How I paid for my vacation

July 26, 2012

I knew buying Zynga was a brilliant move!

At some point, one of these ‘expert analysts’ is going to mention that, perhaps, in order to make money in the gaming sector, you might want to try making a good game, right? Wait what’s that…

“At the end of the day, though, virtual goods might not be a viable business strategy. People eventually stop spending money in virtual goods and want to spend that money on real goods.” – Mr. Gartenberg


Bigger waste of oxygen: the 10k Farmville player, or whoever pays money to get such ‘expert analysis’ as the above?

Dear Mr. Gartenberg, I’m pretty damn sure people are going to be spending money on virtual goods going forward. Virtual vs real goods is not the issue. Shitty goods (virtual or not) vs quality goods is. It’s much easier to sell a quality good than a shitty one (10k farmers aside).

Shocking: A business model based around peddling shitty goods in mass quantities and then using now-banned methods to trick people out of their money is not doing well.

Vacation time

July 25, 2012

I’m off on no-Internet vacation until August 6th, so this blog will be quiet until then.

When I get back I’ll be sure to talk a little about SW:TOR shutting down (that’s still scheduled for next week, right?), as well as likely reopen recruitment in EVE (train up those scanning skills).

Behave yourselves until then.

Dear EAWare and SOE: Please don’t release any blog-worthy announcements until I get back. I so do hate missing quality bash opportunities.

Ah who am I kidding, zero chance you guys can go a week without something stupid coming out.

EVE: Flying in the Alliance Tournament

July 25, 2012

Jester has a bunch of excellent Alliance Tourney posts up, but I like this one the most (so far). It’s a great look behind the scenes of one of the more unique experiences you can have in the MMO genre. In the giant pile of “only in EVE”, the Alliance Tourney experience is easily near the top, especially because so many outsiders believe PvP skill in EVE is limited to hitting R1 and orbiting.

I ruined SW:TOR I guess

July 24, 2012

How is it that this is the first time I’m seeing SW:TOR being referred to as “Tortanic”? That’s brilliant and I wish I had thought of it.

Also I guess I’ll take the blame for SW:TOR here, as back in 2010 I was calling it an sRPG, and I guess EAWare was listening? My bad. If only SW:TOR was MORE like WoW it would totally be a huge hit right now. Totally.

Mainstream dilution, core gamer evolution

July 20, 2012

I’m glad people enjoyed the article I linked to yesterday, and I wish I had seen it earlier as I really believe it does an excellent job breaking down how certain companies approach creating ‘games’ and also who is actually buying. Because as bad as Zynga and others like them are, they only exist because there are a lot of people buying the trash they are selling, and buying it in amounts large enough to draw companies like EA into that market.

I had a draft half-done talking about how current-day MMO players have finally evolved from the ‘accessible’ garbage phase that permeated the genre from 2007 until SW:TOR or so. The quick exodus from SW:TOR, and the initial scorn for what TESO is aiming to be, seems to show that even in the casual MMO gamer space, people are done with cookie-cutter crap games, and want something a little more… MMO. The cheering for GW2, if somewhat over-the-top at times, is also a solid sign.

So how can we both be moving forward, yet at the same time taking such giant steps back? Market split. Or rather, just different games aiming at completely different targets, and both (so far) hitting more often than not. The only ones who are truly missing today are those stuck in the middle. Those who aim to be ‘accessible’ but still a game, be it an MMO from EA or a more game-like game from Zynga.

The prime Zynga target, that 30 something mother that (somehow…) gets sucked into dropping 10k a year to build a farm, won’t spend 15k if her farm had better gameplay. In fact, she is likely to only get confused and run away, because if you have the mental capacity to drop 10k on a virtual farm, I’m pretty sure you lack the mental capacity to actually play Pong, let alone anything more complex.

The reverse appears to now be true in the core gamer space. The average MMO gamer has (finally) realized that while welfare epics are neat RIGHT NOW, they destroy your fun long-term. That while rainbows shitting out cookies might seem ‘epic’ the first time around, it’s not something you are going to enjoy month after month, and reskinning the rainbow seems to have stopped fooling most as well.

I’d like to believe that the cheap cash-in that is Zynga won’t be sustainable. That once that mother realizes her pimped out farm is just glitzy garbage, she won’t be tricked again and build a 10k city or spacestation. Sadly history suggests that the depths of human stupidity are truly remarkable, and despite being slapped in the face, that mother WILL drop another 10k, or maybe 15k after Zynga refines their ‘secret sauce’ and makes it an even better idiot trap. Just like the slot machine zombies you see at every casino, there is no cure or hope for these people.

