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Archive for December, 2008

That is a big boost

December 31, 2008 4 comments

I happened to take a look at XFire statistics for played games and noticed that EVE actually had climbed up to me #2 among MMO-type games, pushing Guild Wars down to the 3rd spot. Looking at the details there is a significant boost in number of hours played, from about 10000 hours per day to something between 30000 and 40000 hours from the middle of December.
xfire_stats1

The number of users playing are still lower than Guild Wars though and people seem to put on average almost 5 hours per day. Is it the winter event or something else? Neither Warhammer Online or Lord of the Rings Online are close to EVEs (or Guild Wars’) numbers when it comes to XFire usage.

Categories: EVE Online

I received a Christmas card…

December 29, 2008 Comments off

..from ArenaNet. A nice card with what I guess is Gwen and 2 Asura in Xmas outfits on the front and a couple of signatures from people at ArenaNet inside.

I have not reason to believe that I am singled out in any way, so I guess they might have randomly selected a number of Guild Wars players and sent them cards. At least I do no think they would send a couple of million cards to everyone.

Either way, I do appreciate the gesture even if it was random. Thank you ArenaNet!

Categories: Guild Wars

The illusion of control

December 28, 2008 2 comments

On the villain side the dominators has been responsible for much of my play time there. It is my favourite archetype in this game. The combination of crowd control and damage dealing has been a very appealing, combined with the domination power. With 6 dominators and a total of 280 levels I have found that an enjoyable archetype to play.

Hero-side it is mainly the Controllers (or trollers for short) that handles the crowd control, but instead of damage dealing they have more support abilities. My highest hero is also a controller and I have had a lot of fun playing her also.

She was created a bit over a year ago and is an illusion/radiation controller (a popular powerset combination). Inspired a bit by a ghost story I heard on a vacation to Iceland, I named the character Frieda and tried to give her the look of a ghostly little girl. The illusion powerset seemed to fit quite well with that character so that choice was easy. Radiation was picked mainly because it seemed to be a useful powerset.

 

Frieda with Phantom Army and Phantasm

Frieda with Phantom Army and Phantasm

The illusion control powerset do have a number of powers that match well with the ghostly theme, from the Spectral Wounds damage power to the various “pets” such as the Phantasm, the Phantom Army and the Spectral Terror. The Phantasm is a ghostly creature which sends blasts to damamge the enemies and sometimes creates a cloned decoy of himself to get enemies to attack the decoy. The Phantom Army is a set of three masked invulnerable characters which can jump in for a short time and output some good damage and attract the anger of the enemies. It is an excellent power to pick up an alpha strike from a group of mobs. Spectral Terror is a screaming ghost which causes fear into enemies in the area.

Frieda is now level 39 and is by far the highest hero I have in the game (compared to at least 10 level 30+ villains, of which 4 are at max level). While the damage doen by Frieda herself is quite miniscule and smaller than any dominator, the “pets” do compensate for that and provide some decent output. In fact I would feel safer trying to handle elite bosses solo with Frieda than any of my dominators, mainly because it is easier not to be the main target of agression. In group, especially large ones I still think I prefer dominators though.

It will be interesting to see what the higher level content on the hero side will provide. I must say that I have found the content to be a bit better when higher levels are gained than on the low level side.

Categories: City of Heroes

Back in Middle Earth – for now

December 27, 2008 8 comments

About a week ago I decided to have a look again at Lord of the Rings Online. This was a game that I pre-ordered and got the founder’s 6 month option for, but stopped playing after 2 months.

What destroyed the game for me then was too much grind elements (resource grind, kill grind), uninspiring quests (too many kill X boars type of quests) and camping/spawn competition for the mobs/resources necessary for that grind.

I did however really like the setting and the mood elements that was part of the environment. While I do have read J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels (and not just Lord of the Rings), I cannot say that I am a Tolkien fan or even a fantasy fan – I read a lot of fantasy in pre-teens and teens, but that stopped later. With the exception of Terry Pratchett the number of fantasy books I have read in the past 20-25 years can probably be counted on my fingers. So I cannot say that the setting fitting with J.R.R. Toolkien’s work has a big impact for my enjoyment of the game. Nice, but not much more than that.

