Saturday, August 8, 2009

We Have Moved!

I just want to post that if you do not see any new posts here, then head over to I'll be writing mMO' MONEY! for that site fulltime now. But I will still keep an updated blogroll @ Wordpress, it's better than having to keep opening and closing tabs in chrome.

Hope you all enjoy your gaming as much as I am.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Top Ten Things I Love About EVE.

Good morning y'all,

I am not the play 100 games and master none type of player, I am more of the find one that sticks to your ribs and go to the wall with it. A game life for me never started at 1 or 15, it started at 50, 60 or 100 depending on the game. According to Bartles, I am an Achiever and an endgame player. If feel that I was due for a change, I've been bouncing around many games these past few months, then in light ofrecent events I have decided to take the EVE Online plunge and see what all the hullaballoo was all about.

To me, EVE has always been that hot biker chick you see when you walk into a bar. She's attractive and has a bad reputation, you don't know if you are going to strike out, or if you "can hang" with her tough biker pals. But if the chemistry was just right you would be hooked up with her for awhile. EVE always seemed "cool" and I was right about my biker chick theory, we clicked right away. For months now my question has been, "what am I going

to play now", and that's changed to, "why haven't I played this sooner?" If you have been scoping out EVE, on the fence with your current game or in the market for something new then maybe my point of view will help.

Hot chicks that fly spaceships are hotter than a Hog on a Harley. Check out Mynxee (right) at LifeInLowSec.

10) The EVE-conomy: I'll get this out of the way quick, I ranted and raved about it on SUWT #51, enough already. The fact that this is a single server game provides some interesting situations, especially the fact that players can create (and rip off) their own banks, bring their own corporations public and pay dividends. However, if you choose to go the honest trader route and eventually a business tycoon like I am. You will find out that your local economy is actually a free trading market with prices that differ from other regions. Prices fluctuate between regions and it can be very competitive, as these regions become little "micro-economies" traders compete for the best price. Sounds familiar? Honey, I'm home!

This is a true player driven economy, players are driven but not bound to their local trading hub. If Jita is not for you then you can shop anywhere you want on the fly and start trading making money right away. Infalible wrote an extensive FAQ on jumpstarting your trading career, I've tested it and it works. I was hooked when I saw the words "day-trading", I'm not day-trading yet but I'm already in the millions, thanks Infalible I owe you a donation.

9) Graphics: Breathtaking! CCP really captures the sprawling "deep open space" feel without sacrificing small details on the ships, planets or bases (belong to us). They're layered technology eliminates any lag, provides vibrant colors as a backdrop and you never feel like you're in the same place twice. They have built in a real-time orbit sys

tem so your environment changes even while you're in it. If you have played any of the Freespace games, Freelancer, Sins of a Solar Empire and even Sword of the Stars then you will appreciate EVE. Some of the "zones" actually look like they were recreated from the NASA website photos.

8)Community: I've a

lways wondered why EVE players have this confident swagger about them. It's because they play a quality game, they love it and they're not angry like other gamers. The EVE community as I experienced so far are vibrant, helpful and most importantly MATURE. Everyone I've come in contact with has been a perfect gentleman, even some of the pirates! EVE has a sub base of 300,000 players with anywhere from 25k up to 48k online at any given time as I have experienced, I've never been alone for too long a period before seeing someone fly by me.

If you're worried about the learning curve as I was, then don't. EVE comes equipped with a rookie chat channel with a GM there to answer any and all questions. (I wouldn't want to do his job!) Not the ask directions type of guy, then there is a complete EVE-Wiki and plenty of faq threads on the forums with links to player cre

ated websites to help you. The EVE community even has it's own magazine and online DJ music channel with a jukebox. EVE players are involved!

7) Lore: I don't know much about the ingame lore, but what I do know is that EVE consistently makes the news. Stories of embezzlement, double-crosses and corporate espionage involving real people and are real events. You just can't write some of this stuff, it's so far-fetched. Ever hear the phrase, truth is stranger than fiction?

6) Gameplay: EVE is such an open ended game, that you can play any style or speed you want to. Hardcore PVP? No problem, grab a ship and head over to a 0.0 space. Casual care bear™, no problem there are hundreds of NPC "agents" and 2,000 missions to choose from of all different flavors. In EVE, I just don't feel the "rush to cap" as I did in other games, I feel the "hey, let's do some (insert activity here) for once" because my skills constantly update as time goes by.

If the UI might seem daunting at first, don't worry, it runs just like any windows program. Basically, if you can read this article then you can play EVE, it's easy. TBQH, sometimes long trips in the ship might be a drag, but EVE feels more like a marathon than a sprint. I'm tired of rushing all over the place to do this quest, drop this off, kill 100 of these and run back. Gimme a break already, I'm tired of being in a rush on my free time.

5) PLEX: I like the fact that CCP offers an ingame method of subscription renewal. The Pilots License Extension (PLEX) can be bought off the market for around $350 million ISK. If that sounds like a lot of ISK then you can drop $35 for 2 months of playtime on a EVE timecard. If you are making a steady income then you are actually playing for free. That is an honest free to play, not the type of game that I have to reach for my credit card every time I play this game. There is no cash shop here for now and that makes me happy; and even if there was, I would still play EVE.

4) Costs: I know you've heard me mention the college gaming fund, this game doesn't stretch it or break it one bit. It actually gives you incenti

ves to invite friends and even advertising for the company can earn you money; CCP has one of the best marketing campaigns I've seen for a game. You can get a 21 day trial on Steam or buy Apocrypha for $15 with a 19.99 fee and get two months playtime. Or buy the box for $40 as I did, get a goofy ship and 60 days of hassle free play. No matter how you slice it, you get a lot of game for $35 bucks. I for one, don't mind paying for quality but if I can get it free none the sweeter, so if anyone wants a 21 day key to try EVE risk free then send me an email, it's on the house. (damn, I sounded like a commercial there…)

3) Longevity: EVE has been around since 2003, I feel that the CCP team has gelled by now and have squashed most if not all the bugs

. CCP continually rewards and challenges there players by steadily releasing new content with the most recent being Apocrypha. One thing that impressed me is that you never have to pay for an expansion, just the monthly fee going forward. EVE downloads without a hitch and has good customer service. Yes, you have to manually download your patch but after that you are ready to fly. You really need to see the new tech 3 ships, they are hot!

