WoW Token

Recently Blizzard announced the WoW Token, an item that can be bought for in-game gold to grant 30 days of game time. It’s a common enough feature of MMORPGs these days; other than the original PLEX in Eve Online, Everquest & Everquest 2 have Krono, Rift has REX, Wildstar even launched with CREDD.

What does this mean for me as an ex-WoW player who has no desire to pay Blizzard a subscription at the moment? Not so much really; the expansion Warlords of Draenor is still a barrier to entry as I’d have no new content to play without buying that. Even the cheapest online stores are selling it for about £23 (~$35) at present so it’s not quite at the “buy it without thinking level yet” (Pandaria is now only £8 by comparison) so maybe in a year or two’s time?

But ignoring the expansion issue I could apparently make use of the new Veteran account status to get back into the game without re-subbing. The quandary with a lot of these ‘gold for gametime’ schemes is that you need a sub to login in order to buy them or receive one as a gift. So you end up paying a month to then be able to play for ‘free’. The Veteran account change means I could log in on any character under level 20, or delete an old one and make a new level 1 character to get past that limitation. With the per-character limit of 10g you’ll definitely not be accumulating enough gold to buy a Token yourself, at least not the first one. But either you or a guild mate or friend could buy one with real money and mail it. Once you’ve consumed it you could then login your normal high level characters and get on with the gold accumulation for the next time.

What effect will all this have on the playerbase in the future? Well one aspect is that of players “un-subbing” when the next content drought hits. Unlike in previous pre-expansion droughts, players who unsub can buy Tokens to keep playing. Maybe the account game time generated will count as subs? If so then the total subscription numbers reported in the publicly released accounts will not dip as far as previous lulls in content. There’ll be an unknown number of Token-ers in the game who continue to play without needing to pay the sub, but who spend a probably significant amount of time every month doing dailies or playing the auction house game to make the needed in-game gold. So Blizzard will keep these players engaged, if they don’t become bored with the gold grind that is. Until we see how much a Token is worth in gold it’s impossible to assess just how grindy that grind will be. Getting that balance right will be important if they want players to remain engaged via this system.  Unlike other similar systems there are a number of restrictions on the Tokens (e.g. can’t be resold) and Blizzard can manipulate the price easily enough to prevent it from crashing or rising too far.

Posted in Gaming, WoW | 2 Comments

EQ2: little things I love about EQ2

While playing Everquest 2 recently a few of the little features of the game or my main shadowknight character have stuck in my memory as just really nice things to have. They’re either something unique to EQ2 or rare enough in the MMO genre that they’ve stood out as something unusual. Here’s a quick list in no particular order:

1) Evac spells

Teleports, hearthstones, recalls and similar are standard across most of the genre as a way of getting across large distances quickly but functionally they’re more a “return to base” spell. The evac spells, such as shadowy evasion on my shadowknight, is subtly different in that it takes you to a safe place within the current zone. That’s available on some classes or through special items as a secondary teleport ability and it’s situationally more useful than a hearthstone or recall. If you out and about questing but need to return to the quest giver or vendor then this is the spell you want, not the recall to your home city whereby you’d have to trek half-way back across the world to carry on questing.

2) Totems

Linked to the above item are the totem items. These ‘clickies’ are magical items that you can craft and give to another character (or buy of the broker!) to give your character some interesting temporary abilities that their class do not innately possess. Just a few examples of the many options give invisibilityan evac, or underwater breathing? My inquistor is a woodworker and can make some of these making him a very useful crafter to have among my stable of characters.

3) Legends and Lore quests

This type of quest is very unstructured. You find a body part of the creature in question, e.g. orc, elemental or gnoll, and then collect a further ten or so different body parts by slaying more of the same creatures. Completing the list will give you a chunk of experience, usually a housing item and possibly a special skill to do exta damage to that type of creature. Zam has a list of these quests on this page.

