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No overly lengthy stories this week, but there is news, nonetheless. Oh, and letters from you.
In other news, there was only one other item of other news in the past week.



Send Me a Letter




Column Archive




Freakin' Hot Rena Tanaka Picture of the Week

Short Stories 
Lineage 2

Following up on the main feature of last week's column, we'll start out with coverage of holiday events in MMORPGs. Lineage II players are being treated to a variety of seasonal festivities, including one that involves changing a character's hair color. On Wednesday, December 22nd, the highest-level character in each Lineage II account rceived three "Hair Color Potions" in their private warehouses. Players are advised to use caution with these items, though, as there will be no restoration of character appearance or potion refunds in the event of player error. Here's a look at the styling options available to the female dwarf characters.

But the dressing up doesn't stop there. Each account's highest-level character has also been given a "Face Potion," which can alter the facial expression on an avatar. Like the other potions, no one can save you from your own errors, so be careful using these babies. Both of these special potions come as part of Lineage II's "Gift-Giving Season" event, which ends on December 29th. If anyone wants to send in some before-and-after screens of their own characters, I'd love to stick them in one of these columns.


Pardus

Pardus started its own Christmas celebration yesterday, the 24th of December. Festivities in this spacey MMO include a special mini game, as well as cube-shaped ships with Santa hats cruising around randomly giving gifts to new players. One of the game's GMs has given MMORPGamer a screen of one such Santa ship.

Dark Age of Camelot

In the official Dark Age of Camelot newsletter, called the "Camelot Herald," Mythic's President and CEO Mark Jacobs addressed how he is not afraid of DAoC losing steam to the recent, huge releases of EverQuest II and World of Warcraft. Here's an excerpt:

"...The last six weeks has seen the release of two of the most anticipated and expensive, MMORPGs to date along with the release of our next, but certainly not last, expansion pack Catacombs. These games were built to crush the competition but they will not succeed. Yes, we have lost subscribers but we arenít hiding and we certainly arenít running from the competition. As Iíve always preached, competition is good for the industry and good for the soul (even if it is a little hard at times). So, what are we going to ensure that DAoC continues to be one of the top US MMORPGs? Simple, we are going to continue to improve it. Catacombs injected a new graphics engine that puts the game right up there or ahead of anything else on the market."

Jacobs goes on to talk about more of Mythic's plans in the rest of the letter, which can be read in its entirety here.

Wish

Wish open beta 2.0 client is now available for download at Fileplanet. Potential players can download any time, but the testing will not begin until January 1, 2005. Those who want to get a piece of this action can sign up for the beta testing here, then head on over to Fileplanet to download the client.

Shadowbane

Jolt Online Gaming is seeking 100 more beta testers for Roma Victor. When this game eventually releases, standard subscription fees will not exist. Rather, players can donate funds to the game as they see fit. Those who are interested in playing the role of a slave stuggling to make his way up through the ranks of gladiator, legionary, nobelman, and so on in Roman-ruled Europe can fill out the testing application here. To simply look into the game itself, the official site is best.

Readers Speak 

Note: The opinions expressed here are strictly my own, formed by my own experiences in Final Fantasy XI and several other MMORPGs. These remarks do not necessarily reflect the feelings of the RPGamer staff or any of its affiliates. Many statements such as "these people..." and "people who..." are generalizations, as I realize there are exceptions. For this rant, I take full and sole responsibility.

Since I asked for readers to write in and rant about a few things they didn't like (or downright hated) in MMORPGs, I figured I may as well blow some steam of my own. These remarks I make are not personal attacks on FFXI players--heck, I am one. Anyway, here's my complaint.

Final Fantasy XI's visual customization may be somewhat limited, but it kind of makes up for this in the gameplay, since one can use the skills of two job classes at the same time, similar to other FF games that utilize the job system. But here's the thing: if you don't combo-up the way a certain group thinks you should, they'll pretty much shun you. Yes, there is a certain degree one must take a game seriously, but the point is to have fun. The thing that irks me the most is that people play FFXI like they played the other Final Fantasy titles, which is to say, they play it like it's a single-player RPG. Let's just face it: people who play Final Fantasy XI are not people who play MMORPGs. That's right. It's well known that the "Final Fantasy" label always draws masses of people. Part XI is no exception. FFXI stands as the first MMORPG in the lives of an excessive number of players. Furthermore, it will be the last MMORPG for a good number of them (barring another online FF, of course). These are the same people that drool all over Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, but won't even think of playing clearly superior games like Fire Emblem, or even similar-looking games like Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis. I use this example because FFTA, while a decent game, is not the rock star it was cracked up to be. Meanwhile, a definitively better game, Fire Emblem, got hardly a glance from the handheld gaming public. The same idea can be applied to FFXI. If it didn't have "Final Fantasy" in the title, there would be far less people inhabiting its servers, and the ratio of clowns to people who know what's up would not be nearly as ugly as it is now.

But in reality, FFXI has been stricken with an overall lackluster community. This is sad, because the game itself isn't all bad. The world of Vana'diel is absolutely delicious to explore, with enough visual diversity to go against any other MMO on the market. The job system and other such things create gameplay as deep one can expect, yadda yadda yadda; the game can actully be fun. But if you don't already know someone playing the game, breaking the ice with new people is unfortunately the route you must travel. This often leads to problems. Teaming up with strangers is harder to do in FFXI than any MMO I've played, or have even heard of. This goes back to what was said earlier about the community having too many first-timers playing FFXI like they would an offline game. If they don't see your character as a vital part of what they need, forget joining them; looking out for number one is the main priority in Vana'diel. There is no community feel of being in the quest together, united in purpose. There is very little "team spirit" (for lack of a better term).

