Raycity Part 2 - Gameplay

Even though Raycity is an MMORPG it is of the "lead you by the nose" style, which makes the gameplay perfectly accessible to foreigners who don't really speak Korean. When the game starts up you'll find yourself in a small town area. There will be various NPCs standing around who want to give you quests. You can drive up to one and press enter. When you take a quest it will indicate how to do it in one of two ways. If the target of the quest is another NPC or something like and you're in the same area as them you'll see a big arrow point at them. If it is to do a specific cab mission you'll see markers on the main map telling you the area in which you can find the mission. You can just keep clicking okay and next until you've accepted a quest. Press L to bring up your quest menu and see your listed quests. Choose one and you'll select it as your active quest. If its a mission quest, bring up the map with TAB and you'll often see some quest boxes on the map. These tell you the areas you can go to to find the missions. Drive to those areas and you'll see various fares standing around. Quest ones will be a different color. Grab as many quests as you can and exit the town by driving in to the blue glowing area. The reason you want to grab multiple quests is that you will often have a fare that can satisfy the requirement of more than one quest at once. You might have a simple quest like "Drive 10 women to their destination" which becomes completed while you're doing a quest about picking up a specific individual. As you complete a quest, you'll see faint white words appearing mid-screen, these are updating various quests that you've just satisfied. I've seen a single individual add to the total of 4 different quests at once, so its worth it to drive around and pick up as many as you can. It can get confusing, especially if you decide you want to start clearing them, but it can also save some time. In the map above you'll see a white circle in one of the quest areas. After you leave the town you might want to head towards that one and pick it up. This is a tutorial quest giver who shows you various mission types and other things. She appears to be new as I don't recall her being there before and when I went in game to make some screenshots I hadn't done any of the quests for her. You can do around 12 different quests of various levels and then she'll pass you off to quest giver in the second "town" area. For all its simplicity I've gotten my car to level 57, and my character to level 17 (they're independent as you can change your car and level it separately) and in all that time I've probably been able to complete 99% of the quests without issue simply following this strategy. There is the odd quest that just has no real indication on screen where you are supposed to go. You can abandon it, or if you really want to do it, keep it and you might get lucky. Alternatively you could phone a friend. I don't know exactly how to unlock new areas, but I have. I believe it has to do with levels or perhaps doing specific quests. In the towns you'll also encounter various NPCs providing services. Things like gas, repair, garage, vendors, etc. You can buy new engines for your car and you can buy things to add some style to your car. You can't paint the car unless you want to pay real cash for it. So whatever color car you buy is generally the color you are stuck with. You do get a selection of reasonable solid colors to choose from when you buy a new vehicle.

You will notice that as you do missions some times the patrons will give you what appears to be junk. These are for bingo games. In the towns you'll find vendors who sell bingo cards. You have to place these items on them and try to make lines and trade them in for other items. If you want to complete them, grab a couple and find people who drop the items you need on it, keep doing missions for them and you'll get enough to get the item. You can have up to 10 bingo cards at once, but I find all the junk really starts to clutter the inventory so I prefer to do it as a concentrated effort, selling or trashing the junk when I'm not doing bingo. If you do the tutorial quests you'll understand what you need to get the most reward from a fare, but the jist of it is this: some people like crazy driving (most of them) and there is the odd person who doesn't. If the person cheers when you do something do it more, if the person freaks out, don't do it. The odd person who doesn't like driving prefers that you stay in the proper lane and don't hop over other cars. The people who like crazy things usually like near misses, hopping over cars and driving in the oncoming lane. Here is some gameplay of me on a mission. Not all fares will be upset by things. Most fares get upset if you slam in to buildings or other cars, but some won't care at all, so slam around all you like.

I also wanted to mention that Raycity is actually based on the streets of Seoul. Driving around some places I've seen familiar subway stations and even business fronts that I've passed frequently.

