MP RPG Report 4


 

Still in search of the “perfect” (or “at least good enough”) multiplayer RPG. Yeah, sad isn’t it? My friend TW told me to look on Faceboot and Twits and some ForumSpring thing for RP. Oh. My. God. Has the world sunk so low?? I am not that desperate yet.

I am open to almost any other suggestion, though — from text-only IRC channels through Second Life’s “3D Chat” and even including MMOs, whether they be free or purchaseable. (However, NOT subscription-based.) If you have an idea, you got a favorite, let’s hear it! Gimme a url, gimme a slurl, gimme an amazon.com page. Gimme a server/channel. Come on, you know you want to. (PS: comments are at the bottom of the post. Not the top.)

Or, maybe you don’t. See, me and Jester, we have some particular tastes. Some of which are apparently not popular in this era.

1: We want a SMALL group of dedicated, old-school RPers. Not so small that we have to organize a time when everyone can play, because that ALWAYS goes badly. Enough population that there’s likely to be a few folks to interact with when we do make it into the game.

2: No munchkins. IF there’s a half-dragon, half-demon, half-fae, half-mermaid vampirc werewolf mage character… okay, fine. Uniquness is good. But he better bloody well be trying to HIDE all that and fit in so as not to get mobbed with torches and pitchforks. Capiche? And for Maker’s sake, nobody running around talking about homework in chat-speek, and lolzorzing at the RP.

3: Real-Time RP. I don’t want to get into the mud-slinging of para-rp vs real-time rp (or “one-liners” as they like to call us). Aright? Like I said in my essay, paragraph rp has its place. I just happen to think its place is on forums or in play-by-email. Not live games. Our RP is based on character interaction — that is, talking to one another; having a conversation. Also, we like to play it as a game, to try to figure out the other characters’ thoughts and feelings. Not have them all written out in between the actual spoken words. Even reading that is god-moding. So. A lively pace.

4: Character Driven Plot. Not the godawful run-on-rails things. Unless it’s a good story, WITH multiple choices and outcomes, that the entire group wants to play through (I’m envisioning a multiple-player Dragon Age, here). Something like NWN, which provides a venue for RP, and the freeformers on a server who provide the plots and storyline.

5: No Combat, or at least not twitch versions. I’m looking at YOU, Second Life! I am far too old (and have too much bloody RSI) to be jumping around like a monkey, shooting sword-sized ‘bullets’ at people, trying to hit them in high lag. If we CAN’T just imagine a fair fight and play it out in RP, just… something dice-based. Heck, flip a coin. Oh, and levels? Forget those, please! What IS the point of having some level 4 people, and some level 60 people? Are they even playing the same game? Why do new characters always have to be total idiot wusses who don’t even know how to HOLD a sword? You know? Sometimes I like to develop a character who is an old veteran campaigner. How the blazes do you logically explain his decades of experience and his ineptitude at level 1? Uh, you don’t. Right. You can’t even play your character the way you envision him/her until you reach a high level. So what is the point of having low levels? See my point?

 

All righty, so on with a report. Jester has been researching RPGs. He says his results always boil down to LOTRO and DDO as being the epitome of multi-player RPG. (That’s Lord of the Rings Online, and Dungeons & Dragons Online.) Now I’ll tell you why these suck. :X Yes, yes, ONLY from my own, biased viewpoint.

 

Lord of the Rings Online


It’s based on one of the greatest fantasy epics of our time. (Well, actually, it’s kinda old. OMG, they’re like making kids read it in school, cuz it’s like classic literature! Cripes, in my day, we had to read that boring real-world stuff.) It’s a very rich world, high fantasy, yadda yadda yadda. Now we all know how the story goes. Of course, the story has to go like that in the game. So, don’t plan on having any (Middle)earth-shattering affect on things.

In fact, don’t plan on having any affect on anything. This game is so run-on-rails, and there is like one option in any conversation. For example, me and Jester were playing a pair of badass Polonian brothers I created. Some manor-owner git sent us into a trap. After we… wet our pants and ran away (that is just SO out of character!), did we go punch his face in? Uh, NO. No, because he’s somebody important. Here’s a hint, Polonians don’t care WHO you are, you mess with them, they kick your butt. Capiche?

Otherwise, it was a nice-looking game. Just… not a role-playing game. Playing a guy in a story like an actor, maybe, with all your lines pre-written.

 

Dungeons & Dragons Online


Okay, now THIS is based on the CORE of role-playing. Oh, to be sure, it has classes and stats and all that, but this created the idea of a DM running the game, and the players affecting the outcome. By… yeah, playing their roles.

Now, I’m going to have to put things on hold, because we can’t remember why we quit DDO. So, I’m re-installing the client, and I will have a follow-up report on that. Shaddap, I’m old and senile.

Actually, as I recall, it was the same stupid everyone lumped together in one place doing their thing and NOT role-playing as everything else. And I seem to remember it being bad for my RSI. Was this one of the ones where you had to tuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrn your character around and FACE the thing you were trying to attack? Will double-check.

 

Mabinogi


It’s against the TOS for me to link to the Mabinogi page; you have to navigate to it from Nexon’s home page. Sorry.

