Category Archives: Things I think I think
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:
- Get rid of Finecast. Yesterday.
- Reprice all books to 25-50% of their current cost.
- 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.
- Stop. Suing. Everyone. It pisses people off and it is being done far in excess of what is necessary to preserve copyrights.
- 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 $100 dollars you get at least 3-4x what you pay for AND the rulebooks.
- Box sizes should equate to regiments. 20 for elite infantry, 30 for line, 40 for swarms. Pricing will also be going down. 3$ for elite minis, 2$ for the rank and file, 5-7 for cavalry.
- Army books brought up to date for legacy armies, Brets, Skaven, Vampire Counts, Tomb Kings, look there’s a lot that needs some love.
- 1 Book for Marines. 3 Tops. Not a dozen. (Not counting CSM)
- Price reduction on boxes. Box sizes are ok. 40 bucks for 10 basic tactical marines isn’t.
- Rebalance everything. I mean a serious balance pass. Fliers especially but every army needs a good hard look to avoid spamming of OP units.
- 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.
- 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.
- Blood Bowl is GW’s best game ever. Seriously it’s fun, it’s fast paced and it needs to be out front.
- LotR… does anyone play this? How much are we paying for the IP? Create some fancy models and move on.
- 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!
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.
- Great Barrow (3 Instances, 6 man)
- Inn of the Forsaken (3 man)
- Seat of the Great Goblin (3 man)
- Iorbar’s Peak (3 man)
- Webs of the Scuttledells (3)
- Bells of the Dale (6)
- Fornost (4 instances, 6 man)
- Halls of Night (3 man)
- Glinghant (6 man)
- Ost Elendil (6 man)
- Huadh Valandil (6 man)
- Library (3 man)
- School (3 man)
- Sword Hall (3 man)
- Dungeons (6 man)
- Warg Pens (3 man)
- Sammath Gul (6 man)
- Lost Temple (6 man)
- Sari-Surma (6 man)
- Northcotton Farms (3 man)
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
- Don’t fit warp core stabs. Just don’t.
- Ask questions. If you don’t get answers you can understand, ask again somewhere else.
- 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.
- Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose.
- Try different things.
- Ask for help.
- Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
- Don’t fit stabs.
- Fill the slots on your ship.
- 1 tank per ship please
- Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose
- and Don’t. Fit. Stabs.
Thanks to some considerable success at work I’ll soon be coming into a good chunk of money, part of which I plan on using to buy plex. BTW thanks PL for dropping the value of PLEX. I hope you will consider my need to make isk before you whelp your next fleet of Titans.
Seriously though, I should have about as much isk as I have ever had, finally giving in and briefly being a wallet warrior. There’s quite a few things I plan on buying, and I’d like to throw out the list to see what suggestions I can get from the peanut gallery. So here we go
- Naglfar – Always been my favorite dread just for the aesthetics. The fact that it’s total FOTM adds considerably to my desire to pull the trigger
- Black Ops BS – Leaning towards the Panther, but entertaining the thought of a Sin. Anyone care to advise me on which hangar queen is most desirable?
- Fittings for 1 and 2. Honestly I’ve been looking at a lot of Nag fits and it almost seems like you want 2 or 3 full sets of fittings depending on what you are doing, is that correct or am I just seeing the most fail killmails.
- A solid warchest of money to engage in arbitrage. I have never really figured out a good income stream for EvE, but this seems like something I can do before work, and that I can do more or less on my own. I’ve tried missions, incursions, and while I can do them, it just doesn’t seem that good. I know there’s not a lot of great routes still out there but it seems like eve-central can make even humble old me do a decent job on trading.
- ALL THE T1 CRUISERS. Seriously I’m about ready to fit up 10 from each race, load them into a carrier and jump them into lowsec. Even if I lose them in job lots I can just start over if I’m making a decent amount of money on #4.
- The alliance shopping list. Every alliance has one, I figure as long as I’m hitting the candy aisle I can pick up the veggies.
I’m mainly looking for opinions on 1-4. I could in theory drop into any dread but the Phoenix because… fuck the Phoenix. I *like* the nag, it’s powerful, versatile, and most importantly: Vertical. I could be sold on the Rev (I figure being the toughest guy in a small gang has its advantages) and ditto on the Moros (still versatile, and who doesn’t like stupidly large damage numbers) but I’m leaning nag.
For BLOPS, there seem to be a lot of choices. The Panther has the Minmatar advantages of speed, and a total lack of Cap dependency, The Sin gives you a swiss army knife if you go gunless in the highs, or a solid beatstick if you shield tank it, and throw down with guns and damage mods, The redeemer has the tank and I always love firin’ mah lazors. Ripard’s Widow fit looks like the FOTM and a good one at that.
Obviously fittings are important. Both of the above ships will be the first I’ve had in their respective categories. I’m trying to avoid my tradition of losing the first ship in any given category within a week, which has held true for everything except carriers and command ships. Seriously. I need to not be losing these.
