Senior Staff Writer Christopher "Pwyff" Tom went to check out Lucent Heart's latest expansion, Scaena, where he discovered this MMO's secret to success: Community... and Dancing.
Watching developers compete in the MMORPG world is always fascinating, especially when you consider the huge differences studios have in budgets and overall support. Ultimately, this means that the biggest development teams can stay competitive in the most obvious ways; pushing forward with the best graphics engines and the most ominous dungeons around. For smaller projects with fewer traditional resources, however, staying competitive usually means focusing on more creative systems, like unique game modes, stylish character costumes or… dancing.
You heard me.
Dancing is one of the many unique innovations to make its way into the Scaena expansion of the zodiac-themed social MMORPG, Lucent Heart and, just recently, I got the chance to take an in-game tour through these new developments. I was also told to bring along a few tunes to groove to on my tour, so I dutifully loaded up my weapons of choice, Blue Ocean Wave by Panacea and the ever-classic Funky Town by Lipps Inc to see just how much better a fictional character can be at dancing than I.
In a market that is as heavily saturated as the MMORPG industry, Lucent Heart has done a phenomenal job, carving out its own niche audience. As a huge fan of Asian F2P MMORPGs, one of my biggest fears is that I'll choose an MMO that has been abandoned by its absentee landlords, so it's not uncommon to see players demanding above average levels of community interaction. In this regard, it's clear that the team at Lucent Heart is willing to put forth the effort with daily Facebook giveaways, dance competitions and an event calendar packed with more community activities to do in a single day than some MMORPGs do in a year.
Landing in a nearby town, it was clear that at least some players were really getting into Scaena's dancing, as there were plenty of groups scattered about, all dancing merrily in-sync to the few Asian pop songs available with the in-game client. On first observations, I simply assumed that they were all just dancing along preset emotes, but once I actually saw the dance system UI, I was blown away by the depth contained; this wasn't a simple act of typing /dance01 and letting the music flow. The game client automatically breaks your songs down to a few dozen separate sections, and you can choose from a vast array of moves to perform in sequence during each section. Not only that, but I could increase or decrease the speed at which I performed these moves, just in case I wanted to time something more precisely.