Free Play Reviews: Exteel (Archive)

Hello folks, Riknas here, and I’d like to introduce to all of you, the Free Play Blog. You see, in the opinion of many, MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) are what we could classify as, “Pretty cool” because they make nerds like us feel like more social creatures than we really are.

That said, some people actually go so far as to play alongside each other in MMOGs (It’s crazy, I know). As most MMOG players know, the most popular MMOGs have you paying past the box price, with a monthly fee of fifteen dollars. So, for every month you want to play, there’s another 15 dollars down the drain. Although we like being able to interact with other people, having such a constant drain in your wallet can be pain. In this blog, Andras and I will be digging and, finding all the F2P (Free to Play) MMOGs out there, and go through the pros and cons each of them have; you just might enjoy yourself, and if you’re lucky, save yourself some cash as well. For our first blog, we will try and stick to something relatively recent, NCsoft’s Exteel. This is their sophomore attempt at creating a F2P MMOG.


Obviously, most game developers these days don’t release something for free out of the kindness of their hearts, there’s almost always some sort of catch: some way for them to make some money, but more details on that later on.


I don’t think this game has a story at all. There is no information of story in the main site, or in the game itself. You are only told that you will be fighting battles in your mechanaut (Giant robot fighting machines, AKA “MKN”), and fight for glory as a mercenary pilot. There are no factions, only vague references of names like “Galaxy Federation” or “Palanamos forces” when reading the description of the weapons you may be using.

Getting Started:


After logging in, you see a short but awesome cutscene of robots fighting, and then asks you to create your character name, or as they call it, “Call Sign” (this, and your mechanaut will define you, as you have no avatar, asides from your mechanaut, as mentioned before). As soon as that is done, they will send you through the tutorials. (Note: The tutorials are optional, but you can get bonuses for clearing the later ones, which you can only get by clearing the initial ones) The game takes a third person perspective like most current MMOs, with the camera right behind your mechanaut. The beginning starts off annoying slow, as they refuse to let you move, or do anything for that matter, while they give you instructions and then make you watch the computer move you around first. Only after that, will they let you briefly perform the specified actions. Things begin to pick up a bit during the Advanced Tutorial, because they’re finally letting you fight enemies that shoot back, but the actual waiting time is the same, and you end up sitting around for a bit. Fortunately, you start to get cash and/or weapons for the “advanced” tutorials where it has you finally practicing with the different types of weapons. After finishing it, you will finally be entering the Exteel “world”, and begin kicking some robo-arse.


So, the models themselves aren’t too shabby (though I’ve never played, nor seen, the game at bare-bones settings). After finishing the tutorial, you’re placed into a chatroom with a list of games to join. So, the only thing persistent is your pilot and his/her mechanaut. The rest of the game is instanced arenas. However, you might overlook this if you like PVP, and the gameplay.

You have four types of matches; Territory Control, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and last stand. The first three are pretty self-explanatory PVP matches, where you go up against other players.(Last Stand is where you team up with several other players, and protect your base, or “Aerogate” from an onslaught of enemy NPCs, AKA drones). This may prove to be more interesting than the PVP of games like the famous World of Warcraft. Like the newer MMOs Age of Conan and Tabula Rasa, Exteel features a more fast-paced style, though it is closer to the latter. While piloting your mechanaut, you have a crosshair with a reticule of varying sizes around it, (based on the weapon type your using) if you are within range of an enemy, a smaller reticule forms around the crosshair, and both reticules turn orange to indicate a lock on. By pressing the left and/or right mouse button, you will fire the weapon(s) in your left and/or right hand. Your mechanaut can hold two different sets of weapons, and typically dual wields in both sets, unless you are using a siege cannon, which requires two hands to hold, and is by default the left mouse button…And it’s that simple, once you fire, you fire, (or slash, if using a sword) and if you had that lock on, you should hit the enemy, and they take damage. No dice rolls, it just launches, and hits your enemy. Simple, right? That’s where it gets tricky, it works that way for everyone, naturally. So if you’re standing, you are a painfully easy target to your enemy, and the reverse if they are. So there is constant movement with players strafing while attacking, flying over buildings and running into cover, so it’s never a dull moment whether your chasing after them, or vice versa. However, how well your mechanaut can take damage, and how much damage you deal is dependent on your gear.
Items and Economy:

