An MMO for Pokemon?!

The other day at work some friends of mine were discussing gaming, and one thing led to another and we were on the topic of MMORPG’s and Pokemon.  I thought how awesome it would be if someone combined the elements of successful MMORPGs and combined it with the capturing, battles, and storyline of a real Pokemon adventure.  While there are no high-budget cutting edge things in the works as far as I can tell (Unless you count that crap WoW monster fighting thing) I did find that someone somewhere is making a Pokemon MMO, titled PokeMMO, based off of the GBA version of Fire Red/Leaf Green.

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If any of you remember playing Pokemon Red or Pokemon Blue on the old gameboy, Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green is the exact game, only with better graphics and released in color on the GBA.  That in and of itself should be reason enough to try out PokeMMO, if only to live the adventure again at the comfort of your PC.  But PokeMMO takes that world and brings it a step further by offering you the ability to play with and chat to other Pokemon fans while in the game.

The install process of PokeMMO is pretty straight forward.  You start by downloading the client files from their site here and then go and find a ROM version of Pokemon Fire Red, which I found here.  Extract the Pokemon ROM into the ROM folder of the client download, and you are ready to fire up the game.  (Note, other versions of Pokemon, such as Leaf Green, do not work currently).  Once installed you will need to make an account on their site, and then use that to log in.

You start the game out, of course, as the hero of the story who is fighting against your arch rival to become a great Pokemon trainer.  Because it is an MMO, you have the option to pick your name, gender, hairstyle, clothing, and colors before going into the game.  You wake up at your Mom’s house, explore the town, and are given one Pokemon by Professor Oak to start with and a task to obtain and collect various Pokemon on your Pokedex.  Along the way you will need to visit other cities, battle NPC’s and trainers, and become a master pokemon battle dude…thing.  As a stand alone game you can enjoy it as it is.  But the joy in it being an MMO is that you can talk to and challenge other players, as well as trade Pokemon.

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You can see other players currently logged in right in-game and challenge them to a duel at any time.

The game has many unlockable and rare items both programmed into the standard game and available on the “cash shop” where players can buy vanity items and some boosts.  Some players are running around looking all badass while others like me are looking quite noobish.  But as in any MMO, there will be the elite crowd, people yelling for trades, people talkin’ ’bout yo mamma, and a lot of questions in chat.  Thankfully you can turn off different chat channels and deny any requests to battle pokemon.  There is no real benefit or reward for battling other real-life players in Pokemon, but it is fun when you win.

While the game is still in “alpha” and not yet finished, there are many features implemented that really bring back that nostalgic feel of collecting and fighting Pokemon that I remember from my childhood.  It is nice to see the whole game spread out in 1920×1080 on my monitor and to be able to chat with others and trade for those rare Pokemon.  After a while, the graphics are not a problem, and it is nice to see a game that requires the use of one’s imagination to fill in the gaps for a great adventure.  I haven’t gotten to the end of the game yet, and I am not sure how far beyond the main game the story goes or how they expect me to fill in the Pokemon that weren’t in the Red version, but from what I have played these past couple of days, if this is all there is to it, I really don’t mind.

The Seventh Umbral What if Dalamud had never landed…

The Seventh Umbral

What if Dalamud had never landed…

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So being on break from FFXIV I am really missing 1.0.  I mean, here was an entire game, made in modern times, where thousands of people were able to log in and play and explore.  And now it is gone.  I still have the 1.0 collector’s edition on my shelf, I still have the “making of a Realm” DVD in that box.  I still have a game disc with all the maps, all the music, all the character models, all the menus and mechanics.  It was all there and we could all touch it.  And now it is just gone.  The world just disappeared.  Or did it?  While this project is slow going and still in its infancy, I have a small spark of hope that someday this can be worked to make a playable version of FFXIV as it once was – and perhaps with some additional elements worth exploring.