2) Customizability: If you have no interest in being a wall street mogul in space then you have plenty of options to choose from. From 4

different races and numerous classes, you don't ever have to feel trapped in that class. The skill and certificate program is how you gain access to different technologies and ships that mean you can fly any type of ship and play any style you want. From the tanking class of large warships, support ships that release drones to stealth based covert ops, you can be any race and have access to anything as you train it. Unfortunately, your avatar is only a still photo, you only move your ship. That's going to change in the future I've heard, but even the avatars can be completely personalized from different backgrounds to the way the light appears on your face.

Whether it be a doctors, lawyers or an Indian chief, EVE offers a complete Immersion experience. Anyone who has played Ryzom can identify with the loose class structure by point gain. It's just like Ryzom, except Innnnnn Spaaaaaaaace ( insert echo machine here).

Last but not least is Freedom: Beyond all the options and bonuses I previously gave you, the ones that stick out to be are really simple. For one, I don't have to constantly be pushing the W button to advance in the game. Your skills accumulate over time as you train them in a queu.

So this means I can be __Insert anything here__ while I'm not online and still advance in an MMO?


And if I am mining, I can just sit there and watch myself collect money or __insert anything here__ if I get too bored. (Don't try this in low sec please, I won't be responsible.)


Also, if I have to make a trade a few jumps aways, I can hit autopilot __insert hot biker chick here__ and come back when I arrive! (again don't try this in low sec.)


So there you have it, I guess I'm sounding quite the fanbizzy but when something makes me this happy I need to share it. I know that to the masses this is old news, but to the one or two that are out there might benefit. If it wasn't for the passionate community and the MMO BLOGOSPHERE I would have still been playing (edited). EVE definitely changes my future gaming plans, for now. I feel like I can go long term with EVE, although the way it's set up there is no endgame or cap level.

You just EVE-olve.

Play safe,


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Free: The Realistic Direction of the Internet Economy.

Hello all!

Call it the universe, call it luck or call it a co-INKy-dink but I was reading my morning blog posts. I was impressed by Ivan's post on "MTCW" about the transference of DDO and TCoS to F2P. That was on the heels of Beau hitting the nail on the head about TCoS, both articles put me in a thoughtful mood. So I went outside, enjoyed the sun and read some of the Sunday papers. While I was reading the NYTimes Book Review…yes I read the book review!

"He's a supergeek! A supergeek! He's supergeeking owwwwww!"

I'm Rick James…, ANYWAY, to my point it seems the sun had shed light on the whole "where is the P2P MMO community going" conundrum. It was in the shape of an article written by Virginia Postrel who reviews Chris Andersons new book "Free: The Future of a Radical Price" (Hyperion). Chris Anderson is the editor in chief of Wired Magazine and Author of "The Long Tail", he explains why many of the common services we use online are free, and the future of the internet price point is going.


Postrel writes, "Driving the trend are the steeply declining prices of three essential technologies: computing power, digital storage and transmission capacity". In Anderson's book he says, "The trend lines that determine the cost of doing business online all point to the same way: to zero." It seems that all the functions that make content accessible are getting cheaper and that enables online companies to shave off margins so that there over head gets so cheap that they can afford to charge nothing for customers to get in the door.

That may be a reason why a company as Frogster can charge nothing to download the Runes of Magic software, because it costs them nothing to ship it to you and store it. Same as the mirror sites as well. Now how do these internet companies, take for example get away with charging nothing, give so much and charge absolutely nothing. Anderson's answer is, "Most obviously, online advertisers pay for eyeballs…" as you see all the ads for games, free to play and otherwise on the home page of mmorpg. That's how they make their cash, and possibly pay nothing to run the site other than manpower, serverspace and bandwith. And obviously Anderson writes that those are getting cheaper as we speak.

According to a NDP survey from, online and in-game advertising to grow from $886 million to $1.4 billion by 2010, so with margins down and sales expected to grow like this, who do you think is going to make the most money here?

So my answer to both questions from beau and ivan's post are yes, it will help both DDO and TCoS tremendously to embrace the F2P model at this point. However there is a sobering statement made in Chris Andersons book, "Everyone can use a Free business model, but only the number 1 company can get really rich with it." This means that only the strong will survive, and they both better bring their "A" game with them.

Free is a powerful word to consumers, it almost gets anyone's attention. Sometimes skeptically, but never fails to turn a head or two. Case in point when WoW developer Tom Chilton admits that the fact of WoW going full force micro-transactional isn't out of the question in the future. They will need to adopt a different business strategy for according to Game Analyst Michael Cai "the biggest competition to Wow will be from the F2P market." He explains that a new company will have to invest from 500 million to 1 billion to create a "subscription based model" to compete with wow.

WoW changing to a free to play/cashop is a possibility according to the new trend; what will it do to the struggling games like Age of Conan, Chronicles and the new DDO Unlimited. TCoS was introduced with a failing business model, "so I can kiss you and don't have to pay for dinner? Sweet!" Even I who played from CB got bored at level 4 and uninstalled, it just didn't have the "sticky power" to keep me playing. If it was a freebie, then I probly would have kept it on my hard drive. Plus the whole Akklaim coin thing turned me off, it seemed they were trying to charge you for an Akklaim account and then for the Spellborn sub. Uh-Uh, I was born at night, but not last night.

DDO, they need to admit that they tried to catch the WoW vapors and failed with a buggy launch, forced grouping, and lack of content (then). Agreed, they have made big changes to the game and are offering much more in the way of solo content, this makes it a better game. But going freebie/cashop will get more people that never played the game to give it a shot, as Ivan describes it as a "saving grace". Even as a F2P do they have the power to compete or even survive this market against pure-bred f2p's like Atlantica Online? DDo sin't a bad game, I did some interviews of the community (failed project) and I've read many blogs lately, Hudsons Hideout gives a very good, "this game isn't bad after allz" review of DDO.

