Dec 2006: Saturn Valley
- The actual article for this area is Saturn Valley
Player: Coeurl (played as Ophelia for this review)
Review Date: 11-13-06
[ MTSowbug ] Saturn Valley < 10+ >
Saturn Valley, given the low level range it suits, is somewhat out of the way and hard to get to, considering you have to pass through Rabite Forest and find the proper exit from the Cave of Waterfalls to reach it. New players at that level range may not be willing to go that far for a place to visit or level up, or might not be able to figure out how to get there on their own. Of course we can wish for people who enjoy exploring in and of itself, but that may not always be the case. I'm partially making use of the scoring example to help me organize. :D
The descriptions are comprehensive, telling you important things about the area you are in, and the directions it's possible for you to go, both hidden and obvious. There is a unique short, long and extra description for all the mobs and items, a big plus in my book. Though, there seems to be slight inconsistency in the directions listed in a few of the rooms and the actual direction. For example, if you go northeast from the room "Saturn Valley - Southwest of Pond", there is not, in fact, any pond there. And in that very same room, the description states "Directly to the north, surrounded by some rocks, is a small pond filled with clear water." Again, to the north -- no pond. The pond is actually located to the northwest, so it would make more sense if the description reflected that and the room was called "SouthEAST of pond", if you follow me.
Visiting at 10, the recommended level, monsters were a sufficient challenge, but nothing I couldn't beat (as a summoner with pets assisting). The jar of piggy jelly, the level 10 potion available at the Mr. Saturn's store, restored about 55-60 HP for me upon use, which seems a fair amount for a level 10 character. The balance seems to be fine, although from a grinder's standpoint, the mobs are slightly tough and the spawns too low/spread out for efficient leveling (after running a handful of characters through the range, I must say that 10-15ish is a bit of a pain to get through given the selection of places to level)
The Mr. Saturns all respond to being talked to, even if they don't say anything logical, so that's a plus. There are a few little quirky things you can do, like drinking coffee and trading for the ATM card. One of the NPCs seems to offer a fetch quest, but I wasn't sure where to find the item he requested. The availability of an ATM machine and a little store is nice. Since the shopkeeper sells peanut cheese bars and there is coffee available as well, it's possible to stay in Saturn Valley without having to stop elsewhere for food and drink, which is nice in my opinion. You can always hop in the Phase Distorter for kicks. :D And you can always buy a souveneir, with everything except the picture postcard having -some- kind of use.
Given I understand the example, Saturn Valley seems to make perfect sense where it is. The tunnel linking to it has descriptions hinting of a sentient race having made it, and there's no reason a place like Saturn Valley -couldn't- be connected to a cave. Nothing seems out of place or strange... I mean, Saturn Valley is a strange place, but it all makes sense within context. :D
I can't really say, as I honestly never played more than a few minutes of Earthbound. I have no complaints with the source material, however!
In short, other than a few complaints about inconsistency in descriptions, not providing an excellent place to get experience (if that's all you care about), and seeming to lack an interesting in-area quest, there's nothing I could say is bad about Saturn Valley. The mad ducks can be a little annoying, though. And given the class I was playing, I'm curious why stag beetles and the violent roach can be neither tamed or hypnotized. Hopefully, this was thorough enough and what was being looked for. =o
Review date: 21/11/2006
Well, really, Coeurl said most of what there is to be said, but I managed to think of a couple things to add. So here goes.
One nice thing is that the NPCs all have a little depth. Not just the important ones, but every Mr. Saturn has his own little quirks, making them seem more alive than the typical one-townsperson-mob-loaded-fourteen-times that you see in most cities. Some also take these little quirks into account in their battle progs (such as the Mr. Saturn in the hot springs splashing water at you), which is a nice touch. However, one of the Mr. Saturns asks you if you want to "slumber", but answering yes or no doesn't do anything, nor does the hut he's in have any furniture that would lend itself to doing so.
