Dragonland: Coming 8th of August

The 1st of August will see the addition of naked people, palm trees in the lobbies and birds in tubes. Fang Banther will also be added in this update and looks to be as annoying to fight as his snowy cousin is.

The 8th of August will see the addition of the new field revealed by Famitsu yesterday, Amduscia’s Floating Continent. Amusingly the name myself and others have been calling it in IRC, “Dragonland”, has become its official alias. I wonder if that’s our fault or whether the devs were also amused by that name? Dragonland was what the area was referred to internally by the client, found through datamining.

The official site put the update page up, with higher quality screenshots and a trailer on Youtube which I’ve embedded below.

Some bits to say:

  • You will need to be lv35 to access the first Floating Continent missions.
  • Dinians are on the islands after all. Like the other Dragonkin on the islands, they are reskinned.
  • One of the reskinned Dinians is named “Set Sadinian”.
  • Most of the native enemies on the islands are weak against Dark element attacks. There will however be no dark techs released with this update
  • Fish-type Darkers, such as Gawonda, also populate the islands. A new fish-type Darker named “Dahgash” will be introduced. Sadly its internal name, “FloatageFish”, is not an official alias.
  • MW will be added to the Shopping Lobby, next to the makeover counter.

The Universe is Ending!

Phantasy Star Universe is coming to a complete end with the closure of the Japanese servers on the 27th of September. Official post here. Translated details of what’s left for the servers by Espiokaos can be found here.

The reason I mention this at all is because those of you who played Phantasy Star Universe on the Japanese servers will be able to convert any leftover Guardians Cash into Arks Cash. Details as to how you can do this have yet to be revealed, but the alternative appears to be to have any remaining Guardians Cash refunded into Webmoney.


New Concept Art

To finish this post, have some concept art of the new costumes being added on the 1st of August.

Haze Sorcerer
Candy Crown
Illusion Set
Magus Series

[Sources: Official Site, Official Blog, Bumped and Mewn for translations]

Wall of Speculation!

So during the PSVita Game Heaven video, revealing the handheld version of PSO2, you may have noticed some shots of a wall covered in concept artwork. Plenty of others noticed this as well, so this post is going to be looking at various thoughts people seem to be having as well as my own ideas.


Shougai made a post about this particular item, speculating that it may be a shield. It certainly does resemble one to a degree, but the character in the picture appears to be holding something in a very non-shield like pose. If it’s presenting how this weapon is meant to be held, that would make it similar to how daggers have been held in PSU and PSO.

It’s a very odd-looking dagger if it is one, however there have been references to daggers found through data mining efforts. No references to shields were found, but the results of data mining the 2nd alpha client may not be entirely relevant still. Personally speaking, seeing as Hunters have tank-like talents that they can unlock on the skill tree I wouldn’t mind seeing some defense-oriented weapons to compliment the build.


Now what could this little fellow be? I think it resembles a Medabot, myself, but of course that’s not what it is. Thoughts in the community seem to be between a type of Mag or a Partner Machine like we saw in PSU. This one is up in the air, really, as there’s nothing that’s been said or that’s been data-mined that could hint as to what this could be.

I like the idea of it being an end result of a mag the player has raised, however. It follows you into battle, riding on its hoverboard. When trouble arrives, it hops off its board and converts it into a weapon to help you to carve up your enemies. This would essentially turn it into a fusion between Mags and Partner Machines.


Looks like it’s the same little robot again. Speaking of little robots!


A Mag! This is fairly unambiguous so no real speculation needed.


This image I had to take some liberties with the resizing, given the awkward angle it was shot at in the footage. Using unsharp mask doesn’t really help it, either. Anyway, the two main speculations about what this could be is either a selection of long-bows or double-sabers. My first thought was long-bow, but to reference the data mining efforts again there is no long-bow type, yet. There is direct mention of a double-saber type, however!

Notice how each of the weapons also seems to have a version where they’re joined together and a version where they’re split up? This leads me to believe that they are in fact double-sabers, but also that double-sabers will have 2 attack modes. One where the weapons are joined together and the other where they’re split up to become twin-sabers. It wouldn’t be the first weapon to switch between two attack types, as Gunslashes already do this (melee and ranged mode). If this turns out to be true, it does make me wonder how the two modes will affect the photon arts bound to the weapon.