So, you want to kick some arse, but you’re afraid that everyone has all the uber l00tz, so you decide to go down to the “store” tab at the bottom of your screen in the main menu (there is no auction house, everyone just works with equipment from the store). From the store you can purchase all sorts of equipment for your mechanaut: Head pieces, legs, arms, torsos, (AKA “Core”) boosters, (for fast speed and flying) weapons, skills (some special powers), repair points, (used when your equipment starts to decay, measured in “Durability”.) and even entire mechanauts (they do not include boosters or weapons). Different pieces of equipment have different properties, some allowing you to go faster, others slowing you down and boosting your overall HP. Regardless of what you do though, you’ll need to pay for this new equipment somehow, because although your starter equipment (the Pinkent Mechanaut and a few weapons) have unlimited durability, you can’t stay very competitive in a free for all death match. Leveling has little bearing over things, as you win matches, you accumulate small bits of experience, and may result in some improved ability with certain weapons, however don’t count on being high level to make you better than anyone else. This is where the catch comes into play, and you finally think about breaking out your credit card…


So, now that you want to buy some shiny new gear, you’ll notice there are two types of currencies. Gear costs “Credits”, while others, “NCcoins” and some can be purchased with either. So, how does this work? Credits are the in-game currency you accumulate through playing matches, the better you do in a match, the more credits you will get. The first mechanaut will only cost you approximately 25000 credits, but eventually you’ll find even individual weapons costing 100,000 or more credits. When you accumulate only 1000 or 2000 credits per round, you might find yourself thinking, “Y’know, if I could make this a bit faster…” your wallet will start to open, since you realized that you have to use those credits just to repair the equipment you have. Since as of right now, nearly everything is available to people of all levels, it’s not too hard to find yourself tugging at your credit card, to buy that 450 NCcoin mechanaut, or 80 coin laser blade, when 100 coins is equivalent to only a dollar, to “lift” a bit of the grind. That said, it’s really up to you whether or not those coins are worth it. These coins will not change your gameplay much, if at all, the only thing that will change will be the looks and stats of your gear, most of which can be achieved just by dedicating more time to playing, as opposed to paying for the coins. But for some, those stats and cool looking equipment might be worth a couple bucks.


Exteel is a fresh game from the traditional MMOs, and may be just what your looking for if you want something new, however with the gameplay taking place entirely in instanced territory, it isn’t for everybody. If you have sufficient restraint, it can also prove to be cheaper than standard MMOs, but for some it could become more expensive, however it’s all your choice with this pay as you go payment plan. That’s it for now everyone, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!

((This review was written in the year 2009, and the servers have since shut down.))

An End To The Archive

Hello everyone. Today I would like to announce the end of my archive posts. Although I said I would only use them for “rainy days”, I found that I just didn’t like having a huge backlog of posts available, and stretching out their use for weeks. So in the end I decided to keep to a daily posting schedule using the archives, while sprinkling in new posts and guest posts to keep the blog from getting stale, so to speak.

That said, I have finished posting up everything I wanted to from the archive, so from here on out all posts will be new and fresh from the proverbial oven! See you soon!

Riknas, signing off.

Making it stick: Guilds (Archive)

This image isn’t directly related, but it looks cool doesn’t it?

The topic has been tackled many a time before, but I figure it is worth mentioning once more. That said, let’s take a look at guilds. In Champions and City Of Heroes they are Super Groups. In some games they were called clans, EVE called them corps, but the most universal term we use are guilds. While the power a guild could have varied, they all still hold true to the same concept. In Age of Conan it allowed to be a collection of people creating a keep. The “City Of” games, as well as EQ2 gave you the option to create teleporters to save you some trouble in transit; For a fair number of F2P titles, it was just another contacts list to keep track of, while in EVE it opened up new opportunities in both trade and conquest. Not only that, without an official guild system people still tried to create their own makeshift communities in games, like in Runescape, and even Diablo 2 (Though the quality of the latter was very, very low). Of course, if you wanted you could go farther to apply this to real life as we have towns, cities, and government. There is nothing particularly new about guilds culturally, no.

But that’s not to say there is nothing interesting about it, quite the contrary. It’s said quite often that if you want to better dedicate to yourself to a game, you join a guild. In the case of EVE, it’s claimed to be the only viable way to play. But this is also a time where solo play has grown more prevalent. In fact, most of the “executive” gamers that review MMOs are rarely associated with a guild. We go into these games alone for the most part as we make our observations. Though, it’s also worth noting that for a long time many of those folks had horrible retention span. But now is a time of flux, as it is made clear Tobold is mostly a WoW guy. Meanwhile, Syncaine is sticking with DarkFall; though rumor has it is no longer the case, the Virgin Worlds crew, along with what I have named: Virgin Worlds Europe ( Van Hemlock and the Yellow Spandex guys) are all playing LOTRO. While these folk do not have a guild per se, they do have a static group. And let’s not forget Karen who runs Revelry and Honor back at EQ2.

