*Warning: The following post is very long and has a lot of images!*
Hey guys, I figured I'd throw you a curve ball this time around. I'm hoping no one saw this coming!
And there we go! Thats right, as some of you may know I have access to a kRO account, and while its been inactive for well over a year now with no way to activate it (kRO billing system sucks), with the addition of the free to play game server, the opportunity struck to give kRO another shot. Its a bit embarrassing to say I don't actually know who the actual owner of the account is, I was originally given access to the account to record spawn information from the episode 10.3 spawn changes with a homunculus on the account. The account hasn't been paid since... forever though (about 16 months I think), so I figured I'd give kRO another shot and see how the new server looks.
For those of you who are a bit behind the times, last Wednesday kRO opened up a new server called Baphomet. The server is free to play; your account doesn't have to be paid for to be able to play. The mechanics are slightly different though from main servers. The base experience rate is 1/2 that of a regular server, which has lead me to dub the server 'Masochist RO'. Some NPCs, items and monster drops were also modified, though they didn't specify exactly how. Kafra shop items are a little more expensive to make up for the fact that the game itself is well, free.
My understanding is that if you DO pay for your account while playing the free server, you receive regular exp rates, half death penalty and double storage space. I can't say for sure what the benefits are though because for some reason the exact effects aren't documented on the kRO site and despite my desire to have an active kRO account (or even my OWN kRO account), the billing system won't take foreign credit cards or any form of payment that can accommodate me. For now, I'll have to play masochist mode with no kafra items.
On with the show then! Our foray begins at roughly 4AM Korean time. 2200 online is still a respectable number; its roughly the population of ALL of iRO's servers combined during regular play time (peak hours are slightly higher), and still much higher than kRO main server populations. One thing is for sure though, this number will continue to rise as I play.
Simple and to the point. My initial plan I think will be to make a Takwon Kid. The reason for this is simply the lack of equipment requirements to deal decent damage. While upon reflection in may have been better to go with a thief for improved dodge or archer with superior range and damage, I don't think its a bad choice.
At this point I can't really read the text. You know I translate the kRO patch notices but the truth is that I usually translate the text from Japanese (which gets to Japanese either by another translator or by a translation tool such as Excite and OCN which do really good job of Korean text). Luckily for me, I'm pretty familiar with most of what I'll encounter NPC wise.
The novice grounds were really quite crowded. I couldn't really capture the steady flow of players entering and killing monsters though. Its worth noting that the negative iRO changes that were made to the novice grounds are not present here on kRO.
A bit of a better shot showing the players contesting over most of the monsters.
An amusing party I saw. I guess they weren't so much of a party but more of a angry pack of novices rolling over spores. I figured they weren't partied and just following some kind of mob mentality since my spores weren't above them.
I completely cheated here, the English text is a give-away on how to archer class name is written in Korean.
Success! Landed in the right town.
After talking to the Taekwon job change NPC, this entry was added to my quest log (Alt+U).
A bit of a closer look at the details page of the quest. To my knowledge no quests actually have any alternate icon or image, and I don't think that the kill x number of monsters actually works (or at least in use). Still, its a spiffy looking system and can definitely be helpful. The information appears to vary in degrees... from what I've seen the quest window will give away NPC locations (and sometimes exact coordinates) when the original dialog may have been rather vague. Unfortunately it seems to vary from quest to quest.
I suppose I don't need to say where I'm getting my base level for the job change, I can just show you! The new world map is listed via alt + `. If you're in a party, any map that has party members has a blue border around it, and mousing over the map will show you the names of the players that are there (in this case, the map show me only). Its a shame it won't show players in dungeons (by highlighting the dungeon entrance), but otherwise the map is actually pretty cool. Pointless, but cool.
The first actual change I noticed, the doubling of kafra teleport service costs. Not that it matters at this point, I have spare tickets and am rather unlikely to even have the base cost to warp any time soon.
An interesting trend I saw, and quite grateful for. Some players took the time to run through the novice grounds quickly to obtain a stash of novice potions and kafra warp tickets. Red potions were way too much for me to use regularly, but the going price for novice red potions is only about 5z-9z, a fair price.
Payon was quite a hub of activity. I think Payon has more vendors in it than iRO Loki has on at this time, so I was anxious to see how Prontera looked.
I stumbled across an NPC near the Payon kafra that took me here. I guess this is the new Battlegrounds preparation room.
This is a really coon concept, and I like what they did with the reward NPC. As you can see, instead of simply listing the items, they assembled the battlegrounds rewards into a huge catalog which is readable through the book system. Quite possibly the first decent and practical use of the system too. Just talk to the reward NPC (in the last screenshot in a suit and monocle), and ask him about the rewards and you can read them.
This guy here looks like he's the head of Blue Team. Or something. Not really sure.
And on the other side we have the red team.
Along the top left wall and bottom right wall are rows of NPCs (4 groups total). I imagine this is for the two possible Flavious and two Tierra Valley runs. The left side has the blue knights, right side has red. I guess this means you can chose your team after all? Who knows, I'll have to wait till I hit 80 (OUCH) before I can actually let you know.
