Ragnarok: War of Gods

I remember when I first tried Ragnarok Online (RO) after it launched in June of 2003. Prontera, the game’s main town was huge. And busy. I spent a day trying to find my way around it, long before I figured out how to get to the fields and hunter monsters. I quit it soon after, until a friend told me about this new thing called a “private server.”

These tended to make up for the irritations of the official servers. Warpers took you to fields and dungeons. A simple command would shuttle monster drops straight into your inventory. Lots of little conveniences like that. the company hired to develop War of Gods by the owner of the Ragnarok Franchise understood all this.

There’s a little button that selects and interacts with NPCs and monsters. If it’s a monster, you attack. If it’s an NPC, you talk. If there’s an item nearby, the pick-up button takes it. It’ll even show you where NPCs, portals, and monsters are on the map and walk you there with a single tap. Of course, every MMORPG made in the last five years has most of these, but RO was one of the first, and lacks a lot of modern niceties. War of Gods is what I see as the first true sequel to Ragnarok Online.

So far, it looks like they’ve learned from the long-running cash shop in the original RO. I haven’t hit a cash shop wall so far, and I don’t expect to. Most of the items are there to speed the game up. The game moves at a decent pace as-is, but I could see myself buying items if I wanted to save time.

My main gripe so far is that the music in the main town, Lan Forta, is a shortened version of one of the field background tracks from the original RO. The looping is very shoddy, so you hear it start over every few seconds. For the most part, the music is remixed from the original game and loops cleanly.

Make sure you start on the quests early. I didn’t really need them since this game is almost identical to the original in terms of mechanics, but it does give you a lot of helpful rewards, like a little poring pet that scoops loot up for you. The quests are fairly simple, and you can move between them using the lists in the minimap. You’ll see three kinds of NPCs in the list: plain with no markers, NPCs with a greyed out question mark, and NPCs with a bright yellow question mark. The greyed out ones are for NPCs in a previous part of a quest. The currently yellow ones are for the next step. This makes swiping through to find the next step very easy.

Equipment is much easier to figure out in War of Gods. In RO, you had to read guides and run extensive calculations to figure out the ideal equipment for your purposes. In this game, green means better. At least, as far as I can tell. Limiting customization does take some of the fun of the game, but it makes the game more accessible to casual players who tend to pay more of the money that keeps the game running. It’s a trade I’m happy to take.

One thing I miss from RO: multiple selections when selling items to an NPC merchant. I have to tap the item, click sell, then tap the next. In RO, you could just click until all the items were ready to sell, and hit the button.

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30,000 words that changed my life

I have over 30,000 words of scenes, but only about 5000 words words of story. But it’s one hell of a story, and it’s just begun. I nudged myself to get a final draft out of the first episode after reading Gold Standard by Kyell Gold. I’m already 2000 words into the next episode and 1000 into a spinoff set in the distant future.

There’s a funny story about why it took so long to get here. 12 months ago, back when I started working on this world, I thought I was straight. Despite never being attracted to women or having any interest in them. But I had a lot of gay friends, and they always complained about the dearth of good gay characters in fiction. I was lucky to grow up in an accepting home, so I never had to worry about expressing pro-gay sentiments.

I started work on a story.

The main character was a straight guy who had a woman as a love interest. Typical hetero fantasy fiction trope. So I wrote a gay character. He was going to meet up with the protagonist in the second act and help save the world in the third. If you’ve read the story, which I’ll link here again in case you missed it, you’ll know the character as Rex.

The trouble is, I kept finding myself drawn to his subplots. I was obsessed.

I’m sure a lot of you know where this is headed.

I kept having dreams and fantasies. One scene had him hitting on a cute guy in the corner while the main character prodded the bartender for information. I was much more interested in the prodding that went on after the sun went down.

The truth is, I didn’t really know what it was to feel attraction. I see all the times it happened in retrospect, but I had no sense of it…until I tried writing this character. I felt things for him, in my imagination, that I’d attributed to my anxiety problems before since it always happened around guys, and a lot of my growing up involved abuse and insults from them. But why was I feeling it for a character I made? One I liked. As a person. Platonic, you see.

Right.

I finally realized it wasn’t anxiety. It was attraction. That burning that radiates from your gut to your head and toes and makes you feel good in all the right ways. That makes you obsess over a crush. That makes you want to adjust your life to be around someone, hoping they’ll give you a shot. And, once you reach a certain level of emotional maturity, you drop the last part because it’s a bit creepy.

So here I am, an average gay furry writing gay furry fiction, reasonably comfortable with myself for the first time in 30 years of living. Furries were a big part of it. They gave me a safe space to explore my sexuality and learn exactly who I am.

I know a lot of people are squicked out by furries, but the community is a friendly, safe, and open-minded space to think about things you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable thinking about. No one has shunned me after they find out I like anthropomorphic art and fiction, so I don’t think there’s as much hostility toward furries as many furries believe. Most of it seems to come from isolated internet communities that favor and enforce groupthink. Fursecution is not a thing. Except where it’s acting as a proxy for homophobia. But that’s for another post.

Star Trek: The Original Series – Episode 2, The Man Trap

1. And we get the instant transition to Captain Kirk, bringing us the full suite of familiar characters.

2. Mysterious shapeshifting woman going off to get Bob. Boldly going where several men have gone before.

3. Bob (??) is not happy to see the doctor and captain. Blueshirt, redshirt. Something is not right here. Bones is an idiot.

4. Who mourns for the buffalo? Yes, I’ve seen the whole series before. But I’m still rewatching it.

Star Trek: The Original Series – Episode 1, The Cage

1. These brain dudes are so rude. I bet everyone at the country club hates them.

2. It took a while, but all the cheap special effects started to grow on me. The transporter was a brilliant way to save budget on shuttle scenes.

3. In the future, they still use clipboards and paper.