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 MMORPG.com 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 Gamasutra.com, 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) MMOHUT.com 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) Tentonhammer.com: 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 E-How.com 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) AOvault.com 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) Massively.com 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) Gamespot.com 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 videogamer.com, 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 Videogamer.com

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 Videogamer.com, "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,