Author Archives: Corelin

If I ran it…

So GW posted one doozy of a letter to investors.  I mean.  Wow.  Look at THIS whopper.  If he wasn’t leaving he should be thrown out anyway.

Games Workshop has had a really good year.
If your measure of ‘good’ is the current financial year’s numbers, you may not agree. But if your measure is the long-term
survivability of a great cash generating business that still has a lot of potential growth, then you will agree.

W ell, sure.  If you ignore some other facts.  Successful, capable competition, stagnating internal ideas, technological advances threatening production.  Everything is lovely!

He also announces he’s stepping down.  Thank.  Almighty.  God.  For those not paying attention that’s their chief lawyer and their CEO.

So I thought of what I would do if they picked someone more capable.  I figure there’s got to be 4 to 5 billion people who could do a better job running GW than the buffoons right now, and for once that’s not hyperbole.  This company is still operating like the economy is going great, there’s no source of information on alternatives or their own activities, and that local brick and mortar stores are unnecessary to their operations.  None of these things are true, and their inability to realize this is leading them down a dark spiral, and they are even ignorant to this fact.

So what would I do?  Well first off the whole pricing structure needs a radical restructuring.  Prices for GW minis are absolutely ridiculous even granted their high quality.  The prices for the books are even worse.  I would operate on the theory that bringing new people in is absolutely essential to the game.  Books would receive between a 50 and 75% price slash.  If that meant selling them for a loss then so be it.  People without books are people not playing my game.  I want this to be the marketing scheme for next year:

The second thing I want to do is change how the boxed armies are done.  I think GW is inching in this way already (look at the dwarf one for example) but they need to really look at how things are being done outside the company.  They can outprice Privateer Press handily and still attract fans.  Their games are good and their fans are rabid, but they need to encourage more people to pick it up.  Here’s my ideas for their established products:

OVERALL

  1. Get rid of Finecast.  Yesterday.
  2. Reprice all books to 25-50% of their current cost.
  3. Better staff and stocking at GW stores.  These places should be destinations, palaces of GW hobbies with examples and demos going on every hour.  Not sad slovenly stores stocking the most basic material.
  4. Stop.  Suing.  Everyone.  It pisses people off and it is being done far in excess of what is necessary to preserve copyrights.

WARHAMMER FANTASY

  1. Every Box like the Dwarf Box!  Useful models, a good solid core and a little something extra tossed in.  Islands of Blood is another great example.  For $100 dollars you get at least 3-4x what you pay for AND the rulebooks.
  2. Box sizes should equate to regiments.  20 for elite infantry, 30 for line, 40 for swarms.  Pricing will also be going down.  3$ for elite minis, 2$ for the rank and file, 5-7 for cavalry.
  3. Army books brought up to date for legacy armies, Brets, Skaven, Vampire Counts, Tomb Kings, look there’s a lot that needs some love.

WH40k

  1. 1 Book for Marines.  3 Tops.  Not a dozen.  (Not counting CSM)
  2. Price reduction on boxes.  Box sizes are ok.  40 bucks for 10 basic tactical marines isn’t.
  3. Rebalance everything.  I mean a serious balance pass.  Fliers especially but every army needs a good hard look to avoid spamming of OP units.
  4. Encourage the “skirmish” aspect.  Too many games end up like WWI slugfests with neat weapons rather than fast sci fi games with Marines shrugging off loads of fire to desperately try to accomplish their objective.

Other Games

  1. Epic 40k will be back.  Armageddon was a great ruleset that rubbed people the wrong way.  That can be fixed.  Big battles in 40k have always been amazing and there’s no reason not to have this product out there.
  2. Blood Bowl is GW’s best game ever.  Seriously it’s fun, it’s fast paced and it needs to be out front.
  3. LotR… does anyone play this?  How much are we paying for the IP?  Create some fancy models and move on.
  4. Necromunda.  Am I showing my age yet?  This is a hoot of a game and should be re-release with gorkamorka as a twofer.  Maybe even a “big scale” 54mm model game.  Something to throw down once in a while to mix things up.

