Tag Archives: rpg

Is Your Head – or Your Computer – in the Cloud?

Everywhere you turn, there’s someone talking about Cloud Computing lately. Let’s face it – it’s a hot concept. However, there is a large difference of opinion as to what Cloud Computing even means, much as there is with “Web 2.0”. To some, Cloud Computing is simply another term for virtually anything you do on the Internet. To others, it’s more specifically virtual servers. It gets fuzzy when you try to nail down a full description of what Cloud Computing really is.

To me, Cloud Computing is simply anything I can do online, instead of having to rely on software on my computer. There are full applications available now that cover everything from picture editing to paper writing to handling your taxes… and it’s all done from within your browser. How much easier can it get to simply go to a website and do what you need to do, instead of having to buy and install software, make sure it’s compatible with your system and other software, launch the program every time… you get where I’m going. Cloud Computing, by my definition at least, just makes life so much simpler.

How do you define Cloud Computing, and what are your thoughts on the whole thing?

I keep a fairly close eye on the programs we feature every day on our downloads page. There are some excellent pieces of software there – even a few I found I can no longer live without!

An Insider’s Look at the New Game Aion

XX0wnsXY (Becca) is a girl gamer geek. She’s hardcore, boys, and regularly beats out her male counterparts in various games she plays. She’s been a part of our community for quite awhile now, and has contributed insights and commentary in the past when we’ve talked about various games.

Becca emailed me today, with the below review/guide for her new favorite game Aion. She took the time to write a very comprehensive piece for all of you, so I wanted to post it in full. Credit for the below goes entirely to Becca!

This is my first MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role – Playing Game). (I used to be so against RPGs, but this one has swayed me). So, my review is submitted from a new user’s point of view. I would really like it if anyone with past MMORPG experience can reply and offer an experienced point of view on the game. I think the two contrasts would be interesting.

So the game is called Aion (“Eye-On”). It is, as I said, a MMO-RPG. It’s categorized as PvPvE (Player vs. Player vs. Environment). It’s been out in Korea for a year or more, and was released in the US a month ago.

The story line, in simple terms (although they go into great detail in multiple cut-scenes throughout the game, with awesome graphics):

A world of peace began to crumble after some of the race called “Draken” rebelled against the God “Aion”, and in turn, a huge battle broke out and the world was shattered in to three pieces. These events became known as “The Cataclysm” (Kat-a-Cliz-em) This created three races: “Elyos” (good) who live in “Elysea”, and Asmodians (Evil) who live in Asmodae, and Balaur -(The Draken renamed after their rebellion; not a playable race, NPC’s only, and are hostile against both Elyos and Asmodians, (which plays into the PvPvE.) who reside in the Abyss. The third piece, known as the “Abyss” is the space between Elysea and Asmodae, where both factions gain access at level 25 and begin the true PvP (Player vs. Player) aspect of the game.

You are able to choose which faction you would like to be at the start of your game. You begin your game by choosing one of the 4 classes, Male or Female; Warrior, Mage, Scout, or Priest. I, personally, chose to start as a Priest. You can customize your characters appearance greatly (from hair, skin, eye, and lip color, to extremety thickness, voice and much more).

You begin your journey in the “starter area”, which is different for each faction, of course. You level from 1-9 with simple quests that help you get acquainted with the various menu options and NPC’s. You also become acquainted with your current skills and abilities. Along with that, you become acquainted with the game’s travel systems, which are:

  • A Flight Transporter – Allows you to pay a fee to fly (on a winged animal of some sort, very cool looking) to your destination. The graphics are awesome during flight.
  • A Teleporter – You simply pay a fee and jump into a portal – and your game loads into your destination.

You can bring up your map by pressing “M”. It will give you a full overview of the area you are in, along with surrounding areas. You can press “N” and a smaller, more transparent version will appear, which is convenient while walking/flying and still needing to see where you are going. When you are grouped with other people in the same area, they will appear on the map as blue diamonds.

You will also become acquainted with Soul Healing and resurrection. Should you die along the way (and you will, believe me), you will be given the option to return to the place where you last bound your soul (You bind your soul to obelisk’s in major cities), or you can choose to wait (up to 30 minutes) and ask for someone to come resurrect you. Chanters and Clerics have the ability to resurrect. There are also resurrection stones that can be bought and acquired during quests that can be used on another player.

