Isolate Alienate

April 15, 2010 at 12:06 am | Posted in free to play, mmorpg, Runes of Magic | 5 Comments
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alienateI went back to Runes of Magic recently, just to check in. My plan is to go back with the next expansion and spend some time with my trusty mount Cringer.

I left for various reasons. To play end game in RoM you need to spend, around 20 bucks a month at least, or spend all your time on farming gold to buy stuff instead of with cash. I ended up spending on average $15 a month and all my time on farming to make up that extra $5 to $10 to keep up with my end game guild. I didn’t really appreciate the attitudes of one or two people, and the whole guild had this tendency to over-react, cause drama, and generally annoy the crap out of me. I liked most of the people, but, it just became this cool club in vent and the game itself was boring me as well, so I said goodbye to all of that after 10 months.

When I left Runes, I didn’t exactly hold a ceremony. I logged out one night and didn’t really let anyone know that I wouldn’t be returning. I didn’t expect to be kept on the guild after a long absence, nor did I expect fanfare when I returned.

I was not expecting what I did return to either.

Going back months before I left, our guild (Deep) merged with a guild (who we’ll call Obbie) who had lost it’s leadership to Aeon. Some months later we merged again with another guild (who we’ll call athens) when *our* leadership left for Aeon. We had a lot of trouble with the athens merger, and they left. It was cool though, we were fine. Shortly after this I left for the above reasons. Then, the guild pulled up roots and moved every member back to Obbie.

It didn’t make sense for numerous reasons. They said it was because of infighting, but they ended up with all the same members, except one person. Deep itself probably had the best guild hall on the server, not to mention crap tons of stuff for the guild in the vault and on 2 alt accounts. Looking at it from the outside, it appears as if they moved house just to get away from one person. Instead of talking to a person, reasoning it out with them, and if they were still a problem kicking them, they moved the entire guild. All to avoid an awkward conversation.

I can’t imagine how that made them feel.

Not the first time I’ve noticed that some people have conflict issues.

When I logged into Deep it was just me, some alts, people who hadn’t logged in for months, and that was it. I went to one of the most populated towns out of curiosity, to see if there was anyone online I knew. I saw Awesome Content Conquering Rogue and immediately said “Hey, what’s Up?” No response.

I messaged someone I knew, and maybe they were busy, but the conversation did not last long. I sent them 3 or 4 messages, they responded once.

The one friendly person who ended up talking to me? Also the same person who was not invited to Obbie after the switch.

Is it me, or are online games filled with nothing but the most anti-social people who’ve had their inner child molested? Does that not fly in the face of playing an online game at all? Is it not common to leave a game with little notice, and then pop back in whenever you want? I thought it was.

I know I’m anti-social, but online gamers make me look like an amateur.

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The Doctor Nick

April 13, 2010 at 3:18 am | Posted in free to play, mmorpg | 4 Comments
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dr nickAt one point in Aika, I had gotten a little sick of the absolute silence. Very rarely did I see anyone talking casually, and my own attempts were completely ignored. This happens often enough in online games that I tend to go crazy from solitude, and this being far from the first time I’ve encountered the problem I’ve developed a technique for dealing with it.

Make a complete ass out of myself and talk to every person I come across. Inspired originally by Dr Riviera on The Simpsons, this is my opening tactic for provoking conversation. “Hi Everybody!”

I don’t think you’d be surprised how many people completely ignore this. So I inquired about people’s Prans. I asked about where they got the name for their Pran, why their Pran name was so boring as to be the same name (what is the point?) as their character, what quests they were on, polite questions or juvenile comments, I tried it all.

Aika is a bit of a tough nut to crack. Out of the 8 or so quest groups I joined to knock off some of the bigger grinds, I think 2 actually had someone reply to my questions or greetings. Normally in any game, if you get invited to a party to complete a quest, they’ll say something to you. Not Aika.

What I find works is taking the time to say someones name. If you stop and actually call out “Hi legolas!”, about half the people you speak to will take the time to say hi back. Unfortunately, that’s all they’ll say.

Kooky, goofy, dumb jokes can sometimes provoke a response, usually my next step. I didn’t get that far. Finding no footing to get a conversation going, and discovering nothing but mindless automatons wandering around, I gave up on all attempts to communicate with others.

That is until I actually needed to talk to someone.

I couldn’t find a boss. I’d been told to kill a boss, I had no other quests, I’d searched the entire area but had never seen him. The quest giver gives fairly bad directions to his location. I asked people at the quest hub. For about 20 minutes. Then I gave up.

