Tag: Elder Scrolls Online

The cycle

I play MMORPGs almost exclusively- there used to be only one, World of Warcraft, although i didn’t linger there for as long as most players do- i played for about 6 months before questing in Stranglethorn Valley and the Un’Goro crater put an end to a fun progression and made it a grind. Since then, i’ve gained maxlevel only once, in Rift, and that was because i had great fun in a great group- i think i did play only dungeons from the mid-thirties to level 50. Everything else i played, i got stuck in the early mid-levels. Let’s say level 30 usually is when i hit a wall. Curiously, i’m not alone in this, as Ironweakness has a post up to announce a series on his blog about levelling from “One to X”.

That post made me think about reasons for my not being able to do something like that, as much as i’d want. There are some.

Something else beckons

I like most mainstream MMOs that are out there. Often, when i return to a game, i wonder why i left/didn’t continue/don’t put more deliberation in that particular game. It really doesn’t matter which game it is we’re talking about- i cycle through Lotro, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIV, SWTOR, Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, Marvel Heroes, maybe even EQ2 and World of Warcraft (not really) all the time. It’s offers and updates that are calling me.

Just to take the more recent events- i’d like to play FF14 and Guild Wars 2 for their respective expansions. I wanted to get into SWTOR for their housing system, always want to continue Lotro for its story and world, The Secret World for the New player experience and so on. But while i am on game x, there’s always something happening in game y. I really wish i’d be there, at the level cap, to witness all new content. If i were to make an effort to play “One to X” in each of these games successively, i’d be in a happy place.

It gets cumbersome

The early levels of many MMOs are quite fun. Even when you are a time-challenged casual player like myself, you’ll be able to make some progress- even if it’s just “finishing one quest” in MMOs where one quest really matters, like in ESO or TSW. In Guild Wars 2, even in the higher levels, i manage to get a level out of most play sessions while mostly just taking a look around.

But sometimes, it’s just getting very cumbersome to make any progress in the games. So much so that i’ll need a whole play session just to figure out where i left, what my goals were and how to play my class. Quests and other ingame goals take you to places all over the virtual worlds, the inventory is cluttered and i don’t even know what is useful and what isn’t. Mobs take ages to get down and so on. Life in the midlevels is busywork.

The most recent example in my personal experience would be Final Fantasy XIV, where i simply wanted to get the main story quest up to the level my character is. It took me about two months and still i didn’t reach that goal. Of course i did other stuff- i made progress in crafting, different combat classes as well as gathering. Unfortunately, this all didn’t really feel like progress because i was merely catching up on all positions- trying to get the gathering and crafting jobs as well as the main storyline up to par with my combat class level- and it took ages.

Zone design

I don’t believe in worlds- even virtual ones, that are devoid of any humanity. Often, you’ll have the starting zones and they’re happy places- there are villages, woods, beautiful sights all around. All this vanishes when you hit the early midlevels. Think about Lord of the Rings Online- you start either in the shire, bree-land or Ered Luin – all beautiful places, with villages and signs of humanity all around. Then you’ll continue to the Lonely Lands- ok, they’re named fittingly, but all you get there is an inn. The North Downs aren’t much better- from the second area up until Moria you’ll only get ruins, cabins and other small places. There’s Rivendell, of course, but not much of cities in other ways. And then…comes Moria, the epitome of boredom in zone design (in my opinion; it’s designed in a very good way, but these are still basically caves).

And later on, there will be desert/lava zones. Nobody wants to see something like that. Of course, i can see why dangers must present themselves and an all-green happy-place world might be equally boring, but i still can’t understand why people build great cities in the early game and live in tents from level 20 onwards.

Ways out

So i was thinking- how could i do something like Ironweakness and Syp, who also plays a bajillion MMORPGs but somehow manages to be at (or almost at) the top of the content curve in all of them? Of course, one way to do it would be to not play 30 MMORPGs at the same time and instead reduce to a number i could handle- namely, one at a time. This won’t work, of course, because diversity is the spice of life, after all.

“Going buy-to-play”, as i’ve mentioned in my previous post, would be another way to reduce the amount of concurrent MMOs as well as lifting some pressure off me. There would be three games available- Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. They would offer a diverse diet as well as some depth in their gameplay. All i’d really cut out would be Final Fantasy 14, SWTOR and the newly-returned-to EVE. And Lotro. But frankly, i doubt i’ll ever make it through Moria.

So i don’t know, this is still a topic. It’s a funny thing- this blog was created because i wanted to document my finding of a new MMORPG home- i guess it worked in that way. Unfortunately, when i started it i was of the opinion that i’d found it by now.

