Monthly Archives: June 2009

Have you ever marveled at the imaginations of game designers? Have you ever wondered how they could possibly create so many interesting missions and storylines from nothing? Sometimes they have a little help.

Sitting down with the creators of post-apocalyptic MMO Fallen Earth, we discovered that many of the names and places have connections–some more loose and fictional than others–to people and places in the real world. Lead game designer Lee Hammock and his team divulge some the origins of the names featured in Fallen Earth. This week we’ll explore NPC, boss and creature names.

Boss/Creature Names

  • Arbiter Reinhold Coleman: The leader of the villainous Judges in the Central Plains. He’s a Judge and his first name is Reinhold. Inspired by actor Judge Reinhold.
  • “Dr. Corman,” the evil Tech boss that players have to fight in Watchtower, owes his name to horror director Roger Corman.
  • “Dr. Eddings” is a mad scientist who leads the Shiva’s Favored inside New Flagstaff University. His name is an homage to the late fantasy author, David Eddings.
  • “Shifty Devlin” is a Traveler thug whose last name is an homage to “Independence Day”/”Stargate” writer Dean Devlin.
  • “Dennis Conroy” is a Union leader in New Flagstaff whose last name was inspired by Pat Conroy, author of “The Lords of Discipline” and “The Great Santini.”

NPC Names

  • The informational NPC “Rudy Arcton” in the Enforcer town of Black Hill is patterned after a particularly wordy individual known to one of the developers, an individual whose vocabulary and verbosity is too great for his own good.
  • The NPC “Roja Camisa” offers missions in a camp in the vicinity of Pass Chris. The name translates roughly to “Red Shirt.” We love our Star Trek.
  • The NPC “Captain Reynolds,” found in Watchtower, was inspired by Malcolm Reynolds from the series “Firefly.”
  • Many of the librarians at the Repository share similar names and roles to real people who worked at a library with one of the game designers.
  • “Addams” and “Cruikshank.”.

  • The name of a major character in the GlobalTech storyline, “Pat Haskins,” is a combination of the real name of a person who hosted text-based games for one of the developers and the last name of one of the characters he played on OtherSpace.
  • “Thelma Jo Wheeler,” a kindly denizen of Trailer Park (although with a different last name), is named after a woman who hired a hit man to kill an armadillo under her mobile home. One of the devs learned of this story through his previous work at the St. Petersburg Times.
  • The famous scorpion hunter in Depot 66, “Brock Dundy,” is inspired by Rick “Crocodile” Dundee.
  • Depot 66 cook “Jeb Darwin” owes his last name to evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin.
  • The Zanesville citizen Silas Quimby’s last name is inspired by Mayor Quimby of the popular TV show, “The Simpsons.”
  • “Wilton Migstock,” an Oilville inhabitant, owes his name and dialogue to inspiration from the character of Milton Waddams from the movie, “Office Space.”
  • “Earnest Dalehardt,” a roaming mechanic in the town of Trailer Park, serves as our homage to NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt.
  • “Gwyneth Mirren,” a character in the Traveler town of Banker’s Hole, serves as a simultaneous tribute to actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Helen Mirren.

The town of Zanesville,
where players can find citizen “Silas Quimby.”


The town of Black Hill,
where NPC “Rudy Arcton” resides.

The town of Flagstaff,
where players can find
“Addams” and “Cruikshank.”

Console gaming has been a big part of my life as far back as I can remember. My heroes of the 1980s were characters such as Mario, Samus, and Link. But as I got older, I realized that I was into fantasy and role-playing games as well. Skip ahead a few years and eventually this led to my friends asking me to try World of Warcraft with them, and I quickly found myself lost in a fantasy world that I had never imagined could exist. I fancied myself a master of gaming, but I quickly found myself overwhelmed with so much to learn about just one game. My goal in my articles here at MMORPG.com is to help my fellow console gamers and even new players understand a little more about World of Warcraft so that their early hours are a little more focused and less tedious. In this article, I will explain the best ways to make the transition from console gamer to World of Warcraft/MMORPG gamer.

Player Interaction

It’s easy to get sucked into a great console game and forget that anyone is in the same room as you, but what if things changed and you were suddenly surrounded by other players? We console gamers normally don’t have to interact with others unless we’re playing a multiplayer game with a friend or online. Interacting with these online gamers or our friends normally doesn’t change the game’s aspect, so we tend to skip the chat and simply shoot, swing, or run to our own tune.

However, MMORPGs are designed to be interactive social network that rewards players for working together. Anyone who is considering making the jump to MMORPG gaming has to keep in mind that socializing is a must in the end due to the large group quests (Instances), even larger group activities where everyone plays a specific role (Raids), and elite enemies (boss enemies more or less). While some characters may get lucky enough to take on the latter alone, instances and raids are normally certain death for any character that is alone.

Social interaction also makes getting certain items so much easier than in your average RPG. I’m sure we can all remember when we had to run everywhere to find a certain item in RPGs such as Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire. That tired, old issue is no more with player trading and a very impressive marketing system known as the Auction House (AH). The latter is probably the best way to look at items you want and items you will probably be wanting in the future. It’s also a great way to become a wealthy vender.

Gameplay

Many console gamers may be put off by the noticeably slower pace of gameplay that MMORPGs have. While they are arguably slower than even average console RPGs, console gamers who thrive on titleslike Halo 3 and Unreal Tournament will certainly notice that there is no rapid fire and constant pandemonium. However, I urge the player to continue simply for the challenge and complexity. Battles in World of Warcraft are hardly the point and shoot type that we console gamers are used to, and it demands that we try harder than we have in the past. “What spell should I start out with? Should I use my stun spell near the beginning or in the middle of the fight? Should I focus on protecting myself or killing the enemy as quickly as possible?” These are just some of the strategies that will go through your head as you plan your actions.


The strategy and challenge hardly stops at fighting a single enemy. World of Warcraft and many other MMORPGs challenge the player to sharpen their skills and enter raids and battlegrounds .

A raid is when a group of several players team together in order to take on a certain quest that requires a raid or even a certain activity. Only so many players can fit into a group, so a raid is several groups tied together as one. Aside from quests that require raids, this type of grouping is useful to take on several high level elite characters in a single area.

