I’m Back! – Free MMORPGs: Flyff, Rappelz, Runes of Magic

Sheldor back online!

Sorry for such a long AFK time. I finished school, went on vacation, and got a second job as a video game tester at Foundation 9 Entertainment / Griptonite Games (Now I’m working 7 days a week).

Anyway, my friend, my roommate, and I have been looking for games that all three of us can play. We’re all really into RPGs, so while we wait for Diablo III to come out (Which, unfortunately, will not be anytime soon), we decided to check out some free MMORPGs. Here’s what we found, in order from worst to best:

Game name: Flyff
Publisher: Gala-Net/gPotato.com
Developer: Aeonsoft
Platform: PC

Flyff is a good MMORPG for people that don’t play video games much, at least from what I could tell in the short time (Level 10ish) that I could tell. The monsters drop candy, the graphics are fluffy, and the gameplay seemed to be quite easy, although tedious. I only got 2 skills, and one of them actually did less damage, because it takes a long time to wind up, so auto attacking would do more damage. There’s no pathfinding when you click to move, and if you get caught on a small object, it’s annoying to get unstuck. All in all, I wouldn’t suggest playing Flyff, as it seemed like it would just be a ton of grinding.

Game name: Rappelz
Publisher: gPotato.com
Developer: nFlavor
Platform: PC

My friends and I played Rappelz for a lot longer than Flyff, though we didn’t get to end game or anything like that. Rappelz seemed to be a lot more hardcore than Flyff, aimed at your average gamer. From what we looked up, they have end game content, as well as decent PVP (There are three different factions). The skill system seemed to work well, and there is a cool combat pet system in which every class gets a pet. One problem that we saw with Rappelz is that there was one area (A ghost ship) that was ridiculously hard, even though there were three of us and it was a low level area. Also, as far as we can tell, only one class gets the ability to heal their pet, and when your pet dies, it doesn’t come back with full health. This would require the other classes to either wait for their pet to heal, or just not use their pet. Once again, we didn’t play this one all too much, but that’s what we could figure out.

Game name: Runes of Magic
Publisher: Frogster Interactive, Frogster America
Developer: Runewaker Entertainment
Platform: PC

Runes of Magic is the game we are currently playing, and will probably be playing until Diablo III comes out. RoM is basically WoW, but a little bit less polished. The skill system is a little bit different, and there are no talent points (So as far as I can tell most characters will be the same come end game). Also, there’s a dual class system which seems a little funny at first, but you get used to it. There are a few things that I think RoM actually does better than WoW. For example, a lot of quest items / enemies are highlighted on your mini map, you can put markers on your map for quests by right clicking tags in the quest log, and you can run toward certain quest tags by right clicking on them in your quest log as well. Other than that, the game is pretty much the exact same as WoW – quests, kill enemies, get professions, go through zones, etc. I haven’t found out how PVP works in RoM yet, but I think it’s just kill whoever you want starting at a certain level, which wouldn’t be that great in my opinion. I HIGHLY suggest playing RoM, especially if you want to play WoW, but you don’t want to / can’t pay for WoW.

Diablo II Game Update

Ever since I applied for a game designer / programmer summer internship at Blizzard Entertainment in January I have been replaying my favorite game of all time, Diablo II. After playing on ladder for some time, I came to find out that the ladder was resetting soon due to an update. At the time, there were some rumors about Blizzard adding a respecialization system to Diablo II, a 10+ year old game! I figured that these rumors were just that, rumors, but it turns out they were true! Blizzard has added a respecialization system to Diablo II after 10+ years! I think it’s just incredible that they’re still adding functionality after 10 years! I mean, everyone that I knew felt that it needed some way to change skills later on in the game, instead of being stuck with the ones that you chose, and now they have finally added a way to do just that! I think that’s just incredible. Thanks Blizzard!

Game Design Challenge Site

My roommate came across this website when he learned that I wanted to be a game designer. I thought it was a really cool concept. They post a game design theme, and people submit game designs. They then select the best few game designs, and post the winners. While I haven’t submitted any game designs yet, I look forward to possibly having some time in the summer to more thoroughly investigate this site.

If I’m not mistaken, the link above links to this week’s current design challenge. The link to the site that contains these challenges can be found here. Just click on the current game design challenge (It’s currently the first major link).

Gears of War Review

Game Name: Gears of War
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Epic Games
Platform: PC / XBox 360

What I liked about it:

A few weeks ago, my roommate and I played through the first Gears of War, and I must say, it was a night full of fun! While I was testing at Microsoft a few summers ago, a friend of mine was testing Gears of War 2. At the time, I had no clue that Gears of War was so much fun!

Gears of War has a very interesting and fluid cover system. The Gears of War team used context sensitive input to make the space bar perform different actions depending on what’s going on around you. Usually this is done poorly, so when you mean to perform one action, another action happens instead. In Gears of War however, I would say it did what I wanted about 95% of the time.

Another thing that I thought this game did that I haven’t seen too much of, yet I really liked, was universal ammo crates. This probably isn’t quite what you think though. When you pick up one box of ammo, it gives you ammo for each of your weapons, but each weapon uses separate ammo. For example, one box of ammo might give +150 machine gun ammo, +20 pistol ammo, and +4 sniper ammo.

I very much enjoyed the bigger enemies in the game as well, even though most of them were taken down using a super gun called the Hammer of Dawn, which essentially called a huge satellite to attack your target. Some of these bigger enemies are boomers, berserkers, seeders, and brumaks.

