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Rise and Shiny

Rise and Shiny: Heva Clonia Online

Fantasy, Video, Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Heva Clonia Online screenshot
Heva Clonia Online, by publisher OGplanet, is a cutesy, Anime-style MMORPG that offers tons of combat, a lot of quests (mostly from kill-X-rats territory), a bunch of other players to join up with for dungeon-running, a pet collection system that borders on Poke-something, and quite a few other activities. I've seen my share of games from Korea, China, and Japan and know that the details of each game are what set them apart from each other. The foreign games can seem the same, just as many Western titles can, so to know the difference, you simply have to play them.

I gave my usual Rise and Shiny treatment to the game and enjoyed it over the last week, casually poking around town, jumping into dungeons, collecting monster DNA, and trying to understand some of the strange, mistranslated quest dialogue.

As I finished up my time with the game (for now), I discovered that I had quite a bit of fun, but I also ran into many of the same problems that I have had with other titles from the same area.

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Rise and Shiny: World of Battles

Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, First Impressions, Rise and Shiny, Livestream, Miscellaneous

World of Battles screenshot
World of Battles starts off strong, it looks pretty cool at first glance, and it appears to allow you to control massive armies of riders, archers, giants and other fun units as you clash against equally massive armies. You do see a lot of combat in the game, and it is from the massive-army school of design, but unfortunately, the game quickly and regrettably drags itself down into a standard pit of grinding.

I started to see the end of this tunnel of drudgery near the end of my week with the game. It started off by giving me some basic tutorial tips and then pushed me into quest after quest that had to be completed before I was able to move on to the next one. Each step sucked the fun out of the game and made it seem as if I would never be seeing the massive battles and castle bombardments that the game's trailer promised.

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Rise and Shiny: Rise of Mythos

Video, Game Mechanics, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Rise of Mythos screenshot
I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed Rise of Mythos, a free-to-play browser game published by GameFuse. It's not as though my years of exposure to games from all sorts of genres and publishing houses has dulled my senses against browser-based games; it's that all of those years and all of that exposure has given me the ability to sense when a game will suck. Generally, I am correct. But this time, I thought Rise of Mythos would be a much simpler game, one of those click-once-to-do-everything types that have no depth to them. It turns out my senses were wrong in this case!

Rise of Mythos is roughly animated, sure, and the fact that it exists within a browser is enough to give many gamers a reason to run, at least those gamers convinced that the way a game is delivered is some guarantee of its quality. I found its easy access, interesting and surprisingly in-depth gameplay, and tons of activities to be a powerful mixture.

Call me gleefully wrong about this one.

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Rise and Shiny revisit: Wakfu

Video, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Rise and Shiny, Livestream, Sandbox, Dungeons

Wakfu screenshot
One of the great benefits of this job comes from revisiting worlds that have gone unchecked for a while. These are games that I already know I enjoy but want to check back on in an "official" manner, every year at least. Honestly I visit many of them several times a year, but not in the same way I would if I were working. Wakfu is on the same list as Ryzom, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Champions Online and many, many others.

This time around I wanted to get out more and explore the surrounding areas, and I found that Ankama has made many improvements to the game that help make exploration possible. Granted, the changes that I noticed were not significant but notable, and overall the game appeared to be just as smooth, interesting, and original as before. The only problem is that many of the same issues I had with the game are still there, and I doubt they'll disappear any time soon.

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Rise and Shiny: Ensemble Online

Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Livestream, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

Ensemble Online screenshot
I always love it when a new indie MMO comes across my virtual desk. I never know what I'm going to get, even though I think I can tell a lot from its name or even the font that the name is written in. Ensemble Online is one of the newest ones, and I assumed it would be a sci-fi sandbox. In reality, it was indeed a sci-fi sandbox but mostly felt like a more cartoony, gentler Wurm Online.

I was even able to sit down with the developers during my livestream of the game. Thanks to the fact that the team seems to be really up on social media and appears to pay attention to things like the press (unlike many indies), I learned a lot from that livestream. Be sure to watch it; it's embedded in the article.

Ensemble Online holds a ton of potential. It's not there yet, but I'll tell you why I think it can stick around for a while.

