Archives For September 2013

The Legend of the Second

Wishing of Dead Branches and Trolling Your Friends

 RO2

I’ve always been a big fan of Ragnarok Online and when the motions of a sequel was brewing, I was a bit hesitant.  The first one was tends to be a gamer’s first big step into MMOs, it was a game you played with your friends on private servers because for years the only way to play it in English was to play on private servers created by people like you.  It was created by the Koreans in 2002 and simply known to us as ‘iRO’.  The private servers always tried to offer mods and incentives to play their servers, even though the game was free to play, yet running a server was more than a task.  This was the game where you had items that could even possibly summoned bosses even if you just starting. You always gave one of these items to a friend who never played before and told them the item healed them. Only to have a level 90 boss be summoned and kill everyone on the map.

In 2006, most of our wishes were heard.  There was going to be a second one created called Ragnarok Online: The Gate of the World and only joyous praises were heard.  Many had attempted at private or failed versions of a second before this announcement come out.  Until that announcement was given, we were stuck still playing the first one with its 3D environment and 2D characters; it’s little charm and fond memories always bring people back.  The beta was first opened shortly near the end of 2006 and the beta tests ran until 2008 but not all was well. Its first year of testing was huge and overfilled but only dwindled over the years of testing because the game was a huge disappointment. Many players had snuffed their noses at it and the company, Gravity Corp was left to scrap the game in 2010.  It was a sad day but we all still had the first one to play and even I keep coming back to play it.

On July 2010, Gravity Corp announced it would be creatinga new version of the second game and it would be keeping the system and mechanics of the first one.  It was something that their first attempt was missing.  It also announced it would be dropping the Unreal Engine and oh my, it did.  They also announced that they would be having North American servers for those who played here.  In April 2013 for five days there was an open beta for North American players to try it before its official release on May 1st 2013.   I had heard there were quite a few differences from the fond aspects of the first one.  At first, the card system was no longer in the game; the company believed that their rare weapons were over shadowed by the card system.  Being able to place powerful cards that gave huge stats and bonuses into low level weapons but it begged the question of how did you get powerful weapons without this idea of good cards in bad weapons.  Not everything was as simple as that.

I waited a couple months after the game first came out to test the waters of my first beloved MMO.  I wanted to give a wait for whatever major bugs to be fixed hopefully… little did I know.  I recently downloaded the game when they added a server for Aeria Games through Warpportal.  When I started the game, they had recently introduced a new race called the Noel and their own specific classes.  I thought it was a nice touch.

Straight from the get go of installing the game, I hit issues.  The game requires a graphics card update of PhysX.  Even if yours is update, the game may or may not encounter this issue; to solve it, simply uninstall PhysX and reinstall with the latest update, again then restart your computer.  After getting through that, mind you it was a 2 hour download and another hour figuring out why it wasn’t working, you get to start.  The game starts you off with five classes, no more novice and four job options.  You pick one of classes: swordsman, thief, magician, acolyte and archer and then one of the four jobs: chef, artisan, blacksmith and alchemist.  Each have their own benefits and helpful to what class you may choose, requiring to collect rocks, skin animals or pick herbs.  A chef creates food that replenish health and mana, as well as food that buffs stats while an alchemist creates potions instead of food.  Both the blacksmith and artisan make armor while the blacksmith also make weapons for all classes.  After choosing, you get a starting place and most start in the training grounds.  Like most MMOs, you gain both main quests and side quests, continuing along to get gears and levels.  The game has a bit of a tutorial on what to do but nothing is completely clear.

My first issue with this game is lack of explanation as well confusing menus.  At the right side, when you level or achieve something it pops up as an icon and you click it to proceed to where you add points or look at what you gain.  These menus even have side menus that you have to right click a tab and only if you notice the tab will you find it.  The achievements are your titles that provide bonus stats but it is completely up to you to manage and track.  You have to ‘challenge’ the challenges while making sure you have enough points to do so.  Some relate to quests you may gain so you constantly have to make sure you have accepted it, if not and you complete the quest, you may error and no longer be able to complete the challenge.  Some require a certain level to achieve them and it is a pain to constantly have to back track to other areas to complete them.

