Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
But I'm not just using The Guardian article as an excuse to post another Eve video. I was also reminded of an episode of Shut Up We're Talking from 2008 that also discussed owning items in games and what that could mean to players. Some of those fears of politicians looking to our games as another method of taxing us continue on as an article on Ars Technica discussed how proposals to institute taxes were posted on the official U.S. Internal Revenue Service back in January.
So virtual economies have been attracting attention for a while now. The question is how much is the real world going to intrude into our games? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Monday, October 19, 2009
If a player encounters a gate camp and attempts to immediately jump back through the gate, a message appears on screen telling the player that he is between phases and can't pass through the gate. This message can be bypassed by using the autopilot. Just follow the below steps.
- Stay calm. You're cloaked. Use the time wisely.
- Open "People And Places"
- Under "Search Type" select "Solar System"
- Under "Search String" type the name or first few characters of the system you want to jump back through.
- In the results window that pops up, right click on the name of the system and select "Set Destination"
- Click on the autopilot button.
- Once the ship decloaks, activate any speed boosting modules, preferably an MWD, and make a run for the gate.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
On the podcast front, Massively Speaking #72 was a first in that Shawn Schuster did not appear on the podcast. However Sera Brennan and Kyle Horton filled in ably for the ailing Shawn. On another front, the Van Hemlock podcast has re-introduced the topic show. I really enjoyed Van Hemlock #72 in which Tim and Jon talked about the role of stories in computer games. My schedule has been a bit hectic this week, but I am listening to No Prisoners, No Mercy #46 featuring a look at Aion and interviews with Giskard of The Engineering Guild modding site and MMO pioneer Richard Bartle as I write this. Sister Julie really has a thing about shooting Teletubbies.
As I mentioned before, in Eve I've joined Eve University. No more just flying around the galaxy for me. Now I have to follow some rules. That's okay, because one of the things new students are encouraged to do is set up their overviews properly. Hmm, that's something I've wanted to learn how to do since the first day I logged in, so I've already managed to accomplish one thing on my first day. And because I'm a natural carebear, I've made the decision I'm going to participate in all the corporations wars. Wait, what was that? A carebear going to war? That's right. I gotta learn sometime, and in the middle of a war seems to be the best place. That does mean following the war policy which will interfere with my carebear industrial ways. Of course, I have a second account so I can get around those restrictions to get more isk if needed.
In EverQuest 2, I'm still suffering from the blahs after reaching max level on my ranger. At this point Eve is new and shiny and I'm learning new things while in EQ2 I'm basically killing time until the next expansion. I'm still logging in and my woodworker is still making good plat selling ammunition. I've stopped making totems as the competition is willing to take less of a profit on them than I am. But I'm getting the itch to run some more quests so hopefully sometime this week I'll find the time.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I have to admit that after this weekend I had a bit of a letdown in EverQuest 2. I earned my 200th AA point on my ranger and now have what I consider a max level character. Level 80 ranger, level 80 alchemist, 400 transmuter and 200 AA points and is a member of a level 80 guild. So after working for over 3 years toward this moment, I asked myself, “What now?” The crafting options are a bit limited for me since all of my 8 crafting alts have reached level 80 in their respective occupations. I don't have time to raid, even if I wanted to leave my guild, which I don't. So I decided to make a list of things I can still would like to do.
On my main:
- Raise my safe fall to 400. Currently I’m at 380.
- Raise my slashing to 400. Remarkably I’ve been at 395 for the last year. Something I really need to take care of!
- Buy a house in South Qeynos. I’ve always wanted a five or six room house. I have a level 80 carpenter and a whole lot of mahogany lumber to use to build furniture.
- Buy my level 80 guild mount. I have the 40 plat.
- Buy the Order of Rime mount. I have another 40 plat to buy that too.
- Reach max faction with all the city factions in Qeynos. Yes, I’ve played for 3 years and am not even close.
On my crafting alts:
- Run through the Ship Out! quest so I can do the Far Seas Supply Division content.
