Monday, March 19, 2007

On leave from the battlefields of Novus

I've been playing RF since... November or December '05, at least. Prior to that, I've been diligently MMORPG-ing since the craze hit the Philippines when Ragnarok Online first arrived here about two years or so before RF.

This is the game I've committed to the most, way beyond the concept of "casual gaming": I've joined a guild; I've taken the development of my characters seriously; I'm an active RF Boards member, and was surprised to know my words count for something among the Archmages; I've volunteered to help LUG in several events, like assisting the GMs in LU Live and City Under Siege 2006.

I remember those evenings when I would rush to a shop because it was 8:00 p.m. and the Federal Army needed all its troops for the 9 p.m. CW. Heck, I remember staying at E-jim until 3 in the friggin' morning.

Last December, I got enough from my work to (a) buy a kick-ass PC, and (b) still have quite a bit leftover. So, after discussing hardware with the techie kuya, we bought me my own PC. The overriding idea was that so I could spend less and play more. Less in the sense that I share in the electricy bill anyway when I spend fewer than 12 hours in the house, while spending for RF outside. This way, I can pay for the increased consumption while cutting down on "other" costs like rental time, dinner, coffee and taxi fare at 3 a.m. And I can play past 3 a.m., and early on weekends besides.

Not two weeks into getting the PC, my RF play slackened.

I reasoned at first that it was the new games; having a Dual Core processor, 1 gig of RAM and more than 100 gb of HD space makes for a wonderful gaming experience. Dawn of War at the start was the culprit; at all settings high, it was a slugfest and wargame galore for this armchair general.

But it was already the middle of January 2007 and I was still barely playing RF. Given that I had all the time in the world, it still took about a month to get to level 43 with Rianos. I also noticed I was playing my Secondary character, Telzhar, more. Upping his levels and crafting PTs made it all worth it since at level 30 he was already earning money through ammunition sales to make both him and Rianos sustainable.

February saw me play a little bit more, especially since Rianos was now levle 43 and could last well in combat. When Kyoketsu took back his SI Cycle Staff, and Bo Hammer "took" the stuff I used to try and make my own, plus a couple of incidents I can't say here... I stopped.

I would log on for a while and then log out after a few minutes. I made an Accretian with my OB account, and made a Corite. But even those I've stopped playing. My most recent foray was when I tried to PL to 44 at White Hole only top get involved in a 2-vs-7. The score was 2 Accretians dead for me and Crisboo, a nice little battle that lasted a few minutes before the Accretians got us.

Although the incident, as well as some CWs, sort of revived my interest in the game... I'm still playing less and less. In fact, I'm going to pay Blizzard almost 4k PhP to be able to play World of Warcraft in its full glory (at the prodding of the "I'm not going to MMORPG" techie kuya. He even said he might pay for the upgrade once I reach level 60). Since going into WoW last week, I've been playing the bloody game approximately 6-8 hours every night I log in. I slept at past 4 a.m. this morning because of WoW.

I don't know. Part of the reasons - and in fact what I think may be the PRIMARY reason I'm not keen on playing RF right now - I can't talk about here. Maybe after, I can, but not right now. Still, even given that, the combo that Rianos and Telzhar have has shown me I can sustain the game IG now, even with minimal Guild support. Making a Specialist-crafter as Secondary was a wise choice, indeed.

And even at level 43 I can more than hold my own. Several highbies have died because they were facing a team with an experienced debuffer. Even elite mystics like Redhound of the Cora have felt what I can do. An Archon of the Accretia found out that, in CW, even the Aura is useless when there's an Archmage around who knows what Deadly Staff is for.

And I still want to show these goddamned highbies what being a High Level is and what you can do with a high level Archmage.

But... I find that even pressing the link on my desktop is an effort. When I finally log in, I end up logging out quickly enough.

Maybe its the grind. I don't do Battle Dungeons, saying I'm too impatient to wait the backlog out. I also have this predeliction to PL/PT alone. Sure, I can battle ABs on my own, but the cost in pots is... insane. In order to effectively PL alone, I have to stay in Ether, which means I have to face those goddamned Cohorts and 6-knots when they decide it would be nice to have "hobbit stew" for merienda.

