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Lucent Heart First Impressions

18. February, 2012Tags: Lucent Heart, MMO Blog, MMO Preview

Lucent Heart first impressionsWhen I recently sat down for a hands-on session with representatives from the general management team for Lucent Heart, I wasn't expecting such a detailed exploration of what the game had to offer. The email with the information for our test characters specifically mentioned a so-called “dance system” – but little else could be expected by such a simplistic email message alone. Needless to say, I was in for a surprise or six and then some, as I was greeted by the most unique take on the MMORPG genre that I've ever seen yet.




Zodiac sign concept

Lucent Heart's most unique feature by far is how the game utilizes the concept of the zodiac within its overall structure. The zodiac system offers a unique spin on daily player bonus effects within the game, offering buffs and increases pertaining to your abilities, battle rewards and horoscope-based enhancements within the game.

Creating your character offers you the chance to set your zodiac however you like: for example, if you choose to base your character around yourself, your character's sign can be set based around your birthday (which in my case would be September 26, thus resulting in a Libra alignment) or something entirely different (such as that of a major celebrity, a close friend, or anything in between). Additionally, once your character reaches level 30 you can unleash the capabilities of special zodiac-oriented armor based on his/her zodiac sign which can then be activated on demand, which can be especially helpful in extra-tough situations if used wisely. Be advised that there is a cooldown period when using this extra-special armor set, so take caution and be extra certain that you don't pull it out too soon.

Fortune stats

The fortune element comes into play based on the number of stars in your fortune indicators. Whenever you log in to the game, your character's fortune stats are displayed in the bottom left of the screen, ranking your bonus stats from one to five stars – or halves thereof; so a half star would be the lowest ranking, while four stars and one half is just under the highest possible benefit up to a total of ten possible points. So basically speaking, the more stars (and star halves) in your fortune, the higher the bonus effects are.

You can also pull up your daily fortune by using the applicable button in the character information window if you're already logged in, which also includes access to your week-long fortune that further affects your experience. Your week-long fortune may suggest the inclusion of Taurus partners in social activities within various aspects of the game, or that you seek a soul mate aligned with the sign of Aries (more on that later, just so you know).

Love, battle, wealth, work and agility...

In regard to your daily fortune, the rating stars for these aspects are randomized daily and affect five different categories: love, battle, wealth, work and agility. Each category affects different aspects of the game experience: a high wealth rating equates to a better chance of finding a rare item while exploring a dungeon, while a high agility rating makes it more likely that you'll not going to be as easily subjected to getting a can opened up on your backside as you otherwise would. Additionally, when you team up with another player for exploration, battle or practically anything else, you'll get the added benefit of whatever his/her upper-ranked fortune stats are compared to your own.

So theoretically, a Scorpio who's down on his luck in regard to battle stats can get assistance from a Virgo with a better rating in that fortune department and get the benefit of her rating in that particular respect to increase his own ability to gain the upper hand in a monster fight. Likewise, a Pisces can get assistance from a Libra who has a higher work rating than she does in order to increase the chances of success while using the crafting workshops that allow you to create weapons, clothing and other supplies (although I didn't get a chance to actually use these workshop systems, so I really don't have anopinion nor even a description to share with you for that).


Into the Dungeon...

Opening the pathway to dungeons in Lucent Heart requires the placement of special Star Cores into key assembling units that can be found adjacent to what are known as “Prophecy Assembling Platforms” in order to open up the entrance to your destination.

Three types of star cores are used in order to assemble the dungeon key and thus open the entrance: the creature core, which determines the types of enemies you will face; the scenery core, which determines your destination; and the treasure core, which determines what kind of special items and rewards you can find within the dungeon. So in all practicality, knowing which cores give you access to the desired challenge level, your most commonly-used treasure rewards and/or your favorite dungeon location can be a key part of your typical playing style.

Be advised that dungeon exploration isn't advised for the solo player in Lucent Heart, let alone easy to progress through. Lucent Heart doesn't make any compromises when you go into the underworld, so be prepared with a fully maxed-out exploration party if you want to get the maximum possible benefit of the dungeon progression experience. This is about as hardcore as MMORPG dungeon difficulty gets, so you'll probably end up pulling a Leeroy Jenkins if you don't go in with enough people to survive the journey.

Dance, dance, dance...

One of the more intriguing and more recent additions to Lucent Heart is the implementation of fully-realized dance systems. By using the relevant functionality of these offerings, you can create (or act out) a virtual performance on par with anything related to Michael Jackson, The Black Eyed Peas or Lady Gaga. When using the dance creation aspect of these systems, you can set the moves from a series of poses and actions either by timing them manually, or by randomizing the selections. You can have poses sequenced in one or more pose grouping sections (or you can just customize one of the predefined dance routine templates).