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Rise and Shiny: Vega Conflict

Sci-Fi, Video, PvP, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Vega Conflict screenshot
You might be familiar with Kixeye for many different reasons, but this week I am discussing one of the games from its line-up: VEGA Conflict, which is typical in many ways but can definitely be surprising when it needs to be. Many of my favorite MMOs are made up of mechanics we've seen before, but those mechanics are delivered so smartly that the end result is a game that is worth more than it should be. As far as browser-based MMORTS titles go -- and there are scores and scores of them -- VEGA Conflict is a fun and unique blend of strategy, city-building, and Gratuitous Space Battles. It implements none of its designs flawlessly, but the game is almost perfectly balanced between casual play and powergaming.

I did receive a wad of coins from the developer shortly after I spent 10 dollars on some myself, and those coins bought me resources and sped up development and building. It's not directly a sell of power and is typical for the genre, but some might find it distasteful. The community didn't seem to mind the model much.

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Rise and Shiny: City of Steam

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Post-Apocalyptic, Rise and Shiny, Livestream, Steampunk

City of Steam screenshot
The first thing that people say when they see City of Steam is, "Wow, this is a browser game?" I've seen the comments on videos and even talked about it during my own livestream (you'll find it embedded after the cut), but in the back of my mind I know that browser-based games have looked good for a while now. Still, the game does look good. It looks darn good in many places. It's a world of oily, smoky machinery and grimy dungeons, and the graphics do their job. With the dirtier styles and dungeon crawlers, however, comes the risk of repetitive design that toes the line between neat and bland as cold porridge. City of Steam mostly wins in the graphics department but does fail occasionally.

It's still fun to tell people it's a browser game. The beginning intro alone feels like a well-made MMO, while some of its staging and tutorials make the game feel as if it cost more than it did to make. The rest of the game isn't bad, either, aside from occasionally repetitive gameplay.

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Rise and Shiny: UFO Online

Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Post-Apocalyptic, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

UFO Online screenshot
I really enjoyed taking a look at UFO Online a few years ago at E3, but the game has been stuck in what seems to be that standard gamigo tunnel of time, where games go to be semi-released. What do you get when you start playing? Well, if turn-based, squad-based combat is your idea of a good time (mixed with doses of factional control), then you will enjoy the game.

Unfortunately it's still a bit rough around the edges and could really use a pass with the text and control brushes, but I'll cover that in a minute. First, let's talk about why folks enjoy squad-based gaming so much.

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Rise and Shiny: Herokon Online

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Herokon Online screenshot
I knew I would likely enjoy my time in Herokon Online, but not because I enjoy every game I come across. The truth has always been that I will gladly complain, tear up, and criticize any game that deserves it. No, I knew I would like Herokon Online for established reasons.

First, I covered the game in its initial stages at GDC Online in 2012. I loved the fact that it runs in a browser (the "mobile app" that came before mobile apps) and that it came from the same incredible IP that Drakensang Online and its standalone cousins boast. The Dark Eye is one of those IPs that I have always wished I could dig into more deeply. It's been going strong for a long time, and I know that there must be layers and layers in its lore that I can hopefully dive into one day soon.

So Herokon Online had a grip on me before I began to play it. It's by no means perfect, but I'll explain that.

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Rise and Shiny: Prime World

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, MMORTS, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream, MOBA

Prime World screenshot
Prime World, a combination MOBA and MMORTS-ish game by Nival, is a fresh take on what appears to be an ever-growing genre. Will vets of the familiar match-based games feel as though it goes too far into new territory, or will they appreciate the changes to their beloved gameplay? While I'll leave that question up to the experts over at Not So Massively, I can say that as someone who is more of an MMORTS fan than a follower of MOBAs, I appreciated the fact that Prime World gave me something to try in both. Better still, games like Prime World are enjoyable for a relative newcomer to the genre like yours truly because they encourage me to become better by being fun to play rather than by being brutal on newbies.

Classic MOBA fans probably feel differently, however.

