Instanced Battles work great in LiF, would they work in EVE?

If you go way back in the archives of this blog, I’ve been pretty against the idea of instancing in open world games vs keeping content out in the world. When WoW first started using phasing (personal instances, basically), I mocked it, and still feel its a pretty terribly way to execute content.

So I’m a bit torn on Instanced Battles (IB) in Life is Feudal. Or rather, I’m torn because I think they work exceptionally well in LiF, and I wonder if a similar approach wouldn’t solve one of the ongoing problems in EVE as well. But before I get to EVE, lets first talk about why IB are great in LiF.

The first and biggest advantage is performance; in an IB not only is the number of people limited, but you also don’t load all of the world and its related teraforming. Its just a clean, small section of the map where the IB was dropped, with the 100 or 200 (IB come in 50v50 and 100v100 flavors) players who are all here to fight it out. Performance is especially important in LiF because the combat system is somewhat nuanced; it relies heavily on correct timing to block, counter, and execute combos. When you have lag or lower FPS, all of that goes out the window. Yes, in an ideal world the game would run great at all times, but in an MMO things are never ideal, and if a game runs well for 100 players, 110 will show up (more on that later).

IB also have clear win/loss conditions, both for the actual battle itself, and the outcome. The losing side of an IB has their realm claim decrease in size, and enough loses can downgrade your guild monument. The downgrade process is how, currently, you can actually fully remove a guild claim from the world. In the actual battle, the winner is the side who controls the capture point, which is a very clear objective that can’t be argued against. It also makes clear who is the attacked and who is the defender, and this influences strategy for both sides.

IB can only happen during a set time (currently this is set to around 9pm EST on Telmun). This means the important battles can’t be scheduled for off hours, or ‘timezone tanked’. The 24 hour or so period between the drop of an IB and the actual battle also gives both sides a bit of time to gather numbers, so again you aren’t dealing with panic-response situations.

Finally, just because LiF has IB, doesn’t mean that world PvP doesn’t happen. Judgment Hours encourage open-world fighting, and plenty of random, ‘natural’ roaming PvP happens as well.

If you look at the above, it solves a lot of problems EVE has when massive battles occur. Even though CCP is miles ahead of everyone in terms of technology, in a game that allows thousands of players to fight, those players always bring n+1 to a battle, resulting in soul-crushing TiDi (servers slow down time, so 1 minute in-game is actually 10 minutes real-time). Imagine if the timers around a citadel were fought in an IB?

Because it’s EVE, lets say a Keepstar battle would be a 1000v1000 situation, while smaller citadels would be limited to fewer pilots. EVE can easily handle 1000v1000, especially instanced, so performance would be near-perfect. From a strategy perspective, what ships do people bring? 1000 titans is the ‘well of course’ answer, but would that really happen? 1000 titans can’t hit small ships, and even if that side won the battle but lost 100 titan in exchange for much smaller/cheaper ships, would it still be a victory? Plus smaller citadels aren’t worth nearly as much as a Keepstar, so would alliances still risk such ships? If the answer is ‘no’, what ships do you bring? Supercarriers can be defanged, dreads aren’t effective vs sub-caps, and once you go lower than that, the meta could be all over the place.

IB in EVE would also result in clear winners/loser in terms of the objective. No more citadels repairing because of TiDi, no more posturing for a massive battle only to have neither side engage. No more running away the moment a battle looks risky. In an IB, whatever pilots and ships go in, they fight until one side wins. And just like in LiF, IB wouldn’t kill open-world PvP, especially because citadels would still need to be reinforced initially to start such a contest.

I’m sure there are many pros and cons I’m not covering here, both for LiF and especially for EVE, but I think the idea is at least an interesting conversation.

Posted in Combat Systems, EVE Online, Life is Feudal, MMO design, PvP | 7 Comments

Its fine, just a little snow…


Still coming down at an insane rate, but wanted to get this posted now in case we lose power again. The energy company sent us a very reassuring “you’re most likely f’ed, but hey, we brought in extra trucks and people to fix it faster than four days this time” message, which we really appreciated.

At least I can escape into my favorite MMO right?


Oh right, winter in LiF is here as well…

Posted in Life is Feudal, Rant, Site update | 1 Comment

Should we expect an MMO to last forever?

