I recently began a project where I am printing off 13×19 posters of all of the avatars I’ve had within the various virtual worlds I’ve participated in for at least a couple months. A lot of these I was able to simply log back in and take a screenshot, however this was not the case for Lineage 2. Lineage 2, as I have revealed, I played largely on private servers. Those servers no longer exist. I had the option to setup my own private server just for screenshots (which is what I did for screenshots for that game in those articles), but I decided it would be an interesting experience to simply create a character on the official servers and see if I could get the same gear I had on the private servers.
While leveling up, I used the situation to see how the game is going. It continues to have free expansions released, and to be honest, I always have a certain weakness for it and consider playing from time to time. I especially became interested when I heard Europe has launched “classic Lineage 2” servers, before all the new content for free to play was added. It requires a subscription, but I’m willing to pay for nostalgia. Sadly, after leveling up through the game to the level I needed (only 60ish) after a few hours, I decided the game was never worth actually playing. It is full of bots, and the few players that can speak English admit the game is purely pay-to-win.
It was very disheartening to see dozens of characters being controlled by AI programs to level up and collect items. They may as well be unresponsive NPCs, except they kill the mobs you want, so it becomes an irritation. That, and for some reason many of them had pet wolves that were left dead at the spawn in points… Not sure why they’d have a pet just to let it die, unless the botting program failed to account for it, which they often run into hiccups like this.
The game holds your hand in leveling up, guiding you from quest to quest (it was nothing like this originally). It also hands you all of the gear you need at each level bracket as far as I got. This means any adena (currency) you get is worthless, because such minuscule amounts aren’t needed as you don’t need to actually buy any gear. You are given top grade gear as you level up, automatically. To have a top grade set was nearly pointless unless you had an alt because it was just that hard to get. It was more of a status symbol or collectors item. Me being a collector, I had many of the sets. Now, they have no point.
I was able to get my full Doom Plate Armor handed to me by the game. The Damascus sword was an issue since the game didn’t provide that, but I found a friendly player who simply bought me one. This was enough to take a screenshot of my character for the poster, however it wasn’t quite a match. I had a Damascus Sword +16, which was extremely hard to get and featured a bright red glow to reflect its level of enchantment. That would be all but impossible to try for without investing dozens of hours into the game at this state (hundreds in the old setup). So, I decided to call it a day as soon as I got that screenshot.
All in all, the game simply isn’t worth playing at all anymore. The community is rampant with bots. The leveling system is stream-lined. All the mystery and fun has been taken out of the journey. It all revolves around an end-game that is apparently heavily pay-to-win. All in all, I’m afraid Lineage 2 is dead to me. But that’s ok, it left me with a lot of great memories and experiences.
As I became dissatisfied with the available private Lineage 2 servers, I still shied away from Official Lineage 2 servers, as the amount of time required for leveling was much more than I was willing to commit. I was actively involved in a certain forum group that had been following the development of Lineage 2 private servers from the beginning, and I had my own ideas for how to make Lineage 2 a fresh and fascinating experience. While there were many attempts on my part to create Lineage 2 servers (one of them revolving around a custom story line and player controlled role-play events), my biggest move in this field was purchasing a machine capable of hosting the official server files (not the emulated files). Having set this machine up and demonstrating running the server, I was invited to host the official server for this forum group.
I was able to recoup some of my expenses by offering rewards in exchange for donations. As I have described in other articles, players would donate a certain amount of real life cash to receive in-game items in exchange. Despite being on a popular MMO server file site, Lineage 2 was declining in popularity at the time and I rarely had over 50 players logged on at a time on my server. After a couple months, I took it down.
A couple months later a developer of Lineage 2 server files using java came about and took up the job of hosting the forums Lineage 2 server. He asked for my assistance (most likely a courtesy), and I became a part of his GM (Game Master) team. His server had originated prior to it being hosted on the server, and since the owner developed his own server files pack, he also attracted players through that. His head GM was a female named Madison. Unfortunately, she and I conflicted on our ideas of how to best serve the player community. Whereas I preferred interacting with the players and coming up with creative events, she preferred dishing out punishment and carrying out her will over the other players. She often conflicted with me on the most basic of subjects, and this led to me stepping down as a GM and merely being a player.
As a player I once again led my own clan, Chaos Legion, and attempted to compete with the other clans. The server was heavily dominated by a single alliance of the strongest players, and anyone who stood in opposition were deemed enemies and killed on site. They were an elitist organization, which clashed with my ideology of providing a gaming environment in which everyone was welcomed and appreciated. Being the strongest alliance, they were able to secure all of the Castles in Lineage 2 for themselves.