4) Languages

As a language-lover in real life I’ve always been thrilled that Everquest 2 has languages for the player races and for monsters. You can get quests to learn many of them out in the world, or speak to certain NPCs vendors to buy manuals. It’s a lovely RPG feature to the game that provides little in-game benefit but adds to the depth of the immersion of playing.

5) Bag space galore

This game has so much potential bag space on characters. Each character has eight slots for backpacks, holding from four to over sixty items. Then you have your bank slots, your house vault slots and your shared bank slots. If you’re in a guild then that opens even more storage capacity available. It may make inventory management a bit of a nightmare (or dream for the hoarders among you) but at least you’re not stuck with miserly small bags while out questing as is the case in some other MMOs (e.g. LOTRO).

So this is my simple list of some of the little things that I like in EQ2 and often miss when playing other MMOs.

 

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PVE over-entitlement

Rohan had an interesting post on Blessing of Kings on Wednesday regarding PVE over-entitlement. The gist of the post is that there’s a perception that PVE players in complaining about PVP focus in the upcoming game Crowfall are being pretty unfair given that, according to his count, they have a choice of 11 games versus the one for PVP-oriented players.

I can understand this viewpoint, I’ve complained about PVP focus or features being introduced in games that I’ve played and possibly not always with good reason. As regular readers of this blog may know I abhor PVP, it’s just not my idea of fun in any form. Forcing me to PVP in an MMO is a good way to persuade me to quit for good. But I was one of the carebears posting on the Allods beta-forums asking for a PVE server. I also stated over the years that the constant re-balancing of the classes in WoW would be a good justification for splitting the function of class abilities between PVE and PVP game content.

I think Rohan is maybe over-exaggerating the imbalance though. Tera is heavily focused on PVP and GW2 has a lot of PVP players (well either RVR or PVP). Archeage has a big PVP component as well.

Most existing or announced sandboxy MMOs are PVP-heavy or PVP-mandatory, games such as Eve, Archeage or upcoming titles like Camelot Unchained and Pathfinder Online (just ugh, a D&D PVP game is sacrilege). So that’s an area where ‘entitled PVE-ers’ really have a strong justification for moaning – where’s the sandbox games for crafters/builders not looking for PVP?

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars, Tera | 4 Comments

TSW: there are puzzles and there are *puzzles*

We had a couple of brief sessions of The Secret World recently just to backtrack to early zones and try to find any missed investigation missions. We haven’t done many recently and fancied a change of pace. Minor spoilers are unavoidable in this post, you have been warned.

Ebrayn-2015-02-23-22-36-38

According to a not so up-to-date wiki guide the only investigation mission in the Blue Mountain zone was in the mysterious Orochi base in the North of the zone. To get the mission unlocked we found we had to backtrack to an NPC nearby and do here sabotage mission first – which also takes place in the base so what followed was a couple of mini sessions dodging the automated defences of the base.

This game *makes* you to stand in the poison...

This game *makes* you to stand in the poison…

After successfully completing the sabotage mission we then took the investigation mission “Win Win”. It’s a real brain-strain style set of puzzles. Interestingly there are two approaches in most cases to solving them – either a maths one or a hard-core IT geek one.

Hmmm

Hmmm

In the end we managed to solve all the maths puzzles, it helps that I’m married to a maths-whizz! As an IT person myself I was most annoyed at not being able to solve the puzzle the alternative way via command line ‘hacking’.

Ebrayn-2015-02-24-22-58-46

Amazed I got this far, it was *not* obvious how to proceed!

 

But then I’ve never been interested in the shadier side of computing. I looked up the solution for this after we’d completed the mission and it was beyond impossible to work out without very specific IT knowledge, a few clues left lying around wouldn’t have been enough! It was great that there were two options, but a shame that their relative difficulty were so out of line…

Posted in Gaming, TSW | 4 Comments

EQ2: signature timelines

Everquest 2 delivers if you happen to want long & complex quest chains that will challenge your character’s abilities, your knowledge of Norrathian lore and geography. As a relative newbie to the game these quest chains, called ‘signature quest timelines‘, are both intriguing and perplexing. The copious NPC dialogue related to individual quest steps may or may not help me to figure out what to do and where to go next, or in some cases not really.