One time, I was chatting with some Vanguards who happened to be on patrol, and they asked why they see me rarely now. After a lengthy chat on the above, I also mentioned that "casual" gamers like me really don't stand a chance against those who have the time and the pilots to make the most of the game. You can't possibly compete with an Avatar that can concievably be online 24/7 because it has at least 3 people manning it.

I said that the Accretians have skewed the game's balance because their elite have played continously, thus a +2 or +3 SI weapon is "standard", when it should be "uncommon" at the very least. The Corites have discovered they can PL their upped anima even past their Avatar's level, making it nigh-impossible for me to fight a Summoner even 5 levels below me.

Against all these I have to pit a +4 normal Black Stick Bead and 4-favor Int armor (a gift from fellow Archmage xml). I was exasperated to find out that Telzhar, in the one CW I played him instead in a CW, lasted longer in combat than Rianos did. And he's a level 35 Spec-crafter. Ri barely lasts more than a few seconds during a charge...

So I'm technically on leave from the Federal Army. Because I have the worst case of RF fatigue right now.

Maybe I'll be back soon. Maybe.

Meanwhile... I just got to Ironforge and decided I want to walk to the other Dwarven territory. Isn't the World of Warcraft setting sooo... HUGE...?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Turning Forty

The second "milestone" level in RF (not counting 25, of course).

Actually, I should have acheived this level a few days before the second Act of the Implements of War storyline. But, several IRL and IG things got in the way, so I was still a simple Mage when IoW Act 2 came and went.

Still, being an Archmage is everything a "damage-dealer" type of Bellato Mystic wants to be. Sage Force is a nifty buff, increasing my casting range to what seems to be at least 50% more on top of a small increase to Force damage. This shines in the debuff department, as the Archmage can Hiatus or debuff a target from much afar, important when one is up against Velo-augmented Corites or most Accretians.

Force Impact is still something I'm testing - a Force-type attack, but elementally nuetral, so none of the Resistance values supposedly apply - while Deadly Staff appears so-and-so right now.

Archmages, IMHO, shine when one is a "pure build", meaning Mystic->Mage->Archmage. This is because of the Mage skill Edian's Soul. When Edian's is used by an Archmage, the increase in damage is truly significant. When paired with the range buff of Sage Force, and Elite tier offensive spells, what you have in your hands is a long-range nuker par-excellence. I tried this with Bellato Turncoats at Sette, and even the rangers had to run forward to get me into range.

During LU Live, Intel had a side event where a class from each of the races was pitted against those from the others without the benefit of HP and SP potions. During the testing, I wiped the floor with my opponents, one of which was even equipped with a Faust (the launcher, not the Cora class).

Even nicer, I have managed to make two solo kills as an Archmage. My first Accretian solo kill was nicer since I wasn't expecting it. I saw this Accretian trailing a mob to where I was PT-ing at the Bellato Repair Shop in Ether. I hit him with Hiatus from long range and a couple of debuffs, but the tin can was just too well-PTed in Def and armor that the Passer Alphas barely made a dent. We ran around each other, the Accre trying to bag me with his Launcher. I was irritated that my damage was rather low, but I couldn't disengage as one of my guildmates was AFK PT-ing on one side of the BRS.

Then, I noticed that I was using a +3 Chaos Int Blue Wand.

Whoops.

Hiatus to Accretia. Right click on +1 Keen Int Black Stick Bead. Check if Edian's and Sage Force were still active. Drink Adv. Adre Pots.

Three to five spells later, the Accretian was down.

Archmages rock, wehehe...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thoughts on the eve of Impelements of War Act II

Tomorrow, ECO goes on its first major official mission, and its a tall order: the defense of Solus itself against BOTH the Accretian Imperial Legions and the Cora Holy Army.

There have been many discussions in the guild about how to do it, and Ryu and I believe that what was initially thought of was still the best option. Even my Training tells me that the doable is well within the parameters of the tactics and strategies we have laid out for Saturday.

Besides, Altrax showed it CAN be done. Defense always has mant inherent advantage over Offense.

But...

Most certainly ECO lacks the manpower. Even if all 40 members appear, it is still nothing compared to the hundreds the other two races can throw our way. We will need the help of the Federal Army. But then, that's the idea, neh? This must be an operation involving the whole race.