 

What to play and going buy-to-play

The recent weeks didn’t see much of MMORPG playtime. I was sick, playing singleplayer games, sick again and on vacation. I briefly considered taking an MMORPG sabbatical for some time, because right now i just feel i’m not in the mood of playing regularly. Gaming, and especially MMORPG-related gaming, tends to become so much of a focus in the private life that launching a game becomes the standard option of things to do in free time- and i don’t want that to be the case anymore. I don’t want to “automatically” sit in front of the PC as soon as i have some room to breathe, because in these last weeks, i found that to be suffocating. I don’t know if you can relate to this, but that’s where i’m coming from right now.

So now i’m going to give gaming a lesser focus in my free time. It won’t be the standard option anymore- see, raising a child for the last two years saw me getting out of touch with some other hobbies of mine- reading and watching tv-series or movies, for instance.

Anyways, this is still my gaming-related blog here, so let’s take a look at what i’m planning right now.

Final Fantasy XIV

As it happens, each and every time i play this game, somehow when i lose focus and momentum, interest goes full on zero. There are reasons for that, of course, the main one being that this game, despite its mechanics, also doesn’t appeal to me on many levels- the relatively small zones, the kind-of-grindy gathering/crafting, the cuteness and the fact that it is- well, i don’t know how to put that in words, but i find it cumbersome, sometimes- it’s almost as if everything in FF14 needs to be done in a deliberate manner.

Another reason is, of course, that i don’t have social ties in the game. Right now, i’m kind of waiting for my current guild to kick me for inactivity (they will, despite me being in the community) and i will look out for other groups when i return to the game next month.

Now, having already bought the expansion (it’s quite cheap on greenmangaming VIP, by the way), i plan a return somewhere around may to make an effort and see where i will be when the expansion hits. Having done that is one of the reasons i didn’t make the titular deliberate choice of going buy-to-play yet, but i kind of expect to do so come the end of the year. Or maybe not. Deliberate choices in MMOland don’t go particularly well for me.

EVE online

Now that’s funny, considering the above paragraphs and the contemplation to go buy-to-play (i’ll muse on that later), but as of today, i returned (if you can call it that) to EVE online. See, EVE is the only MMO out there that provides the features i’m looking for in an MMO- the local/regional markets, the player driven economy, distance being a part of gameplay. They had an offer to reactivate for some discount, and this time i took it- after being three years absent from the game.

Most everyone will tell you that EVE is not a game to play casually and/or solo, but to be honest, i don’t really believe that. EVE is a game where you set your own goals, so when i set my goals accordingly, i don’t see why one couldn’t play it casually and/or solo. Of course, i don’t know the game very good, the learning cliff is still waiting for me, and i fully expect to fall off of it again, but i’ll give it a try nonetheless.

Here are my loosely drawn-up goals:

  • get some capital by doing the tutorial(s) and maybe some mission running to get a feel of the game
  • start mining
  • at some point, i’ll do station trading- when i feel i have some money to play around with (the mining should help with that)
  • way further down the line i want to become a manufacturer- as far as i understand it right now, miner – refiner – industrialist is my preferred “progression path”, if you can call it that- the goal is to become an industrialist and trader. The path should help me getting an understanding of the process involved as well as capital. I also don’t know if being an industrialist really is soloable.
  • maybe i’ll take a look at exploration

I’m at the beginning of this process, my current capital is 8 million ISK (haha! :D) and i’ll need to learn a lot. It’s going to be slow, as well, but this time i didn’t want to miss the offer- i missed it two or three times already and every time i wanted to get back into the game it wasn’t valid anymore. We’ll see how it goes.

Elder Scrolls Online

Some project also “requires” me to play ESO, and i’m glad for it. I’ll not talk too much about it now, but i’ll start a Templar (continue my level 7 Templar) in an attempt to re-explore the game and try to be a combination of healer and dps, as i always try to be in MMOs.

Age of Conan

The guild project will move to AoC tomorrow. As it looks right now, we’ll be almost two groups of people who play and i’m really looking forward to it.

The Secret World and Guild Wars 2

TSW brought itself back into my MMORPG diet with its New Player Experience. I like what Funcom did there and plan on playing TSW on an irregular basis.

Guild Wars 2 fits into my “going buy to play” plan and would be a good addition to the other two b2p games out there- Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World would be a great combination of games to play- if one was in the mood to play, i think these three games combined provide almost everything an MMO player needs, if paying a subscription fee is not what this player is looking for.