A cohort of mine once told me a long time ago in City of Heroes that he thought guilds were a bad idea. He reasoned with me, “MMOs are social games, and creating guilds just divides us.” The statement reeked of a philosophical debate better argued out by politicians; Though I had to admit, he had something of a point. Guild drama had torn people apart, and while some had stayed in their respective game because guilds moved, people have also moved because the guild wanted to. However my friend forgot the nuances of the situation. That wasn’t at the heart of a guild, but ultimately problems with the people. In the end Guilds are just a tag and some tool sets that better allow us to work together. I can’t imagine EVE would be very fun without guilds, and large raid content would be thoroughly trashed without guilds to provide sufficient structure. I can’t imagine life without guilds, but I imagine there must be flaws. I’m sure if they were so great, I would have found my way into a good one by now. Are you a solo player? Is it by choice? If you’ve got a guild, what are the pros and cons? Do you see any barriers to joining a guild?

I’m curious.

Fit The Part: Feeling Like A Hero (Archive)

((This archive post has been edited with new images and  change of sentence content))

Now, it is a rare occasion indeed where I feel so compelled as to let people know what I’m doing in terms of gaming. Because to be quite honest, I doubt any of you care. More often than not, I don’t think about what everyone else is playing. Tobold might be finding the time of his life playing Hello Kitty Online, but it doesn’t mean a lot to me. Syncaine is playing Darkfall? Whatever. Unless you are doing something so amazingly out of this world that you’re actually not even playing an MMO, but are instead locked into the Cyberspace of the internet because you tried to shove a fork into a USB port, I’m probably not interested. Rather, I am reading to hear your theories and thoughts, hopefully something profound. Perhaps it is a bit hypocritical of me to say, since very rarely do I say anything concrete, but I do like to believe that there is something we are trying to convey to people. Using your blog as just a form of twitter without a word count isn’t really all that great. Drop it.

Unless you actually have something you want to say about the game’s mechanics or style, let’s try to keep it real. “I’m having fun” doesn’t help me at all. My sister is still probably having fun playing Web Kinz but I’ll be damned if I think that her having fun on it will equate to me enjoying myself on it. Some men may enjoy wearing high heels or other women’s clothing, but again, that doesn’t mean I want to go and do it. Why are you having fun?

Why do I feel like I’m going to see you again?

Surprise surprise, this does relate to what I was previously saying. As I recall, I do believe Ethec over at Ten Ton Hammer did a post about feeling cool in an MMO (Though, from the sheer length of the newsletter he may very well have a post about existing in the universe). In particular, he said he felt cool grinding in Aion. Now, this had very little relevance to me at the time, because even as an Aion player I never felt particularly special during the grind. In the end its still a grind to me. That said though, I must speak of something far different, for recently I began to look at Champions Online. From the things I heard, I went into the game with a very heavy heart. However, I was amazingly surprised to find that all the words of mediocrity washed away to become instant moments of glee as I finished using Cryptic‘s famous character creator, and popped into the game. Never mind the impressive graphics, but I was amazed at how I just felt a degree of joy that seemed to stomp all over my experience in Aion. And when I became aware of this, I became horribly frustrated.

Was this just the new rush that I felt from playing a new game, why did I enjoy this compared to another game? The cutscenes perhaps? No, they were few and far between. The cheesy voice-acting? Certainly not. And I pounded away as I looked at the game. Perhaps I really enjoyed making a superhero. I did enjoy City of Heroes a fair bit after all, and that did seem to be a logical similarity, and became my conclusion, though I felt sorely unsatisfied with my answer. Only when I looked at the tag of a simple gray enemy as I passed through the tutorial area that suddenly Ethec’s article came to mind that I was able to piece two and two together. And what was the tag of the simple gray enemy you might ask? It only said, “Henchman”. But the concept worked all too perfectly as I pondered on it further. One thing that Cryptic had mastered so perfectly was capturing the feeling of being a hero. The costumes and graphics helped a lot, and the combat was good enough, but I had for ages failed to consider the importance of the categories of enemies. So many games have us fight creatures one at a time, sometimes two, maybe three, unless you are an AOE fighter.

In both the “City Of” Games, as well as Champions, we would fight countless henchmen before meeting the boss. But we would fight these creatures in packs. The base concept of many an Online Role Playing Game of Massively Multiplayer origins involved you fighting one enemy at a time. When has it ever been okay to pull in a Raid? Never, to my knowledge. There is a very precise limit to how many enemies you could fight on par at your level. In both the hero games though, you can take down countless weak henchman on your own, and only does it become a one on one fight as you take on the apparently equal supervillain (Or hero) that stood in your way. By the end of that, I truly felt like a hero, a step above the rest. It may be mostly psychological, but Cryptic struck a gold concept that needn’t remain just in the Super Hero genre. This was briefly touched upon by the early Tabula Rasa until the developers felt that players were burning through enemies too quickly, which would ultimately make content too easy to progress through.

Conclusion: More fodder, more special feelings!