On the other hand, battlegrounds are a completely different animal. Different battlegrounds can feature different goals such as the Arathi Basin playing as a King of the Mountain – which will be my focus on explanation. The style of combat in this game variant is player versus player – or PvP. PvP pits an Alliance character (the heroes of the Warcraft story) against the Horde characters (the villains). Battlegrounds will become a land littered with bodies as each team fights and struggles to keep their territories. Holding a territory earns points, and the first team to reach two thousand points is the winner. Honor points are rewarded for each battle, and players can save up enough honor points to buy special items and gear.

Character building is an important part of the strategy of this game, and you’re given many different ways to approach this aspect: Players can learn two professions (such as mining, blacksmithing, leatherworking, and plenty more), they can buy or collect weapons and armor to increase their statistics, and they can learn new or improved spells every other level. But the most innovative part of WoW’s character building is the talent trees. Originally used in Diablo II, this system is responsible for making every character a little more unique than before. There are three different trees to choose from for each class, and talent points can be spent to advance down the tree to improve spells, unlock new spells, and grant special abilities. The player earns a talent point for every level after he’s reached level ten. These points can be stripped from the tree and spent again, but there is a cost to do so – and the cost increases with every “respec.”

Quests

The final and possibly most important aspect of the game I want to mention is the questing. Gaining levels in World of Warcraft and several MMORPGs differs greatly from console RPGs. You can choose to fight enemies to gain your levels, but you’re also given the opportunity to perform quests for experience as well. Quests are given out by NPCs (non-player characters), and the requirements for completion are logged into your character’s questbook for reference.

Quests can range from something as simple as talking to another NPC to killing a certain number of specific mobs (monsters, enemies) to running all over the area to collect specific items. This might seem a little overwhelming at first, but questing is arguably the fastest and most rewarding way to gain levels in the game. Besides, you already know what to do if you’re having trouble completing the quest on your own. We just talked about grouping!

Having briefly touched upon it earlier, I’d like to explain the importance of instances. You already know that it’s a quest area for a large group of players, but it’s also important to know that this type of dungeon is generated only for your group. No one can brush by your group and interrupt or rescue the group if something is going wrong. Also, keep in mind that the majority of instances have only elite mobs that have very high armor ratings and hit points.

Instances are important to run simply because of the loot (items) that the mobs drop when killed. This is where most players obtain their highly uncommon or rare weapons and equipment, and having these items will help the levels pour in even faster. Possibly the hardest thing about instances is finding the right group to perform them with, but I’ll leave that topic for a future article.

World of Warcraft is nothing like console gaming; I can humbly admit this. But it’s definitely another fun, great aspect in the gaming world that every gamer should at least try once before writing it off. Hopefully this article gets passed around to a few curious people who swear by the controller and convinces them to turn to the keyboard if only for a little while. Until next time, readers, I’ll see you in Kargath.

The Warlords is a MMORPG based on kung-fu. In order to get started you need to go to the game’s website located at http://wl.91.com/ There, you will need to register and downaload the game client. Try to download from official “Link 1.” This has the highest server connection rate so your download will be quick and efficient. If you aren’t able to download from the site directly and would prefer using Bit Torrent then there is also a BT download link.

There is a comprehensive beginner’s guide on the right side of the page. Though I know from experience that reading a guide isn’t what you want, until after you have actually played the game, so I will explain the basics here. Then, as you get more and more into it, I recommend that you take the time to read some of that guide. After the game is downloaded and updated, click enter on the auto patcher, or you can click high rez which will enhance your game play with higher quality graphics.

When you enter the game, you will be introduced to server selection. The game is still new so you only have one choice, Forbidden City. After you select that then you will see the log in screen. Log in with the registered screen name then choose your character type. The choices have explanations but choose wisely because you are only allowed one character per account. After creating your character, you will start out in a part of the city where there is no one else. Familiarize yourself with the controls.

When you first start the game you will have a beginner’s quest. Now this series of quests is important because you will learn the more advanced functions of the game. You will need to complete these quests as they will give you enough experience to get to level 20. Leveling on monsters alone is not a good way to level as the experience put out is low. Though there are several other ways to gain experience.

The interface is fairly easy to use. In the top left corner, you have your avatar which is your character’s “picture” that you select when creating your character. Beneath your avatar is your Fury Percent (I will explain fury later on as well). To the immediate right of that is your: Health (HP), Magic (MP), Stamina (SP), Vitality (VP), and Experience (EXP).

On the bottom right is a bar with several buttons. In this order: Equipment, Guards, Bag, Skills, Notebook, Quests, Trade, Team, Community, Battalion, and Options. To the left of this is your Kung-Fu level,which will be explained in another guide because it’s a fairly comprehensive system. Basically it’s a summary of your “power” and the higher it is the more damage you do and the more experience you gain in combat. Moving on, to the left of Kung-Fu are the hotkeys. This is where you will place potions, spells, scrolls etc. for easy use. In the top right corner is your Mini Map and Paths.

To keep your kung-fu level at its maximum, you will need to keep your equipment suitable for your level. For instance, if you are level 20, then you will need equipment that is at least level 20. If your equipment isn’t at a suitable level then there will be a flashing golden man toward the middle of the top of your screen. And an exclamation point next to the equipment on your character in the equipment window.

There are different grades of equipment. You have normal, average, fine, superior and flawless. Flawless is rare and you wont come across flawless equipment until far into the game. The different qualities of equipment improve your Kung-Fu rating which as I said before is a vital part of the game. There is an NPC to buy every different type of equipment you need. You will rarely find equipment as you progress through the game. Most of the time you will find silver which is the game’s main currency.

Navigating: the world is quite simple. Below your mini map you will see Paths. If you click that a sub menu will appear and you can select where you want to go and your character will Auto Path to wherever it is that you need to go.

Guards: These are your personal helpers that will fight alongside you all through out the game. You can capture new and different guards with Fury (below). Your guards will level with you, and die with you. You can equip your guards with better weapons as they level up. And use skill books on them to improve their stats. Valor is the most important part of your guards because the amount of your guard’s valor is added to your character’s Kung-Fu level.

