is the Marrymore Province, but it lacks extra descriptions. On that note, extra descriptions are highly lacking and the ones that *do* exist do not add much more to the area.

This is somewhat an important note as, being a very popular, easily accessible area that nearly every newbie will visit, it does not help adjust them to the fact that reading room descriptions is typically very important in the Cleft. Though, arguably, completing the quests would still be very hard to do without reading the descriptions of the mobs involved.


Balance: 8/10

The balance here is good, in regards to mobs. There are large numbers of killable mobs all around the tower, ranging from 15 to 19. All of the named mobs, with sparse few exceptions, are killable and much higher level, however they are only so much more difficult than the regular mobs, except for a few (the Apprentice for example is rather tough). My character is perhaps slightly more well geared than your typical newbie, though these mobs will be harder for some classes than for others, as well. At level 17 (I leveled while writing this) I'm able to kill the level 25 mobs here, as long as I'm paying attention. For a lower level area, perhaps this is okay. The trash mobs are of varying difficulty and introduce some new status effects to new players, which is important, though annoying.

For instance, I've just been not killing Orb Users because I can't re-equip my shield after using shield slam due to being blinded. This is just annoying and not really a huge issue. Bob-Ombs are probably the weakest enemies, but will explode for no experience if not killed quickly, which is a neat mechanic, teaching new players that not all fights will be so cut and dry.

The items available here are decently balanced, though the level requirement for certain quest rewards is worth some discussion, mentioned below. The actual strength of these items is probably fine.


Attractions: 7/10

Booster Tower is obviously a hotspot for leveling and it's suggested quite frequently already. Its location is incredibly convenient, much closer to Truce than other similar leveled areas, and a useful spot for much longer than others. It's a good leveling spot for first life characters and newbies from its starting level (depending on the skill and class of the player, possibly earlier), though it tends to lose its steam quite a few levels before its suggested ending level range.

There are useful pieces of gear, here, from quests or otherwise, that are typical standard fare for your general player. Some of the quest rewards are not useable until the very last level of the range of the tower. Even for a first life character, the quests are not difficult to complete before level 25, even *far* before 25, potentially teaching newbies the hard way that items will poof from your inventory if they are 10 levels out of reach. By the time you can actually use them, you probably won't even be in Booster Tower anymore.

The "main" quest (the one with the most steps) is not too hard to follow and figure out, although considering its main mechanic is giving items to NPCs, it's unfortunate that some of the NPCs may keep these quest items when they are the incorrect recipient. There is inconsistency here, as some NPCs WILL give back wrong items and others will not. It's not clear if this is intentional, but if so, it's not really a great sort of 'difficulty modifier' in my opinion, and moreso just annoying.

It's also worth questioning if it's worth preserving the situation within this quest where the final turn in item is a potentially useful item for certain classes to keep, while the final reward would be bad for those classes. It's possible to do the quest over again, but that would insist that if the final reward is not good for your class, you basically just do it again, while other people would not have to. I'm not sure this is a great mechanic, personally.

One of the quests can be cheesed (I won't explain how publicly!) really easily, while another requires an item that requires level 20 to wear, but the reward requires level 25 to use. The item also doesn't *necessarily* require combat to acquire, so the jump in level requirements is potentially super annoying. Basically if you complete it as soon as you are able, you'll still have an unusable item in your inventory for five levels before you even know if it's worth the space to keep it.

These level requirements for the quest rewards is the only thing I would really think to take a second look at, if only for the fact that Booster Tower - despite being level 16-25 - becomes less useful and will typically be finished significantly before its final level of 25, even by newbies, as has been demonstrated recently.


Connections: 5/10

This is one of the most easily accessible, mob-dense areas for low level leveling in the game for a Truce start. Thematically, Booster Tower is questionable in its location. It's just a short walk from Truce, between there and Rocket Town. The entrance to the tower itself implies the tower is somewhat unpleasant looking, saying that the door has been broken down. For an area openly displayed between two neat and orderly towns, this seems like something that may be of interest to be addressed by the authorities. Maybe it's mentioned and I just haven't seen it.