Finally attempts have to be made to reach out to the community.  A lot of the games biggest supporters have been turned off by GW’s litigious nature, and heavy handed treatment of the humble LGS.  This has got to end.  GW should be proud of each and every store and should offer incentives to high performing stores, not harsh quotas and minimums.  For example a store that runs a tourney every month with a minimum of 10 players gets free scenery packs.  X amount in total sales gets a discount on product, or more favorable payment terms.  Finally I would practically dismantle the GW website for orders.  Let the retailers handle the retail.  Every GW sale takes dollars out of the pockets of the brick and mortar stores that host most Fantasy or 40k games.  Treat these stores well and they will reward GW with higher sales.  Treat them badly and they will wither and it will be more and more difficult for gamers to find a place to play a game.  It will be more and more difficult to bring new people into the hobby, and it will be more and more difficult to increase the companies sales.

This was fun.  Next up:  Privateer Press, and then CCP Games!

Warmachine Coming Right Up

So I’m getting back into Warmahordes.  Dusting off the Cryx and blowing the dust off the books.  Warmachine has a lot to recommend it; not the least being that it isn’t made by GW.  I’m going to go over some things I think are awesome about it, some things that aren’t and some things that are both.

AWESOME

Ok the price of this game compared to most other minis based games is pretty darn low.  It’s not cheap, and some models/units are downright expensive (BANES!) but overall you can land more than a couple hundred bucks under a 40k army, let alone a fantasy battles army.

The Mechanics of this game are really neat.  So much more of your strategy will happen on your side of the table.  What order you activate units in, how you will set up your attacks, when to roll the dice and when to stand pat for a moment.

All offense, all the time.  Models die fast and furious.  You can delay it but you can’t prevent it.  People who turtle suffer.  I’ve seen people who are used to historicals, GW games, and a lot of other metas just get swallowed by a fast and aggressive Warmahordes player.  My fiancee crunched my nemesis in her 2nd or 3rd game because he’s used to doing nothing on his first turn from other games, and he still won’t play the game because his favorite strategy is completely useless.

The models are gorgeous.  Good lord these armies look fantastic.  The “Recommended” paint schemes are bold, simple, and effective.  You don’t have to be Mike or Allison McVey to make them look good.

The game is designed to be accessible.  $50 gets you a battlebox with a ‘caster/warlock, some jacks/beasts and rules.  That gets you a book in some other games.  Rulebooks are handy, but not required, and rulebooks, army books, and expansion books, are very reasonably priced.  Even with some minis being on the pricey side

NOT SO AWESOME

Rules Lawyering.  This game follows a very nice meta, saying “Here’s some simple basic rules” then following it with “And here’s more enough special rules to choke an elephant” This is fine in and of itself, but it leads to lengthy errata, as rules have to be bounced off each other, and the very lethality of the game means that such minutiae as measuring, and proper rolling will need to be followed to the letter.  This can really slow down the game, especially between new players, and in advanced games with death clocks… woof.

Knowledge is Power.  Players need to know at least their own army like the back of their hands.  It is very easy to fall badly behind an army you haven’t faced before and get trounced.

The Great Grey Horde.  People build armies fast.  The “I just need this and my army will be invincible!” feeling, combined with the moderate prices mean that every game shop and every gamer is faced by monolithic walls of grey or silver miniatures staring at him begging for paint.  I spray mine black to shut them up.

Assembling some of these miniatures is so frustrating that it makes me want to sit on the floor, kick my heels and throw a tantrum.  And I haven’t even bought Terminus yet.  I’m not kidding either.  Look here.  Honestly it’s one of the worse models they’ve made from a pose AND from an assembly standpoint but he’s so incredibly powerful I want to use him, I just do NOT want to put that mess together.

THE AWESOMELY NOT-SO-AWESOME

Now for the bits of both.

There are models that are so not fun to play against they can make people rage quit the game.  Without ever playing it.  See War Witch Deneghra, and most of Cryx.  Menoth and Everblight have this too.  But only Cryx has it in their battlebox.  That’s right, Privateer Press threw a rage-quit inducing miniature in the starter sets.  The alternate box with Asphyxious is an improvement, but facing Cryx can be soul crushing, and that is the right term.  The down sides of this is obvious, but on the plus side it inspires some gamers to say “well what does Cygnar have that will make people throw dice?”

The game can change so fast you have no idea what just happened.  Seriously I’ve seen whole games change so fast that the player that won literally doesn’t know they’ve won.  One lucky attack, one miss, one perfectly/poorly positioned mini and a game goes from a crushing defeat to a stunning victory.  This is awesome as it keeps you playing even in a game that you don’t think you have a chance in, but it also makes you want to cry when your perfect attack run falls apart because you rolled a 3 to hit on a sure-fire attack.

