Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy New Years and Florensia Online Preview

Hey everyone!

Sorry for the long time between posts, I'm at home for the holidays and its been quite quite busy. But without further adieu, I'll get to my next preview. Its for a new MMO called "Florensia".

Although there is little info on this game, as its still in development, they do have many of the game's features up on the website: . The basic premise is similar to Pirate King Online (which is posted in my archives); as the game has a pirate theme, complete with town siege and becoming a merchant.

As for the core systems of the game: there appear to be at least nine classes, ranging from:
Explorer, Voyager, Producer, Manufacturer, Merchant, Shipbuilder, Soldier, Mercenary, and Pirate. It is important to note that this is pre-liminary information, and the list may be much longer or shorter. It appears that the Explorer and Voyager explore both land and sea to find new islands, treasures, and write maps to sell to other classes. Whereas the producing classes deal with city development, such as building/developing cities (and their defences) and trading with other cities..etc. Which is a marvelous idea in my opinion as it adds a new perspective to the game. Goonzu has a similar system (see my archives).

The last batch of classes, the "warrior" style classes, deal with all things piratey, including commanding your fleet of mateys, laying siege to other cities, defending your own city and all things in between. From the sounds of it, they have a class to satisfy everyone, and enough action to keep things exciting for quite some time.

The graphics appear to be using the Unreal 2.5 engine and thus are very similar to RO2 (both games are anime based) from the looks of the videos. The equipment is rendered on each part of the body and didn't appear choppy, so nothing to fret about in this department.

Although there is little info released, if the current ideas are developed properly this could be a massive hit. Yet, we must always remember the problem with false promises (see Dark and Light), so I'm not getting too excited about it. But this is definitely a game to watch out for, I'll keep you updated if they post any information about the core system (character development).

Link for a video of the game on YouTube is:


Also, Cabal Online Closed Beta ends on January 2nd, if you have any thoughts on it, please feel free to post in the comments, I read them all.

Thats all for now, have a Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cabal Online Closed(open) Beta


First things first. My LOTRO beta friend key is now gone, sadly no one posted in the comments except for one person, whose email was invalid.

Onto to actual news:
Cabal Online is going into the final stage of closed beta. There is a twist, anyone who gets an invite gets to invite 5 other people, whom also get to invite 5 other people...etc. And since I have an invite, if you post your email address in my comments I'll work on getting you an invite also, so that you can come back here and invite more people!

The actual beta starts on the 18th. However, with some nifty tricks you can play right now:
You can download the client at the above link.
How to play right now!

Time to give Cabal that last try, since my previous review didnt get to cover the entire game (level 50 max), now it is level 150 max; so we shall see if things have changed.

As always, enjoy!

Monday, December 11, 2006

LOTRO Beta Key

Sorry for the lack of updates of late, but I've been busy with school. I do however happen to have a Lord of The Rings Online closed-beta key to give away. And since you, my faithful readers, care enough to venture to my little blog, I feel it should go to one of you.

Leave your email address and reason for why you should get the key. It HAS to be activated by tommorrow at about 7 PM EST, so if there is only one comment by that time, you'll get it!

On other news, CABAL goes open beta on the 18th (this is from's forums, I'm not sure if its "official" so dont hold me too it!).

And thats it for now, the MMO industry has been VERY quiet lately. Only other rumours around revovle around Darkfall finally entering into beta stages sometime next year.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Updates: Short One


Sorry for the delay (again), but one more day until the term is over! Woohoo! (Then 7 days of hell, then finals).

As for any updates. I'm still waiting on CABAL Online ( to go open beta. It is supposed to be "sometime in December"; so lets keep our fingers crossed.

Also, I'm gonna try and compile some information on Lord of the Rings Online. My initial thoughts on it are not very flattering for Turbine (LoTRO producers) so I'll try and get more info before posting a preview.

Lastly: DELAYS.
Almost >every< single MMO in production has been delayed 1-6 months. I've got no idea what the industry is up too but its making for a very sad state of games during christmas break. CABAL is only remaining option.

Hope I do well on my finals!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ragnarok Online II Preview!

Hey everyone,

Sorry for such a long time between posts, but dear lord I've had one busy week. Now that midterms/lab exams/stress are finally over for a few weeks, figured I'd post this length preview of Ragnarok Online II(RO2).

The most obvious difference between RO2 and RO is in the graphics department. RO2 was designed from the ground up using the Unreal 2.5 engine. This results in breath-taking 3-D graphics, and most importantly, every piece of armor/weapons/headgear has their own graphical display. Resulting in almost 1000 different pieces of equipment to make your character's sprite unique. But as I'm sure everyone knows by now, I care little about graphics, so lets get to the core of RO2's design.

RO2 is designed around 3 basic races. The Dimago, Normans, and Ellrs. Little is known about the Dimago, but the Ellrs appear to be magically inclined; and use magical stones to battle. The Normans however have the most information, and will be the main focus of this preview. Every Norman starts off as a novice class (similar to RO) and at the appropriate base/job level they are able to change class into one the current 5 other classes: Swordman, Enchanter, Recruit, Thief, and Clown.

Now this is where Gravity put a creative spin on things. Each character may change classes an infinite amount of time. Whenever you change to a new class, your job level goes back to 1 and you are free to learn skills from the new class. If you wanted, however, to change back to your old class; you will still have the skills and job level from before.
As an example: If you were a level 30/25 (base/job) Recruit and wished to change to an Enchanter, you would then become an level 30/1 Enchanter. However, if after a few weeks you decided to go back to Recruit your level would again be 30/25.

What use is this, you might ask. Not only did Gravity allow for job changing, they also allowed the use of skills from all of your previous classes. Of course, you cannot level these skills without changing to the appropriate class, but it presents a lot of possibilities for builds. This would mean unlimited skills, but that is not the case. In order to use skills of another class (called 'specialty skills'), one needs to place them in their specialty skill grid. A 4x4 (at max level, it grows as you leve) grid which you can add skills to. Some skills may require 3 'blocks' of the grid and some may require 1. This makes the skill system much more exciting than RO's current system.

