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Ragnarok Online 2 Open Beta: First Impressions

8 January 2013 | 3 Comments » | pixiestixy

There’s just something about the cuteness factor of Ragnarok that made me want to come back. It was probably about 10 years ago that I first played the original Ragnarok Online, my first experience with an MMO.

A super-deformed sprite of the original Raganarok Online, fighting the same creature type pictured in the background of the RO2 screenshot above.

I’ve gone back and played the original game many times through the years, and even picked up the game for Nintendo DS a couple years back, but never really got back into it after having experienced the updated graphics and gameplay of World of Warcraft.

But now, the long-awaited and once-scrapped sequel is finally in open beta, and I was keen to get back into the game. But just as I was about to download the client, an unexpected announcement from the game administrators seemed to thwart my attempts:

“…It’s with our deepest apologies that we announce we will not be able to provide the RO2 game service to players outside of our optimized countries – Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – due to our license agreement with the game’s developer, Gravity Co., Ltd.” — RO2 Administrator, AsiaSoft (source)

This announcement sent huge shockwaves throughout the RO2 community. Many players on the official forums have expressed disappointment and even anger, saying that they feel like they’ve been strung along for years, only to be told at the last second that they wouldn’t be allowed to play the game. But we also have not yet heard any clarification on the topic from the admins — is this a temporary thing? Or maybe just for the beta period? Will the full game eventually be released worldwide? I’d assume yes, but like I said, we’ve not heard that officially.

Regardless, I suppose the game servers have only intermittently received the message that only players in certain areas should be allowed access — I and many others located outside of those areas have still been able to sign up, download and patch the client, and play the game since after that announcement was made. I’m unsure whether that will continue, but I’m happy that I can at least review and share a few screenshots from what I’ve seen so far.

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WoW Patch 5.2 teaser trailer: Dino Riders!

7 January 2013 | 1 Comment » | pixiestixy

With the official start of Patch 5.2 on the World of Warcraft PTR last week, we’ve seen a wave of information coming out on data-mining sites as of late on what we’ll be seeing in the new content.

Now we have something a bit more concrete: a trailer straight from Blizzard on Patch 5.2: The Thunder King. We get a bit of a preview of the new raid encounter, the Throne of Thunder.

Take a look:

I keep rewinding to get a better look at those Dino Rider-esque mounts in Zandalari-inspired armor. So much win.

A full version of the patch notes can be found at battle.net, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for more developments. Continue Reading

MoP Rewind: The Jade Forest in Words and Pictures

1 January 2013 | 2 Comments » | pixiestixy

Spoiler Warning: This post contains potential spoilers for World of Warcraft gameplay. It covers the journey to Pandaria and questing through the zone of the Jade Forest.

First, a recap. Then, my review.

Upon setting off to explore the new world beyond the mists of the southern great sea, heroes of Azeroth land in the mysterious Jade Forest in Pandaria. Our first greeting to the continent comes in the form of a battle at sea as warriors of the horde and the alliance seek to conquer what could be theirs. Both sides wash up to the shores of the new world, friendless in a mystical world that they yet know nothing about.

Members of both factions set off to form alliances with anyone they can get help and resources from — the horde with the hozen, and the alliance with the jinyu — but the pandaren race, for the most part, remains unconvinced that either side is worthy of inhabiting their sacred lands. Certain individuals, however, are willing to give the newcomers a chance, teaching them the ways of the land and the people. Heroes of both factions lend their hands to assisting the pandarens however they can, and in doing so they earn powerful friends all across the Jade Forest.

But the uncertainty that the majority of pandarens hold is not unfounded. As the two factions continue their conflict, the negativity that they brought ashore affects the land in ways unexpected by the newcomers. Continue Reading

Blizzard Ditches Team Deathmatch for PvP, Looks to Add Dueling to Diablo in Patch 1.0.7

28 December 2012 | No Comments » | pixiestixy

Blizzard will scrap its in-development PvP feature “Team Deathmatch,” but instead will release a dueling feature “soon” in the new year, Game Director Jay Wilson announced yesterday on the Diablo 3 blog. The PvP mode had been long in development and was showcased at previous BlizzCon events, but will not be released for a number of cited reasons.

“For us it comes to a few issues, one of which is depth.  Simply fighting each other with no other objectives or choices to make gets old relatively quickly…

Another is class balance. Like Diablo II, Diablo III was designed to be a PvE-first kind of game, where we never compromised on player abilities in the name of future PvP balance.  We want to be able to carry over as many of the crazy runes, items, and skills as possible, with their crazy effects, and alter them as little as possible. In a casual PvP mode, something equivalent to a WoW Battleground, this would be fine, but Team Deathmatch felt very hardcore, and it put a laser focus on class balance in a way that we didn’t think would be good for the game as a whole.

… It’s not up to the quality that Blizzard gamers expect or that we feel you deserve, and it doesn’t really fit with our goals for the rest of the game.” — Jay Wilson

Wilson said that the development team had the opportunity to fine-tune controls and combat model tuning throughout the development of Team Deathmatch, but that the team would be “exploring other options” for PvP instead. “We’re going to first be looking at new modes that play up to the strengths of the character classes, focus on objectives beyond just defeating other players, and possibly even integrate PvE elements and rewards,” Wilson said.

