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February 10th, 2009

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09:43 am - Ether Saga Open Beta
Today is the first day of the Ether Saga Open Beta. Since I'm drawn to this game by it's art style rather than information about its gameplay, I've decided to describe my experiences in the game, compare them to other games, and judge Ether Saga based on my first experiences.

The details of this playthrough are behind the cut.

Ether Saga Online

Download and Installation

The download begins by downloading the downloader. It's an automated downloader, and it does allow you to decide the location where you want the file to be downloaded. I actually like automated downloaders, they seem to download much faster than basic FTP, and they let you pause and restart the download later. The game is about 1.3 gigabytes in size.

The installer is pretty straight foward. It uses that odd small pixelated text that many asian imports use. I'm not sure what's up with that, but it's perfectly readable. The installer works like any other installer. There is a notice when you first install the game that they would like users to comment on their experience in the beta forums, and that you can press the L key in game for help. This is good, since many MMOs pop you into the world without explaining how to access the instructions, assuming they even HAVE instructions.

First Run

The first thing that popped up was one of those partial-screen login interfaces, which popped up a second box which asked me to choose an update server. There's only one, called patch. That's a new option, I've never seen a game that let the user pick from a list of update servers. Seems like an odd thing to promt a first-time user for, too.

Once I filled in that info box, another one popped up with two buttons. The name of the window is "Choose" but neither of the buttons are labeled. I guess they forgot to put words there, in the translation.

I picked the top option, and it restarted the client, and popped up the update settings option again. I said 'yes' to confirm my original choices, and the client restarted and popped up the update settings a third time. I confirmed it a third time, and it seems to be autopatching now.

It updated the game version from 1 to 5 in less than a minute, then popped up a Settings prompt, asking me to choose my graphics settings. I'm going to go ahead and max out everything; my computer is fearsome, and even if it only uses one of the two dual core processors, either one is far beyond the reccomended status. I wonder how old this game actually is.

Okey dokey, it seems to have gotten everything it needs from prompting, and there's a big Start button. I probably have to fill in my PSO account info first though. Let's see... Pressing the big Start button pops up a dialog box with no message, and a button. Pressing the button clears the dialog box. These guys really need to get their priorities straight, having the interface options labeled is key when dealing with non-professional users. I'm able to guess what most of these buttons will do, but even I'm not sure. Many people I know would be scared to use this program.

Let's see what I can do... The Account button opens the web site for the parent company, at their login screen. I logged in there, but it doesn't seem to matter. The Manual button opens a file selection dialog, looking for a .xup file. Whaa? Shouldn't it already know where it's own manual is? Why would I know that?

Fiddling around with the interface I noticed that when my mouse cursor went over a certain area, it was highlighted, and says West Coast and East Coast. Apparently it's the server select. I'm going to go ahead and pick East Coast.

Okay that worked fine. The game logged in. There is a notice that comes up reminding users that this is a Beta Test and that things might not work properly, and please don't think this is what the final game will be like, also, report any bugs you see. Standard stuff.

There's an unfamiliar button called Replay. When I clicked it, it offered up an empty list of clips to play. I think this game may have cutscenes.

Only one server is up in my region, Fort Phoenix. I'm going to log in to that.

After selecting my server and logging in to my account, I was given a realm page. So, it looks like each shard is divided into facets server is divided into realms. Probably the sort where you can switch to a different realm on the fly to play with your friends, but there are so many realms that the capitol cities don't get crowded with players. Toontown online did the same thing.

Each Realm lists its status as Good, but doesn't say how populated it is. They are out of numerical order, however. I'm going to go ahead and join Realm09. It's the bottom of the list, and my lucky number.

Character Creation

I am now at the character selection screen. I don't have any characters, so it's time to create one! I don't know if it glitched out due to me alt-tabbing to write this document, but the music stopped at the server selection, and hasn't restarted.

Most of this stuff you can read on their website. There are three races. Renzu, who are humans, Shenzu, who are celestials, and Yaoh, who are enlightened animals. Each race, regardless of gender or class, is depicted with a small adorable pet next to them. We'll see if I get to have this pet in game or not. For Renzu it's a small pink thing reminiscient of a Rabbite, with long ears that resemble bouncy girly pigtails. For Shenzu it's a pink and white fennec-cat cross with a jewel wrapped by the end of it's long, monkey-like tail. For Yaoh it's a fricking adorable three-tail kitsune with one of those thunder mantle things, and a leaf on it's head.