A selection of what appear to be some kind of ranged weapon. The main speculation I’ve seen is that this is a Launcher of some kind. Launchers were a shoulder-mounted weapon in PSO that fired a piercing projectile through enemies. They were replaced by Laser Cannons in PSU, which serve a similar purpose. Data-mining efforts have found references to a Launcher weapon-type, so chances are pretty good that this is in fact what we’re looking at.


Finally, a selection of spear-type weapons. I would mention data mining again but you don’t even need to mine the client as a partizan-like weapon was being wielded by a HUmarl during one of the PSO2 trailers.

A screencap of the aforementioned partizan-weilding HUmarl.

That’s all I’m sharing speculation on for now, this post has already gotten longer than I intended it to get. So to finish it, here are the unedited shots of the wall of concept art, without having been put through any resizes or filters.

Thanks to Vashyron of PSO-World for these shots.

2nd Alpha Test Report

The report for the 2nd Alpha Test has now been uploaded to the official website here. I’ll be posting translations of the statistics here.

Table of Contents



Participation

50,811 people participated in the test, which is 73% of those who got in. I wonder how much of this stat is warped by people who got in with multiple codes?

40,245 participants got their characters to at least level 10, qualifying them for automatic entry into the closed beta tests.

^Top



Characters

Race and Gender

  • 37.3% of characters were Human.
  • 31.6% were Casts
  • 31.1% were Newmans.

This is surprisingly evenly distributed, but humans are still dominating the player base overall, which hasn’t changed since the first alpha test.

What about gender?

  • 72.0% of characters were female
  • 28.0% of characters were male

Insert some kind of comment on the culture of MMO gamers here.

Heres how it breaks down with regard race and gender.

  • 26.5% played Newman females
  • 25.2% played Human females
  • 20.2% played Cast females
  • 12.1% played Human males
  • 11.5% played Cast males
  • 4.5% played Newman males

So unlike the first alpha, Newman females are now the most common, but only just. As for Newman males, I mean, do I really need to say it at this point?

Class Distribution

  • 41.8% of characters were Hunters
  • 29.5% were Rangers
  • 28.7% were Forces

Height Distributions

I have no idea why they felt the need to share these statistics! The bar charts summarise it well, however.

Males on the left, females on the right.

Completely unsurprisingly, males peak on the maximum height and females peak on the minimum height. Overall, females were shorter than males.

^Top


Player Feedback.

In my opinion much more interesting than a lot of the fluff stats presented by the report is how the players felt about the test.

First, a 5-point scoring survey of various features in the game. Translated by Mike of PSO-World, image edited by myself.

It’s overall an improvement over the previous test, whose feedback chart can be found here. It’s not exactly a huge improvement though in the higher scores, I must say. However the scores below 3 have reduced considerably, so it’s heading in the right direction. Once again the most hated thing about the game was the user interface, followed closely by communication.

Player Requests

Finally a list of things that the playerbase have requested that Sega either work on or think about including:

  • 16.3% want more weapon categories
  • 11.7% want more Photon-Arts and skills
  • 11.6% want more detailed character creation
  • 10.3% want better character actions
  • 6.9% want something to raise besides your character, like a pet
  • 6.6% want more and better ways to play with more people at once
  • 6.5% want more immersion and story (MY IMMERSION!!!)
  • 5.7% want more map variations (thanks Mewn!)
  • 5.5% want more weapons overall
  • 5.3% want something to do outside of combat
  • 5.2% want better communication options
  • 2.8% want better enemies
  • 2.2% want better graphics
  • 2.1% want PVP
  • 1.3% want more “My Room” functions.

Thus ends the report! You can find other statistics by going to PSO-World here
^Top.



The RAnewearl

Finally, concept art for the only remaining class, race and gender combo has been released. Reposting here.

The RAnewearl! Only a little less naked than her melee counterpart.

I’m a little disappointed with it. It’s cute, sure, but I was expecting something more in line with either a gun-slinger or a military type, not a swimsuit with armor bits tacked on.
^Top



Facebook Post

Finally a message from Bonkohara on the official Facebook page. The original post can be found here.