MMO Purgatory (Archive)

Now, try not get caught up in the “Hell” part of the diagram, because frankly I have no idea what MMO hell is like (Wait, I take it back, here it is). Or MMO Earth for that matter. While I read a post about Funcom by OpenEdge, I went through a series of flashbacks from previous conversations I had in several MMOs. Although not conversations I necessarily participated, I recall having a familiar reaction every time I saw the familiar phrase. Almost always the conversation had near the exact same phrase, “I’m just staying here until ____ comes out.” For Age of Conan the inserted game was Warhammer. For Warhammer, the next game was Darkfall. In EVE the game was JumpGate: Evolution (RIP). Suffice to say, at this time you can insert Guild Wars 2 as the next game that we’re going to finally make our “real” MMO.

And every time I saw that, my brow furrowed and I mentally sneered at them. It seemed so horribly obnoxious. A planned temporary stay in an MMO? A trial perhaps, but who would be so obnoxious as to lead an MMO on like a woman who wrapped a man around her finger until her real boyfriend came back from vacation. The nerve! The gall! An MMO is designed to go on for years after all, if you didn’t plan on staying for the duration, why be there at all?

That thought stewed with me for some time, and I tried to rationalize it out as best I could, why I must clearly be right despite my own prior MMO hoppings. I would ultimately come to believe it was because of the plan. When I came to a game it was at least with the intent of staying as long as I could. That seemed far more reasonable.

But that could do nothing to satiate the thoughts that nagged at me. It reeked more of naivete than good intentions. What good was it to be part of a persistent world if you weren’t just as persistent in your existence in this world. Only then did it finally dawn on me; I was depressed. Not in terms of existentialism, but I was depressed at the thought that I wouldn’t actually stay with the game forever, and with such futility in mind, why should I even bother? Why should I buy the next shiny new game, if I would only purchase it while wistfully looking at the horizon for the next MMO that was really going to be “the one” this time? It was like playing an MMO after the announcement was made that the servers were shutting down; You were just passing the time.

One could say the point of games was to pass the time, but who actually approaches a game thinking, “I’ll get this much closer to death!” You look forward to actually having fun, not the explicit goal of passing the time. I’ve long since gotten over this, acknowledging that I’m here to have fun with people if I can, and if I’m going to stay for years on end, it will be because I haven’t stopped having fun, NOT for the purpose of feeling more permanent.

Do you ever feel like you lost the fun, waiting for the next big thing?


((This archive post has been edited to better relate to the current times.))

iCan’t Wait (Archive)

Hello again Internet, it’s been too long my friend. It’s Riknas again, and I actually have something worthwhile mentioning, unbelievable as it is. While some people say otherwise, it’s a little known fact that Pocket Legends isn’t actually the first Mobile MMORPG (Or MMMORPG, if you will). Rather, the first attempt was Era Of Eidolon. Unfortunately, the game is now deceased. In fact, I only once came across it myself, not even on my cellphone at the time. Instead, I first discovered the main (Now defunct) site which encouraged me to play the game using a drawn cell phone, so what few keyboard buttons I was able to play with would show the corresponding buttons of the phone being pressed. Essentially, it was encouraging me to start clicking on the phone interface, and then to download it to my own phone. At the time, I was disgusted at being forced to do something so silly as playing a game on something other than my computer. Never mind that, when I did, they had the gall to force me to pretend I was playing on a phone!

In retrospect, I regret not playing it more, as the experience literally lasted a matter of minutes before I was dissatisfied with the controls and dropped the game, not even bothering to try putting it on my personal phone. Far from a masterpiece of a game, its a shame to see something so different disappear. Even trying to dig up any mention of the game was remarkably difficult; which just goes to show how quickly the game slipped under the radar, as I was unable to find ANY information about the progress being made in the game, or why it even shut down. Albeit, if there’s no information at all and no one covered it, it’s likely to say it wasn’t able to develop any audience of any kind, which made it all the more tragic. Even the original company, WatAgame has either shut down, or seen radical changes making something called ‘goSupermodel’, which is supposed to be a special community for girls, (Don’t you dare ask me to look at that…though I probably will anyway, as part of a separate entry). In the end, I feel almost responsible for the game’s disappearance because I never gave it a chance myself.

That said, while Pocket Legends isn’t the first to tap into the Mobile audience, it is the first to try making an MMMORPG (sorry, you’re right, it’s too long of an acronym) in 3D. Furthermore, considering the fact we’ve heard of it, that’s a good sign that the game will have at least more longevity than its predecessor. I haven’t looked at it, but considering that it is debuting as both the first MMORPG on both the iPhone and recently released iPad means that both Space Time Studios and Apple will be getting themselves a foothold in a new market. Color me interested, I’ll be investigating this game soon.

This is Riknas, signing off!

Land As Far As The Eye Can Sea (Archive)

Hey guys. You wanna chat? If yes, you probably should go talk to someone, because these paragraphs, although they say a lot, never let you get a word in edgewise (In other news, I’m still not that funny).