MMOhut had some interesting things to say about this game, about how much freedom there is in the world NOT to have to fight and kill things and grind and level. And about how much creativity there is in the crafting: sewing, tailoring, cooking; you can hold down a job. You could practically be a farmer in this game, not the typical fighter/archer/rogue/cleric/mage stuff. Grow some corn, raise some chickens. Build a campfire, play a lute for your friends as you all sit around…. TALKING! zomg, the talking!

Now, first up, this is world’s biggest pain in the butt to get running. For some reason, the shortcut takes you to the web page. If you log into the web page and hit the “Play” button there… it might actually launch the game. My friend who has Vista had trouble with the hacker-protection guard-dog software it comes with. The sucker will not run.

It’s world’s second biggest pain to learn the paradigm of quests and such. For example, when a quest is completed, you don’t get your reward. You have to go to the quest page and press the “Complete” button yourself. Why? I don’t know. When the game tells you that you can use the CTRL key to “auto target” enemies… it means you can ONLY use the LEFT CTRL key. The right CTRL key does exactly doodle-squat. That took another ten minutes to figure out. I also didn’t realize I had more quests to do, because you get the quest, and the first step of the quest is to talk to the quest-giver. Yeah, kinda backwards, that.

So it’s different from most games in that respect. I have to give it points, though, because the “you are a clueless newbie in our world, and I will now teach you how to walk and hold your weapon at the same time” stuff is not as stupidly annoying as most MMOs. Yes, you still have to go kill 5 harmless little armadillos as a first quest. And then go punch a wall. But, seriously, after you leave the basic training area, the little newbie quests are well-rounded.

For example, you can discover things. One quest I found was to sketch an armadillo, NOT to shoot it. Nice, huh? The only downer on that quest was, I already HAD an armadillo sketch I made in the starter area. Noooo, it wouldn’t take that one. I had to go draw a new one and turn that in.

Now I’m trying to learn spinning and weaving so I can graduate to tailor and make some clothes. Because those suckers are EXPENSIVE!

Let’s pause for a moment and talk about the look of Mabinogi. It’s very anime-cartoonish. In fact, the characters are all cel-shaded. With those chibi-style eyes and stuff. Oh, not super-deformed. But very “bright” shall we say. You can’t select your clothing colour when you create your character. Somehow, the type/colour of hair and eyes you pick changes your clothing. When I “graduated” from the newbie training, I got a desert robe. That was purple and green. OMG, I sold that sucker first chance I got. And then I couldn’t afford to buy a new robe! So I’m stuck with green tunic and blue shorts. Now I have huge purple gloves. Where’s a dye kit when you need one!?

Also, the maximum age you can start out is 17. Well, that does explain why your character has low stats! :X Your character will age and grow throughout the game. In fact, for some reason, I’m gaining weight, my legs are getting skinny, and my upper body strength is going to pieces. Growing pains!? OMG. It’s not like I’m not running around! And punching trees. (Well, elves don’t seem to have mastered tree-harvesting techniques like using a ladder to pick berries.)

Let’s not dwell entirely on the negative. What the heck is attracting me to this game, anyway? A few things.

Remember how I mentioned my obsession with pets and mounts? They have these, in spades! And, pets that ARE mounts. Plus, horses can seat two people. The thing is… you have to buy a pet with real money. Well, with NX points. Actually, they also have four different providers of free NX offers, which I am working on. For not getting inundated with spam and calls from insurance agents… I can make about 100nx per day. It costs 9,900nx for a horse. (In real world US money, thats $9.90 About 12 bucks for a tiger, and 6 bucks and change for a falcon.) If I enjoy the game, I wouldn’t mind blowing a couple bucks on it. Five. Maybe ten. Depends. But for now, I’m getting free points, and it’ll only take me 99 days to earn a horse.

And, it has jousting! Now, hang on. Jousting is a mini-game, so you don’t actually have to OWN a horse (or any lance(s)) to play it.

I like the creative opportunities. From what I understand, you can design the clothing outfits somewhat like in the NWN servers that had the Mil Tailor. In something like UWO, you can make a feathered hat, you can make a pre-defined dress, you can dye things… but you can’t actually design the whole look and components of an outfit. Plus, they have music you can compose and play in-world. I’m not great at music, but Jester is always playing bards and he likes his lute.

Did I also mention how I’m a sucker for fishing? There’s fishing! Oh yeah, I’m all over that. There’s even a record of how many different types of fish you catch! Plus you can tame animals, and there’s over 100 of those you can get. (Not sure how or even if that relates to pets, but it’s something.)

So I’m shearing sheep and learning how to spin thread. Taking some jobs with the shy clothing shop guy to try to learn more skills and earn some money. (Uh, and sorta failing, there. How mortifying! I wanted him to like me! The NPCs have a bit of character memory, so they get to know you and remember you, and can develop a liking or disliking for you. Not talking DA romance options here, but it’s different from your pre-programmed NPCs in most games.)

It’s keeping me busy, like UWO keeps me busy. Trading and crafting. Travelling around. Fishing. I need bucks for that fishing pole…. But so far, I don’t really feel I’ve moved past the “newbie MMO training area.” Not yet. Could it be that flavor never goes away? Could be. Could there be actual living towns with artisans and craftsmen, plying their trades? Could be.

Could there be actual freeform role-playing going on between characters?? Eh, I won’t hold my breath. Would be nice, though.

 


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