Which brings me to another problem I have with RO2. Being able to travel between maps and areas.  Most of them have the Flying Kafra like in the first one but these are much different. There are short range ones that may only fly in the same map or to certain points.  At times you may have to fly two to three times to get to one location, pay money each time because you can’t fly directly to point A from point B.  Only in the major cities like Prontera or Alberta can you find the long distance Fly Kafra.  For a lot more gold, they can travel anywhere you need to go.  The only good thing I enjoyed about this was the flying cinematic you got when you traveled by Flying Kafra.   The other mode of transportation you receive is a mount which is a Peco Peco. You can purchase others by using real money that only lasts for a certain amount of days.  At lot of the store items are limited time that have only short amount of days or a month.

Just before I started to play, they introduced a new race called the Noel.  They have a total of three classes, their starting class and two other branches.  One of their second classes is very much like a Soul Linker but not even close.  They use this as a healing DPS class while the other is a melee AOE dps.  I rather enjoyed playing as the AOE dps class for the Noel over a ranged class.  I had found the targeting system to be very buggy as a ranged.  Being ranged, the targeting system by pressing tab was less than desirable and I had constantly finding myself not targeting the next monster to me but something very far off in the distance.  There is very little slide casting as well you are constantly force to face the monster to attack; if you even accidently rotated yourself rather than the camera, you could find yourself face down in the dirt.

Flying Rock?

Flying Rock? I feel like I’ve seen everything now.

While the game is still quite new, I still feel like I am very much in a beta version.  There are still many invisible walls or fences that you run into but that are never there.  Even the models are buggy; constantly being glitched to look like you’re in the ground or even floating.  One dungeon I had run with a friend, he constantly wondered if I was in the dungeon with him or following.  My character was completely invisible to him while to me everything looked normal.  The dungeon themselves are instants rather than the large maps where everyone could go at once.  While this provides equal chance for everyone to gain gear it can mean lack of finding people to help but a lot a more than willing to help out.  Dungeons even have cinematic that show off the bosses or cut scenes between NPCs.

All in all, I have found RO2 to be only a little like the first one, understanding a lot of people’s complaints on it but if I don’t compare it direction to RO1, I find I am more accepting of it.  The graphics are more than well done and the maps are quite reminiscent of the first game.  The creators thought more of the little touches rather than the big things I do believe.  Recently they have brought back the card system though you can only slot the cards on yourself than weapons and armors and I find that is a lot better than what it used to be and quite happy to see it back.  RO2 is still a heavily in process game; not complete but not beta either.  While there is a lot wrong with it, there is a lot of small improvements made.  I’d say give it a chance but if you’re looking for something completely like the first one but with improved graphics, I’d say turn the car around and try another place this isn’t your stop.

Okay so there was only a week’s break but still. Welcome back to Free Games Friday, where you get free games and the developer gets the recognition for their hard work, so everybody wins! As usual I got two games for your enjoyment, and both of them are ones that you can play right in your browser (for once).

Pause Ahead

The first game is from the creator of the fairly well known Tower of Heaven, and it is entitled Pause Ahead. In this game you play as a mysterious young girl who wakes up with no memory or idea of where she is, and you have to go through a series of trials (yes it sounds kind of like Portal). To say anymore would be spoiling it, though do be aware that the game is very hard, and some patience will be needed. You can play the game here.

TLT

The next game on our list is a refined version of a game created for a 48 hour game making tournament, known as The Last Tango. In this quick and fun game, you play as a newlywed couple on their honeymoon. However, there’s a twist. Said newlywed couple are actually international spies, and have a whole boatload of other people who want them dead. It’s your job to make sure they stay alive. With simple controls and a fun concept, this game is sure to keep you amused for a little while. The game is available to play online here.