Poor humor aside, I’m willing to bet money that if you read this blog you also probably know about Dark Fall’s Sea Expansion . While I applaud them for working on this game so diligently, I’m most interested about the fact that Aventurine is actually letting people sail the seas of Agon. Like it or hate it, you have to at least give Darkfall credit for staying so true to itself. Although I’ve played the game and know that it isn’t quite my thing, every time I see an update on it I feel like there is a crowd of the “cool” people cackling about the fact they’re in the cool game while I go around flapping wings and fighting crime.

Back to the sea though, I must say that water and I don’t get along much anymore. Sure, I drink plenty myself, but after falling asleep in the shower enough, suffering from sea-sickness for nearly every-boat ride I have ever been on, I have learned to be quite wary of it. Quite honestly, I wish I had straight rocker hair like Beau, because I have to completely soak my hair when I get out of bed so that it doesn’t come out as some surreal mohawk.

Imagine it like this, only worse.

But…uh, yeah. I hate water. Despite that, I always feel especially fascinated by it, and I was remarkably disappointed when Pirates of the Burning Sea flopped. In the end, I was underwhelmed by the execution, though I was glad they gave it a try. Never the less, that hardly means my desire to see sea-faring was satiated. I distinctly remember feeling somewhat entertained waiting for the boats during my brief sojourn in WoW. And always I enjoyed get aboard that boat and searching the few rooms in it, and watching the boat go across the water, which would ultimately transfer into a boring loading screen. I almost wished that it just hid the loading screen with just a longer wait aboard the boat. I’m not even saying I want to be captain aboard a bout. More than likely I’d be horrible sailor because I was too busy throwing up overboard, or even worse on the deck or something.

While I’m not going to pound on the devs for not thinking of this or declaring this to be a must in the next MMO, but why don’t we even use boats as a setting anymore? In the same way people wanted to walk aboard their starships in Star Wars Galaxies, and plenty more clamored and begged still to explore more of the ship space in Star Trek Online. Even DDO, with so many instances, nearly all of them are just going through large land masses or dungeons of some kinds. Of all these IPs, and some as vicious as they are, I somewhat doubt that the only thing the ocean is good for, is to be a convenient excuse for a loading screen.

Are there any sort of settings you’d like to see presented more often in your game?

((This Archive post has been edited to better reflect the current market. Other minor changes to improve quality were made.))

Free Play Reviews: Shaiya (Archive)

Shaiya by Aeria Games

Well damn, number nine and we’re still here. Hard to believe it’s already been two months huh? Although some say that people will pay more for better quality, Andras and I will stay here to demand the best of both worlds.

Let’s get right into it then, eh?

The Story

The back-story to Shaiya is a simple one, however it leaves a feeling that you are part of a rather epic battle.

The idea is that after the Nordein people (a large brutish race) were removed from their throne up high in the heavens of by the goddess Etain, the Dumianas (Elves, really) grew angry with her, and actually killed her. As a result, gods fought each other for the control of Teos, plaguing it with monsters.

Eventually, it would come down to two goddess, one representing light, and the other representing darkness, still fighting over the world of Teos. As a result, the Dumianas split into two factions, both siding with the different gods. Those allying themselves with the goddess of light would call themselves Elves (told you), and on the opposing side were the Vail (I don’t care what anyone says, these are just Dark Elves).

As the war raged on, the Nordein returned, calling themselves “Death Eaters” came to the aid of the Vail, and the Humans appeared to ally with the Elves. You must choose who your loyalties lie with, and help bring an end, to this ongoing struggle.

Getting Started

So, now you’re pumped to play right? Let’s get that character set up. But before you do that you need to pick which army to ally with. You can either join the Alliance of Light, (Elves and Humans) or the Union of Fury (Vail((Dark elves)) and Nordein). This sounds important in the beginning, because you can only be on one side per server. But since there’s two servers to choose from, it really isn’t that big a deal. In the end it hardly even matters what side you take, since each race mirrors the other in the classes they use, and their only real difference is in name only.

Humans are mostly like the Nordein, and Elves are similar to the Vail (And vice versa). Although this removes a layer of uniqueness, this makes sure everyone is on even ground.

One thing that is however interesting about the classes is how the classes are set up in description, and is similar to Anarchy Online’s (Also covered in Free Play #5) class system. Although Shaiya doesn’t actually slap a difficulty level on the classes, it does have a set of bars rating the Attack, Defense, Group effectiveness and Solo effectiveness, making it easy to figure out what class suits your play-style best.

Lastly, you must decide what difficult you want to play on.


