Saturday, January 22, 2011

Action MMO games

Hi everyone,

today I want to give you a little overview of some so called action MMO games which either recently launched or are still in development.
The whole concept of games which feature most of the important MMORPG features, such as looting and equipping items, running through dungeons with larger groups of players, joining guilds, having relaxed chats etc. but still play like a 3rd person action game such as Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, God of War and the likes itself is fairly new. I know that I always wondered why noone made a game like that – console like action but as an MMO.
And suddenly here they are, and for some reason they come in a bunch. Korean and Japanese action MMOs all over the place. All of them feature real time combat, no more "turn based" fighting as in pretty much all other present MMORPGs, all of them have you slash at your opponent at the touch of a button and evade enemy attacks by actually dodging them, not by chance or having high stats.
So let me show you all of the action MMOs I know of so far.

Dynasty Warriors Online

There isn't really much to say here – it's Dynasty Warriors, it's online, it's awesome. The graphics as well as animations are kind of outdated as this game has been out in Japan for several years now, but gameplay wise it's an experience I encourage everyone who's a fan of 3rd person action games to check out. The game is PVP only for the most part with no real PVE or open world traveling, but that's what Dynasty Warriors always was and everything else would have been strange. The English version of the game came out just recently and is completely free to play, so feel free to check it out.

Dragon Nest

Dragon Nest is another free to play action MMO which will release in NA in Summer 2011. It's already out in Korea, China and Japan. The game is instance based as well, so again no open world to explore. Dragon Nest has a very cartoony, anime style look, not exactly my taste, but each to their own. What really got my attention though were the PVP battles seen in many videos, they are full of action and quite fast paced. There's also a wide variety of classes to choose from, which is always a good thing.


This game, also known under the Korean version's name "Mabinogi Heroes", launched a couple of months ago. As of now only people located in North America are able to play it, an European version is set to come somewhen this year. Still, using a proxy I was able to take a sneak peak and play through the first 10 levels. What I found to be remarkable was that this game features a real storyline, complete with voiced cutscenes and whatnot. The graphics as well as animations are really good, the PVE boss battles were lots of fun. The PVP however was far from exciting - at least when I played it, all PVP content that was available was some kind of capture the flag mode which got boring real quick. Another downside in my book is that this game does not only lack an open world, but it's pretty much lobby based with only small areas to explore and even then players are split up in tons of channels. But then again, this game is completely free to play, so who am I to complain?

Tera Online

Actually being the only game in this list which is subscription based, Tera Online may have a hard time competing with the many other action MMO games which are coming out around these days. I personally think that MMO games which make you pay a monthly fee will always have the advantage of being way better balanced though, as they usually go without item shops etc. which can make people with too much money on their hands shine out from the crowd stat wise. Also, Tera Online is one of the few games which will definately feature an open world to explore. This game has gorgeous graphics and neat animations, and as another big plus there are tons of different classes / races to choose from, unlike most other action MMOs shown here. Tera Online is set to release in EU and NA somewhen later this year.

Continent of the Ninth

This game has only come out in Korea so far, and while an English version was announced ages ago there is no fixed date for it's arrival yet. It was actually the very first action MMO I ever spotted, and I have seen the first trailers for this game aproximately 2 years ago. The graphics and animations look really nice, especially when taking into consideration that this game is free to play as well. The PVP looks really really fun from what I've seen, whenever the archer/rogue class is comboing his opponents it looks like you are looking at some kind of online version of Devil May Cry. Sadly, this game will also not offer an open world to roam freely.

Divine Souls

Divine Souls has gone through 2 closed beta testing phases as of now, one of which I attended. The servers will go live again for the open beta (so free to check out for everyone) somewhen around the next days, so stay tuned if you want to play it. Divine Souls does not feature an open world, but lots of areas which connect the different PVE instances, so it doesn't feel all that lobby based. From what I've seen so far it still felt really unfinished, with lots of bugs, cut off animations, weird audio, really limited gamepad support and the finest engrish you've ever seen. The PVP would probably be more fun if there were more than 3 classes all of which are in no way customizable as far as skills, moves etc go. I personally don't think they will have fixed all of these issues until the game opens up for the wide public, but let's wait and see. It's free to play, so apart from your precious time you won't loose anything if you feel like giving it a try.

