Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What is a "fair game"?

You now see two warning pages against EVE Online and World of Tanks. I no longer play World of Warcraft and League of Legends among many games I used to play but stopped, but you see no warning page against them. I posted why I stopped playing them (one being an on-rail quasi-single player game, the other is a zero-depth twitch game), but no way in hell I advise you against them. If you like them, go have fun! The two I'm warning against aren't genres I don't like, I like them both a lot. They are not badly made games, they are pretty high quality. I warn them, because they are unfair games and this isn't obvious on the first look. I mean after a few minutes gameplay you can figure out that you can't expect great battles and grand strategy in League of Legends. But you can play EVE or WoT for years with only a vague "something isn't right" feeling that sucks the life out of your play. If you grab a piece of paper and write pros and cons, the pros are dominating the page and you supposed to enjoy the game, but you can't.

The definitions of a "fair game" are:
  • The game mechanics are clear and well documented.
  • EULA and other game rules are also clear ("don't be a jerk" is clear for a decent person)
  • Both set of rules are universally enforced, there are no exceptions, VIPs, special cases
World of Warcraft fits this description. You can read up every encounter of spell. The GMs are professional and distant, but quick to act against exploiters and harassers. There is a combat log to see what happened in the fight, it's always clear what went wrong (it's never "I got unlucky"). WoW is "what they offer is what you get". It's not for everyone, it's clearly not for me, just like women's clothes are not for me, but it doesn't devalue women's clothes shop.

World of Tanksmatchmaking is completely undocumented. There is not even a token promise that it won't put you into unfair situations. After lengthy research I've found that it's totally unfair, rewarding bad performance better than good. There are also no logs to verify that spotting, hitting and penetrating are working as they should. I believe they aren't, but can't prove it. The point is that in WoW I can prove that my crit chance is actually the crit chance from my character page or not by parsing few hours long combat logs.

EVE Online is nepotism paradise. If you are an "important content creator", you can get away with anything from suicide bully to open RMT and you get to influence the development to favorize you. If you are not VIP, you are out of luck and there is no limit how far your enemies can go to attack you in real life with the company doing nothing or even with devs participating.

Please note that pay-to-win isn't an issue here while it's documented. A game selling sword of uberness openly is a fair game. It doesn't mean you have to play it if you don't like this mechanic. Just like you don't have to play a game which allow someone outearn you by "playing" 20 hours a day. But they are clear what they are selling, take it or leave it. You are a grown person not living in the insane asylum, you should be able to figure out if the offer is good or not. In the cases of unfair games you can't until you made some extensive research and found the inconsistencies. For those you can only trust in the experience of those who already got burned.

I'm not sure if I'll like Black Desert Online. But I really hope it won't have hidden tricks and my "don't play" list won't get longer.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Black Desert Online, round 2.

As I've said, I've hated BDO first time. But I got awful lot of good advices (advantage of being high-traffic blogger) and now can start again. It's still not my favorite, but I can manage now.

I'll write detailed guides of what I've learned, so if there is a project after all, you can start the game much more smoothly than I did.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Minipost: This was the worst game experience ever

... and the worst spent 30 Euros. I bought Black Desert Online and positively hate it. I can't even tell what I hate the most of it:
  • Is it the complete lack of in-game tutorial?
  • Or maybe the lack of written manual? I've found third party manuals but they are either for older versions and the interface has changed or simply bad. I think the nodes and workers are somehow important, but I cannot figure it out how to use it.
  • Is it the lack of quests to direct or obvious clues how to interact with objects found during exploring? (compare it with EVE: asteroids are obviously for mining, rats are obviously to be killed, wrecks to be looted and salvaged)
  • No, the thing I hate the most is the combo-based combat system. You must press combination of hotkeys to call out a spell while holding the crosshair on the hostile(s). To make it worse, most of these combinations include movement keys, so if you try to move during combat, you usually activate some completely inappropriate spell instead of moving ... and die.
I don't care how deep and meaningful the endgame can be. I don't care how great project I can conjure up later. No way in hell I'm going to spend a minute more with these abomination.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The death of subscription gaming

I've checked EVE Central to see if there is any change from the old trend, but no. PLEX is 1B while skill injectors are 635M, so the 1 month old data is still right and actually it's even more right today: an SP farmer pilot gets 570M/month for a few clicks. Please note that two SP farmer alts get enough profit to PLEX the main pilot who don't have to sell skills. So you can play like you did last year without paying anything. Perfectly free to play.

This isn't an EVE post. CCP did nothing for these prices, these are completely player set. It's the players who offer so much money (ISK or real) for the injectors that it's profitable to just run SP farmer alts. Even worse: one with 1B ISK (farmed or PLEX-ed) can choose to PLEX his account or buy 1.57 injectors to receive 0.63M SP (at least 20% is lost when injecting over 5M SP). As this is the equilibrium price, we can conclude that for the average EVE player 0.63M SP right now is just as valuable as 1.8M SP over a month plus 1 month game access.

The naive gamer opinion is that the Golden Age of fairTM subscription or buy-to-play models were destroyed by short-sighted suits who know nothing of gaming. Now we have unquestionable proof that the average players value in-game items much higher than access to the game and those who are ready to give up some in-game advantage (by extracting the SP) for free to play are a minority. It's not just some whales are being stupid, the average players demand more in-game stuff to be available for $.