That dragon didn't say anything about this...

That dragon didn’t say anything about this…

It’s probably obvious to a veteran which version of a story instance I should be choosing, clearly not the heroic raid version listed in the screenshot but what about the other three options? I could always jump on the wiki website and find the answer but that seems like cheating. Having to zone in and out of instances to find the right one, by checking the enhanced map for the tell-tale quest objective icons, isn’t much better than following a wiki guide…

So erm, boss tactics anyone?

So erm, boss tactics anyone?

Then there are the boss fights that in the advanced solo instances that litter some of these quest chains. Sure I might often be able to brute-force the fight with my super mystic mercenary but not always. One other boss fight in the same dungeon as pictured above  was impossible to beat without the right tactics – it is effectively immune to damage until your use certain items in a certain way (spoiler-lite version). It can be fun to work out fights, though not always that practical if you have a lack of dungeon experience in the game to base possible tactics on. I certainly don’t mind dying a few times to learn for myself but when I’m playing a shorter session inevitably the wiki has to save the day (and a lot of time).

Climbing the walls

Climbing the walls

The most recent instance of Wurmbane Crag had me climbing the walls of a ravine via this handy vertical maze of wooden ramps and platforms. There were a few precarious jumps involved (I could do with a clicky item to boost jumping distance!) but otherwise it was a blast to play through. I was particularly impressed that my merc’s AI kept him from falling at any point, he dutifully followed me along narrow planks and up and down ramps without the slightest hesitation!

I’m having a blast in Everquest 2 at the moment, I think in part because I’ve relaxed about the leveling speed. Doing these long rambling quest chains may be a very inefficient approach to leveling but I’m getting tons of new gear and it’s sure fun to delve into all the lore along the way!

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EQ2: live dev chat

The EQ2Wire news website has a summary of a Live Stream, a webcast of the team discussing what’s upcoming for Everquest 2.

The stream dives straight into a list of planned features with some discussion about priorities. Interestingly there was some talk about server capacity – they’re upgrading software on the servers, including changing the underlying database system. Apparently this will open up new in-game possibilities like cross-server dungeon groups. Holly stated that server merges aren’t currently on the table as the team hopes cross-server features will eliminate many server population issues.

Content details are vague – there is talk of new advanced solo and heroic content so I guess more dungeons and raids. Gem colour conversion, which means nothing to me as I’ve not yet done content at that level of progression. There was a mention of eventually reworking the daily system, I’d respond to that with an “if it aint broke don’t fix it” as I actually like the daily system in EQ2 more than in most games (GW2!).

Public quests will at some point be a thing again, which I’d love to see actually as I missed them when they were popular. Progression servers aren’t on the cards as the game’s architecture has changed so much since launch, unlike Everquest 1 which will be getting a new progression server.

Posted in EQ2, Gaming | 2 Comments

Neverwinter: More module 6 details

The Neverwinter launcher had a new news item Wednesday evening on the upcoming Elemental Evil module for the game. To my surprise the module will feature an iconic pair of NPCs from much earlier games (Baldur’s Gate I and II), the ranger Minsc and his companion Boo. I’ll just leave this here in case you didn’t play either…

It sounds from the news article like our characters will be interacting a fair amount with these and other NPCs as we play the module’s story. Hopefully this module will be more akin to the original leveling zones of the game as opposed to the more daily quest-focused campaigns that have been released since. The fact that with this module we get the first ever increase to the game’s level cap also means, I would hope, that it’ll play somewhat differently from the Dread Ring or Sharandar campaigns.

Adding this NPC is certainly a clever way of tapping some nostalgia for fans of the Forgotten Realms setting and, in particular, fans of the Baldur’s Gate CRPG series. I wonder if this character will feature in Sword Coast Legends as well..?

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