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Powerage

A evaluation of MMOs I play, I hope with the ranting cut out & anything else I happen to think would interest the wider world.Comments would be appreciated.

Author: Romir

Tabula Rasa - Small update

Posted by Romir Thursday January 31 2008 at 12:39PM
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So, the new patch is in. Hybrids, lagg reduction, tweaks. Oh and a /sit emote yay!

It was a long time in production, so hopes were high. I have not leveled much since my last post, I am now 34, I waited for the patch, read some books etc.

All in all I would say its a good try. The hybrid quests are, for want of better description, well thought out, the writers really need a pat on the back. For the level they are are supposed to be able to do them, the first is about 15, the last 40. They are rather difficult. I had some fun uncovering the story of the alien races, although I am slightly too low to obtain the level 40 Thrax DNA. Yeah DNA, rather than come up with some story about interspecies relationships, you obtain the DNA codes of that race, which means, when you go to clone yourself, you can splice  your human DNA with the alien DNA, therefore obtaining the strengths and weaknesses of the race.

Most of the bugs were fixed, thats always a good thing, as it was a major gripe of the players. Mires lagg has been fixed, and if you have read this blog before, you will note that I was very complementary of that zone, well, they have removed the lagg, I think without doing too much damage to the enemy population of the zone. You notice it, it is clear the number of mobs has been reduced, but the pace of the zone is maintained.

However, I do somehow feel weaker, and this has been confirmed by other players, the reason why, I don't know. It's a little harder, and I am pleased with that, I hear the new instance they added is a tough one, It's the start of them adding more end game content.

They still need allot more quests added in the mid level zones, I always find myself grinding the the last 1/4. So still not spoiled for choice. Not that I expect one patch to fix everything.

I feel like it's a good effort, they have decided to give us regular smaller patches rather than the large one every few month, I agree with this, I hate waiting.

Tabula Rasa - A clean slate [2]

Posted by Romir Sunday January 6 2008 at 3:27PM
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We are now going to jump forwards in time, to past the "Three day trial" zones. My topics for this post are:

  •  CP (control point)  Assault & defense
  • Instances
  • Mid-game [mentioned throughout]
  • Travel/transport
  • PvP
  • Gripes

Control Points

Right from early in the game we are given the option to fight for the areas known as Control points. These are commonly outposts or military bases. Some built by the AFS (of which you are a member) and some by the Bane. These zones are both vital for your questing needs and your convenience as once you loose them to the Bane hordes, you can no longer use the shops or the warp points within, attempting to do so without a team of friends, may well see your a$$ handed to you on a plate.

How it works is simple, at regular intervals the bane attack, sometimes in small numbers but just as often are large attack squads aimed at liquidating any AFS forces within the base and capturing the CP. The same works for assault, except reread the last sentence and swap round "AFS" and "Bane". When you are part of an assault team you are rewarded with "Assault tokens" and when you are defending, you guessed it "defense tokens" these as it stands it has to be said are almost useless, rewarding you with crafting items you probably will never use but my guess is that will soon change. But, on the brighter side, it is allot of fun, and the EXP rewarded for your efforts is dynamite.

I have so much fun with this type of combat that on the way to these quests that I think to myself "Did that Thrax just look at me funny...I'm sure it did, oh well, his loss...". So there I am In the middle of this pile of broken bane, now feeling satisfied and ready to continue questing. TR makes combat feel fresh, and battles for control of the CP is a prime example of what the game has to offer.

I found that once you get to about level 27/28 it starts to really pick up and you really want these CP on your side, not just for principle (I mean, the bane are rather ugly) but because the zones are so big and scary. I have reached a zone that goes by the name of "Mires" and thought, this is what an MMO should be like, I want more of this. It's intense, rather difficult, and the story kept throughout the zone is interesting and the quests (like all quests in TR) are given worthwhile reason for you to get up off the sofa.

Instances

Yes indeed, In TR dungeons are instanced, so only your group is active in the area at any one time, other groups in that instance exist on a different copy, so your left alone to explore uninterrupted.

Mid-game all the classes seem to work as one, every class seems to be able to hold its own, even the healers do decent enough damage from what I can see. They do need to give the player more customization power over their abilities, I feel that this will be addressed, though it can't be done soon enough. I found that some of the instance maps, particularly in the Atta colony's (giant ant/humanish things that like to throw rocks at you) are not as good as they could be, but then again, I am not sure if I would like this changed or not, it adds to the unknown and the fun of exploration. The instance quest rewards get better with your leveling as you would expect, instances themselves get slowly harder but I feel in a well balanced way. There are enough instances to help prevent grinding, Richard Garriott has said that he disagrees with grinding, most of the player base agrees with him.

I do however feel that, due to the nature of the instances, I don't tend to repeat them, I do the quests and leave, never to return. I think the reason I do this is that I don't seem to get the wonderful drops from the bosses like in most games. The rewards come from quests, perhaps involving killing that boss and all his subordinates.

Transportation

This is perhaps one of my favorite things about TR. There are well thought out way points throughout each zone. Once you have been to the CP and gained its way point, it's at your disposal. There are also purchasable, portable way points. Some of them can be used by your entire group, two ways, and they don't break the bank. It really helps when you have just finished an instance and don't fancy the long ride home. I have found them to reduce the time I spend on needless traveling by quite allot. Also there are drop ships, for inter-zone travel and wormholes for your interplanetary needs. We have been told that the introduction of Personal Armor Units (PAU's) will be an upcoming feature which we are all looking forward to. And last of all, Motor Assist Armor, just a second set of armor  that makes you run quicker. The armor class of Motor Assist is quite low and more importantly, makes you looks silly. So we have to gauge when its wise to use to use it (A good example is when no one is around to see you).