All in all I really enjoy this game.  Not everyone that plays it is a wonderful character and my last burnout was solely to do with people, not the game, time to toughen up and roll some dice again.

LotRO Raids Aren’t Easy

Ok so last time I talked about how Turbine had decided to trash raiding because there aren’t any raiders to do them.  In itself that probably isn’t completely false.  It does ignore that the reason for these raiders being so rare is that the raids are dated, buggy and generally poor in quality.

There’s even another layer to this.  Making raids for LotRO isn’t easy.  I’m going to give a brief overview of the classes, starting with the tanks, then the DPS, then the healers, then the troublemakers.

There’s two classes that are primarily tanks:

  • Guardians – Traditional Heavy Armor tanks.  High morale, high mitigations, lots of taunts.
  • Wardens – Medium Armor tanks.  Over the course of a fight they build up very high mitigations, and have a bewildering array of self-buffs, self-heals, and shenanigans that make them easily capable of soloing three-man content.

Primary DPS Classes:

  • Champions – Melee blenders.  Heavy armor.  Great close range area of effect, and very good single-target damage.  Ok mitigation.
  • Hunters – Nukers par excellence.  Orlando Bloom would be jealous.  Serious heavy sustained damage in multiple flavors.

Primary Healing Classes:

  • Minstrel – Medium Armor, lots of buffs, lots of heals, some bubbles.

The rest of the classes are troublemakers.  In other words 4 of the 9 classes make a challenge for the traditional paradigm of tank-dps-heals.  Let’s look at why.

  • Captain – My current main.  One class can fill three roles.  Tanking?  Decent.  Heals?  Decent.  DPS?  Decent.  Most importantly it adds heavy buffs to the list.  Every raid will have a captain.  They add a solid character in any role, even if they are a bit behind the top rate at any position.  Their buffs take other classes into the stratosphere and make them a requirement.  They also mean that balancing requires you to take into account that a well played captain is going to break metrics.  A raid set for a group without a captain will get crushed by a raid with a captain.  A raid set for a captain would be impossible without one.
  • Burglars – A really good DPS class to begin with.  They add debuffing, and crowd control.  WoW Rogues drool with envy.  This class can cripple enemies and deal with dangerous adds with contemptuous ease.  A well played Burglar is nearly indispensable in some fights.  While not as raid-breaking as a Captain, they add another flavor to balancing that certainly makes things rougher.
  • Lore-Master – Not your daddies cloth caster.  A 2nd tier DPS choice, that adds debuffing, healing and ridiculous crowd-control.  Oh and Power (mana) regeneration.  For everyone.  They also add pets to the party.  This class is simply a requirement.  It’s easy to game for something everyone is going to bring, but still the kind of power a good Lore-Master includes means that raids are going to have a pretty hefty difficulty.  A good LM can keep everyone fed with power in a 12 man raid.  Imagine running a 10 man dungeon in WoW without ever worrying about mana.
  • Rune-Keepers – This one is challenging for everyone.  A very good RK can jump between damage and healing mid-fight and provide high quality (not quite top tier) performance at both roles.  A merely good RK can provide elite levels of either DPS or Heals with nearly contemptuous ease.  The ability for really good players to swap roles mid-fight makes this class difficult to deal with when tuning different phases.  DPS races and healer intensive phases just mean the good players are swapping back and forth.  This class is again not as game-breaking as the cappy, BUT that the presence of them, especially multiples of them, can potentially make any challenge phase much less of a challenge.

These four classes make raid design an incredible challenge.  WoW and most of its clones have traditionally dealt with this by simplifying their class structure.  Turbine has not followed this route.  They have kept the classes diverse, with controllers, buffers, debuffers, and the traditional trinity.

None of this excuses the buggy messes.  The poorly thought out mechanics, and the severe gating of radiance had nothing to do with the problems of class balance.  While Turbine has its work cut out for it in developing raids, they cannot blame that for the problems that have traditionally plagued them.  The simple fact is they don’t have the wherewithal to develop raids that are current, that work, and that are interesting in the modern MMO paradigm.

Turbine has a fiscal issue.  They have to prioritize their spending and that’s fine.  They need to recognize that by saying “You guys don’t play raids so we won’t make raids” to an educated audience burns bridges.  The raiders left in the game keep waiting for Turbine to support them.  Now Turbine is blaming them.  Sure they don’t make up a large part of the game, but they make up a far larger part of the community.  Turbine is stabbing them in the back and you would think someone as savvy as Sapience would know better.