Going on day 3 without power thanks to the recent snowstorm, good times. Spent the first night at the house, but once the temp dropped below 50, it was time to go. Luckily my parents’ house has power, and they are away on vacation so we are here just hanging out. Power company estimate is to have things fixed by tomorrow night. We’ll see.

Anyway, on to a topic I’ve been meaning to blog about for a bit now, ‘forever’ MMO design vs one-off content. Forever design is what EVE is, where after 10+ years, things are still going and for the most part what worked five years ago still does today. I’m talking about things like mining asteroids, using the same ships/modules, and a place like Jita being the main trade hub.

On the opposite end of that spectrum is a game like WoW, where each expansion, and sometimes even a patch in that expansion, resets the game and content you experienced before no longer ‘matters’. This is known and accepted by the players, and the point of playing isn’t to continually build up to something like in EVE, but to enjoy the ‘ride’ and come back when a new ride is added.

Life is Feudal is a sandbox, so in theory is more like EVE than WoW. There really are no ‘rides’, but your character does have a skill cap that is easily reached (as compared to EVE), and each town you build has a limited number of buildings and crafting stations before it too is ‘done’. Furthermore, some resources like iron and clay don’t respawn like asteroids do in EVE, so those too are limited. It is simply not possible for a LiF server to exist for 10+ years like EVE has; all of the non-renewable resources would be gone, all existing characters and towns would be maxed, and the only activity left would be PvP for the sake of PvP, which itself would eventually stop working as all weapons/armor would eventually be gone from durability loss.

Even on a smaller time scale, some things in LiF only work at the beginning. One example would be coops, which hold chickens or rabbits. When you first start playing, you can catch a rabbit or a chicken in a snare trap, and once you have it, you can place the caught animal in a coop you built. The quality of the animal is likely low, somewhere between 10-30. Once you have a few animals in the coop, they will breed, and generally the offspring will have a slightly higher quality than the parents. Over time, you will eventually have a full coop of max quality (100) animals.

Quality of the animals is important for crafting items from said animals. You can make higher quality food from the meat, better arrows from the feathers, and higher quality armor and weapons from the leather. Going from low quality animals to higher takes some time, and while that’s happening you are scaling up from their output, slowly getting better/stronger. It’s an enjoyable loop, and it’s just one of many happening all at once as you play.

But that loop, and many others, can be skipped if a more advanced guild gives you 100 quality animals, or if they give you an advanced town to move into, or the best quality food to massively speed up skill gains. These are all temping things to get better faster, but ultimately they just shorten your time with LiF, as currently the growth loop IS the game.

LiF is still in early access, but the issue of a limited content loop is there, and would be hard to fix, if the devs even intent to fix it. Not all MMOs need to live forever, be it via EVE’s design or WoW’s continued content drip. Maybe LiF is intended to be played for a set amount of time, and then that’s it. I personally see that as a flaw in the design, but I also can’t deny that the current gameplay loop, even if not infinite, is a lot of fun. If the devs turn a profit, while supporting the game for a 3-4 year run, is that ‘worth it’, both for them and the players?

Posted in crafting, EVE Online, Housing, Life is Feudal, MMO design, World of Warcraft | 6 Comments

LiF: Guild report Feb 28th 2018

Our guild went from having not nearly enough wood, to cutting down so many of our matured trees that we didn’t know what to do with all the logs. It’s honestly a pretty common pattern in LiF, where one minute you desperately need something, and the next you have too much. Part of that is learning the game, but I also think some of it is either poor balance or progression not being paced correctly.

We have a similar issue with gold ore right now; there is a nearby mine we feel we should be mining while we can, before someone else gets it, but at the same time we already have ‘enough’ gold, and putting more of it inside our base takes up space we need for buildings or crops. Our solution to that ‘problem’ is to create a personal claim near the mine and use that as storage until we need to convert more of the gold into currency.

Our town is almost complete in terms of what we feel are the ‘must have’ buildings. We have all our crafting bonus buildings (kitchen, blacksmith, carpenter, schools) built or near completion (herbalist), we built our second warehouse, and we have plenty of housing (bind points). The last building we want is a large stable, and after that we can either upgrade our stone walls to castle walls, or decide on a project on our realm claim space.

