Category Archives: I like shinies

Favorite Overwatch Heroes!

I’m playing too much Overwatch which is a bit like eating too much Mexican food, delicious but occasionally frustrating. 38 levels later, my personal hero statistics currently look like this:

Favorite Overwatch Heroes

I love Pharah, she is my desert goddess of the skies. I love Symmetra and Lucio too, both of which are insanely fun to play and have had me roar with laughter and glee so many times. Just how much better can it get?? What Overwatch has done lately is remind me of my PvP soul – it’s always been there and strong, if we care to believe gamer profiling tests anyway, but I feel it’s been slumbering for a time while I was busy exploring MMORPGs with Bilbo’s walking stick.

Overwatch has unleashed the beast. I take more joy from my enemy’s pitiful cries than is probably healthy. Oh well!

The different heroes are really where all of Blizzard’s creative genius has gone into; there’s not a single one that feels generic or sameish and doesn’t come with fun little tricks, voice lines and special interactions. For all its straightforward and simple gameplay, Overwatch piles on the charisma (you can just feel there is so much backstory material) and the seemingly endless combinations (there are in fact 230’230) you can play, counter and adapt to. The quick and brutal matches are some of the most carefree mayhem I’ve enjoyed in a long time but they have the potential of being jarring too, depending on how your team is playing. Still, a close match is a good match and it’s refreshing to play a game again that teaches you how to lose.

My personal Overwatch Hero Roster

So heroes! I’ve started expanding my active heroes in Overwatch to be able to switch according to team setup and map progress. I feel it’s important to know at least one hero per role really well but I’d like to play most of them eventually. Every time I start a new class, it gets really fun after a while, I suspect they all are. For the time being, I’d rank all 21 characters accordingly:

A) Heroes I feel confident playing

1. Lucio
2. Pharah
3. Symmetra
4. Mercy
5. Torbjörn

B) Heroes I’d like to get better at

6. Reinhardt
7. Mei
8. Zenyatta
9. Genji
10. Junkrat
11. Widowmaker

C) Heroes that feel awkward

12. Roadhog
13. Bastion
14. Tracer

D) Heroes I haven’t touched (incl. beta)

15. Reaper
16. Soldier 76
17. Zarya
18. McCree
19. Hanzo
20. Winston
21. D.VA

I doubt that I will ever be a good Reaper, McCree or Tracer. I don’t really seem to enjoy more traditional, up close gun classes much. It’s safe to say I’ll never become much of a sniper either; it feels like they’re missing all the action, loitering in the back all by themselves. I play for the chaos and shared laughs but am sure a great sniper has her moments! The tanks also don’t come naturally to me but I’ve enjoyed Reinhardt so far – Roadhog was just weird and not very pleasant a character. I hate getting hooked by this guy when I’m fighting against one, so I wonder if that’s behind my antagonism. Well, that and he sounds like a pig.

It will be interesting to revisit this post a few months down the line! If you’re on the fence of whether Overwatch is a game for you or not, I’ve shared some pointers over here!

Fun and Whimsy in Portal Knights

Besides sinking some considerable time into Overwatch last week, I have found myself enjoying Portal Knights, an already very polished title currently on early access and available on Steam. I almost missed Portal Knights thinking it was another Minecraft/Trove/craft-something voxel game but the graphics looked cute and bright and I kept reading role-playing game in various descriptions. It was coop mode which finally got me to try it with my best mate however and 15 hours later, we were still going!

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Portal Knights is a breath of fresh air in the sandbox voxel world because it’s very much still a “game” and not another open world life sim. Now, I do love me some open world games as y’all know, but I’ve written before about my trouble with building fatigue in games that make it their primary purpose. I can go nuts for 3-4 weeks building my fantasy castle and then feel very burned out, wondering what’s the point.

