Brain Clutter

August 9, 2007

Duels.com – A social networking MMORPG

Filed under: gaming, MMORPG, social networking, World of Warcraft — brainclutter @ 11:50 am

Duels.com logoDuels.com is a free, fun, web-based MMORPG with elements of social networking; think World of Warcraft mixed with Web 2.0.

I don’t know whether to call it a game or a social network because elements of both worlds are seamlessly integrated in this addicting new service. Your goal is to raise up a new character (avatar) from level 1 throughout the ranks by challenging other players and in-game monsters, while completing various quests from your taskmaster. In a sense it’s your traditional RPG but presented on the web through an engaging user interface and there are many ways to network with friends and declare war on enemies. Combat is determined by mathematics, based on your current weapon(s), armour, scrolls, skills, stats, abilities, etc. The ultimate goal similar to all MMORPGs: get to the highest level with the best equipment.

The game is very addictive if you’re a fan of RPGs, which might be a problem because they’re currently having server issues and intermittent downtimes. If you’re like me, you’ll be itching to log in and check on your duel status!

The game is very friendly to the casual player, reminiscent of the old play-by-email games like X-Com or Risk. You can log in, check your current status, spend any gained points, upgrade your equipment, challenge a bunch of people, start a quest, and logout again in mere minutes. Then you check back every hour or so to see how you’re doing. For the twitchy gamer, you might find the pace a bit slow because your progress is dictated by your duels and it may take some time for people to accept your challenges. If no-one is fighting you, there’s not much your character can do but sit there and wait.

This is an excellent time to read the user guide or contribute on the forums!

I do wonder how they plan to monetize their service [UPDATE below]. After only two days and a couple server upgrades/additions, they’re still experiencing game lag. They have nearly 50,000 people signed up right now with no signs of slowing down. I can imagine this will be pretty costly to keep going if they expand at their current rate…

Anyway, I only have couple hours experience on Duels and I’ve definitely made a few mistakes here and there, but I’ll rate this game a 4/5 for the fun factor and casual friendliness!

My only suggestions would be to redesign the user interface to not be so graphically intensive, as that is most definitely contributing to the server issues. Also, the Battle list showing all available opponents within your level range could use a bit of a redesign to allow for advanced searching and sorting (ie. show only monsters, show only level X opponents, show only path of the Y opponents, etc.). Finally, I wish it would save certain preferences with cookies or within your profile (e.g. always hide offline members when in the Battle screen, always default to text combat summaries rather than animated combat, etc.).

Animated battle screen!

UPDATE: Duels.com has three account types. The first is free, and the other two are noble ($9.95 monthly) and patron ($25.00 annually) memberships. The free account gives you the very basics, which signing up for one of the other two accounts grants you additional inventory space, stipend gold per month, free backpacks, special badges/markers for your character, etc. They also sell Noblestones for real life cash, which can be used as in game currency to buy things like gold, extra backpacks, scrolls, character respecs, etc.

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