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Homeland (video game)

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Homeland ホームランド, hōmurando is a role-playing video game for the Nintendo GameCube developed and published by Chunsoft, and was released in Japan on April 29, 2005

The game can be played offline in single-player mode or online in multiplayer mode over the internet or on a LAN In online mode the player can assume the role of gamemaster and create an online game for up to thirty-five other players1 It is one of only four titles for the GameCube designed for online play It is unique among these games in a number of ways It is the only one where the GameCube itself acts as the server, rather than the player using a central server It is also the only online GameCube game that isn't a Phantasy Star Online title, and the only one not to get a release outside Japan Images of the game can be seen on the official HOMELAND website in Japanese

Contents

  • 1 Gameplay
    • 11 Co-operative play
    • 12 Ring menus and spiral menus
    • 13 Communication
    • 14 Quester Park
      • 141 Information desk and bell
      • 142 Communication practice
      • 143 Ramps
      • 144 Key items storage
    • 15 Items
  • 2 Storylines
  • 3 Gamemaster
    • 31 Powers
    • 32 Suspending the game
  • 4 Online mode configuration
    • 41 Settings
  • 5 Beta test
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Gameplayedit

HOMELAND features nonlinear gameplay with branching storylines and multiple endings, and especially in multiplayer mode co‑operative gameplay

The player begins by choosing his or her avatar a boy or a girl and giving it a name Next there is an introductory sequence of events in which the player answers a few questions that will determine which two "mascots" the player will have from the start A mascot is a sort of avatar that the player's avatar transforms into before setting off on an adventure Each mascot has different attributes and skills, and more mascots can be acquired in subsequent adventures through the accumulation of "clear points" for clearing certain events In one storyline however, the player does not select a mascot but enters the adventure world as the original avatar, named Bibi ビビ for the girl and Hal ハル for the boy

Players begin each new adventure at level 1 and level up as they acquire experience points A distinctive feature of HOMELAND is the ability of players to join hands and form a chain in order to combine their stats and special attributes Communication is displayed as voice bubbles coming from the player characters PC and from the non-player characters NPC In weakened characters the background color of the voice bubbles changes from white to yellow and eventually to red when they are almost defeated Distant voices appear as smaller voice bubbles near the edge of the screen Players can be equipped with weapons, shields and accessories, and can carry a very limited number of items

Co-operative playedit

Players in a multiplayer game do not normally battle each other; instead they benefit by helping each other to battle enemies and achieve common objectives Some storylines cannot be completed without coordinated actions by a number of players When players join hands to form a chain the lead player in the chain is in control and is the only one able to attack or to receive damage This tactic provides a useful way of quickly levelling up a player who has just entered the game, and may be essential in a storyline where a particular attribute is needed to provide an immunity and not all of the players have that attribute It is also possible to use the chain as a shield in order to prevent the leader having to battle too many monsters at once a form of crowd control Each member of the chain can "unjoin" at any time and continue independently

A spiral menu As the cursor rotates, items appear at one end and disappear from the other

In an offline game the player can summon their other mascots to come and assist them as though they were other players These mascots become their companions and are controlled very effectively by the game's AI The companions will follow the player around and assist in battles by fighting and – depending on their skills – by restoring the player's health Companions can be equipped with weapons, shields and accessories, but cannot carry items When a player logs out of a multiplayer game or is absent too long their mascot remains in the game as a companion and automatically "gives" any key items that it may be carrying If the player rejoins the game they automatically regain control of their mascot

Ring menus and spiral menusedit

Short menus are displayed as a ring of options around a pointer controlled with the joystick An option can be selected sequentially by rotating the pointer like the hands of a clock, or directly by moving the joystick in the direction of the option Longer menus are displayed as a ring of options that appear and disappear progressively as the pointer is rotated around the ring This is compared visually to moving through the center of a spiral from one end to the other

Communicationedit

Players communicate in a multiplayer game via text messages entered using the game controller and a menu-like visual keyboard keyboard controllers are not supported2 This method is very slow at first, but becomes more efficient as the game remembers words and proposes them in a way similar to predictive text on a mobile phone Messages entered in this way appear in the avatar's voice bubbles and are visible to all nearby players There is also a way of broadcasting a message to all players anywhere in the game using a "shout" command Emotional states of characters are displayed in anime or manga style, and can expressed by the player by selecting the corresponding emotion from a ring menu Possible states are: laughing, shocked, surprised, sad, angry, embarrassed, puzzled, and panicked The effect lasts for just a second or two

Quester Parkedit

Hovering above the clouds is a transportation and communication hub called Quester Park It is the starting point for new adventures and provides a convenient way of travelling from one region to another later in the game It is divided into two areas with facilities staffed by helpful "angels"

Text entry with a game controller is slow and complicated, but predictive text and shortcut buttons make it easier Keyboard controllers are not supported