Fury::Fury is a build up of energy that is continuous, meaning you don’t have to be fighting for fury to continue building up. When fury is fully charged you will see a flashing spell that will pop up on your screen it will say GET FURIOUS. When you click that you will be granted with a temporary spell that will cause mass area effect damage and your experience gained while in fury mode will be doubled. Plus if you are in a team, the experience from fury goes to you as well as any of your teammates in your surrounding area. Different attackable monsters (bandits) will have a peculiar shiny aura to them. These are bandits that you can capture and turn into your own personal guards.

Summary:

Make sure to complete the beginning quests, as they will teach you everything you know about the game as a beginner. Keep your equipment suitable to your level. Use Fury whenever you can. And do quests whenever they are offered. The game has a unique starter pack that gives you good items every 10 levels up to 110. For a large beginners guide more comprehensive then this one visit WL.91.com and click Beginners Guide.

My Engineer enters the enemy occupied zone. He scans the horizon at the end of his trusty dragon engraved rifle, looking for any signs of the enemy. Every step through this cursed land taxes his very soul. He can feel the crunch of the dried dirt and sand with his every step, the grenades along his belt jiggling almost as if they are yearning to be thrown at an enemy to fulfill their destiny. Finally the lone engineer spots a full warband attacking a keep. This warband is united under the banner of Order. Order, the word is almost meaningless on the battlefield. Still under this banner we will seek to bring law to the lawless, justice to those that are unjust and in this case the goal is to liberate the keep from the forces of destruction.

This is a typical night in WarHammer. The only issue is finding a warband to join. The main ingredient is other players. You need those to fight against and those to fight with. If you are on a low pop server which has no action, transfer or reroll to a better server. Sorry there are no other options, you need a good balanced to almost balanced population to enjoy this game. I have come up with a formula to maximize my playtime. I will share this epiphany with you.

1-Queue up for all scenarios.
This is the first thing I do every time. If RVR is slow going I can hopefully pop in a scenario for some instant PVP. If RVR is active you can always leave the queue. Sometimes you need to partake in a sc to lock a zone. Either way queue up.

2-Look for Open Warbands.
Use the option on your UI to look for an open WB in your zone. If there is an open WB click on the RVR button to join.

3-Guild
Use your guild. Check your guild roster and see if anyone in your Tier is in an open warband. This is depicted by a red banner near their name. Right click on the banner and select join open warband.

4- The Mighty Map
Open the map; check the zones by the racial pairings. This will present a representation of the tiers by zones. You can see if there are any battles in any zones on the map. If there are battles in a different zone fly there and proceed to step 2.

5-Jump tiers
Don’t be afraid to roll an alt. Sometimes your tier might be having a slow night. Roll an alt and join the battle at that level.

This is my daily formula for WarHammer. I always have something to do. Regardless of Zone or Tier I can always expect to join a battle somewhere. Over all WAR is a good game, it’s full of fun and excitement. Sometimes we just have to go and find it. Good luck and enjoy your WAAAGGHHH!!

With two new super hero mmo’s in the works one can;t help but compare the two as eventually they will be competing against one another for market share. So I thought I’d fidn out just what makes these two games different. Im my research I found alot fo differences and similaritites, but in the end I focused in on three diffeesnces that I think really seperate the two games from one another. So why don;t we take a look at those.

Powers: Total Customization vs Versatility

One of the biggest differrences with the two games is how they handle their powers.  Champions Online has chosen to give the player the ability to completely customize powers deciding on what kind of damage or status effects you wish to tack on to them.  DCU has gone with a more versatile route choosing instead of customizing your powers they give you the ability to chnage the nasture of your powers from damage to defense to healing in an effort I think to alleviate role rigidity and make it easier to find groups. Either choice I think is a good one I love the idea of min/maxing and tweaking the heck out of my toon’s powers, but I also really like the idea of being to change roles on the fly for party flexability.

Villains: The Nemesis System vs Player Bad Guys

Another area of divergence were the choices made in how the bad guys will be represented.  Champions Online is offering us the Nemesis System which allows players to create their own personalized NPC villain to plague your PC hero on their journey through the game.  The DCU team has decided to allow players to play as either heroes or villains.  I have to admit I am very interested in trying out the Nemesis system to see just how tought my Nemesis cane get, but alos a part of me would love to give Superman some chaep shots.

PvP: Battlegrounds vs Open World PvP

Finally we get to Player vs Player.  Champions has chosen PvP battlegrounds where as the DCU is using a mixture of battlegrounds and open world PvP.  I understand Cryptics call on the battlegrounds as there are no player villians and battlegrounds just make sense for the more PvE centered game.  I am excited about the open world PvP idea that DCU is working on.  In DCU as a villian you can choose to take on an open world mission and help some crooks rob a bank for a cut of the take, and as a hero you can try and foil the crime.  This actuall sounds like a fun way to introduce PvP to the game.  Although I don’t put it past Cryptic to do some fun stuff with their battlegrounds as well.

Other areas that I saw divergent paths included graphics and  variety of locations, but those semed rather obvious to me.  I like the choices that both games are making and both appeal to me in different ways.  It is obvious to me that these games will be offering different experiences I wonder if they will be diferent enough to get us to play both at the same time.  Needless to say I am lloking forward to playing these games as well as reading feedback from their respective communities.

What are your thoughts on these two games.  Feedback is always appreciated below.

Until Next Time

Ivan

Greetings Colonist! I’ll be your instructor for today and will try to teach you a few things about gathering Vibrant sweat in Entropia Universe.

“Sweating” can be done by anyone and offers a chance to earn Project Entropia Dollars (PED’s) without spending money. It also earns you skills, not only sweat skills, but combat skills like evading a creature’s attacks too. Sweating may look easy but there are a few things to consider. First of all let me explain something about vibrant sweat.

Vibrant sweat is the life energy force of native Calypsian creatures neatly bottled up. It’s an enMatter and forms one of the parts needed to create Mind Essence (The energy force needed to perform Mindforce powers). To create Mind Essence, you refine vibrant sweat together with Force nexus. Vibrant sweat can not be bought from trade terminals or auction and can only be acquired from other players. At the moment of this writing, the price for Vibrant sweat is about 0.5 Project Entropia Cents (PEC’s ) per bottle, so 1000 bottles will earn you approx 5 PED’s.

Speaking of Mindforce, there is a useful power for when you are gathering sweat. It’s called focus and can be used by equipping a focus chip. Using a focus chip, you can accumulate what we call focus charges, either for yourself or someone else. Every person can hold up to 38 focus charges. I’ll get back to these later. If you don’t have a focus chip, someone else around might and offer his services if you ask nicely.