But Symour's recent irresponsible post may have cost us this battle. Imagine telling the lowbies that they have no right to suggest? That kid is an arrogant fool. It would have been okay if he was just "another" warrior of the Bellato but he's the goddamned Archon!

We need those lowbies with us during the battle, if only to act as anti-cloakers at Anacaade Gate or at Solus' notorious North Gate, or as scouts so we can keep what little strike forces we have in strategic rally points and not going around the settlements like, in Ryu;s words, "headless chickens."

And what happens if the Cora and Accretia ally? Even one of convenience - say, just to break the expected blockade at Arayan-Solus - can be devastating to our defensive positions.

It's doable; I have never been this sure of a strategy before. But the elements we need... It's hard to fight a difficult enough battle knowing what's facing us, but it gets more difficult when you don't know what you have.

*sigh*

We just have to see then.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Expert Holy, first upgrade, and why I still stay in Nexus

Actually, this is a long-delayed post. See, I got my Expert tier of Holy spells about... two weeks ago? Something like that. Axelle and I were doing a buff grind when, in the middle of the conversation (I mean, what else can one do while buff-grinding?), I suddenly notice my already-bought Expert Holy Force Reavers lose the red, "no-use" color.

You can imagine my elation.

As I once said, it seems that we Mages aren't really that useful in the war as compared to the Chandras. The latter are in demand starting at level 30 because of their buffs; of all the buffs, Velocity is the one that is most wanted, and is easily accessible (Elite Holy buffs are harder to come by). Chandras, especially pre-GU4, can tank even up to four high-level Accretians by spamming Cure.

Mages, on the other hand, can't do as much spell damage as our Cora counterparts - even in GU4 - and as debuffers we sometimes aren't THAT effective because the Dodge build and cure chargers render our debuffs essentially little useful than what is on paper. We Mages only start becoming useful when we become Archmages, or when we get our Expert elementals early because the Expert debuffs are the really painful ones.

But a Mage with Expert Holy... Having Velocity, Resist and one's own Cure is so nice... And, your fellow Bellato start to thank you, even for Velocity. You just have to remind them sometimes that not all Mystics are Chandras so we don't all have Elite Holy spells.

I was also successful in upgrading one of my two Intense Blue Wands with a Chaos talic. It needs another one to be up to ECO-specifications, but it was nice because I used a Narrow gem in conjuction with two normals and I lacked another.

Here's my proof of my firs, successful upgrade:

















Now isn't THAT nice?

All these, along with getting that 15 attack /15 defense ring that I won from the Bellato GEB, makes living in Nexus interesting. I can kill high-middies now. Heck, I even took down someone during the CW two nights ago when I did a kamikaze run into the Accretian formation trying to break the BCC.

Now, if only I can get to level 40 quickly enough...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pining for Altrax

Another thing about MMORPG culture (or, again, is it just something that happens here?) is that the game's servers take on an identity all its own. When communities in that server start to materialize, players of a certain stripe tend to gravitate to the server that suits their playing style and/or temperament better.

Consider pRFO. Nexus is the more populated server, the "prestige" server. It is also the home of the so-called "power players," so powerful that they sometimes think they're a god and can do anything they want. On contrast, Altrax, the "other" server for us in Nexus, is the roleplay server.

Actually, being a, uh, "Nexan," I've barely considered Altrax. In my whole MMORPG career, I've never been one to cross servers. I did in pRO, but only because they said Fenrir would be better than Chaos and Loki and the build for my Mage was very, very, wrong.

Sometime last week, I made an avatar in Altrax.

Originally, the reason was because LUG would be testing an RP system for RF, but only in Altrax since it was meant to be the RP server and many of the roleplayers are there. Since participation would be very limited without an Altrax avatar, I made one.

When I stepped into familiar-yet-unfamiliar soil, the feeling was... different. I said I'd lurk awhile, since most of the active BBoarders knew who I was and I wanted to surprise them. But, I just couldn't resist... I Mapchatted: "hello Altrax!" and immediately Zetagear and others welcomed me ("Rianos? as in the one in the boards?").