Blade & Soul

Imagine a beat'em up game mixed with an MMORPG, that's pretty much what the developers describe Blade & Soul like. The graphics look really really nice, the animations are utterly impressive – the game is based on the Unreal Engine 3 by the way. Sadly there is no fixed release date yet, and while we got to see tons of ingame trailers none of them feature *real* gameplay with interface and everything. All we get to see over and over again are - indeed very fine looking - clips of characters beating each other up. I think they should drop us some more real footage, after all this game has been announced for years now. From what I've read it is supposed to feature an open world and is also going to be free to play.

Core Blaze

This one is probably the one I'm looking forward to the most. Just as Blade & Soul, Core Blaze uses the Unreal Engine 3, and has really impressive graphics and animations. Once again no fixed date for this game's release yet, but from what I've seen this game looks pretty much like an online version of Monster Hunter. Which rocks. It is going to be completely free to play, and will, according to the trailers, feature an open world to travel in. I have not yet seen any videos of PVP action, but still, I am quite confident that this game will kick some serious ass. As most of these in here do anyway.

 Now these probably aren't all of the action MMOs there are out there, but pretty much all of them I know of. Do you happen to know any other one I didn't mention here? Be sure to drop me a comment!
Or maybe you just feel like telling me which one of these sounds the coolest to you :)
Maybe you've been waiting for one of them to release as well? Or you've even played one of them before? Tell me in the comments!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Really Real Samurai Swords

Hi everyone,

I always wanted to own a sword, I think I got the idea when I was 10 years old. There was some kind of gothic apparel / decorational shop just around the corner of our house, and everytime I went by that shop I fancied those wallhanger swords they displayed in their windows. Of course every try to convince my parents of the fact that I am unbelievbly reasonable for my 10 years and sure as heck wouldn't cut myself into pieces if they got me one of those only ended up in tears and frustration. So it stayed at window shopping for several years, until I eventually forgot about my deep desires of owning sharpened metal.

Now my financial situation is pretty alright at the moment, that plus the fact that I may have watched The Last Samurai one too many times lately, finally made me make my long forgotten childhood dream come true.

A couple of days ago I bought a samurai sword to hang on my wall and decorate the room.
And hell, it decorates the living shit out of my room.

Now it's a cheapo one, cost me around 50 bucks and is supposed to be a handmade carbon steel blade, but I guess by that they mean "put into the metal press by hand". Then again, from what I could figure it's made in China, and as we all know one man hour is way cheaper than one hour of machine run time over there, so that might actually be true. Who knows, and more importantly, who cares?

I for one do not, and I seem to be a little bit special in that regard. Pretty much everyone's first question when laying their eyes on this piece of metal was: "So... is it real...?"
And then there am I, standing in desperation trying to figure out what makes a sword which is supposed to color up your room real.

Thing is, in my oppinion every bladed something that is longer than my kitchen knifes and has a handle is a sword, and if it's even made out of some kind of steel, it's real. That's what defines a sword, right? And as for the second most popular question "Is it sharp?" I could only give the answer that it's probably not sharp enough to cut your arm off, but I wouldn't exactly call it blunt either.

Really real, really cool, really expensive
On the other hand some say that there are no "real" swords being made anymore, as, well, swords were real when they were practical in medieval times, and everything newly made therefore doesn't deserve the term "real". And that makes just as much sense to me. You can grab real real samurai swords all over the net from what I've seen, if you feel like spending from two grands upwards for some piece of metal that may be 300 years old and is as functional as a letter opener. A probably way cooler thing to have hanging on your wall though, and you can affirm the question about it's authenticity without feeling awkward about it.