- Get all the crafting gear that gives XP gain bonuses for the next expansion. I really would like to make that grind go a bit faster.
- Get the crafting armor sets for my characters.
- Do the crafting adventure quests found in the cities. I’d like all my crafters to have the cool formal wear. Getting some of the other crafting clothes would be cool too.
- Try to get the Cloak of the Harvester and the pack unicorn for my characters who will adventure in the world.
Sounds like I still have a lot to do, doesn’t it. Not that exciting, but a lot to do. I haven’t even brought up the idea of leveling one of my crafters as an adventurer. Do I level my sage who is a level 50 necromancer? Or how about my armorer who is a level 32 paladin? Um, scratch that idea. But should I level a character that will be wanted in groups like my carpenter who happens to be a level 12 illusionist? Or how about my provisioner who is also a level 12 warden? I hear druids are going to get worked on in the next expansion. Or maybe I should concentrate on content I've never done before. My weaponsmith is a level 12 inquisitor and the Commonlands is just waiting for me.
So much to do. The question is do I really want to do it? I did spend a lot of time equipping my warden for adventuring and it was fun. So much fun that I stayed up late Tuesday night and wound up not posting yesterday. So I still may be a two-game player for a few more months.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
"Tanking MMO Subscription and RMT Fees." What kind of title is that? Well, the title doesn’t refer to bloggers ability to draw aggro from their readers by writing about what players receive for their subscription fees or what they pay for items in the RMT shops in free-to-play (F2P) games. But I think Syncaine at Hardcore Casual in his WoW vs. Eve subscription comparison and Darrin at The Common Sense Gamer in his $10 Runes of Magic horse posts do bring up some good points. The major point both bring up is what should we expect game publishers to give us for the money we give them?
Instead of me trying to explain all of this in dry terms, think of the MMORPG genre of games as one big meta-game. Players wander around this world going from game to game (or perhaps just staying in one) trying to choose the game world that offers them the most rewards. Players’ wallets serve as their armor, health, tank, or whatever term your favorite game uses to represent the amount of damage a player can take before dying. Game companies are in a constant battle to extract as much money as they can from your wallet while players fight to mitigate the damage. This amount varies greatly since players’ ability to tank (absorb) the damage to their wallets depends on their economic conditions in real life. I’m beginning to think of this amount as damage per month (DPM) with your favorite local currency the measure of the damage.
The amount of DPM a player is willing or able to tank does not just depend on the overall amount of DPM a game publisher dishes out. The type of damage also comes into play. For example, some players are able to handle a large alpha strike (a rather apt phrase from Eve Online meaning the initial damage inflicted by an attack) on their wallets as long as they do not have to worry about suffering under the pain of DOTs (dollars over time) in the form of subscription fees. Guild Wars comes to mind as an example of this pricing model in which players buy expansions and don’t have to worry about monthly subscriptions.
Other players don’t have big enough wallets (or have the desire to open them to play an on-line game) to tank either a large alpha strike or DOTs but can tank smaller alpha strikes. For those players, F2P games like Runes of Magic and Wizards 101 fit the bill nicely. In EQ2 terms, these players are avoidance tanking and only pay money if they choose to do so. Other players can not only tank small alpha strikes but a small DOT as well. For those players I expect to see the emergence of more games like Free Realms that offers players, to use a WoW analogy, the option of normal F2P payment schemes without DOTs or heroic payment schemes with DOTs.
When the subject of the so-called triple-A MMO is concerned, the question of money becomes more complex as players have to tank both alpha strikes in the forms of purchasing expansions and DOTs in the form of monthly subscription fees. Well, some games are exceptions, but in general players have to tank both types of damage from the big bosses at corporations like Blizzard, SOE, Turbine, EA/Mythic and NCSoft. An indy game publisher out of Iceland called CCP has developed another strategy in which they forgo the alpha strikes of expansions (all content additions are free) and lure their player base into tanking more DOTs by enticing them into purchasing multiple accounts.
