V is for Vindictus

V

 

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: Vindictus is an action-dungeon-crawling hack & slash MMORPG, and a prequel to the popular MMORPG Mabinogi, so the game is known as Mabinogi: Heroes in Asia.

Release Date: KOR: 2010-01-21; NA: 2010-10-13; EU: 2011-10-05; JP: 2011-11-30; TW: 2011-12-23; AU: 2012-11-15; THA: 2015-12-02.

Developer: devCAT; Publisher: Nexon

Genre/gameplay mechanics: FTP with shop/paywall; fast-paced combat, cloth physics, and the ability to weaponize objects in the environment; players choose one of twelve gender-locked characters, each of which has different combat skills and abilities; crafting; customizable & enchantable gear; dungeon quests.

Setting: Vindictus takes place in the same Celtic-themed setting used in Mabinogi, but is placed chronologically several hundred years prior to the first game during a period of war and strife. Semi-anime fantasy world with a few historical references.

Storytelling: Straightforward. “A malevolent force shrouds the land and monsters terrorize the last bastions of humanity. All seems lost and yet one hope remains: you.” Loosely based on Celtic Mythology, the goddess Morrighan has promised that all who aid in the killing of the Formor (the enemies of the land) will go to the promised land, Erinn, the land of Paradise. The story uses a mix of traditional dialogue accompanied by still images of character portraits, along with fully animated cutscenes during certain quests and missions. Some of the quests, characters and the chapters/updates are influenced by other genres, like steampunk.

NOTE: Formoroi appear in several video games, including my K game, King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame, where the Formorians appear as antagonists.

Formats: Microsoft Windows

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 2004 – Nexon released the fantasy-anime MMORPG Mabinogi. Although the name of the game is taken from the Mabinogion, a Welsh anthology of legend and some names are Welsh, the settings for the game are loosely based on Irish mythology.
  2. 12-13th centuries – The Mabinogion, compiled in Middle Welsh, covers a collection of eleven prose stories of widely different types. There is a classic hero quest, “Culhwch and Olwen“; the historic legend in “Lludd and Llefelys” glimpses a far-off age, and other tales portray a very different King Arthur from the later popular versions. The highly sophisticated complexity of the Four Branches of the Mabinogidefies categorisation.
  3. 11th century – Lebor Gabála Érenn(The Book of the Taking of Ireland) is a collection of poems and prose narratives that purports to be a history of Ireland and the Irish from the creation of the world to the Middle Ages. It tells of a series of invasions or “takings” of Ireland by a succession of peoples, the fifth of whom was the people known as the Tuatha Dé Danann (“Peoples of the Goddess Danu”), who were believed to have inhabited the island before the arrival of the Gaels, or Milesians. They faced opposition from their enemies, the Fomorians, led by Balor of the Evil Eye. Balor was eventually slain by Lug Lámfada (Lug of the Long Arm) at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh. With the arrival of the Gaels, the Tuatha Dé Danann retired underground to become the fairy people of later myth and legend.
  4. 11th century – The Fomorians are a supernatural race in Irish mythology. They are often portrayed as hostile and monstrous beings who come from the sea or underground. Later, they were portrayed as giants and sea raiders. However, their relationship with the Tuatha Dé Danann is complex and some of their members intermarry and have children. It has also been suggested that the Fomorians derive from an older group of gods who were displaced by a newer group. The Fomorians have thus been likened to the jötnar of Norse mythology.
  5. 7th – 8th centuries – The Morrígan‘s earliest narrative appearances, in which she is depicted as an individual, are in stories of the Ulster Cycle, where she has an ambiguous relationship with the hero Cú Chulainn. The Morrígan was a tripartite battle goddess of the Celts of Ancient Ireland. She was known as the Morrígan, but the different sections she was divided into were also referred to as NemainMacha, and Badb, with each representing different aspects of combat.

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Recommendation: Vindictus was nominated for best MMO at E3 2010 that was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 14 to 17. IGN awarded Vindictus Best Free-to-Play MMO Game of 2010. Metacritic gave a score of 76 averaged from 6 critics. In their 2010 review, MMORPG.com gave it 8/10, while users gave it 7.8.

