First, World of Fight. Next, Gears of Combat I Oh, We Can’t Have Nice Things
Yet Another Milestone I Which is the Lie and Which is the Truth
Patches, Events, and Trials
Free-To-Play MMO Quickies I Video Dump
Travel Log: Dragonica Beta

Issue #128 Like the Phoenix Reborn
May 21, 2009


Holy crud, are you people still here? So, here I am in Los Angeles, finally settled in to my new room/house. Pretty much all I've been doing is job hunting, which is still going nowhere at the moment. Had a birthday, a few anxiety attacks (lol), and here I am.

I've been rummaging back into my MMOs. I had to redownload most of them after switching to the new computer (and I still dislike Vista). But thankfully, all my characters are still intact. I'm thinking of adding one or two new ones; I've got the room for it. And now, since I've deprived you all for a good four months, here is MMORPGamer's glorious return.

  First, World of Fight. Next, Gears of Combat

Seriously, what do you do after you lose the license to operate the biggest MMO in the world? Maybe curl up into a ball and cry for a few days at the disappointment of it all. But, darn it, then you snub the offenders right back!

At least that's what some people are speculating. Back in April, Chinese company The9 lost the right to run World of Warcraft in China to their rival NetEase. Then The9 put up a website for an MMO titled World of Fight, with a layout and logo unusually close to World of Warcraft's. As there aren't any details out right now as to the game's content, it remains to be seen whether or not this game is a copy of what The9 has lost.

As an article in the Wall Street Journal says, this might not be just The9 striking back at WoW; it may be an attempt to keep their Chinese WoW players. We'll just have to wait and see how this one turns out.

  Oh, We Can't Have Nice Things

Rule of thumb in MMORPGs, and probably in other online games as well: if you give players the ability to control the content of the game in any shape or form, some of them will find ways to exploit the content in order to give themselves an unfair advantage over the gamers who are playing the game honestly.

Anyhow, disregarding my whiny complaints on the subject, here's the point. City of Heroes released the Issue 14 update back on April 8th, which introduced the Mission Architect feature into the game. It allowed players to make their own missions and story arcs; story-lines, characters, dialogue, mission objectives, and more were all available for the player to use and create with. Also, architects and players participating in user-made missions earn tickets that can be redeemed for rewards. Special architect badges can be earned as well.

Of course, it didn't take long for people to abuse the Mission Architect feature. Basically, some users were making missions that were easy to complete but rewarded players extremely well. One of the big complaints from players have been about power leveling. Lead designer Matt “Positron” Miller states that there have been many other complaints about "the constant spam of MA PL teams forming, requests for `Meow` missions, 5 star badge cartels, and the inability to find quality content in the Mission Architect listing."

A list of the penalties for the users who abused the system has been posted on the City of Heroes forums. I rather like the three strike method they got going. Hopefully things will straighten out in the end.

  Yet Another Milestone

Eve Online continues to do quite well for itself. CCP recently announced that the sci-fi MMO has hit 300,000 active subscribers, marking a 22% rise in membership in five months.

It’s a shorter blurb than usual, but one worth mentioning.

  Which is the Lie and Which is the Truth

::Grin:: Okay, this one has got me interested. So, an MMORPG I’ve been hearing about called Darkfall got reviewed on Eurogamer and earned a 2/10, apparently one of the lowest scores the site has ever given out. Well, the Darkfall developers weren't terribly happy about that, not just because that "Darkfall's reviews so far have been mostly good ones," but mostly due to the fact that according to Darkfall's game logs, the Eurogamer reviewer had only spent 2 hours total playing the game.

Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell stands by the reviewer, whose "references and background are immaculate," despite the fact that the reviewer, Ed Zitron, is not a staff writer for Eurogamer but a contributor. Zitron also says that the game logs are faulty and that in reality he played for a minimum of 9 hours. Eurogamer offered to give the game another review, but it was refused. Darkfall developer Tasos Flambouras states his reasons for declining a new review here (it’s rather lengthy).

