Monday, October 27, 2014
By Baron DeSantis
Second Life entered my own real life after having seen a television 'techie' show that mentioned it. I created an account, just out of interest, and then began a journey that is still ongoing after nearly 8 years. Much has changed since those early days, the graphics have improved as has the ability to build almost anything you can imagine. My rather dull ‘avi’ has turned into something resembling an actual person. Prices and costs too have changed. No longer do we need a ‘premium account’ to own land and many other things. The terms and conditions have changed almost as much, mostly slid in through the back door. Has anyone actually read ALL the hundreds of pages that the full TaC’s and ToS entail? I’ll be honest…. I read about half before my brain dissolved into a gray mush.
As I was comparing this information I received an IM from a guy called Chad. At first I thought he was a salesman for the land, which he was, but he did not go into a sales pitch at all. In fact he was welcoming me to Avination and offered to show me around. Gratefully I accepted and within minutes was given a lovely house to live in FREE for two weeks. That was a bonus I suppose to all the great information that Chad was able to share. This article does not permit me to tell you everything we talked about, much of which was minor chit chat, but the main points I’ll tell you about.
Chad joined Avination, from Second Life, three years ago and “never looked back.” As I did, he found people far friendlier to ‘newbies’ than SL now seems to be and a great deal cheaper to ‘live in.’ Although Avination will run on the viewer I was using, there has been some ‘glitches’ when uploading files so he recommended I download the dedicated viewer instead. Yes, it is possible to get an ‘allowance’ of 10K C$ to transfer certain files, such as textures and yes you can have the same avatar name as SL if you wish. Within SL there are terminals all over the grid where you can arrange all the required ‘transfer details’. You can also transfer Linden Dollars to your Avination account at an exchange rate of approx.. 1000L$ to 800C$. Chad also shared some notecards detailing, in full, how to arrange the ‘allowance’ and avi name (For a copy ask me in-world at SL via a notecard and I’ll send on to you).
It appears that not only is there a mass, and I do mean a massive amount, of free useful (and funny) items available for the newcomer, but there are online advisers 24/7. Called “A-team,” these advisers will help you with any problem you may have and regular meetings are held in-world to discuss/inform about issues or upcoming events. The longest Chad ever had to wait for a problem to be resolved was 24 hours…. compare that to sending in a ticket to Linden Labs!
What had started as a quick ‘compare’ visit lasted over two hours, in which not only did I gain a place to live, some free stuff but most importantly I gained a wealth of really useful information and made a new friend. More on the differences between SL & Avination next time.
Avination is based in Germany but uses the Second Life system of time so no scary time comparisons to get used to. Although much fewer users than SL, this is bound to grow rapidly, so don’t lose heart at thinking there are not enough folk about as this is a great chance to start fresh, but knowing how and what to do without the original ‘mistakes’ we all made when starting on SL.
Simple to arrange transfer of SL name, or create a new one using the well known ‘make own first name and pick a surname’ system.
Land is cheaper to buy/rent with much higher prim allowances.
Extremely ‘newbie’ friendly.
In-world help 24/7.
Many familiar names for businesses etc. There is no Avination version of Market Place as they believe it is better for people to actually visit stores in-world and thus build a rapport with each other and make for a more personal experience.. I agree on that point, though can be a bit frustrating at first.
Controls are almost identical to that of SL and many are easier to use. (if using the specific Avination viewer recommended).
Now would be a great time to ‘get into the ground floor’ for buying a sim or creating a business base as things will only get busier.
Baron "Baz" DeSantis
Friday, October 24, 2014
By Nydia Tungsten & Brandi Streusel Tungsten
At first, I was very leery of the game, ArcheAge by Trion Worlds. I looked at the trailers and still had that bad taste in my mouth from League of Legends. But my friend, Ranchan, assured me it wasn’t anything like League of Legends, that these trailers actually portrayed the game as it was. So, I went ahead and created a Firran character in the game (Cat people…yes furry). They have three other races to choose from as well: Elves, Nuians and Harani. They are split into two factions (WoW flashback) with two races on each side
You start out in a small village with small quest that will let you level up fast, but what you see in the village, and almost every other village you visit has blue glowing tables to help with your crafting. They are kind of like WoW, but these crafting benches go into more detail than I have seen in any other MMO.
There is a lot of crafting involved in a lot of missions, and a lot of ways for you to earn in-game money: From an outside comment, “as a game with strong sandbox influence, the majority of the content in game is generated by players. ArcheAge features 21 different crafting professions that help to fill the world with everything from potions and weapons to warships and houses.”
