Thursday, April 27, 2006

Remembering My Days In Camelot

As I stated earlier in my first post, one of the things that I used to keep me occupied on many sleepless nights was play Online Games. The one that I played the longest, almost four years, was Dark Age of Camelot. Although I loved the game, the thing that really made the game fun for me was the group of people that I played with. This sounds cheesy, but for a while, the people I met online were among my closet friends and dare I say family. The thing about online games is that in order to really advance in the game, you have to spent A LOT of time playing online. When I had friends who regularly logged on, I never noticed how long I was on. It’s true when they say that time flies when you are having fun.

However, as all-good things do, this one soon game to an end. One by one, friends would leave the game for various reasons. Some, like fellow guild mates Morgower (Who introduced me to the game), Lenice, Ursalla, Lacan and Faldier, moved on to newer games like World of Warcraft. One guildie, Penny, was a teacher who at any given time took care of anywhere from three to six foster children. Sadly, she made the decision that she needed to devote more of her time to real life responsibilities, and had to stop playing.

Thanks to server clustering, I had fallen in with a group of players from another server. Now in a regular group with players named Meluv, Tlok, Ryah, Blessings, Malicron, Frosty, and Elvys. I had a blast in RvR. For a time, joined guild mates on other games like Horizons: Empire of Istaria, and World of Warcraft, but after a while, I too decided to retire from gaming. I had started a new job, which required far more time than the job that I had when I started playing, and didn’t have the hours needed to devote to such a time consuming game.

This is definitely one of those "Life's Obsession" type of games. Leveling up your character is definitely not a problem with this game, especially after Mythic instituted the free level timer, which basically gives you a free level if you go a week with out leveling. Then with the release of the “Catacombs” expansion and it’s task dungeons, gung-ho players could easily level up a character to 50 in the matter of days. What makes building your character difficult is the acquisition of artifacts, for which you need the expansion “Trials of Atlantis”, which are armor, and weapons with special abilities. To acquire your artifact, first you have to do a quest, many, which require several groups to complete. Then you have to hunt down three scrolls, which are random drops from specific mobs, so that you can activate the artifact. Then, you have the level the artifacts, which can only be done, in certain areas. Although, Mythic has since changed this to make it somewhat easier, but not much.

After you have leveled your artifacts, then you need your Master Levels, also through the ToA expansion, which are various quests that you have to do to gain added abilities. And again, you have to gain experience to level up these abilities. When I used to play this game, I regularly referred to ToA as Mythic’s way of making level 50 players (The highest level you can get in this game) work for xp again. Basically, ToA has made it virtually impossible for the casual gamer to hope to compete in the Realm vs. Realm combat.

However, even before ToA was released, the Realm Abilities system means death to the casual gamer. As a reward for kills in RvR combat, you are awarded Ream Points, which you can use to learn different abilities, or to augment your character’s various stats. The more RPs your character has, the more RAs it can get. It is not uncommon for long time players to have tens of millions of points accumulated, which basically make them unbeatable in a one on one fight, and down right deadly in grouped combat. The only way that you could ever hope to compete is if you play for 8+ HOURS A DAY, EVERYDAY. That is the only way that you would ever be able to acquire the RPs necessary to gain the RAs needed to excel. Pick up groups just can't compete in this game. You have to be a part of a set group to really kick butt in RvR. I have to say, that I was a Minstrel with a set group of players, and it was the most fun I have ever had on any game I have ever played. When you are with a good group, no other game comes close, but if you don't have a core group, then this can be the worse game ever created.

Add in, the advantage that players gain using third party programs. Such programs are: “Radars”, which allows you to see where every mob, and player (both friendly and enemy players including those who are stealthed) are “Speed Hacks”, which allow players to run faster than anything in the game for an infinite amount of time (I can’t tell you how many times that I have seen Rogues out run my Minstrel which is supposed to be the fastest class in the game), and the immortal “God Mode”, which makes it so that you don’t take any damage, and hence cannot die. These programs give players an impossible advantage over other players, and it is a safe bet that most if not all of the top players use one or all of these programs.

The true downfall of this game however is that the classes differ from realm to realm which has created over powered classes like the Infiltrator in Albion, the Bonedancer in Midgard, and the Bard, and Animist in Hibernia. In an attempt to create diversity between realms, Mythic has instead created an unbalanced gaming system. Then, through another expansion (Catacombs), Mythic has added Warlocks in Midgard, and Banshees and Vampiirs in Hibernia in an attempt to even out the realms, but instead, made it even more unbalanced. This problem could have been avoided during the games inception if they only made it so that every realm had the same classes as the others. This way, the effectiveness of the character would have come from the skill of the player and not the power of the class.

Since I left the game, Mythic has released yet another expansion called “Darkness Raising”. I, of course, looked into it on the off chance something might be included in it that may excite me enough to reopen my account. Much to my dismay, I found that it is basically another ToA in which new, more powerful weapons, armor and abilities are made available. Even though all that I would have to do is reactivate my account and simply upgrade the equipment on my various characters, as much as I loved this game in the past, I just don’t have the time, patience, nor desire to spend hour after hour, day after day in a futile attempt to bring my characters up to snuff. Especially when no matter what I do, it is virtually impossible to level the playing field. I do admit, though, that there are times when I am tempted to log on and look around.


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