The welcome was so warm... haaaay. I met Ceraby, too. Ceraby is this Chandra who happens to be one of the most famous non-combatant avatars in pRFO. Aside from buffing me (gee, Cera, thanx for the Vit... wehehe...), Ceraby gifts me with bags! Aw, that's so sweet. And Keo offered 1 million Dalants (the Bellato currency) if I permanently settle in Altrax. And I've already gotten TWO offers of Guild membership - and one from Ceraby to join Revolution, no less! - and I'm not even level 20 in Altrax!

*sigh*

Y'know... I've been anti-raiding in Nexus since before turned 30 . I've bled for the Federation. I'm stuck in such a relatively low power level because I spend at least a third of my not-so-considerable playing time responding to raids and more often than not getting killed by them. I don't look for the recognition that much, but at least the knowledge that the community appreciates your efforts. These days, I even get smartmouth remarks when I don't buff them with Velocity (I do not have that spell yet, people! I'm a frikking Mage!!!!), and get mobs up my butt when I try to keep some players in line.

But the minute I stepped into Altrax...

If I didn't love ECO so much, I wouldn't have thought twice of shifting servers. Even without the 1m from Keo. You play a game to have fun, not to get exasperated, and Nexus has been that recently, if not for the stuff we do at ECO.

*sigh*

Oh, well.

But then, I never get into anything half-baked. Besides, my Altrax-Rianos is better built than my Nexus-Rianos - full PT at level 10 except for Force and Shield! - and I did say I'd help Altrax...

I mean, I can ALWAYS shift servers, even for a while, when things get too much in Nexus...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Brukbak Accretians, Ripcord and Post-Gu4 Anti-raid

Every gaming community develops certain... quirks that become a trademark of that community. In-game language, the terms and concepts unique to a game, is usually the first sign of a developing gaming community. Similar to IRL communties, the lingua franca of a game distinguishes its players from other gaming communites as much as the world at large. Thus, you'd know if someone is a player of whatever game based on how they talk and what they talk about.

Gender-preference-based chat is something I think is unique to RF, partly caused by the unique 3-race setup of the game, as well as the way some avatars were designed as much as the IRL preferences and... creativity of the players. The classic in pRFO is the "chixilog" tag given to the Legolas-like Cora. "Chixilog," in vulgar argot (Philippine, or Philippine Gaming Community only?) is essentially a homosexual, and is (kind of) derogatory. You just have to see the Cora, and go through their boards, and see how they fight, to know why the Accretia and (most especially) the Bellato call them that.

Recently, something called the "brukbak" phenomenon - or virus, as its "proponents" call it - is on the rise, primarily among the sexless Accretians. "Brukbak" is, of course, taken from that seminal (yaiks! No pun definitely intended!) film, Brokeback Mountain. We Filipinos being who we are, and the extremely insane Filipino gaming community being what it is, the term sort of got adopted for general use.

The funny thing about this is, it is... booming in the one race that is the most martial and so... "unhomo" as the Accretia. The big, bad cyborgs are the ultimate war machines of RF. To see an Accretian charging at you is to see immense pain on two legs. The Accretians are, truly, the walking, talking, fighting avatars of war.

But... wahaha. It's actually funny. Maybe it's their being sexless. As the story goes, the Accretians start as flesh-and-blood but sacrifice their organic bodies for the "perfection" of their cyborg ones. Essentially, they are, then, without any sex whatsoever. Their avatars are sleek, but lack the sexual triggers that, say, a Corite avatar can illicit from RF players. Technically-speaking, Accretians, as a race, are male.

My Mind keeps thinking, God, this is sooooo Greek.

Wehehe.

And there's this Corite player whose avatar is named "Ripcord" who is becoming quite the pain. The first time I encountered this... thing was when he backstabbed me post-GU4. Backstabbing, in RF terms, is attacking another avatar from behind, usually while the target is engaged in monster bashing. RF being a 3D game, your back is usually a blind spot unless you walk with the camera pointing to the back.

Ripcord, according to some research, is a relatively powerful Corite, and is a Dark Priest, the Cora equivalent of the Bellato Chandra in terms of warp capability. Post-GU4, the Chandra, the Dark Priest, and their Accre equivalent are the only ones who can teleport while being attacked.

Needless to say, this kind of fighting has gotten the ire of many players, which was what led to GU4 being hailed by most everybody engaged in anti-raiding. Now, raiders don't have the luxury of hitting and not suffering the consequences. Back then, a raider can escape raid response simply by porting or logging out. It was technically a "win" for the raid response, but it was frustrating to know that, somehow, a person can attack settlements with impunity, without a high degree of risk.

