Investing in Pillars of Eternity 2 for fun and (hopefully) profit

Back in January I posted about the Pillars of Eternity 2 funding campaign on Fig, which ultimately ended up at 400% of its requested funding. Along with asking for money straight up, Fig also allows you to buy shares at $1,000 a pop. The more the game sells, the more you get in return, including hopefully more than the original amount you put in.

The time finally came to buy those shares, and I did just that. As I said in the original post, PoE2 just has to sell as well as PoE1 to make the investment worthwhile, and I’d be shocked if that wasn’t the case. But this is really less about the money (short of PoE2 being a blockbuster, the ROI here isn’t going to be anything amazing), and more about experiencing something new in gaming.

For the first time (well, second if you want to count the millions I made from pimping Darkfall back in the day), I’m not only rooting for a game to succeed because I like the genre and want to see more games like this, I’m now also rooting for it for personal gain, and (I think?) I’ll have a better view into how well the game actually sells and at what price points. That should be interesting and worth the upfront investment risk.

And yes, there is something comical about investing money to hopefully make money, while at the same time basically using money for entertainment (the sales data and the whole experience) around gaming, without the spending of money being on actually playing a game. Welcome to the future I guess!

Posted in Kickstarter, Random | 4 Comments

The Division, Grim Dawn, and mobile games

A random collection of thoughts about games, here goes.

The Division was free last weekend on Steam, and I played it for about an hour. It was… fine? Good graphics and setting, but I failed to really see the point of the game. I mean its not a pure FPS, and it’s not really an MMO, but I think it wanted to be a third-person sorta FPS with MMO-like features? Not my cup of tea either way.

I continue to play Grim Dawn, and I’m still really enjoying it. When the Diablo formula is done right, it really is entertaining, and Grim Dawn nails a lot of what works in that formula. In particular I like how what items you get somewhat shape the direction of your character, without completely changing how you play.

For example, my main character uses a 2h gun, with a heavy emphasis on fire damage. Naturally I look for +fire damage items, but for a bit I got a lot of +electricity and +chaos gear that was too good to pass up, and I was able to move some skill points around to work around that. From a gameplay perspective I was still throwing bombs and shooting stuff in the face, but from a power perspective moving those points around helped up my DPS, and I was able to do that again (in reverse) when I later found more +fire damage stuff.

In EVE I was part of a large battle a few days ago (can’t find a good battle report link, sadly) that was heavily in our favor against CO2/TEST/PL. The ping for the fleet came at a perfect time, but I didn’t have the required Mach battleship, and they were all sold on contracts. Luckily someone in the fleet was willing to loan me his while he switched to a Loki, and off we went.

The battle involved about 1000 people total, so Tidi wasn’t cripplingly bad, but was in effect just enough to make following the FC easier. We ended up butchering a lot of enemy Machs, T3Cs, and smaller stuff. This link is to my killboard, and you can see all the stuff I was in on on May 9th. Also of note, I’m approaching 1t worth of destruction, which is a nice little milestone.

Finally on the mobile gaming front, SuperCell has been hyping the next update to Clash of Clans as the games biggest yet, but they keep delaying revealing the details. There is a lot of speculation, and personally I’d love if the game got a version of Boom Beach’s operation, where the clan works together to take down tough NPC bases. Speaking of Boom Beach, our group (Supreme Cream!) in that is still up and running operations regularly, so if you play and want to join, go ahead and apply. Same goes for CoC, we still have a couple spots open. In CR we are always full, but I can open a spot up for a blog reader if needed.

Posted in Boom Beach, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, EVE Online, Goons, PvP, Random, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Wake up and sell some PLEX

Today is patch day in EVE, with one of the major items being the conversion of one old plex into 500 new plex. All market orders for the old plex were cancelled by CCP, so as soon as the server came up, new buy and sell orders had to be created. This, of course, lead to massive price swings and speculation.

Since I was up early for a work call, I got in just as the server came up, dumped most of my liquid ISK to my Jita alt, and started buying up new plex. In about an hour my funds were fully invested, and one hour after that I was able to sell all the new plex for a quick profit of a few billion.

