Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meiri is lonely.

I dreamed last night that someone asked Meirizhu to join a faction.

Alas, it was but a dream.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jade Dynasty... the game that plays itself.

Jade Dynasty is great. I've never had more fun not playing a game.

It's good-looking. The environments are pretty and full of blossoming cherry trees and such. The music, however, is less than stunning. It's pleasant, but it's bland, plinky, tuneless stuff. Also, the developers ripped one track straight from PWI and stuck it in Jade Dynasty, hoping no one would notice. Some of the ground textures looked a bit familiar, too.

One of the most interesting things about Jade Dynasty is this: everyone is sexy. Character creation was disappointing in that I had 7 faces to choose from and 7 hair styles to choose from. No control over coloring or build. So, of course, I kept running into clones of my character, which was annoying. On the flip side, it's impossible to create an ugly character. All the same, more options would be nice. I wanted to make another Mary Sue.

Jade Dynasty seems to have a more structured plot than PW. The problem is that it doesn't make any sense. You travel from area to area finding out more about the life of some great hero who turned into a great villain and now nobody knows what to do with him. Why should you care? Frankly I don't see what this noble Shaw Danon of Jadeon, who defected and became the villainous Velonus of Vim, has to do with me.

This brings me to the subject of factions. The terminology is confusing, because in PW a faction is what Jade Dynasty calls a clan, but in Jade Dynasty a faction is what PW calls a class. Your faction determines your weapons, armor, and skills. You have five choices, and here's the rundown on each:

  • Jadeon, pompous pricks in bathrobes with swords.
  • Skysong, happy healer monks.
  • Vim, who use two swords stuck together.
  • Lupin, crazy dancers who use circular glaives.
  • Modo, gothic ninjas with claws.

I find it highly entertaining that the first two of these factions are arbitrarily labeled "Good" and the other three "Evil," especially since at the earlier levels the difference between this so-called "Good" and "Evil" is pretty hard to see.

How does Jade Dynasty handle? Pretty well, over all... perhaps too well. There are many convenient features, my favorite of which is Auto-route. This allows you to click on a destination from your quest menu and your character finds the shortest way there.

Once you're near your quarry, you can press another button to "Invigorate"--automatically attack everything in range. All you have to do is check every once in a while to make sure nothing has killed you.

If you do get close to dying, you can Meditate to regain health and magic power... also experience points. Continuously. For doing nothing. I once left my character meditating overnight, and when I woke up in the morning he'd gained five levels.

The first fifteen or so levels are ridiculously easy, too. Enemies are stupid and sluggish, and you start out with a skill that kills them in one hit, anyway. It's possible to get to level 15 in one evening and still have time for Facebook.

I have a theory. Jade Dynasty is a relatively new game; it's only been out for four months. I think the developers are trying to get a lot of really high-level players quickly. There's a chance that in future updates and patches the difficulty curve might steepen as the ranks of Jade Dynasty players swell--right now, there aren't a lot of players, and they're spread out over too many different servers.

I still recommend Jade Dynasty. I mean, why not? It is free, after all, so there's nothing to lose except some hard drive space. It's pretty and relaxing. It's also a great game for multi-taskers, since you can play it without actually playing it. If you don't find that self-defeating, you'll love Jade Dynasty. If, however, you're an experienced gamer looking for a challenge, or an internet socialite looking for a new community, Jade Dynasty might not be a good choice for you yet. Check back in a few months or a year when it's not fresh on the market anymore.

Believe it or not, this review is the condensed version. If you want the 3 1/2 page monstrosity I wrote for class, let me know and I'll get it to you.


Nothing is sadder than an emo panda.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Prepare yourself.

Whether or not I'm burned out on the game, the review I'm writing of Jade Dynasty is looooooooooooong. The professor requires three pages. My outline was two pages long. I'll try to cut the review down for this blog, but know that I do have a lot more to say about the game. Let me know if you want the full scoop and I'll send it to you in all its rambling glory.

Also, the Blade Slaves are too sexy to be enemies, in my opinion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Burned out

When I'm done writing this review of Jade Dynasty for my Writing About the Arts class, I don't think I'll ever play it again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back to gender studies.

I know I promised this post would be another review. There are two reasons it's not.

The first reason is that I'm still working on the reviews. One of them actually turned into a class project.

The other reason is that I'm afraid I'll get away from the original purpose of this blog, which is not to talk about actual gameplay as it is to talk about game players and their interactions with each other--focusing particularly on how girl gamers are treated.

I've found that people usually assume players are the same gender as their characters, and it's often--not always--true. It's also easier to find help and friends when you're playing as a girl.

