Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Say It's Your Birthday?

April 28 seems to be a good day to launch a MMO. Both City of Heroes and Guild Wars launched on this date and now SOE's Free Realms hopes to join those two titles sometime today.

I celebrated Guild War's impending birthday by buying the Guild Wars Trilogy a few days ago. When this title first came out, it was competing with the then-hot World of Warcraft for my attention. WoW won that first skirmish but I'd kept my eye on this game and its development over the years as something I would really like to try. A Trilogy trial a few months back confirmed this and I was set to buy it then. The lack of a digital distribution option made me change my mind though. I was interested, but apparently not interested enough to go out to a store and buy a copy.

The recent move to Steam for the NCSoft titles renewed my interest and, this time, the Trilogy was available. When I found out they were offering free storage as part of the birthday celebration, that was enough for me. Nothing gets me to impulse buy quicker than if I think I'm getting a good deal. So far so good and am enjoying making my way through another MMO as a clueless newbie.

First Time For Everything

Even being a new father hasn't stopped Syp from rolling out some interesting memes.

First MMO Played?
Planetside - before this game came out I was heavily into First Person Shooters and never really gave regular MMORPG's a second thought.

First Character Class/Role Played?
My Planetside character was a Vanguard-driving, Phoenix-shooting, mine-laying son of a gun.

First MMO Subscribed For More Than A Consecutive Year?
World of Warcraft. I think I missed the one year mark in PS by about a month and I don't remember playing CoH that long before WoW came out and I jumped ship.

First MMO You Fell In Love With?
Planetside, natch.

First Guild You Really Felt Attached To?
Sturmgrenadier in Planetside.

First Character/Game You Leveled To End Cap?
WingedNazgul in Planetside.

First “Wow” Moment In A MMO?
Coordinated outfit ops in Planetside. Nothing like hotdropping from a Galaxy into a tower full of hostiles.

First MMO You Burned Out On?
World of Warcraft.

First MMO You Followed Avidly Prior To Launch?
City of Heroes

First Time You Felt Truly Noobish In A MMO?
Playing the Free Trial of Eve Online.

First MMO You Went Alt-Crazy In?
City of Heroes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Job Security

I've never been a chef, brawler, race car driver, miner, or ninja in real life. So when I got the chance to try out the Free Realms Beta and dive in, guess which job was the most appealing to me?

Trading Card Game Duelist.

Pretty ironic as it's one I have had plenty of experience with in real life. It's not as if the other jobs don't have their fun moments (well except for race car driving which I apparently stink at) but that the questline and the TCG itself is probably the most polished content currently available in Free Realms. Which is not a knock on the game. It's still pretty early in the Beta process and, despite the lifting of the NDA, I don't see release as being anytime soon. At least, I hope not as there is quite a bit more work that needs to be done before they open this up to the general public.

But I highly recommend any veteran card-floppers out there to check out the TCG in both virtual and real-life versions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Clash of the Titans

Atlantica Online was recently patched with a huge content update. Not the housing or 100v100 battle system patch that was recently revealed at this year's GDC. They're still busy working on those items. This patch updated the North American English servers with the content that has been live on the Korean servers for months now. Full patch notes can be found here.

There's quite a number of changes and additions documented on that page but the centerpiece of the update has to be the new Titan server. This enables interaction between characters of different servers. For now, it's only limited to sharing info and PVP but there are future plans to enable trade between the different servers. Future content is also planned which will utilize the unique aspects of this intra-server gathering place.

It's the PVP that has most people excited though, as finally we can find out who is really the best of the best. There is already a Free League ranking system that ranks players according to accumulated fame but there has never been a way to determine how players from different servers would match up against each other. Until now. You can Challenge other players on the Titan server to duels and there will be a weekly Grand Championship held there every Sunday. The rewards for participating and winning this GC are very nice to say the least and I imagine the inaugural event to be held this Sunday will have a very festive air to it. Hope to see you all there!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back in the Beta Saddle Again

After a relatively long drought of not participating in a Beta of any kind, I found myself playing two high-profile ones over the weekend. The Chinese Open Beta of Aion Online and Sony's Free Realms. I got an invite to Free Realms and sneaked into the Chinese Beta through nefarious means.

There's one piece of advice I would like to give to NCSoft: Please change your mind about not having a North American/European English Beta for Aion Online. You might not feel you need one for technical reasons given that this game has already been released in Korea since November of last year and the various other Betas since then. But the buzz surrounding such Betas can't hurt especially given the unique combination of early level gameplay in this title. Seriously, CoH level of character customization, gorgeous graphics and animations based on the Crytek engine, and engaging quests with cutscenes is a potent mix. I don't know if you have enough to keep people around for the endgame and reports are a lot of grinding will be needed to get there in addition to the quests provided. But a NA/EU Beta would hook an awful lot of people for a couple of initial months at least.

As for Free Realms, I can't say a lot about it. SOE has a chance to reach the rest of the world's gaming population that doesn't really think it likes MMO's. Plus it has enough fun activities for jaded MMO vets as well. It will make SOE money but how much depends on how free Free Realms turns out to be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Atlantica Online - Increasing Benevolence in MMO's

I don't know if I'm the only blogger that keeps a mental list of topics in their heads that they absolutely must cover in their blogs but just don't seem to get around to it. Usually it's something they want to disseminate in order to inform or hopefully spur discussion but also can't be neatly en-capsulized with just a few minutes worth of work. Nay, doing the topic full justice requires going above the call of duty and maybe require screenshots or even...gasp...charts.

