Buying gold makes you a bad person, sorry

March 12, 2010

Buying gold is today’s topic thanks to this post by Suzina over that Kill Ten Rats. Admitting you bough gold is never going to earn you friends in an MMO, but it seems some people are downplaying the significance of such an act, and the goal here today is to flesh out just exactly what happens when you make that choice.

Let’s start with just the actual player to get the gold. In this case, Suzina bought gold because she wanted to get dual spec right at level 40, which costs 1000g. She did not have that amount when she hit level 40, so she bought it through a gold seller service.

As others have pointed out, 1000g at level 40 is not impossible, and according to some, not even that difficult. The impression that I get from buying the gold is that Suzina is playing with the “I want it all, and I want it now” attitude. My guess is had she made the effort to gather the 1000g herself, buying that dual spec feature would have felt a little sweeter rather than buying it for $10. Not to mention that gathering that gold would have been ‘content’ to keep her busy, but whether that is content you want or not comes down to each player. Still, not every single activity in an MMO is exactly what we want to be doing (the whole work for a reward aspect of anything), and this act to me shows that anytime you do run across something less-than-optimal, cheating is fine to get around it.

Moving beyond the individual player, it’s not surprising that others around you might think less of you after such an act. We all know MMOs are ‘serious business’, and as such we take pride in our accomplishments, be they grand or minor. For me personally, I tend to think less of people cheating to reach any goal, be it abusing an exploit, breaking in-game rules, or buying gold/items/accounts. There are levels to everything of course (afk macroing in DarkFall for example is bad, but not ‘stop talking to you’ bad), but in the end I still ultimately think it’s a reflection of character.

But I think the most important aspect of buying gold is showing support for that entire industry. Once you have used their service, you become part of the problem. Find gold spam annoying in-game? Thanks, you helped fund it. Service tickets taking forever to get answered? You contributed to others flooding the system. You or your friend’s account get hacked? You helped in that. Phishing email that tricked your friend into giving up a credit card number? You assisted in sending that email.

And I don’t buy the whole ‘not all bought gold is stolen gold so it’s ok’ argument for one minute. Sure, maybe not every single gold seller is also sending out phishing emails or installing key loggers through a website, but how do you know? You don’t. They are already breaking some of the rules, are you really going to take their word that they won’t break the rest of them to make a profit?

Tales from DarkFall: Dropping the soap

March 11, 2010

Fan, meet my buddy shit, I believe you two just smushed.

That’s what happened last night at around 2am EST. An in-game raping of Allods CS proportions, one that leaves you all cold on the inside, asking ‘why me’ while you sit crying fully clothed in the fetal position with the shower running above your head. It was also one of those “never going to forget THAT event” type of deals that only really happens in an MMO. This was just left a scar rather than a smile.

Oh right, I’m guessing you are wondering wtf I’m talking about huh? Ok I’ll try to recall the event, but know that I’ll be doing so while tears run down my cheek in classic emo fashion.

The village of Xirdak is close to the city of Dagnamyr, and it’s one that I often go out and capture because it is literally a one minute run. I noticed a while back that one of the houses there was very slow to pay the taxes, with the bill going as high as 2500 gold before being paid. Yesterday I noticed that the bill was getting close to 3000 gold, which is right near the limit of when you lose the house and the spot can be claimed.

I checked on the house earlier in the day yesterday and saw that in addition to the 3000+ tax due, it also had a timer on when the house spot was going to free up. At the time it said 5 hours, which after some quick math meant it would be open around 2-3am. Very late, but a small price to pay to own a house so close to our city.

At just after 1am I went back to the village and saw that the timer was at “less than one hour”, and I figured this must be the final update until it goes free. I went back to town, grabbed some gear, two mounts, and a deed I had bought earlier in the day for 60k to claim the property. I then went up into a nice hiding spot to wait until the timer was up.