This question never arises in Portal Knights. Instead, you unlock mini-worlds via portals that follow a very linear, level-based progression. As you journey from one map to the next, you gather better materials, beat harder dungeons and bosses to level up and become ever more powerful. Never knowing what will lie behind the next door, you want to return to your home base ever so often to craft better gear and potions or do some optional gardening and decorating if you like. This makes Portal Knights very much an adventure game on single-player or coop that features some crafting and free building on top. Scratching several itches at once is what this title does really well; I look forward to see what else the developer will come up with in terms of game modes (survival?).

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For a more detailed overview, check out my full Portal Knights early access preview over at MMOGames! This is very much also a game to enjoy with family, in case you’re looking to play something together with your kids that allows for shorter session gameplay while still being a longer project you can work on together.

The Cosmic Heights of Final Fantasy XIV’s Combat Music

I will love MMO music until the end of my days. It is the only thing about MMOs that has consistently made me happy over the past 16 years and has never let me down. Games come and go, so do posts, blogs, people – but the soundtrack is here to stay. It is a constant source of wonder and joy for me. Battle Bards, the MMO music podcast I share with my friends Syp and Steff, is turning 3 years old this April 2016 and we have a special anniversary episode upcoming next week. These three years, I have not missed a single recording and I regret not the times when I re-scheduled appointments or popped another pill so we could record together across the pond. Above all the things that I do in connection with gaming, the podcast has become my number one priority.

We recently did a second show on FFXIV on Battle Bards, with focus on the Heavensward soundtrack.  While slightly smaller in scope and narrower in focus, Masayoshi Soken has once more hit it out of the ballpark with Heavensward. The music celebrates everything that Final Fantasy means to people, treats its legacy with great respect and comes with a large variety of tracks for both day and night time. And as usual, the combat and boss music knocks you off your socks!

The Cosmic Heights of Final Fantasy XIV's Combat Music

King Thordan is very serious about kicking your butt.

The Cosmic Heights of Final Fantasy XIV’s Combat Music

Combat music is one of the most overlooked themes in most MMO soundtracks which is weird considering how often we do it. Many games don’t have any or only for special occasions, great raid bosses and such. Other games are so terrible at them, you get fed up after the first three times of hearing them. Only FFXIV cannot seem to respect its battle tunes enough; there are a total of 40+ tracks dedicated to different combat/grind/dungeon/raidboss occasions and even the standard field combat themes vary from greater region to region. Fates, leves, guildhests, exploration missions, dungeons….they all get their own dedicated music. As for primal fights, they are bewildering, unique arrangements players will either love or hate but never feel indifferent towards.

But enough gushing, let the music speak for itself. Here’s my very selective list of amazing combat tracks from both ARR and HW for you!

1. FFXIV ARR: Tenacity (Leve theme)
My favorite battle track from ARR, this gets you pumped from the first second and never ever gets old. Leves can be a grind but when Tenacity is on, I couldn’t care less. If you keep listening, you’ll even hear a bagpipe show up!

2. FFXIV ARR: Minstrel’s Ballad (Ultima Weapon theme)
Ultima Weapon is back and don’t let the choral intro to this track fool you, for it takes off at the 1:20 mark. This special story fight was the first time I lost my composure during my ARR journey – just how much more epic can a fight get thanks to the music?

3. FFXIV ARR: Good King Moggle Mog!
If this track isn’t a direct hommage to Jack Skellington and Danny Elfman’s “Nightmare before Christmas” soundtrack, then I don’t know – I’ll eat my hat!

4. FFHW: Ominous Prognisticks (dungeon boss theme)
If A Realm Reborn had great dungeons and raid bosses, Heavensward has taken everything to new heights both in terms of gameplay and music. This particular track comes up in various dungeons for boss encounters and is one of the greatest pieces of music in the entire expansion. I cannot sit still when I hear this!

5. FFHW: Heroes Never Die (Thordan Extreme theme)
The Thordan encounter is one of the most intense multi-phase challenges the game has seen up to now. I have only beaten this boss on normal so far and have been awestruck as he reigned down fire from the heavens while everyone was dying like flies. Such sweet death to such wonderful music packed with familiar FF cues!

