“Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online” Review

Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online by Andrew Groen is a must-read for any MMO fan, even those who have never played EVE Online. I say this because the book does a masterful job of not just detailing the major null-sec events of EVE from 2003 to 2007 in a way everyone can understand, but also putting them in the correct context of historical scope. It explains why the actions of certain players and groups shaped the future of the game, which is something that we all wish could be possible in an MMO (whether we wish to be that agent of change or to simple be around when it happens).

What struck me the most after reading the book is how much of EVE’s history is based on just a few key figures, and that the actions and decisions of those key figures influenced what tens of thousands of people would be doing for years to come. In a videogame or not, that’s impressive and says as much about the game as it does about those who have shaped it. Without Molle or Mittens, EVE today would not be even remotely the same game. And it’s not just those two, as the book goes into great details about the actions of other leaders as well, and how their decisions intertwine into the greater picture.

I also appreciate the effort put in to get the true story around so many events, and the honesty presented when accounts could not be verified. One has to remember that the source material is EVE, and as the book explains so well, much of the power in EVE comes from convincing others that your version is the truth, so digging up the ACTUAL truth must have required some serious work.

Finally, for an EVE player, it was interesting to read about the events happening (specifically the Great War) during a time when I and others players under the Inquisition banner. When we were in high-sec and later in Wspace, we knew major events were happening, but they always felt so distant (especially once we were living out of our C3 wormhole). This book helped provide context for me during that time, and its interesting to think that, perhaps on a certain day, we popped our heads from Wspace into null in proximity to a major event, or of a fleet passing us by on the way to something major. That’s one of the many beauties of EVE; we existed in our own little world, and still via indirect contact, we were all part of major historical events. That’s pretty cool.

Posted in EVE Online, Inquisition Clan, MMO design | 3 Comments

TW:W – Expanding on the awesome

Having now played and finished campaigns with the Vampires, Dwarves, and Empire, I can safely re-confirm that Total War: Warhammer is awesome. Let’s expand on the awesome though, shall we?

It’s funny how sometimes you can play a game series and not know you are really missing something until it’s provided, and then you look back on older titles and wonder how the hell you even enjoyed the first version. For TW, its faction differences, as before Warhammer, they all kinda felt the same, with the biggest noticeable difference being starting location. In retrospect, that seems INSANE for a strategy game, yet that’s what it was for multiple games in the very successful and enjoyable series.

In TW:W the factions are absurdly unique, and the differences go far beyond troop options (though unit selection has basically zero overlap). Each faction has unique gameplay elements, like the dwarves book of grudges (quests that are generated based on in-game events (losing a city or fight, for example) that incur penalties if you don’t handle them in short order), or the Empire’s government structure (you can assign leaders to different roles, which provide army and faction bonuses), or the Vampires ability to instantly create new units from old battlefields.

Then there are more general things, like the fact that most factions dislike the Vampires and Greenskins, but the different human and dwarf factions can all get along, making diplomacy more important. Or that the Empire, Dwarves, and Greenskins can confederate (absorb) minor factions of their race, while the Vampires and Chaos cannot. Or the two different types of settlements (dwarf/greenskin, and human/vampire), where factions can only control one or the other, and can only sack or raise the non-matching type. Or that Chaos is more focused on destruction than occupation in general.

Starting positions are also big factors. For example, the dwarves are on the right side of the map, with their main threat (Greenskins) being south. Chaos is to the north and the Vampires are to the west, but both aren’t major threats, at least not initially. The Empire, on the other hand, basically starts in the middle, surrounded by rival and/or friendly human factions, and are the first line of defense against Chaos from the north. They also feel the brunt of the Vampires from the east, and to the far west they have the Bretonnians, who may or may not be friendly depending on how diplomacy goes. And of course the Greenskins can always rampage up from the south into Empire lands, again depending on how their fighting with the dwarves goes.

My Empire game was radically different on all fronts compared to my Dwarf or Vampire game, and that makes me all the more excited for additional races to be added via DLC. Plus DLC that adds side systems to the overall game will likely impact each faction differently as well, so how the Vampire campaign plays today likely won’t be how it plays overall after a year or so of additions. That has always been somewhat true in TW games, but again the major formula changes in TW:W will likely result in far more impactful and entertaining additions.

