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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

Update: HUT-HUT! First and ten, it's the Insomniacs Again!

Posted by Inktomi Thursday January 9 2014 at 7:36PM
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With Twintania dead and Mortal Coil 5 complete, our intrepid adventurers continue on their journey through the Primal Awakening Quest. What dropped? A PLD sword and some healing pants. SS below. Congrats Insomniacs! Now go get some sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three cheers for persistance, determination and good ole' fashioned stick-to-it-ness of the MMORPG.com's own Insomniacs Gaming Guild. Once again they face the mighty Twintania in FFXIV's: ARR Mortal Coil Turn 5. 

They have been at it for a few days, come down to their twitch channel and show them your support!

Click the pic to gogogo.

Come Support Insomniacs Gaming On Twitch!

Posted by Inktomi Wednesday January 8 2014 at 8:02PM
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I've been following as this merry group of adventurers from the MMOFTW Twitch group that have been pounding Twintania on Mortal Coil 5 - Final Fantasy XIV:ARR. From what I see it is a great fight and they have been giving their best. They also make the game look great as they play (wipe). JK guys - Good luck Insomniacs!

Watch live video from Insomniacs_Gaming on www.twitch.tv

How Are We Short on Content?

Posted by Inktomi Sunday October 13 2013 at 5:35PM
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:::cough:::cough::::

 

Man, so much dust here. No pun intended, but I felt like dusting off my blog to say a few things that are on my mind. 

First off, I have moved into a nice new apartment. I set up my office area all nicey, nice and put up some shelves to hold my game collection. I was surprised with the amount of games I own and equally surprised on how underplayed they are. I went through some PC classics such as Homeworld 1 and 2, Morrowind, Neverwinter Nights, 1 and 2. New stuff as well: I have a copy of Farcry 3, never opened. And poor, poor Defiance that barely made it a month out of beta with me. Let's not take a look in my steam account. I am just glad that whole mess is cloud based and I don't have to store it here.

Then let's look at my PS3 collection...Neir, GTA IV, Red Dead Redemption, Dark Souls, both of the latest Final Fantasies; I am late in the campaign in 13, just need to sit down and follow through. I don't even want to talk about my Ps2 game collection. 

Collector, mebbe. Fetishist, possibly. ADD, probably - lol. 

The trend is that I am always on the lookout for the new, new thing. Like we all are constantly on the prowl for the next big MMO. We are never satisfied and need NEW, NEW, NEWER and BETTER than the OLD. I bet you that you have some old game laying around unopened or unfinished. Maybe in your MMO there is some content you haven't seen. Probably in some old MMO's too, there are some things you overlooked because you were looking at what some new games were offering.

"The King is dead, long live the King."

Well, I have got back to an older MMO recently through a new MMO and have fallin in love with it all over again. 

That would be EVE Online. 

I know, I know, Greed is good and all that jazz - but I have gotten over it. They have made some big improvements in the game since I walked out during Incarna. Same type of improvements I hope they bring into Dust 514, but I will save that conversation for another time.

So for today, I have made a decision. No new MMO's beside EVE and the  occasional shoot-em-up in Dust because I have some good friends there. I am on lockdown with new game buying until I finish up some loose ends. And talking about loose ends, I am going to post my progress here because this is something I want to pick up again too.

I forgot how much I missed MMORPG.com.

Play safe,

Ink

My Conversation with CCP about Microtransactions in Dust 514

Posted by Inktomi Sunday April 14 2013 at 6:39PM
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Early this week I received a mysterious letter in my gmail inbox from an unknown sender. When I opened and read it, I was surprised to see that it came from a public relations company that works with CCP. It seems that my last piece comparing DUST 514 to Defiance has caused the PR company (Sandbox Strategies) to reach out to me and set up a meeting with me and a member of the DUST 514 to talk about their microtransaction strategy.

So after I called Shaun from Sandbox Strategies and confirmed that email wasn't spam or a joke. We coordinated for this past Friday that I was going have a chance to speak with with Ryan Geddes, a member of CCP based in Atlanta, Georgia. We were accompanied by Rob, a member of Sandbox Strat from the New York office, which is not that far away from my job.

Ryan started off by describing the Pollenpocalypse(tm) that had been ravaging Atlanta recently, which seems to be hitting New York as well. After that we dived straight into talking about EVE, Dust and microtransactions. I had given a bit of my background as an EVE player that had left after the Incarna expansion had been released. One of the main reasons of my concern with EVE was how Aurum (the virtual currency bought with meatspace money) would affect  the EVE universe. Seeing that same currency show up in DUST 514, CCP’s First-person tie into the EVE universe, I was concerned with how would that affect the games economy.  With Dust being a first person shooter, it rose an alarm to me that a DUST player using items bought with Aurum would have an advantage over players just using Isk bought items.

