Mar 2018: Chocobo Forest

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Area of the Month for March 2018 is Chocobo Forest!

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!



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: Kaze (Ninja L50) - Token'd

Review Date(s): 3/2/2018

Descriptions: 7/10

The general navigation worked to a point. The descriptions were were generally serviceable. The description when you pop the box is one of the better ones, but I don't like that it's a weird special room that teleports you around. (More on that later)

One thing that isn't clear from the descriptions is any sort of progression from place to place. Forest becomes rocky. Go up and you're on a hill or in the sky. It's rather abrupt, really. The layout is probably part of that issue.

The descriptions of the chocobo are pretty good. I can tell which each is, readily. I'm not convinced someone who hadn't played as much FF as I would, but such tend not to stick around that long, so... eh?

Chocobo should either spook and run/fight or react with curiosity when you talk to them. They tend to be portrayed as quite friendly, which doesn't come through. Maybe that's intentional. Dunno.

The nooks are suggested in the descriptions, so that seems fair. The cave is rather vague.

The biggest thing that seemed off, though was the inability to ride Boco or one of the others. What a gyp!

Balance: 7/10 (OR N/A)

The chocobo are pretty straightforward foes. (Some teamwork would ramp up the difficulty tremendously, as would inserting a white one should you do so.)


Attractions: 4/10

Honestly, mostly this zone is accessible exp. While they are giving good experience and you can drop them, the zone is a goldmine. Otherwise, it's not all that great. The gold chocobo feather was less than exciting. Note that part of that is the difficulty in obtaining Float status. If you could snag such things while there was exp to be had, it wouldn't seem so lackluster but you'd have less reason to return. The Sky Armor pet I now have is... interesting, but not very useful.

Now, I say all this knowing that I haven't gotten into the cave, yet. (I was going to experiment with trying to get the red chocobo to cast comet on the boulder, but I haven't come up with a good way to do so.)

Okay: The fact that completing a leg of the quest leads to a special smoky room and then forces you to exit back to the clearing is irritating because that sleep thing. When you wake you can easily abandon a vehicle in the void. It's not too hard to avoid, if you're thinking about it, but I don't like it.

I'd like there to be more quests, honestly. A quest to set up safer spots for nesting might be interesting. If there's going to be a free pet available, why not a chocobo buddy that's one of those fancy ones that levels and, thus, scales? Apparently, there is code in place to do that, so even if not a mount, (which, obviously, would be cool) at least a battle buddy could be a nice touch. A quest one-shot flag would make this something to be very careful of. (opening up the possibility of one or more resurrection quests) I'm seeing this as a difficult quest, though possibly more on the mind than the body. Don't know; kinda spit-balling. Some spirit of the forest could need something done to fix stuff for Big Bird's cousins.


Connections: 4/10

It's not hard to find but it's certainly out of the way. I have no idea what the thematic reason for its placement was. It actually seems like something that might fit better between Viorar and Truce, whether north of the Veldt or more southerly.



Player: Aludra???(Gambler/100) - Token'd

Review Date(s): 03/04/2018


Descriptions: 8/10

The room descriptions aren't too short, nor are they too long to the point where it's a bother to read them. The different sections of the area are color coded in the short description, which is a nice touch. It really helps to remind you which part of the area you're in at a glance.

The mobs themselves are all described fairly decently except for Mene, the moogle. It isn't badly written so much as it's more backstory than appearance. A little jarring compared to the rest of the zone. The color in his name also makes me spell it wrong constantly. Although this could be contributed to my font as well.

The hidden objects and other looktraps are also quite nice. Plenty of secrets if you know where to look.


Balance: 7/10 (OR N/A)

The combat in the area is fairly engaging. The enemies use a variety of different abilities, which is only natural given the nature of different coloured chocobos. Some of the enemies drop wands that help out. The merchant in the area sells a few goodies as well. Though those are mostly used to access the rest of the zone. Aside from the boss of the zone, the enemies themselves aren't too rough. The only exception to this is the boss, and depending on your level, the Sky Armours. They can be a little mean if you're there kind of early. There's not much aggro to deal with. It's just too bad the zone is lacking in actual mobs. It's kind of deserted.



Attractions: 10/10

The main reason I'd come to this zone is for the quests. They're short, fun, and the rewards are very nice. It's worth a trip just to check them out, even if you're out of range for the forest itself.

The secondary reason? Taming chocobos. They make great pets and each colour offers a different utility - though Red would be my favorite, as it's a berserker with a lot to offer.

Like I mentioned previously, there aren't very many mobs to kill. Maybe ten enemies in the entire area, assuming you can swim and/or fly, and then you have to wait for a repop.

But again, like I mentioned before, the enemies drop some feathers - wands - which prove to be fairly useful if you remember to use them. It's just too bad you can't buy them in the shop.

