Buy the box, pay subscriptions…

…but they still might close you the server! 🙂 Ok, not really funny, I know.

NCsoft has announced some time ago that its Tabula Rasa sci-fi steam-punk MMORPG is closing servers as of 2009 February. Imagine you have bought the game (in a box) and you’ve paid regular subscription fees and now this. Ok, you’ve got your fun you’ve paid for, but it’s still difference to pay for a year of fun that is ended suddenly or to pay longer (hence more) but for a game that goes on and on just like you want. Not to mention that you would probably have not bought the box in the first place if you had known the fate of the game. 😉 NCsoft offered various compensations (time in other MMORPG or so) which is nice of them – it should go like this when the game ends sooner than expected.

Just a few months ago I mentioned Hellgate: London in my article about Sacred. I learned few days later that the online part would be closed too. That leads me to the question: “How can I know that this and this game is going to be successful? Whether it has perspective or not?” The answer is – there’s no way. Tabula Rasa looked extremely promising at the start. Every game eventually ends. I can’t imagine WoW being played in 2020. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they’ll enhance it continuously and it will be top game. Although I doubt it because while it still has reportedly some unbeaten features the graphics will be overcome by other games – and these games will catch the WoW in other terms as well. However – WoW will not end any soon and it’s pretty sure deal to go after if you want. That means buying three boxes (in our country the pack costs around $80 which is really a lot) plus subscriptions of course. But WoW is famous, WoW is the top, it’s the king of the hill of the MMORPG world, so why to lower the cost? I understand this, no sarcasm.

If I finish with PWI (or take a break) I’ll probably try EVE Online – that is if I have time for that. 😉 You have to buy it initially and there are subscriptions too but the cost seems better to me and the game is something different than typical fantasy MMORPG. But you never have to buy expansions – that’s the proper customer treatment in my eyes. Expansions often raise the level-cap and introduce new skills – this all favors mostly players who paid a lot already, why to cash them twice? There is also the other way – I’d say “the Asian way” 🙂 – free client with subscriptions. Lineage 2 for example. Of course, you can object: “Hey, Asian MMORPG are unplayable!” I played only L2 and PWI, so I can’t tell – but I believe the people who tried both classes and know the difference. In PWI – for instance – you can’t redefine your keyboard or invert mouse movement – that sucks hardly if you ask me.

Back to the topic – how to avoid the situation from the title? You may wait till the game is really a big thing – like WoW or EVE. But if everybody waited no game would be a big thing, would it? 🙂 Don’t worry though, either you don’t care about the money that much – it is spent for fun after all and you’ll not carry any of your characters to your afterlife anyway so if it’s fun for a year and then another fun with another game… not a big deal. Still you sometimes need several years to get to higher levels with your character if you are occasional player and you need game that will last for so long. There are still people who try many things, many games and these might make the game big before you jump in. Or try some F2P game like PWI. Even when I’ve already criticized the game in my posts (I still play it).

The point is – I don’t like paying for boxes and subscriptions, but it’s sort of standard today. I prefer subscription only because it’s more fair – but on the other hand it gives you the feeling that you have to play it now when you’ve already paid for it. I’m also not sure how you can take a break from the game? Do I have to leave for the whole month? F2P games never bring these questions and many players pay for them anyway (I did too). And if there are subscriptions why the initial payment is so high? These games are useless offline anyway. I’m curious what future will bring and how long these marketing models stay unchanged for the most popular games. Maybe later companies will find the solution for unsuccesful games too. What if users/players/fans were able to run the server somehow? Private servers exist for many games? Couldn’t it be the way for Hellgate: London and Tabula Rasa?


PWI: Dungeon called FB19

I did not rush into the cave when I got level 19 quests – partially because there were other exciting things to do (around the big city of Archosaur!) and partially because I knew nothing about dungeons. There is “lovely” quest by Little Daisy where you run around the whole map to heal her flying pet or what – and part of this quest is to kill a few wolves near the FB19 cave of Untamed. They were extremely hard to kill – they actually killed us a few times before we understood that these one are really different. 🙂

Killing Poison-Tail Occultist – this time with normal standing-tank.