Ryan said that the company (CCP) had learned from Incarna and are doing whatever they can to reach out to players and get their feedback. He said that our opinion is important to them, that is why they reached out to me because of 1) my statement about Dust being Pay-to-win and 2) my focus on economics and MMORPG’s. Ryan also made me very aware that DUST is still in its beta period, and it is a long beta period for the reason is that CCP wants to focus on balancing the game. 

Balance in any video game is important, but in an online game it could be critical. Balancing weapons and armor bought with isk and aurum is one of the main focuses of the company. For what Ryan told me, there are a larger number of players using isk based items than items bought with aurum. I don’t have any data to prove that, as he wouldn’t disclose that in the conversation, but I will take his word for it. That puts a huge bullet in my theory that DUST is a pay to win game.

Ingame economy is a huge draw for me and can sometimes be a reason why a game would either succeed or fail. Marc Jacobs, from his experience with Warhammer Online, said one of his biggest mistakes he made with WAR was the economy of the game. When I asked about the ingame economy of DUST, he said that there was going to be “merged economies on the horizon and DUST 514 will have trading.” When looking at the aurum bought weapons compared to the isk bought weapons there were some side grades and slight variants.

Ryan said that aurum based weapons, armor and modules is not about giving someone an upper hand, it is the ability to level the playing field for someone who is a more casual player versus a player who is more frequently online. Ryan put it the best, “it all comes down to skill.” Someone who is playing more will have an upper hand with isk, but aura can get that casual player into the same weapons, mods and armor at a lower level and give them more of an experience within the game. I did notice and pointed out that some items bought on the market with aurum had a lower skillpoint level than the isk variants. Ryan did disclose that there are certain items that need to be balanced such as a shield and a grenade. He could not recall either, but the game is still in its beta phase and there will be some changes come the next update which is the new Uprising build due out May 6th. 

Skill Points as in EVE, are the experience points used to buy and upgrade skills to use different weapons, armors, mods and vehicles. DUST 514 also offers active and passive boosters that a player can use to boost skill points passively and actively. These boosters are also there to “bridge the gap” between frequent and infrequent players. When asked about how matching is going to be done once the game is live, Ryan said that the matching system will be done according to your skill point level in quick or instant battles. A player with a million skillpoints will not be going up against a Gunloggi driver with 5 million skillpoints unless they are in a corp battle or taking part in a planetary siege. At that point if evenly matched in skillpoints, it is not going to matter if you are using Aurum items or Isk, it is going to come down to player skill.

I then asked how these planetary matches would affect the EVE universe as CCP seeks to join both together in the largest gameworld online. As the game is still in its beta phase not all of the features of DUST have been rolled out. One of the interesting points that Ryan brought up is that planets are going to be able to be finally fleshed out as players are going to be able to “own” planets. Planetary conquest is going to enable DUST and EVE based corps and alliances set up districts on planets. They will be able to set up infrastructure and yet as these planets will not be affecting planetary interaction yet, they could possibly down the road affect how EVE players get resources from planets. For now these planets will be a just small fraction of the sprawling EVE universe. These contested planets will be based in low sec territory. Merc corps in DUST will be hired to either protect or invade these districts possible swinging the ownership of the planet to one Corp/Alliance or another.

There are a lot of interesting features and I will be looking forward to see how CCP balances everything out. For now, it is really hard to judge a game in a beta form. So maybe I was a little premature in stating  that this was a pay-to-win game so early. Crow really isn’t bad if you put some ketchup on it. But I will be monitoring this game, I have been playing and even invested in some boosters. It is a great game, and CCP is a great company. With EVE just passing its 10th year anniversary with over 500,000 members strong, they have made their mark in the industry.

Even though sometimes people make mistakes, like I might have in my last article, companies can also. We all learn from our mistakes - like CCP has from Incarna. That is what makes us grow. And for microtransactions - I am still not a fan, but it is a viable and popular business model. A model that  is built around choice, not about hitting that $15.00 sweetspot in our wallets every month. I am sure that we will hear more from the company at the annual EVE fanfest next Thursday from Iceland. Odyssey, the next expansion due out for EVE players is going to expand the universe into Jove space. There are going to be new ships, new ways to scan and with the new Uprising uild for DUST 514 to be released May 6th, Spaceships flyers and Gunloggi drivers have a lot to be excited about. Until then...

Play safe,

Ink

PS:

I just want to thank Shaun and Rob from Sandbox Strategies for the press kit and for Ryan for taking the time out to talk. Good times. See you in space.

A Tale of Two Betas: Defiance vs. Dust 514 PS3 Edition

Posted by Inktomi Thursday March 28 2013 at 8:42PM
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Since the NDA for Trion Worlds newest game, Defiance has been lifted as of March 22nd, I decided to share with all of you my experience in the Playstation 3 Beta test. I also had a chance to play CCP's Dust 514 in a beta test on the PS3 as well. Now many will say that they are not the same game, since Dust is a arena based co-op multiplayer game, it still carries many of the same traits as Trions' Defiance.