If you are not resurrected, you return to your bind point, and beside you will be a Soul Healer. For a fee, you will be healed of soul sickness (this makes your movement slow and you are unable to fly/glide) and you will recover your experience that you lost. The amount of experience lost depends on your level. The price of soul healing goes up the more times you die, and becomes very expensive over time, so you must be careful. You don’t have to worry about soul healing when it comes to PvP. If you are killed by the opposite faction, soul healing only costs 1 gold and you do not lose any experience. You do, however, lose Abyss Points (discussed later).

At level 9, you receive an “ascension” quest, which will allow you to become a “Daeva” (advanced humans who have tapped into the power of the Aether to gain new abilities and strengths that put them far beyond the power levels of any mortal human) and choose your subclass. The subclasses are:

  • For Warrior – Gladiator or Templar.
  • For Scout – Assassin or Ranger
  • For Priest – Chanter or Cleric
  • For Mage – Sorcerer or Spirit Master

I started as a Priest, so I chose to evolve into a Chanter. I won’t go into too much detail about the classes/subclasses, as that would take entirely too much time, but each one has its positives and negatives. I like being a Chanter, because we can adapt to pretty much any situation (I.E – we can heal, have buffs, have decent DPS – Damage per Second, and are needed in many group situations).

Shortly after you have completed your ascension quest, you receive a quest to earn your wings. Yes, you can fly in this game, which is something I hear is much different from any MMO out there. The flight ability in this game is so much fun and adds a new and interesting aspect to PvP. You will find that pre-abyss (lvls 1-24), you will use your wings mostly to glide down long hills to make your trips a little faster. There are a few designated areas where you are free to fly, otherwise you can only glide.

If you are interested in PvP before level 25, there are opportunities for this. There are temporary openings from one world to another (Elysea to Asmodae and vice versa) that allow you to go to the opposite factions world and hunt the enemy. These are known as Rifts. However, you have little chance to stay alive, unless you are grouped with other people. I found this annoying at times, because I would be trying to complete a quest in my world, and out of nowhere, comes a group of enemies and of course, I get killed. When the shoe is on the other foot however, it’s fun. Yeah Yeah, I can dish it but can’t take it. Enemies of the opposing faction show up on your radar as red diamonds. You will have to worry more about this in the Abyss.

The good thing is that rifts close after a certain number of people enter them, so they do not last forever. There are even spy quests that you can acquire that require you to go to the enemy’s world and complete a mission. They are very hard, but offer great rewards. I have yet to complete them… like I said, very hard.

Throughout your leveling experience, you will occasionally need to learn new skills/abilities. These are learned from your class trainer, and are in designated areas in the game. As you level, the price of learning your abilities goes up and can become quite costly. (At level 28 I paid over 70,000 gold for my new abilities).

Once you have bought your skill manual, it will appear as a book in your inventory (Hit I to access your inventory). Double click the book, and that skill will be learned. You can then press the letter K on your keyboard, and it will bring up a list of all of your skills. You can find your new skills and drag and drop them into your skill bar at the bottom of your screen:

Don’t worry, gold is plentiful in this game, and easily acquired. If you manage your gold right, you will have no trouble. If you do find yourself needing more, there are options to receive gold through the in-game mailing system. All you have to do is ask a friend for gold and they can attach it to mail and send it to your in-game mailbox (found at most major cities, in game). Gold is not hard to acquire through Grinding (Killing NPC enemies), either. There are also other options like selling items you have acquired via the Trade Broker (also found in major cities), or general goods merchants.

Like with many other games of this type, you can learn professions. Along with the professions, you can also Gather, which eventually evolves into Extraction. You begin gathering different plants/herbs. As you level, you receive the ability to extract the essence of an item, rather than the item itself, called Extract Vitality. After that comes Aether extraction, which is extracting from the sky (you must fly and risk falling to your death if you are not careful). I suggest leveling these things as you go. Many people say that it is not important, so I did not bother with it at first. When I reached level 20 I realized that many of the NPC’s gave quests to gather/extract an item and bring it to them. I skipped many quests and they add up! I spent many hours going back to level my gathering/extraction. Major setback, but I’m glad I did it. Definitely do this as you go.

Leveling solo is very do-able until level 20+. You will begin receiving quests that require a group. They will have the [group] prefix, letting you know to not even attempt to do the quest without more people to help. These are the most fun for me. You get to interact with other players and become an important part of the other players success. Very few of the quests you acquire are [group] quests, however they offer such great rewards, that they can’t afford to be skipped. Aion offers a LFG (Looking for Group) chat channel, which makes it easy to find people to group with.

