Shalkith Online: Strategic Dragon Combat

Thumbs Downis it bad to hate a game after only one round of combat? shouldn't i want to give it more of a chance than that?


tho. i find it hard to look at shalkith online more than once. why is that? aside from the hard-to-remember-weird-named url, of course. it's because of the deep depression (okay, not really deep. but it is depressing.) i've achieved looking at the potential and then experiencing the actual execution of the game. it's a game of 'strategic dragon combat.'

it physically hurts my brain.

this game could have been amazing. in fact, should have been. reading through the help documents — which are remarkably complete — you get the impression this game is well balanced with deep gameplay.

i should probably qualify that. by deep gameplay, i mean interesting and strategic for a web-based, passive mmo game. not casual — passive. as in something you can play every now and then when you login to the site for a few minutes at a time or a few hours at a time.

these passive web games are an enormous, untapped goldmine. shalkith promised to take me into that realm and finally fullfill some of the promise that poorly balanced and atrociously executed previous attempts at the format had aborted.

what pains me the most is the foundation for shalkith is sound. for example, here's a short list of the great things about it:

  • multiple-multiple strategies
  • many dragon types and ages
  • fantastic (well. damn good, anyway.) art
  • brilliantly interconnected skills and abilities
  • fascinating business model

now. here's the list of what's bad:

  • the interface is absolute shit

seems pretty off balance eh? you should be able to put up with a poor interface when the rest of it is so very crunchy-good.

that's the bummer, tho. as delectible as the 'good list' is, the 'bad list' is so much more pungent stank. i challenge you to go make a dragon and go through a few rounds of combat.

the author is trying to mimic an application-type game in a web framework with little or no technical web development skill. (well. no skill for a modern web developer. he's pretty tits for a developer 10 years ago.) something that should be simple and easy to navigate is a cess pool of broken web paradigms with a splatter of confusion tossed in for fun.

i'm just so angry at him for screwing up something that could have been amazing. so, i'm not just bitching, i'm going to offer a few bits of advice.

  1. ditch the input boxes full of text. write out regular html content dynamically.
  2. ditch the weird cover/layer art things. just put them inline.
  3. ditch all the silly unnecessary clicks. there's no sense in a 'click for more' option.
  4. ditch the stupid html and get a real web designer to build it.
  5. ditch the dumb 'hitting the back button breaks our tos' type crap. if you can't technically figure out how to allow for that, then you absolutely don't need to be developing the site.

the gist of all that? hire a professional to develop it. it looks and plays like hell and doesn't do your game justice.


whew. now that that is out of my system, i wanted to offer up some alpha accounts for folks to get in/try out/bang on my own entry into the space. send me an email if you want to know the super secret location to set up an account.

be warned, it's pre-alpha, one-dimensional and extremely (well. moderately. it's still usable.) ugly. basic gameplay isn't painful — just not very pretty. getting the content drawn out first. anyone who wants to give it a try, let me know and i'll send you a quick email to give you the basics.



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