Well Why Aren’t There Raiders, Sapience?

So Sapience, the Community Manager of LotRO has announced that Raiders are less than 5% of the Lord of the Rings population, and probably more like 2-3%.  I’m not sure what exact methodology was used to determine who is a “raider” but the two definitions I would consider most “normal” are: first, someone who has completed a raid, killed the bosses, looted the chest; second, someone who has completed a raid multiple times.  Maybe does things on a regular basis.  The second is what I think of as raiders and I would put this group around 2% of the population at best.  There isn’t a lot of argument that raiders are a small part of the population.  How small is a matter of some question but I’m willing to take Sapience’s numbers at face value.

Here’s the thing.  Sapience is saying they don’t make raids because there aren’t raiders.  He’s saying the root of the problem is the lack of raiders.  That’s not the root.  That’s the trunk.  That’s not the cause, it’s the effect.  Raiding in LotRO is nowhere near where it is in SWTOR or WoW or any other big name game, because the raids suck.  Really Bad.  The SoA raids aren’t terrible but they are dated.  Really really dated.  No one knew what they were doing back then, players or devs and it shows.  The Moria raids were poisoned by the Radiance system and still don’t feel right, although they can be fun they’ve never really worked even after the disaster that was Radiance was removed.  BG and OD were good raids.  In fact they might have represented the golden age of LotRO raiding.  Two worthwhile raids that people could run that justified a gear grind by granting access to good, challenging content.

Then there’s Risengard.  It has the best raid in the game, ToO and the worst in the game, Draigoch.  ToO has not been updated to the level cap and people run it.  It is still fun, and still challenging.  That’s a good raid there.  Draigoch probably killed raiding.  A buggy, confusing, poorly done mess that results in the boss bugging out more than wipe-quits and victories combined.  And it’s still not fixed.

That’s why people don’t raid in LotRO.  For the same reason that EvE players revolted over the lack of iteration.  Because things get left undone and then the outcome gets blamed on the players.  The Rohan raids were more like encounters than raids, they simply didn’t have any grandiose feel to them, and I doubt really affected people’s feelings on raids in either way.

Here’s the thing, Turbine can make great and innovative instances.  School and Library probably have more runs per active player than any instance in any game.  They are that popular, that fast, and that useful to the players.  The Barrows are a lot of fun and the Misty Mountains quests are quite neat.  When it comes to 3 and 6 man content the Turbine staff can go toe to toe with just about anyone.  I’m going to run down the list of instances you can do on level at the current level cap.

  1. Great Barrow (3 Instances, 6 man)
  2. Inn of the Forsaken (3 man)
  3. Seat of the Great Goblin (3 man)
  4. Iorbar’s Peak (3 man)
  5. Webs of the Scuttledells (3)
  6. Bells of the Dale (6)
  7. Fornost (4 instances, 6 man)
  8. Halls of Night (3 man)
  9. Glinghant (6 man)
  10. Ost Elendil (6 man)
  11. Huadh Valandil (6 man)
  12. Library (3 man)
  13. School (3 man)
  14. Sword Hall (3 man)
  15. Dungeons (6 man)
  16. Warg Pens (3 man)
  17. Sammath Gul (6 man)
  18. Lost Temple (6 man)
  19. Sari-Surma (6 man)
  20. Northcotton Farms (3 man)
  21. Stoneheight (3 man)

So 26 choices at level cap.  Twenty Six.  All of them are fun, all of them are worth at least a run through, and some are worth going through on a regular basis for fun and profit!  You can even get rewards for slapping hobbits!

That’s not even counting the Skirmish and (still buggy) big battles.  Both of which can provide an interesting instanced challenge for 1-12 players.  They may not be as intricate as a more traditional instance, but they are an interesting challenge and a big change from the current standard of Dungeons or Open World Quests.

Turbine can do good content, they just haven’t wrapped their heads around traditional raids, and they are blaming the players for it.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

LET ME LOVE YOU, LEVIATHANS!

