EVE: Day one reactions to Crucible, and another war for DiS

November 30, 2011

I feel that I greatly underestimated Crucible in terms of its overall impact on EVE (at least day-one impact), which is somewhat surprising to me since I watched all the dev videos and read all the blogs. I thought I knew what was coming and how important/noticeable it would be, but nope.

The new nebulas are amazing. They look phenomenal, and the whole “they actually exist between different systems” is more impressive than I first gave it credit. What was/is obvious, and what I somehow missed, is that the new nebulas improve what you are looking at when in space, and “when in space” is a pretty significant thing in EVE. In other words, this change is more “we upgraded all of the terrain textures in the world” than “we made a single zone look better”, to bring in a more standard MMO example. This also makes traveling between systems more interesting, as rather than seeing similar-looking backgrounds, you now have distinct focal-points all across New Eden, which just happen to look really cool.

The UI changes: Being able to jump to and through a gate is one of those “this just NOW got added?” changes that is a lot cooler in-game than it seems on paper. Same for MOTD in non-custom channels. UI scaling works as expected, but that’s a very good thing. I’m sure in the days to come I’ll notice a lot of other little new things that just make playing more fun.

My Caldari Navy Raven looks like a beast now. Sure digital camo paint makes little sense in space, but whatever, it looks cool. The ship still looks like a Raven, but the changes to it make it look far more deadly. Good stuff. Same but lesser effect on all my other Caldari ships; they just look better than they did pre-expansion, and while that’s something we should all expect from our MMOs, it seems to rarely work that way.

Shots missing + lasers = win. Running a Sansha mission last night was like being in a disco lightshow, but in a good way. Same deal for the engine trails; a little thing that is noticeable the first time, and stays looking cool the 10th time.

And in non-expansion but EVE news, DiS is at war again, this time from a random 7 man corp. DiS members suspect it’s due to this blog, and if that’s true, can someone please comment to confirm so I can take full credit for bringing action to the Corp? Thanks.

Last night one of our members got caught at a gate in his Noctis, and I was able to fly over before he went poof in a lightly fitted Merlin frig. The enemy switched his scram off the Noctis (full of mission loot) on to my ship, suspecting I might be a real threat. I wasn’t (he was in a speed-fit Crow vs my meta 1-fit ship), but the distraction saved an expensive ship full of loot, and my total loss after insurance (go go platinum) was less than 50k ISK (he also flew away before looting me, so I was able to recover what dropped). Sadly I can’t play tonight, but hopefully they stay active and more action happens. No better way to learn how to PvP than by actually doing it, right?


Bobby does have a point…

November 29, 2011

When Bobby talks about generic themepark MMOs that might have trouble retaining players, he is speaking from experience here.

I mean look, what’s more likely to get you to keep throwing $15 into a hole, dated-looking Pandas, or ten blaster shots to the face? A cheap pokemon knockoff sideshow, or a 2004 game with a fan-made-quality Star Wars graphical conversion? Skipping quest voiceovers or raiding with dumber-than-bots anonomous raiders? Welfare epics or welfare Sci-Fi epics?

When Bobby talks of failure, you should listen to the expert!


MMO Expansions

November 29, 2011

It’s expansion day in EVE today, and Crucible sounds like it will get the game back to its winning ways. What’s interesting about Crucible is that it comes without a ‘killer app’ of a feature. Nothing that really jumps out at you and says “start playing NOW!” Which got me thinking, just how important is that, and furthermore, what exactly should an expansion do?

I commented recently that WoW’s WotLK failed because it stagnated the games growth, while Cata further failed because it’s costing WoW about a million subs every, oh, minute or so now? MoP very clearly has a ’killer app’, pandas/pokemon, and Bobby is praying at his stock-options alter that Kung Fu Panda is still a hot trend among pre-teens when MoP hits stores.

I bring WoW up because (bashing for my amusement aside) Blizzard’s strategy, reflected in their expansions, is very different from CCP’s. Blizzard, for some time now, has been trying to replace disgruntled WoW players with fresh blood, while Crucible is very much a bittervet-driven release. As TAGN highlights, there is nothing in Crucible itself that grabs him and demands he return, while Blizzard ‘restarting’ WoW with every expansion certainly provides that motivator, be it for totally new players or those on break.

Where CCP will likely see growth is not from a bullet-list of expansion features, but what those game changes will do for the players currently playing. If it’s successful, moral in-game will improve, and current players will be more likely to recommend the game to their buddies, or write blog posts about how much they are enjoying the game. This won’t result it first-week sales of a million copies, but it does result in 7+ years of year-over-year growth.

This is also why WoW’s decline is so shocking. 12 million people have a lot more buddies, and a lot more blog writers/readers, than a pool of 300k. What exactly does it say about your product when a pool of 12 million can’t bring in others, especially when one of the core values of an MMO is the social ties and motivators of playing in a massive, online world?