Connections: 2/10

There's only one place this really connects to, and that's the road outside of Wutai. The plus side, is it's super quick and easy to get to whether you're coming from the pier or walking through Truce Canyon. You don't even have to worry about recall scrolls because it's such a short distance. It's just a shame there isn't an area beyond it.


Personal

Great zone, very iconic. Easily one of my favorite areas when I was a lower level. Just wish it was more populated. Throw out some chocobo eaters and some extra chocobos or something, you know?



Player: RedMage(Wizard/26) - Token'd

Review Date(s): 3/15/18

Under Descriptions, I will list all of the typos/bad Engrish I've encountered while minimizing potential spoilers. I'll be posting only partial room descriptions to point these things out. Attractions has some problems too. Some of my comments are maked by ((parenthesis)).

  • EDITOR NOTE As we address these errors and other types of description afflictions, we'll be deleting these comments to keep track of what has and has not been addressed. Thanks for the handy checklist!

Descriptions/Problems: 1/10

>talk breeder

 You think 'Do you have any work needs doing?'

((*Do you have any work that needs doing?))

 You think 'I've got the feathers you wanted!'

((This line showed up the first time I talked to him then mysteriously disappeared the second time, strange.))

  • Chocobo Forest - Riverside Path
 creatures drinking from the water.  A river crossing made up of solid white

((Why can't I drink the water? Other rooms describe it as being pristine and pure.))

  • Choco Falls - East Side
 The river that the waterfall creates flows gently to the norhtwest,

((*northwest.))

  • Top of the Cliff
 A small alcove set agains the side of the mountain, accessible only by climbing from the plateua below.

((*against, *plateau.))

  • Stepping Stones
 To the south you can spy a waterfall at its origin.

((There's that you again.))

  • Singed Forest
 woods, aside from the occasional reslilent tree proving too stubborn to die. The cause of the devestation is made strikingly clear from the constant

((The only thing that's strikingly clear are these typos. *resilient, *devastation.))

 patrol of crimson fowl, their sharp determined glare speaks volumes of their disdain for anyone who would intrude upon their sacred ground.  

((What crimson fowl?))

  • Chocobo Trail
 To the northwest you can spot a large clearing surrounded by thick brush and large rock formations.  To the east the trail widens, and you can hear the faint sound of running water in the distance.  

((I should start a 'you' counter.))

  • Chocobo Lake: Shallow Water
 The creatures in this lake live in a peculiar casual harmony, the chocobos acting as both predator and proector, another sign of their strange but astonishing intelligence.

((Their intelligence is so astonishing that they have become the legendary proectors of the forest. *protector))

  • While in ??? foggy rooms
 Looking around you see:
 This doesn't matter probably? , right here.

((GUESS AGAIN MOTHERWARKER!))

  • Cumulus Ridge
 Comfortable and sturdy, it provides an excellent place to lean against or sit for a spell without fear of falling to the ground below.

((So why is there no furniture to rest on?))

  • Chocobo Forest - Chocobo Paradise
 (] Exits: sw [)
 A shimmering golden chocobo observes you sagely.
 Choco is sitting here.
 Choco is sitting here.
 An enormous, rotund chocobo occupies a throne here, endlessly devouring a pile of food next to him.

((Choco look, it's your long lost twin brothers! I wonder how many Chocos we'll get in here before a despawn prog is put in.))

Throne extra desc

 At the side of the throne sits a giant pile of food of every type and variety.

((Why not just list some greens?))

  • Fat Chocobo's ?????
 seals off any hope of escape. 

((Divine recall is reserved for those of lower levels than you. - GUESS AGAIN MOTHERCLUCKER! Huh, deja vu.))

 is lined with a series of protusions which should allow safe descent;*

((Not that anything has had any extra descriptions in this zone, but it'd be nice to know what those protusions are that I can climb down. Erm, I mean *protrusions.))

  • After Recalling with Choco present at any time

((So nice of Choco to wait for me if I recall while he's following and return later. That can get messy fast if people keep abandoning their Chocos and nothing is there to despawn them.))

  • Chocobos going past the boulder

((Hey wouldn't it be nice if the only red chocobo in the entire zone wandered past the boulder where no one who's done the quests yet could get to it to attempt to grind for red chocobo feathers? That can totally happen.))

  pecks you hard on the forehead! ( (39))
 That'll yeach ya!

((That sure did yeach me.)

((Post-Mene Quest Choco no longer seems to be afraid of fighting. It can now be a useless follower, yay!))

  • Aspik description
 Its body is extremely weak and vulnerable to physical attack, and its sole tendril fares poorly in combat.  In order to survive the Aspik has developed a natural defense in the form of an extremely high voltage current, which it can generate at will.  

