Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hitback! Hitback! Ragnarok Online beta.

Out of sheer boredom (and the need to take a break from my intense writing sessions), I decided to check out one of my older blogs. I couldn't help but smile at one of the entries that I wrote six years ago: it was about my first impressions on Ragnarok Online, when it was still in beta phase.

Some things that should be noted before reading the below excerpt: Ragnarok Online may be the first widely commercialized online game in the Philippines, and the concept of online gaming was practically unheard of to some extent the first time pRO hit the local PCs.

Also, what pRO was back then is very, very different from the cesspit that is the pRO of the present, barring the current patches and the gamebreaking business model, of course.

On the beautiful mockery of life - July 03, 2003

Where in the world can one find the following oddities:

  1. The pope who asks for a kiss for every wound he heals
  2. A merchant named "Don Juan" with a cute ribbon on his hair
  3. Plain, honest chivalry
In an online game, of course.

I stumbled upon Ragnarok online when it was mentioned to me by my college best friend. I was intrigued, and even more so with the prospect of playing a game with other real, live people (her brother's currently addicted to it). The promise is good enough to pull me away from my books.

I was not disappointed.

Simply put, Ragnarok Online is like chat client only with...diversions. You interact with other people in the world which is known as Midgard (my pet peeve is the game's superfluous references to Norse Mythology, but whatever), and take on a job of your own choosing. I took it upon myself to be an archer, the prerequisite to becoming a hunter--which has a nifty ability to own a falcon--even though I was recommended to become a mage.

What amuses me is that when people are logged into the game--in Midgard--people act as if they really live there, that they have a purpose there, even though they are not actually RP'ing (roleplaying), at least, not consciously. You could see that in their dialogues with their friends in RO. One asks a travelling knight which way is it to Prontera, one of the cities, and he will answer you with straightforward directions. Or you could try to haggle for a sword with one of the merchants in the city. You could help save a maiden in distress from being attacked by a wolf as well.

It's a mockery of life, but a mockery of a beautiful, simple life.

One of the interesting things in playing RO is that participants interact with others as citizens in that particular world...unlike in chatting, where you talk to the person behind the username, or YM handle. That's a lot different compared to interacting with the characters in-game: the merchant, the knight, the priest. You're not talking to your pesky neighbor, you're talking to a kick-ass knight.

But I like this fact the most: Chivalry is certainly ever-present in this miniature world. I could not recount all of the many instances other players step in to help me over my in-game predicaments, and I'm not talking about them merely stepping in to finish my quarry (that's KS'ing). Once, when my archer inept was recovering her HP, a thief by the name of Wakalinanka sat down beside me and offered to get rid of any hostiles while my HP is low. Yeah, I remember you. Thanks.

Archer Inept Selrotta and Wakalinanka

With those experiences in mind I realized that people are really more...interesting if only their walls are down: a security afforded by being able to become the person that they want to be, but at the same time is nestled within the confines of anonymity. The barriers that surrounds other people in real life distorts our perception of their true selves.

People are definitely sweeter if only they don't see the need to erect barriers.
(I think I actually went off-tangent there.)

It's just too bad that the locally-hosted Ragnarok Online eventually went down the crapper, but it's not really the game's fault. It's the fault of both the local publisher (for not doing anything to alleviate the problem when it was still not too widespread, for making use of a business model that turned the game into a contest of who's got the most money to waste), and the majority of the local gaming community for being skwater.

(For a good, in-depth discussion of what exactly skwater is, just refer to this page, written by one of the former members of the Knights of Obscurity. Haha I miss you man, wherever you are.)

Anyway, Ryan and I are now playing in a private RO server to reminisce about the good old days, sans the cancer and grinding. This privy server is actually decent: it replicates the good old RO gaming experience. There's still the need to grind, of course, but not as much. And there aren't any game-breaking changes, not like that one server that has the Jedi and Sith as job classes. I lol'ed.

We have to hand it to Ragnarok Online. Despite it's flaws, we still feel the need to go back "home."

My knight Soseji, and his monk Konpeito. They're more like twin sisters than anything else.


Josef said...

Well, well.
I also found myself playing RO once again. XD