There's six classes and no restrictions on gender/race/class combos. There's hardly any character customization, though. Each race has a male body and a female body, and each has five faces and five hair styles, with no customization. You can't even choose your hair colour. The Yaoh don't have animal ears or tails. The female Yaoh hairstyle 1 and 5 are almost exactly the same, so they have even less options.

I'm actually tempted to make a male character, since they have more variety in their hairstyles and they're just as cute. If you weren't aware, this is a big-headed cutesy anime style game. If you've read this far and didn't look at the game's site, you must be a really big fan of mine.

I'm going to go ahead and make a Female Yaoh Dragoon. The only thing beyond that is birthday and zodiac sign. Chinese zodiac, that is. I'm going to use my real one. It actually impacts gameplay, so a min-maxer wants to make sure they were born on the right day and year, but I'm not going to bother with that right now, and just go with the basics. 9, 9, Rooster.

Now, into the game!

P.S. The music came back eventually, it just seems to be on a longer loop than the sample lasts, so there's a long period of silence in between plays. In-game the music is constant and awesome.

New Player Experience

Okay the area load screen is very pretty... A group invite pops up right away. Bleh. XD

It looks like I do get a baby kitsune. The pet interface seems to be the same as WoW. I guess everybody is a hunter! XD

There's lots of Chinese characters floating around, I guess they haven't finished the translation. DUH. ^.^;; You'd think they'd finish that before the Open Beta? I dunno. I guess it's okay. The first page of the tutorial is in perfect english. The only failing point is that they haven't implemented word wrap yet.

There's a lot of cute emotes, everything is very cute. There's a transformation guide in the help section that has a list of all the monsters, and 80% of them would make Pikachu barf rainbows. Also, barfing rainbows is an emote.

Tons of instructions pop up right away, so it's a lot easier to learn than most games. Way better than Perfect World, too. I'm going to talk to the Goddess of Mercy now. I think she's supposed to be Quan Yin. Okay she gave me a quest to talk to the monk next to her. Let's see... Oh wild, there's an auto-travel option in the quest, that makes you walk directly to certain points or people mentioned in the quest text. That's handy, and terribly lazy. I hope they have at least SOME hidden quests.

Now I'm going to experiment a bit with my pet... Oh it has pet emotes! That's so cute! <3

Okay now I'm going to read more instructions. This is a deceptively complex game.

Hmm... The tutorial has been translated but a lot of the help guides are still partially in Chinese. In particular, some of the guides use pictures instead of text to explain things, and the pictures have chinese text labels still.

Hmm... A lot of this is just confusing. I'm going to play some more through the game to see if I can learn more. First I want to change some settings...

Ahh thank goodness, it has the option to reverse the mousewheel zoom. That was just bizzare, having it go the wrong way. Perfect World has the same problem, but that game didn't have the option to change it. You don't have the option to change most of your keybindings in this game either, but at least my zoom is zooming correctly now.

Now I'm going to move around while I follow through my first quest... Jumping in this game is more conservative than Perfect World by far. In that game you can not only jump to incredible heights, with tons of air control, but you could double-jump in mid-air. In this one it's only a little hop, no higher than a real person could jump.

My first quest is to go get myself a weapon. My legendary epic weapon was lost when I traveled to the Ancestial Ruins, apparently. (Ancestial? So much for perfect translation...) Let's find The Stash Keeper of the East! and get my new pokey stick.

I've gotta say, it's weird having all the NPCs speaking in Chinese. Oddly, it's also different from the Chinese I hear spoken on the bus, or that I heard at college. When they speak, I can't even make out syllables. These NPCs are definately speaking clearly.

Alright, I've gone through the basic training and the adorable maracca tiger boy had me kill an adorable big-ear kitty and less than adorable tree stump, and then I got sent back to the monk to loot his inheritance. I've gone up to level 3 now, and I just got my first combat skill Banewind Gust. It looks like the stats in this game raise automatically, instead of forcing players to do crazy math and minmax like every other asian MMO. This really does play a lot like World of Warcraft, for better or worse.

Now I have a quest to find some wood and stone to help these guys build a fort, 'cause they're lazy bastards. XD

Like before, I can just open the quest window and click on the places I'm supposed to go, and I automatically run there.

Hmm, they've got the guards names mixed up in the quest texts. Earlier I was told to go to guard Meowo but the quest actually ended at guard Purrur. Now I was told to bring these resources to guard Purrur but I'm actually supposed to bring them to guard Meowo. They're identically adorable baby tigers with big combat maraccas and poofy berets.

Guard Meowo gave me a copper bell for my adorable baby kitsune to wear.