Some of you may be wondering, "but what about our stats! my enchanter is useless with strength and vitality from a swordman!". Gravity also thought of this, and reduced the stat 'system' per say. In RO, the current system is 9:1 (9 stats for every 1 "job level stat boost"). In RO2, the system is 2:3 and the stats have more widespread effects.
Take the example of Wisdom:

  • Increases melee physical attack speed
  • Increases ranged physical attack speed
  • Increases hit rate on spells
  • Increases minimum spell damage
As you can see, that could be beneficial to EVERY class at varying degrees, and thus stat builds have evolved into much more than the generic "pump all int/dex for mage". This also opens the doors for battle priest-style characters.

Now surely, this is incredibly exciting and you want to already play; but wait! There is more!

To further increase the character customization(build wise), Gravity has added more features, the most impressive being the equipment system. If anyone has played Secret of Mana they will be familiar with parts of this system. The basic premise is that two types of equipment exist in RO2: 'leveling' and 'non-leveling'. The leveling type speaks for itself; it gains experience and levels and has stat points the same as a character does. They are bound to your character. The non-leveling type are the more common MMORPG style equipment and they are not bound, but they do have random stats (think Diablo). As exciting as random stats are(I love the system), I'm going to talk more about the leveling-type.

The leveling type weapons are broken into three classes (think Lineage 2).
  • A-class: Max level 20
  • B-class: Max level 20
  • C-class: Max level 20
Once your weapon reaches max level, you must use a special combination item to upgrade it to the next class. Each time your weapon reaches max experience, you must take it to a blacksmith (think Secret of Mana) and have him upgrade it for you. Each weapon has a "growth" rate, in which its stats increase randomly based on that rate. For example:

The C-weapon 'Ellr's Knife' has high growth rate in both melee and magic power. Once it is upgraded into B-weapon 'Kris of Thorns', its growth rate changes to critical attack. So every level, the critical attack will "grow" faster than the other stats. As you can see, this leads to some very interesting builds also.

A few final features of RO2 that many people have been asking for are:
  • The ability to swim, jump, and move via WASD (keyboard). Also, the path finding has been improved so you do not run into walls when clicking around sharp corners.
  • Loot will be collected from a corpse's body (removes looting, which plagued early RO)
  • Facial expressions instead of emoticons.
  • INCREDIBLE sound track, composed by Yoko Kanno (google her name for some of her work), she composed over 90 songs for RO2.
Overall, I suspect RO2 will be a mega-hit. The character customization is amazing, and the various builds..are limitless. It will be quite exciting indeed. Currently Korea, Japan, Brazil, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia all have licences purchased to host the game in their respective languages. No official word on international RO2 yet, but I assume its tied closely to the Korean version, as iRO is a subsidiary of kRO. Open beta is slated for December/January in Korea, and the other countries should not be far behind.

Note: I did not discuss PVP, WoE, etc... because there is no info on them currently. We have been assured it will more exciting than RO's current implementation.



Monday, November 13, 2006

Guild Wars - A niche market.

Hi guys and gals!

I know this is a little overdue, but I'm reviewing the first Guild Wars. I'm only doing the first one because I don't have extensive experience with the expansions; and they maintain the general game design of the first.

I'd first like to point out that I am a hardcore MMO player, as opposed to the casual 4-6 hours per week type.

The basic premise of Guild Wars is about removing massive grind (PvE) and replacing it with a wide variety of PvP. Although they did keep some PvE in the game, its limited at best; the PvP is not involving enough to warrant playing for 6-8 hours daily. Thus this is not a game for hardcore players. However, due to the lack of a monthly fee, its a very viable option as a "second" game you can play when taking a break from a primary MMO.

On that note, the most enjoyable concept of the game is the skill/PvP system. Each character chooses a primary and secondary class. With the main focus of the stats orientated for the primary, yet gaining the skills of the secondary. Each class has roughly 100 skills, making for a total of 200 skills for each character. These skills must be either purchased from an NPC or stolen from a monster using specific skills/items. The exciting part is that you can only ever bring 8 skills into a PvP match (PvP games are instanced), and you are always warring with a guild or party or random collection of people. Thus coordination, teamwork, and quick wit become very important aspects of the game.

The stat system is unique in that it adds specific bonuses to various aspects of your damage or character abilities; such as an "increase fire damage" stat for a Elementalist. The nice part is that these stats can be modified almost daily, to reduce one, or add to another. This is required as your "build" or "strategy" of skills you bring into battle may change, and thus you may want to increase lightning damage instead of fire damage.

As you can see, the coordination of highly skilled guilds will dominate the GvG scene. And there is many tournaments/rankings in this area to encourage such competition. Also, the PvP comes in a wide variety, from a variation of capture the flag, kill all the other team, various "castle siege" styles. And even surviving onslaughts of NPC's; with I'm sure many more varieties offered in the expansions. They really focused on PvP and made sure it was enjoyable.

The PvE aspect of the game is almost entirely instanced, as you start doing basic "instances" of quests with 4-6 party members. You can hire NPC's if you wish to do it solo, but the party members are generally easy to find. It is in the PvE that you find much of your rare gear and you can "steal" monster's skills. In addition to the instanced PvE, there is an actual "world" also, where you can explore, find monsters, and find gear. It is quite large and has many hidden bosses (big arse dragons), however its not very populated by anything but open space and monsters. And with a level cap, it takes at most 1-2 weeks to reach it through conventional grinding.

I think the game is done brilliantly well, with the only exception being limited PvE, and thus a lack of hardcore players. But with the current business model of zero monthly fees, you just purchase the game, it offers some competitive entertainment for the casual and hardcore player alike. If you like for PvP, this game is your holy grail.


Advice for casual gamer:

Advice for hardcore gamer:
keep it as an option


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rappelz Review - Ugh.