How much do the purebred F2P's are making, we really don't know. Most companies keep that information guarded and I for one have been crawling for that info continually. The closest I got was from Ralph Coster's website, where he says that "in his observations free-to-play MMOs are that they typically earn from 30 cents a head up to $2 or so in terms of ARPU and from $10 to $60 in terms of ARPPU." A game like Puzzle Pirates nets $230,000 just from 5,000 users, that's a pretty good average for an obscure game.

What does all this drivel mean? I will sum it up with, "It is hard to come into a house with a 900 pound gorilla living in it and find a place to sit." The market is dominated by one game, one company with a couple of not so bad number two's. It is hard to demand a fee that is par with a more popular (I didn't say better, I said popular!) game and be profitable while giving sub-par content or service. With the costs of distributing going lower, advertising revenues on the rise and an open door "limitless" micro transactional model becoming the norm, then it benefits latebloomers and struggling games to switch gears.

Will it save games like DDO and TCoS from the scrapheap alongside Tabula Rasa and The Matrix Online; we really don't know, time will tell. Our job as consumers is to benefit from their competition and get some free game time, most importantly have fun; and talk about it on our free blogs.

One thing that Anderson does touch on is the amateur market, the people like us that want to contribute, "to have an impact and to be recognized as an expert in something", he says. This is a never ending flow of really good, amateur content on the internet. I mean the podcasting, vid-casting and blogging market that I just stumbled into like a drunken sailor stumbles into a whorehouse on leave. Just look at the guy who trashed United over his busted up guitar. I would of paid a couple of bucks for that CD single back in the day I used to buy CD's, again point proven, I don't pay for music anymore.

But all this free feel-good feeling lies a warning, "It is false to assume that no price means no value. But it is equally false to argue that value implies profitability." I pay for value but I like free anything, don't you. I'm going to find that book tmrw in the library so I can give more information on this oh, so interesting topic.

Until then…

Play safe,

Frank AKA Inktomi

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Value of MMO Etiquette.

Hye everyone!

I was just crawling around the net today, reading up on some EVE, since I just installed it last night. No, not the 21 day freebie, I actually broke the bank and bought the box for $40 big ones and I’m going to play EVE. There is a reason for this but I can’t get into it right now, but you will be excited to find out why in the coming future.

Anywho, the theme for today seems to be grouping, the dislike or like thereof. My friend Mystik writes in his blog on why he doesn’t like grouping and Stradden’s Staff Blog pretty much sets the record straight on why people that like to solo don’t normally have to be shunned off to Planet Single Player RPG. I know that there are a lot of single player rpg lovers out there, I am definatelty one of them, but for some reason I prefer to be around other people while I waste away behind a computer screen. I don’t know call me social or something.

Then it occurred to me, Maybe some players may be new and don’t really know how to “get into and run successful groups”, which for myself was something that came in time and practice. So I decided to call up my man GOOGLE and ask him for “MMORPG Etiquette”, etiquette is really just a fancy word for following a rule of polite behavior.

Well, my good man Google never lets me down, so I am going to share with you the best 8 I found.

1) has a very clear cut do’s and don’ts article that most of the stuff an experienced mmo player will know such as…

“Don’t: Be a jerk. This one may seem obvious, but being a Jerk is a quick way to get ostracized in a game. If you steal someone else’s kill or harass other players, the word will get out and other players won’t group with you.” And…

“Do: Be a team player. Don’t try to do something your character isn’t good at. If you’re tank class, focus on absorbing damage and staying alive, not dealing damage. If you’re a healer / support class, do your job and heal, don’t try casting offensive spells.

This seems to be the common theme amongst most threads I read, some people just don’t know how to handle themselves. There are many others, such as Don’t use a third party program, don’t kill steal, don’t ninja loot and don’t just add someone to a group without first sending tell. That seems to be a biggie in this next guide from…

2) They give ten tips on mmorpg etiquette and this is number one from them:

This is perhaps my biggest annoyance in MMOG's and I saved it for last. When you invite someone to a group or a guild, have the decency to send a tell first. Don't you want to know what or who you are inviting to where? One of the most annoying things you can have happen is to be running along and for no good reason get a guild or group invite window pop up in your face. I can't emphasize this enough, "SEND A TELL FIRST!" What good does it do a person to join a blind group invite only to have to leave it because they don't want to go where you are going.

TBQH, it annoys me too. I just click the decline button and then wait for the tell, no tell, oh well. I ALWAYS ask someone first if they would even LIKE to group, not just send an invite. After awhile, once your friendslist starts to get meaty then if you want to send an invite off the fly to one of your buddies, I don’t think he/she will mind.

3) Something Awful: Yes! For once in my life, something good comes out of something awful. They have a very simple and funny comparison using screenshots between two different wow personas and how they carry themselves. For example…

I rofl’d irl, is there something wrong with me?

The comparisons are very funny but also do go back to the basics of “don’t be a jerk”, there is the polite way about it and the unpolite way. Mind you, I am not an angel 100% of the time I am online, but if it has to get ugly I never fight in Guild chat or in public. It’s in /tells or let’s just duke it out in a duel and get our frustrations out that way.

4) I wasn’t surprised when had a list about mmorpg common courtesies; personally I have always been generous with the loot, unless it was something that I was specifically in the raid party or group for. It has always been, “Is that a direct upgrade to my current stuff?” If not, then greed, if it is I usually throw up the dice to the Dice Gods and hope for the best. They put my personal pet peeve of don’t be a loot whore at number 4.

“The typical convention among pick-up groups (i.e., strangers that just met in game right before the group) is that you should only choose Need if the item is something that your character can use right away, and is better than what you have. It is highly frowned upon to say that you Need an item for another character that you may or may not even have. It is also not OK to say that you Need the item because you need money and want to sell it.

5) surprised me when someone wrote a very short but honest review on mmo etiquette. The biggest one that stuck out to me was aimed at the veterans, you know who you are. You have Epic everything down to your socks, 3 level 80’s and you eat Naxx cereal for breakfast, this one’s for you…

“Remember when you were a newbie? All of us were not born in to this world and suddenly knew how to play MMORPG type games instantly. We all had to start from somewhere. Keep this in mind when a new person asks you for help. If you have some time, spare credits or equipment you can not use anymore; let them have it. In another game I gave a new person some equipment and gold that was meaningless to me. Needless to say the next time I saw that person he was higher level than me and in return for my kindness he gave me a very rare item. What goes around, comes around.

