A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “Ragnarok Online

Hunting Rare Loot

I’m sure I’ve shared in the past a couple of stories of how I would hunt for rare loot and how that’s changed over time. Mainly my policy on rare loot hunting is…

DON’T.

Seriously, just forget about it. If it drops, awesome, if it doesn’t, oh well, just don’t worry about it.

Rather than hunt down my old pieces on it, I’ll just relate it all again because why not.

I used to play Ragnarok Online with some friends many many moons ago. Ragnarok Online had one of those mechanisms whereby loot would drop at a percent chance off of particular enemies. You could get this item 50% of the time, this item 49% of the time, this item .9% of the time, this item .09% of the time, and lastly, that rare one for .01% of the time. You get the idea. Well, I had my heart set on the Fin Helm. In the official version of the game, it dropped .01% of the time, but on the server I happened to be playing (it was a private server), loot dropped at x5 of the base rate, so it was .05% for a Fin Helm. I wasn’t happy with the chance, but part of the game was grinding for rare and rare-ish items, so I played along. At the time, they only dropped from one creature which spawned with great regularity on one level of this one dungeon so I felt my chances were better than average. I spent a month there, slaying everything in sight and not a single Fin Helm dropped for me. At the end of the month, I had built up such a level of frustration that one of my friends insisted that I was no longer allowed to search for it or any equivalently rare loot ever again. I agreed, since being that cranky for that long doesn’t exactly do wonders for health. I never did find a Fin Helm of my own but I haven’t played any Ragnarok title in over 5 years now.

So, later when Star Wars Galaxies implemented their Collections system, I participated cautiously and was right to do so. Firstly, some awesome stuff was available through the collections, but some rare items were required to complete a few of them. Jedi and Sith holocrons were among some of the most frustrating things to find and you needed 5 of each of a particular type in order to unlock two separate rewards. One of these coveted items was the Jedi Waistpack, a wearable storage item that only Jedi class characters could use and allowed them to have additional inventory space while wearing their robes (which removed the ability to wear the standard backpacks that everyone else could have). I spent a while looking for the last holocron I needed (I think it was Jedi Holocron #4 of that type, but I honestly don’t recall) and after a fashion, I gave up on it. I even changed classes from Jedi to Commando so I would never need it. The game shut down in December of 2011 and I never did finish that collection or receive my Jedi Waistpack.

These days when I’m hunting for loot off of a particular enemy, I look maybe three times total. If it drops, awesome, if not, I’m able to cope. I existed without the rare loot before I found out about it, I can exist after knowing about it. If that makes sense, you deserve a cookie.

In games like Diablo III or Borderlands 2 where specific enemies have a greater chance of dropping a specific item, I just don’t really bother. I made a half-hearted attempt at finding The Bee shield in Borderlands 2, but I leveled beyond it to the point where I’d have to find it in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode for it to be any good for me. It’s okay though. I played before I knew it existed and I can play without it.

It all comes down to deciding if it’s worth the stress. Do I want to bother with the search? I think some games with rare loot grinding as a mechanic should say, “Don’t bother hunting for rare loot if you get frustrated hunting for your car keys.” It’s really up to you to determine if you can handle such a search. For me, I’d rather not.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “My mother used to tell me: “God knows the age of every tree and the color of every flower. And he knows just how wide your shoulders are. And he’ll never give you anything to carry that’s bigger than you can handle.”” – Mack, Babylon 5, Season 5, A View from the Gallery


Discussion – Irritating MMO Conventions

Last night I was playing Dragon Nest when I screwed up my free respec on my Cleric. I got so fed up that I thought of this article topic. Allow me to point out some really stupid and highly irritating conventions in online games (and possibly some single player games) to me.

– When allocating skills, there’s no room for error

Seriously, I’m tired of this. It’s been around for a very long time and it always ticks me off. A good early example of this is Diablo II. If you weren’t sure about allocating that one skill point per level, you could let it sit, but if you spent it accidentally, there was NO way to get it back. At all. Today, Hellgate Global (well, Hellgate: London in general) and Dragon Nest leap to the top of my thoughts when I consider this shortcoming. If you spend that skill point, you’d better be damn sure that’s the skill you want to improve because there is NO going back (unless you throw money at the game in the case of Dragon Nest). Star Trek Online has a slight issue with this, but it’s got a much more forgiving respec system than most games. Essentially, when you get your skill points, you can allocate them and they’re spent, but when you go to respec (and they give you a free respec per rank – Lieutenant Commander, Commander, Captain, Rear Admiral, and Vice Admiral I believe) you can add and subtract your skill points willy-nilly to see what you’d like to do and only when you’re ready and have spent all your points can you hit the Apply button. For a possible remedy, I want to see plus and minus buttons so I can fix things just the way I like it before hitting the apply button and making things permanent. Leveling up my character should not be an exercise in frustration.

