2016 predictions review

So my 2016 prediction post wasn’t much, mostly because I wasn’t all that into the MMO space at the time. I’m more into it right now (thanks EVE!), but lets see how I did with the little I said about 2016.

Crowfall: I was pretty off on this one. The game has made progress, but its not close to release, and it spent most of 2016 making small steps in evolving the deathmatch mode it had going for testing purposes, which just didn’t do much for me.

Camelot Unchained: The same as above I think? It certainly didn’t launch, so way off on that, but otherwise I think 2016 was mostly about making some progress without any major shakeups or big events. I don’t follow CU closely honestly, and while I will look into it once it gets close, it doesn’t feel close right now.

FFXIV: I stopped playing FFXIV shortly after my wife stopped playing due to time constraints. I never got into the content of the first expansion, and now another is coming out shortly, which really puts me behind the ball. Personal stuff with the game aside, I think 2016 was another good year for the best themepark out, but I don’t think it made the buzz it did in 2015. Or perhaps the thirst for the ‘next big themepark’ just isn’t there anymore overall.

WoW: Legion was a good expansion compared to recent WoW expansions, but it didn’t turn WoW around or stop it from being a title most visit briefly to eat up the latest content.

F2P stuff: 2016 was a turn-around year IMO in terms of acceptance of the model. I think most MMO players now dislike it, while I think the predatory nature of hooking whales still keeps some otherwise pretty terrible games chugging along. I’m sure a bunch of F2P MMOs shut down in 2016, but I can’t even remember any memorable event on that front.

And that’s it. Will 2017 be better? I mean, I’m playing EVE, so already its better in that regard, but will the genre as a whole have a good year? That’s coming in the next post.

Posted in Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XIV, MMO design, RMT, Site update, World of Warcraft

SW:TOR and HotS win big!

Hotbar salesman wins big award! Congrats to all those working on SW:TOR for proving that just because so many others are a cesspit of terrible decisions, that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels and just sell hotbars. Put lockboxes inside lockboxes, kill your in-game economy to collect a few bucks, and basically continue to cripple your game in any and all ways at the alter of terrible MMO business models. Huge win. Huge. And you know come 2017 award season, SW:TOR will be right back in the conversation.

Also shout out to HotS for just generally still being terrible. Who would have thought a dumbed down (and all around awful) version of an already casual game like LoL wouldn’t be a great idea? I think my favorite part of that whole article is the mention that failed LoL pros are kings of the shit castle in HotS. Basically tells you absolutely everything you need to know about that game.

Oh and shout out to the first guy to comment on that article trying to defend it, which the author identified as a HotS coach (seriously…). Keep fighting the good fight buddy, I’m sure those servers will stay up for a little bit longer.

Posted in Mass Media, MMO design, Random, RMT, SW:TOR | 2 Comments

EVE – Circle of (production) life complete

Until a few days ago my main sources of income in EVE have been ratting in my carrier, cleaning sites up with a Noctis, running Incursions with the Goon group, a bit of PI, and a little importing from Jita. A good mix of active and passive income, and enough to put me on the short path to a Super Carrier once my main pilot’s skills round out.

Then I noticed that, from my previous EVE days of running the Inq FiS corp, the old POCO’s we put up in our wormhole were being used, and so were collecting taxes. The tax rate was set to 5%, and I guess the current residence don’t mind paying it. It’s not huge money (about 200m a month), but considering it literally comes in without me doing anything, I’ll take it. I did have to remove everyone’s rights from the Corp, as someone I didn’t recognize was in the corp (I left a few people as directors, and it seems they then either made alts or invited other people) and that person also had access to the corp wallet and was taking some funds out. The free money is all mine damnit!

Another leftover bonus from those days were a bunch of researched blueprint originals, so I had those shipped out to Delve and started mapping out what best to do with them. As they were all T1, production wasn’t a terrible choice, but also not the only one. I asked in our ISK-focused Jabber channel, a place populated with some of the richest and smartest players in the game (people who toss around the idea of throwing hundreds of billions of ISK as ‘pet projects’ like it was nothing), and got some very good advice from them.