So where do bloggers like Darrin and Syncaine fit into this picture? Why, they are the theory crafters and min/maxers! If people can get past Darrin’s outrage at paying $10 for a horse, the point he was trying to make was that game companies can be taught certain financial facts of life. For instance, how long have MMO subscriptions held at $15 per month? The game companies learned from the players that $15 is the highest amount they can charge for a subscription and attract players. Darrin wants players in F2P games to resist purchasing expensive items in RMT stores in order to get the F2P game industry to lower their prices on those items. If game developers in the early games learn they can only charge $5 for an in-game mount, then that becomes the standard for all other games that will follow. Or in gaming terms, Darrin is trying to mitigate the incoming DPM.
But most players are not min/maxers and theory crafters. Instead they are looking for something a lot more intangible. Those players just take the games as they come and as long as the attacks on their wallets are bearable they'll allow the developer of their favorite game a great degree of freedom of action as long as they deliver the phat loot. And in the case of games, the greatest loot of all is fun.
Monday, October 12, 2009
On Friday she posted on her blog about community management and some of the do's and don'ts of how to behave toward the player base. I thought about her post last night when I watched the video of the PvE panel at the Eve Online Fan Fest. Did they follow the rules? Do the rules change slightly when people are face to face instead of on a forum? Or possibly are Eve players just a bit unusual and require different handling? I'll post the video below for you to decide.
Yes, I know. Another CCP video. But I'm just fascinated by the devs and CCP's attitude toward the game and the players. In most games, if a dev came right out and told players they did something to make sure the players don't cheat, the players would take offense and the trolls would come out in force. In Eve, players take that kind of thinking in stride. New Eden doesn't just look like a dark cruel place; it is a dark cruel place and the players have developed that mindset.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Last week I went back on a music video/YouTube kick triggered by The Instance's Scott Johnson & Randy Jordan's open letter to Blizzard asking for more podcast content from the official BlizzCast podcast. While looking around I found a lot of the coverage of CCP's FanFest 2009 made it to their channel on YouTube and I have had some fun watching them. CCP really makes a point of informing the player base of the basics of what they are attempting to do.
SOE and my home game EverQuest 2 don't really have a great presence on YouTube, so when I want some good EQ2 music videos, I turn to the musical ranger and Online Gaming Radio personality Jethal Silverwing and his guild's website Kithicor.org. I really like what he's done with the site and have added a link to it. Looks like I may have to set up another category on the blog for web radio sites/personalities.
Speaking of EverQuest 2, not only is the Halloween event, Nights of the Dead, beginning on October 16, but the CSMs are holding a special live event, The Norrathian Rat Race, on each server from October 13-November 6 (Hat tip to Feldon at EQ2 Wire for both pieces of news). And ZAM has the latest developer chat logs from the session they hosted on October 8.
And while the news swirls around EQ2, I finally managed to get my ranger her 200th AA point. Aside from the achievements which I am not going to do, I still need to raise 2 more skills, safe fall and slashing, to 400. Alcohol tolerance does not count; I'm still at 5 points and have no plans on leveling that skill. Once those are done, my ranger is pretty much finished developing until the next expansion hits the shelves in February.
Back in New Eden, I had a blast yesterday running missions. Both accounts had the skills queue set up for a couple of days so I just jumped in my Rifter and started doing missions. I thought I'd do a couple and move on to something else. Well, with videos from Fan Fest playing on my second computer and only taking breaks for lunch and to do laundry, I ran missions for 8 hours. Yipes! Time flies when you're having fun.
Now to turn on some football and do a little dual-box mining in Eve for the first time. I'm really interested to see how it turns out.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Near the end of the day, someone I worked with was fired. Not laid off with a nice severance package; fired for not doing a good job. I understand why. I'm just not all that happy with another person losing his job.
