Grand Theft Auto – Medicom Kubrick Sets

Perhaps the only official merchandise that ever blessed this long-running Rockstar series. GTA 3 set was more mild on accessories, whereas Vice City set even came with a beach post-card, Kubrick style.

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MMO RPGs – Free vs Official Servers

Sentiments I’ve had since the first day I discovered this concept, so here’s my little rant regarding the dilemma. I’ll use Ultima as my case subject given I’ve had the most experience with this gave in both aspects.

Official servers always, always have the key element that makes any MMO worth playing- the player base thus a solid community. Thousands of players across all of the servers making the whole experience proper. Abiding by the standard character building system with others to share the joys and the burdens of it makes it totally worth it in the end. Numerous new ways to gain money and character growth are always at your fingertips. The whole world feels as it should- alive. Building a capital is slow, but very fun and challenging since you depend on the community as well as the rule set. The biggest disadvantage? Being forced to go with the update flow. Having to adhere to new expansions and amendments that Ultimately (haha) end up ruining the perfect, original feel that the game offered.

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And then we have the budget/liberated free servers where the hosts have complete freedom over the rules of the experience. Everything that was unavailable officially can now be used to everyone’s hearts’ content. So the main problem? Oftentimes its the sheer lack of the community size. Free servers tend to be rather empty since the slashed number of players is just as equally dispersed throughout the lands. And the real low blow are servers that still adhere to the slow character building rules. No longer can you expect much help with anything nor anyone to share those mundane moments with.

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So my sentiments really go as follows: if you have a huge community, slow individual progress keeps everything flowing smoothly as it should. When the community lacks numbers, something really needs to compensate and make the mundane factors easier or non-existent since character and capital growth is but a small portion of the whole game experience.

The official servers had what was always called a test server- a realm to test new game elements on the highest high of gameplay. Typically that entailed command-based character growth and nearly instant access to most of the game’s features. When a private server with a small community lacks such a leeway, it completely kills the whole experience. My very last thoughts are regarding the conceptual stability- private servers can come and go at any given time, so all of the invested time could be erased in a mere moment whereas official server would be somewhat liable and likely to make it up to the player.

Memory Lane – Ultima Online

This game is to this day my real golden year and a half of gaming. It was unlike anything else out there and for its age, it was truly most-expansive and complete kind of MMO RPG.

I started playing it in 2002 just when it was on the 3rd expansion and was probably the game’s all-time peak of quality. Half a year later the 4th one came out and the changes were drastic enough to make half the old community to quit.

This whole genre was a brand new experience for me and I capitalized on all its opportunities. You could have absolutely anything you could imagine in a game- houses, boats, mounts, plethora of crafting and combat skills and various hybrid combinations of the two, excellent dungeons and huge boss spawns, the list can go on and on. It was also one of the very few games that was skill point based rather than character levels, so you could virtually never ruin a character and could always rebuild it into anything else you wanted.

I started up a guild and we all had a pretty successful run over the year and a half that I played prior to moving on myself. Closer to my second half of playing UO I finally managed to organize a player-run town- several houses in the same area designed under the same guidelines and owned by a common group of players, which was one of the hardest feats to achieve in any game like this.

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And so, this was the very beginning of my lovely guild. We held early meetings in one of the castles in the main city, Britain, Trammel.

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Britain bank was the major social and commerce spot, always very crowded.

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I even got lucky enough to catch the culminating official event for the 3rd expansion- Lord Blackthorn’s Revenge. We all collectively fought him and got to see the official iconic characters of the main story-

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Past that I had a plethora of other adventures. At one point, tamers of my guild sold various mounts near the bank for very decent prices and made enough pocket change after a day. In fact, animal and monster taming system was extensive and fun. Some critters had pack stats, so the more you had with you, the more damage they did. You could train critters too and even bond them such that after they died, they would follow you as ghosts until you resurrected them. For early 2000s, what other game had even a portion of everything that UO offered?

The champion spawns were the meat of the game for the longest time and featured a final boss of bosses type as well. You would fight huge waves of monsters until the boss appeared, take him down, get a champ skull (that you needed to summon the final spawn) and lots of high-end items. The main sought items were skill point cap scrolls that allowed you to go past the standard 100 point cap, and they would come in increments of 5 until 120. Every character could have a grand total of 700 points, which typically entailed being Grandmaster in 7 skills or Legendary level (120) in any 5 and have a 6th supporting skill.

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You would kill waves of monsters until the altar filled with skull candles and then the boss would finally spawn.
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These typically took from 2 extremely skilled players to 10 or more depending on the spawn and its difficulty. Here is one of the power scrolls-

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Here is how skill raising worked- per uses bases with certain time-caps until the next point could be earned, unless you really used the tits out of it.

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You would typically set arrows up for skills you wanted raised and down for those you didn’t need. You could also lock skills at any desirable amount for some truly hybrid builds.

The last expansion that I played, The Age of Shadows, added a Sims-like ability to build completely custom houses instead of being stuck with stock designs. This opened up amazing heights for style and was the foundation of my player city.