Going buy-to-play

Yeah, the title is misleading in this way. I’m not. But remember when i wrote about priorities in the first paragraphs? Subscriptions really don’t fit into this- for me, at least. When i’m paying a sub, it’s not that i want “as many hours as possible” out of the games, but there’s still the nagging feeling of “i’m paying a sub. I should play that game (if i’m playing at all)”. It seems a waste to pay a sub for FF14 but launch Guild Wars 2, for example.

Most free-to-play games are hybrids with an optional subscription. When i play, say, SWTOR, i will sub up because i find the experience to play it without subbing severely lacking. The same would go for ArcheAge, if i were to play that game.

So that’s when i thought about going buy-to-play, and if my EVExperiment doesn’t work out, i might still do just that. The b2p games out there are of a high quality, they don’t have intrusive cash shops, they don’t try too hard to make you subscribe. Buy-to-play is the business model that fits best with my priorization of gaming in my free time.

If i were to make the deliberate choice of only playing b2p games and it would make my (gaming) life so much easier- first, i might not always be tempted to take offers the f2p/p2p games put out, there would also be a very much smaller selection of titles that i’d consider to play on a given night when i want to play and there would be no pressure at all- imagined, self-imposed or otherwise- to play more often than i’d really like to. It would be a good choice for me.

For now, though, there’s still the EVExperiment and Heavensward in my plans.

Looking good, Tamriel Unlimited

I just took a few minutes to patch up and launch Elder Scrolls Unlimited to take a look at the “Crown Store” / ingame story as well as the actual prizing of “Crowns”.

Prizing

Concerning the prizing- there will be some people that’ll tell you a subscription is the way to go, the main reason being that you’ll get:

  • 30 days of membership (DLC available)
  • 1500 crowns
  • +10% bonus on progression-relevant stuff

for the same prize as 1500 crowns are going to cost you, so if you’re comparing 30 days of subscription with the purchase of 1500 crowns (which would buy you about one horse and one set of cosmetic armor), the sub is the better deal.

Of course, Elder Scrolls Online offers discounts when you buy more than one month of subscription and more than 1500 crowns.

Crowns USD Euro GBP
750 7.99 6.99 4.79
1,500 14.99 12.99 8.99
3,000 24.99 20.99 14.99
5,500 39.99 34.99 23.99

So, if we’re to use the dollar pricing as base, if you buy 5500 crowns, it’ll cost you 40$, which means a dollar’s going to buy 137.5 crowns- this is a hefty discount. You’ll get 120 crowns a dollar when you buy 3000 crowns. Let’s compare this to the 1, 3 and 6 month subscription option (wait, the 6 month sub is back- i thought nobody bought those and that’s why they were removed?!?).

30-day

USD: $14.99 / Euro: 12,99€ / GBP: £8.99

Crowns: 1500

Crowns per Dollar: 100

90-day

USD: $13.99 / 30 days / Euro: 11,99€ / 30 days / GBP: £7.99 / 30 days

USD: 42$ / Euro: 36€ / GBP: 24

Crowns: 4500

Crowns per dollar: 107

180-day

USD: $12.99 / 30 days / Euro: 10,99€ / 30 days / GBP: £6.99 / 30 days

USD: 78$ / Euro: 66€ / GBP: 42

Crowns: 9000

Crowns per dollar: 115

Conclusion

As you can see, it’s not really that easy. Consider, as well, that with the ESO plus membership, you’ll only “rent” DLC- if you drop your sub, you won’t have access to DLC anymore. I don’t know if DLC will be purchaseable without using the ingame shop, but even if that was possible, it would be additional cost on top of the sub prize.

Actually, i think this is a pretty smart prizing strategy that’s also quite beneficial for the customers- if you are a “ESO only” player who loves to log in and play pretty much every day and care for the +10% benefit in experience, gold, crafting research and crafting inspiration gain, a subscription might be the way to go. I’d advise against subbing for longer periods for the crowns, though, because the discount is somewhat marginal when compared to buying crowns directly.

Of course, they kind of sweeten the deal by giving you your subscription crowns all at once in the beginning of your sub period. So if you sub up for 6 months, you’ll get 9000 crowns immediately.

If you’re more casual, i’d go with buying crowns, i think. Sure, you’ll take a little bit longer to level and gain gold (ESO is a game that’s quite frugal in giving you coin, at least in my experience), but it might not matter that much to a casual player.

In the end, it’s a matter of personal choice- do you care for the +10% bonuses the membership grants you? Would you like to own or rent the DLC?

