Friday, March 30, 2007

Puzzle Pirates!

Last week was a harrowing one: thousands of final exam papers waiting to be checked, lots of attendance notes to collate, and a non-existent grade record to build. In short, it's the end of a grading term for me, which means it's one of the few times I actually work. Not that I'm thankful, I'd rather really avoid working as much as I can and just wallow in...hedonism.

Anyway, with tons of work to do, I naturally started looking around the net for stuff to occupy my time. Penny Arcade once again showed me the way: a discussion about Puzzle Quest led to them dropping the link to Puzzle Pirates in one of their news posts. Which I promptly clicked.

Puzzle Pirates is a multiplayer puzzle game, all centered around the theme of pirating. Players create their own beginning pirate, and then wander around in a persistent world, doing piratey stuff. It's basically just like an MMORPG, you get an avatar, which you can dress up in piratey gear (Ahr!), and you can interact with the other players: talking, trading, and fighting with them.

In this game, piratey stuff is accomplished by performing various puzzles: for swordfighting (an important piratey skill, useful for fighting duels as well as fighting with your own crew members during a ship grapple), there's a falling block-type of game where blocks can be eliminated by a sword of the same color. As you eliminate more blocks, attacks are dealt to the opponent's own board in the form of grey blocks, blocks that cannot be eliminated until about 2 turns have passed, in which case they turn into random colored blocks. A pirate gets knocked out when he booches it; that is, his entire board is filled, and there's no more space for falling blocks.

Different puzzles represent working on the bilge pumps (those pumping out water from the hold of a ship), sailing (my favorite; determines how fast your ship goes), carpentry (for patching up holes on the ship's hull during a voyage), and even gunnery (operating the four-cannon ensemble common on most ships).

What's more interesting is that you can become a member of the crew of a real player-run ship, with a Captain in command, calling the shots, a Navigator, several Sailors to fill the ship's sail with wind, Bilge Pumpers, Gunners....and this whole shipload of pirate players gets to sail all over, looking for plunder and pillaging!

My character, Lenard (Sage Server), started out just knowing how to sail (probably the easiest puzzle to pick up), and was content with that as long as he gets paid his cut of the booty. Sure, sometimes, when the Captain grapples with the other ship, he had to let go fo the sails and draw his foil, wading into a battle royale with the crew of the other ship. But that's just icing on the cake. Ahr.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Haruhiism


It's been almost a year since I first heard of and watched The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, it's a comedy/slice-of-life/highschool series that's unlike any other. Since then, I've been a fan of Haruhi, reading the light novels on my cel as they get translated into English (thank you, ReadManiac!). This afternoon, I got an urge to rewatch the entire series again (in chronological order). Damn, I really missed the S.O.S. Brigade, especially Yuki!

It's nice to hear that it's being released in English. I definitely must have a copy! I've heard somewhere that there's going to be a live-action movie. I don't know about that, but I wish they'd adapt the rest of the stories into anime.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Puzzle Quest

I've found yet another reason to buy a DS Lite. I hope my meager finances can handle it. (Why are you so poor, Kenny?)

The PC Demo for Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords had me both addicted and a bit disappointed. Addicted because, well, it's a damn good pick-up game, perfect for casual gamers who can only squeeze in small amounts of time to play, or the consummate hardcore who can sit in front of his PC for inhuman lengths of time. Disappointed because the PC demo cannot be converted into a full version of the game! Aaargh. Right now, the publishers are focusing on the handheld console releases (DS and PSP).

The game is the latest following the trend of crossing puzzle games with RPG elements (if it can be called a "trend;" as far as I know, there's also Bookworm Adventures, which is another highly-recommendable game): this time, RPGs are crossed with a connect-3 puzzle (as seen in Bejeweled, Diamond Mine, and similar games) where you're presented with a grid of gems. You swap adjacent gems and if it connects a line of three or more similar gems, those gems are scored, taken off the board, and more gems fall into the empty spaces--pure, simple fun that'll siphon several hours of your day.

It's a fairly involved game from what's been hinted at in the demo:

You create your character from one of four classes, each with its own style and set of skills (Druid, Knight, Warrior, and Wizard). After a quick character creation part where you pick your character's class, picture, and name, you're then taken into the world, represented by a map with terrain and cities and roads connecting cities.

Central to the game are quests, that you can find in cities with marked with a "!". Green !'s denote side quests, while Red !'s indicate important quests that will advance the storyline.

Aside from questing, there's a lot of other things to do. You can build buildings that'll open up new abilities and minigames, capture monsters, lay siege to cities, and even forge items. I hope those features live up to expectations since you can barely try them out in the demo (you're limited to Level 7).