What the hell is FB19 – you may ask when you hear it the first time. There is a difficult quest to go to a particular dungeon (every race has its own), kill some elite mobs there and finally defeat the boss too. These quests are from “Challenge” quest series and those given on levels 19, 29, 39… are called FB19/29… up to 99 I guess. Dungeons are called just the same – at least by people. At the very start (that means also around the level 20 when you get to this point) most players are confused because there is one more thing to this – so called “tablet”. Do you remember seeing yellow messages on the world chat “helping with FB19, must have tab, pm me”?

Poison-Tail Occultist once more

The first Challenge quest you obtain informs you to kill a number of beasts of two kinds (8+8 or 5+5 depending on your race). These beasts can be found in the dungeon and after you succeed the quest moves on to killing the boss part. That’s one quest where you have to defeat the boss inside the FB19. There is, however, one more quest with the very same objective. But the way to this quest is not that intuitive and in contrast to the Challenge quest you can’t repeat it. In order to get this quest you have to finish the Cultivation quest given on the level 19 and then Elder of your city gives you so called “tablet”. Official name of the item is either “Call to Duty” or “First Battle” – doesn’t really matter, players wanting to help you will always ask if you have “the tablet”.

Entering Untamed FB19 – with level 39 you can do it in two

Having the item still doesn’t mean that you have the quest. There is a pillar inside the FB19 dungeon – actually there are two – one at the very start and one sitting right next to the boss itself. After you “talk to the pillar” you get the quest and your tablet disappears. Now you have 10 hours to finish the quest. I was always so afraid to fail that I did everything to succeed – hence I don’t know what happens when you fail, but I guess that your tablet is lost. I would not rush using this item. But if you have a squad prepared and you are pretty sure you going to kill the boss don’t hesitate to start this quest along with your Challenge quest – of course get to the “kill the boss” part of the quest.

Untamed FB19 – analyzing the next group of mobs

There are various strategies you can use. You can run the big boss around – whoever takes agro simply runs around the cave and others fire. Some else gets agro then and runs too. 😉 It’s chaotic but you can kill the boss without a tank this way. Blademasters are not happy about it – because they just run and can deal the damage, but the trouble is they can hardly hold the agro. So unless you have venomancer with pet or real tank (blademaster with higher level or proper barbarian ;-)) running around is very good strategy. And it definitely involves less dying. Of course you can let blademaster tank too, but than you have to control the agro. First pictures show us killing the human FB19 boss in three – blademaster, wizard and cleric. We all fired, but wizard took her pauses and me was healing in the meantime, so I didn’t attract agro with plume shooting all the time. The point is, there is more than one way and you often don’t have the squad for the “proper” way (like tank, damage dealers who never over-agro, healer(s)). That’s when you have to come up with your own tactics. It’s also good to know that boss never attacks before you. You can kill all his minions – they are agro and social too (go together) but the boss is not. So you can clear the whole final cave before you start to run around with boss running after you. 🙂

Rand Razorjaw with blademaster tanking and me healing

My first FB19 story goes like this: I (AdriaZirma) went to the designated cave with MiraZirma (blademaster) and ImperialCat (cleric) and invited other two players who needed to kill the boss. I’ve got Challenge quest (kill 8 of something and 8 of something else) and I was asked to use my Call to Duty item with the pillar. We had two more blademasters – and especially level 33 was helpful. It was kind of messy because even when I told them that I don’t have all Molten Chrysalises killed they didn’t listen. And I didn’t know that this quest goes on with killing the boss.

Rest before my first FB19 boss got killed. You can see that my Challenge quest (called Discover) is not finished yet. (I already used this pics before, hope you’ll pardon me.)

However – it wasn’t any tragedy really. MiraZirma needed to spend her tablet too eventually and I killed my last Chrysalis and boss too in the end. Since then I killed a bunch of them in various (often very strange) configurations and with various strategies. And I died often too. I don’t like dying, but sometimes when we pushed our limits with a weaker squad we’ve learned much much more than during the smooth run. And pushing your limits brings some dying inevitably. But I don’t regret those experiences at all. It was still fun.