– Marketplace/Auction Hall/Exchange prices are too high

This is a classic case of people not understanding how to price things I think. I mean, what Lieutenant Commander has 1 million credits and will spend it on ONE Mark IV Phaser? I didn’t and I don’t expect other people to as well. I price things to SELL, not to sit on the Exchange for days as a thing for people to laugh at and then be outsold. In Dragon Nest there’s a 30 item limit per week with a max of five items up at a time (without throwing money at it, I think). The downside is that I’m seeing items that are going for 5 gold when I’m lucky to have any gold after buying one pesky item off the marketplace. The over pricing problem is rampant and is very obvious when the stacks of 20 Crude Onyx used for upgrading Rare Level 16+ equipment is going for 65 gold AT MINIMUM. Yeah, I’ve never seen that much money and I don’t really ever want to because then I’d have spent way too much time playing a game where the max level is currently 24. It gets to the point sometimes where if I can’t find it myself, I don’t worry about it and I just make do. I don’t think this is as big a problem in Lord of the Rings Online, but still, it can rear it’s ugly head if you’re looking to buy your class quest items so you don’t have to go into Carn Dum and Urugarth. For an example of a possible remedy to this, Star Wars Galaxies has always had (I think) a 200k credit limit (maximum bid) in the Bazaar, however you can price things however you’d like on your personal vendor.

– People spamming the chat with inane crap (mostly gold sellers)

This one’s an obvious one, but a goodie. Dragon Nest currently has an infestation of gold sellers and there seems to be at least three in every instance of Carderock Pass. I remember in Star Wars Galaxies making my Commando unsearchable because at least that way I couldn’t get private messages from other people advertising their billions of credits for cash. I don’t care how hard it is to make money in an online game, I’m going to make this statement: I NEVER HAVE AND WILL NEVER BUY IN-GAME MONEY FOR REAL MONEY. There’s a caveat and that’s only if the company who makes and maintains the game decides to make a cash-shop that has a money tree or something in it. I could see it in Lord of the Rings Online, but just barely. However it goes, I really want to club these chat spammers to death every time I walk by them and their chat bubbles. If people are having a stupid conversation, I’m willing to look the other way. At least in that case the chat box is being used as intended. As a possible remedy, I’ve seen used in games a (not sure what it’s called) repeat chat limiter that prevents people from saying the same thing too many times in a row. It won’t stop spammers, but it will definitely make them talk less often.

– A lack of a Buy Back option in NPC stores

Lord of the Rings Online did something smart here. They allow for the last few items you’ve sold to be bought back in the same session you’re playing in (I think it’s the last 20 items sold). Sell too much at once or log off and log back in and you’ve lost your chance to get back some of your stuff. Dragon Nest? You sold it, you lost it. I think it was the same with Ragnarok Online too. Star Wars Galaxies had a similar issue where if you accidentally sold something you’d have to file a help ticket to get it back and even then you might not get it back. Eventually the developers for Galaxies popped out this device that sits in everyone’s datapad and allows for personal rescuing of items accidentally sold. Star Trek Online has a buy back mechanism as well and even allows you to reconstitute things in the replicator that you accidentally threw into the recycler. Some developers seem to be catching on here, but really, I need to pay more attention when selling stuff in my inventory. Wish the item locking mechanism from LOTRO could be used in other games. I like it. For a possible remedy… well, just add the buy back function!

– Players crowding around particular NPCs

This is a problem in every game where there’s really only one NPC for a particular thing. LOTRO attempts to remedy this by providing multiple Auctioneers and Vault-keepers where they can, but from time to time it’s really irritating to go to click on an NPC and wind up trying to figure out how to get rid of a pop-up menu for interacting with this other player that you don’t know. In Dragon Nest I’ve noticed something here: if you’re in a group around, say, the blacksmith and you need to click on him, move the mouse over the NPC and it turns into the NPC interaction cursor. Basically the game ignore people in the way. I like that. Not quite sure how they did it, but it definitely makes the crowds seem more manageable. Star Trek Online seems to manage this issue by increasing the range of talking to some NPCs I think (it might just be my imagination). I think to handle this issue, possible solutions may be to increase the interaction range on certain NPCs or whatever. Expanding the zone of interaction would allow for more people to get in there and such. Another possible solution here is letting the player hold a key or something that fades player characters a bit or completely and keeps the NPCs or environmental interactions in full color and brings them to the foreground (so to speak).

I think that’s enough for today. I don’t expect these issues to go away overnight, but sometimes just airing them out makes them feel more manageable from a player’s perspective. I’m not a developer, but I’ve tried to offer solutions where I could.

Until next time, keep your eyes open.

– Elorfin

P.S. “Only through observation will you perceive weakness” – Charles Darwin


Discussion – Games that feel like work

In all the time I’ve been playing games I’ve come across a few that feel more like work than play. It’s a dawning realization, the moment you recognize that you’re doing something that feels way more laborious than is fun. We each have our own thresholds here, so your mileage may vary.

