Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dragona: First impressions

Dragona Online Philippines finally launches its open beta service. While it was a rocky start, taking minutes before being able to sign in and create a character, it finally stabilizes after midnight and I was finally able to create a character.

There are eight classes to choose from, each gender and race locked. Also, each of them has a unique transformation to a dragon, apparently, although they look nowhere like a dragon. Since I primarily choose a ranged DPS character, I went with the Sniper. Finally, I was able to enter the world. How was it?

Well, it's your typical Korean MMO, fighting monsters and doing quests to grind for experience. At first, I thought the graphics was lousy. But after turning the video settings up, it became decent enough. While the setting was pretty cool, I cannot really say the same for the character models.

Do note that the quests are given to you remotely, so you don't have to go to NPC A to receive a quest. It now just pops up on the top right. Similarly, once you complete the quest, you don't have to go to NPC B (most of the time, at least). It remotely pops up and rewards you right where you are. You can also automatically travel to where the mobs or quest areas/NPCs are located with a click of the mouse. This makes questing pretty easy, and the first few levels pass with a breeze.

There are no stats in this game, only skills and items alter the overall strength of your character. But there's a lot of skills. I'm not sure how many skill points you get per level or quest, but apparently, that's how you get them. Apparently, my class specializes on single-target enemies. A single critical from one of my skills downs any of the non-boss mob I've encountered.

Once I finished a particular quest, I was rewarded with the basic mount of the game, which looks like a futuristic motorcycle of some sort, somewhat fitting the setting. Do note that I didn't bother reading through the quest storylines, so I have no idea why dragons would exist in a somewhat futuristic setting.

I haven't yet tried the PvP aspect of the game, which is supposedly the selling point. This is supposed to be triggered remotely, similar to a quest. But everytime I get the trigger, I'm either alt-tabbed or nothing happens, which I assume would be full.

I did, however, get a chance to try the dungeon instances. Drops from bosses are given via a greed system using a random number generator. The drops are mostly enchants, though. I have no idea how to trigger the instances themselves.

Finally, there's the transformations. As I've mentioned, players are able to transform into dragons, giving greater stats, for mine at least. I haven't yet gotten a full dragon transformation, but I have received a couple of partial transformations giving me better attack damage and movement speed. While it was relatively easy to grind via quests to the level where I'm able to do the said full transformation, it started to feel repetitive to me once I hit 17, especially given the vastness of the world where one quest are to another takes minutes to travel to.

It's not all bad. The graphics are nice. The gameplay is just... typical. Nothing new here, only different terms and whatnot. What's good, though, is since this is in a local server, there's practically no lag. However, I'm not yet sold. If the PvP turns out to be any good, I might give it another chance. I'm stopping for now, though, as I wait for my Dragon Nest SEA client to finish downloading.

The International Dota 2 Championships Begins

It's live. Have you tuned in yet? Check the official site here.

Also, embed below.

Dota 2 Gamescom English Commentary

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Warhammer 40k: Space Marine Demo

For those of you who love the WH40K franchise, the new game from Relic is a TPS style shooter centered around the Ultramarines. What's more is that a demo is coming up next week for the XBox 360, PS3 and the PC.

LoL's 5M vs. Dota2's 1.7M

In response to the 1st Dota 2 Championship prize pool of almost 2 Million US dollars, Riot gives Valve a playful slap in the face by announcing that League of Legends second season championships will have a 5 Million dollar prize pool. And I though the Dominion announcement was enough to keep them living on, this move just set themselves a permanent fixture of e-sports, rivaling even Starcraft 2. While the lack of observer and replay features still makes me believe SC2 is the superior e-sports, once they implement these features, they might become the premier scene.

This doesn't take anything away from Valve, though. The 1.7M USD prize pool is not to be scoffed at—and this happens on their first tourney. Riot's announcement might make their next ones even bigger.

Related to this, some Dota 2 screenshots were released. While the graphics of the game itself look very polished, I cannot say the same for the user interface. Hopefully this will change or at least be moddable. We will actually get to see it in a couple of days time.

Trailing further behind is S2 Games. While there's a new hero for Heroes of Newearth, I don't think simply adding more of them will help if they want to become actual contenders of the competitive gaming scene. And I believe they must do something even more drastic than free-to-play to actually compete against Riot and Valve. Again, what's your move?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Terraria + Minecraft Adventures

We took advantage of the midweek Steam sale wherein Terraria was 50% off, and buying four copies would only cost the same as three discounted ones. Basically, everyone in our circle of friends now has a copy of said game.

