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Anti-Labor Themes in NosTale

Posted by lordaltay1 Monday October 20 2008 at 10:00PM
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As a game reviewer, I often find my self playing strange games which I would never of found on my own. One such game is NosTale, a free to play Korean MMORPG with colorful 2D graphics and simple game play. I wasn’t expecting much from this MMO, your basic grindfest with some fetch quests thrown into the mix. Following the main quest line, I was surprised that at around level 17 I was asked to investigate rumors of a miner’s strike. I had to go ‘undercover’ into a mine and listen to a group of workers and either confirm or deny the rumors of a strike to the Mine Boss. Unfortunately for the miners, the rumors were true – the miners were planning a general strike! I informed the Boss and he gave me the following instructions:


That’s right, I had to ‘break’ the strike by killing 8 of the miners. That’ll put those workers in their place! Bear in mind that these NPC miners are NOT aggressive towards players and have names like ‘Happy Miner.’ Political and ideological concepts in video games can be used to enhance a game’s overall plot, just look at Bioshock. But it seems to me that the developers and publishers of NosTale, a game aimed at a young audience, just didn’t think things through when they wrote this quest line. Now don’t get me wrong, nothing in NosTale is offensive but this quest did raise an eyebrow. I wonder how many other games have subtle (or unintentional) political statements in them?


Three World of Warcraft Spoofs

Posted by lordaltay1 Sunday September 21 2008 at 9:02PM
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Everyone knows how wildly successful World of Warcraft has been around the world, and I’m surprised MMORPG developers waited so long to make knock offs of it. There is nothing wrong with borrowing some of the successful features of a competitor but the following games are shameless knock offs; 4Story, Talisman Online and the upcoming Runes of Magic MMO game. When I say “shameless knock offs” I mean the developers seriously looked at World of Warcraft and copied every aspect of the game to the best of their abilities.

For your Reference; A screen shot from World of Warcraft




When I first started playing 4Story I was shocked by how similar it was to World of Warcraft. Everything from the games graphics to the interface looked just like World of Warcraft. There is no doubt that World of Warcraft is a good game, so logic dictates that if someone copies World of Warcraft, that game will be good as well. This is true for the most part, as game play is generally fun, but if you’ve played World of Warcraft before, playing 4Story will feel like a cheap knockoff. The game is still worth checking out if you’ve never played World of Warcraft before or you don’t want to pay for it.

Talisman Online


Talisman Online looks even more like a cheap knockoff of World of Warcraft. It’s clear that the game tried to copy World of Warcraft’s interface and graphics, but it only succeeded half way. If you look at the game’s spell icons they look almost identical to the spell icons from World of Warcraft. Take a look at the Ice bolt icon, it’s the same exact icon from World of Warcraft! The graphics are a bit jagged to, but other than that; the games are pretty similar; minus the fact that Talisman is obviously an inferior game.

Runes of Magic

This is the newest World of Warcraft spoof out there and the game hasn’t even been released yet. Runes of Magic looks like the most “polished” World of Warcraft knock off and will probably be an excellent alternative to the actual game. The game will also be free to play mmorpg, so it may attract a lot of players who were interested in playing World of Warcraft, but didn’t want to pay for it. Check out the trailer for this one.


Top 5 Free 'Under The Radar' MMOs

Posted by lordaltay1 Thursday September 18 2008 at 12:34AM
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Big companies have big budgets to promote their games, but don’t go missing out on the smaller budget titles; they can be a lot of fun. Sure everyone has heard of big name free MMORPG titles like Maplestory, Fly For Fun, Last Chaos and SilkRoad, but have you heard of these games?

5) Risk Your Life 2

Risk Your Life 2 : Incomplete Union is a fairly balanced 3D MMORPG. The game has never really got any attention from the MMORPG community, but the game’s fast leveling makes the game worth checking out.

4) Saga

Saga is a 3D MMORTS that doesn’t require a lot of commitment to enjoy. The game is geared towards both casual and hardcore gamers as players don’t need to commit countless hours everyday if they want to be competitive. You can train units and construct buildings off line, so make sure to log in at least once a day and give your peasants new orders. If anything, this game is worth checking out simply for its uniqueness.

3) Seal Online

Seal online is a 2D Fantasy MMORPG made behind Rohan. Unlike Rohan, Seal Online is much more light hearted and colorful. The game’s graphics look a lot like Asda Story and Fly For Fun.

