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Wizard101 is a 3D massively multiplayer online role-playing game created by KingsIsle Entertainment. Players take on the role of students in a fantasy academy for wizards, and battle a variety of creatures by casting spells using a turn-based combat system similar to collectible card games. Players advance in the game by accepting quests to learn new spells, gain equipment, and collect gold. The game holds a rating of "Everyone 10+" from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board for crude humor and mild fantasy violence. Although designed for pre-teens, the game appeals to all ages.
At the beginning the player controls a novice wizard, who is named something that you chose at the start of the game, that wizard joins the Ravenwood School of Magical Arts, a school of wizardry located in a fictional town called Wizard City. Instead of the traditional character classes, Wizard101 offers the players a choice among seven different "magic schools" (Fire, Ice, Storm, Life, Death, Myth and Balance) which will influence character development and parts of the magical spells (in form of collectible cards) available to the player in combat.
In Wizard101, the different areas accessible to players are referred to as "worlds". Upon character creation, only Wizard City is opened to access. As the player progresses, more worlds become available.
Spell system and combat
Wizard101 has multiple classes to choose from, in the form of "magic school" (Life, Death, Storm, Myth, Fire, Ice, and Balance, and soon to come are sun, moon, and stars). Upon character creation, the player takes an exam which will determine what magic school he will belong to. The quiz can also be bypassed in favor of a direct selection. Different types of magic affect other kinds of magic. For example, Death is effective against Life, and Life is effective against Death.
Wizard101's magic schools provide the character with magic spells while he or she progresses through the game, including offensive, defensive and healing spells. These are represented in the form of cards which can be assembled to a customized card deck. When entering combat, the player will get a hand consisting of random cards from his or her chosen deck; playing these cards will trigger the associated magic spell.
Characters in Wizard101 who are defeated in combat are sent back to the Commons of that world that they are on to regain their vital characteristics. Playing mini-games helps restore these more quickly, and may also yield gold and equipment.
KingsIsle released a player housing feature named "Castles" on May 6, 2009, enabling players to edit and customize their own virtual space. Three tiers of housing are available: dorm, modest castles and lands, and luxury castles and lands. Once a player has purchased a castle, they can immediately move out of their old home and into a new house. Houses cannot be traded between characters on the same account. A player starts with a small dorm room, a student's basic house, in Ravenwood. The player can buy a modest castle or a land after becoming level 15. To obtain these houses, a player must go to the house shopkeeper. A recent addition is the new school-themed houses, with one for each school, though players can buy any of these houses, regardless of school allegiances. School houses cost 10,000 Crowns, a.k.a. US$20. Players can also pay for them with in-game gold, with each house being 100,000 gold.
KingsIsle released the advanced pets system May 26, 2010, enabling players starting at Level 7 to enter The Pet Pavilion in the Commons, where players can train their pets in various mini-games. After each mini-game, players are allowed to feed their pet snacks which further increase their skills. These snacks can be bought in the shops around the Spiral, found as drops from various creatures, or crafted from reagents. In addition to the mini-games, players can also participate in Ranked Pet Derby matches (Pet PvP) and compete with other wizards' pets for Arena Tickets or gold. As a pet's PvP rank increases, the player gains the opportunity to purchase pets requiring said rank to be used.
Another addition to the pets system is the ability to hatch pets with other players in the Hatchery, located in the central area of the Pet Pavilion. A pet must be an adult to hatch pets for new powers and abilities. When it hatches, a new pet will have the powers and stats of one pet and the look of the other. Each pet can hatch as many times as the player wants, although hatching does not occur frequently, due to the large sums of money it takes to hatch with others. This update also added new pets, who drop from various bosses in the Spiral.
Due to its young core audience, Wizard101 restricts player interaction when compared to other games in the massively multiplayer online genre. Aside from the different levels of chat filters available depending on player age, duels between players are available only in a special player versus player arena designated for the purpose, removing the possibility of player defeating.
Rewards for combat or completing a quest are distributed equally among the party, so players need not fight for spoils. Players may trade a special type of spell card called a treasure card, which offers boosted stats to a regular spell card, but so far they are currently unable to trade items between one another (it is possible, however, to trade items to one's other wizards, if any are present).
Online safety features
Several features have been implemented to protect younger players in the online world. Parents must activate controls for players under 13, including setting levels for interaction with other players in the world. Three different levels of chat are available. At the most restricted level, players select from a menu of pre-defined phrases, and players using this option can only see menu chat from other players. At the next level, players may type what they want, as long as the words are available in the game’s dictionary. If a word is not present in the dictionary, or part of a forbidden phrase, such as asking another player’s age, it will not be visible. If players know each other outside the game, they can use a true friend code to allow looser chat inside the game, however it is subject to some restrictions. Additionally, players choose names for their characters from a list that allows selection of a first name and a one- or two-part surname. You can also choose to not have a surname, and just have a first name. Names for in-game pets can also be selected from a list, though dropped pets start with names you don't get to choose, you must pay gold to change their names. The official game forums are filtered and moderated. Finally, at player request, KingIsle Entertainment added open chat for players aged 18 years and above, an age limit verified through credit cards, which allows everything except profanities. Other features have been designed with a pre-teens audience in mind, for example opponents in combat disintegrate or vanish, and there is no bloodshed.