There is the Labor Point system, LP for short, which I think is very unique in the MMO industry. This is how they explain it:
“Labor Points” Almost every craft based, non quest action costs labor points to perform. The cost can be as small as 1-2 points for small things like picking flowers and as large a several dozen for more advanced actions like building. Labor Points are gained/refilled over time. A non-premium user will gain 5 points per 5 minutes of play and 0 points per 5 minutes while offline. A premium member will gain 10 points every 5 minutes and 5 points every 5 minutes while offline. The System is rounding up for example something cost 10 Labor Points and your Veteran Rank which gives 5% Labor Point reduce it still cost 10 Labor Points to craft.
There are the classes you can choose from and you get three of them as you progress, so you can choose from any of the ten classes in the game for a unique combination that suits you. There are even arrows at your feet to help guide you along to your active quests, some people will say these are being held by the hand, but I disagree. It is up to you to interpret where you are and the routes you take, going in straight lines everywhere is not an option here. The story line I am following is very well written and voiced. The writers should try writing for movies because I have found myself disappointed that the story line would pause until I reached the next milestone of it.
The Graphics are from “CryEngine 3”. Look for yourself:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/oT506JrOX0Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
This is the official trailer to the game and so far it is holding very true to my expectations through that video. I am only a level 16, so far, as I haven’t been able to play a lot of it but I expect good things of it. You can even have your own land to place a garden for growing your own crops and animals for quests as well as a house or even a castle. This ability is only available for paid patrons of the game, but there are plenty of public garden spaces to use as well. The only catch is other players can harvest after your things have been mature for 24 hours.
Now we come to the only problems I have found with the game and it IS the fact that it is an open world. There are only certain areas you can own land and those have filled up fast already. So the likelihood of you actually getting to build a house are very slim The homes that are there are bunched VERY close together and making them a very unattractive option. Your only option is to find a hidden area, grow what you need and hope you get back to it before someone destroys it or steals it. I have had two friends who have their “hidden” gardens raided.
In my play through, you can see me create my avatar. One of the drawbacks to me is with the eyes…. They provide very little selection and I would like to see them expand on that. This is my first time play through. Give it a look and let me know what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQlm2djv5pg
If you would like to try it for yourself: http://www.trionworlds.com/archeage/en/
And a few more videos you might enjoy:
Okay, I have been playing it for a few weeks now and discovered a few more things about the game. They have a court system where you can be on the jury. At first, you may think this may be a good thing by keeping the griefers on the straight and narrow. Well, it doesn’t seem to work. This system actually encourages griefers because it is the only way the players can become “Pirates”, so they grief more players on a larger scale and get rewarded for it.
While this is technically a free to play game, some of the quests you are given require you to grow items to complete them. The only way to grow what you need is to own land, which you can only do if you are a paying account. There are free, public gardens, but you are limited to what you can grow there.
If you are a player that doesn’t really enjoy PvP games and are hoping to stay safe in non PvP areas….sorry, there are none. Enemy factions can roam freely over all the continents, let alone part of the quest lines will send you into one so you need to go in order to finish the quest that will allow you to build a bigger farm.
So, you see, there are many draw backs, and there have been times I just wanted to scream in frustration. But it’s beauty of graphics and physics keeps dragging me back. So, in the overall scope of things, I will have to give it a reluctant thumbs up and recommend you to look it over and decide for yourself if it is something you will enjoy.
As always, until next time, GOOD GAMING TO YOU!
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
By Wesley Regenbogen
If you were a teenager in real life in the 90s,you probably learned to work with MS-DOS and you had a few programs and games that you liked. With the Windows environment coming out back then, the MS-DOS era was almost done and in most cases you weren’t able to run those programs and games again. The more new versions of Windows came, the less of a chance that you were able to run those programs and games. With Windows 7, 8.1 and the upcoming Windows 10 ( which will be released at the end of 2015, probably ) you don’t have a MS-DOS command-line.
But don’t be afraid, DOSBOX is a program that allows you to run these programs and games like you used to do in MS-DOS. You can download the program at http://www.dosbox.com/download.php?main=1 and install it. The current version, at the moment of writing this, is 0.74. The installation process is painless ( meaning : easy ) and you can use it directly.
Where do you download old games to use within DOSBOX ?
So, you are probably wondering, “Ok, so you got a program to use old programs and games with? But where do I get the games from, then?”
Well, I found a good website for that. It’s called “Best Old Games.net” and you can find it at http://www.bestoldgames.net/eng/. At the top of the site, you will find letters and if you click them, you get a list with games that are supported by DOSBOX. But, if you already know the game you are looking for, you can use the “search box” under the “Info” section of the site. You can also search games by category, under the “Games” section.
Should you encounter a problem, you can post it on their support forum as well, just click the “Best Old Games Support Forum” button.
Oh yes, I’m going to explain how to run and install programs and games later, but if you download games from the site, they are always in a .zip file format, you need to have a program to unzip them, like 7-Zip or WinZip or similar programs.
