Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Character Transfers

Well, a friend of mine has been bugging me to reactivate my World of Warcraft account lately, so I figured I'd look into it. It hasn't been too long, I played over summer, and my account has a 50 Undead Warlock I've built in random spare time. Trouble is, he plays on a PVP Realm, and I enjoy the PvE myself. I think it's easier to get around on for the casual player. Anyway, I was absolutely delighted to hear that they now offer character transfers among ALL server types. Last time I did transfer on WoW was last spring, and it wasn't an option then.

You have to think, it definitely makes sense for Blizzard to offer this service. In fact, it's one that's available on numerous MMOs. The reason is that it's a great accesory. What are you supposed to sell along with an account subscription, especially if your game is one that technically denies the sale of currency and items? Seems like it was a logical step to me, and it's just overall convenient, especially now that I'll be able to level with my friend. However, keep it cash-only; don't make the mistake EA did with UO by offering in-game tokens that could be redeemed for the codes. I think that practice essentially steals revenue, especially with the advent of duping.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dark Age of Camelot

Well, I'm heading out to a wedding later this afternoon, so I figured I'd update a little earlier today. So what I have for you is a quick review of DAoC, based on my experiences over the last week or so.

The original release date was October 10, 2001. DAoC is now under the domain of the EA Mythic team, who also manage Ultima Online and Warhammer Online. Current client version is v1.95, and obviously the expansion at this point is Shrouded Isles. Like many other MMO's, they were offering a 14-day trial, so I decided to jump in on the fun.

Overall, not too bad of an experience. mmorpg.com rates the game as a 7.71 on a 10 scale. I'm not sure if I would go that high. These days, the game seems to be plagued with low server populations (about 430 players on the Lancelot server where I played). The graphics are reminiscent of EQ1, and needless to say leave quite a bit to be hoped for. I've spoken to a few old vets, and there have also been complaints of hacking. Gameplay is familiar in style to other MMORPGs, but the game "system" if you will is one that makes it special.

DAoC includes elements of both PvP and PvE. Their Realm vs. Realm system is pretty renowned, and seems to get the most praise from players I've encountered. Personally, I joined the "Albion" realm, and made an Avalonian Mercenary. I didn't really do any class research prior to playing, but it sounded almost rogue-like, so I figured I'd give it a shot. (On a side note, there are 44 classes, and 18 race possibilities). I breezed through many of the beginner tutorials, gaining a few level ups. Already, I began to encounter system messages relating to "invasions": enemy "Midgar" players had captured various outposts. Unfortunately I must not have advanced far enough to witness any of the action, but the concept sounds pretty intriguing.

Overall, I'd say if you're looking for a change of pace, at least get the trial. Yes, you have to provide CC info, but naturally you can just remove the info right after providing it if you'd like. If you go the route of downloading the client like I did, be prepared. The file is 1.92GB, so it will require some patience. Head over here if this strikes your fancy.

Have a great Saturday. There's many hours of play time ahead.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ultima Online: Your First Character

It could be argued that new players are the future of the game.
Creating your first character might not seem like that big of a deal. A few point-and-clicks, choosing your appearance, alright. But appearances can be deceiving. The skills you choose as a new player are really all you will have in the game to begin with, so they are important! Although you do have 5-7 character slots to begin with (depending on your expansion packs), you must wait 7 days to delete a character if you happen to make a mistake-- So pay attention. After you click on the "new" button (regardless of your server) you should be faced with a screen similar to this (1-1):

Picture 1-1
I would advise against choosing any of the premade templates. They tend to spread points among a number of skills, granting you no real advantage. Later, you will find that you can buy these same skills for a low fee from NPC trainers. For this reason, choose the ADVANCED button. After making this selection, you will see this screen (1-2):

Picture 1-2
This is where you will make the choices regarding your stats (strength, dexterity, and intelligence) and skills. Many skills are resource intensive, meaning you need a good deal of gold or items to build them up to a practical level. Any of the crafting skills are this way, likewise is archery. Magic skills (magery, necromancy, and chivalry) are similar in this way, however, if you are patient and find a way to obtain a LRC suit. One of the best characters to create as your first, which is also one I build my accounts around when I make a new one, is a resource gatherer. A strong build for this type of character is as follows: 40 Mining (first skill), 10 Lumberjacking (second skill-- so that you begin with an axe and a little skill), and Tinkering (third skill-- this will allow you to create your own tools such as shovels for mining). For stats, I would recommend 59 strength, 11 dexterity (for stamina reasons), and 10 intelligence. You can vary this slightly for a bit more dex, but a good rule of thumb is to keep all of the strength you can, to increase your ability to hold the resources you gather. Next, you get to choose your appearance (1-3):

