Monday, August 15, 2016

[EMS] Level 213!

Another milestone that kinda happened yesterday, but surely an important thing to celebrate! At first I didn't expect Level 213 to be this soon, but the experience gained from most bosses has been improved by a lot and there has been several events which were generous on rewarding high amounts of experience too.

As most of you frequent readers know by now, I'm not really a person who likes to rush things, especially on the level department. Leveling beyond Level 200 requires a lot of time and preparation, and I prefer to simply do daily bosses on a way to gain experience and restock on resources. Since I don't have any plans on quitting this game or my Hero, as it has been for almost nine years by now, you know I will reach "high" level eventually.

Usually a level up here takes me about 3~4 months, but that'll be slower sooner or later consider the EXP required on each level up progressively becomes larger - most of my experience on each level is actually gained through events. Perhaps the EXP gained on each day might be more than I used to gain, given a lot of bosses have been more rewarding nowadays, and I also have access to all Commerci Voyages.

While my Level Ups aren't as frequent as they used to be, in one way they feel more significant to me because they don't appear as often as before. I'm no stranger to powergrinding in this game, don't forget that I have done many sessions that over 4 hours each - that is why I reached Level 154 before the Big Bang update, because having 32x Experience rate is broken as F. In a way I'm glad that they fixed that though. You thought Kishin Shoukan was bad? You should've seen Premium Mini Dungeons, the Welcome Back system and Genesis/Blizzard/Meteor Rain without cooldown...

That's it for today - I'll see you guys again next post!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

[EMS] The "Mad" in Madhouse

Hi guys! Earlier today, I managed to finish the Madhouse event, and oh boy, what an event it was...

This is one of those contents in-game that kinda puts me on the fence on where we can draw the line for what feels appropiate to be released in a game as MapleStory. But before I'll get into that because at first it might seem I disliked the Madhouse event, I want to point out I actually enjoyed this event - and I'll also explain "why".

The Madhouse is an unique event which is built around a "dungeon" system where the player progresses through a fixed amount of maps by solving puzzles in order to get to the next. Solving puzzles is optional, but it is rewarding and you'll most likely to go through them all in order to 100% this event. Unlike other events, you're actually encouraged to gather resources in said maps, because you'll need those in order to survive - you'll need certain resources to get through or access certain maps. You can either just farm for resources, ignore most of the puzzles and breeze through maps - or you can do them if you feel like it.

I do like that kind of system in a game such as MapleStory, and I'm sure there are other people who usually play games that are centered around this type of gameplay as well - but the environment and the story behind it is what spices it up.

Let's put the PEGI and ESRB systems aside. It's a suggestion, they have to put it there. There isn't much content in Maple that feels out of place to me "for a PEGI 7 game" - and to be fair, this game started out as "PEGI 12" when it was still rather young. Aside to the Madhouse event, other things that felt slightly out of place for even Maple's standards, were such things as Gelimer's plan and where he ultimately ended up during the Black Heaven storyline, or just some minor character/monster designs such as the often-made-fun-of Cold Eyes and the Crimson Queen boss.

The Madhouse centers around an abandoned hospital where you enter with several other characters, after you've been contacted through an old friend (which goes by the name Chloe) that you haven't seen since like forever. Well, this sounds already fantastically familiar, right? What could possibly go wrong, assuming you have been living under a rock ever since they introduced any media such as books or movies?

Going through the Madhouse itself is pretty straight forward, and because this is a hospital, you'll find a lot of useful (and convenient!) tools to open air vents and doors, recharge your flashlight, etc. There's plenty of anatomical and skeleton models to whack for resources as well. And well, if you're a fan of background stories and you often read NPC dialogues (let's be honest, most of you guys don't), you'll figure out a thing or two about what happened to this hospital by finding pieces of paper of Chloe's diary. And this is where things become disturbing and puts me on the fence. And no, to keep things rather spoiler free, I won't discuss the story details here.

