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
Website: www.tricksteronline.com
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:
Website: www.worldofwarcraft.com

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.

Website: www.darkandlight.com
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 www.cabalonline.com, 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 www.ragnarokonline.com 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!*

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Look To The Future

To get this blog rolling, in the coming days I'll be posting reviews for WoW, RO, and Trickster. Expect the first two to be quite long, as I've had ample experience with both. I'll also be posting my list of games to watch for, and games to dump. I might just throw in a rant about the industry and production of games too!

Enjoy your gaming!

A First Review: War Rock

Hey all,

Well I figured while playing Warrock I should write a review for it. So here we go:

First off, for those that don't know: www.warrock.net Its a halfMMO style FPS currently in open beta testing. First impression was "wow".

Its similar to BF2 in that it has the plane, tank, and infantry fighting, along with a capture the flag style infantry mode. However, it also has a CS style mode, which includes laying and disarming the bomb.

In order to give it that MMO feel there is level ups, which currently give you 5000 dinar(money), and that money goes towards renting (3-30 days) new weapons. None of which are any less or more overpowered that the starting weapons (balance is very important to me), just differ in accuracy, recoil, and so on.

So, onto the review part. The game is well designed for an FPS, including recoil, requiring stamina to jump (prevents bunny hopping). Also includes crouching, rolling, and crawling. Therefore I give it a 9/10 for an FPS, with its only fault being a few minor glitches in the walls.

However, I feel it suffers in the MMO aspect. The level ups come from exp, which you get from kills and depending if you team wins or not. Yet all they grant is more money, something you get every round also. I feel level ups could be given more of a purpose, but for now, it suffices as an FPS.

Graphically its fine, looks much like most current FPS' do, with exception of maybe HL2 and FEAR. And it has a large player base, so finding a game is usually quite easy. Lastly on long term play, it has been given constant updates, included new weapons and guns regularly, and if that keeps up I see it being very sustainable, as they plan to add a lot of exciting features.

My Final Rating:
-for not being a real MMO.


Monday, September 04, 2006

A Little History

Hey everyone, and welcome to my blog.

Lets get things started with a little history about myself. I'm 19 year old male, living in Alberta, Canada and have been MMO'ing for well..6-7 years I figure. I'm a computing science student at the University of Alberta and an avid gamer on all fronts, but most specifically the MMO scene.

I started my online-gaming with some text based games, some of which I still play. Mainly www.the-reincarnation.com and Vagabonds Quest. One day when "blitzing" with someone in VQ, he said I should try out this new game, which was in beta testing at the time. It's name? Ragnarok Online.

And lets get this out there right now, I think RO is one of the most brilliant games in existence, with its only fault being that its a little old and graphically weak compare to the more modern MMO's. But regardless, its an absolutely amazing game. I played that until the end of Beta 2, in which the game went Gold, requiring me to pay monthly. As I was only 13 at this time, I wasn't about to pull out a Credit Card, so I went adventuring on the new looking for new games.

I've been to just about every MMO site on the web, and looked at pretty much every MMO that has been coming out, or is out, since that year. So my first "find" was Priston Tale, another beta game. I played it for quite some time, but as this was early on in the games history, dying at level 50+ meant losing more than a level, and I wasnt too cool with that. So again, I moved on. Needless to say, I participated in betas of most of the games currently released, but couldn't quite find my niche. Thus when RO announced it would be releasing Second Classes, and plans for a PVP system, I was all ears. And with the help of some friends online and my brother, I got an account on the gold version.

I have been playing that entirely, with the exception of various beta's here and there, for about 5 years now, and eagerly awaiting RO2. I've also played the likes of WoW, EQ, Lineage 2, Auto Assault, and most other large MMO's(and lots of smaller ones too!)

So now that you know my history, I hope to give you a unbiased reviews of most of the current MMO's and future MMO's, so we can all enjoy a little gaming now and then.