That’s all for this week folks, tune in next time for more fun and free games!

From left to right: Skye, Agent Simmons, Agent Fitz, Agent Coulson, Agent May, Agent Ward

 

I don’t believe that there has been this much hype for a new TV show in quite some time. Ever since there was talk of the show coming to network television, people have wondered if it would be a success without Agent Coulson. Now people know that he made it through the Battle of New York, but at what extent? He spent an unknown amount of time in Tahiti recovering. But is that what really has happened? His character seems to be the Bosley to the SHIELD’s Charlie’s Angels. An older gentleman that makes his way into the field making funny quips, talking about vacation days and talking about his precious car.

It’s great to see Cobie Summers make an appearance as Maria Hill to at least introduce the series, but I wouldn’t expect to see her much in the series. I don’t know if Agent Hill would really bring anything to the show other than giving the opening report and having a satisfied or disappointed look at the end of an episode depending on how the team did.

Referring to the Avenger’s movie and Iron Man 3 was a good seg-way to the show, but it seems like they tied the movies in with the show a little too quickly. It should be spread out over the first couple of episodes so people can see if they will mention what has recently happened within the Marvel Universe. Maybe give a little back story to SHIELD so people aren’t looking for only movie references.

The show features a great cast of agents. Fitz and Simmons are a great comic relief to a serious situation as well as Agent Coulson. Agent Ward is the all-around prodigy within the group and Agent Melinda May is the veteran who stepped down from the field to take an easy desk job, who then dragged back into action with the promise of just driving a vehicle. And you have the wild card that is still undecided about joining the team, Skye. She was a member of the group called the Rising Tide, who had hacked into the SHIELD computers and knew more about what was going on in the world than they knew.

Within the first episode there was reference made to Iron Man 3 with the Extremis serum, which was the main plot point of the pilot episode. A common man, Mike Peterson, was injured on the job, and was promised to gain more strength than he could imagine. The serum was placed into his body giving him super strength, but it had the same side effects as in Iron Man 3. Fitz and Simmons had to find a way to stop the serum from making Mike explode and without shooting him so he could live to be with his son, Ace. They were able to counteract the serum with their own and were able to save Mike just moments before he was about to explode and kill everyone in a train station, which would have ended the series fairly quickly.

There is great potential for this show with past members of the Marvel Universe making quest appearances to possibly introducing characters from the next chapters of the Marvel Movie Universe. And hopefully they have Samuel L Jackson make an appearance as Nick Fury. You can never go wrong with Sam Jackson.

Pokemon_Emerald

 

When I was a kid, I used to love the Pokemon games. I personally didn’t have any of them initially, as I was unable to afford a Game Boy, but I had a friend who had one along with the first generation of Pokemon games, Pokemon Red and Blue. At recess I would watch him play the game, and I enjoyed what I saw. When the anime (not that I knew what anime was at the time) began airing in North America, I watched it nearly religiously. I collected the cards, mostly of the water or flying type Pokemon, since those were my favourite. Like many of the people in my generation, I knew all the words to the theme song, and while I can’t do it now, I used to be able to recite the Pokemon Rap from memory.

 

I wasn’t until the second generation of Pokemon games, Pokemon Gold and Silver, that I actually owned a Pokemon game for myself. I spent hours at a time playing the game, catching pokemon and raising level grinding, quickly filling out my team of favourites (lead by my fearless Pidgeot, which is my favourite Pokemon to date). I was never one much for battling other people, mainly because in those days battling someone required a rather bulky and expensive cable, and I knew very few people who owned one. So you would think if anyone would have been excited for the next generation, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, it’d be someone like me, right? Unfortunately, a few things conspired against me in that aspect.

 

When Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire (and eventually Emerald a year later) first released, I was more or less just starting high school. At that time, Pokemon wasn’t really “cool” anymore, and being the sucker that I am, ended up following this trend of shunning things we liked as kids because we were better than that. I also never owned a Game Boy Advance, which meant that even if I wanted to play the games, I wouldn’t have had the capacity to do so. For better or worse, Pokemon left my life for the time being, to be replaced with much more hip and cooler things. Like Magic: The Gathering.

