ja n ua ry 1 0 | W e b z i n e is s u e 1

onlinE MAssivE gAMEs

 special preview

 world of warcraft:
our 1st edition
This is our first encounter with OMG – Online Massi/v/e                                           Luca “Ve...
d here
                We are gathere l your beliefs on

                to destroy Mes. We are the neW
Many Men role playing Girl

            Author: Simone “Chobeat” Robutti


            Sandbox, a word that we hear often nowadays, but of which many ingore
            its tr...
Sandbox characteristics

Just in theory, the supreme idea of sandbox
in a MMORPG would be the one of MuVe,
such as Second ...
PrevieW: WoRld oF WARCRAFt

 name                                            World of WarcrafT: caTaclySm
 developer      ...
the human territories. And if the invasion
of zombies wasn’t enough, the poor
inhabitants of Gilneas are also struggling
Review: EMpiRE CRAFt

 genre                                          fanTaSy
 developer                                  ...
ever be a good choice, while knowing
how to wait will have its benefits. Every
hero will also have a “class”, as in any we...
Review: HEllo Kitty                                    Free to play

 genre                  fanTaSy
 developer           ...
often require the collaboration of more
maybe a little too limited at the moment,
Review: Aion                                           pay to play

 developer              ncSofT
 official SiTe         ...
let’s put on a pair of wings
Once we have finished our long tutorial,
we must choose a specialization for our
class and th...
system will remind many of you of the one        Plus, the quests will not always be so
used in Perfect World, a famous Ch...
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  1. 1. ja n ua ry 1 0 | W e b z i n e is s u e 1 onlinE MAssivE gAMEs special preview world of warcraft: Cataclysm Many Men role playing girl game Reviews: Interviews: > Age Conan The SecreT World – chatting with > Aion F u n c o m P r o d u c e r D i r e c t o r R a g n a r Tø r n q u i s t > Empire Craft Star Trek Online – Craig Zinkievich, > Free Realms game producer tells us about the mixing > Hello Kitty aspects to create a brilliant game. > Junk Battles The origins of Sandbox
  2. 2. our 1st edition This is our first encounter with OMG – Online Massi/v/e Luca “Venom” Braj is our specialist in Games. This is a new kind of experience for both our team Theme Park MMORPGs and strategic or sport Browser Games. Since his strong (born on a normal website dedicated to MMOrpGs), and point is that of great altruism, he’s the one for you as well, I hope, because this is the first WebZine fully that is regularly in charge of reviewing the focused on massive videogaming. less promising MMORPGs or the more obvious Browser games. So, if you always see low ratings in his reviews don’t think he’s a bad guy, it’s not his fault. Why did we choose a WebZine? The first plays them anyway, believing that they real reason is because there are already are quality products, varied products, Alessio “Grig” Zappalorti is our Hardcore too many MMORPG and Browser Games often perfect products, ignoring the real Specialist. He plays everything, even websites out there, but also because, capability of MMORPGs and Browser though he prefers sandbox MMORPGs. as we realized in the making of our first games. The trend is slowly changing, Nevertheless, he plays hard with whatever issue, with this format it will be much more but we, in our own small way, want to game he plays, like only real men can simple to highlight the valuable contents, accelerate the changes, also because we do. Forged by years of Ultima Online, he such as in-depth reviews or exclusive are fed up with giving low ratings. lives for pking, pvp and Drama-Bombs on interviews, which in other websites would forums. normally tend to end up in the dark after a Let me present myself and my team, since Niccolo’ Bondi is our Free To Play short time. this magazine gives me the chance to do it. Specialist. He play most Coags and Grind- My name is Simone Robutti, Editor in Chief Based MMORPGs, working hard due to However, we won’t just make a difference of OMG and of Gamesource.it, an Italian the long times they require to be tested with the form, but we will do so above website of which I control the MMORPG deeply. all with the quality of the contents. Being and Browser Games section. Together able to focus our attention on a few with Luca Braj, Alessandro Zappalorti and Simone “Chobeat” Robutti, that’s me, assignments, we will aim to make them Niccolo’ Bondi we took upon ourselves is an ignorant fanatic who spends whole the non plus ultra, still trying to be clear to the responsibility and the honor to create days flaming on forums when he should newcomers, but also achieving works that this magazine of which we have great be writing or playing. Between one flame are full of opinions and significant ideas, as expectations. Our team will definitely grow and another he dedicates himself to F2P required by the users that have hung out in during the release of the issues, involving MMORPGs, Browser Games and various this sector for a long time. new journalists both foreign and Italian. hybrid Mmos. Our advice is to have nothing to do with him. Besides reviewing, Above all, ideas are the added value that In every issue you will find a mini-file card he also directs and oversees the works for we want to bring to the magazine: don’t be for each one of our staff members, and OMG. shocked if, while reading a review you will possibly the presentation of our new ones. find a rating that is definitely far from the As I said, ideas are fundamental when We hope that you’ll enjoy the magazine. common opinion. We evaluate games for discussing videogaming, a concept that for We heartily invite you to send your ideas, what they are, without distortions, without many of you is not obvious. Therefore, if criticisms and comments to the Email you’ll being influenced by hype and above all ideas are important, whoever thinks about find on our website, or else, go directly from the publisher’s money. We appreciate them or writes them is also important. to the forums where you can discuss our innovation, gameplay deepness, the This is why we will try to keep our team various articles. And now, let’s roll... originality both in the form and in the the smallest and most compact possible, contents for games that are orientated to give our readers the chance to know Simone “Chobeat” Robutti, towards a mature videogaming user base, the various editors well. So, let’s briefly Editor in Chief and we appreciate the intuitiveness, introduce our members. immediacy of the fun factor and variety for kid or casual-oriented games. If a game is linear, repetitive, dull, obvious, old, just don’t let us see it or we won’t have mercy on it. Hundreds of instances, dozens of classes, last gen graphics, these are all useless things if the game comes down to being only grind and farm. The MMORPG market is in a crisis period, because of a twisted mechanism that pushes developers to create always more dull, repetitive, obvious games. A part of the user base