As for dueling, that feature is slated to be released in patch 1.0.7 in the new year. Further details on the patch have not yet been released but will be “very soon,” according to the dev blog.

 

‘The Hobbit’ Movie Provides an Untapped Opportunity to Build LotRO Momentum

18 December 2012 | 1 Comment » | pixiestixy

Spoiler warning: Spoilers may lie ahead for those of you who have not yet seen or read The Hobbit. Read with caution.

Being the fantasy-loving audience that you are, I’d venture to bet that a fair number of you, like me, took a trip to the theater sometime in the past few days for the opening weekend of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And oh my. Wasn’t it grand?! That nostalgic setting, the familiar characters we all loved from the Lord of the Rings trilogy along with the new faces of dwarven determination, the story of overcoming even your own expectations to become a hero, that beautiful musical score, the horrific hordes of enemies to overcome.

Just, wow. I could go on and on about how much I loved this movie. And it’s so easy to see why J.R.R. Tolkien is known as the father of modern fantasy literature. In The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Silmarillion, Tolkien weaved together an intricately spectacular and intriguing world that still mystifies audiences today.

But that’s not precisely what I wanted to discuss today. Because the reawakening of my love for this universe has got me absolutely craving more. And I have to wonder: why isn’t Turbine Entertainment doing more to promote the fact that Lord of the Rings Online can provide “more” for myself and others like me who also were brought back into the fold of the LotR universe after seeing The Hobbit? Continue Reading

Explaining Our MMOG Progression to the Non-Gaming Inclined

14 December 2012 | 3 Comments » | pixiestixy

Chatting about MMOs in real life can be an interesting challenge, and one that I typically can avoid in favor of RL topics that are more relatable to the general population. But when games become a default way to fill our free time, it can lead to some awkward moments with friends and family curious about what we’ve been up to.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the stigma that gaming tends to carry, although that certainly is a related topic. But regardless of that, I find that it can be a challenge to explain an MMO world to someone who has never experienced anything like it. Usually, such conversations go something like this:

Friend: (Finishes explaining the details of a date she went on the night before)… So, what have you been up to?

Me: Oh, not much. Lots of work around the house. Yesterday I was able to take a break and get in some gaming.

Friend: Sounds like fun. What kind of game, like Farmville or Angry Birds or something?

Me: No, World of Warcraft. I’ve been leveling through the new expansion’s content and running some dungeons.

Friend: (wide eyes of confusion)

Me: It’s a lot of fun. You get to form groups and play with other people, and find new items to power up your character, explore the world and collect pets and armor, things like that.

Friend: (clearly doesn’t understand even with the simplification of game terminology) … … Sounds fun?

Well, you can’t always win, I suppose. I’m clearly not ashamed of the fact that I enjoy gaming. I write, and tweet and Facebook post about it. I want to share my experiences with the people I care about and revel in the details. But then you risk completely losing your audience, like comedian Nathan Anderson up there. Sometimes, even when put into the clearest of words, it’s just that nothing can explain the experience of an MMO better than actual gameplay.

I suppose that’s part of what makes writing about WoW so enjoyable for me — I get to relate things that I enjoy or that irk me about the game to an audience that understands, can relate and sometimes even writes back. So, thank you for that.

How do you explain your MMO experiences with friends and family who don’t understand? Or do you avoid the topic altogether?

 

Enjoying the Moment: What’s the Rush to Level Cap?

12 December 2012 | 1 Comment » | pixiestixy

There’s a certain paradox that comes along with leveling up a character: the more you advance, the closer you are to exhausting content that you’ll never be able to experience again in the same manner. The first time running through a zone, especially the heavily specialized zones in World of Warcraft expansions, simply is a unique experience.

As I’ve been trekking through the Jade Forest, my first time seeing the area first-hand has left me with the conclusion that for me, speed isn’t everything when it comes to leveling. Far more important, to me, is becoming entrenched in the lore. It’s fun to embrace the characters who have surprisingly intricate love stories; take in the numerous striking cut scenes; and enjoy the challenge that comes along with fighting through content that is at your level.

Sure, it’s fun once level-capped to return and rerun content that you didn’t get through when leveling. And it is necessary as well, either for reputation grinds or simply because of reaching level cap before getting to the content. But you don’t experience it quite the same way at that point. Continue Reading

Transmogrification and the Changing Face of WoW

7 December 2012 | No Comments » | pixiestixy

It’s something that I wished would happen in WoW for a very, very long time. That is, the option to modify the appearance of armor in some way or another. Last I wrote on this topic, the idea was but a dream that seemed, perhaps, just maybe, on the horizon.

Since then, transmogrification has become a force that drives many of us players who like to collect. And earlier this week, we learned via community manager Zarhym’s Twitter account that by Patch 5.2, transmogrification may become less restrictive in terms of allowing similar weapon types to be transmogrified. Here were his exact words:

.@iizeppii Removing main-hand/off-hand Xmog restrictions maybe by 5.2. Also allowing Xmog of weaps w/ similar anims (2H axe/2H sword, etc).

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