I’m going to dig into invention, as my industry pilot has most of the skills associated with that (filling in the holes now), and T2 items move far better and with higher margins in Delve. I’ve also started reprocessing the site junk I’ve collected rather than selling it off, as this will provide a lot of the materials I need for production. The rest I can grab off the market, or even do some mining when I’m able to do some mostly-afk gaming.

What’s really interesting about the market in our capital is that it’s basically a mini-Jita. Huge population, so huge volume, and while much of the market is covered, there are still plenty of gaps, and plenty of high margins to grab. It will take a little bit of time to build all of this up, and to learn the ins and outs in terms of what really moves and what sits, but that’s all part of the fun. I also like the fact that between my two pilots, I’m basically completing the ‘circle of life’ in EVE. Blow stuff up, get drops, turn drops into minerals, convert minerals into stuff, sell stuff so others can blow stuff up. Pretty cool.

PS: TAGN covered the recent Op to blow up a PL Keepstar as it was coming online. I was part of that effort, and while PL didn’t show up, seeing Goons fill up almost four full fleets was nice to see from a ‘dead’ and ‘weak’ alliance, to say nothing of the 3-4 other major powers who also showed up hoping to take some shots at PL as well.

Posted in EVE Online, Goons | 5 Comments

EVE – Humanitarian mission to free new players

EVE has a reputation of being a harsh place, and it is. In-game players go to great length to win, and bitter feuds are what really fuels EVE forward. At the same time, EVE players are also very protective of EVE itself. They will bash CCP mercilessly about in-game details, but when needed will also rally behind the game and CCP when an outside force is involved.

This story over at the INN is a perfect example of this in action, as hostile in-game factions come together for the good of the game, and take down an RMT scumbag. Good work to all involved!

Posted in Goons | 7 Comments

LoL – Placement result may yield unexpected humor

The 2017 season for LoL has started, which means rank resets. Oddly enough, the new flex queue also got reset, after only being up for a few weeks.

My placement matches for solo/duo were a trip. My first three games were all fairly close and enjoyable, but losses. Then the next two were trolltastic losses, putting me at 0-5. At that point I decided to bust out Teemo, because if I’m going to start low, might as well have fun with it. However at that point the game was matching me with and against far lower players, so even though Teemo top is… Teemo top, I still dominated two out of the three games I played. Ultimately I finished 3-7, putting me in Silver 3. The difference in games between plat 4 and silver 3 is, well it might as well be a different game.

Now the question is; do I keep playing Teemo and practicing other champs as I grind up out of silver, or do I play Malz/Amumu and get myself out asap? I’m very tempted to do the former, especially because the season has just started and I certainly won’t be the only plat+ player down in rank thanks to placement series magic.

I’m also now even more curious to see where Aria and I place in the flex queue. So far we are at one win, one loss, but in that queue I was in gold 2 prior to the reset. Good times either way are ahead.

Posted in League of Legends

League of Legends – Second ranked queue fun

Riot adding a second, separate ranked ladder this season to League of Legends is an interesting development, especially because the new ladder allows for people to queue up with up to 4 others. Personally my wife and I use that ladder to play ranked games together, which is nice because it keeps our individual progress on the solo/duo ladder separate.

It’s been a season or two since I’ve really been serious about climbing ranks in LoL, where I topped out at just under diamond (if I remember correctly, I was in a promo or two to diamond, but was never able to complete one successfully). That doesn’t mean I don’t try to win every game I play, or that I completely stop caring about getting better. I’ve just accepted the reality that since I don’t track all patch changes or meta shifts, nor playing enough games to stay sharp with as many champions, my ability to climb is more limited, and right now it seems mid/lower plat is where I’m at.

My wife, also playing less, is at upper gold, though she did finish last season in plat. The skill gap isn’t huge, but it does exist, which previously made playing together in ranked games… not ideal for our marriage long-term. The old adage of ‘friends don’t let friends play ranked games together’ is all too true about LoL. But with a second queue, one we both treat as less important, that is no longer the case. We still try to win each game, and we don’t pick joke champs or ‘fun comps’, but where we rank isn’t really important, so immediately after a game we both move on win or lose. It’s actually pretty great.