Enough theory, it’s time for some practice. The first thing you’ll need to do is find a creature to extract the sweat from. Almost any creature will do, except of course robots and a few kinds of mutants. Creatures generally won’t like you stealing their life energy force and will probably sooner or later attack you for it, choosing lower level creatures like Snablesnots and Exarosaurs might be safer as they do less damage. Select a creature and start sweating by double clicking on it (make sure you have no weapon/tool equipped) or pressing the ‘sweat’ icon from your action library.

Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal that you automatically start dancing and chanting, nobody will think any less of you. It is called the concentration period. This concentration period can be interrupted when you move, equip items or get wounded by a successful hit from a creature after which you’ll have to start concentrating from the beginning again. There is one exception to this rule. Remember how I spoke of focus charges? When you have at least one focus charge, your concentration won’t be broken by being hit. Instead, the focus charge will be used up and you can sweat normally. Once all your focus charges are gone, you will loose concentration again when hit. When you are finished concentrating on the creature a green glow will surround your hands. Double-click on the creature again and your hands will shoot out the green light toward the creature and you’ll start gathering sweat. While you are doing this you won’t disrupt the process by moving around or getting hit, go ahead and try it out. Only equipping items will make you fail.

How did it go? Either you ended up with a loot window showing up with any number of bottles between 2 and 22 depending on your skill, or you received a message saying you failed. In either case you can try again from the beginning. If you receive a message saying you can’t acquire any more sweat from this creature, you should move on to the next.

When you are in a group sweating together, the ideal situation is surrounding the mob so it will bounce between hitting each of you. When you notice it is dry, you should shout out so someone can kill it or you can move on. Another tactic is taking a buddy and sweating the same mob. When the mob attacks one of you he/she should run in a circle around his/her buddy who can keep sweating, switch when the mob attacks the other one and neither of you should get hit too often.

A thing to keep in mind is that dying is free as long as you’re not wearing armor (it will decay by being hit), so sweating can make you money but it can be tedious hard work. A way to spice things up a little is to buy an Opallo and some ammo from your sweating earnings and kill mobs that don’t give sweat anymore yourself for the loot. Keep in mind that the returns on these mobs may not be very high.

That should be all there is to it…no…wait a minute, once you’re done with the creature you should put it out of it’s misery if you haven’t done so already or it’ll keep bugging you. If you don’t have weapons of any sort or don’t want to waste ammo, run toward a turret and it will dispose of the thing for you. Alternatively, you can run into water and hope the creature will drown. Unfortunately you can not loot creatures that die like that. When you have acquired enough sweat, you should head back to town to sell. Advertise on the trading channel, ask your society, ask your mentor and go to other towns to advertise there too. Selling is hard because of the supply and relative low demand, but it can be done.

There are a few locations most suitable for sweating, you’ll find fellow sweat hunters there to exchange tactics or simply have a friendly chat with.

First there is Swamp Camp, near Port Atlantis on Eudoria. You’ll find it by going north from PA until you reach the stables than turn west and you will reach a group of containers with a turret.

Second is a place called Anok Selims, you’ll come very close to it if you’re doing a teleporter run. From Atlas Haven go east and a little south to find the small campsite with a few terminals.

Third is Nea’s Place on Amethera where a lot of group sweating is done on young Ambulimax with hunters and medics present but it’s a little harder to reach. It’s found a bit west from Palms corner which lies on the western shores of the small lake far to the south-west from Treasure island. There may be other places better suited for sweating, if you do come across such a place please share it with the rest of us. Good luck out there!

My WarHammer subscription expired on June 22. When it expired I attempted to go back to old reliable WOW. As I entered Azeroth ready to lay down some unholy whoop arse on npc’s and mobs I realized one thing. I am bored. Legions lay dead at my feet, yet I was bored. I felt like Alexander the great, as he looked at the battlefield and wept. He wept for there were no more lands to conquer, no more battles to be fought. I miss the excitement that WAR provides. On paper WAR is essentially the same process over and over again. Capture Battlefield objectives (BO’s) and capture Keeps, then defend those holdings. The formula is simple, rinse, repeat, done.

The secret ingredient to the formula is people. People that fight with you and against you. Your adversary is not some mindless automaton; it’s a living breathing human being. They provide a challenge, excitement and essentially fun. My server has been pretty active in the evenings; I usually end up fighting along the same people night after night. This interaction builds a sense of camaraderie that helps define a game.

WOW is still a great game, the numbers speak for themselves. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from PVE and try something a little different, more exciting. Changing games is a good way to avoid burnout. It is a game after all, and intended for fun. WOW is currently testing patch 3.2 which will bring many changes to the game. Many class balances, nerfs and quality of life fixes (Patch notes ). I will go back to the game when the patch goes live. Until then I will be participating in some WAAAGGGHHHHHH!!!

Square Enix of America is being sued for allegedly deceiving 100,000 customers for “unfair business practices, false advertising and unjust enrichment” regarding online title Final Fantasy XI.

The plaintiff, San Francisco resident Esther Leong, claims that Square Enix “lied about or concealed its monthly fees, penalties for late payments, interest, restrictions and other things that should have been fully disclosed at points of purchase” — basically, Square Enix has been “deceptive”.

The court filing reads:

The deceptive advertising, unfair and undisclosed business practices, and concealment concern, among others:

i. Licensing of the online games software disguised as a sale;
ii. Monthly fees (“fees”) to play the online games;
iii. Penalties for late payment of the fees;
iv. Interest charges for late payment of the fees;
v. Charges while the online game account is suspended;
vi. Termination of the right to use the online games for late payment of the fees;
vii. User restrictions and conditions related to the online games;
viii. Termination of game data for payment of the fees.

The class action lawsuit is seeking in excess of US$5 million in damages. (Reported by 1UP.com)

Minori, developer of adult PC titles like Bittersweet Fools and Angel Type, is digging in to protect itself from an onslaught of viewers outside Japan. Those trying to access the Minori site outside Japan will be greeted with the following message:

This website cannot be browsed excluding Japan.
Some foreigners seem to be having an antipathy against EROGE.

Therefore, We prohibited the access from foreign countries, to defend our culture.