Grouping is used for [Group] quests and instances. You can join the “LFG” Chat channel and ask for more people to help with your quest. Usually typed in this format: “Level 31 Chanter LFG Legendary Amethysts. PST (please send tell, which is just a whisper.). You will hopefully get some responses and from there, can invite people to your group (right click their name and select “invite to group”).. rinse and repeat.

One of the most menacing problems for MMO’s are the gold spammers (Those who want to sell you gold – it’s illegal, but people do buy so it keeps the gold spammers running rampant). They spam the chat with their links and make it hard for you to read any conversation going on between your legion or group. One easy fix to this is to create a new chat tab, and customize the options to allow only chat from your legion or group. To do this, open chat and right click on one of the tabs. From there you can choose “Add Tab”. Name it, and customize tab options. Voila!

At level 20. you can acquire “Stigmas”, which are basically extra abilities that you can receive that can separate one of the same class from the other. There are many stigmas that one class can choose, and that’s what makes me (one chanter) different from another. You must complete a quest to enable you to equip stigmas, but after that as you level, you will acquire more stigma slots. To view your current stigma slots, press “P” and select the Stigma tab.

Stigmas can be acquired from quests, NPC drops, or bought from the trade broker. Some are more rare than others. Each stigma requires stigma shards (can be acquired in the abyss from NPC enemies) to equip, and can only be equipped by a stigma master.

The next milestone is level 25. This is when you receive your “Abyss Entry Quest”, which is quite long, but very easy. Once you complete this quest, you gain entry access into the Abyss – the main PvP area. During the quest, you have to pick which area of your world you will access the Abyss from. Once you pick, you can enter the abyss by flying to the portal in the sky only in that area.

The Abyss offers many things, and has beautiful graphics. It offers many high experience/pay/item reward quests, and of course, it offers PvP. The Abyss can be very overwhelming at first. When you enter the Abyss, you are in a safe zone. There is an Aetheric Field around this area that prevents any enemy from penetrating. Once you venture out, you can collect quests, grind abyss enemies for high experience and abyss points (Points collected in the Abyss that when enough are acquired, you can get special items), and PvP.

Venturing out into the abyss requires flight. You can teleport to some areas, but you will have to fly a lot. There are flight rings that you will find between certain areas that you can fly through to gain flight time. You can refer to the bar at the bottom right of your screen to monitor your flight time drain. If you strafe through the rings, you can refill your bar quickly. There are also potions that increase flight time, along with equipment perks.

The ultimate goal of the Abyss is to capture fortresses from the opposing faction. I have no experience in this, but a month into the game, people are already doing it. You can see which fortresses are owned by which faction by pressing “M” to bring up the map and refer to the color key.

PvP is the most exciting feature for some MMO players. I like a little bit of both PvP and PvE. As I said before, when venturing out into the Abyss, you will run into an enemy from the opposing faction. They will appear on your radar as red diamonds, and when you are close enough to them to actually see them, their name will appear in red. They will have a rank (ie Rank 7 soldier), which is in reference to their abyss points. The lower their rank the more abyss experience they have, so beware of going against anyone too much lower than you. You are also unable to see the opposing faction’s level. Some like it this way, some don’t. Personally, I think it adds an interesting twist and requires a bit more strategy when approaching an enemy. To view your Abyss points/ranking press “P” and hit the “Abyss” tab:

As I continue to level, I learn more and more about the game. I do not have anything to compare the game to (first RPG), but I not only experience nothing but good things, I also hear good things, for the most part. The graphics are probably the best part of this game. They are absolutely beautiful. The storyline is interesting to follow, and it isn’t a total grind-fest to level. The pace is good, and the Abyss is fun.

Aion, like any other MMO (from what I’m told) has it’s problems. There are gold spammers and bots. The game has been out for a month in the US, and so far the development team has been working hard to keep them at bay. I’m not sure they will ever be totally rid of them, but I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

There are many guides for Aion out there, all of this content was written by me. All screen shots were taken in – game by me. Some sources were used for the storyline.

Very, VERY well-written and detailed guide, Becca! Thanks so much for sending this in. I have a feeling several of our gamer Geeks are now salivating to get their hands on Aion!

Lux-Pain DS Game Review

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Once again, my friend Michelle is helping me out by playing a game and reviewing it for me! She’s a gamer – and we all know I am not. Michelle is an RPG fan. She says that Lux-Pain isn’t so much an RPG as it is more of a storyline-based game. You don’t get to go where you want to go, as you would in a traditional RPG.