Player: Aludra(Wizard/8) -- Token'd

Review Date(s): 04/06/2018


Descriptions: 5/10

The area itself is fairly decent. Some rooms have much shorter descriptions than others, but the environment is rather same-y all in all. Especially in the source material. There are only so many ways to say 'big ugly marble chessboard room.' I wouldn't mind seeing some colour pops though, just to highlight some of the more interesting things. There aren't really any extra descriptions of note other than the TV near the top. Cute, but not inspiring.

Most of the mobs have strange formatting and linebreaks. Snifit 1 for example:

He wears a grey coat over his whole body, a black belt, and a black gas mask covering his face. He is one of Booster's three main toadies and loves to catch beetles and eat cake.

And, of course, a Spookum:

Spookums are the same height and wear the same mask as Snifits, but their rank is lower and their robes are blue rather than grey. They came to become Snifits under Booster's training, but he only wants four.

They all seem to be written under a very short linewrap. I'm not going to paste every single mob description, but there are a lot of them with this issue.

Other than that, they're all nice and concise and give a good idea of what you're dealing with.

As for area objects, such as the toy chest and therein, these objects suffer the same linewrap issue. One of the trains are barely described at all. Player-ownable objects (such as the balloons) have equally lackluster notes. Some colour pops would be great there too.

All in all, the writing is decent, but it's lacking in content. Jazz it up!

Balance: 7/10 (OR N/A)

The chain chomps are probably the most difficult thing here to fight. Disproportionately so, given their relative level.

Fireballs are definitely the weakest, and their level/xp are true to that. Would be neat if they were more in line with the rest of the area.

Second to fireballs, bombs are definitely probably the weakest. I just wish they didn't cease to give you XP if they delete themselves via explosion. If they survived that with 1hp, I'd be a lot happier.


I wish the rewards were more consistently leveled though. Equipment and items you can get here range from 15 to 45. By level 25, there are definitely way better places to be and much better items to use. At least the level 45 item isn't terrible. It's very easy to lose track of though, especially at a lower level where it will disappear and you'll forget about it entirely.


Attractions: 7/10

There's basically no reason not to come to this area if you're starting out on the Truce side. It's easily located, it's packed to the gills with things to kills. The money drops aren't too bad for the level. There are plenty of little hidden treasures you can acquire if you know what to do. And, most importantly, you can do the beetle hunting minigame and rack up all kinds of dosh if you're bored.

The main questline here is pretty slick. It takes a little bit of trial and error, but once you get rolling, it's hard to stop!

There are three shops. None of which have any weapons or armor, but you can get some useful goodies here, if you know where to use them!


Connections: 10/10

It connects Truce, Rocket Town and Rabite forest. Or, I'm assuming. I've never found the key to the locked back door. But I'm assuming! If the door does go where I think it was, it's a quick trip through Booster's Tower to get to Neko's Cabin, which backdoors into Guardia Castle. Pretty handy shortcut, if true. But where's the key? This might be a Thief Only scenario.


Personal

All in all, this area is a great springboard into the teen-levels, and further adventure. At least one of the rewards is good for all levels. I just wish it were more visual.



Player: Kaze(Warrior/10ish, Theif 10-15)

Review Date(s): April 1st for the Warrior, April 15th for the Thief


Descriptions: 7/10

I like the descriptions as a rule. It's good. Many of the rooms are pretty bland. One common issue is that the names are the primary way to get a feel for relative height short of mapping, not the descriptions.

The rooms that are noteworthy locations are pretty well described. That includes the entryway, Thomp's room, Booster's room, and Marymore... Dodo, etc. The knifey dude is pretty much the only interesting feature of his room.

Most of the puzzles are in the descriptions, fair dinkum. This is good. Some level of hand holding is appropriate such an early stage, even, so the clarity is welcome.

Mobs are pretty descriptive and have a jovial feel. None stood out as particularly bad, but a few were especially good. Valentina's rich trailer-trash vibe was readily apparent. The train's animation played in my head.

Balance: 9/10 (OR N/A)

Fire vulnerability is NASTY in the tower.