Five minutes later, while I was watching tv, I heard combat and checked my surroundings. Someone had run into the quest hub trailing 5 Kubari and looked as though they were about to die. I peeled off two, together we killed them all, and then stunningly without provocation I read “Thank You”. Pouncing on the opportunity to speak to someone I immediately asked where to find Guantanimo, or whatever his name was.

I had a short conversation with someone. And people say MMO’s don’t have any challenge in them any more.

Combat Baby

April 11, 2010 at 3:53 am | Posted in free to play, mmorpg | 2 Comments
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metricGetting to level 20 in Aika is a bit of a job. The best way to do it, it looks like, is to grind out this repeatable quest for lizards or goblin like creatures. I would have to kill around 100-140 of these guys. Much preferable to the slightly higher level bud-worm type creatures, which I’d have to kill around 300 of.

I already went back to the repeatable quest and did it twice, and just couldn’t bear it. I logged out immediately afterward.

It’s not so much having to grind all the way to 20, that’s part of it, but the combat system is very irritating. I’ve got access to 7 or 8 skills at this point, and in general you can strategically use them together. For instance, on my Warlock, start with the Mana Shield for protection, hit a target with Hellfire, which stuns for about 3 seconds. Hit them with lightning orb, which slows them for 4 seconds, then throw the DOT on them Enervate, and by the time they make it to your position, depending on how far away they were when you attacked them, they should be mostly dead. Finish them off with Fireball, and you’re done. Aggro more than one mob, throw Polymorph on one and it’ll be a rabbit for the next 22 seconds.

Pretty simple and straight forward. Almost boring actually. No, come to think of it, very boring. That’s not even what I find boring though. Because you can do all that, if you want, but, all you really need to do is Fireball.

Hit Fireball, and it will automatically fire each time it is ready. It is always ready. Start far enough away and Fireball will have your mob nearly as dead as if you had used all the strategy as above. At the rate you regain mana and health, even if you take another couple hits, the difference is minor.

The result is, I click on a mob, hit my 1 button once, and stand there until the mob is dead.

I’m only level 19, and haven’t really got a chance to use some of the upper level skills, so I’m no doubt being slightly unfair. There are another 10 skills I’ve never had access to. They look like AoE’s and multiple target spells, more powerful versions of the skills you start with. Nothing particularly innovative.

Their skill system does have a saving grace. You can also reset your skills for a fee. 10k gold at my level, affordable. Not all games do that. Runes of Magic will charge you real live money for the privilege, if you can’t figure out a way to do it with gold anyway.

My goal of actually getting to 20 may not be completed. At this point I’m just not seeing a reason.

Getting TAikanical

April 10, 2010 at 4:12 am | Posted in free to play, mmorpg | 2 Comments
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aikaYou just don’t know how hard it is to use Aika in a pun! It’s hard! I’m doing the best I can! I did my best! *tears* I did my best!

I’m getting pretty close to dropping Aika. At level 19 I’ve run out of quests again. My own fault, truly. Skipping those dungeons because I got cold feet about joining PUG’s may have saved me a whole lot of aggravation, but getting stuck without enough experience to level twice now has really soured me on the game. That’s not the whole reason but I’ll post about that later.

Getting to some of my technical quibbles, I can’t add friends unless they’re online. This is a problem in many games I find, and jesus does it ever annoy the shit out of me. I’m not talking just MMO’s, but in what universe is this helpful to anyone? You should be able to add people any time. Basic.

I also never really figured out to join and play with my friend on another Nation. Honestly if you’re going to have everyone playing on the same server A La Guild Wars, but seperate them by districts or nations, then you should allow them to group up despite faction differences. There’s an NPC that allows you to travel to allied nations, but my nation has no allies at the moment, and I haven’t had the chance to try it.

I ran out of room in my Blocked list twice. Each time I log in I have to block about 5 or 6 people. When it’s full, you scroll back, unblock the ones at the top of the list, since the newest are at the bottom. When I do this though, I have to unblock about 10 people. Why? Because they still haven’t banned the people at the top of the list! They’re still there spamming! So I’ll unblock someone only to block them 30 seconds later. Great. At least you can block around 50 people.

Kudos to them on one technical aspect though. After logging in, and entering my password or whatnot, at my character selection screen I am again asked to add my 4 digit number code. It’s on a number pad that I have to use my mouse for. Another layer of security in an MMORPG is becoming an absolute must. I wish more games had something like this, and I believe Runes of Magic had a secondary password as well, although I can’t remember how often I had to use it. Guild Wars recently added a security feature where you have to name at least one of your characters at the log in screen. Another good reason to pick simple names and not XXXX133t5auceXXXX.