I'm off on another quest to oppress the ferociously adorable Moonhares. These guys are just, SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE. There are also some tree monsters who keep blowing their noses.

Somebody or something buffed me, I'm not sure when or how. ^.^;;

Okay one of the Moonhares dropped a Moonhare Card. Let's see what this does... Oh my, I have turned into a Moonhare. How delightful. <3

Okay I found the lost walking stick, and I'm an adorable bunnyfairy. It is unclear at this time what the benefits and penalties of being a bunnyfairy are, though. I'm still able to use my attacks, and I think I might be slightly stronger. But I did just go up a level, so that would also make me slightly stronger. I don't know how to turn back, assuming I wanted to...

As another naming error, the walking cane I found says it belongs to Squints the Fortune Teller but I was told to bring it to Pokro the Hunter, who is a giant anthropomorphic snake by the way. He says the cane is his, and the quest said the cane was his, but the cane says it's Squints'.

Next quest, Pokro is going to give me some ressurection equipment that he sealed under a rock, but the incense used as the key for the seal was stolen, and Pokro suspects the Leafstachios, so I'm going to go start killing them with fairy bunny martial arts untill they repent before my grandure and give me loot. At least, I think that's how the story in this game is headed. ^.^;;

I just realized my pet can talk. It just gained a level. The phrase it used to tell me this is the worst translation in this game so far. It's clear that it wasn't translated by the same person as the rest of the text.

Baby Katsu Fox: "Your highness!,the fact is Pet gains a level again! Pet is working hard!"

I've found there's two ways of using your pet. You can use them as a normal sort of pet like you would have in World of Warcraft, or you can use with them. The benefits of fusion aren't clear, but one icon's tooltip says that my pet is sharing damage with me, so I think they're acting as a buff to my HP.

There's still some combat elements I don't understand, and it's hard to follow the flow of battle, but I think I'll get the hang of it. The real problem is that there doesn't seem to be a combat log in text, all I get are floating numbers and health bars.

I've just gotten to level 5, and that means I get a message from an invisible NPC named Whisper. Whisper has told me about the elemental affinity system, and it turns out that they do in fact have the standard SE Asian MMO Min-max system. ^.^;;

Every five levels you get five attribute points that you can spend on raising any of the five elemental attributes. Though, looking at them, I'm not sure it would be so bad to just even out and spend your five points one in each. I think I'm going to focus on Yellow, Blue and Brown. I'm a fighter type and those elements will support me more, I think. I wonder if I can change it later? Probably by cash charge. XD

I got a quest to go get some metal for a new suit of armour. I look totally stylin' in the character viewer, but I'm still an adorabalicious bunnyfairy in the world. The resource nodes are strange; maybe it's just because this is the newbie area, but they don't seem to expire no matter how much I pull out of them.

My next quest is to learn about transformation, but the blacksmith told me to go beat up more Moonhares and Leafstachios first to ingratiate myself towards him. There's a lot of that going around, do something nice for someone without asking what they want, and that nice something usually involves slaughter.

Oh man, one of the Moonhares I was slaughtering just said, "I'm punishing you in the name of the moon!"

Okay quest done. Now he explained to me how to turn back, among other things. Apparently you can get stat boosts and special powers when you transform. I don't think turning into a Moonhare granted me any stat bonuses beside +10 Cuteness.

Here we go again. Now I have to kill 10 Moonhares and 10 Leafstachios. ^.^;; Quota Quests are bad enough, do they really have to give me three quests to kill the same monsters in a row?


Okay here's something new, kill 15 boars to the north. XD

Oh lots of neat monsters on this hill. Pretty waterfall and rainbow, too. So cute. <3

*more fighting*

Alright I'd say the game just continues on like this. ^.^;;


I'm going to continue playing this a little longer, then I'm going to look for someone. We're hoping to play another game together today. I'm definately going to come back to this game. It's really interesting! <3

Edit: Here's a screenshot of me turned into an adorabalicious bunnyfairy.

Short version: It's Adorable, and I'm going to play more.

Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:February 10th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
Or very, very right. <3
[User Picture]
Date:February 10th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
Lines that made me chuckle, while I waited for my dial-up to load the site:
"...80% of them would make Pikachu barf rainbows. Also, barfing rainbows is an emote."
"Oh man, one of the Moonhares I was slaughtering just said, "I'm punishing you in the name of the moon!"

I wonder if it's dial-up accessable, but I'm not counting on it.
[User Picture]
Date:February 10th, 2009 10:40 pm (UTC)
Ohwait. 1.6 GB...nevermind.

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