PvE-only servers don’t actually work

October 17, 2014

Would CCP be better off if they created a PvE-only server for EVE? Some carebears would argue yes, because since EVE only has a PvP server, they don’t play. On the surface that makes sense; PvP-only games are indeed locking anyone who sees PvP and runs in the opposite direction out. But lets play this out a little further shall we?

On that PvE-only EVE server, the economy would be a total joke. Ships would rarely be lost, everyone could fly around perfectly safe in all-officer fit ships, the most lucrative PvE (null, WH) could be farmed without risk, mining afk would never end negatively, and all those multi-billion-ISK-in-a-transport traders would never be ganked. So unless you also expect CCP to basically completely change the game on almost all levels, the economy part of EVE wouldn’t work on a PvE server.

Furthermore, the PvE challenge on such a server would also be a joke. Remember, everyone is flying around in all-officer fits, which makes them far more powerful than the standard PvE ship found in the game today. Beyond just that, outside of high-sec you can now use a Titan to farm all day without a single fear of a hot drop. Are the carebears expecting CCP to fix this as well? How, tune PvE to officer-fit Titans in terms of difficulty? Just accept that all PvE would quickly become faceroll in difficulty (more so than it already is in EVE)?

And now the biggest question, why the hell are you going to play EVE for years here? You are sitting in an officer-fit Titan, with a wallet full of ISK, a hanger with every ship and fitting you ever wanted, and having safely explored everything there is to see, with all content being trivial and with nothing else to do. What’s your motivation to keep playing/paying?

There is a reason EVE is the only MMO out to grow and maintain sub numbers for more than ten years, and that reason is directly tied to PvP. So while yes, certain carebears stay away, the game has proven that other carebears stay, year after (10) year, because of what PvP brings to the game (among other things, a sink that keeps the economy and basically the whole game going).

A lot of those currently playing WOULD switch to the PvE server, because most people are child-like and would eat candy until they died if you let them. They WOULD get bored and walk away from the game. That is why you don’t open a PvE-only server; because it would allow MMO children to spoil themselves into quitting, and in the long run that’s bad for business.

So help save the kids, and your MMO; don’t go PvE-only and kill yourself and everyone playing!

PS: The same applies to AA. Think about how many of that game’s core mechanics rely on PvP to balance or keep them interesting. How many seemingly PvE-only activities would lose long-term value or purpose in a completely safe world?


The taint of your ‘peers’

October 14, 2014

If I tell you “Game X is kinda like Farmville”, you take that as a negative. Same but reverse if I say “Game Y is like Civilization”. This works on a broader view too; F2P, ‘casual’ game, WoW-clone, zombie-survival, yet-another-MOBA, etc. This can work for or against you, depending on the tag.

Two recent examples of this I want to talk about today; Clash of Clans and ArcheAge.

CoC suffers from being a mobile game, being F2P, and being labeled as a ‘casual’ or ‘timewaster’ game. Now let’s be very clear, CoC is a mobile game, it is F2P, and one could argue it can be played casually to a certain extent (this was especially true prior to Clan Wars). The difference between CoC and 99.999% of all other mobile/F2P/Casual games is CoC isn’t garbage.

From a coding perspective its wonderful; being able to get into the game in a second or two from clicking the icon is awesome, it doesn’t crash, its net code is really solid, and as far as I’ve experienced its bug-free. It runs well (granted on an iPhone 5s), looks great, has an amazing UI, great balance, depth, etc. Basically CoC is better across the board than 99% of ALL games, mobile/F2P/casual or not. Civ V vs CoC? Toss up IMO, and I’m not joking with that.

And while no one needs to shed a tear for CoC, with the game being the highest grossing iPhone app month after month, how many MORE people, especially ‘serious’ gamers, would give the game a shot if the perception of it being just another mobile/F2P/casual game didn’t exist?

Similar comment about ArcheAge, but here the stigma of F2P hangs around its neck (sadly accurate, thanks Trion), along with it being an Asian grinder MMO import (not accurate). For AA this might actually matter, as it isn’t yet a runaway success ala CoC. AA is also forced to deal with general MMO burnout; a lot of people who I know would enjoy the game aren’t even bothering because they don’t want to get started in yet another MMO that might not last.