Information desk and belledit

One of the most important facilities is the bell next to the information desk at the front of the park In a single-player, offline game the bell can be used to summon the player's other mascots to join the player as members of a group A fee must be paid which is quite small for the first mascot, but which increases very rapidly for each additional mascot In a multiplayer game the bell is used to locate and communicate with other players

Communication practiceedit

Instructions and advice on how to communicate with other players are provided by the angel Timote ティモテ A fast-talking minigame gives the player practice in using the interface and an opportunity to earn some experience points at the same time

Rampsedit

The second area of Quester Park is ringed with ramps that can be used to transport the player to the "altars" found in each town and village A ramp cannot be used until the location of the corresponding altar has already been visited once on foot

Key items storageedit

Key items that are not needed but cannot be discarded can be left with the angel Kamonau カモナウ and picked up later This frees up needed space in the player's inventory for other items Key items may be left here when a player logs out

Itemsedit

Items used in the game are usually bought in shops and from stallholders, but they are also obtained as loot by defeating an opponent and found lying around in treasure chests They are grouped into the following categories:

  • Weapons
    The player starts with simple items such as sticks and clubs and gradually progresses to more powerful and expensive weapons such as swords that may affect the player's stats
  • Shields
    May be as simple as a piece of leather or scrap iron, or proper shields giving much more protection and modifying the player's stats
  • Accessories
    Decorative items such as badges, pendants and medals that increase some of the player's stats and may lower others
  • Tools
    These are mainly items used for recovery or escape, but also include "drops" that can be sold for a lot of money
  • Valuables
    These are key items that are needed to progress in an adventure They are usually obtained by defeating a boss or by helping an NPC

Storylinesedit

Depending partly on the sequence of key events that are initiated by the hero, an adventure may follow one of a number of possible storylines Other factors that may have an influence are the number of participating players and, in one case at least, whether or not a particular adventure has already been "cleared" Each adventure begins in the quester's room and ends with a meeting with the "big god", who congratulates the heroes and heroines and hands out some rewards After this the adventurer is returned to their room to begin again at level 1 but having acquired some "clear points" with which to buy additional mascots and accessories that can be used to personalise the mascots Possible storylines are:

Returning the squid king to his throne in the Parasquid storyline screenshot from a multiplayer game The group of characters in the lower left are player mascots with accessories
  • Boron Parts ボローンパーツ, boronpatsu
    Morubon is trapped in an underground cave Rescue him and then help him find the four "Boron Parts" that he was looking for This is an online-only adventure
  • Dark World 暗闇の世界, kurayami no sekai
    When the quester tries to rescue a lost ghost some evil spirits try to prevent it from leaving; they scatter parts of the ghost's soul and curse the world to be covered in darkness The quester must now recover all six pieces of the ghost's soul and remove the curse with the help of a mysterious flower encountered along the way
  • Demon King 魔王, maou
    The king of the demons was defeated 100 years ago - has he returned
  • The Demons 魔族, mazoku
    An online, multiplayer adventure in which some of the questers are cursed and try to catch the others Three or more players are needed
  • Dream World ユメの世界, yume no sekai
    When all the inhabitants of the homeland are put to sleep by the demon king, the quester has to enter the world of dreams to awaken them This storyline is notable for the giant flying "whale" actually like a cross between a whale, a catfish and a coelacanth and a maze on a rotating cube Finding out how to summon the whale is the biggest challenge in this adventure
  • The Golems ゴーレム, gouremu
    The golems artificial creatures feel they have been mistreated by their masters the robot people so they rebel
  • Jailbreak 脱獄, datsugoku
    An online, multiplayer adventure in which the questers are imprisoned by the robot people and must try to escape Four players are needed, and cooperation and co-ordination are essential
  • Jintori 陣取り, jintori
    An online, multiplayer adventure that requires at least ten players A festival takes place in which one of the events is a game of jintori Players are divided into five teams identified by animal symbols crab, bear, rabbit, tiger and frog that compete to capture thirteen bases
  • Micro ミクロ, mikuro
    Instead of defeating a final boss, players participate in a quiz about HOMELAND Some questions must be answered within a time limit making this one of the hardest adventures to clear It is called Micro because the players' mascots are shrunk so that they can enter a toy maze near the end
  • Oragon オラゴン, oragon
    This is the shortest and easiest adventure: defeat the dragon "Oragon" and recover the important item that he stole
  • Parasquid パラダイカ, paradaika
    The king of the squid people lost his memory when his spaceship crashed on the homeland and he has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit Free the king by finding the true culprit and then restore him to his throne which has since been seized by a usurper
  • The Tale of the Hero and the Demon King 魔王と勇者の物語, maou to yūsha no monogatari
    This is an offline only adventure which does not require the quester to transform into a mascot - instead it begins in the "real" world The player must go back in time 100 years and help save the world from being consumed by darkness There many puzzles and mysteries to solve, making this one of the longest and most interesting adventures It is unlocked by clearing the Demon King adventure; the angel in the closet then transforms the homework on the table into a book, and reading this starts the adventure