How to run a program or game under DOSBOX ?
So, you just downloaded a game on the website http://www.bestoldgames.net/eng/ and you downloaded the zip file and unzipped it with 7-Zip or a similar program. You need to extract it in a directory like C:\DOSGAMES or a similar directory. You can close down the unzipping program.
Then you click on the “Dosbox v0.74” icon on your desktop. The program opens up and you see a DOSBOX window appear with the “Z:\” in the command-line. You need to follow the instructions below to mount the directory you created earlier ( without the quote signs ) :
At the “Z:\” command-line you need to type the following to mount the drive and directory:
“Mount C C:\DOSGAMES”
You get this message in the command-line :
“Drive C is mounted as a local directory c:\dosgames”
You can use the command “dir/p” to view the contents of the directory.
To go to the directory of the games that you downloaded earlier, you need to type in the following :
“cd [NAME OF THE DIRECTORY]”
Then you go to the directory itself.
Then you need to type the command to run the game, that’s different from game to game, of course.
Some games need to be installed first.
You then need to run the SETUP or INSTALL command to run the setup.
In my opinion, this program is very well and runs smoothly. This is a great program and the site mentioned is one of the best sites to find old games and download them.
Friday, October 3, 2014
By Bixyl Shuftan
Even if you know next to nothing about science-fiction, chances are you've heard about "Star Trek." Taking place in a future time, humans of a long since united Earth along with alien comrades "explore strange new worlds and new civilizations." Since the original show aired in the 1960s, there have been numerous additional telivision series and movies, in addition to books and comics, as it's popularity has grown. And of course there have been games. And more recently, a Multiplayer Online Game based on Star Trek has appeared: Star Trek Online.
Development of Star Trek Online started with the company Perpetual Entertainment in about 2004. But in 2008 they went bankrupt and sold the rights to Cryptic Studios, the makers of the MMO "City of Heroes," which then took over working on the game. Some friends of mine heard about the game sometime around this period of development, saying an alpha version was supposedly playtested at a sci-fi convention. But the game had a lot of problems, notably players had to team up for missions, and when someone had to leave, that left his/her friends unable to finish what they were doing. Even the Trekkers didn't like the game, I was told.
What to do about this problem? Cryptic's designers soon had a solution: make all the players ship captains. Beginning players do a series of missions on foot, eventually ending up in charge of a small ship. Once in charge of a vessel, the player controls its movement, weaponry, and other actions in the game's starship setting. This dual game play of both playing as a character and to "play as a starship" distinguishes Star Trek Online from other MMOs. As players progress in levels, and rank, they work their way up to larger ships.
The setting of the game is that about three decades have passed since the time in which the last of the "Next Generation" movies ("Nemesis") took place. Relations between the Federation and Klingon Empire have deteriorated and the two are once again at war. Meanwhile, a supernova has destroyed Romulus, the homeworld of the Romulans and the capital of their empire. The result are the Romulans spliting into two factions, the Romulan Empire under the old Imperial government, and the Romulan Republic, which favors peace with the Federation and Klingons and doing away with their culture of secrecy from other interstellar societies.
It used to be all players had to start with Federation characters, Klingons available only after players had progressed a number of levels. Now from the start you can play as either, a Romulan, or have a character from each. Players can play up to three characters without paying extra. Federation characters can be human, Vulcan, Andorian, or a number of well-known and not so well known races from within its borders, as well as Ferengi whom presumably some have left their home to become Federation citizens. Klingon characters can play Klingons of course, and a few races under the Empire's dominion, including the reptilian Gorn and the Orions. Romulan background characters are limited to just Romulans. For a real currency purchase, Federation players can have a Caitian (feline), Trill (joined), or Klingon character. Klingon players have the option of a Ferasan (a feline race that possibly might be the Kzinti from the Animated Series under another name) or Trill, and Romulans a Reman (a subject race of the Romulan Empire). All factions are open to having a liberated Borg character (think Seven of Nine) with a real currency purchase as well. You can have either a tactical (fighting and strategy skills), engineering, or science background. Each has it's own perks in the game.
Begining Federation players start out as graduates from the Academy at the top of their class, assigned to be on the fast track to command and made second in command on a ship of cadets under an experienced captain for a training cruise. But disaster strikes, and the Captain is taken by hostiles. Should the player pull through, his character ends up promoted and given official command.
Klingon players start out as a promising warrior who's risen up to the third in command on a Bird of Prey transporting a captured Federation spy. But the ship is attacked on the way, and events result in the player taking command and resuming the mission to take the spy to the Klingon homeworld for questioning. But this isn't the last you hear about the spy, and trying to track him down results in a long quest chain that leads to the character meeting two of the characters from "The Next Generation."