So it can be a relief when someone pre-empts you by writing the piece you wanted to write; but doing a much better job at it than you possibly would have. All you have to do now is just link to the article here and your job is done. Let the information dissemination and discussion begin.

I will update the link to point to the blog article when I get the information.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Third Time the Charm

We finally completed the Guild Dungeon, Marksburg Castle, on our third attempt. Our first attempt was a scouting run when I was in my early 70's. It showed we weren't ready to take on such a challenge so early in our guild's life just yet. We knew it but wanted to see what it would be like. I opted to pass on the opportunity as I didn't think I'd be able to contribute that much at my level.

The second try came last week and though we failed, we came awfully close to completing it. Ultimately our lack of planning and execution led to delays which saw the time run out on us just as we were clearing our way to the last level. I was able to contribute more to the effort this time around as a fresh 90 but it still led to some deaths and running back on my part.

This weekend was our third try and this one proved to be the charm. The combination of familiarity as well as the added levels we all had proved to be the deciding factors. Coming in as a 95 really upped my survivability against the mobs that ranged from levels 91-105. I went through the whole run without a single death although the lower level guildies weren't so fortunate.

The dungeon had a gothic/medieval/alice in wonderland feel as we fought our way against a variety of court jesters, palace guards, knights, wizards, and...grandfather clocks??? We actually had around 30 minutes to spare so the run took about an hour and a half. Not a bad way to spend some quality time with your guildies as well as getting some decent loot. Since this Guild Dungeon features prominently in the Dark Archer recruitment questline, I have a feeling I'll be spending more time in here once I turn 100 and become eligible for the quest.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Future Atlantica Content Revealed at GDC09

This year's annual Game Developers Conference was held in San Francisco, CA during the week of March 23-27. The developers of Atlantica Online were on hand to reveal details of future content at a press conference. Initial word came from translations of the Korean website as well as gaming news sources. But information was finally released on the nDoors website yesterday and can be found here.

There's also a flash site that has an introductory video. While the video doesn't show any new content, it does have some pretty nice Atlantica eye candy set to exhilarating music.

Pretty excited about the 100vs100 tactical battle system. If they can make it work, it should make for a pretty unique gaming experience.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Gutting the Ghost Ship

While the handful of level 90+ players we have in our guild is not enough to successfully run a high-level Guild Dungeon yet, it did make us an attractive commodity to burgeoning Nations. We kept getting offers to join from a number of them. Our first priority on finding a suitable Nation to join was their ability to run and successfully complete Nation Dungeons. While they would all promise the ability to do so, very few Nations on our server possessed the organization and manpower to actually complete ND's. A secondary consideration was the willingness of the Nation to help us out in completing our Guild Dungeons with the temporary loan of some high-level players.

With this in mind, we decided to join a relatively new Nation. New as in date of creation, but they had plenty of guilds and players that had been around for a while. Most importantly, the leading guild in the Nation had previous experience in successfuly tackling ND's. They were also willing to help us out in the matter of Guild Dungeons. Our guild leader took a vote and the overwhelming majority agreed to join this nation; innocuously named Peaceful.

We barely had time to greet our new Nation-mates in chat before plans got underway to run the Nation Dungeon, Ghost Ship of the Carribean. This was no coincidence as we had been invited to come along on this run beforehand to see exactly what it was we were getting into. Ghost Ship is the first and easiest of the series of Nation Dungeons and it is in here that access to the much-coveted Pirate mercenary is determined. Instructions from the Nation leader flowed as groups were assembled and reported in. I have to admit most of it went right over my head and I just focused on the immediate role of my group and what we had to do. I later found an excellent guide to this dungeon here that explained much of what our organizer had to say. Even with my extensive raiding background in WoW, I was impressed at the level of organization needed to succesfully conquer even this most basic of Nation Dungeons.

My guildmates advised me to stock up on Ambrosia and a Blessing Potion but I balked at their high market prices and determined to gut it out on regular food and the buffs provided by my various titles. I did spend some gold completing my level 90 armor set so I didn't look so mismatched. Finally the preparations were done, we were able to zone in, and I got my first look at the zone. I wish I would've taken some screenshots but I was so focused on making this a successful run that I didn't dare take the time to sightsee. Maybe next time. It was very much Pirates of the Carribean themed with mobs ranging from octopuses to crusty crustaceans to pirate ghosts. The end boss was none other than Davy Jones himself. We traveled from the ghost town to its docks where we boarded the famed Ghost Ship itself and scoured it decks clean of all the mobs.

One of the features I love about raiding in Atlantica Online is that they are timed events. You have 2 hours after starting the Dungeon to finish it. No more banging your head learning an encounter for 8+ hours only to find you still don't have what it takes to beat it. Even after you have a Dungeon on farm status, the times are saved so beating a previous record can be motivation for some guilds. My group quickly fell into a groove as we fought the mobs we were tasked with clearing. There were a couple of tricky pulls as sometimes we bit off more than we could chew but my groupmates were able to cover for my underpowered self. My thanks go out to my guildmates, fateii and Clematis, who were in my group for this inaugural ND run.

Looking at our progress compared to the timer counting down, it became obvious that we were going to successfully complete the ND unless something went horribly wrong. I probably stayed up for the event longer than I wanted to but there was no way I was missing out on the successful conclusion. When the success banner and music flashed on the screen, a collective cheer went up in Nation chat.

What a great way to lure prospective guilds to your Nation. Treat them to a great ND run and the phat lootz from same. Now, you're never going to get rid of us.