Checking interest in a Life is Feudal guild

I’m struggling mighty on how to describe Life is Feudal (LiF) beyond “you grind skills by crafting and gathering, that’s kinda it”, because while that sentence is correct, it doesn’t explain why I’m enjoying LiF so much, and why it has reminded me just how uniquely enjoyable an MMO can be.

Perhaps another example of recent activities might help.

Our guild has been growing, not just in member count, but also in character skills and infrastructure. One issue we recently ran into is that we didn’t have enough space within our wooden walls for all the crafting stations we wanted, so one member of leadership created a new spot for some of that. First that spot had to be terraformed (leveled out), which means you get a shovel and dig dirt. That dirt, or clay, or soil, depending on what you are standing on, goes into your backpack. You can only carry so much, and when you drop said dirt, you raise the terrain under you. This can be both annoying and helpful. It’s helpful when you actually want to raise the ground anywhere, but it’s a pain when you just want to smooth out an area, as you have to run further away before you dump your dirt. Dirt and clay are also used for crafting, so while sometimes you just want to move the stuff, other times you specifically need it for something. On top of that, even dirt piles have different quality levels, and the higher the quality, the better results you will get when using it, like say when growing crops (higher quality yield) or building (more durability). That means that sometimes you will just randomly dump dirt to move it, but other times you might dig dirt to get high-quality stuff for farming. The more you combine these activities, the more efficient you can be.

Going back to the example, once the area was level, that one member designated a bunch of spots for crafting stations. This means he builds the framework, and then the actual resources need to be brought to each framework to build it. You need a certain skill level to make the framework, but anyone can add resources and finish the job, and you gain skill points from doing that. So once he had the frames all in place, he asked if anyone was working on skilling up Construction, which is the skill you’d gain when finishing his frames.

That’s a skill I’m working on, so I spoke up, and he called me over to the construction area. Once there, I noticed he also had a large mound of clay, along with a bag containing the other resources needed. Clay is rather heavy, so he had used a cart to speed up the process of moving it over to his site. My job here was to dig clay from the mound, carry it over to the frames, and finish up the construction with the other resources from the bag, all which gave me a very nice boost to my Construction skill, especially because I activated my power hour of skill gain for this.

What I hope the example shows is that while LiF is, right now, mostly about gathering/crafting and character skill progression (plus PvP, though so far that’s not nearly as invasive as in other sandbox PvP MMOs), how you go about that is very deep, and highly rewards working smart as a group. That leader could have easily done the construction himself, but as his character isn’t skilling up the Construction skill, all those gains would be wasted on him. He also could have expected people to bring or find clay, but this again would have slowed the process, to the point that perhaps it would have taken longer than an hour to build everything, and the full focused gains of a power hour would not have been realized.

Right now I’m very, very tempted to start a guild, in large part because I think it would be a lot of fun to have a group of us all learning the game together, while working to build up our own fort/town. The grind is huge, both individually and because one character can only really focus in two areas, and there are many, many that are all intertwined, but that grind is the kind I enjoy. Seeing your town/fort grow is very rewarding, as is seeing new tools and weapons open up as you gain more skill points.

To start a guild that can claim land however you need 10 members, so if I don’t get at least 10 people, I’ll remain in my current guild. If you are interested, post here. What is really nice about LiF is that while the grind is huge, you can take it at any pace you want. If you go casual and can only play an hour or less a few days a week, not only can you still make progress, that progress you make still contributes to the guild. This isn’t a hard “if you can’t raid you can’t help”, or a “if you can’t max out, you can’t help in PvP or anything else”. Basic materials and tasks (like mining, digging, or harvesting) are always needed, and can be done by anyone, in any amount of time. It’s very flexible, and in turn, accommodates playing casual.

Posted in Inquisition Clan, Life is Feudal, MMO design, Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Another log on the ‘games cost too much to develop’ fire

Raph Koster has another post up about game development costs, which continues the conversation we had here back in this post. This time he comes with more data, but I have some strong objections to said data, and again with what it means.

The main data point I disagree with is the cost-per-byte analysis. Hard drives have gotten significantly larger and cheaper over the years, while internet connections have gotten faster. Ten years ago if a game required you to download 20 gigs, and needed 50 gigs on your hard drive, that would have been a limiting factor for many users. Today? Most of us don’t even blink at that; we just hit download on Steam, wait a few minutes, and we are good to go. Sometimes those of us who keep dozens of games might need to do a little drive cleanup, but if you typically uninstall a game once you are ‘done’ with it, you might NEVER have an issue with drive space.