Raycity Part 1 - Install and Menus

Raycity is another game offered by Pmang. This is a stunt driving taxi MMORPG. What exactly that means is that you drive a car, jump over other cars and take little old ladies to their hair appointments. Apparently though those little old ladies like it when you jump over other cars and drive in the wrong lane. Before we get to that, let's get to installing it. Head over to pmang and click on "레이시티" you'll find it under NBA Street Online and EA Sports Fifa Online 2. Raycity makes our new favorite button even easier to find, it is labeled in English. Go ahead and push it to start the download manager. Choose a different download folder if you want, and then begin the download, wait for it to finish and kick off the install. So far its fairly similar to AVA, the only difference will be at the end. It is going to give you some extra check boxes. These check boxes will once again toss a pmang short cut on the desktop as well as a Raycity start up icon, and a quick link to the screenshot folder for Raycity. I pretty much always accept the default because I can always delete a short cut or something later. Now once you've finished the install, go ahead and start it up. The first thing you will see is this lovely image on the left. Apparently teenagers in Korea need to be told that causing your car to bunny hop 15 feet over a delivery truck is illegal and a bad idea. Also a cartoon cop is the one to tell them this. Super imposed over 3 sports cars tearing it up. Talk about mixed messages. Now once you've gotten past this screen you'll see the initial channel select screen. I'm not going to annotate all the menus in this game because some of them are pretty sparse. The channel select screen is pretty straightforward. Red means the channel is pretty full, yellow is not bad, white is the best. Generally channel one is red and the rest are yellow. Depending on the time of day you might catch a white channel or two. Using your list of words from AVA you should be able to notice that the first 20 channels are labeled "General Channel". The remaining 4 channels are labeled "Over 19" We're also faced with 3 buttons on the bottom instead of 2. "검사" means "test" in this case its going to verify the data files of the game. Why it permits us to start the game and then verify the data files I'm not sure. I've never found a need for it. I suppose if you're getting a weird bug you might try it. "끝내기" means "finished" or in this case quit. Clicking it will end your session. The remaining button let's us select a channel. Optionally you can double-click one of them. In the next screen we can create our character and car. This allows you to pick a name and a car for your character. Unfortunately I made my character a long time ago, and you can only make one. I'd rather not lose my progress to make a tutorial on that, but as I recall it was fairly simple and I muddled through it with barely being able to read the alphabet. I'll see if I can get screenshots of the creation though. To start your profile creation click "프로필 생성". I'll assume you've completed the process with no issue. If you do want to delete your profile you can click "프로필 삭제". Add "삭제" to your dictionary, you'll see this word from time to time and its an important one not to mistake. "나가기" means to back out to the previous screen. After you've made the profile you can click the familiar start button in the middle of the screen.
The first thing you'll notice is that your resolution is not good. On the right you'll see the main annotated menu. This is most of the main features of the menu as well as a few graphics options. This game performs very well. My system is a Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz, with 2GB of Ram and a 512 MB 7900GTX. With max settings and 1920x1200 resolution I am pulling down anywhere from 110-150 Frames per second depending on where I'm driving in the city. I've never dipped below 100. Unless you're running this on a toaster you should have no problem running this on max settings. I recommend you start with the highest you can take and try it out. There isn't much point in tweaking anything here. For now, try driving around and doing some missions. F9 will give you an overlay of all the keyboard shortcuts (in Korean) but it can give you an idea what buttons you should be pushing. This is not a mouse game. Use the 4 arrows to drive, space to jump, ctrl to boost, shift to drift turn. Next up will be more in depth information on gameplay, screens and video.

AVA - Alliance of Valiant Arms - Part 3

Now that you've familiarized yourself with the menu system, let's actually dive into a game. The game type I usually play is escort. Escort takes place on one of two maps. The first map is built around a gas station type area, the second one is built in a general rubble area sans gas station. They're fairly similar. Gameplay revolves around escorting a tank through 3 check points before time is up. Each team takes a turn. The first team sets the benchmark. Do it before time is up and the other team will only have that much time to win. Fail and the second team only has to beat your progress to win. In the left-hand image you can see the unique weapon for this map. It is the rocket launcher. Rocket launchers are available in several positions around each map. A player can run up to the case, press "E" and after a short time the case will open and you can take a rocket launcher. They come with 3 rockets. 2 rockets are enough to stop a tank. If a tank becomes stopped you can run up to it and hold "E" again to try and repair it. 2 people can repair it at once speeding up the repair time. Usually your enemies will be filling you full of holes while you do this. It can be really easy for a team to get bogged down if a tank gets jammed up in an area that makes it hard to get a safe position to try and repair the tank in. Other things to note in the screenshot are the position of the tank on the map, the progress bar (exclamation points are checkpoints) and the time remaining on the bottom. Checkpoints are also spawn points. As the offensive team passes a checkpoint the defensive team's spawn is pushed back one and the offensive team's spawn is moved up.Hiding behind the tank might seem like an ideal spot to be, but the rockets provide explosive damage and usually the opposing team will be shooting the ground beside the tank. Someone needs to be near the tank to cause it to move, but once you've repaired it, its a good idea to get out of there. Life expectancy of someone near a tank is around 4.2 seconds. I've included some footage I shot during a team deathmatch map. I was going to shoot escort footage, but had a sound screw up with fraps so I had to reshoot it. This type of map is two teams on a small map with a tight engagement zone. Its usually about 5 seconds or less before you engage an enemy, so you have to be fast. If you can get more than 2 or 3 kills before you go down, good on you. Anyway you can watch me take a couple down and get taken out a couple times myself. I noticed today that when I leveled up I got money. I think this is the only time you get money. So if you want to buy more weapons and armor play a lot to increase your experience so you can get more money.