I decided to jump in the game with one of the new classes introduced with the Mines of Moria expansion – the nuker/healer combo of the Rune-keeper and the need to balance each side properly sounded quite interesting to try out.

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When IP blocks makes more sense…

December 26, 2008 1 comment

..is for a game company that runs “free-to-play” games.

If the company runs “free-to-play” games then it is likely that the majority of the players will not pay anything or very little and thus only cost the company money. The likely minority of players that pay more will more than make up for that though.

But given that players will be either profitable or non-profitable, more players may not necessarily be good for business. Only profitable players are good for business. Which probably means that certain countries and audiences are more interesting than others, depending on their likeliness to pay.
Proximity of servers may be a factor here also, if the service works better for players they might be more willing to pay for stuff.
Maybe the cost to process payments from different countries is also a factor (assuming that there may be differerences here).

Depending on the business model set up with the developers of a game (if the company is only a publisher), there may also be legal restrictions here since the developers want to sell the game to many different publishers for more profit.

Either way, running a “free-to-play” service will likely cause the companies to be selective about who will play the game, still with appearing to be free and open.

The issues with IP blocking for Chronicles of Spellborn has been my 2nd subscription-based game with such issues. The first one was Horizons back in 2003, which blocked me from playing with some game friends in the US.

I have also experienced this with some of the “free-to-play” games, locking me out even if there is no European version.

Given the background and the current games the publishers for Chronicles of Spellborn are operating (Frogster and Acclaim), it probably makes sense for them to do the same thing they might be doing with other games – they are not used to operate subscription-based games where all players are profitable.

I do not think the Spellborn IP block will go away anytime soon. Unless All publishers and Spellborn N.V. all agree on lifting the block (and likely changing the business agreements) nothing will happen in this area. And they will not do anything unless they all see some bad sales numbers and they come to the conclusion that lifting this would help.

Is this an issue we will be plagued with for all smaller games and games with separate developers and publishers which go the “free-to-play” route? What about companies like NCSoft, Blizzard, SOE, Turbine or EA? Will they put in more measures to try to maximize the ratio of profitable players if they publish “free-to-play” games and what measures would that be?

A visit to the Athenaeum

December 23, 2008 1 comment

In Chronicles of Spellborn my trickster has died in combat once. Most of the deaths has been through other means, including game crash, AFK and exploration.

Before the 1.0.1 update I had a crash while running down a street which resulted in both my death and double loss of PEP (from 2 to 0). After the update though I did have another crash in the middle of a combat. I pretty much expected to log back in to a report that I had died and lost some PEP, but it turned out that neither were I dead nor any PEP had been lost! Apparently there has been some improvement that did detect the crash properly and aborted the combat in time. Good work Spellborn!

In my visit to Quarterstone I received a quest to travel to The Athenaeum if I wanted to learn more about the past. This was a bit intriguing so since I were on the Parliament shard I headed towards the Hawksmouth docks to jump on a shard ship. Some domestic issues needed a couple of minutes attention though, so I decided to park my trickster near a guard tower and go AFK, hoping that the guards would provide some protection for the wildlife.
Returning back a couple of minutes later I was greeted with a “You have died” screen… Looking at the combat logs it seemed that something with fangs had taken a couple of bites, enough to provide a terminal condition. Apparently the guards were not much help or did not care. This certainly brought back memories from some older games, were going AFK seldom were safwe anywere except perhaps in cities,e ven in PvE games. This seems to be the case here also. Lesson learned the –PEP way!
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Touristing in Quarterstone

December 22, 2008 5 comments

After becoming a citizen through high house Rune in Chronicles of Spellborn my travels took me to the shard of Quarterstone. So far I have just done some initial quests and some time running around in the area.

The Oracle district and the temple

The Oracle district and the temple

Quarterstone is pretty much a city shard, with a couple of districts placed around the center area, the Oracle district and the big temple there in the middle.
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