Gamemasteredit

The gamemaster view shows the position of players, monsters and treasure chests in an area that is broader than the ordinary player view

The gamemaster begins a new game by selecting the "god" mascot and setting up the game parameters During the game the gamemaster sees a map of the entire homeland and can "descend" to locations where there are players The gamemaster cannot descend to a location in the game in which there is currently no player mascot present The gamemaster sees a broader area than the individual players do, as though looking down through the clouds Players and monsters are represented as moving icons and their voice bubbles are visible The gamemaster's icon is controlled like a cursor and when placed over a player icon the name of the player is displayed If left on a player icon, the cursor will automatically follow the icon as the player moves The gamemaster can see a name list of all the players in the game, and can "jump" to the location of a selected player

Powersedit

The gamemaster has no need of health points but does acquire power points as the players progress in the game Power points are needed to perform "miracles" similar to skills such as causing monsters or items to suddenly appear In this way the gamemaster is able to influence the game by helping or hindering the players Miracles are unlocked and bought in a similar way to mascots and accessories The gamemaster also has the ability, if necessary, to "evict" a troublesome player from the game Players can send a message to the gamemaster and pay to increase the gamemaster's power points using the "god" telephones found in towns and villages

Suspending the gameedit

The gamemaster can suspend and save the game at any time and then resume from the saved state later; it is not necessary to keep the console switched on all the time Furthermore, the state of the game is saved automatically every few minutes to the Memory Card in the game server console so it will not be lost if there is a power failure

Online mode configurationedit

The Network Settings dialog looks like a separate application

A Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter DOL-015 is required for multiplayer mode on the internet The GameCube Modem Adapter DOL-012 is not supported2 The online option does not become available until the first adventure has been completed offline2 This ensures that the player has learned how to play before participating in a multiplayer game

The network connection settings are configured in the game and saved in a Network Settings file on a Memory Card in Slot A The file must be saved on the same Memory Card as the HOMELAND game save file3 Although the Network Settings dialog is accessed from within the game it looks like a separate application - it has a completely different visual style and uses kanji text while the game uses only kana

Settingsedit

The following types of connection are supported:

  • DHCP connection automatic and manual configuration
  • PPPoE connection automatic and manual configuration
  • Static IP address

A typical configuration on a home network would be DHCP with automatic assignment of the network parameters Manual DHCP configuration requires the primary and secondary DNS server address to be entered A PPPoE connection requires in addition to this the internet service user ID and password, and whether or not to save the password A static IP address connection requires the IP address, subnet mask, default router, primary and secondary DNS server address to be entered The network connection can be tested from a menu option before going online; error code 21003 indicates a successful connection

An additional requirement since the end of the official matching server is to change the connection method so that instead of connecting automatically to the matching server the player is prompted to enter the IP address of the destination GameCube that is acting as a game server This is done in the game by saying #switch connection せつぞくきりかえ to the "angel" NPC that appears from the closet in the quester's room This only has to be done once as the change is saved to the Memory Card This change also makes it possible to play a multiplayer game on a LAN

For other players to be able to connect to the gamemaster's GameCube over the internet it must be accessible through port 9003 on a global IP address4 The gamemaster should ensure that the IP address remains fixed for the duration of the game, otherwise players will be disconnected and must be informed of the new IP address before they can continue

Beta testedit

A beta test version of the game was produced which can be recognised by the simple monochrome packaging and user guide The disc and packaging are labelled "Not for sale" and "TEST DISC" in Japanese, which also appears on the title screen A disclaimer is displayed when the game is loaded

CHUNSOFT gave away 1,000 copies of the beta test version as prizes in a competition5 shortly before the release of the game in 2005 Winners were selected randomly from customers who preordered the game between 10 and 25 February These "free trial versions" enabled players to try out the opening stage of the game only; the first adventure ends when the player reaches the next region in the game Those who had ordered the Broadband Adapter bundle received their copies in time for beta testing of the network from 15 to 27 March6 making it possible for them to try out the multiplayer Internet Adventure mode too

Games saved in the test version cannot be loaded in the full version of the game2

Referencesedit

  1. ^ Homeland user guide, page 30
  2. ^ a b c d Official Homeland website Q&A
  3. ^ Homeland user guide, page 32
  4. ^ Homeland user guide, page 34
  5. ^ CHUNSOFT website news February 10, 2005
  6. ^ Famitsu website news February 10, 2005

External linksedit

  • Official website in Japanese

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Homeland (video game)


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    29.10.2014


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