|Director(s)||J. Todd Coleman|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, macOS|
|Genre(s)||Massively multiplayer online role-playing game|
Wizard101 is a 2008 massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) created by KingsIsle Entertainment. In the game, players take on the role of students of Ravenwood School of Magical Arts in order to save the Spiral, the fictional galaxy in which the game is set, from various threats. Players battle enemies by casting spells using a variety of different weapons in a turn-based combat system similar to collectible card games.
Pirate101, a sister MMORPG set in the same universe, was released in 2012.
The fictional universe of the Spiral is divided into many worlds, each of which has multiple areas. Players can unlock these temporarily with "memberships" or unlock each area permanently with the game's premium currency "Crowns." A wizard first starting the game must choose a school: Fire, Ice, Storm, Myth, Life, Death, or Balance, each complete with their own set of unique spells and playstyles.
The game is based around "duels": two teams made up of one to four players on each team or computer enemies who take turns casting spells. Spells can be cast using "pips." A player gains one pip every round, and there is a chance that that pip will be a "power pip," worth two regular pips for spells that are of the player's class. Spells can reduce the health of enemy creatures, increase the health of friends, add shields that reduce damage, add blades that modify the amount of damage, traps, and buffs which increase damage, and more. When a player reduces a computer enemy's health to zero, they are defeated; players with a health of zero can be healed by others on their team unless they "flee" the duel. When every player or computer on a team has zero health, the other team wins.
As the player progresses, more worlds become available. There are many main worlds, with a few smaller side ones that are optional. When wizards level up, they gain new badge titles and automatic increases in their base statistics: health, mana, and energy. Most equipment also has level restrictions. Hobbies such as training pets, fishing, and gardening require energy; crafting instead requires various resources called "reagents." Players can duel each other in the PvP arena and some houses. As of November 2018, players can achieve a maximum of Level 130.
The game offers a choice of either a subscription or a "Free-to-Play" option with microtransactions. Free-to-Play customers can purchase access to different areas of content using an in-game currency called Crowns. Such areas only need to be bought once, but other actions in the game may be necessary before accessing them. Crowns also can be used to purchase exclusive in-game items and access PvP tournaments. The fee for PvP tournaments vary, depending on whether the player has an existing Wizard101 membership. Crowns can be purchased by a game card or from the online store or earned in small amounts through SuperRewards.
Subscriptions unlock all playable worlds, as well as allowing players to compete in ranked PvP matches and ranked Pet Derby races, enter tournaments for gold, store more items in their backpack, and gain the ability to post on the Wizard101 Message Board, along with other minor benefits for the duration of their membership.
In the European version of Wizard101, players are able to buy Subscriptions or Bundles with Crowns.
Also, certain areas and dungeons in Wizard101 can be rented for a certain period of time such as the 6-hour rentals for Mount Olympus, Atlantea, and Tartarus in Aquila. Unlimited access to ranked PVP and Pet Derby matches can be rented on a per-match or daily basis.
Due to its young core audience, Wizard101 restricts player interaction when compared to other games in the massively multiplayer online genre. There are three different types of Chat: Menu Chat, Text Chat, and Open Chat. Menu Chat only allows the player to choose from a variety of predetermined phrases or sentences and prevents them from typing anything else in Chat. In-Text Chat, what player types can be seen by every other wizard in the area either from a word bubble on top of the speaker's head or in the chatbox. Private Chat is when a wizard wishes to speak in private, or "message" to another wizard. This appears on the screen in a white box to the left. The type of communication is restricted based on the age of the player. When typed, words that appear in white are words that everyone can view. Yellow words can only be seen by players who have their accounts set to "Open Chat." Open Chat is obtained when a player identifies him or herself as 18 years or older by using their credit card. Red words are not allowed and can be seen by no one, not even the player themselves. If an adult chatter types red or yellow words, younger players will see ellipses (...) in place of the word. Also note that when players do not have Open Chat and say a Red word, players with Open Chat will not see that word either, and will see ellipses as well. Red words include not only profanity but also words that would allow players to share real-life information, including phone numbers, their ages, or real-world locations.
Another aspect of the game is the ability for players to fight each other, either in free Practice dueling, or Ranked dueling, which must be purchased with Crowns or a membership. Unlike Practice matches, Ranked matches affect the player's ranking badge or title and grant the victor or victors Arena Tickets, yet another type of in-game premium currency. Duels between players are available only in a special player versus player arena designated for the purpose. The PvP arena can be found upon entry to Unicorn Way from the Commons in Wizard City, in some houses, and within Outer Yard in Avalon.