Hi everyone,

I know I said I wouldn't even be trying Rappelz, but I figured that's not fair to my readers that they should not get a review just because I find concepts of the game bad. And a friend asked me to play, so I had to! So lets jump straight into the review:

My expectations going into the game were low, as it does not have a stat point system. But nevertheless, it is possible to make the game fun and require 'skill' without a system, just much harder. So I decided to make an Asura race character, and go for Strider or Sorcerer class. So when I logged in, first thing I noticed was the graphics. They are done well enough as to not make it an eyesore and still impress me, so it gets a passing grade in that department. However, the next thing I noticed was the movement, which is point-and-click via mouse. It simply wasn't smooth. If you were running and decided to change direction, it takes your character about 1 second to realize that you clicked somewhere else, which is really quite annoying. Especially since you can be walking towards an NPC, and talk to the NPC whilst walking, and when you leave the "range" of the NPC the chat closes.

Aside from the response time issues, the beginning of the game is rather standard. You spawn, are asked to kill X of monster Y and do this a few times, then move to the next set of quests that asks you to similar tasks and so on. By the time you are level 10, you are complete the "training", and can change class. (Each race has 3 possible classes, with 3 races, meaning 9 total classes). By this time you've learnt a few of the more interesting aspects of the game, such as summoning a creature(to ride or fight with), upgrading armors (similar to L2), and the use of force chips (use one, weakens the enemy for a few seconds). Which is all fine and dandy. But, while I learned more about the game, my opinion of it began to quickly fall.

First off, the skills. They use a job point based system, where each kill gives you X experience and Y job points. You use these job points to either level up a skill or level up your job level. This is not explained very well at the beginning of the game, as many people waste their job points in beginner skills when it requires base level 10, job level 10 to change class. And although they offer "mastery" skills for almost every weapon in most classes, they remove any and all "skill" required to play the game through their system. This is done by not capping job points(jp) earned. So with an unlimited amount of playing time, you can have every skill for your class at max level. Couple that with no stat system, means that as soon as you find some interesting strategy to kill monsters/players with, using a combination of skills; someone can simply copy it since they have all the skills you do. The only limitation in the amount of skills you have is the amount of time you spend leveling, which is a system to base a game off of.

I can give it props for the potion system, as they either heal instantly(with a cool down) or heal over time (with no cool down), so there is no pot "spamming". I also found the camera slightly annoying, as you can scroll out a long ways, but cannot adjust angle of viewing very much without zooming back in. Lastly, I found the PVP poorly thought out, I believe this problem is only for first class characters (they have second class planned), but if you're a melee character, fighting a ranged character, the ranged need simply to walk in zig-zags while attacking and your character can never respond fast enough to hit. If this was meant to be fixed through the second class skills, they should have included second classes in release.

Also have to give it another point deduction for its system, or lack thereof. The monsters drop no rare items except for cards and cubes used to upgrade a weapon. Anything else they drop can be purchased from the store. Thus you cant even find a "rare" weapon, unless you purchased it ingame or used the cash shop to buy upgrade materials for it. Truly disappointing.

Overall I give this game a dismal rating, as it tries to be like Lineage 2 or WoW but simply doesn't compare in any aspect. I would recommend almost any game over this one, including WoW. The fact that it is free does not make up for its flaws either. Lack of a stat system, horrid skill system, poor response time, poorly developed PVP, countered by only a few good concepts makes this game a prime candidate for my newly developed MMOTRASH bin.
In it goes.




Saturday, November 04, 2006

Short Blurb on Infinity, Monato, Goonzu

Hey everyone,

*Finally* done my midterms for this semester, just a few projects to get out of my way and I'll have this week off of homework. Woohoo!

Onto more important matters. During the past few weeks I've tried the various open beta, and to sum it up nicely, have been disappointed. I'll start with Monato Esprit.

To identify the game in one acronym, it be WoW. It is essentially a clone of WoW, except of course its from Korea. The graphics are done well, but it gave me the eerie feel of WoW with a little anime thrown in. The game content is the same, with the generic quest NPC's in town and quests progressing as you go on. The most important aspect is the stat points, or the lack thereof. Overall it felt like I was playing WoW. If I had desired that I would simply have played WoW instead.

So this one gets an:
The next game I tried was Goonzu Online. I'm going to warn you beforehand, its not 3-d, and the graphics are very "simple", but I found them done well enough to enjoy it regardless. The most exciting feature of this game is the stat system and market system. Player guilds control towns, taxation, which NPC's set up shop in their towns, and the town's dungeon which was fa
scinating as a "goal" for a guild.

The economy and market system was VERY well though out. Every item is sold at the "market" price to an NPC. If there is increased demand for that item, price goes up, and thus so does selling price to the NPC. The only items ever in the the economy are those players sell, thus the market system works brilliantly for controlling inflation and such.(Exception of healing potions of course). Also almost every dropped item in the game has some sort of purpose; whether it be a questing, crafting, or feeding your pet, everything had a value.

Next is the skill system which is also done nicely, increasing your levels in a skill by learning from "books" which are sold to the market from other players and thus you can buy them. Goonzu also has various crafting books in everything from armors and weapons, in what seems like an endless amount of them. These require ingredients, such as steel, coal, silver..etc which are made from other crafting skill
s. Thus you can see how every item in the game is used someway or another. Lastly, another exciting feature was the pet/summon system. Once you reach a specific level you get a "pet", a very weak low level pet which helps you in battles. As you level, so does it, and once it reaches certain levels it has the opportunity to evolve. You must buy special tickets for this evolution to happen and sometimes the results are unpredictable, but this evolution can occur hundreds of times. Thus leading to a very wide variety of pets and when you obtain a "legendary" pet its announced server wide as an accomplishment. And on that topic, there is also a market for horses, which level up as you feed them/use them to gain faster speed and weight, however they eventually get too old and leave you for "retirement". The game does contain a lot of walking if you are going to high level dungeons so having a horse is quite useful.

Lastly, the stat system is a standard 5-6 different stat points and they affect your characters damage, attack speed, health..etc. Which is almost a requirement for me to play an MMO. However, the reason I'm not playing it right now is.... no PVP. Absolutely none, there is no way to fight against other plays shy of KSing them on monsters. They went into each aspect of gaming so detailed, I was so happy, but they failed to address the most important part of MMOs.

