Ragnarok Online (RO) is a persistent world based on the manga works of Myung-Jin Lee. The game has seen huge popularity in its native Korea as well as other neighboring countries such as Japan and the Philippines. Gravity has advertised aggressively and many Westerners have come to play on the international server.
Ragnarok Online is a MMORPG by any definition, but those familiar with the EverQuest/Ultima Online/Dark Age of Camelot paradigm that has proved so popular in the US and Europe may find themselves in unfamiliar territory. RO is more about combat and speed than detail. This is evident in the character generation phase. The new player is limited strictly to altering stats and choosing hairstyle when building an avatar. Sex is chosen upon account creation. If a new player is a female and she lists her sex as F when she registers, her account will be limited strictly to female avatars. The same goes for men. The logic behind this seems fuzzy. Gravity's website says, "Because users play character (sic) based off their gender, community involvement becomes livelier with a willingness to participate," but that is certainly up for debate. In a roleplaying environment, it is common for women to play as male characters and for men to play women. Veteran MMORPGers know that the cute wood elf wiggling her behind through the forest may actually be 6'3", 225 lbs, and in need of a shave. At least restricting the players to one sex keeps them honest, but it limits the roleplaying opportunities of the game.
Neither does one have the opportunity to alter size, body shape, facial features, or other such characteristics. There are a few hairstyles and several colors from which to choose, but the main focus of character creation is the stat points. The six stats are strength, agility, luck, vitality, intelligence and dexterity. They are placed on the vertices of a hexagon with opposing stats on opposite ends of an axis. Raising the number of points in one will lessen the number in its opposite. Strength and intelligence are two stats that situated as such. Maxing out strength means minimal skill in intelligence - good for a Swordsman, but not so good for a Mage.
New players start at the training grounds. This is not unlike many current games that place a new player on a "newbie island" and bid him complete quests and hunt creatures until he is ready to proceed. RO's training starts out with a multiple choice test and it's not easy. A new player must complete a circuit of NPCs, each of which describes a part of the game. While the information is helpful, some of it is obvious to anyone who plays the game for more than a few minutes. It gets a bit tedious reading all the verbiage and one must read closely to get enough information for an 80% passing grade. After the test, the instructor only repeats the grade. He does not mention which questions were missed. Although he apparently gives the same test over and over, it still can be frustrating to have to revisit the instructor NPCs and wade through their spiels to find the answer to the two or three answers that may have been wrong.