Amid all this complaining, I am reminded of a time in Ultima Online when I was a brand new player. Someone riding a dragon noticed that I was new, identified me as a mage, and promptly gave me a completely full spell book. I'm not trying to say I want gifts wherever I go, or that everyone should be a regular Charlie Charity, but you'll be hard pressed to find that same spirit looming in Vana'diel. FFXI's group of players is not a community so much as it is a ghetto. To reiterate what I said in this mini-rant's disclaimer, I realize there are jerks in every MMO, but the number in FFXI seems through the roof, and they stick out for some reason. Perhaps because I hear so many testimonials about how FFXI is a given player's first MMORPG, followed by a declaration that the player can't picture playing a different one. Statements such as this one pretty much prove my point; many people, (particularly "problem people," as not all first-timers are bad, mind you) that are currently in FFXI would not be there were it not for the FF label, or at least the Square Enix one.

Plenty of other, better MMOs are out there, and even more are on their way (Wish comes to mind), but will those games ever get a second look from the majority of FFXI players? Nope.


A High-Five


I totally agree with your feelings on FF11. Even if you didn't post it yet I agree that the players who are playing FF11 are not MMORPG players. Now, I don't know if I got screwed over on my server and I don't know if all servers are all like this, but the server I was on was completely quiet. I mean quiet. No one talked at all. Maybe if it was for a group or some quest but that was all. It got lonely while being in a zone killing stuff.

Now, I had played EQ1 for about 2 years and that was a fun experiance and the community was nice. So I expected FF11 to be the same. I was wrong. I tried getting people to be more social, but they pretty much shunned me. Even in groups no one talked about anything. Unless it dealt with getting a mob or there stats or a level. I really didn't like the community in FF11, and thats why I left it for EQ2.

I'm looking forward to reading your rant about the game.

-Bryan

HEATH
Well, I hope the above material was satisfying, Bryan. Furthermore, best of luck exploring the newer, sweeter-than-ever Norrath in EQ2. Just watch out for those sex offenders!


...This Freaking Game...Again


Even though I've run into lots of picky players I still like FFXI. One of my main reasons is being able to switch classes anytime you want provided you have the gill to shell out to level a particular job.(Spell scrolls, armor, weapons, ETC.) I rant about them so because during the beta test we did basically what we pleased...well, within reason...as the game is based on group dynamics....

When I first started out as thief I found it hard to get parties. Why you ask? It was becase of picky players who believe thief is useless before lvl 15.(in my opinion anyone who can swing a weapon can be semi-usefull to me...besides if help I get the low level Thief lvl 15 and we meet again I have a usefull compadre...) To get to 15 I had to try one of the off leveling areas, and in this I was dead lucky (ever hear of the Maze of Shakhrami? Mages and jobs with ranged attacks love this to kill Maze makers(worms) from lvl 10-17 [about]) as I got to play with some cool mages to 15. Other players using thief may not be so lucky...

Shadowneko (server: Midgardsormr)
Lvl 50 THF|lvl 17 WAR|lvl 15 RNG|lvl 10 WHM|lvl 10 Summoner|lvl 37 NIN|lvl 5 BLM

A.K.A
Jon Davies
Webmaster of "Jon's Final Fantasy Homepage"

HEATH
I hear quite a bit of such things. Theives can be hard-pressed to find parties in FFXI, that's for sure. In my own case, a certain thief always departing from the main group and pulling in enemies unannounced may interefere with my stance of the matter. Meh, but that shouldn't hurt the rep of a thief. To continue harping on what I said earlier, it'd be nice if problems like this didn't exist. Well, it'd be nice if most problems simply didn't exist, but things like this are frustrating because they don't have to exist. A little more looking out for the common good would help FFXI tremendously.


Public Service


Hi. About Ultima, How I can join?
KiTiSHeRe

HEATH
(I'm supposing I got this in response to the review of Ultima Online: Samurai Empire that I wrote about a week ago, but I'm sticking it here in case anyone else had a similar question.)

Joining Ultima Online? The official website is here:
http://www.eagames.com/official/uo/samurai/us/home.jsp.
There, you can learn more about Ultima itself. Yeah, it kinda focuses on the new expansion (as does my review), but the info is good. You can also just email me with questions you might have about the play and stuff, if you need to.

Just so it doesn't catch you too off-guard, the new pack costs $30, and comes with 30 days of online play, but after that, it's $11.99 a month. Not bad, as most of the pay-to-play MMOs are $15 a month, but I thought I'd let you know ahead of time.

Log Out 

Man, my head is spinning for all the goings-on of Christmas and what not. Altered sleep patterns, missed meals followed by back-to-back meals, using off-time to catch up with my games while wanting to open up that new game (I got Phantom Brave--yes, I also play offline games), shopping, returning things, shopping again for the same people I already shopped for once but decided to go out and buy the thing I got them because they are retarded, etc. It's tiring.

So the last two columns have made me think...with the submission of the neat Pardus screen here, and the submitted FFXI screens last week, I think I'd like to have a weekly screenshot somewhere in my column. So send in a screen or two from your favorite MMORPG. I'd love to show them off for you.

I plan on tweaking my above rant a bit in the next column by including one of the rare stories to the contrary that I forgot to include in this column. It doesn't change the message, but needs to be said. Anyway, I'll see you all in about a week.


My name is Heath Hindman, and check it out: I got my sister one of those alarm clocks that wakes you up with a CD, so I snuck into her room at about 3:00 this morning, set the alarm for around 6:00, and put in the "FF7 Piano Collections." Style points.

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