  3. 3. d here We are gathere l your beliefs on wellcome to destroy Mes. We are the neW al ga Massive We are here to stay. Wave and We are here because the Web Of course, we will talk about everything is full of people too old that people look like a massive online to talk about MMOs and game: from the casual sports coags the we believe that there is need for change, a sandbox level hardcore MMORPG from big change. We believe that MMOs are not Korean MMORPG theme park based on just about video games because we feel the PvP grind in MMORPGs and most that whatever they are something more, Western theme park based on the quest- something more transcendental than just grind and PvE, the strategic management a level playing field with which they were of addictive BG Mmorts to complex, created. There is something beyond the from the extreme repetitiveness gameplay, as well as the polygons and of the RPG via the browser textures, the levels and classes. immersive worlds BG. But we will MMOs, especially MMORPGs Browser not talk to muvee, we are not nerd enough. Games, and some try to play a portion of MMORPGs in particular have reality in a manner different from classic deserved, in our opinion, a very videogames. I'm not just talking about special way of synthesizing these thoughts, livellaggio, take new skills and grind these features are things that simply can points in PvP. Only by going beyond not be described in a review. Would take findingS on inTeracTion: This is these things we can understand what it too long to explain every feeling, every what I mentioned earlier. Summarizes all really is a Massive is the power of the situation, every interaction had. For this we interactions, gaming experiences, thoughts Demiurge, the mere fact that you can play have designed a voting system to explain caused in the reviewer, but also the degree in a parallel world full of real people, their it to you, our readers, what is the value of freedom, the complexity and variety of thoughts, their emotions, their needs and of a MMORPG being a MMORPG is not a tools the game provides to interact with their ideals. These are the foundations on traditional video game. other players. This includes PvP, trading, which rests a Massive game, the gameplay systems of guilds, and social and political it is only a consequence. And pergiunta Technical raTing: This reassume aspects. continues to evolve, trying to engage all that is related to the implementation of the game: graphics, sound, stability findingS of The World: in the end, people in a better way than before, but and interface. This includes the support, this is the opinion that we use for the people are always the same. cross-media content, events in-game or IRL coherence of the world within the game, events. how it embeds itself in the background and logic that govern the context in which the There are online Findings of Lore: This opinion is related to game is set. If players still have the feeling gameS Where They the quality of the story (if there was one) that there is something odd every time I and the background. Prize for originality, turn the corner, the vote will therefore be forgeT The goal consistency and homogeneity with the less. game. and inSTead purSue Obviously there will be an overall findingS on groWTh: This opinion evaluation, but do not see it as a yardstick dreamS of eaSy refers to both the quality of growth of the for how the game is good, but because money, ignoring The character that the depth of detail for its they really deserve to be played. You can customization. For what concerns the first play more games for consoles at the same people, . . . offering point, we reward quality livellaggio, the time but you can not do the same for a variety of ways that you can choose to do MMORPG. Therefore if you purchased a only levelS, arid so and punish the grind, the farm and all bad game you could just stop playing As SkillS, many monSTerS that is repetitive, unless there are games soon becomes tedious, but you could not specifically for lovers the grind. For the do the same for a MMORPG, as it would and Too many areaS second point, we estimate the number mean to lose weeks or even months. A of classes, races, skills, equipment, or To be compleTed To anything that you can use to customize MMORPG should last for a long period of time, perhaps even years, so you should conTinue. Well iT'S your character and the level of overall try to decide what you would spend well balance. in your time. Our judgments are trying to STill juST a game and suggest the order in which you should try We are here To Talk the various games that reviews to find just what is right for you. abouT SomeThing very differenT.
  4. 4. Many Men role playing Girl eDIToRIAl Author: Simone “Chobeat” Robutti l et’s now talk about MMORPG The “Frustrated Lamer” cross-dressing, a really common The unstoppable annoying activity of practice since the beginning of Lamers has been strengthened by this massive videogaming. This phenomenon subtle weapon since ages ago, and it’s has developed in a pretty simple way, something that could easily trick the less but the reasons behind it could be many experienced users. It may have occurred and complex. It’s a matter of fact that lots to you as well (especially playing a game of men, for one reason or another, can that is crowded with many young users), decide to create a female character, even to be contacted by fake girls that want to sometimes acting and pretending to be play with you, or maybe even give you their girl in real life. Now let’s see some of the number. Even though it’s simple to spot typical stereotypes of this phenomenon. these guys because they are dressed up in the most vulgar way, their most typical approach is via whisper/pm: “Hi, who are u? My name is Samantah, do u wanna xp with me? I feel very hot right now, I even have the cam, do u wanna add me on msn?” I want to believe that anyone with the base IQ to start a computer can avoid The “Lazy-bum frustrated Lamer” this kind of approach. Remember: “There are no Women on the internet” (Cit.) This is the Next level of the Lamer, he uses the same strategies used by his kind to gain in-game advantages. He often uses the gallantry of other male players (maybe we must say arousal) to his benefit managing to obtain presents, power leveling and other various favors. This kind is definitely more subtle because they act in a very believable way, in fact, they never rush the time and often succeed in tricking even the most veteran players. Once, a long time ago, I also helped a girl in a The “nice ass” game by giving her a lot of stuff. The only This is usually a pretty frustrated kind thing was that her real name was John… of guy, who chooses to play a female The “role player” character only for aesthetic purposes. The “Tomboy” This sinister, rather rare figure, usually Many times I heard people saying: “Since creates female characters to increase the As a consequence of what I just said, I have to play these many ours with my difficulty of role playing to consequently the inverse phenomenon could also take character, she should have at least a fine improve his interpretative ability. To place, but this time with girls pretending buttocks”. It’s a pretty frequent remark, investigate the reasons why such people to be boys. They do such a thing because especially between the most casual and exist would mean to dig into the deepest they aim to elude the boys with the less experienced players. The natural roots of professional nerding, a world impersonation of male characters, with the tendency is that to find this choice kind which sincerely speaking is not my field goal being that of evading the sentence of frivolous, even though it is sometimes of expertise. Usually, when they are “You’re not a real woman I know it!, due to a real sexual frustration or maybe questioned regarding this, they state that you’re only a fake/troll/lamer”. In this repressed desires at the unconscious level. they are men in real life. But remember to way they can finally play relaxed without specify that you are in “RPG mode OFF” discrimination. This phenomenon is ore they will never understand what you particularly common in more competitive, mean by “real”. less frequented by girls kind of games: on Dofus or Hello Kitty Online they will hardly ever have to resort to such means. One final consideration: Men pretend to be women, women pretend to be men, kids are ill-mannered and parents don’t control them enough, you can’t figure out anymore who’s who and ambiguity reigns sovereign. And just think, some people still say that virtual worlds don’t have anything to do with reality…
