Monday, April 19, 2021

More On The Removed Asteroid Belts

CCP Rattati and CCP Swift (the player formerly known as Elise Randolph) appeared on The Meta Show Saturday. One of the questions that came up concerned the removal of asteroid belts throughout large portions of null sec. CCP Rattati explained...

We have two ways to spawn minerals into the game. Through anomalies which is newer, and belts, which is very, very, like, the original entry point of minerals. The belts need to be respawned every 24 hours during downtime because they are very, very old tech. Anomalies don't. They can be evergreen in that sense. 

The long term tech decision is obviously to remove the belts. Slowly but surely. And we have been removing stuff from them in anticipation to actually just remove them from the universe and replace them with anomalies that would basically behave in a similar way. So that's a tech decision. 

The actual thing is that there have been hundreds of people working on EVE in the last years and what you need to do to create an NPC to spawn -- you need to pick a place to spawn. And there has not been a singular -- the right way to spawn things. So sometimes NPCs respond to things like a literal asteroid or a part of the belt or somewhere in the vicinity, but you always have to pick like an id. Like a thing to spawn on. And that was not supposed to be in that way. It was supposed to be more generalized. In some cases in these belts, in these NPCs, they were just hardcoded to a point they were not supposed to hardcode in. So this never would have been like in a CSM discussion. This is just a defect in that sense. 

So we're trying to roll this back. Like, not roll this back. Sorry, using the wrong word. Trying to go in the right direction and fix it in the right way. 

We learned three things, none of which were very surprising. The first is that the issue of the asteroid belts was partially a result of bad legacy code. Going off my experience of listening to how CCP developed EVE, each of the asteroid belts was hand-crafted. Trying to change the ore composition of thousands of belts with the resource distribution changes by hand wasn't going to happen. 

I honestly don't understand the points about where NPCs spawn. In the early days of EVE, if the developers wanted NPCs to spawn in asteroid belts, wouldn't they have to tie the NPCs to the belts? I'm assuming that CCP Rattati is thinking along more modern lines in which NPCs are linked to a system or constellation and roam around. As far as I know, the first roaming NPCs were the Circadian Seekers introduced with a new artificial intelligence engine introduced in Rhea in December 2014. I don't think incursions, introduced in the Incursion expansion of November 2010, introduced NPCs that roamed between celestials. I was too excited about the removal of training skills at the time to notice if they did.

The second thing we learned is that the CSM wasn't consulted. I know. I get it. Developers don't run defect fixes past the CSM. Every couple of years, a bug is fixed that players adapted to. Go ask null sec players how they used those over the years. In the case of the asteroid belts, I get the impression that the developers made to just remove the belts since not only were the continuously empty belts causing confusion, but that was the direction the company is taking anyway.

That's right, the final point is CCP plans to eventually remove all asteroid belts from the game. Old tech means legacy some systems in EVE need Tranquility to reboot daily. One of those systems is asteroid belts. And we know CCP wants to eliminate the daily downtime. Back on 4 December 2019, CCP experimented by eliminating downtime on that date. Going back even further, CCP eliminated ice belts and replaced them with ice anomalies in the Odyssey expansion in June 2013. Add in player interest in removing downtime, and the removal of the asteroid belts might receive popular support if the servers could remain functional for a week at a time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

CCP Prefers Suspenders, Not Belts

Yesterday the latest patch for EVE Online dropped on Tranquility. CCP made a very interesting choice.

No, I'm not referring to increasing the amount of Mykoserocyn sites after reducing them with the great resource distribution update. Removing asteroid belts seems a bit ... strange. The change doesn't affect players in high or low security space, but null sec received a nerf.

No more belt ratting in Curse

I imagine the Curse Russians weren't very happy to log back in and discover all the asteroid belts in Curse had disappeared. The same probably held true for all the small groups living in Providence. What CCP did yesterday was eliminate belt ratting from large portions of EVE.

I honestly don't know how the change will affect groups in the affected regions in trying to raise the activity defense multiplier in systems they are interested in moving into. Raising the military index level requires shooting NPCs. If the true security value in a system is poor, how do groups get NPCs to shoot to make their systems more defensible?

Of course, CCP has the data and knows how many NPCs are killed in various regions. Perhaps the elimination of so many asteroid belts will have no effect. At least on the monthly economic report. But will the change make even more of null sec space uninteresting to players? Time will tell.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Downtime For Patches

Message logging into FFXIV from Steam

I do have to admit to chuckling over how Square Enix alerts everyone to patches and downtime in Final Fantasy XIV. In the last few days before a patch, the developers make crystal clear everyone who logs in knows a patch is about to be deployed. More importantly, everyone is notified about when the downtime will occur. No one will have an excuse. Make sure your retainers are out working and visit your house to make sure you don't lose it due to not visiting it frequently enough.

The message indicates an expected downtime of 9 hours. I should add, I've seen notices from Square Enix warning of 24 hour downtimes for larger patches. That's a long time, especially compared to EVE Online.

When I started playing EVE in 2009, downtime was a way of life. Each day, the game was offline an hour. And expansions? The joke was, train a long skill because downtime could take a couple of days. I never experienced server downtime that long due to launching an expansion, but the possibility existed.

Over the years CCP has really improved its performance around both the daily downtime and installing new content. If a patch takes longer than an hour nowadays, something bad probably happened. Which is a good thing, because both Square Enix and CCP are dropping new content onto the servers. So while I can't play FFXIV, I can still play EVE.

Friday, April 9, 2021

My New Mount And Final Fantasy XIV Quality Of Life Changes In Patch 5.5

Over the last week I spent my time in Final Fantasy XIV leveling my Scholar job from level 46 to level 55. Back when I laid out my plans for leveling the job, I only planned on running squadron command missions until I reached level 53. I altered my plans when I looked at the rewards offered in the latest Moogle Treasure Trove event.

Flying across the night sky

The Blissful Kamuy mount is a rare drop from the 8-man trial Emanation (Extreme) from Stormblood. A glowing wolf mount is a must have, even if I needed to gather 50 Irregular Tomestones of Esoterics. The Aurum Vale, the dungeon I needed to run in order to level up my Scholar job, gives out 4 of the tomestones upon completion, even if run as a squadron command mission. I could have gotten the mount faster by using the duty finder, but I also needed to level up the NPCs in my squadron. Now, I not only have the mount, but 6 of the 8 NPCs are level 50 and above as well.

In a sign I've played too much EVE Online, I'm more excited about the quality of life improvements coming to FFXIV in patch 5.5 than I am about the content itself. Yes, I think the changes are that good.

The new interface

The first change is to the achievement menu. Before patch 5.5, players have to visit Jonathas to collect their achievement awards. Visiting Jonathas is a bit of a pain, and I live in New Gridania. The change will keep a lot of players from having to travel back and forth to get their rewards.