6. FFHW: Ravana’s Theme / Thok Ast Thok
Unlike with so many other primal fights, there are only two phases to the Ravana fight as far as the music goes but boy, was I not prepared for that transition after 05:30! This boss fight is a condensation of what only Final Fantasy has mastered time and again, all at once: to be both grandiose and martial while very goofy and unserious at the same time. All hail Ravana, master of roses and death!

Looking for more? Thanks to the tireless work of Mekkah Dee on youtube, you can find a playlist of every single FFXIV combat track here. Enjoy and spread the love!

BDO Progress Report: I made stuff and Housing is awesome!

There’s something very rewarding about crafting in Black Desert Online and I’m saying that as somebody who never crafts in MMORPGs, like ever. Crafting never made a lot of sense to me in the past; it was either too tiresome to gather materials due to skill gating, too frustrating and punishing in terms of output-RNG (hello FFXI *fizzles*) or simply not effective or required because everything could be bought in the auction house without hassle.

Crafting doesn’t feel irrelevant in Black Desert Online, maybe due to the game’s many trading constraints or just its more complex, crafting-centric gameplay. In hindsight I can say that there is an enjoyable learning curve to the whole contribution-investment and workshop process that let’s you craft pretty much anything in the game for yourself once you understand building progression. There’s none of the usual recipe or schematic hunt involved which I find incredibly liberating. You can gather everything too just by “doing it”, assuming you got the right tools for the job. Then it’s time to explore and learn where the best nodes and resources are located on the map; I know where all the cotton is hiding and I’m not telling!

BDO Progress Report: I made stuff and Housing is awesome!

I made this horse armor for myself and dyed it Azeroth Alliance style!

There is an enjoyable balance struck between the time it takes to gather and process basic mats and achieving the more longterm goal of crafting a serious upgrade or nice piece of furniture. It is not hardcore by any stretch – it is just about right for someone like myself with an average tolerance for downtime shenanigans. And yes there is the auction house too, yet for most basic mats you have to put in the time yourself and manage your alts accordingly. There’s great satisfaction in crafting something bigger and actually useful for yourself!

BDO Progress Report: I made stuff and Housing is awesome!

Moar gear for Syl!

Black Desert Online’s Approach to Housing

Maybe an even greater accomplishment is how Black Desert handles its housing. I will go as far as saying that the game features by far the best and most skillfully realized housing mechanic in MMOs since always, without going down the always sub-par instanced road. Two particular reasons:

  • A perfect compromise between instanced and outdoor housing
  • Easily accessible and affordable housing for everybody!

MMO housing isn’t just a highly enjoyable opportunity to individualize one’s own virtual world experience, it’s an important feature when it comes to player retention. Carving out your own little space, collecting and hanging trophies, these are activities that add glue to our relationship with games and make us want to return. It is pleasant to come home to something we call our own, no matter the illusion.

BDO Progress Report: I made stuff and Housing is awesome!

Loving my flat in Velia.

BDO Progress Report: I made stuff and Housing is awesome!

I have a big door!

Now I agree UO-style outdoor housing was great but let’s face it, comparing today’s titles with Ultima Online is far-fetched to say the least. We’re not dealing with isometric pseudo-3D worlds any longer that house a few thousand players at most. I have experienced server lag and continuous disconnects in Landmark and it wasn’t pretty. I have also been through annoying “land grabs” or faced the usual “inaccessible because ludicrously prized”-MMO housing plenty of times in other games, enough times to know they are neither enjoyable nor fun. And I frankly have no time setting a phone alarm every few days to go and refresh some plot because it disappears if I am playing a game too casually or go on holidays. Come on!

No thanks to all of that! Housing is just too awesome a feature to turn it into a maintenance nightmare or exclude the majority of your playerbase. Now to be fair, Black Desert Online’s housing is far from perfect where interior design is concerned: the furniture placement tool is pretty awful right now and the game needs a lot more options in wallpapers/flooring, general items and lighting especially. Possibilities feel too restricted, similar to my room in FFXIV. Still, BDO beats all competition by a landslide when it comes to its execution of  seamless “phased outdoor housing”. That split-second of loading time aside when entering my door, I cannot tell I am not actually located in the outside world. Heck, I can even open my windows and see the streets outside.