And developers know that, so if they cut a corner and increase the download size by a few gigs, it likely doesn’t matter today. Way back in the day, when game size was capped by the size of a cartridge, you simply could not cut that corner most of the time.

That is just one reason why looking at the size of games today is greatly misleading in my opinion. Another reason is that today, gamers will easily trade having much larger files for very minor benefits. A great example of this are 4k texture packs. Unless you eagle-eye the specific texture, most gamers won’t really notice a difference between a 4k texture and a 2k, or even smaller. But again, since file size is mostly a non-factor now, developers include those 4k textures, which massively increase the total download size of a game, while not having a major (or any) impact on development costs (they already had said 4k texture).

The other point I have issue with is the example of the character model and the amount of work it took back in the day vs today. As models get more complex, they take longer to make, which makes sense. What doesn’t add up is the need for all games to use more and more complex character models (or any models for that matter). A could list dozens of recent, successful games that don’t rely on state-of-the-art graphics. ‘Good enough’ today often times means the graphics of a game are more than acceptable, in part because of how powerful our devices are, and also because not all games need to have a 3D photorealistic look to work. Using standard Unity or Unreal art assets today doesn’t automatically result in your game looking cheap, and with some limited additional work, it can end up looking pretty unique and memorable.

This gets into a large problem I have with the overall conversation too; that we drift from talking about all games and then specifically to AAA games almost interchangeably, which is a mistake. The AAA space is pretty unique, and not just because of costs. AAA studios have been doing very well in terms of profits in recent years, so while yes, their games are getting more expensive to make, its clearly NOT crushing their profits. Additionally, work conditions for developers at AAA studios have, on average, improved since the early days (they still stink compared to other IT work, but they are better), so again while games cost more to make, it seems to be working out for both publishers and developers (and I’d say gamers too, as we have access to more AAA titles today than ever before, to say nothing of our overflowing choices for non-AAA games).

That’s not to say every example is perfect or a success story, but I also don’t agree that this is some industry-wide crisis that is killing game. Quite the opposite; we have more choices of higher-quality games today than we ever did, while developers have more choices (indie, big studio) in where they want to work, and what they want to make. The shift to ‘games as a service’, to circle back to the original post, is also fine, so long as its done right. Predatory MXT isn’t doing it right, nor is crippling your game and it’s design to fit a cash shop. But those are jut growing pains, and we are seeing that both gamers and developers are, slowly, figuring it out.

Posted in Mass Media, Random, Rant | Leave a comment

LiF: Telum server

Quick programming note here: There is a chance I’ll be creating a guild in LiF, assuming I continue to enjoy it (so far so good). If you would like to start grinding up your character in case that happens, I’m on the US Region server Telum. Even if a guild doesn’t come together, you could always join up with my current one: Valhalla

If things do come together, most likely we will be allied to Valhalla, and live somewhat nearby, but that’s looking a bit too far into the future right now.

Posted in Inquisition Clan, Life is Feudal, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life is Feudal MMO – A bear mauled me and then I starved

I’ve had my eye on Life is Feudal MMO for a while (I don’t mind the LiF name, but having to include the ‘MMO’ at the end of it is silly, so going forward its just going to be LiF here). I had read plenty that it was in rough shape; it had bugs, it was missing content, and that it was a massive grind. The fact that the Steam launch was pushed back over a month was also a clue as to what one might expect.

And yet I still spent the $30 to play it, and I don’t regret that purchase, at least not yet.

LiF is, in a lot of core ways, very similar to Ultima Online, or Darkfall, if you remove basically all of the PvE, and put that focus towards item crafting and building construction. (I can’t speak for the PvP, haven’t gotten into a fight just yet). One thing I’m already sure of however; LiF is very much an MMORPG, and very, very much not a themepark. I’ll likely get more into what LiF really is as I experience more of it, but I’ve already gotten a pretty memorable story, so let me share that.

When you first play LiF, you are placed on a newbie island, and given a very rough tutorial on what to do. I got through some of that, but knowing I’d be much better off joining a guild and learning from them, I got myself off the newbie island and into the world, along with finding a guild.

LiF puts you in a random spot on the map, and of course my spot was about as far away as possible from where my guild had it’s little city. I was told to enjoy the hours of walking, and they were not joking. I started running and after 10 minutes or so, I wasn’t even out of the first ‘square’ of the map, and I had nine squares to go.

But things aren’t that simple in LiF. You will run out of stamina as you run, and both health and stamina have two bars. The top bar is your short-term bar, and that refills rather quickly. The bottom bar is your long-term bar, and that takes far more time to recover. With stamina, whenever your short-term bar hits zero, you stop sprinting, but after 3-4 seconds, it refills and you can run again. However each time you refill that bar, its costs you a bit from the long-term bar, and the way to fill that one up is to sit down and actually rest for a few minutes.