The Bob-ombs seem overpowered for their level. You need DPS to drop them. The boom is devastating or deadly at the low end of the level. (If you have the HP to survive, I suspect they are much easier. Warrior handled them much lower than thief, say) Still, if you have enough, they are otherwise a bit easy. They are pretty binary that way. Going into the tower at level, I'd recommend most steer clear. On your way out, waste them for the exp.

Orb users can also be deadly, especially to the fire vulnerable, but their tricks mostly seem challenging to me, not unfair. They blind and hit hard, yet are a bit fragile. I think they're well balanced for level.

Spookums are pretty fair, given they act as a pretty solid entry requirement. Must be this big to enter. They are pretty much average, Maybe a touch weak, but given their company, that's far from a bad thing.

Chomps are tough little cookies at level. Got to use dirty tricks or resources to fight them until about mid level. They are fairly easy to avoid and, frankly, used quite well.

The bosses are a bit of a ramp, as expected and desired. The only one that really seems out of range is Val. Especially if you have the wrong vulnerabilities, she's realy good at smacking a low level character around. It generally wise to come back to finish her off.

Item rewards range from about what you'd purchase to nice for the level. Clown Gloves are really nice for their level. Otherwise things tend to be a bit light.

All in all, this is pretty much my standard for combat balance. It's one of the best zones, that way.


Attractions: 9/10

It's got fun and amusing little secrets. It's got challenging MOBs. It's got some decent EQ. If you like MUDs, it's for you.

Loot isn't much of a draw, though the shops are. Gold is decent.

Quests are average. They mostly aren't hard. The Chain Chomp thing is pretty obscure. The Sniffits are humerous but the rewards are pretty pointless. Marymore is cool looking but one of its quest elements is tricky to even spot, much less solve.

A few more scattered hints are in order. Given the nature of the area, that's probably best solved in other zones, predominantly, but some on site would be good, too.


Connections: 7/10

Why it's where it is isn't clear, but it does link to its surroundings in a rational way. Really ought to have a bit more description on the road, though. A tower that big would be visible from quite a ways off.


Personal

It's my favorite low-level area.

A clever way across the fireball floor without an encounter would be welcome, as would some more flavor in the interstitial floors.



Kolem (Playing as Belle, L. 8-13 Moogle Geomancer, with various others; also Paisley, L~10 thief)

Review Date(s): 4/26/2918

As is standard with my reviews, all sections begin with five points. Consistent positives or excellent examples gain points; consistent negatives lose points or half points. Here we go!


Descriptions: 5/10

Oh, Booster tower. You hold a special place in my heart, but you show your age in a lotta places. One of them is the near-dearth of extra look descriptions--the only ones there are for interactables, as well as a single T.V. On the bright side, all monsters in the tower respond to talking, and spookums and snifits aside, seem to be desced decently. I was gonna ding this area half a point for lack of extra descriptions, but it doesn't really IMPEDE the player--it just feels like a missed opportunity, especially given the bonkers nature of the source material. I'll give it functional marks, but this is an area for improvement.


Balance: 5/10

This is a hard one, and I feel like it's one of Booster Tower's high points--and low points. The real problem I have with the zone is that, outside of the boss enemies and quest items, there aren't any real 'drops' to speak of in the tower. Spookums, Bob-ombs, Orb Users, Chain Chomps, and Remo Cons don't appear to have any drops whatsoever, and the boss rewards are either high-end of the range or storebought at the very lowest end of the scale (as is the case with Valentia's drops).

On the other hand, I have nothing but praises to sing ABOUT those mobs. Booster Tower's mobs--the ones above, before we get to the bosses--all have interesting, engaging combat tricks. Analyze reveals that chain chomps have a random major weapon resistance, making melee classes have to think and plan, while Bob-Ombs will severely punish, say, a caster who bungles a few spells (this happened to me more than once). Orb users introduce low level blind and fire attacks into the mix, while Remo Cons inflict the Curse ailment, which can lead to real problems. Coupled with the levels you might attempt the tower being the introduction to the necro mechanics, these monsters are incredible teaching moments. Which leads us to...

