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About
Sterling Lyons, better known in some circles as "Aiayla", is an avid videogame player of all genres. From Genesis, to Playstation, to PC, Aiayla does it all. League of Legends, and other PC and MMO games remain the current focus of not just time, but also contribution to Destructoid.
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One day, a friend of mine sends me an IM saying that she just got an e-mail that Aeria Games, the same publishers from a game we use to play together Shin Megami Tensei Online:Imagine, was holding a beta for a new MMO. After doing a little digging around, the most interesting thing that stood out to me about it was that you could change your character class at any point you wanted to after you unlocked that class. So we decided to jump in, and what we would find would be a fairly generic free 2 play MMORPG with a charming art style that was actually fairly entertaining.



Story:

MMO's aren't about story usually, and with good reason. That being said, there's usually enough to get things rolling, and EdenEternal is no different. You(and every other player character in the game) are a special enlightened being born, or at least found, from a magical crystal in the side of a mountain, and being so, the people of the world look up to you and your kind to help them with their problems.

It's a fairly nice structure, as it allows most of the quests to fall into the category of "these are the things you do for people", rather than trying to make a long winded set of quests that are suppose to span the stretch of one massive storyline. You do quests and earn fame within the land which make more people want to seek your aid which leads to more quests. If there is some kind of underlying major arc, I haven't found it yet. Perhaps it's because I wasn't really paying super drastic attention to the story as it was in beta, but it could also be that I didn't get far enough into it(or also, that that kind of content just wasn't in the game yet at that time).



Gameplay:

The game plays much like your typical 3rd person MMORPG for the most part. You have a list of skills depending on your class which you target on an enemy/ally, and basic attacks are automatic after you give the command. What's nice though is that your MP which dictates the use of your skills never seems to run dry for too long(and depending on some classes, it probably just never runs dry). The normal regeneration rate for it seemed to be fairly quick normally, and worse comes to worse, you have a sit command that accelerates both HP and MP regen, which was able to get me back into the action within a minute or two.

The big differentiator in this game though is the way the classes work though. All the classes actually fall into categories within the game that are straightforwardly named after what would be their metagame roles were they in another MMO. For example, one category is Magic DPS, and this includes classes like the Mage and Illusionist. This is welcome organization given the biggest thing about how classes work in EdenEternal, the fact that you can change classes at any point you want.

You're only given two choices in classes to choose from at the start of the game: Warrior, a tank category class, and Mage, a Magic DPS class. Switching classes is as easy as selecting a class from the list of available classes while you are not in combat, and hitting "change class". The only penalty ever is a literal 20 second cooldown before you are allowed to switch classes again. You don't get the option to switch at will for a few levels though(mainly for the tutorial quests). As you progress in leveling up, you'll unlock more of the basic classes for the other categories fairly quickly.



Each class has it's own level and experience related to it. This function mostly the same as it would in any other class based MMORPG though, determining what attributes get little bonuses and penalties, as well as the skills available. As the class's level goes up, you get points to sink into making learning new skills and making the skills for that class stronger. You also get points to put into a passive skill tree of boosting effects for that class, which allows you to make that class specialize in certain areas, like perhaps making your Thief have a higher rate of evade, which allows you to have more uniqueness to your character.

In addition to class skills though, each category has it's own set of skills that ANY class within that category can use. For example, with the Support category, the basic heal spell is located here, and even the Bard class can use it. These skills can be made stronger by spending money on them, which leads to a nice sense of investing in a type of role you have a preference for, but that you're never really locking yourself into a trap that you can't get your way out of, as you can always go and find more money from quests or mobs.



The rest of the gameplay is satisfying, though it does follow that almost grind-y mentality of other free to play MMOs. Mobs of enemies are everywhere, with quite a bit of recycling the same model with a different color pallet, and we ended up killing countless amounts of them. They try to change this up a bit some by sometimes spawning a rare, usually tougher, version of that enemy that you can kill for bragging rights(aka Achievements). There are also instanced dungeons that put more of an influence in group play and cooperation.

The instanced dungeons seemed to highlight the usefulness of the class system the most to me, as you didn't have to back out of the dungeon and scrounge around for a new person to try and fill the role that you need. You could have your own team just change their classes to suit the need while in the dungeon itself.



Other Stuff:

The game's graphics have a nice cell shaded anime look to them. The art style seems very reminiscent of the work that Akira Toriyama does with relation to the Dragon Quest games, but a bit more to the chibi side. The monsters I saw all looked well realized, with fluid animations and had a great sense of personality to them, despite being replicated so many times within the same area. The music was also nice though of the typical RPG fantasy fair. It provides a nice ambiance that doesn't grate on the ears.

