Tag Archives: F2P

Weekly Wyrm ~ Mar. 8, 2014

WoW Ysera ImageThis was a refreshing week in WoW, although I’m still working on getting keys set up and Add-Ons installed.

WoW is saving screenshots in low-quality JPG by default (see image), so I had to fix another thing in my .WTF file along with the horrible camera distance. “WTF” is an apt name for WoW’s initialization file.

I’m enjoying the mix-reviewed Cataclysm expansion so far because Hyjal is a Night Elf area. Elune be praised! There’s temple music and peaceful beauty ruined by flaming horrors. The usual.

Cataclysm offers two big starting zones, unlike other lesser-endowed MMOs that cope with player congestion through phasing, making the package seem bigger than it is.

I’m looking forward to exploring the mostly-underwater zone, Vash’ir, cited by Rift players as a mistake that WoW players hated. (I.e. Trion should be wary when designing Rift’s water world.)

Vash’ir is also a zone steeped in Night Elf lore. So yay for more elf love.

Rift F2P. WoW, And Selling Levels

Christopher Coke penned a well-written article on Rift F2P last week. I like Coke’s literary fizz. At first I thought he was Justin Olivetti under a pen name. That’s praise.

I agree that WoW made it “open season” on selling levels, and that Rift needs to do the same thing. A lot of players didn’t make it through Storm Legion. I normally complete quests like a slack-jawed rodent, but I didn’t make it. Leonore remains L58. I’m not saying I need to skip two levels. I’m saying Storm Legion was tedious.

On the other hand, selling levels is a club to the face of people who played lots of hours leveling alts and maxing crafts. It opens a can of worms.

That’s a “nebulous” problem with F2P, to use Coke’s word, and a problem Coke’s article hints at. Store sales are replacing gameplay, now including questing and leveling. Once the shine is gone from getting everything you want instantly, you’re going to lose interest. It’s that simple.

Meanwhile, the game company has your money. Will you buy the same perk again next time? Or will you say “been there, bought that?”

Someone in Massively comments said “Trion is hooked on the cash shop crack pipe now, and they can’t put it down.” That’s an apt assessment. We’ve had robot mounts, squirrel mounts, mounts from Defiance, and parakeet mounts since Rift F2P. The newest bird is a spectral budgie.

What’s Rift’s next mount flavor of the month? I’d ride a personal shirtless dwarf. I’ve heard they have spectacular endurance. Peter Dinklage has this kitty’s vote for the throne.

Elder Scrolls Online Add-Ons: Situation = Failure

When MMORPG reported this week on the state of Add-Ons in Elder Scrolls Online, this kitty was dismayed.

Zenimax is taking a strong stance against mods that give “clear mechanical advantages in competitive situations.” They also seem to extend this to PvE endgame by saying: “We do not want those who aren’t interested in using an add-on to feel compelled to do so because they cannot remain competitive without them.”

This raises the spectre of PvP directly affecting PvE, and telling players how they have to play is never a good thing. Raiders will want DPS meters, at the very least, especially when it’s difficult to tell in ESO whether people are hitting things when they swing.

For example, WoW doesn’t appear to have a built-in map coordinate display, among other things. I had to install one. Coordinates are a must-have “advantage” in PvP, so if WoW followed Zenimax’s philosophy, no one would have coordinates. Good luck with that.

I find the Elder Scrolls UI frustrating and in some ways unplayable. It’s fine that some people like it, but forcing people to play a certain way is a negative for the game. If Zenimax follows a suppressive mod philosophy that supports their minimalist mandate, that’s depressing.

South Park: Stick of Truth

According to reports, Obsidian made a great RPG out of an unlikely IP. I enjoyed Angry Joe’s glowing review of this game, for which he awarded a rating of 9/10 with a seal of approval. I won’t play Stick of Truth because I can’t play as a girl. It’s that simple.

If you made it this far, please have a cookie, mister. Happy gaming.

Quotes Of The Week

Just saying, but it would have been nice to play a girl as I am like, you know, a fucking girl. Maybe this option was absent just to avoid Sexual Harassment Panda.

– Lucy Orr, ‘Mommy got me an UltraVibe Pleasure 2000 for Xmas!’ South Park: Stick of Truth (Review)

There’s nothing wrong with kick-ass heroines, as far as I’m concerned, but I do agree that it is wrong for them to be the only representation of a ‘strong female character’.