Black Desert Online

While doing some searching around online looking at MMO’s, I came across an interesting one named “Black Desert.”  It’s been in development since 2010, and while I know nothing about the game or the publisher yet, It looks very awesome.  It still may be some time yet until the game is ready to play in North America, but I will be all over it when it is available.  I hear they are talking with Sony on a possible PS4 release. 

Below is a video of the gameplay which in my opinion is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.  The character animation and world graphics seem flawless and the lighting is very beautiful.

Back to Guild Wars 2

So recently I started playing Guild Wars 2 again.  For a while I was all about FFXIV and wanted nothing more than to live in the world of Erozea.  But among the issues I had with the small world, broken economy, outrageous housing prices, and more character building restrictions than I could count, I decided I would go back and give some other games a try.

It started a couple weeks ago when I had gotten a beta invite to The Elder Scrolls Online.  Now i’ve been in that beta before and hated it (expected much better from the Elder Scrolls), but it turned out a couple of the guys I work with also had beta invites, so I gave the game one more go.  And the beta was quite fun this time around.  And it sparked something inside of me.  Some deep down lust for adventure, diving into the unknown, and becoming an epic hero in a world I hardly understand beckoned to me.  I knew everything about FFXIV and have been through all of the content.  I wanted to play something different than FFXIV for a while, and I remembered that the second best MMORPG I’ve played was GW2.  So fire it up I did.

Guild Wars 2 is by no means perfect (honestly, what MMO is?), but it does offer many features that I enjoy.  For one the world is huge and there is a lot to explore.  At any point I can open up my map and see where I haven’t explored and spend time on my own gaining achievements and loot.  I also have been paying attention to the details and how much work went into the games’ design.  The graphics and art style are nice and the maps have a lot of great views and landmarks.  The NPC’s have some interesting dialogue and much of the world NPC dialogue contains voiceovers which keep it feeling like a living place.  However with how big the world is, it feels very empty and lonely at times, hardly ever running into other players while exploring.

I’ve noticed how much more customizable the characters are in Guild Wars 2 as opposed to FFXIV.  In FFXIV there is only a handful of abilities to choose from and there is usually one best way to play your character role.  This makes solo play difficult and end-game content restricted.  There is a shortage of tanks and healers in FFXIV, meaning long wait times when finding parties.  In Guild Wars 2, characters are more self-sufficient and have a variety of play styles to choose from.  A warrior who wears heavy armor can be more like a “tank” with being able to fight up close, but can just as easily take up a bow and focus more on ranged combat or invest in being more of a tank/healer or a damage dealer.  You can pick a weapon based on your fighting style, and while there are only so many additional skill slots, you can pick which abilities to unlock and use to customize your character even further.

The items that can be used in GW2 are also a nicer variety than in FFXIV.  Not that they look nicer, but there are far more options that tie into whatever play style you are looking to get into.  If you like the combat with a staff or a hammer, you can find different versions of that weapon that cater to grant you more vitality, or healing power, or toughness to help either compliment what you’re finding you are good at, or to help boost you where you are weak.  For example, I like to use a greatsword and dive right into fights.  However I find myself often on my ass because I can’t keep my health up long enough to defeat an enemy.  Now I can either set my focus to do more damage during these battles by increasing my attack power and condition damage, or I can invest in vitality, healing power, or toughness so I can withstand more damage over time.  But I have the option to customize my character to what I want to be, not have to just accept my character as it is out of the box.

The Economy in Guild Wars 2 is also much nicer.  Not that I am a millionaire, but I make enough money of of gathering and crafting and questing and achievements that I am never wanting.  When selling items on the market, I get paid right away and don’t have to wait for a retainer to sell something.  The not having to wait hours for an item to maybe sell for a small profit is nice.  Prices are reasonable, and crafting, while not as exciting as other MMORPGs, is very simple.  I don’t have to worry about running out of shards when crafting, and many of the recipes need to be discovered which I enjoy doing more than knowing everything I can craft ahead of time.  I can pick up craft recipes as rewards or I can just start combining things I have to see if it will work.  If I have eggs, flour, sugar, and water for example – I can make some dough which can then be combined with pie filling to make a pie.  The pie recipe is then added to my list so I can do more of them in the future.