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Rise and Shiny: The empty MMO section on the RT marketplace

Bugs, Business Models, Guilds, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Miscellaneous

Windows Store screenshot
As many of you know, I have been in love with portable devices for a while now. I am always perfecting my all-in-one experience, trying to find a device that allows me access to my favorite job and hobby (MMO gaming) while actually getting some work done. That means I need to be able to communicate, type, and create content all with the same small computer. My 3G Nexus 7 was glorious for a while, but mainly as a mobile gaming platform and social network connection. I needed something larger, and I took the destruction of my 7 to mean it was time to get out of my comfort zone.

So I got myself an Asus VivoTab RT, a 10-inch tablet with a 4G LTE connection. It came with the keyboard dock for only $300 US. I'll save the explanation for buying such a device -- especially considering RT's shaky footing -- for my other blog, but I have really been enjoying RT and the fact that I still have access to Flash, browser-based games, and a larger screen.

Searching for MMOs in the Windows Store has been a nightmare, though, mainly because there are none. I'll show you what's being offered and will look at the 8.1 preview to see if we can expect changes.

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Rise and Shiny: Eden Eternal

Screenshots, Video, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Livestream, Sandbox

Eden Eternal screenshot
It's been a while since I last played Eden Eternal. I have enjoyed it off and on over the last year, but mostly because of how much I loved the graphics. As a matter of fact, I would vote Eden Eternal as one of the best-looking MMOs out there, up there with The Chronicles of Spellborn, Guild Wars 2, and Ryzom. Sure, it covers a more stylized branch of the graphical tree than other games, but that's a pretty important job. Every year designers try to make games that look fun and bright, but they almost always come out generic. Eden Eternal is just awesome to look at.

How is the gameplay, though? Being that the last major patch we talked about consisted mostly of graphical updates, I didn't expect to enjoy the game this time around as much as I did when I first discovered it. Luckily I enjoyed myself just as much -- if not more -- thanks to the game's easy pace and sandbox gameplay.

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Rise and Shiny revisit: Global Agenda

Sci-Fi, Video, Bugs, Game Mechanics, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Global Agenda, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Global Agenda screenshot
Ah, I had some glorious times in Global Agenda, so long ago that Seraphina Brennan still worked here and we struggled to livestream the game to do a giveaway or two. The developers prepared some pre-made level 30 characters for us, complete with Massively logo holograms emblazoned across the chests. Sera moved on, livestreaming has become easier, and I haven't returned to the game nearly as much as I've wanted to. I'm not sure why. The game is free-to-play, and I have been enjoying online shooter titles more over the last several months.

Then, when I told my boss that I wanted to check it out again, she told me that it was a good idea especially since Global Agenda 2 was announced late last year. What? This news must have passed underneath my very broad radar! Still, I was eager to revisit my old characters and see if the game is still as fun as I remember, so I spent the last week playing the game -- that is, when I wasn't fighting bugs in the game. And I mean technical bugs, not the good, scary space kind.

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Rise and Shiny: Farm Fortress

Screenshots, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Farm Fortress screenshot
Farm Fortress is a pseudo-MMO or social game that concentrates on pitting players against waves of enemies and even other players by utilizing protective barriers, weapons, and traps that are paid for with cash stolen from enemies. It might sound a little strange at first. I didn't really even enjoy the game until the lightbulb went off and I started to really plan out my strategy for defending my farm fortress.

Farming is one way to make money, but in my experience so far, the best way to get cash is to invite waves of monsters to attack your farm or to attack other players. Both activities can be surprisingly simple at first but quickly grow into a challenging job. But that's the fun of it! Over the week my farm grew into a pretty formidable fort, complete with turrets and indestructible walls.

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Rise and Shiny: Arcane Saga Online

Screenshots, Video, Interviews, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Arcane Saga Online screenshots
I sat down on Monday with NetMarble Producer Jon-Enee Merriex to discuss Arcane Saga Online, a remake/re-release/re-launch of the defunct Prius Online. I was actually very excited for Prius Online at one point, but the game fell flat once I got my hands on it. With this re-launch, would the publisher NetMarble be able to capture an audience -- and keep it -- this time?

I jumped into the first hour of the game with a bit of an unfair advantage, having Jon-Enee with me to explain many of the ideas and thought processes behind the re-launch. It all makes sense when you hear it from a developer's mouth, but how does the game translate when you just log in and start playing? It turns out that it has many issues but is quite fun a lot of the time.

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