This goes on the aspect of “interesting” things in the game (Note I didn’t say “good”, just “interesting”). There are four difficulties: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Ultimate. On easy mode you double the experience you gain, however you can not learn “Special” skills, and only can reach level thirty. In normal, you go at normal XP gain, but can also reach level fifty, etc etc. Now, you might be thinking, “Well, I’m going to just start on Ultimate and not have to grind through those first three difficulties.” But, of course, you can’t. You must beat Normal to unlock Hard, and hard, to unlock ultimate. I was initially impressed at the concept of “easy” for just helping you dip your foot in the water, but forcing you to go through three more difficulty levels, each at a higher level cap, and slower speed seems cruel.

However, to some it is a pleasant way to extend your full game experience (If you actually enjoy being forced to do that sort of thing, I don’t want to meet you.)

But let’s not be dragged down by that quite yet, it couldn’t hurt to give the game a try can it?


Yes, yes it can.

This opening has got to be one of the most disappointing beginnings ever. After a brief in-game tutorial, no matter what race I play, I get some kill-quest to find some strange animal, which happens to be so powerful, that the guards can’t handle it. In the case of my human fighter, apparently they are being overwhelmed by a plague of thief monkeys.

Thief Monkeys? Really? Okay, fine. At least it’s different. So it looks like I’m going to go hunt for them in the forest and then make some gold I guess.

Except that’s not the case either, I walk maybe ten feet outside the town to find that it seems the entire road is covered in these non-hostile monkeys, who just walk back and forth, barely straying from the road if at all. When one is killed, moments later another comes back in a bright light.

…Maybe the guards just couldn’t see the monkeys with those big helmets they have on, yeah?

As I completed quest after quest, all amazingly close to each other, I noticed that they occasionally have timed quests, which I also call “grind quests”. The entire point of these quests is to kill as many enemies of a certain type that you can within sixty minutes and still get back to the quest giver. Usually there is a minimum amount that you need to kill for the reward, but the higher amount of enemies killed, the better the gold reward is. So, that’s kind of interesting, not bad either. However it was on my third timed quest for my Nordein where I realized why all quest enemies are so close to each other.

They don’t give directions.

That’s right, for some inane reason, the developers thought it would be a cool idea if they gave you a marker to find people you owe quests for, but not for where your actual targets are. It then became a painfully long time attack to scour the map for that one type of enemy, because it has to be a specific type of enemy. For instance, kill five Doomfall Sentinels. Not a thing else. Doomfall Warrior? No. Doomfall…Hero? No. Just the sentinels. Now I’m no longer looking to find where the enemies are, but where I left my sanity as I wandered up and down the hills to find those Arachne creatures.

Although in the overall scheme of progression, it can be a pain to get some of these things done, playing the game itself is very nice. The in-game animations are very realistic and fluid, making you feel much more immersed in the game play as you use your double sword to slash your opponent to the side, or bringing down your large two handed axe onto the enemies head. And that’s just using auto-attack. All attacks are well done, and is definitely a step up from World of Warcraft.


Although the PVE in Shaiya is lacking, the PVP in it is a shining beacon to other games, and can be compared to a more limited form of Lineage 2. Shaiya sports 1500 vs 1500 realm versus realm combat, with  the Union of Fury and Alliance of Light players going head to head for dominance. The winners of these battles are given the blessings of their goddess, empowering them even further. For those who’d rather fight on smaller scales, there is Guild Versus Guild combat, and an Arena for all to compete in.

The combat has a nice combination of number crunching (Distributing points into stats and skill strengths) and fast paced combat, by knowing when to conserve your energy and use your skills, while double tapping the left, right, and back movement keys to avoid getting hit.

Admittedly not many games are good at PVP, but this game really knows what it’s doing in this regard.

The Catch

Aeria Games, like most Asian F2P MMOs, features a Micro-Transaction system to buy in-game items. One special thing about it is that you first must buy “Aeria Game Points”. Aeria points are a universal RMT system that you can utilize in any of Aeria Game Entertainment’s MMOs, so that if you buy an excess, but get tired of one of their games, you can use it in one of their other ones.

The only downside is the one that follows all F2P MMOs is that the paying players can have the upper-hand over the free players, however that can’t be helped, as they’re trying to add incentive to get you to pay. However there is no actual problem that makes it even harder for our fellow cheap-skates.


Shaiya online is mediocre at best if you like PVE content, however it is a great place to go for people who enjoy PVP. If Lineage 2 is starting to burn a hole in your pocket, but you don’t want to give up bashing other players, I’m going to suggest giving Shaiya a shot.

However, if you’re looking to adventure and slay dragons with your friends, look elsewhere.

This is Riknas, and I hope you got some good info from this Free Play Blog.


((This review was written in the year 2009 and may not be completely faithful to the current state of the game))

The Mainstream Identity (Archive)

I was listening to the Van Hemlock podcast yesterday, and while I’m sure there’s plenty to said about those guys, that is not my goal for today. Rather, I would like to hyper-focus on a quote that initiated a thought, which ultimately became the blog you are reading (If it’s not the post you’re reading then…well…I don’t know. I guess the first thing that comes to mind is, “How?”).