I’ve yet to try out multiplayer, either single battles or the campaign. The campaign sounds like a massive investment in time, and from what I’ve read, it’s somewhat hit/miss in terms of fun. I would be down for some battles though, as I think the faction/unit variety makes the combat in TW:W more interesting than previous games. Hit me up on Steam (SynCaine) if you want to give that a go.


Posted in Random, Steam Stuff | 2 Comments

Mount and Blade: Bannerlord siege

I mean… why are you not taking my money already? I’ve been hyped for a lot of games over the years, I don’t know that any matches Bannerlord, in large part because I’ve played Warband more than any non-MMO game ever, and by a long shot.

What sucks is I know its going to get delayed. And even after the delays, its not going to be in the shape we all want it in. And even after that, it will be some time before the truly game-changing mods arrive.

And I don’t care. I just want to play Bannerlord, warts and bugs and all.

Posted in Mount and Blade: Warband | 1 Comment

“The Warcraft movie is awesome” – said no one

Weird, I’m right again, this time with the prediction that the Warcraft movie would bomb. Oh and bomb it did, to the tune of 24m in the US on a 160m production budget. Given that the traditional model for the industry is that a movie breaks even at double its production budget, it’s safe to say the movie is doing about as well as the MMO its (not actually) based on.

It’s only saving grace (that won’t actually save it) is that over in Asia it did very well the first week, which is just another reminder that yes, Asians are still weird. I’d also not be surprised if the Asian numbers are about as real and accurate as the ‘subscriber count’ coming from that region, especially when you consider who is invested in the movie doing well in that area.

What’s especially terrible about the 24m number in the US is that the movie had a massive amount of ticket pre-sales (hardcore WoW fans), meaning that outside of that group, basically NO ONE else was interested in the movie. The report states 54% of viewers were Warcraft loyalists (how many of the remaining 46% are closet loyalists?), and even if we account for a much higher-than-average rate of people going to the movies solo (lonely no-friends nerds, aka WoW players), how many WoW players dragged a friend or family members along? Expect the movie to completely fall off a cliff next week when that group isn’t there to provide what little boost they did.

New Blizzard doing New Blizzard things!

Posted in World of Warcraft | 44 Comments

EVE: So effecient

99.9% ISK efficiency is good, right?

First Super kills, felt good. Was lucky to jump into that fleet too as I had just finished up some Total War: Warhammer, and when that game is in full screen it blocks Jabber.

I guess the story is Tishu got baited and lost 255b ISK worth of ships. We got there a little late and only got on two of the eight kills. Still worth the short trip of course, and a fun way to cap off the night.

Posted in EVE Online | 7 Comments

CR: View from the top

Well, if ‘the top’ is Arena 8 in Clash Royale anyway. The climb has been very interesting, especially having two accounts to compare. My main as of right now is in Arena 8, while my second account is at 2900 trophies (100 away from Arena 8). The funny part is that my second account has had better ‘card luck’, while on my main I’ve used the same deck for months.

The two decks:

My main deck: Skeletons (9), Zap (9), Minions (9), Mini Pekka (7), Elixir Pump (6), Wizard (7), Poison (3), Golem (3).

My alt’s deck: Spear Goblins (9), Zap (9), Tombstone (6), Princess (1), Mini Pekka (6), Dark Prince (4), Witch (3), Royal Giant (10).

My main account hasn’t pulled a single legendary, while my alt has the above Princess, and also has Lava Hound (which I attempted to make work but just couldn’t). Both accounts have had a single Super Magical Chest, and my highest epic on my main is actually Mirror (4), which I also don’t use.

On my alt, in addition to getting lucky with the legendaries, I got very lucky in that my Super Magical had a large stack of Dark Prince epics, and shortly after that he was in the shop, which allowed me to buy the two remaining copies I needed to get him to level 4. Royal Giant is at level 10 because I’ve been requesting him for a long, long time in clan chat.

Across both accounts I think I’ve spent $20 or so, mostly early on to buy the $5 gold bunch when I was still trying to find a deck that worked for me. I’ve not spend money on either chests, or on gems to cycle chests faster. My main is sitting on 750ish gems, my alt on 250.

My main deck is pretty simple, get ahead in elixir either via the pump and/or defending, and once ahead hard-push behind the golem. If it goes REALLY well, a single push kills a tower, but on average I generally do 50% or so damage to it per push. Inferno tower and Sparky are the hard counters, and when facing someone decent using either, I’ll often play for a draw rather than the win.