I absolutely loved the quirky remarks made by the characters, both in the cutscenes and the ambient dialogue. If you ever make a game, try and add stuff like that to further immerse the player.

Finally, I felt that the difficulty curve of the game was done very well. The game was hard at some points, but not too hard. The final boss is actually pretty difficult until you get the rhythm down, which is perfect for a final boss. In fact, I haven’t seen a more fun final boss battle than this in a long time.

What could use some improvement:

Overall, the game had a great look and feel to it. That being said, individual portions of the level looked very similar, so I kept getting turned around, especially with the motion blur while running. Which reminds me, when you run, there’s a little bit of a blur effect. Over the course of the game, this made my eyes hurt quite a bit. The game could have done without that, even though it was a cool effect.

The game was a little buggy. I got stuck on walls about three times, and had one out of environment experience (Which was actually pretty cool, because I had a good view of a cool looking city from where I was). Lucky for me, when your teammate gets to a checkpoint, you get teleported there.

I wish that the story was explained a little bit more. There is a short cutscene if you stay idle at the main screen, but it doesn’t really explain that much. Once you start the game, it seems to assume that you know what a seeder is, or why you’re fighting against the Locust Horde.

All in all, I highly recommend playing through Gears of War, especially if you have a friend that can save you when the game glitches out.

Cool (And Funny) Design Video

If you are even remotely interested in game design, or are curious about what the future (IRL – In Real Life) holds, check this out!

I couldn’t find a perfect video of it, but here are two sources:

Full video in one spot. Audio was not synced with video yesterday (But apparently it is today): http://www.g4tv.com/lv3/44277

Video split into parts, but audio and video seemed fine (Make sure to watch parts 2 and 3 as well):

League of Legends Review

1226004-league_of_legends_largeGame Name: League of Legends
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Riot Games
Platform: PC
Cost: FREE!!!
Website: http://www.leagueoflegends.com/

Ever played the Warcraft 3 mod DotA (Defense of the Ancients)? Who hasn’t? Well if you liked DotA even a minuscule amount, you should definitely think of giving League of Legends a try.

So what’s League of Legends like? Picture this: Take all the good parts of DotA, improve upon them, and throw all the bad parts away. That’s League of Legends in a nutshell. Essentially it’s the same thing as DotA, with different heroes and abilities, but better made.

I played DotA back when it was a little bitty baby (When the frozen throne meant a toilet in Alaska), and I absolutely loved it! However, once they started making DotA for Warcraft III’s expansion, The Frozen Throne, I lost interest in it. They packed the game with too many heroes and way too many item combinations.

League of Legends has a good number of heroes and came up with a great way to take care of complicated combinations. Essentially what they did is make a tree out of the items that you need to make the bigger items, with the biggest item at the root, or top of the tree. They made the interface simple, and that really helps in a fast paced game like League of Legends. Plus, it has a cool acronym, LoL.

Dragon Age: Origins Review (Spoilers?)

Game Name: Dragon Age: Origins
Publisher: Electronic Arts (EA)
Developer: BioWare
Platform: PC

What I liked about it
  • To be honest, when I first thought about playing this game, I really didn’t think I would like the “choose your own dialogue” / story-based type of game. Once I got going however, I found it to be quite enjoyable.
  • Some of the quirky character dialogue (Both while walking around and during the one on one talks) was quite enjoyable. There was one point where Morigan said something to Sten that sounded like she was into him, and he responded with something like “First you need more armor, and some weapons. I like to snuggle sometimes, so you’ll need an iron bar to pry me away. Make sure to heat it up nice and hot, or I might just ignore it.” It was hilarious! I especially love Zevran!
  • I LOVE the 300-esc slow motion “cutscenes” when a big monster dies and one of your party members kills them in a cool way.
  • My favorite part of this game was that at the end, your whole entire party (Not just 4 members) fights all at once. I thought this was such a cool idea, and it really made that battle epic.
What could use some improvement
  • Even though I said that I liked the dialogue, I found myself skipping it towards the end just to beat the game. I guess the game droned on a little bit too long for my liking.
  • Throughout the game, I felt that there really wasn’t enough equipment upgrading. I found myself always checking to see if new armor was better, only to find that the only thing the new stuff was good for was making a few sovereign. Players like to upgrade, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. If you “reward” them with equipment that’s worse than the stuff they’re already wearing, it’s not much of a reward now is it? It would be like rewarding a child that already has a cookie with a stalk of broccoli.
  • In my opinion, this game needs quite a bit more epic boss battles. I was only impressed by two battles – The dragon before the Urn of Sacred Ashes, and the final boss battle. Even the Broodmother was pretty weak. Why couldn’t there have been anything epic like this in the game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iFrHRaH0Os
  • Why in the world would they make spells do friendly fire damage? That is just ridiculous! I understand that this game gets its roots from D & D, but when the only good spells are AoE spells, it’s not fun to have to move your party out of them before you cast.
  • The ending is pretty anticlimactic. I mean, sure, as I said, the final boss battle is pretty epic, but after that, the game pretty much just ends. The Darkspawn are defeated, shouldn’t everyone rejoice and party or something?
  • This one is for “choose your own dialogue” games in general. I hate it when the game gives you a choice of good and evil, but in the end, you’re forced to do good. What I mean is, while you’re given a choice, you are inevitably trying to save the world anyway, making you a good person.
  • Um… can I get multiple bars for my skills please? Come on devs, it’s not that hard! Add a few variables and voila! With as many spells as the game has, how could they not think of this?!
  • Finally, I know this was meant to be a story-based single player game, but it would have been pretty awesome if there was a multiplayer.