Thus this game gets a:

Lastly I'm going to review Infinity

Initially I thought a system of skills involving mouse click combinations would be a good thing. However, in practice, the system is poorly designed and results more in "random clicking" that actually performing various skills. I also found the character movement to be horrid and almost "choppy". I was initially lead to believe it would be an MMO style, but it turned out be a "GunBound style" where you join a game room and complete the mission in that room. There was also PVP rooms but they were nothing more than complete chaos of people hitting random buttons hoping to get combos. Overall its poorly designed and horribly implemented. Without further ado:


That's all for now folks, hope to get Spellborn open beta soon or a few other games, right now none have caught my eye. I'll keep you posted as usual. Also as a note; I will not be reviewing Rappelz, or even downloading it, as it has no stat system and is a clone of L2 in almost all aspects.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Upcoming Betas

Few open betas coming soon I'd like to make everyone aware about:
-(shorts posts because I'm busy this week)


-You'll see a rather scathing review of it in my review list but that was the first 50 levels only (closed beta limit), so I'm hoping to at least try up to level 100 before I make a final decision. Regardless; to each their own, it may just be the game you're looking for. Currently in closed beta.

- Currently in closed beta also. Has a good stat system with a unique skill development and overall character development system. I've yet to experience the PVP or Guild vs Guild modes. Might be something to look out for in terms of game content.

Priston Tale 2

- Should be open beta soon(previous pres release said November 06). Warning: it pushes Unreal 2.5 engine graphics to their limits, might want to check system requirements before you get too excited. The first one was very well designed, just had a few problems with the grind and loss of experience from death(you could lose whole levels). And this one has been in the making for quite some time, so I expect great things.

Thats all for today.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Taking Guest Submissions and A Question

Hi everyone,

*edit* Not a single submission yet, or even a comment on which game to review! /sob
I have a heavy workload for this week, so hopefully friday afternoon I get another review up *end edit*

I've decided to take guest submissions of an MMO review, you may email them to (yes I know it sounds like a stupid email, made it just for this purpose years ago)

I'll read them all, and post a few of the best ones. Try to do it on a game I've havent yet reviewed, but that has some interest, or a preview if you want. You can also do it on a game I have reviewed if you feel I didnt do it justice. I'll give you until November 7th to get them in!

Aside from that, I've tested both Infinity, 9 Dragons, Monato Esprit and Goonzu recently. I dont think they all need a review, but I'd like to know which one you want, or if I should do them all in one post.


"Vote" in the comment below!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Design Dilemma: What is the MMO industry doing?

Hi everyone,

Today's post is about the current MMO industry, their successes, and their failures.
Going to start this off with a little rant about game mechanics and content design, or lack thereof.

The recent games have been well, pitiful. They entirely focus around leveling, without giving a real purpose for it. In many of the first MMO's, gaining a level meant getting these lovely things called "stat points" to distribute into your stats in any way you choose. Giving you the freedom to design your character a build, and gives you a purpose of getting the next level. Now fast forward to current MMO's. The only purpose of leveling, since almost all of these games have no significant stat system, is to be able to equip the next set of gear. What a privilege, except for the fact that everyone else is aiming for the same thing, and in the end you're all just clones.

Which takes me to my next point: character development. I don't understand both the current new gen MMO players, or the new MMO developers. They seem to enjoy creating/playing games with no actual purpose other than a massive time sink. What happened to having pride in the fact that you were smarter with your build, your skills, or combination of the two. Now the common theme seems to be finding the best gear possible through hours and hours of farming, to prove you're "superior". To me, the difference between superior and inferior in an MMO is that what your character does, no one else can do, or will be able to do. Not, what your character does everyone else's will do in 2 months. Time should not differentiate good from bad. It should to an extent, but not as a sole factor.

Another point to rant about, is originality. I understand making monster sprites is not "easy", but if you're going to go through 3-4 years of developing a game, at least try. Having 15 monsters use the same sprite, and just naming them "Angry Bear", "Black Bear", "Young Bear"... shows a lack of attention to detail. In order to fully submerse a player into your world, you need to address small issues like that.

However, with that thought, comes the opposite rant. I do not want a company to spend 3 years designing every inch of each piece of armor sprite wise, just so I can look pretty in it. Its not like my gear will change everyday, and after 5 minutes of staring it, my eyes will phase out what it even looks like. So if you have extra time for your graphic artists, sure, make they all pretty, but it should not deter ANY time from the game content design, as it serves no real purpose to the gamer.

My last rant point is about content and PVP systems. If you're going to develop a game, at least give things for the players to do, other than quests to kill X monsters, or go walking for 10 minutes. Create new tasks, such as how crafting was introduced during 2nd generation MMOs. Or mini games, or politics, or exploring. Give them something, but make sure it still relates to the game and has a purpose for the core of the game. People don't play mini games just for the sake of playing mini games - give them a purpose. More devs need to use that little thing called creativity, something I thought game designers would be ripe with, but apparently not of late. A good option for this is generally organized PVP of some sort, or even better yet Party vs Party, or Guild vs Guild. I don't mean the open PVP style either, that's fine and dandy, but its very difficult to make it enjoyable for all periods, for long lengths of time - most of the time its just annoying. More people need to study Guilds Wars system for Guild vs Guild: there is lots of variation, competition, and tons of strategical skill required. Make it about more than just who has the highest level characters.

note: I am very critical on the stat and character development systems, as these are the core of any game and directly effect every other feature of the game.

Taking a little of this advice, I think most MMO's can be highly successful. However, fail on even one of these major categories, and you might have a flop on your hands. The market is very picky, if you don't make it perfect, why would they pay for it?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Short List of Free/Beta Games


*edit* I'm aware some of the pictures dont work, it seems to vary user to user, try refreshing, it solves the problem sometimes *end edit*

I have a bunch of midterms this week and next, so instead of making a long winded review of some game, I'd rather just post things for you guys to play. For those that are bored, here we go

-open beta started October 2/06
-much like Lineage 2

Monato Esprit
-open beta started October 16/06
-feels a little like an anime version of WoW
-no stat point system, so thumbs down from me

-open beta was supposed to start October 13/06, has been delays
-very unique skill system, uses key combos to cast them (kinda like street fighter moves)

-indepth review already posted, check history
-its free and in open beta I believe

-free to play
-review already posted, check history

-free to play and in beta I believe
-no stat system, so thumbs down
-interesting pet system though, you can become your pet

Knight Online
-pvp focused MMO

-2D shoot em up game, much like soldat, but has an MMO aspect
-open beta and free to play

That should be enough for now, i'll post screenshots later today, this computer is quite slow.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Taking Requests


I've got a few more games to review, but I'd like to take a few requests on game previews, or reviews. If you have a game you think I should preview/review, just post it in a comment, and say why you think I should review it!