I do tend to stumble while navigating the place, but that may just be me, and I'd probably improve if I went there more often - certainly, Saturn Valley is small enough that a mazelike map is less of an issue than it is in, say, Viorar. I don't see any logical reason why the area is norecall, though.
ADDENDUM (date: 11/12/2006): I am also annoyed at how Dr. Andonuts makes you wait a day after almost-completing the quest before coming to collect your prize, especially since if you come back too late, you'll have missed your window of oppportunity and have to do part of it over, including tracking down where <spoilers> is again.
Review Date: 12-29-06
Thinking about Saturn Valley takes me back. It reminds me of many years ago, when CoD was running on a different server and under different management, and I had just begun building. Saturn Valley was the first (and simplest) area I wrote, an area straight out of my favorite source material: Earthbound.
I wrote Saturn Valley with the intent of making a town-type area that was out in the wilderness - an area where useful services could be found, but monsters still attacked the unwary. I pulled the layout directly from Earthbound, relying on screenshots to design the area. This is part of the reason the area has many exits in odd directions: the area was built in a particular way in Earthbound, and that particular way didn't translate to cardinal directions easily. Most of the dialogue spoken by the Mr. Saturns is also directly pulled from Earthbound, which helped me preserve the odd mannerisms in their speech.
Unfortunately, my attention to preserving details from the game did not leave much flexibility to make the area interesting for a MUD. My biggest complaint with Saturn Valley is that there isn't much to do there. Sure, there are some mobs to kill and definitely some usable items and services available from the Mr. Saturns, but there is little in the way of in-depth interaction that I've come to expect from a well-written area. Over the years, I've gradually tried to change this and have added various interesting things to the area. Dr. Andonuts, the ATM card, and the various items obtainable from the Mr. Saturns were all added long after I originally finished the area.
You talk to Mr. Saturn.
Mr. Saturn says 'We feel groove! Hi ho. Me Mr. Saturn.'
Review Date: 11-09-09
Descriptions: Descriptions are adequate and concise, giving me a good feel of the area so that I don't really get lost in the sometimes overwhelming room connections as long as I pay attention. Sometimes rooms describe the size of things in relation to a Mr. Saturn's size, but I don't see anywhere where the height of a Mr. Saturn is referenced other than one being "small". Extra descriptions exist for most things I'd want to look at.
Balance: The mobs in the area are more difficult to kill than their peers, which I am okay with since this is a town-type of area. I also appreciate that certain Mr. Saturns fight differently based on their context. There are some items to find here that aren't the best for their level, but certainly are fun.
Attractions:There's a lot to do here. I will focus on Doctor Andonuts and the potted ghost. The potted ghost fight is very nice because it introduces players to a battle that relies on other factors besides their class skills, encouraging them to be more aware of the actions going on. This is probably the earliest alternative boss fight. The Doctor Andonuts quest isn't obviously apparent until you obtain something you find elsewhere, with no hint from the good doctor. This is fine. The quest title appears after you do give the item to him. For the most part, this is a fetch quest with some interesting quirks, which I will not spoil here. The ending, however, is anticlimatic. You never feel like you contributed to those you joined in [SPOILERS]. In fact, I think it's possible to just watch the action happen until you are sent away during the moment of truth. The combat that occurs between the two warring groups of npcs is incredible to watch, if not just to see how carefully everything had to be plotted out by the builder. I am not sure if the events that occur here will be touched on in a future quest.
Connections: I don't believe that no_recall is needed or warranted in this area anymore. From what I remember being said about this, it was so the area could seem distant from Truce. There are many more areas now that are much further away than Saturn Valley, and feel more isolated than a quaint trek through the waterfall caves. The potted ghost miniboss doesn't have any context for its existence. It's just sort of..there and nobody in the valley seems to care or notice. There are currently no connections (barring the ATM card and a random quest item) to the outside world from Saturn Valley, which is actually flavorful.