For me, this is a great move- Elder Scrolls Online has some interesting concepts; i count not having global auction houses as one of them, although i think there should be another way of doing things than to join multiple guilds for trading. So being able to explore Tamriel on my own terms without paying a mandatory sub is a huge boon.

The store

I gave the store a quick look, and we know it will be expanded upon by selling xp potions and the like, but what i saw looked great- i might even buy a pet or something. It looks both “high-quality” and “fitting into the world”. There are no flying carpets or giant squirrels to ride on. There could be more choice in cosmetic gear, but i’m sure this will also come. The prizing is reasonable- about 700 crowns for a mount or a cosmetic armor.

In my opinion, if they don’t go overboard with the crown store, this business model is great for both the developers and the customers, because it provides options. Options are good.

On a side note: i wonder if b2p is the “new f2p” in terms of business model conversions. Granted, many MMOs just launch free-to-play now, but if this is a trend, i have to say i like it. Selling a box and later content (DLCs), while also maintaining an ingame store and a (truly) optional subscription service puts the dev under less pressure to “trick” or “force” their players into paying for something. It seems more honest and fair than pure f2p, while maintaining the advantage of not having to sub up to play for a night/a week.

I need a plan

Yesterday i chatted with a guildmate in Elder Scrolls Online. Since i know her to like Final Fantasy XIV a lot, we talked about that game in passing. She mentioned some uncertainty on her part in regards to buying Heavensward- because she hasn’t got time. Pew, who knew that time could be a problem, right? That was when i told her about stuff i’d like to get done at some point this year- i mentioned that yesterday when i tried to estimate at what time stuff releases this year. My guess is that when we’re talking about expansions, Final Fantasy XIV will be next.

Please don't remind me of all the ways you're awesome!
Please don’t remind me of all the ways you’re awesome!

So, to recount the games and my plans, as well as provide an overview for myself, let’s see what’s on my table and what goals i want to achieve as well as how much time i’ve got.

  • Final Fantasy XIV – get at least one adventuring class to 50 before the release of Heavensward – this will be a tough one.
  • The Repopulation – it turns out my old gaming community plans to start a chapter there, and rather sooner than later at that. Not much to do, here, just finish up the tutorial this or next week, after that it’ll be dabbling.
  • Guild Wars 2 – get my Ranger and my Elementalist to 80 before the expansion- shouldn’t be too tough.
  • Everquest 2 – my goal in Norrath is quite simple: just some steady progress and maybe be at the level cap in time for the expected expansion.
  • Lord of the Rings Online – smell the roses, see the world. My guess is i’m somewhat time-pressed here because i really don’t think the game will be around longer than 2017.
  • Elder Scrolls Online – smell the roses, see the world, craft. No pressure here.

So counting that and adding the project i have in my guild, which takes away one night every week, we have 6 games i need to juggle somehow. The easy way, of course, would be to just play what i like when i like to play it. But i’m pretty sure i won’t meet my “hard goals” this way, so i’m going to set up a schedule, you know, like Syp. I’ll mix it up a bit but will keep his “anything goes” – evening just to have it there. Also, since weeks just don’t have enough days, Lotro and Repopulation will have to wait for their turn on Anything-goes-evenings.

Yes, i like that one, too
Yes, i like that one, too

Final Fantasy XIV will have to get two evenings, and even then i’m not entirely sure if it will work out in the end. But for now, let’s stick with that. EQ2 gets one evening for now, since it’s also the current game in the guild project. The guild project gets another one. I think one evening for GW2 will be enough right now to get to level 80, at least with my Elementalist who already is around level 60. Elder Scrolls Online gets one evening, too, because, right now, i pay a sub for that.

So let’s see…

Monday: Final Fantasy XIV

Tuesday: Guild project / Everquest 2

Wednesday: Guild Wars 2

Thursday: Elder Scrolls Online

Friday: Guild project / Everquest 2

Saturday: Anything goes

Sunday: Final Fantasy XIV

Although i have to say that i don’t know yet what i’ll do if i don’t play some night, which will happen, of course, since gaming is not my only hobby and i’m not in the mood for it every day. Either i’ll just stick with the days or i’ll move them around (while keeping saturday for anything)- right now, i prefer the latter.

Is this good?