That aside - this event has been a very generous one to get permanent Totems! Since we got the Totem slots in EMS a few weeks ago, Nexon Europe has been thoughtful of releasing events and other content for us to immediately get those as soon as possible. While most permanent content, such as Dong Fang Shen Zhou and Alishan gives phenominal Totems, either they expire monthly and you have to get a new one by farming, or you need to do months of daily quests to get them.

Madhouse gives three permanent Totems straight off the bat, for about 2200 coins. While that usually that requires you some hefty farming with Maple's standards, you could get a lot of coins a run (usually between 300 and 400 should be very easy to get) if you get the hang of it (which usually ends up over 500 coins each run). There's plenty of guides out there to explain how "coin farming" in this event works.

While you can get a maximum of three entrances a day, unlike most events, the entry tickets are permanent! So you want to stack them up and find a moment where you can run a few hours, and about one week of tickets should be more than enough for all three Totems!

Probably the reason why we got the Madhouse event, has to do with the Sengoku High and Shimo's Hunter Club events - two other infamous events to gain fantastic permanent Totems. We already had both of them more than once, prior to the Totem slots. And instead of those rewards being Totems, they were actually changed to be Badges and Pocket items - which is actually pretty good. Especially when you consider we didn't have the Boat Quay Town's Badge that can have Potential and you could get the Sengoku Secret Manual skill passively without the need of equipping a certain item set you need to do in order to get that skill. And if you run with a lot of Attack in your build, that might be even better than what you could pull off with Potential...

While I'm not sure if we'd ever see the "Totem-variant" of both events, I would love to see those being released for the players who either don't like the Madhouse event or simply weren't playing at the time this event was running. I would certainly be happy to see the "Badge/Pocket" variants of said events again too! I haven't been able to get the Rifle Bullet Pocket item, despite doing two perfect attendances, so yeah... the Ribgol of all Pocket Items I guess.

That aside, while this event was rather "2spooky4me", I did like the "dungeon" system and the need of resources, but especially the fact that you have plenty of options to tackle puzzles - and you don't even need to. I always enjoy fresh ideas like these and Nexon has rarely failed to surprise me to come up with new things for this game. And well, if there's another thing what this event did right, is the environment. Just don't play this event with your background music on. It doesn't help!

While there's an almost guarantee that I'll hit Level 213 (Yay!) later on today, I'll rather save the blogpost for tomorrow or something. Because I'm far from home this month due to working abroad (gotta fund my LEGO® stuff somehow right?) and thus I'm playing on my toaster laptop, I have a hard time creating images for my blog so I'll probably can't even record my Level Up (it'll probably be captured like this instead).

That's it for today - I'll see you guys again next post!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

[EMS] Ye good olde big updates

Ah, the infamous big updates from MapleStory to catch up for what most people consider as lost time.
MapleStory Europe is no stranger to these updates, and some of them have brought us fantastic improvements.
It has been a while since my last EMS blogpost, and I think I should give that ye good olde big blogpost to catch up on you guys too.

The Big Bang update back in 2011 in EMS wasn't just simply the update that went by the same name in other versions, it also included a full revamp for Zipangu, adding Pine Forest, Kaede Castle and Neo Tokyo. But wait, there's more! They also expanded Singapore with Ulu City, and added the full Malaysia, including the Theme Park. Some other subtle improvements were done compared to other versions, including the often forgotten fact that we never got that controversial quest reset on any of our characters. Let's not forget the improved Crimsonwood Keep! However, one of the few things that was a let down to most, was the ominous lack of the SP Reset Scroll - but in the end, Nexon Europe decided to add it because the community asked for it. EMS did its own thing, as we have done for a looooong while, y'know?