All in all, even if I do get this on the DS Lite, I'd still want it on my PC. I hope Infinite Interactive releases the full PC version soon.

Oh right, fans of the Warlords series of strategy games may feel right at home, as this game is set in the Warlords' world of Etheria.

Game on.

Neil Gaiman's Stardust

Wow. Yet another movie to look forward to.

The trailer does hint that the film's more...epic than my reading of the novel. I don't really remember any pirates riding airships in the book; I know I would have remembered if there were any. I liked the novel's "fairy-tale-esque-ness" but like other Gaiman books (like American Gods and Neverwhere), I got that feeling of being held back--as in "wow, this premise is cool; this or that event will surely happen" except Gaiman doesn't go where you expected. That's a good thing, right? NOT! Well, normally it is, unless it's Gay-man at the helm, in which case he takes you in a disappointing direction.

Anyone else felt Shadow needed a good thwack up the side of the head, or for that matter, all the characters in American Gods?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Transcendence

It's the end of the semester and I'm supposed to be grading a lot of papers. Ever the procrastinator, I naturally grab this opportunity to scour the 'net looking for something to do! Which means only one thing: games!

Almost immediately, I stumble upon this little gem. Liberated Games features commercial games that have been "liberated" into the public domain, through various licenses. This effectively means that they're now free for download. This also means that the game's probably too old too enjoy. Unless it's a classic.

Anyway, I started trying out games left and right, and found Lure of the Temptress! It's Revolution Games' first adventure, right before they started making The Broken Sword series. It's a little old, having been released in the early '90s, but it's still a fun point-and-click adventure, especially because its key features seems to be NPCs that carry on with their lives, walking through town, talking with each other, etc. This game is a definite must-play for adventure gaming fans.

Aside from Lure, I also discovered Transcendence.

Actually, Transcendence wasn't listed; Anacreon was. But as it turned out, Anacreon was Transcendence's sister game. And I found out about Transcendence through a link on Anacreon's other games page.

Since watching Firefly and Serenity, I've longed for a game where you get a ship and then just wander all over the galaxy, trading stuff, fighting other ships, going on the odd mission, and upgrading your ship. In short, I wanted a spaceship game that's set in a sandbox. One of my gaming friends suggested X2, but that wasn't it. Star Control 2: The Ur-Quan Masters was a bit too difficult for me; I don't have much patience with bad design decisions. I'd settle for turn-based spaceship battles, rather than fast-paced frantic shooting.

Transcendence is a little like Star Control 2, except you start out a bit less wimpy: initial battles in Transcendence are quite fun, in fact; the first battle in SC2 is fun only if you're a masochist.

Anyway, try it out.

Game on.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Perfect World Closed Beta Test Contest Part 2!

Chances are, if you're a Pinoy gamer, you're probably all hyped up about Level Up's upcoming MMO, Perfect World (like me). And there's even an even greater chance that you can't wait to get your grubby paws on a Closed Beta Test account (ahem, again, like me). Thankfully, Level Up's GM Tristan is giving out three accounts per day until the CBT opens.

Here's how to join, taken directly from his blog:
HOW TO JOIN

1. Open only to gamers residing in the Philippines (PW Philippines CBT is locked to our country, sorry)

2. If you already won at the first contest or at Waukster.com, then you are ineligible. Period.

3. Second, like before, to join the contest, you MUST *subscribe* to my blog via my Feedburner e-mail applet on my right sidebar. Be sure to *activate* your subscription. Inactive subscribers cannot win.

4. Now, it’s time to be creative. Instead of just simple questions, I’ll be throwing pretty hard “complete-me” phrases (or some equally “evil” brain teases). This will be posted everyday.

5. There will be three (3) winners everyday until the PW Closed Beta on March 28, 2007. Winners will be announced here regularly.

6. Instead of submitting to my email, you have to submit your answers to perfectworld@levelupgames.ph, the PW Team will randomly select the most creative answers and inform me ASAP. Before, it was submitting fast and being first… now, even if you’re late but you have a cool answer, you still have a chance of winning.

DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION in your e-mail

Complete Name
Complete Address (with zip code preferably)
Age
E-mail address
MylevelUp or Netgames username (if you have one. Either will do)
Blog URL (if you have one):
Your email subject must be (GMTO PW CBT 2 – for )

Instructions on how to claim your prizes are here.