I was getting a little sleepy, so I turned up the in-game sound so I could hear anyone approaching, and after about 20 minutes those footsteps came. It was a VAMP member also coming to check on the house, and we partied up to wait, the guy being nice and saying I could grab the house. Another 20 minutes or so goes by when we spot someone had recalled to another house in the village. We ID the guy as a member of the clan Grief (enemy clan), and we attack. The guy tries to run but is brought down quickly, and we resume our wait.

After another 10 minutes or so two other members of Grief recall to the village and another fight breaks out. Initially it goes well, and while we are not able to down either opponent, they are kept at bay and don’t harm us much. A third member shows up, and it’s at this point that things start to go downhill. For starters, I should have just run back to the city and banked my deed if nothing else. Second, we put out the call for additional help way too late, and by the time we had a group together, a fourth Grief member had arrived and we had been killed.

In somewhat of a blind rage, I grabbed one of my best gear bags and rode back to rejoin the fight, and for a while we were holding our own against very skilled opponents. Unfortunately whenever we killed someone, they always came back, and we could never down enough of them to secure the field and collect the loot. Eventually however we suffered one too many deaths, and the tide turned and we were all routed. Top end gear bag gone, second gear bag gone, a total of four mounts gone, and the 60k cottage deed gone. /tear. The guy who had been waiting with me lost about 100k worth of gear as well, since he too grabbed some of his better stuff twice. /moretears. I don’t know about the rest that helped us, but they lost gear as well, not to mention all of the loot the Grief guys were carrying. /riveroftears.

I’m going back to the fetal position now…

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

In-game vs Forum perception

March 10, 2010

It’s no secret that the forums of any MMO are not exactly the best place to go if you want to judge the health or status of the game itself, but recently things have just gotten head-shake sad with ForumFall. Even though in-game Agon is busier than ever, the same individuals are still prophesying doom and proclaiming how dead the game is. Normally this is laughable and a side-conversation, but at least on the NA clan discussion forum, it’s nearly every other topic.

And while this makes the forums a sad (and more importantly, boring) place to visit, it signals a positive step for everyone actually playing. The ones currently doing the crying are generally very high-end characters, individuals who are more or less ‘done’ with their progression and are now looking around for something to do. The problem for them is that while DarkFall does have great PvP, that one aspect is NOT enough to keep you going. The game is not a FPS with jump in/jump out PvP. It’s the game’s combination of great PvP AND character progress that makes DF work, and as evident in-game, it IS working.

Here are the difference though, just based on my observations in the last few weeks. The super-elite groups are less active thanks to the recent release of Bad Company 2, some SWG emu that is the current FOTM for that subsection of the community, and a general lull between expansions. This means that cities like Talpec and Dagnamyr are less active, and don’t get raided by other super-elites as often. It also means those super-elite groups are not as active in the political and siege game, which further lowers activity. If all you know of DarkFall is the above, yea, it’s dying.

But in direct contrast to that, the starter areas are as busy as I’ve seen them since launch, the global chat channels are full with new user questions and answers, and new clans are living out of previously dead cities/hamlets and bringing activity to those areas. Just last night Grim and I ran across a group of seven players out capturing villages, and after one hell of a battle, we learned that five of them were new to the game and just getting into it. For the first time since launch, my character actually feels like a big deal when fighting others, rather than being far behind the elite.

But that’s just how MMOs work, the first wave usually consumes the content quickly and establishes dominance. They then grow bored, declare the game dead, and move on. As they leave, new players come in, and the cycle continues. This is why the perceived character gap is never as large as some make it out to be. Those 400+hp characters are generally on their last days, and soon they will end up leaving. Not all of them of course, but enough to keep the average down and allow others to become the big fish.

What’s most important is not to keep the super-elite happy with whatever requests they make, because regardless of what you do they will find another reason to be upset. No, what is important is to make sure that not only are they being replaced when they leave, but that the rate of incoming players is higher than the rate of people leaving. Based on just my observations in-game, I’d say that is currently the case. Too bad the ForumFall community is too busy posting to take a look as well.