Monday, October 09, 2006

The Chronicles of Spellborn: A Preview


Today's preview is about a unique upcoming MMORPG called The Chronicles of Spellborn(TCoS).
Their website is:

The game is set in a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy world, where the Ancestoral world was destroyed and the knowledge/artifacts of the past were locked away within it. The Oracle is said to know all that happened, yet will share with no one. And so on. There is a VERY detailed story, ways to interact with the story(through scroll on their webpage), and alot of story discussion in the forums. Definately the perfect game for any RP'ers.

Aside from the story aspects(not very important to me), one of the most exciting features of the game is the unique combat system. They blur the line between MMORPG and MMOFPS, as all skills and attacks require aim, via a cross hair. Now initially this may seem to be annoying, but through the combination of their skill system (explained next), it becomes a very active game, requiring both skill and tactic: something few of the current games accomplish.

The skill system is one of the first I've seen to actually make using skills more than just a point-click system. It consists of a "skilldeck", where you select which skills you place in each Tier. Then as you're in combat, the skills rotate on a cylinder, as you choose which skills to use, and through this, you can make starting combos, finishing combos, and all sorts inbetween. This is where it can get interesting, as at each position on the skill selector (the cylinder), you can only choose from those skills listed. So preparing a versatile skill deck is very important. Think kinda like Guild Wars, where you can only bring X amount of skills into battle. Combining this with an FPS aiming style, the game adds a whole new level of "skill" required, and decreases the advantage of playing for 20 hours a day.

Aside from the combat changes, the game also follows the road less travelled in other areas, such as character development. When you create a new character, you can choose anything from wearing armor only on certain parts of your body, tatoo's, about a billion faces and so on. There was extensive work put into this part of the game so that there are essentially no two people alike. You'll notice I said armor, which is an important aspect of their system, your armor has LITTLE to do with your actual character, but more based on appearances. The game strives away from grind as much as possible, while still keeping enough to attract hardcore gamers. Take armor/weapons for example, they do not drop from monsters themselves, instead broken pieces do, which you can turn into a weapon via NPC. I would prefer a system of rares from mob drops, but I can see the advantages of their current system.

Also, there is little hunting for rares involved, with the exception of a few runes you can place into slotted weapons to gain a benefit. So as you can see, the game is much like a hybrid of FPS/RPG, taking some excellent features from both. Also, from what I've been told their is little "leveling" grind, as the game is riddled with very complex and interesting quests, some include going back into time (instanced) to modify history.

The game offers a few more interesting features, such as the Deadspell (the world between Shards) And the ability to join one of the High Houses, which can conquerer new shards located in the Deadspell.

My outlook on the game is uncertain, as I'm not sure just how much grind is in the game. I believe that every game requires a little grind, if not its hard to keep people playing for long periods of time. But I do find their skill system very impressive, and I can see alot of crazy tactics being developed for PvP or PvE, which will be quite exciting. The only thing holding me back from a complete rave preview is the delays its experienced, was supposed to be out some time ago, and open beta has been delayed a few times. But I have faith that they are working hard, and there is VERY good community support. Including an IRC room at #spellborn. I encourage everyone to give it a glance, its certainly not for everyone, but if you're looking for a variation in the genre, stay tuned for Open Beta (supposed to be soon!).



Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Delays...and Pirate King Online

Hey all,

Very sorry for the recent lack of posts, I've been swamped with midterm projects, those should come to a close this weekend and I can resume posting as normal.

First off, as I stated before, I'm currently playing Pirate King Online (, its in open beta phase and will not be wiping after open beta. It is also a F2P game (Free to play), which means it comes with a cash store. But this is one of the few games out there where the cash store does not create imbalances, just saves a little time, and it allows us to play for free, so its a good trade off.

Basically, the thing that got me playing this game is the stat system, its very similiar to Ragnarok Online(RO) with the exception of the luk stat. They function in almost the same way, and they affect your characters abilities deeply, and no one build appears to dominate. Thats my little checklist on stat systems, and its passes thus far.

There is a newbie class, which goes to 4 first classes, and then onto second classes (much much like RO, some classes can become 2 different second classes and so on..). The game very easy to start initially, and you can quest until (Ingame ship, being attacked by defender)
your eyes bleed if you wanted too. The combat is again much like RO, point and click, same as movement. Skill use is the same also, however you must buy skill books (like WoW) to initliaze them, then you may level them up to 10 with your skill points (one per level).

Aside from the character development system, the forging and compounding system is quite deep also, including sockets (like RO again) and using gems, which you can find, buy, create by compounding other items, and so on. Also, there is a basic "life skills" system, including mining, fishing, wood chopping, sailing (Character ingame, wearing "costume") (Yar, Pirates!).

The unique and intriguing parts of the game include buying and equipping your ship (used to navigate the seas, and other tasks, such as war). And the guild vs guild system is quite interesting, from what I've read and heard (have yet to participate in one), its much like a DOTA from Warcraft 3, yet it includes the sea also. The goal is to destory the opposing guilds base, through land and/or sea attacks (landing your guildies on the oppositions island is a good idea in general). However, there is buildings such as towers that will try to stop you. These can be both damaged and repaired (using materials you find off of local monsters, along with temporary buffs they drop). There is also a gold wager involved, so it should be interesting.

Thats all I have to report on for now, until I get higher level, currently not even second class (evil school), but I'll try and keep you updated!

No rating yet, not a final review. All I can say is give it a try.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Sorry I've been quite busy lately, so many assignments due.