Good times, and thanks to CCP Falcon for the tip on the Goon forums about all of this. Good guys win again. Now to RMT that ISK through the official Mittens RMT machine.

Posted in EVE Online | 2 Comments

The problem with eternal Early Access

PC Gamer recently had a good article about Survival games (ARK, Rust, etc) almost never making it out of Steam’s Early Access, whether or not that was the correct use of the system, and if overall that’s a problem.

The initial reaction I had, and I’m sure most have, is that of course a game staying in EA forever is bad, especially if they also open up a cash shop or start charging for DLC. But what is EA really for games like ARK or Rust? (For more focused games, EA is most certainly for finishing your game prior to being done). How is EA different than a ‘released’ MMO? In an MMO we accept that the game isn’t ‘done’, and we also accept that sometimes systems get abandoned or the game’s direction changes. How is that different from EA really?

If ARK had called itself an MMO and ‘released’ 2 years ago, other than associating terms with the game, what would be different? As a player, you bought a game with a lot of content, some bugs, and devs that had more plans to continue updating the game. As they provided free updates in MMO ARK’s buy-2-play model, they also announced and released some optional payed DLC. Would there have been an uproar about this? Of course not, because that’s common and accepted in games like GW2, or The Secret World.

The perception problem for games like ARK is they really aren’t MMOs in the traditional sense of the term, yet from a developer standpoint, they work best when updated in a similar manner. ARK was fully playable and enjoyable 2 years ago, and was worth the price back then. Since that time its expanded greatly, but still isn’t fully ‘finished’ in terms of polish. That sounds a lot like most MMOs, doesn’t it?

And I don’t think ARK or games like it would have been better or more enjoyable if the devs had stopped adding features or expanding and just focused on polishing for an official release, as that would have taken a lot of time and returned little for the players. Yes bugs are annoying, but ARK has been very very playable for a long time, so we aren’t talking terrible stuff here, but rather minor annoyances in most cases, and the stuff that is really bad usually does get fixed. Again, how many MMOs can we say the exact same thing?

I think the best fix for this would be for Steam to change how EA works, perhaps limit how long a game can remain in that status, or add a new status for games that expect to be a work-in-progress for a long time (1yr+?). In part, EA is to let players know a game isn’t finished yet, but games like MMOs and survival games that aren’t abandoned are never done, so the EA tag is accurate, but misleading. The problem isn’t with the model, but with the label.

Posted in ARK, MMO design, Rant, Steam Stuff | 11 Comments

EVE: CCP Falcon is running a thousand ratting bots himself, proof inside!

Look, more alternative facts that Goons are dead. So dead we are the most economically active alliance in the game. The RMT Empire is alive and well, everyone to the party yacht while our hordes of bots get us unassailably rich for zero work!

Jealousy makes people say and do strange things. Mix jealousy with a healthy helping of dumb, and you get clowns twisting themselves into a pretzel to try to explain something that, in reality, is rather easy to see for anyone not suffering from crippling idiocy and paranoia.

If you are a moron, go ahead and believe this. I’m sure you believe Riot causes teams during the (live broadcast) of the LCS to also lag since they, like CCP, pick winners in their clearly rigged game! Or do what most people do, have a good laugh, and come back to reality when ready.

Let’s tackle the topic of high-sec citadels, since that’s by far the easiest one to understand. Anyone who logs into EVE will see that, most of the time, there is a 0% tax citadel up around Jita. When that isn’t the case, there is a .01% citadel up, so if you can’t wait, you can go use that. Who owns the citadels really doesn’t matter, as it changes often, and since you are likely selling only PLEX or injectors in those cits (almost everything else is still sold in Jita 4-4 for obvious reasons), either your stuff near-instantly sells (you posted at the current lowest price), or worse-case you get your stuff out of asset safety after a week should the order stay up long enough for said cit to be blown up.

Now, is there money to be made hosting these citadels? Yes. Is it ‘unbeatable wealth’? Of course not. Evidence? Those cits get blown up all the time, there has never been a long-standing established hub with a non-zero tax rate, and null groups have shown that when they want, they can clear the area, only for multiple cits to pop right back up offering 0% rates.