That is a biggie for me, since I have been ‘tweening games for some months now I am constantly a newbie. As far as I could remember from my time at Anarchy the community was always nice and helpful; the game itself was another story. In my opinion a community can make or break a game, I stayed on AO for a few months and was coming up on level 100 on my martial artist. The graphics were the dealbreaker for me, that’s for another story though.

6) just gives the lesson on Barrens Chat. Anyone who played Vanilla or Pre-BC wow knows the deal with barrens chat. This pic pretty much says it all…

Insert pic here

I am not only a survivor of Barrens chat, but the Valkurm Dunes of FFXI weren’t a walk in the park either. And if you had subclasses you needed to level, then you found yourself in the dunes. I went through the dunes 8 times, and sometimes I found myself /facepalming and sometimes I would laugh, but when it got ugly and nasty I usually took a break. Public humiliation is just not my style, I’m in favor of a good joke but the “so’s your mom” punchline get’s played out after awhile. Try to keep your material fresh, “somewhat” pg-13 and don’t insult people in public chat for a cheap laugh, you wouldn’t want it done to you.

7) just has a list of abbreviations, so the next time you are in Undercity you can decipher some of the gibberish in trade channel like a pro. But always be careful…

Seller: WTS L60 Shld, pst 100g

Whisper to Seller: What shield is that?

Whisper to me: 100g!

Whisper to Seller: lol you got me! DX

Whisper to me: RoFL

This is an old joke from Dethecus.

8) Last but not least is Chris Pirillo’s site, he basically just tell us not to pester people. And some things can be annoying when playing online, especially in chat programs like Teamspeak or Ventrilo. Even I, yes moia, have commited some ventrilo errors, such as…

Don’t play music over the server, but make have your sounds levels good. You don’t want to be too quite or too loud. You may also want to make sure that the people are not hearing echos or game sounds effects from your side. It is also good to set your vent/ts client to have a P-t-t (Push to Talk) button configured. This way, game sounds wont activate the micrphone, and it also won’t allow your clients to constantly broadcast out.

Hee, hee, hee…ooops. Never said I was perfect.

There you have it, the top 8 MMORGP Etiquette guides I found online. If you are new to a game or to the MMO scene then these are definitely worth a read. If you are an old-timer like myself and some other people I know from the site, it’s good to brush up and if you see someone having a problem getting invites then you can direct them to these helpful sites; and to my blog as well!

See you soon!

Play safe,


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

World of Warcraft Possible Free to Play, says Blizz Dev Tom Chilton

I am definitely one to admit where I am wrong, and I am wrong. Maybe Richard Aihoshi is right when he says that RMT is inevitable and that most MMO's would embrace the free to play model over traditional pay to play model used by most mainstream MMORPG's in the coming future.

Posted today on, Long time developer Tom Chilton addresses the question in an interview if the incredibly popular World of Warcraft can embrace a micro-transactional approach. His response, " I certainly think it's possible that we could do some kind of micro-transaction stuff. Whether or not World of Warcraft ever goes the direction of, I guess like Anarchy Online has gone the direction of going free-to-play with micro-transactions. Whether we ever shift to a free-to-play model is really too hard to say at this point. Anything I say now could easily five years from now end up seeming like, oh my gosh, that was an incredibly dumb thing to say, how naive!" – Courtesy

This is in the light of the SOE Tween based mmorpg, Free Realms reaching 3 million registered users in record time. When Tom was asked about the phenomenon of Free Realms he simply told, "Is that really more successful? I don't know. It's a nebulous land of whoever wants to feel better about saying that they got the best. At the end of the day it's all about whichever company is making the most money will claim that they're the best, but whatever – as a game designer and developer that doesn't interest me that much."

We also might see a trend forming as Turbine Inc. is turning towards a micro-transactional approach with DDO Online. As well as Frogster buying the rights to "The Chronicles of Spellborn" and turning that into a Free-to-play model.

I know personally that the community that is anticipating the release of Cryptic's Superhero based MMORPG Champion's Online would like to know what a "Cryptic Buck" is. Since the company never confirmed it's purpose, there is speculation that Champs might be implementing a cash shop when released.

I know it is hard to deny that lifting the lid of spending off of spending makes micro-transactional mmorpg's very attractive to game publishers and developers. But do we really know how much more profitable it would be for the already successful WoW Franchise?

My guess, really my prediction is that there is a coming storm from Blizzard in the ways of Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 and the super secret new mmorpg that Blizzard is working on. That's wow would go free to play while the new IP will command a monthly charge like wow is now. According to Tom Chilton he has been working on this new IP for some years now and has been in development "on a very small scale". He was also very ambiguous about the details and doesn't indulge much information about it other than he feels the fans will be excited.

Blizzard does nothing on a small scale.

Play safe,


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Eve Online Players Ripped Off Yet Again

This time by Ebank for 200 billion isk, it is so sad that greed prevails. This time the culprit is Ricdic, of the prominent Ebank Financial Institution who embezzled over 200 billion of Eve Online currency to trade in for (get this) $6,300 AUS or $5,100 USD. This was done as he told Reuters to pay of medical bills and put a DP on a house.

Isn't that what a job is for?

Maybe if the father of two would get offline and get a second job he wouldn't have to rip off players funds. However, if these funds were ill-gotten gains, then maybe turnabout is fair play. I believe in karma. And he would possibly get to keep his EVE account, since he was banned because transferring isk to cash breaks the Terms of Service agreement. GOOD! Finally some justice is done here.

Original Reuters Article: HERE

And to Ricdic…

'Nuff said.

Play safe,


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In response to Richard Aihoshi’s:F2P or Not F2P

Here is the original article: Richard Aihoshi’s:F2P or Not F2P

I was going to comment on the forums, but the writing demon took over my keyboard so I decided to write a full article on it.