Regardless, in the meantime I'm playing Pirate King Online

Its in open beta right now, the stat system appears to be similiar to RO and the guild vs guild system looks quite exciting. Give it a try!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

That Tricky Trickster!

I try to follow up on my promises, so:

Game: Trickster
Status: Open Beta
-2d anime style graphics, similiar to maple story graphics.
And more, I dont want to make this list too long, cause I consider features different than some

Game break down:

Well, first off, it has stat poits, which are modifiable and are the main driving force in the game, so thats a huge plus for me. The skills work similarily, and the game is almost entirely skill driven.

For initial entry into the game, the tutorial walks you through the game nicely, makes sure you know all the important aspects. And there are quite a few quests at the start to do, enough so to almost totally hide the grinding fact. Since some of them include drilling (yes, drilling is like..drilling for random items from the ground), just running, finding NPC's, talking to them, and so on. So for that aspect its not bad.

However, the same point I blessed above, now gets cursed.

The stat system, is completely biased. First off, when you pick your class, you have a type (sense, charm, power, magic), this assigns your "growth variables". Note: (only 4 main stats: sense, charm, power, magic). This growth variable is assigned by your type, so you get "4" for it in sense if you're a sense type. You can then allocate 6 more growth points. What these points do, is every 4 levels, you get that many stat points. So if its 4, you get 1 stat point in that stat per level. This is in addition to the 5 stat points you can distribute every level. These "growth" stacks affect the game as it goes on longer, as you can tell.

This system is quite smart, and brilliant almost, but it forces your sense type to have 4 in its type, limiting character dynamics. Also, to further make their stat system worthless, each type has basically only one skill path you can go down. And these skills are completely dependant on your main stat. Basically, if your sense, you pump your sense stats (there are 4 sub stats for each main stat), and your build is therefore as similiar as everyone elses.

If you try other stats, you get no benefit from them, and all your skills are based off ofthe same "core" stat, therefore, they dont even need a status system. The concept of a dynamic character is mocked. When trying to use other stats than your main ones, it is slightly effective for the first....10 or so levels. But you quickly realize without any skills to use, your life becomes limited to hitting things for..miserable amounts of damage.

The game also contains a card system, where you battle with cards (much like war, highest card wins, but difference in card types mean different rules). The system is..unique. At the start of a server, it seems quite nice, although the exp rewarded from it is pitiful. However, as the gap in levels becomes more apparent. You realize the higher the card power, the better chance of winning you have (cards drop from monsters, their power is equal to the monsters power), and thus you get destroyed by anyone of a higher level.

Also, at the time of release there was no PVP system. Something I found quite depressing.

Overall Rating:
-no features to be desired, no stat system, no pvp


Monday, September 11, 2006

Wondering Why: World Of Warcraft

Hey folks,

This will be a lengthy review, which I wont have time to complete in one sitting, so bear with me.

For WoW, I dont think I need to list the features, if you dont know:

A little history on me and WoW, I played both Closed Beta, Open Beta, and bought the game the first day it came out. Prior to buying it, the highest level I achieved was 23.

At the beginning of the game I was very impressed, the quest system was quite massive, as I normally played Korean MMO's and thus questing in general was new to me. The graphics seemed not be choppy, and were well detailed(which is not a big factor, but if they arent done well, I find them hard on the eyes), and there seemed to be many possibilitlies.

We'll start with the positive aspects:

The questing system is quite good, and bad at the same time. In the beginning it hides the fact that your grinding, and this continues for quite some time. However, as the game progresses I found the general goal of the quests didnt change, and they became harder, spawn wise. Such as trying to kill the Princess at the beginning of a server, its well..impossible, unless she happens to spawn on your body. But I will give them credit for the questing, because not only did it hide the grinding, but it also spread it other games, which can improve upon it, and in general has benefited the MMO genre.

The crafting system, is for me the pinnacle of WoW brilliance. Not only was it brand new(a few other games had crafting, but none to this extent), but it gave optional things to do than grind, including hunting for materials, selling your goods/services, and training your skills. It is very well thought out, takes a decent amount of time to master a craft, and most of the crafitng skills have their uses at some point or another in the game. Also, by having the chance to pick multiple skills, you could benefit from one skill by using another and so on. Again, this aspect has spread to almost every MMO now, and has been improved by some for the general betterment of the MMO genre.

The Player vs Environment; this is another prime aspect of WoW, which thus far has one ofthe best PvEs of any MMO. The environment is intelligent, with camps attacking you, changing, immense, and the balance between instanced and non-instanced is near perfect. This is the feature that initially convinced me to buy WoW after the open beta.

Lastly, the market/mail systems were another stroke of brilliance which has been, or will be, copied by most other games. The ability to auction goods IN the game, as opposed to on the forums of other games, greatly increases the "experience" of playing the game, and keeps the economy quite healthy. You dont have to run around town to town asking to buy something, when you can just check the market. Only thing I could see them improving upon, would be the ability to become like a wandering merchant selling wares off the market. And the mail system that allows transfer of items to and from users without them being online as something desperately needed and again maintained a "real world" economy.

Now..its time for the bad parts:

Before the battlegrounds, the open PVP world, and raids were the method of PVP. It saddens me, because something this integral to a game was given little to no attention. The open PVP is quite stupid frankly. Not only are some quests required in areas that there are bound to be enemies there, but unless you have 20 hours a day to play, someone is bound to be higher than you. Getting jumped by level 60's when your a level 30 is QUITE common, and in normal games, this would already mean instant death. But WoW goes one step further, not only can be you jumped by people higher level, and in places you need to be, but if you tried to fight back, they would resist all your attacks. Because it seems the higher up in level they are relative to you, the MORE resistances they gain and thus you essentially can do nothing but die. If they then choose to camp your corpse, you are required to spend the money to repair your armor afterwards. Overall, the open PVP is a pathetic, and horrible attempt at PVP with little to no balance, and favours the "no-lifers" entirely. Had their resistances been lowered, or at least remained the same, one could have a chance of defending by calling a few pals. But as the system stands, its impossible. The battlegrounds are an improvement on PVP, but too little too late, and many current players agree they should just be removed.