AVA - Alliance of Valiant Arms - Part 2

Now that you have the game up and running let's have a deeper look at the menu system and where each option can take you. On the left you'll find a fully annotated image of the main menu. A couple of important things here. First the general channel is where you will play your games. It is selected by default. The ranked channel is usually almost empty, and I don't have any info on clans. I've never played an event. The help is completely in Korean so not much help to us. The money in this case refers to in game money. Earning it seems to be completely random. I have no idea how exactly it works. Just after some games I'm given some money. It has occurred on all maps at one point or another. The orange bars illustrate how full a particular channel is. Each channel can handle around 2000 people. At the time this screenshot was taken (10 am on a weekday morning) there were around 2700 people in game. You will pretty much always be able to find people to have a game with. I am told "보급" means supply, but I have no idea what that statistic's relation to the game is. Let's select the beginner channel and move to the next menu area.

This is where you'll spend most of your time looking for a game. First thing you'll want to do is choose a class on the left. You can pick between Scout, Rifleman and Sniper. The Scout can later buy the P90. This gun is basically easy mode. The inventory screen will allow you to manage your inventory and the store screen will allow you to spend the in-game cash you earn. Buying armor, weapons, etc. On the right you'll see a variety of rooms, maps, game types and with various levels of players. The escort missions usually involve escorting a tank through 3 check points. The demolition maps involve placing a bomb at a certain point in the map and the deathmatch maps are fairly standard. The demolition maps have the distinction of only allowing 1 death. While the rest allow multiple deaths. The training map is 4 players against a wave of bots. You can practice your tactics. There are two play types which don't seem that popular and didn't make it on my screen shot. The first is 수송. The word means convey or transportation. The game appears to be a map designed in such a way that one team is attempting to reach an extraction point. The other team is tasked with stopping them from reaching the goal. The second is 점령. I couldn't get access to a game of this type. The word means "occupation" and it may be a game type revolving around capturing an area and holding it. If I can find a game running of it, I'll post on it. For now let's move to the store screen and have a look at what our options are here.

Once you get some money from playing a few rounds you'll be able to get better guns and armor. The repair all button will generate a pop-up that will indicate an amount of money used to repair your equipment. Not all of it can be repaired and you should check on your armor and what not from time to time. You can select the three classes and out fit them entirely differently in terms of weapons. Outfits and backpack items are shared between the classes. The outfits allow you to pick helmets, body armor and other clothing items. The backpack item lets you choose some things like the ability to carry more grenades or extend your radar ability slightly. Switching to the inventory screen will allow you to select your load-out from what you've purchased. Cash items are for those who want to pay real money to get some bonuses. These are usually in the form of experience point bonuses, aesthetic helmets, extra clips, etc. These rarely impact the actual gameplay. Most times you're going to be dead long before you run out of bullets or grenades.

On the right you'll see a sample inventory screen with a couple labeled items. You can add magazines to both weapon types, extra grenade slots, choose weapons and improve the quality of your armor and radar. Just double click what you want to switch in and out.

As for the game launch screen, it is fairly simple. If it is a team match there is a button to switch teams, otherwise hit the start button to indicate you're ready and after everyone is ready you'll hear a countdown. If you need to, you can make a last minute change at the store or inventory screen. This should give you all the information you need to get started playing. Up next, in-game screens and gameplay.

AVA - Alliance of Valiant Arms - Part 1

Now that you've gotten yourself signed up for a game portal its time to start actually playing a game. I'm going to make this multi-part. The part is going to deal with installing the game. One of the benefits of the Korean PC game business model is the website integration. They want to encourage people to go to the website to see specials, buy things for the game, get information upcoming events, and other advertising.