Departing from the relatively open-ended nature of many massively multiplayer online games, Wizard101 follows a relatively linear storyline that revolves around the player's character, a novice wizard joining the Ravenwood school of Magical Arts. Upon arrival, before even beginning with his or her enrolment, the new wizard comes face to face with the main villain in the game, a previous faculty member, Malistaire Drake. Throughout the game, the main storyline involves discovering Malistaire's plans, and trying to foil them.
The plot begins with several problems occurring throughout Wizard City, host to the Ravenwood school. The player must aid other wizards into completing dangerous missions. After defeating Lord Nightshade, a grim reaper-like spirit that is responsible for the undead attacks on Wizard City, the player gains access to the location of Krokotopia, where the Kroks, an ancient race that enslaved Krokotopia centuries ago, have reawakened from a deep sleep and are now attacking the current residents of Krokotopia. shortly after defeating the Krok Leaders, it is revealed that Malistaire wishes to obtain an ancient book of magic known as the "Krokonomicon" that can control the powers of Life and Death to use for unknown purposes (it is later revealed that it is to bring his deceased wife, Sylvia, back to life and to rule the Spiral with her). When the Krokonomicon is later transported to another world, Marleybone, the player follows the lead. After the Krokonomicon is stolen by the master thief Meowiarty on behalf of Malistaire, the player must find Meowiarty's lair, which is atop Big Ben. When Meowiarty is returned to prison, Malistaire conspires with demons in the land of MooShu to help him steal the key to the next world, Dragonspyre. The player is then led to battle the demons, who have poisoned the emperor. Once healed, the emperor informs the player that Malistaire has already left MooShu, setting the next movement of his evil plot into motion in Dragonspyre, an ancient world destroyed by a giant dragon. He dubs himself the "Necromaster," attempting to resurrect his wife using the Krokonomicon. When he is eventually defeated by the player, Malistaire and his wife finally gain peace.
- Briskbreeze plot line
Soon after, only for Grandmaster players, a tower known as Briskbreeze opened. A Wraith kidnapped a Wizard City guard, and took him to the top of the tower. You must go to the top level and defeat him. The wraith then warned wizards after his defeat that it was only the first step, and that Krokotopia would be next.
- Celestia plot line
A new world is opening as well named Celestia, which is supposed to open in early Fall 2010. According to an interview done with Ravenwood Radio, Kingisle confirmed that Celestia will be exclusively for players level 50-60 and that Celestia will focus on a new main villain after the defeat of Malistaire by the player, but hinted Malistaire could return to the series. They also stated that the new world is a story progression world unlike Grizzleheim. The new main villain Morganthe, the Umbra Queen was trying to steal the power the Celestian people which lay in their worship of three powerful magics; The Sun, Moon, and Stars (making the magics of Astral, which Professor Ambrose studies). The Celestians refused the Umbra Queen so she created a Dark Army to combat the Celestians. After decades of fighting the Celestians came to the realization that they would lose. So in desperation the Celestians called upon the Storm Titan to aid them. The Storm Titan betrayed the people of Celestia and sank the city underwater, forever closing the Spiral gate to Celestia. But not before the Celestians were able to save some of their beloved homeland in protective domes. Recently, the Marleybone Geographic Society rediscovered the world, but something is wrong there. The Geographic society has discovered that the Umbra Queen and her followers the Shadow Weavers are still alive, and a new species of sentient crab-like creatures called The Crustacean Empire now inhabit Celestia. However, their purpose or how they got there is unknown for now. After finishing a line of pre-quests, the player retrieves the pieces of the spiral key and presents it to Professor Halston Balestorm. The professor says reconstructing the key may take some time.
Wizard101 is available as a free download from the game’s website. Several starter areas in the game are free to play without time limit, but most areas are available only by either subscription or by purchasing individual zones, using a microtransactions system. Players may purchase “crowns” to unlock new content and special items in the game. If a "friend code" is entered when creating a new account, and that person buys $10 worth of crowns or subscribes, then an additional 1275 crowns is added for free. Paying customers also get access to the test server, to preview new content in development.
KingsIsle Entertainment started offering gift cards at Rite Aid, 7-Eleven, Blockbuster, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart, Target, and Walgreens stores across the United States, as well as at Gamestop, which can be redeemed at the Wizard101 website. The gift cards come in ten and twenty dollar varieties, and can be redeemed for crowns or a subscription to the game.