  5. 5. Sandbox eDIToRIAl Sandbox, a word that we hear often nowadays, but of which many ingore its true significance and origins. Therefore, let’s try to clear things up and define more precisely what a sandbox is in the videogaming scene and particularly in MMorpgs. by Chobeat The Origins The last step was to start developing games with an open startup, free from plots and This word was originally used to refer to the constrictions, already existent in the past, classic fenced-in area filled with sand where but that is now becoming little by little kids play with their mud pies and buckets. even more aware and predominant. A Initially, in the computer field, a test sandbox game is one that doesn’t just give enviroment was defined as a sandbox, you only the opportunity to choose from where it could be possible to rapidly one or two choices like normal games do, experiment all the different characteristics instead, it gives you the freedom to create for an application, without having to pass them from scratch. This is how, with time, through all of the interfaces and limitations all of the games of this kind started to be imposed on the final users. identified with the name “sandbox games” and to develop new ones with this mentality This working method existed also in the clear in mind. We must say though that development of videogames, with free test they almost always resulted to be titles for Sandbox in MMOrpg games environments in which the tester could connoisseurs, with the exception of rare imaginatively experiment and try different In MMORPG games, the sandbox concept cases such as the recently released Little Big interactions of the character with the things is undoubtedly more complex, but at least Planet or Scribblenauts. that surround it, so as to check for possible its boundaries and features can be well problems. It was decided to include these defined, therefore it appears to be quite a special areas in the final game, just as it vast subject. So, let’s try to underline the worked for map editors. The objective was most important points and to give you a to add some more longevity to the game clear idea of what we are talking about. and to give the player the opportunity First of all we must say that for many to experiment things that otherwise people, including myself, the idea of would have been complicated to try out MMORPG is related to the idea of in a normal game session. The possible sandbox. This genre is in fact made of examples are many but let’s remember pure interaction, and MMORPGs should the sandbox level of Black and White, the be created this way. Unfortunately, that’s Training sessions of many beat ‘em up not the way it is. To try to understand this games, or even special circuits for racing name assignment conflict we must go back games, snowboard games, skate games to the beginning of online rpg history and etc., etc. try to learn why these two different types of products were called like this. Without going too much into details, so as not to re-awaken nostalgic feelings in the more elderly ones among you, we can say that between 1996 and 2000 a circumstance began to arise in which two types of games very different from each other claimed the title of MMORPG, even if they really didn’t have almost anything in common. Presently, these two “branches” are called Sandbox MMORPG and Theme Park MMORPG and even if in reality their structural differences are many, in theory their distinction is traceable to one point only: the Sandbox ones aim at giving the players the right tools to interact with each other and with the world that surrounds them, while the Theme Park ones, as suggested by their name, want the game to lead the player carefully from start to finish, thus letting him see everything that the developers prepared for him along the way.
  6. 6. Sandbox characteristics Just in theory, the supreme idea of sandbox in a MMORPG would be the one of MuVe, such as Second Life, There, Whirled or Metaplace, where everyone can simply do everything and the only restriction is one’s intellectual capability and knowledge. But it’s a shame that the many typical aspects of an online role playing game would be missing this way, especially those that are able to give us an immersive and coherent gaming experience. In reality though, the few brave developers that choose the sandbox path have conceived many schemes to hit their objective of giving the players a complete interaction in a continuously better The sandbox today way, filled with a good dose of healthy amusement. Let’s take a look at which are Although before 2004-2005 the games in the minimal requirements that define a production seemed balanced between sandbox type of MMORPG. Sandbox and Theme Park, with the release of WoW the efforts of the developers Today, whoever wants to play a Sandbox started pointing in a completely different title, what should he choose? Apart from an direction, and games that could have given essential: “Wait”, our best advice is: Ultima interaction freedom: There’s no freedom of action, hope in this kind of way, have been greatly Online, evergreen for this category, Eve if we can’t do what we want. To slay, rob, stun, kiss, take in your arms or crush other players is a modified for commercial. Online, unique in its own way, Shadowbane, fundamental thing to give life to the interactive as soon as the legal emulator goes live, chain reactions that render this MMorpg genre so loved by players. or Saga of Ryzom if you have already tried out the former ones. For those who want a game that is not actually a sandbox one, but Territory control: it can be put into practice in many ways, more or less controlled by the game still has got lots of interaction and freedom: enviroment. It also concerns sieges, management Atlantica Online, Goonzu/Luminary or mechanics and construction, bonuses and social structures. Mabinogi, Haven and Hearth if you want something more “indie”. The crafting: it’s important to create your own items, but to customize them is even more What about the present and the future? important. The climax of this can be reached in Actually, the only recent sandbox title those games in which you can customize items that is Darkfall: I don’t want to waste time also change in their appearance, by choosing the right materials to make them and having the need to explaining why you shouldn’t play it, I think experiment in order to discover new combinations. it’s obvious. You should wait for Love, from Eskil Steenberg, a really cool game actually Personal belongings or Housing: The possibility to under Alpha Testing. You can wait also for occupy a part of the game’s territory with something that is ours is priceless, it may be a house, a Mortal Online, Earthrise or Black Prophecy: plantation, a shop or even a skyscraper, it doesn’t these games are surely promising but they matter, the most important thing is to leave your mark. are still far from the release date. Free builds/skill based builds: The chance to customize our character in every way is vital to be effective and to differentiate each other. The structure based on classes usually is not suited to belong in this category, unless you have a really vast choice to select from, that will make you forget about the structural limitations.