To some extend this issue has always existed, in the SNES/Genesis era any movie-based game was assumed to be garbage when it was announced, but is it just me in feeling that today it’s far more prominent and shapes option more than ever before?


Trion Being Trion: DDoS is the new ‘hacked’

October 11, 2014

Have you noticed anytime someone says something stupid on Twitter that gets them in trouble, the easy way out is to say your twitter got hacked? Saying you are experiencing a DDoS is the ‘I’ve been hacked’ of not keeping your servers up. Just Trion doing Trion things again.


AA: Is ‘Trion being Trion’ going to be a daily thing?

October 10, 2014

Little behind the scenes blogging info here; sometimes you create a category thinking you are going to post about that topic enough to warrant one. Sometimes you create one as more of a joke, thinking this won’t last. ‘Trion being Trion’ was very much in that spirit; just a little ribbing over a pretty horrible launch of an otherwise great game. I certainly never expected it to become a genre staple like, say, SOE being SOE, which year after year continues to deliver.

It’s starting to look like ‘Trion being Trion’ might become a permanent fixture though. Today in “How not to run your MMO” we have Trion being unable to give paying players a 10% discount in the cash shop. Trion’s response? “It’s not us, its XLGames”. Broken record city, and we aren’t even a month in.

At least it’s Friday, so Trion can’t screw something up over the weekend and our next ‘Trion being Trion’ update won’t happen until Monday… right?


Patching, how does it work?

October 9, 2014

A few small items as we wait all day for Trion to apply a 150 mini-patch:

Inquisition is off to a good start in AA in terms of membership. We are averaging just under 10 people online most nights, and we will soon have people high enough to really get into larger group content. Just a reminder: we are on the Ollo server, East side factions. Come join us!

SteamWorld Dig was a fun 4-5 hours of gaming. When it goes on sale, picking it up won’t be a bad use of your gaming funds.

My Steam wishlist is getting pretty long, which makes looking forward to the yearly Xmas sale all that more exciting, though the prospect of actually digging into a lot of the games is a bit daunting, as most of them are in the “you need a solid 30-60 hours here” category. Plus the new Civ which is an easy “whelp, there goes 200 hours”.

RL has caused a pause in playing FFXIV, but the two accounts are still subbed because :wallet vote:. We will be returning however, most likely after xmas when things have settled down a bit more and we retire the now 6 year old Alienware machine that was struggling to run the game.

Only 4 spots currently remain open in our Clash of Clans… clan, Supreme Cream! Jump in now before that window closes.


AA: Today in Trion being Trion

October 7, 2014

If you have been keeping up with all of the issues AA is facing thanks to Trion (queues, bots and hackers going unpunished, spammers destroying public channels for hours at a time), my guess is you have also picked up on this theme: Trion laying blame for the issues with XLGames, or at least deferring to them to take some heat off.

Now granted, Trion isn’t the developer of AA (thank god, or this would be a Trove-level game), so they don’t have control over things like skill power, general bugs, or when new content is coming. That’s all fine and understood. But Trion DOES have control over server numbers, how queues are handled, and what actions they allow their GM’s to take. XLGames can develop better tools to track and catch hackers, but if Trion has an insufficient or incompetent GM staff, that’s on them.

For example, in a reply to hackers picking up housing spots as buildings decay:

We’ve been closely following the accusations of unfair land claiming methods. The team is actively investigating accounts that appear to some players as outliers in terms of number of properties owned. This data point alone isn’t sufficient evidence of foul play as some players are focusing all of their gameplay on real estate and flipping properties.

We agree that one player claiming multiple properties that many other players are simultaneously trying to claim is suspect, which is why we’re taking a close look to determine the cause, prevent it, and remove the players using it. Additionally, we’re proposing new methods for land claiming to XLGAMES that will remove the benefit of fastest ping or most clicks per second.

