středa 21. listopadu 2012

City of Steam Closed beta weekend: First impressions

This weekend, I participated in an upcoming free-to-play MMO called City of Steam, that entered it's first closed beta. And since I've got key for it (because I looked at it in it's alpha version too), and I haven't got anything better to do this week, I tried it.

For those who don't know, and can't tell it from the art style, City of Steam is a steampunk-themed, MMORPG being in development by Mechanist games that runs in the browser. BUT (and this is a BIG but) it's not one of those Browser based RPGs, no, this one features full 3D graphics, realtime combat, questing and much more.

(Yes, this runs in the browser)

As you see on the picture above, it looks quite good. When you toggle it in fullscreen mode, you actually can't really tell the fact that it runs in your firefox, chrome, what have you. I don't know how those guys did it, but needless to say, they made it work at a reasonable rate, even in these first testing phases. It uses Unity engine, and even if it sometimes stutters, it was not that bad to prevent me from playing the game.

The game plays for the most part, like your standart MMO fare, you pick your race and class, customize your character, and starts you of by a rather lengthy tutorial, that is well written and helps you immerse yourself in the story.
I haven't mentioned it yet, but from the few quests I've seen, it seems the game will be pretty heavy story driven and that's a good thing too. The classes are your standart variants, A melee guy, ranged combatant, healer, and wizard, flavored in the steampunk setting. I went with the gunner, ranged guy that shoots stuff. Already on the character creation the game asks you wether you want to use a two handed weapon (like muskets, blunderbuss, heavy repeaters...), two single handed pistols/repeaters, or a combination of pistol/shield.  At level 10 you can even learn the other styles of combat, just to see if you like the other fighting styles better.
Following picking up your fighting style, you then pick from three skill trees, each having a different role/specialization. I picked chemical, that allowed me to pour acid on my enemies, apply damage over time and other nasty effects, like slowdowns and paralyze. Again, at level 10, you can unlock another one of those skilltrees (I went with fire spewing-area of effect crowd control, that had a turret to help you shoot enemies).

(This is my handsome guy shooting an mechanically revived skeleton with acidic goo. Also, that skeleton fired lasers from it's eyes)

The leveling was, for the most parts fast, but I suspect it will be more slower once the game fully launches, since we did a lot of testing. After each levelup, you get a set amount of skill points, that you use to upgrade your abilities, and a talent point that you use for talents. Talents range from unlocking the aforementioned combat styles, to more backpack inventory, more armor slots, better chance for criticals, damage with pistols, and so forth. It makes for an interesting take on these older systems, as each new level you are standing between choices like,"Should I improve my strength to increase damage, or my speed so that my cooldowns on abilities are recharging faster? Or should I skip both for more armor slots to wear?"
Speaking of armor, there are certain types that are class specific, but other than that, any class can wear any armor they wish for. You can make a mage wear plate armor, but his movement speed will slow down and he will have hard time escaping from enemies. You can craft better wersions of armor, and upgrade it with mods, like cogs, boilers, scopes, pommels and hilts, guards, gauges and so on. Those you put on weapons and shields will even show up on weapon/shield model, adding spikes, gauges, bullet chambers etc. It's a nice iteration of the old Diablo socket system. This assures good variety, and most characters felt pretty unique, wearing different clothing from another, mixing sets together.

 Gameplay is solid, although it is something we've seen a bunch of times. The game features wide open areas for everybody and the action takes place in instanced dungeons- that means you can play the game solo and no one will get your loot, unless you team up with them. Each dungeon has also a set of challenges, ranging from killing all mosters of one type under a certain time limit, to box breaking, killing bosses, finding scrap, surviving waves of enemies, and so forth. These need to be done in teams, as the time limits are pretty low, and you need a good teamwork to finish some of them.

(The fashion choices of my majestic manly man. To the left-starting uniform, without any equipment.
To the right- fully equipped character, missing shield only)

There is work that needs to be done though, as glitches, bugs and imbalances were discovered during this beta, however the game is shaping up to be very promising. Definitely keep an eye out for this one.

Ah, before I forget, check their official site.

Ygor out.

sobota 17. listopadu 2012

Minions of Mirth: The good things

As I mentioned earlier, Minions of Mirth has it's problems and it's not for everyone. Some may be turned off by the graphics, some by the lack of initial customization, some by the fact that the game has no real tutorial other than one help screen.
It simply doesn't explain anything to you. There are no exclamation marks for you, if a quest is available for you, nor where the city is (as you spawn off outside it). The only thing, that will, help you get started is a small item in your inventory, that you must present to your trainer. The help mentioned tracker window so you open it, and it lists you the closest things to you and the distance, so you track the city (Trinst) and go there to find whom your supposed to find.