((Hey thanks, now I don't have to read an analysis scroll!))

  • Mene the Moogle's description
 All other ways, however, Mene stands alone.  An outcast from his moogle brethren, he identifies more with his best friend Choco than anyone from his own race.  Alone together, they travel to find their place in the world.

((Well I'm glad I got to know Mene better just by looking at him.))

  • Choco's description
 Choco is no different; though smaller than most and strangley distant from his choco brethren. Choco is particuarly gifted in his intellect, especially in his ability to determine a person's worth.  A shy bird, Choco's only friend is a moogle named Mene.  Alone together, they travel to find their place in the world. 

((Well I'm glad I got to know choco better just by looking at him. Huh, deja vu. *strangely, *particularly))

In summary: Most of the room descriptions are okay, typos can be fixed, but they are lacking severely in extra descriptions. There are many instances of capitalized improper nouns and the hidden areas are really easy to find (found them all before I was even tasked to). What really drags this score down are the mob descriptions. There is a lot of copy and pasting across the different chocobos as well as background elements in some parts, which don't belong in a mob's description. This area is also lacking in furniture/fountains/fishing spots/mining spots, all the things that make a zone interesting.


Balance: 7/10

While I have a bit more HP/Mana than most Wizards at my level, my armor was 100's across and I had vulnerability to Pierce, which EVERYTHING here uses. Despite these drawbacks I didn't have much trouble fighting anything. Red Chocobos could pull me down pretty quickly if I failed enough casts. They're also resistant to mental for some reason, so watch out Dancers! The other mobs had reasonable resistances/vulnerabilities and their combat progs certainly filled them with some life.

The main problem here is that there's BARELY any chocobos to fight. This ties into the quest mentioned below, so if these reviews are to accomplish anything, Chocobo Forest needs more spawns. A lot of spawns. Maybe even a few other critters from the source material (or from the cleft. Chocobos are Pokemon, aren't they? Look how they evolve into new colors! Someone should CATCH THEM ALL!).

Oh yeah, no mobs reward any money, at all. That's most likely a bug so I won't subtract any points, but it certainly needs to be addressed.


Attractions/Problems: 0/10

  • Loot
 The Sky Armor now follows you.

((Oh, uh...ok. Thanks? Wait, your name is SKY ARMOR and you can't fly? How are you even..nevermind. Nice lack of teleport prog there, too.))

 [*SAY*] The Sky Armor 'I can wear equipment in these locations:'
 [*SAY*] The Sky Armor 'Hold, float, and light.'
 [*SAY*] The Sky Armor 'I have 4 damroll 6 hitroll 0 magroll. My average damage is 22.'
 [*SAY*] The Sky Armor 'My armor modifies damage by 105 / 105 / 105 / 105 percent. I have 0 Saves.'

((Well aren't you a keeper. No wonder you were free.))

Chocobo Wing(L32) is uh...semi-mediocre. Garbage as a shield since its -AC is worse than a L10 shield and there are better ways to get Haste. A +Dex shield with proper AC would probably be better.

The Dislodge Quest Reward isn't clear about what level you have to be to use it. I'm L31 now and I still can't use it properly.

-Quest Issues-

  • Mene Quest
 Mene says 'But...this place is way too big, and there's dangers all around.  Sad to say, but I'm simply of no help to choco in this situation...'

((I left all the capitalized non-proper nouns alone in the room descriptions, but I think Mene owes his buddy a capital C at the very least. Mene's dialogue is very uh, interestingly spaced out by the way.))

 You think, "No thanks."

((This option literally does nothing.))

 Mene takes a moment to catch his breath

((Hey Mene finally decided to do an emote instead of spamming say, too bad he forgot his period.))

((Mene seems to enjoy copy and pasting parts of his dialogue between quest sessions. Choco definately enjoys copy and pasting throughout when QINFO happens.))

 Mene says 'I guess I'll have to forgo a life in the lap of luxury...but hey, at least I can always pay for food from that Chinese Delivery place.'

((Not for long!))

 You say 'I lost my [QINFO ITEM], can I have another?'
 Mene says 'Sure!  Here you go! '
 (10) [QINFO ITEM] is here.

((Miiight want to add melt_drop to those suckers. Too bad I'm not L30 yet, I'd totally max Artifice here.))

 Mene says 'Sorry, looks like your party's a little too full, Choco's really shy.'

((I know other zones use pet mechanics, but does Chocobo Forest really -need- one? You can't even order Choco to do anything let alone get in a battle with it. Well Sky Armor, it's been nice while it lasted. ...You uh..you can go home now. You know, wander on home? HOME! Shoo!...or you can just stay at Mene, that's fine too.))

((A mob post-Mene Quest has a description that describes the outcome of Mene Quest when you look at it. Spoilers!))