Sorry for you of the fan that lives in a foreign country.

Accessing the site from Japan poses no problems.

These recent defensive measures from erotic game makers come in the wake of the Rapelay controversy and subsequent rape game banning. Other measures include changing the titles of upcoming releases. (Reported by Kotaku.com)

Video offers pointers for hopeful fighters and beginner players

International publisher True Games has recently come out with a new combat tutorial for Warrior Epic, their unique free-to-play MMORPG that has received positive reviews from MMO enthusiasts across the Internet.  It’s currently hosted on the game’s online Beginner’s Guide, but we’ve also got it right here.

It’s definitely helpful to MMO newbies, though veterans of the genre might find the system pretty self-explanatory.  The most interesting part comes toward the very end, where we hear a quick line about upcoming PvP content.

Nobuaki Komoto- the director of FFXIV and his last work Chains of Promathia expansion (and a little bit of FFIX too- the first Final Fantasy he worked on!).

1. Nobuaki Komoto and FFXI

Before starting to direct the 14th installment to the Final Fantasy franchise, Nobuaki worked on as an event planner and scenario writer for FFIX and parts of FFXI- mainly the missions and quests for the Bastok city storyline. Later he was chosen to be the director of the second expansion to the FFXI, Chains or Promathia. One can clearly see his influence in how the expansion turned out, however unfortunately the lack of experience he had in directing games as well.

The emphasis in Chains of Promathia (from now on CoP) is clearly put to story and missions. Huge part of the development time was put to mission and story content- actually one could say that the whole expansion is centered around it. This is no surprise, seeing what his earlier role was in the making of games he was a part of.

Nobuaki Komoto at E3 2009

One interesting thing to note in CoP is that almost every area in it has been developed for the storyline purposes, and has quite few interactive elements included: In one mission for example the player has to climb up a mountain in a way that resembles more the gameplay of Crash Bandicoot rather than an MMO. Later the player has to also slide down an icy slope.

The whole expansion, at times, feels like a single player RPG with multiplayer elements rather than an “MMO”. I think that this is what mr. Komoto was aiming for when making the expansion, too.

However, unfortunately that was also the downfall of the expansion- it focused too much on a sector which wasn’t really a part of the core of the game. While missions and quests were a something that made FFXI unique to other MMORPG’s,  one does not need to complete them to progress their character. When the main way of progressing character was fighting monsters for experience and doing events for good rewards, the missions weren’t as important to most of the players. Pair this with the insane difficulty for some missions, and you have lots of players not bothering with the missions at all, the main part of the whole expansion!

Chains of Promathia, the second expansion for Final Fantasy XI.

Later on, after the dev team had finished implementing the missions they could focus on actual content that has something to do with the “core” gameplay of the game, which saved the expansion from being a total failure for many. That is what I think Komoto forgot when directing the expansion, and focused too much on what he knows best: event planning and scenario writing.

So, why did SE decide to make the director of FFXIV the same guy who made the not-so-popular CoP expansion? It can’t be because it was successful, because it wasn’t.. so what could they possibly have in mind?

2. FFXIV – A story driven MMO!?

I can only assume that the higherups in SE HQ liked what they saw in CoP, but realized that the core of the game was too far from one that could allow this kind of expansion to be made- missions and quests weren’t really a part of the everyday things players did in FFXI, like leveling.

So, what if the whole game was designed in a way that it would allow missions to be linked to the character progression and maybe things like endgame and crafting? It’d interesting to see how it would work out at least..!

What did the dev team say in the Q&A session at E3? ”We wanted to make the best FF game first, and decided on making it an MMO after that.”

Many theories can be made from that comment, but when looking at CoP- that almost felt like a co-op single player FF at times- one could come to a conclusion that they’re trying to implement the missions into the game in a way like never seen before in an MMO.

IGN also interviewed mr. Komoto at E3, and one comment he said might actually reveal more about the direction of the game than we originally thought:

“In FFXIV we hope to expand the system from FFXI and have your character develop- through the story

Sounds exactly like what he would say!

Well, there are still things we don’t have answers for- like how does one implement grind to that kind of MMO, or if there will be that at all. No matter what though, there has to be some time consuming process included or we’d clear the content way too fast- be it grind or something else. Only time can tell.

Also, while this has nothing to do with the story, didn’t FFIX put some kind of emphasis to weapons developing your character? That was the first Final Fantasy Komoto worked on, so.. we might be seeing similar system return? Who knows…~

That’s all about Nobuaki Komoto- next time I’ll talk more specifically about the endgame (and low and midgame) of FFXI and what we could expect from FFXIV endgame- camping monsters for hours with 100 other players in a small zone, or diverse instanced events that do not include camping at all?!

Kuala Lumpur, 8 June 2009 – The much anticipated Hello Kitty Online is coming to Malaysia and Singapore! Based on wildly popular Sanrio characters like Hello Kitty, Badtz-Maru, Keroppi and many others, Hello Kitty Online combines the massive popularity of online role-playing games with social networking, all set in Sanrio Land, the virtual world of Hello Kitty and friends. This free to play game will launch in Malaysia and Singapore in July 2009 on game portal gloot.net.

Hello Kitty Online is a unique massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that provides a fun and visually appealing online environment combining social networking and the massive popularity of online role-playing games. Players can interact with other online players in the friendly virtual world of Hello Kitty. Oriented Games, the official exclusive game publisher of Hello Kitty Online for Singapore and Malaysia will offer the game via its gaming portal gloot.net.

Hello Kitty Online lets players put their creativity to good use in the customisation of their chosen characters, which includes many different options for the character’s hair, facial features, clothes, shoes, accessories, and more. This wide range of customisation options allows each character to be different, reflecting the unique identity and personality of each player.

Players of Hello Kitty Online will roam the super cute virtual world of Sanrio Land and experience many adventures in several uniquely designed zones and cities. During their stay in Sanrio Land, players will choose from many different activities: they can adventure through dangerous lands, develop their skills, cultivate their own private farms, learn to craft a huge variety of items, build and decorate a house, play mini-games, earn loyalty points, set up a blog, and much more. In addition, Sanrio characters in the game will require the assistance of players for solving various problems, fighting monsters, and undertaking quests for various rewards. Players get to interact with Hello Kitty and over a hundred other Sanrio characters.