There is still much to be said about FB runs, but I will add some more experiences in another part in which I’ll cover FB29 for the change. As I will probably not return back to FB19, I just want to say that in my eyes Untamed version is the easiest. Ranged mobs in elven/human FBs are much more dangerous (chilpods in human cave and cactopods in elven one) and often fire to long distances which can easily result in deaths of low-HP characters. In worst case of the healer taking the agro of the mob that’s not hit by anyone else and turns after healer. So if you want to do just another FB19 run, go to the Untamed. It’s also closest to the center of the map – and to Archosaur too. Good luck!

Desperate times with PWI

Today it will be more for people already playing PWI because some of the things described are related only to PWI and not to gaming in general.

The more I play PWI and read through forums and various blogs, the more I’m decided that my $50 were the first and the last I invested in the game. Should I invest more to buy some material that has insanely low drop-rate? Because so it seems. Many events in this game are not fun, they are cash shop oriented. Most news are about cash shop, new items, new dress sets. Even patch notes are dominated by events – mostly somehow related to cash shop. OK, I know that money are important for development. But can’t developers fix some bugs and balance the game that even non-paying players can play it normally?

We couldn’t gather this tree root. Cursor didn’t change to gathering function.

Non paying customers are slower, die more often unless very careful, there are tons of differences… why to push players to buy things like this? The whole Archosaur was full of people buying rough fur (of course for 1k or lower :-)) and only few of them are selling (5k typically) – luckily the drop-rate for this particular item has changed recently and now it’s OK. The same goes for dragon quests items… my friend went crazy when someone wanted third pack of 10 element fragments in one quest! Element fragment was also my first “stupid quest” with Blobs of rebirth… they dropped it VERY rarely and to get 5 for everyone in a squad was crazy. But Soft fur? No problem, surplus all the time, everybody sells it. Something is flawed in item distribution. In case of materials you can still buy them. It is stupid if you’re willing to grind it – but you simply can’t because of your level – high level means that low level items drop insanely rarely. In case of dragon quest (DQ) items it’s not possible to buy them. Luckily – I’ve read a guide how to get rich (in-game coins, not in real life ;-)) and one of the important point is not doing DQs at all because you just run around the whole map – or spend even more coins on teleports – and provide DQ items to various NPC. If you just sell it to them you can get hundreds of thousands of coins.

 My barbarian LOLs in a very funny way. No facial expression – and his big axe disappears. 🙂

There are simply many little things that players should learn before they find out that this and that is complete waste of time and nerves. For example – on level 30 you can achieve Rank I and then you can get rank-1 items from NPC near General Summer in Archosaur. No problem. But on level 40 – when you in theory could progress to Rank II – you will find out that you have little “reputation” which is one of the characteristics. Reputation is gained for quests and you can improve your situation doing cyclic quests (“solo”) or helping with FBs. My situation is that I’m on level 48, I have 800 reputation and need 1000 (I needed it on level 40 reportedly!). Why I’m in so deep… troubles? Well, because I have few boss related quests unfinished. It’s quite complicated to set up proper party to kill really difficult bosses, you want to do it with your friend rather – but 3 is too little and who has 5-6 friends playing the same game with you? Sure, you can enter some faction/guild and they should help you – that’s true. Our faction is friendly – but small. Maybe I will reconsider this later. Sure thing is I’m not the only one having problems with reputation. Rank I things were cool for my wizard, but players report that Rank II equipment is too little too late. But – to be motivated – there are reports that Rank 8 (or whatever the number was) reward is spectacular. But how to get high reputation without leveling? Should I die often to lower my experiences? Then you read on forums that Rank/reputation and (again) DQ are simply badly designed and they are not worth the effort. So… now be smart!

On level 30 you’ll get your flying gear so you can fly even when you’re not winged elf!