Romulan players start out as residents of a colony world made up of refugees from the chaos that followed the destruction of their homeworld twenty years earlier. Since then, they've gotten along without help from the Imperial government, and are content with doing without them. But just as they're throwing a party to celebrate, they come under attack by some strange aliens aided by the Imperial government's secret force, the Tal-shiar. The player has to fight them, and with the help of an old Romular Warbird parked in orbit gets some of the poplace to escape. The player and his crew end up meeting with D'Tan, the leader of the Romulan Republic whom enlists them to join his cause. Subequent missions involve the player helping to find a world for the Republic to establish itself and getting recognition and aid from the Federation and Klingons, whom at first think they might be some kind of trick by the Imperials. Success however comes at a price. Then Romulan players need to make a choice, will they have the Federation or the Klingons as an ally? Choosing one means access to their ships and some missions.
In carrying out their missions, players will have to do them out both on foot as either alone or the leader of an away team (character or ground mode), or out in space using the ship from the bridge (space mode). For instance, a mission may require the player to destroy a force of attacking ships in ship mode by manuvering the ship and using it's beam and torpedos to destroy (or cripple) them, steering the ship to keep one's strongest shields between they and the enemy. Then the player has to go in character mode to beam over an away team to a nearby planet or space station to deal with attackers whom have beamed down, as well as fix any damage done by them. Enemies destroyed, both in space mode and character mode, leave behind pickups, such as weapons, batteries, and parts. Ships and players, as well as members of the players bridge crew, need to be outfitted with weapons and shields/armor in addition to other fixtures to be more effective in battle. Players and Bridge Crews/away team members also have skills that are useful in fights and can be raised with experience points. Promitions lead to the acquiring of more skills, and able to use better weapons and shields/armor. From certain missions, players earn Dilithium ore, which when refined can be used to purchase special gear and ships.
Besides the missions, players can also get in line for PvP battles, in addition to PvE Fleet Actions in which up to 20 players can take part for a common goal such as beating an invasion fleet. There's also one feature unavailable on most other MORPGs, missions designed by other players. From The Foundry, players can access and play out missions made by others, a unique feature to the game, and can rate them once finished.
As one advances in level, players also advance in rank. At Level 3, players rise to Lieutenant. At Level 10, Federation and Klingon characters rise to Lieutenant Commander, Romulans to Centurion. At Level 20, Federation and Klingons rise to Commander, Romulans to Subcommander. At Level 30, Federation and Klingons achieve the rank of Captain, with Romulans becoming Commander rank. At Level 40, Federation players are promoted to Rear Admiral, Klingons Brigadier Generals, and Romulans Subadmirals. Players get more promotions every five ranks up to Level 60 for Fleet Admirals for Federation and Romulan players, Dahar Master for Klingons. With the rise in ranks comes accessibility to higher tiers of starship, where one can get larger and more powerful vessels, up to Tier Five for the admiral ranks. There's a variety of ships available, such as Federation Lieutenants being offered a choice between an escort vessel with an emphasis on combat, a science vessel that does well with researching and versitile in supporting other vessels, or an all-purpose light cruiser designed to perform multiple roles fairly well. Your character and your bridge crew have skills than can help out in space combat.
There's a kind of crafting system which one can research and develop then build items, presumably one that gets a boost if you're in a science ship. There's also a Duty Officer Assignment screen in which officers of your crew other than the bridge crew can be used to perform various assignments that can take from half an hour to over a day. Completing them can earn experience points and other rewards. Catastrophic failures can lead to the officer developing negative personality traits, or even it's removal.
There are guilds players can join, each with guild banks. Like many other MMOs, there's an exchange where players can buy and sell goods to and from other players. There's also Tribble Breeding, which can be a fun little distraction.
Star Trek Online is Free to Play, but some options are open only if you want to spend a little money, such as wanting to play as a Caitain character. These microtransactions require the use of ZEN credits from the company behind the game, Cryptic Studios. Besides ships and gear, one can use them to buy outfits for one's character, redesign the bridge, get pets, and more.
While there are some things that some players may have a problem with, as some commented the ground and ship modes made it feel like two different games. Or players may feel that some races aren't shown right, such as the Caitians in the game having plantigrade rather than digigrade feet. But all and all, I can only consider this a great game and something Trek fans with PCs (sorry, no Apple OS version) should consider playing. So far I've gotten three characters, one from each faction, to over level 25, and have had plenty of fun doing so. Some "Delta Rising" missions involved characters from the "Voyager" crew, such as Lt. Commander (now Rear Admiral) Tuvac. Some missions involved a bit of time travel, interacting with characters from the Original Series.
Oh, under one faction's quest before you get to Level 25, you will witness one character from one of the TV series meeting his end (No, it's not Wesley Crusher).
So "Live Long and Prosper" and enjoy this (almost) free MMO.