Needless to say I haven't really felt like writing about games. But I thought I better at least get something posted just to keep the habit going.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
But when CCP came out with the announcement that Eve Online had reached 300,000 active accounts, many people down played that success because Eve is a game in which a lot of players (including myself as of this week) have multiple accounts. But they do have 300,000 active accounts which allows them to do some amazing things.
Sometimes I wonder what the people who spout these numbers think about World of Warcraft. Blizzard claims 11.5 million users, but what should we think when half the users play in Asia but only contribute 10% of the revenue Blizzard gets from WoW? Sounds like the F2P business model where some players play most of the money to me.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I have one last thing to mention about The Instance #164. Scott and Randy covered some of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft Web 2.0 community outreach efforts. I’m still a little unclear about the definition, but I think podcasting, Twitter and YouTube count as Web 2.0. According to the hosts, those efforts are pretty weak. They wrote an open letter to Blizzard asking for some more support for producing BlizzCast podcasts. They mentioned that the World of Warcraft Twitter account is becoming a joke. “Let me hear your battlecry,” anyone? And while they have hopes for the new Blizzard page on YouTube, they wonder if the page will become stale over time.
Randy said that if Blizzard would come out with a podcast every 15 days that would be industry leading. Not really. Sony Online Entertainment has a three year-old podcast co-hosted by former Community Manager and current EverQuest 2 Executive Producer Alan “Brenlo” Crosby and Aimee Rekoske that already comes out about every two weeks. Now, the problem with having a regular podcast is what to do when there is no news. At the SOE Fan Faire this summer that was one of the issues brought up on the podcast panel. The SOE podcast has an advantage over BlizzCast; they cover many games so usually have something to talk about. And when they do have a problem, they fall back to mini-casts that follow the adventures of the SOE server hamsters. Maybe once Blizzard comes out with a second MMO and the new StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3 they will have enough content for a really good podcast.
I don’t know about Twitter since I’ve never gotten into the concept, but YouTube? I love CCP’s page on YouTube. Besides showing trailers for Eve expansions, CCP has all the matches from Alliance Tournament 7 posted plus the Eve TV commentary and Dominion previews. And over the next couple of days CCP is scheduled to post videos from some of the events from their “Party at the Top of the World” held last weekend. If Blizzard did something like that, the site would be everything Scott and Randy are hoping for. And if Blizzard were to corral the creative genius already creating great videos on YouTube into contributing content, the page would be awesome.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Pandemic Legion vs. Manifest Destiny
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The problem that many point out is that while many players want an official word about changes or problems in a game, the nature of official forums tends to drive developers out of them. As Sister Julie Whitefeather from No Prisoners, No Mercy likes to point out, Mythic Entertainment head Mark Jacobs opposed having official forums for Warhammer Online because of the abuse that forum users heap on developers. For those who don't want to wade through pages of posts looking for word from their game's developers, dev trackers are available. Eve Online is unusual as they actually have a dev tracker on their forums because CCP wants to get their word out. In an extreme form of irony, in order to find dev posts on the official EverQuest 2 forums I go to a pretty vile forum, EQ2Flames.
In what I'm playing, I actually was drawn back into Runes of Magic because of the introduction of elves and the druid and warden classes. From what I can tell druids replace priests and wardens replace knights as playable classes for elves. I played for a couple of hours last night and got a druid up to level 6. Not enough time to evaluate the druid class, but the tradeskilling is still as grindy as I remember.
I haven't done too much in EverQuest 2. I am at 199.3 AA points and I should have 200 by the end of next weekend. At that point I can really concentrate on my tradeskillers, although I'm thinking of leveling another adventurer up. I hear that druids are going to be receiving some healing love from the devs, so I may work on my warden. Druid? Warden? Yes, in EQ2, unlike RoM, a warden is a type of druid.
Finally, in Eve Online I'm starting to move from newbie checking out the game to someone who intends on playing for awhile. I'm now seriously looking at joining a corporation. The first corp I'm looking at is Eve University. I've been lurking in the Eve-Uni chat channel asking questions occasionally. I've also found the Eve University Class Library and I've been listening to a couple of classes instead of my usual podcasts. Now all I have to do is actually apply. I should probably hurry up because it looks like the upcoming change to create an 11% NPC corp tax rate are pushing people to find a corp.