It is every clan’s dream to own a castle, but they were intent on owning them all, and would even show up to sieges to kill all the other players just for fun to prevent them from obtaining any castles. I ended up buying an account off of one of the members of this alliance who was quitting. I used his top level character and created a clan called “Ace” (meant to represent ace up the sleeve). On siege day, my clan Chaos Legion assaulted Giran Castle (one of the most profitable), and relentlessly flung ourselves into certain death for 110 minutes. At this point I commanded my squad to hang on just a little longer, and logged onto the other character, who was already inside the other that that alliance controlled. As the siege time was nearly over, and Giran had attracted the attention of their entire alliance, I was able to capture the castle and they were unable to get back to it in time to prevent me. Granted, this accomplishment was only managed due to the fact that these private server files had a bug and did not automatically remove all players who log in to a siege zone to the nearest town like official files do. We had managed to create our own alliance and take one of their castles. They were of course quite displeased and sieged it two weeks later, however many of us had quit at this time since we had accomplished the best we could on this server.
That is it for my stories, thoughts, and actions regarding Lineage 2. It was quite pleasant and truly one of the most enjoyable MMO’s I have ever played. It went free to play in 2012, however the game had since become heavily influenced by other MMO’s such as WoW, making the game dramatically easier to level up, however still requiring a heavy late game grind. Other changes were made to ensure players get better gear faster, and making large parts of the world useless. This is a problem that has affected many MMO’s as of late, and you will see it as a theme in my other articles. I hope you enjoyed my coverage of Lineage 2, and there will be a bit more to come later on as I am currently developing ideas for a project!
As the subscription model barred me from continuing my existence in Lineage 2’s official servers, I delved into the underground, finding private Lineage 2 servers. As mentioned in the Private-versus-Official article, these servers were operated by individuals not associated with NCsoft, could manipulate the way the game operated, and could also make a profit by offering donations to the users. I had found my home on one of the first private servers to utilize Official server files. This server was known as HSC, or Hell Spawn Clan. The server owner, Duante, had begun his server using the L2j format (read Private-versus-Official article for a breakdown of that), and redid the entire website and server when he obtained the leaked Official server files. Now I was able to play the game like it was meant to be played, however at 5 times the normal rates.
By this time I had also recruited one of my best friends into highschool into playing Lineage 2. We both started our new Lineage 2 paths as Humans, again heading out into this bright new world on Talking Island. His avatar was named “Ferrath”, and I had stuck with “Quatre”. His avatar was a mage, and mine a warrior. As soon as we were able, we quickly formed our own clan. It was named “Chaos Legion”. We quickly advanced through the levels and acquired many guild mates along the way. At level 20 I became a Knight, while Ferrath became a wizard. We were progressing about on average with the other players in the world. Some played for much longer than we were able and were far more powerful than us as a result. The server owner also led his own clan within the server, and managed to capture the first castle, Gludio, with the majority of his clan mates around level 40. While this was highly suspicious that so few players at such a low level could take a castle so early, it was left largely unquestioned as Gludio was the smallest castle town, and he was the server owner after all. People thought it better that he take the weakest castle for himself rather than a more powerful one such as Giran.
Our clan grew steadily as our avatars progressed through the game. What was most interesting was our connections to other clans. Due to HSC being one of the first “official” private servers, it had attained a huge amount of popularity and attracted large populations from all over the world. This lead to ethnic war-fare in the servers! Lines were drawn in the sand between Brazilian players, Russian players, German players, Portuguese, and others! This led to many fights happening in the virtual world, many players attacking others on site if they did not bare the same clan as they were in. The language players spoke was also a give away. Chaos Legion was one of the first clans to obtain clan level 3, and we did so by buying the item required that had a low drop rate, spending a considerable amount of money to do so. By this time Ferrath and I had both achieved level 40 and progressed our classes to their final stages. I had become a Dark Avenger (a tank class featuring debuffs that was also able to summon a panther companion), and Ferrath had become a Necromancer (a DPS class focusing on debuffs and summon minions to aid him). Unfortunately, Ferrath soon stopped playing stating his mother would not allow him to play games that dealt with Demons due to her faith (on a side note, he was also barred from playing Halo, as the aliens were demons in her eyes). This left the management of the clan up to me. Through my experiences in the games, I had formed connections with the leader of the most powerful German clan. I had established this before ethnic wars had really come into being. Krycera and his Myrmidons remained loyal allies to those of us in Chaos Legion despite that we were Americans and they were Germans. This cultivated into our attempt to siege the castle of Gludio. I had amassed a large alliance of clans from both American clans and Krycera’s European allies, and we were set to attack the server owners castle, who naturally also had many friends. Unfortunately, the night we were to assault the castle, I was stuck in an outing with my family… By the time I arrived home the siege was already an hour and a half in, and our forces had been decimated without leadership. Duante’s forces had planned a cunning attack by hiding his forces outside the castle and in the river which surrounded it. As Krycera stood up and took lead, Duante’s forces emerged from the water and attack Krycera’s forces from behind, taking them by surprise and ultimately making taking the castle impossible. Luckily, this loss wasn’t a severe blow to anyone involved as taking on the server owner was more of a statement than an attempt to actually win the siege.