Although PVP is integral, it is not nearly as important as the characters themselves. The characters in WoW have NO dynamics. There is no way to modify your stat points, unless using equipment which mostly everyone of type X class has. And most of the "desired" equipment simply requires more time or money to buy, relying little on skill. The skill system itself requires nothing but again, money, as it can be bought, then "reset", and bought again; provided you have the funds (nothing ebay cant solve). This makes the characters in WoW, skill less, any 4 year old with the ability to control a mouse could create a character far superior to yours just simply by playing longer. Had Blizzard put in that extra step, and allowed the player to allocate stat points, they would have been closer to a brilliant game. (Although that would require balancing, which blizzard is horrible at)

Finally, we go to cost. This is GENERALLY not an issue in any MMO, but Blizzard has been pushing the boundaries. Not only was their game quite expensive, but they charge a premium monthly fee, and from what I hear, the expansion will be around $70-80 CAD also (same price as the full game). I understand the business side of making profits, but this is milking their users for as much as they can before they realize the shallowness of the game.

I'd also like to make special note of the "shittyness" of the WoW community general.

Overall Rating:
- their additions to the MMO genre saved them from an abysmal score.



Sunday, September 10, 2006

MMO Industry Rant: Feature Dark and Light!

Well this is essentially a rant about the MMO industry, and how developers are slowly killing a genre.

First Thing, in accordance to some comments I received. I'll just be listing off the features of a game, one by one, and saving paragraphs for an actual review.

Best example of the industry to date is Dark and Light, so here's the info.

Country of Origin: Madagascar
- "Largest MMO", massive world
- You can fly on dragons around the world, where you control the dragon.
- Lots of modes of transportation, including snowboarding, gliding, riding tamed monsters, dragons, air balloons, swimming, and so on.
- Guilds design, and build their own fortress, with the ability to seize other fortresses
- Political system having a heirarchy, and voting, set taxes and such over the land.
And more information can be found at the site.

Now, from reading that list, and the FAQ on the site, one would consider this the best game in existence. covering all aspects of a character, from fighters, explorers, economists, and politicians. However, this is where the rant comes in. This was all promised to be in the game in roughly 2000-2001, when the game was conceived. It was promised to be released Spring 2003, and quickly it had a following of roughly 500,000 users on the forums. But as that deadline neared, and very little had been heard about any sort of beta, the community was a little anxious. A news announcement stated it would be delayed, which it was. And then again, and again, and again. Until FINALLY being released February 2006, this of course was after 6 months of beta testing, where during the first 1-2 weeks, the server crashed non stop.

Finally upon release, there was utter disappointment, roughly 10% of the features promised were implemented, there was still errors, and most of the community soon after abandoned the game. I'm not sure how many play now, but albeit very few. Had I not been following it since 2001, I normally wouldn't even bother posting it, but..There is a pattern to be seem.

I'd say roughly 50% of the current MMO's in production, have postponed releases and removed features (see Spellborn preview, coming soon, for more evidence). Either the developers and game designers aren't aware of what can be done programmatically; or they are rushing games to try and get them out as quick as possible. Both of which are severely hurting the MMO industry. We are not only getting less game now, but its not even going through the proper channels of production to ensure it is sustaining, competitive, balanced, and profitable.

This pattern has outright killed many games, see Wish for an example, Star Wars Galaxy for another, Shadowbane, Horizons...list goes on and on. Companies are promising ANYTHING to get a little piece of the "hype" market share, knowing outright that they cant deliver on their promise. So they put the community through delay after delay after delay, while slowly removing features. The industry seems to believe they can make money on hype, maybe they do in preorders. But lets do some quick math:

1x Pre-Order = $60.00
- comes with 1 month free.
1x Box Set = $70.00
1x Month Subscription = $15.00

So instead of making a decent game, albeit taking a wee bit more time to make it, and getting the box price, of $70.00, plus the countless months said person is going to play for at $15.00, most are choosing to abuse their hype and collect the $60.00 one time fee from a user who is probably going to quit in the first 2 weeks from such a low quality game. And it doesn't help that most of the pre-orders are refundable. Does this make sense to anyone? Its a damn good way to go broke is what it is.

I'm hoping, after countless "big hype" games fall victim to this, the industry will smarten up and start giving real deadlines, with real features, so we can all stop getting our hopes smashed.

Stay tuned next time for my second rant, focusing on MMO design.

Friday, September 08, 2006

CABAL Online: A Post Look

Hey everyone,

Got some time between classes, so here we go.

As always, incase you havent noticed a pattern, I try to start every review with some info on the game for thos who arent yet aware. CABAL Online (English site) can be located at, and has just recently debuted in North America. It is already released in Europe and has been in Korea for quite some time.

The basic premise is your standard MMO, with a gaining levels, and "owning" up PVP being your goals. Unlike many common MMO's however, Cabal has a max level of 300+ (may be 400 now), and thus it takes a LONG time to beat the games PvE content (Player vs Environment).

An immediate plus you'll notice is the questing system, uncommon in many Korean games, Cabal offers quests at every level, and if you arent super lucky and speed through them(IE, find the super rare you need in the first kill), they generally fill up your entire level. These quests are a little deeper than standard MMOs though, because they follow a VERY WELL planned storyline, give the obvious gold and exp, but also give honor. Honor is gained from quests and killing people in the "war" server(open PVP, with no names on players), and honor is lost when crafting something difficult and failing, or killing random people in a non-war server.

The main focus on the quests of course is to progress through the story and get honor, as you can only start crafting at honor level 1 (about level 50 after doing the quests). The crafting system is quite nice, as EVERY weapon/equipment that drops (there is no shortage of these), can be turned back into the material used to create new weapons. Each of these crafting techniques have multiple levels of excellence, and give multiple bonuses. Such as creating a new helm that gives +3 exp per hit, or 1% life steal, and so on. So I'd have to give it an A+ in crafting, as its truly an addicting and rewarding part of the game.

Not only does every player craft, but there is also NPC alchemists, which add "force cores" to items with slots in them. These force cores give some random effects (some not so random also), and can greatly increase the use of a weapon/armor. Another exciting aspect of the game.