Friday, October 2, 2009
When players compare MMORPGs, a lot of them look at the differences between games. I tend to look at the similarities, especially if the games appear to be much different on the surface. Take for example EverQuest 2 and Eve Online. That’s why I’ve spent a lot of my limited weekday playtime on setting up a small manufacturing business to supply all of my ammunition needs in Eve.
Okay, what does EverQuest 2 have to do with making ammunition for my Rifter? To answer that question requires examining some of the game mechanics of playing a ranger in EQ2. The single biggest source of damage for a ranger (in my case typically 35-45%) is his/her ranged auto attack, which requires a bow and arrows. Unlike Warhammer Online, where arrows magically appear, players need to supply and carry their arrows around with them. Another large source of damage is poison. Even after the recent poison nerf for predators, I still get between 6-10% of my damage from my caustic poison, and the other poisons I use contribute to even more damage. Other items rangers use include potions that increase ranged double attack or ranged crit chances, temporary weapon adornments that give bonuses to damage that last 30 minutes, and the ever popular food and drink.
Now, players can complain (and post on the forums) about having to pay large amounts of money on the broker so they can produce a large amount of DPS. I refuse to do so. Instead, I craft. A lot. My ranger is also a master alchemist who makes her own poisons and potions. I also have a woodworker to make arrows, a weaponsmith for the temporary adornments for my weapons, and a provisioner for food and drink. Having 9 characters in EQ2 who have earned the title “Master” in their tradeskill wasn’t just a way to kill time because I ran out of things to do. No, playing EQ2 for three years has drilled into my head the value of being as self-sufficient as possible. Not only do place get rich by killing mobs, completing quests and selling items on the broker, but by not spending a lot on equipment, spells, ammo, etc. The fact that I can make those skills available to my guildies is a very pleasant side effect.
I don’t just make items for myself and my guild in EQ2. My main crafting character is my woodworker Yonger (who I’ve featured in a series of posts I’ll finish one day). Besides making totems, the main items he sells are arrows, throwing axes and throwing daggers. That’s right, ammunition.
Hmm … so let’s review. A player (me) from EQ2 who plays a class heavily dependent on ammunition for DPS and makes a lot of platinum selling ammunition plops himself down in Eve playing a faction heavily dependent on auto-cannons for DPS. Naturally, I go back to my roots and want to make ammunition.
Before doing so, however, I checked out the market to see if making my own ammunition was a cost-effective thing to do. I found the cost savings on a percentage basis is much lower in Eve than it is in EQ2. But the real savings is in an area I don’t worry too much about in EQ2: time. The event that really sparked me into action involved a buy order I placed for some Bloodclaw missiles. I was flying around to several stations in a few systems picking up my missiles and thought to myself, “What am I doing?” I don’t have that much time to play and I really don’t want to spend a lot of it picking up penny-packets of ammunition. Flying around in my Mammoth picking up the Rifters I bought was cool. Picking up missiles? Not so much. So while the savings in isk won’t be huge, the savings in time since I can pick up all my ammunition from my hanger will make the effort worth it.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Of course, that was fairly tame compared to the latest happenings on No Prisoners, No Mercy #45. You would think that a show on modding would be fairly tame, but Sister Julie found a mod she loves for Left 4 Dead. I've inserted a video preview of the mod below.
That's right. Teletubbie zombies. What's next, Barney as a raid boss?
I finished off yesterday listening to Channel Massive #106. I plan on finish listening today. I haven't gotten to the Blog-O-Steria, but the Blameful Gecko rant was good and the Aion release gave Mark and Jason another opportunity to puncture the bubble of NCSoft.
And finally I read last night that a podcast planned for launch at the end of the year has been put on hold due to real life issues. Congrats to Kirith Kodachi who's wife is expecting another baby in March.