There were many other interesting instances and characters I came across in my time in HSC. I had come to form friendships with two people in particular, Fresh and Rajah who were my clanmates. I also formed friendships with the servers most economically successful Dwarf and his brother, their names were Ruff and IamApple. I still have contact with Fresh, Ruff, and IamApple to this day. Ruff was a dwarf, the only class capable of crafting, and had dominated the market in producing soul-shots and spirit-shots (consumable items that greatly enhance each attack), and became the go-to guy for all crafting needs. He even extended me a line of credit in the form of crystals I needed to obtain my C grade sword. Sadly, he later became banned for utilizing multiple accounts. It was discovered that he had multiple characters logged in, all dwarfs, set up to sell the much desired soulshots in each town. While helpful to players, it was not allowed on this server for players to use more than 1 character at a time, and Ruff being one of the most well-known players on the server, was banned to set an example. A bit later he was allowed to return, though all his previous accounts had been deleted, destroying his vast wealth and collection of items. Ruff named his new avatar “TheReturnofRuff”. Fresh and Rajah became my right and left hands. Fresh was a treasure hunter and Rajah was an Elven Elder. We spent many months partying together and taking on various challenges in the game. As a guild, we were able to successfully defeat Cruma tower’s “Core” and “Orfen” of the Sea of Spores. These bosses were later named Raid Bosses, like most MMORPG’s now a days, but back in the day they were simply known to be bosses and didn’t require the label.
The biggest advancement that came about during my time on HSC was the introduction of “C2” graphics. “C2” stood for Chronicle 2. Lineage 2 released it’s content updates (expansions) in the form of Chronicles. While the server wasn’t able to have a lot of C2 features as it was using hacked servers based off Prelude and C1, it was able to allow us to use the graphics. These graphics weren’t updates to the graphic system, rather updates to the textures of gear. In C1 not all of the armor pieces and weapons were given unique textures as not all of the content was done. The items could be obtained, but would feature bland appearances or be copying lesser quality items textures. With the release of C2 textures, we all became amazed at just how beautiful these items now looked. In lineage 2, all armors and weapons were pre-determined with names and stats, there was no randomization of the gear like in newer MMO’s. Each set of gear was assigned a letter rank. No-grade being the worst, and (at the time) B-grade being the highest (the game has now moved to S-rank and beyond). The textures had only been set for No-grade and D-grade. C2 brought us new visuals for C-grade and B-grade. Within these grade’s you also new what sets were available within them, there was no guessing. All of No-grade through mid D-grade were available in the shops. Each class generally had access to a low-grade, mid-grade, and top-grade set within each ranking. In the city of Giran, players could also obtain low C-grade and mid C-grade gear by exchanging crystals (which required a dwarf to break items down for, and creating another market). Anything above mid C-grade had to be either crafted or dropped from creatures. Both of these methods required going out and slaying specific creatures which had a low chance to drop the crafting materials, and an even lower chance of dropping the actual item (we’re talking .001% chance for a top C grade item here). Because of the rare chances of obtaining this gear, and the distinct appearances of it, players were able to set themselves apart by wearing it. Unlike MMO’s like World of Warcraft where it’s hard to tell what an item is just by seeing it on an avatar, in Lineage 2, everyone either knew what the item was and the amount of status to assign it’s bearer, or would immediately ask the player wielding it and then would know.
I myself had become a rare item collector and amassed a lot of these items. I eventually quit playing on HSC as my clan dwindled and the server became overcrowded. I was sadly never able to claim a castle of my own (only 5 existed at the time), and lost interest in progressing with the community. I ended up selling the majority of my rare items to Rajah for cash.