Rewards for combat or completing a quest are distributed automatically among a group if players decide to stay together, so players need not argue over spoils. Players may trade a special type of spell card called a "treasure card," which can be rearranged by clicking the golden card icon in the player's spellbook and then can be used in battle when the player discards cards and then clicks draw. These cards can only be used once and can be used by any player from any school of Magic. A treasure card is typically stronger than the standard variant of the card. This spell will disappear from the player's spell deck once it is used. So far, the players are currently unable to trade items other than treasure cards between one another. (It is possible, however, to trade most items to one's other wizards on the same account, through the use of a shared bank).
Online safety features
Wizard101 has various parental controls available that can be managed by a "Master Account" through the game's website. Once a setting is changed on the Master Account, it goes into effect on all connected accounts in a family of accounts. Parental control options include changing the chat settings to restrict the account from certain chat functions.
If a player is under 13 years of age, they aren't able to see text messages and are restricted to "menu chat," a selection of phrases that can be used to interact with other players (must have made a debit/credit card purchase). However, with a master password, the parent can allow a child under 13 to use text chat. If the player is 13 years or older, they can send and see text messages, but word filters are in place to censor profanity, numbers, and personal information such as emails or names. Filtered words are marked red while typing, and will be sent as three dots once sent. If the player is 18 years or older and has verified their account via a credit card, text messages become much less restrictive, allowing them to see and type some words that are usually filtered, though some are still restricted. Filtered words that are generally restricted by 13+ text chat is visible to 18+ chat, and are marked yellow. Those with 18+ chat can see them, but not 13+ chat.
A player's name must be decided through pre-determined names made up of a first name and a one-part or a two-part surname. The official game forums are also heavily moderated, and forum posts must be checked by a moderator before they are made visible.
|North America||September 2, 2008||Active||English |
|Europe||February 15, 2011||Active||English |
|Taiwan||April 27, 2012||Closed October 15, 2015||Traditional Chinese|
|China||Closed November 1, 2015||Simplified Chinese|
The development of Wizard101 began in 2005, soon after the founding of KingsIsle Entertainment. Company founder Elie Akilian hired J. Todd Coleman, who served as creative director of the game from its launch through 2013. The game entered open beta on August 6, 2008, and it launched successfully on September 2, 2008. On August 25, 2010, it was announced that Wizard101 would be released in foreign territories later that year.
Wizard101 launched a European Beta version on December 15, 2010 and then released the game on February 15, 2011, in partnership with Gameforge. This eventually included releases of the game in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Polish, and Greek. It was announced on August 17, 2011 that KingsIsle Entertainment and Taomee Holdings Limited had an agreement to launch Wizard101 in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Wizard101 Taiwan officially launched on April 27, 2012, with the others to follow.
The Chinese version of Wizard101 had changes made to the game to conform with laws or appeal to the gaming culture in the country. Any references to skeletons or death had to be censored or removed. Quests required more monsters to be defeated or more items collected. The game would suggest players take breaks if playing for long periods and after two hours, or the player will enter a "fatigued" state, where rewards and stats are cut in half, and after five hours, the "unhealthy" state would cut all rewards given completely.
In 2012, KingsIsle Entertainment released Pirate101, a sister game of Wizard101, also set in the 101 universe. It was described as "comfortable and familiar" to Wizard101, but featuring "entirely new design, setting, and gameplay mechanics."
In July 2013, KingsIsle stopped updating its Chinese servers. In April 2015, Wizard101 Taiwan announced that it would shut down on May 25, 2015, but the date was rescheduled to October 15, 2015. Wizard101 China announced its shutdown date as November 1, 2015. On September 2018, to celebrate the game's 10 year anniversary, the game was given a separate re-release on the gaming platform, Steam.  Prior to the ten-year update, the graphics for Wizard City, the starting area of the game, were revamped along with the character models and animations. When the update did appear on September 8th, 2018, players were able to get two housing items and a wand (sparkler) to celebrate the ten years. To get one of the housing items, the players are forced to go on a short quest, in which the company, Kingsisle Entertainment, thanks to the supporters of its game through the use of well-established characters in the game. This was a limited-time event, which ended shortly before November 2018.
In 2008 composer Nelson Everhart was asked to write the music for Wizard101. The team initially asked him to compose a "Harry Potter" style track, which got him the job. That music eventually became the score for Marleybone.
In 2011 a campaign centered around a "mystery composer" was launched in anticipation for Wizard101's upcoming Wintertusk expansion. It was finally revealed that Nick Jonas was the mystery composer. He worked with KingsIsle for two months, writing a total of seven atmospheric tracks for Wintertusk.
As of 2020 Everhart still actively composes music for the game's expansions.
According to KingsIsle Entertainment's press releases, the game has experienced a steady growth in the number of accounts: 2 million in April 2009, 5 million in September 2009, 10 million players by June 2010, 15 million by January 2011, 20 million by July 2011, and 30 million by July 2013. As of November 2014, there are currently about 50 million accounts created. In terms of reception, the game currently scores an average of 77.5% from ratings on GameRankings. GameShark reviewer Toni Dimayuga noted the game's overall ambiance 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.
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