3.5 Stars: Vindictus is one of those games that failed to pull me in, although the combat with the ability to pick up and use ‘the environment’ was cool. However, the game felt repetitive and the storyline felt shallow compared with other games. The game controls were not intuitive, or clear, and the basic functional NPC interaction was dull. The game feels dated and, for me, lacks a reason to reach the end.

  1. Setting: 3.25*
  2. Storyline: 3.5*
  3. Gameplay: 3*
  4. Entertainment: 3*
  5. Genesis: 4.75*

Alternative ‘V’ thoughts:

V is also for Vikings as in the TV show and in the 1958 Richard Fleischer movie – and in other media. Yes, there is even a game, Viking: Battle for Asgard that I haven’t had the urge to play. Instead, I gave you a post on Hellblade that tangled with Norse Mythology, and another on LOTRO with its Northern European and Anglo-Saxon roots.

 

Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da

 

 

U is for Ultima

U

 

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: Ultima Online (UO) is an MMORPG set in the Ultima universe. A spin-off of the main series, it has become an unexpected hit, making it one of the earliest and longest-running successful MMORPGs of all time.

Ultima Online is the product of Richard Garriott‘s idea for a fantasy game involving several thousand people who can all play in a shared fantasy world. Prior games allowed hundreds of people to play at the same time, including Habitat (beta-tested in 1986), The Realm OnlineNeverwinter Nights (the AOL version) and Meridian 59; however, Ultima Online significantly outdid these games, both graphically and in-game mechanics.

Release Date: September 24, 1997

Developer: Origin Systems

Genre/gameplay mechanics: continued the tradition of previous Ultima games in many ways, but due to advancing technology and the simple fact that it was Origin’s first persistent online game, many new game mechanics appeared. Partially designed as a social and economic experiment, the game had to account for widespread player interaction as well as deal with the tradition of players feeling as if they were the centre of attention, as had been the case in single-player games. It is also known for its extensive PvP combat system.

Setting: Ultima Online began with a single world, with specific expansion packs adding additional territory and new worlds. Felucca, the original world, evolved to include dead trees and tombstones to distinguish. It has a harsher rule set where player killing is more common. The third world of Trammel did not allow player killing and was geared towards fighting monsters. Felucca adopted a darker, more foreboding look and kept its player vs player roots. The worlds were called Felucca and Trammel, after the two moons in Ultima’s Britannia world.

Storytelling: Its lore retconned the ending of Ultima I, stating that when the Stranger shattered the Gem of Immortality, he discovered that it was tied to the world itself, therefore its shards each contained a miniature version of Britannia. The player characters in Ultima Online exist on these “shards”.  From that moment of shattering, their histories diverged and each ‘shard’ became home to their own unique people, places, and traditions. There are different guilds and different player organizations on each.

Releases + Expansions:

Since its release, Ultima Online has added eight expansion packs, a booster pack and dozens of free content updates. The release of Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn in 2007 brought a new game engine with upgraded visuals.

Formats: Microsoft Windows, Linux

Origins (Chronological):

  1. June 1981 – the release of Ultima, later known as Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness or simply Ultima I, was created by Richard Garriott and first published in the United States by California Pacific Computer Company Since its release, the game has been completely re-coded and ported to many different platforms. The 1986 re-code of Ultima is the most commonly known and available version of the game.
  2. 1979 – Akalabeth is considered the first published Computer Role Playing Game. In the fall, Garriott entered the University of Texas at Austin, and later joined the Society for Creative Anachronism. He created Ultima I while at the university. It was published by California Pacific Computers and sold in Ziploc plastic bags, as was common in those days. While not explicitly stated, Akalabethis seen as the first game of the Ultima series, and was, therefore, included as part of the 1998 Ultima Collection where it officially picked up the nickname Ultima 0.
  3. In creating Akalabeth, Garriott was primarily inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, for which he held weekly sessions in his parents’ house while in high school; and the works of J R. R. Tolkien, which he received from an in-law of his brother.
  4. The name derives from Tolkien’s Akallabêth, part of The Silmarillion; though the game is not based on Tolkien’s story. In the original game, the last monster on the need-to-kill list is called “Balrog”, like the demonic monsters from The Lord of the Rings, and unlike the later name for the monster in the Ultima games, Balron.