A few months later another Lineage 2 server was announced that was using the latest features available on official servers. This server was called L2 Extreme (L2x), and featured 2 servers, one using 7x rates, and another using 35x rates. Intrigued by the aspect of starting over on a fresh server and the increased rates (HSC was only 5x), I gathered up a few of my HSC buddies and we set out to reform Chaos Legion on this new server. With me I brought Fresh, Thimbelina, PlatinumV25, and Adamyy (just the ones I can remember off the top of my head). We quickly set out in the world, pursuing the paths we knew to increase our efficeny. Again, I was the Human Fighter Quatre, and I quickly ascended to Knight hood and then to Dark Avenger status once again. This server offered more donations than HSC did, and one of the things you could do was donate cash to bypass the 2nd class change question (so for me, that would be Dark Avenger). The server also allowed you to use adena (the game currency) to purchase the items instead of competing the quests. As such, donators and dwarves were the first ones to change classes, while I had to power through the long, excruciating quests. We still managed to keep pace however and were one of the first 5 clan’s to achieve Clan Level 3, and this time by obtaining the item ourselves. Like on HSC, ethnic tensions were high, except not as divided. It basically came down to Russian’s, Brazilians, and everyone else. It may be important to note that Brazilians and Russians are still among the most dedicated Lineage 2 audiences to date. While we progressed at a very good pace, we met a few hiccups along the way. First of all, the GM’s were not particularly good GM’s (Game Masters, users with the ability to ban users, grant items, spawn mobs, etc. Think “god” like users). One in particular, Xara, was not to fond of Fresh and I. We were outspoken players not afraid of punishment dealt out by biased and unfair GM’s. In one particular incident, Chaos Legion had signed up to Siege Dion castle, and Xara had shown up and claimed that the castle was bugged, so instead of fighting the guards she would spawn other things for us to fight. She ended up spawning hundreds of “Kariks”, high level creatures that we were unable to defeat. Because of this, we were unable to take the castle, and we voiced our frustration. Xara however had made the mistake of arguing with us in public, and with so many witnesses, was unable to discipline us as she had intended. The server owner, Schmee, was well known for giving out items and favors to people he preferred, it was later exposed that female users in particular were able to get bonuses in the game for interactions via webcams.
Again, we were never able to acquire a castle. My clan never grew to the size and strength of the other major contenders. The most powerful clan was one that formed later in the servers life. They were called MERC, and were a group of the servers most powerful characters who had left their guilds to form their own organization. They would aid any party who paid their fee’s, and used this wealth and power to acquire the most powerful castle in the game, Aden. I was friends with their leader, Ashe, who would offer me discounts for his services.
I had quit HSC out of the decline of long time players and increasingly new, foreign players. On L2x it was quite a different story. The servers economy had suffered extreme inflation due to the length of time the server was up, and the lack of money sinks available in the game world. As such the cost of items sky-rocketed, and obtaining anything higher than mid C-grade was a heavy financial burden (as drop rates were too low to count on, and crafting materials also sky rocketed in price). I myself had amassed a healthy fortune, and acquired a rather unique weapon through trades and purchase. It was a Sword of Damascus +10. This was a top B-grade sword that had been enchanted 10 times. Any item enchanted past +3 only had a 60% chance at success. This sword had survived 7 of those 60% chances. At the current market price, it was valued at 3 billion adena. That was an amazingly vast amount, and it was an equally incredible sword. So why would I quit with such a rare and unique item? Well, the server owner and GM decided to step in and fix the inflation problem by introducing an “A-grade” item shop (A-grade had recently been introduced). Instead of having to receive the drops or craft the items, players would be able to purchase them from a “GM” shop. A “GM” shop is a shop added to the game as an extra to sell items that would not normally be available. This shop featured the top A-grade sword at a mere 300 million adena. Because it was A-grade, its base stats were far superior to the base stats of my B-grade sword, and the A-grade sword could be enchanted to only +3 and match the stats of my sword. So my sword went from being worth 3 billion adena, to only 300 million. Because of this, I quit.