I've also heard some other funky explanations about what makes a samurai sword real. One of it, it came from my stepfather, was that these things are only real when they've been folded like about a hundred times, because that's what makes them harder. Now while it may be true that originally swords (not just the asian ones) were folded, this process was only necessary to even out the carbon content in the steel, because the medieval iron ore was of pretty bad quality when put in comparison with modern industrial steel. Also, folding it does in no way make the metal harder, I have no idea where he grabbed that info. I could have told that even without the large chunks of metalworking I had to do for my electrical engeneering apprenticeship.
And then again, you can get cheap "folded" blades for around 100 euros, from what I've seen, which are made from damascus steel. Now if damascus steel counts as being folded you could just as well say that every industrial made steel is pre-folded thousands of times as they are pretty much homogeneous in their contents.

Damascus steel blades - In my oppinion this is as far off from being traditional as it gets

A buddy told me genuine samurai swords have to be from Japan. And that's it. Like, the japs are probably the only people in the entire world who know how to make them. And they vigorously refuse to tell anyone. Ha.

Look at this, it doesn't get much more real than that.
Other Kind of Informational fun fact: Japanese katana evolved from the Chinese tachi, which is basically the same thing only rebranded. So the design is actually Chinese. Now if the Chinamen feel like stealing their own design back by producing tons of replicas they should be free to do so, don't you think?

Yet another friend teached me some of the stuff he learned from watching his favourite anime. It had something to do with real swords having star-shaped hand guards, being unbreakable and being able to cut through metal without even using any effort. I forgot about the details, but it was painful to listen to and was loaded with more bollocks than I want you to read on a blog that's supposed to be at least kind of informational.

So have we learned today? Probably not much, to be honest I just needed an excuse to show you my new kick ass ninja accessory. So have another picture of it taken in a cheesy sideways angle here.

And I'm out.


Monday, January 10, 2011

So when will you have died?

Hi everyone,

a person dies as long as he's living and lives as long as he's dying, or something like that, an easily remembered rule to follow I've heard a while back and always thought to be universally true.

But when is that point reached where a human has officially died?

The thing is, seperating live from death in our big and complex world doesn't quite work this easy.
Getting pronounced dead in England, for example, doesn't yet mean you have to be dead in Germany. Allthough if you get pronounced dead in Germany you could still be alive in Japan.
The reason behind this is that there are different perceptions (and therefore definitions) of what's really dead. So in England you may already have officially died when only a specific part of your brain stopped working. In Germany that's not sufficient – usually every function of your brain has to have stopped over here for you to be officially dead. In Japan death hasn't officially kicked in until your heart stopped working aswell.

"Dead means dead" - another pretty simple formular which stopped working in the sixtys when intensive care opened up new possibilities which altered our perception of live and death forever. Suddenly people whose hearts stopped beating and lungs stopped breathing could be reanimated – two sure indications of death until this point. Of course only a few of those patients fully recovered. Many stayed in a coma and had to be artificially fed and respirated because the temporary lack of oxigen damaged their brains.
Doctors all over the world soon asked for definite criteria regarding what's life and what's death, or more importantly at what point they would be allowed to stop the costly life-sustaining measures.

And it was 1968 that the Harvard Medical School came up with some criteria; they basically defined brain dead – man dead. Many countrys started to adopt this definition, others did not and yet others, such as Germany, don't have a real definition till this present day. But even in countrys where brain death equals human death there are lots of discussions going on – critics say a person shouldn't be deemed dead when their body is still warm, their heart still beating and their digestion is still working without flaws. In their eyes, a braindead person is dying, but not dead yet (now and if that's still a life worth living is another story).
And even within the lines of the supporters there are different oppinions – are you officially braindead when your brainstem stopped working? Or does every single bit of brain activity have to have stopped? What exactly is even measurable with our current technology...?

Most of this info is blatantly stolen from the article "Wann ist der Mensch tot?" by Martina Keller. I grabbed it at a continued education seminar I went to recently and think it's a really interesting read.
Do you guys and girls care about this stuff? The article is pretty long and goes on about measures to prove brain death and the problems with donor organs being removed too late because death hasn't officially kicked in yet. I may be tempted to steal some more in order to fulfill my Kind of Informational duty! Be sure to drop me a comment :)


Friday, January 7, 2011

Hoodrat Toni

Hi everyone,

you may or may not have figured out by now that I'm no native english speaker -

I am from Germany and my English is still far from perfect. If you encounter any blatant errors which just hurt your eye in any of my postings, feel free to point them out in the comments as I'm always happy to improve my skills. :)

But as a German trying to provide you with all kinds of... kind of informational stuff, I totally felt like serving you a piece of german culture today.

