Hey all, I’m back with the third entry to the Way of the Shaman series for this week’s Bookish Wednesday. It’s The Secret of the Dark Forest by Vasily Mahanenko!
Plot Synopsis: The Virtual World of Barliona is a place of rest and entertainment – but not for everyone. It has become a survival arena for Daniel Mahan after he was sentenced to 8 years in its virtual jail. Mahan has been through it all: the back-breaking work in the mines, betrayal by other prisoners, and finally, the retrial which has released him into Barliona’s common world. What more could one want? Mahan could have kept a low profile and enjoy relative freedom while serving the rest of his time. But being a Shaman, he can’t help himself…
Plot: The plot of this entry is pretty good, and while there were a few annoying parts I didn’t mind it all that much. That being said if you weren’t a fan of the previous books this won’t change your mind on the series.
Characters: We get introduced to a few new characters, but really the stars of the show aside from Mahan are Anastaria and Plinto, both of whom were pretty awesome. The newcomers were good, but the character we had already met are better. That being said if I had to choose a newcomer as my favorite it would be Barsa.
Overall: If you enjoyed the previous two books, The Secret of the Dark Forest will be just as enjoyable for you. Otherwise you’ll probably not enjoy it all that much.
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic that is a bit contentious. It’s Character Customization!
Character Customization?: Yes, the ability to change your player character’s appearance either during creation or later in the game. To make yourself look unique, or like a famous person, or yourself, or just plain ridiculous.
Give me examples of good customization!: Well there’s always MMOs, with more recent ones getting some pretty awesome character creation abilities. Final Fantasy XIV has a fairly large character customization feature, and you can even go back and change some of it later on. Other games like the Elder Scrolls games have always had a pretty good customization ability.
Some bad examples?: Earlier MMOs had some okay character creation screens, but they limited a lot of options. For example, World of Warcraft had an okay system, but frankly every race choice was limited to a single height, no options to change height were available. They said it was due to PvP limitations, but frankly I don’t know if that’s an okay response in todays market. I’m leaning towards no, but I’m not certain on that. It was certainly useful to be able to call out “Kill Undead Mage” in flag room in Warsong Gulch for example. No one would get confused about not killing the giant Tauren Warrior instead of that smaller and skinnier Undead Mage. An example of a bad single player character customization are examples like Sword Art Online Lost Song, which had such a terrible character customization system that it might as well have been removed to allow for something more useful.
Variety: I personally think having a great variety of options is always great, but some people find it overwhelming, while others love spending hours upon hours making the “perfect” character for themselves. Personally I’ll spend a bit of time on it, but if it gets past the 15 minute mark, I’ll start to hurry it up.
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! What are some of your favorite character customization in games? How long do you typically spend in character customization? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic many MMO players will recognize! It’s all about What Makes Good Seasonal Events!
Seasonal Events?: I mean stuff like Brewfest in World of Warcraft, or The Rising in Final Fantasy XIV. These events come up every year and celebrate either a real holiday or a game related one, Brewfest is WoW’s version of Oktoberfest, and The Rising is FFXIV: A Realm Reborn’s launch anniversary holiday.
Okay so what’s an example of a good Seasonal Event?: Last year’s The Rising was an amazing event that brought the players and developers closer together than any other in game event I’ve ever participated in. To give some context, I did the “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been” Achievement in WoW, twice (Switched mains right after Wrath launched.) But more importantly it needs to allow spontaneous engagement and disengagement depending on the player. Having to wait to participate in the event sucks, and should be an open world thing. Not something locked behind a Matchmaking tool.
What’s an example of a bad Seasonal Event?: Sparrow Racing League from Destiny is a great example, to get anything useful out of the event, other than having fun, it took tons of races to unlock even decently relevant items and the dreaded RNG still might screw you over (I know it did for me!). Not only that, but SRL hasn’t returned since it’s one and only launch, despite constant requests by the community to reactivate it. Oh and it didn’t fulfill the above requirements, at all.
Here’s a list of my favorite in-game events: 1. The Rising, for reasons I linked above. 2. The Wrath of the Lich King Pre-launch event, aka The Zombie Plague (Yes it was a one time thing, but damn if it wasn’t some of the best fun I had in that game outside of ICC25H.) 3. Children’s Week, Because I loved to hear people complain about bringing the orphans into PvP for the achievement (Pro-tip: Do it on the very first day of the event, although I think they made it a Feat of Strength and it doesn’t count towards What a Long Strange Trip anymore.)
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! Are there any fun Seasonal Events you love? Leave a comment below!
This week for Anime Sunday I’m covering a series I didn’t have lots of hope for coming into the season. It’s the Phantasy Star Online, or PSO2 Episode 01 Impressions!
Plot Synopsis: Itsuki is a student at Seiga Academy, a place where everywhere you look everyone is playing this game called PSO2. But one day he get’s called to the Student Council room by the president unexpectedly. An event occurs that changes his outlook on life.