PvP

The PvP I must say I have no experience with myself, put I do love PvP and have always spent allot of time participating on other MMOs so I thought I would give it a mention. The reason I have not so far is that other than duals which can be between two players or squads (groups), PvP is a clan affair, where guilds declare war on each other and for the period of a week, it's all out war between anyone in the two clans (or more). My clan is not participating in PvP just yet, it's early days. As it stands there are no rewards, only a table of the most ruthless clans. Again we are told there will be PvP CPs.

Gripes

So far there are just a few things that bother me, still no update to fix the bugged quests, I know it's been Christmas so I will forgive them, just this once. Also  I think there are too many bugs (insects this time)  in the mid-game zones, its only minor it's just a little annoying. The lag in a zone called mires is really annoying, its said to be fixed in the next patch, but as far as I'm concerned it's such a great zone and the lag has at times made it hard for me to remember this. The guild options are no good, you can see what they set out to do is unfinished, MOTD and more guild ranks are needed. I need key bindings. I want to be able to bind more skills to keys, we have about five slots so far, for about fifteen possible skills or items I would like to have quicker access to. I just hit level thirty the other day, and there really isn't room for the new skills, revamped UI please :).

I still have not decided to start crafting, as far as I can see it would be a waste of time, as the points you use to upgrade skills are also the same you use to upgrade crafting. No that will be done on  an alt at 50 I think. The  RMT need to be sorted out, at the start it was funny, due to TR not having any use what so ever for credits other than the little to raise questing. Lets keep it that way.

So far then, its safe to say I am vastly enjoying TR, and I think it's about time I logged on again.

OK, if you have any comments to make, spot an error, have something you want to see appear in my next post (that does not involve surrealistic pillows, the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from mars or anything of that nature, or questions, please post below.

Cheers.

Tabula Rasa - A clean slate.

Posted by Romir Friday January 4 2008 at 5:08PM
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I decided to put together a little ongoing review of my travels through this game world.  My experiences, opinions, hopes &  ideas regarding Tabula Rasa. I will start with well, the beginning so I am going to have to look back over the last month...

To start with please allow me a brief introduction of myself (Feel free to skip). I started off playing RPGs with the likes of Suikoden II, Final Fantasy (which I have really lost faith in) and Baldur's Gate. So yes, quite a standard beginning to my love of role play games. I then began playing MMOs with FFXI (Final Fantasy XI) which I played for about two and a half years, then briefly tried EQ2 (about a week) before deciding to jump on the WoW bandwagon  (a year), Followed briefly by my flirting with the F2P (Free to play) games like RF Online  and now, finally  Tabula Rasa.

The first thing I noticed about TR was the very nice into sequence and In my opinion that is rather important, It helps set the mood for that first time you gain control of your avatar.

For anyone who has not yet seen it, here it is on youtube, the quality is none too good but...you get the idea.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpGhOEvVURM

The problem is, every time I look at any games intro, I always compare it to the FFXI one in my head before I can stop myself, always a mistake. But still I can see they have put a good amount of effort into it.

The character creation is very basic, I noticed that I spent more time than usual on the name however, as with TR, you keep the same surname with every single avatar. It has to be something you can live with. The good news is that today it was announced that the next patch will contain "hybrid race" so I hope thats a move in the right direction for this important section, we all like to be individuals right?

That over the tutorial was simple yet I found myself forgetting all the information and working it out again for myself. Testament to my personal belief that "Press B for backpack" tutorials are unnecessary and actually spoil the mood.

Once the game Starts though I was more than impressed, not a single Elf in sight, the Bane spawn by either teleporting or arriving in drop-ships, much better than the appear out of thin air in most games. I soon got into the swing of things, looking for logos (information left by a powerful alien race), making peace with the local alien population who have joined us in our struggle against the bane invasion.

The monsters all look suitably alien the terrain in the initial zone looks like the devs were thinking "earth but with an eerie offworldish feel to it" and I like it. The graphics were good (I will say here that I can run it on max settings with my rig) and I have no complaints here.

The sound is ok, it suits the game style, the terrain, the sounds of gunfire, mobs, drop ships and explosions are all good. But still no match for the mighty Hawkwind.

The battle is allot more involved, you have to gain cover, reload, crouch and select which of your mighty arsenal this monster is going to have the pleasure of meeting. The typical elements like Fire and Water are still around but now we have the additional EMP & laster among others. Also the use of bombs and grenades adding to the fun, then there are your "Logos" powers, much like magic or special abilities. Many of the skills need you to find these Logos before you can use one of your class skills and sometimes you hear a little recording of the "Eloh" these powerful and questionably wise aliens and their reason for sharing their powers with the human race, through these some of the games very nice story unfolds.

The story, seems very well written, while we have our share of the usual collect 10 of these quests, they are all explained, some times by coming to terms with the new planet, a strategic move against our bane enemies, an Eloh crash site or shelter. It all gives the feeling that not only does it save you from the grind, it saves you from the thirty six thousand story threads I have seen in some games. And I do like a good story.