  • Chocobo Breeder Quest

((Chocobo Breeder Turn-in didn't remove the black and blue feathers from my inventory. Free items!))

  • Dislodging Quest

((This is handled pretty messily. Can't go into detail because it's qinfo, but anyone is welcome to message me in private if they want the details as to why I say that. I'll just sum it up as 'It can be progged better.' It's also level locked.))

  • Fat Chocobo
 Fatty C says 'Well, well, well, what do we have here? QINFO, I haven't had one of those in ages! '

((I always wanted to call the Fat Chocobo Fatty C and make fat jokes about it.))

  • Dislodge Quest Boss

((Um...it's really hard to talk about this without breaking QINFO rules. Just like above, anyone is free to ask me in private if they want a detailed opinion. But it's really BAD. On-kill dialogue makes NO sense and it is a very immature way to implement a very notable boss from its source material.))

Summary: The quests are boring and unimaginative. There is no immersion, there is no reason why you should care about anyone or anything in this zone. There were so many ways the quests here could have been better and more clefty and the finale is just downright immature. There are not enough mobs to support the fetch quest or its other level locks. The quest rewards aren't worth the effort either.


Connections: 1/1

Chocobo Forest fits where it's been connected to. What else is there to say? It does its job on this front. 1/1.


Personal

  • Breeder's Courtyard
 It definitely smells like chocobo here, for all the wrong reasons.  

((Well I did keep saying this was a shitty area, seems the zone itself agrees.))

  • Chocobo Breeder Quest

((This quest is awful. You need to turn in items dropped by mobs in the area, which there are very, VERY few of.))

  • Chocobo Lake: Shallow Water
 This rather shallow section of the lake butts up against a high wall of rock and earth, making land access impossible.

((Well that's just an excuse to put the word butt in the description. I guess this area really is ass.))

  • Chocobo Lagoon
 The walls sparkle with occasional gems, but are otherwise bare and smooth.  

((I want those gems. Why can't I mine them?))

 Redmage's group:
 [ 0 Mob] Choco  501/ 501 hp    0/   0 mana  100/ 100 mv    0 xp
 [26 Wiz] Redmage     505/ 505 hp  593/ 593 mana  490/ 490 mv 59017 xp

((I feel like Choco should just ride me.))

 You are in Chocobo Forest. Have you:
 - Talked to the friend of a Chocobo?
 - Discovered the truth behind the legend?
 - Dislodged an obstruction?
 - Finished a stupid fetch quest?

((I guess even the zone acknowledges one of its quests is stupid.))

Final Observation: It looked like Ademisk was pretty good with the combat from the source material and I wouldn't mind seeing him in charge of designing possible action heavy events in the future. Just leave the creativity to someone else.



Player: Poochie(Geomancer/27) - Token'd

Review Date(s): 3/16/18


Descriptions: 6/10

Some of the room descriptions are somewhat clunky and awkward to read. There are several spelling and grammatical errors sprinkled throughout as well. Some sentences are fragments entirely, while others lack or misuse certain types of punctuation. One room in the float section of the area is particularly clunky with multiple errors. Some rooms may need to be entirely rewritten to fix these types of problems.

Aside from logistics, the descriptions are adequate on a room by room basis. The area is set up in different types of terrains, somewhat quartered off from each other, which makes reading through them interesting. The rooms linking the different terrains describe their transitions adequately for some areas, but not so much for others, specifically the forest into mountain sector. It's mentioned, but easily overlooked.

In the Scorched Forest quadrant of the area, three of the rooms suddenly lack the "Chocobo Forest" title. They become one phrase titles in the default room name color. If this is intended, it's somewhat odd and makes it feel somewhat disjointed.

The chocobos are fancifully described for the most part, with one exception - the first sentence appears copy-pasted and simply altered for colored adjectives of each chocobo. The black chocobo's description is disjointed, as it starts off describing them as 'standing' on their legs and ends with clarification that they are in fact floating. It's also clear they are floating from the fact that they are only in the float area. The copy-pasting of the first sentence is likely to blame for this inconsistency, as all the other chocobos begin with the same 'standing' sentence.


Balance: 6/10

The yellow chocobos in the beginning of the area are rather easy. The red chocobos are slightly dangerous, especially for a caster with their use of bash. This would make sense, since the yellow ones are 25 and the red ones are 30. The problem I see with this specifically is that it's not like there is a large amount of progress to make between the beginning of the area and the "end". Additionally, there are only 2-3 (that I could tell) of each chocobo type and not many other mobs. An entire five level difference in this area seems somewhat broad considering it's mostly quest focused. In order to not be highly threatened by the higher level mobs in this area, you have to level elsewhere and come back at the high-end of the level range, more or less, unless you're a remorter or of a particular class.


