Monday, April 11, 2011

Ragnarok online

I've wasted tons of time on this MMORPG. Basically I broke my first MMO cherry when I played Runescape and ever since then I've liked the genre. I've always enjoyed playing in a world shaped by the players, and killing them is fun too! I spent too much time on RO and basically knew 90% of the world like the back of my palm. It had such great graphics for the time and the music was astounding!

One of the first themes I heard when I entered the game, frankly it was amazing.

I basically spent my adolescence playing this game. Even after several times starting over I still continued playing, each time getting more and more powerful and farther in the game. Compared to Runescape it was revolutionary because the combat wasn't a sort of turn based combat, you could actually see your characters move and fight. This made battles fast and streamlined meaning it was easier to get caught up in it. The graphics were also cute and the world was rich with unique monsters. Classes were distinct from one another and you always had a new experience whenever you made a new class.

The town of Prontera filled with a variety of classes and a Lord Knight showing off his equipment

Basically I had very fond memories of the game, as well as my fair share of drama(which was also fun in it's own way). Most of the time drama would either start through equipment or PVP(player vs player, basically killing each other). Now if you've played any game with a PVP system you know that drama is soon to follow. People HATE to lose and if you kill them they will come back with a vendetta the size of Uranus. Most of the time PVP is done for fun but it can easily escalate into all out war. PVP however was very quick in this game, you would usually die in 1-2 hits depending on what level and class you were so it wasn't easy to come back for your revenge. Also certain classes had certain advantages and the balance was wonky at best. Most of the offensive oriented classes dominated and could even take out hordes of people if you built AND equipped them right.

Which brings me to my next point, equipment. Equipment basically made the player. Sure without the levels you won't have the HP or stats to perform well with it but even at low levels you could destroy people if you had the best equipment. Of course the best equipment comes with a cost, as in any other MMORPG, the best equipment can cost you upwards of hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. Certain things are just so overpowered that whoever owned them makes them nigh invulnerable, either through super offense or super defence. The backbone of any equipment is having it highly upgraded which increases the defense a significant amount and having cards slotted into them. The more highly upgraded and rare cards slotted into the equipment the more rare and costly they become. Most equipment can be upgraded to a maximum of +10 but to get there requires extreme luck, as low as 0.0384% for going from 0 to +10.

Equipment makes a huge difference though because each upgrade reduced damage by a certain percentage, meaning if you stack enough of it you could tank basically anything. You had 5 equipment slots that can all be upgraded out of a total of 10, however every other slot can give you defence depending on what you're wearing.

The classes  you could become, these are the second classes and the transcended classes however.
Now let's move on to the grind. Yes the horrendous grind for levels that plague many RPGs, and MMORPGs are no exception. You literally have to kill thousands and thousands of monsters just to reach any feasible level of adequacy. Whether you're grinding for equipment or levels you will spend hundreds of hours just tweaking 1 character to be usable in any late-game activity. Whether you want to fight in the War of Emperium, Battle Ground, PVP, MVP or even kill basic monsters you have to gear up and level up. You're hard pressed to find any good equipment because anything that is good drops at a ridiculously low rates. At time they even drop from low level monsters so you can't even level from them so hunting them is essentially all you're going there for. Also, when you reach max level you can do it all over again at 3 times to experience rate! <sarcasm>Woohoo!</sarcasm> However they made the beginning grind way easier in the global server so you won't feel so weak in the beginning. You still have to grind in the end though because they increased the level cap to 150 which is 51 levels higher than the previous max. The experience needed for those levels is again ridiculous because to get anywhere good you have to spend time, basically the same time it took you to get to max level before, if not more.

Remember you're competing against thousands of people worldwide and there will always be someone who has more time and more social skill than you. If everyone could reach max level easily than everyone would be doing it and those that actually spent time leveling their character would complain about how easy it is. Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft made this mistake and riots were started on the forums about how easy it is now.

Even with all the complaints however this is still one charming game. I still find myself attracted to it's alluring wafts of 2d goodness as well as the consistent updates they keep adding. Even though this game is beyond 10 years old now it still has a strong community of people still playing, whether that be on a official pay-to-play server or private server.

The developers are still going strong too but IMO they while some of the updates have definitely improved the game certain parts seriously need a rehaul. For instance the quest system, it fucking sucks man. It feels like there is no point in doing them because they provide such shit rewards. And the ones that have good rewards also are insanely hard and without a quest guide handy you'd be lucky to find any of the right NPCs to talk to. Another problem is, while the story to these quest are actually quite decent, it doesn't feel like you made any effect to the world at all. None of the NPCs talk or move and they are stuck in the same position for eternity. Also the sprites are boring as fuck. They just add effects but without actually changing what the sprite is doing. For instance the animation for clicking and attacking a monster is the same as doing a skill. So no matter how flashy the skill looks it doesn't matter because you're still following through, through the same motions. Your animations carry throughout the same class path too! I mean fuck, if it wasn't already bad that you had to put up with the same animations through 1 class but when you change into your second class you have the same god damn animations? Are you kidding me? I also hate that your equipment doesn't change, but alas I rarely see 2d games with equipment that actually changes the sprite.

Yes there is private servers with every change(or not change) you could think of. Some are very similar to the official servers where there's a heavy grind and almost no help in the basic stuff that new games have as their base. No resetting of stats if you screw up, no easy transportation without heavy cost, and other things such as no sp healing items sold. Other servers however are the complete opposite, upping the experience rate and drops 1 million times allowing you to level up like crazy and find every possible thing you can imagine. Resets, teleporting, and basic(and sometimes not so basic)healing items/equipment are all cheap or free. They have custom items that give you insane stats and a variety of other tweaks which make killing every monsters a breeze. You will attack 50 times per second and do millions of damage. However these types of high rate servers usually make you grind out for equipment and adjust the monsters so that the tougher monsters are equally as tough as you are. Drops for certain monsters will change because otherwise you'd be running around with overpowered items.

Example of several custom items not available on official servers

It's just basically a matter of finding the right balance of what you like and what server to pick. Without challenge there's no fun so each server owner tackles it in their own way, some being more popular than others. I love the game but I've since put it down for several years now and moving on to other MMOs. This game will always have a place in my heart, if just for nostalgia reasons though. When this game eventually whittles and dies it will still glow brightly in my as one of my fond memories.

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