On the combat side most of us are able to use tier 2 weapons/armor, and we are starting to produce those in better numbers and quality. The quality part is in large part dependent on making steal ingots, which require an ingredient from the herbalist skill. Herbalism is something I’ve gotten into on another alt, but it’s fairly time consuming. There are 40 some herbs, and each has three random properties different for each player. The way you discover what those properties are is through trial and error; mix two herbs, if they share a property, they will create something and that property gets revealed. Rinse and repeat however many times you need to uncover everything, or in my case, the 11 herbs that have the ability to create flux (the item needed to make steal ingots).

This last judgement hour was also an interesting one. Our original plan was delayed, so we initially were set to just defend and see what happens. We figured our enemies, APEX and friends, would hit our old enemy gondor, who live nearby, and they did exactly that. Gondor had a good number of buildings on their realm claim, which isn’t protect during judgement hour, and many of them ended up being destroyed. Our allies Revenant responded about 30 minutes into JH, and asked us if we wanted to come along to fight APEX. A bunch of us went, and we had a good battle that first started near the base and then moved deeper into the nearby woods. We ended up winning, and along with killing a bunch of APEX, Revenant was able to take a bunch of trade carts APEX was hoping to haul back to their base. I don’t know what was inside, but my guess is items taken from gondor.

I’m really hoping our plans come together this Saturday, because if they do, it should be a pretty serious fight. We will see.


Posted in crafting, Inquisition Clan, Life is Feudal, MMO design | 2 Comments

Pillars of Eternity 2 preview

I received a preview copy of Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire through one of my usual sources, so here are some initial thought after about two hours of playtime (oddly Steam only tracked the game the first time I started it up, every time after that it didn’t recognize that I was playing it).

In the best way possible, PoE2 is ‘more of the same’ from PoE. It has the same feel due to using the same engine, the graphics are better but in the same style, and while in combat you get more things to do, it is still that very familiar style from Baldur’s Gate where auto-attacks still matter.

When its released in April, I think PoE2 is going to get compared to Divinity: OS2, which is fair considering how similar the two games are in many ways. D:OS2 is the better-looking game, but I think POE2 will end up being the more solid RPG in terms of story and progression. I loved D:OS2, but towards the end I was playing to finish it, while I played PoE1 multiple times because I enjoyed it so much.

The odd thing about the preview build is it doesn’t start at the beginning of the game, but rather at level 6, which I’m not sure how far into the game that is. Being dropped into the game at some midpoint is distracting, and I certainly think I’d put more time into the preview had it been at level 1, but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise so I don’t have to replay too much at the actual release.

In full disclosure I also purchases shares of the game via Fig, so I have financial reasons for wanting the game to do well. Expect a glowing 10/10 review minutes after the game is released.

Posted in beta, Kickstarter, Random | 7 Comments

LiF: Guild update Feb 20th 2018

Smaller update this time as it was a surprisingly quiet few days. Judgement Hour came and went without issue for us, which means all our trees on our realm claim continue to grow. Once they are fully mature, we will have a massive amount of wood for future building and crafting.

The big change in-game is the coming of Fall, with Winter not too far away. Fall means much slower crop and tree growth, and during winter only trees grow, and very slowly at that. This means we need to stock up as best we can on food, not so much for us as we can cook fish, but more so for our animals. We will see if we prepared enough. If we have not, we will have to take them out of the barn and store them in carts of our warehouse (yes, animals when taken out of their homes become items, and those items don’t require food and they don’t age. It’s a bit odd). The downside of that is we will no longer get things like wool, meat, and leather while the animals are in storage.

In other news, we have started an alt guild. The original intent was to place this guild south of our current location, both because further south winter comes slower and is shorter, and to get different regional resources. However, we made a mistake and the base is actually in the same region. It will still be useful for farming, and since it’s on the water, it will be a good ‘port’ for us when swimming from other regions. You can’t swim overburdened, and horses can’t swim, so being able to swim with a full inventory, and then dump the good in our second location will be very helpful.

We also found a large gold mine, so we now have a giant pile of gold in our base that we will use to fund both our guild monument and any personal claims. The personal claims are how we will get into other regions. We will place coops to get some animal products, and then one character can do some farming around their personal claim. It will be a small time investment once it’s set up, basically just logging in to manage the coops and occasionally plant/harvest, but hopefully long-term will give us better access to critical end-game items/weapons.

Posted in crafting, Inquisition Clan, Life is Feudal

LiF: Guild update Feb 14th 2018

In a game with a long grind and a slower pace, why is so much happening so quickly?!