Such an easy way out for raiders has led the other races to accuse the Bellato of being "asa sa BMAU", or dependent on our big mecha. True enough, without the power of the BMAUs, we couldn't kill a raider fast enough before they could port. Now, even level 40s have to be careful around Bellato territory as they run the risk of being "lowbie mobbed" and suffering grave loss of CP from being killed by another player from a much lower level. This has also spawned the new phenomenon of high levels trying to reach a settlement gate, where the GTs are. Getting killed by settlement GTs entails no loss of CP, so a player would rather get killed by a GT than a mob of hobbits out for vengeance.

But players like Ripcord are the exception. "Ghey fighting" - backstabbing as a principle tactic, and then escaping retribution through porting - is something that, although creative, nets the other player negative recognition. It's okay to fall to an opponent that fought you face to face. But to be hit before you have a chance to react is infuriating. Even worse, Ripcord PMs the player he killed. As if we could understand what's being said; inter-race chatting is not possible, and all you get is something like, &%*&^$E)@.

Now, it's almost a rule that when Ripcord is out - and the gheyboy has the gall to raid solo! - people avoid me because gheyboy wants to take me down. How weird. He's not even Unforgiven. But then, his "courage" only comes from taking advantage of a lot of things: his Dark Priest port skill, his Isis, and backstabbing. This is no warrior worthy of praise but some hyena. Take out his skill, he won't raid solo. Take out his Isis, like what I did the last time I engaged him, and he ports out posthaste. And when he can't backstab, he can't kill anyone.

Oh, yes, gheyboy Ripcord is on my "to-kill" list when I turn 40. As Axelle said, I have the advantage of range then, and we'll see what this stupid, backstabbing Corite can do.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The War thus far

So I'm level 35 now. And I am wearing... pink. Whoever thought an all-pink armor for Level 35 male force-users is a good idea should be fed, alive and kicking, to Belphegor.

But the... power in the "middle-middie" level... The only thing I can't tank is an Accretian Cohort on steriods or a high-level Corite Summoner with an Isis that got the drop on me. Anything else is, at the very least, a stalemate. I remember being charged by two 4-Knot Corite melee users - wow, that's a refreshing change - at the Solus Helkin Tree (the one that serves as "exit" for the Solus East Gate plain) and they couldn't kill me. I could've stayed to play, but I was on my way back to Solus at the time to resupply, since I was nearly out of potions.

The Accretians continue to dominate the CWs. But I think this is more over a lack of attendance of Bellato troopers to the CW than about the raw power of the Accretians. During the recent Dark Hole event, the Federal Army mustered in strength and quite literally run over the Imperial Legions. The Accretian's vaunted Cohorts couldn't do anything against a fully-mustered Federal Army.

Actually, what we're also suffering from is a leadership issue; with papaSPY007 in literal IRL hiatus (why are some of the best players in the Bellato Federation also very responsible people IRL?), nobody can command the full respect and allegiance of the troops. Some go for Armored Beast. Some, including many of the veterans, go for Symour. While wishing for a return to active duty of the real Azrayel, the pre-P2P Bellato Archon that led us to early dominance.

At least, being in E.C.O. has certainly made my play much better. There is an increase in the... intensity and quality of my game. There is more responsibility being taken, and a name earned, and thus the need, the want to prove one's self worthy of all this. Although an increase in raid response among the citizenry of the Federation has allowed me to not respond to every raid report, there is still that wont to drop everything you're doing at the moment to help. Because I got known for that, and because there's this large Guild name on top of my avatar's name that tells every Federal trooper that here is a person who will help you if a raider comes along.

But now I know what I will be when I turn 40:

I will be an Archmage.

Where everyone is taking the Chronomancer route - it being the most versatile high-level Bellato spiritualist class - I will take this path. Not (only) because of all the Bellato spiritualists it deals the most damage, but because it has the potential to be a potent weapon of the Federation...

I've also remedied my Range PT problem, thanks to Guildmates ZeoLedCross and Melkaiah. Once I work it up to the minimum level for a Gatling, I can proceed levelling my avatar up.