No, it isn’t. If you call me names, i’m perfectly fine with it. I really tried to be Mmonogamist, but it doesn’t work out for me right now. Every time i decide to play just one or two games, it just makes me miss the other ones more. It’s hard to describe, the best example i have is when i tried to quit smoking- i could go whole workdays of 8 to 10 hours without a cigarette easily, but my penultimate try to get rid of it lasted only about 4 hours- time i mainly spent thinking “i will never smoke again” and panicking at the thought. Meanwhile, i succeeded, but it’s quite similar here- when i try to play only FF14, for instance, suddenly i remember how game x is better in this-or-that feature.

Lord of the Rings - Archet

If i had to come up with reasons, i’d say there are mainly three to name: no game is a perfect fit for me yet, as are the guilds i joined in these games- although i do like them. The third reason is that while no game is a perfect fit, i do like most of the mentioned MMOs for something. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but i like them. And, to be honest, i’d rather like too many MMOs than being grumpy about all of them while still thinking i’m the “real” type of MMO player who strangely doesn’t like any MMO on the market.

Be ready when they come – Guild Wars 2

Whoever said january would be quiet in terms of MMO news was wrong on this one- this month has seen the Early Access Launch of H1Z1, which, thankfully, is the one MMO-type game i’m not (yet?) interested in, the announcement of The Elder Scrolls Online going buy-to-play and the announcement of the Guild Wars 2 expansion Heart of thorns.

The landscape is beautifully done
The landscape is beautifully done

It was one of my MMO related resolutions this year to “be ready when they come”, knowing how especially business model changes and expansions never fail to interest me despite the fact that i’m usually far away from that content level-wise. So i can’t complain in that regard, there’s a lot of stuff to catch up with this year. I’m going to take a guess at what needs when to be ready this year.

  • Elder Scrolls going buy-to-play is probably first on the list and the first to “release”. I’m not planning on reaching maxlevel there, though. I just want to enjoy the game a bit prior to the business model change and see how the switch works out in the game myself.
  • Final Fantasy XIV’s Heavensward should be next, releasing probably in april or may. My goal here is to reach 50 at least in one adventuring class. I’ll have to pick up pace to reach that, though.
  • I expect Guild Wars 2 Heart of thorns to release in june, maybe with the third anniversary of the game. I’d like to get one or two characters to 80 by then. The levelling experience in GW2 doesn’t take too long, so it might be that i’ll try and reach this goal first, especially since it’s entirely possible that it releases earlier than i expect it to.
  • Everquest 2, i guess, will release something in november. I’m pretty sure i won’t be anywhere near the level cap by that time, though, but i might try anyway.
  • Wildstar. Yeah, i still expect it to go b2p/f2p this year and as with Elder Scrolls Online, i’d like to be there with the change or shortly before it happens. No plans to reach cap, though. Also, since ESO was first in announcing the change, it seems unlikely that i will pay a sub before the change. More likely, i’ll join the unwashed masses when they come.

Guild Wars 2’s Heart of thorns

GW2 hyped me up before launch. The manifesto appealed to me, very much. Shortly after launch, i was disappointed quite a bit- the events and the world weren’t so dynamic by themselves, after all. The devs tried to bring change via the living story, but that just wasn’t for me in terms of release schedule and content delivery type. I wanted more events to be more dynamic, i’d like to see change in the world made by ingame events.

Some things changed, though
Some things changed, though

Now they announced the first expansion- Heart of thorns and while many of the things they announced don’t get me too excited- jungle, an alternate advancement method, one new class, verticality, there are other elements i like quite a bit.

So you are saying i can become a Druid?

The WoW Druid in his early levels was my favourite class in any MMO, ever. The reason for that is that in the early dungeons, when you didn’t need to specialize, i could be all over the place- as a cat, dealing damage, assisting the healer when he got into trouble or the tank when he lost aggro of a mob. It was great, i switched forms often and felt as if i was supporting my group in a significant manner. Of course, in later levels this playstyle wasn’t viable and with the changes in the class system they’ve treated this game with, nowadays it’s pretty much nonexistant.

Guild Wars 2

But even today, i always prefer going for dps/heal hybrid classes, if they exist, and the class name “Druid” always makes me wish those early days back. While Druids in other games usually aren’t very similar to what i experienced then, they do come as hybrid classes pretty often. So when i learned that Rangers could become Druids, my first thought was that i needed a Ranger at level 80.

The other interesting thing is that Elementalists will be able to use Hammers, which reminds me of something i usually like to play, as well- some melee combat mage/healer. The Sigmar Priest of Warhammer was something like that. So that mechanic also piques my interest.

Other than that, Guild Halls and Guild-vs-Guild sounds very exciting. Unfortunately, i’ll have to look for a guild for that one.