My alt’s deck is more fun to play, because it has more ‘win condition’ options. The first is obviously via Royal Giant beatdown, where he chips away at the enemy tower and it eventually dies. But the deck also does really well counter-attacking, especially against hog-based decks. The Tombstone hard-counters hog, and often times will result in a push going the other way with the mini pekka or prince.

As I’ve mentioned before, with CR being a direct 1v1 PvP game, it allows for plenty of excuses. “The matchmaking hates you”, “You get unlucky with cards”, “You don’t spend so you can’t win”, etc. And sure, you can likely point to a few games out of the hundreds you have played where you faced someone three levels above you with lots of epics/legendaries or whatever. But those few games aren’t what is keeping you from moving up in rank. You’re actually player skill is the biggest factor, so if you do want to move up, ‘get good’.

Figure out a deck that works for you, considering the cards you have. Tweak it to counter the most popular meta decks (so as of today, anti hog and anti royal giant, at the very least). Get comfortable with how your deck is paced, the nuance of each card, and how they work/counter others. Once you have settled on your deck, plan out your requests to level up the most important cards, and plan out your gold spending via the shop to best benefit you as well.

Programming note: We have one spot open in Boom Beach, and a couple in Clash of Clans. The CR clan is full.

Posted in Clash Royale, Inquisition Clan, iPhone | 4 Comments

So a good game sells a lot of copies? Get out of here!

100m+ copies of Minecraft have been sold, and today the game sells 53k+ copies A DAY.

Who the hell is still buying Minecraft?

And I don’t mean that in a “Minecraft sucks!” way, because it’s a great game/tool, but in a “how do you not already own Minecraft?” way. The game is huge amount young children, especially on mobile, but are there really 53k+ young gamers maturing daily to finally buy and play some Minecraft? Seems unlikely…

The bigger point here though, as it relates to MMOs, is that this is a very important date point related to the “Everyone who wanted to play WoW already has it” talking point and how it relates to the failures of the game from WotLK and beyond. Minecraft has a much larger user base than WoW, yet it’s still attracting a horde of new players daily, so why do some people think WoW is a special snowflake and had/has tapped out the market?

Spoiler: It never did, it just got progressively worse as a game, to the point that it stopped growing and then started to shrink. If tomorrow Microsoft released an update like WotLK to Minecraft, and then followed it up with a Cata-style release, Minecraft wouldn’t be moving 53k+ copies a day, and it wouldn’t be because finally everyone that wanted Minecraft got it.

The same applies to any game. If LoL gets significantly worse tomorrow, it will stop growing. If CCP improves EVE significantly, that game will return to growth. In an age of digital marketplaces and the ability to upgrade a game as time goes on, the biggest factor in a games growth or decline is simply the quality of the product. And not just the quality at release or at time X, but the sustained quality of the product itself and its pace/quality of updates.

We also see plenty of this in Early Access games. Take a game like Darkest Dungeon for instance. At the start of its EA, it was a solid offering, though somewhat limited. As it developed, it got consistently better and better, without any major missteps. The result? A successful EA game that was also very successful once released.

We are a long time past the age of 95% of your sales happening in the first month, and then your box being moved off a store shelf and that being that for your game. Good games can get worse (WoW), rough starts can be fixed/salvaged (FFXIV), and sustained quality can result in sustained success (EVE).

Game a good game, support it well, and you profit. What a crazy world we live in!

Side notes because they are somewhat related to the topic:

The hotbar salesman has managed to pork Dungeon Boss. I knew it was only a matter of time before the idiocy of selling hotbars in an MMO translated to something equally dumb in the mobile space, and here it is. (Yes, I know there is like a 2% chance this change wasn’t the idea of the hotbar salesman, but shhh you)

Also it looks like Darkfall: Unholy War is offline? Such a DF move to just suddenly go offline and instead of outright admitting the party is over (or you know, announcing a shut-down date well in advance), the dev still puts out some ‘hope it comes back soon’ message. DF being DF even past the bitter end. God how far that whole thing fell from being a gem in the MMO space to a trainwreck.







Posted in EVE Online, Final Fantasy XIV, Kickstarter, League of Legends, MMO design, Random, World of Warcraft | 12 Comments