Attractions: 4/10

The 'first' quest has a strange set-up, where when you go into the room you can't actually begin the quest until you 'come back later'. I'm not sure if this is just as simple as leaving and re-entering the room immediately, as I actually did go out and read some more room descriptions and what not at that point. Mene abrutly speaks with you, and then says that he is busy if you speak with him afterwards.

You are required to dismiss your pet to begin this quest, which is never something people are excited about. It also is likely entirely unecessary, especially because Mene explicitly states that Choco will not engage in combat. There is no benefit to having Choco be your actual pet rather than simply follow you.

The area lists one of its own quests as "a stupid fetch quest" and it is unfortunately right on the money. This collection quest requires a drop from one of each of the chocobo types, of which, as mentioned, there are only 2-3 reset into the area at a time. Even doing this passively while working on the other quests may not net you all of the items and it could easily be incomplete by the time you're done everything else. There is nothing else to do except leave the area and wait for it to repop, come back, and hope - or just not do the 'final' quest.

The other aspects of the quests are adequate, if unexpected.

There are some pets here, which may be enticing for some, but unfortunately they lack some of the normal, expected functions of most pets. They also don't despawn on dismissal. There are some interesting quest rewards and there is a useful item for a relatively low level, readily available. There are too few mobs here with no other similar level areas nearby where it could be considered a pit stop to kill everything and then move on to somewhere else.

I would recommend it if someone were specifically looking for something that they could find here, but probably not for leveling purposes.


Connections: 3/10

Chocobo Forest sort of pops out of nowhere and doesn't seem to have any connection to the area around it. Logistically, it's easy to find and not too far for its level range. It is, however, the end of the line for anything else in that direction, which feels odd for some reason.


Personal

Despite several rooms clearly describing forests and trees, there was only a default level of overgrowth in one such room that I attempted to fight in. In reference to Mene's speech when you enter the room, the extra spaces between output lines is annoying. There don't need to be extra spaces for any reason, and anyone with compact off is going to be spammed by it.

Of note, if you do happen to die in the swim or float areas, you either need assistance to retrieve your corpse or you have to necro your corpse, unless you can float or swim naturally.


Player: Alyse Wizard/39 no remort - Token'd

Review Date: March 2018


Descriptions 1/10

While some things can certainly be overlooked, it is hard to ignore the abundance of issues in Chocobo Forest with the writing. It is littered with typos, awkward grammatical errors, bland and lacking in substance, minimal with extra descriptions, as well as full of useless repetitive ideas used in order to make the rooms appear more fleshed out at first glance out than they actually are. Sometimes they are even unclear in what idea they are trying to portray as some of the writing can allow for misinterpretation. There are even inconsistencies between the room descriptions and the exits.

The room descriptions sometimes talk about the mobs that are in the area rather than the scenery and provide information that the player may not or should not know. For example many times it assumes that the player entering knows about chocobos, sometimes referring to their calls, signs, and smells but giving no description to exactly what any of those are like. While we can assume many of our players might have some familiarity with games we can't assume they have knowledge of all the content within the cleft or remember everything about the games they played, even when it comes to popular titles.

More than once you can encounter places described as 'serene' or 'grimdark' which basically tell the player how they should be feeling about the area when time could be better spent setting the stage to show these things. 'You' also makes an appearance here more than once. This would be fine if the player was reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but it doesn't belong in a room description for a MUD. The area description should have no control over the player and should not be addressing the player in any way.

NPCs when spoken to have weird random spacing in their dialogue and bombard the player with repetitive says for just about every single sentence with nothing like even a sigh, pause, or smile to break it up. When looked at, players are presented with their back story, or in the case of the chocobo's descriptions a copied and pasted description with no difference or variation aside from the bird's color.

The only positive about the descriptions is that the use of color in some places is done well. Particularly when you are in a place obscured by fog.


Balance 6/10

Hopefully any pets the player has are not important to them or difficult to get because in order to do half the quests in this area they will have to be dismissed. This also goes for the pets you gain from the area itself as the Flying Armor will sometimes make itself the player's pet rather than attacking the player.

The mobs seem to be decently balanced, and each are slightly different from one another as far as attacks go. The green chocobos assist each other which came as a surprise, and the red ones were appropriately aggressive by comparison to the others (even though getting slapped by stars seemed kind of silly for an attack).

There isn't a whole lot to fight here though, making the place feel kind of empty and devoid of life. Save for the Aspik and the flying armor, the only things moving about the area are chocobos and they are not very plentiful in number, having only two mobs of each type wandering through each sub area. It is not a good place to level because of it. It makes it a pain when trying to collect a specific drop and produces a problem for players who enter the area at the minimum level requirement as some of the items in the area are level locked. Many will have to venture elsewhere or else deal with a slow and drawn out level grind.