Not impressed, but excited nonetheless

So the takeaway is: while i’m not really impressed with what ArenaNet announced for the expansion i’m still somewhat excited and want to see how it works out. Also, my excitement could rise when more information is released.

This week in /saved

Last week i had the problem that there were too many blog posts i saved for later- not so much this week, although i’m pretty sure i missed some interesting write-ups.

In “The Elder Scrolls Online ditching mandatory subscriptions” Wilhelm Arcturus offers his opinion and provides his readers with a list of other blog posts on the topic. Thanks for including mine, twice, although i didn’t really have much to say on the matter.

Lotro's Inns are cozy
Lotro’s Inns are cozy

“Lotro: you’ll never see Mordor” by Syncaine, mostly because i disagree- i’m pretty sure we’ll see Mordor- or at least an end to the story very close to Mordor (i don’t think it is a fact that we would see it- if i remember correctly, the two Hobbits and Gollum were the only ones in Mordor), but i do agree that Lotro is not an MMO we’ll be able to play ten years from now.

“Keep your eye on Crowfall” by Keen. Crowfall caught my eye as well, with Raph Koster on the team and some interesting talk about crafting and economy. Also, i like the artstyle. But there’s not really much to talk about just yet.

“Project Zomboid and surviving in style” by Jewel provides a great overview of the game and lends a helping hand to those who are new to it. Since i’m kind-of-interested in the game, i saved it not only for “reading later”, but also as a resource should i buy it some day.

That’s about it for this week, although i’m pretty sure i missed something- i’m not yet used to saving up posts to use here because they’re good and i don’t save posts i could read in their entirety when i saw them. But i guess we’ll get there…

Elder Scrolls b2p, take two

So Elder Scrolls Online will go buy-to-play come march. Yesterday i wrote that this is the business model the game should have launched with, so you can guess i’m in favor of this change. It’s not so much about the game, in fact, i think the negativity it gets, for instance in the comments over at Massively, is surprising and totally undeserved. Yes, features one is expecting in games nowadays are missing, but personally, i feel that this makes the game more interesting.

The game

No Dungeon Finder? Great! No global auction houses? Also great, although i’d still like to see easier ways for individual players to sell their stuff. Why not have local auction houses, at least? I like the class-building skill system- basically, you can make every class do what you want- some will do it better, some will do it worse, but a plate-armor-wearing, two-hander-wielding sorceror is entirely possible. Of course, if you want to min-max your character, you’d say that this-and-that isn’t possible/viable, but who cares about that, anyway?

Arriving in Vulkhel Guard...again
Arriving in Vulkhel Guard…again

In light of last month’s discussion about how to get players to socialize more, Elder Scrolls Online has it’s own take on the matter- there are merchant guilds, guilds can own a shop somewhere, somehow in the regions of Tamriel (haven’t looked into how they work yet) and you can join 5 guilds at a time. You have to talk to other people to get into a dungeon, knowing crafters helps, having a “crafter buddy” is also kind of recommended if you want to improve your crafting more quickly. So ESO has an opinion and at least tries to do something that makes the players communicate more and it blows in their face, since the public impression is that of “missing features” instead of “wow, finally a game where we get to know each others again”.

This goes as an example that players don’t necessarily want what they think they want. In an upcoming post about an old multigaming guild and the Repopulation, i’ll take a closer look at that. For now, let’s just say that when players say they want more of x, y, z, this is not entirely true, as Wildstar also proved.

Elder Scrolls Online is immersive, it has interesting writing/quests/areas, some unique mechanics and a lot of content, even if you wanted to treat it as a singleplayer experience. Come march, i think it is great value for money, and it really isn’t a bad game and/or MMORPG.

The business model

So they’ll sell mounts, pets, costumes and potions in their ingame cash shop in addition to DLCs and an optional subscription. The subscription comes with bonuses one would expect- a monthly stipend of cash shop currency and 10% more experience, inspiration, gold and analyzing crafting stuff and also provides access to all future DLCs (of course, if you cancel your sub you’ll lose this access).

It is a starter island, but at least it isn't instanced away- the tutorial is, however.
It is a starter island, but at least it isn’t instanced away- the tutorial is, however.

Interestingly, the DLCs will scale in level- you won’t have to be at the top to play the DLC. I like that very much, since i’m always way behind the curve (and if you scroll through this blog, you’ll know one reason for this to be the case) and i think it is a good move for them since more people will end up buying the DLCs or paying a sub to get access.