Three in-game currencies support a player economy and allow players to buy furniture for their home, purchase new clothes, supplies and equipment, and increase abilities such as cooking and tailoring through the use of specific items. Money is the in-game currency and is earned by questing, crafting and then selling goods, and other in-game means. Loyalty Points are earned by using Hello Kitty Online’s communication features, such as blogs and email. Cash Points are purchased using real money via online payment gateways or prepaid cards. Loyalty Points and Cash Points may be used in the Item Mall to deliver special items to players in-game. The game has garnered more than 300 reviews on gaming media and popular blogs worldwide during the beta releases by Sanrio Digital. This free-to-play game is a casual, social and networking game for all ages and both sexes. It is predicted to be among the top games in the gaming world. Gloot.net expects the game will result in a brand new gaming and social networking experience for gamers in Singapore and Malaysia.

Hello Kitty Online is one the few MMORPG titles to position itself not only as a online game, but also as a media platform for advertisers and marketers. Hello Kitty Online provides in-game advertising that offers brands constant online presence and reach. Numerous international brand names have already started to plan innovative branding campaigns to leverage the audience of Hello Kitty Online.

As part of the game launch, Oriented Games will be releasing Hello Kitty Online gaming products such as a limited edition Hello Kitty Online game set, Hello Kitty Online starter pack, a series of game time cards for collection, and many other consumer products. Fans of Hello Kitty and online games are invited to visit Gloot.net (www.gloot.net) to sign up for the Closed Beta trial version of the game.

About Hello Kitty Online Hello Kitty Online, developed by Sanrio Digital (www.sanriodigital.com) is the official massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) of Hello Kitty and friends, and the first MMORPG to integrate social networking web services into the game experience. In addition to standard features such as customizable avatars, guilds, skill systems, and player economy, Hello Kitty Online offers a social networking platform including blogs, video sharing, email, and other social communication features providing a brand new experience and an engaging social aspect centered on the magical and cute online world of Hello Kitty.

About Gloot.net

Headquartered in Singapore, Gloot.net is a fast growing online games portal that focuses on publishing premium branded PC online games in Southeast Asia, especially the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) genre. Gloot.net is the official exclusive publisher of Hello Kitty Online for Singapore and Malaysia. Hello Kitty Online is a much coveted MMORPG title that has received overwhelming response worldwide.

Gloot.net is operated by Oriented Games, a subsidiary of publicly traded Oriented Media Group (MESDAQ: Omedia, 0018). Oriented Media Group is a leading digital entertainment firm in Southeast Asia with extensive resources and operational experience in interactive media, social networking platform and Internet ad-serving technologies. Armed these various value propositions, Oriented Games is poised to become a new force to be reckon in the online PC gaming industry of Asia. For more information, please visit consumer PC online games portal www.gloot.net or corporate website www.omedia.asia

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In the 25th-century timeline of the upcoming MMOG Star Trek Online, every player is a starship captain, either Federation or Klingon. The game, now in its fifth year of development, begins in 2409 (no, that’s not the release date).

Players cannot choose to form a group on one starship, with each fulfilling a different role; you have to be the captain. To MMORPG gamers who enjoy group play this may be a weakness. In PvP starship encounters, your customized ship and trained crew will be pitted against those of other captains. As you level up you get bigger, more powerful ships. As captain, you can customize the physical appearance of your bridge officers, but their stats are predetermined; as you level, you can choose how to spend their points, however. Planetside face-to-face confrontations can feature away teams of grouped players who fight NPCs. Open PvP encounters will be confined to contested, remote sectors of space between captains, with consensual PvP and competitive PvE in the Neutral Zone. Ship and crew customization seem to be the major selling point as of now, especially a feature that allows players to create their own unique character races, sets of traits that will then be available for other players to use. Players can also choose between Human, Vulcan, Andorian, Klingon and a few other character races. Game visuals will include Starfleet Academy, Vulcan, Bajor, Qo’noS and, of course, deep space.

Author: Gail Shivel

VIEW full article here

Although it’s not recent news, the third term of the Council of Stellar Management, or CSM, is now well under way. The Council CSM is a group of EVE Online players that are elected, by the players, to talk directly with CCP and discuss any issues they have with the game, as well as having input on possible solutions.

Formed as part of the response to the T20 incident (where a CCP staff member was found to be providing items and other help to one of the big alliances) in an effort to create a greater degree of transparency between CCP and the players, as well as providing another, more direct, channel of communication (as opposed to the sea of wailing and gnashing of teeth that is the official forums).

There was always going to be problems; the CSM delegates have had differing opinions on how to deal with certain parts of the game, as well as clashes of personality, and these have frequently spilled out onto the forums. Some would also say that it’s just a glorified PR stunt, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The players of an MMORPG electing a body that gets to discuss issues with the developers face to face is yet another unique facet of EVE that CCP can wave in the faces of other games; one that got a fair amount of press, including an article in The New York Times.

All of the arguments and drama aside, we have seen some significant improvements to EVE based on their input. They’ve highlighted a fair number of issues, from Black Ops battleships to 0.0 space, but the one that clearly stands out is the skill queue. The glorious, glorious skill queue. Now, we all know that it would have happened eventually. A skill queue is something that players have been begging for even before I started playing EVE, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were even petitioning for it back in the beta stages. CCP, however, have always leaned against AFK gaming in EVE, so it’s not surprising that giving players the ability to change skills without having to log in wasn’t their top priority, and it’s thanks to the CSM that not only do we have the skill queue, but that we got it as soon as we did.

The CSM is a good thing for EVE; it’s a spotlight; a way of getting CCP to consider new ideas or revisit current features, ships, modules, etc, through face to face discussion. Hopefully the latest batch of CSM delegates can bring us something as wonderful as the skill queue, but with their first official meeting with CCP not scheduled until late August, we’ll have to wait and see.

Moving swiftly on, I’d like to talk about tech three cruisers. I mean, I really, really, want to talk about tech three cruisers, but I can’t. Why? I’m a poor capsuleer and the damn things are still ridiculously expensive; chances are you’re in the same boat as me, and have yet to even see one on Tranquility, let alone fly one. Even without fittings you are still looking at anywhere from two to four billion isk if you want one off the market. It’s been three months seen since they were released, with the Apocrypha expansion, and to say that they are still uncommon is an understatement. Luckily, it looks like the price may be dropping in the near future.