  7. 7. PrevieW: WoRld oF WARCRAFt name World of WarcrafT: caTaclySm developer blizzard releaSe daTe Q2/Q3/2010 by Niccolo’ Bondi as accurate as a Swiss watch, the next With regards to this, all the quests will be expansion of World of Warcraft, called now reworked and some of the areas that cataclysm, was presented at blizzcon were inaccessible before because of the 2009 (the annual event made in blizzard high level request will now be decreased that is used by this californian company (for example Azshara will be 10-20), and to promote their products). let’s find this because the old continent will not out the interesting new changes that fully utilize the phase system that has been this expansion will bring. introduced with “Lich King”, in fact it will be deeply changed, so all the new players that will start in the post-Cataclysm era will It’s just the same old story… never be able to see what the continents looked like in the first place and will live Stay in the same continent, and the same their adventure directly in these newly areas so there are no unpleasant surprises. revised continents (even though it’s not Yeah this is because, in contrast with its other expansions (The Burning Crusade for the Outlands and Wrath of the Lich King for Northrend), Cataclysm won’t add any extra continent to those that already exist, but there will simply be a complete re-visitation of Azeroth which will be totally transformed by this imminent cataclysm. The plot is simple: Deathwing, real name Neltharion, has woken up more irate than ever after that he was harbouring his hate and anger towards the world for thousands of years, and his power mixed with all the rage has a negative repercussion on the poor inhabitants of Kalimdor and those of the Eastern Kingdom as well, who can only watch powerlessly as their homeland is being overturned by the fury of the elements of nature. In this way, Kalimdor will be soon split in two and our loved Barrens will be disarrayed, destroyed with cracks in the ground and lava everywhere, Ashenvale will undergo deforestation by the forces of the horde, Ogrimmar will be destroyed, Darkshore will be ruined and semi-submerged by the wrath of the sea, Stonetalon will be invaded by volcanoes and rivers of magma, and all this will affect every area of the two continents, with the consequence that they will be totally re- totally clear yet if they will change for will not be that easy: the Goblins will find made from scratch. everyone or if it will be enough to stay with themselves in some unknown islands after Vanilla installed on our pc to enjoy the a shipwreck, these islands being controlled “old” areas). In this apocalyptic scenario by humans who aren’t very friendly with though, the horde and the alliance will castaways, with the consequence that have the opportunity to trust in new allies. the humans will mass murder them. The only thing that will save them from an Wolf Is money, my frIend announced annihilation will be the The Horde, that in this way, will bring a new This cataclysm created by Deathwing will precious ally for the struggle against the not affect only the two continents that Alliance and against the evils of the world: we know well, but lots of little islands more precisely Goblins. scattered in the Great Ocean as well, which consequently to the earthquakes In the meanwhile in the Eastern Kingdoms, and volcanic eruptions forced their Goblin in the human nation of Gilneas, the inhabitants to flee and try to find shelter Forsaken have announced an attack beyond the sea to evade certain death. on Graymane Wall, the portal that has Unfortunately for them though, their trip maintained peace for centuries within
  8. 8. the human territories. And if the invasion of zombies wasn’t enough, the poor inhabitants of Gilneas are also struggling against their personal problems. In fact, when the full moon rises, they have an awful habit of transforming themselves into blood thirsty werewolves. The night Elves though will try to help them, succeding in bringing the bestial Worgen to the side of the alliance. The addition of these two new races will not only bring aesthetic changes, but will also force the programmers to create new starting areas, this is why Gilneas and the Lost Isles are born, which will be part of the new 7 areas of the game, including Mount Hijal, Uldum, Isle of Kezan, The Sunken City of Vashj’ir and the Twilight Highlands. level Cap, pve and of Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines. other Changes Deathwing will also appear without a doubt, as it is his fault if all this uproar One other substantial change is the happened and he will pay for it somehow. increase of the level cap, not consisting anymore only in the increase of 10 points Another interesting change regarding the as it already happened, but instead in half progression of our characters is the Path the points, now bringing the level cap to of the Titans, even though it’s not yet clear 85. From the PvE aspect of the game we on how it works: it should be a sort of can say that there will not be substantial progression of the char connected to his changes as seen since now, but maybe just in-game success, with a sort of subordinate because great news is not yet confirmed: talent tree, but at the time being it’s one thing that is sure is that there will be something that is not very clear on how the usual presence of raids connected to it should really work. The Battleground the lore of the game, an almost certain Rated will finally be implemented thanks presence of Azshara the Elf queen in the to the many fan requests, levels and period of time regarding the explosion achievements for the guild, flying mounts of Kalimdor and the consequent creation in Azeroth and also a new secondary of the Maelstrom, the great return of profession: Archeology. All in all there are Ragnaros (this time around he will not many new aspects of the game, the new be at Molten Core, but instead in a new ideas seem nice, we will just have to wait instance that takes place in the elemental to see if Blizzard will maintain or not a high plane of fire), Uldum, the heroic versions standard for all of its products.