Whenever I brought players into Darkfall, League of Legends, or now EVE, I’ve always followed up with them and provided a resource for questions. This instantly gave them at least one social ‘hook’, and made the initial experience a bit easier. Many of those players have either joined Inq or DiS, giving them yet another social tie. If they enjoy the game itself, they might bring in a friend, who might know someone, etc. It’s not hard to see why WoW initially went from a beta size of a few hundred thousand, to well over 10 million “back in the day”. The social momentum not only brings in new players, but helps keep existing players around far longer than the actual game content should. MMO content is not months/years-worth ‘better’ than single-player content; playing it with others makes it what it is.

From a player’s perspective, it’s hard to argue against the game you are currently enjoying simply getting better, rather than resetting and changing directions. Crucible is very much an EXPANSION to EVE, rather than a replacement for existing content. This also, in part, explains why EVE players stick with the game for so long. If you loved the content in 2005, it’s still here in 2011, only now you also have X, Y, and Z to play with as well. Oh and the game looks like something from 2011, rather than 2005. And if your buddies play EVE, you play on the same ‘server’. And the conflict they were talking about that got you interested initially? That’s happening on your ‘server’ as well. All of these social benefits, and EVE’s long-running growth, are not independent items.


Back from vacation

November 28, 2011

I find it very amusing that Trion has called their latest event currency a “unique snowflake”, considering the actual event sounds like a rehash of every other event. I’m laughing, but not WITH you Trion.

I’m still playing a lot of Skyrim, and I’m still enjoying it just as much as I did initially. My current character is a destro(fire)/resto mage, with a sword/board companion. Initially a mage is very plain, but once you get some additional spells, and start to combo some stuff together, it’s very entertaining. Sending my brute in first and hiding behind him while channeling a healing spell works very well, especially once I got him geared up a bit (this also makes finding heavy armor/weapons not ‘pointless’ for a mage).

I can also safely state that while the main storyline is good, there are side-quests that completely blow it out of the water in terms of surprises or just fun gameplay. The ‘sandboxy-ness’ of Skyrim really shines here, as it’s very easy to bounce between longer quest chains and just hitting up a random cave to bash some skulls. I’ll also grudgingly admit that while it still sucks, the UI has somewhat grown on me and it’s not getting in the way nearly as much as it was previously. That said, selecting chat options is still a huge killer for me, and I can’t wait for a patch/mod to fix this.

Finally things in EVE are going very well. Since the loss of my Rattlesnake, I’ve purchased a Navy Raven to run missions in, and it does the job very well. Seven cruise missile launchers put out some serious DPS, while the active shield tank I have going has so far held up in every mission. I initially wanted to save up the ISK for another Rattlesnake, but I’m now leaning towards putting more ISK into the Raven and getting it in really good shape. Currently it’s mostly T2 fitted, but many of the builds I see online use faction mods, and assuming the Raven does not meet the same fate as the Rattlesnake, I can always sell those later on if I opt for a different ship.

I’ve also started messing around with Research agents on my industry pilot, and his Planetary Interaction setup has so far been very profitable. This week I’ll have the sixth and final planet up, which I plan to use as a processing center to turn lower-tier goods into high-end stuff. I’ll have to play around in Excel to see where the best profit margins lie of course.

The Crucible expansion hits this week, and like everyone else, I’m very excited for all the changes. I’m sure I’ll have a post up about that either later this week or early next.

My buddy invites should refresh shortly, so anyone who did not receive one last time will have another chance to try the game out for 21 days. Soon as they refresh, I’ll put up a post.


Blizzard announces new dev team for WoW

November 23, 2011

Odds of these guys producing another WotLK/Cata?


EVE: Grind leads to greatness

November 22, 2011

I found a few comments interested related to the R&K video I posted last weekend. In particular, the mention of ‘grind’ related to getting into Nova.

If getting into Nova was not ‘hard’, Nova would not be worth what it’s worth. It would not be populated by a top-end Corp, nor would it be of interest to another top-end Corp. The work, setup, and billions of ISK in hardware that went into making that final battle so epic would not have happened.

If you could just take your fleet and “queue up” for Nova whenever was most convenient for you, owning it would have little value. It would, you know, be like all those ‘accessible’ PvP objectives in a whole bunch of MMOs with horrible PvP. I’d rather ‘grind’ to get to good PvP than have horrible PvP ‘accessible’ to me, but I’m weird like that.


The real SW:TOR killer

November 22, 2011

First, how can SW:TOR be a WoW-killer when Cata already did the job? We should call it WoW-finisher instead, right? Sucks for Bioware that Blizzard beat them to the punch on that one.

Second, and far more important, it sucks that Skyrim already killed SW:TOR huh?

Full voice acting? Check.

Amazing solo adventure? Check.

Popular IP? Check.

Story over gameplay focus? Check.

Additional dev-provided content you pay for after the box? Check.

People expecting silly things like game balance, PvP, or social aspects? Check.

Problem is, if you have the correct version of Skyrim, you also get player-made content, graphic upgrades, UI changes, and bug fixes for free (mods). Not so much in SW:TOR. And unlike SW, I don’t have to disable general chat when I log in, while still having access to vent to chat with people I do want to share the experience with. I also don’t have to wait for mobs to respawn, or have someone skip a cutscene to get the loot NOW!, or stop the story to grind out XP in order to actually progress. Or just in general you get to stay away from SW fans, who make WoW players look like normal people.

But hey, lightsabers… that 5 hit rats. Yo.


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