AA: More than 6 spots left

September 29, 2014

In other “groups run by SynCaine” news, I have officially started up a guild in ArcheAge. Inquisition is live on the Ollo server! You should join us, because despite Trion’s best efforts, the game is worth playing, especially in an active guild that does stuff together.

We are just cracking into stuff like trade runs, and I’m starting to look into world bosses and hidden group quests (yes, AA has those). Anyone is welcome to join, we are going to keep things pretty casual (AA is a bit like EVE here, in that the more you have, the better, but you don’t NEED X number of people to do stuff). As the guild is Inquisition, we will be using those forums and Vent, though neither is of course mandatory.


CoC: 6 spots left

September 29, 2014

Just a little reminder/warning for anyone on the fence about CoC, the clan has 6 spots remaining, as the cap is 50 people, so apply now/soon so you don’t get left out.

Mini-war update: The last clan we just finished a war with was beaten so badly by us that out of the 45 members that went in, only 27 came out (the rest left the clan during the war). One could say we… creamed them :rimshot:


AA: Trion does its best to ruin a good thing

September 29, 2014

ArcheAge makes for some rather interesting blogging fodder, and hopefully I can get through the major points and get my point across in a way that makes sense, but no promises, as this might get rambly.

Let’s start with the business model. Flat out, AA has one of the worst versions of F2P in the genre. For starters playing for free is basically a non-option due to the limits of labor point generation, among other crippling restrictions. What’s really awesome about this is that it encourages free players to stay logged in even when not playing to generate labor points. Such brilliant design was no doubt a major factor in the terrible queue situation that AA had (has?) at launch.

Then there is the pay-to-win (P2W) factor, which really should be renamed pay-for-power (P4P) overall, because that’s really what it is. In almost no game can you outright buy wins, but in many you certainly can buy power so that if all other factors are equal, the guy who spent more wins (or gets ahead, has an advantage, etc, as you can’t always ‘win’ in an MMO).

I don’t mind the P4P model if its honest and upfront (gold ammo in WoT before it was removed, for instance), because then I can decide if I want to get involved in something like that. What I hate is the “oh no we don’t sell power in the shop, just convenience” bullshit developers try to shill you, and Trion has plenty of this in AA. From labor points (buy a potion to get more!), to pet/mount levels (buy a potion to level them up!), to lottery item chests; if there is a scummy F2P itemization strategy for the cash shop, Trion has included it in AA.

The multiple currencies situation really brings this home, as AA has three. The first is in-game gold like all MMOs have. Then you have ‘loyalty’ points, which you earn 5 of each day if you sub and log in. This buys you a few things in the item shop, but not much, which leaves it as little more than an insult from Trion. “Thanks for your $15 a month, feel free to buy some table crumbs from our store”. The third is the cash-only currency, which buys everything else.

The double dipping ($15 for the basically required sub, plus a fully stocked, P4P item shop) is bad. Really bad. The fact that you have to run the game through Trion’s feeble little Steam-clone Glyph sucks as well. Trion has 2.5 games released (Rift, AA, Trove/Defiance), and the Glyph shop has an embarrassingly small selection of other titles to purchase (Not that you would want to anyway, though I would LOVE to meet someone who has, must be a fascinating creature). Glyph is just bloat garbage that delays getting into AA, so thanks for that Trion. Also thank you for your anti-hack program that installs itself without asking. I’m sure there will never be an issue with that, plus who doesn’t love random stuff installing itself on your PC, right? Also that program delaying getting into AA is another plus of you being the publisher!

The MMO that XL Games (the developer) made seems pretty great so far. It really does, and I’ll cover that in future posts. The trash Trion stacked on top of said game brings the experience down sadly. The translation that took Trion so, so long to do is at Google translate-level, and even some of the voice work in the game isn’t in English. The whole “Join us in beta” email campaign that was really a “buy into beta” message was insulting. The launch was a borderline disaster thanks to multiple Trion missteps. Plus given Trion’s history with Rift, I’m not exactly confident that they won’t find a way to (further) screw with AA.