Luckily for the rest of us, while catering to the zombie crowd is one way to make a (cheap and sleazy) buck, it’s not the only one. You can bet that DayZ is making suits in every major game studio perk up, just like Minecraft did before it. A title like Skyrim performing amazingly well is news to cheer.

Not only is there good money to be made in creating solid games with good design (LoL), that good money is very sustainable long-term (EVE) under a model that respects the customer. And as gamers (hopefully) continue to get smarter, we should not only see quality rewarded, but more examples of creativity as well. DayZ is successful not because its gameplay is perfected, but because its general concept and execution are so fresh.

(It’s important to note that in the early years of gaming, quality was indeed rewarded. But as the market expanded and gaming become mainstream, the average gamers IQ dropped. I believe what we are (slowly) seeing now is that IQ going back up, overall, while there is still that Zynga sub-set as well.)

Best thing written about gaming (ever?)

July 19, 2012

This is required reading. If you don’t read this start to finish right meow you will be forced to turn in your “gamer” card.

My thoughts on all of it are coming ‘soon’.

H/T to Shiolle for the link.

It’s not contagious, is it?

July 18, 2012

Grade-A trolling folks. Just next level blogging at its finest. If we could get more of this kind of content and less D&D, Tobold might be worth reading again.

After reading Tobold, go re-read EA Louse. It was great the first time, but now that most of it has come to pass, no sane individual can write it off as sour grapes.

All caught up? Let’s have some fun.

“I like Paul Barnett” – Pretty sure Paul Barnett’s mother hates Paul Barnett at this point.

“The man certainly has artistic vision, great enthusiasm, intelligence, and is great fun to watch.” – Fun to watch (fail), yes. The rest… not so much. Cool shades though. Can’t forget the cool shades. PB was WAY ahead of his time rocking those. A true visionary (get it?).

“These qualities might not be matched by an ability to actually turn all that artistic vision into reality” – Not a big deal at all, unless your job is to turn artistic ‘vision’ into reality. Oh right…

“Already it can’t possibly get worse than Lord of Ultima” – I’ll take that bet. Granted, I’ve never played LoU, but as far as I know, BP was not involved with LoU, so if nothing else it has that going for it.

“I’d rather see Paul Barnett trying to revive the Ultima brand than Richard Garriott” – Paul Barnett, bears man vs RG, Ultima series creator, including UO, and Tabula Rasa, which EA did a nice job of burying before its potential was reached. Hell, I’d take RG coding My Little Ponies from a space shuttle over PB being a QA intern with the next Skyrim game (not the MMO abomination).

“most people would consider the original Ultima IV as well as Ultima Online to be unplayable these days” – Lets ignore that UO has more people still playing it today than many ‘modern’ MMOs, and that’s not counting the 3rd party shards going, some of which have thousands of players. Or that EA killed a Ultima IV fan remake project in fear that it would distract people from PG upcoming abortion.

“Maybe Paul infected me” – Guess the trolling finally stopped?

Good stuff though. Gevlon-level trolling.

Dynamic layers

July 17, 2012

This blog would be a lot more interesting if I could write about our current plans and immediate impacts of our current situation in EVE, but EVE being what it is, I can’t. Hopefully the delayed drip won’t result in the details being lost and the stories being relevant. The entire ‘why’ behind last weekends Op is… deep. Very deep actually. But that’s a story for (hopefully) another day.

I’ve previously talked about the true dynamic nature of WH space in EVE, and I want to use last weekends Op as a backdrop to sum that thought up and perhaps add some clarity to it as well. I’ll also use the upcoming Guild Wars 2 MMO as my fantasy example here, but feel free to replace GW2 with just about any other ‘standard’ MMO.

How wormholes connect to each other is the basis for this dynamic space. Imagine that WvW in GW2 was not based on server rankings every two weeks, but rather that each server randomly connected to another, and at times could also connect to multiple servers at once. Guilds would aim to ‘progress’ from starter servers (C1s) to top-tier (C6) servers, but that progression would hinge not just on when your server connects to a higher-tier server, but also who is there to defend it.