(Yes, this is the capital city)

Even though the tutorial is pretty non-existant, it's not a big deal, given that there is a help channel, where you can type your question, while obtaining an answer from other players (and I must say, they are a helpful bunch).
After surviving the birthing pains however, the games really opens up. The amount of content was put in the game is mind-boggling. You can craft items. Make poisons. Enchant equipment. Brew poisons. And of course, quest and fight stuff.
Quests are nice but suffer a little from the same formula as in other MMOs, i.e. kill X to receive Y, give item A to person B, and so on. The rewards are modest, and you will spend most time gathering experience via killing various animals and denizens living on the lands of Mirth. The main benefit of doing quests is getting presence (it upgrades your character, makes her more powerful) and receiving monster templates as rewards.
What is a monster template, you ask? Why, It's a playable character, that you can create, that looks like a monster from the game. Each monster has some set classes, like skeletons being warriors, liches being necromancers etc. , and the game allows you to create the creature with the exact starting level (and YES you can become a Dragon). This along with the unique way MoM handles classes makes it really excellent for making your builds the way you want. And that leads us to the biggest plus this game gets from me.... classes.
There's multiclass in this game. You pick your first class at character creation, the you get the option to dual class at level 5 and finally to get your third class at level 15. There are no restriciton (outside some classes being unusable by one faction and vice versa) as to what classes you choose. You want to start as a Warrior, then pick a Cleric to heal yourself and lastly, wizard for the big damaging spells while still using heaviest armor? You can. You can make any combination, and it will be playable. There are some classes that compliment each other better than another, but it's not that big problem as to render some characters unplayable.
There are classes that get pets, classes that can change their form to another, classes that give you abilities to fly, to control npcs, and much more.

As I said, the game is not for everyone. It has some problems, but those get soon overshadowed by the sheer volume of choices and content you can find. And the fact that it's free, and later unlocked with one time fee makes it all the more appealing.
I've certainly had more fun, and I've definitely got my money's worth out of this game.

čtvrtek 15. listopadu 2012

Minions of Mirth: A quick look

I make it no secret that I like games.
Whether it be those board ones, PnP rpg stuff or the video game variety, the power to create, simulate and run (or pretend to run) worlds to take out the stress from the whole day is strangely compelling to me. There's many different genres that I like, but today, I want to talk about one small hidden gem of a game from a genre that I find intriguing.

Introducing: Minions of Mirth

Minions of Mirth (or MoM for short) is an MMORPG. It was released back in 2005 by an independent developer Prairie Games Inc. When I discovered it, sometimes in 2006, I was curious. This was not the first time I played an MMO (I played Knights Online for about a week), but it was the first one I found that has been Mac-friendly.
Oh, I didn't mention that I own a Mac? Well, there's a story for some other time then.

Okay, back to MoM.
So I found a game, from a genre I was mildly interested in, that I could run from home. And it was free (well technically, you had to pay a one time fee, like in Guild Wars, but it has a free trial up to level 15). Needless to say, I was pretty hyped. So I went and installed it, made myself an account, and finally run the game. This is wat will greet you upon opening the game:

(you can tell that this will be old school)

I've certainly seen worst menu screens, but those were around 1997. Mind you this came in 2005, a year after World of Warcraft, yet the initial impressions put it somewhere around Diablo 1 era. But I didn't stop, I went through two more menu screens and created a character. To be precise, you pick your race, starting class, assign spare points to your stats (or, if you're a wuss like me, use the default button) and pick your gender and decide whether you wanna be the good friendly guys, or the bad dastardly evil ones (but you have to have full version for those)
That's it. 
No other customization whatsoever. This is a little sad, yet I don't see it as a big minus, given what you can do with your character later on. On a positive side of things, you can pick from 12 races, and 16 classes. On start. It gets even better later on.
So I made my character and went to the realms of Mirth.
And this is the first scene that will open for you:

(neat huh?)

Not the prettiest sight in the world, but it's charming in it's own old fashioned way. At first, I was pretty unimpressed, but it began to grow on me. The graphics give a strong Everquest vibe, from the menus, to the overall aesthetics. The result is, bearable, but nothing to write home about (On the other hand your microwave can probably run it as a result.). It's neat, to the point, has a certain feel to it and at least you're not staring at ASCII.

So yeah, there you have it. The first part of my quick look was pretty "meh" so far, but join me next time, when I'll write about what I like about this game- a love letter so steamy and sparkly that will make Twilight saga fanfictionist weep.

středa 14. listopadu 2012

First things first: Enter welcome text here

Hello to you, dear reader, welcome to this blog, mainly about all things I'll write in english. These posts will be mostly about gaming, RPGs (the Pen and Paper one, though a rocket launcher could appear from time to time), because lord knows there's not enough of those blogs already. I wish you a pleasant stay here.