I wasn’t the only player to become very distraught by the admins overreaching their roles. Many of us got together and formed PK raids. I had already developed a character for the pure purpose of killing others. He was a Hawkeye class (archer) and was named Trieze. I was able to rack up over 600 player kills on him. Though He was meant for killing players, I always avoided killing the same player more than once, and would often compensate players financially if I felt I had overly inconvenienced them. This also stemmed from the fact that I was intentionally going into lower lvl areas and murdering weaker players than myself. I did this so it would take longer for higher level characters to reach me, and when they did reach me, they would be scattered and easier to pick off. I did not use Trieze however in this series of PK raids. I was lent a much more powerful elven archer for which I only had to supply the gear, which was easily obtained thanks to the new GM shop. Generally players would not use their best gear on characters meant for Player Killing, as with Lineage 2’s karma system there was a high chance you would drop he gear upon your death. This is why players often pursued player killers; not to distribute justice, but in hopes of killing them and obtaining high level gear. We however did not care at this point, and were armed to the teeth. We began our raid in a lower level area known as Cruma Tower. We chose this location because it was like a maze inside, and densely populated by players as it was a popular leveling area. Better still was the fact that it had 3 separate levels which you had to teleport to, which you could only do by reaching a certain point on each level. This created two barriers that protected us. First, it meant players had to sit through load times because of the shifts between levels of the tower. This meant that if we were pursued, we could run to a teleporter, teleport, and wait for our pursuer to teleport as well. An avatar always appeared on the other side before the player’s computer would be able to load the data, thus we could kill their avatar before their screen even loaded. Secondly, upon reaching the top of the tower, you could use this access point to teleport back to the beginning of the tower, which we would do and then come up behind all the players that had entered the tower to kill us. Due to the players we had with us, we had extremely high level buffs for our running speed, attack speed, and attack power. So we could outrun and out hit all of our unorganized pursuers who were simply trying to score a rare item. We killed hundreds of players in that run with just 9 of us.
In the final major feature of my Lineage 2 experience, I will discuss how I operated my own Lineage 2 servers, talk about the last server I played on, and how Lineage 2 stands today.
Luckily the subscription fee for Lineage 2 didn’t keep me from playing for too long. Roughly three months (or possibly sooner) of the official US launch of the game, I became aware of “Private” Servers operating. As I looked into what “Private” servers were, I came to find that fans of various games had found ways to develop their own servers through various tools which allowed them to host and play with others on their own terms. Basically, they were able to create their own server separate from the company that owned Lineage 2. Thus, this was technically illegal.
Regardless, a technicality such as legality wasn’t about to stop me from playing a game I was very fond of. Users of a certain forum had collaborated together and were re-creating Lineage 2 servers by coding them in Java (a programming language). This became known as L2j (Lineage 2 Java, and is still used today), and is an example of “Server Emulation”. As these users were re-writing the server code, there were two rather crippling compromises that had to be made. First, they couldn’t just copy paste any code, they had to rewrite it all from scratch. This scratch was based off of the design and formula’s they calculated by gathering information from the “Official” servers. Because of this (which leads us into our second compromise), the data had to be collected from the official servers, tested, and then implemented, AND, naturally, any new features coming to the game had to hit the official servers before it could even begin to be designed for L2j.
As these servers were mere “emulations”, coded from scratch based on estimated formula’s, they were not nearly as good as the official servers. Skills were not accurate, NPC spawns were inaccurate, and many base features of the game were missing. One bug I remember well was using a skill designed to create aggro (Aggro is a term used to refer to aggression, which generally is a game mechanic that forces NPC characters to attack a particular player). When you casted it, it actually killed npc’s instead of causing them to attack you. Much insanity ensued when players realized they could cast it on each other for the same effect. These emulations however had two very big things working in their favor. Players desperately wanted to play in these worlds and would regardless of bugs that could be ironed out, and the game could be altered to better fit player preferences – Specifically this meant that the “rate” of the game could be changed, allowing players to progress much more quickly through it.
I’ll now take a moment to explain the “rate”, as it is (was) the biggest upside to “Private” or “Emulated” servers. As a basic concept, you might think increasing the rate at which a player can advance through a game would spoil the intentions of the game, however MMO games (Especially Korean MMO’s) are notorious for “grinding”. That is, having to kill hundreds or even thousands of creatures to advance from level to level. While the article was lost to time, I recall reading how a player would have to play 20 hours a day for 3 months to advance from level 84 to 85 in Lineage 2. That may help illustrate why accelerated rates were desirable. These “rates” refer to several rates. XP rates, SP rates, Quest rates, and Adena rates. XP was the amount of experience a player received. If a mob gave 50 experience, a 2x rate server would grant 100xp instead. SP referred to Skill Points (required to buy skills), Quest rates amplified the rewards for a quest (XP and goods), and Adena was the currency. In these servers, each of these rates could be altered on their own. Generally, XP, SP, and Adena were increased, usually on an equal level though not always. Quests were a minor part of Lineage 2, and often seen as a hindrance. These rate adjustments made the game much more enjoyable and allowed a greater audience to access the game.