Another consideration would be the total iLvl of gear you could bring to the battle. Whether you brought 100 newbies in starter gear, or ten guys in max iLvl stuff, each server connection would only support X amount of iLvl, and once that amount was crossed the connection would close and reopen to a different server. Guild leaders would need to decide if they want to move everyone to another server, or send just enough into battle for a raid and to allow all of them to come home. Complicating this calculation is the fact that anyone from a different server, connections allowing, could also use ‘your’ connection and throw off the math, trapping your members.

An important item to also consider is gear. Imagine if in GW2 you lost some somewhat easily replaced gear whenever you died, but could only replace that gear outside of WvW unless you were defending your ‘home’ server. Furthermore, the quality of replacements available, and their price, would be entirely dependent on the current WvW connection out, and again the iLvl limit would need to be considered.

Finally, and most importantly, the ‘home’ team on each server would own the castles and villages in the WvW space, allowing them to produce gear and resupply without having to deal with an outgoing connection. The longer a guild has owned their piece of WvW, the more time they have had to set up defenses and get entrenched, likely far above the iLvl an enemy guild could possibly get inside through a single connection.

The above makes no mention of the combat system, or how characters would actually go about fighting each other, earning gear, or how gear would be crafted. Whether you swing swords or shoot lasers, the above could still apply, and bring with it all of the meta-gaming that goes into EVE PvP.

(Not to suggest GW2 should be like that. I for one am looking forward to GW2 being a simpler, jump in and smash type of game. A nice break from EVE when I don’t want to think about mass calculations, multi-WH jump routes, and whether or not some ship (or a dozen) is sitting cloaked up just waiting to kill me. Just food for thought.)

EVE: Red Dawn, Red Midday, Red G’night

July 16, 2012

One of the ‘secret’ Ops that I’ve alluded to here before has finally come to fruition, and I can now finally blog about it.

As most WH Corps/Alliances do, HAHA has been sending pilots out to scout other holes and see what the residence are up to. In one such hole, a C6 no less, our scout noticed that the residents always ran their sites at around the same time, and always used the same mix of Dreads and Carriers. They were very routine about this, and so a plan was hatched to get ships inside the C6, log out, and log in when the capitals were in the middle of a Sleeper site, hopefully resulting in some dead caps and some nice kill mails.

Early last Friday, our scout reported some very favorable entrances into the C6, and so our alliance mobilized and we got people ready to jump inside and log out. I was one of the first ships to make it in and log, as I had dinner plans. As I was out eating anniversary dinner with my wife, I get a text that the plan is off, as some third party had already run the sites inside the C6, and so the locals would not be doing their normal routine. Such is WH life.

About 30 minutes later, still at dinner (I believe I was a few bites into a cheesecake), I get another text informing me that the plan is back on, only it’s been escalated. Turns out, an even more favorable entrance had opened, one that would allow us to get a few of our own capital ships inside. Rather than waiting for the current owners to log on, we were going to siege the POS and loot whatever was inside.

As I got home and logged into Mumble, the alliance was still working the logistics of getting everything inside the C6. This went on for quite some time, but eventually we had two dreads and a large support fleet ready to go. Then a very fortunate, and funny, thing happened.

The owner of the POS had not configured his defenses correctly, and all his shiny faction guns and ewar did not attack us as we opened fire. Most likely, the POS was left in the default settings; attacking anyone with a standing less than 0. As we had no standing with this alliance (0), the POS did not consider us a threat. This made disabling everything nice and easy, although not all that quick.

At about 4am or so early Saturday morning, the POS went into reinforced mode. Our assumption was that the POS had full stront, so it would come out of reinforce at our primetime Sunday. As luck would have it, the owner had the stront bay less than full, and the tower was actually set to come out at 8am Sunday morning (EST). Alarm clock raid!

Our alliance camped the hole all day Saturday, making sure no evac was possible and that all incoming holes were accounted for and handled properly. For the most part, Saturday was quiet.

At just before 8am Sunday, the real action started.

The defenders had four (visible) dreads and two carriers inside the POS, along with a few sub-caps. Also, at some point they had managed to repair and online some defenses. As our two dreads and the support fleet started hammering the POS and disabling the defenses again, the enemy moved four dreads and a carrier just outside the POS shield, and a massive brawl broke out.

Our two dreads were of course the targets, and while they hero tanked for as long as they could, they eventually went down in a blaze of glory. However they did not die in vain, as they survived long enough, and dished out enough DPS, to also allow us to take down two enemy dreads (both shiny fit compared to ours), and to put the carrier into structure before it and the two remaining dreads made it back inside the POS. (Note: I was not online at this point, but that was the summary I was given. Anyone at that fight feel free to provide more detail).