  9. 9. Review: EMpiRE CRAFt genre fanTaSy developer oak pacific inTeracTive official SiTe http://www.hithere.com/ by Simone “Chobeat” robutti The chinese market of browser games is something that is disproportionate and incomprehensible for us Western observers. a boundless mass of players in which dozens of developers and publishers operate. it is, however, a closed market and the browser games that come to us from china are very few. One of these is Empire Craft, a game of unparalleled quality and proportions, if compared with its Western competitors. Empire Craft (EC hereafter) combines the mechanics of classic strategic- management games to the most typical characteristics of role playing games (though, still keeping their main flaws). The be able to recruit the usual troops. So far drawbacks that are very well known to all blending is undoubtedly successful and the nothing new. Let’s start off right from the players of this genre. Both the heroes and characteristics of the two genres are mixed troops to speak of the many innovations individual units will have levels. If these together in a homogenous and almost introduced by Empire Craft. The units will unit levels will be decided at the moment natural way. be many and varied for each race, which of the creation of the troops (by increasing will have lots of marked differences. The their cost, but also their quality), our hero races will be: Humans, Dwarves and Orcs, will then progress over time, leveling up Walclaft thlee each one having its unique units that will through battles, raids, quests and more. not be simple conversions of the ones Moreover, the hero could be equipped The setting, the heroes, the races, the from the other races, but totally exclusive with items that will give him bonuses in units and the story of the in-game world and balanced. The units will be divided battles, or even in duels and arenas. The will remind us a little too much about the into: Infantry, Cavalry, and siege machines. item pieces will really be numerous, also, asset of Warcraft 3, in defiance of any law Every unit will have its own personal as will be numerous the potions and other on copyright and intellectual properties. characteristics and stats, bonus and malus items, which we will be able to obtain and Even its advertisements, found on many against other types of units and often entrust to our Hero. sites, don’t even vaguely try to hide the special effects in very specific contexts. references to Blizzard’s game, which is still The Heroes System is very well studied and very famous, particularly in the Orient. For It will be possible to send the units to varied: this is undoubtedly the foundation this reason, this title seems to start off on battle only under the supervision of a Hero, stone on which the quality of EC stands. the wrong foot and seems to need devious a true fighter general under your control. Each hero will have to be recruited in a ploys to attract users to the game. It would You will be able to have many heroes, and, Tavern that is to be built in a city, will have appear therefore natural to approach this consequently, many fleets, but these will an engagement cost and abilities of his title with serious doubts and little hope, still be in a limited number for each hero, own. In the tavern there could happen surprisingly, just to find out that this game thus placing a cap limit of total units you to be many types of heroes and a list of really is not the usual low budget crap can have. This limit is very important for new ones will be updated every day. To designed to emulate the success of its the gameplay, because it eliminates many randomly choose one of them will hardly predecessors, but that it’s a true gigantic work if compared to games of this genre. To embroider on a cotton cloth Undoubtedly, Empire Craft has got one merit: to raise the gameplay of strategic- management games to a level where they have never arrived before, not even with its best representatives such as: FreeSky, Lords of Evil, nor The Pentacore. So, starting off from a substrate of components that are already well known to the average player, it manages to introduce new elements to enrich its gameplay and it does so in order to introduce quality and not simply by watering down the contents just to stretch out the game. We will, therefore, have our classic city with our classic buildings to construct by following the classic Build Tree and we will
  10. 10. ever be a good choice, while knowing how to wait will have its benefits. Every hero will also have a “class”, as in any well respected Rpg. The classes will correspond to the various racial ones and our Hero will then take on the characteristics of that class in an amplified way. Therefore, a Human Squire Hero will have much defense, as it happens for the ordinary Human Squires which you can recruit in your buildings. Ten wolfskins We’re closing the Empire Craft news review by talking about the Quest System and the Event System. There will be a myriad of quests that you will able to face with all your troops, only with your hero, by building in your capital or with your entire Union. You will start off with a long series of tutorial quests that will show you basic functions of the game and of the item shop. Then, you will have the possibility to choose which quest to complete first, and in which field to devote more attention. The quests will be a great diversion from the repetitiveness of the game, because they will give you several ways of earning, in addition to the classic Accumulate-Build- Pillage kind of thing that most of these games fall into after a while. outside the city Then, there will also be many events of Obviously, you will also find other players various types that will mark the passing Another definitely polished aspect of on the world map. The map will always of the week and of the day. Some special Empire Craft is the in-game world map. be densely populated, in any area you quests, events, bonuses or complementary Obviously, it will be visual, and with many will begin to play, and it won’t be difficult activities will be available in some interesting things spread out to find someone that will beat the heck particular days or times; they range from out of you. Besides the Wild Mines, it will a simple wheel of fortune to very difficult here and there. First of all, we have cities be possible to attack and occupy other quests for your hero to overcome. of races controlled by the computer. This player’s cities. By pillaging them you will will be a good way to practice your hero get bonus resources, while trying to occupy and test the power of your troops. The them you will be able to gain control of further from your city, the more they will In conclusion, we have no problems in them, but only in the case that it isn’t a saying that Empire Craft is one of the oppose resistance, but at the same time, if player’s capital city. Of course, this will we win against NPC troops they will grant best titles in its genre, if not the best. It require several attacks and to occupy an fails to totally eliminate problems such as us higher earnings. This way, you will find enemy’s city will always be a long and hard many rare rewards and sometimes even repetitiveness and the need to constantly job. stay in front of your pc to reach higher equipment. You could also make deals with other levels, but it focuses greatly on the You will also find the Wild Mines, that is, players and form in-game alliances called enhancement of other features. This is a resources scattered on the in-game map Unions. Through the Unions you could game we would never have bet on, but that could be occupied and defended coordinate yourself with other players, that has proved to be a real pearl. It’s worth militarily. Once they are under your control, unlock additional quests or strengthen trying. you will obtain a large amount of resources the Union itself, that may, in turn, occupy and could spend your wealth to strengthen the crystal producing Wild Mines. These FiNal raTiNg 8.1 them, but beware: if you’ll lose control mines are essential for some technology prOS: of the mine, your upgrades will then be and other activities, and without the Union 1. Introduces many new things under your opponent’s control. However, you could not get them in any other way. you could control a limited number of 2. Less repetitive than its competitors Also, by strengthening your Union you will 3. Excellent strategic and management elements Wild Mines, although it will be difficult to strengthen the Union Shop as well, a store succeed in controlling many of them at the where you could buy equipment according CONS: same time, since they are highly desired to the help that you gave to the alliance. 1. Most of the features seem to have by every player. There will be no limit This store will always have new things to already been seen level, nor protection to prevent the most sell, little by little, as you upgrade the 2. Copies Warcraft 3 a little too much powerful players to do what they want with Union. these mines.