Ok, tabletop gaming talk time.  I’ve been a table top gamer for SLIGHTLY less time than I’ve been a vidya gamer.  My first minis were the famous “30 Space Marines for 30 dollars” box back when GW wasn’t in the running for “Most idiotic evil corporate empire on earth” and I’ve played ever since.  Battletech, Every GW game out there, Johnny Reb, Age of Reason, Command Decision, X-wing, Warmahordes.  You name it I’ve probably looked it over.

Leviathans very quickly earned a special part in my heart.  This is an incredibly fun, not tortuously complex, immensely characterful game.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Pre-Dreadnought flying battleships blasting each other to bits over Victorean Europe?  It’s a great game and if you can find a copy I strongly suggest forking over for the (overpriced, and more on that soon) box.  The miniatures are fascinating, and you will be fondling them gleefully, the rules are fun and the fluff is entertaining as hell especially if you are familiar with early 20th century naval personages.

But there’s a fly in the ointment.

That’s not true.

There’s some ointment on the wasps nest.

Leviathans has been mismanaged, unlucky, and royally screwed over since the beginning.  Their kickstarter ran well, but since then.  Woof.  I’m not entirely conversant with the chain of events but whatever research they did on their suppliers apparently missed the fact that Don Corleone was less crooked, and Chicago less corrupt.  Catalyst (which runs a shoestring organization to begin with) faced numerous… well… shakedowns in getting their product released, and ended up selling either for a loss or for a bare profit on the $100 dollar box set that staggered onto the market nearly a year late.  They released three box sets, the core one, and two fleet box sets that never saw the shelves here for about 50 a piece.  They contained the same miniatures as the big box, with variant ships.  Some e-pubs followed and lots and lots of promises.

And that’s it.

The new factions?  Not ready yet.  More miniatures?  Not even close.  Now there’s just no way to even GIVE them more money to continue development short of waiting for another kickstarter.  That will basically get us back to where we were 2 years ago when the product first launched.  If it succeeds.

Recently the extremely clever and devoted developer of the game, one Randall Bills, posted a statement basically admitting that they had lost all control of the miniatures (renders, molds, everything) and that their initial production model had been a failure for many reasons (not the least of which being malfeasance by the mini producer) and everything but the rules needed to be done from the ground up.

It looks more and more like Randall needs a boss.  Someone with more business experience to provide oversight, rigor, and experience to prevent the kind of catastrophes that have plagued this program since the first kickstarter.

The tone of this last message reminds me of Bruce Graw of Agents of Gaming.  Bruce created a game called Babylon 5 Wars, based on the TV series, and it was a rather similar game to Leviathans in the way the game flowed.  The game even had some pretty considerable success, which is amazing when I think on how incredibly difficult to assemble many of the miniatures were.  It fell apart towards the end when the license for the game wasn’t continued despite Bruce’s considerable efforts and investment and the company disappeared like a soap bubble.

Both companies were exposed to point failure, that is one single bad player in the scheme could ruin them.  Bruce didn’t have much control over it, his whole concept required a partner to play along, but Randall didn’t have to use that company, and he could have given himself surety that protected him from getting screwed over like he did.  Especially after it happened once.

Both companies had major supply issues as well.  B5W minis would show up with molding flaws that were simply ridiculous, enormous bubbles, or concavities, detail so worn away that ships looked like metal bricks, B5W was not immune to issues with their producers, and Bruce had to spend a lot of time cat-wrangling.

B5W suffered an ignominious demise because of these problems.  Leviathans seems to be heading that way.  I want it to succeed, I want to see the Germans, Italians, Russians, Austrian, American, and Japanese fleets sail the skies.  I want more miniatures, I want the amazing mapboard to have neighbors, and I want expanded rules.  I don’t want Leviathans to be a footnote, but unless they get some supervision I fear that Bills will be the next Graw.

Well That’s a Big Hole to Fill

Ripard Teg has laid down his pen.  Wow.  I have logged into EvE all of three times in the last month but I have kept abreast of the news and this has been huge, and bigger than some people realize.  The EvE blogging community is not as big as it once was, having been largely supplanted by sites like EN24 and TM.com, and many of the big names in the blogging community aren’t active, or aren’t doing a whole lot these days.  Part of the reason is traffic is down.  There used to be sites that would direct readers to blogs, like the old EvE Blog Pack, or Evebloggers (which seems to be kinda back) which could help a fledgling blog get some traffic.  Now you can pimp yourself on Reddit or hope for some publicity from forums or search engines, but there isn’t a lot of incentive to crank out a couple thousand words a week if only 4 people read them (and one is Bex who convos you in game to explain the big words).