With our dreads gone, grinding down the POS became… well a grind. To further slow things down, the defenders would occasionally move a dread just outside the POS to attempt to blap a sup-cap. In response, we had two Bhaalgorns that would warp to anything that left the POS and start neuting, along with a few other ships to attempt to bump the capital further out and allow us to kill it. The neut/bump plan did not yield a kill here however, and the dreads did manage to blap two ships due to pilot error and not keeping traversal up.

While all of this was happening (3-4 hours’ worth), we had a scout scanning the C6 always looking for new sigs, and just as the POS shields hit 25%, he announced a new WH opening. As we warped our fleet to a safe spot just in case, the scout further reported that the connecting WH had a connection to low-sec. This was very fortunate news for us.

Due to the length and complexity of the siege, we were running low on ammo, and so the new connection to known space meant we could resupply. It also meant more ships could get inside, and those who had lost ships could rejoin the fight as well.

But best of all, it meant we could, theoretically, get more dreads inside. I say theoretically because the low-sec was nowhere near our current home C5 exit, so bringing our existing capital ships would not be possible. A quick check of the market revealed some good news however; there were two dreads for sale on contracts nearby. For 5 billion each. Someone liked their dreads shiny. After some quick consideration, Alliance leadership dropped the ISK and started working on getting the dreads inside the C6. This was again a logistics puzzle both in terms of fuel and fittings, and of dodging a very active section of low-sec during euro primetime. More than one scouts and indy was lost to a gate camp, but ultimately our big new toys were inside and we were ready to finish what we started.

In another turn of fortune, our new dreads were rail fit rather than blaster, meaning they could sit 100km off the POS and still hit their targets. This would lead to a new and interesting combat scenario.

Due to the enemy dreads being blaster fit, they could not effectively poke their heads out of the POS and shoot at our dreads. But since our dreads were shooting at the center of the POS itself (25km inside the shield), and they were aiming at our ships, they could still do some damage. Enough to pose a threat anyway, which forced our sub-caps into action. This would trigger the final and most epic battle of the siege.

The first threat was a smartbomb-loaded carrier moving out of the POS shield along with two dreads. Thankfully, our skilled logistics pilots were able to keep everyone alive despite the heavy bombing, and we managed to get a solid bump on the carrier, moving it away from the POS. At this point our two Bhaalgorns where heavily neuting, while our 30 or so sub-cap fleet was hammering away. Inch by inch the carrier’s shields and armor was being shred, all while a few hero pilots also managed to bump and web down a dread. Our full commitment came at a cost however, as one of our Bhaalgorns went down in a billion+ ISK blaze from the combined siege-mode dreadnaught fire.

As we finished burning down the carrier, we turned our attention to the trapped dread. Our swarm of sub-cap piranhas repeatedly bumped the giant ship to ensure it stayed out of the POS, and in short order it too went down, leaving behind a ruined husk of a wreck. The final dread managed to slip back inside the POS at this time. As the rush of battle subsided on coms, congrats went out and everyone was pumped.

Having failed in their final stand, the defenders could be seen packing up ships and preparing to escape as we hammered on the POS. Despite a great effort to scan down the escaping capital ships, their long distance safe spots proved effective, and they managed to sneak out and (for now) avoid destruction.

With the POS now empty of defenders, we finished off the tower and moved inside to loot the spoils of victory. Still floating inside the POS was an Orca and two Abaddons, and an additional dozen or so ships of various sizes (though no capitals) were found among the many ship hangers we destroyed. When we destroyed the Corporate hanger, a half-dozen jetcans of loot popped out, containing more than 10bil in total value.

Despite the long hours, and the near-total lack of sleep for some alliance members, the Op was a huge success, and got me my first two capital kills in EVE. As a Corp member said towards the end, this is exactly why we play EVE.

Christmas came early for HAHA.

Edit: Some screenshots will be posted later tonight.

Good start to a Monday

July 16, 2012

I should (assuming I can finish it) have a good long post about EVE that actually involves EVE happenings (and dead capital ships), but until then, I highly recommend everyone go read this Reddit thread. Might be the most entertaining thing I’ve seen since… the last Gevlon post that got a Reddit thread.

Also of comical note: compare the Reddit thread with the Badger II king’s own comment section. Guy must be wearing out his comment moderation button.


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