There's not much to talk about while waiting for the new patch, so I thought, why not take a look at some old games of yesteryear?
Many Westerners were introduced to MMO's with classic games like Everquest and Ultima Online. Even FFXIV producer Naoki Yoshida played Ultima Online long ago. But for me, my first MMO was a Korean title called Ragnarok Online which I played when I was a little kid.
This game was so primitive that while the world itself was 3d, the characters and models were only 2D sprites. In a lot of ways, this game played like a bootleg FF MMO. You had basic classes which would upgrade into advanced jobs after finishing a job quest, sound familiar? A lot of classic FF jobs like the Thief and Dancer were represented, and Knights even had a bird which you could ride to combat called a Pecopeco, and it increased your movement speed.
RO was an oldschool, hardcore MMO in so many ways, with a harsh and dangerous world map, exp loss for dying, and insane grinds to increase your character's power. Unlike a lot of modern MMO's, in RO the core gameplay loop is leveling. It could take months of grinding to gain a single level, and those who reached max level were seen as gods. Many rare items, such as cards (like Materia, you slot them in equipment for bonuses) had drop rates of 0.01% or less
. Yes, I'm serious, 1 in 10,000!!!
Don't get me started on the equipment upgrade system, which is just as bad as advanced Materia melding in FFXIV. Your gear had a chance to blow up everytime you tried to upgrade, and if you want a +10 spear, get ready to explode thousands of items!
There were none of the features we expect of MMO's today - no Duty Finder for sure. Since most gameplay was open world and not instanced, kill stealing and griefing were commonplace. There was no character customization or glamour (though the clothes were surprisingly cute), you can change your hair style and color at character creation and that's it. The only part of your gear that was visible was the hat!
There was no teleport system, but Priests had a Teleport spell. So unless you wanna spend 30 mins walking to the leveling area, you had to find a Priest who has set a warp point at the destination you want to go to, and pay him or her to teleport you. Also, HP regen was so slow that people would even beg for heals from passing Priests and Acolytes. I vaguely recall there was a controversy on how much to tip the healer for this service, lol...
There was no market board either! If you want to sell your items, you have to level an alt with the Merchant job and set up a shop in town which people can click on to buy your items. And if you want to buy items, you gotta go to the main city and browse through hundreds of such player shops one by one. Oh, and you assigned your stat points manually, and I remember there was no way to reset statistics, so you better have looked up a guide and stat build before assigning anything, one wrong click and your character is permanently ruined!
In hindsight, this game was surprisingly hardcore for baby Siggy to play, but not everything was harder in RO. One thing that stands out to me in hindsight about RO was how most character builds can only afford to specialize in very few skills, and therefore the PvE gameplay was simpler.
For example, my character was a spear knight, and I had exactly 5 skills. 3 of them were crap, while 2 of them, Pierce and Bowling Bash, were super good. So the entire character was designed to use Bowling Bash. If you were a 2-handed sword knight, then congrats. You got exactly 1 skill, 2h Quicken, and your whole life involves using that 1 buff and clicking on enemies to autoattack them! By contrast, the job in FFXIV with the least number of skills (either WHM or MCH) has around 25 skills, and the ones with the most skills required (like PLD) can have over 32. FFXIV is rocket surgery by RO standards. I don't think RO would hold my interest these days, but back then, the idea of playing in a virtual world with other people was really exciting to me.
I don't remember a lot about my RO days or the friends I made. I never made it to the "serious" endgame, the big guild vs guild pvp battles, or competing for MVP points while fighting world bosses. I do remember how I quit the game: there was one time I grinded a long while to get 0.5% of a level, made a mistake, died and lost 1%. Then when getting back to the leveling area I died again, rage quit and uninstalled the game. I was so immature back then, lol!
Oh, I still remember this zone music, and my quest in this area to get the coveted Thara Frog card (+20% damage against humanoids... including human player characters!). Rag all night long indeed!