When the cost is around 6b to bring a cit online, basically anyone can do it, while it takes the coordinated time and effort of dozens if not a hundreds of pilots over the course of 3 weeks to remove them. By design, the system controls itself, while also providing a new venue of content for those interested (people hosting, other people blowing them up, on and on we go).

As people tried to patiently point out to Gevlon, and that continues to fly straight over his head, The Mittani makes MORE money off taxes from our market up in Delve than anyone currently makes in Jita off a citadel, for a hell of a lot less effort (more on this later). This makes sense if you understand even a little about how null empires work; no large group would survive leadership telling people to deploy to high-sec to structure-bash 24/7/365 to keep the Jita area clear for just one market citadel to stay up with a high-enough tax rate to make it worthwhile. In addition to structures going up for the 3 week window that you can’t shut down, the minute there aren’t enough pilots to destroy those cits, or the force isn’t large enough to stop a hired group from stopping them, the whole thing collapses. And whenever a 0% cit is up (which again, today is most of the time), your market cit with a high-enough tax rate is sitting idle. Guess which is going to happen sooner; enough null group pilots get bored and stop showing up for structure bashes, or the supply of people dropping 6b cits reaches and stays at zero?

With that explained in painful detail for even the slowest of clowns, let’s talk about why the dead and defeated alliance know as Goons is causing Delve to be the most economically active region in the game, and why ratting income overall is up in the game.

The biggest factor is pilot maturity, which was greatly accelerated by the introduction of skill injectors. Ratting in a VNI with decent skills and without uber-min/maxing gets you about 30m or so ticks. Ratting in a better sub-cap with better skills might get you 50m ticks. Carrier ratting gets you 70m ticks. Super Carrier ratting gets you 100m ticks. If someone is really dedicated to min/max ratting, those numbers all increase. Prior to skill injectors, even if you could afford a super carrier, you either had to buy that pilot or wait for your skills to train. And then there was the issue of getting the hull, which was also far more difficult prior to citadels. That’s not the case anymore with injectors/cits, which of course leads to more people moving up the ratting tiers faster.

Combine this acceleration with Goons pumping out capitals and super capitals at massive rates in Delve (thanks Rorqs!), at very affordable prices, and it’s safe to say it’s never been easier for a Goon to afford and acquire a capital or super capital in EVE to rat in. Likely the same can be said for PL, NC., TEST, and anyone else who owns and correctly uses null space.

Now take the above and further combine it with the fact that Delve is ‘safe’ for non-idiot ratters, the fact that we aren’t currently at war, and that our systems have been upgraded and corps organized to spread people out, and boom, exploding ratting income. All of which is taxed by the alliance, meaning bigger coffers for stuff like expanding ship replacement programs, carrier fleets, and other fun/powerful benefits. Plus RMT yachts of course, can’t forget the yachts.

It’s almost like Goons are benefiting from a null system designed to rewarding people for living in their space, something the greater null community wanted for a long time and that finally CCP delivered on. Shocking that one of the better organized groups with highly talented people at the top who put in an amazing amount of behind-the-scenes work to make it all run would be so successful. What horrible game design rewarding those people and the tens of thousands under them over know-nothing clowns that just cry about things (that may or may not actually exist in reality) from the sidelines. Can’t believe such a game and the clearly corrupt developers behind it are posting record revenue 13 years after release.

And please, for the clowns chirping from the sidelines, continue to ignore that all of this only works because not only does said talented leadership put in the time and effort to entertain thousands, but said thousands also organize themselves in defense fleets to make ratting ‘safe’, show up for Ops to defend the interests of the alliance, and the work of all of the people behind the scenes putting doctrine ships up on contract, filling markets, fueling towers and structures, running things like our hauling service, our newbie programs, our training classes, and the metric shit-ton of other stuff that is in place to keep it all going and to be attractive enough to continue to being in new people. Things that aren’t required in high sec, in smaller groups, or for solo players.