The heart of the problem isn’t the lack of raw materials, but the data cores, and the blueprints they produce, that are used to reverse engineer them into T3 components. There’s been a flood of sleeper salvage coming out of the wormholes, but the scarcity of these key items is creating a bottleneck that makes the production of the T3 ship parts more difficult and is responsible for the insane prices lasting for as long as they have.

Anyway, the solution laid out in a recent dev blog is that, amongst other things, data cores are going to drop more often, and survive the journey out of the wormhole so the industrialists can do sexy things with them, sleeper salvage, and some fullerites. Speaking of fullerites, the volume of fullerite gas is also being decreased, so ships can carry bigger quantities, hooray. I’m not even going to pretend that I know anything about the industrial side of EVE, or the process of reverse engineering, but it basically means that T3 ship components are, hopefully, going to become easier to manufacture, more of the fancy “strategic” cruisers will make it onto the market, and prices will drop, in theory.

The other good news is that these changes should have already gone live by the time you are reading this, or, I suspect, will do before the end of June. I’d like to think that this is the beginning of the end of mad prices for T3 ships, but, and I seem to be thinking this a lot about EVE at the moment, we’ll have to wait and see.

WonderKing is a new 2D, side-scrolling MMORPG from developer Ryu & Soft and Ndoors Interactive, creators of Luminary: Rise of the GoonZu and Atlantica Online.

Ryu & Soft started in a small city called “Daegu” in South Korea and was officially founded in December of 1999. It is located on a university campus where youth and creativity are always around. Approaching our ten year anniversary, we have been PC online game developers for quite some time and continue to strive to be the best 2D game developer.

Before we developed WonderKing, we had a lot of casual games and decided to try taking on an MMORPG, which can be said to be the essence of online games. MMORPGs also proved to be the most popular type of games among players. Once we decided to develop a 2D MMORPG, there was no turning back. The drive and passion to be the best 2D developer is what fueled our ambition to start WonderKing.

WonderKing is our newest title here at Ryu & Soft and we’re quite happy with our partnership with Ndoors Interactive, who will be introducing the game to the North American market. Prior to WonderKing, we developed several other games, including the more widely known, Push Bear and The War of Roses. We mostly develop casual games based on 2D technology. Push Bear is one such PC game that is basically a dodge ball game where players can battle with up to 3 vs. 3. Our other popular game, War of the Roses, is an online blind dating game that utilizes mini games and quizzes to express psychological aspects of different genders. While these are lighter games, WonderKing ventures into the world of MMORPGs.

We wanted to make WonderKing into a game that everyone will find interesting – from the graphics, right down to the title. The title actually stemmed from a game called Wonderboy. We took “wonder” and added it to our title to give it the same charm as Wonderboy. WonderKing is based on the conflict between the good and bad – or in this case, between the human world and the Demon King, Baalon. Baalon started causing trouble when his sinister powers were strongest, causing the human world to fall into great chaos. The world was in dire need of a hero who could restore order in the troubled world. Players will take on this hero role as they attempt to defeat the Demon King and ultimately earn the title of “WonderKing.”

The story of WonderKing stems from the hatred of the Demon King, Baalon, who believes that his evil creatures are superior to the humans. This elitist attitude is what caused him to want to control humans. To start this takeover, he made a “Gate Stone” to control the doors to different worlds so that he could enter the human realm. His mass genocide caused the Esior Continent to fall into chaos. All of a sudden, Hades, a world to the dead, was overflowing with occupants and Baalon was able to round up zombies to populate his army, “Zero Force.” Immediately, the human world was thrown into a war against Baalon and the Zero Force. The humans put up a good fight, but were no match to Baalon and his evil troops, eventually falling under his control. The chaos and destruction continued as more monsters continued to appear and the pain the humans endured increased. When all hope seemed to be lost, Jexius, a famous prophet, came and revealed a hopeful message:

“The Holy King will rise in an unoccupied island to cleanse the dirty blood and erase the dark shadow.”

This prophecy gave the people hope that a Holy King will come to rid the world of Baalon and his evil minions. The hero will be the Wonderking, saving the world from evil and darkness and restoring peace.

Let me say first that a ton of effort has gone into preparing this system for release. The RPG standard for pets is that they join their masters in a fight and can wield various melee attacks or spells while leveling up and becoming more powerful. This is common, and ultimately boring. We wanted to shake things up a bit and eliminate another source of tedious grinding, which I think we’ve managed to do.

With this in mind, we began designing the pets. Right off the bat we saw that providing interaction between pets and their masters without resorting to combat was going to be immensely difficult. Fighting seemed to be the only way to get them to talk! To resolve this problem we introduced the pets more into the storyline and made them part of random events. We went with the most basic of pet duties, Fetch. These events were loaded with items and treasure that pets would be able to pick up and add to their masters Exp and Talent points. All of the sudden, taking pets for a walk didn’t seem like such a chore!

As nice as bunches of treasure and Exp is, it wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy our players, so it was back to the drawing board to expand the pet’s role in the game even further. We saw that we needed to make a distinction between pets as combat sidekicks and pets as helpful assistants. We wanted them to be there for players to help them, but not just as another source of damage. We settled on (nursing) helping players recover HP, (gofors) to submit quests, and possibly even to earn money. These looked good on paper, but they still lacked the necessary pizzazz to make them really unique. It was at this time, when were at a creative dead end and staring at blank computer screens, that the project director burst in and broke us out of our coffee deprived stupor. “Combine!” he kept shouting, “Put them together to make something even better!” At first we were at a loss, but as he explained it we could see he was on to something. Combine the pet’s skills with the skills of their masters to make a sort of super skill. “Imagine the power that could be generated!” he said. We couldn’t agree more, and suddenly Starbucks didn’t seem so important. Brilliant, dazzling effects, upgraded appearances – the ideas came spilling out faster than we could jot them down. It seemed to be the real, unique breakthrough that we had been waiting for.

The last problem we had to overcome was how to raise these new kinds of pets, but it seemed the ghost of combat sidekicks wasn’t going down without a fight. How could your pet obtain exp without actually doing something? We finally kicked exp to the curb and settled on a compound system that lets players combine weaker pets to make stronger ones. Although a little morbid, we feel that the pet’s won’t have much to say about it. We even have plans to incorporate a pet rebirth system so that their development can continue to match their masters.

