By coincidence, two articles in my feeds this past week both centered on video game hoarding – not hoarding the actual games but hoarding stuff inside of them. Blizzard Watch posted a piece on what makes people stop hoarding things like currency in Blizzard’s games, while Gamasutra published an article about how game designers can stop turning us into hoarders in the first place.
For this week’s Overthinking, I thought it would be constructive for the staff and readers to reflect on hoarding in MMOs specifically. Do you hoard, and if so, is it primarily consumables? Currencies? Event items? Something else? Do you think it’s a problem, or only when it’s encouraged as part of a microtransaction loop that ends with your buying more storage?
“We want everyone to be able to experience Magic: The Gathering.”
Upon this “simple idea” Wizards of the Coast is building Magic: The Gathering Arena’s business model, which could quickly be summed up as free-to-play that gives players a choice of time or money as a way to progress. By earning gold (in-game currency) or purchasing gems (RMT currency), players can purchase card packs, access events, and open up “The Vault,” a special treasure trove with secret rewards.
Wizards said that it is structuring the game’s economy based on a few principles: “Make our players’ valuable time as fun as possible; players need a variety of cards to have the most fun, so reward them with as many as possible; and make sure players can get the specific cards they want.”
Magic: The Gathering Arena went into beta testing last month with the eventual goal of releasing an online card game that will mirror the physical set releases and be more accessible to the general gaming public.
Did anyone in class today remember that Darkfall: New Dawn is officially launching, oh, next week? Don’t worry, it kind of slipped our mind too. At least we are getting a few days to prepare ourselves, starting with the absorption of this week’s Patch 6.0.
As possibly the last pre-release patch, this update adds two important systems to the game. Local banking is being hailed by the dev team as “the most defining feature” of the PvP MMO, as “it will create the foundation for a healthy economy and a more convenient game.” Probably a good thing that it’s being added before launch, although one would think that such a vital system would have been in place long before now.
This means that all banks in the game are separate, non-connected inventories that both players and clans can use for storage.
The other system added is titles. There are now 48 titles that players can attain through various achievements and activities. And in case you can’t choose just one, you don’t have to; New Dawn allows you to select up to five titles simultaneously. All hail the future Grand Vizier Troublemaker Pompadour Justin, Esquire Jr.!
Last week, we reported on a situation brewing on the EVE Online subreddit, where player after player spoke out about the game’s botting problem, exacerbated by a recent post about a specific botter corp leaving expensive capital ships where other players could easily take them out.
Seeking a statement on the botting situation, we reached out to CCP, whose CCP Falcon posted a response to our article on Reddit.
“[Botting is] to the detriment of the game and it needs to be stamped out,” he says. “It’s garbage behavior, it’s against the rules, and it’s something that has a magnified effect in EVE because of the single shard nature of the game, the economy, and the fact that everything on the market is player built or sourced.” Specifically, he dismissed the idea that CCP generates revenue from botters. That said, he also believes CCP has more work to do on the problem.
If there’s one thing that EVE Online
does better than any other MMO on the market today, it’s persistent gameplay on massive scales. The now-famous Bloodbath of B-R5RB
in 2014 involved 7,548 players over the course of almost 24 hours, and the Siege of M-OEE8
at the end of 2016 peaked at 5,300 separate players all piled into the same star system at the same time. Hundreds of thousands of players live and fight in the same single-shard universe, and EVE
‘s largest corporations have more members than the total population on some other MMOs’ shards.
But what about the smaller end of the scale? MMOs aren’t just populated by monolithic organisations bent on galactic domination, and a growing proportion of today’s gamers play online games solo or in smaller groups. Features such as Upwell structures and the new PvE gameplay have clearly been designed with a wide range of gameplay scales in mind, but EVE has never really got past the problem that bigger groups are almost always better. Could the solution to this problem be found in small-scale asymmetric and asynchronous warfare opportunities?
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at why EVE‘s massive scale makes it so compelling, the problem that massive scale introduces, and the case for more asymmetric and asynchronous warfare.
Most MMORPGs have the core sandbox problem: Whoever gets there first, controls all the toys and has the power to drive everyone else away. Even in a themepark, the “richest” players, whether they control the gold or the dungeons or the gear or the PvP, eventually help kill the game.
That’s the subject of a Raph Koster blog that recently popped back up on my radar. Koster, known for ecosystem-oriented virtual world MMOs like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, is subtly making the case for MMOs that end, even if that end starts a new beginning. It’ll sound familiar to A Tale In The Desert players, surely, or anybody watching Koster’s latest MMO, Crowfall.
In the service of his argument, he references a blog post about the age of the world’s best tennis players, which just keeps rising. Is it because the olds are innately better at tennis? Nope. It’s because the “winners” are entrenched in a rich-get-richer situation that ensures “the typical person in the system ends up below average.” The more the winners win, the more money they have to ensure they win more, whether that’s with better coaches, better equipment, better medical treatment, or just plain more time to train, which makes it progressively more expensive (on all fronts) for newcomers to compete… until the newbies stop trying and the olds start retiring.
And then? The whole system collapses.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve redoubled our efforts on our science-related articles, as you may have noticed from our roundups in 2016 and 2015. Last year, we even hired on a staff writer specifically to cover gaming science, especially as it relates to MMORPGs, and we’ve been collecting all of his work along with our other science posts in their very own category.