Last update I talked about our local enemies gondor. Well now we are at peace with gondor, because our allies Revenant was attacked by another NA guild called APEX. APEX attacked Rev because of the fact that Rev went neutral with a few of the local Chinese guilds in their area, in large part so they could transport granite safely to build their castle walls.

The funny thing about all of this is, according to APEX, they attacked Rev to hurt the Chinese, but their attack cancelled our plans during Judgement Hour to attack gondor. Instead Rev had to defend against APEX, APEX got hit by another Chinese guild and lost a bunch of things on their realm claim, and we got hit by gondor and lost most of our planted trees on our realm claim. The best part is I tried explaining this before-hand to APEX, but their leadership is… a bit lacking in putting things together.

APEX also dropped an Instance Battle totem on Rev. The way this works is that after a 22 hour period, a 100v100 battle happens, and the side that loses takes a hit to their guild monument, costing them territory. The battle happens in an instanced spot where the totem is dropped, where all buildings and terraforming are undone.

On top of this, initially another NA guild, Monarch, pledged to help APEX in attacking Rev, and Monarch is a rather large guild. To complicate matters even more, several of the local Chinese guilds reached out to Rev and offered assistance against APEX, which is interesting because one of them would have gained some territory if Rev lost the battle. Guess they all hated APEX that much.

Anyone can sign up for the battle, and the two main guilds on each side can accept who will be part of the battle. When the battle actually started, the numbers were 80ish on the Rev side, 70ish APEX and friends. If you signed up and were accepted, the game will teleport you to the instance battle if you are online, and then places you back where you were after the battle. During the battle if you die you lose all your gear. The winners of the battle get all the loot.

At the start of the battle there is a 5 minute period to give everyone time to load in and get organized. You can’t move very far during this time. After that there is a 15 minute period where everyone can move around and fight, but the king-of-the-hill style counter hasn’t started. Once it does, whichever side has members near the totem gain control points. Max out your points and you win. If the other side has a member in the area, the point gains stop. It’s pretty simple, but also works well.

In our battle, APEX picked a spot that was in the forest, along with some marsh areas. This made defending much easier, and greatly hampered their cavalry and archers. Another mistake made is they basically didn’t engage us during the 15 minute time period. Both sides had archers firing away, and some cavalry skirmishes happened, but for the most part the infantry held lines and not much happened.

After that phase they made a push, but it was too late, and they lost the melee battle anyway. We won. Final kill total was 38 to 28 in our favor. What is also interesting is once the battle is won, there is still a 5 minute or so period where you can fight/kill any remaining players, the losing side can run to the edge to escape, and looting happens at the totem for the winners.

The combat in LiF being slower and far less ‘twitch’ feels a bit clunky in 1v1 engagements, but in larger-scale combat it actually results in tactics coming into play. Things like formations matter far more, and ‘holding the line’ is a real thing. Having a good mix of archers, melee, and cavalry is also key. A lot of MMOs aim to have this kind of combat, but LiF is the first I’ve seen that achieves it.

The instance battle was a lot of fun, and it’s a good system to settle these kinds of things. 100v100 is large enough to feel epic, but the size limit and the smaller map means performance holds up, and without major lag or frame-rate issues, the combat is responsive. For me so far, IB are a major highlight of LiF from the PvP perspective.

On the non-PvP side, we have finally completed our stone walls, which is a major accomplishment for a guild our size. This means our entire town claim area is protected, and we can freely craft and harvest within that area without worrying about enemy attacks. The high walls also mean we can fire down on enemies far better than we could from our old wooden walls.

On top of finishing the walls, we also built our trading post. The trading post has a few major benefits. The first is that every member can access it for 1000 units of personal storage space. The other benefit is we can sell certain items for money, and that money can be used to fund personal claims and higher-tier guild monuments. That means we can, and did, upgrade our monument to tier 2, giving us an even larger realm claim area. We are moving up in the world!

With the heavy push to finish the walls over, people can go back to focusing on their individual crafts, and since my builder hit 60+ masonry, I can build things like a kitchen (food quality bonus), larger housing (more bind points), and more advanced crafting stations.

It’s been a busy and exciting few days, and I’m guessing that will continue as the war between Rev and APEX continues, and we continue to grow and strengthen our military might.

Posted in crafting, Inquisition Clan, Life is Feudal, MMO design, PvP