  11. 11. Review: HEllo Kitty Free to play genre fanTaSy developer Typhoon gameS official SiTe eu: www.hellokittyonline.eu uSa: http://hko.aeriagames.com/ by Simone “Chobeat” robutti more detail. Upon entering, we will be catapulted to the Sanrio Harbor, an area that is almost like a tutorial, where we can put to good use the basics that will be taught to us. Since HKO is a game that aims at a totally inexperienced and often very young user base, its tutorials will often result to be too many and sometimes also redundant. A series of flash animations will be present on the website and in the game patcher, which will allow us to practice the mechanics of the game while we wait for the download to be finished. By giving us detailed explanations, we will have the chance to practice them, since these flash animations will reconstruct the game client. So, if your 8 year old daughter want to try out the game, be sure that she will encounter no difficulties at all. Regarding the extreme simplicity of the game (which doesn’t mean lack of depth), there will be a series of gimmicks that will create a totally casual-friendly gaming experience suited for the youngest players, since the world of Hello Kitty is not suited for bloody massacres or any kind of ugly stuff. For example, we will never be able o to kill a monster, but only to temporarily ften, when reviewing a MMORPG chopping down a tree or by crafting you stun him in order to obtain items; also, you can hear talk about WoW- will obtain experience both for the ability by dying we will be given no penalties, Killer, about who will snatch you used and also to level up the overall except for being sent back to the closest the throne of WoW and other similar level. At the moment the skills are 8: city available, not forgetting, of course, nonsense, since 99% of the times they Mining, Woodcutting, Gathering, Planting, that the Player Versus Player is not present are erroneous statements and 100% of Cooking, Carpentry, Tailoring and Forging. and probably will never be, thus reducing the times they are stated inappropriately. Obviously, every one of these is quite self- For once though, it is my turn to say it, explanatory; but we’ll discuss them later in since the title I am going to talk about has the potential to become one of the most played MMORPGs in the world, thanks to an immensely more relevant brand, if compared to the obvious Warcraft. Most of all, it has a gameplay which is very different from other Kawaii games (where “Kawaii” is an extremely technical terminology used to refer to those games that drastically increase the level of glucose in your blood stream). ultima kitty online Basically, HKO is a 2D sandbox MMORPG with strong casual and social components. The growth is skill-oriented, that is, because both levels and skills (crafting and harvesting) are present, and will grow together. Let me explain better: your level could increase by killing normal monsters such as it happens in all other MMORPG games, for example, by
  12. 12. often require the collaboration of more than one player to complete it within an acceptable amount of time. There will be a fairly simplified guild system that will allow us to keep in touch with our buddies and to organize ourselves in order to cooperate better. A shared farm will be present and in the future there will be guild quests as well, but they’re not available at the moment. Let’s end by dedicating some words to the combat, which even if it’s a marginal aspect of the game, will still occupy a good part of the gaming sessions. You will not be able to kill monsters, but only to stun them temporarily, as expected from a game of this type, and the same thing will apply to you if you’ll be defeated, since you will be sent back to the nearest city without losses of any kind. You will not fight with violent weapons such as swords or spears, but with more kawaii ones, such as umbrellas, magic wands and lollipops. Instead of armors we could use definitely outlandish clothes and various kinds of accessories. At the moment the PvE aspect is scant, the interaction among players to pure is present in the crafting of other games, or but there will still be some bosses that are cooperation. at least not in the beginning. fairly difficult to kill by yourself and thus will require the cooperation of many players. What makes HKO really special is, in fact, Let’s talk about farming now: when we PvE instances are expected as well, but the series of complementary activities enter our farm we will be able to dedicate they lack at the moment also, even if no designed to adapt to the typical Hello Kitty ourselves to cultivating a large quantity of one misses them. fan, rather than its mild and quite marginal plants and trees with a very simple sowing combat system. It will indeed be possible system, waiting period and harvesting. In When fighting the various monsters, it may to manage you own field by cultivating it, some ways it could remind us of the system happen to obtain a card that is associated besides the already mentioned collecting used in Harvest Moon, but definitely in a with that same monster which will permit and crafting activities. We will be able faster and more simplified way. This activity, us to evoke a pet of the same race that to build our home, decorate it and if compared to the other harvesting ones, will start to follow us around. We will have personalize it. We can also play some mini- will result to be definitely more boring to take care of him and feed him: we will games with a group of other people to fill and repetitive, as well as with a lack of obtain various bonuses in exchange. Some up the downtime, as well as a dedicated originality and variety. Luckily though, the pets will expand our inventory, some others lobby and a room system. materials that these activities will give us as will boost our stats and other ones will be a reward will be less useful if compared, for useful for harvesting activities. At higher example, to wood or minerals. levels we could have up to 3 pets at the besides the loveliness, the Sandbox same time. There will be different types of farms, Now, let’s go on by looking more carefully which will be unlocked as the game goes at the individual features that will make on. Each one will give us more instanced cultivable space and different options, it’s a matter of style up the most part of the gameplay of HKO. So, let’s start by talking about crafting in addition to the possibility/obligation I wanted to emphasize the gameplay to and harvesting, one of the first things we to build a new home that cannot be make you understand that HKO is not will deal with when we enter the game. transferred from the former land. There is just another game with the label of some As already mentioned, there will be many also a guild farm that will work in a similar famous brand stuck on it and without abilities related to the production of way to the personal one, but precisely, will a soul. It’s a game well studied to be items, and each one of these will go on be free and belonging to the community. perfectly suitable for casuals, kids and most independently from the others. However, Planting and Gathering are two distinct of all for members of the female gender, we will not be able to max all of our skills, skills, so if a player will not be able to plant by bringing a wave of innovation to this since we will have to choose from a primary a certain type of plantation he could still genre and proposing a sandbox gameplay, one and a secondary one for both groups. help his guild by gathering fruits, thanks to which is quite free if compared to