Blade & Soul, Cash Betas, & Losing it in Translation

I’ve been paying more attention to my assassin, Mekumi Kaede, in BnS lately. I got sucked back into the TV show, and I was thinking, this game may be a lot more fun since I gave my old Mac a memory upgrade. I’m rocking 16 gig of ram now, and I have a solid cable internet connection. No more being blind sided by invisible enemies that can attack before their character model loads on my screen to target.

Lost in Translation

Admittedly, the translation on the English patch for the Russian translation of the Chinese version of this Korean game is getting better. The Bopae are now translated, “Soulshield”, in my inventory instead of “Table“. The story is making a bit more sense, and the humor is even beginning to shine through. Last night, a character actually had a thought bubble appear above his head that said something like “good thing I was off taking a dump when we got attacked”. Still, I miss a lot of quest cues because of the poor translation and end up running around in circles, hoping I’ll figure it out. It’s always fun when I wast money warping (wind walking) to the village because everyone told me to go to the village, only to find out I was supposed to be at the cemetery (face-palm). Usually, the map will help me out.

Last night, I was rocking through the story and having a great time getting down the timing of my skills. Today it hit me though. I have done nothing, really with my skill build. I have learned so much from Scarlet Blade about skill builds, and now I can apply that knowledge to other games! This, for an old n00b like me, is a total breakthrough moment. Not kidding at all. Still, I’m going to need to do a lot of back and forth for the skill builds because there are no translations there in-game. Luckily, I found this sweet guide, from webjunkies, and some on the BnSDojo Forums. Honestly, this is all a bit intimidating, but if I can do it in SB, then I can do it in BnS.

Cash Beta?

Mekumi Kaede, Jin Assassin

So, here is my dilemma… I really like this game, and it is coming out for the US… sometime soon… I think. There’s apparently an “open-beta” running right now, though. The trick is, you have to buy a founder’s pack or something to play it. So here’s the question. Who has done this? Is it worth it? I know the translation has to be better. Is it open consistently? Do you have to play at certain times when the test server is up? Will your characters transfer to the full release? Is there enough content to make it worth playing at this time? I saw a demo on Youtube where it appeared there was a limit on races and classes at the moment. I play Jin Assassin. Is that available under the beta?  I know these are n00b questions, but I have never participated in a beta before. Heck, I just started playing MMO’s a little over a year ago. Help me out here, people. The the old guy a bone. Let me know your thoughts on the Beta and the Founder’s packs in the comments below.

Hurt and Confused… How did this happen??

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Turnpike pvp battlefield

So, have you ever just woken up one day and asked yourself, “How did I get here? Did I take a wrong turn one day? How did I let things go this far?” No, I’m not talking about my miserable divorce or any kind of chemical or physical addiction. Somehow, I ended up finding my game; the one I like… the one I can’t stop playing… the one I’m willing to spend money on… The problem is, it’s not a game you tell your friends about… or anyone for that matter. It is really embarrassing. I’m not even sure I want to tell you, my detached anonymous reader.

I wish I could say I loved WoW or Neverwinter or Blade & Soul or even Kabod. I’m not sure how it happened. I think someone recommended that if I like Blade and Soul, I should try Scarlet Blade. I think they thought I must have liked Blade and Soul for the character design rather than the game… One way or another, I ended up installing one of the most universally offensive games in the history of MMO’s on my computer. I had my doubts when it loaded for the first time, but I was feeling rejected and somewhat rebellious toward God so I played the introductory quest with a Punisher (PU) and a Whipper (WH). It’s a bit of a blur what happened between that and level 25, but suffice to say, I was having a good time. I love Scarlet Blade.

For one thing, the game runs smoothly on my crappy hardware and bad connection. I only lag or crash when in a huge multi-player event, like a monster spawn or pvp arena.

Second, the game is well made… surprisingly so. The story is really good. The NPC’s are voice acted well. The Arkana – Commander relationship the game is based on is unique and well conceived. The soundtrack is good. The tab targeting / hotkey combat system is probably the best I’ve experienced yet. The game is good.

Third, I have made social connections in the game. I have been included in guilds, team dungeon runs, and more. I have had players who possess way more in-game bad-assery than I do come to my aid when I was being spawn-camped by the opposing faction. Folks are generally nice and helpful in this game, which is more than I can say for any of the other games I tried, including WoW, Runescape, D&D Online, Neverwinter, Celtic Heroes, and Blade & Soul.

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Electric Tempest: One of my super-fun AOE throw downs

Finally, this game has one thing that no other game seems to have, at least that I can find, and I’ve Googled this a lot trying to find an alternative. This game boasts a character class that specializes in Melee AOE (Area of Effect) attacks. I can find classes in other games that might allow you to cleave more than one enemy every now and then, but we’re talking consistent AOE throw down on packs of mobs… by a melee, tankish character… not a wizard. That, in itself is worth the price of admission… which is free, unless you want to survive in pvp for more than five seconds.

The only thing that is bad about this game is the insane, over-the-top player character models. Saying you like this game for the game itself is similar to claiming you like Playboy for the articles. It may be true, but it sounds really fake, shallow, and ridiculous to anyone you try to explain it to.