In my opinion, this is the way to go- on PC, but especially on consoles. If these DLC’s can even be played by mixed-level groups of players, even better. I think this is going to be good for the game- and also, housing DLC please!

Guess what

Yes, the announcement made me go back, which is a bummer for Wildstar, since i planned on going back to one of these games the moment they announce the business model change. I liked my experience with it good enough, although at the time i played it, it was still plagued by some issues (bots) and also i had even fewer time than i have now, so all i really did in the last days of my ESO subscription was inventory management. But for now, i think this games’ future looks good indeed.

In a surprising turn of events…

Elder Scrolls Online goes buy-to-play on march, 17th for PC users. It will be selling “optional DLC” as well as “convenience and customization items” in an ingame store while “Regular updates and new gameplay will be offered to all players to enjoy free of additional charges”. There’ll also be an optional subscription that grants ingame-bonuses, cash shop currency and access to all of the games’ DLC.

It sounds reasonable enough and it is a smart move, i think. This is the business model the game should have launched with- but then again, they got a lot of players paying subs for quite some time, so i guess it worked out for them.

Also great, ESO will be back on my radar soon. Read more on the official site.

Being a subscription game

Whenever a game announces a switch to a free-to-play or buy-to-play model, there’s talk about how the game design goals change from delivering a fun experience and good gameplay to adding grinds and developing stuff for the ingame cash shop. Often, the line of thinking is that a subscription game offers the best possible experience for the players to keep them playing, while a game with a cash shop only serves as a medium to get players to buy something from the shop.

I’ll have to disagree there. Subscription games have their own ways of making you pay- namely, timesinks. I write this after trying to get the story quests of Final Fantasy XIV up to par- so the proposed level of the story quest is the same as my adventuring level. I did this, neglecting all other quests with the exception of those which i know to offer gameplay mechanics (yesterday i learned how to dye my gear). I have to say, it is a tiresome affair- you travel a lot- going from the grand company you chose to the Scions’ headquarters there’s a lot of ping-ponging around. This is done to a degree that the last two playsessions i had were devoted to doing just that- and the proposed level of the story quest went from level 19 to 20 in this time.

Now, if i could ignore that quest line, everything would be fine. But i can’t- Final Fantasy XIV gates game mechanics with the help of the main story questline. For instance, your character doesn’t have a bank or access to the market until you clear the three introductory dungeons for the main story questline. Which is also forced grouping. As a father- i mentioned this in other posts- it is sometimes quite difficult to know when i’m able to dedicate a chunk of time – the dungeons don’t take long, but if you have to use the duty finder and play a damage dealing class you could wait some time to get a party going- so that these three dungeons pose an obstacle big enough so that i won’t consider rolling an alt anytime soon. Not that you have to, though, because one character can do it all.

Final Fantasy XIV isn’t the only offender, of course. World of Warcraft is also a very time-intensive game, in EVE skill gain is time gated and the coming Pathfinder Online also has this mechanic. In Elder Scrolls Online the inventory- on character and the available bank slots- is so limited that you spend a considerable amount of time managing your inventory, especially if you are like me and want to keep all the crafting stuff to level crafting disciplines later.

Maybe this is one reason sub games don’t work out that way anymore- if you have limited time- and we all know the MMORPG population to be aging (i think the average age is 37)- these timesinks and content gates, including forced grouping, are really some kind of quit wall. If i couldn’t manage to do these three introductory dungeons in FF14, limiting my access to bank and retainer/markets stops me from, for instance, crafting- because a bank inventory and access to the market help a lot with that, that would be a huge disadvantage for the game and i’d maybe consider whether keeping the sub up was worth it. Luckily, i’m with a free company who finished those dungeons with me.

On the other hand i know that Final Fantasy XIV has content to keep me happy and occupied for a long time- if the fun lasts as long. There are a few adventuring classes i’d like to play and come the expansion, the astrologist and the machinist also look very interesting and sooner or later i’ll want to level every crafting job. Add this to the fact that i’ll probably never really reach “endgame”, and i could play Final Fantasy XIV for quite a few years. But that’s another topic.

Subscription games time-gate content to get you to pay for another month, and another month. Free-to-play games try to get you to buy stuff from their cash shop. I’m not entirely convinced that f2p works in the long term- i don’t think there’s still more players playing Lotro or DDO, for instance, now than there were when they were subscription based, and both models surely have their downsides. But both- or all three, if you count buy-to-play- have to balance the opening-your-wallet-part with the game-being-fun-part. So while there might be a change in design philosophy, i think it’s a minor one.