– Francis James Franklin, Strong Female Characters and Other Heroines

Level Gifting: An Alternative To Selling Out

As many already know, last week WoW and LotRO announced plans to just auto-level players to the point where they can pay for the next expansion. Some players are disappointed, crying foul at Blizzard for such a cheap move, but this is poised to become a new standard.

Justin wrote an epic opposition to auto-leveling today. I hoped for an awesome argument against it, but that kitchen sink won’t hold the greasy-dirty sea of selling everything that matters if people are willing to pay.

Honestly, levels matter to me in the vanilla game and past the first or second expansion. After the third or fourth expansion, everyone who matters to you is at or near max level.

I hate the idea on principle, but it really does matter less then, especially if it means 50% more revenue and players to group with. There are other ways to feel special: titles, achievements, unique non-sold-out mounts and cosmetics, etc.

The irony is that Blizzard already has a good compromise idea going with its temporary Refer-A-Friend perk, and that’s level gifting.

Gifting should be the standard instead of selling levels because it solves a lot of the reasons why people want auto-leveling in the first place, and at the same time it makes real leveling more valued, not less. Here is how it works:

For every level you gain on a character, you gain the ability to donate a half level to another character. The main restriction is that you can’t donate to anyone who is equal or higher level than your character. For examples:

Scenario 1: You want an alt. So you level one character to cap, level your alt halfway to cap and donate her the rest of the way.

Scenario 2: You have a friend coming to the game. Save your mentor levels. Give them to help your friend catch up.

Scenario 3: You’re a duo with a friend or family member, and one of you can’t play as much. By donating, the other person can keep up.

Scenario 4: You’re in a guild. You’ve got a new recruit who is a tank. You need this person for the raid/dungeon runs. Everyone in the guild pitches in to get them up to speed.

There is a lot of profit incentive here for the devs, but maybe it isn’t enough. WoW is an in almost unique position as a AAA subscription-only game. An F2P game on the other hand can sell this as a perk for patron/subscription status.

Helm’s Deep NDA Doom Party

The Helm’s Deep NDA (Beta Non-Disclosure Agreement) dropped today. I feel like less of an over-the-top LotRO critic after seeing the storm of negative posts in the Official NDA-Drop Discussion thread.

Turbine was thoughtful to post a list of quick links to updated class guides. I looked over the Rune-Keeper guide, which noted the new addition of ground-targeting to LotRO.

Beta players are also saying the Rune-Keeper is no longer a hybrid class. I loved the hybrid Rune-Keeper, and I actually did switch attunements (from DPS to healing) and save the group from a wipe a few times.

Anyway. Reading that LotRO beta discussion is like watching an angry mob beat a horse that is sick because it ate all the mob’s cookies.

So let’s go contrarian and think positive. It’s easier since I’ve stepped back and have nothing emotionally invested in LotRO anymore, but keep in mind I haven’t been in the beta or obsessing on this topic for months.

Positives for players:

  • I’ve seen a surprising number of random comments from players saying they couldn’t go back to LotRO because they looked at their skill bars and their eyes glazed over with pain and hopelessness, not joy. That problem might be solved.
  • Familiarity with skill trees for new players coming from other games.
  • Maybe this structuring can finally pave the way for another expansion class. People sometimes forget that devs are intelligent, creative artists and designers. They want to do new and different things too.
  • Better balance and more defined group roles using the tree model. Classes being able to do multiple roles for real, and balanced well to do them. There are a few good reasons why Turbine wants to restrict cross-pollinating in the tree.

Positives for Turbine:

  • Their players are really, really passionate about that game. I honestly haven’t seen that level of passion in a while, if ever.
  • These skill trees will be a boon to class development for years to come. The structure will be invaluable for the class devs to rein in the mess of complications and spend less time balancing roles while doing it better.
  • Monetizing the new system with the store. I can’t believe Turbine did all this work without a plan to sell scrolls or perks for convenience and/or advantage in the new system. This is something no one is talking about.*
  • Furious news travels far and wide, and there are far more former LotRO players than current LotRO players who are upset. It’s possible the negatives and positives could be closer to positive than current players think.