the his Gathering skill. classic, linear and repetitive theme park. It Therefore, the selected skills will grow We have mentioned housing, that is, certainly has huge deficiencies, since it will faster and we could reach higher levels the possibility to build your own house. never attract a veteran of this genre, but if and thus, be more effective in harvesting Within the farm space we will have the I had to choose a game for my daughter, or building. This is a device created to chance to build our residence by means I would prefer Hello Kitty Online to Free expand social interaction, since the players of a certificate, purchaseable from an Realms or even to inferior products. will be forced to trade with each other in order to obtain the various types of NPC or obtainable with a quest, which The user, either very young or adult, is resources. More in general, the growth will will allow us to start building. We will encouraged to interact, dialogue and not be that fast, but it will not force us to need to accumulate a certain quantity of think about how to optimize his activities stay too long on the same kind of material resources to construct the various pieces and improve cooperation. Obviously, this or crafting item either. Resources and and this will require a lot of time that will must be seen from the point of view of recipes are, in fact, very numerous and we be added to the time needed for the actual an inexperienced user, which could have will not feel the typical repetitiveness that construction. The building of a house is trouble if faced with more complex games. neither a fast, nor trivial activity and it will Therefore, HKO is a great step to introduce
  13. 13. maybe a little too limited at the moment, if we consider the nature and the target of the game. Technical raTing It looks good, even if many animations are poorly developed. The side features on the game’s site are excellent, for example the game blog and other extras typical of social networks. Worth mentioning is the constant presence of gMs in game chats. lore raTing It’s Hello Kitty, that’s all we can say. All hail the Queen. groWTh raTing It’s a system which is simple and not obvious at the same time, at least in this context. It could surely have been less repetitive, but for this type of game it’s not such a big flaw. inTeracTion raTing you girlfriend or daughter to the world of criticized, although, the judgment of a If in one respect it completely lacks any form of sandbox MMORPGs. HelloKittologist could surely be more competition, with the exception of mini-games, analytic than mine. on the other hand there are forms of cooperation which are simple but immersive and intuitive. Apart from this, let’s now talk about what makes HKO the game with the great in conclusion World raTing potential that I mentioned before. If it had Hello Kitty Online is a game that is surely The world completely traces the pace of the been a “Lovely Kittens Online” or a “Cute suggested to all the fans of the most world in which the general story is set. The Little Characters Online” it would probably famous kitten in the world, but can also instanced farms and houses are a negative have fallen into oblivion, but instead, the be a very useful way to introduce little factor, but as for the rest, it’s the world of Hello Hello Kitty brand is something huge, if and big girls to the world of MMORPGs. Kitty, for better or for worse. compared to what has been proposed in It’s certainly not without flaws, first of all, MMORPG games so far. Maybe only The the repetitiveness that could cause it to feaTureS: Lord of the Rings could remotely come be unplayable for us long-time players, near to the amount of people that can be Lore 10 but also, for example the lack of particular motivated by the Hello Kitty brand name. protections for the younger ones. One InteractIon 7 An immense army of colored kittens, aspect is that the lack of these protections doggies and birdies capable of slaying Growth 7 will help to avoid many problems, such as elves, dwarves, orcs and any other thing some limitations present in games like Free tec. compartment 8 that crosses their path. Realms, but on the other hand, a game worLd 7 So, now let’s take a look at how the with this kind of background cannot allow universe of Hello Kitty was transposed into itself to ignore certain types of problems. If proS: this videogame. I must say that I’m not you wanted to find young girls on internet, 1. It’s Hello Kitty a great Hello Kitty fan (even though, for would you choose Age of Conan or Hello 2. It has a lot to say, for a casual game years I carried around a gashapon of Hello Kitty Online? The jokes about this subject 3. Striking settings and NpCs Kitty dressed as a piggy hanging from my are frequent in the forums, but this could cell phone)and thus, I’m not really familiar be a real problem when the game will conS: with this world and the characters that give grow. 1. Many repetitive activities life to it. Anyway, I can understand that 2. The animation of the characters is poorly To conclude, let’s dedicate some words the job of transposition has been done in developed to the item mall. We could purchase an excellent way, by developing all of its 3. It could sometimes stimulate homicidal many unique clothes, special pets and historical characters that will appear as instincts in the user other equipment here. You certainly NPCs and the corresponding environments can’t say that it’s balanced though, since as well. SySTem reQuiremenTS the advantages for the paying players Looking at it this way, the only race which are evident, even if this unbalancing will oS wIndowS Xp you can belong to, at least in this first probably leave you indifferent due to the proceSSor pentIum IV 1.5 Ghz version of the game, will be the human almost total absence of competitive spirit ram 512 mb race and of course you will not be able to within the game. portray the most famous characters that dIrectXopenGL dIrectX 8.0 Otherwise the title appears to be varied, remain unique. Besides the characters hard drIVe Space 2 Gb long-lived and most of all open to wide of the series, we will encounter a evolution possibilities, mainly in terms large amount of more or less peculiar final raTing 7.5 of quantity of items and skills which are creatures and most importantly original locations, everything in a style that more than once made me exclaim from the heart “Ohhowcute”. According to me, from this point of view, HKO cannot be
  14. 14. Review: Aion pay to play developer ncSofT official SiTe http://aiononline.com monThly fee 14.95€/$ by luca “Venom” Braj a company in deep crisis, only one last game to bet on, to have a chance to rise or fall. ncSoft has chosen to put all her hope of twelve years of life in the videogaming industry in the hands of this title, and it’s now clear to everybody that they made the right choice. With its asian release, aion has restored the once lost stability of this korean company and is now available in the West as well, the strong points being its hype and good technical sector. unfortunately though, not all that glitters is gold. let’s find out why. characters for all tastes The will to impress at first glance seems like one of the key elements on which Aion has based its commercial strategy. One of the most important points regarding this is without a doubt the character’s editor. It’s a very powerful tool used to model and personalize the appearance of our main character in all the ways we see fit, and this is something very fresh in the MMORPG industry. In contrast with what you may think by watching the images, it will be possible