2) Savage: Battle for Newerth

Savage is a 3D MMO, a Shooter AND an RTS. The game is incredibly unique and is truly the only one of its kind. Each game has a single “commander” who plays in a the standard RTS zoomed out view and is in charge on gathering resources / constructing buildings / upgrading weapons. Everyone else in the game act as soldiers who can help the commander gather resources or simply attack the enemy. This game is definitely worth checking out, as it’s incredibly unique and a lot of fun.

1) Freestyle: Street Basketball

Freestyle is a 3D Basketball MMO. I know what you’re thinking.. “a basketball MMO.. What? I don’t even like basketball!”. Well I don’t like basketball either, but I absolutely love Freestyle. Rounds are incredibly fast paced and take a lot of skill. The games a lot more fun when you play with friends; but playing with random people online is still a lot of fun.



MMORPG Reviewer

Posted by lordaltay1 Friday August 29 2008 at 6:14PM
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Once you’ve played a few MMORPGs, you’ve pretty much played them all. I’m not going to rant about all MMO games being clones of each other again, but I’d love to see an MMORPG do something revolutionary. Just a heads up, revolutionary doesn’t have to mean good. Even if a game with unique game play is terribly broken I would still give the game some credit for doing something out of the norm. With game companies churning out new titles each week, it’s getting difficult to review games, as nearly every game I review feels too much like another game I’ve already looked at. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing MMORPGs, but it’d be nice to have a bit of variety every now and then.

To be fair, the last few games I’ve looked at were pretty unique. S4 League was a blast to play, as it offered an alternative to the only other fast paced anime shooter, GunZ the Duel. Although S4 League didn’t exactly revolutionize it’s genre [Shooters], it did add variety to the genre. There really aren’t a lot of anime inspired shooting MMOs out there, so it made sense for Alaplayer to publish the game. Outspark also recently released their snowboarding MMO Project Powder, and it was fairly revolutionary, as it is the only snowboarding MMO out there! Publishers don’t always think like this though. There are countless fantasy MMORPGs out there today and publishers keep bringing more and more of them to the market. The problem with this is that developers continue to produce the same generic MMORPGs. I enjoy reviewing unique games like S4 League and Project Powder, but playing a generic fantasy MMORPG isn’t at all exciting.

If I were to play two games; one very polished 3D Fantasy MMORPG and a buggy 3D time traveling Sci-Fi MMORPG, odds are I’d write a more favorable review for the 3D Time traveling Sci-Fi MMORPG, as the game is unique. There are countless 3D Fantasy MMORPGs out there already that are phenomenal, the market doesn’t need more! If you’re looking for a good fantasy MMORPG, go ahead and play Florensia or even SilkRoad Online, they’re both great games. Obviously if the Sci-Fi MMORPG was unplayable buggy, the generic fantasy MMORPG would receive a more favorable review, but my point is that developers need to innovate!


Imbalanced MMORPG Classes

Posted by lordaltay1 Monday August 11 2008 at 1:12PM
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With so many new free MMORPGs out on the market there are bound to be games where one class is either extremely over powered or absurdly gimp. The biggest problem with class imbalances are that developers rarely fix them. This isn’t a new problem either. Some MMORPGs have been plagued with class imbalances for years and they choose to ignore them.

The best example of an MMORPG with imbalanced classes is Zero Online. The game only has two classes; Artillery and Infantry. You’d imagine that a game with only two playable classes would at the very least be somewhat balanced, but nope. The artillery class is ridiculously over powered compared to the infantry class. To put these two classes into “fantasy MMORPG” terms the artillery class is a wizard while the infantry class is a warrior. The artillery class can basically annihilate the entire screen in a few seconds using huge laser cannons that can hit 20+ enemies at a time while the infantry class can only attack a single enemy at a time using a sword. Because enemies die incredibly fast, there is absolutely no reason to not play the game’s artillery class. TQ Digital, the developers of Zero Online, have a reputation for being lazy, as their two other games; Crazy Tao and Eudemons also have 2-3 classes and play almost identically to Zero Online. Both Crazy Tao and Eudemons also have the same problem as Zero Online. The Mage class is absurdly overpowered.