Read on for a recap of our best science-related MMO articles from 2017, from EVE Online’s real-life hunt for exoplanets and the economics of MMO monetization to how lockboxes use psychology to manipulate us and the math behind the gamblebox phenom. Dr Richard Bartle even announced a new gamer matrix this year. Don’t worry; there won’t be a quiz at the end!
Welcome back to another mobile MMO roundup, maybe possibly giving you something fun to do on your phones while you’re stuck at various holiday events this season!
Players are either happy or grumpy with Pokemon Go, as apparently the game is scheduling random raids (which are hard enough to come by generally) for Christmas day. Because it needs to be said again: This is literally the worst raiding system in any MMO ever and I can’t believe there isn’t more rage.
Like A Boss isn’t an MMORPG, but like Little Healer, it does mock MMORPGs with a Dungeon Keeper twist, and it’s available on mobile now. “Now it’s time to become the Boss in the role-playing fantasy world you know from MMOs, but this time it’s your territory that is being invaded, your riches, and your minions that are being ransacked!”
Do you miss the feeling of being in school and staring, cross-eyed, at all sorts of graphs and charts in your classes? If so, you’re both a little odd and in complete luck today. EVE Online
recently put out another one of its economy info-dumps
for the community to parse and use in their corporate conquests.
There are a lot of graphs here. A lot of graphs. Among the info shared is the comparison between destruction and production, how much was destroyed by regions, and imports and exports. Some of the graphs take the form of maps that show where the most item destruction took place over November.
It’s pretty obvious from these charts that the Forge region absolutely dominates the market trade value in much the same way that the sun dominates the total land mass of the solar system. Another chart showed some of the biggest ISK faucet (bounty prizes, commodities) and the biggest ISK sinks (skills, brokers fees). Interestingly enough, repair bills were miniscule compared to other red line items.
I cannot quite believe that we’re saying goodbye to 2017 and ringing in 2018 so quickly: It certainly doesn’t feel as though an entire year has passed since I last looked back on the progress of the column and delved into the comments section to see how the topics at hand were debated there. MMO Mechanics is my favourite column to write, though I didn’t visit it quite as often this year since Guild Chat received quite a few submissions, and what makes it so fantastic is the way the comments section extends the topic beyond my offerings for a more rounded look at the topic at hand.
With mulled wine in hand and festive decor all around me, I’ve curled up on my couch to craft another look back at a year of conversation: In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I’ll recap my thoughts on the main topics I covered this year and will highlight the comments that stood out to me because of how they furthered the conversation. This should be a great column snapshot for you if you’ve missed some editions along the way, and I also love having a chance to highlight the commenters that make the column great. Be sure to check and see if your comments are featured!
A severe credit exploit
that popped up following last week’s Game Update 5.6 in Star Wars: The Old Republic
has led to massive disruptions in the MMO’s economy and forced BioWare to come up with a response.
Apparently the exploit involves a companion gift vendor who was selling wares for far below normal along with the auction house, which was used for credit laundering purposes.
The studio did acknowledge the exploit and said that it was taking action, although sorting this mess out is taking time: “We have already begun taking action against players, but the brunt of those actions are still to come. As you might imagine, gathering all of the data to understand who exploited and what they did with the money, takes quite a bit of time. Know that over time we will be applying account actions, along with removing a large quantity of credits and other ill-gotten gains.”
Writing about Star Wars Galaxies’ emulator last week awoke in me a dormant desire to get back in there and make some pretend money. I freaking loved SWG for how hard it was to not not make money. Having multiple accounts helped a ton, no doubt, as did having old toons with a good stockpile of resources, but the real value in SWG was knowledge and time — and not even necessarily logged-in time. In the end, I made the most money for my effort not with my main crafter, who was one of the best on the server in her skills, but in resource trading and component supply through my vendors — in other words, all stuff that took a little know-how but not actually much in-game skill, as it was mostly accomplished with factories and harvesters while I was offline. By the end, it was those characters supplying me with most of my income, which allowed me to dabble in just about everything and even start up with nothing on other servers as a sort of challenge to myself.
I cannot believe how much I miss that – being a pure trader at that level is just not a thing you can do in the vast majority of MMORPGs.
What’s your favorite way to make money in an MMORPG? What do you play if you need to scratch the economy itch?
Still bummed out about Wild West Online’s delay to 2018? Wait until you see the game’s latest dev blog! 612 Games doesn’t mention the delay but does go into detail about some of the bigger changes on the way.
For a start, the game seems to be shedding its free-for-all PvP stylings, as the developers are adding three factions. They’re saying it’s about roleplay flair, but as in other faction-based MMOs, you’ll be locked to grouping with just your same side, and you won’t be able to team kill – you’ll be able to fight just those on the other sides. That more or less puts an end to the game’s original plan to allow free-for-all PvP and looting hemmed in by merely a flimsy bounty system.
“Most Wanted Status is going to be removed from the game and replaced with other mechanics to prevent Kill On Sight style grieving,” 612 Games says. “So under no circumstances when you are killed will you lose your items except gold or quest/event related items such as relic artifacts etc.”