June 2021: Midnight Gardens

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Area of the Month for June 2021 is the Midnight Gardens!

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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?




Player: Coeurl, as Remi (Geomancer/15-18) --TOKEN'D

Review Date(s): 5/26-5/29

Descriptions: 7/10

The descriptions paint a good picture of the area. The amount of extra descriptions I spotted seemed to be about right.

There are actually several rooms with a stream or fountain that cannot be drunk from but there is a room with a functioning fountain so it's probably okay that every single room isn't a source of water.

There are a couple of areas with repeating descriptions but the POINT of those areas is to be mazelike and difficult to navigate so this is not a negative.

There is a gazebo in one room with an extra description with no way to interact with. This isn't NECESSARILY a bad thing but I was a little disappointed there wasn't a little more to check out there. Another room has some statues I wanted to get a closer look at but had no extra descs. This is really nitpicking though.

You can attack the featured quest NPC (if you are some kind of a monster) and they do not have a special reaction or seem to have any mprogs. Seems like this should either be fixed or they should not be attackable.

Every mob that I talked to responded, which I like to see.


Balance: 8/10

The area struck me as quite well tuned overall. It's incredibly annoying that engaging a Crawler is basically GUARANTEED Blight and you'll watch a ton of your HP tick away after combat ends, but some mobs can just be annoying. As a vanilla geomancer I was challenged enough that I needed to rest reasonably often but didn't find anything that I absolutely COULD NOT kill.

The Porobin Hoods are going to be a little bit rough if you come there on the low end (it's a level 16-25 zone, and they're level 21) and they're harder to completely ignore because they can steal from you, but at least you can somewhat prepare for that because banks exist. Other than Crawlers they were probably the most frustrating to deal with because they hit fairly hard and money you pick up in the area isn't safe.

In fact, the major boss of the area was incredibly challenging, but still possible to solo. I was able to beat it on my own, but it required spamming the pumpkin pombs that I had collected in the area and I was in the single digits in HP. That strikes me as about perfect in terms of difficulty level. As a solo character I would not have been able to win if I had gone in any less prepared.

There's a light you can obtain in the area that's thematically cool, but it has a negligible bonus and doesn't last for very long so it's a little disappointing. There are a couple of items that fill rarer equipment slots that are cool, though.


Attractions: 8/10

I was completely prepared to totally hate my life here because navigating non-linear mazes is not one of my strong points but weirdly, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected! If you're unobservant as hell like me, drawing a map and finding a way to mark the rooms you've been in is extremely helpful.

It would not be the worst place to get experience, but it's not the best. There is at least one unique item that I can see being useful for a long time after you outlevel most of the benefits of the zone.

The quest list does feel a bit short, with only one quest in the area that can be completed. It is, however, a slightly longer quest that could end up taking a very long time depending on how lost you get or how hard the hints are for you to piece together.

Also, being as vague as possible to avoid qinfo, there is an item in the area that you will need to proceed if you didn't come prepared. I couldn't figure out a way to obtain the item without being a murderhobo, and I think I would have liked a less violent method to procure the item, given that it came from an a peaceful NPC. This could be another quest in the area, maybe?

I found no shops in the area.


Connections: 10/10

Elaborate garden connects to a forest. Sure, I have no trouble seeing it. Lots of plants either way, one is just more cultivated.


Player: Deim, as Aelys (Elementalist 100/21-remort) --TOKEN'D

Review Date(s): 7-6-2021


Descriptions: 7/10

The Midnight Gardens looks and feels nice. You can tell it is what it says on the tin, a lovingly made garden to enjoy for a night time stroll. Past that first impression though, it shows its age, in that quite a few would be extra-descs pointed out in the room-descs, don't actually pan out as viewable. Given the very large span of the Zone, this is not entirely un-expected, it would amount to an awful lot of extra-descs, but it makes it feel less then it could-be, given there are still some earlier in that do pan-out. The mobs though are again, nice, the descriptions are fitting and you can tell their inspirations for the most part. Interactively some of them feel a bit repetitive in their responses, especially the sapient ones, not the trash fight- mobs, but again, its a large zone, and bonus-points for even having Talk-responses including some downright hilarious ones. For a Garden, it feels somewhat lifeless, in that the plants are not all that interactive, or at least the extra-desc ones. Yes, there are entire rooms set aside for treasure-chest flowers, a nice thematic touch. But what about all the other flowers hinted at, this feels like a missed opportunity, which is somewhat of a recurring theme for the zone.

Balance: 6/10

For such a large zone, it's Mob-density is actually quite nice, if somewhat scattered about, leaving entire sections feeling lifeless and, admittedly, allowing you to enjoy the pretty scenery. The Mob-diversity though, needs a lot of work. Again, it feels like a missed opportunity to not have more variety of Bugs and other garden pests around. The Bees in particular, are very repetitive, and could use more diversity. While the furthest part, is actually the best represented area for diversity. Which fits, since its also the most 'wild and overgrown' part. Awarded and Dropped Items are somewhat of a mixed bag, some are level appropriate, others are wildly not-level appropriate.

Attractions: 5/10

Quite frankly I would not actually recommend Midnight Gardens past a single visit per remort. The Main, and only Quest in the Area is very nice, and in fact, very recommendable for its fun interactivity and its rewards, which is why it doesnt get a worse grade. But given that is all the area revolves around, once that's done, so then, are you. The Mob-density is alright for leveling, but it's scattered across a vast and large zone, which is not a good thing for leveling and the mob diversity, as and equally important, leaves much to be desired for leveling seriously. It works for during the quest, but as 'go there for this level range', nope. Which, in all is rather sad, since it is a very large Zone, and it contains a lot of hints and possibilities for expansion, both the Zone itself, and More Quests there or near-it. Some of the Dropped items have some potential, see wildly not-level appropriate, but a single pass through to do it's Quest should net you all that you need from that if such suits you. Without wanting to enjoy a visit to a nice garden, there is thus really no reason to ever return here, which is again, rather sad.

Connections: 6/10

Geographically, it makes sense for where it is, in that it is the place where the Moon Mana Stone is placed that makes Eternal Night a thing for the region. Past that, it is a dead-end connection-wise, and devilishly tricky to find, let alone visit the first-time. It has a lot of missed opportunities to connect to other-places, the Moon Tower itself, the Beast Kingdom and so-on. But given those other-places are non-existent at this point in time, that makes sense.

Personal

Midnight Gardens is nice as it is, and is a Good, fun zone. The Quest the entire zone revolves around is a joy to play the first time, and on repeat visits the next remort over. And it is exactly because of that, that it hurts that there is not in fact more to do there. It has a good foundation to be Great, but it settles for being Good. More ExtraDescs, More HiddenPathways in the Maze, and More Mob-Diversity; But mostly, More Quests. Give an actual reason to return to the Gardens, preferably by following up on its Main Quest so that To Be Continued proves True, or even better let us visit the Moon Tower and Fight Another ManaBeastie at its Top.