I find it incredibly ironic that, despite not actually wanting to have anything to do with online gaming, I started playing online games anyway, particularly MMORPGs in particular. Perrenial favorites are the casual-friendly Guild Wars and the not-so grindworthy World of Warcraft, but I have to say, I still enjoy logging back into Ragnarok Online.
Despite Level-Up Games’ gross mishandling of the game (for all their boasts of keeping bot programs out of the game during the early years, the servers are literally 80% bot infested), and their less-than-inspired updates (we’re not really getting balance updates, and instead get headgear and price discounts at the Kafra Mall), but there’s quite a bit of the gameworld still left to be actually seen that an enterprising player can explore. Not to mention the quests that actually reward experience that a player tired of hours of mindless grinding can use as an alternative.
In fact, one of the most inspired decisions that LUG has ever made recently was the introduction of the Daily Quests at Alberta — first the Cargo Delivery Quest, and later the Lonely Knights Quest. Essentially quests on a 20-hour timer to prevent abuse, they require a minimum of effort on the player’s part (mostly running around Alberta looking for mimics in the former, while finding a NPC in a specific map in the latter) for a substantial reward of experience (depending on the player’s level). And by substantial, I do mean substantial: the Cargo Delivery Quest alone gives more than 1 million experience points, which is about 1% for a level-98 non-Transcendent character, and around .6% for a Transcendent character of the same level, while the Lonely Knight quest gives around 500,000 Base and Job experience for characters level 81 and higher.
Given how good the experience is, and the minimum time required to complete both quests (about five minutes for me), it’s pretty much a given that I do the quests on all my characters, and I owe a lot of my high character levels to it — heck, I even transcended my Crusader and Blacksmith on it. Hilariously, it’s still possible to abuse the quests, though not in the designers intended; the experience gained can be modified by Experience-boosting manuals, unlike all the other quests in the game. So, if you have an Advanced Field Manual (which gives x2 experience for 30 minutes) active when you do the quests, you gain twice the reward experience (2 million+ experience from the Delivery Quest, and 1 million+ base AND job experience — the latter more important for Transcendent characters — for the Lonely Knights quest).
It still gets a tad lonely at times though, as most of my friends from the heady days of the start of Ragnarok Online (or at least the Philippine iteration) have either quit or moved on to newer games. I miss my old friends Ilona Njis (one of the nicest priestesses ever and my best friend in-game), Kula (headstrong hunter-sniper, later dancer and gypsy), Myria (another priestess who like Ilona bemoaned her choice to focus on Agility instead of Vitality), and Ibis Douglas (the twin-tailed pure forger that could). I miss the active sieging done by the Shadow Circle — whose boards at http://z4.invisionfree.com/shadowcircleonline I still frequent, if only to ramble a bit to the few souls that linger there. I miss the fact that you can click on anyone before on a random map field and get an actual person responding instead of an automated response of a macro program or a bot.
Things change, but I’ve adapted a bit. Laia Illyia, one of the old hands from Shadow Circle, was nice enough to invite me to her friends’ guild Conclave. They’re casual players rather than hardcore, and the conversations we have make the hours of boring leveling more tolerable.