Black Desert Online let’s you have up to 5 residences anywhere on the world map where nodes allow for housing options. The layouts of every house vary a great deal, so exploring options is its own reward. And thanks to the effortless way contribution currency can be invested and withdrawn at any time without repercussions, it is simple enough to pack one’s bags and move to another city or town or farm. I call that awesome housing mechanics in an MMO!

BDO Progress Report: I made stuff and Housing is awesome!

7.5 is a very roomy house in Heidel

BDO Progress Report: I made stuff and Housing is awesome!

So much space to decorate!

In case you’re interested where some of the “best houses” are located in the game, in my humble opinion:

  • Velia 2.3 (2 floors, 3 rooms, 2 doors, 2 fireplaces, very high ceilings!)
  • Heidel 7.5 (2 floors, 4 rooms, big stair, high ceilings)

I am stationed in Velia 2.3 myself at the moment but will probably require a more central flat to stay at very soon. Let me know if you find anything nearly as roomy anywhere close to Calpheon so I can book that U-Haul!

BDO Travel Log: At first I was like “Oh, little Ents”…and then I ran!

So I decided to get some map progress in Black Desert Online last night and hit the road equipped with naught but my trusted horse, some carrots and a lantern for when that scary time comes along at 22.00. I had not yet discovered the south-eastern parts of BDO and parts of the south-western border were still clouded in mistery. Aware of the general direction, I soon toggled off the UI for better screenshot measure and feels. The feels got real real fast.

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The adventure is real.

I am starting to think there’s not a patch on that huge world map that doesn’t hold some sort of secret, a hauntingly beautiful vista, a quirky new race, or a fake wall to crawl under and reveal a deep cavern beyond. These actually exist; they’re not obvious to see but there are fake walls with cracks leading to Tomb Raider style treasure hunting, so always look for the telltale signs.

Speaking of other IPs, it seems someone at Pearl Abyss is madly in love with the Lord of the Rings. It’s not just hinted at in the main story but screams at you from so many details in the world. Naturally the elves live in Lothlorien too in BDO but before I get ahead of myself: I also found the Ent Forest.

At first I was like “ohh little Ents”, when all the shrubbery around me came alive to get a bite off my horse –

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Harmless Mini-Ents

…Charming! Escaping the hungry underbrush I ventured deeper into the forest and lo and behold, “bigger Ents!” –

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Still harmless medium Ent

…that was all fine and dandy before a deafening sound just behind me pierced the air like a hundred dying trees, followed by a large “THUMP” in my general direction. “Oh shit, a REAL Ent!” –

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Time to gooooooo!

I couldn’t even photograph the whole sucker. It cast a high shadow among the tallest trees and yes, there were several tree herders in this forest. Time to run and see the elves before Papa Bear kidnapped me to the Entmoot!

Ever the aestheticians, the elves lived up beautiful trees with spiral staircases going ever up and up. There was a lift too for the lazy which I promptly accepted. The highest platform on the chief tree was only accessible by ladder and from high above the view was stunning right before sunset. There is housing here to be rented too, albeit not a very roomy option.

The adventure could have stopped here. Surely it should – it would be greedy to ask for more. However I had barely turned my back on elfland, when a giant Cyclops started chasing me in massive leaps across the map. Apparently this corner of the world is all about big things intent on killing you. On the bright side, escaping the cyclops is how I found Crio Village, home of the Otters. I am not going to spoil it too much –

I didn’t even know this was a thing! The game keeps doing that, it keeps surprising me around every other corner. The world of Black Desert Online feels very real at first, almost “too real” running danger of getting boring – but no so. Who needs heavily themed patchwork-zones in an MMO when you can have a seamless world that despite its pretty realism is packed with reward and whimsy? Or as Bhagpuss puts it: this land is vast and wild and filled with wonders. If you seek them out, you will find them.