Tales from DarkFall: Darkmoore and the missing door

March 9, 2010

I mentioned in my previous “Tales from DarkFall” post (that’s going to be the prefix title going forward) that while Inquisition is getting stronger as a whole, we are not yet up to city-raider level. This is mostly true, and Grim can nerdrage, err, tell you just how successful we are raiding say, Sunthrone and its lovely flamethrower tower. With that said, Darkmoore is a city we have had a few successful adventures in and around, and that is where today’s tale starts.

Darkmoore is one of the more interesting cities in Agon in terms of layout. All of the buildings are located at ground level, but in the center of the city you have a large rock structure with a lift carved out of the middle. On the outskirts of the city there are about eight tall plateaus, and these are all connected by rope bridges. The only way up is through the central lift, and the plateaus are a nice source of iron, stone, and timber. The perimeter of the city is a mix of player-made walls and the plateaus, giving anyone multiple access points to launch over the walls in addition to the two or three gatehouses.

In short, it’s a nice city in terms of location and resources, but terrible in terms of defense and locating invaders. The city on NA1 is currently owned by Legion XIII, with multiple allied clans also taking up residence. The overall player skill level is somewhat lower compared to a city like Aradoth or Erinthel, but activity is always high, and since its location is not far from our current home of Dagnamyr, it’s a fun and at times profitable place to raid.

And so our group of four (yea, it was a long day) made our way to Darkmoore. The strategy going in was to launch over the west wall and run towards the lift, hopefully avoiding detection until we got to the top. With only one way up, it would be a potential holding point, plus we could sneak around on the plateaus and maybe gank a harvester or two before the city mobilized. That was the plan anyway, and we did get up top without detection. Once at the top however, an active player happened to be wandering around, spotted us, and no doubt sounded the alarm.

We gave chase for a bit until he jumped down into the main section of the city, and before we could reach the lift ourselves it was already swarming with close to a dozen players. Darkmoore mobilizes fast it seems. After a bit of a ranged stand off, us on our plateau and the locals on theirs, the rope bridge dividing us, we mounted up and jumped down and out of the city, hoping to lure some pursuers out and away from their home turf. Initially they just stood at the edge of the outer plateau, thinking we had a back-up force to lure them into. Once it became clear it really was just us four, they dropped down as well and started chasing us west.

As with any chase, it’s always difficult to judge the number of pursuers, but we went to Darkmoore looking for a fight and knew that in all likelihood we were walking into a death trap. Survival would be nice, but if not, we will take as many of them down as we can before we die. With that mindframe, we made a stand at the top of a small hill, and the initial skirmish was going well. We took down one enemy quickly, and when his ally went to try and rez him I took him down as well. As my mount was standing still while I butchered the guy, the rest were able to get in some easy shots and I was soon on my feet.

After running for a bit to survey the battlefield and regain some stamina and health, I noticed someone had dismounted right in the middle of the battle, and quickly ran to grab the mount. Someone else beat me to that mount, but as luck would have it someone else had also recently gotten off (maybe they made that call in vent?) and this time I was not going to be denied. On a fresh mount, I noticed the battle was quickly getting out of hand as more enemies continued to engage, and the call was given to retreat.

At this point we were close to a clan members personal house, and with the numbers so heavily against us, we rode and swam to the village, the horde in hot pursuit. We got to the village, dove inside the house, and slammed the door shut behind us. Outside the horde gathered like a mob looking for blood, trying in vain to launch spells and arrows through the windows to try and take us down. Luckily for us the windows were limited enough that we could easily stay inside and avoid damage, and this began a prolonged game of cat and mouse.

