Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CCP Misses the 'Micro' in Microtransactions

        The inital round of Incarna's Noble Exchange does not look promising. Remember last post when I said I buy virtual clothing in Second Life? Well let's take a look at that for a moment.

        Players create SL content and sell it for game currency - Linden Dollars. The basic exchange rate is 250 Lindens per US Dollar, though it varies based on demand, as RMT is sanctioned and there is a semi-open-market currency exchange managed by Linden Labs. Players define their own prices for their content. Going rates for typical items of clothing range from free (for benevolent sellers) to L$500 for very nice items of clothing. Ornately detailed items of clothing can possibly go up to a thousand, and good avatar skins go for a couple thousand apiece, as they are complicated to design and look lifelike. Convert to USD and we have $2 for great items of clothing, $4 for superb pieces of clothing, and $8 for a really good skin. Cheap enough for people to afford easily, right?

Now we look at CCP's initial prices. This is taken from EVENews24:

Exchange Rate: 3500 AUR = 1 PLEX = $17.50 = 400 mil isk at Jita (New Eden main trade hub).
- Looking Glass Ocular implant – 12k AUR -> 3.5 PLEX -> $61.25 ->1.4 Bil ISK
- Men’s ‘Sterling’ Dress Shirt – 3.6k AUR -> 0.97 PLEX -> $16.97 -> 388 Mil ISK
- Women’s ‘Sterling’ Dress Blouse – 3.2K AUR -> .91 PLEX -> $16.00 -> 364 Mil ISK
- Men’s ‘Comando’ Pants – 3k AUR -> .85 PLEX -> $15 -> 340 Mil ISK
- Women “Impress” Skirt – 3.6k AUR -> 0.97 PLEX -> $16.97 -> 388 Mil ISK
- Women’s ‘Sterling’ Dress Blouse P – 4.4k AUR -> 1.25 PLEX -> $22.00 -> 504 Mil ISK
- Men’s ‘Precision’ Boots – 1k AUR -> 0.28 PLEX -> $5.00 -> 112 Mil ISK
- Women’s ‘Greave’ Knee-Boots – 2.4K AUR -> 0.68 PLEX -> $12.00 -> 272 Mil ISK

        About the only thing close to being competitively priced in Aurum is the Men's Boots at $5, and even that is very pricey by SL standards - L$1250 can more intelligently buy several full outfits.

        Now considering many people are very spacepoor, this seems like a big slap in their faces. Many new pilots I talk to in my corporation struggle to afford a battlecruiser, let alone items that are the price of one or two fully-fit battleships. Don't get me started about how ridiculous that monocle is...

        Now there is a rumor on EVENews24 that CCP is looking for more ways to incorporate microtransactions. A supposedly leaked memo details the areas CCP is considering, such as items, ammunition, ships, faction standings, and lots of aspects of DUST, since the console folks pay a one-time fee instead of a subscription. This memo also voices the desire for recurring microtransactions, as once a piece of clothing is bought, you don't need to buy it again. Temporary advantages or perks, therefore, are preferred. To that end, they want to make cyclical offerings of limited-edition items that introduce a sense of rarity. Also on the plan is consumable items, especially weaponry, as it is a fundamental part of the game, highly desired, and highly advantageous.

        Money for power is damning to any game. CCP counteracts it with the skill training system. You can buy as much currency as you want, but beyond implants it's useless to make you a better pilot if you lack the needed skills.

        Money for faction standings gives you instant Level 5 missions, instant jumpclones, instant research agents, instant ability to launch a POS in empire space, and instant elimination of transaction taxes. That's an uncomfortable amount of power IMO. Selling advanced weaponry for cash is equally destabilizing and dangerous, and the memo acknowledges this, but proclaims the desire to do it anyway because it will be a surefire seller. I don't doubt that for a second. I don't think it's fair either.

        The reason for all of this attention to microtransactions is revealed as well - everyone else is doing it, so we have to do it too in order to stay "competitive." This sounds like the typical short-sighted idea conceived by upper management, who fails to consider the consequences of their decisions.

        I don't like the direction this is going. And seeing that this is just the tip of the iceberg, I feel like I'm piloting a freighter named The Titanic. Or perhaps The Hindenburg.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Goodbye, Station Spinning

        Like it or not, Incarna is here. What will be the first thing you check out?

        I think, for me, it will be the following in order:

  1. Captain's Quarters. I hadn't seen them on SiSi yet.
  2. Aurum clothing. I buy virtual clothes in Second Life. I don't imagine EVE being very different.
  3. New turrets! My Dramiel already looks badass. I can't wait for the new turret models to make my ships look more badass.
        As for what's new with me, I've got Medium Energy Turret V in the queue for patch day. Because patch day inevitably turns into patch week with something new and large such as this.

        I've been debating over whether to train Minmatar Cruiser V first, or Amarr Cruiser V. So I decided to train both. They will hit the queue after I get Medium Pulse Laser Specialization trained. After that I'll be training the Tech II cruisers to IV, followed by AWU V. That takes me to the middle of September and brings with it a lot of versatility: Logistics, Recons, HACs, and Hictors for both Shield and Armor fleets.

