It has been one week since I’ve started playing RF online. So far things are going fairly well. I’ve completed all my newbie quests, made more friends, and even made a little money. It is then I realize that I’ve absolutely no idea where these other two races are, why we are fighting, or even who they are. Research time.
The best way to learn about your opponent is to fight them to the death, at least in RF online. Instances like these happen every 8 hours on a grand scale. These are called Chip Wars. But before the who or what, its best to know the why. Apparently, this planet that we are on is chock full of valuable minerals, one area in particular being exceptionally lucrative to mine. However, its guarded by a monster. A big old nasty monster called the HolyStone Keeper, or HSK for short. It kills anything it doesn’t like dead, instantly, no ifs ands or buts. Which means everything that approaches it is toast. Well, some bright individual figured out a way to trick the HSK into thinking members of a particular race were its friends. Obviously being exempt from the “instant death” clause would provide a significant bonus. In order to do this, you needed a chip from one of the other races. You fight the other race for its chip, bring it back to your chip, and this allows you to mine in the richest spot of all: right under the HSK’s nose.
Enter the Chip Wars: Obviously everybody wants to be rich and get the chip and mine and live happily ever after, yadda yadda yadda. And that’s the issue; everybody wants it. PvP over the chip can easily involve 25 or more people on any given side. These battles are as short as 3 minutes or as long as 3 hours, depending on the number of people participating, their level, class, and so on. Getting the chip means your race gets a significant economic bonus over the other races. After all, more stuff mined=more money=better gear, pots, friends, etc. So the battles are usually fairly intense.
Around level 19 or so I decided it was time to fight in one of these. Boldly I set out with my ranger character for the mines. It was then I made my first of many painful discoveries: there is really no place for lowbie PvP in RF online. I was ruthlessly quashed 6 or 7 times by characters that were 20 levels above me. Most people in Chip Wars are at least level 30. Again and I again I had to run back to the portal, port into the mine, run down to the chip my race was attacking, and die again. It was a little frustrating, but I amused myself by seeing how far I could tear through the enemy attack line without dying (the answer:not very far). Cora won, which made me feel a little bit better.
This was also the first time I’d set eyes on any other race characters. The Accretians in particular were fearsome to behold. Being targeted by one was like being run down by a giant, angry, bipedal Mack truck, and hurt just as much. They hit hard with physical damage but have no magical attacks. The Bellato were cute and short, but also fearsome. Especially in the giant robot things some of them drive called MAUs. They were kind of like Cora in that they also had magic users, but not as strong.
All in all, an interesting experience.
Day > 12
Today I have reached level 29. Its taken me longer than I expected: grinding in this game is tough. Luckily my guild has helped me out in a ton of ways, so its not as bad as it could be. The next time I level I’ll get to choose my first class change, which I’m excited about. But that won’t be today.
Because today is the day I compete in the Thunderdome.
Thunderdome, a GM ran event, is basically a giant inter-racial tourney sorted by level. Its previously been held every couple months, though it should be occurring more often now. Its a 1v1 tourney. I’m in the lowest degree, Flem, for characters 29 and under. Hence, no leveling today. Quite a few people have signed up for it, but only one other person has signed up for my degree. I figure a 50% chance of winning isn’t bad. However, I’ve also heard that this particular person has also quit, so it is with some excitement and trepidation that I port into the Thunderdome for the competition.
There are roughly 100 people in the arena. I take my seat with my race to watch members of the other races filter in. I see a couple characters I’ve heard about in the forums, as well as some people that I’ve fought personally. The Race Leader of the Accretians has also showed. But my opponent is nowhere to be found.
When everyone is seated with their weapons put away (apparently one Thunderdome erupted into mass chaos because not everyone was sitting and/or unarmed; resulted in a total free-for-all) the Thunderdome starts. My ranger is called to the arena. My race is cheering me on, and I’m glad, because I’ve previously had really bad luck at PvP. Now my opponent is called.
He hasn’t showed. The GM pronounces me the winner, and asks me to sit down. I’ve just become a millionaire in prizes for showing up. I’m pretty happy about it.
I stay to watch most of the rest of the Thunderdome. Its quite entertaining. Its especially interesting to see what abilities and armor members of other races have without being on the receiving end of them. A few people start trouble and are kicked out, but for the most part it goes pretty smoothly.
Day > 13: This Really Happened
I have decided, in the interests of fairness, to create an alt character to check out the abilities of other classes. I choose crafter and start leveling I’m busy putzing around HQ when I am approached.
“Hey Bob, what level are you?” I’m asked.
“4.” I reply.
“4, lol, if u added a zero to that you’d be the same level as me.”
“If I added a 0 to 4 it would still be 4. 4+0=4”
“Ur a loser”
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a math joke.
Day >14: Discontention
There’s a huge ruckus going on both in game and on the forums. The reason for all the hubbub is that there’s a new content patch scheduled to be released, but due to bugs encountered while translating it it won’t be released this particular week. Many people are in an uproar, threads are being locked even more than usual, and everyone is generally quite stressed out. There’s a new “I’m Going to quit” thread every hour or so.
This makes me quite sad to see so many people upset. Grudingly I have to admit that I’ve lost my sense of cool objectivity. I really like this game but can’t figure out exactly why. Its not solo content, as that’s rather underwhelming. Its not graphics, because I run off of a laptop and everything looks rather crappy on a laptop. Its not PvP because I suck at it. Its not sound, because I turn it down all the time. And yet I’ve logged more hours onto this game than any other game I’ve played in the last 2 years. Hmm.
I take a few hours away from the game to think about this. If its not content, music, graphics, or PvP, then what is it? How could something so seemingly bland be so addicting? Or have I just lost all sense of standards? Eventually I reach a conclusion. Its not so much as the game, as it is the people that play the game.
This is easily the best online community I’ve ever seen. My fellow players are helpful, supportive, and easy to play with. More importantly, they’re vital to play with, as this game requires an enormous amount of time and energy if you attempt to do everything yourself. This is a fairly small community, so most people are familiar with a lot (if not all) of the other players on their server. The GMs are also supportive and helpful. With the patch delay, however, they’re in somewhat of a pickle. Can’t really do much about buggy code, but its evidence that they’re trying to do what they can by listening to players. That’s another crazy thing; the GMs actually listen to players. They take ideas for events, content, server names, and whatnot, and actually consider them. I’ve never seen another game that’s done that.
On the other hand, sometimes its flat-out just hard to play. This can be a really frustrating game. I lag a lot, am at a significant disadvantage in some things because I’m a lower level, and when I was just starting out I was incredibly confused on some things that should have been explained in the tutorial(psst, put chat commands in that thing).There are also some odd bugs. One player who I party with can’t see my character. Yet, I play. And am playing. And will play.
So, I guess I don’t really know why I like this game, but I do, and I play it a lot. Its definitely not for everybody at this point, as I’m sure that some players don’t place a high of a value on a stellar community than I do. Nor would they be as excited as I am about banding together to fight off a common foe. Its frustrating at times, sometimes very frustrating, but for me that makes the payoffs all the more rewarding.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Chip War to fight.