What is also hilarious is that after her 10 placement games, my wife is in Silver V on that ladder (going 5/10. I’m in gold 2 after going 6/10). After some merciless teasing about being down with the mutants, and warning her about embracing her inner bronzy, another fun reality set in: When we queue up, we are playing with people generally below plat. Sometimes far below plat, which is… interesting. Having been in plat for years now, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to not have someone leash at the start of a game, or never roam from a lane, or to just generally have such poor mechanics or game fundamentals.

In that queue I play mid or jungle, so I’m less reliant on my team early (though having a gank go sideways because a teammate is far worse than you expect and doesn’t understand chaining CC is a pain), but my wife plays support, and it’s a wild ride. Because of the larger range of skill levels, and also because it’s still early in the season, game to game you never know if your adc is good, terrible, or average. You also don’t know if on the other side their two players are a duo with a diamond smurf, or two silver-level players still learning the game. This makes playing ‘correctly’ very hard. If you have a good adc vs a weaker two, you should play aggressive, but it takes some time to identify if that is indeed the case. Sometimes the adc seems competent, and completely freezes and botches things in a major engagement.

My wife is really good about keeping her cool and playing steady, and as she mostly plays Sona, it also means she can ‘babysit’ an adc well if they are bad, while also being able to play a more punishing style in a favorable matchup. When I play support (solo queue), it’s either with Braum or Leona, who unlike Sona are far more ‘all-in’ style champs. If my adc is good, we crush the lane. If they aren’t, it’s either a frustrating ‘do nothing’ lane, or the deaths pile up and things go south real fast.

Overall though I really like the new setup for ranked, and it’s working really well for us. We play one game a night when we can, and can easily step away without any blowback once the game is done. I’m also very curious to see where we shake out in terms of rank. If I had to guess, I’d say upper gold, but we will see.

Posted in League of Legends

Tyranny – Spells and story

More Tyranny musings for today.

Spell Mechanics: Being able to customize spells is a major feature in Tyranny. In my first game I didn’t do a lot with it, mostly because my main character wasn’t a spellcaster, so I just did the occasional minor tweak to spells for a companion, but that was about it.

The way the system works is that you first select an element (fire, cold, earth, etc), then a style (ranged, touch, aoe, etc), and finally there are additions to spells (more power, shorter cooldown, larger aoe, etc). Lore is the stat that determines what spells you can use, with stronger or more complex spells requiring more lore. Tyranny has no mana system, just cooldowns. You must find a spell part before you can use it to adjust spells, with the stronger additions coming later in the game, or costing more at a vendor.

In my currently game my main is a mage, and so each time I find a new component, I go into the spell design UI (which itself is very clean and works well) and tweak my spells. This results in noticing the minor changes more, and seeing how different spells are modified by some items. For example, one modification increases AoE range. For a spell like fireball, that just means a larger explosion radius. For a cone spell, that increases the size of the cone, which is pretty powerful. Increasing the AoE of a heal spell might have less value, especially if the size is already large (you only have 4 party members, and fights normally are pretty compact).

Each modification also has levels of power, and those levels costs more lore, so as you find more powerful versions, how you adjust the lore cost is also a fun min/max game. For example; my fireball spells has both a range and power adjustment. I find a new level of the power adjustment, but I can’t fit both the new power and the range enhancement to my current lore value. I can drop range to add more power, or keep the spell as-is until my lore value increases. This all gets even more involved as you get more modifiers, levels, and lore skill. I have spells right now with 5 modifiers, and some of those are level 2 or 3. It’s a lot of fun, and really does feel like you are designing spells rather than applying small modifications.

Content: I finished my first game siding with the Disfavored. My second game I’m allied with the rebels, and almost right from the beginning the game is drastically different. One town that was controlled by a certain faction in game one is controlled by a different in game two, which completely changes what quests are available, and what side areas open up. The main locations are all still there, because it’s the same world, and the major pre-game events also all happen, but sometimes a little differently, but all of this comes together to create pretty different starting points, which further branch based on the decisions you make as you go. It really does feel like playing a different story in the same world, rather than playing the same story with some plot points adjusted. Pretty incredible.

I’ve also read that the anarchist playthrough, where you are not allied with anyone, so another very different take on the game, one that I’m pretty excited to experience as well. That’s also the nice thing about the game being about 25-30hrs in length; a full game isn’t a crushing time commitment.


Posted in Random