The interface is highly customizable. Windows can be moved around and resized to your liking. With the way classes work, one would wonder how the hotkey bar and inventory/equipment would be complicated by this. Luckilly, things are really nice on that front. The hotkey bar remembers your skill/item orientation in relation to each class, and will automatically change your hotkeys when you change your class to whatever you had set last when you used that class. On the equipment front, you're allowed to keep three sets of armor equipped, one for each category(light, medium, and heavy). These sets do not take up space from your inventory, but you can only edit a specific set when you're using a class that specializes in that set.



All in all, both my friend and I had fun with what we played of EdenEternal. It felt a little generic, yes, but it also felt well polished enough, and with enough of a unique hook to keep us interested. I say this, and we didn't even get to see other features like the unimplemented races(as you can only choose Humans atm), or player run towns(as we never joined a guild that could make one). The game is now in open beta, and I urge you to check it out here if you happen to be looking for a new MMO to play.
Photo Photo Photo








<Authors note- Sorry for potentially low quality photos. All shots taken from off screen>



Normally, I'm not one to make a blog related to a musing like this. I feel that they either come out too forced from me, or that I don't have anything to say that couldn't be said better by someone else. The story I'm about to tell though... it's very close to me... not just as a very personal to me and my online relationships, but also, as a factor of time. It mainly focuses around a friend of mine, who I shall refer to as "Mia" for this article, as well as myself... a rift that formed between us, and how we rekindled through the power of game.

The story actually starts before the beginning of the month. Mia and I have known each other for a while. We played a few games together, like Monster Hunter Tri, Shin Megami Tensei Online, and Starcraft 2. Mostly, we'd spend time talking with each other over Google talk. Our talk consisted a little about just, us in our real lives, but mostly revolved around games: the stuff we were playing, that we had played, and that we were looking forward to.


Left: Mia. Right: Aiayla.

Portal 2 was released officially to the public in North America on April the 19th of 2011. It was one of the games we were both looking forward to. We were both fans of the original, and the addition of co-op was something we were eager to dive into(many a joke was made about myself becoming her giant shield for turret fire <.<). She pre-ordered on steam. I... was broke...

The game released, and she was able to dive in on day 1. Unfortunately it would be roughly another month before I would snag the game on sale from amazon.com. In that time, Mia would have already started Co-op with another friend of ours. I was ok with that, or at least... I think I am, but this event is about the closest I can really say is "the beginning of the rift".


Not Pictured: Me...

Conversations slowed down, we played less games together, seemingly, we'd become slightly annoyed at each other when we did talk... I ono if it was just that time of year, college finals, and the stress that it entails, or what. We seemingly went off on our own tangents. The beginning of May rolls around though. I manage to snag a copy of Portal 2, only to realize that I may never be able to properly enjoy the co-op the same way as if I had gotten it on the first day... if we would have played it together the way we said that we were going to leading up to it's release. I had a set expectation, and that was shattered for me now. She would know how to get through all the chambers, and I wouldn't be much more than a weighted ball and chain tied around her ankle.

Of course, the bigger issue still remained... patching up our relationship. Luckilly, we started talking again. I apologized, and so did she. She told me something also... something that would lead us to a stronger bond than we had before... something that is perhaps even stronger than if we were to both be able to dive into Portal 2's co-op together.

"Let the lagia embody the distance that grew and beat it up."


She was referencing the monster "Lagiacrus" from Monster Hunter Tri. It was an annoying monster, but by far, one of our favorites due to it's electrical prowess. School had ended though, and my dad was in town visiting, so we thought that this would hinder us from well... enacting this metaphorical plan until he left(since he like monopolizing my time, as well as the TV the Wii is on). We ended up finding a work around though. After my dad would head to bed, roughly 1 or 2 AM est, we'd hop on, and start the hunting.

We picked up where we left off online from the previous year. We weren't in very far, only in the low rank quests, and not yet up to the point where we could fight Lagia. That night we did a few quests, stayed up until 3:30-4. I picked up my Lance, and she her Sword and Shield. We repeated this over the next week, not necessarily every night, but enough that within the time frame, we had unlocked the quest to finally take down the Lagiacrus.


Pictured: Friends, chilling.

We still spent time talking outside of the game though. We'd talk about the monsters, strategizing efficient ways to take them down, planning out the best armor sets we could make at the time. I would take an armor with guard buffing skills, as the lance had a bigger/better shield on it. She would take armors with skills to enhance the elemental or status effects of her weapons(depending on what weapon she needed).