Ultima

Adaptations set in the ‘Ultima’ universe – beyond the extensive video game series:

  1. NOVELS – Several novels were released under the Ultima name, including: The Forge of Virtue (1991) by Lynn Abbey; The Temper of Wisdom (1992); Ultima: The Technocrat War by Austen Andrews; Machinations (2001); Masquerade (2002); Maelstrom (2002)
  2. JAPAN – Three manga comics, an Ultimasoundtrack CD, two kinds of wrist watches, a tape dispenser, a pencil holder, a board game, a jacket, and a beach towel were released. There was also an Ultima anime cartoon.

Recommendation: According to an Origin employee, Electronic Arts initially expected a maximum of 15,000 subscribers for Ultima Online. Between Ultima Online‘s launch on September 25 and November 13, the game sold 65,000 units. In Japan, its initial shipment of 5,000 units had sold out within 15 minutes. Origin announced that it was the company’s fastest-selling title ever, and the fastest-selling online-only computer game of all time. Ultima Online reached 150,000 simultaneously subscribers by February 2000.

Alternative ‘U’ thoughts:

U is also for the 1995 movie Usual Suspects

 

Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da

 

 

O is for Onigiri

O

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

 [Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: Onigiri is an action MMORPG set in a fantasy land reminiscent of ancient Japan in which humans and non-humans such as Oni and other Yōkai coexist. The game has a unique progression system – rather than picking classes, players swap between weapons which each have different skills available.

This is the second of the oriental games that I am looking at – here originating with Japanese mythology.

Release Date: JP: February 6, 2014; NA: July 1, 2014

Developer/Publisher: CyberStep

Genre/gameplay mechanics: players choose one of five traits that will determine which weapons they can use; each player unlocks eight NPC partners that each have distinct personalities and abilities; real-time combat and multiple difficulty modes for each dungeon; stylish anime graphics and Japanese voice acting.

Setting: The game is set in a fantasy version of ancient Japan that is filled with creatures of myth. Landscape and inhabitants have a firm basis in myths, even though anime graphics reduce realism.

Storytelling: Ages ago the terrible Kamikui wreaked a trail of death and destruction across the land before being stopped by the goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu Oomikami. The goddess places three great Seals that forced the Kamikui to retreat. Now one of the Seals has shattered. The player character is an Oni whose peaceful life in the Western island of Onigashima is disturbed by the revival of the Kamikui

All the NPCs have backgrounds and stories.

Formats: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 1st century – Japanese myths were originally transmitted orally, as in most cultures. An early source of Japanese mythology is the Nihongi, or Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan). Completed in 720, this work includes various myths and legends, and it helps establish the genealogy of the imperial family. The Nihongi was greatly influenced by Chinese and Korean history and mythology.
  2. The first written version of the mythology was in A.D. 712 when the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) was compiled for the Japanese imperial The tales tell of the creation of the world, the origin of the gods, and the ancestry of the Japanese emperors, who claimed descent from the sun goddess Amaterasu. Both the Kojiki and the Nihongi contain elements of Taoism, a Chinese religious movement that was introduced to Japan by the 600s. 

Adaptations set in the ‘Onigiri’ universe:

  1. TV Anime – An anime television adaptation of the game was aired from April 7, 2016, on Tokyo MX and BS Fuji until June 30, 2016.

onigiri-equipment

Recommendation: Onigiri has garnered a number of favourable reviews, from Bradly Storm of Hardcore Gamer saying it was “a fairly competent and enjoyable hack-and-slash experience” even though the launch suffered from server-side latency issues to Crunchyroll calling it “a very solid title.”

However, the game has remained low-key with a moderate anime fanbase. Many players have criticized the game for its monotony after reaching a certain level.

MMOs.com gave the following summary:

Pros: +Unique weapon system. +Great NPC Companion feature. +Stylish visuals.
Cons: -Repetitive dungeon designs. -Appeal limited to anime fans. -Collision and imprecise control issues.