The Tempest update came out in 2013. No, not that update other versions had that released Grandis together with Luminous and Kaiser. I'm talking about the EMS version of Tempest. The 1,5 GB Wailord of an update, including the full Justice update, the full Champions update and the Tempest update all at the same time. Heck, we even got Kaiser before Global because of that. That is why I have obtained my Kaiser Skill Link before my Luminous', because Luminous was released at the end of the Tempest update. EMS did its own thing again.

The Leap update came out late 2015. It ended near the start of this year. It is a big update that most people seem to remember, because it was one in recent memory. The Leap update was a combination of three major updates once again. Maple Ice & Burn, Creation 12 and the Pink Bean class update.

This summer, we finally got the long awaited Reboot update. Well, to be fair, it wasn't called Reboot, but it wasn't called Acceleration either. EMS just did its own thing again - in fact, we didn't get the Reboot server as most versions avoided its release too, and Destruction King Urus was one notable character to be left out. Actually, we got the Zakum the Newborn update in addition instead, which is a funny trivia for the history of MapleStory, given we got the revamped Korean Folk Town and Zakum the Newborn before Urus, who was the first content to add the skeleton animation in the game's engine.

However, not all of these updates have always been that widely appreciated, and this unnamed update, which simply goes by the version number 118, may be(come) one of them.

Friday, July 8, 2016

[Lego] Black light - #71316 Umarak the Destroyer

It was the 4th of March, 2016. My back-then-four-months-younger-self mashed the refresh button on Netflix to finally watch the first episodes of the Bionicle: Journey to One series with great excitement.

"You have done well."
"They are weak, and I am the Hunter."
"You were. Now you are my servant."
"I serve no one."
"As strong as you think you are, I am stronger. There are events that must transpire,
so that I may be freed. You are Hunter no more. You are my minion. You are Destroyer."
*Episode ends*
In quite some history of Bionicle chapters, one thing that was always present in the first generation is that the main villain Makuta Teridax is never as interesting as the supportive villainous characters that aid or serve him.
Whenever it's Roodaka who pulled the strings in the Web of Shadows chapter, convincing Toa Vakama to turn his back against his own group, betrayed and left Sidorak to be crushed into pieces by Keetongu, and injured herself nearly to death to free Makuta from a Toa Seal, or a character like Krika who despite being a creature of evil and allied with other villains, was envious of the good in the world and just simply accepted his fate that he was not meant to be like them and his place in the world was with the losing team. The villainous supportive characters in the first generation often had their own depth and where individuals that often where unique and diverse.
After it was confirmed that generation 2 would undergo a more simple story, most people were worried Bionicle would lose that storytelling the first generation did so well. While we didn't have much to go with in 2015, we've gotten more of that storytelling we love in 2016. And heck, even if this year's chapter isn't finished yet, Umarak is becoming one of my favorite Bionicle villains because he's yet another one of those with depth.
Umarak the Destroyer (left) next to his previous incarnation, Umarak the Hunter (right).
Umarak the Destroyer is a fantastic Bionicle model. Despite it not having a lot of play features, and is like most larger Bionicle/Hero Factory characters limited to just only articulation, it has a striking and unique design, being one of the few Bionicle characters from both generations to be mainly designed out of that good ol' Transparent Neon Green. Which, to be honest, was a surprise.
If you put Umarak the Destroyer next to Umarak the Hunter, you can clearly see the influence of his previous incarnation in his new design. A lot key elements of his Hunter looks have been transfered well to this mutation,
most notably his ankle, chest and shoulder designs.
He might not be like Mata Nui "big", but he is quite a large figure, especially for the price range and piece count. He is significantly larger than any of the 2016 Toa (including Ekimu) and his previous form too. His bulk is probably most notable in the upper part of his body. What a beefcake.
Well - like any product, Umarak the Destroyer isn't flawless either... even if he uses a lot of friction reinforcements, some joints still remain hard to keep in a specific poses because of the weight. The set is very durable, but you can imagine that given the limit to the amount of pieces one LEGO® Product Designer is allowed to use and the strict rules they have to follow, what you get is quite good.
In example of the weight issue, the pose you see above is one that we see in various promotional images. The arms are quite heavy because of its size, and thus even having those friction reinforcements in the shoulders seems to occasionally be not enough...
Flaws aside, just look at him. What a show off. Did you know that some of the generation 2 sets are already in the top 50 of non-System-based Bionicle sets with the most pieces? While "50" might not sound a lot, keep in mind that as of the time of this post, Bricklink has registered 432 (!) Bionicle sets in its database.