With this result, the "everyone pays the same" model is dead. Well not completely, it can exist as a niche thing for "pure" gamers who demand "fairness", but they can upkeep only indie games and not AAA ones. Why? Because if someone would create a "fair payment" good game, someone would make a clone of it and the players would abandon the first for the second, where they can buy progress with their wallets.

I know it's hard to face the truth and easier to just blame "evil suits", but it won't change the facts: we, the players killed subsription gaming.

Little EVE business PS: people are creating the wildest conspiration theories why PLEX prices are crashing. Not like someone didn't predict it long ago. Short version: since Goons fell and the whole politics is in turmoil, it's no longer sure that New Jita will be built in time. Every month old Jita is used, about 15T/month is sinked out of the economy, instead of the usual +10T/month ISK increase. As a result, the remaining ISK will be more valuable. Therefore every half-decent speculators are selling everything and "invest" into ISK. This of course means dumping PLEX deposits too.

PS2: my miniproject is complete, post will be up on Monday, then I try out Black Desert Online.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A letter to MassivelyOP

After MassivelyOP published an extremely misguiding interview with Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy, I sent them the following mail. Since I'm not sure that they read such things, I post it here too. I also recommend to read the top comment on this article.


The article mentioned is extremely unresearched and unbalanced, containing only what Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy said. Many of them are provable lies and well known within the EVE community. Harassment issues are common in EVE and mostly because of the attitude of Paul Elsy. Just some well known issues:

The Bonus Round: it was an especially disgusting "scam" that involved making the victims perform humiliating and stressing stunts for HOURS, recorded and published. Dozens of such soundclouds were created. CCP dismissed it to be a problem, until Ripard Teg who had the most visited fan blog back then started to bang the drums. Only after the outrage were the perpetrators banned.

Not much later his blog was closed, for the telling reason: "And if there's a fundamental truth in EVE Online it's that if enough people want your ship dead, it will die, and all the reps in the world won't help".

The momument vandalism: Well covered back then, but later development of the case missed the media. The perpetrators were members of Goonswarm Federation, just as everyone expected. Yet, their name was cleared by Paul Elsy who lied to everyone in his official position:

He also decided to not hand the criminals to justice. Nothing was done about the fact that they wanted to blame the vandalism on me (libel is another crime). The criminals were not even banned (despite CCP claimed so) and they are still playing and bragging with their "edgy stunt":

How did the story got out? Goons themselves bragged about it on their own site, celebrating CCP Falcon!

Some of the most recent stuff: An EVE streamer lost her grandfather. Dozens of Goons started to follow her stream with usernames "Grandpaisdead" and co. No CCP action:

A prominent Fleet commander (raidleader) CELEBRATED THE TERRORIST ATTACK on Benghazi because one of the four victims was an EVE player he didn't like.

No CCP action, he is still leading fleets. Two in-game assets were named by him: was named "The Benghazi Consulate" on April 23 and renamed again on 26. was named "2 bad you can't blue jihadists" [blue is the EVE slang for ally with].

Finally my pesonal account. I was a top 5 traffic EVE fan blogger and never got involved with CCP dealings, never named devs, just played the game, challenging the then-largest coalition. Going against 40x outnumbering enemy looked like a great game story. When we took their first station, celebrated and claimed that we'll beat them, Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy with his official tag made the following statement: "Whenever I feel down, whenever I feel sad... the outrageous lunacy, sheer tinfoil and unbelievably biased and unhinged craziness of Gevlon's blog always cheers me up."

When confronted about this, instead of apologizing or claiming to "just kidding", he doubled and tripled down claiming that I'm a madman: This constitutes harassment itself. Again: I didn't provoke him, hell I didn't even know who he was, I was just playing the game and didn't hang out with "the cool guys".

Dear Editors, you are doing a great disservice to the community by painting EVE as a safe space where harassment is handled. Harassment is widespread in EVE and Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy doesn't simply turn a blind eye on it, but champions it himself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Is pay to win such a big deal?

I've always vehemently opposed any kind of pay-to-win, as it devalues in-game decisions. In a strongly pay-to-win game it doesn't matter what you do as long as you spend. In the meantime I usually turned a blind eye on "grind-to-win", despite putting in stupid hours is equally not in-game skill.

However what really changed my position is the fall of the Imperium in EVE. It's clear that they fell because lots of ISK was spent sending various groups after them. However you can buy ISK legally in EVE for real money via PLEX. If someone spent $150000 on PLEX in 2014 or 15, he'd get 10T ISK and could do the same. Destroying the largest coalition is clearly winning and with nothing but money you could do it. Ergo, EVE is as pay-to-win as it can be.

However I've spent four years in EVE and never found it pay-to-win, despite I was working on a project exactly to destroy them via money. According to the recent developer economic report, there are 3000T ($45M) worth of ISK in EVE and less than 10T made this difference. Which means that it's not some inhuman money that can only be purchased via PLEX, it's something present in the EVE world, just most people didn't use it well. I'd guess most of these 3000T are doing absolutely nothing and it's in the form of wallet collections and logged of supers that people built and use for nothing. "Using well" is an in-game decision. "Skill" if you prefer.

So microtransactions aren't an automatic "no" for my next game. It's still a negative, but other factors will be considered. We have to accept that the World isn't perfect and deal with it. Actually, I'd rather deal with an opposing group full of whales than a group backed by an abusive and corrupted community manager.