AA the game is great. What Trion the publisher has done with it is terrible. Seems that even when we get nice things in this genre, they come with something that reminds us we aren’t allowed to just fully enjoy ourselves. So a big ‘Thank you’ to Trion, for going above and beyond in attempting to take a fun MMO and trying to ruin it, what you have done really is next-level incompetence and scumbaggery.

PS: While its possible XL Games forced Trion into all of the F2P-based crap (there is no doubt who caused the Glyph garbage), and they are just a helpless unthinking drone in all of this, until this is made clear, they get full blame.


CoC: Supreme Cream! vs Killswitch 9/25/2014

September 28, 2014

Supreme Cream! Vs Killswitch

Final score: 130 to 104

Supreme Cream

Enemy

Total Attacks Used

79

64

Total 3 Star Attacks

40

22

Total 3 Star %

50.63

34.4

3 Stars Against Same Level

28

12

3 Star % Against Same Level

57.1

36.4

3 Stars Against Lower Level

10

7

3 Star % Against Lower Level

52.6

28.0

TH4,5&6 3 Stars

5

1

TH4,5&6 3 Star %

25.0

10.0

TH7 3 Stars

23

14

TH7 3 Stars %

74.2

48.3

TH7 3 Stars (same level)

16

7

TH7 3 Stars % (same level)

80.0

53.8

TH8 3 Stars

7

3

TH8 3 Star %

41.2

16.7

TH8 3 Stars (same level)

4

3

TH8 3 Star % (same level)

36.4

42.9

TH9&10 3 Stars

5

4

TH9&10 2 Star %

45.5

57.1

TH9&10 3 Stars (same level)

3

1

TH9&10 2 Star % (same level)

75.0

33.3

Pretty impressive win – we only missed five stars for a full house! It actually appeared quite close for a while; the scores were something like 95-94 with equal numbers of attacks at one point. However, our higher 3-star percentage just wore them down; they stayed close with lots of 2 stars, but eventually ran out of profitable bases to attack. For example, with the scores close we still had a number of potential 3-star bases to hit, while almost all our bases already had one or two stars against them. This meant that our future attacks had a higher potential yield, while the enemy could only score 1 or 2 stars from their attacks, we could still get 3 stars from a number of bases. Bottom line, don’t just look at the score and number of attacks left during a war, but also count the number of bases without any stars against them to determine the potential value of future attacks.

On a TH level basis, our lower levels improved a lot, scoring a number of 3-stars and also some pretty good attacks for 2-stars. Keeping in mind that it is difficult for a TH6 to smash another TH6 base, those 3 stars were quite valuable. It meant that our TH7’s could focus more on other TH7 bases and less on TH6 bases.

Our TH7 performance was very impressive and our TH8’s also outscored them for 3-stars. At the top we got some important 3-stars from their best bases, while they didn’t even attack our top guys.


Bungie beats Blizzard yet again, this time in public view

September 26, 2014

If you were a Mac-based gamer back in the 90s, you were likely familiar with Bungie. While Mac gaming was overall highly inferior to PC gaming, perhaps the biggest bright spot was Bungie, who for whatever reason made Mac-only games for a while.

They made Marathon and Marathon 2, titles that dwarfed the far more famous Doom in terms of design, innovation, and overall impact on the FPS genre (a lot of the features people think Doom introduced (rocket jump, duel wield) were done, or done better, in Marathon).

They then made Myth, an RTS title that was years ahead of its time (3D battlefields, physics for projectiles, dedicated online lobby with ranking). This was during the time when Starcraft was out and everyone was falling over themselves on that title (a small step forward over Warcraft), while quietly in Mac land Bungie was making the blueprint for future RTS titles.

Speaking of dreaming, Bungie also had Bungie.net, which was a matchmaking service similar to what Blizzard would eventually do with Battle.net. It was on that said service that my greatest gaming achievement, being ranked #1 in the world in Myth 2 until Bungie introduced rolling seasons, was accomplished. Yes, I’ve been kind of a big deal for a long time. And yes, I’m a bit bitter that pro-gaming is just now taking off, but what can you do. Things kinda worked themselves out in the end.

Moving forward, I’m guessing everyone is familiar with Halo and it’s impact.