Finally money making. I am terribad at this. It’s embarrassing. The most success I ever had was manufacturing T3s. This required a lot of moving parts, and while I was quite good at it, and made boatloads of money, a lot of my profit came because I was freeloading on someone else’s POS for R&D and manufacturing. Not really an option at the moment. I also had a couple embarrassments when it came to transportation. Most of these were “You left the epoxy in Jitamart asshat” but one of them was of the “Hey the gankers figured out your schedule asshat” variety. I actually own a researched Archon BPO, and I could probably be doing copies of that just on the side, but without the component BPCs I’m not hardly making a lot of money on that end, even with them I’m not sure about the profitability of the beast these days.
So I throw it to you long-suffering readers. I should have a good load of isk. What to do with it?
So I noticed the other day that Massively had missed a small story. It concerned EvE Online. And it concerned a battle you probably haven’t heard of. The one where SEVENTY FIVE FUCKING TITANS DIED. I looked for it, and I looked back and noticed that their coverage has been… very… meh. I took to twitter and had pointed out to me by @Noizygamer that Massively doesn’t cover in-game events in EvE.
Um. What… The… Fuck…
Seriously what’s the point? CCP Has twitter, facebook, all the social media stuff. What’s the point of having people presumably being paid to write about EvE. The problem is they either aren’t allowed to talk about the actual game, or they simply choose not to. And that’s not ok. That’s like a food critic going to a restaurant and talking about the kitchen utensils, the wait staff, and the decor, and what kind of restaurant it is, but not mentioning anything about the actual food. WTF are they paying you for. Their opinion pieces are tolerable, but I’d much rather see someone giving Mord Fiddle money to write more, or Ripard Teg, or Rixx, or Noizy, and hell while I’m giving other people’s money away I can always use some.
Massively is a neat website, and one I like to check often, but I rarely find a reason to actually hit a story, because… well… they don’t write stories. They gloss over things, they pass by things, but half the time I’m clicking into a story it’s to go straight to the bottom and click through to the source material because all they seem to do is rehash the source. That’s not reporting. I’d rather have an RSS feed that was smart enough to find new MMOs for me when I get bored of EvE.
But as long as we’re talking about what they DO provide, well lets look at some Op Eds.
Brendan Drain’s latest – His research is shoddy, his ideas are stale, and his writing is bare bones. (Seriously, there were financials put out twice last year. BRENDAN YOU ARE GETTING PAID TO DO THIS AND I’M NOT! If you want to report the information you have to dig to find it, and if you did you’d find out their subscription revenue is still increasing – page 9 at the bottom)
I’m just gonna link Fiddler’s Edge because… well… I have no interest in being fair. Mord has Brendan beaten like a rented mule. When he talks about details, he has his ducks in a row.
Who do you think deserves a paying job doing this. Brendan or Mord? Who would make their company more relevant. Most importantly: who wants to read more stories that just rehash a press release?
So CCP has decided to point the finger at drones for HED. Maybe not the whole finger, but a big part of, shall we say… a central one?
Seriously, drones have been a problem for a while, and it’s not news to most EvE grognards. Drones have become the new missiles. The system that stands out as a huge problem. I’m pretty sure I know what the solution will be. Drones will be launched and operate as a single element. Ships will only be able to carry full drone groups. These drones will do, and take damage as single elements, and have capabilities based on what are now full groups.
This would have a lot of ramifications. An absolute ton. The 75m3 mixed group would be… interesting to say the least. Drone cycling, where you swap out singlets that are taking damage for ones that are undamaged, would go away completely. Ships with multiple drone groups could consider it, but as is, the somewhat irritating. In cap fights the wings of fighters and bombers can cause staggering amounts of lag. Compressing these huge groups from dozens per ship, quickly scaling to thousands in the large null battles, to 1 per ship would be a huge boon to the poor, long-suffering hamsters trying frantically to keep up with the fleets of New Eden.
This will change a lot of things. It will dumb down the game. It will change how a lot of modules work. Especially on carriers and supercarriers. Smartbombing drones will have to be done very differently. The drones skill itself will change a lot, as you will either be able to launch a full flight, or no drones.
I don’t actually have too many problems with this, in some ways it’s dumbing down the game, but I suspect that it can be used to bring new players into drone combat faster, letting them launch flights of T1 light drones pretty quickly, where I see the most trouble is figuring out a way to keep DCUs useful. Brute force could be used, just adding a damage bonus that gets the stacking penalty for other DCUs, but not for DDAs. I do like the simplification that this change would represent, not only would it clean up the overview, (and formations of drones/fighters flying around could offer a really neat visual should CCP try that) but it would dramatically simplify the back end of large battles. Rather than calculating the position of thousands and thousands of drones you just calculate a max of one drone flight / ship on the field. This would cut the contribution to lag by a huge amount for each drone boat, and even more for carriers and supers.
This isn’t a panacea. This will not fix every issue currently plaguing large battles in EvE. It does remove some gameplay elements; but I, personally, don’t think that those elements are hugely important to the game, and their removal in the name of streamlining what has become partly responsible for the catastrophic lag in large battles, with thousands of players involved.
I suspect that this is getting a long look in Iceland, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find the CSM had been consulted on this idea. Even as a complete off-the-cuff issue.