Friday, July 7, 2006

Just as it's been before, I've started to become bored with EVE.

But this time it's different. There's no hatred, no anger in it this time. It's simply sadness. I'm sad that the game isn't all it could be. And sad that the one thing it is praised for doing quite well doesn't really interest me at all.

EVE's PvP has been touted the best in any MMO. Yet, when I've looked at it in depth, it still seems pale compared to what I like. I'm used to the thrill and adrenaline in an FPS. EVE has the adrenaline rush, I've felt it a couple times, but overall it doesn't have the fun I'm looking for. I'm much too casual a player to be driven to grind the utterly monotonous PvE aspects of the game, just to afford any ship/module losses in the PvP aspect. I my PvP to be somewhat challenging, and usually balanced team wise. But EVE PvP is normally one-sided, and often completely impossible for the smaller side (often single ships). This just reminds me of level 60s in WoW camping newbie players. There's little point to it, other than being able to ruin someone else's day.

Now, I'm not bitching because someone's day got ruined, or because this happened to me. I'm simply not one who enjoys one sided fights. In F.E.A.R. I hate it when my team is schooling the other team. I either end up bored and quit playing, or I switch to the other team and fight to try and make up the point difference. Being the underdog is a thrill all it's own. It's also tons of fun when I get to play very good players in FEAR, like one guy named Andras. He's by far, the most skilled player in FEAR I've ever seen or faced. But it gives me a thrill every time I manage to take him down (the few times I do, that is). Facing challenging opponents, but not impossible odds is always fun, and is the true spirit of PvP. There's always a lot of "gg"s ("Good Game" in fps talk) after a particularly heated round of FEAR. And most times, the score has come down to within a kill or two.

Ultimately though, EVE's PvP just doesn't fulfill what I'm looking for. And since the PvE is so boring, as it's simply a means to raise money to PvP, I can't see myself playing the game much longer. Perhaps this time, I'll be gone from the game for good, like some of the MMOs in the past.

My friend from work is back to day shifts next week, so he'll probably stop playing EVE as well. And after talking to my other co-worker about EVE, we both are of the opinion that the PvP parts aren't for us, so I'm not sure what he'll do.

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For something else to do, as I'm often bored out of my fucking skull once I get home from work, I've decided to try out The Saga of Ryzom. It's an MMO made by Nevrax, a French company, and it's quite small. It's virtually unheard of here in North America, but so far it's not a bad game at all. There's an unlimited trial for the newbie island (which is quite large), so it's not a big deal.

From what I've seen so far, I'm quite impressed with the game. It doesn't have any real quests aside from "Kill X of " and apparently that's only in the newbie island area. On the mainland there's almost /no quests at all/. It's simply a grind for experience. But, being an old Star Wars: Galaxies (SWG) player, this is really not anything new to me. SWG had mission terminals for quests, which spawned camps/lairs for you to take out and get a small amount of money. Apparently, this was the original design for CoH, but was eventually scrapped and replaced with the Contact missions. Luckily, Cryptic did this, as I couldn't see many people sticking around if they hadn't.

Anyway, back to Ryzom ... Not having quests isn't really a big deal for me, as they usually just mask the fact that you're "killing X of " anyways. And Ryzom's skill system totally makes up for this.

There are 4 skills in Ryzom: Fighting, Magic, Harvesting, and Crafting. Using one will give you experience for that particular field. Killing a mob with only spells leads to Magic XP. Using a weapon and spells will lead to some Fighting XP and some Magic XP. Depending on how much each one was used. And there are different categories within each skill, so Magic has Defensive and Offensive categories, as well as Healing Magic (which apparently gives no XP). I'm assuming XP is split equally in the team so the healer gets some even if they do no damage. I'm not sure on that though. There are different abilities for each skill, and you're not obligated to get all of them, unlike most class-based MMOs.

Abilities are customizable and /createable/. You can use Stanzas, the "parts" of abilities, to modify or create new abilities. They go something like this:

Acid Spell
- ranged spell stanza (+)
- acid damage stanza (+)
- costs sap (mana) stanza (-)
- reduced range stanza (-)
- increased casting time stanza (-)

As long as the negatives (-) equal or outweigh the positives (+), you can create the ability. You can do stuff like change a spell to cost no Sap (mana), but be very short range. Or have a super long range, insta spell, but make it very costly on Sap. Customizability FTW.

The crafting and harvesting system reminds me of SWG too. You have resource nodes to tap, and depending on the materials you use, it affects the qualities of the item. Many items have different qualities or bonuses, so not every item is the same. Not like WoW's grossly simplistic crafting. Plus, you can just put your items on the NPC vendor, and he sells them for you. No Auction House, nor housing vendors required. I was a little confused why the players were able to craft items /crappier/ than my starter ones, but perhaps I was just confused by the stats.

Another plus for Ryzom, the world. It's a very nice world, and Nevrax put a lot of interesting touches on the environment. For example, in the map window it tells you the season, as well as the weather. I've seen it raining, snowing and also seen lightning and thunder. All very cool. There are shooting stars in the night sky, and a plethora of ambient sounds to make the environment seem more "alive". The backstory isn't the "standard fantasy" of orcs, elves and dwarves. The 4 Homid races are mostly human in appearance, except for the one blue-skinned race that /always/ wears their tribal mask. Thinking outside the box FTW again.

One nice feature with creature mobs is the "predator vs. prey" cycles. Some mobs are "prey", others are "predators". They will attack and feed off each other. They also roam in herds, and generally don't just "stand around waiting to get killed". It is quite difficult to figure out which ones are aggro or not, so I've found myself rezzing at the outpost quite a few times. The con system ("con" = consider) is also quite general, so the mobs have a "1x" or somesuch beside their info. This means they have a level between "10 and 19". But for the most part it's not too difficult to figure out what's hard or not.

The graphics are very nice as well. The spell effects are well done, as are the player animations. Emotes are very nice, and there are a large number of them (not as many as SWG, the most I've ever seen).

The community is very nice so far. I've yet to run into a jerkhole, unlike most people's first few minutes in WoW. I've seen a "Senior Guide" in the newbie area, helping people as well as moderating the one chat channel to keep the "WoW bashing" down. Heh.

Apparently, Ryzom is a great game for RP, and the live team hosts events that players can take part in, actually shaping the story of Ryzom. Coupled with the interesting backstory for Ryzom and the nice character animations/emotes, I could see Ryzom being a good place for RP.

A big plus is the integrated mp3 player. It can read any mp3 from your harddrive, so you don't even have to rename stuff, or move it around. A random feature would be a plus though. The interface is completely movable, resizable, and the opacity of each window can be set individually, or the same. The abilities tray is a little on the small side, running at 1280x1024, but it's not too bad.

There are a lot of good points for Ryzom, as I see it right now. But just wait, cause I've been one to switch gears in a heartbeat. But with the trial being "unlimited" and "free", it's hard not to at least give it a shot.

Besides, remember what I said about being the underdog?

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