The other night I was playing Jade Dynasty (as Merisu, the scary broad in the picture) and befriended Jack (not his full name). Jack and I chatted, killed monsters, and compared silly outfits together and eventually wound up exchanging AIM screennames. It wasn't until the next day, when I mentioned my boyfriend, that he realized I was a girl.

Maybe at one point I may have been offended at this, but now I feel gratified.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

WoW fails to wow me.

I haven't gotten back into my Perfect World routine after this summer's hiatus, so I figured this would be a good time to branch out and give some other games a shot. I think being familiar with other MMORPGs would give me better perspective when I'm writing about games.

So far, I've tried three other games. I haven't played any of them long enough to write a book about them, but I'll give you my impressions of each: World of Warcraft in this post, and Guild Wars and Jade Dynasty in future posts.
How could I honestly call myself a gamer if I've never played WoW? It's probably the best-known online RPG, associated with the stereotypical nerdy, anti-social, micro-managing, unhygienic, acne-prone men living in their mother's basement. (This is unfair and untrue.)
Downloading and installing the 10-day trial was pretty quick and easy. Dialog boxes were helpful and friendly but never condescending. I was feeling pretty good about it when I actually fired up the game.
I only played the game for about 15 minutes. I spent 10 minutes of that in character creation trying to make a night elf pretty.
Other people have done it. I've seen the screenshots. But I'm not sure how they managed it with the rather limited options. There's was no way to make her not purple, not have creepy blank eyes, and not built like a rap star's girlfriend. Honestly, I never really thought of elves as being chunky, but even her ears were fat. I checked to make sure the window's resolution was correct for my wide-screen computer--yeah, I had it set correctly. The models are just on the thick side.
Obviously there's a different aesthetic in WoW than what I'm used to, but that's O.K. Lots of people still like it.
I gave up and entered the game. The first thing I noticed was PURPLE. Well, I guess it makes sense that purple elves should live in a purple forest. I looked up some screenshots of other areas, and not everything is purple--there's a lot of variety in the terrain and environments. I rather like that. Very majestic. I just wish I didn't have to start off swimming in purple.
The interface was honestly a bit overwhelming. There were zillions of toolbars right away--most of them were empty, waiting to be filled up with skills, but they still intimidated me. I found the chat system cumbersome, probably just because I was used to different controls.
Speaking of chat, half of my chat window was filled with gibberish. Excuse me, orcish.
Then there's the combat. Instead of double-clicking on things to attack, use, or talk to, you left-click to select and then right-click to activate. This strikes me as counter-intuitive, but again, I'm just used to something different.
I think I killed one wild boar, or whatever it was, before I decided that WoW wasn't for me. I wasn't a fan of the way it looked or handled.
In retrospect, I think I just didn't give it enough time. Unfortunately my 10-day free trial is up. But it's not too late for you. Don't write off something that so many people love just because I fussed about the chunky night elves. You might join the legions of diehard WoW addicts, even if I don't.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Starting afresh

What do I do when the going gets tough?

I freak out and start over from scratch.

Rather than trying to make new friends and find a new faction for Meirizhu and Siloam, I just made a new character: Idumea the Blademaster, a cliche feisty redhead.

I've been enjoying playing as Idumea so far. Already made a couple of friends. Joined a faction, which died the next day.

I had expected people to shorten the name, but I wasn't expecting meadea, which is what one guy calls me. It's kind of adorable, though.

By no means am I going to retire Meiri and Sil. I'm too attached to them. But they're probably going to be on the bench for a little while.

Fears: confirmed.

My faction is dead. Utterly moribund. Over the summer it went from around 60 members to around 8. Of those, 4 are either my characters or characters I was building for a friend.

I don't know what happened. There wasn't a change of leadership. Maybe there was just a mass migration to another faction. I don't know.

All I know is that I'm sad.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My triumphant return

Well, I'm back in Savannah, typing this from my awesomely fast computer on my awesomely fast internet. Life is good.

I think I've already established that I'm super weird, but here's even more evidence:

All this summer I've been looking forward to being able to play Perfect World again. Well, I've been in Savannah three days and I still haven't touched the PWI icon on my desktop.

It's not that I haven't thought about it or don't want to. I'm just... scared. I don't know why. Maybe I'm afraid everything will be different, or my faction will have kicked me out, or everyone will be 60 levels higher than me and not want anything to do with me.

I'm being silly. I can make new friends. I can figure this out.

Being shy and paranoid in real life is bad enough... being shy and paranoid in a game is worse.