The next change is one I've waited awhile for. The deck building rules for Triple Triad are changing to allow two cards with a rarity of 4 stars or more instead of just one.

The new rules as of patch 5.5

With the new rules I get to use my 4-star cards now. Before, those cards were essentially useless as I would always use a 5-star card. Of course, the NPCs might also have better decks, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Less button clicks please

The third change is to fishing. Currently there is a command to release types of fish automatically. I've never used the command for fear I'll start throwing back fish I really want. With the new interface, that worry goes away. Square Enix, my inventory thanks you!

The last change comes to the emotes interface. Square Enix loves emotes. So much so the devs have included over 100 in FFXIV at last count. But finding new emotes like the new pizza eating emote coming in patch 5.5 is a real pain. That is, until Tuesday.

Green dots > red dots

First, the UI shows newly acquired emotes the same way the minion & mount interfaces do. The tab with the new emote will display a green dot. Each new item in the tab also displays a green dot next to the name.

The second change to the Emotes UI is wonderful. The developers are adding a search function. The function will work with both the name of the emote as well as the text of the emote command. Between the two changes, finding the emote I want will become much easier.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

News On CCP Games' Next Shooter

Fans looking for news about CCP Games latest project received a taste last week of what is to come. The new head of CCP's London studio, Adrian Blunt, gave an interview with MCVUK/DEVELOP (Issue 967, April 2021, pp 44-46) the magazine published last week.

The project apparently is a shooter using the Unreal 4 engine, which I think was already known due to job postings. 

One of 8 open positions for CCP London found on 6 April 2021

The description of the game as a multi-player shooter is a bit different than the job posting found on CCP's website in February 2020, when the game was described as an "unannounced action MMORPG".

As seen on 19 February 2020

The change away from describing the game as an MMORPG is similar to Crimson Desert's, another Pearl Abyss title due to launch in 2021. We learned of the focus away from the genre in Crimson Desert's case back in December 2020. Does that mean that EVE and Black Desert Online are the last MMORPGs to come out of the stable of the South Korean company's stable of studios?

We knew from the news of Project Nova's demise that the people in Iceland working on the shooter were redistributed to other teams in Reykjavik. But the interview did make some news as we found out the number of employees in the London studio is now around 40. With the CCP job opportunities listing 8 additional openings for the project, the team is set to grow.

Perhaps the biggest news from the article was the unveiling of Adrian Blunt as the Studio Director at CCP London. Blount worked as a producer on mobile games in EA Mobile's UK Studio from 2005-2008 before moving on to become the lead producer of FIFA Online for 2 years. He spent a lot of time working in the Far East, not only at EA but at Ubisoft, where he managed the Singapore development of Assassin's Creed Unity as well as the development and launch of Ghost Recon Phantoms. After nearly 3 years at Ubisoft, Blount moved back to London to work as a producer for Square Enix for almost 2 years.

In 2015, Blount moved on to Fireteam and was present in 2016 when both Fireteam and Splash Damage were acquired by Leyou Technologies Holdings Limited, a Chinese poultry company. He would serve as both VP Platform and VP Operations at Fireteam before moving on to Splash Damage, where he worked until January of this year.

I want to point out one passage from the article that leads me to believe the launch of the game is still a few years out.

The game was in pre-production before Blunt’s arrival, and his first impressions were good: “When I had the opportunity to meet the team, play the game, and I was blown away by what the team has been able to create.” So, at very least, we know that this early version of the game was strong enough to entice Blunt from his previous position at Splash Damage.

The author leaves the reader with the impression that the game is currently in production, but was still in pre-production a few months ago. Giving the game 3+ years of development would appear to fit well with the release of Pearl Abyss' other upcoming games. Crimson Desert is due to launch at the end of 2021. DokeV and Plan 8 are still due to release in 2022 & 2023 respectively. A 2024 launch would allow Pearl Abyss to launch a new game every year for at least the next 4 years.

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Hunt - Finding Eggs

I managed to play a little bit of EVE Online yesterday. The Hunt is currently underway until 13 April so I decided to go out and hunt down some eggs. The problem? Lack of actual directional scanning skills.

I did manage to track down 15 points worth of capsules. The one trick I know is to make sure the overview is set up to see capsules. But not just any capsules. Irregular capsules.

If the box isn't checked, player skill doesn't matter, the irregular capsules will not show up in the results. Also, for some reason low sec is a much better place to find capsules than high sec.

I tried using probes to track down the capsules. While they helped locate where to find the prizes, the process was slow and I still wound up having to use the directional scanner. The last time I searched in a system, I just went to a spot close to the center of the solar system and performed a d-scan at maximum distance (14.3 AU) with a 360 degree radius. The results didn't turn up a capsule, so I flew to one of the two planets outside the scan range and found the general vicinity of the target.

Because planets have so many moons (and I didn't know about the trick about holding down the V key), I would fly to a spot off the planet and then do a search. I would slowly reduce the search radius until the capsule fell off the results. Once that happened, I knew where to look.

Holding down the V key while on the map view allows for accurate scanning results by just clicking on the celestial. Of course, I didn't bother searching YouTube for an instructional video until I started writing this post. I would have found capsules much faster. A video by EVEnton was very helpful in making my life easier.

I do have one more tip. Using a covert ops frigate probably wasn't the best choice to hunt down eggs. Finding a capsule at a moon poses no problems. Asteroid belts, on the other hand, frequently have rats. Besides, running the combat sites in The Hunt requires something a lot more tanky. Might as well use the same ship to both find the eggs and run the sites.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Black Desert Online: The End Of The Season And Final Thoughts

Wednesday marked the end of the winter season in Black Desert Online. Once I reached level 59 on my witch Tuesday night, I went a little farther, rode to Heidel, and logged out while standing next to Fughar. I now have 104 energy and 188 contribution points after playing over 90 hours (not including AFK time) in March.

My original plan was to spend $10 to buy a value pack and play a second month. I wanted to restart and expand my worker empire from the first time I played. After a month, though, I don't really want to play BDO anymore. I want to get back to Final Fantasy XIV and EVE Online. I've already done life skilling in BDO and I enjoy the economic activity in the other two games a lot more. With that said, I should finish up with a final post about my latest experience in BDO.

The Season: The concept of the season has its ups and downs. On the positive side, seasons allow players to create alts in a PvE environment. The concept of having beginning armor and weapons to practice concepts like enchanting is also good. 

The big problem with seasons is time. Jumping into a season at the beginning gives 3-4 months to level and do everything, giving players plenty of time to run around. I wound up coming back to BDO as a result of Pearl Abyss taking over as publisher of the game in the west. As a result, I was rushing to try to level as fast as possible. But overall, I think Pearl Abyss should bring back seasons.

Combat: I never did feel comfortable with the controls. I pressed so many wrong keys, even the AI managed to kill me a few times. With a character over level 50, I would have to compete with others in the open world now that I'm on regular servers. I'm so bad, I'd be easy pickings, assuming I was able to gear up properly in the first place. People who like action combat and using keybinds would definitely fare better than I did.

Autopathing: The autopathing function in BDO isn't really that good. I have wound up going into really bad places. One would think autopathing would keep one travelling on the roads, especially over long distances, but that's not what happens in BDO. Stopping at a cliff face is bad enough. One time, the autopath function ran me into an object and the only way out was to use one of the teleport maps to get myself unstuck. 

Maps: The mini-map in BDO is fine. If I could have figured out a way to expand the size to make it more readable, I'd give the mini-map higher marks. The larger maps though could use some improvement. Unless something major changed, the larger map is good for lifeskilling. I did wind up buying some storage in towns, so I can tell that works well. The problem comes when trying to use the maps for navigation. I think trying to use the large map for navigation led to some of the autopathing issues I experienced.

Personal Inventory & Storage: First, I have to note that I purchased inventory slots the first time I played BDO. I didn't buy account-wide inventory, so I shouldn't have received any extra slots on my new character. With that stipulation out of the way, I leveled a character from 1-59 without purchasing any inventory space. Pearl Abyss did provide additional inventory slots both via quests and daily rewards for returning to the game. I also purchased the maximum 8 inventory slots available from the loyalty store. 

Black Desert Online is unusual in current games because they also keep track of weight. One of the reasons for purchasing a value pack is the additional 200 pounds characters can carry. I did have to carefully manage the weight and purchase a 25 pound weight allowance from the loyalty store to get by. 

Because I already had a worker empire built from my first time playing the game, I already had town/city storage available. That's right, storage obtained in-game is account-wide. One of the beneficial nuggets of knowledge I received watching YouTube videos was the importance of running through the main story questline in order to get contribution points. In-town storage is purchased with contribution points as well as from the cash shop. I did manage to acquire enough contribution points to purchase enough storage without resorting to pulling out my credit card.

I do have to point out that part of not wanting to play anymore was due to my personal inventory beginning to become inadequate and requiring a visit to the cash shop. I also have to point out that the game starts flashing at the player when either the weight carried reached over 100% or runs out of inventory slots. As in, a button pops up to the cash shop. That button is way too tempting to push.

Pets & Servants: Pets and servants are two additional features in BDO I like conceptually. Pets not only loot the field so you don't have to, they also provide buffs and server as early warning against danger. Players can deploy 5 pets at a time. In my run up to level 59, I obtained 3 pets. Since pets are shared account-wide, the 2 pets I received the first time I played meant after 4 weeks I was running around with 5 pets for which I didn't pay any money. 

A feature I didn't run into the first time I played was servants. I love the concept. A servant can either run one item from a player's inventory to either the nearest town storage or the nearest marketplace for sale. I received two servants from doing the main story questline. All other servants are obtained from the cash shop. Did I mention there is no limit to the number of servants can own and they only cost 1200 pearls ($12) each?

Enchanting: The enchanting system required to get the most out of a character's gear is downright scary. I enchanted my Naru gear up to PEN and traded the set in for Tuvala gear so experienced the process. Honestly, I can see how players can spend hundreds of dollars upgrading their gear. I want nothing to do with that.

Appearance: Following the main story questline resulted in receiving 4 sets of appearance gear. I like the fact that one doesn't have to visit the cash shop in order to look decent. One part of the appearance gear I don't like is appearance gear has stats on it.

The Pearl Shop: I have to say, BDO's cash shop is very well done, if a little too expensive for my taste. The value packs are appropriately priced at 1500 pearls ($15), which is comparable to a subscription in other games. But many of the packages are definitely not microtransactions. Honestly, if someone wants to avoid spending a lot of money in a video game, run away!

As the title of the post implies, this post only covers content I personally experienced running through the season. As such, I left out subjects such as housing, resource collection, crafting, and other life skills that make up what some call the worker empire. I'm going to stop playing now and concentrate on the content coming to both Final Fantasy XIV and EVE Online on April 13. I have to say I didn't enjoy BDO as much as I do the other two games. But I did want to record my impressions as I have the feeling I may return to BDO sometime in the future.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

An Introduction To The Hunt, 2021 Edition

As the first quadrant of 2021, Reign comes to a close, CCP launched its Easter-themed event for EVE Online. The Hunt is based around the Guristas, a faction much hated by both the Caldari and CONCORD. The founders of the Guristas, known as Fatal and the Rabbit, return the sentiments.

The event has ship restrictions that make The Hunt new player friendly.

Throughout the 14 days of The Hunt, combat sites will be restricted to frigates and destroyers (T1/T2/Faction). Standard sites across New Eden will be suitable for T1 frigates and destroyers. Meanwhile, the more demanding, more lucrative Huntmaster sites will only appear in Caldari Lowsec and in the Guristas’ beloved home region Venal, and have been balanced for T2 frigates and T2 destroyers.

Each combat site will offer two combat rooms; one that can be accessed by all players, and a special area that will require key cards found in The Hunt’s mystery capsules. In those locked rooms, special loot drops will be available.


During The Hunt, Capsuleers looking for a break from combat can visit special exploration sites where hacking challenges will not only provide means to secure standard loot, but also a chance to gain items normally only available through combat. Again, these sites are limited to T1/T2/Faction frigates and destroyers.
I'm still waiting for CCP to begin allowing implants and wirings to drop upon pod destruction, a feature introduced in last year's event. While this year's announcement does not mention the Guristas Hydra Implant Set, pods dropping implants returns this year.

Of course, what is an event without some rewards. For those into ship SKINs, running the sites can get players up to 6 faction navy SKINs.
  • 50 pts - Worm Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 100 pts - Exequror Navy Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 150 pts - Caracal Navy Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 200 pts - Typhoon Fleet Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 250 pts - Armegeddon Navy Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • 300 pts - Raven Navy Issue Hunter's Quiver SKIN
Also, logging in 10 times between 30 March and 13 April give skill points, boosters, and ship SKINs. Below is a detailed list of rewards for both Alpha and Omega accounts.

  • 40K skill points
  • +3% maximum velocity booster
  • Acceleration Gate Key
  • Cyclone Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Prophecy Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Ferox Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Myrmidon Hunter's Quiver SKIN
Omega - All the Alpha rewards plus the list below
  • 80K skill points
  • +3 turret/missile damage booster
  • Acceleration Gate Key
  • Stiletto Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Malediction Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Crow Hunter's Quiver SKIN
  • Ares Hunter's Quiver SKIN
As always, the SKINs are apply on redeem.

I don't know about the drops inside the sites as I probably won't get a chance to undock until the weekend. But after reading the news article and poking around a bit in a station, I'm looking forward to flying around in a Rifter or Probe looking for event content.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Builders Must Play With Others

On Friday CCP published a dev blog concerning industry changes. I'm not quite sure how to characterize the changes, so I'll include the dev blog's explanation below...
The path for aspiring builders in New Eden will be clearer than ever – so if you have ever thought about getting into industrial production, this is a good time to start! In addition, experienced builders will have a new set of challenges to rise to in their field of expertise.

Requirements for a given ship will be determined by a variety of factors, including tech level, ship category, hull type, size, and purpose, among other things. Based on these factors, each ship will be given a tier, and their material costs updated accordingly.

These changes will:
  • Create more robust and interesting manufacturing progression
  • Allow for better compartmentalization in the manufacturing process between subcapitals, capitals, and supercapital ships
  • Revitalize the importance of R4 moons
  • Normalize the value proposition between different activities in EVE
  • Increase the importance of wormholes and allow wormholers to be a catalyst in New Eden's environment
  • Positively impact capital proliferation without a significant impact on subcap markets
  • Impact the whole economy of New Eden, such as the pricing of a variety of items
  • Lay the foundations for future resource distribution
In addition, new industry components will be required for battleships, capitals, and supercapitals. These new components will be available via reactions, blueprints, and loot drops from exploration content.

The new reactions and blueprints for component construction will be available via NPC markets. What’s more, reprocessing material values will be updated for subcapital ships as well as for existing capital components.

This update will be split into two different phases in April. The first update will distribute the necessary blueprints, reactions, and components that will become a requirement in ship manufacturing. This will allow for a transitional period before the second update goes live a few weeks later, when these components will become required materials in ship production.
According to the spreadsheet linked in the dev blog, only 5 ship classes will only be manufactured with minerals after the changes go live...
  • Tech 1 frigates
  • Tech 1 destroyers
  • Tech 1 cruisers
  • Tech 1 battle cruisers
  • Tech 1 industrial ships
Tech 1 of the ship classes refers to the standard type of hull. Faction pirate and faction navy ships require the new components mentioned in the blog. Also using the new components are all tech 1 battleships. I do not include the Praxis, as it is a promotional ship designed for use by new players.

Current mineral distribution as of 29 March 2021

Even before the latest changes, industrialists couldn't just remain in high sec if they wished to harvest all the materials themselves. But the new reactions require infrastructure set up outside of high sec to process. Also, all of the gas required for the reactions is only found outside high sec. Some of the R4 moon minerals required for the new builds are found in 0.5 systems in high sec need to be transported to low sec, null sec, or a wormhole. My understanding is that players cannot compress either the moon minerals or gas for transport, making locally gathered materials much preferable to use.

From what I can tell, the days of building a ship by gathering all the raw materials, other than the basic tech 1 variety, solo are about to end. A pity, because I enjoyed the challenge of building my Nestor. One can still build the ship by purchasing the harder to obtain parts off the in-game market, and I probably will take that route in the future. I just wonder how the whole change will work out.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Revising The Timing For Star Citizen

 If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.

- Stein's Law

Two weeks ago, Cloud Imperium Games reached $350 million in crowdfunding for the development of its two games, Squadron 42 and Star Citizen. Much of the coverage I ran across mentions the length of development and lack of a game. At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, I want to update my Star Citizen post from December.

Star Citizen funding on 26 March 2021

Since my last post on CIG's finances, CIG has raised an additional $13.6 million. When combined with the additional $56.4 million in known revenue through 2019, CIG has raised $409 million so far. A projection of $425 million total raised outside of venture capital at this point is plausible. We also know that Clive and Keith Calder have invested an additional $63.25 million. Sometime this year, total funding for Star Citizen and Squadron 42 will likely exceed $500 million.

I do have to revise my timing for when Star Citizen might launch. In December, I projected that Star Citizen would release at the end of 2022. After learning Star Citizen is confirmed to remain in alpha through the end of 2021, I have to assume the game will remain in alpha though the end of 2022 and extend sometime into 2023. Add on one year for a beta and we are looking at a 2024 release. While researching Star Citizen, I found a site that keeps up with SC updates. The operator of the site believes the earliest commercial launch date for Star Citizen is sometime in Q3 2024, meaning a launch sometime in 2025 is not out of the question.

I'm not going to try to recalculate the burn rate for CIG from the December post. I'll just double the total needed to finish Star Citizen and Squadron 42 from $150-$200 million to $300-$400 million. Typing the amount of money CIG still needs to raise is mind-blowing, especially since I have the feeling I'm underestimating the amount. But spending $700-$800 million to develop a game seems insane even to say.

For now, I just plan to look over at the funding page every three months or so. Over the past three months, CIG is raising at the low edge of the range needed to fund the project to completion. If the funding lasts, in 4 years players will be playing a finished product. The question I think most outside observers are asking, will the funding last?

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Black Desert Online Week 3: Harvesting Side Quests

Another week another two levels gained in Black Desert Online. I've transitioned from following the main quest line to going back and following side quests. My thoughts on the experience are below.

Progress: I finally completed the Medina quest line and reaching level 56, which signaled a switch to going back and completing all the side quests with experience gains. But before doing the side quests, I did two important quest lines. The first was the Awakening quest line, which resulted in gaining access to a new set of skills and a weapon. 

The second was the Chenga Tome quest line, which I complained about Tuesday. I realize that the 30% bonus to combat XP when I complete quests is nice. But 22 non-combat quests, in a game where combat is arguably its strongest selling point, doesn't make sense. But I got through the experience.

Story: I'm off the main quest line now, and the Chenga Tome quest line was weak. But I like the tracking down the evil witch thread I was on. If I wasn't in a hurry to level due to the end of the season approaching, I might have run through the first block of quests in Valencia. If the side quests don't get me up to level 59, I may need to do so anyway.

Equipment: By finishing the Medina quest line, I also unlocked the ability to get the Tuvala gear from Fughar. I'm now rocking Tuvala PRI level armor and weapons. When I completed the Awakening quest line, I also received a Tuvala TRI level Awakening weapon. I also picked up a couple of nice accessory items.

Awakening: I was a little taken aback at having to make the choice between the Awakening and Succession skill sets so suddenly. I eventually decided to go down the Awakening path because Awakening seemed the natural progression.

So far I'm not so sure how I feel about the skills. My problem, as always, is learning new key combination. I have a bad habit of hitting the wrong keys and casting Blizzard. But Voltaic Pulse is easy enough to cast (Shift+F) and I like the animation where I cast magic arrows as I punch a mob. I do need to get better at casting Fissure Wave (S+LMB+RMB).

I'm not sure of the technical name in BDO, but I can now summon a pet. I do like the ability. I just need to figure out what I need to do to keep Keeper Tett up instead of Gorr.

AFK Play: I attempted to do my first AFK task: leveling my strength. Basically, players can make their characters stronger by having them march around town with a trade pack on their backs. By leveling strength, characters can carry around more loot.

I failed pretty bad. I thought I'd do well by staying logged into the game all night, but I only reached level 2. Apparently, someone decided to park their horse in my path, and my character marched into the horse for hours. Oh well, lesson learned. Next time I'll pick a better located path.

Cash Shop: The screenshot of my login page shows I haven't hit the cash shop yet. I almost purchased a $50 pack with an outfit, a pet, and a bunch of inventory expansion, but I held out until Pearl Abyss removed the offer. I did, however, use loyalty points to pick up 8 inventory slots and increase my weight capacity by 50 lbs. I eventually will wind up buying a 30-day value pack, but I won't have to until early April.

All in all, I think I'm making decent progress. The videos I see say that it shouldn't take long to level a character. One YouTuber has a live stream where he levelled a character from 1-60 in 15 hours. I doubt I'll get to level 61 by next week, but I'll give it a shot. But after the end of the season, I'll be able to relax and not put so much time into leveling.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Microsoft Reportedly In Talks To Acquire Discord

Rumors are surrounding Discord right now about Microsoft buying the gaming application company. I call the news a rumor as the New York Times basically stated they only had one anonymous source. I'll trust the VentureBeat story as more credible as they claim two sources. So while the New York Times is claiming Microsoft is looking at purchasing Discord, VentureBeat reports that Discord's leadership is looking at multiple offers.

Of course, Discord may not sell to anyone, opting for an IPO. The recent IPO of Roblox probably opened some eyes.

Roblox had a suggested price point of $45 a share that was set by the New York Stock Exchange, where Roblox trades under the ticker RBLX.

On its first day of trading Wednesday, Roblox stock shot up 54.4%, closing at 69.50. The stock climbed another 6.3% on Thursday, closing at 73.90 on the stock market today. That thrust its market value to near $39.5 billion.

With a direct listing, no new shares in the company are created and sold. Nor will the Roblox IPO raise any capital. Instead, current investors can begin selling already existing shares based on demand when trading opens.

After two weeks of public trading, Roblox stock ended the day at $64.50.

The VentureBeat story also threw cold water on the idea any deal may occur.

One source I spoke with said that Discord has engaged Qatalyst Partners to evaluate possible suitors. Qatalyst, which Silicon Valley dealmaker Frank Quatrone (executive chairman) founded and CEO George Boutros runs, handled the process when Discord was up for sale in 2018. Back then, the company decided not to take anyone up on offers. Qatalyst declined to comment.

The talks in 2018 were constant, with possible acquisition prices ranging from $2 billion to $6 billion. But quite often the buyers wanted Discord to do something it didn’t want to do, like embrace advertising. Discord also felt like its values were best protected at that time by staying independent. This means that it is possible that the current sales process may not result in Discord actually being sold.

“It’s hard to tell the difference between a serious acquisition attempt and a fishing expedition,” said one source, who asked not to be identified. “It can fall apart at any time. The reality is the company is doing really well. I don’t see a reason they would want to sell. They seem to be completely in control of their destiny right now.”

Is Microsoft really about to purchase Discord? Anything's possible. But before panicking and rushing out to get a replacement communications application for your guild/corp/free company, I'd pay attention to the financial press. After all, the way business works, we'll have a few months to find a replacement after the sale is finalized.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

22 Non-Combat Quests In A Row Is Too Much

Sometimes game developers need to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. Take storytelling. Square Enix and the Final Fantasy franchise is famous for its stories. Final Fantasy XIV continues the tradition, especially after A Realm Reborn. The Shadowbringers expansion may have spoiled video game stories for me going into the future.

CCP has a different take on storytelling. They throw out a bunch of tools and let the players create tales that wind up in history books. Instead of stories that all players who ever play EVE Online can experience, the developers create series of live events that can last years to tell the story of the universe. The stories players helped shape around wormholes, incursions, and the Triglavian creation of Pochven are probably better than the developers could have crafted alone.

As I've written before, the storytelling in Black Desert Online is serviceable. At its best, the quest design makes the player feel powerful and the story keeps killing 50, 100, or even 200 mobs from feeling like a grind. Instead, at times the story makes me feel like a 1980s action hero mowing through the multitudes toward an objective. But last night, I ran into a quest line that felt like some of the quests in A Realm Reborn that Square Enix recently removed from the game.

In the leveling guide I'm using, the next thing I needed to do was obtain the Chenga Tome, which provides a 30% bonus to combat experience given by quest rewards. The Chenga Tome quest line consists of 22 quests, none of which are combat. Fetch quests, riddles and puzzles. Check. Almost impossible to find items? Check. But I didn't have to kill a single mob.

In FFXIV, Square Enix can get away with maybe five or six quests like that before I start rolling my eyes. After ARR, Square Enix realized they have to mix in some combat and adjusted their story accordingly. In EVE, I've done that many courier quests in a row, but CCP doesn't make me do that to myself. But stringing that many non-combat quests together in BDO? The only reason I did them in one night was to make the next step of the grind go faster. The experience was painful.

I started out noting different types of storytelling as the story influences quest design. In FFXIV, Square Enix has solid storytelling which gives quest designers flexibility. In EVE, CCP doesn't have storytelling at the character level, meaning a player can do whatever they feel like doing at the time. BDO is different. The story is serviceable, leaning towards supporting combat quests better than the other types of quests. Making someone do 22 non-combat quests in a row? Pearl Abyss, please don't do that to your players again.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Safety For Jump Clones And Their Implants

When I started playing EVE Online back in 2009, I had two concerns concerning my clones. The first was insuring my clone to make sure I didn't lose skill points. The second was not clone jumping to a station with an installed clone and losing a head full of implants. The first point was eliminated with a release in December 2014. The second concern goes away with tomorrow's update.

Multiple clones in an NPC station on Singularity

As of 23 March, you will be able to install multiple Jump Clones in the same station or structure, as long as it has a Clone Bay facility. This is something that many in the community have been asking for!

When I read the news article, I decided to log onto the Singularity test server and do some testing. I thought players would still be restricted from having multiple clones in an NPC station without a cloning facility. So I went to Arlek, a system in Metropolis adjacent to a rookie system, to test. I had a clone installed there way back from when I first started playing EVE. I went ahead and jumped from the station to see what would happen.

Two jump clones, no clone facilities

To my pleasant surprise, I didn't lose any implants. I'm still not sure having two jump clones in an NPC station without cloning facilities is an intended result, but that was the result of the test. I should add that not losing implants from jump cloning seems within the spirit of the new rules.

I'll be interested in how people will use the feature. I think all eyes will turn to NPC Delve to see how Goons use the new mechanics. But for my purposes, I can now keep my mining clone, probing clone, and blockade running clone in the the same station.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Connections Are Better Than Explosions

When thinking about how to keep new players interested in EVE Online, inevitably someone will pull out the theory that people who lose ships are more likely to remain in the game than those who don't. We even saw CCP Rattati bring the theory up on a recent interview he did with Oz at the beginning of the month. As far as I can tell, the theory tracks back to people's takes on a presentation CCP Rise gave at Fanfest in 2015 titled "Using Science To Help Newbros". 

The segment of the presentation of interest ran from approximately 1:35 to 5:00 (the clip above should start at 1:35). Indeed, players who lost ships during their first 15 days in EVE had a higher retention rate. But correlation does not imply causation. I wish the analysis would have included whether the new players had joined a player-run corporation. Because out of all the tricks game developers can use to keep players engaged in their games, connecting players together is the most effective.

The professionals know the importance of social connections. Raph Koster, former lead designer of Ultima Online and creative director of Star Wars: Galaxies, gave the following description of the importance of players connecting to each other.
Social connections, such as teams, guilds, etc

Pro: Social groups are the primary glue in games in general. Even single-player games have huge social characteristics to them around widely shared experiences and common ground. Social ties introduce a host of extremely powerful things like mutual obligation, economic exchange, group identity, and so on (see my old talk on social mechanics for tons more). Looser connections and community can often work better than a tight-knit community.

Con: Guilds often migrate games as a whole, so you want your user tied to the community via multiple touch points that aren’t in the same guild. Social connections also bring drama, which means community management, moderation, and much more. There’s a vast amount of expertise involved in engaging in governance here, and even though this is arguably the most powerful tool in the arsenal, it’s also very challenging and causes burnout in staff on a regular basis.
My own experience tracks pretty closely with the importance of social contacts keeping me involved in games. I played World of Warcraft for 9 months back in 2005-2006, leaving shortly after I was kicked from my guild for not being able to raid. In Everquest 2, I played from 2006 to 2009, leaving a couple of months after my guild broke up due to drama.

I've completed some major MMORPGs without being in a guild. I managed to finish the Imperial Agent storyline in the original Star Wars: The Old Republic in my second attempt playing the game. The same held true with Guild Wars 2 and the personal storyline in the base version. I also required two attempts to immerse myself in Elder Scrolls Online, where I managed to finish the Morrowind expansion. But in all cases, I got to a certain point and just stopped playing.

Currently, I'm playing two games not counting my latest blog effort. I'm not logging very much into EVE because of my Black Desert Online project. But I did join EVE University within a month or two of starting EVE and was a member of Signal Cartel for a year-and-a-half. Although not currently in a corp, I'm connected to the game through all the connections I made at player meetups and conventions going back to Fanfest 2012.

The second game I'm playing is Final Fantasy XIV. I've been a member of a free company, Celestia, for around a year now. Not only does the FC have an active Discord, but has solid leadership with what in EVE we call special interest groups. We even have an intelligence channel to help people to obtain housing plots. FFXIV is a really good game, and having people around helps.

As I mentioned, I'm also playing Black Desert Online as a research project. I don't plan on sticking around due to the possibility of spending hundreds of dollars. As a result, I'm not really interacting with people. Then again, due to the need to level as much as possible by the end of the month, I don't have a lot of time to talk anyway.

Game developers have a lot of tools at their disposal and play various roles in keeping games active. But at the end of the day, establishing social connections is the best way to retain players. When I listen to game developers talk, I'm always interested to see how they deal with player groups.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Two Weeks Back In Black Desert Online

I continued my journey in Black Desert Online last week. I may make Thursday's my BDO day, as I really do need to keep track of my progress in the game. I'm feeling better about playing BDO after two weeks back compared to when I stopped playing a couple of years ago. My impressions about the past seven days is below.

At level 55 after two weeks

Progress: I ran into a brick wall leveling upon reaching level 55 on Monday. I think I finally out leveled the story as all the mobs I kill are now greyed out. Then again, my initial 24 hour boost is over. I finished up the Calpheon quests, I think. I did get a message that exploration of Calpheon is complete. I'm now doing quests under a block titled "Level 51". I need to at least finish the first block of quests in Valencia. Hopefully I can have that finished for next week's post.

Story: I have to admit, the slower I progressed, the more I just clicked through the text of the story. I do know that I'm chasing after a well-dressed witch. A very powerful, well-dressed witch. 

A content gate: I ran into a content gate. Once I hit level 50, I started getting packs to aid in levelling every level instead of every 5 levels. When I hit the level 53 box, I was unable to open the box until I finished the last of the Calpheon main line quests. Given how many videos I've watched stating that grinding is such a good way to level, I was a bit surprised.

Enhancing equipment: In BDO so far, I've experienced that your weapons and gear level with you through the use of enhancements. The process is similar to over melding in Final Fantasy XIV, except more hardcore. Unlike in FFXIV, enchantment levels can disappear upon failure. I've managed to get my Naru gear up to PEN and need to finish the Mediah quest line before I can upgrade to Tuvala. Yes, another content gate. One that, if I understand correctly, requires finishing 126 more quests. And I thought the old end of A Realm Reborn was bad.

My Naru gear is up to PEN

Pets: One of the reasons I quit playing BDO back in 2018 was the requirement to purchase pets. Pets are a way to automatically loot the field, in addition to give some minor boosts. The more pets, the faster one can grind. Players can deploy up to five, and with the hawk I picked up Tuesday night, I'm up to four. I don't think I have to buy a fifth, unless the pet is cute.

Mounts: Another concern I had was the issue of mounts. I had two Tier 3 mounts and a donkey from the first time I played. During my first week back, I picked up a donkey. But Monday, I picked up two Tier 5 horses as quest results. Perhaps more importantly, I got one male and one female. I'll have to check on the possibilities for horse breeding.

Combat: After the first week I was unsteady during fights. I just felt limited by the skills I knew how to use. Over the past week, I learned and began using two more spells. The first was Spellbound Heart. The second, Healing Aura. Both spells can be cast out of combat and I use them more for health and mana recovery between fights than rely on them during combat.

Once I hit level 50, I saw an interesting mechanic. From level 50 on, players can modify certain spells on even numbered levels. I added increased crit chance and attack/casting speed to Magic Arrows and increased crit chance and defense values to Chain Lightning and Fireball. So far the combination has worked fairly well when I get surrounded by about 10 mobs.

Buffs: On the plus side, I have so many experience scrolls and other methods of getting buffs that I don't feel I need to visit the Pearl Shop to buy experience buffs. On the negative side, I don't think I'm using enough. I also have a couple of weeks of the backpack buffs and other buffs that I might purchase from the cash shop with the $9.50 in pearls I had carry over from the first time I played.

Appearance: I just have two things of note. The appearance items have stats. The set bonus for the in-game acquired sets is only +2 to attack/casting speed. The cash shop gear has better bonuses. The next is Merv's Palette, a set of dyes. The dyes look much better on the clothing in the appearance interface in which I applied them than on my character in the game.

I have two weeks until the season ends. I want to at least exchange my Naru gear for Tuvala and maybe even enhance it a little. After that, I need to figure out how to play on a regular instance. I plan to switch over to doing life skills and dodging people who want to PvP while I try to make a little silver.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

CCP Refines The Rental Of Skills In EVE Online

I will add one additional possibility I know a lot of Western EVE players will hate. Pearl Abyss could create new sets of ship packs, with the rent-a-skill packages allowing players to try out particular ships. If I am correct about how Asian players look at video games, the Expert Systems, combined with various ship packs, could result in higher retention of Asian players.

- The Nosy Gamer, 1 March 2021

As we approach the end of the first quarter of Pearl Abyss' fiscal year, CCP continues to fine-tune their cash shop offerings heading into the second quarter. The studio should surpass the revenue earned year-over-year in the first quarter. Not only did EVE Echoes launch in Q3 2020, but the Serenity cluster in China did not reopen until April 2020. The Icelandic studio should also beat its year-over-year financial performance in the second quarter as well, especially if the new offerings in the EVE Online cash shop perform as hoped for.

The new packs (not including Reign Supreme)

Yesterday CCP announced a new line of products, Mindstorm Experience Packs.

Are you an aspiring explorer aching for the frontiers of space? Do you see yourself harvesting resources amidst the majestic asteroid belts of New Eden? If so, then brand-new Mindstorm Experience Packs will connect you to your dreams and allow you to glimpse your future self and career in New Eden!

Featuring new Expert Systems that grant you specific virtual skills and skill levels for a limited time, exploration-themed Mindstorm Experience Packs also contain a fully-fitted Tech 1 exploration Frigate that’s ready to fly, and even 10 PLEX that you can trade for ISK to help fund further vessels (in case you need a replacement). This experience is available for pilots of all four of New Eden’s great empires; Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, and Minmatar.

For those of you who harbor ambitions of a life amongst the cluster’s asteroid belts, the Mindstorm Mining Experience Pack contains the Mining Barge Operator Expert System that provides the virtual skills and skill levels necessary to operate a Mining Barge such as a Procurer for 7 days. It also comes with 50 PLEX that you can trade for millions of ISK to help you make that first Mining Barge ship purchase!

Taste your destiny as one of New Eden’s immortal elite as you experience a particular profession before committing fully to completing the required skill training.

The only thing left is to ask yourself is “Who do I want to be today?”

I think the last line is overstating matters a bit as the only packages involve exploration and mining. As the article stated, the new packages evolve around the new Expert System packages. These packages allowing users to rent select bundles of skills for seven days had one major problem. Players need to acquire a ship to fly in order to actually use the skills. A bit of a hurdle.

The pack with the Heron

The packages include either fitted ships (the exploration packages) or a way to pay for a ship (mining package). With those addition, CCP charges an extra 50 cents for the exploration packages and $2.49 for the mining package compared to the Expert Systems bundles.

From the Pearl Abyss Q4 2020 Earnings Call

In my more uncharitable moments, I look at these promotional packages with the Expert Systems as cynical attempts to milk a little money out of new players before they leave the game for good. But then I remember the presentation on the Pearl Abyss Q4 2020 earnings call and their plan to increase revenue by expanding EVE into the Asian markets. 

Monetizing Asian players is a little different than monetizing players in the West. Where players in North America and Europe may not think too much about buying PLEX to purchase skill injectors off the in-game market, Asian players may want to test out a feature before making a bigger purchase.

For example, would an Asian player pay $6.49 to try out a feature for a week before spending over $30 to make the decision permanent? What I wrote last week about the Mining Barge Operations Expert System holds true for the Advanced Mining Pack.

In addition to convincing players to pay a subscription, I think the EVE monetization team is hoping players will then purchase the Silver Pack from the cash shop for $22.99. Not only does the package contain 30 days of Omega time, but also 250,000 skill points and 110 PLEX. Converting the PLEX to ISK can really help improve the fitting of a ship. And if a player really gets into mining, purchasing one of the lower end PLEX packages in addition to the Silver Pack is a distinct possibility. My guess is that the $9.99 package would be a popular seller amongst the new miners who chose to rent the mining barge package.

The $30 figure also assumes that players renting the skills try to PLEX their accounts instead of paying a subscription fee. When including that possible commitment of either time mining in the game or subscribing for a few months, maybe a $6.49 purchase to try the gameplay out for a week makes sense.

The promotions will continue until revenue improves for Pearl Abyss. Not just in the EVE franchise, but for the company as a whole. We won't really know if these efforts are successful until the Pearl Abyss earnings call for the second quarter, which will occur sometime in August. Until then all we can do is watch the reaction of the players.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

EVE Online Testing A Browser Version Of The Client

Yesterday CCP Games announced a browser based version of the EVE Online client, and that players could join the beta test.

From today, a greater number of pilots have the opportunity to join a time-limited test of a cloud-based platform that allows a fully-featured EVE Online to be played in-browser, instantly.

Newly named as ‘EVE Anywhere’, the cloud platform has entered beta following a successful early-stage trial that saw EVE Online players explore the innovative and robust technology while helping improve its offering. The new test will help further shape and refine the platform while exploring the potential of wider availability in the future.

For those that might wonder, yes, EVE Anywhere connects to the main Tranquility cluster. 

Conceived to expand the player community of EVE Online, EVE Anywhere removes barriers for newcomers, while providing veterans of New Eden with an extremely convenient way to access their game. The early-stage trial has already demonstrated that potential, seeing first-time EVE Online players stay for longer, with higher numbers converting into full-time pilots.

Remember on Pearl Abyss Q4 2020 Earnings Call how the company stated a desire to grow EVE revenue by expanding into Asian markets? I have the feeling this is part of the effort.

Is the browser a "cultural element"?

I've heard claims of higher retention numbers like this from CCP in the past. I need to see the numbers once the beta is over and all players have a chance to use the browser. After all, anyone willing to take part in a beta test is probably a little more motivated to play than the typical person who tries EVE for the first time.

EVE Anywhere enables instant access over supported browsers - Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox - and requires no downloads whatsoever. Supporting 1080p resolution and gameplay at 60FPS, it provides a way to play EVE Online unimaginable even a few years ago.

I can confirm this. I not only ran the game using Chrome on my regular gaming rig, but I also ran the game on an older secondary computer and my laptop which can't run the game at all. The game looked great on all three.

While the early tests of the cloud-platform were limited to new players in the United States, as of today all US-based pilots that meet connection speed and browser requirements will be offered full access to EVE Anywhere.

I met the requirements. Even the laptop connecting to my home network via wi-fi.

Omega pilots in the USA can currently enjoy EVE Anywhere for the duration of the new test at no additional cost, providing an opportunity to experience the new platform while there is no charge.

No, I will not insert the cheap "EVE Anywhere ... only in the USA" here joke.

Newcomers to New Eden, meanwhile, will be invited to the cloud beta as part of their free EVE Online sign-up, while upgrading to Omega will enable them to continue exploring the game from their second session instantly via their web browser.

Someone will need to explain this paragraph to me.

Logging into the game wasn't automatic. The first two times I tried to get into the game I received the "No Servers Available" message. At first, I thought the message was just a bad 404 error. But when I moved to my main gaming rig, I met with success.

The last major point I ran into was the graphic settings. I didn't mind them, as the game looked good and I didn't put a ship at risk. However, I could only play in full screen. If I wanted to play in windowed mode, the above message appeared, blocking my view of the screen. 

I do have to add one thing of note. The overview, while adjustable, can't save settings. Also, I couldn't import an overview from one of my clients. I tried both saving and uploading a .yawl file and via corp chat. I'm not sure I want to try playing the game with only the default overview. 

As the article stated, the test is for a limited time. From my point of view, I think I'll wait a little longer for CCP to release a more advanced build before exploring any more. But who knows? For the people who hate the launcher, a web version is a way around the issue.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Scandal Hits FIFA 21 Ultimate Team

If I write about a sports game, something bad happened. The Nosy Gamer is a blog that primarily covers MMORPGs. I do, however, write about real money trading and the grey/black markets that surround video games. For example, the only time I wrote about the FIFA franchise was covering the prosecution of a gambling site utilizing FIFA 17. Until now.

A pro FIFA player, Matteo Ribera from Italy, provided proof for a scandal being referred to as EAGate.

The most comprehensive coverage I've seen in the gaming press so far comes from Alice O'Conner of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I like the healthy amount of skepticism she displayed in the article.

Other screens going round show someone claiming they have "a mate who works at EA, and he can load any player to your account". Those mention prices like €1000 (£855) for two coveted cards. Various videos and screens supposedly show proof of previous successful transactions.

There's no proof that this 'friend of a friend who works at EA' actually exists or does, mind. This could be a cover story for a glitch, exploit, or hack - the thinnest veneer of legimacy to deflect attention and keep a lucrative illicit business secret. Or a scam? I don't know. But it wouldn't be the first time someone used insider access to their own advantage.

But for actual facts, we don't have many. Electronic Arts did respond with a "We are looking into the matter" statement via Twitter.

The stakes are high for EA, as FIFA is the company's biggest franchise. In fiscal year 2020 (April 2019 through March 2020), EA's net revenue from Ultimate Team was $1.49 billion. The scandal erupted too late to significantly impact the franchise's FY 2021 performance, but anything that negatively impacts Ultimate Team is bad for EA.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Impressions After One Week Back In Black Desert Online

Last Thursday I created a new character in Black Desert Online, a witch, and leveled her up to level 47. I lost track of exactly how much I played. But I received a 24 hour buff when I started and still have 3 hours to go when I logged out for the night. My goal is level 61 in order to get a couple of accessory pieces, make sure I have completed the main story questline into Valencia, then turn to life skills and improving my equipment.

Level after one week

I thought I'd jot down some notes about my experience so far. Someone might be interested. But my thoughts are of someone who played for a couple of months and then left two years ago. I'm not a brand new player.

Story: Let me just get this out of the way. To me, the story is serviceable. Not great, but not something that makes me want to pull my hair out. 

I divide the story into two main parts. The first part involves your relationship with the black spirit. At my current point in the story, I gather I made a deal with the black spirit. The only thing is, I can't remember what the deal is. What I do know is, as I wander through the game, I become stronger, and so does the black spirit. I like the way the spirit has gradually changed form.

The second part is traversing the world. I've completed a few sub-arcs, but nothing really amazing. Well, the fight against the harpies in the fortified city was pretty cool. In general, though? Not too memorable.

Servers: I'm not sure what the difference between servers and channels is, and I'll probably get flamed for it. I rolled a character on a season server. The season servers have different rules and different types of equipment. I was also surprised that season servers don't have PvP except for organized guild wars except on one channel. The one thing about the season server is the season ends at the end of March. 

I do have to note something about the channel list. I noticed that some channels have the PvP symbol. I wonder about PvP in the game. I'm still only level 47 and can't participate in PvP until level 50. Just how much PvP happens in this PvP game?

Combat: I'm pretty much lost with combat. I figured out how to cast a few spells, consume health potions, and that's about it. The spells I use are:
  • Chain lightning (Shift+Right Mouse Button)
  • Mana Absorption (Shift+Left Mouse Button)
  • Magic Missle (Right Mouse Button)
  • Medium Health Potion (1 on the quick bar)
Occasionally I use my staff and cast a fireball. That's it. And with that limited tool kit, I'm managed to get to level 47. There are a lot more spells I could use, and I really need to learn how to use them.

Combat is very fluid and I've racked up some serious body counts in practically no time at all. Still, I would think that I'd need more skill than dashing around a boss monster spamming magic missiles. At this point, though, I can live with easy mode.

The User Interface: The UI is pretty busy and I'm still finding new elements and functions. For example, it wasn't until Tuesday that I found the NPC search function. One of the most frustrating parts was the quick bar. I placed Fireball I in a slot and discovered I still needed to press the left mouse button in order to activate it. I think over the next week I may finally figure out the quick bar.

Inventory: I'm pretty sure I may have purchased some inventory slots, but only for my one character. Not for the entire family (aka account). Having existing farm and housing also came in handy with handling inventory. The one thing I was surprised at was the amount of inventory slots I received from the black spirit for completing quests. Inventory is a very monetizable feature.

Speed of Progression: I think I'm progressing pretty quickly. Even in my 40s, I could manage to gain 3 levels in a hour with the aid of experience buffs that come from either daily login rewards, quest drops, or from the every five level booster package. If I have everything figured out correctly, I'm level 47 doing level 42 quests. Not that bad a disparity. I also haven't had the urge to go to the cash shop in order to buy experience boosts.

Enhancing Gear: Right now I'm working on Naru gear and haven't really started enchanting yet. But I can see how the RNG factor could drive people crazy. I'm pretty sure players can go to the cash shop to eliminate some of the pain.

Clothing/appearance: The cash shop has a wide variety of outfits. That said, I have received a couple of nice outfits. 

Buffs: I noticed one interesting thing about buffs in BDO. The timer stops when I log off. I'm used to Final Fantasy XIV where the buffs keep counting down after I leave the game.