        My grand plan is to put a Zealot to use running Incursions, since they seem to be very lucrative. I also have another money-making plan in the works, but that's another month or two away before the plan can be revealed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

CCP Gets Greedy

        I will be brief in response to CCP's plan to charge $99 a year for any commercial application that uses their Intellectual Property: ISK isn't money. If I earn ISK for my site's services, I am not earning money because I cannot (legally) convert it to money, hence it is not a commercial venture. Ad-supported sites, sadly, I must agree are making money and must pay the fee.

        It's also ironic that this plan was created with respect to Capsuleer, but now Capsuleer is discontinued and will not return. I fear how this will impact the community as a whole. And right before Incarna's release, too.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Amarr-ked Improvement

        After taking a grueling amount of time training up Tech II Projectiles, Knee took a small trip back to Empire space via Jump Clone Express. His old home base doubled as a great place to make a skillbook run. Able to put Tech II guns on Maelstroms and everything smaller, Knee decided his Minmatar training was adequate at the moment and he needed to embrace his humble side.

        Despite TEST employing Shield fleets in their Maelstrom-fielded strategic ops, there were also other fleets regularly formed that called for Armor. Since Gallente ship performance has lately been considered lackluster, and Minmatar choices are limited to the Hurricane and the Loki, the best option is to fly Amarr.

        Like most slave children who are lucky enough to be rescued by their Matari brethren and sent to be raised in the Heimatar region, Knee grew up with strong prejudice against everything dealing with the Amarr. Still, the older he has become and the more exposure he has had with the people themselves, he had to admit two things. First, that Amarr people aren't all bad guys out to enslave him. Second, they can build an array of truly impressive ships.

        One such ship is the Zealot. A Heavy Assault Cruiser that is difficult to supersede. It's fast, it has a small signature making it hard to hit, and "Short Range" Pulse Lasers can do amazing damage at 35km when using Scorch crystals.

        Knee liked the concept of infinite laser ammo. He never liked having to estimate how much projectile ammo to haul around, though being able to choose your damage type is handy. Lasers simplify the process to selecting the optimal crystal for your engagement range, with no reload delay.

        Within a few days, Knee had learned the basics of Amarr ships and Laser turrets, all the way to Battleship level. Taking that knowledge to Tech II would take a lot more time, but since Beam Lasers seem to go unused, that simplifies the training a bit. Still, the plan contains three big time consuming skills that cannot be ignored for this type of ship:
Medium Energy Turret V (10d)
Amarr Cruiser V (16d)
Advanced Weapon Upgrades V (20d)

        Everything else in the plan is another 22 days - Assault Ships to Heavy Assault Ships and Pulse Laser Specialization. It will be worth it, though, for it will enable Knee to be able to fly Armor or Shield at any time.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Incursion 1.5 Thoughts

        I always find it amusing that CCP brags about their sandbox environment where one can do anything they like, yet they are constantly releasing patches that push forth an effort to influence what people should be doing.

        Today's offering makes Highsec missioning more available and lucrative than ever before. My corpmates are saying that it's ridiculously easy to get to the reputation level needed for level 4 missions. I'll be testing out that theory in Serpentis space, flying a dirt-cheap Rifter and flying in the face of the resident hooligans who are claiming Serpentis space for themselves in the wake of TEST's failed effort to drive them out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Best-Laid Plans...

        It feels like things have stagnated a bit. There was a large call about a month ago to move our base of operations right next to Serpentis NPC space so we can take over the area and run Archangels missions, turning in the loyalty points for shiny faction ships. So far that plan hasn't gone well. After we moved our staging system I was expecting to see lots of planned fleet ops to roam around the area and catch any enemy stragglers who happen to be hanging around. That hasn't happened very much. In fact the inhabitants seem to be holding on to the neutral space quite well, which does not bode well for our potential mission runners, myself included. There are the likes of Interceptors, Instacanes, and even a Carrier camping the stations. And like the 0rphanage, they hide in their hole anytime a fleet shows up.

        The problem is that we are not displaying our show of force like we did in the siege of 6VDT. An ideal alliance would have ships in each of the seven NPC systems, even some with cynos fitted so that they can hotdrop on a carrier who tries to take a potshot at our fleet and think they can hold on to their tank for a minute while waiting to de-agress.

        Instead what does it feel like we've been doing? Shooting a tower here, saving a tower there. Not much else. On the forums there's a general feeling of a lack of direction. I tend to agree with that sentiment. I have my own plans for improving things but I can't do it alone. In the meantime I'm focusing on a little bit of liquidation. Not because I'm wanting to move anywhere else, but to be ready to do so in case the situation with the alliance changes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tech II Guns Take Forever

        Medium Artillery Specialization is finished. Sharpshooter V is required for Large Artillery Specialization, as is Large Projectile V. In total about 24 days of training for those two skills alone. So much for April.

        The good news is that the guns will see plenty of use.