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Items could be stacked to create some really amazing mock-furnishings as well, so at one point I had a pool, a piano, and various other improv decor in my humble abode.

All in all, these were truly the best gaming days of my life thus far and I’m really glad that I can now share even if a tiny bit with the rest of you.

Memory Lane – Neverwinter Nights

Oh the great weeks I’ve tanked into this good old game. For its time, its was truly unique since both single and multiplayer modes ran on modules. Kicker part- both developer AND player-made, and to boot the whole multiplayer aspect ran entirely on player-made content. With full access to the game development tools, the community got seriously creative and added a brand new flavor to the base game/engine.

Most of my NWN days were spent online, on both PVM and PVP servers, each completely unique from the other. Some had free leveling to focus on maxed out combat. Some servers featured very-well made team systems to encourage teamwork and strategy.

The game saw 2 expansions that pushed maximum level from 20 to 40 and added plethora of new feats and advanced classes. All in all, this one a top-notch game with an MMO feel that was 100% free to play after the initial purchase.

Rose Online – Christmas Event 2012

My first xmas in this game, and the event looks pretty decent. There are essentially 4 parts to it and plenty of grinding.

So, it takes place on Santa’s own little planet accessible via Event Guide Judy in Zant.
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Here you can kill lazy reindeer who neglect their training and gather Snow Crystals, various Presents, and Elifedora. All of these can be exchanged for xmas-themed limited items.

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Santa offers Santa suit pieces, holding and back items, and Santa sleigh cart for crystals and Elifedora. To get the sleigh cart, you must wear the Santa suit on your avatar and talk to Santa again since this time an option for Rudolph Suit and Back items will open up. After you get and equip the Rudolph Suit, you will be allowed to purchase sleigh cart parts.

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Grouchy reindeer Bob offers black Santa suit for stolen present boxes. Run around all of the maps and click on ground present boxes to steal them.

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And Presents themselves contain Christmas Trees and Snowballs to be used for fun.

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Rose Online – Draconis – Faery Tail

So, started playing Rose once again, and this time figured I’d make a clan. Goal will be to help new players level and gather crafting materials and so on. Pretty much friends playing together deal and feeling all exclusive haha. Feel free to join us in this new adventure.

Added a free message board for the clan, link is in the page row up top, so feel free to check it out.

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Poor Sales Due to Piracy? Nay.

Ever since the original PSP was hacked, we’ve all heard this millions of times from everyone- hacks and piracy “killed” the sales and the poor little thing in the long run. Consumers and often even the companies alike love to blame poor progress onto individual pirates and hackers, but in reality they are hardly the ones to blame. Not every evil in the world is solely destructive.

Lets look at Nintendo’s iron grip over all the youngsters and kids at heart alike since forever ago. When Gameboy Advanced and the DS launched, they were in fact, effortless to hack and run pirated games unlike the PSP. There was no risk of bricking the system. It was simply patch, plug and play. Now, have we EVER heard Nintendo publicly complain about piracy on their systems? Do you know why? Their target niche of customers have always been either absolutely faithful or simple too young to realize that piracy exists. Nintendo always made their buck no matter what surrounded them in the underground scenes of the online community.

Sony, on the other hand, always targeted the more mature gamer- late teens and early twenties and up, high school and college students. The ones who hardly have much money to spend on software and games, but definitely smart enough to find a loophole and get whatever they can for free. In such a case, the easiest thing for the company is to blame the hacking scene. Secure their systems tighter. Steer sheer numbers of potential consumers away instead of re-evaluating their target audience.

As I mentioned in the very beginning, private piracy- piracy of software intended solely for personal use and not profits. Profits off of pirated software is what actually hurts the companies and software developers out there. Private use, at its best, is actually a form of free advertizement. If you got to play the hottest new game for free, next thing you would do is tell all your friends about it. Then if they go buy it, they’ll do likewise and the wave takes off.

Remember, there are plenty of double-edge swords out there that majority of the public fails to see fully.

Halo – Covenant Plasma Pistol and Rifle

Almost forgot I had these old goodies stores away. Perfectly accurate, crappy laser tag game that was out years ago, but the real highlights are the details, quality, lights and sounds.

Both have ammo counter, proper shooting sounds, and even overheating blow off valves that need to be pressed back before they can “fire” again. The pistol vibrates when you charge a shot instead of shooting small singles.

Now I really want to fix up a quick UNSC Marine outfit to rock these beauties Halo 1 style, during the escape off the covenant ship arc.

MechWarrior Online

Late news, but I recently stumbled upon it and these news seriously made my gaming year. The games I used to play the heck out of, finally got the proper treatment/next installment.

Just as the developers said in the early interviews, campaigns were done with rather quickly and then most players rushed the glorious multiplayer in every old game in the series. Now, the whole game became multiplayer-oriented and it seems that the balance was not broken.

Same old customization is present, albeit not as many mechs shown just yet.

Anyhow, check out more at the home page and a few little shots I’m including in this note.

Mechwarrior Online Homepage