Now, this has no doubt been brought up many times before, and I’m fairly certain, qualified as Jon Shute may be, he was most likely not the person to first mention how the barrage of releases we are seeing are affecting the actual Online Gamer population. Simply put, aside from World of Warcraft, MMOs have been more or less cycling through the same number of people. Massive a population we are, there are still only a finite number of humans, and so naturally there are only a certain number of MMO players. The most well known example of multiple MMOs strangling each other would no doubt be the rivalry that had existed between the Age of Conan and WAR as the two yelled and screamed at each other through the gaming dimensions over who had the grittier game, the better PVP, better IP, larger shoe size…wait…where was I again? Oh yes. Suffice to say, when AoC first came out, there was a dip in the number of WoW players, and AoC swelled. Eventually people flocked out of AoC back to WoW, and when WAR came, again, some people left Conan and Azeroth to visit WAR. Again, some stay, but plenty more were just tourists, who went back to their “Home” game.

The popular term is that these games are just cannibalizing the MMO market without bringing in new players.

The MMO market at its finest.

The “real” face of the MMO Companies

This again, has been applied to many things. There are of course some factors that net a small number of new players (Intellectual Properties, the people who are playing AoC or Lord of the Rings just because they are Tolkien or Howard fans). But these are tiny details that come across as specks in the big picture. Ever since World of Warcraft came out, these games have picked at the more adventurous spirits who just discovered these new and amazing Massively Multiplayer Online Games. This seems to be the cardinal sin that people will always bring up, but I now ask, “So what?” At some point, you really can’t push the numbers, certain interests will attract certain people, and you can make it more accessible, but that doesn’t mean you can make everyone like something. MMOs didn’t go and become mainstream. World of Warcraft just happens to be a mainstream MMO. A genre is not mainstream when a subsect is. You could say Halo is a mainstream FPS, but that doesn’t mean the FPS genre is main stream. What does main stream even mean? To me, it essentially equates to a house hold name. If you say Halo, someone will recognize it. If you say World of Warcraft, someone will recognize it. It is big enough to be a phenomenon, and that is what makes it main stream. Your grandmother probably doesn’t play either, but she’ll nod her head thinking, “So that’s what the kids are doing these days.”

So, when we have all these demographics playing something, (Have you seen all the kinds of people and guilds there are in WoW?) we find niches. At a certain point though, if we somehow expand so much more, they become their own sub-groups that the other players don’t jive with. That’s practically the point of guilds, to gather like-minded folks. Guilds for raiding, PVP, PVE, RP, etc etc. In the end, we’re only going to play with so many. And so you can say fine, that you think WAR and AoC are choking each other, and we’re all just acne on the back of Blizzard, but I’m really not losing any tears only being with Super Hero fans while I’m in Champions Online. No hard feelings to the happy grand father playing the wii, the young girl playing peggle, but we probably wouldn’t be best of buds, because in the end we are on differing spheres of the gaming interest. I could go on and on with more examples and justifications, but I’m long winded as it is. Just give these fledgling MMOs a break, they have enough trouble as it is.

Free Play Reviews: Dark Orbit (Archive)

Dark Orbit by Big Point

I have been trying not to criticize the names of some of these F2P games, but come on! Dark Orbit? Seriously? I understand why they chose the name, don’t get me wrong. Orbit has a lot to do with space, where the game takes place. Not that anything in the game actually succumbs to the power of gravitational fields, but that seems beyond the point. I understand why they chose dark, because it sounds dangerous and mysterious, and if they chose black it might sound racist. But, merely smashing two logical words together does not a good title make. I mean, how in the world (or beyond it) could an orbit, the imaginary lines in space, possible be dark. That makes as much sense as a lemon tasting fast. I might as well accuse this game of being too tall for me. But I digress, let’s get on with the game.

What Just Happened?

Yes, this game does in fact include a story section. If you had the delusion that this might have any effect on gameplay, you would be sadly mistaken. In fact, I only stumbled into the story when I was in the help pages. The story is as follows, only in an irritating third person (“the highly developed species known as mankind”):

Climate changes on Earth. Three major companies go into space. They colonize planets and make their climates habitable. Why they couldn’t do that on Earth is beyond me, but whatever. There are limited resources, so all the companies went to war with each other. So that’s that.

What’s This Button Do?

Sign-up is pretty simple, not any different from any other signup. It asks for a desired username and password, and then an email address. You then verify that, yes that is really your email. Then they let you play.

But they don’t really tell you how. As soon as I entered the “world” I was a bit overwhelmed with all the stuff on the screen and having no idea what I should be doing. There was a little button that said start, so I figured that might be a good thing to hit. It was.

