World Of Warcraft – A little Newbie-Guide

I just had three of the most pleasant hours I’ve ever had with gaming. As you can imagine, the game was World of Warcraft (I hereby promise not to post any more WoW-related stuff in the near future, but bear with me one last time ;-)

I’m playing as a human mage and I’ve now reached level 17 (looking forward to 18 to get more spells)

For some time, I had problems getting along, but it’s really better now, so I though I maybe give you some advice if you too play as a human mage:

  • When you’re first sent to westfall, you may be completely under-leveled. It began being fun for me about at level 15 or so, but when you get there, you’re usually at 9 to 11. You can do two things to remedy that:
    • Join groups (use the /4 chat-command). As a group you’re so much more efficient
    • Use the underground railroad (it’s in the dwarven destrict) in Stormwind to go to the dwarven capital city Ironforge and from there take some quests outside and in Loch Modan (east of the region around Ironforge). Those are easy to do for you and the scenery is much nicer than in Westfall
  • Never hesitate to talk to people. So far, I never had problems getting along with other players. Don’t be afraid and talk to them. You have so much better chance of accomplishing something if you work in groups.
  • Try to meet with people you’ve already met. Once you know them better, it becomes even more fun
  • As a mage, never… I repeat… never try to attack a group of enemies. Wait till they separate. Or Sheep them and attack just one.

I really think, the balance of difficulty is way off in westfall and maybe, the guys at Blizzard fix that in the future. Until then, you will have much fun in the dwarfen lands. Return to Westfall after reaching level 15 or so and do the easier quests first. Talk to people. You’ll see: It will get fun. Much fun..

World Of Warcraft Patch

Today, when I wanted to login with my somewhat tweaked installation of WoW, I was greeted with an error message telling me something about not being able to verify my version.

This was fixed by temporarily using the US login-servers so that the new patch could be installed.

During installation of said patch I found this note here:

– Reduced the respawn rate of the troggs on the islands in Loch Modan.

This is nice – just yesterday I’ve had some serious problems with those troggs there. Too bad, the patch was released only today when I don’t have to go back there.

WoW: Language Hacking

As I explained in my previous posting, I very much like to play World of Warcraft in the english version.

Now I got my hands on the US-version and installed it (after uninstalling the german version).

The problem came after patching to the current version: My account was not recognized anymore – no wonder: The game was connecting to the US servers while my account is on the european ones.

A bit searching for worldofwarcraft.com in the games directory revealed the string set realmlist [something] in base.mpq

As always, google was my friend and showed me the solution: Add

SET realmlist "eu1.wow.battle.net"

to the file config.wtf in the directory WTF of your WoW installation.

This lets you login to the european servers where your account is recognized.

Works well (at least until the next patch is released ;-)

Update: if you have a file called realmlist.wtf in the main installation directory, change that one, not the config.wtf as it will get overwritten on every launch. And additionally, you should set the server to eu.logon.worldofwarcraft.com instead – the older one was for the beta.

World of Warcraft

For the last three years or so, I was constantly thinking about those online RPGs, but the high amount of micro-management you had to do and the steep learning-curve, the newbie-killers and all those other factors led me to ask myself: “Why spending money for that kind of dubious entertainment?”

Then I’ve read many good things about Blizzards World of Warcraft: It was said to have a nice learning curve, few micro-management and to be entertainment-centered – now we where talking…

So I went ahead and bought it last tuesday.

While there were some problems at first when I tried to create my character (Blizzard was quite overrun by the many people trying it out here in Europe), they were solved the same day and since then I had no problems with long waiting lists or disconnects. So from a technical point of view, it’s very satisfying.

And then there’s the gameplay of course.

This is very well done: There are many small things where the designers have tried to minimize the problems other MMORPG seem to have: There’s no senseless doing stupid jobs with your alter-ego just to earn money (you earn money by beating quests which are somewhat diablo-like). There’s this concept of getting double experience points when you log in after a larger pause. Then, if you don’t want to play in a designated player-vs-player-area, it’s immensely difficult to be slaughtered by another player – if you get killed by another player, it’s entirely your own fault. And besides: Other players cannot steal your inventory.