True, it was a fun game. Pretty challenging too when you still have low health and weak gears, attempting to build and mine while a hoard of zombies hound you. Also, reaching the different areas in the world and fighting the various bosses or triggering the many random events makes Terraria less repetitive than most platformer It is very fun as a multiplayer side-scrolling action/platform game. But as a sandbox game, there is one huge limitation: the lack of a third dimension.

This limitation caps the creativity aspect of the game. Pictured above is one of the most creative things you can do in game. Playing Terraria made me miss Minecraft.

Luckily, the weekend after, Notch, creator of Minecraft, got married. During the weekend, they offered a free gift code when you buy the game, making a single copy of the game worth roughly 500 Php. I thought this was too good a deal to pass, since normally the game would cost 1000 Php, and will cost us nearly 1500 Php once it's officially released.

Finally, we are able to have custom skins on our characters. But more importantly, we are now able to play without the unlicensed watermark on the top left. We also manage to generate a pretty decent world filled with hilly islands, perfect for our planned project of a castle in an epic scale. Of course, first, we had to do some preparations, the basic stuff so we can skip the night and not run out of our basic needs of wood.

So, we searched the island for a suitable place for a castle. We settled a beach-side with a seemingly-manageable hill. We started excavating and building the outer wall.

The main challenge aside from the exceedingly hostile world generated for us, was excavating. But because of that, we had enough stone to build a high enough wall and docks.

At first we outlined the wall with the island, but realized it would be better if the walls had odd numbered corners. After that, we started working on the docks.

Pretty soon, it rained. The last patched I played didn't have any weather effects, so this is new to me, but boy was our castle looking like a castle.

While this project has probably been done many times before by many other people, it's still a much more satisfying creative experience, similar to creating something epic using Lego.

True, this is just the facade, and we really want it to be epic. But I must say not a bad job for one day and two guys working on it. Hopefully in the following days there will be more hands on board.

Next step? Well, maybe we'll start working on the inner courtyard. Then we'll extend the castle to maybe span the entire island.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

League of Legends: Dominion

As if to assure that I shouldn't fear the death of League of Legends with the release of DotA 2, Riot releases a first-look video for Dominion.

I'm stoked. S2 Games, what's your move?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

1st Dota 2 Championships

News have been circulating for a while regarding Dota 2's recently announced championship tournament. I believe there's no Dota fan that isn't excited of such news. The buzz is bigger due to a couple of reasons. First, it's the first time Dota 2 will be seen in public. Second, the date draws nearer as the tournament itself will be held on August 17. Finally, the winning team gets $1M USD. Counting the consolation prizes, the almost $2M USD prize pool is the biggest e-sports have ever seen. As an addendum, Philippines is represented in the event.

My initial reaction to the event is torn, however.

The e-sports fan inside of me is pretty excited of the news. For sure, I'm going to watch the tournament even though I admittedly am no longer a die-hard Dota player.

The Starcraft player in me is jealous because our country will probably have more chance being represented in Dota 2 events even though the Starcraft 2 scene has a bigger showing internationally. Yes, this particular tourney is the biggest ever money-wise, but I'm pretty certain this is just a publicity stunt and future tournaments won't be as big. Maybe.

The League of Legends patron in me is worried that Dota 2 might kill LoL. True, there are very huge differences between the two MOBA games, and the recent Dominion announcement makes LoL a unique game on its own. Heroes of Newearth players should probably be more worried given the similarities of the two games.

Finally, the gamer in me still has a lot of questions to be answered. Will Dota 2 be F2P? If so, how will the microtransactions work out? Will it have hats and crate keys? Will it have a global or local servers? Or maybe it will be on LAN? How will this affect e-sports as a whole and how will it affect e-sports of the Philippines?

Hopefully, there will be answers come during the tournament.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Return to Classic Shooters

Recently, the only FPS' to come out were the likes of Call of Duty, Medal of Honor and don't even get me started on the train wreck that was Duke Nukem Forever. While these were relatively good games (apart from DNF), they all have that 'hold your hand' approach to everything. These shooters are all incredibly linear and almost all of them forces you to carry 2 weapons max. Gone are the days of exploring the level to look for secrets, choosing which weapon you want to use from an entire array of 10 weapons on hand, and hanging on precariously with 10 hitpoints left. Or is it?