I have been working on a project for F2P and a virtual currency series. I feel that long term there will be certain changes and effects on how we spend money on the internet and predict that there will be one universal online currency one day. I've been doing ALOT of research, to the point that it is killing my gametime, but again this supposedly is fun to me. I read Richard's stuff alot, some stuff I agree with and some I don't. I take a "take what you can and leave the rest" attitude in whatever I do; especially in gaming, journalism and culture.

I saved an article that ingame advertisiing would reach $1 Billion by 2014. HERE

So the big powers that be in the advertising world and the game companies are going to throw millions of ads in our face between now and then while we are bashing someone head in. Big deal. Again, one this I do agree with is that games is a HUGE business. However, the western world just doesn't seem to love (many like, but don't love) the game that you feel that is clawing at your pockets every chance it gets. It's just not fun, I'm sorry. I don't mind seeing an ad, but don't take away from the experience, that happens with TV and quite honestly, I hardly watch TV but will watch an uninterupted DVD with in-movie advertisiing. Because it doesn't take away from the movie itself.

The clearest way that a community or society speaks is by patronism. If you notice the top 10 most popular games on are listed as follows. 7 pay to play games, 1 free to play, 1 free to try then subscription and one unreleased. I don't think that ST:TOR is going to be free to play. And the sole free to play game, imo , is by itself a great game, I ran it for a few months before I moved on. You don't see any f2p games in the hype column either. This community has spoken and not even said a word. They spoke with their time and money, which is univeral in any language.

The Gamer Society that I know like to have their costs up front, know what they are paying and hope they know what they are getting. I particually do not like to be coaxed into a situation with words such as "free" just to be stuck with costs to progress ON TOP OF the time I am spending to progress (grinding, leveling, pvping etc) in a game. I would like to say, "Ok, this is what I'm playing, what I want to do in this game and this is how much it's gonna cost me." Very simple math that doesn't have me looking for my credit card and have to balance a checkbook every time I want to get a new ( Insert Macguffin here ). I feel that in F2P games, for my time and money this game better be worth it. Some are, mind you, but most are not and I can say for myself I am tired of getting burned, I'm very wary these days. Most AAA rated MMO's except for a chosen few, are subscription based, we are paying for quality and I will never mind that, I am sometimes even wary of them.

Free to try is a powerful tool, it gives people the chance to fall in love with something before you have to marry it. And yes, when we put down a credit card number we are commiting to a monthly charge and in some cases it's not easy just to close an account. There is an individual that has had some problems in cancellling his Chronicles of Spellborn account and that is a nightmare. I for one liked the method they used, to play the game until a certain level then "poop or get off the pot". That worked for me and I left that game uncommited.

On DDO going online, the game was losing customers slowly but surely. I interviewed players from all stages and it was a split, half was going to continue or start playing the game and the other were quitting or not going back. The dichotomy there was plain as day, whether they stay long term only time will tell. That is the only thing inevitable in that scenario, time will pass and people will speak without saying a word. I personally think that it was very shrewd on what turbine is doing, they see the effect of f2p has on many other games and are trying to capture that market share. When I figured out that if I was going to play DDO, then I would be paying 15 for VIP then having to spend money to open content, I changed my mind. You can't bleed me dry, it's one or the other, I'll pay your sub or buy content. Sorry, I work off a budget.

I for one am investing in a few F2P games, one of them is Free Realms. I have a 3 year old nephew who I love dearly, sometimes when I watch him we play Free Realms and Spider Man: Web of shadows (he loves it). Where SOE gets my money is through, "Uncle Frank, I want to race a car." I promptly buy him a racecar of his choice. "Uncle Frank, can we do this" and out comes my credit card again for a monthly sub. Yeah, it's only 5 bucks, but I feel a little resentful that I have to pay $5 bucks AND get pinched for every othe crazy whim that a little 3 year old has, AND THEY HAVE A MILLION OF THEM!

Wizard101 is doing the exact same marketing scheme. That's how they get to the parents wallets is from the big pair of ___ eyes that you just can't refuse. Children have been always been very successful on weaseling money out of adults, And game companies continue to exploit it. I don't mind, I'm never cheap when it comes to familt, although if it was just $5 bucks or even $15 bucks it would be ok, because it's quality time and the costs are capped. For everything else there is the word no.

Today China banned the use of virtual money for trading in real goods. So that blows my Universal Virtual Currency theory right out of the water. But you also have to consider, why did the Chinese government (china the home of RMT) shut down a mulit-billion Yuan business? Was the fact that people were using that money to gamble, were people getting ripped off, laundering money? Were Chinese workers being mistreated and forced to work in bad "sweatshop" like environments? These are all activities surrounding the RMT market. Obviously something wasn't right there and The Chinese Government has spoken.

The game that is courting me now is Ryzom, I dl'd it for FREE, I get a 21 day trial and only $11 bucks for a sub. Thank you Boo Turk-aye! WOW that was a good deal and I am getting alot of game for $11 dollars. The game is very good quality and has alot of things that most F2P's don't have, for one is a content editor. I also have friends in LOTRO that are beating me up to go there, "cmon we have a big guild" they say. But even at a price of 9.95 for the software and 9.95 a month, I can't commit. I am happy with getting something free and trying something new for once.

So I don't knock getting something for free, just make sure everything is on the up and up. Don't hit me with hidden fees, don't lock content behing the cash shop, don't let millions of bot in to spam the trade channel, don't give me terrible customer service, don't force feed me stuff that I need to buy to advance, if I want it I will earn it. And don't tell me that I go to work to earn it, I go to work to pay my bills, whatever I have left over goes to my interests.

Don't tell me that something is inevitable, that means I don't have a choice. There are many things that I don't have a choice such as rent, food, heat, electricity, family and sleeping. I have a choice when it comes to my methods personal fun, being books, movies or games. And for those I let my time be the judge and let my money do the talking, for everything else I have a blog.

Any questions or comments feel free to email me.

Play safe,


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review: Trine, Fun with Physics.