Ripard had become the biggest supplier of hits to my site (after Reddit) by a long shot.  He represented nearly 1/3 of my incoming traffic over the last year, not counting Reddit.  His removal at a blow takes the dead center of the blogging community and removes it.  Now the structure is missing it’s strongest pillar and I wonder how long it will be before the roof caves in.  Independent bloggers don’t always add a lot, but their voice, and their unique bias makes them valuable.

And I haven’t even talked about Ripard’s voice.  He was the most prolific, the widest reaching, the most successful, and the 2nd most insightful blogger out there.  Mord Fiddle gets #1 there.  His voice on EN24 gave Riverini a real heavy stick to use to convince people that EN24 was a real deal.  Certainly far more credibility than I ever lent him, or Poetic (who I do hold in high regard).  If I had to make a top 10 or top 50 list of influential or must-read EvE posts my first question would be “How many Jester’s Trek posts can I use” because the top 10 would be JT and Fiddler’s Edge and the top 50 would have maybe 10 from other sources.  Most notably Evoganda, Mabrick’s Mumblings, @gamerchick42, and Nosy Gamer out of the current group.

Ripard Teg owes us nothing.  He has given freely of his time, of his insight and of his prolific writing to the entire community and he has made EvE a better game by his efforts.  Still and all it will be a lesser game, and blogging a lesser community for his absence.  I hope the bug bites him again, and I will now go off in search of a new default “What’s up in EvE today” blog.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

 

EvE is a Spectator Sport

So if you haven’t heard, there’s a book project on Kickstarter for a book on the history of the major players of EvE Online.  600 people have backed it already, with an average funding of about $22 each.  He’s already beaten his funding goal of $12,500.  Oh and it’s been going for about 8 hours.  Some heavy hitters have already backed it, Mynxee drew my attention to it and it continues to draw attention and support.  I rather suspect TheMittani.com will have a post on it soon and that will bring even more attention.  And filthy lucre.

The first thing I thought after backing it was “I haven’t played EvE in a month.  Why did I just back a book about it” and I realized something that I’ve known in the back of my head for a while.  EvE is a spectator sport.  I love baseball, I play softball.  I love reading.  My writing is a trial.  I love the drama and heights of EvE, but I’m not temperamentally fit to  climb those heights and battle in the arenas that are most interesting to me.  But by god I’ll throw down my hard earned cash to read about the people that do have what it takes.

CCP has created as their main, and only really profitable product, a game that is more entertaining to watch than it is to play for most of even its target audience.  Whether you enjoy the e-sport format of the tournaments, the news sources and outlets, or are eagerly anticipating the new book it seems like a lot of the best parts of EvE simply aren’t in-game anymore.  The problem with this is that CCP doesn’t control the news sources, or the new book.  They do have the graphic novel and apparently some kind of series that will come about because of this, but they need to get ahead of this cart.  They can’t let too many opportunities to make money off this game now that WoD is dead as a doornail.

Just my 2 cents.  I don’t deal in Isk anymore.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

Corelin is Dead. Long Live Corelin Lintu

So I’ve more or less given up on EvE.  It just doesn’t have the draw for me anymore.  It’s too hard to find interesting people doing interesting things for me anymore.  I’m not dropping the Corelin persona in my gaming however, I am adapting him, and the Lintu clan to other games.  First up:  FF XIV

So I’ve been a Final Fantasy fan ever since the very first game hit my old NES.  I’ve played to completion every main sequence game except 8 (I cannot stand Squall) and played all the Tactics, Mystic Quest, etc.  I never got into FF XI very much because it came too early for me to really get into.  Boy did I get into XIV though.  I played it after release when it hit the main stage like a rotten tomato.  I don’t know what it was supposed to be, but it was a clean miss.  It didn’t feel like much of anything, from a Final Fantasy game, to a Top Flight MMO, to a Grindbox game.  It was just a wild mishmash, a Chimera launched malformed into the world.  It was actually fun, but definitely not worth the $14.99 a month.