About 2 months into my following the Lineage 2 community, another major development occurred. The “Official” Lineage 2 server files were leaked from NCsoft’s office in China. This made it so individuals could now use the same files that the official servers were using, without having to rebuild the system from the ground up. This was quite exciting as players now had the opportunity to enjoy the game as it was meant to be played, that is, all the features. The server files still allowed the “rates” to be altered, so now players could enjoy the “real” game instead of an emulation, and at an accelerated pace.
Again breaking stride, I just want to point out that this development did not kill L2j development. It continued and today is used much more widely. L2j evolved to have custom features not offered in the official servers, and L2j servers were much easier to host than official server files. An L2j server can run from a single server/window, while official servers were actually seven independent servers that had to be run. Some examples are login server, authentication server, world server, npc server, and items server. Because there were more servers to run, a very powerful machine had to be used. L2j could be run on a much weaker system, though was buggier and less stable.
While today the server files for Official or L2j are pretty even in comparison, back then it was an extraordinary gap. The private server I was playing on referred to as “HSC” (Hellspawn Clan) was one of the first servers to adapt to the new files. After a couple weeks of “beta”, the server opened up to the public as a fresh and clean private server with an initial cap of 1000 players, and it was consistently full.
To support that many players using these files, not only was a very powerful machine required, but an excellent internet connection far exceeding our Time Warner Cable of Verizon subscriptions. Thus, these servers were generally rented from a “Server Farm”, requiring large monthly payments. This actually gets us into an interesting area in regard to private servers. To pay for these fee’s, server owners would either request donations, or as became quite popular and profitable, selling virtual in-game items for cash (though this was referred to as a “reward” for donating; Hosting these servers was illegal as it was as they did not have permission to use these files, therefore profiting off of stolen files greatly exasperated the problem which we will get to in another post).
HSC offered donation rewards in the form of some potions, and character feature changes, much along the lines of what games like World of Warcraft offer for purchase. Though I have not researched this, I only saw games adopt the strategy of “selling” features such as name or sex changes after they had become incredibly popular options from private servers. Through these donations, the server owner, Daunte, was able to continually upgrade the server until it was able to support up to 3,000 active users at the same time. A cap had to be set to prevent more users from access and bogging down the servers beyond their limits.
It was here at HSC, a Private Server, where I made my Lineage 2 home for roughly the next year. The server launched still before World of Warcraft was launched, and featured rates that were 5 times greater than official servers, thus allowing you to progress five times faster. The best part of course, was that this (And all Private servers for that matter) was Free (That is why Private servers are so damaging to the companies that own these games and often charge $15 a month per user).
2004 brought a major a major MMO release known as World of Warcraft. It has had a major impact across all of PC gaming and especially MMO’s. In 2004 however, I did not spend my time playing WoW. My attention turned towards and MMO that was released 6 months before WoW (though I did eventually join the fray a couple years later, but more on that later).
In 2004, I was in highschool, sophomore year I believe. I had stopped playing many of the RPG’s I had been playing up till now quite some time ago, and had spent a lot of time playing other online games, both cooperative and competitive. I played a lot of Half-Life mods (Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, Opposing Force, Sven Co-op) and was also an avid fan of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series (Rogue Spear and Raven Shield). These games were largely military based combat scenario’s, with games focusing on variants such as capture the flag, team deathmatch, or terrorist hunts (among many other variants). There was also Halo to play, given programs like XboxLink. While these games consisted of large communities and clan organizations, the interactions between players were limited to matches consisting of 5-10 minutes to occasionally even an hour long. While conversation did take place, it was often something related to what was happening, or casual conversation. Because of the limited engagements of these type of games (aside from clan organizations arranged through websites and forums), I will not address them in any in-depth manner as virtual worlds.
I had a large collection of games. I often made sure to keep them handy for I found myself often struck in the mood for a certain game after watching certain shows or movies. An example of this would be watching a zombie film and then wanting to play Resident Evil, or watching a movie like S.W.A.T and then want to play a squad based shooter.
To the point now. Almost. I had begun watching a new show (anime) called .hack//Sign (pronounced dot hack sign). The show basically revolved around an online role playing game in which the characters in the show would log onto and be represented through their avatars. The main character however becomes trapped inside the game, unable to log off. This left me with an urge to find another MMORPG in which I could play and interact with people in a fantasy world like they did in the show. I kept looking, but nothing I came across featured the level of graphics I had desired. Some that I came across were Flyff, Ragnarok, among others. They didn’t quite fit the atmosphere or art-style I desired. I was looking for anything 3d and styled after realistic graphics. After searching, I finally came across a certain game that was just entering open beta. Lineage 2.