Alternative ‘O’ thoughts:

O is also for Oz, as in the L Frank Baum’s wonderful book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or the subsequent films, including the strange prequel in 2013, Oz the Great and Powerful. There were numerous adaptations, including games, but none that sparked my research brain – despite Baum’s origins.

Plus, I needed to look much further East to make my gaming POV representative’ of the breadth of gaming origins. So, tomorrow we are in China.

 

Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da

 

 

E is for Elder Scrolls

E

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper. [Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: The Elder Scrolls is a series of action fantasy RPGs known for its elaborate and richly detailed open worlds and its focus on free-form gameplay.

Release Date: March 25, 1994

Developer/Publisher: Bethesda

Genre/gameplay mechanics: RPG; open world; fantasy; action-adventure; 3rd person; multi-player; “a game designed to encourage exploration and reward curiosity”; choices are crucial.

Setting: The Elder Scrolls games primarily take place on the fictional continent of Tamriel, located on the world of Nirn, but there are a few exceptions, although these exist in the same fictional universe. The high-fantasy setting is realistic with detailed, immersive graphics as series evolved.

Storytelling: Rich and extensive with a developed history, or as Wikipedia says, “In accordance with many literary high fantasy works, the world of The Elder Scrolls is known for its attention to detail, including well-developed lore and backstory. This includes a vast amount of information such as names, dates, and places that constitute its history and the interconnected structure of its various societies, cultures, and religions.”

Releases + Expansions: The Elder Scrolls has evolved through seven releases and ten expansions.

Current release: The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMORPG set in Tamriel, released in April 2014 to mixed reviews. The response improved significantly with the re-release in January 2015. It was renamed as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, with critics praising the changes.

Formats: MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, N-Gage, J2ME, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, macOS, Nintendo Switch

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 1890s – This depends on whether The Elder Scrolls is ‘high fantasy. As Wikipedia says, “The term “high fantasy” was coined by Lloyd Alexanderin a 1971 essay, “High Fantasy and Heroic Romance” (originally given at the New England Round Table of Children’s Librarians in October 1969).” And from there, “The romances of William Morris, such as The Well at the World’s End, set in an imaginary medieval world, are sometimes regarded as the first examples of high fantasy. The works of  R. R. Tolkien—especially The Lord of the Rings—are regarded as archetypal works of high fantasy.” Therefore, the logical thought is that all games that follow in role-playing campaign settings have their origins much further back. What then? Do I look to those writers’ roots?

Adaptations set in the ‘Elder Scrolls’ universe:

  1. Novels: In 2009, science-fiction author Gregory Keyes released The Elder Scrolls: The Infernal City. In 2011, Lord of Souls was released as Keyes’ second novel in his The Elder Scrolls book series.

Recommendation: Highly successful, the series has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and spawned a staunch community. The reviews have generally been very good. In 2012, Complex ranked The Elder Scrolls at number 20 on the list of the best video game franchises. In 2013, The Elder Scrolls was voted as the Greatest Game Series of the Decade on GameSpot, beating out 64 other competitors.

ElderScrolls01

4 Stars: Although aware of the series, I have only played The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, and only recently. However, this MMORPG compares well to similar games that I’ve played extensively. The setting was amazing and the game enthralling, even if I took some time to adapt to the mechanic and the divergent storylines. A game that a player must devote time to appreciate.

  1. Setting: 4.5*
  2. Storyline: 4*
  3. Gameplay: 4*
  4. Entertainment: 4*
  5. Genesis: 3.5*

 

Alternative ‘E’ thoughts:

E is also for Excalibur but that’s a sword that has yet to slide from a stone. And a 1981 epic fantasy movie that I enjoyed for its unusual re-telling of the Arthur legend. There was even a game that I never played – Excalibur: Morgana’s Revenge.

Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da

 

 

A to Z Challenge 2018 posts

a2z-h-small

My March 19, 2018, post for the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal day set me on a quest to find the origins of online games, some of these relatively modern and some with ancient roots.

Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper. As my research continues, I realise that some games have more recent roots, but there are ones that go centuries back.

Soon after finding dragons living in the diverse dungeons, I discovered that many games have elements and more with roots in the mythology that enriched the lives of our early ancestors. Therefore, I could have just used a repetitive answer throughout, but I chose a more scenic path.

So scenic that I got diverted by the urge to start with at least one source material as that was a better opening. A case of DEA – devious experiment ahead.  Any ideas on which will be the diversion?

There was a point where this challenge was going to be called ‘Arthur to Zelda’. But Arthur must wait – like Charles – to be King…King Kong? Wait and read what happens when the sword emerges – and learn which sword rules.

As I write this, my A-Z list below is incomplete, so suggestions are welcome. I have forgotten games that I played a decade ago – like a few strategy titles. In a couple of cases, there are games beginning with that letter, but no interesting ‘roots’. Some of my choices might seem strange, but there is ‘method in my madness’ – like I’ve tried to choose (a) games with roots, and (b) games that I have sampled for hours or months.

For those games that I have played, I have attempted to give my personal assessment- stars based on the following aspects: Setting; Storyline; Gameplay; Entertainment; and Genesis. My supportive partner, Juanita has added her input as a fellow gamer – in fact, her experience is far greater than mine. P is the key to our relationship.

Here are the 26 letters that will develop into my posts for the April 2018 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, aka A2ZMMORPG – A to Z Musings Muster Original Roots Per Game:

A is for Assassin’s Creed

B is for Baldur’s Gate

C is for Conan Exiles

D is for Defiance

E is for Elder Scrolls

F is for Frankenstein

G is for Guns or Butter

H is for ……

I is for Indiana Jones

J is for Jumanji

K is for King Charles?

L is for LOTRO

M is for Might & Magic

N is for …..

O is for …..

P is for Perfect World

Q is for ….

R is for …..

S is for SWTOR

T is for Tomb Raider

U is for …..

V is for Vindictus

W is for WOW

X is for X-Men

Z is for Zelda

Llywdro_SWTOR

 

 

#IWSG – Surprising Myself

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

I’m tackling my monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day in two parts, not because I have two answers but because I have two different thoughts churning through my scrambled head. On then to this month’s optional question and Part I:

September 6th Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?

(For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

If I look at my teens and early tweens, SF was the genre I escaped into in my creative life while all things ‘country/rural’ were my journalistic fare. An equestrian mystery when I retired seemed a natural progression, although a few decades late. So, no surprise there then, nor when a small press published it after my writing group was positive about the drafts of Spiral of Hooves.

However, I was surprised when the horse world ignored the novel despite my career as an equestrian journalist and event organiser. Better luck the second time around?

On the genre side, I surprised myself by attempting children’s stories – that came to nothing, so far. Plus, I just found some old poems and those surprised me. I’m still reverting to mysteries for now.

*

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting:  The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 2 posting of the IWSG are Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure.

 

joker_quote_written_in_blood_by_meho41-d5zeey2

Joker quote written in blood by meho41 on DeviantArt meho41.deviantart.com

 

Part II – Written in Blood

Having multiple sclerosis creates challenges every day and I have been pushed to create new daily regimes, adapting to my initial surprise when diagnosed in 2000. I was learning to live with my MS symptoms, and although they can be excruciating plus debilitating, I knew other suffer worse illnesses. MS is not a death sentence. Life expectancy is normal or close to normal for most people with MS, although it is a chronic illness.

Then, on 23rd August, my doctor told me that I had some sort of blood cancer. I’m remaining positive – except when my computer glitches – as the series of blood tests since the Spring indicate its slow-growing and the oncologist will tell me more on September 18th.

However, I decided it was time for a bucket list – as long as nobody suggests skydiving; the wheelchair can do that solo. Among the list of things I must do, like going to Canada, exploring all of Idaho, arranging a Steve Hackett concert in Boise, and maxing three MMORPG avatars, is the crucial Writing Legacy.

In short, I need to get my 9+ WIPs in order, of course aiming to publish them all = another 13 years, if not 117 by the rate releasing Spiral of Hooves.