*Actually, I’ve finally seen someone mention this, the Storm King, a member of the 2013 player council says: “If you want to make a small mod to your current build, you are out of luck. You will have to reclick an entire tree, if you want to make a single change to your build. And you will either have to overwrite your current build, or purchase another build tree. This was by design, so that your pain and inconvenience can be monetized. Huge suckfest.”

Weekly Wyrm ~ June 23, 2013

The big news from this last week was Microsoft reversing its stance on console DRM, basically putting the Playstation and XBOX and the whole console scene back to situation normal. No always-online requirement.

Gosh, it’s a shocking miracle. They said it was already built in, and this was the way it was going to be. But not, thanks to gamers as a whole, including military people with unreliable connections writing impassioned speeches, and also thanks to Sony, which is awesome.

Angry Joe covered this. I’m going to write my thoughts about Rift F2P after playing every day since it launched.

Rift F2P

This week I realized another silver lining to F2P. F2P ruins immersion by adding real-life money to the economy and meta-elements into the game world, like NPCs that sell for store credits and store buttons on the game interface.

On the other hand, by letting players play when they want, it effectively removes an invisible expiration date that is always on your characters during a subscription. If you stop your credit card payments, your characters are cut off from you, never to be seen again.

I am accepting of Rift F2P so far. Rift doesn’t spam your interface with store hotbuttons, and it puts your daily gift out of sight in the corner of the store panel, so that doesn’t spam you either. As LotRO demonstrated, those two things are my breaking point.

Per this last Friday livestream, Trion is adding not just a mage tank, but also a warrior healer soul, cleric support, and rogue healing soul. The names of these were linked in the forums to pages on the Magelo web site that showed bunches of skills.

Supposedly these are taken down now, but I noticed the rogue’s combat rez was called “Kiss of Life”, which is kind of rogue-sexy. The kitty likes. As someone in the forum says, these souls also have to be good because of F2P. If they are weak and uninteresting, no one will buy them.

The livestream also seemed to announce the next expansion or region (not clear on that), which will be off Telara on the plane of water. No, it’s not 100% swimming because the devs recognize that players don’t like that. The water plane in Rift is the realm of madness and insanity, not just a big ocean.

The only bad thing about Rift F2P (so far, to me) is that it commits the dire sin of putting a store interface on every NPC that sells something. The first vendor you reach in the game has a 4-slot bag. Five gold or ten credits for a bag, please. Oh, you don’t have ten cents worth of store credit? You’ll need to pony up $5 to get 750 credits, so you can get 10.

Rift F2P is not without its “tricks”. The first zone and the capital city are loaded with this same scheme–a really low store credit price on things that are trivial, which serves no monetary purpose other than to persuade people to buy that first credit package. I wish that I’d bought extra roles for my warrior before F2P, since now they cost store credits.

I hope F2P helps Rift. Rift is very raid-focused and not casual friendly. Just the first stretch of the main quest in the first zone makes you group, and if you don’t you’re getting smacked down.

Forced grouping on the Rift main questline has always equated to throwing millions of dollars out the office window, and even more so now that Rift is F2P. This doesn’t bother me too much since I’ve already endured it, but it’s going to frustrate a lot of F2P casuals.

I am committing time and effort to Rift now. I’m having a lot of fun, and I haven’t even looked at the housing or new continents yet. I crafted a bunch of bags for lowbies.

If you are a new player on Faeblight, send a mail request to Leonore, and I will send you a free 18-slot bag that will last you until L30+ along with your backpack. I gave one away just now to a former WoW player thanks to the Rift minimized program button on my toolbar flashing and alerting me when I got a tell.

It’s like that with Rift–so many little features. Last night I macroed saved UI layouts for when I want to play windowed mode or full screen. I couldn’t do that in LotRO. I bought a $50 credit package for Rift today.

I also bought some REX (Rift Exchange currency). I kind of see now how REX works. It’s complicated. There are no more queues on Faeblight, but gold-sellers are spamming chat like crazy. Trion is fighting them. The spammers look a little silly competing with REX, trying to undercut the platinum prices.

So. This gamer is happy to have a “home” again in a great MMO. Yolari re-affirmed that she is done with MMOs, so like on this blog, I’ll be going solo.