And finally we come to Destiny and Titan. Funny that this time, Blizzard wasn’t able to escape the crushing shadow of Bungie simply still being ahead in terms of game design (albeit this time fairly generic and uninspiring design. Kinda sums up a large section of gaming when these two are fighting over who can put out an overall meh product first). But hey, maybe Blizzard will still scrap something together and put out a cute Destiny clone.

PS: How dumb does Blizzard look right now not having simply made a StarCraft MMO like everyone was expecting/hoping for, with the game basically being a reskinned and updated WoW? This is what happens when they step out of their copy/paste comfort zone I guess.


AA: Housing the way it should be done

September 25, 2014

If you ask any well-informed MMO player what two games have/had the best housing in the genre, the answer will be UO and SWG. It’s those two titles by a landslide, with basically everyone else in a distant, forgettable pile. The common thread between those two classics? Open world, non-instanced housing. Instanced housing by comparison is just a sad, cheap Sims knockoff mini-game the devs tossed in to +1 their MMO bullet list of features.

Moving past the obviously predictable, ArcheAge also has open-world housing, which already puts it ahead of most. Layer on top of that real functionality (farming that is critical to crafting, which itself is critical for everything else), and you have the basis for something pretty special.

If we go back to UO (and perhaps SWG, although my experience with that game is limited because, well, it was SW), the two biggest issues people had were the ‘urban sprawl’ of too many houses, and the fact that once a house was placed, that was basically it for that spot. AA has systems that fix both problems.

For the urban sprawl issue, housing is limited to certain spots, although said spots are often varied and in interesting spots rather than generic “housing corner” areas. When you come across housing locations they still feel organic, while at the same time you won’t find a house plopped in the middle of your quest location. It’s a solid compromise, though it perhaps leans a little too much towards themepark; I would have preferred more ‘prime location’ housing areas, though perhaps that’s something that happens in the later zones (still just level 26).

The second and IMO bigger issue of houses never going away is fixed with the tax system. If you don’t pay your taxes, you eventually lose ownership, the land is cleared, and someone else is able to come along and claim it. This system will ensure that inactive accounts can’t clutter a server, and will also make hunting for a housing spot a constant activity, rather than the one-and-done scan that it was in early UO (UO would later add a taxing system as well, I believe).

The big non-issue with open-world housing is availability, and especially with prime location availability. A location is a prime location because it’s limited. In the real world a large portion of a house’s value is based on location, meaning not everyone can have a mansion in the most ideal spot. This creates structure, demand, and a pecking order. Those with more can afford better, and almost everyone works to move on up the ladder.

An MMO retaining the gameplay of moving on up isn’t a negative, unless of course you are an entitled little brat who just stands around crying ‘gimmie gimmie gimmie’ and doesn’t actually want to work towards something. For everyone else, the added value of location is fantastic, as it gives everyone something to work towards. Players can make a solid income by snatching up locations and reselling them, and just about anyone can get something if they pay enough. That isn’t a problem, it’s an amazing feature. Tossing all of that in the trash by instancing your housing is a crime, not an improvement, and it’s nice to see at least one game build on a great feature from previously great MMOs.

On our server (Ollo) we currently have a large chunk of land claimed in one of the level 50 zones, as one of us was able to get in early and make a deal, basically buying out a guild that had put down a few houses in that area. Currently we have this section claimed by placing one small house and multiple farms around it (preventing others from interrupting our ‘chain of land’), but this area will be redone with a bigger house and more structured farming as soon as we have the resource to do so. It’s an exciting, long-term plan that will not only provide a good looking, but also highly functional space for us to use for our future housing and crafting needs. Unless of course we flip it for something better, which is always an option. Again, more on the personal side in a future post.


Derek Smart is talking, and you won’t believe what he said THIS TIME!

September 25, 2014

(About the title, it’s a joke on the beyond stupid trend of trash websites using that style of headlines to draw hits.)

Just as we were all remembering the gift that is Derek Smart, out he comes once again to lighten up everyone’s day. This time? Because is latest abomination was released on Steam, Smart took it away, and now is mad that people are being mean to him and his game via reviews because he took said game away.

In his defense, isn’t him taking the game away from you a favor?


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