(Screenshot of the original Lineage II Prelude login screen)
Now, I have to say this right up front. Lineage 2 has been my all time favorite virtual world experience. It was the first virtual world where I was actually old enough to comprehend everything around me; the first virtual world to be truly 3d; the first virtual world I was able to fully explore meaningful Clan interactions; and the virtual world in which I have invested the most time. I even hosted my own Lineage 2 servers (though illegal and we’ll touch on that later). Lineage 2 was my first love.
Because of my in-depth experience with this game and it’s vast array of features, I will actually have to break my discussion about it into many segments. In this article I have describe the events leading up to it, and will discuss events during the open beta and some events afterward, as well as the general idea of the game and it’s features. In other articles I will explore these features in depth and recall some of my personal experiences.
It all started with this open beta. I downloaded the client from www.fileplanet.com and began my adventure. Upon opening the game, I was required to create an avatar. I had to chose between five different races. Humans, Orcs, Light Elves, Dark Elves, and Dwarves. Each one had their own back story, and each one started in a different region of the world. I created a human and my first option ws to select either a Fighter, or a Mage. This was the first choice of your “class progression”, as Fighters would pursue classes dealing with ranged or melee weapons, and Mage’s would deal with spells and magic. You made no selection more than this during your avatars creation (very uncommon, and very much missed!). The Fighter and Mage selection affected your characters starting stats, and also the physical appearance of the avatar. Mage’s were shorter and more slender than Fighters for both the human and orc races. For Light/Dark elves, there actually wasn’t a difference. Dwarves could not be mages, however they were the only class capable of crafting to balance this out. I then customized my human fighters hairstyle and face with the limited options available. I say limited compared to today’s standards, but still the ability of even having options was a much appreciated one, and due to the detail of the graphics, and actually meaningful one (also meaningful because helmets are never displayed on your character, so your face is always visible). I created the character with the name of “Quatre” (a name borrowed from my favorite anime series, Gundam Wing), since my other choices were taken (Trowa, Trieze, my preferred Gundam Wing characters). I then finalized the character creation, and clicked enter and was teleported into the World of Aden, where I found myself in a temple on Talking Island.
(It is important to note that many examples I give may no longer be relevant as the game went “free to play” in 2011, and now ALL new characters start on a much revised version of Talking Island).
After leaving the temple I come across fox like creatures called Keltirs. I find that movement is controlled via clicks of the mouse, and I can activate attacks using the F keys. Hold the right mouse down, I can adjust the camera angles. I come to a bridge, and across the bridge is a walled town. I run in and come across more wonderfully designed NPC’s, buildings, oh, and a lot of players. In terms of quests, from what I can remember, it was a bit more limited. A few were offered, but I know I spent a lot of me time exploring and attacking creatures. Each kill granted me experience, and currency known as “Adena” in this virtual world. Every few levels I could run back into town and acquire new skills, though I must stress this was done rather infrequently, as one would gain levels very slowly.
Traveling the island, I came across many different creatures and areas. I found the docks which featured a ship that I later came to learn could take us to the mainland. In the hills I came across giant spiders, which I found especially fascinating, as they scared me. The beautiful 3d graphics made it all the worse, but at the same time all the more exciting as I would rush into battle against these creatures I would be terrified of in the real world. Just beyond this area was a large waterfall that I would frequently venture to the top of and look out across the land. There was also some ruins that led to an underground temple. This area was much more difficult and players often formed at least parties of two to venture into it. It turned out to be the area for a quest around lvl 10 where you were expected to kill so many creatures. I guess you could equate it to a dungeon, but do not get them confused with modern day versions of dungeons. In Lineage 2, everything is open world. Anyone can enter this dungeon, and everyone in it is viewable by you and can interact with you.
There are probably two key things I should also bring up at this time. After spending a few minutes in town shopping, I ran to the northern gate of town and saw a large group of players amassed just inside of it. I noticed outside of the gate were two players wearing metal armors, one equipped with a dagger and one with a bow. At this point most of us were armed with our starting weapons, and either wearing wooden or no armor. Their Avatar names were displayed in red. I saw a player run right past the group of us standing, apparently he didn’t bother to stop and analyze the situation. Upon leaving through the gate, the two players instantly began to attack, and killed him. Several players starting yelling at the two red named players, saying they were ruining the game and there was no way they could take us all on. The red named players replied with laughter and dared everyone to try. One player ran out, followed by a second, and then followed by a mass. The first two were indeed cut down, but the other 5 or 6 were able to make contact with the red named players, successfully killing one, and the other one fled. The red named player that had been killed now had a white name. He laughed and returned respawned back in town. He then immediately walked back outside the gate and began attacking a player that chose not to pursue the archer. The formerly red players name turned purple, and when the player defended himself his name also turned purple. The formerly red named player defeated the straggler, and after a few moments his name returned to white. The other red name player then returned, having successfully killed every player that had pursued him. I opted to leave town through the West gate.