So Squenix bit the bullet, fired some people, moved others around, and reborned it.  Let me give you my unvarnished opinion of it.  First the good

  • Graphics are great, this is a visually stunning game, that does full justice to the sort of majesty we have come to expect from a Final Fantasy game.
  • The music is amazing.  Seriously.  Battle Music is better than world themes, but when has that not been the case with Final Fantasy?  Let me give you A FEW EXAMPLES.  Yes the last one is a bit odd.
  • Fan service.  2 of those 3 songs are references to previous games.  Battle on the Bridge is one of the more famous FF themes.  Good King Moggle Mog is one of the crazier fights, especially as it has you smashing moggles, who are normally (literally) falling all over themselves to help you.  Chocobos are huge.  Goobues.  Coerls.  Primals/Summons/Name it.
  • Long Global Cooldown.  I wish they used this better but I love how that 2.5 second GCD gives you plenty of time to plan out your move and act or react to the fight rather than spamming through your rotation/priority tree.
  • Enough Story.  Rather than being a primarily story-drive game like Star Wars, or barely bothering with the story like WoW, this game finds a happy medium.  The story is there.  You will play through it once, but if you don’t want to pay attention, you don’t have to.  I barely did until I got to bits I liked.  I will mention that I *HATE* Western Thanalan.
  • Combat in general is very good.  Some of the animations are repetitive.  Arcanists hold their book one way.  That’s it.  Kinda dull for 50 levels and countless dungeons.  Ditto for all the magic users.  Still there’s plenty going on.  ALL the fights require you to think, move, and react to your opponent.  All of them.  That level 3 rat has an AoE that will make you very sad if you stand in it.

Now the not so good

  • The game is a tiny bit cutesy for the “serious” gamer.  It doesn’t always take itself seriously, and this includes ALL aspects of the game.  If you beat Thornmarch and get moogle gloves before finishing your relic quest as a monk you are gonna look like this for a while.

    Yes, those are Moogle heads.

    Now that’s fine for some people.  Including me actually.  But sometimes you will be wanting to feel like a hardcore badass, and you are partied with three Lalafell geared out in full up Kawaii gear.  You can zoom out and ignore it, but it’s still an issue, and an understandable one.

  • The game bogs down in places.  1-50 isn’t smooth, and some endgame gear will be gotten all out of order.  You will get your ilvl 80 weapon before you get much more than a handfull of pieces of other gear.
  • Endgame on the whole was VERY week until a couple weeks ago, now it is smoother, but still could use some help.  I do believe they are working on it, but it is more of a work in progress than it should be.
  • It’s a very Japanese game.  Grinding is a perfectly acceptable thing to put in for them, to the point where mindless repetition of quests or quest equivalents is just fine by the devs.  In addition sometimes the game feels VERY different from a European/American MMO.  Be it WoW or LotRO or SWTOR these games have a lot in common.  This game defies some of that.  It’s not all comfortable for us Americans, although I do like changing things up, sometimes I want to know WHY things are a certain way.
  • I don’t like the crafting.
  • I don’t like the gathering.
  • Housing is expensive.  *Really* expensive.

All in all it’s very fun.  The community is quite helpful, and jerks get called out more often than they don’t.  That’s big for me.  The staff is responsive to petitions, and other than the occasional grindbox segment, the game is just fun.  Seriously watch that Gilgamesh fight and tell me that doesn’t look like a blast.

Later this month I’m going to talk about how bad I am at World of Tanks, and since it’s Sexual Assault Awareness month I will probably talk about why everything you were told about consent is school is horrible.  Till then fly safe, enjoy your game and be excellent to each other.  In addition I’m working on the old podcast and streaming with Matt from the podcast on occasion.

Also:  Gonna need some new art.

 

¢ontext ¢ounts

Ok, this is a follow on the my post $ensational(ism) from the other day.  And since I used the Dollar sign there, I’m throwing the Cent sign here.  At the end of $ensational(ism) I threw out a statement that hadn’t really been introduced or supported, and I didn’t really like leaving it out there.  It’s kind of an itch that I need to scratch.

Battles don’t happen in a vacuum.  There’s a rich context for them.  There’s a reason for them, and that reason tells part of the story.  For example let’s look at the Halloween war.  N3 booted Solar out of that bastion of Russian Rodina, the Eastern Drone Regions.  Because EvE has always been at war with Eastasia.  In fact I think this poster could be a great EvE recruiting poster:

Starring The Mittani as Emmanuel Goldstein and Big Brother all at once.

Starring The Mittani as Emmanuel Goldstein and Big Brother all at once.