But don’t worry, I’m sure any minute now someone is going to come along and create the perfect MMO to cater to you and the massive market you represent. Just please hold your breath until it happens, ok?

Fake-edit: Perhaps the most hilarious part of all the bitching that how this is all unfair and undefeatable and blablabla is that literally anyone can join Goons or the other major null empires. So long as you aren’t such an insufferable assclown that even freaking TEST would rather scam you then retain you, you too can reap the rewards of being part of a group that works its ass off to entertain you… err I mean CCP has selected to be the winner while knowing most of the ISK is being funneled out for RMT profits!

Posted in EVE Online, Goons, MMO design, Rant | 3 Comments

EVE: The one world where wealth means something, big and small

I’ve been focused on income sources of late in EVE, and part of the motivation behind that is the knowledge that, when I choose, I can use that ISK in a lot of different ways to entertain myself. That aspect, that more ISK or more skill points leads to more options is one of the true beauties of EVE compared to just about any other MMO, and it’s why EVE is pretty unique in how long it’s able to retain players and why you can be a 10 year vet and be completely clueless in many aspects of the game.

I recently completed one of my goals when I acquired my Super Carrier. In terms of big ships, there is only the Titan left to buy/fly. And with my recent dive into running 10/10 escalation sites, I’ve now also seen/beaten some of the games toughest solo PvE content (I’ve never run a burner mission). Having seen/beaten all the various Incursion sites, as well as having farmed wormhole sites back in the day, I can safely say I’ve seen almost everything PvE-related EVE has to offer. I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve at least seen a lot of it.

I’ve also been part of multiple titan kills, multiple 2000+ pilot battles, and was there when the first fully deployed Keepstar citadel blew up. I’ve been on countless PvP fleets big and small, blown up hundreds of ships and lost a decent chunk of them as well. I was part of Goons when Lenny and company moved us from the north to the south, when we attempted to assist the Russians in the south, and currently as we fight a proxy war against Co2.

Way back in the day when I ran a decently successful corp, I experienced high-sec wars, as well as many other aspects of running a group in that space. Later when we moved into wormhole space, we experienced PvP in that area, as well as all the logistic challenges of wormhole life. Later still we joining a high-profile mercenary alliance to experience larger-scale wormhole PvP and what it’s like to live in a C5 wormhole and escalate sites with capital ships.

Yet even with all of that experience, I feel like there is still so much left for me to discover and learn in EVE. I’ve never gotten serious about solo or even small-gang PvP. Having a steady stream of ISK will certainly help should I choose to do that, especially if I learn-by-doing with solo PvP.

There are also many different special interest groups within Goons that also provide different gameplay, from Reavers (deploy behind enemy lines to spread terror), to logistics areas like hauling or space maintenance, to Holesquad (wormhole people). And while I’ve been involved in a bit of production for a while now, I’m not anywhere close to what I know many are doing, which is running massive supply lines across multiple industry-focused alts.

On top of all that, there is also the fact that CCP continues to update EVE, so while there is an unmatched amount of stuff to do today, tomorrow even more will be available. I’m already looking forward to running the new PvE sites with the Incursion sig, and the sig itself has been busy testing those sites on the EVE test server. The changes to moon mining are also coming, and who knows what CCP will bring after that.

Having ISK isn’t about hitting a gold cap to say you did it, or being able to purchase all of the best-in-slot gear for whatever the current ilvl cap is until it’s replaced in an update. Those are all silly, meaningless, or short-term ideas that, once you do them, you get bored or tired of repeating.

In EVE ISK is about options, and about feeling comfortable taking a risk knowing you can recover from it. It’s about being able to do more for your Corp, or your Alliance, or about taking up a pet project and seeing it succeed or fail based on the choices you made. About having a real impact on others, positive or negative. That’s the beauty of EVE, and it’s what motives me to continue seeing my wallet get fatter and my inventory of ships expand. And best of all, I know CCP won’t make that obsolete in the next expansion. What I do today will matter tomorrow, and that is perhaps the most important thing an MMO can provide, while also being so extremely rare in the genre today.