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The world is as beautiful as you see it

Happy Friday everybody! Enjoy these early steps of MMO exploration, they’re precious!

Black Desert Online Additional Cosmetics Guide

Many Black Desert Online players whether they be in possession of shop costumes or not, are somewhat disappointed at the lackluster choice of gear and armor looks in the game. Gear is an important part of a character’s more unique identity so it’s especially sad if an MMO with sandbox and roleplaying appeal lacks such options almost entirely. I am also not quite sure why we can’t see our combat headgear in the game and it bugs me that there aren’t in fact leg items for further customization (the chest piece includes pants or….no pants for the ladies).

Anyway, I am set on acquiring whatever nice cosmetic option there is outside of class templates and costumes. As turns out after some research, there’s unique looking profession gear as well as a noble and traveling attire that can be created by yourself after some resource gathering and setting up shop! If you’re not deeply into the combat end of things, it won’t matter one bit you’re not wearing all the stats in the world.

Now the profession gear can also be bought in some cities (for example in Calpheon or Epheria Port) for a lot of money or alternatively on the auction house. Black Desert Online being what it is though, I see no reason why this shouldn’t be a longterm goal to achieve by myself. To present an overview, here’s my Black Desert Online Additional Cosmetics Guide!

Silver Embroidered Profession Gear

These chest pieces are created by a lvl 1 costume mill (housing system option) such as can be found in Heidel or Calpheon. There’s no skill level requirements for wearing the first level/crafted items and they come with respective profession boosts. The Processor’s gear is currently missing in the NA/EU version. Equipping these items will un-equip all your other armor. These items aren’t dyeable.

I trust you know how to invest contribution points and use workers to craft, so all that’s required is gathering some mats that aren’t too bad (some might also be cheap on the AH). To check design mats, use this database search or look them up ingame in the costume mill window.

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BDO silver embroidered gear, images courtesy of bdofashion.wordpress.com and http://forum.blackdesertonline.com

Progression: These items can be enhanced by an expensive game of RNG in order to boost the bonuses or alternatively you can get higher level ones from quests and achievements. According to tooltip apprentice level or higher gear can then be turned into a costume by way of exchange coupons which do not appear to be an option in the EU/NA version of the game at the moment (also turning into a costume will lose the stat boosts). The looks of the level 1-2 gear is the same; at/above(?) level 3 you *may* get an alternative look (so far only confirmed for skilled gatherer* model).

Lvl1: Silver embroidered: looks as above, no level requirement – crafted
Lvl2: Apprentice: looks as above, beginner 10 requirement – obtained via quest
Lvl3: Skilled: alternative looks(?), skilled 5 requirement – obtained via quest
Lvl4: Professional: appearance unclear, professional 1 requirement – obtained for achievement “master XY”

Calpheon Noble Attire

The Calpheon Noble’s suit or dress can only be crafted by a lvl 2 costume mill as you’ll find it in Calpheon. These appear to be class-specific items with the same basic looks in blue/red for male/female character, according to the information I was able to gather which was limited. Whether the cuts look significantly different depending on class, I can’t say at this point (screenshots welcome). Wearing a suit or dress boosts your amity gain from conversations by +15%. These items aren’t dyeable.

Besides basic mats, they require a design item bought from the Calpheon Tailor shop which costs 50’000 silver and only unlocks after a certain amount of amity. To check mats, use this database search or look them up ingame in the costume mill window.

Black Desert Online Additional Cosmetics Guide

Calpheon Noble Suit and Dress, images courtesy of bdo-fashion.com

Garner Traveling Gear

I got nothing on these costumes other than that you can craft them with a level 2 costume mill in Calpheon and that they also boost your amity gain by 15%. For whatever reason, the witch and wizard don’t come up in the EU/NA version of the game yet, instead there’s one design for the Musa/Blader class right now.