According to a press release published in May 2008, the development of Wizard101 began in February 2005 under the creative direction of J. Todd Coleman. The game entered open beta on 6 August 2008, and it launched successfully on 2 September 2008. On August 25, 2010, it was announced that Wizard101 will be released in European territories later that year.
|Common Sense Media|
According to KingIsle Entertainment's press releases, the game has experienced a steady growth in the number of players: 2 million in April 2009, 5 million in September 2009, and ten million players by June 2010.
In terms of reception, the game currently scores an average of 8 (out of 10) from 3 ratings on IGN.com's GameStats. GameShark reviewer Toni Dimayuga noted the game's overall ambience and graphic setting as well as the overall fun nature of Wizard101 in the pro column, while the combat (in particular defeats) and the restrictive (at the time of the review) nature of chat were seen as the major minus points. Her review concludes:
|“||Wizard 101 is an ideal starter MMO for children, but challenging enough for adults. Kids will love the cute characters, colorful world, and grandiose combat animations (as well as the Potter-like setting) while their parents may be drawn to the Magic: The Gathering inspired combat card mechanic and online safety measures. Both kids and adults will enjoy the mini-games and PvP. Adult players may find the chat system too restrictive and annoying, but then again, they’re not the intended audience.||”|
- ↑ Remo, Chris (2008–07–21). Q&A: KingsIsle’s Coleman on Turning Tween With Wizard101. Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 2010-01-10 Retrieved on 2008-10-28.
- ↑ Koh, Carolyn (2008). Wizard 101 - Video Game Review. Common Sense Media. Retrieved on 2008-10-23.
- ↑ Rating Information - Wizard 101. Entertainment Software Rating Board. Retrieved on 2008-10-23.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Shump, Don (2008-08-29). Game Review: Wizard 101 – a MMO for the whole family?. Geekdad. Wired.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-23.
- ↑ Aihoshi, Richard ('Jonric') (2008-08-01). Wizard101 Interview – Part 1. RPG Vault. Retrieved on 2008-10-24.
- ↑ Wizard101 Ravenwood School of Magical Arts. KingIsle Entertainment. Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- ↑ Athab, Majed (2008-06-30). http://www.massively.com/2008/06/30/massively-interview-kingsisle-on-wizard101/. Massively.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-27.
- ↑ RPG Vault Focus: MMOGs for Younger Audiences – Part 1. RPG Vault (2008-09-28). Retrieved on 2008-10-24.
- ↑ Liang, Alice (2008-08-12). Wizard101 Beta Impressions. 1up.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-27.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Davison, John (2008-06-19). Wizard101: First Look. What They Play. Retrieved on 2008-10-24.
- ↑ Wizard 101 Handbook - Chat and Friends. KingIsle Entertainment. Retrieved on 2009-02-17.
- ↑ Largest Wizard101 Expansion Introduces Crafts, Bazaar, & More (Press release). IGN.com (2 July 2009). Retrieved on 2009-08-22.
- ↑ Johnson, Neilie (December 17, 2008). Free Speech, Vol. 2: Wizard101. IGN.com. Retrieved on 2009-08-22.
- ↑ Upgrade Options. KingIsle Entertainment. Retrieved on 2009-02-17.
- ↑ Monera, Marissa (August 7, 2009). F2P Spotlight: Continuing Our Look at Wizard101. IGN.com. Retrieved on 2009-08-22.
- ↑ KingsIsle Extends Wizard101 Gift Card Program to Rite Aid Stores (Press release). IGN.com (May 4, 2009). Retrieved on 2009-08-22.
- ↑ Wizard101 (Press release). GamesIndustry.biz (22 May 2008). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- ↑ Wizard 101 for PC - GameRankings. Gamerankings.com. CBS Interactive Inc.. Retrieved on 2009-10-16.
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Wizard101. Gamestats.com. Retrieved on 2009-08-22.
- ↑ Wizard 101 Virtual World Surpasses Two-Million Player Mark, Launches Gift Cards at 7-Eleven (Press release). IGN.com (30 April 2009). Retrieved on 2009-08-22.
- ↑ WIZARD 101 REACHES 5 MILLION PLAYERS(Press release) (10 September 2009). Retrieved on 2009-09-15.
- ↑ Ten Million Wizards Join Forces to Save the Spiral in Wizard101(Press release) (22 June 2010). Retrieved on 2010-07-04.
- ↑ Dimayuga, Toni (11 March 2009). You have seen the TV ads on Nickelodeon -- and what do you know? Wizard 101, the magical MMO for kids, is pretty darn good.. Gameshark.com. Retrieved on 2009-08-22.