Trine is an downloadable action platform game , that pays tribute to Lost Vikings and Earthworm Jim. Developed by Frozenbyte and Nobilis, Trine is set to release this month, you can download the demo at this site and pre-order on Steam and Gamesplanet. This review is subject to change and we be revisited once the game is on full release. And if you have a complaint about reviewing a demo, people review a beta, it's the same thing. The demo gave me just enough to make a lasting impression.

Using physics in a fantasy based setting, the player navigates through different screens or "rooms" where you can use three different characters, the knight, the wizard or the thief. Each comes with different abilities that interact with the environment and other characters abilities as well. Using these skills to defeat enemies, collect items and solve puzzles to progress through the story. The 3 Amigos are switchable at any point using the 1,2 or 3 button on the fly, taken into consideration they are still alive. Energy potions, mana potions and experience pots are bountiful but not all easy to get to. I found the most useful character for me, was the thief.

Equipped with bow, arrows and a grappling hook, she nimbly jumps and swings over most obstacles. Most useful in rooms with pits, snares and suspended platforms she can hook onto almost any reachable surface to quickly get you past some unreachable places. Her weakness is the fact that she has no hand to hand melee abilities but can shoot from afar. For most brawling and bruising I would use the warrior.

Tough ole bugger he is, comes equipped with a sword and shield that can hack through most breakable barriers and makes use of skeletons and other nasties rather quick. He's heavy in full platemail, so if he falls on something most likely it's dead; I guess that's a simple law of physics. If you are the hack and slay type then he's your frontman unless you need to solve a puzzle that needs some finesse, that's when your wizard comes in handy.

The wizard is the most interesting of the three. He has to abilities from the start, he can use levitation to pick up any loose object in the environment, and there are A LOT of loose items lying around. The levels are setup very interactive. And if you don't have a crate handy, then he can make one out of thin air with his second ability. Very cool!

The graphics are rich and colorful, painstakingly designed by the developers. I felt like I was pausing at every screen and room just to take in the background. From glowing vegetation, moving clocks and bright windows I never felt as if I was looking at the same background twice in a row. I don't recall in the hours that I played that I recognized anything from room to room. Frozenbyte did an excellent job by creating an incredibly vibrant and alive environment.

Graphics: A

Character design is simple enough, however if you pull in friend to coop with you, that opens up more interaction between characters and environment. Looking at some gameplay video, it seems to speed up the game and flow through the puzzles faster. With the exception of the wizard and the thiefs grappling hook, the knight and thief are simple creations of the theme, easy to use and very necessary with the mechanics. Although I can see further expansions and additions of new characters with different abilities to interact with old ones, there is a ton of room for growth here.

Character design: B+

The mechanics of Trine is where it shines, we saw how fun physics could be from games like Halflife. And how Valve innovated those mechanics in Portal, where you were able to fly, jump and make yourself dizzy with a gun that didn't shoot. Trine ties that together with on a side scrolling game play that never gets boring, ever. You find yourself dropping boxes for weight, swinging fist-like hammers to break walls and occasionally having your character pole-vaulted across the screen to either land on someone or simply get to the other side. Some of the puzzles can be real brain teasers that require multiple character abilities to solve and I wasn't able to get to all the goodies stashed around the rooms. I'm just not that good yet. Honestly the controls were very easy to use W,A,S,D and left and right mouse click. Also, you're never at a point that you cannot see what you're doing because the screen moves with you back and forth, your cursor is where most of the action takes place from.

Controls and Gameplay Mechanics: A

Now I'm not going to get into detail about the story, that's for you to find out. Sorry, no spoilers here. But it is narrated between loading screens and during gameplay from someone who sounds like he should be narrating a children's story on TV. A soft, soothing paternal voice that get's you interested right away from the start. Trine has a good story so far that I haven't heard in its entirety and I'm sure that I'm not going to get it all in the demo. So I still score the story that so far is very interesting, original and well told by our trusty narrator.

Storyboard: A

You can download the demo for free, which is a plus. Any good game usually comes with a no-risk demo and this one is actually good. I don't know how far it takes you because I kept on dying and have to restart a leve. There are savepoints that you can continue from and that you can resurrect characters from, once. If you run out of people then it is going to be very hard to finish the level, and if you are staring down the barrel of a bunch of skeletons with just the weakly wizard, good luck. If you lose all three then you have to restart. However, once this is released this month, first for PC then downloadable for PS3, your spending a whopping 40 bucks. This is a pro-polished game from an indie-developer and well worth your money. I feel that $40 is fair and if it keeps these new developers creating this type of product, then I am defiantly going to invest in a game that I feel will be around for awhile. I can't wait to play this with a friend or two, it's a blast.

Price: A

It's easy to see why Trine won Gamespot's Editors Choice Awards for Best Downloadable Game from E3. This is a well made game both graphically and creatively. It's not the first and only platformer to ever use physics to solve puzzles; they just do it really well. The replay ability of this game is yet to be seen and cannot just be judged by the limited demo, but from what I have seen so far this one is going to be a hit. I'm almost sure that the full scope of Trine will be when you play co-op via the internet and that will be the judge in the long run. Most platforms suffer from lack of replayability because once you beat it, you beat it. Unless the makers of Trine can capture that addictive quality and that air of competitiveness like the old Mario Brothers games I can see it having a problem with staying power. But for the experience and the addition to your gaming library I definitely would recommend it and you have to try the demo for yourself.

Game Player Average: A, for A must play.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Aion, World of Warcraft’s Pretty Girlfriend.

This is a text only version of the original post: HERE!

I have a pretty girlfriend, that's beside the point. When we go places together it's interesting to see people's reactions. First off, I have been called handsome, but I'm nowhere near a pretty boy. I am a large, bald, tattooed and angry looking New Yorker. My lady on the other hand is the upbeat, attractive person that makes people smile; I am the one that scares the guys away. However, in certain instances my intimidating looks come in handy, and others her bright smile and big brown eyes wins people over. The point I am trying to make is that everyone responds to different visual images diffently.