7. But wait! There’s more! If you have a blog and include my blog (http://gmtristan.blogspot.com) and Perfect World Philippines (http://www.levelupgames.ph/perfectworld) in your blog roll, (and you replicate this contest on one of your posts) then you get NOT ONE… BUT TWO (2) CBT accounts! Woot!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Perfect World: Race and Class Descriptions


I haven't actually ensured a CBT account yet, but I'm really hyped about this new MMO from Level Up! Using my meager Google-fu techniques and a couple of hours, I've come up with the following race class descriptions that may give some of you people an idea about the character you're going to create in the PW CBT.

Perfect World has three playable races, with each race having access to two classes, one class focused on physical aspects and the other on magic. Both male and female members of the human and elf races may choose either path; only the beasts are locked into a class based on their gender (i.e. male beasts are automatically Warriors and female Beasts are automatically Summoners).

HUMANS are blessed with boundless adaptability, making them excel in both sword and sorcery. Humans may choose to be Swordsmen or Mages.
Male Human SwordsmanFemale Human Mage
SwordsmanMage
  • Swordsmen are trained in all aspects of weapons and armor, making them masters of hand-to-hand combat.
  • Mages, through long study and meditation, are masters of magic: the secrets of water, fire and earth are theirs to command. They are, however, the physically-weakest characters when just starting out.
ELVES are a winged race descended from the Aves (Don't know if this is an actual "ancient race" in PW or if it just meant "birds"). They are the only characters able to fly when just starting out. Elves may choose to be Clerics or Archers.
Female Elf ClericMale Elf Archer
ClericArcher
  • Clerics channel the wind, thunder, and electricity--curing their allies and cursing their foes.
  • Archers are lean and graceful, beautiful but strong. They are masters of the bow, dealing superior long-distance damage.
BEASTS are legendary animal spirits made flesh.
Male Beast WarriorFemale Beast Summoner
WarriorSummoner
  • Male Beasts are Warriors: Attuned to the balance between life and death, they are able to unleash their rage with explosive force. Warriors are also able to shapechange into their respective animal forms.
  • Female Beasts are Summoners: Blessed with natural charm and beauty that attracts everyone, they are able to call upon the aid of the animal kingdom, as well as shapechange into a Beast Fox (don't really know what this will be called in the real English translation though), which greatly raises their physical combat capabilities.
So there you have it. Have you already chosen your character's race and class?

As in previous MMOs I've played, I'm going to first create a human swordsman, whose first strategy would be to charge at an enemy and start the beat-down! I believe this focuses me on exploring the game world, and to get used to the nuances of the game system .  

Tune in next time for the skills of each class!

Sources:
http://kanbisekai.wikiwiki.jp/ for the class details and pics
http://wiki.perfectworld.cc/ for the "official" translations of the race and class names

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Perfect World: The Perfect MMO?


Ragnarok Online was my introduction into the world of MMORPGs: I started playing on pRO Chaos during the Beta period, and stayed on for a good two-and-a-half years of my life. Through those years I've met countless friends, made not so few enemies, lost others to the Real World(tm), leveled up, and loved. Sadly, it was that last thing that proved to be my undoing: hearts were broken and my characters were deleted by my ex in an unrivaled act of vengeance.

Since then, I've tried a handful other MMOs, from a short stint in Ran Online to an even shorter stint in Silk Road Online. Lineage II caught my attention for a good long while because most of its features reflect what I've been looking for in a new MMO (chief among others: a full streaming world whose every corner you can explore). Most recently, I took part in the Granado Espada Beta Test--Multiple Character Control is indeed interesting, but too bad that it was all the game really offers.

I first heard of Perfect World when GM Tristan announced his contest on the AEGIS yahoogroup only a few days ago. I've been looking for a new game to satisfy my MMO fix, and so I fired off my Google-fu to find out more about this Chinese-created game. What I found out about it could be summed in one word: perfect.

But here's what I'm eagerly awaiting about Perfect World:

Huge continuous terrain
The entire game world is within one large map that requires no loading or no changing of maps so players can move around without waiting for scenes to change.


I've only seen streaming world content in Lineage II, and was disappointed that more recent MMOs still haven't adopted that new MMO technology. Perfect World gets a whole lot of points from me, just for including this feature.

Day, Night and Weather Shifting
The game shifts from night to day and sunny to rainy season on a regular cycle, changing the view of each area to suit the time. This "real world" effect will immerse the players more effectively in the game.


Oh yeah. Day/Night cycles and weather changes to boot!

Perfect World Mailing System
This enables players to communicate with their online and offline friends, clan mates or factions. Aside from mail, items can also be sent through this unique system.


Sounds a lot like KoL's mailing system because you can also send items. Another winning feature.