I like the variety of chat options, general chat that can only be heard nearby, world chat, alliance chat, nation chat, guild chat, party chat. The best chat in a game I ever played let you make your own chat rooms in addition to private messages, public chat, and the pvp faction chat of whatever side you were on. I could be in 10 chat rooms, talking with various groups of friends at the same time.

Oh, and I bought a new dress for Cringer, Tight Khaki Mini-skirt. In the description it says “Tight mini-skirt that will add hotness”.

I figure I’ve got about one or two play sessions left before I give up. Maybe I’ll make it to level 20, maybe I won’t, I’m definitely not going to try to get Cringer to level 20, she’s almost level 9, which would mean I’d have to level to about 45 to get her to her Teen phase. I just wish I had some meaningless quests to keep me busy. Even the worst games usually have that.

Numb3rs

April 9, 2010 at 2:40 am | Posted in free to play, mmorpg | 3 Comments
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numb3rsNo not the sub-par CBS drama about a mathematician who solves crimes, I’m talking about the number of players all those MMO companies claim to have. For some reason they put a lot of work into convincing us they have a certain number of players. I guess they don’t want to look like failures in the eyes of potential customers.

Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of misinformation. To appear as though they’re doing better than they are, or to get a mention on various MMO websites, they pad those numbers to a ridiculous extent. They count the number of registered accounts, regardless of how many are real people there are. They count hits on their homepage, fans on their facebook, tweet followers, numbers of mobs killed, bosses killed, and stuff done. As long as it’s a big number and they can misrepresent it in some way, they write up a press release and get it out there.

Runes of Magic for instance, claims to have 3 million registered users. The problem with this is, there’s no limit to how many times you can register. Gold sellers love free-to-play games because of this feature. Instead of paying for a new box after you get banned, or hacking someones account, just register for a new hotmail address and go. How many are gold sellers alone? There’s also a long standing tradition in RoM of registering dozens of accounts to farm cash shop items. Dozens per person.

I don’t believe for a second there are 3 million active users. The forums in America are dead, the American PvP servers are highly under-populated. I can believe there’s plenty of players, but 4 solidly populated servers in America doesn’t scream giant success to me. A solid money maker for them surely, especially considering Europe, where it seems about twice as popular, but does that translate into 3 million people?

There’s a whole other post to be written about how Bioware says Star Wars: The Old Republic needs 2 million subscribers to succeed and 1 million to break even. How much revenue do those millions of Chinese World of Warcraft players really bring in? Not to mention guess work at the current populations of the most popular western games, but I’ll stick to generalities and wild numbers.

I was reading Heartlessgamer and he pointed over to this article on massively. 197 million registered users. Way to go Dungeon Fighter Online! That’s really good for a game that is only available in South Korea, China, and Japan.

Heartless and commenters on the actual post did the math, so I’m just repeating them here when I say, “Lets take a closer look at that article shall we?” 197 million people have killed 1.6 billion monsters. That’s around 8 monsters per character.

Here’s some math I did on my own. Japan has a population of about 130 million, South Korea is at about 50 million, and only about 400 million Chinese have internet access. Here is how Nexcom would tell it. “THIRD OF ALL ASIANS ARE PLAYING DUNGEON FIGHTER ONLINE!@#

Thing is, when you register for any Nexcom game, you register for DFO as well. So if you’re registering your 50th account to sell gold in Maplestory or Mabinogi, you must be one of those 197 million DFO players.

In truth, Dungeon Fighter Online is a very popular game, it’s televised in Korea, and it wouldn’t be coming to America if it was a failure. Why do they falsely publicize their numbers then? Because they can.

Massively doesn’t exactly question anything they’re sent. I believe Justin Olivetti is Syp from Biobreak, and I hold nothing against him or anyone else at massively for making a living and posting these stories (far from the first and won’t be the last) but I am getting sick of it.

It’s an unfair comparison, but isn’t this why CNN is unpopular? They interview people and don’t question them on their crazy assertions, they report on non-stories, celebrity stories, instead of questioning what they’re presented with and providing informed critique about actual news.

Informed critique, that’s all I’m asking for. Go ahead and post whatever ridiculous number they want you to post, it’s your job to maintain a positive relationship with the people you’re reporting on. Is it at the cost of any kind of integrity?

Furthermore if these kinds of posts aren’t looked at with a level head, their next press release will be just as brazen or more so. They already seem to have the idea they can announce whatever they want and any generic MMO site will repeat it.

This whole post isn’t because I hate Nexom, it’s because I read Massively and would prefer to respect them rather than categorize them as irrelevant.

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