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.