I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first clicked on this.
I don't think I would've ever payed any attention to this if I wasn't familiar with most of the people working on this in the first place.
But I have to say I was quite impressed by the length of the episode and I got through it quite easily, so that's definitely a good start.
There's alot I could say about this first episode, but I don't think I'll have enough characters to write everything down here, so I'm just gonna try and give a quick'ish rundown on the things I liked and didn't like as much without going into too much explicit detail. Not that anybody would really care, but whatever!
First off, the overall sound design was very good. The voice acting was top notch, some were a bit better than others but overall it was very good. I really liked the music as well. While it's not the kind of music I personally would download and just listen to, it did really fit well with this show and really helped make it stand out from other webshows I've seen on here.
As for the animation and artwork - obviously there were quite alot of shortcuts taken with the animation (no shading, motion tweening, the dialogue text box thingies, etc .. ) but that didn't bother me at all, as I completely understand it kinda needs that if you are planning on releasing new episodes regulary.
The fight scenes however need some work though, the sprite battles were alright, but the fight against the hackers was a bit too slow paced, too many breaks in between the action kinda kills a fight scene.
The artwork... was good in most parts. The zoomed out shot of the TOME world looked really interesting and pretty cool. Though I wasn't really keen on the whole purple area background which sadly almost the entire episode took place in. The "woods" area wasn't all that interesting either, but it was better than the purple area. I know you're trying to get that ingame feeling, but I personally think it could use some tweeking (gradients often don't work, this is one of those cases).
I do however, absolutely ADORE the character designs, especially flamegirl and gamecrazed. While the designs of all the character are kinda simplistic, some of them are very creative and I think it's that that really appeals to me.
And now for the weakest points: The episode itself -storywise- was kinda basic, I can't really say I'm all that interested in the story just yet, but for a first episode it served it's purpose well enough for now.
I guess my biggest problem with it is the fact that it's a show about people playing a videogame, but I didn't really get that vibe from it. I personally think it would've worked better as TOME being an actual world on it's own and the characters are actual real people - but once again, maybe I'm judging a bit too soon on this. I'm not saying a show about playing a videogame can't work - but it can be really tricky, especially when you get at more dramatic and serious parts.
As for the characters, well, sadly I can't really say there was any character that stood out to me where I could say "I like this character" - most of them seemed seemed a bit clichÃ© and one-dimensional and mostly just flat out boring. I guess Kirbopher was alright and the 2 villains as a duo were kinda okay I guess. Alpha was probably the most clichÃ©d character out of them all, being the shy guy who gets a confidence boost with his newly obtained "power" which obviously is gonna shoot him in the foot later. Gamecrazed being the mystery guy who will slowly reveal himself as the series goes on. Flamegirl... she was there, I guess. Not nessesairly a bad thing but there isn't really anything to say about her, besides her looks.
And then comes Nylock, oh nylock! I know he's the fan favourite and all, but honestly I really can't see the appeal. He was just plain obnoxious. He's the kind of comic-relief character that I do not like at all - completely over the top (and I'm normally fine with over the top), spouting out his "dragon of_" catchphrase waaay too frequently as if he's desperately trying to get the attention of the audience all the time. He could've been a way funnier "roleplayer" character if he was written to be more serious, without the butchered ye-old-english, but that's just me. In fact, I believe kirbopher made a better comic relief character in this episode than nylocke did, because his character feels more genuine and not forced.
I was kinda thinking about giving this a 3.5 stars at first, but I've given easier scores in the past and obviously I don't wanna critisize it too harshly because I genuinely enjoyed this and I will definitely be looking at more of this series. Besides, I can see the love and care that went into it and for a first episode this wasn't bad at all - and I'm sure it will get better with time.
There's alot of potentional!