Hmmmmm…methinks I want to try this game out for myself. I'm terribly curious so I hope I get the chance. Maybe I'll figure out what the real deal is.

  Patches, Events, and Trials

  • The first round of tickets for BlizzCon went on sale on May 16th and quickly sold out the same day. But fear not! The second set of tickets will go on sale Saturday, May 30th. BlizzCon will be held on August 21st and 22nd in Anaheim, California. So if you love all things Blizzard and have the cash to shell out, get over to the BlizzCon ticket page and buy your ticket now. Did I mention that anyone who attends BlizzCon or purchases the Pay Per View event will get the free in-game pet Grunty the Murloc Marine?
  • Vanguard: Saga of Heroes has released its newest update. Halls of the Pantheon adds 200+ quests, 1000+ items, a higher level cap, and more.
  • Final Fantasy XI will be running special events for its 7th anniversary until May 25th. Players who wish to participate and earn an Anniversary Ring need only find and talk to certain Moogle NPCs during the Adventurer Appreciation Campaign. By the way, if you have an Anniversary Ring from last year's Adventurer Appreciation Campaign or the Welcome Back Campaign, you have to get rid of it before you can obtain this new one.
  • Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning's first phase of their 1.3 public test began on May 14th. This first stage will focus on the upcoming combat and careers changes to take place. And while the new dungeon area, The Land of the Dead, can be unlocked, players will have to wait for one of the later test phases before they can actually go there.
  • So, Shadowbane, an MMO released back in 2003 by Ubisoft, is now shutting down. However, the good (or at least bitter-sweet) news is that due to "the support and enthusiasm the community", the May 1st shut-down date has been pushed back until July 1st. Besides the extra playtime, special events may be planned as well. Like Tabula Rasa, you players should get your time in before it's over.
  • The first expansion for the World of Warcraft Minis game is now on sale for $14.99. The Spoils of War set contains 51 new, prepainted figures and new Action Bar cards, as well as legendary characters like Lady Jaina Proudmoore and Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider (did someone get George Lucas to name these characters? Kidding).

    If you have a World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King beta key from BlizzCon 2008 that you didn't use, then it seems it is possible to use this key to get into the Starcraft II beta pool. Blizzard's RTS Community Manager Stefanie Gwinner confirms this on the BlizzBlues forum. However, the key will not be accepted for the Diablo III beta, in case you were wondering.

    Patch 3.1.2 For World of Warcraft went live on May 19th, while European players got it on the 20th. A smaller patch than usual, but still adding some interesting changes. Among the usual tweaks is the Equipment Manager feature and visual changes to the Argent Tournament mounts.

  • Threat of Peace, the sixth issue of the ongoing Star Wars: The Old Republic web comic has been released. It's free to read, so take a look if you're interested.
  • SOE has released the Everquest II: The Shadow Odyssey compilation pack, which contains five expansion packs and three adventure packs. The digital download version includes the "Legends of Norrath™ strategic online trading card game, Oathbreaker digital starter deck, Oathbreaker booster pack and a loot card from the new Ethernauts set." The retail version not only gives you the same perks as the downloadable version, but you also get an in-game Dire Bear pet that will grow to become your mount, and a pewter figurine replica of your new pet.
  • Clear Skies 2, an Eve Online machinima, is available for download on the MMO’s website. It seems to be getting some good press.

    Two new Eve Online Chronicles, "And Sometimes the Fear" and "Houses of the Holy", are posted up on the site for all to read.

    CCP has sent a heads-up to their players regarding an email scam in which someone posing as an Eve Online Customer Support member tells them "account security has been compromised and asking players to go to a certain link to log in and change password." CCP reminds players to be careful and not click on any links they aren’t sure are safe.

    For those planning to attend Eve Fanfest 2009, CCP has put up a new mini-site. It contains information all about the event, where to find hotels and flights, a Plex for Passes feature, and a photo gallery.