Posted in EVE Online, MMO design | 4 Comments

EVE: Escalations perfectly compliment normal ratting

As previously mentioned, I went out and purchased a Rattlesnake battleship to run the 10/10 Escalations I sometimes get from running sites in my Super Carrier. The Rattlesnake + fit cost me just under 3 billion, and I was lucky that my current pod already also has more or less the implants I’d want for the Rattle. I’m happy to report the investment has already paid for itself, and that the 10/10 escalation is a very fun break from running the normal ratting sites.

One of the major benefits of ratting in the Karmafleet neighborhood is that when you get an escalation, it can’t spawn very far away due to the geography of our area (one long pipe). At most the site can be 5 jumps away, and all 5 of those jumps are generally in very well covered, ‘safe’ space. This is important because normally you don’t want to jump gates in a 3b+ ship that is somewhat slow without a scout, but just watching intel I can tell if travel is safe or not for the Rattle. If I was ratting in a different part of Delve, not only might the escalation spawn further away, but the route to it might take me through popular hotspots for PvP camps.

As mentioned, running the site itself is also fun. With my fit and skills, I’d have to massively screw up to die, but at the same time the site still requires following the proper steps to deal with each room, and there is the secondary goal of not just surviving, but running the site as quickly as possible. In contrast, ratting in the Super is a mostly click, click, click to blow stuff up with little consideration for what you are targeting, how far away it is, or what is happening with your ship. It’s nice and relaxing (other than watching intel to not get 30b+ blown up by enemies), and then the 10/10 is a more focused experience.

Room one is the most intensive, especially for pulling back drones as they take damage, and in making sure to kill enemy ships as they come into optimal range for sentry drones. Knowing when to switch out heavy drones for sentries also takes a bit of learning, as each drone type has a different optimal use. I’m also still experimenting when the best time is to use the micro jump drive to put myself closer to the gate, as you start 60km away, and after the jump you just need to fly back 15km or so.

Room two is pretty easy, but has the random chance to spawn a large wave of elite frigates. The frigates aren’t much of a danger, but they are very slow to kill, especially once they are too close for sentry drones to properly hit them. It’s always a nice feeling when they don’t spawn.

The final room is very high danger, but also the fastest. When you first land, you immediately micro jump drive. This puts you out of range from the many neuting battleships, and failure to do this leads to death. As your MJD spools up, you target the structure that ends the site, and once you land after the MJD, you drop sentry drones and kill that structure. As you blow that up, you drop a mobile tractor unit to eventually scoop the loot for you.

The final room has very high incoming dps, and it’s here that the bling tank comes into play. With my fit, and with it being cap stable, I don’t have an issue, but those that don’t spend as much or have lower skills might be cutting it close. Another variable is how often the enemy targets your drones. The more they do, the more times you have to pull them in, reducing your DPS and slowing the whole thing down. If you take too long, more rats will get back into range and you might die or need to warp away.

If things go well, you blow the structure up and its loot gets pulled in. Once its in your MTU, you loot that, scoop the MTU, and MJD once again to get away from the rats that are scramming you. Warp away and you are done, hopefully leaving with at least 200m+ of loot for less than 30 minutes of combat if all went well.

The final step is how to cash in. The deadspace drops I ship back to Jita if local Delve prices aren’t great. The occasional blueprint you get needs to also be shipped and then sold via contract. The overseer item you always get from the site is worth 134m, but needs to be sold directly to an NPC faction at their station. To get this done, I use my travel interceptor frigate, as we have a station where these can be sold just 10 jumps away.

The ISK flow is of course very nice, but it should be considering all the work it takes to get to this point. Having the ISK and the availability to purchase the Super to clear sites quickly, having the correctly fit Rattlesnake and the knowledge of how to use it, having all the needed skills for those ships, and of course being part of an alliance that not only owns quality null space, but also has the people and structure to keep it as safe as possible. All of that is countless billions of ISK, and countless hours of setup work.

But that’s EVE in a nutshell: it’s a game that rewards smart, cooperative play, and has the systems in place to reward it better than any other MMO by a longshot.

Posted in Combat Systems, EVE Online, Goons, MMO design