This brings me to Aion's strongest point, the graphics. More importantly, the character creation, which is the most creative I've ever experienced in an MMO. I participated in Closed Beta 1 and just tonight finishing up closed beta 2, I leveled an Asmodian (darker race) to 11 and was suddenly bored. I am a hardcore leveler, and was forced to stop just when my character just got interesting. So I decided to mess around with the character creation tool. Another thing about me, I have a soft spot for goblins, yes, goblins. So…I made some … goblins.

Insert size matters here

I was very happy with the results, yes he's tiny and packs quite a punch. So I leveled him to 11 as well; fun, fun, fun. I watched a few people stop and check me out, even got a few LOL's and a few complimentary whispers. It's funny how people will react to something visually, other players were happy with my goblin. So, I made more…

Goblin 1 here

I couldn't make a green one as Elyos (light side) but I was able to make a red one. I didn't have the time to level him to 11 as well, but I did see people stop and look in the starter zone. I was onto something!

Goblin 2

Let's touch on the mechanics of Aion, I'll just say it is superior to most games just considering the flight aspect and a great combo system that they have in place. It is what Age of Conan wanted to do, but couldn't quite nail it. NCSoft did, and quite well. Along with certain movements it feels almost like Streetfighter except I don't have to make those moves, it just helps certain chances of hits, blocks and dodges. No longer is it just mashy-button til death mode, this time I really have to react. I am impressed.

Visually, the game is head and shoulders above almost all of the mmorpgs on the market. The game actually feels "alive", I had spiders coming out of trees, huge birds in the skyline and the water effects almost look real. Aion, is very clean and very "pretty", most mob designs contain over 3-4 different colors and the human realism in character design is stunning, unlike WoW. Also the transparent minimap is a plus to have as well.

Insert eva here.

WoW, does suffer from too cartoony, exaggerated graphics, but it has that gritty masculine quality that most macho players (like me) respond to. However, content wise…my vote goes to World of Warcraft. Aion has the same addictive feel to it but doesn't pack the lore punch that WoW does. Face it, many people already knew the WoW story from the original Warcraft series, and Blizzard did a bangup job bringing it to a massive scale.

Aion, unfortunatly is lacking that punch, the lore is basically good vs. evil angels. Paradise Lost, Dante's Inferno and even The Prophecy. Stories have been written and re-written about the classic tale of the heavenly Chosen Ones and The Fallen. Been there, done that. I read a lot of the quests and wasn't too enthralled on what I was reading, plus the dialog is really small so it was hard to read a lot of the material. The cut scenes are nice and give quick visual details on the plot to the quest you are on, especially the Ascension quest. Very cool.

I like the game, but I am not knocked over by it. I've done the same thing in WoW and FFXI, level up to the end, grind for the best gear and kill other players. Again, been there, done that and I have the T-Shirt. My advice to my readers, If you are done with WoW, totally finished, burnt out and kaput, and don't mind repeating the same steps; or if you are playing an older MMO and need something new. Then Aion is a very visually pleasing game, and one worth trying out. If you are 'tweening games or a story driven immersion player like Beau Turkey, then I would keep playing the field and keep an eye out for other titles that are on the horizons.

I have a hunch that Champions Online is going to be a big sleeper hit this fall, that's what I'm holding out for.

Until then…

Play safe,


Friday, June 19, 2009

Tabula Rasa: When loyalty pays off.

A friend of mine who follows my blog sent me this article posted on the Aion Beta boards. Reading it gives me a new respect for NCSoft the way they handled loyal players of the failed Sci-Fi MMORPG Tabula Rasa. This was the brainchild of billionaire game designer and eccentric Richard Garriot, who I will go more into detail in a minute. As posted by Ayase, Community Manager of NCSoft:

As a dedicated Tabula Rasa subscriber, you were promised a cornucopia of Aion benefits:
Aion beta event access
Aion preorder benefits
30 free days of Aion, including digital client
To be specific, you will receive all the same benefits as someone who has preordered the Aion game:
Access to all closed and open beta events
Headstart access
Character and server preselection access
Several in-game digital items, including the Dark Cloud Hat, Amulet of Lodas,
and the Ancient Ring of Wind
For complete details on the preorder benefits, see
You will also receive 30 days of Aion game time and the digital client.
An access key for all of the above has already been applied to your NCsoft Master Account. If you haven’t done so already, all you have to do is log in to your NCsoft Master Account and activate your code! The next beta event is this weekend, starting on June 19, 2009.

Not only did NCSoft go out of its way to actually create an in game ending for players of Tabula Rasa now they are giving them a $65.00 value at retribution for “stick-to-it-ness.” A $50.00 retail game and a month free of playtime is extremely valuable in game-time, not to mention that people are stealing money from other players to sell in game time in exchange for realspace money, :::cough:::EVE::::cough::::

At the announcement of cancellation NCSoft also made Tabula Rasa free to play before the imminent shutdown in February, which seems to be the norm for companies that are shutting down servers for an MMO they deem as a financially failing proposition. As we have read recently The Matrix Online is suffering the same fate, it makes me wonder if SOE will do the same for the players as NCSoft did for the Tabula Rasa, crowd? I’ll keep an eye on this and keep you posted.

The ending sounded quite interesting as quoted from, “Will become overrun by an unstoppable tide of alien enemies, with humanity's only response being mutually assured destruction.” They also were rewarding a 2,000% increase in experience gain so players could level faster. I didn’t get that from Hellgate:London. X( Boo…

Now they give them a new beginning, Aion. Which is starting its second closed beta phase today, players of the Aion Beta will get to try out the dark Asmodian race from level 1-10. I will be in on that beta and you can look me up through Inktomi or Panzer, my tanking class that I am looking to make when Aion goes retail at the end of the summer.

Back to Tabula Rasa, I was reading a post on the forums from
Aryslan, seems there is a petition posted on the internet for players to sign to bring back Tabula Rasa. I think the return is unlikely because there has been a case filed against NCSoft by Richard Garriot who is sueing NCSoft for over $20 Million in lost stock options. Mr. Garriott was fired on the heels of the announcement of the shutdown of the game he worked to create while he was while he was still in quarantine from his space flight. “Ok, I know that you are busy killing of spacecooties, but YOU’RE FIRED! Oh and by the way SELL ALL YOUR STOCK NOW!” I understand about this case was a timing issue and he was forced to sell stock when it was down, I feel that he may have a case, however all the details you can read in

I’m really not clear of all the legal mumbo jumbo surrounding the case and the details of his contract with NCSoft, but the chance of Tabula Rasa returning is slim and none, and slim is out to lunch. Don’t feel bad, there was a Hellgate:London Revival planned that was stomped by a legal snafu between Hanbitsoft and Namco Bandai, so I just resolved to move on to the new game of choice.