The community in Guild Wars 2 thus far is kind of lacking though.  It definitely is not the same crowd as I am familiar with in FFXIV.  Everyone seems to be focused more on end-game content on my server than helping out someone low-level as I am.  As I said before the world seems deserted except for when the big battles come around.  When a high level character goes into a low level area, they are extremely over powered compared to the lower level players even with level scaling.   I don’t see a lot of the player base as casual players out for fun and socializing, but more hardcore and achievement driven.  I joined a decent sized guild, most of which are involved in “world vs world” which I still don’t fully understand, but hope to enjoy in time.

Even though Guild Wars 2 has flaws, it isn’t a bad game.  It fact it is still one of the nicest looking and well done games out there.  It also has great reviews, and for a reason.  Having tried other games recently it still has a certain something to it that can capture my attention for a long time to come.  I can’t wait to see what loot I find or how the story unfolds or what kind of people I will meet as I continue playing.  Some of the mechanics are clunky or strange, but it ties into the flavor of the game.  I am also saving my $15 monthly fee by switching over because there is no charge to play.  I’m still trying to find my niche in the game with what class I like best and how I want to play, but the more I experiment and try new things, the more I understand just how much thought was put into the game and how deep it goes.  This isn’t a simple little world, it is vast and there is much to see and do.  I better get back in and continue my journey.

Living in Eorzea Part III

So you’ve got your character created, you’ve taken your first steps into town, and you’ve arranged your UI and graphics just the way you would have liked.  You’ve accepted your first quest and now you are ready to venture out into the world.

The first thing you want to do is turn in that first quest.  Not only can you not run away and never come back to your starting city without first turning that in, you also won’t be able to see or talk to any of the other players.  You’ll notice the world is eerily quiet – and that’s because the game hasn’t shoved you into the full world.  But don’t worry – you’ll get there in a minute.

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The world is so empty – Where is everyone?

Turn in your first quest, and the guild master will have another quest available for you.  You’ll notice the icon over his or her head has changed to a “meteor” shape.  Those are the quests which drive the storyline, so you’ll want to do those when you see them – especially if you are stuck in the game and feel like there’s nothing left to do.  FFXIV is full of many quests.  Don’t worry about taking on all of them – you can cherry pick which ones you want to do and save the others for when you want to quickly level up another class later in the game.

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Oh, there everyone is!

Right now take the meteor icon-quest from your guild master.  She will give you three objectives – talking to the guild of your starting class, touching the aetherite, and learning about the markets.  You’ll also notice that now you can see and talk to other players.  At this point you can completely blow off your training and run head first into the world as far as you can before you get clobbered by an angry wild hog, or you can stay in the city and do some quests and learn a bit more.

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See these wonky things? You should go and touch all of them.

I suggest you go through these first few quests, while at the same time explore the city and attune yourself with the aetherites shown in you map.  See if you can find any other low – level quests to get you feet wet.  (For example, there are some quests that have you collect objects on the ground, or give /emotes to people).  It won’t be too long before you’re outside the city gates and slaying your first monsters, but all things in good time.  Right now enjoy learning the layout of the city, the shops, the items available, and how to access the things you need.  It will make things a lot easier later on.

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Do you know where you can buy minions in town? If you take time to explore you’ll find out soon enough!

The most important thing to remember is to read what NPC’s have to say during your quests.  Also if this is your first rodeo, don’t skip over the help menu system.  There are sure a lot of players rushing to end-game without knowing what they are doing, then complaining that the game is too hard or too boring.  Well, you don’t want to be one of those people.  You want to enjoy this game and enjoy the writing and the music and the graphics and scenery and the fine details.  You, sir, are one of the elite and you will not fall into the trap of becoming one of the much hated elitists – errr something like that.