However, its time to get down to the not-so-nice aspects. First and foremost, the game has adjustable stat points(something VERY important to me in an MMO), so as to differentiate your character from the others. Yet, in what seems to be a contradiction, the game also has required stat points to "advance" a rank. (Every 10 ranks for the first 50 levels give you a special bonus, I'll talk about those later) These required stat points are so strict, that essentially everyone of the same class type has the same stats, making the stat point feature quite useless IMO. I did notice that it started to ease up a little at lvl 50+, (50 was the max level of the beta I participated in), but the first 50 levels easily ruined it for me.

A unique feature of this game is the fighting styles. Every class type has hte ability to combo (you recieve it at level 11), and provided you have enough skills, you can combo forever, unless all of your skills are currently delayed. The useful part about combos is that when using skills in combo mode, they have no after cast delay, and thus you can kill things very quickly. Each time you combo, its uses some of your combo points, and thus if you reach 0, you must gain more back. This can be done by hitting enemies normally or with skills. I mentioned before about every 10 levels granting you a new ability, well everytime you fill up your combo bar (up to 5 full bars at one time), you can activate these abilities, and they turn you into a killing machine. The archer for example gets to wield 2 guns and shoot 2 targets at once (quite neat). These modes keep the grinding fnu as you can always switch into "aura" mode and deal out some quick damage when in need.

This is an excellent feature for PvE, and one would consider it brilliant strategy for PVP. But..then comes the potting(using healing items). Not only do healing items heal instantly, they heal for a retarded amount of HP, and thus in PVP, as long as both parties are potting, the battle could go on for hours...until someone runs out of pots. Its not strictly pot's fault, the level of defence towards attacks is quite severe. Critical Hitting a monster may have done around 800 damage for my force archer, but deals a measly 76 on a human in PVP. And with pots healing for 400+ you hardly have to mash them to stay alive. So I'd giving CABAL's PVP rating a 2/10, as its absolutley pointless.

Last but not least comes skill points. These are attained ONLY through using the skills, which take MP, and they can be gained from hitting anything. One of my biggest complaints was the skill training, which is basically jamming your skill key in the keyboard down and hitting a training dummy all night(training dummies take 1 damage and days to kill). Thus when you wake up in the morning you have lots of new skill points to use. And there is no level requirement for using these skills. So you could have a level 30 character with "Grand Master" skills, something I assume was reserved for at least level 100+. To make matters worse, even WITH these grand master skills you still cant kill anyone in PVP.

Overall I'd give CABAL a rating of 5/10, from the brilliant PvE and new combat techniques, paired with a wonderful crafting system. It suffers dramatically from forced stat points, horrid PVP, and skill point abuse.



Thursday, September 07, 2006

More To Come!

Dont have time to post a full review today, so expect a few more on the weekend. I plan on doing WoW, a preview for Spellborn, and a review for Trickster.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ragnarok Online: An Indepth Study

I know lots of people are eager for a WoW, but not yet, maybe tomorrow during my break from classes.

So today I'm doing Ragnarok Online(RO), one of the first MMORPG's(Ultima Online and Lineage were the first mass marketed). If you haven't heard of it, you've been living under a rock. It was, and I believe still is (don't quote me on that), the largest MMO in the WORLD. WoW holds the title for North America, but not for world. The last graph I've seen RO was 17 million subscribers. And to get back on track, the website is of course And it is available in many languages/countries.

To answer a question most people have, yes there is private RO servers run off code stolen from Gravity (Company that makes RO), but they are not nearly the same in terms of size or content of the real severs. I have played both, and I highly advise everyone plays the "real" server before passing judgment on the game.

Diving headfirst into the review now:
First and foremost, RO is a game about a balance between time and skill. Lke any massive MMO, it requires time to get anywhere, but I feel this is where RO beats 99% of other MMO's. If you have the "skills" in building characters, you can shave off time required to level to almost 10% of other players. Because it is heavily status point orientated, and less so equipment orientated, your characters "build" makes a VERY large difference in all aspects of the game.

Also, by forcing characters to make their own builds, one can make many max (level 99 advanced) characters and still enjoy the game. As playing a mage with int and dex is far different from a vit/str swordman; which inturn is different from a agi/str swordman. Its the careful balance of the 6 status points (str, agi, vit, int, dex, luk) that truly define what your character is. There is "cookie cutter" builds, which are generally used, but every so often someone comes up with a build that redefines a class and because its uncommon is usually quite successful in PVP/WoE (War of Emperium, the guild wars feature). If you've played the game before, builds like agi/dex hunter(way back in beta 2), agi/str knight, natural crit sin, and so on are types of these builds.

The game also contains skill points, used to get skills, and although every class type generally uses the same skills, its those last 5-10 points and how you use them that differentiates between ordinary and extraordinary.

In terms of content, I'd rate the game 8/10, as it has a wonderful PVP/WoE, large selection of monsters and bosses, ever expanding world, and a very good storyline (for those who bother to read it). It lacks however in the new constant questing craze, which means there is quite some grind.

In the gameplay area, it easily gets a 10/10, as its implementation of the status point and skill point system is far superior to any other game. The controls are easy to use, basic strategies easy to understand, and it leaves lots of room for customization. I cant think of anyway to penalize it in this area, sheer brilliance many other MMO's should emulate.

The community aspect gets a 7/10, due mainly to the existence of various "bots" that play your character for you. It is much better today, but was extremely bad in the early days of RO, which hindered its growth significantly. The guild and party system however is easy to understand, and promotes the community aspect of the game, as you get better experience in a shared exp mode party, and you cant participate in WoE without a guild.

Graphically, I would personally give it a 8/10, although many people disagree with me. Its a 2d character in a 3d world, which some people don't appreciate. It has an anime feel to it, and the graphics are done very well, including animations, but the growing 3D only world would punish it for its 2d characters (the game is almost 6 years old, give it a break:P)

Overall Rating:
-with its only minus being amount of grind


*gone to class now, sorry if its a bit short, enjoy!*