If you already have Umarak the Hunter and are a fan of the character or his design, I would recommend getting Destroyer as well. While I would admit that the Hunter is a better set as a toy and if you had to choose between you should get the Hunter, but Destroyer is one heck of a second dish if you wanted to have more.

While Journey to One isn't finished yet and thankfully more future Bionicle chapters have been confirmed, I'm looking forward to the season finale and seeing this monstrosity in action.

I'm sure that my within-three-weeks-future-self will mash that refresh button once again with great excitement when those episodes air soon, on July 29th.

That's it for now - I'll see you guys again next post!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

[Lego] Black light - #76054 Batman: Scarecrow Harvest of Fear

Return to the UV Black light archive.

Hi guys! Back with another quick "Black light" blogpost. Today's set is #76054 Batman: Scarecrow Harvest of Fear.

The Scarecrow is a character that we've seen in three different LEGO® minifigures to date. He has been in four different sets; two sets where he plays the role of an inmate of both the original and redesigned Arkham Asylum.

In his first appearance in a LEGO® set, he flew a biplane to drop fear gas canisters in what appears to be Gotham City. Something that I do like is that The LEGO® Company often designs fictional vehicles for characters that usually do not have these in their source material. And Scarecrow is one of those villians to drive around in things that feels appropiate to the character.

Regardless if he has a certificate to fly around in a biplane is another story, but I do love the new idea of him driving around in a harvester. To be honest, he's a criminal, so he doesn't really need to have a pilot's certificate now does he?

Having another Scarecrow vehicle is also a good excuse to use a lot of trans-neon-green, and I like the thought of using that Alpha Team sawblade as a gear to rotate the cutter on the front. However, if I have to be honest, it does lack in execution, especially if you want to drive backwards.

Interestingly enough, this set has one particular coincidence with the first Scarecrow set: the Batcopter. This isn't the second time we've seen a Batcopter either. Every Batman vehicle from Batman I has officially been redesigned at least once for Batman II. The Batcopter was first seen against Scarecrow, a team-up with Nightwing against Man-Bat, in the Classic TV Series Batcave and yet against Scarecrow once again. I do think that the esthetics and build of this Batcopter is the best out of the four - however, as a toy, it has the least play features.

Vehicles aside, one thing that most readers might notice from the picture is the glowing legs of Killer Moth. While the wings are made out of transparent neon orange and thus are intended to glow, the legs are made out of a solid colour of plastic and yet still seems to glow. This is probably because of the manufacturing of these pieces outside of Billund - some pieces for minifigures and certain creatures like dinosaurs require a complex printing which is done elsewhere. While those pieces are made of solid plastic, taking my black light to my minifigure display shows something interesting.

If you look closely to the image on the right, certain pieces are not transparent and glows on a similar fashion to Killer Moth's legs. I won't join the discussion about whenever that is a "good thing" or not, because we all know that I'm biased towards the company due to my Legocentric life - but I genuinely don't care about it and it doesn't really bother me too much.

As long as the figures have some excellent design, crisp prints and quality behind it like they have been for decades, I'll remain a happy potato. I won't complain to have some obscure characters finally memorized in this plastic medium. You do realize how expensive these things are to manufacture and to develop, right?

That's it for today! I'm not sure when I'll be going to cover Umarak The Destroyer, but I know one thing - it is on my list to write about it. I'll see you guys again next post!