to create very strange, funny characters, even super-small in size (with its consequent advantages in PvP). We will be able to play around with body proportions creating really comical creatures, and we will also have the possibility to simulate many aspects typical of the most classic fantasy races, such as dwarves or elves. In the case in which we have repented about the choices we made when we created our character we could easily rework his physical traits at another time just by talking to an NPC situated in the main city, but only if you have the proper ticket. The physical differences between Elyos and Asmodians aren’t that many: the Asmodians have a bluish and purplish Welcome to atreia We don’t want to spoil too much of the skin coloring, claws on their feet and a plot by talking excessively about the lore, strange fuzz on their back, while the Elyos Being a “theme park” kind of MMORPG, but it’s good enough to know that the plot look much more similar to normal human there will be a very well defined base will be composed of intervals in which our beings. storyline besides the background, even main character will talk and interact like a though it will not be fundamental to go Once we shaped the physical traits of our true protagonist. through it in order to go on with the hero, we can choose his class, on the basis main game. We will start our adventure A very noticeable aspect comes from the of which we can define his characteristics by awakening in an unknown grassland, extra content which forms a frame around in a more specific way. In the beginning without any memories from our past. the in-game events, in full Ncsoft style. the selectable classes will be four and will Only by going through the game and First of all, the comic book that will be consist of the usual archetypes: Warrior, completing the main quests we will released in the near future, followed by Scout, Mage and Priest. This choice will discover to be a not-so-ordinary person various texts with the intent of creating not be able to be changed in the future, and that we really belong to the Daeva cast hype or to deepen some of the storyline unless you don’t want to recreate one from of semi-divine creatures, with the ability to events of the world of Aion. scratch, so try to choose wisely. fly and do lots of other cool stuff.
  15. 15. let’s put on a pair of wings Once we have finished our long tutorial, we must choose a specialization for our class and then obtain the so-desired wings. Every character will then have two sub-classes to choose from, also being able to select from a range of more specific skills and abilities. We will decide our preferences by picking: Gladiator (DPS) and Templar (Tank) for the warrior class, Assassin (the usual invisible harassing pest) and Ranger (Bow) for the scout class, Sorcerer (the most classic mage) and Spirit Master (Summoner) for the Mage class, Cleric (Healer) and Enchanter(healer & buffer)for the Priest class. One thing we should say about the characters of Aion, besides the physical looks, is that they turn out to be rather repetitive. In fact, we will not have the opportunity to directly differentiate our stats or modify our talents, but we will still be able to improve our equipment by the usage of Manastones and Now let’s talk about one of the most waited also our abilities via the Stigma for elements of Aion, I’m talking about the System, which we will discuss ability to fly, it’s one skill that could be used later. The personalization of the freely only in certain areas and in PvP or build system is kind of limited, also to glide softly in any PvE area of the as for now, and it doesn’t excel for its them with better ones, we will simply have world. By playing around a little bit with originality. to go to the Manastone remover. The our keyboard and dropping down from the As I said before, it will be possible to boost Enchantments Stones instead, will have right spots, we will be able to increase the our weapons and armors with the use of to be removed with Extraction Tools from duration of our glide and consequently Manastones and Enchantment Stones: the our old equipment, just to be used later speeding up our moves. Still, we must not first ones are items that can be dropped to strengthen the new ones. Both of them forget that our flight time is limited: we by the enemies we kill and can be set into will be used to boost various aspects of our could then find ourselves falling all of a the right slots of our main equipment. equipment or more directly to boost our sudden and maybe dying from the fall. So, In the case that we would like to replace stats such as HP, MP, Dodge Rate etc.. except for the gliding mechanics, the flight
  16. 16. system will remind many of you of the one Plus, the quests will not always be so used in Perfect World, a famous Chinese obvious. In fact, we’ll have to read them game that Aion probably used as a start- carefully and click on the key words, which off, and not only for this element. will supply us with extra info regarding the data of the item and the character to Paradoxically, in the world of Aion we will search for, and will give us a more detailed not be able to swim; we will sink quickly in overview, sometimes even pointing out the deepest of lakes and will start losing to us its location on the map. Therefore, life, even if the majority of the depths of Aion doesn’t excel for the originality of the bodies of water won’t even come up its questing mechanism,to the contrary to their knees. The lack of this ability is it appears to be antiquated. But, thanks probably due to the fact that the water is to the interludes and a wide variety of definitely a scarce element in this game, objectives, it succeeds in maintaining an indeed something normal in the NCSoft adequate standard for its setting. tradition. This has already been seen in Lineage as well which didn’t give this The PvE is composed of a pretty linear opportunity when it first came out either. structure; as a matter of fact, we will have the feeling of moving on pre-established tracks, without having that many alternative Quests locations to explore. Sometimes there will be particularly interesting spots where The leveling aspect in Aion is based on we could grind, but anyhow there will be the continuous interchanging of quests few of them. The majority of the quests and grinding to level up. Actually, quests can be handled alone, even though some should be enough to level up in the little help by other players is anything but majority of cases, but to find them or finish them alone will not always be a simple task. In addition, sometimes it may happen that quests will finish and you will be forced to look for spots where you can mob grind in peace. We will happen to have many tasks: some of them will be simple, such as talking to an NPC, delivering an item, defeating a certain number of enemies or maybe confronting a boss, others instead will be more complex, such as infiltrating in aggressive mob outposts, activating devices, stealing items or talking to an NPC that pops up all of a sudden. This last type of quest has often resulted to be rather annoying: in fact the NPC or the item dropped from the mob is only one and for this reason it’s almost impossible to avoid player camping, so whoever doesn’t click fast enough will have to wait quite a long time before the process could be repeated. This flaw is surely not that relevant, but we must say that it could render the playing experience quite frustrating. The only thing we can do now is to hope in a future patch release that would improve the management of this kind of quests.