Another example of an MMORPG that suffers from imbalanced classes is Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). DAoC is actually a pay to play game (P2P), so even P2P games have imbalances. The game has a lot of classes, but with a lot of classes comes imbalances. World of Warcraft’s developers were smart enough to only create a handful of playable classes as having too many different classes usually results in game imbalances. In DAoC the two imbalances are warrior and enchanter. Warriors are incredibly gimp while enchanters are absurdly over powered. In DAoC to gauge a monster’s strength, all you have to do is click them. Depending on what color their name is in they are that difficult to kill. The scale from hardest to easiest goes like this; Purple [Very Very Hard], Red [Very Hard], Orange [Hard], Yellow [Even Fight], Blue [Easy], Green [Very Easy] and Gray [Very Very Easy, No XP Gained]. A warrior will usually never be able to kill anything rated as “orange [hard]” to him at any given time by himself, and if he does manage to, he’ll come close to death. An Enchanter on the other hand, would have absolutely no problem killing 5-7 monsters at a time marked as “orange [hard] to him. Not only can an enchanter kill more monsters than the warrior at a time, the enchanter will also kill the larger group of monsters at a much faster speed. Other than these two imbalances, the other classes in DAoC are pretty fairly balanced.

There are plenty of other examples of imbalances classes in games, but they’re mostly in less popular games. Popular games like Maple Story and Fly For Fun usually fix imbalances often. Hopefully, developers will spend a bit more time balancing classes as there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing someone of equal level to you being incredibly over powered.

MMORPG Crafting Skills

Posted by lordaltay1 Monday August 4 2008 at 10:54PM
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There is no doubt that MMORPGs today are getting more and more technically impressive. With every new MMORPG release developers are raising the bar higher in terms of graphics, sound and game play, but unfortunately developers aren’t putting much attention to crafting skills. An MMORPG without player interaction isn’t an MMORPG at all, and what better way to make players interact other than encouraging them to trade amongst each other. Crafting skills can add a lot of depth to a game, and quite frankly, an MMORPG without a crafting system by today’s standards is pretty lacking. My chief complaint about crafting skills is that developers don’t put much effort into them and usually end up putting something together that feels cheap and unimpressive.

Games like MapleStory and Fly For Fun are fine examples of how crafting should not be done. MapleStory has absolutely no player interaction in its crafting system. In order to craft weapons / armor players need to talk to an NPC and bring that NPC items gathered from monsters. Players don’t actually have to craft the items themselves, they simply have to bring a bunch of items to an NPC and the NPC crafts the item for you. Sure this… ‘works’ to some degree, but it doesn’t encourage player interaction and since you have to bring a bunch of items to an NPC it’s the same as completing quests for items, and because of that the game has an extremely limited number of craftable items. The system is so lousy that players rarely even participate in it.

The game that I’m most impressed with in terms of crafting skills is Luminary: Rise of the Goonzu. The game has a really simple crafting system. Collect items and use certain components to make armor and weapons. The beauty of Luminary is the significance of crafting skills in the game. In order to buy weapons / armor you HAVE to buy it from another player through the game’s auction house or directly from a crafter, as NPCs do not sell weapons or armor. This sort of system makes item crafters extremely valuable and actually useful in the game.

MMOs today need to work a bit harder on developing solid crafting skills. Too many MMO games simply have uninspiring crafting skills.

MMORPGs Are All About Community

Posted by lordaltay1 Tuesday July 29 2008 at 9:52PM
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One of the biggest appeals of MMORPGs and MMOs is the massive community in the game world. The more players there are in a game the better the gaming experience. I enjoy strolling through town and seeing hundreds of players trading and chatting, such activities a powerful and engaging atmosphere. No body likes playing an MMORPG with a tiny community or even a moderately sized community. The single most important aspect of an MMORPG is community, as without one, the game isn’t “massive”. If you’re more concerned about game play than community, you should be playing a single player RPG rather than an MMORPG.