I’ve also included a few screenshots of the new pets for you guys to gawk at! Check them out!

If you take away one thing from this first look at Aion, I hope it’s this: Do not do what I did, and switch between Free Realms and Aion in the same playing session. Your brain will explode. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Aion is big in the Far East. Really big. A localized, Westernized version is coming to North America this year. The development team behind the game is so confident they’ve got a hit on their hands that they allowed people to post screenshots from the beta event two weeks ago, and the NDA officially lifted on June 16th.

So what’s it like?

There is an unholy degree of character customization. For my female warrior, I had 44 hairstyles, 20 faces, and six bodies. There were 23 “premade” face/hair combinations. There were tattoo options. And there were 25 face sliders to customize everything from eyebrows to nose tilt. And there will apparently be voice options as well, although they were not functional while I was testing. There are also body sliders. Some people pushed those sliders aaaaaaaaall the way to the right, predictably.

When you’ve finished creating your character, and you choose the avatar to be played from the character group on the beach, your little simulacrum is extremely excited to be chosen.

It is fantastically gorgeous, with thousands of little details to gorge on. The landscapes are sweeping and epic. The animations look like they were done with motion capture, and within a few feet of the opening spawn point, you’re sure to find people testing their new emotes.

There’s much more variance in terms of the differences between male animations and female animations. Even at level one, combat animations are flashy and dramatic.

On top of all this, the spawn rate during the beta event was jacked to eleven, with millions of two legged rat things and thousands of armadillo things waiting to die. I logged in for the first time within an hour of the floodgates opening. Should have been a slideshow, right?

My machine is a dual core Dell (1.86 Ghz), ,,P, with two GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s two years old, and loaded up with every MMO in existence, half a dozen RPGs, and a crapload of my secret vice, puzzle adventures. While I was playing Aion, I had my email and IM running, as well as an image editing program open to crop screenshots on the fly. I did not attempt to play Aion on the road, so I only experienced the game on a Fios connection.

If it hadn’t been for all the people, I might have thought I was playing a single player game. I never had the slightest delay at any point, doing anything, over the course of several days. I cannot name a single MMO in my experience where that was true at launch, let alone beta!

The sound was phenomenal. It was gorgeous, lush, and did a lot to create mood. It never sounded repetitive at all.

While I did not get to experience either flight or fighting other people in my three day journey of discovery, I found plenty of evidence that neither is an afterthought. Anyone following this title for any length of time already knew that, but if you’re just now catching on to Aion: Koreans do not do PvP as an afterthought. The Asian market expects it to be an integral part of the game. The game is therefore not balanced by testing the PvE, and then tested for PvP at the last minute.

When you first log in, you’re invulnerable. After you finish a fight, you remain in combat mode for several of the longest seconds of your life. These are the most basic anti-exploit mechanisms possible, and you would be stunned at how many PvP betas I’ve encountered without them. Or maybe you wouldn’t be. Anyway, it’s not just that:

The interface has elements you can mouseover to see if someone’s in range, even flying people. The layout and location demonstrate that aerial combat is something the game was built around, as opposed to added into the game to sell a few extra copies.

Questing was both a disappointment and a wonder. Here is where I warn future Aion players to not even look at Free Realms. I was finishing up my FR review when the Aion event started, so I played both titles in the same hour. I swear that FR made me stupid. I kept looking for the green dots to lead me to each objective, I couldn’t find simple objects because they weren’t sparkling like a rapper’s front teeth, and I felt vaguely let down that killing a rat wasn’t a cause for fanfare, celebration, and text messages assuring me of my greatness. Instead, NPCs were openly insulting me, accusing me of sleeping on the job, of having no honor, of not caring about anyone but myself.

I got over it, mind you, but the disorientation persisted for a few minutes. The insult routine is a little odd, from a Western point of view, but it’s stemming from a cultural ideal where newcomers must prove themselves. Respect is earned, not granted. Just relax and level up; the peasants will respect you by level five.

It’s definitely not a Western MMO, even with all the cultural localization they’ve been doing. (That localization is not complete, or was not as of mid-June. Some of it is just funny – “We will not let you wretches to take the goal!” – and some of it’s annoying, such as when the Korean word for a particular object could be either of several English words, and the NPC uses both in a single line of dialogue.) It’s hard to put a finger on what makes it foreign, beyond the obvious stuff like the heckling. And the obvious stuff like the talking ferret. What is it with Asian games and talking furballs?

Anyway. Quests. The interface is marvelous. They don’t load up your quest journal with tons of data you may not need, but all the nouns can be clicked to feed you more information:

There’s a great waypoint system as well, where your destination of choice appears as a purple X, and as an arrow on the minimap.

The first few levels of quests, sadly, were mediocre at best. The standard “save the farm, kill the rats” material. When you’re done, you are solemnly thanked for solving a problem that clearly still exists. I should have taken a screenshot of the farmer thanking me for solving his armadillo infestation as one respawned directly under his pitchfork.

There’s no attempt at even hinting at the backstory (big apocalyptic event, sundered the world, erased your memory – got that from Google!), except that a few NPCs mention that you’ve lost your memory. The early quests don’t do anything to set up the situation, or to even create a vague sense of curiosity over what’s happened to you and your world. If you have played as many MMOs as I have, you are going to spend the first hour or two with a sense of “oh, god, not this again,” and you will be strongly tempted to go back to the world where you already did these levels.

Do not make this mistake.

I finally completed this one quest, you see, as an ordinary earthbound warrior. The talking tree snapped me to a cutscene. It was a “recovered” memory, and it was wonderfully done. The environment, the music, the dialogue, it all worked together to create a sense of mood and expectation. Before I could over think it too much, my character suddenly ran to the edge of a cliff and jumped. The sense of falling was rendered so well that my physical stomach lurched a little.

And then my angel wings snapped open, and I could fly. And kill.

I haven’t wanted to play an MMO until dawn in years, but I almost did that night. That quest marked a real turning point in the game. Many of the quests I got after that were better written, and the ones that weren’t, well, I didn’t mind so much. There was a new feeling to the game, like there was something I was working toward.