While resting however, your food bar goes down faster. Yes, LiF has a food bar, and if that hits zero, you start losing health. As I was running, I figured its likely a good idea to have some food, so any apple trees I found along the way I picked, but that wasn’t resulting in much, and eating an apple didn’t refill the food bar much. Still, I pressed on.

I was also told to craft a torch, because I’d need it to swat away any wolves that happen to try and eat me. That was good advice, as about halfway to the guild spot a wolf attacked me, bite me a bit, and was then driven off with a swing of the torch. A bit later, a bear attacked me, and mauled me to within one hitpoint before the torch drove him off. I was now badly injured, tired, and nearing starvation. Welcome to LiF!

When I was about two squares away, I noticed my long-term stamina bar was nearing zero, so I sat down to rest, but that hammered my food bar, so I tried to pick some food from the ground. Unfortunately I was in a colder climate now, and most attempts to find a root to eat failed. I asked in guild chat if anyone can come out and bring some food, and one guy got on a horse and started the journey. Near this time, I came across two other players, who were guild allies in the area. I asked if they had any spare food, and one of them traded me ten cooked fish.

And as I was about to eat the fish, I died from starvation. Welcome to LiF!

The final kick in the balls? My respawn spot was the same, across-the-map spot I originally spawned in. I logged off, telling the guild I’d attempt the journey the next day.

Fast forward to today, and I was ready to undertake the journey again, but this time a bit smarter. First, I crafted a fishing rod and ran to some water along the way. I then fished for a bit, gathering a few fish (I was failing a lot, likely due to my low skills). You can’t eat raw fish however, so I needed to build a small camp fire. After gathering the resources for that, I had it built, with enough fire wood to keep it going. Then it was time to cook the fish, which gave me plenty of food for the journey.

The second adjustment was in my route. I stayed more south, not wanting to hit the harsher snow climate until later. This worked, and also had me come across a number of other player cities, including a rather impressive looking castle with massive stone walls and arrow towers. I didn’t not stray too close to that, just in case.

The second journey went rather smoothly, and I was able to easy fight off the lone wolf that tried to harass me. Finally in my guild’s ‘city’ (a bunch of shacks, and a central area surrounded by a wooden wall), I had to build my own shack to create a bind/recall point, which had me chopping down some trees and hauling logs back and forth. With that finally done, I again logged off. During this time, I heard that our guild was fighting successfully against a Chinese guild we are at war with in our local area, and with my recent PUBG experience and their hacking, I must say I look forward to facing that enemy (hoping, of course, they aren’t brutally hacking in LiF, but we will see).

So I did a bit of gathering and crafting, with a LOT of running, so was it fun? I think it was, yes. Sure, it was a lot of tedium, but there was also that initially MMO sense of exploration and the unknown. There was certainly that ‘survival’ feeling of needing to find food, of avoiding wild animals, and about crossing rough terrain (at one point there was a ridge I spent a few minutes trying to find a path across). Seeing other player settlements, big and small, gave the whole thing a player-owned worldly feel missing more almost all MMOs today. And seeing the guild working towards larger goals, ever so slowly, reminded me of what MMOs were in days past, and why I found those so much more rewarding than ‘finishing’ a themepark ride, solo or otherwise.

I can’t say whether I would recommend LiF to others just yet, but so far, it has me interested.

Posted in Life is Feudal, MMO design | 5 Comments

PUBG: I love loot crates

The most recent PUBG update that went live today includes new loot crates, and the devs also published the drop rates of each item. The rares is set to drop just 0.01% in the free crate. Oh, and there is now also a 40% chance to get a crate you need to buy, with real money, a key to open. Grab your pitchfork, its outrage time!

I’m all for this system. First and foremost, I like this method of people paying the developers. It’s basically the Riot/LoL model, where the majority of the money coming in will be from cosmetics, and people can ‘whale out’ on said cosmetics if they want. PUBG isn’t a single-player game, and while it does have a box cost, long-term there needs to be money coming in if development is to continue, and as a player, I absolutely want development to continue. If that continuation is funded by fluff, that’s perfect IMO.

Publishing the drop rates is likely to get ahead of the whole ‘but but gambling’ outrage going on right now, and as you might have seen by some reactions, is evidence why usually developers don’t do that. People see that 0.01% drop item and jump to crazy conclusions of nefarious dev schemes, when the default answer, some items being rare for the sake of rarity is basic game design, is the correct one.

