aurum

EVE Evolved: What’s the deal with EVE’s PLEX changes?

This week CCP Games announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX in EVE Online. The PLEX or “30-day Pilot’s License EXtension” is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX.

The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE‘s business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There’s been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what’s the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.

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EVE Evolved: Alpha Clone economics, bragging rights, and restrictions

Yesterday at EVE Vegas 2016, developer CCP Rise held us spellbound with tales of his recent misadventures in EVE Online recently when pretending to be a newbie. With free alpha clone accounts on the way, the devs wanted to prove that a well-informed player in an alpha clone could engage in a wide range of activities and even see success in PvP, and CCP Rise naturally rose to the challenge. Starting with only the skills trainable by an alpha clone character and no ISK or assets, he quickly got on his feet and made enough ISK to start engaging in frigate and cruiser PvP and net some very nice solo kills against veterans.

Rise’s success came as no surprise to me, as I’ve done similar experiments with small group PvP and I know just how effective cheap tech 1 cruisers can be. I recently showed how free users could be nearly as effective as well-trained subscribers in the same ships, and yet the myth that they will be simply cannon fodder for the elite pervades the comments sections in articles throughout the web. Developers have said that they intend for free play to be a viable long-term play style, and it should be possible to extend the system in the future. We may even some day get specific challenge clone states for those who want bragging rights or hardcore clones with permadeath.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I debunk the myth the alpha clone system is an endless trial, examine the potential impact of alphas on both EVE community culture and CCP’s financials, and look at a few ways the clone state system could be expanded on.

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Paladins’ Todd Harris rebuts ‘Overwatch clone’ allegations

A lot of folks who’d never paid Hi-Rez’s new shooter/MOBA Paladins any mind started paying attention to it last week when it soared into open beta. And a lot of folks suddenly realized the game looks pretty familiar. Let’s not sugarcoat it: Gamers across Reddit and even our own comments were throwing around accusations that Paladins is an outright Overwatch clone.

If you’re plenty familiar with the history of the shooter, you’re probably rolling your eyes already, but Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris hopped on Reddit to spell it all out for the “copycat” allegers, starting with the history of Paladins, which has been in development since 2012 as a “fantasy based Global Agenda PvP like game” called Aurum. And then, at BlizzCon 2014?

“Overwatch was announced,” Harris says.

“We were shocked and not sure what direction to take. We were already so far along with Paladins, but we didn’t want to compete directly against Blizzard. We initially tried to find different ways to differentiate on game-play (different TTK, different style maps and game modes, different theme, etc), but the feedback from our tests, stats, and surveys showed that only a small part of our population was enjoying that style of game. In the end we said screw it and just made what we thought best, and closest to our original vision, even if people would think it’s too close to Overwatch. We created almost all the Paladins classes and abilities using Global Agenda and Smite as our template. We used our Aurum fantasy theme from 2012 and Smite characters as placeholders (although some like Grover the tree just stayed). As a last point, it would be almost impossible for a studio of our size to ‘clone’ Overwatch in a year, but Overwatch did have some nice features that we decided to incorporate into Paladins (Kill Cam, Improved Lag comp, some verbiage like ‘eliminations’).”

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