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 | 3 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

CoC: War weight formula suggestion

Matchmaking for wars in Clash of Clans is a very important item, because when the matchmaking is too lopsided, you are basically locked in a terrible situation for the entire war, and since clan wars are the primary source of fun in the game for many (including most in our clan), that can really sap the fun out of the game. Supercell is constantly tweaking how matchmaking works, but unfortunately right now its still an issue (we recently had a war where we faced an engineered clan that had enough TH11 attacks to cover all our TH11, TH10, and TH9 bases), so here is a post suggesting how to improve it.

The first and biggest change would be to have a cap on war weight for offense that is easily reached. Right now every upgrade you do offensively adds to your war weight, which not only doesn’t really make sense (in an attack you usually bring 3-4 different troops and spells, not the dozen available in the game), but also actively punishes people who ‘finish’ a TH level before moving up.

Here is how the cap would work: The first four upgrades would add weight, and after that a base would be ‘maxed’ for offensive war weight for that town hall level. The exception to this would be the royals; each level of a royal would continue to add weight. The weight of each upgrade would be tied to the TH tier, so upgrading say your dragons to TH8 levels would be significantly less weight than upgrading dragons to TH11 rank. The system would always take your highest four upgrades, which would include spells. Also, the first upgrade would weight more than the fourth, so even a base that only upgrades dragons and lighting (a viable attack when hitting down) would still have a fairly high war weight offensively.

The main benefit here is not punishing players for expanding their war attack options to all troops/spells. Right now its effective to limit yourself to only dragons, but its not fun for most players. A game shouldn’t be a decision between doing something fun and being effective, especially in a group setting where your decision to have fun then negatively impacts your clan mates.

Also while having access to more troops is a form of power, its not as crushing as an engineered base hitting a full tier below them, because a good base will be designed to defend against all attacks, and the game is currently balanced for this. It’s not balanced to allow you to do anything as a TH8 to defend against a max TH9; that is always a faceroll smash, and it’s not fun for anyone (unless your definition of fun is faceroll winning over and over again, but F those people).

Defensively every upgrade, including walls, should continue to add weight, as those upgrades actually do matter in terms of the overall difficulty of beating a base.

Additionally, total clan war weight should be mostly based off the top five bases, with the remaining bases adding to the weight, but not nearly as much as the top five. This stops the common practice of a clan having a few fully maxed bases at the very top, which are difficult to three star, and then stacking the rest of the clan with highly engineered bases with minimal defenses to lower their total war weight. This results in them facing maybe one maxed base at the top, and at worst they win by three-starring everything but that one base, and the other clan likely won’t three-star their top maxed bases. The rest of the bases almost don’t matter because they get rolled by overpowered offense, which is incredibly boring for both sides.

I don’t want to get into the finer details of which troop or defense should weight what, as this is mostly a focus on the overall approach to war weight, which right now I feel is too easy to manipulate. We run into engineered clans fairly often, and while we can sometimes beat them, it’s still not fun for many of our guys to hit defenseless bases, and to have most of the enemy bases three-starred after one attack. Wars should not be limited to the attack skill of just the top players in a clan to decide wars.

Posted in Clash of Clans | 5 Comments

Battle Brothers – Game of the Year 2017

Battle Brothers is my game of the year for 2017, and here is my review (posted on Dec 31st 2016, haha). The review still fully stands up, and happily BB has gotten some small updates since that time. Go buy it so hopefully they release a full expansion.

The reason it’s my game of the year is it’s just such a perfect blend of everything I like. Sandbox gameplay, turn-based combat, low fantasy setting, solid difficulty with great replay value. Runs well, doesn’t crash or have bugs, and has a unique look. Plus its from a small studio and it always feels good to throw money that way vs to a major studio.

Posted in Random, Review, Site update | 3 Comments

2018 MMO genre predictions

Unless I can’t find it myself on my own blog (very possible), it seems I never did a 2017 prediction post. Looking back at 2017, especially from an MMO perspective, that’s probably for the best. Let’s imagine that post just said ‘nothing happens’, and I’ll give myself a 10/10 in accuracy.

Looking ahead to 2018, it might be a make-or-break year for the genre. If Crowfall releases (and I’ll count an expanded open beta as ‘release’) and stinks, if Camelot Unchained releases and stinks, and if bad news continues to plague Star Citizen (I know if won’t release in 2018), what is left for the genre but playing existing titles that are all aging and unlikely to get a massive revamp to remain current? If WoW hasn’t done a total graphics/engine overhaul, I doubt anyone else will (not counting EVE of course, because EVE always looks current-gen thanks to the ongoing efforts of CCP).

Do I think Crowfall will stink? I mean, based on current alpha access, its not looking great, but I haven’t exactly given it a solid attempt. A lot of that is because when you log in, its hard to figure out what exactly there is to do besides run around aimlessly in an empty zone, but I’ve just not been in the mood all 2017 to dig deeper.

I know even less about the progress CU has been making, other than I think its a bit further along than Crowfall. I’d like to be pleasantly surprised by that one.

I really don’t care for SC, and the while business of selling super-expensive ships already rubs me the wrong way.

As for older titles? I’ll be honest that EVE has been slow/boring lately. No major wars, no interesting conflicts, and I hit the level of having ‘enough ISK’ for everything that I don’t care to grind more. I hope something big happens soon, but I know I’m not alone in sitting by and waiting. Beyond that, the rest of the genre is kinda dead to me. Never out of GW2 has looked interesting, LotRO looks ancient. WoW is post-WotLK WoW. The genre is what it is right now, and for the most part that is all pretty meh to me.

Perhaps something will come out of left field and happily surprise us in 2018? I hope so, but for predictions, I’m going to say no.

Posted in Site update | 11 Comments