According to the costume mill window, these also require a design item together with other mats. As for looks, there’s this 3D model of the Musa costume which looks like a jester’s suit. If anyone actually finds more information/screenshots of these and can confirm whether they can actually be acquired at this point, let me know so I can update this asap.

***

I think for now it’s safe to say I’ll be starting to craft some of the silver embroidered gear which looks by far the easiest to make and is also useful for crafting. I’ll be updating and amending this guide with further information in the future, so please tread with caution and send additional info my way – cheers!

[Updates:
– March 14th: added farmer to professions
– March 17th: new image for skilled gatherer
– March 20th: updated prof gear progression, with thanks to Wondo
]

The Fantastic Races of the Black Desert

Black Desert Online is one of those MMOs, like Age of Conan, that only lets you roll humans/humanlikes as player characters. Okay, the ranger class are elves apparently (although my ranger looks zero elf and a good thing too) and it’s debatable what Berserkers are… But there’s not the exotic choice of being a tiny Asura, a grumpy dwarf or a green-skinned orc in BDO. What that meant to me at first was that I wasn’t going to encounter the usual high fantasy whimsy in this MMO but a more serious, maybe Skyrim-esque setting with the odd dragon or crazy wizard.

Thank god I was wrong! For some reason Pearl Abyss are only down to earth when it comes to player classes but outside of that, anything goes. Exploring the world of Black Desert Online with all its different quirky races is a true delight. I’ve only discovered maybe half of the current map by now and some of the races I’ve encountered had me go squee with joy or laugh in amazement. Current favorites: otters and kuku birds!

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Dwarves and Granoks?

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Otter with dudes that look like fauns

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Goblins have it tough in BDO

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huh??

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They have a cave troll!

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Creepy reindeer geek

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Fishman on his way to weightwatchers

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Mario was here

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He asked me to kiss him, I said no

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KUKU bird <3

Happy Friday everyone and enjoy that early MMO magic!

Black Desert Online: My Character Templates (I’m getting better!)

So I was whining a bit the other day about how complex and sometimes fussy the BDO character creator is. While this is still true, I believe I have vastly improved my understanding of the tool by now. There is honestly very little you cannot do with the faces. I’ve sunk some more time into creating female characters for several of the classes and love how some of them turned out.

I was going to make these available over at BDO templates but the approval process is either very slow (I can only imagine how many entries they must get by now) or it’s broken for me…..so I decided to just make them available here in case anyone’s interested. All my characters end up looking like sisters – that’s because I am a raven haired lady in real life who’s always had a thing for the Morgana character (aka Morrigan or Morgan le Fay) from Arthurian legend. I like witches, basically smart and powerful women, I like magic in fantasy games and I like odd eyes!

The thing with other people’s templates in BDO is also that they provide great starting grounds for your own creations. So by all means, if you enjoy any of my below designs you can download them as zip-file here and customize away – have fun!

Ranger, witch and sorceress templates:

bdo_ranger

click image to enlarge

bdo_witch

click image to enlarge

bdo_sorceress

click image to enlarge

Black Desert Character Creator: Difficult Business!

It may come as surprise to no one that I am/was among the players most interested in BDO’s character creation process ever since Pearl Abyss released previews. At a first and second glance, the customization options seem wild: change the size and color of your iris, reshape hair – that kind of stuff. Halfway through the developer probably realized that creating long-lasting characters would prove such an immense undertaking for many players at launch, that they decided to make BDO’s character creation tool available as standalone (get it here now). That in itself deserves some kudos and so do FFA online competitions and template sharing hubs made possible thanks to the devs taking MMO character creation seriously.

Unfortunately that’s where my enthusiasm ends because two hours in, I am not feeling the customization tool for Black Desert. The problems are manyfold: for some trivial things the options are endless while not for others (about 20 ways to customize every part of the eyes, only so many hair dues and colors), face editor controls are dodgy and frustrating to handle and the sub-menus are bewildering. Despite so many sliders, it is in fact quite hard and very time intensive to alter default looks: they are very defined, there’s no randomization option to start off from and yes, gender-locks. I could live with the latter myself but I am disappointed where faces and hair are concerned: the choices you are given for every class are very sameish, there are not that many choices and you can’t greatly alter hair either unless you like to do weird things with your bangs (also clipping errors) –

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It took me an hour to alter the sorceress face from left to right. Pic 4 shows weird hair controls.

