One Piece Thousand Storm Is Great but Is in Dire Need of Fixes

This game is an unfortunate example of how problems in performance can damage the experience of the player.

Smartphones are becoming more sophisticated and game developers have taken advantage of this trend, in order to tackle more ambitious projects, including RPGs.

An example is One Piece Thousand Storm.

Developed by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. for both the Android and iOS systems, this game allows players to experience the universe of the One Piece anime and manga.

This title offers plenty of features to the community, including skills that are exclusive to one character, multiplayer and the possibility of collecting objects and characters from the One Piece universe.

Despite the positive elements of this title, there are some downsides that may persuade a player to give up on the experience.

However, before discussing the negative attributes of One Piece Thousand Storm, let's see two elements that this game did right.

Gameplay mechanics

As players venture themselves into the universe of the franchise, they can unlock skills that are exclusive to the character in use. The game also gives to players the chance of being joined by two other friends and create a trio.

This is useful as players start to tackle missions of higher difficulty in the game, as they will need to pick their characters carefully, in order to ensure that the skills of each member of the party complement each other.

The process of discovering which skills work best when combined leads players to explore the gameplay mechanics of the game, thus ensuring they need to make choices.

This process makes the experience have more meaning for players, as their choices will dictate whether they will emerge victorious or fall defeated.

The combat itself can be simple, if players wish. Characters can automatically move towards and attack enemies, in order to reduce the number of places players can put their finger on, thus keeping them from blocking their own view with their thumbs.

However, if players decide to control the character at all times, this option can be enabled through the menu of the game.

Visual Experience

The art team of BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. made an excellent job in ensuring that the graphics of the game are faithful to the visual identity of the manga and the anime of One Piece.

This is a particularly tricky task, because the anime features 2D hand-drawn animations, whereas the video game offer to players computer-made animations and 3D environments.

There is a clear dissonance between the techniques used in both mediums to bring the characters to life, but the team managed to overcome it and make the cast of the video game look similar to one from the anime.

The artists working on One Piece Thousand Storm managed to accomplish this by always displaying characters in a "plane view," which means that players mostly see the characters either from the front or from the back.

In order to give players a sense of depth, every pose the characters stay in are asymmetrical, with a character having his right foot a step forward, as done in 2D animation, as the image below shows.

With this simple trick, developers managed to reproduce the 2D characters of One Piece in a 3D world, whilst remaining true to the visual identity of the franchise.

Overall, the ideas executed in this project do a good jog at pleasing the fans of the series, but what this game lacked was planing. I will explain this with more detail in the next topic, as I address the problems with this title.

Various small issues that, when put together, become major:

This game has several annoyances, including glitches, drops in FPS, long loading times and crashes. One Piece Thousand Storm is a perfect example of how poor planning can influence negatively the experience of a otherwise good game.

In video game development it is paramount to have a clear vision and stick to it whenever possible, but it may change during production. It this is the case, it is crucial to have a good understanding of how these alterations in the project will affect the schedule and adjust it accordingly.

In an RPG game, as One Piece Thousand Storm, due to the complexity of the project and of the universe thereof, it is normal for the project to undergo several changes throughout development.

The problem with making various changes is that the more a developer shifts the course of a project, the harder it is to adapt the schedule to the new reality.

This may result in poorly established deadlines, which result is a team working under due dates that are not reasonable with the reality of the project.  This gives them less time to work on polishing the game and testing it.

This is often the reason why some games reach the market filled with glitches and performance issues.

With this said, it is reasonable to presume that this is what happened with One Piece Thousand Storm, a game with good ideas, but that suffered from the lack of testing and polishing.

Conclusion:

One Piece Thousand Storm is a worthy addition to the franchise and the game features interesting elements in its gameplay, which forces players to make careful decisions, whilst being simple at the same time.

The downside of the game, however is how it suffered from many performance issues that seem obvious to the players and most likely occurred due to poor planning, that led to insufficient testing and polishing of the product.

If you are patient enough to make your way through the long loading screens and the constant drops in performance, this is a game that will provide you with the fun you seek.

My only concern is that once the developers fix the issues with this game, it will be too late to revert the negative reputation it has built and players who became frustrated with the performance issues may never come back.

Published Feb. 13th 2017

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