The bosses. They can and WILL thrash players who are much too low level to challenge them, with powerful attacks. One sore point is the Apprentice miniboss, who can come off as a nasty surprise the first time you encounter them, and is probably single handedly responsible for most of the new player deaths in the tower. Fireballs are also fairly obnoxious, but much less challenging than just about everybody else in the zone. Some sort of trick mechanic to switch them 'off' for a bit might be cool, similar to the trick for the chain chomps and spookum at the doorway. Maybe a minor in-room puzzle? Booster can call for help, and Valentia has powerful spells for the level.

Another sore spot is the items--not just the lack thereof from the main common monsters, but the boss drops, as well, and those items gleaned through quests and mini-quests. They're all over the scale, swinging wildly from cheap but usable to high level and very useful, with levels that don't really quite suit their placement. The Balloons item, wands, and rod in particular in this zone are all handy to have, but have caveats--whether they be rot-death, high level, or simply hidden in a multi-level quest with a slightly obscure (but fun!) beginning. I kinda wish it was possible to expand the entry point to the quest, just because I enjoy it personally.

All in all: Plus one full point for dynamic, interesting monsters that have multiple approaches to fights, minus one half for a lack of drops, and minus another half for the swinginess of item level and placement--it's items that hold this zone back, and that's a pity, because the combats here are genuinely a blast. (Hah!)


Attractions: 7/10

Hmm. While Booster Tower has solid experience payouts, the treasures--once you know what is here--are pretty useful, even though their levels are skewed. Additionally, there's at least one major item for a tie in quest later. I wish there were more to recommend here, especially in Marrymore--it's just big enough and themed enough with enough facilities to suggest expanding it to a mini-town, like Monstro Town or Medina. It'd really add some zing to the tower! There are also some mini-quests available in other areas that tie here, and a little lateral thinking can net you an nice piece of equipment. I can award one point for that--the distinctive items that are here are pretty fun, but I wish there was more reward for the lower end challenges here. See the Suggestions section for more.

Additionally, the Beetle-catching minigame--and the hidden quest given by it--is really fun, but as others have pointed out, the mobs in the tower don't return items. I'll award another half point to the beetle game, and I wish there was more to do with it. There's also a minigame miniboss, which is always nice to see! I'll award it another point for that.


Connections: 5/10

Booster tower itself has been worked on, off and on, by different builders for several years. This sorta patchwork addition is fine, but the surrounding environments--truce and Rocket town--refer to it only sparsely. It might be nice if it being obnoxious and visible played into more areas.

Ultimately, it only has two exits, and one of them is locked by default. Which is... ehhhn. I wish there was more to Marrymore, and I wish there were more connections to external zones--it feels like the sort of place a Cannon Travel guy would totally make an installation on a balcony, or something.

Five points for a functional, easy connection to one of the starting towns, but it could always stand to be improved.

Personal

Woof. What do I even say here? Booster's tower is practically a fixture of my time in the cleft, and it really sold me on the kind of lateral-thinking fighting on your feet that comes more into play as you fight later monsters. I love the flavor of the enemies here, but the tower itself could use a lot of touch ups.

FINAL AVERAGE: Out of four categories, average score is 5.5.

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT:

  • Rebalance item levels and flags and grant minor loot drops to the lower end monsters. One suggestion that sticks out in my mind is a hunk of Cosmo Brimstone as an uncommon drop from bob-ombs, regardless of if they explode or not--one gold treasures are decent enough for the level, and it would reward players with crafting components that they could feasibly use to start poking the crafting shops. It would also be thematically consistent with the bob-omb recipe sold in cosmo canyon.
  • Touch up room, mob, and extra descriptions. For being such a gaudy place, Booster Tower uses criminally little color--the portraits are begging for ascii art or at least extra descriptions, along with loads of other spots it'd be easy to add more un-style.
  • Expand the beetle minigame! Yes this is silly and dumb and unnecessary but I love it, and I wish more beetle-based enemies yielded special rewards / there were more variants of beetle / a beetle box event item. Shush don't judge me.
  • Add additional resources to Marrymore. It has a fountain and even benches--expanding it into a minitown would reward adventurous players, and would be a great spot for 'toys' and the like to be sold in the future.
  • Give more external clues about the way to bypass the guard / get various prizes / bypass the chomps with the use of a logically fitting item.



    • Booster Tower has been updated since these reviews.