    Apocrypha 1.2.2 was launched on May 19th. Tweaks have been made to storyline missions, station environments, and server side issues.

  • Guild Wars has given their Xunlai Tournament House a facelift. As a place on the main site were players can make predictions about in-game tournaments and win prizes for how accurate their guesses are, the Xunlai Tournament House now has a new page layout, increased security, and an easier voting process.
  • Turbine wants YOU! …Sorry, that was stupid. Anyway, applications to join the Isengard Private Preview Program for Lord of the Rings Online have been reopened. Players are being asked to help out the QA team by going into a private server to test out new game content before they implement it. There's several requirements for being allowed to participate, the biggest ones being that you must be 18 and over, you must have a valid and active subscription to The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria, and you have to sign a NDA. Not too complicated.

    There's also a new contest in LotRO. The One Kinship To Rule Them All Contest is basically a leveling contest. The winners will be the kinships that "level up the most and the fastest." The contest runs from May 21st to June 15th. Good luck to those participating!

  • Star Wars Galaxies is holding the "Galactic Call to Arms Fan Art" contest in which submitters are asked to depict pre-battle preparation scenes. Two winners will have their art used as in-game paintings. Anyone interested should check out the Official Contest Rules here.
  • EA wants beta testers for their upcoming expansion to Ultima Online, Stygian Abyss. There's a limited amount of spots open, so if you play Ultima Online and want a shot at this, sign up as soon as possible.
  • A new patch to Darkfall brings a whole slew of adjustments to gameplay, skills, visual updates, and new quests, just to name a few things.
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach is having a Motivational Poster contest. Running until June 24th, the contest has players use the provided title and template, and add a picture and caption to it to make either a silly or serious poster. Each week a new category for the poster's subject will be chosen. Winners will get a custom forum title and have their poster featured in the Motivational Poster Gallery. Yeah, it's mostly for fun, but why not?

  •   Free-To-Play MMO Quickies

  • The European closed beta for Dragonica has begun, and will run until Friday, May 22nd.
  • Warrior Epic's official launch was May 19th.
  • The Treasure Trove dungeon has been added to Runes of Magic. The game has also gained one million players throughout the U.S. and Europe.
  • Wizard101 now allows player to own and customize their own home and surrounding land.
  • Free Realms gets one million unique users and gives them all rewards to celebrate. There is now a trading card game as well. Also, a small new patch is released.
  • Gala-Net, Inc. and HanbitSoft plan to release Aika Online, the first free-to-play Realm vs. Realm MMORPG, in North America.
  • Wonderland Online updates to Version 4.0, The Cursed Palace.
  • The Divine Path, Eudemons Online's newest expansion, went live on May 8th.
  • Jade Dynasty will begin its American closed beta run on May 26th.
  • The House Party update adds new maps and monsters to Angels Online.
  • Zero Online will being running the Veteran's Return Event until May 22nd. The new Orion server will also be open to all players on the 22nd.
  • Rappelz's Epic VI Prologue: Navislamia was released on May 20th.
  • Magic World Online will be celebrating it's one-year anniversary until June 14th. Also, Patch Update Version 090512 went live on May 12th.
  • The Chronicles of Spellborn's Patch raised the free-to-play fame level cap to 9.9.
  • Sign up for the Earth Eternal website to get a chance to participate in the closed beta test.
  • Flyff is holding a Play for Rewards event until June 15th, and a Starter Kit event until May 27th.
  • HolyBeast Online's open beta test will get under way on May 21st.
  • Newest patch notes available for the European version of Twelve Sky 2. Meanwhile, the American version has headed into open beta.
  • Maple Story celebrates its 4th anniversary until June 16th.
  • Luna Online is now in open beta.
  • Ether Saga Online is holding a Calendar Creation Contest.

  •   Video Dump
    Walking a Thin Line

    Check out this lovely looking cinematic trailer for the upcoming City of Heroes expansion, Going Rogue.