German internet culture, that is.

Below I embedded a video starring Vollassi Toni, which pretty much translates to "Tony the Hoodrat".

Toni's video "The Truth", sadly the only one we ever got to see this man in, is a pretty well known one in Germany and has countless numbers of parodies and remixes.

It's basically nothing but a man telling us about his feelings regarding the female gender. Oh, and he's pretty honest and uh... unrestrained while doing so.

As I'm going to assume my average reader's German is a bit rusty, I posted a subbed version of course. I originally planned to sub it myself for you guys and girls, but I just happened to find a subbed version minutes ago, and I was happy to find that the subtitles were really accurate and fitting.

Now whether or not you agree with this man's statements, it's one hell of a funny watch either way!
So without further ado I present to you...

Vollassi Toni, or "Tony the Hoodrat"


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kind of Informational view on SAW 7

Hi everyone,
let's get the whole "kind of informational" thing going fellas - now that I have such an unbelievable high amount of people reading what I have to say, there's something I wanted to get off my chest for a while now.

I recently watched the movie SAW 3D  -  also known as SAW 7 - and want to share some thoughts. This is kind of a review, but I guess it's a better read if you've already seen it.

Everything is cooler in 3D. Even Billy.

A little warning in advance - this will include massive spoilers and everything, but you don't usually go and watch a SAW movie for the story anyway.

First off - I've been a fan of the SAW series for quite a while now. In my oppinion, the first SAW movie was a film to remember, and even if you are not usually into horror, this is a movie you should have seen. It has quite a thrilling plot, and the twist in the end will definately get you cold. Now additionally you got a hell lot of blood, limbs and everything you could want from a real splatter film.

The first SAW movie is one you should have seen.

That was 6 years ago. The SAW guys made it a point to realease a new sequel every year on Halloween from then on. Needless to say, those never quite matched up to the first movie.

And well, let's be honest here, for the most part all of those 6 sequels really sucked. There were definately ups and downs throughout, but now with SAW 3D (AKA SAW 7), which will be, so we're told, the last one as of now, we can be really happy that they've finally stopped killing the whole idea of the great first movie again and again.

SAW. All of them.

Things they did quite good.

Something I noticed in SAW 7, as well as in every other SAW movie, no matter how hard you look, you won't find any logical flaws. Lots of stupid stuff, sure, lots of "oh come on, that's just a weird-ass explanation", but it always makes some kind of sense. For example, at the very end of SAW 2 they reveal that Amanda, that heroin-addicted girl who got "tested" and nearly killed in the first SAW movie became jigsaw's apprentice seemingly minutes after her release, and then helped him test others. Because now that her life had a meaning again she totally wanted to "help" others or something...
Saw 7 uses that same trick to somehow work in that totally unexpected final twist - Dr. Gordon, that same guy who everyone believed died in the first movie, suddenly has not died at all, somehow escaped the testing area of jigsaw's game with a freshly sawn-off leg only to become an apprentice of John Kramer (the Jigsaw killer) too. And then we get told that he also helped testing most of the subjects from SAW 2 to SAW 7.
It some how works out but come ooon... I thought he died 6 movies ago and now you're re-using him to fill in the blanks? Yeah well. Whatever.

Couldn't post without having used Comic Sans even once.

Another thing I liked about the movie was the fact that it isn't one of those movies that are completely worthless when not watched in 3D. In my oppinion the big "3D" blown in your face from every direction should be used as a cool extra feature to enhance a movies visuals, and not as THE big thing defining the whole film. The new SAW did a good job at that, occasionally there are guts flying into the viewers eyes (which looks unbelievably cool in 3D) but apart from that the movie doesn't solely rely on cheesy 3D effects.