 

Enter August 2013. Having just got home from visiting some family, I found myself both unable to sleep and itching to play some Pokemon after spending the weekend with my brother, who is a huge Pokemon fan. One thing lead to another, and I found myself playing through Pokemon Emerald (which has been out for less than 10 years but shhh). Being the grumpy old man that I am, I initially figured I would only stick to Pokemon I remembered from the generations I was familiar with. So I challenged myself. Specifically, I took on what is known as the Nuzlocke Challenge, a form of self-imposed challenged popular in the Pokemon community. (For those of you unfamiliar with the rules, there are only two of them: You can only catch the first Pokemon you see in a new area, and any Pokemon that faints is dead, and must be released or permanently placed in the PC)

 

After picking my initial Pokemon (Torchic, because birds), I found myself quickly getting sucked into the game like I did all those years ago when the franchise had first come out. I spent literal hours playing the game (I think my save file is logged in at 60+ hours at the time of this writing, and I’m still messing around with it every so often), leveling my companions to be the best they could be. While my main party was composed of a few old faces, namely the ever-reliable Gyarados and Bellossom, many of the pokemon I used throughout my adventure were new to me. Thanks to the nature of the Nuzlocke Challenge, I felt myself becoming rather attached to these new Pokemon (and suffering a few heartbreaks along the way), Pokemon that I had originally written off as being “dumb” or “stupid” when I was younger. Pokemon like Torkoal, the fire-breathing turtle of awesomeness, or Mawile, a defensive power house of a Pokemon that saved my ass in more than a few tough battles.

 

Looking back, I wish I could have experienced this game when it was brand new, to discover and raise these new and wonderful Pokemon at the same time as everyone else, and experienced the joys and wonders of the Pokemon community. With the fire of Pokemon love very much stoked, I find myself extremely eager to go forth and try the titles in this franchise that came after, to see what new and interesting innovations were made further down the line. Maybe I’ll find a new favourite Pokemon, or at least someone close (Pidgeot probably won’t be leaving that spot any time soon). I’ll just have to see where the next adventure takes me.

Welcome back to Free Games Friday, your source for well… free games. Today’s games are from the Ludum Dare, a game design competition where people are given 48 hours to make a game. Currently on Ludum Dare 27, with a theme of “10 seconds” these games are meant to be quick and fun to play, so once you’re done with these games I post here, I urge you to go to the Ludum Dare homepage and try out some of the other fun and interesting entries. These were just my favourites that I played.

Last Words Logo

Game number one is a bit of a somber entry. You work as a transcriber at a series of executions (in this case three) and you have to record the last words of the people being executed. However, your only method of hearing them is through an old one-way radio, which occasionally cuts out, making it so you have to fill in the blanks sometimes. This game is not perfect by far, but for a 48 hour effort I see a lot of potential for this game, and hopefully the developer will expand upon this and make a full fledged game, since I think he’s got a potential hit on his hands. You can play the game online or download it from the Ludum Dare entry page here.

NXTPWN10 Logo

The second game in the entry is called NXTWPN10, and is an enjoyable experience for pretty much the exact opposite reason as Last Words. In this game you play a small space ship, using the WASD keys to move and the mouse to aim and fire. You go through several rounds, all of which last ten seconds. If you defeat all of the enemies on the screen, then you get bonus health, but you only need to survive the round to win. Every round you are given a new weapon, some of which are admittedly better than others. A small warning on this game though, as there is quite a bit of flashing, so be warned. You can find the link to play this game online at it’s Ludum Dare page here.

Once again, feel free to check out other entries from the Ludum Dare, and chances are I’ll be highlighting some of my favourite games when they eventually do Ludum Dare 28. For now, enjoy playing and see you next week.