Hello, everyone:D
I am sorry for late post a comment.I was checking user`s ,questionnaire ,opinions ,requests and bulletin board after done α2test. Also Thanks you for gave us a lot of “support`message”. Producer Sakai also said in a blog,Thanks you so much to give us great opinions and report. We are cheking it all. I am glad to α2 test has been much better convenient than before that user said for us. Finally, We showed you the public the “α2test Report”.We posted a report such as status of implementation , results of questionnaire ,average height ratio and race. Please check it out !
http://pso2.jp/alpha2/

I was happy that “MYSTERY EGG” and “SEN-TAKU-KI” is the top 3 of my room.
actually I left a lot of “MYSTERY EGG” in the Producer Sakai`s room. hahaha!!(jajaja):D

I was playing game during α2test with some user. It was fun to playing together as a “party”. Member was really nice and nice to talk.
I could find some new idea and get real opinion that was really valuable.

Oh well, but stuff said please work your Job.
but playing game is also call “working” Do not you think ? hahaha!(jajaja):D

Now I back to really disk work today.

^Top

[Sources: PSBlog, PSO2 Official Site, PSO-World]

Concept Art and News Incoming

Sakai updated the official PSO2 blog a few days ago, on which he shared 2 more pieces of concept art. Sadly not of anything we haven’t seen already, but regardless reposting here. The RAcast, followed by the HUcaseal.

Butt-spike

According to Bumped’s interpretation of the post, we’ll be receiving weekly announcements regarding PSO2 starting from March. Let’s hope that much of that will be some further explanations on some features that they’ve as of yet, not really talked about. In particular it would be nice to hear how MAGs work, or how the sub-class system functions as well as what purpose the Quest-board serves, maybe some more information about guilds. At the very least let’s not just talk about the features we already know about.

The "Quest Board", which as of yet has no explanation. Not to be confused with the "Quest Counter"

Still eagerly awaiting that report on the player feedback, but it should be with us before March so not long to wait now. Incidentally, once the player feedback has been analysed the 2nd Alpha Test site will be taken down for good.

2011, PSO2 and You

Well not really about you. No one cares about you, sorry. This lengthy entry will be recapping the entire year’s worth of PSO2 news and announcements.

We’ve come a long way this year, all starting with the initial announcement of PSO2 in September 2010 where all we got was a picture of the PSO2 logo and a trailer which told us, well, that it exists.


Yes! PSO2 exists! Sonic Team were indeed working on something beyond PSU,
somewhat confirming our suspicions that a lot of the features added towards the end of PSU’s lifetime were in fact experiments for features they planned to use in some kind of sequel.

Well while the video didn’t go into much detail, it did drop quite a few buzzwords out there, among the more interesting ones being:

  • Global support

Oh exciting! Remember when PSO had global support? You do? I don’t cause I didn’t join PSO until Blue Burst, but I can imagine the excitement PSO veterans had when seeing this. So what do they mean by “Global Support” this time? Well as of yet, we still don’t know.
To get this out of the way early on, there is still no word on exactly what they mean by global support but here’s some things to consider: First, there has still been no word from Sega of America about the game. Second, there has been no word on a release of the game outside of Japan (despite Sakai’s trip to Korea). Hope is not lost, but unless we hear otherwise this game could well be a Japan exclusive.

  • Thorough racial balances

Yeah I’ll believe this when I see it. I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the complete joke that is the racial balance in PSU, but trust me there’s good reason to be cynical about them delivering on this. Well, to be fair there’s decent reasons to be cynical about a lot of the things Sega says.

  •   Arkz

Wait, Arkz? That’s those chaps from PSO:Episode 3! That crappy card game that no one played! Yeah it was later confirmed that there is no canonical link between the groups, they just happen to have exactly the same name. To remind you, the Arks in PSO2 are like the Hunter’s Guild of PSO and the Guardians of PSU. They’re the faction your character belongs to.

Curiously, shortly after announcing the game, they also posted a job advert listing 3 available positions. This raised some eyebrows given that they had been allegedly working on the game for some time as they seemed to be relatively important positions to be empty.

After this initial announcement, there was nothing. Quite a whole lot of nothing, in fact. Sakai even stated that we shouldn’t expect much and he delivered! Sega are quite professional at delivering nothing.