For foreigners we're really only concerned with one thing. The big giant start button. In this case its a big giant read button labeled "게임시작" This is a mix of Konglish and actual Korean which means "Game start". If you have the game installed it will launch the splash screen and the game will start. No fuss no muss. I'm going to assume you're logged in at this point, if not, make sure to find the login box and type in your credentials. Now as soon as you're reading push the button. If you don't have the game its going to launch a couple things to download the game. To get the screenshots and refresh the procedure I uninstalled the game. Apologies to anyone who gets lost if there is a step I may have done 14 months ago that was part of the site setup and not the game setup that shows up for you at any point during this. Possibily in the form of an activeX control that might be the download manager. If so, you know the words for confirm, and how to install an activeX control so let it do its thing.

The first thing I saw was the AVA downloader window. Important things to note here: You can change the download location of the main file, click the black box with the folder picture. Then press 시작. A new word to write down here is "닫기" this seems to be an all purpose window that means cancel or close. You will often see this word on the bottom of pop-ups on websites and other places. The Korean internet being what it is, you should have this downloaded pretty quick. When the download finishes the 시작 button will have changed to 실행. This means execute or install. Pushing it moves us forward.

On this screen you'll notice it gets a little easier. They're nice enough to label the next button with an N. "다음" means next. The next window will be standard TOS stuff. Choose the top radio button and press "다음" again. It is going to ask you where you want to install. It will create a top level directory for all games from the site. The parent company of Pmang is Neowiz. You can let it do the default and keep all pmang games in one directory or move it wherever you want. I always take the default. No sense in tempting fate. Now you will find yourself on the final screen with a prompt (I) and the word "설치". I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out the meaning of this word. Press it and wait several minutes. It will conclude with a couple check boxes asking if you want to create desktop icons. Leave them checked and you can decide what to do with them later. You will notice there has been no program group entry installed in your windows menu for this game. You can use either the desktop icon that was created or go to the website and press "게임시작" again to start the game.

At this point you will be treated with standard game intro screens, movies, etc and then find yourself at the lovely main menu. Important things to do first. Your resolution is probably messed up. Look for "환경설정" this is the settings menu. The first screen that comes up will allow you to pick your aspect ratio and resolution (conveniently in english). The rest of the settings are in Korean and I haven't messed with them too much. Eventually I'll post a translation. Back out of that and have a look around. Some of the items you'll be able to figure out what they are, but for now the other important word to note is the upper right hand corner. "게임종료" means "end game" or "quit". If you get lost in some menus, keep pressing escape to get yourself back to the beginning. In part 2 I will cover how to join a game, important words, play modes, how to buy weapons, and other necessary things.


Pmang is what is known as a games portal. There are several of these in Korea. They basically work as an aggregate site for some parent company to distribute and advertise the various games they have commissioned either in-house or through outside developers. The bonus to players is that they need only a single ID and they can gain access to dozens of games. They generally span many genres (action, FPS, sports, flash, board, and card games as examples).

Pmang is most notable for the game AVA, at least if the amount of advertising says anything about it. AVA is a first person shooter that uses the unreal 3 engine. I'll detail the sign up process for the site. I should note with almost every Korean website you visit, you'll almost always have to install an activeX control. Korean websites love activeX. I haven't run in to any problems with any of the ones I've installed. I can't guarantee that it will be the same for you, but with all my various software I've never had anything blow up or stop working.

The first thing you'll see on the front page is an orange button which has the word "신규회원가입" loosely translated it means we need to push this button to get started. Now you might think since you have a foreign social security number you could sign up as an adult on the site, later we'll encounter sites which allow us to do that, but this is not one of them. If you attempt to do this you'll encounter an issue where even though you can input a very long name, it will complain if the name is not in hangul. I'm not sure if this is an oversight on their part or what. First click the foreigner picture and move on to the agreement page. This is standard TOS stuff normal to any website. Check the two boxes and add the following word to your growing dictionary "확인" this is the Korean word that means "okay". The other word "취소" is one of many words used as a negative on these forms. While the first is fairly consistent the negative word seems to often change.

You will now be presented with a couple of boxes and some new words to jot down. The first word is "이름" it means name. In this case they're looking for your whole name as it would appear on your alien identification card. Type it in capitals and don't leave anything out. It will just slow down the registration process. Next is your birthday in YYMMDD format. The next is your gender. "남" means male and "여" means female. Also handy if you find yourself in front of a pair of bathrooms that don't have pictures on them. Click okay and you'll be presented with another box. They're asking you for a 4 digit number. This will become your ID number. Write down the whole string starting with your birthday and hit okay.