Our foes stood little chance. My armor skills allowed me to withstand any attack with my shield, and remain in the face of the monster as I continued to shrug off attacks and stab it in all the weakpoints. Mia would move quick, leaping in, unleashing a flurry of attacks, before leaping back out to safety before the monster could react, only to repeat again and again with most haste.

So then the night came. The only thing left to do was to kill Lagiacrus. Sure, the game has a little story of why you wanna kill that monster. On the third page of the quest info, it talks about killing the Lagiacrus to prevent it from killing all the fish and ruining the economy of a town. Hell, if you wanna be literal, you could even say you do it "cause your a hunter, and that's what's required of you". But no, we were doing it for our own personal reasons.


Prepared to depart.

We took the quest, and dove into the water, I the shield, her the sword.
...
...
...
We came out with zero deaths, and the body of a massively battered body of a Lagiacrus.


Things seems to be shaping up since then. It wasn't too long ago, and like all types of relationships, nothing is smooth. I can't decide if things are better off now than they were. I do know that the alternative was a much worse option. Now, we still talk, and still game with each other, though it's not been long enough to say if this will develop into a regular habit or not. I like to keep looking forward though, and hope for the best. At least I can hold solace in the fact that we can always go and "beat up the Lagia".
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On monday, the guys over on the GamersFirst Developers Blog updated with a good bundle of information about their immediate plans for the future of APB:Reloaded. This comes with the big announcement that the game will be entering the open beta phase on May 18th, 2011.

Just to catch up, APB: Reloaded is a sandbox style shooter in the vein of something like Grand Theft Auto, where players join either law enforcement, or the criminal underworld. Building upon the original iteration (known simply as All Points Bulletin), Reloaded will be offering improvements to the control of the game, better balanced weapons, new features(such as an improved player progression), and a new free to play game model.



Don't feel sour though at how long away that date is though(even though it's not really that long away), as GamersFirst will be offering early access to people who register a GamersFirst account with the proper credentials. Once they have a GamersFirst account(or if they had one from earlier), they can submit the e-mail linked to the account on the APB:Reloaded homepage where it says "Newsletter Signup Email form", and will be in consideration for admission between now and the formal open beta date.



As for other changes, they are including the ability for people who had characters from the original run of the game and the current run of the closed beta(prior to a recent character wipe) to reclaim their old characters. The big benefit to that would be that you would be able to keep any items/designs/clothing associated with that character, even if your current rank/level/account type wouldn't normally permit it. They are also planning to implement the new matchmaking system, now based on True Skill, the same algorithms that Xbox live is based on.

Source:APB-Reloaded Dev Blog: Open Beta Date, Credit Bonuses, New Items, Character Restorations and Cheaters








About a month ago, our very own amazing Dtoid community member Meteorscrap held a contest. Well, I ended up winning it, and today(ok, this past friday for actually) a box happened upon my doorstep that I would eventually learn, held my prize.

I quickly brought it inside....




The first thing I noticed(aside from the weight) was the abundance of stickers on the box. One of those stickers was of the street date from last year, making me wonder if that was something that would still be a necessity almost 8 months later. I went ahead and opened up the box to find...


Another box =D

Halo: Reach Legendary Edition had arrived. Unfortunately, I was unable to procure a 360 of my own in time to be able to actually play the game once the spring semester of college ends (eek... that's actually today, isn't it? D=) when the friend of mine, who's 360 and copy of Reach I've been playing with, and I pack up and leave for our homes this summer. So until I happen to scrape up enough spare change to get one of my own, I GOTTA PRETTY PRETTY BOX WHAT HAS A PRETTY STATUE THINGIE IN IT!!!! =D


Preeeetyyyy~... even if temporarily incomplete =3

While I need to clean up around the house, and make some room for this little marvel, I will put it back in the box, with out assembling their weapons. I just want to make sure that I don't break anything between now and then.

I'd like to once again thank Meteorscrap for holding an awesome contest and offering up such amazing prizes to choose from. I'd also like to give a shout out to Qalamari for providing such rough competition.

It's little things like this why I love the Dtoid community so much. <3

And here are the rest of the photos:


Ish a box =3


Box with top off. Has another box in it. Also a statue. =D


OMG! Box inside box of box has another box in it!!! =O


All the contents of box inside of box of box.


Contents of the game box. I was a lil disappoint not to find another box inside it. =(


Pretty statue with the weapon assembly instruction guide and the weapons to assemble. =D


Close up of the separated weapons, still wrapped for storage. =3










It's been a couple of months now since GamersFirst revived the quick to rise, quick to die, Cops vs. Robbers MMO Sandbox Shooter APB: All Points Bulletin, and tossed that fragile little IP into the wilds of a closed beta test. And now through thick and thin, build version 1.5 is finally out and APB, now known as APB: Reloaded, can go into it's ope-

Huh? Oh... I see.