January 2011

So we come to the beginning of this year. Shougai PSO posted about the setting and development of the game. It was here we learned that PSO2 will not be taking place on Ragol although there may still be loose ties to previous planets. Also Sakai said to expect some kind of announcement in April, which brings us to…


February 2011

Wait, that’s not April! How observant of you. This was the month where the first alpha tests were announced to be beginning in the summer. Entries would be determined by a lottery. How do you enter this prestigious lottery? You need to either have been a player on the Japanese PSO:BB servers or have bought a copy of Phantasy Star Portable 2: Infinity. Or just be subscribed to PSU on certain dates. Oh yeah and you also must be a Japanese resident.


April 2011

Hey, this is April! Your observational skills astound me yet again. And Sakai made good on his promises, as on the 24th a new trailer and a bunch of screenshots had been unveiled.


This was the first time we’d seen anything. Concept art, in-game screenshots? You name it, we didn’t have it. Well ok we had the logo. It was also the first time we heard any of the in-game music. So we went from nothing, to suddenly being bombarded with imagery, not all of it particularly flattering, such as those nasty ground textures. But hey, we can jump!


July 2011 – August 2011

July was the month in which this blog was born! Hurray! It was in these months that we ___, as well as a selection of _______ featuring _____, but we wouldn’t really know what they meant until _____!

Yeah the PSO2 newsletters took on a unique style to try to tease the fans with information. They seem to have dropped this tactic recently.

This was also the time in which the PSO2 Media Briefing took place, which can be summarised by the image below.
It was the first time we got to see the character creation in action and honestly I was impressed by it. This is coming from a guy who used to play Aion, the character creator in PSO2 is honestly an impressive piece of work and I’m sure its flexibility will be demonstrated when Sakai shows off the characters created at Akihabara. Until then, enjoy some character creation.

Character creation wasn’t the only thing revealed, in fact a whole lot of stuff was revealed. We had “Photon Sensitive Effect”, a bunch of race/class concept art, equipped units affecting your appearance, large party areas (think raids but not raids), random interrupt events during runs, “Jump Action”. Actually speaking of that last point, a new trailer was revealed during this time.

Still for Windows PC, you’ll note.

So we now knew the three races of PSO2: Human, Newman and CAST. No Beasts!

This time period also gave birth to the PSO2 Facebook page, on which Bonkohara even posted in English to show appreciation for their foreign fans.

  • Datamining

Ah yes, it was about this time when dirty cheaters got their hands on the alpha client and laid waste to the community by looking at the data in the files. Much harm was done. A PSO2 developer even caught wind of it and shared their disapproval about it on their twitter, which Shougai noticed.

Nothing tremendously harmful was even found, really. Planet names, the existence of Dark Falz, Technic names, the same word censor list that was in PSU. Guild functionality was also unearthed in the game’s strings.


September 2011

  • Official Videos

To celebrate the end of the alpha tests, or perhaps just another excuse for Sakai to get in front of the camera, a series of three videos were released which talked about various aspects of the Alpha test. The “Special Internet Program”, which can be found here, showed us a number of things we otherwise weren’t allowed to show due to the NDA. As such it was the first official time in which we saw the volcano planet Amduscia, the Vol Dragon being fought and various other things.

  •  Tokyo Games Show 2011

We didn’t have to wait long for potentially new information to come out after those videos, for the Tokyo Game Show was around the corner. PSO2 was present and playable at the show and two presentations were given. Sadly, not a whole lot of new information was actually announced and it was more like a further demonstration of the things we’d already seen. One of the things that was new however was a trailer, which also showed off a new area set in a ruined city.

Alpha Test Results

Thanks to EspioKaos for the translations.

Yeah there were a bunch of graphs that were posted towards the end of September, showing off various statistics of the Alpha Test playerbase. The short version is everyone wants to be a girl.


October 2011

The 2nd Alpha test was announced! And that was pretty much it for October.
The only other thing that was mentioned, I really do mean just mentioned, were MAGs. A solitary picture and the briefest of information was given on sega’s newly created blog for most things PSO2.


November 2011

About as thin as October in terms of news. We learned more about PSO2’s setting, however!

To recap, your character is a member of the Arks, who live on the Arks ship! You’ll be exploring various planets because why not and the universe seems to be infested with critters known as “Darkers” which you’re also gonna have to do something about.