These acts were what in general are called PvP, or Player versus player. Lineage 2 featured a system in which players names were normally displayed as white. When a player entered combat, whether defensively or offensively their name would turn from white to purple. If two white name players engaged in battle together, both of their names would turn to purple, and any number of players could also engage in battle with them, their names also turning purple. However, if a player proceeded to kill a white name player who never engaged in combat, the player who killed them would now have their name turn red. This would be what is called a Player Kill(PK), and would result in the player killer earning Karma points. The most player kills the player has, the more karma points he receives. A player could obtain a white name through two methods. Killing creatures, or by being killed. Both of these actions would decrease their karma points by a certain amount. The less PK’s an avatar has accrued, the easier it is to return to a white name. The kicker is, as long as a player has a red name, they are at risk of dropping a greater portion of the goods they have on them.
I say greater portion of their goods because every player has a chance to drop items they have on them when they die, even their equipped gear. On one of my journeys around the Island, I came across a dead body with a sword sticking out of the ground next to it, and orc standing over it. Apparently the orc had killed the player, and the player dropped his sword when he died. I ran up and snatched the sword first, and then dispatched of the orc. The player then asked if I could resurrect him (at this level, could only be done via scrolls). I did not have any as they were costly and I never invested into any. The player then asked if he could have his sword back. It was an orcish sword (ironically), several tiers above the sword I currently had equipped, and worth a whopping 64,000 adena (mine was worth about 1,000), while the top tier of the 1-20 gear cost roughly 260,000 adena. After thinking about it carefully, I informed him no, he wouldn’t be getting it back. It was my first run of good luck in this virtual world and would save me several hours if not days of work. The player was rather upset, and respawned (presumably back in town). Fearing a confrontation with the player, and being empowered by my new sword, I felt it was time to attempt the travel to the main land via the boat.
There was technically two methods to travel to the main land. The first method is the use of a Gatekeeper. Gatekeepers allow you the ability to transport to many areas around the land you are currently in, and also to adjacent towns. The costs could range from a couple hundred adena to several thousand. Because talking island was so far from the main land, the cost to transport was 18,000 adena. This may have also been due to encourage players to stay in that area until they were capable of accessing the next area which was roughly meant for players above level 12. The other method was via the ship that would travel between Talking Island and the docks at the town of Gludin. To take the ship you had to purchase a ticket, which cost a couple hundred adena (thus, much more cost effective). The ship was always a very fine journey.
The ship actually traveled across the ocean physically. Unlike the airships that transport players in World of Warcraft that simply zone in and out, players sat on the ship for the entire journey. It was especially fun during this beta phase of the game. Being beta, naturally not all of the bugs had been worked out. While the ship would move from left to right in the virtual world, the game wouldn’t always adjust the position of the players on the ship. This would often result in players going “over-board” and being lost at sea (and drowning and having to spawn back in town). The ship quite frequently had 30+ people attempting to make the trip from Talking Island to Gludio, with little more than half making it successfully. Because of the positioning issue, players had to continuously maneuver their characters on the boat to make sure they didn’t fall off. It became a fun game in and of itself. The game would also not always check if you had a ticket, sometimes resulting in a free trip.
Upon arriving at the docks in Gludin, you are able to disembark and run up the hill to the town of Gludin. Here, you have access to a higher quality of guilds, and upon reaching level 18 you are able to gain access to the class change quests which you can complete and change your class at level 20.
I will conclude the introduction to Lineage 2 here. As beta ended, the game moved into its official launch and required a monthly fee. Being a jobless teenager, I had no means to pay for such a thing, and had to stop playing. But my lineage experience doesn’t stop there. In another article I will continue the story of my journey, and in other articles I will describe the many features and concepts I have mentioned here, and many more.
Before proceeding to part 2, I strongly recommend reading Lineage 2- Private versus Official, where I explain the development of Private Lineage 2 servers and why they were preferred to regular lineage 2 servers. Part 2 and on will refer to my experiences in “Private” Lineage 2 servers, aside from the conclusion (Part 5) that is.