More reading:

For more reading about F2P, I would recommend Beau Hindman’s Massively article from last week.

Weekly Wyrm ~ June 16, 2013

raider imageThis weekend I played Rift, the FFXIV beta, and more Rift. I also caught up with Elder Scrolls E3 coverage and inked a new comic strip that isn’t finished. So here goes.

Rift F2P

I spent a lot of this weekend working on my Rift newbie guide, and I’m glad to see a lot of people visiting and hopefully using it. I think I’ve spent as much time Googling how to play Rift again than I’ve spent actually playing the game.

Friday, Elrar and the Rift devs did the most amazing dev chat I’ve ever seen–two hours of literally getting drunk on whiskey and scotch, answering fan questions, and spilling their guts on future content. (Ok, they didn’t literally spill guts, although one fan asked Daglar to take his shirt off.)

I was excited to hear them mention a mage tanking soul, so that locks my class decision. I was even more excited to hear the devs mention venturing off Telara into other planes (!!!), which is something I always hoped for.

I’ve sort of started dual-boxing my two old accounts on my new computer, bringing up a lowbie warrior supported by my mentoring mage. Rift boxes the same as WoW except with the addition of mentoring. I love it because I actually want to play the low level zones again, and I can get XP and on-level currency for doing so.

Other Livestream notes:

  • The devs commented that the art team was super excited right now and putting in long hours on a new project.
  • Two new raids coming soon. For what it’s worth.
  • Tradeskill extension scroll (get another crafting profession slot, and you can purchase more than one) is the second best seller in the store right now. I didn’t know these existed, but they are a great idea. This is just another example of the Rift guys doing things that no one else does or is willing to do.
  • No flying mounts foreseen in the future because Rift invasions are a ground game. It wouldn’t work well.
  • Refer-a-friend is expanding.

Daglar also emphasized that Rift would maintain a raid focus at endgame with no raid finder or any watering down of “prestige” content. This was disappointing, because it’s why I originally quit. On the other hand, I appreciate the openness and honesty.

We will see. F2P and hardcore raiding are not a natural mix. Rift has always hunted WoW players since even before launch, and their F2P advertising took another shot at WoW with a panda image. Now that Rift is both a WoW clone and F2P, and WoW is not F2P, Rift may need to re-think their strategy.

What types of players might leave WoW and make the switch now?

Elder Scrolls Online

The E3 interview videos were a little boring, again without solid gameplay. The big TESO news of E3 was the planned co-launch of PC, PS4, and XBone in spring of 2014. Some other news included no housing at launch and no romance but some sort of bonding ritual that allows you and your partner to get XP bonus rings.

Adam Sessler (originally from G4TV) looks like John Malkovich now with his bald look. Shiny distracted the kitty, and she clicked the link to see the Saint’s Row 4 interview instead.

I might be more excited about Saint’s Row than The Elder Scrolls. If you’ve only got two skills, then forget about forward slash and fire bolt. I’ll take a machine gun and a grenade launcher. (Kidding. A little bit. I can’t wait to see TESO.)

Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn Beta

First, it’s my understanding that the NDA is lifted. Second, some history for those who don’t know.

FFXIV the original launched in September, 2010. I was there, unemployed, and ready to go. I considered it a waste of my formerly hard-earned time and money. I did not resubscribe.

In fact, the original game was bad to the point that Square Enix allowed people to just play for free for a long while until they figured out what to do with it, and then finally pulled it to re-build and re-launch this coming August with new management.

I was begrudgingly impressed by my short foray into this relaunch. The character creation is now fantastic with some great ideas, including the ability to preview your character in different lighting and settings, to choose from several different voice sets, and to preview your character going through some emotes.

Two of the three worst things about the original appear solved: the interface and the auction system. (The third thing in my opinion was not enough content, only a fraction of an MMO.) There is now an auction house. No more nightmare of opening up one slow-loading retainer inventory after another searching for what you want.

The user interface and game controls are supposedly different between PC and PlayStation 3 versions. It looks very good.

My overall impression after only a few hours of play is that this game breathes with a special feel and spirit, and I’m happy for die-hard fans of this franchise. While I’m not very inclined to give this MMO a second chance after it stole my money the first time, the fans of this effort have every reason to have hope for A Realm Reborn.