We would open the door in the hopes that a few would be lured inside (collision detection and a narrow entrance means not all of them can stream in at once), and once in we would close to the door and murder anyone who entered and was now stuck inside. Their plan for when the door was open was to nuke the holy hell out of the entrance with AoE magic, and to also drop Wall of Force bubbles in the hopes of pulling us out. Sadly neither side fell for the others trap, and the standstill continued.

As we were contemplating rushing out of the house and into a glorious death, the house started to shake. The bastards had someone go back to town and bring out some battle spikes to blow down the door! After only a few explosions, the door was no more and we no longer had the ability to seal the entrance. It did not take long for them to rush in, and after some quick and chaotic melee on the ground floor, we were soon split once again. The four of us were holed up on the upper level, while they had the entrance area packed. Only a small set of stairs separated us, yet no one made a move to start the slaughter.

We quickly decided to drop a confusion spell (blinds everyone) and try to make it out of the house, and the plan sorta worked. The confusion went off, but unfortunately in addition to blinding the enemies it also blinded us. After some fumbling and random swinging, the spell wore off and we were able to finally exit before any of them blocked the door. Once outside, it was every man for himself as we ran to try and get some distance between ourselves and the enemy. One of our guys unfortunately ran into a group of enemies and was taken down, while two others were able to get some space and get into a (initially) more manageable fight. They did well, but soon the enemy converged and down they went. I was the lucky one, as somehow no one saw my escape, and I was able to retreat into the water and log out before anyone spotted me.

We owe the residence of Darkmoore a return trip of course, if for no other reason than to ask for a replacement door! After the smoke cleared and everyone was back in Dagnamyr, it was decided that the next time we get into a 4v12+ like that; we are fighting them straight up. We will see how well that goes soon.

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and DarkFall is an A-

March 8, 2010

Some Monday quick notes to wrap up the day.

First, MMORPG writer Frank Inktomi has a review of DarkFall up, and robs the game with an A- score. Damn haters just keep hating! I kid I kid; it’s a solid read that sheds some light into both the tech issues and general ‘approach to DF’ mentality. Hopefully Frank does a month+ or so re-review once he gets deeper into areas like PvP and clan life.

I purchased Battlefield: Bad Company 2 over the weekend, as it’s the FPS side-dish to DarkFall for Inquisition. Its very pretty maxed out, runs well on my hardware, and overall is enjoyable. I’m not a huge FPS fan, generally going back to the genre every few years. The plus side of this approach is that whatever ‘standard’ innovations have been added to games since my last one, now ALL feel new in BC2. In other words, I don’t know what is a BC2-exclusive feature vs what is just a now accepted standard in the FPS genre since I last played Fear 1.

The single player campaign has so far been interesting with some nice set piece battles. I’m about 4 hours into it and will definitely see it all the way through. The multiplayer is having some technical issues right now with EA’s servers, but when we are able to get a game going it’s been good fun. I’m terrible at it, like 2 kills 10 deaths per round terrible, but I run around like a dummy blowing the terrain up and occasionally getting the jump on someone. Bullets to the back are my only real method of dealing death, but I’ll take it. It’s funny how I can be hyper-competitive in DarkFall and at the same time totally not care in BC2. It’s actually nice that way.

All that said, I’m an MMO junky at heart, so every time I close down BC2 I instantly think “could have been making progress in DarkFall”. Sick, I know.

DarkFall: Saying hello to our new neighbors

March 8, 2010

While this weekend saw a few major sieges in DarkFall, including the use of a Man-o-War (the biggest ship in the game) against a coastal city, my weekend PvP was on a much smaller scale. Due to two new clans taking over previously inactive hamlets in our area, we have some new, local PvP hotspots to poke at.

Isturak, owned by RIP, is a dwarf-style hamlet to the east of Dagnamyr. It’s built up on a platform of sorts and is very tightly spaced, making it rather difficult to fight inside thanks to the guard tower protecting the bank area. However the area all around it is wooded hills with plenty of large rocks and trees to use as cover, and it was exactly this terrain that we (Inq) used to set a little trap.