That Was Fast

So, after my short paragraph and uneventful time signing up, I began my game. I had to choose between one of three companies to work for. I couldn’t really tell the difference between the three, except that one of them was read in a male’s voice, so I decided to work for them. There was a brief description provided, but nothing to really care about. I was then plopped down in a spaceship in the middle of space (I don’t understand how space can have a middle either) and there I was. I noticed on the map in the bottom right hand corner, aptly named the mini-map, that there was a giant blue blob on the upper right hand side with some red flecks floating around. Do to my excessive knowledge in Radio Detection And Ranging I figured blue was good and red was bad. Moving in the game is fairly intuitive. You see the game from a top down perspective of your ship, and click where you want to go. You can also hold down the mouse to have a form of manual control. After gliding over to the blue glob, I found it to be nothing other than a space station, with a horde of friendly ships hovering around it, like piglets suckling from their mother.

Lock and Load

So, at this “mother” ship you can buy equipment. Or, at least, you can go to where you can buy equipment. You see, you can’t actually buy and equip stuff in-game, it instead links you to the main website’s page where you then purchase things. It wasn’t all that complicated, but it was a bit irritating. I’ll forgive them, because they have a very schnazzy (yes, I just said that) site.

The actual stuff you can buy is sparse to say the least. There are about 10 different ships you can buy, but each one is almost always completely superior to that last. That means there no real choice in which ship you want, just which one you can afford. The rest of the equipment was so incredibly barren I almost feel ashamed of it, as if I had some part in the creation of this game. There are a mere 4 different weapons to buy. That’s it. Four. And 3 of them have practically the same name “Laser LF 1”, “Laser LF2”, “Laser LF3”. Once again, they vary only in their damage output, with each one entirely superior to the last. If you notice a theme here, it’s the lack of variety. This in itself may deter people hoping for a lot of depth in their games, or any sense of individuality. There are also drones and engines you can buy, but they too have a depressingly small amount of variety.

Fire When Ready

Let’s move into the next area you are probably wondering about, how do you use these new weapons? And the answer is disappointingly simple, you just click on the enemy and hit laser attack or rockets. Imagine world of warcraft, only you have nothing but one spell and an auto-attack, and you have a pretty good idea what this is. In my first experience fighting I found the red specks moving towards the giant blue blob, and figured enemy players were trying to over-run our base. Needless to say, I began a full assault on all the red specks in sight, and found that they died very easily. After the initial thrill ran off, I noticed that these enemies would not engage me and would fly around in circles if no one attacked it. To my great embarrassment, I was getting worked up over a bunch of low level NPCs.

So, really, the combat is one of the worst features of the game. It is so simple and automated you might as well be watching someone else play.

The game seems to prefer it this way, since everything in the game revolves around the automated combat. It’s as if the game wants as little interaction from you as possible, but still wants you there, like playing action figures with a 5 year old. The missions that didn’t involve fighting were even worse, here’s an example:

The first mission tells you to find a certain kind of mineral and bring it back to base. It told me to find the mineral in X-1 and X-2. After some fiddling, I was able to bring up the big map and found that I was in some J galaxy. But all of them were Js. There were no Xs in to found. In dismay I flew around randomly and shot down some NPCs that dared fly in circles while I crossed their path. Some of these NPCs dropped the mineral I wanted, but apparently THOSE ones were contaminated or something because they did no count for my quest.

As anyone would do in that situation, I consulted the help pages. They were absolutely no help at all, as it covered only the rudimentary basics, such as how to fly. When I went to the map section to see if I was looking on the wrong map, it gave this confusing bit about how you navigate the Space Map. I had to read it three times to understand that by Space Map, they mean the HUD and your play screen. Why they insist on calling it a map, is beyond me. So, with my new-found vocabulary and frustration, I decided to give another whack and flying around randomly. After doing this for a good 20 minutes I found what I sought, my red mineral just floating in space to be picked up. Apparently the minerals randomly spawn across the map. Since I only gathered one and the quest required 20, I decided to completely abandon that mission and go on to the Kill X of Y ones. Those provided even less satisfaction.

You Pay For This?

So, how do these guys make money? There is your fairly micro-transaction option at work here, you pay real money for uterium. Some ships require payment in uterium, while others are paid for in standard credits. But, since you can find uterium in bonus boxes lying every two feet on the map, payment isn’t really necessary. If you want you can convert your uterium into standard credits too, but that seems to defeat any point to actually playing the game.

Closing Statements

Really, you can do a lot better than this game. To give an example of the amount of work going into this, there’s a flash game on newgrounds that is almost identical to this one, and that was a one man show. I cannot think of a reason to play this as opposed to other MMOs unless you have a space-ship fetish, but are too cheap to buy any of the numerous spaceship games that are good.

((This review was made in the year 2009, and may not remain accurate to the current state of the game. Review by Andras.))