As for my preferences, i don’t really care if a game is b2p, f2p or p2p. I like how i’m able to hop into a game for an evening to see if i like to play it some more / return to playing it for free in b2p/f2p models, but i’ll also pay 12€ to do that in sub games i know i’ll like to play for at least a few days. Wildstar and TESO, though, they won’t get a sub from me while they are still in p2p-mode. For p2p/subscription, i’d really like one studio to try and do this with ingame-time- i’d really love to buy, for instance, 100 hours in game for 15€ or something- they can still include the monthly subscription as a flat-fee-option (and maybe even raise the price point), but for me, paying by the hour would work out better.

Oh, and btw., i think studios profit from players subbing up for 6 months and maybe forgetting to cancel it in time or maybe not playing a lot, so i continue to think removing such an option is likely done to avoid doing refunds after a business model change.

So, what are my plans for 2015?

2015 will be a good year for MMORPGs. I believe so, because there’s not much in the way of “new shiny” coming out. This will be good, in my opinion, because the genre will relax a little bit- players will be more happy with their choices (because there’s nothing coming out next month that will make everything better), the chosen games will turn a profit and see some kind of development, and maybe some will be left behind and close shop. This may seem like a sceptical outlook, but i think this year is going to be healthy for the genre and its players.

So, i’ve put my resolutions for 2015 into some words and there’s two that are hopefully going to define my MMORPG-related gaming in 2015: focus better on some titles instead of spreading out too thin and “be ready when they come”. Also, i’d like to NOT discover an open subscription to a game like i did with Final Fantasy XIV the other week.

Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

Speaking of which, FF14 will be my first candidate. With Update 2.5 possibly coming in January and the expansion, let’s say, in April, there’s still some time to get my main character to 50 at least in one class/job and hopefully one gathering and one crafting profession, as well. As i’ve mentioned a couple of times, i like the game a lot- it’s a nice mix of old school mechanics and new features and it at least tries to make crafting and the economy somewhat worthwhile.

So, at least in the first quarter of the year, i’d like to make that one my main MMO and hopefully get something done in there.

Everquest 2

Everquest 2 will be my “main alternative” MMORPG for the time being. I like it a lot (in reality, this is my problem- it’s not that all MMORPGs suck, but that they all have their strengths and i do like them).

EQ2 New Halas Mount

 

I’d like to play it when i’m not in the mood for FFXIV and continue levelling my Inquisitor slow and steady. My goal is to be where i need to be when the next expansion comes, presumably some time in November. But, of course i know that this game would be too big for that goal even if i’d play EQ2 exclusively until November, so i’ll see how far i’ll come.

Other candidates

SWTOR will lie dormant for the time being. It’s that “third” MMO i’d like to play, but i won’t have it in my roster permanently- the other two will take up all my free time to achieve what i’d like to achieve there. But still, when i’m in the mood, i’ll probably fire it up some time.

The Repopulation- i’ll take a look before headstart/final wipe and i’ll play it if and when it releases. But we’ll see if that’ll be in 2015, anyway, soooo i’m totally relaxed on that part.

Landmark- i have a vision i’ll share when i looked into the game and my abilities with it and have decided to follow through with it. So that might come up at some point, as well.

World of Warcraft is postponed. I might get back to that if i’m in the mood.

Lord of the Rings Online. If and when they let me buy my way through Moria i’ll take a look at the lands beyond. I won’t play through those caves, though.

Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar. If and when they go buy-to-play and/or free-to-play, i’ll be there on relaunch day.

The Secret World. Hmmm, i don’t know. Funcom did something spectacular with this game, it might just be the best “play-to-finish” MMO out there, but unfortunately, it’s too quest-heavy for my tastes. But it is possible i’ll be hopping in from time to time.

Did i forget something?

For sure. I’m fickle. Sometimes i’m in the mood for this and sometimes i’m in the mood for something else. As much as i’d like to call one MMORPG my home, i don’t see a candidate yet. It would have to offer almost everything MMOs have to offer in one game- also, my guess is it would have to be polished and, of course, at least hack-and-cheat-free. Also, of course, there are Elite: Dangerous and The Crew, which you might or might not call MMO…and there’ll be new games.

Doesn’t matter, though, for now. We know Heavensward is coming and that should be my priority right now, because i know for a fact i’ll consider buying it and it would be a nice change to finally see an expansion i paid for. So, right now, i’d like to declare 2015 to be the FFXIV and Everquest 2- year for me. We’ll see if that pans out. (Spoiler: it probably won’t)