If you absolutely must have a checkered bandanna on your character in PUBG, you can either hope to get very lucky with a crate, or buy it. The only people actually ‘harmed’ by that 0.01% drop rate are those who aren’t lucky and can’t afford the bandanna but ‘must’ have it, and for those people, sorry, that’s just how life works. I’d love to have a second Ferrari from pimping Darkfall, but the devs stopped listening to me and that game died, such is life.

Posted in PUBG, RMT | 5 Comments

CoC: Clan Games are here!

The last Clash of Clans update added Clan Games, which are an interesting reward structure that stacks on top of everything else going on in the game. The result is that, when things line up right, a single attack can get you: the loot from the attack, the bonus loot from your trophy rank, star bonus loot, and clan games progress. That’s a lot of ‘stuff’ happening all off just one attack, but IMO it works well.

For those not up to speed, clan games are a new time-limited event for the whole clan, typically lasting 3-4 days. During that time, each clan member can pick a quest from a selection of 8 (everyone in the clan sees the same list), and once a quest is picked, a new one replaces it. Quests examples include; win two straight attacks, get 5 starts using 10 of X troop, collect 150,000+ gold/elixir from one attack, etc. Quests also come in Builder Base varieties, and the ‘harder’ the quest, the more points it typically gives.

The clan’s point total is added up, and tiered rewards are given to everyone based on how well the clan did. The rewards can be resources, or new magic items, such as books that instantly complete a troop, royal, or building upgrade. Such rewards can really speed up progress, or lessen the pain of upgrading a royal during a close clan war and having to gem them. Overall, I also really like the new rewards, which are stored in your clan castle and have limited inventory (you can only store one magic book for example, and up to five boost potions).

A good side effect of the clan games is they can also push you out of your comfort zone in terms of troop usage, since many of the quests require you to use X number of a troop. With the quests being more a matter of time vs success/failure (a typical troop quest will ask you to get 5 stars total in 8 hours, but whether you get this done in two attacks or ten doesn’t matter, so long as you get the five stars in under 8 hours), the quests don’t punish you for learning how to use a new army composition during raiding/farming. I think this will also result in good practice for people to bring new armies into clan wars. I know I’m very guilty of sticking to my comfort army for clan wars, even when better composition options exist verse a certain base.

Final, clan games allow members to contribute to a clan without being aces in clan wars, which up until now was the primary way of someone ‘contributing’ to a clan. There is a cap to the number of points a single member can earn during the games, but right now that number is pretty high, so even if just a few members go above and beyond the average, it results in the whole clan likely getting the max rewards (so far our clan has gotten the max reward in all but the first clan games, where the points required was far higher than recent versions).

Overall clan games add a nice layer to CoC, both in ‘stuff to do’, and in reducing the time it takes to max out (which in CoC is huge). I also think there is still room to grow for the event, both in terms of rewards and quest variety, but right now its a solid foundation.

As always, if you want to jump into CoC with us, our clan name is “Supreme Cream!”, just mention the blog when applying.

Posted in Clash of Clans, Inquisition Clan | Leave a comment

I hate Chinese gamers

Is it wrong to say I hate Chinese gamers? Probably, at least as a blanket statement it is, but if I narrow it down to Chinese PUBG players? Maybe still wrong, but at this point I don’t care; I hate them.

I believe its a culture thing, but Chinese players LOVE to hack and cheat in PUBG, and they LOVE to play on the NA server when doing so. Lately, every single game has open-mic Chinese people from some cafe shouting garbage, and then in way too many games, said Chinese players kill you via blatant hacking (wall hacks, aim bots, etc). They also love to mass-team, where 10-20 of them will all team up in a game (against the rules) and zombie-horde-kill everyone they come across.

Generally when people claim ‘everyone’ is hacking, its ridiculously false. You remember the one time someone maybe used a hack against you, but you forget the other 99% when you didn’t encounter hacks. Guess what? It feels like EVERYONE from china hacks, and now that PUBG has the kill-cam feature, its easier than ever to confirm your suspicions. I can’t count the number of deaths I’ve had now where the enemy can’t see me on their screen, yet comes at me from a perfect angle and insta-locks me as they turn the corner. Or they head shot you from 300m away using hip fire. It’s really, really bad, and its insane that the devs haven’t region-locked the game. I’ll take longer queues 10/10 over this garbage.

Its the worst in 3rd person, and sadly the people I play with like 3rd over 1st. But I can’t play 3rd anymore, it’s just a waste of time. Even in the rare game you don’t die to someone from china, you still see them in the kill feed, and you always have that feeling that at any moment, you can eat a rando headshot from a hacker. I know this will be fixed ‘soon’, but it needs to be fixed now.

Posted in PUBG, Rant | 6 Comments