Back to leveling! Good 'ol spores. Well they're more like half spores, with the exp rate.
This solidified my decision not to make a ranker. Way too many people already working on it.
This might give you an idea of just how new the server is!
This is another command that exists, /hunting... I have no idea what its for. At this point it does nothing, but maybe its for some future content?
Here's someone using a custom font item on his chatroom name. Its really kind of cool looking. Not many people I saw used custom fonts though, I've only seen it a few times.
After making it to prontera, I was blown away by how many people there were there. Its been years, years since I've seen prontera full to this capacity. It was so cool, I made a video.
Kafra shop items were used by a lot of people. The most common one was the Peco Hairband rental. For what is basically $1.50, you get the Peco Hairband for one week. Unlike its limited iRO variant, the kRO rental item actually boosts your attack speed by 5% and shortens your cast time by 5%, as well as giving you the movement speed increase. Just count how many in this shot alone are using it... its easily the most common (or at least noticeable) item I saw.
Prontera was busy, though not as many out south. Some evidence showed that there was possibly some dead branching a bit earlier.
By this time, server population had increased substantially. I guess it was about 10AM at this time in Korea. Oh, and as you can see, the /w command works fine on kRO.
Always looking for some excitement to leveling, I went to... well, here, south of Morroc.
These guys might be under-appreciated on iRO, but nearly every mage on the server was leveling here. They are the new age Hode... non cast sensor and weak to firebolt.
Having randomly suicided and ended up back in Payon, I found this guy, the Kafra Shop representative. Location wise its pretty close to where he is on iRO (on kRO its just south of the guild flags), but he functions very differently. When you talk to him, he'll take you into the actual kafra shop.
The kRO Kafra Shop. Its in its own room, and has multiple NPCs. Starting from the left is Ripped, the increased weight limit NPC. Then the enriched Elunium NPC, then the Kafra Shop hair stylist. Then comes the 'consumables' NPC, that sells various boxes of consumable items. The next dealer dealt with equipment, mostly rental items but also had the sale time limited permanent headgears as well. Not shown here is an NPC off to the left that moves you to a second room, thats mostly empty except for the Font Item dealer.
This is the font dealer. The font items are really kind of interesting, as they change how your text is seen in game. It won't actually change what you see in the chat box, so it doesn't do anything for guild chat (or Megaphone announce), but it does change your above head text and also your chat and vend window text. The font powder comes in 30 day rentals or permanent item boxes.
The interface here looks a bit different from what you're used to on iRO. The top number I believe is your regular Kafra Shop points... the second is your 'free' shop points. You gain free shop points for various things... main one I know of is playing RO from a netcafe. The box on the right side lets you specify how many of your free points you want to use. I'm unsure as to why there's really a distinction, but thats how it works.
I knew Ripped was supposed to sound like a western style gym trainer, but including random English words just makes it seem extreme don't you think?
I decided to check out a popular spot, Payon Caves. If you didn't know better you'd think this shot was from 2002, but this is indeed bapho server.
Its just like the old days isn't it? It really brings back old memories.
I can't say that from an efficiency standpoint such large grouping would be that great, but everyone seems to be having a real good time. Its an experience thats been missing from RO for a while (at least for me), this kind of leveling, and its cool to see it again. I hear there are huge mag parties on the GH cross too, but I haven't gotten to GH to find out.
I accidentally did some of these emotes, having forgotten that you can do them on kRO but not on other servers. I don't know why you can't though...
A bit randomly I decided to try to head to Morroc by foot. The portals to the removed maps were still there, so I gave it a try.
And now I'm on the first of the new Morroc fields. This one map basically replaces all of the missing Morroc maps. There's no real portals off of this map either, which is a bit strange. The guards, which appear along the north, south, east and west walls are where you enter. Talking to them you can get yourself sent back to Morroc, or if you've done the quest they can take you to the second new Morroc field. I couldn't find a way to exit this field however without actually going to Morroc or ant hell though.
Whoops! I can't forget that there are still dangerous things on this map. This thing soul drained me for 400hp, leaving me with only 10! I managed to escape though.
Looks familiar doesn't it? It is indeed Ant Hell... though I've never seen it here before.
I killed all of the ant eggs several times, and no empty bottles dropped. Some kind of conspiracy? I think I know whats up, but I'll check that out later.
Always bad things in my way!
After much pain I found the 2f exit of Ant Hell.
Interesting isn't it? This is where I exited out from. Both entrance and exits are now on the same new Morroc field map.
While I was here I figured I'd level a bit. Scorpions hit harder than I remember though, so I couldn't stay that long.
Serious nostalgia. I haven't seen a merchant do this since I started the first iRO open beta. For those unfamiliar with the practice, this merchant is offering a 20% discount on items that you may want. You talk to her, she'll buy the item at discount, and give you the item at the store price minus the 20% discount she's offering. The 4% difference becomes her profit.
Morroc certainly took a beating. It looks cool though... the town is still more functional than I would have expected. Anything displaced by the destruction of the town ended up moving to the Morroc ruins to the north west.
This is a new spot for a mail box!