What's most interesting about the dance creation tool by far is that you can make a duplicate copy of your favorite MP3 tracks, and then send them over to your Lucent Heart installation to dance along with. Once that's done, you just select the custom song option, import the desired MP3 file and customize your dance routine as usual. If you do end up using one of your own MP3 tracks, be advised that you're going to be the only one who hears the track while dancing (aside from anyone else who may have done the same thing with a matching MP3 track and filename).

So theoretically, you could be rocking out to Diddy, Eminem, Rihanna or Snoop Dog on your end without raising any DMCA-related audio delivery issues. Even so, the Lucent Heart website does feature the results of several community-driven, America's Best Dance Crew-style generated dance performance submissions that are offered (and submitted) in relation to periodic Step Up contests with individual, group, duet couples and/or guild hierarchical ladders for which players will often submit videos using many of your favorite pop music tracks – such as a group dance set to Everybody by The Backstreet Boys, or a festive holiday solo dance-along to Marilyn Monroe's Santa Baby. You can also join in with any other player's dancing through a built-in character imitation function, if you so wish – and videos of your dance routines can be exported to video output for later viewing.

Become a Dance Master

In addition to the dance creator, there's also a Dance PK (aka Dance Master) mode that challenges you to input keystokes to match the arrows corresponding to whatever dance moves are required at the moment, with your character reacting positively or negatively depending on whether or not you get it right. Think Dance Dance Revolution popped into a MMO environment and you'll get the idea. Unlike dances that you join in with via the character imitation function, dance-offs initiated via Dance PK are limited to only two individuals at one time.

Of course, it wouldn't be a MMO without other players – but if you're looking for that special someone to share the experience with, the option of finding a soul mate to pair up with can give you special benefits. By either pairing up with someone you've been adventuring with in the past, or by choosing someone you've tagged just by going through Cupid, of course – and yes, there actually is a Cupid NPC for that – you can earn extra “sweet points” alongside your standard experience points. Considering that these points are equivalent to a normal point's worth of EXP, it means double the experience gains for both of you. Nourishing the flowers of love (done in literate form through a special “love flowers” interface) also provides the opportunity to use their petals for accessory purposes, and various other rewards for being a couple are also available.

Choose your soul mate(s)

When going through the soul mate process, you can opt to go straight or “bi” depending on your preferences – although you (or someone you know) might not be an immediate fan of choosing the latter option, even on a virtual level... but that's obviously your own decision to make, even if it's just for the purposes of mere friendship. You can have up to three soul mates by default, although item mall purchases can add additional soul mate slots if you intend to have more soul mates than there are slots when you start to make your love and friendship connections.

One of my favorite parts of my tour session was learning about how the staff members are extremely involved with the community themselves. You may as well call them “dessert staff” members, however; and in fact, they already do that from an official standpoint anyway – as it turns out, all of them have come up with character names that correspond to a cultural dessert from just about anywhere. Our in-game dessert staff tour guide was Mochi, which happens to be the name of a classic Japanese dessert of all things.

There are other classic dessert names in use as well: the team has come up with everything from Butterscotch, Tiramisu, Churro – even as far as Cheesecake and Smores – though Ice Cream is surprisingly not included (unless you count BanannaSplit, of course). The game team is always full of events and surprises, as well: there are randomized trivia questions available via knowledge master competitions, organized group dancing sessions and server-wide dance-offs, manhunt competitions with hints and clues for player guidance, and may even surprise players with a random incidence of their own devising.

Lucent Heart clearly offers quite a lot of variety compared to any other game in the free-to-play market, and it will be interesting to see what the development team will come up with as the game matures and develops. This is clearly one that deserves its tracking over on the radar display, so keep it locked here for more on the development of one of the most unique MMORPG games that I've seen to date.

J. Davis

© 2012

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Anonymous Wed, 2012-06-06 07:09
Anonymous's picture

He might not get to be on So You Think You Can Dance, but perhaps he can enjoy Beautiful Briny at the Briny Ballroom ala -Bedknobs & Broomsticks-. Beautiful Briny How plasneat, bobbing alongBobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny seaWhat a chance to get a better peepAt the plants and creatures of the deepWe glideFar below the rolling tideSereneThrough the bubbly blue and greenIt's lovely, bobbing alongBobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny seaWhat if the octopusThe flounder and the codThink we're rather oddIt's fun to promenadeBobbing along, singing a songOn the bottom of the beautiful briny seaLook!It's lovely, bobbing alongBobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny seaWhat a chance to get a better peepAt the plants and creatures of the deepIt's grandWhen you're dancing on the sandEach glanceBubbles over with romanceIt's lovely, bobbing alongBobbing along through the water where we get along swimminglyFar from the frenzyOf the frantic world aboveTwo beneath the blueCould even fall in loveBobbing along, singing a songOn the bottom of the beautiful briny seaBobbing along, singing a songOn the bottom of the beautiful briny,Shimmering shiny, beautiful briny sea. -Bedknobs & Broomsticks

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