You can easily create ludicrously looking and ugly characters for that online event linked above, with crazy hair, ghastly smiles and star-shaped pupils. If we are talking serious choices and variety though, players will have to spend hours to make their characters look more unique because it’s all tedious manual labor. And don’t let those articles about famous lookalikes fool you – there are one or two ‘famous people’ already worked into the templates’ designs. It’s very easy to make Gandalf or Khaleesi but creating yourself or a significantly different character will take lots of time and understanding the different tools.

In some ways I think the creator is aiming too high; or rather, let’s say I would appreciate more variety in standard templates from the get-go with some extra options of alteration after that – not the other way around. Dragon’s Dogma has achieved this quite greatly for a non-MMO, so I hope BDO will add a bit more practicality to the whole process before launch. There’s a lot of potential to it if they make it a bit more user-friendly and effective.

Okay, I will stop the high-level whining now.

(Dragon’s Dogma is really cool though and finally out for PC, you should check it out!)

Favorite MMO things: Races

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Bleu from Breath of Fire I

Not too long ago I talked about my favorite mounts in MMOs, so today we’re off to the races! Most MMOs have them and make full use of the fascination that is learning about different cultures and exploring different playable species. Unlike in the real world where there are no different races among people, no matter the American English use of the word which is alienating to me personally, MMOs can conjure up genetically different humanoids or even more alien, yet sentient beings for us to play and get involved in.

I’m a fan of racial diversity in MMOs, despite often having opted to play humans in the past, often for reasons of size, armor design and frankly identification. Fantasy MMOs have a wonderful opportunity to create content beyond all rules, so thanks to all of you who don’t follow my example and make more daring race choices instead! I love Tera’s Popori, the Asura and Charr in GW2 or Wildstar’s crazy Chua that defy at least some of the tiresome “shorties cliché” that’s so widespread in this genre. Things get especially interesting when MMOs dare venture into dragon territory, designing playable races that leave little room for anthropomorphization.

That said, I am still that boring conservative that won’t alt and prefers horses as mounts in MMOs, simply because I can’t shed my formative D&D years and that classic interpretation of high fantasy. I also find it takes time to get into ingame personas, so over the years I have only ever grown attached to very few of my characters. In chronological order:

  • Syl, Human in WoW
  • Syl, Arisen in Allods (yeah I don’t change nicks either, sue me)
  • Syl, Norn in GW2
  • Syl, Cassian in Wildstar
  • Syl, Au Ra in FFXIV

I have also had some brief flirts with Asura, Gibberlings and Lalafell but sooner or later, I end up playing characters that are tall. Of the four mains, Arisen and Au Ra are by far my favourite MMO races. No other race design has ever come close to the eerie grace of Allod’s undead cyborgs – if you dig cyberpunk and Egyptian mummies, the Arisen are for you (they disappear into a sarcophagus when going /sleep)! As for my current love that is FFXIV, the Au Ra may or may not be related to dragons but at the very least, their race design clearly toys with a human-dragon/lizard hybrid concept. Given that my longterm online name is based on a wild-elf/dragon character from the Dragonlance novels, there couldn’t be a more fitting race for me to play in MMOs.

allodsscreenie

At this point, I ask myself what races I’d like to see in MMOs that we haven’t seen yet? Considering some past JRPG favorites, I am leaning towards frogs (Glenn from Chrono Trigger) and naga (Bleu from Breath of Fire). I believe there were frog people in Everquest which has completely passed me by. Furthermore I would really like to see another serious attempt at darkelf/drow design sometime. Drow never seem nearly as badass in MMOs as I always imagined them reading the Forgotten Realms. Black skin, white hair, red eyes – what’s not to love?