Wizard 101: Preview

By: VinaStalker posted at Jun 01, 2008 8:22 pm

Category: Default, Game: Default, 966 Views

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Game developers these days seem to agree on one thing: that there’s untapped online gaming potential in the “tween” market, that 9-14 age range that’s always been considered as the awkward transition from childhood to teen. While big companies like SOE and Cartoon Network are working to release their own tween-centric MMOs in the fall (Free Realms and Fusion Fall, respectively) , a small Texas-based company called KingsIsle Entertainment Inc. is poised to unveil Wizard 101 this summer. The company was founded in 2005 by game industry veterans but has been cloaked in secrecy until April of this year, when they announced that they were working on two titles, one of which turned out to be Wizard 101. The other title is still undisclosed.

Wizard 101 is a multiplayer, online adventure game that starts you out as a Wizard apprentice at the Ravenwood School of Magical Arts. There you learn how to control your magical powers before you embark on your quest to save Wizard City from the forces of evil.

As you go through your adventure, you collect spell cards, which you can then use in combat. Combat is therefore, primarily in the form of a collectible card game. Some spell cards summon pets that aid you in combat, with matching cool animation effects. There are also several minigames that serve the secondary purpose of recharging your wizard’s magical energy. Like to play against your friends? You can use the dueling system to battle another wizard one-on-one, or team up with your friends against another group (up to 4-on-4).

Features have been implemented in the game to make it safer for young people. All player names are selected from a preconfigured list with absolutely no exceptions. Some games, including Club Penguin, allow you to choose your own name although all names have to be pre-screened. Ingame chat is accomplished by selecting phrases from a panel. While this may not go over well with the text-and-instant-messaging tween crowd, parents will probably feel more comfortable letting their children play unsupervised in such a secure enviroment.

The system requirements are minimal (Windows 98SE or later, 1GHZ processor, 512-meg RAM, GEForce 2 or later video card) but it does require 1 gig of hard disk space for the client. The game automatically initiates a download the first time you play, but installation is all done in the background.

While no official announcement has been made as to the business model, it will most probably follow the trend set by games targeted at similar markets – free-to-play with a minimal subscription fee for access to special content, or what developers like to call the “velvet rope” model.

The game’s website was recently launched, and they are currently accepting beta test applications. So time to take those wizard robes down, grab the pointy hat, and wipe the dust off that unicorn tail wand.

Muggles need not apply.

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