Plot: I don’t even know where to begin with how bad this is. It’s possibly one of the worst Anime I’ve ever watched, and that’s saying something. The premise of the series is so terrible that even I can’t suspend disbelief to believe it. The student council submits reports to the school board via PSO2? Seriously no one in that position gives a rat’s ass about what the students do in their free time as long as it’s not illegal, regardless of how popular this game is. Include all the various nods to Sega, there’s a Sonic head shaped water feature in the freaking school grounds, and Seiga (drop the “I”) Academy, and it looks like Sega just spent a bunch of money on something completely unnecessary considering how freaking popular the game is in Japan.
Characters: Bland, dull and I can’t stand writing about it anymore! The characters are terrible. I’ve seen better characters in tasteless trashy romance novels in the Elder Scrolls games or World of Warcraft.
Art: Nothing even decent here either, it uses a blend of 3DCG and traditional Anime art, and I can’t say I’m a fan of the 3D portion. I’ve never liked series that choose to use it in a way that is inherently obvious compared to the rest of the series.
Music: Needless to say it’s pretty bad.
Overall: Please don’t watch this piece of crap, and save your eyeballs from watching the Anime equivalent of Twilight in terms of biohazard danger.
For those who like: …, you know what there is nothing good to note about this series. So skip to the next line.
For those who don’t like: Having their brain cells tortured by watching such a piece of crap that it permanently damages them.
This week for Translation Necessary Thursday I’m covering the fourth volume of Ark. It’s Ark Volume 04 by Yoo Seong!
Plot Synopsis: Having been victorious in not only defending Jackson from the forces of the Demonic Valderas, but also in tying for the top place in war contributions Ark heads back to the Giran Magic Institute for his reward, but what awaits him is more than he ever expected.
Plot: The plot of this volume is pretty good, and we even get to meet some old friends from previous volumes. It’s not all sunshine and roses for Ark as per usual, but it’s one of the more amusing volumes.
Characters: We get introduced to a couple new characters, Shannen is probably my favorite of the bunch, although Rachel is pretty good as well.
Overall: This is probably one of the lesser entries, but it’s still one of the best novel series I’ve ever read.
This week for Translation Necessary Thursday I’m covering the third entry in one of my favorite Korean novels. It’s Ark Volume 03 by Yoo Seong!
Plot Synopsis: Having been enlisted to fight for the city of Jackson where his friend the Viscount Haverstein lives, Ark heads to the battlefield to save his friend and have some fun. However there’s a mysterious shadowy figure who is following behind him and a overwhelmingly arrogant fellow ahead! How will Ark survive the war of Jackson and save his NPC friends.
Plot: The plot is pretty fast paced, but it’s very well done and I have to say this was one of my favorite novels of the entire series. It showcases Ark’s ability to do the unexpected. It also introduces to some hugely important people for the series as well.
Characters: Ark is my favorite of the older characters, although Justiceman and Roco are pretty close to that. However the newcomers are awesome in this volume and my particular favorite is Shambala. I won’t reveal why, but needless to say he’s a pretty awesome guy.
Overall: If you enjoy VRMMO series and still haven’t checked this series out, you really need to read at least up to this third volume.
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m explaining why I find Bungie’s actions once again unfathomable. It’s all about Destiny’s Failure (Again).
What Now?: Well they announced that we’d have one set of endgame PvE content, that we already have, for an entire year. This is a common practice in real MMORPGs, because the Developers are working on the next expansion, but Destiny has never been a real MMO. The fact that Destiny has a extreme lack of end game content is unacceptable for a game that has a 10-year $500 million contract with Activision. Though I’ve never been fan of Activision or their practices, (Blizzard is essentially an entirely separate existence thankfully) they do know how to pump out content at a pretty decent pace. It’s not amazing content mind, but it’s content at least.
Yeah but they have their free timed events: Funny thing about that, it’s timed events not a permanent addition to the game. I’d not mind if Sparrow Racing was a full feature that stayed around forever, and was built upon in the future. I had a blast this last weekend playing with 5 other friends and trash talking while I kicked their asses in a race. But the fact that this is a temporary feature and not constant is annoying. The additional facts that Bungie has gutted their own economy, a fact that even Forbes noticed, destroyed all semblance of balance in PvE content and left a fan favorite weapon class absolutely destroyed in their pursuit of “Balance” and even failed to correctly communicate the correct percentages about their most recent update trying to achieve said “Balance” is laughable. It shows a severe lack of staffing in a company that shouldn’t have such a lack, ever.
I’m not even going to get into the Kotaku article which was a very interesting read, but regardless it’s a pity that Bungie has once again shoved their feet into their mouth after shooting them a good dozen times. What was once a highly beloved developer is quickly becoming the laughing stock of the Game Developer world.
Once I earn that King’s Fall raid ship I’m done until I get asked to review the next release. I’ve got better developed games to play like Tales of Zestiria and Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward.