The good old days, reborn

November 30, 2007

A few days ago I re-subbed to WoW, along with grabbing another account for my girlfriend. We created two Draenei characters, a Shaman (me) and a Mage (her), and starting our trek towards 70, with the goal of hitting one instance each week with some of my former guildmates. They also created new characters, most having to re-sub as well.

Its funny how quickly old memories flood you when you start up WoW again. The music around the portal login screen, the ‘ding’ sound, the interface, everything just hits you all at once. Going back to something I dedicated such a large portion of my life to is certainly an interesting experience. Even being back in a chat channel and seeing familiar character names is nice.

Of course, things are very different this time around. Most of us can no longer afford to do crazy stuff like:

  • Take a day off from work
  • Pull an all-nighter farming dreamfoil
  • Being absolutely smashed on Vent, on a Tuesday, around 6pm.
  • Using your last $15 to sub to WoW instead of buying food
  • And… well basically anything Nieco has ever done related to WoW. (yes, inside Guild joke)

But so far, we are all just having a good time, playing a game together as a group once again. This time at a far less serious pace, playing more for the people than the game.

Playing the market, small scale for now.

November 29, 2007

Wilhelm over at TAGN was been posting some great stuff about mining/production in EVE, which has given me more than a few ideas on how to play my second EVE account. My second account is a dedicated miner/industrial pilot, with basically zero combat ability. For the first few months, he was largely ignored as I was focused on my combat pilot, getting him into his Rohk and running missions to increase my standing with Amarr. During this time the miner trained up his learning skills, along with the basic mining and production stuff. His learning skills are actually much higher than my combat pilot’s, since it was much easier to stay focused and train skills to level 5 when you don’t log in and play daily. My combat pilot stopped his learning skills at 4, always getting distracted by some combat-related skill he needed to use some new gear, or to get an edge in a mission.

Now that my combat pilot has more or less reached a comfortable level, being able to solo every level 3 mission, and duo most level 4s, I turned my attention to the miner. The first thing I had to do was transfer a good amount of ISK over to him and send him off to the Royal Amarr Institute to pick up some skill books he previously could not afford. With new skills in tow, it was time to set a plan and sink my teeth into the rather complex aspect of EVE production and marketing. I am fortunate enough to be in a Corp that allows us to use their blueprints, most of which are highly researched. This makes getting into production a much quicker process, as I don’t need to bother with the hassle of efficiency research.

Another factor working in my favor was the massive amount of fittings I had built up from running so many missions. While I intend to sell the higher value named stuff, the run-of-the-mill gear I broke down into minerals, building up a nice supply for my miner to work with. This stock, along with the minerals from a few Corp mining missions, meant my miner could get right into production on a large scale, able to produce the maximum amount of ammo/gear off a blueprint. The first series of runs I produced some small and medium anti-matter ammo, and noticed it sold rather quickly in my local system, at a very decent price. While the system I am in is not a high population area, the benefit to this is that hardly anyone tries to sell anything in large quantities, meaning I could lock up the market on many types of ammo/gear. While the sale rate is no doubt slower than in high traffic areas, the price to cost ratio is much higher.

In addition to my own production, I also set up buy orders in the system for the most common drops off rats, at very low prices. My method to this was to look at the market and see what items had no buy orders, meaning no competition. Surprisingly enough, this was the case with almost everything outside a select group, and after a few minutes I was all set, my large net cast to capture any sales other pilots might want to make in haste. Just how effective this will be I won’t know for a few days/weeks, when the buy orders start to fill up.

More quality EVE talk, this time with copy/paste action.

November 28, 2007

An excellent comment by Letrange was made on the ‘Gauntlet‘ post, and I feel it deserves it’s very own entry. I basically agree with him/her 100%, and the comment really brings up some key points about EVE.

I think his/her first point, about character limitation, is spot on. Part of the reason why people get so attached to an MMO is they develop a bond with their character, and what better way to further nurture that bond than allowing your character to morph his style of play with you. Instead of re-rolling a priest because you are sick of being a tank, EVE allows you to change up your skill training and go from being a Pirate to a Miner, while still playing the same character, in the same Corp. If you ever decide to go back to being a Pirate, you can easily do so. In other games, you would be forced to catch up in levels and gear before you can once again play that tank with the rest of your guild. I think that really is a huge plus in EVE, and one that you don’t realize until have experienced the alternative in other games.

Like I said, the comment was excellent, enjoy!


Well I’ve been playing EvE for 8-9 months now. And I’ve discovered something about it and MMOs in general after playing various MMOs before (and while) playing EvE.

Coming from someone who’s played the following (at various points in time):
FFXI, WoW, Everquest II, CoH/CoV, Tabula Raza, Vanguard, EvE-Online, Guild Wars.

1) Character Limitation.
Here the clear winners are FFXI and EVE. I hate having to create new characters to experience other jobs in MMOs Both these games have solutions to this problem. It’s just too bad other MMOs don’t clue into this aspect. All the others would be a much more interesting game if you could learn all the jobs on the same character. For those that can’t identify with the char flying the spaceship you see in front of you, some time in 2008 we’ll have characters that walk around in stations so you can plan things out and have an avatar you can move around (yep eve’s not perfect but they are working on it).

2) PvE
Here EvE does have some problems (see it didn’t solve everything). Most of the other MMO’s do this slightly better. There is PvE in eve but until you click into the reasons to do it you wont’ recognize it’s value. Sure there’s the standard “make some coin get some items” reasons to do it. But there’s always the “get my standing up so I can get a jump clone when ever I want”, and the “get the corp standing’s up so we can put up a starbase in hi-sec” and other reasons to PvE. The value of PvE to anyone in the game is strictly objective based. The great thing is you can do it in waves you’re not forced to constantly PvE to progress. PvE in EvE is definitely going to be a grind but you simply set yourself some objectives and deal. There is the other aspect that the more difficult PvE stuff IS in the PvP heavy areas (again a problem). Of course you have to realize that most PvP players PvE to fund their PvPness since there is quite a cross over in skills between the two (ship fits are the main difference – not inherent character skills).

3) Single shard
Oh boy is this a big one. The biggest problems with sharded worlds only surfaces once you get out of the game. If you actually meet someone outside WoW who plays WoW, the odds of meeting them in game are microscopic. So you’re essentially loosing out on a big potential social part of these games. If I meet someone in the real world who happens to be playing EvE, there’s always the possibility that we could do business in game as well. It’s damn well guaranteed we could run into each other in game. One of my corp pilots happens to live in the same city as I do. About once a month we get together at a downtown pub to discuss strategy and where we want the corp to go. I can’t do this in any other MMO out there (possibly except guild wars).

I haven’t been to fan fests of other MMO’s or even EvE’s fan fest, but those who have have remarked that the biggest difference is in the socializing at the event. In most MMO’s people tend to group by the server they are on and there is very little cross server interaction. In EvE they were grouping up by corporation/alliance and the group dynamics were completely different. Since everyone you were meeting was in the same game you were in you could actually discuss situations you all had in common. Make deals with other corps, discuss plans with allies, meet some foes.

4) The market.
This is an effect of the fact that EvE is a single shard system. It makes for a much more robust player economy than the micro economies of other MMOs. So much so that it’s been used in Economic studies and CPP even hired an economist. This will seem much too hardcore for a lot of people. But for anyone who’s more of a crafter in other MMOs you wont’ believe the difference it makes. Again not for everyone to get into deeply (most PvP players don’t’ delve into the market too deeply so it’s not a necessity anyways, just like most households don’t play the stock market full time either). But for those of us who like that aspect oh boy does it reward.

5) PvP.
Initially I had a big problem with this. Course the truth was I was playing stupid. I was trying to make the game fit what I wanted it to do instead of learning how to live in it’s shared reality (2 week old newbies really shouldn’t go to low sec till they have to sign a release form at the last gate before low sec). Then I got smart, got into a corp and learned the ropes. And a few mantras: “Don’t fly what you can’t afford to loose”. “Don’t fly stupid”. “Good intel is your friend”. “Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance”. Being Canadian I didn’t have to learn that quintessential one “Dont’ smack talk in local unless you’re prepared for the consequences”. And having seen the following one from the point of view of the alliance: “When in a merc corp, If we wardec an industrial corp that’s in the process of joining an alliance and that alliance politely asks us to re-consider the war, I will think twice before trying to extort 400mil isk from them”. The PvP players in that alliance hadn’t had a good war in months. Not a pretty sight. Then again neither is jumping into the tiger cage and going up to a tiger and trying to kick it in the balls.

6) “I can’t catch the older players”
As someone mentioned: there are micro cap’s all over the place, and you forget that these players haven’t capped out either. They just have more options. That’s all. If a 2mil SP player in a rifter happens to catch a 30mil sp player doing something stupid in a tech 1 hauler, there’s not much the 30mil player can do about it. And don’t think 30mil SP players don’t do stupid things. They do (over confidence is a killer). I will note that they also don’t give the keys to formula one cars to people entering in driving school either. I am amazed at how certain players that have much more SP than I do constantly have a poor-er wallet than I do.

The reality is that if you have a hard time playing with the cards your dealt or insist that other people must play the way you want them to all the time, you’ll have a hard time in EvE. This is a social game in the sense that you must be capable of being social to the extent of at lest working with others. If you can you’ll love this game. If not you’ll hate it. The real game starts once you join your first player corp, preferably in an alliance. Not just once your 2 week trial stops.

Again this game makes you pay if you play stupid. On the flip side it does not have the equivalent of barrens chat and the economy has some serious meat to sink your virtual teeth into. (probably why it attracts an older fan base than most other MMOs).

From nerd to world domination, one great game at a time.

November 28, 2007

Darren over at Common Sense Gamer had a bit of news today based on a quote from Codemasters, with the basis of it being that they want to release one MMO per year. Being the ever lovable doom and gloom guy that Darren can be, he then references the dot com crash and relates it to the MMO market of today, his main point being that he thinks the MMO market is not as big as most assume it to be.

First off I think Codemasters publishing one MMO per year is entirely feasible. They did not say they are internally developing one MMO per year, simply publishing one. They had little to do with the development of LoTRO, they just handled the marketing and publishing in Europe in exchange for a cut of the profits. As more developers jump into the MMO space, and we expand beyond the traditional fantasy setting, the market will support more frequent releases of top-tier MMO games.

More publishers getting involved with MMOs can only be a good thing, as it means more competition to acquire the rights to new games, thus raising the overall standard and giving developers more places to sell their game. When SOE, EA, Codemasters and others compete for the rights to publish a game, the winner ends up being the developer, and the consumer in the end. Like the free agent market in sports, the more teams bidding, the higher the payout for the player. The player in this situation is the developer, and with more money, they will be given more time and resources to craft better gaming experiences.

In addition to this, I think that the MMO market is only as big as the next great game. If someone ships a Sci-Fi WoW-like game next year, who is to say that won’t get 5 million or more subscribers, many of which might never have bothered with WoW because they don’t care for fantasy games. Or perhaps Warhammer will live up to it’s hype and deliver a truly groundbreaking PvP game, which might attract a large portion of the console and FPS crowd, a segment that previously might have ignored MMOs.

My point is that the MMO market is only limited in size based on what products are available. There is no magic ‘cap’ that once hit will result in a stable base of players who jump from one MMO to the other, without bringing in new players. Like the console market in the late 90s, the more competition we saw, the larger the market got. Each year we heard how this was the year the growth would stop, yet the videogame market as a whole continues to expand, going from a ‘nerd’ industry to something that is now more mainstream than most movies or music, an industry were Halo is bigger than any blockbuster you see over the summer, or any CD you have purchased this year.

Back to WoW we go…

November 27, 2007

After a long break I’ve decided to return to World of Warcraft, although in a very different manner. Instead of playing it to raid and be on the bleeding edge of content, the goal here will be to very casually level a new character with the girlfriend, and once a week get together with some former guild mates and run an instance, starting with the Deadmines and working our way up to Outland.

With the recent changes to WoW with patch 2.3, the pace should be easy to maintain only playing a few hours a week. The plan is to run them as close to the minimum level, just to increase the challenge a bit, and experience it as close as we can get it to the ‘intended’ difficulty. I’m really looking forward to re-visiting some old stomping grounds, and seeing some of the changes since my departure, which was just before the release of TBC.

I’ll post all our race/class combos once we get all that set up, along with the server we will play on, just in case you would like to send a /tell.

And for all those worried this will turn into a WoW-only blog, fear not, I have no intention of droning on and on about WoW. There are plenty of blogs that do so already. EVE droning (ha, get it?) you might have to deal with, along with the usual random posts about the latest demo/beta I happen to install, and the general MMO bitching/complaining that we all know and love.

Podcast goodness!

November 26, 2007

I’ve finally popped my Podcast cherry over at VirginWorlds. (yay wordplay jokes)

Darren was nice enough to have me as a guest on “Shut Up Were Talking” 14, along with Aaron and Adam. I think everyone had a great time, and some interesting topics came up. Head on over and have a listen, and don’t forget to support VirginWorlds if you enjoy what Brent and Co. do over there, it’s a great site.

More PotBS talk. The game is FUN!

November 23, 2007

Seems the PotBS stress test to beta access is indeed true. I was able to log on last night and play on the beta server, which was a nice surprise. After a little more time with the game, this time as a Pirate captain, I’m liking PotBS more and more. It just has that careless fun factor to it, on a solid base of good performance and looks.

I finally got out of the starting town with my pirate and made my way into the open sea. At first it seems like a very busy place, with ships racing all over your screen, some NPC and some PC. You can engage the NPC ships at will; these are the ‘random mobs’ that we find in other MMOs. As far as I can tell, you have the option to fight the NPC ships, but perhaps at higher levels they become aggressive and attack you. Engaging a ship places you in the same ship to ship battle you experience in missions, so no major shock there, which is good.

I made it to another port, where I had to meet with an NPC to continue a quest chain. It was interesting to see the other port, as its style and layout was very different from the port you start in. Overall I like the layouts, as they are well crafted while not being too big. This lets you run from trainers to shops to quest givers quickly. The mini-map is also excellent in this regard, clearly showing you important quest points.

After you complete a mission, a survey will (randomly?) pop up, with a few simple questions and finally a comment box, asking you how you liked the mission; it’s difficulty, story, and how you would rate it. I found this approach to user feedback excellent, as the survey was always quick to fill out, and goes directly to Flying Labs. No need to log into a message board, or write an email, or use complicated beta forms. Flying Labs does all that for you, and all you need to do is spend a minute or two and give them some feedback. I’m guessing because of this easy approach, they are getting a lot of data on what players like and dislike about the missions and the game overall, which can only result in a better product come launch. Hats off to them for that!

I’m sure more will be said about PotBS here as I continue to play. After a somewhat lukewarm start, I’m starting to get into PotBS and what it’s all about. Tonight I plan to install it on my other, less powerful comp and see how that goes. That comp had major issues with EQ2, runs WoW at 60 FPS in everything but a raid, and worked decent enough with LoTRO, so I’m very curious to see how it handles PotBS. Oh, and I also have to convince the gf to play it, if I decide to continue with it at launch. To quote Bill Belichick “Give it a chance”. (In reference to Randy Moss playing for the Pats, before the season started. I think that one worked out ok, unless you passed on him in fantasy…)


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