MMORPGs shouldn’t have so many servers and channels. Games like Fly For Fun and Lunia and even pay to play games like World of Warcraft would be significantly more enjoyable if they had fewer servers; perhaps one for each time zone. The trouble of having so many different servers is that each server / channel is empty. I don’t mean the main cities are empty, but the world itself is empty. When I’m grinding or questing outside of town, I’d like to see other people. Seeing people adds that much needed sense of community to a game. I’d also love to see cities completely packed. Imagine World of Warcraft with only a single server for everyone on the east coast. That would be ideal; thousands of players in a single town, all trading, talking, crafting, questing etc. Now that would be a real MMORPG. If towns get too crowded, the developers could just make the towns bigger. I find that splitting the game’s population across countless servers is a silly way to prevent over crowding. Doing this prevents players from different servers to communicate and also reduces the community size, as the community is split up.
Pay to play games should also all become free to play, as doing so would bolster the games population. Game companies could generate money by having a cash shop. Having more players would also further satisfy the game’s population since players like large communities. No matter how good an MMORPG is, if it doesn’t have a good community the game isn’t worth playing by my standards. An MMORPG simply isn’t an MMORPG without a community.


MMORPG Growth: Consoles or Cell Phones?

Posted by lordaltay1 Saturday July 26 2008 at 6:09PM
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With the explosive growth of MMORPGs on the PC, people are probably asking themselves when MMORPGs will come to consoles. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening… ever. Sony gambled by releasing their famous “Everquest” title to the Playstation 2 and the end result was failure. The game simply didn’t attract enough attention from gamers.

The console MMORPG market is simply too small. Let’s look at the numbers for a minute. For this scenario we will only look at the United States. Let’s assume that a fictional game publisher, Altay Games, wants to make an MMORPG for the console market. Let’s also assume that this MMORPG will be published on all three of the ‘next gen’ consoles, Wii, Xbox360 and Playstation 3. If you all up all the ‘next gen’ console sales, you’ll end up with approximately 29 million units. There are over 200 million internet users in the US. Those numbers alone are discouraging enough for a game publisher to even consider trying to bring an MMORPG to the console, but let’s go a bit further. For a game publisher to release a game on any console, they have to pay the company that owns the console, in this case our fictional game publisher, Altay Games, would have to pay a license fee to Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. On top of those fees, how the heck could Altay Games collect monthly subscription fees? They’d have to work with all three console companies to develop a platform to collect monthly subscriptions. At the end, there is no way any MMORPG company can justify all these expenses for such a small market. There are simply too many barriers to entry.

MMORPGs have thrived on the PC simply because there are no barriers to entry for a game publisher. If we look at Outspark, the company behind Secret of the Solstice and Fiesta, it’s amazing how easy it is to publish MMORPGs. Outspark’s business plan, like most MMORG Publishers, is to bring popular MMORPGs from Asia to the United States. Since MMORPGs in Asia are already on the PC, there are no expenses relating to porting the game or anything. The only expenses MMORPG Publishers face today to bring an MMORPG to the United States is licensing and translation fees. Sure there are other fees associated with maintaining a game, but it’s a lot cheaper to publish an MMORPG on the PC than a console.

If MMORPGs can’t expand to consoles, where can they expand? I Predict cell phones. Think about it. The cell phone market is ginormous; yes that’s actually a word. Almost every single person in the United States has a cell phone, and even people in Asia and Europe have cell phones. Believe it or not, there are almost twice as many cell phone users worldwide than internet users. With cell phones being a bigger market than PCs and automatically having access to some sort of internet, MMORPGs have a lot of room to potential here. One free MMORPG that I found extremely fascinating was Shadow of Legend. The game is playable on both cell phones and PCs. The game doesn’t have ‘Perfect World’ like graphics, but they’re tolerable. When I first started playing the game on the PC, I was wondering why the game had such poor graphics, but after I learned that the game works on cell phones, I was immediately impressed. Sure the game had its faults, but cell phone MMORPGs are still extremely new.


The Free MMORPG Genre

Posted by lordaltay1 Friday July 25 2008 at 11:51AM
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As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, the free MMORPG industry is growing by leaps and bounds every year. New MMORPGs and MMO games are being released on an almost weekly basis here in the United States. Games like MapleStory and Scions of Fate each have over 70 million players worldwide; that’s right, EACH game has over 70 Million players, while the most well known MMORPG, World of Warcraft, has only 10 million users. Of course this isn’t exactly a fair comparison as World of Warcraft has a monthly fee while the two games I mentioned don’t, but even so, it would be silly to call the free MMORPG genre small. With such an incredible amount of popularity you would imagine that free MMORPGs would get a lot more attention by the main stream gaming networks, but they don’t.