The area's final 'boss' really wasn't much of a boss. It did nothing to attack or defend itself for most rounds of fighting. While it eventually cast rainbow before it died it basically just amounted to the player hacking at it until it is out of hp making it no real challenge or threat.

For the area's level, the reward for the last quest on the list is passable, but not particularly exciting. The reward in completing Choco's quest and dealing with the obstruction is either not working correctly, is not well explained, or has a ridiculous level requirement (I am 9 levels past the maximum level recommended for the area and still unable to use it).

Players entering this area better hope they brought some money with them for the shop because the mobs here are sparse and do not drop any amount of gold or silver when they are killed. This isn't a huge issue though, as Wutai and its bank is just around the corner and easy enough to go back to when a player needs funds.


Attractions 2/10

There are also a lot of missed opportunities to add features such as mining, fishing or mini games to make the area more fun to explore. Especially since there is a lot of waiting involved in the area.

  • Talked to the friend of a Chocobo?

There is not much to comment on about this quest as it just involves finding and talking to an NPC. It is simple enough, and not uncommon to see goals like this in some areas. You will have to wait before continuing on to the next quest on the list however. And while waiting for a quest isn't so bad, forcing the player to wait is used a bit too much in this area.

  • Discovered the truth behind the legend?

This quest is a repetitive, dull game of hot and cold. While the idea itself isn't bad it wasn't very well executed. The quest goes as follows;

Talk to Mene and take Choco → Enter a special room→ Talk to Choco → wait → exit room → wait again → Repeat

The repetition wouldn't be so bad if there was some variation in the text. For example, Mene reacts by having to catch his breath and saying the exact same thing every time the player returns. While it is understandable the moogle could be startled by the appearance of the player and Choco suddenly appearing the first time, it doesn't make as much sense the 3rd or 4th time it happens. By then Mene should be expecting it to happen by that point.

The waiting is also a bit annoying with the frequency in which it happens. Not only do you have to wait on Choco after finding each chest, but you have to wait again for Mene to talk to him regarding his new abilities. As mentioned in the Balance portion of the review, there really isn't a whole lot of things to do in the area during this downtime, and there is no indication as to just how long the downtime is.

Part of what makes this quest so boring and tedious is a lack of variation when it comes to finding the locations of the treasure. All save for one can be found in rooms hidden only by extra descriptions. And by the time players get to this quest (Particularly those used to looking for hidden things in descriptions) they have likely already found all of these spots negating the need to even play the mini game with Choco in the first place. It isn't a far jump in logic to assume hidden places that have nothing in them are connected with finding the treasure chests for this quest.

Some variation could go a long way and provide players with a little more challenge as they work their way through this quest. For example instead of only leaving the treasure in a hidden room (or completely out in the open at the end of the route as the last one is) What about putting them behind a puzzle, or placed at a seemingly random spot along the path that the player has walked past a dozen times? There is no increase in difficulty or challenge in locating them and it is the the same gimmick every time. The only obstacle getting in the way of the player is the wait time and traveling from point A to point B.

  • Dislodged an obstruction?

Something tells me there needs to be a talk about maturity. While Chocobo Forest's other quests are bland with room for improvement, this one just ends up being flat out juvenile and inappropriate. The fat jokes, the boss's death line of “I'm a pretty princess, dammit!”, and the matter of both the player and reward being defecated from a bird's ass really isn't in the spirit of the source material. It's degrading to the player. Hopefully no one going through this part of the quest wanted to leave it with any degree of dignity. The only suggestion that can be made here is to just get rid of the entire thing.

  • Finished a stupid fetch quest?

When an area calls its own quest stupid, it is basically telling the player they are not in for anything fun. You are basically required to collect feathers from different types of chocobo which may or may not be so easy to do as there are only 2 of each chocobo type and the drop is random. It is not particularly exciting or interesting.

There are a lot of ways the 'Collect 20 Bear Asses' trope could be avoided. A possible way to make the quest more engaging and maybe a little less frustrating to players who just have poor luck would be to make obtaining the feathers more of a puzzle. Maybe each type of chocobo needs something and the player has to figure out how to help them in order to get the feather. It would even potentially make use of the breeder's hut and shop and maybe open up the possibilities in adding features to the surroundings.


Connections 4/10

The location is not the best nor the worst. It can be found roughly in a spot of similar leveled locations but at the same time it could go somewhere else if it needed and nothing would be lost. The only reference it makes in relation to its place in the world is a description mentioning Wutai in the distance. While it is tucked away in the corner of the continent, making it a little more hidden would be more fitting to the original content. It feels like an optional area.