Picture 1-3
You may customize your appearance however you see fit. If your account has the ML upgrade, you may change your race to an elf. However, it is most likely in your best interest to remain as a human, because they inherently have more carrying capacity. After you are satisfied, and choose a reputable name (make it good, later you will be doing business with other players!) you may continue to the next screen. Although a map with a list of cities appears, it doesn't matter which you choose; you will be started in New Haven. New Haven is rich in tutorials, beginners quests, skill trainers, and areas friendly to the new player. If this is your first time ever in Ultima Online on a new account, you will have the (young) player status. This means that you cannot travel to felucca, or be harmed by monsters and other characters. Again, it is in your best interest to keep this status until you feel comfortable.

So you have began, and you see you character embodied now for the first time in New Haven. In your backpack you have a couple tools related to your skills, and 1000 gold coins (1k). The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with the basic game controls- movement, skill and item use, opening and closing interfaces, etc. You should also orient yourself with your envrionment. From where you have started, open your radar/map (alt + r). Directly to the West is a white building, the bank. Here you can store items, resources, and gold that you don't want to lose during your adventures. Any time you save up a fair amount of gold or resources, store them here for safe keeping.

Once you are comfortable enough, it's time to get down to work. Let's begin with some lumberjacking. Outside of the Eastern gate of New Haven, there is a small forest which you should travel to. When you get within a few tiles of a tree, double left click on your axe, and target the tree. Upon a success, you will have some logs deposited into your backpack (11 to be exact). Since you only started with 10 skill in lumberjacking, you must be patient; it could take a few moments. Now we will get into some technicalities that will save you from burden and carpel tunnel. If you open your options menu (alt + O) and click on the tab in the lower left of the menu (that looks like a 180 degree arrow), you will be presented with the MACROS menu. Click on the ADD button. Under Keystroke, in the KEY field, enter a key you wish to use (I often use F8 for this macro). Now, under Actions, left click on the first blank field and, while holding your mouse down, scroll down to "LastObject", and release the mouse. On the second blank field, use a similar action to go down and select "LastTarget". Hit Apply and Ok on the macros menu to accept and close it out. Now, give it a try! Hit the button that you opted to use in the last step for this macro. It performs the action of chopping the tree, saving you from manually clicking. Please note: you must do the first double-click and target of each new tree you want to chop before using your macro.

Finally, it's important to keep in mind how much you can carry. If your lifebar is open, you can double click it to bring up the large status window. Alternately, press Alt + S to achieve the same effect. Near the bottom of the status window, you should see a small icon representing a weight. The number next to it is a ratio: How many stones you ARE carrying / How many stones you CAN carry. Each item in Ultima Online has a weight. One log, for example, weighs 2 stones. While you are out chopping wood, it is a good idea to keep this window off in the corner of your screen, or to check it often, to make sure you don't go overweight. If this happens, you will be unable to walk, and the only cure for it is to drop items to lessen your weight. Another method for dealing with your weight restriction is to buy a pack horse or llama. (You can get them from an NPC Animal Trainer for about 550 gp). Because you only start with 1,000 gp, it is a substantial investment for a new player, but if you guard your animal from monster attack and keep it near you, it is a tool you can use forever. A pack animal is capable of carrying 1600 stones, and will give you more time between trips to the bank. I would recommend it, because as you stockpile and sell resources, you will quickly make back the gold you spent.

The best thing you can do is to stockpile your resources, even though it may get dull. Mining works the same as lumberjacking (you can even re-use your macro from the last section, provided that you manually mine each particular spot the first time by hand). On a side note, you may get a message saying that your tool was destroyed, if you encounter this, use your tinker tool to create more; you must have ingots in your pack to do this.

If you wish to sell your goods to players, it would be best to sell in quantities of 1000 or more. If you wish only to start saving gold right away, then you could sell to NPC's sooner than this. Make frequent trips to the bank to deposit your earnings, gold and resources alike. Keep at it, and work on building up a stockpile of gold!

Note: In this tutorial, I assume you are using the 2D client. However, if you wish to create a new account, or even try Kingdom Reborn (the newest Ultima Online client), click here. They also offer a client download through other sites.