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The characters are not exactly practically dressed…

I have struggled with this… a lot. I have deleted this game three or four times and repented of even liking it. I have given it up, reinstalled it, and gone whole weekends doing nothing else. My friends want to know what game I’m playing. My students ask what my favorite game is. I either lie or mumble some cagey answer. I feel awful for liking this game, but it is so good.

So, there it is. My guilty pleasure. It’s embarrassing, but it is what it is… Expect more posts about this amazing game.

Chu, BnS, WineSkin, & Squirrels

So, I fasted from video games for a whole year after my wife left. Then, everything went to crap. I am, quite frankly, bored and uninspired with life. I have work. I have Aikido. I have Kenjutsu. I have my kids, whom I love. There are many evenings and days, though, when my kids are not with me, I have no martial arts classes to go to, and my friends are all busy. Those are days when I would typically sit and stare at the floor for hours at a time, cry in the back yard, or eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream…

So, I set out to find a Samurai themed MMO. There isn’t one. So, I stet out to find some kind of Asian fusion mash-up MMO, one that was more like the Pandaren Turtle island thing from WoW, but the whole way through the game. People kept recommending Blade and Soul. There were some problems with BnS, as it is oft referred to.

  1. We don’t actually have it here in the US.
  2. It’s a PC only Game
  3. I do not speak Russian, Korean, Chinese, or Japanese.

Nonetheless, I love technical challenges. So, I set out to beat this thing. Okay, I got this game up and running on Wineskin with the nosync engine from Dan the Man. I added vc2005 runtime and mscorefonts via winetricks (recommended on wine hq). I read somewhere that I should add msxml 3 and dot net 40… I also checked “use mac driver instead of x11” under screen options. Then I followed ChuBamPow’s original install & patch tutorial. I eventually got audio to by adding openal under winecfg and by adding core audio under sound devices in regedit. I did some other stuff. I eventually just ended up installing Win 7, via bootcamp and following this new tut by ChuBamPow:

So, of course my first character was again as close to me as possible… short, bald, and good with a sword. I went through the introductory quest, saw my sensei killed by Jin Varrel (sorry about the spoiler), and played through the bamboo village quests.Picture

When it was time to finish up some side quests in the village or move on to the next section of the game, I began to get bogged down in the slowness of my computer or my Internet connection or both perhaps. Also, at this point, the translation began getting really weird.

Enjoy some voice acting of the translation by Chu, below:


So, inspired by frustration, and really wanting to have a good experience, I rolled up a new character. This time I took the assassin route, inspired by Alka, the main character from the TV Series. The assassin has some really cool skills and is fun to play, but definitely not an OP tank by any means. I had to watch my health and actually pay attention to how I was fighting and what skills I was using on whom and when.
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This time I made it well into the next section of the game, I completed two dungeons, and I collected an entire set of Bopae for my character (“it is a table…”). Again, though, I began to get bogged down in the slowness of my computer or my Internet connection or both. Often, I would hear the little dinging sound that alerts me to the fact that an enemy mob is coming to kill me, and I would see no one. I ended up spinning around and attacking at random , trying desperately to stay alive. Usually my enemy would load after I had killed it or just before. Not very helpful for targeting. This could have been a result of running in Wine, my slow Internet connection, or squirrels… not kidding. I occasionally have squirrels go after the wiring on my wireless Internet antenna.Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I am a socializer. I hate being alone in a game. There aren’t many English speakers playing with me, and that gets old. My main social interaction comes from people challenging me to duels that I cannot win… ever, due to my crappy connection. The lag is real…

Still, I keep coming back to this game, at least once every two weeks because look at it. It’s just inspiring, unlike WoW…


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Uninspiring Westfall…

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Bamboo village in BnS

WoW, Pandarens, & PTSD

My second foray into modern rpg games was WoW. Having been inspired by Jane McGonigal’s first TED talk, and having read “WoW in School; a hero’s journey“, I finally took the plunge and tried World of Warcraft. I was looking for an Asian feel, preferably with samurai, monks, and ninjas. The closest thing I could play to the Samurai was a Pandaren Warrior.
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Uninspiring Westfall
I had hoped to get some experience with this game and perhaps con some friends (& preferably colleagues) into coming online with me.

I loved the tutorial quests on the floating turtle island, and honestly this was a lot more immersive and fun than I had anticipated. I actually considered spending some actual money on this game. I even got a WoW Visa, thinking I would just use rewards to buy game time past level 20.

Two things coincided to kill this game for me. First, I had to leave the cool island and begin questing in a depressing desolate place, called Westfall. This took forever. I hated the quests. I hated the landscape, and I felt isolated, despite being in a game with thousands of people. Second, my wife got a new job. I stopped doing anything extra to spend more time with her and the kids, but ultimately she left me for another man anyway. When leaving to shack up with this other dude, she said that video games were pretty loser-ish, so I can’t really get into WoW anymore without having some PTSD. I’ve tried, but between Westfall and depressing memories, I’d rather not.