In a previous trip some days ago we had a good number of RIP members chase us out of the hamlet in pursuit, and using this knowledge we decided to send two members in to stir the hornets nest while two others (myself included) hid behind a large rock just to the south of town. The plan was to get RIP to chase our initial two past our rock, and for us to ride in from behind and hopefully inflict enough alpha strike damage to end the fighting quickly.

After some initial ranged fighting at the hamlet, RIP pushed our two guys out with a force of five, and just as expected gave chase as they backed away. We waited behind our rock for just the right moment, and when it came, we rode out and hit them directly in the flank. The surprise of the attack was obvious, as we managed to take down two quickly and pursue two more as they tried to run back to the hamlet. In the end none escaped, and their Supreme General (a highly skilled player who had given us some trouble in the past) arrived to fight just as his members were put down. While he put up a valiant effort, the odds were stacked against him and he too was brought down. A bit of satisfying revenge for our previous defeat at the hands of RIP, and overall a great little battle.

Later that same day and with the same crew of four, we headed north-west to Ishar Ruins. This previously near-empty hamlet is now the home of Bloodthirst, an active clan with one notorious (from Inq’s perspective) player, Greatest Dane. Simply put the guy is a beast; literally because he is a Maharim, and figuratively because he has likely killed all of us at one point or another with brutal efficiency. As we crested a hill to look down at the hamlet, we saw quite a bit of activity, and before we even had a moment to consider a plan, a group of 5-6 players emerged from the hamlet throwing spells and arrows at us.

We backed off a bit until we crossed a larger rock that we felt would be a good spot to engage. Yet after a quick battle we noticed even more enemies had come out of the hamlet, and so we again mounted up and retreated back towards Dagnamyr. Luckily for us no one lost a mount and fell behind, while more than a few of them dismounted to try and bring us down. What this did is stretch their force out between their hamlet and Dagnamyr, and when we did finally engage just outside of Dag, we initially only fought three players, two mounted and one on foot.

Out of those three two went down rather quickly, quick enough in fact to allow us a little breathing room and recovery time before the rest arrived. The entire battle lasted a good fifteen minutes, and in the end five Bloodthirst members were dead and the rest ran off, including Greatest Dane, who was once again a force but was kept somewhat at bay thanks to well-timed focus fire. We had him on the brink a few times, yet for one reason or another we never could bring him down.

During the fighting I redlined twice, once in the initial battle as I was meleeing in a 1v2 and then a second time as a mounted straggler engaged me. Knowing the numbers were in our favor, my goal was to bring his mount down quickly, and in the process I ended up taking a few hits. Once the mount was killed the player engaged me in melee, and while I was able to keep him at bay long enough for help to arrive, it was certainly close due to my stamina being low from all of the previous fighting.

In the end however victory and all the spoils from it were ours. While our group of four was a collection of some of our top members, it was evidence that as a clan we are improving in small-scale combat. At various times we had good support, be it timely healing or simply peeling an enemy of an ally. We also did a good job in finishing off opponents and getting ganks off to prevent rezzing, something that is key when engaged outnumbered. As more of our members skill up and really define their characters, our PvP force will only grow stronger, opening up bigger targets (popular cities) with richer prizes.

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

We didn’t want those millions anyway

March 5, 2010

I’ve been reading a fair bit about this whole Infinity Ward vs Activision thing today, mostly from Lum, Jake Simpson, and David Taylor, and the whole thing really is a royal mess. Like others have said, I don’t see how Activision comes out of this one ahead. The next MW game is likely to be of lower quality than MW2, their image around the dev community has taken a huge hit, and they lost two obviously talented people who made them a TON of money. Stupid is a word that comes to mind right now. I mean you are literally sitting on a gold mine (the MW IP), why would you do ANYTHING to screw with that?

I’m sure we will read more about all of this as it unfolds, and my guess is its only going to get uglier.


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