Networks like G4 almost completely ignore the free MMORPG genre. It’s as if they don’t even acknowledge its existence. There aren’t any major print magazines that follow free MMORPGs either, except for maybe a specialty publication with little circulation. Let us analyze the free MMORPG market for a bit. There literally hundreds of free online MMORPGs out in the US market already with countless games currently in closed beta. Nexon’s MapleStory game in the United States alone makes over $30 million a year and it is expected to increase in 2008. With big publishers like Outspark, Netgame, AeriaGames and Gpotato releasing new games almost every month, the industry is poised to continue growing.

The only MMORPG that gets any attention at all in traditional gaming magazines and outlets is World of Warcraft. We’ve heard a lot of buzz around Age of Conan as well, but it’s still a pay to play game. With the incredible growth of free MMORPGs I wouldn’t be surprised if the pay to play genre was completely eliminated in the next 10 years. There really are no successful pay to play MMORPGs out there anymore due to fierce competition. Previously popular pay to play MMORPGs like Ultima Online and Everquest are losing subscribers each and every day. Gamers are flocking over to free to play MMORPGs. The only real pay to play game that’s performing well is World of Warcraft, and that phenomenon can’t last forever. Think about it; would Facebook be as popular as it is today if it required a monthly fee to access? Of course not! Facebook is free to use for consumers because the company can make money through advertisements and selling Facebook gifts [The little images you can send your friends for usually a dollar]. If you look at in free MMORPG terms the Facebook gifts are like cash shop items. They allow the company to make money off a free product or service. I can’t see pay to play business models still being around in 10 years, as there are already so many free to play games out there today and there will only be more in the future.


MMORPG Addiction

Posted by lordaltay1 Monday July 21 2008 at 12:46AM
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All MMORPG gamers know that playing an MMORPG is significantly different than playing an FPS or any other video game. Other video games simply don’t have the same sense of community and progression as MMORPGs or the same sense of accomplishment when leveling up. I’ve been playing MMORPGs ever since I was 11 years old and have grown up playing MMORPGs. I’ve played everything from Everquest to World of Warcraft and while doing so I’ve also been actively engaged in traditional gaming like console games and non MMORPG Pc games.

Throughout my entire gaming career I’ve never looked at the two as equals. I’ve always felt that what happened in MMORPGs “mattered more” than what happened in other games and sometimes more important than what happened in real life. I would get more excited about finding a rare item in say World of Warcraft or finding an amazing deal on a scroll in MapleStory than real live events like acing a test or going to the movies. During my days of playing Everquest, I would at times forget to eat, because I was so hooked on the game. Obviously, at some point I would have to grab something to eat, but even as I got hungry, I couldn’t bring myself to get off my computer and grab a snack, as I felt some sort of need to keep playing as I wanted to continue getting stronger in the game. I also remember that whenever I had to go to the bathroom, I would literally SPRINT to the bathroom and when I finished my business SPRINT back to the computer to continue playing. I’ve always played non MMORPGs, but they were never the same, as I never found myself playing any non MMORPG for more than 5 hours at a time. When I played Everquest, five hours was nothing. From the moment I woke up, I would SPRINT to my PC and start playing until I had to go to bed. I would only play non MMORPGs when I was taking a break from an MMORPGs, as beating a single player game never felt as good as leveling up in an online game.

When I was addicted to MapleStory I would play the game every single day. Every day after school, my brother and my two friends that also played MapleStory would come over to my house and we would all grind together from 3PM to 8:30PM each and every day. At 8:30PM they would go home and play from their own homes. Because I had 8 computers on my network, I could have a lot of people playing MMOs with me. I went through this exact same cycle when I played World of Warcraft, but the only difference was that I had four friends coming over every day to play with me. We would blast music from one of the computers and all grind together for hours on end.

Now that I’m older, I still find myself playing mostly free MMORPGs, but not to the point of playing them the entire day, but that’s partly because I haven’t been super addicted to any one MMORPG lately except for maybe Perfect World and Fly for Fun, as I still play them regularly. When I find another great game, odds are I’ll get hooked and play all day. I’m convinced though, that MMORPGs are addictive. The most addictive component is the sense of progression. MMORPGs make you feel that once you become higher level, you’ll be able to dominate the game and have a lot more fun than you’re having at lower levels. It’s that sense of being awesomely strong in the future that keeps you coming back. The only games that can keep you hooked for 5+ hours at a time are MMORPGs, and if that’s not addiction, I don’t know what is.