The story is interesting, in that it has to do with your world, and a separate world. You go around different areas, meeting different characters, and figure out what’s going on with the storyline. Your character has superpowers, allowing him/her to see if there’s something weird going on with other characters.

Michelle really likes the fact that she can use her superpowers on the “wronged” characters to try and erase the bad spirit, uncovering even more of the storyline. With much of the game looking like Anime, she says that people who are into that genre will definitely get into the game quickly.

The game is more of a mystery story, rather than one where you would collect armor and change your character. You will mostly go around collecting spirits and such, gaining experience, at the beginning.

If you’re a fan of this type of game, you’ll enjoy this game quite a lot I think. It’s very different from what most people think of when they think of an RPG, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun! If you like getting into storylines, then Lux-Pain is for you!

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Sacred 2: Fallen Angel Xbox Game Review

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It’s a good thing I have a friend like Michelle here in Seattle. She’s a gamer – and I am not. I like to play casual games, but I just never quite got into RPGs. It would be silly for me to attempt to give a review of one, since I honestly don’t know how to properly play them!

Michelle’s been a gamer for years, and her specialty is RPGs. She admits to being hooked on Oblivion, although she does expect to spend quite a bit of time with this copy of Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. She loves the fact that the game gets into the storyline quickly, and gives her a lot of opportunities to kill things. Would you believe she’s an expert marksman in “real” life?! I do.

Sacred 2 is the superb 3D enhanced sequel to the original Sacred, and provides more action, monsters, scenes, weapons, combos and feedback for even more fun. The game features a massive, seamless and dynamic world delivering hundreds of hours of free-form exploration. You can choose to play on one of two campaigns: the “Light” or “Shadow” side (much like Alliance vs Horde in World of Warcraft). There are six different types of characters to choose from, each with their own look and capabilities.

The only real drawback that Michelle doesn’t like is the camera angle. She says the camera kind of is behind the character, and above it. She keeps having to zoom in while in combat, and the camera tends to just revert to being zoomed out on its own. The controls are apparently a tad different than with other games, but is easy to get the hang of.

All in all, Michelle thinks that this is definitely going to be a game you’re going to spend hours losing yourself in if you are into RPGs.

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How to Get Started with Dungeons & Dragons

Geek!This is FreshPineSent’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

If you don’t already know, Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D) is a tabletop fantasy role playing game, based on the d20 system. Playing on a regular basis with an established group is a blast, but (as with many great things in life) starting is the hardest part. This list will hopefully give you some helpful tips on finding a group and learning the game.

(1) Finding a Group

The first step a new D&D player should take is one towards an existing group. Most players are happy to see new people joining the D&D community, and would be glad to help you learn the basic rules. The best place to find other players is a gaming store. If you have one locally, make it your first stop to look for an existing group. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a gaming store near you, you may also want to check out your local library. A very helpful resource for finding a D&D group is Meetup.com. Meetup is a place for people to plan to… well, meet up. You can enter your location, and look for D&D groups close to you. Once you have found a group, you need to approach the players. Ask if you could sit in on a session, and if they could help you learn the rules. When I first started playing, another player was even kind enough to let me use his books.

(2) Books

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook – this is absolutely essential. It contains all of the rules, stats, and all other information you need to play. You can purchase it alone for around US$35.00 or buy the entire core rulebook set and save a few dollars. The other two core rulebooks are the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Master’s guide. These can be helpful, but are not essential.

(3) Dice

For calculating the random aspects of a game, you need a set of polyhedral dice. You can pick up a very nice set of dice at Amazon for US$2.25. If you have an iPhone, there are several apps that will generate random die rolls. Be careful with the iPhone apps, however, because some groups frown on them.

(4) Stat Sheets

Aside from the books and dice, you will also need a medium to record your character’s stats onto. For this you will need a character sheet. As a beginning player, the best character sheet for you is the one in the back of the Player’s Handbook. You can photocopy this, or download it in PDF form and print it out.

(5) Discouragement

As you start as a new player, you will likely get discouraged. Don’t let this make you quit. When I first started learning the rules, I was somewhat overwhelmed. Do not worry, and in the words of Douglas Adams: DON’T PANIC. It takes time to learn. Lastly, the most important tip of all: ask questions. You will not learn anything if you don’t ask. Asking a question will never hurt, and there is no such thing as a stupid question.

I do hope you were able to get at least some helpful information out of this short list. If you need help with anything, or if you are unsure about something, leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon a humanly possible. Thanks for reading!