Due to unspecified delays in getting the 1.5 update out the door, the dev team has decided that it will be a closed beta build instead of it's original intention to be the first build of the open beta phase. Of course, the good news still lies in the fact that this update comes with some MASSIVE CHANGES for the game in general.


Some cops vs some robbers =3

And to start off with the biggest change, the reintroduction of the "Witnessing" system. This system was taken out for the duration due to conflicts with the newly introduced "Ready" system. The ready system allowed you to go into an idle state were the game would find a mission for you to join in(or start a new one for you). This conflicted with the way the old "Witnessing" system worked, where, if an Enforcer "witnessed" a Criminal committing a crime, it would seek out other available Enforcers for opposition. The main flaw with this was, it didn't always choose the witnessing Enforcer.

Now though, Witnessing has been overhauled. Instead of starting up full on missions like the ready system does, it starts a mini-mission that is much in the same vein as a 1-Flag capture the flag mode. The two groups (the witnessed Criminals, and the witnessing Enforcers) will duke it out to see who can take the stash of stolen goods to their respective drop off points (the fence for Crims, the Evidence lockup for Cops).


They don't like to admit it, but those guns are just on lease =P

Though that's the biggest change, the patch notes are still hella long(much to long to copy-pasta here). There are still a couple of big system changes with this update too.

-The rebalancing the player spawn algorithms to take into account the locations of the people you're playing with, the objective, and recently killed players to supposedly decide on better spawning locations that keep you closer to the action, and out of a shitty "spawn camp" type of situation.

-Weapon and vehicles can now be leased for a temporary period of time so that the player can take them for a test spin without having to worry about wasting a lot of their in game monies on something they may not like. These leased items can be upgraded, but the upgrades will be returned when the lease is up. Supposedly, this should also help keep the in game inflation down as well, since players won't be able to horde "end game" equipment as easily.


She's just waiting for the download to finish... obviously =P

Other less major changes include: weapon and vehicle rebalancing, progression tweaks, upgrade rebalances(also now renamed "Modifications"), UI changes, updated the tutorial, graphical improvements, and streamlining on the back-end for better game performance. When I say "streamlining on the back-end...", I mean that they've managed to reduce the size of some files so that the overall package for APB:Reloaded is smaller overall. The size of APB: Reloaded version 1.5 is just over 4 gigs. Unfortunately... current closed beta testers must download the whole thing ( T~T) . Good news for people looking to the open beta though... the file is no longer 8 to 12 freaking gigs big! =D

Hopefully these changes will help bring out the potential that the game had when in it's original run, and make it just a much more enjoyable game to play all around. If you wanna read the full patch notes, follow the link below.

Source:APB Reloaded Dev Blog- Version 1.5 is Live.
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After the last time I blogged about APB:Reloaded, I promised myself that I wouldn't blog about APB:Reloaded again until they announced the date of the opening of the open beta, considering that they say that's the next step after the current closed beta phase.

Of course, a few things happened that changed my mind on this, and made me not able to resist writing another blog. The first of these is another update to the APB:Reloaded facebook page. This time we have a video of the current state of the closed beta. I thought it was cute, as they dressed this up like it was a breaking news story being reported live on the "Nentego News Network" by "Tom Brokjah".


APB News Studio HD

I'm not too sure, but it seems to me like this might be a kind of meta-cast thing that they might continue to do well into the release version of the game. I don't mind. It was rather cute in my opinion. The next thing that happened was a much less cute and humorous video, but a much more insightful developers blog entry.

Currently, there's been a large complaint amongst the player base about how the matchmaking in the current game is terrible. It constantly puts you into lopsided matches against either opponents that are too hard, or too easy, or just in matches where it literally lets one team outnumber the other team because it thinks one side has "better" players than the other.

Luckilly, the dev team not only acknowledges that the current system, is indeed shit, they also go into the specifics on WHY it is currently so terrible, and also discusses some of the hurdles that they have to consider in fixing the problem. I think that the post is really an awesome read not just if you're interested in the game, but also if you like talking about game design theory in general.



All in all though, nothing is shaking my anticipation or hope that the final product will be well taken care of by this game's new adoptive parents. The closed beta feels like it's going along well, and the open beta seems like it's not too far away either. The European servers are almost up as well, and would be if FedEx didn't fail so hard at shipping, lol.

At least it's good to know that they're listening to the complaints, right?