Personal

I do not know why this area was linked. Even now after a number of immortals have combed through it and fixed things it still looks like a mess. Maybe it is less so than when first introduced to the players, but it is still a place I would consider low in quality and not one I would recommend unless an overhaul was done for the entire thing.

Though not as demanding of attention as the balance or the mechanics, descriptions are an important part of the game. And that was one of my biggest disappointments here. Descriptions create a setting and tone for the player as they venture through each of the zones as well as provide important clues for the quests and puzzles they are to solve. They are what give the area life and personality. Most MUDs out there do not use their descriptions they way the Cleft does. It is something that the game prides itself upon when comparing it to other games out there so this is why the writing for an area should never be overlooked, its typos never brushed aside, and its inaccuracies and other flaws ignored.

It is understandable to find a hiccup or two within an area and overlook something. But there are just so many problems here with the writing that it lessens the experience. It is kind of embarrassing to present this area to future players who might see these and develop an impression on the game and what is acceptable building standards based on them.

There is potential to improve on it and make it a decent and even interesting. I am not suggesting it is so bad that it cannot be salvaged. It felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities to do something neat with the place. Rewrite and edit a large chunk of the descriptions, add more things to look at and see, clean up the weird quirks in the dialogue, add more mobs and this area, and completely drop everything beyond the boulder and would not be so bad. While it has improved since its first release, it still needs a lot of work and attention.



Player: Kolem (Various, primarily Playback L. 22 Dancer) - Token'd.

Review Date(s): 3/23/18

Well, here we go. I haven't been looking forward to this, but sometimes that just means it's more necessary. Having read through the other reviews, I am going to do my best to focus on suggestions for improvement in areas that have not been extensively covered already, and thanks everyone for tackling this particular zone. It always stinks when a less than stellar area is up for review, because I have a harder time being negative than positive. But Chocobo Forest seems to fall into a contentious area: A lot of effort has gone into improving it already, and some are so frustrated they suggest just wiping it entirely. I don't feel that's quite needed, here; this is no Zork or old-version Lelanol. But I'll discuss this further in the personal section.

As always, I begin each category at Five, with generalized positives and negatives swaying the score higher or lower as needed. Exceptionally poor or wonderful examples may merit points on their own.


Descriptions: 4/10


There have been countless detailed descriptions of the many issues with the descriptions in prior reviews. In order to avoid beating a zombie horse, I will say that most descriptions are technically functional but poorly implemented. There are very few look commands other than those utilized to hide specific areas, and since there are no non-consequential look commands, the area feels very hollow and the areas are easily discovered. I am going to ding one point for general poor implementation, but I have seen (much, much) worse.


Balance: 3/10


Here is where I start to feel like the real problems of the Chocobo Forest come in to play, and as previous reviews have not really gone into extreme depth with the issues here, it's where I'm going to be focusing a fair bit of my attention.

-Let's start with the items. Specifically, the lack thereof, and the imbalance on the items that exist in the zone. (This will tie in to the Attractions section shortly.) One of the primary quests in this location is to kill chocobos until at least three drop specific items--feathers corresponding to the color of chocobo in question. Given the low numbers of those mobs present and the general disapproval of the quest on Kill X Mob quests to start wish, this is an issue in and of itself. But the real issue I'm taking with this is that for some reason the dropped items are all one shot wands-and NONE of them are on level. Two are below, and one is above. It's straight up baffling. Additionally, the one store sells held items that grant either swim or float. You can get one of the two nearby if you're investigative, but by level twenty, the player will have had plenty of opportunities to get swim vehicles or equipment regardless of starting town. Purchasing float in any equipment slot is NICE, technically, but held is a very competitive spot--giving up a shield, weapon, or other bonus, to say nothing of two handed weapons. The quest reward items are also underwhelming, with one exception (which I will discuss in Attractions). Dead Peppers are ripe for change, as well; there is no reason not to make them an interesting pill and not unique.

-Moving on from the items, let's discuss the early-zone mobs. Playing as a level twenty two dancer, defeating yellow, red, and green chocobos was fairly effortless. I recall Sky Armor being rough, and I grasp WHY these mobs are so weak, but there are other problems: Their low drop rate, the fact that they apparently award half experience if that, and complete lack of money, for starters. Aspiks were also a complete breeze. Given the nature of the farming quest this is particularly egregious. Even the reward for collecting all the feathers is outshone in general by various consumables obtainable elsewhere.

Starting at 5 points:

-1 for all items being level inappropriate -1 for mobs which are not built to challenge on-level players

The boss and sky armors, as I recall, are somewhat rough; but gated behind float.


