The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.
[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]
Game: Perfect World, commonly abbreviated as PWI, is a 3D adventure and fantasy MMORPG with traditional Chinese settings. This is a special game as I met my wife in Perfect World at a birthday party, and my elf Archer avatar took her human Blademaster avatar flying…
This is the third of the oriental games that I am looking at – this one originating with Chinese mythology.
Release Date: CN: July 2005; EU: 2008; NA: September 2, 2008
NA Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Genre/gameplay mechanics: Flexible character customization with twelve classes, each with unique skills and roles; large-scale territorial PvP; free-to-play BUT shop/boutique [pay-to-win culture]; quest or grind to level and develop; exploration; unusual crafting; pets/genies plus unique pet class (Venomancer); open world bosses; WASD point-and-click and auto-navigation; flying.
Setting: set in the mythical world of Pan Gu with attractive environments and semi-anime graphics. Chinese-style buildings and costumes.
Storytelling: The lonely first god, Pan Gu creates the universe, then a world out of his own essential elements: fire, metal, wood, earth, and water. But his world is largely imperfect—wraiths and monsters infect it like a plague. And it’s up to the races that embody Pan Gu’s vision to create order from chaos. Basic story is sound and there are clear threads, but also plenty of dead-end side-quest distractions.
Releases + Expansions: From the original release with six classes, there have been six further chapters that develop the storyline and introduce more races and classes.
Origins (Chronological) – The fiction is based on Chinese myths and the quest text reflects that. Unfortunately, this rich literary tradition isn’t used imaginatively enough:
- Chinese mythology is a collection of cultural history, folktales, and religious tradition that has been passed down for centuries in oral or written form. There are several aspects to Chinese mythology, including creation myths and legends, and myths concerning the founding of Chinese culture and the Chinese state.
- 618-907 – Hei’an Zhuan (Epic of Darkness) is the only collection of legends in epic form preserved by a community of the Han ethnicity of China, the inhabitants of the Shennongjia mountain area in Hubei, and contains accounts from the birth of Pangu until the historical era.
- 184-194 – Pangu is the first living being and the creator of all in some versions of Chinese mythology. The first writer to record the myth of Pangu was Xu Zheng during the Three Kingdoms Recently his name was found in a tomb dated 194 AD. Various myths exist. One legend is a Chinese version not only of the Norse myth of the Giant Ymir but also of the Babylonian story of Tiamat.
- 4th century BC – Shan Hai Jing (Mountain and Sea Scroll) describes the myths, witchcraft, and religion of ancient China in great detail and also has a record of the geography, sea and mountains, history, medicine, customs, and ethnicities of ancient times. It has been called an early encyclopaedia of China.
- 12th century BCE – Historians have written evidence of Chinese mythological symbolism in the Oracle bone script. Legends were passed down for over a thousand years before being written in books.
Recommendation: Neilie Johnson’s IGN review (29 Jan, 2009) said, “Perfect World is a beautiful, well-made MMO with a few of the seemingly inevitable flaws of the genre. While it offers all the mechanics MMO players have come to expect and allows you to see and do some spectacular things, it suffers from an inconsistent, buggy and obscure UI, an imbalanced levelling system and frequent bouts of quest-induced tedium”.
Sean Sullivan’s more recent verdict for MMS.com was ‘Good’, saying, “Maybe Perfect World was great three years ago. But it has aged and fallen far from its original standing. Its reigning feature is the character creation system …but beyond that, the game is a clunky mess. It feels dated, a relic from some bygone age that should only be appreciated at a distance.”
4.35 Stars: Back in 2009, I went to Perfect World with my ‘guildies’ from Corum OnlIne, and was immersed in the story, characters and beautiful graphics. I created a pet-taming Venomancer [a female shapeshifting class based on the Japanese kitsune], and we formed a clan. Playing with others is essential as dungeons are part of the quest-line, and we had to know our job. There were also social occasions like the party where I met my wife-to-be – we first married in a Chinese ceremony in-game. (Now we game together.) Yes, there were problems that moved us on to other games – but not all PWI.
- Setting: 4.25*
- Storyline: 4.25*
- Gameplay: 3.75*
- Entertainment: 4.5*
- Genesis: 5”
Alternative ‘P’ thoughts:
P is also for Poirot one of my favourite detectives, whose appearances include the brilliant The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – but no games.
P is also for Pan’s Labyrinth, one of my top twenty movies – but again, I found no games.
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