While the game provides an incredible amount of options how to progress your character, it introduces them nice and slowly. I’m still quite the newbie (playing about 2 hours per day I’m now at level 9) and I never felt overwhelmed. Very nice.

The most interesting experience I’ve had so far was yesterday when I was having problems concluding a certain quest alone: The boar I had to kill was just too strong for me.

So I did the logical thing: I went to the nearest tavern and asked around if there was someone willing to kill that beast with me. I soon found someone and we succeeded. This is what I expect from a MMORPG – not forging horseshoes and selling them for much too less money becuase of ebay-caused inflation – each horseshoe taking about 1000 senseless clicks to build.

So WoW is definitely getting my $11 monthly after my one month trial runs out.

Oh. There’s one thing though: Here in Switzerlad, you just get the german version of the game. This is very unfortunate for me as I prefer playing in english realms. Now its quite difficult to talk about something with an other player if I just have my own translation of the german name instead of what’s on the screen of the other players.

This is partly my own fault – I could play on a german realm, but partly blizzards too – here in Switzerland, many of us are used to read and understand english – all the movies are shown in the original language (mostly english) with subtitles for example. I think, that many of us would really prefer to have an english version of the game.

I for myself will probably do as I always do: Use the CD-key of the german original with an english copy I get via other channels. This is not particulary legal, but not that illegal too, I think.

Please, Blizzard, if you hear me: Provide us swiss with an english version of your games in the future.

Tales of Symphonia

Now that the project I’m currently working on for which I didn’t really have much time to complete it and which I insisted in doing cleanly despite the time constraints (beleive me: It’s worth it. Read about that later) is coming along very nicely, I actually had some time to do a little gameing yesterday.

About two weeks ago, I bought Tales of Symphonia for my gamecube, but only yesterday, I played it for the first time (while still waiting for Mario 64 to arrive for my DS I’ve imported and actually got last week). Read about my more-than-plesant experience:

First of all, I actually could buy a legal european version. Relying on grey import was – for once – not necessary despite Tales of Symponia (just “tales” from now on) being quite a hardcode RPG. A really big THANK YOU! for that, Nintendo.

Additionally, while I would have preferred playing it in english, the german translation is really good (completly unlike the miserable translation of Pokémon, for example) and thankfully, the voice actors where not synchronized and the english actors did a very good job on this one.

One thing is stupid though: You cannot turn off the german subtitles and they do not vanish automatically. So it’s necessary for me to hit the A-button in just the right time not to create unnatural sounding cutoff sentences. This was a problem in the first 15 minutes. After that I got quite used to it, maybe also because the german translation really is good (I’d translate most of the sentences like they did).

The next thing I did not like at first was the story: First, you have this “Wake the goddess to save the world by unsealing four seals” which sound kind of silly for a hardcore RPG. And then there are the two other main themes: “Girl on a pilgrimage to save the world” and “Boy brings destruction to his own village because of an accident and gets banished for that. His first station on the journey is a desert”.

Both of those themes should sound familiar to you, the first one being a FFX-ripoff, the second one being from the best RPG of all-time, Xenogears.

Fortunately, this feeling of “seen-that” quickly begins to wear off after about two hours where the party crosses the sea and lifes (hopefully) through the Governour Dorr-sidequest. Now, that’s something new (and great too).

As I’m just about ending said quest, I don’t know anything further to say about the story, but I’ve read great things about it.

I really like the battle-system. It’s a bit like “Star Ocean”, fast-paced and doable none-the-less. In the desert just at the beginning after being abducted by those maybe-desians (the enemy race opressing the humans, strangely equipped with technology well beyond that of the humans), I was hopelessly under-leveled: Those visible enemies on the world map invite you to skip instead of fight them. In the end, I got around, but it was not easy there.

On a side-note: Speaking of advanced technology: Why the heck does Raine seem to know all that stuff? What is it about her? If she has something to hide it’s much better done than Citan in Xenogears where this is clear from the beginning. Besides: I really like her character. She is very likeable.

Another thing I really, really like is the graphics: I love this cell-shading technology – especially if it’s done as well as in tales. It’s like watching an animee – just interactive.