      Travel Log: Dragonica-Closed Beta

    Well, I had planned to discuss Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine this time around. Then I received an email informing me that I had earned a place in the closed beta of a MMO called Dragonica. I had no clue why I got into the closed beta, but getting into any closed beta makes me feel kind of special, regardless of how it came about. So I decided to jump into the game and see how things went. Of course, being in closed beta, I was prepared for a rough time. Which makes it rather surprising that things went smoothly.

    Let's just skim over the game story, shall we? Some chick released a Dark Lord from imprisonment, world's in danger from darkness, you and your fellow players are the heroes who need to save it, lah, lah, lah. There's definitely dragons somewhere in the game that play a big part in the story, but I haven't gotten that far. Anyhow, I launched into the game and quickly created a character. Sadly, there was only four classes to chose from; warrior, magician, archer, and thief. Poo. Well at least there's some other classes to branch out into when you level up enough. I decided to go with my old stand-by, the thief, a class that I specifically force myself to avoid because otherwise I would probably select it in all my MMOs. All characters are done in a chibified style, so pretty much all players look like cute children. After shifting through a decent selection of pre-set faces and hairstyles (too bad there's no option to adjust your hair length, height, etc.), I decided on a male character and headed into the game.

    Immediately I was dropped into the tutorial area. A little blue creature is floating around my head and he/she starts teaching me how to play, a la Navi from Ocarina of Time or Isshun from Okami. I've never played a 2D side-scrolling MMO before, though the game still has a 3D look to it. Dragonica is primarily controlled with your keyboard, though you can click things with your mouse. Arrow buttons for movement, c button to jump, space-bar to interact (talk with NPCs, go to the next screen of conversation, etc.). Other alphabet keys are used as hotkeys for skills. So after learning the basics, I come across a group of people running for their lives. Wolves are attacking, and the local guard can't seem to hold them off. Figures. Combat is done with the X button. You just keep pressing it and you keep hitting. After I have thrashed the wolves, I find out that in all the commotion, the mayor's daughter has been kidnapped. So off I go to retrieve her, while doing minor quests for other people and leveling.

    I'm rather surprised at how much I enjoyed Dragonica. Each class has their own homebase in town, but you're free to visit the others if you wish. I was intially worried about combat being too easy, since all I have is keep hitting an enemy and they won't get a chance to strike me. But as I went against harder enemies, things got tougher. Bigger bosses won't continually flinch like fodder monsters, and I started encountering spiders that wouldn't come right up to me, but instead stay farther away and shoot me with web balls (which makes me hate them very much). And when I earned a few skills, I began to have fun with the combat system and the combos I could perform with it. The timing is bit difficult to get the hang of at first, but after a while I could launch enemies into the air, jump up and do a spinning strike that would hold them afloat as long as I was in contact with them, and then slam down on them for extra damage when they hit the ground. There's also a monster kill counter at the right bottom of the screen that monitors how many kills you make. If you hit a certain number without leaving the area, you earn rewards.

    I also didn't have to go traipsing all over the country-side looking for the save-the-mayor's-daughter quest; it was actually marked on my map. I found a kind of warp circle and had to use it to complete four arcade style beat-em up levels before being allowed to go after the wolf that had the mayor's daughter. These four levels seem to be easier with a group, but I made do in the end (although they do grade your performance, and I can't seem to get past a C). I'm not sure how I feel about this set-up for main quests, but it's different at least. I really like the medal system they have, where you can earn equipable medals for certain acheivements. I got one for just getting to level 10, and another for fighting the Big Bad Wolf 20 times. Some medals also boost stats. And when you equip one, you get a little sur-title over your characters name. All in all, I enjoyed what I played of Dragonica. I already know I want to keep playing and see what other fun features the game has to offer.

     Back to Title

    Meh, I'm still a little rusty, but quickly getting back into my groove. It's a good feeling. See you all next time!

    /not LFG,
    Sarah Williams (Feed me mail!)

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