Now we're on to the main registration form. There are some keywords and items here. "아이디" as it sounds is "ID", "닉네임" means nickname. "비밀번호" means password. The one below that means repeat your password. "비밀번호 찾기 질문" means secret question. "이메일" means email. "주소" means city. "전화번호" means cell phone number.

These are fairly explanatory. First upon clicking the ID field a pop up will appear asking you to choose an ID. It will first confirm availability. You can only use english letters and numbers in this ID. The nickname allows you to use hangul if you so wish. The password can be 6-32 characters, including english letters, numbers and special characters. I believe it must contain one letter and one number. For the secret question just choose a random option from the list and type something as an answer. Write it down just in case you ever lose your password and what to try and recover it. For the email you can choose one of the main korean email providers or choose the last item on the list to use your own email address (like hotmail, etc). Uncheck the box if you don't want spam. In the cell phone area choose your provider and input your number. This can be used to recover your password as well. Uncheck the box to avoid sms spam. The last field is an image of your ID. Take your alien registration card, get a nice scan of it (or a really clear picture) and attach the image to the form. Hit okay. Usually within a day they will approve your account and you're good to go. You will have successfully signed up for your first Korean game portal.

Gaming in Korea

Video gaming in Korea is certainly a different beast from gaming in other parts of the world. While many things are familiar, there are many unique concepts here that are only now just starting to peak their head outside of Korea and outside of Southeast Asia.

While console gaming is fairly typical here, PC gaming works on an entirely different business model. Games are often given away for free and then micropayments for things like clothes, paint jobs, weapons, etc are used to generate income for the company that has published the game. This sounds ideal. The Korean internet is full of free games that are often high quality and interesting, but for foreigners it can be difficult to access these.

The Korean internet is a closed one. Korean websites generally require you use your Korean Social Security Number to create an account on them. Gaming websites are no different. Foreigners who stay here receive one, but they receive a special foreign social security number. Some websites will take these, some will not. Many websites are set up to only take 3 or 4 character long names, which is standard for Korean names, but far too short for a foreigner to input their entire name. Others don't restrict the length of name input but haven't installed the tools necessary to check the foreign social security database.

I'm going to review various games, gaming portals and other game related news in Korea. This blog will be aimed primarily at foreigners living in Korea. As most games are online only games, gaming in Korea from outside Korea can introduce a lot of lag. Playing with a 400 ms ping when everyone else is sitting at 15ms is a bit of a disadvantage. Before we get started I suggest the following:

  1. Learn to read Korean letters. Known as Hangul, the letter system is not that difficult. Even if you can't understand the words many of the words use in video games are Konglish. Konglish is English words written in Korean letters. If you can sound them out, you can guess the meaning. As an example 로그인 (lo-geu-een) is pronounced very similar to and sounds like "login". I learned using Declan's Read/Write software. Its very affordable includes sounds, and stroke order. If you'd like a free solution, you might try Learn Korean.
  2. Add the Korean IME to your language bar. This is the Korean input system for Microsoft Windows.
  3. Change the language for non-unicode programs. Some games don't have all their fonts coded properly and if you don't change this, the text will show up as garbage characters instead of Korean letters. Change this to Korean.
  4. Make sure your have your alien registration card. While not useful on all sites, I'll make note of the ones that it can be used on and you can create accounts on those sites.
  5. Similarly make sure you have your cell phone. When creating an account they generally need to associate a phone number with the account. They'll send you a text message and you'll have to input a confirmation code.
  6. Make good friends with a Korean non-gamer. While the foreign registration card can be used on some sites, many sites do not allow foreign registration. If you're interested in trying one of those sites you'll have to ask your friend to make an account for you using their social security number. This won't be available to you after it has been created.
  7. Create a growing dictionary. These are common words to all games. For example: 시작 means start, often labeling buttons to start the game. 힘 means strength and is a word often used in RPGs. Making notes of these as quick reference can help you navigate a new game.
RPGs are a very common genre in Korea. They range from the simple hack and slash clones to the complex story driven games with many side-quests. These are generally off-limits unless you have an intermediate or higher level of Korean. The only exception might be in games which have a "pull you by the nose" play style where they highlight the quest giver, quest target, etc. Often I willl feature screenshot or video guides on how to sign up for various games and get started in them but translating and creating walkthroughs of Korean RPGs is far beyond my ability.