Towards the end of this month, new character outfits were also revealed which filled in the remaining race/class types, with perhaps the exception of RAnewm and RAnewearl.


December 2011

Contrary to the previous months, a fair amount was announced. To start off, CAST face morphing was revealed as well as CAST boob morphing. CAST morphing all around, in fact! So yes, as a CAST you won’t be denying yourself the creative flexibility that the meatier races are granted, which is nice to know.
Much of this month was dedicated to discussing things which would maybe appear in the 2nd alpha tests. The “My Room” feature was revealed, which is a customisable abode for your character. MAGs were talked about in slightly more detail, revealing that you could feed them which would cause things to happen. Revealing. And finally the item lab which revealed you can still punish yourself by trying to grind weapons, although it’s not as punishing as it used to be in Phantasy Star Universe.
Finishing off December, PSO2 was at the Akihabara Games Festa 2011. During which, I stayed up to ungodly hours on the 23rd to catch a pair of presentations. We did actually get to see some new things, however, including the PSO2 opening movie.


Aside that were some brief details about what would take place during the 2nd alpha, as well as showing off the item labs and newer features of the character creation (paying particular attention to the new CAST morphers).


So that’s the timeline of PSO2 happenings this year. A couple of noisy periods sandwiched by times where a whole lot of nothing happened.

Recap of the Major Features
To recap what the major features are (please feel free to message me if you think anything else needs to be included)

  • * PSO2 is Windows PC ONLY. There are no plans to release a console version.
  • The three races are: Human, Newman and CAST. There are no beasts
  • Clothing is NOT attached to class or race.
  • All races can use morphers to customise their appearance
  • Any race can be any class
  • The three classes are Hunter, Ranger and Force. There are no advanced classes.
  • Character levelling is done through class levels.
  • MAGs are in
  • Customisable rooms are in
  • Item grinding (more than weapons this time) and item fusion are in
  • Player shops are in (and are accessible outside of rooms this time)
  • Missions are accessed from a singular counter like in PSO, rather than multiple like in PSU
  • Missions can be interrupted by random events
  • Bosses can be fought both in and out of arenas

Alpha Test 2
The 2nd Alpha test is set to take place some time in early 2012, with the registration period ending on the 17th of January. The details can be found elsewhere, but I’d like to finish this post with information about what will and what will not be included in the tests.

What is in:

  • All features of the last alpha test
  • My Room
  • Player shops
  • Item Labs
  • New character models and CAST morphers

What is NOT in:

  • The city area shown in trailers
  • MAGs

Towards the Future
And so ends the longest post I’ve written for this blog. I hope it’s helped put this year of PSO2 information into perspective. Who knows what information will be revealed in the coming months, with the 2nd alpha client on the horizon as well as the closed beta tests having been announced. Never mind that the game it scheduled to release in 2012, so somewhere in there, I assume, is an open beta. Will foreigners be allowed into it? Probably not, but I still think that even if the game is only released in Japan that they won’t mind foreign players on it.

Finally, happy new year!

Sources: PSUpedia, Bumped, Shougai, PSO2 Official Blog. PSUmods
Thank you all for your continued effort!

And Yet More Character Art

So there’s going to be more than just FOnewearl and FOcaseal costumes available in the 2nd alpha test then. Sakai updated the blog with more screenshots and some, er, artwork.

Happy squinting

I don’t get why he didn’t just post the full image, the big tease. Anyway here are the two new reveals (although we saw both in a recent gameplay trailer so not really new). The FOcast, that mage-y looking robot and then there’s this other thing. I have no idea what it is, apparently it’s called a “FOnewm” but that can’t be right.

FOcast
Nothing to see here!

And because apparently people can’t get enough of them, he posted screenshots of the same two classes as he did before.

Flyyyyyyy, FOcaseal flyyyyyy. Soooooo hiigggh
So close to checkpoint..

Weapon Art

A bunch of concept art for weapons was posted on the official PSO2 blog. Reposting here.

Notice the character art present on the sword picture? It appears to be a male cast with a fleshy appearance to it. This would be the first time anything like that has been seen for male casts in PSO2, which is nice to see for cast fans who didn’t want to play mechas. Nice to see in general, because it did seem a bit weird how female casts had the option to look somewhat human while males didn’t.