On and talking about “interactive”: In contrast to what I had to rant about in Xenosaga, in tales, the balance between interactive and non-interactive sequences is done very well. It’s never boring and the story is always developping. Very nice.

All in all, tales certainly is the best I’ve seen RPG-wise on the gamecube and it even matches some of the better-known Squaresoft titles. I really hope, the story continues as it is now and does not fall back to re-telling things already told by other games.

If you have a cube and are longing to good RPGs on it, go and buy tales. You will not regret it.

So, now I’m just going to recompile and upload my little Java-Applet and then I’m off home to play another round of tales…

Console game Videos

I’ve already posted about this site with its speedruns for old console games. What I did not know back then is that these videos are created using slow motion and savestates which makes them look so expectionally good (if you are up for movies not using savestates, then this is for you).

Though the videos are made with savestates, they are extremely fun to watch, so bisqwits page is one of those I have been visiting every day just to look for updates. Recently it went all quiet…

And today I see what was bisquwit keeping from posting new movies: The whole page got redesigned (on a WIKI-basis) and SNES and Genesis (Mega Drive here in Europe) Movies were added. Very nice. My Bittorrent client is already hard-working ;-)

Zelda: Four Swords Adventures

About a year ago, I bought myself a GBA with the GBA-port of “A Link to the past” – one of the best Zelda games (and they all are great [except Majoras Mask which I didn’t really like]). What I did not know when I bought the game is that the add-on “Four Sword” that was on the cartridge could be so incredibly fun to play.

It was more to proof that a storyless multiplayer Zelda can’t be any fun that I played a round with Richard and Evelyn back then.

As always with prejudice, I have been proofen wrong: It was so incredibly fun to play Zelda together. I mean: Though you have to be cooperative to play through, it’s the player with the most rupees that finally wins the round, so it creates quite a bit of danymics

I have not played the GBA-game since last december as I now more than know all the ramdomized levels that can get generated and I think we have killed Vaati about 100 times, so the fun finally went away- after nearly a whole year of fun.

But then I found out that multiplayer Zelda is coming back. To the Game Cube this time: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures.

What concerned me was that a GBA is needed to play the game and that you always play with four links. And then there was the thing with the non-autogenerated levels. Is there any replay-value? Does the not-so-great grpahics work on the GameCube? Is it difficult to follow the action on screen alternating between the video beamer and the GBA?

Many questions. I wanted them answered and I wanted more multiplayer Zelda! So I’ve imported the US-Version of the game and received it last thursday. And yesterday I played it with someone else for the first time.

I can guarantee you: It’s fun. As always I will list the things I don’t quite like first:

  • The guy that designed the GBA->GC cable without a pass-through power plug should be shot. I hate it to interrupt playing just because one of the GBA SP’s lost power with no way to attach the power cable.
  • The GC->GBA cable makes it quite inconvinient to use the L and R-Buttons on the GBA which are quite often used when playing FSA (Four Swords Adeventures)
  • It takes some getting used to the GBA-GC combination, but when you get the hang of it, it works quite well

And that’s already all I have to say to the negative points. Now to the positive:

  • It’s so much fun. Whether you play alone or with opponents (or is it partners? You can never be sure when playing multiplayer Zelda). I really like the sequences where hordes of enemies appear and you can slay through them. Great!
  • I really like the graphics. It’s 2D, yes, but they did a really great thing to it. It’s very smooth, detailed, zoming and everything. Cool.
  • Great sounds. As a fan of “A link to the past”, it’s great to hear the old tunes on current more capable hardware.
  • Did I mention, it’s incredibly fun? This is more a property of any multiplayer Zelda, but it’s no different this time. I so much like throwing my so-called partner into the water just to get some rupees^W Force Gems. Then again, ruthless playing gets you nowhere as you can’t proceed with the help of the other players. And then there is that election at the end of each level which can still change the tide…
  • It’s long. And, thus, unrepetitive. Much longer than the GBA.
  • Though it’s not much, there is a bit of story in the game. Much more than on the GBA title. I like that
  • It’s just great!

If you can get it, go and buy the game. But don’t play it alone. It’s so much more fun when played together.