Is it really so despairing? Well… no. 🙂 If you have good solo build you don’t even need friends for normal situations. Wizards and supporting clerics however have hard times beating the monster of equal level and it’s good for them to be in the party. Wizard and cleric together are good enough squad actually because there is no need for tank for most of the quests. Another important point is – have fun. Follow quests, ignore DQs, ignore reputation issues – this all is not the most important part of the game. Rather get recruited by some decent faction and try Territory Wars (TW) – it may be fun. But I have to try this yet. There is also very good way how to get cash shop items without really buying them – simply buy them for coins in-game from other players! Generally $1 is equal to 100.000 coins – which is something you can grind from monsters in 90 minutes on level 40 (maybe more, maybe less, it depends on class/build too). Of course, $20 enhanced jaguar (big black cat that runs fast like hell and you can ride it) means 30 hours of mindless grinding without spending any coins. But it is possible.

Some places are just so romantic… if you like spiders for that matter.

Also – the events can be fun sometimes. Recently there are snowmen in major cities. Killing them gives you a lot of experiences (especially on lower levels) and it’s one hit kill without any risk. There are some drops that you can… ok, here my knowledge ends, because there are few more NPCs added for this event, it’s a lot of gathering, combining – and because I have bad feeling about most of the events on PWI I simply sell all items and go on with my grinding, life, etc. It’s also no fun to kill some snowman before anyone else does because in such a crowd even ~200 ms ping counts. But it’s funny to see the whole world running around the Archosaur with bows (whatever the class is, all of them ran to their home cities to buy the cheapest bow ;-)).

Dying snowman always says something funny.

Perfect World is far from perfect – nothing can be perfect, right? Every week there is a patch bringing some new item to cash shop, or sale (in the cash shop) or some event (related mostly to cash shop). There are bugs, some of them just visual, some of them really ugly. Player movement is laggy, netcode is pretty bad in my eyes (I think MMORPG should run smoothly with ping ~200 ms), game lacks proper customization but… I still play it.

Gorgeous view across Etherblade city.

While I wasn’t able to overcome missing control redefinition in Sacred, I can in PWI – god knows why. Too bad there are not more bug fixes in every patch and some skill balancing – because now there are some classes with some skills considered complete waste whatever build type you choose. But I have to finish as always – I paid for some games already and most of them had some bugs. PWI has probably a bit more of them, but it looks great, plays OK (if you can live with some issues) and if you play it with friends it can be real fun.

PWI – still online

A lot of things happen since my last PWI post. I found more and more things I hate about the game, however – and that’s the most important thing – I still play it. Thanks to my other friends that bear with me and the game too. If I had to play the game alone I’d probably quit already. I still work on some longer post so I’ll just use some of the screenshots I made since the last post now and I hope you’ll stay tuned until I’ll be able to finish my “blog quest” and post something reasonable again. 🙂

 This is our first FB19 with two additional squad members – meditation before the final boss fight. We won. Thanks to lvl33 blademaster mostly.

FB19 was our first major instantiated dungeon. You form your squad, enter the dungeon and there is no-one else – just your squad and a lot of mobs that are much stronger than you would expect based on their level. Much more hitpoints, much bigger attack/damage – pure hell if you ask me. 😉 I died few times in dungeons like these. What FB means you ask? I don’t know, honestly, it’s some kind of Chinese acronym reportedly, but I might be wrong. Above level 30 FB19 dungeons were sort of routine for us. Of course, ImperialCat – our favourite cleric – was indispensable during these rides.

One quest leads you to the Tradewind Village – although it’s officially higher level area. Nice view from the bridge though.

From a picture above maybe you can – maybe you can’t – see what I like on this game. It’s the graphics – despite a few flaws (repetitive “carpet like” texture usage, spiky and unsmoothed terrain or bare land here and there) the countryside is nice. Every time I get lost in an undiscovered part of the map I find something new, something fresh and something that let me stay with the game and expect new experiences with all the levels to come. Recently I’ve flown above Rook’s Valley and this is what I’ve come across.

 Something strange is floating above the Rook’s Valley.

I was there, it impressed me, it looks so ancient and I’m looking forward to get there with an appropriate level. However – from level 20 to 40 you’ll be stuck more or less around Archosaur – and you’ll return back there even with higher levels regularly. That’s why especially the west gate is extremely overcrowded. This screenshot doesn’t make justice to the situation because there are many more players (and player shops – these are those cats you can see :-)) undisplayed beyond the cull distance.

 Overcrowded West gate of Archosaur – and it’s far worse during the “commute” hours.

Last picture is our typical girl squad configuration (before MiraZirma quit regular playing because of a baby – in real life of course ;-)) with me being level 29. That is after our very successful FB19 ride, when the killed boss was so kind and dropped a so called “mold” for us. While you can craft many interesting things in PWI there are some special items that can be crafted only with a specific mold involved in the process. Our weapon crafter Mira crafted this Mirage Sword for me with a mold provided by ImperialCat – great thanks to both girls. :-* I’m still stuck with this sword at level 42, but I’m going to change this really soon. 😉

 Girl squad – and me with my PRECIOUS Mirage Sword!

So – these were very brief news from the PWI game. Next time – with better luck – I’ll write more about what I dislike about this game. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find me online because it’s still free-to-play (F2P) although I’ve already spent some money there. Anyway – stay tuned and I’ll get back with more technical post next time! (I hope. ;-))

Perfect World reloaded

Since my last post to this day my MMORPG experience has quadrupled – rough estimate. And we’re here again to continue with PWI (sort of) review. The main point is – I’m still with the game like many others. I think I meet more and more people, some killing quests are nearly overcrowded and the best thing you can do in such cases is to create ad-hoc short-term parties (squads) with people around. Why? Because killed beast counts to everybody in the squad. Beast is claimed probably by the first player that hit it and so if more squads are working on one beast only the party that hit it first has exps and kill counted in. During your progress you’ll obtain various quests that leads you not only to another kills – but also around the map to different places. Elder (NPC) in your city sends you to cities of other races. Of course – by teleport, not on foot. 🙂

Lovely surrounding of the City of the Plume (Elven one)

During the week I’ve started to visit forums for various information and if you can play the game for a few days you might want to have a map of this world and also the teleportation map. There is no problem to find many useful information, the trouble is that there are more versions of PW – and if you play PWI you should use “Perfect World International” (with quotes too) as the part of your Google search.

The center of the Archosaur city is really impressive!

Starting with level around 12 we helped each other regardless races and it’s much more enjoying and rewarding. After all – that’s what MMORPGs are all about! Beast levels and the story (or quests) leads you around certain paths on the map – you can see it on the second map in this post or on PW wiki with dungeon maps too. There are three distinct routes from level 1 to 20 – one for each race. After that your steps (actually the teleport again) leads you to the Ancient Dragon City – called Archosaur in PWI (don’t know why, doesn’t matter really).

Two sisters medidating before they slay another batch of Venomous Ghouls

In Archosaur you get to the big world – that doesn’t mean that the game changes dramatically. You still mostly slay monsters. Important difference between PWI and L2 is that it’s actually finishing the quest what gives you most of experiences. And you can start your own guild (called Faction here but everybody calls it guild anyway). Funny (and annoying) thing is that PWI seems to have some troubles with spaces and longer texts. Chat message length is limited too much, guild name can be up to 9(!) characters and in guild slogan you can’t use spaces (invalid character error message)! It all makes me think “this might have worked only with Chinese signs!” Also guild member level displayed in the guild screen is not up to date (sometimes significantly). These are not serious mistakes, but still stupid ones.

You can swim under water without limits – that’s not real but who cares? 🙂

Bug that troubled many more players is best known as Level 19 Spiritual Cultivation issue – I hit that too but somehow I overcame it with luck. It seems that you have to free at least 8 slots in your inventory to get it. Shit happens and my friends nearly stopped playing the game. Luckily (for me) we all play on. 🙂 After this we entered into our first instanced dungeon. Don’t underestimate beasts in dungeons – because their level may be low but the truth is that they are much much harder. We got killed many times. 😉

MiraZirma with the pumpkin head. I haven’t noticed any effect, it’s just some Helloween item. I sold it.

I should return to some technical aspects of the game. When I’ve found out that I can’t redefine my keys (I hate WASD, I’m ESDF kind of guy) I thought I’ll have serious problems playing the game. But this is not first person shooter and I adapted quite quickly. If there is some way to redefine keys in the future, I’ll surely do it, but I can use current fixed layout with no problem. There are some chances I guess, game is regularly updated and there is even some expansion prepared for this December. If you played other MMORPG, you’ll find many things familiar, but other things completely off probably.