Battle in Land, Sea and Air
Each character and class in Perfect World has the special ability and peripherals to fly, trek, and swim in different terrains. Inherent attributes, special equipments, summons or even mountable animals make it possible for characters to not only fly, trek, and swim but also to duel and clash on any of the terrain. Perfect World created a world with flying monsters and floating cities and ruins, all waiting to be explored.


Wow. This just gave me an MMOG-gasm! Now that is a truly 3D world.

Massive Quest/Mission System
The game itself has more than 5,000 quests waiting to be discovered and completed. Quests can be race- and class-specific. Instance quests are available for players who would like to make their own adventures.


Ahh, for me, this is the crowning glory of every MMORPG: a rich collection of quests to occupy your character's time. I have little tolerance for grinding but having quests to fulfill while you do seems to make the time worthwhile. So definitely lots of quests! The use of instancing also adds to the feeling that you're the hero of your own story, which is as it should be. Also, it protects you from the interference of player griefers.

I've barely covered the entire list of features, but the four I've discussed above are my personal faves. You can find the rest of the features here at LUG's Perfect World site.

Perfect World is definitely on my must-play list. Now all I need to do is get a CBT account....

Quotes taken from: http://www.levelupgames.ph/perfectworld/about.html

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Unwell

Sigh. This is gonna be one of those emo posts again, isn't it?

Well, here I am again, taking time out from a hectic schedule to blog something. It's been years since I've actually written my thoughts here, I think. I just realized that last night when I tried labeling all of my posts; read the ones at the start, and they're really something. I've forgotten I wrote those things. I guess that's what I'm trying to do now.

Ever since I lost her, I've been drifting along, aimless and alone. That's pretty much emo crap. I've got my job to distract me a bit, but even that's losing it's effect these days. It's been--what?--six months without her already? We do still chat every now and then, but there's this sinking feeling of drifting away farther apart each time we talk. You know when you're desperately trying to save someone, but their blood just keeps running through the fingers you've pressed on their wound in an attempt to staunch the flow of blood, but it's not working, and their dying, and there's nothing else you can do except watch. (Aha! Someone try to say that out loud without pausing for breath!)

It's funny, because, before I met her, I was used to this life. I was used to being alone, doing my own thing, you know: your typical bachelor loser deal. But now, I'm dreading my future, because all I'm seeing is me. Noone else. Stark gray landscape, and just me in it.

Noone else.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Star Frontiers: Remastered!

Star Frontiers, TSR's science fiction roleplaying game, gets a new face-lift in Bill Logan's excellently well-done remastered PDFs!

On his webpage, you can find PDF downloads of Alpha Dawn (Star Frontier's "core" rules), Knight Hawks (the spaceship campaign supplement), and Zeb's Guide to Frontier Space (originally intended to be the first of many volumes but only 1 volume got released; the guide revises Star Frontiers with a tighter, albeit universal-table-based system a la Marvel's FASERIP). Also available are remastered PDFs of Parts 2 and 3 of the Volturnus trilogy of modules (Part 1 of the story-arc is included as a sample adventure in the Alpha Dawn core rules), as well as tons of gaming aids from character sheets to quick references to map to minis--practically everything you need to get started adventuring on a far-flung frontier.

I've a fond space in my heart reserved for Star Frontiers. The game was one of the first RPGs I've ever run, after I got the Alpha Dawn boxed set as a gift from my father in the summer of '90. While it wasn't the first RPG I owned (that honor belonged to TSR's Conan RPG), it was the first I fell in love with: poster maps and cardboard counters and all. My group actually took a break from our favorite fantasy fare (I think it was High Fantasy at the time, since we didn't have D&D rules yet), and for the succeeding months, we played only Star Frontiers: from their first job as explorers aboard the Serena Dawn, to their subsequent crash landing on the (not-so) desert planet, and until they've united the local alien races in a huge war against the insidious Sathar in Starspawn of Volturnus. By that time, most of the original characters have been replaced with new ones, as the old ones died in the hostile Volturnus environment.

It was a fun and quirky system, but fun nonetheless.

My group has always talked about going back to it again, but other RPGs--among them various flavors of D&D--and time had so far confounded us. Flipping through these newly-remastered files, I feel an urge to revisit the Frontier once more. Maybe we will, one of these days, if the stars are right.

Yet Another Attempt

So here we go again.

By now, I've realized I'm not into blogging regularly. Too many things need my attention to indulge in this pleasure. But still, here's my blog, moved over to the new blogger system thingy. I still haven't migrated most of old links to stuff. But I plan to do that later. For now, I think I've got a base layout that won't make people vomit on first glance.

Same deal: I post random things that happen to be of interest to me and hope someone's watching....