Runescape Required

So, I took a class that required me to play Runescape. No, I’m not kidding.

I wasn’t actually as disoriented by this activity as my classmates were. Despite being old, and not having played a video game for over 10 years, I actually have a strong background in Role Playing Games, going back to my Dungeons & Dragons days. Back in college, I  started playing games like Icewind Dale, and I already had a cast of virtual identities whose heads I was used to getting into. It had been quite some time, though, so I decided to play through the tutorials as a “generic-made-up-on-the-fly character”, named Finnkillian. Then, I planned to switch to one of my favorite characters if the game was worth my time.

To this point, all of my characters tend to stay near or only a few steps from my real identity “alignment” ( a gaming term for moral, political, ethical, and relational tendencies). I imagine that I project a lot more of my own personal bias and thoughts onto my character than most role players I know.

In games, somewhat like real life, I’m a helper, so I tend to take on everyone’s quests. I also tend toward exploration, so I wandered around and talked to a lot of people. This can get one bogged down quickly, and I had a limited amount of time to complete a specific quest for class. Usually, I can putz around and do whatever I like in these games. As a result, after logging a couple of hours on the tutorial, I decided to expedite my experience. I knew I needed to do one of the quests I had been assigned for class, but every time I tried to go to Lumbridge Castle, where the quests began, the game kicked me back to finish with the trolls.

The last straw came when I was helping feed some refugees. I happened to have several cooked meals in my inventory, including a delicious rabbit sandwich. I handed them over. Sister, I forget her name, was thrilled. She even referred to the rabbit sandwich as a heavenly combination. The quest said I had completed it, but I couldn’t move on until I planted potatoes, caught a bird, etc. I turned off the tutorial and headed for Lumbridge.


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The Runescape group quest, or task, was pretty straight forward. I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t truly collaborate as much as I would have thought. I was, for example, surprised that we could all collect some wool, and share it with someone in the group when it was time to present. The wool cannot be dropped or transferred. The black wool actually… You can drop all of the white wool you want to. I did try to share items, such as armor and swords, among my teammates, but we really didn’t need to equip ourselves for battle to shear sheep. Apparently, there was a “thing” about that was eating people, but we never ran into that. My classmate, Bill, took some armor and a scimitar that I offered. I enjoyed watching him test it on a chicken.

Whe the class was over, I kept playing this game off and on until it went to complete crap on my Mac. After a month or so, I was able to troubleshoot the technical issues and opened it back up. It was then that I had discovered an update to the combat system, which caused me to be unable to use any of my equipment. I had essentially been downgraded by the upgrade. I left. I haven’t been back.

Welcome to Zippy Plays

‘Ello ‘ello ‘ello…

Welcome to my Blog. I’m going to write about stuff here. It will make you feel warm and fuzzy all over…

I want to take up a useful hobby, lead a more active lifestyle, and spend more time on martial arts, but many days I find myself exhausted from the continuous onslaught of attacks from my prodigal spouse and can do nothing else but sit or sleep… Despite myself, I have returned to video games to decompress and de-stress and socialize. This is key when my friends are burned out on “hanging out with the divorced guy”… Why are you reading this? This is depressing to write, let alone read. Maybe I am depressed. I’m going to go eat a tastycake…

…and we’re back. Anyway, I now find myself navigating the world of guilds and factions; acronyms like pvp, pve, lfm, afk, etc.; and trying to decide if it is okay to spend money on a video game. As a 39 year old who has not played a game since FFVII and Baldur’s Gate, back in 1998, I feel a little out of my element. These are my experiences looking for a good game and trying to find community.

To understand what I am going to be writing about and the perspective from which my thoughts will come, let’s establish a few things up front…

  1. I am a n00b – Okay, so I try not to be a n00b in the sense of having no will to learn any more… I am just a little slow on the uptake… I am trying. I aspire to be a “newb”, but my persistent cluelessness likely annoys folks around me. I try, and my heart is in the right place. I’m 39. This takes some getting used to.
  2. I am a Socializer – This refers to the Bartle Test. I am all about interacting, helping folks out, and interacting… did I mention interacting? I would rather help a team do a dungeon that I’ve done 50 times than go accomplish a quest that I need to complete. I will do anything to be as helpful as I can to just about anyone I meet. I used to be an Explorer, but I am becoming more of an Achiever, simply because I want to be a help to those on my team. It’s hard to make friends when your gear sucks so bad that you can’t help them kill anything…
  3.  I do have a life – Being a Socializer is hard when most guilds expect yout to be uber-active. I am probably playing more often than I should be when I am home alone, but when I have my children, I am going to be inactive. My kids come first. That’s just how it is… Finding other folks in-game that understand single-parenthood is difficult.
  4. I have a Mac – Yeah, I know. #fail. I did use Bootcamp to install Win7. I enjoyed the challenge of using Wine for awhile, but Gameguard is killing games for Wine one by one.
  5. I struggle – I struggle to find a game that I like that I have no moral qualms about. I am a mess… Pray for me.

I look forward to getting some actual content on here soon, but hey, everything has to start somewhere.