No, it’s not my pet, it’s our future victim.

Other things that could be better – minimap is too small. It’s actually rather miniminimap. It has two zoom levels, but it’s still too small and low detailed. Hovering over yellow dot (NPC) the name is shown – this is cool. Also quest givers are orange or even magenta (important quests) so you can see them easily if you’re close enough for them to appear on your minimap. I also dislike that when I’m in map Escape key doesn’t close it – you have to close it with your mouse or by pressing M key again – and – that’s even worse – Escape actually stops your character if you’re just running somewhere. [Update: Fixed right the same day in version 28! :-)]

Swimming near the Archosaur harbor.

It seems that I’m talking more about problems – and I have not mentioned here and there laggy server, their general overcrowdness (it’s for free, no wonder), delay between beast/character lock and first action you can do. For instance healing someone right after you’ve clicked on the character might cast the spell on yourself, also fast switching between mobs is tricky and spell is often sent to the previous one. But I like the way how you progress through the PWI world, I generally like skills, items, look&feel of the game, heck I even like the repetitive music (not my style really, but it’s not that bad good in game). That means that I’m still in. If you are too you might find this quest guide useful – I use it here and there just to be sure I haven’t missed anything. Next time I plan to write more about paying for this game (dollars, Zen, Gold) – or maybe about something else. We’ll see.

Caught in the Perfect World

I wanted to write about typical game flaws, I wanted to write about Facebook… and god knows what else as well. But I’ve found free MMORPG called Perfect World International instead just a two days ago and that crossed my plans. I’ve tried one free MMORPG before but it was low quality actually. Perfect World exists for some time, but while it started in China in 2005, three years must have passed till the English version was released. It was actually in this September as an open beta. This version of the game is called “Perfect World International” and this is my first post about it. I don’t promise more but I think it’s going to happen. 🙂

First time nearing the city – Etherblade

Perfect World is based on Chinese mythology, it’s sort of cartoonish, but I’d not say it’s a typical Manga style affecting many other games in this genre. I played Lineage 2 for just a few hours and I like this at least as much as L2 and much more than WoW from what I saw on screenshots. L2 seemed to me barer although the characters are roughly as nice. So the graphics is not top-notch maybe but it’s nice – if you like the style, of course. I don’t mind. I can’t say much about gameplay, because I’m not proficient in MMORPG – however I like it. There is some grinding, but there are enough quests and they mostly bring you enough experiences to move you on. And as I said – it’s free, so why not to try it? Of course you can pay and you’ll get better items and other stuff for your money – so it actually affects your experience and makes the difference.

AdriaZirma looking around in Etherblade

You can download the game from – there are also many torrent seeders – so this part is easy. I had little troubles with registration – you need different login name and visible name – that is used mostly on forums only because you create your actual characters later in game on a particular server. I had also little problem that Enter in registration form just reloaded it (or reset, result is the same) so I recommend clicking on the button – maybe Chrome problem, I don’t care. 😉 So I have my personal account and the game is downloaded and extracted. Installation is easy, and so I’m starting the client. Of course it needs some updates which should be quite fast. I had problems with server timeouts but my friends installing right after me did not. Funny thing is that Account button in the initial client window leads to the http version of the registration page – and it does not work. 😉

Level 10 at last – now I can deal with these bi…beasts!

Ok, game is running! Select the server, create your character, customize it till you drop 🙂 and enter the world. There are three races with their starting point, every race has two possible classes. All players can cooperate I guess – as there is common enemy controlled by AI – the wraiths. Start is slow unless you’re skilled with MMORPG – in that case you can probably level up quickly running from quest to quest. There is in-game help and it is quite good I can say. You’ll run a lot in this game – but what fantasy MMORPG is different? I don’t know, honestly. 🙂 But as it’s free to start with (or even play it if you don’t care that you’re a bit weaker) you can check it by yourself! And that I can recommend unless you’re fully occupied by other games like this. In that case it might not be good enough for you. From what I’ve seen however, I dare to say that it’s better than many paid games. Maybe even better than some of those A-class titles. Go for it.