FFXIV: A Realm Reborn Cheating Bot

Recorded this video of a bot farming in FFXIV. Notice how he stays below the surface of the ground and has stealth mode on and teleports between farming locations. Be sure to report this activity to SE via the help desk system in-game on the main menu.

As someone who recently started gathering items, I find it very frustrating to come across a number of cheaters while on my travels who are able to gather thousands of items working around the clock where I only get a fraction of that in my short time playing. This means they can flood the market with lower-priced items which makes it very difficult to make a profit for a gathering class such as a miner or a botanist.

This also means for every bot out there gathering, some account is getting all the items and selling mass numbers of items for a huge profit, when they then try and sell on websites for real money. This type of activity is illegal both for accounts selling the gil and accounts buying the gil using real money and players can be banned for using such sites.

While this is just a small example of what goes on in-game and the SE team are working hard to eliminate botting like this as well as other threats to the economy and gameplay, I ask that players stay ever vigilant in their efforts to report illegal activity.

Living in Eorzea Part II

When we last covered living in Eorzea we went through just the character creation and all the options available.  Now that we’re done making our character and picking our server we are going to enter the world of Eorzea.  But don’t get too far ahead of yourself, there is still a ways to go before we’re ready to start our adventure.

As soon as you enter the world, you are going to see a couple of cut scenes.  Make sure you’ve packed your snacks beforehand, because your life in the real world is about to end for a good month or two while you sink all your free time into FFXIV.  And you’ll have no regrets.  Don’t be impatient with the opening movies and dialogue – these set the mood for the game.  (You also can’t skip them, I tried).

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No matter which city-state you start out in, the opening scene is going to be very similar.  You’re riding in a carriage (or boat), the carriage gets ambushed, there’s a small battle to watch, and your carriage gets away and you make it into town.  You’ll have a conversation with Bremondt here and you’ll be asked a question.  Depending on your answer to that question you’ll get a level 1 ring in your starting gear that boosts your stats slightly (by one or two points, no big deal so don’t worry too much about it).  You’ll also be asked if it is your first trip to your starting city.  If you say yes you’ll hear a description of the city’s lore.  If you say no, you’ll hear a description of the city’s lore.  So just give an answer and appreciate the ambiance of the ride.

After a voiced-over cut scene with more lore and a title card, you’ll be able to walk around and stretch your legs in your starting city.  But first, you’ll have to talk to an into-NPC who gives your first quest.

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Now I’m a let this NPC guy finish, but before I do, I want to make sure you have one of the best UI/Graphics combinations of all time.  So before you talk to him for your first quest, you should take some time to go over your settings.  You can access the main menu by using the “Esc” key.  I find this is the best time in the game to do so, because up until you turn in your first quest, there’s no other players lurking around to mess you up.  There isn’t anyone shouting in the chat, nobody running by in their underwear, and no strange noises from people cheering or crafting to distract you.

The four things you’ll want to change are your graphics, audio, key bindings, and HUD layout.

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The system configuration is where you’ll find most of the settings you want.  If you’re cool like me you’ll just set the graphics to maximum and enjoy the full force of the game’s awesome graphics engine coming right at you.  But if you’re wanting some more FPS and find a good balance for your hardware you can tweak it here.  You can also change the sound settings, which hotbars appear, screen resolution, and controller settings.

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HUD layout is a great feature to FFXIV and allows you to position items on the screen.  Each object is labeled so you know what you’re moving and where you’re moving it to.  I had a post earlier this year on some awesome HUD layout examples – but it is mostly based on what you are comfortable with.  Feel free to be creative and see if you can find a layout you like.  Starting out you probably won’t have too much to keep track of, so just one or two hotbars will be fine.  Make sure you save your settings when done using the options on-screen.

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Looks great!  I think you’re ready to accept that first quest now!