One such game for me is Disgaea and all Disgaea-style games by Nippon Ichi/Atlus/whatever. The game is sound, the mechanics are good, the story is fun and interesting, but it’s not enough to keep me playing against the feeling that I’m spending a lot of time grinding. Maybe it’s just me being a silly completionist, but I like the concept behind leveling items… unfortunately it’s a ton of work… too much work for me.

I suppose I feel like I should take advantage of such a thing and that’s why I’ve stalled out in playing the game. I’m not entirely sure. After a fashion though, some games just stop being fun.

A classic example of this from my own experience: I used to play Ragnarok Online (on one of the many free servers out there). RO is a massive experience grinding game with little to no quests available, further, loot drops and experience gain in the pay-to-play game is extremely low (let’s just say that the reason I played on a free server aside from the free-ness is that the experience gains were typically 10x the original and the loot dropping was typically 5x higher). It was through RO that I realized I have a lack of patience for long experience grinds. That’s not really the point of this example… there’s an item called the Fin Helm. It’s a lower face item slot that adds to your defense and typically only Knights and Crusaders can wear it (Swordsmen too I think, but don’t quote me on that). So, I set out to find one for myself (because there was no way I could afford the 10 million zeny it would have cost me to buy it off another player). Well, there’s only ONE monster that drops this Fin Helm. That monster spawns reliably in ONE location. I spent an entire month (I think it was June several years ago) doing pretty much nothing but killing this one creature in this one location. I maxed out my level in Crusader while there and nearly maxed out my base level. I never found the item. The BASE drop chance of the Fin Helm is .01%. On a 5x drop server that value increases to .05%. In a MONTH of hunting I NEVER found it. I was therefore forbidden (by friends) from searching for things that were so rare and since then my stress levels during games have been rather manageable.

Taking this lesson to heart, I stopped my search for the Jedi Holocrons that grant the Jedi Waistpack in Star Wars Galaxies and even changed my profession from Jedi to Commando. I don’t bother hunting for exceptionally rare loot (and sometimes even just rare loot) that drops from monsters in games any more. I don’t really see the point in stressing myself out over a random chance drop and I’d rather do other more productive things in the game. Essentially, if I can’t find it easily enough, I’ll move on with only slight regrets that eventually go away.

More or less, I’m not concerned with getting rich or having the best equipment or the highest level any more. I just want to play the game, to experience the story and the mechanics and to come away with satisfaction. If a game feels like work, I’m robbed of that satisfaction and I’m left just feeling tired. I suppose this is why I take a break from Final Fantasy games after playing them regularly for a while. The game isn’t going anywhere and I can always pick it up later.

One more supposition and I’ll end this: I suppose I’m just not a fan of needless effort. Don’t get me wrong, if I can get to the highest level and rack up the most cash and get my hands on the best gear for my characters, I will, but if I have to go millions of miles out of my way to do so and if I get frustrated and flustered while doing so, is that worth it? Isn’t the point of a game to have fun? To have a good time and enjoy myself? So, that’s what I do now. If I seem to always take the easy way out in games, well, that’s because I believe the stress just isn’t worth it. It’s part of knowing myself and looking deeper into why certain things make me happy or unhappy. No sense in stressing myself out over just a game, right?

Until next time, keep cool.

– Elorfin

P.S. “We shall never be at peace with ourselves until we yield with glad supremacy to our higher faculties.” – Joseph Cook


The Approach – An Internal Dialogue

Okay, how in the world am I going to approach these games?

I think maybe I could do a couple of days of gameplay of the ones I can’t remember all that clearly. Some of these games I really haven’t touched in a long while (see Dungeon Runners… ooh, how am I going to write about that one?).

Hm… well, there’s a short list of games I definitely don’t want to play again for a reason or two (like I played it to death and the game makes me want to beat myself senseless if I tried to start a new character). Okay, there’s really only one game that makes me feel that way and that’s Ragnarok Online. Nothing against it, I just OVERPLAYED it. There is definitely a point where you just can’t play any more of a game… ugh… that was just… yeah. I’ll talk about that more when I get around to discussing Ragnarok Online.

I’m having issues figuring out which one to talk about first. Maybe I’ll just do them in alphabetical order (like that convenient list I put up, how convenient!). In choosing which order to talk about the games, I won’t play favorites (except when they actually ARE a favorite – see the ones I pay to play).

It’s going to be hard to get past the whole “honeymoon” period of gameplay for a couple of games. By that, I mean, there’s a sweet period where everything’s new and interesting and happy. Since I have actually tried these games before (well, except LOTRO) I should be able to skip the honeymoon period and just get right down to discussing what I like. I’d expect a turnaround time of about 2 days minimum in order for me to fiddle around enough with the game to experience enough of it to discuss. Oh, and I do have games I play with friends relatively regularly, so I’m going to be interspersing gameplay of these “review-ables” with my usual gameplay of Galaxies and DDO. Gotta get my money’s worth!

I think I’m going to start with 2Moons as soon as I can remember my login information and get it downloaded/installed/running okay.

For the record, it’s hard to watch YouTube clips while writing this. I should do something about that.

– Elorfin