A developer outside of big-name companies is venturing out of the rail-shooting, health regenerating, incredulously easy shooters and is creating what seems to be Doom/Quake/Wolf3d using modern computers. The developer, Flying Wild Hog, stated that, "Our engine was built with one thought—to be used in a first-person shooter that uses lots of physics and destruction, with outstanding graphics and also optimized to do the job well. There are many games published on PCs that are just ports from consoles, and we all know that today the power of a current-gen console is similar to a four- to five-year-old PC."

When games are made with only the PC in mind, they tend to become tech-marvels. Take Crysis for example. Crysis awed multitudes with the amount of beauty they were able to pour into the game. While the story is meh, graphically, the game was, and still is, very stunning. Crysis 2 however, fell shorter what with it being developed for the consoles, then ported into the PC; thus making the graphics aspect fall shorter than what should have been.

Anyway, the game is called Hard Reset. It is slated for the PC (hell yeah) on September of this year.

Here's the game in action.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Humble Indie Bundle 3

Have you bought the Humble Indie Bundle yet? I got mine a couple of days ago. Admittedly, I haven't played much of them, but they have enough entertainment value of six seven games for the cost of one large McDonald's fries or less (or more, your choice).

Anyway, I'm stuck on the Minecraft registration page because the bundle lets me play free until August 14 but all my usual aliases are taken.

LoL Themed Games for Lulz

A few nights ago, before today's patch, we decided to play a couple of "themed games" on League of Legends, where we decide upon an item or whatnot that everyone buys first. Results usually turn out hilarious.

Game one: everyone buys the most expensive item in the game—Trinity Force.


Our burst damage was insane. You can expect anyone wielding a Triforce to do so, but it's also lulzy to see someone like Rammus carry one and actually dish out at least 5 bars of damage per punch.

I didn't bother blurring out our opponents because I'm providing the replay (sorry, opponents) which you can download here:

Game two: everyone buys the two most cost-efficient attack speed items—Malady and Wit's End.


This time, our team's damage per second was insurmountable. We did have some trouble with LeBlanc, but once everyone had their Maladies and Wit's Ends and started moving as a team, we were an almost unstoppable pushing force. Even with just three left on our team, we were able to take down Baron. And, yes, that is an attack speed built Veigar. Honestly, Veigar might be the most valuable asset in this team, providing a long enough stun for our insane DPS to kick in. The one thing I didn't like with our endgame was we didn't manage to line up our Maladies and Wit's Ends on slots 1 and 2 like we did with our Triforces.

Replay here:

Of course, we would've lost instantly in both games if our opponents decided to buy Thornmail. Luckily, they didn't. Noting that, luck is a very important factor in these games. We ran out on our third theme game while attempting a fast push with all heroes having smite and rally. After that failure, we called it a night.

We might post videos instead of just replays and results when (if?) an official replay system is implemented.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fragile Dreams OST

While browsing the ass-end of the internet, I stumbled upon a little gem called Fragile Dreams. After watching the trailer, I fell in love with the music. Both the BGM's and the songs are rather nice to listen to. After a brief search, I found the album and here it is:

Carrying as Sona

I'm playing League of Legends since its incarnation in the Philippines, maining Sona. She's supposedly a support champion, as emphasized by her huge... harp, providing buffs for her teammates and supporting the team in battle. Recently, for fun, I've been playing her more as a carry if I notice I'm playing against not-so-good opponents with surprisingly good results.

If you manage to get a kill streak on Sona, your opponents are probably bad. If you manage to get three snowball items on Sona and actually get stacks on them, probability becomes fact.

Too bad I didn't have LOL Recorder on this game, but I was practically owning everyone with Sheen + Power Chord. Also note how identical my score is with Renekton. Sadly, I didn't get to try it out much, as we won the game shortly after completing the holy trinity.


Dear World,

Henceforth thither will house random musings, images—both moving and static, and perhaps even songs, poetry, and prose (no promises made) by a band of brothers who enjoy playing games on their electronic counting machines.

In other words, this is a gaming blog by a group of friends.

How is this different from the thousands of gaming blogs in the net? Not much, but this group of friends mostly play games available in their country (Philippines), and would most likely include first impressions of such.

Do note that there are a number of authors in this blog, so pardon random writing (if any writing at all is required) styles, or perhaps more appropriately, posting styles. Also, we might post in our native language from time to time.

Anyway, this is just an intro. We will be posting actual gaming-related stuff starting the next post. Hope you enjoy!

Deliciously yours,

Bored Pinoy Gamer,