Have you watched the latest Resident Evil 3D? No? Good, you shouldn't.
It's a steaming pile of trash only kind of bearable because half of the movie you get slow-mo shots of boobs and bullets in three dimensions. If you watched it in 2D you'd probably think it's some weird fan-made sequel where dialog was merely a temporary feature and written by 13 year olds.

Now that you've seen this watching the movie has become obsolete.

Not so cool stuff.

I warned about spoilers, right? No one survives. At all. Every single character somehow in connection with a death trap fails trying to escape it. Or rather fails getting escaped out of by someone else - for the most part it's other people having to mutilate themselves in order to save others this time. But if I remember correctly that was the case in SAW 6 as well. I believe by now they forgot what the original SAW movie was about anyway. Like, you having to save your own life because you forgot to appreciate living it.

There is that one trap where this guy has a noose around his neck and is blindfolded, and this other guy has to guide him through kind of an obstacle course of planks several feet above the ground, failure resulting in the noosed guy falling down, hanging to death.
Now when that scene started to play I was pretty confident that this subject would survive his test - hanging to death just didn't seem spectacular enough for a SAW death. I mean like, the audience wants chopped off heads and stuff. That, plus the fact that maybe one or two survivors help to keep the "sucky story-to-unnecessary violence" ratio in balance.
But no, it wasn't meant to be. He died.
Died a really unnecessary, boring death.

For the story's sake, SPARE ME

Now another death trap did something similar, only in the opposite direction.
The scenario looks like this: in some random underground garage there is a group of nazis (yep, jigsaw hates racism) tied up and bound down in all kinds of weird situations. Now the guy in the middle, sitting in a car and having his back glued to the seat, has to reach a lever in front of him by riping apart his own body, basically.
Now what the jigsaw killer tells him is pretty much this:

"Allright mister nazi, check this. Either you free yourself in 60 seconds, pull the lever and everyone of you 5 guys survives... Ooor you try to get free, fail horrbily, get yourself killed while doing so and aswell get everyone of your buddys killed in a couple of really graphic, disturbingly gory and brutal 3D-Slo-Mos. Make your choice, but consider the audience who pays a shitload of cash to see some limbs flying around. Make. Your. Choice."

Seriously, they could at least have tried to make it a bit more interesting. This scene is as in-your-face as it gets. I wonder if anyone, for a split second even, had doubts about this one ending in a splatter fest.

Crawling in my skin...
 (fun fact - they don't seem to care about who acts in their movies anymore - this is Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park. Another role was "awarded" to the winner of MTV's "casting show" Scream Queens. I loosely remember that there was a time were you had to be an actual actor to be in a movie - but then again, all they have to in SAW is screaming afterall...)

Now if you haven't guessed it by now, all of those nazis died in there. Looked pretty cool though. Chester, you did the right thing.

Some final thoughts.

I think it's a somewhat watchable movie. In my personal SAW toplist it ranks in between SAW 3 and 2. That's 2 behind SAW 1 but 2 and 3 in front of 5 and 4 respectively. Oh wait, I forgot SAW 6.
6 is pretty much 2 in front of 2, so 7 is 2 behind 3 yet still 3 before 4.

If you are a fan watching it is obligatory, and if you managed to go for the first 6 ones you will more or less have to watch the 7th one as well.
As for anyone else - if mild horror and  hard splatter in 3D is your thing and  a lame story you won't fully understand without having watched the first 6 SAWs doesn't tip you off you can give it a watch as well.

Aight, that's it for this kind of informational post in this kind of informational blog.
If you read the whole thing, kudos and thanks to you.
If you liked this post feel free to drop a comment about SAW 3D or the SAW series in general, or follow me for further kind of informational posts.


Can you figure out the exact order of my SAW toplist? Try to decipher it from the "final thoughts" section and leave a comment if you think you've got it right    :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First post in my new Blog.

Hello everyone,

this is the very first post in this very new Blog, and as everything is pretty new as of now this one won't be as flashy and cool as I want the next couple ones to be. I'll check back with things you all totally want to hear about as soon as... I come across said things.

Right now it's around 4:00 AM in the night where I am at, and I have yet to figure out why I'm typing a post in this Blog instead of catching some sleep.