So Trion is aware that certain players own silly amounts of housing, yet currently haven’t done something about it like, oh I don’t know, have a GM look into how that player got all that property? Maybe flag that account to see what they do? Look into who owns that account? See what happens to the houses they claim (wonder what’s happening if they are being traded for next to nothing in-game…)? We don’t need weeks worth of investigating here, not when housing spots are being picked up daily.

It’s 2014. This isn’t 1997 where all of these basic MMO issues are something new. Hell, this isn’t even Trion’s first big MMO, not to mention the fact that Trion was founded by ‘MMO vets’. If AA’s design is an example of learning from MMO history to make a better game, Trion’s handling of AA as the EU/US publisher is currently a textbook example of how to royally screw a successful launch in every possible way.AA is a fun game DESPITE Trion. All they had to do was be decent. That’s it. The bar is so freaking low here, and yet Trion continues to knock it down day after day.

I mean, how is gold-seller spam in your global public chat channels something that caught you by surprise and the added tweak (need to be level 15 to type) not something you had in on day one of a massively popular, free-to-make-accounts MMO? Did you really thing “gee, surely no one will attempt to spam our global chat channels with throwaway characters, better just focus on copy/pasting text into Google translate”?

Are Trion and SOE in some sort of hidden bet for who can be the king of incompetence, with MMO players as the unaware test subjects? That has to be it. Entire companies with prior MMO experience can’t be unintentionally this terrible… right?


AA: Surprisingly good questing

October 6, 2014

One bad ArcheAge post (because Trion) needs to be balanced with a positive one, so let’s talk about the great questing!

The above line actually isn’t sarcasm.

AA has surprisingly entertaining questing for an MMO. Now I’m not talking about the quest text, because I’ve been skimming and mostly skipping that due to the fairly terrible translation; I’m talking about the mechanics. AA has all of them. Probably literally. If there is a quest mechanic out there, I’m guessing AA uses it. And that is a huge plus when talking about a sandbox that, more than most other games, really does let you gain XP in viable ways without touching a quest.

AA will allow you to quest as if the game was WoW. You can go from one standard quest hub to the next, never branch out, and most likely hit the level cap. I think you’d have a terribly boring time, but a sandbox is about choice, and if you choose to bore yourself, that’s on you.

AA also has some ‘out of the way’ quests. Sometimes these are one or two simple steps and act as an XP bonus, while other times they are cross-zone multi-step epics with suitable rewards. These reward moving off the standard ‘quest path’ and digging into the side bits of a zone, or killing a named mob (or bunch of random mobs) to see what happens. The nice thing is that sometimes nothing happens, so you don’t always expect every action to be rewarded. When you are, it feels like you actually found something.

Then there are a slew of hidden quests. Some are only ‘hidden’ until you click an item to start them, while others require quite a bit more legwork.

My favorite so far featured a set of five tombs, and the normal quest progression only takes you to one of those. When you kill a mob inside that tomb, you get a drop that seems to have no purpose. If you read a book at the bottom of that tomb, it hints at something behind a locked door, and that in order to open it you must collect the four broken pieces. However the pieces aren’t called “key piece 1”, but rather broken armor piece.

Still without anything showing in your quest log, you can opt to head into the other four tombs and kill the named mob for the broken armor pieces. Once you have all four, you head to the fifth to craft the key on an anvil at the bottom. With that key you can finally open the sealed door in the first tomb, which then takes you to a bit of a boss fight and finally, only after that mob is dead, do you have something show up on your quest log, which directs you to the NPC to claim your reward. Totally optional, not exactly mickey mouse to complete, and actually fun questing content. A nice piece of advanced ‘themepark’ in a sandbox.

AA has a pretty short level 1-to-cap game (I’m currently 41 and haven’t really been trying to gain XP all that much. If I had to guess, I’d say you could hit 50 in a week with some semi-serious grinding.), but that short leveling game does have some nice PvE content. Why it really works great in AA is that you don’t have to just quest until the cap and then do other stuff.

The way I’m currently playing, I’m doing that ‘other stuff’ 80% of the time, and when I need a break or playing for 30 minutes at off hours, I’ll do some questing and I’ll enjoy it. Hell sometimes I’ll even be amused by a quest. That’s more than enough in my book here; given how good the ‘other stuff’ is in AA.

 

 


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