So N3 has gone after the Russians.  PL is backing them because they are bored and getting paid (presumably) Goons are backing the Russians because the one thing the Goons will almost always do is help the Russians and the only people the Russians can be absolutely counted on to help is the Goons.  They have had each other’s back for a long time.

Added to the fun:  PL and Goons have a deep and complex relationship.  Frenemies is probably too strong, but Friendly Rivals certainly isn’t too strong a term.  Their mutual history runs a long damn time, and includes a lot of knives in a lot of backs.  Right now they trust each other in that way you trust someone who you know is planning to knife you at some point, just not this week.

On to the point.  Right now CCP is seeing a huge rush of people trying out EvE due to the media coverage of B-R.  These players joined because they saw huge space battles, they saw huge numbers of players, of dollars, of explosions.  Right now a lot of them are finding out 2 things.  First:  This game is COMPLICATED.  Second:  You can get into a lot of content in a hurry if you make the right connections, but it might not be for you, and even if it is it might not be the best thing.  CCP has sold people a game where you fight battles with thousands of players, in a universe where you can make a mark forever.  What they didn’t mention too loudly was that there’s not many battles that big, and except for the statue, the odds of you making your mark in any lasting way are pretty small.  Sure you can be bold, lead, and do great things.  You can also get chased out in ignominy in three weeks.

Now just in case you are a new player looking for tips, here’s some for you:

  1. Don’t fit warp core stabs.  Just don’t.
  2. Ask questions.  If you don’t get answers you can understand, ask again somewhere else.
  3. Find a community to be a part of.  You don’t have to actually join a corp, but you really should start making friends ASAP.
  4. Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose.
  5. Try different things.
  6. Ask for help.
  7. Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
  8. Don’t fit stabs.
  9. Fill the slots on your ship.
  10. 1 tank per ship please
  11. Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose
  12. and Don’t.  Fit.  Stabs.
I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

$ensational(ism)

So a lot of people in the media have been talking about the $300 battle.  This is both true, and disingenuous.  If I were to throw down 300k in cash on Plex, and convert them into ISK, assuming I managed to not crash the market, I would have enough ISK to buy the ships that were lost in the battle.  I could not, however, take the ships that were lost in the battle, and sell them for ISK, convert them back to PLEX, and sell them for real money.  The mechanisms and rules of the game don’t allow it.  I could probably sell some of them for real money, I think we all know or at least believe this to be the case.

Today I heard NPR’s Marketplace interview The Mittani.  Mittens does a good job selling the concept of the $300k battle.  He mentions that there were people who spent money out of the game to buy ships in game.  Now this is not necessarily accusing people of RMT, although he certainly implies a degree of condescension towards the practice of using real money in any way to buy ships, by specifying that he knew that people on the losing side had done this.  I think no one even vaguely familiar with Goons would be in any way surprised to find that there were several people in goons who’d PLEXed for ships; and there’s nothing wrong with this.  Hell I’ll be doing so later this month.

The Mittani and CCP both have become victims of their propaganda, and the long-term prejudices of MMOs.  RMT is bad.  This is a very simple, and generally true statement, but not all RMT is bad.  EvE has a lot of grinds and the game allows you to buy game time, sell it to other players, and buy whatever they want with the proceeds.  This does far less damage to the economy than wholesale, unregulated third party RMT.  It does permit “Wallet Warriors” to bling out there ships and do a hell of a lot, but due to the incremental increases in capabilities offered, it doesn’t give massive, overwhelming advantages to people using this (beyond the ability to bring the bling time and again, but frankly that’s just wealth redistribution against the wrong enemies).  The only time the advantage does get truly oppressive is when it is played out on the macro scale.  Were PL to drop a truly mammoth amount of cash to replace their whole fleet, only more so, and bring in other folks to do the same to tilt the balance, it would certainly be possible to do so, but… well… I doubt how sustainable it would be for them (if they can sustain it, more power to them, maybe they can fund some better expansions).  This is the trap of the prejudices of the MMO industry.

EvE has built this article of faith that everything is worth money.  That the money in game is directly tied to real money.  The connection is tenuous, it goes only in one direction, and it can very quickly change, so that this battle, that today represented roughly $300k in a very indirect way, will next year represent a much smaller figure, and in a few more years represent an even smaller figure.  The wars of EvE have a context, and the context isn’t the wealth destroyed, but the bonds broken.  The creation and destruction of alliances and coalitions, the betrayals, and the battles.  Not the almighty dollar.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

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