Attractions: 5/10


This is something of a difficult call. The upshot of the final portion of the quest here is that you can obtain any one of the chocobos as a pet--and they are surprisingly decent pets, for the level they are. However, players will need to be a higher level than the pets to obtain them, and there is considerable competition for the Pet / Companion slot as it is. They all lack wander-home progs, as well. I go into some alternatives in the closing section, but alone--as fun as flavorful having a Chocobo is, and as nice as them all having 'moves' are is, alone that can't balance the consequences of the rest of the zone. I will give the zone credit for attempting it, though. Chocobo forest is a terrible place to grind; with few monsters to challenge and fewer rewards. The one shop could use considerable tweaking. Additionally, it feels like the Item you get as a result of defeating the boss ought to have better implementation outside of its zone of origin. There are definite missed possibilities here.

Beginning at five points: -plus one and a half points for an attempt at a full pet subcategory, which must have took concerted effort to pull off -Minus half a point for poor implementation of said mobs as pets -Minus one for the complete lack of valuable treasure, experience, and other rewards from the zone apropos to level

Final score of this category is Five: It is *tolerable*, in this area, but any number of small or large adjustments or additions could really improve matters.


Connections: 2.5/10


Oh. Oh dear. The issue with Chocobo forest is this:

Chocobo Forest has all of one connection point. None of its items have major or minor consequences outside, even though in all fairness it seems like its quest item is the exact sort of item that could or should have small easter eggs or benefits used outside of its initial introduction. While its foresty introduction fits OKAY I GUESS with the outside, the complete mishmash of areas it itself is means it could technically be linked any sort of place, and I try to not give extra credit for bare minimums. This is a pity, but I would suggest focusing on improving the rest of the areas first--it has enough need for retools and improvement that improving linkage can take a back seat. This is a pity, as I go into in the personal section.

Personal

Whoof. Just... whoof. The problem with Chocobo forest is that the effort is SHOWING. There is a very hard=pressed debate currently over whether to nuke or improve the zone, since there has been a lot of effort into the zone already to improve it from its initial drop into the cleft, and it sounds like those improvements have started to take hold. I am never in favor of a complete gutting of a zone unless it is completely beyond the pale, and I do not think Chocobo Forest as it is now is in that territory.

It just needs several passes and improvements. That probably isn't anything the imms want to hear, but there are opportunities inherent to Chocobo Forest that it would be criminal not to take advantage of.

FINAL SCORE:

Averaging four categories, Chocobo Forest gets an approximate 3.5 / 10 -- a score that is not beyond reach, but speaks out for significant need for improvements.

Therefore in the interest of working toward a better, brighter cleft and Chocobo Forest, I will make some suggestions for improvement, from the least to most effort intensive on the part of the imms.

--An Item and fetch quest Rebalance and reconsideration.

 There is no reason to gate the Fetch reward as it is. In fact, it is generally a lackluster item. I would suggest Chocobos 'disappear'--
 leaving a feather behind in their haste to escape. Whether these feathers remain wands or not is still up for evaluation; certainly some level
 or spell adjustment is needed. I would suggest changing them from mediocre protective or offensive spells to utility items, if this avenue is 
 taken.

--General redescing mobs and areas in a more cohesive, collective fashion. No one likes to do this, but the zone does need it. Refer to other reviews for specific trouble spots.

--Reevaluating mob drop rates, spawn frequencies, and rewards.

Now for some tougher suggestions:

--Reevaluate whether Chocobos should be pets. There are two broad categories of idea I have for these birds, owing to their origin: One, if these mobs are to continue to exist as is, append a "ranch quest" to the end of the current questline wherein Caught chocobos follow you into a 'ranch' type area, where they will mill about and offer to follow the player not as a pet but a follower. Given the approximate level of the zone, it is a fantastic opportunity to teach players the mechanics of followers that are not pets. Refer to the Runaway Five for similar examples of this; this would mean fetching a chocobo and ensuring it stay with you via Gather wands or scrolls, which could be sold here, could be fantastic training for certain late-game rewards. Given the relatively low strength of individual chocobos, this is unlikely to break anything in any major way. Alternatively, a reward of an reusable cooldown event Chocobo Call for temporary assistance from a random bird would be a cool, flavorful addition that would be considerably more compact and random enough to be engaging.

The second idea is that, for each breed of Chocobo caught and returned, the player could have a transport to a specific nearby location in the cleft corresponding to the Chocobos in question: Mandala for Green Chocobo, for instance; Rocket Town for Yellow Chocobo, etc. This would improve both the area's linkage and attractions, and it could be expanded through the use of the major quest reward to chocobos present outside this zone, such as the Chocobos on Luon Highway--a quick way to hop back to viorar if your recall was not set there--or the Kakkara Desert chocobo.

I know this is a bit of an ask, but Chocobo forest is too nice a source material to waste, imo. Given the diverse nature of the cleft, it's no shock seeing these creatures find a place in it.



    • Chocobo Forest has been reworked since this review.