Kudos to NCSoft for extended customer support for loyal subscribers and great focus on customer retention. Grats to Tabula Rasa fans that stuck it out, and on that note I’ll close with an old saying; “When a door closes, a window opens.” And out that window is Aion, see you in the beta!

Until then…

Play safe,


Friday, June 12, 2009

EVE Online Players Rocked Again By Financial Crime

Modified Text only version, original can be found at:

“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good.” – Michael Douglas,1987

Tsk, Tsk, Tsk or should I say, Isk, Isk, Isk. Reported today from various websites “Xabier”, member of Dynasty Bank, a player run financial institution has embezzled 200 Billion Isk of players invested funds. Dynasty Bank has recently released a statement to players and has since the realization of the crime has stopped taking deposits according to Manalapan. Who posted on Eve online forums today “ What we DO know is that he has missed a dividend payment on a personal bond, and his bio now states “Thanks for all the fish”. According to my handy dandy Virtual Currency Chart the EVE Isk is worth .0000004 of the US dollar.

$80 Thanks for all the fish? So for every $1, I can buy 2500000.00 in EVE Isk, what does that really mean? It means that Xabier stole a whopping $80 in USD.

Now wait, I’m not discounting player efforts and what I have read about EVE, money is not easily made. Often by mining that takes a very long time, in certain star systems it can also be very dangerous. People have been known to fall asleep mining only to wake up with their ship destroyed. So the ISK has some value ingame, nevertheless 200 billion is still a lot of money to active players. Although I read in certain articles that the ISK can fetch much higher values, how does that work? Is the VCC accurate?

But to become a virtual criminal for $80? Just To lose all those relationships, playtime, your account and to live forever in the hearts and minds of all MMORPG players as a total loser, it doesn’t seem worth it. Most likely he’s got it scurried away somewhere, which is a tactic used by many white-collar criminals. Case in point was last years Wall Street Scandal involving Bernard Madoff that made off with over $60 Billion in investors money. And he is going to rot in jail for the rest of his life for it, but what is the downside for players that commit virtual crime?

Not the first time…

That EVE players have been rocked by white-collar crime such as ponzi schemes and theft. August 2006, one of the largest online scams in history took place when “Cally” stole over 700 Billion in ISK that according to Ars Technica can be worth $170,000.00 USD. I am a little confused on how that can happen. Is that according to the trading value of the ISK compared to the USD at the time? I don’t have any data going back that far to compare. I suggest reading “A Deadly Dollar” by Jim Rossignol.

Don’t trust a Guiding Hand.

2005, we read about a band of mercenaries infiltrating a Alliance and robbing them of over $16,500. The Guiding Hand Social Club took a year to plot and plan the downfall of Ubiqua Seraph. Taking a year to fulfill this “assassination” contract out, placing agents at every level within the target corp. “Istvaan Shogaatsu” Someone should hire the guy who masterminded this all, that takes time and patience. Those are skills that would be invaluable at certain levels of government. These were a list of materials stolen from Mirial:

- Modulated Deep Core Miner II BPO
- Covert Ops Cloak II BPO
- Armageddon BPO
- Prophecy BPO
- Malediction BPO
- Arkonor Crystal II BPO
- Scordite Crystal II BPO
- Numerous lesser tech II BPOs

- A few billion ISK in minerals.
- 717 million taken from corporate wallet.
- Two billion taken under the guise of a loan from the executor.

Our net gain from this massive heist is roughly estimated at over 20 billion ISK.

What is this all worth in real-time money?

BoB, spelled backwards.

The Spy Game has been a longtime profitable “ingame job” in EVEspace for years. We all know of the famous GoonSwarm takeover of Band of Brothers soveriegnity space. The leader of the Mittani in his interview with Nick Breckon of Gameshack quotes on the metagame intailed in spyops, Communication becomes a game in itself. "I'd get 20+ [reports] a day and, at one point, had 35 separate Trillian windows open," he explains. "AIM for Americans mostly, MSN for the Euros, and ICQ for the Russians."

This hit could of partly be caused by the fact that Band Of Brother’s was once help out by dev’s from EVE Online themselves. Which was a pretty big scandal back in 2007, reported from . “The concern is that Band of Brothers (and possibly other large alliances) have received ill-gotten assistance from the Developers or GMs in the form of blueprints, ships, etc...People care about rampant cheating by those whose job it is to STOP cheating. By conveniently ignoring this issue, you are only reinforcing the belief that CCP has something to hide.”

I am not criticizing EVE or the players, I am going to look at the developers and the GM’s of EVE that do not have a system in place to govern players or protect people from this type of behavior. At least investors have the SEC and the NASD to look over the shoulders of Wall Street, without them Wall Street would be a very bad place. Even with laws, people do still commit heavy duty financial crimes. I was reading an excerpt from the book Virtual law By Benjamin Tyson Duranske and in one article he states that “real world financial institutions can guarantee some or all of the virtual world applications.” Is CCP responsible for the loss of players funds? I’m sure they have plenty of laws in the EULA protecting them from lawsuits from characters from what happens ingame. But where does that leave you? The player in the Wildest of all Wild West Shows in Space, is it caveat emptor or buyer beware, with the explanation of don’t “QQ” EVE is a hardcore PVP game.

In my opinion, if EVE went RMT but kept the player driven economy, offer a realtime bank with fees and some financial safety then new players might be more comfortable with starting a new game that is as dangerous as EVE puts off to be. Look, I don’t mind being on either sides of the PVP coin, I can appreciate a good pirate every now and then, corporate or otherwise. But to put my trust a banking system and innocently be ripped off, it’s happened in real life for years. No thanks, I’m not going to tolerate it in my funtime.

Play Safe,