The Morroc Kafra shop staff seemed near the pyramids. The Kafra Shop NPCs on kRo seem more convenient than iRo... there's a single NPC in each town that sends you to the mall... when you're done, you talk to the NPC in the mall and he'll warp you to the spot where you entered from.
I almost forgot about this system. As you can see here, I'm viewing the equipment of this archer next to me. Viewing equipment of others is an opt-in deal, by default people can't view your equipment. There's a check box on your equipment page that lets people see though. You just right click on them and select view gears, and if they have the option enabled, (not sure how party/guild affect restrictions) it will show you what they currently have on. Cool stuff.
While on the note of client changes, I couldn't help but notice that battlemode functioned differently on kRo than it did on iRO. The main point is that the enter key did not end battlemode and bring up chat... the only way to bring up chat was to hit spacebar. One of the main reasons I dislike battlemode is for the enter key problem... with that solved, it would be more helpful to me. I just hope iRO gets this change.
Nothing really fancy, I just don't recall seeing a gunslinger weapon shop in Alberta before.
Even Alberta is busy. At first I thought that the novices were bots but what appeared to be happening was that players were running novices manually through the training grounds and then selling their items to merchants here, who went on to sell the novice reds and teleport tickets for a higher price. Crazy economy going on only 10 days in isn't it?
A little random, just a Satan Morroc related NPC.
I figured I'd point out this guy... he's the guy who ferry's you to the Misty Island, where you enter the Endless Tower.
The Moscovia NPC, next to the Kunlun NPC. Like the others you need 10k, which was something I didn't have.
Koreans and their crazy text-art names!
In Payon I found out the secret of the missing bottles... they now appear to be sold in shop. Cool idea, it looks like they're reducing common bot-able targets.
It surprised me to notice that the price on fly wings is actually substantially higher than it was before. I have a hunch, based on looking through the market that creamy cards are removed from the game. Its not as heavy handed as idRO's "no teleport on free game server" rule, but still enough to curb some of the less desirable aspects of teleporting. I think its a good change myself.
This is an example I wanted to bring up. By default, this is how player text is displayed. The top bar is actually the players position in the guild, and below that is the players name. The actual guild name does not display. Also, as you can see, the text is bold by default.
This is the same player after using the command '/showname'. As you can see, it has become more regular iRO style, of Name (Party) on row one, Guild Name [Guild Position] on row two. What perplexes me is that iRO (and all other RO's for that matter) have option 1 removed, and it can't be enabled. Weird.
I can't just stick in one place can I! It turns out that poison spores are harder after you realize you can't afford to buy fly wings to avoid the dragon tails!
Even Geffen saw a fairly decent population, though mostly mages and not many shops. The main shopping districts seemed to be Payon and Prontera. Payon seems popular because its near the merchant guild, and probably has the three most popular low level zones, spores, wolves, and zombies. I'm also going to guess that vending is pretty localized because players don't have any zeny to hop towns yet.
Speaking of wolves, thats where I'm off to next.
Here's a pretty common sight. This player, equipped with the rental peco hairband is making use of a kRO feature monster mercenaries. Monster mercenaries are a kafra shop feature that allow you to use some monsters as mercenaries. Currently you can get Mimic, Disguise, and Alice. Mimic seems to be the most popular though due to his skills that it has available... not to mention the mimics normal notorious flee helps it a lot when leveling with a player. Monster mercenary's actually have exactly the same stats as they do as a monster. They also have no level limit, which is probably why so many people seem to be using them. At a glance they seem like a pretty good deal... about $1.50 for 5... which each last you about 30 mins.
Some interesting party groupings that I wouldn't have expected to see. A good number of people apparently value the party experience of play, even at a low level when it doesn't really affect much. I can't fault them for that!
Yay my first rare item on Baphomet. Well, its hard to call it rare, but it is a headgear for my otherwise bare head.
Another level up! And a pretty nice screenshot.
Here is my TK at current. I'd say I played about 5 hours... by normal standards that seems pretty slow, but all things considered I think I enjoyed the time I played, and isn't that what counts?
Here's one thing I wanted to touch on briefly too... the Megaphone item. Its less annoying than I thought it would be to be honest. I've seen it used for practical reasons, like trying to organize parties, selling/buying items, trying to get people to come into PVP, etc. Its not overly cheap, at an equivalent of $0.15 a pop, which is why it surprises me that at times players actually have conversations over Megaphone. Its an interesting new level of interaction, and if you don't like it its fairly easy to ignore (anyone proficient at ignoring spam bots in town on iRO have nothing to fear from megaphone).
I did get bored and counted though, during peak time there was on average 1.5 megaphone messages a minute. Work that out and see how much Gravity profits off of the item. :)
The peak server population I saw while I was online. I'm heading to sleep well before the Korean 'evening' and WoE times, so I might miss tracking the highest population of the day. Regardless, 6600+ players is really amazing. Thats 2-3 times the size of iRO or kRO's current player base (yes, kRO is on iRO's level in terms of population).
Thats it for today! I will likely continue exploring the server and reporting some of my findings. If anyone knows any cool information like how I could sign up for my own account and make payments, or just who's kRO account I'm actually using, let me know!