First, let's take a look at what Defiance does right.

Open world driving.

At first glance, you might say that the area in Defiance is small but good luck to you if you want to try to give up using one of the many vehicles that are available to tool around with. Most of the time I spend banging around, doing jumps on a Quad. One that I was given from the storyline mission. 

I did manage to catch a few of the achievements for jumps and spent quite some time looking for the perfect spot to boost-jump off of for that 900 degree spin. Defiance feels like somewhat of a sandbox compared to other shooters such as Borderlands 1 and 2.

Taking risks done right: a storyline tied into a television series.

This is the first time that a game has had a television series using the same "lore" as the gameworld. There have been many attempts and fan made movies made after the Warhammer 40,000 canon, but this is a first for an MMORPG/FPS to enter in this type of joint venture. The risk is twofold: if the SyFy series take a dive it may affect the game or vice versa. If the game takes a dive, then where does leave the Defiance television series?

It’s these types of risks that new MMORPG’s refuse to take when entering the market. Part of what had made Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft so successful is that they had a fanbase dedicated to their lore before becoming an MMO. Defiance does not carry that lineage, but now has a TV series to will allow their fans to fall headlong into the background of the game. Smart move Trion.

Weapon Modding and a Nod to Hellgate: London.

If anyone remembers the original Flagship or still plays the T3Fun version of Hellgate: London, then they would remember the best part of that game was the weapon modifications. My favorite part of Hellgate was getting a new weapon and beefing it up with parts to give my character special abilities or increased stats.

Part of the crafting in Defiance ties into modifying the weapon by increasing its modification slots. There can be a total of four: stock, barrel, scope and ammo mag slots. Each addition costs resources either gathered from the game through drops or acquired as you break down other weapons.

To me it was fun and interesting trying to find that really great weapon and upgrade it. My first rule of thumb in any game is to upgrade my main weapon to the highest level, then upgrade the rest. More pain, more gain as they say.

Defiance gives you options.

At the time I didn’t have the ability to go too far into the game, only making it to EGO level of 178. But I did have the chance to play through some of the main storyline mission, do some random challenges spotted across the map and a co-op mission that placed me on an island with four other players. 

As we shot and exploded our way through hordes of hell bugs, only to complete the instance that ended with a traditional boss fight against the mother hell bug. This felt much like Borderlands at this point. The instance seemed pretty straightforward and fun, but we kept getting separated, so most of the mission I was on through frontline mowing ‘em down with my grenade launcher.

More options are the Shadow War, which is PvP and also matched teams played on maps that I read are along the same vein as other multiplayer shooters such as Dust 514. The vast amount of PvE in the game will keep you playing for awhile. Trion also offers a season pass for additional content that will be released (my guess) as the TV series progresses. The season pass is $39.99 and the game right now is available for pre-order at $59.99.

A Bullet of Another Color

My experience in Dust 514 was vastly different.

Unfortunately, I feel that the graphics are above and beyond the best and the fast paced combat of Dust might leave most shooter fans in the dust (see what I did there?) However, it pales in comparison to Defiances' Arkfalls and other multiplayer shooters out there. Let’s take a look at what Dust does wrong.

This is a Pay to Win Game.

I know this sounds kind of harsh. It is a hotly debated topic within the community. One side rails against a free-to-play game that offers upgrades in their item mall or cash shop, that gives a paying players a complete advantage over non-paying players.

CCP hasn’t asked me for a dime as of yet for playing their finely crafted online shooter. But for me, if I was a dedicated player, I would have to purchase Aurum (their virtual currency bought with meatspace money) if I want to advance as effectively as other players. Yes, I do win isk for every match I play along with skill points, but more often I found myself dying to players that have paid for weapons with Aurum.

Dust 514 is much like the Call of Duty and the Modern Warfare series. It is easy to feel outclassed and outgunned as other players have played for longer have more choices of weapons and abilities. But they cannot go out and buy them from the shop day one. A player paying with Aurum will definitely do better than a player that is not.
As of right now, Defiance does not offer any items in an item mall to compare.

Tied into the EVE Universe. How?

Since my time playing Dust I have not seen any ability to get involved with my space-ship flying brothers-in-arms. Why not? Am I not progressed enough yet? Do I need to be in a mercenary corporation that takes contracts from the heavens? For now I have only been able to play in random scenarios that either ask me to 1) hack into something or 2) blow something up or 3) kill other people while my comrades do either 1 or 2 effectively or not. I feel no personal investment as I did in the Defiance beta test.

No storyline, no drama, just straight out action. And action was had since the maps feel quite small in comparison to the sandboxy feeling of Defiance. Although I did manage to make it into a few vehicles that were quickly blown up by some dude driving a tank, now I want a tank-oh wait, I have to spend Aurum for it? No thanks.

Everything is consumable.

The one thing that got me about Dust 514 was that the weapons and armor you get apart from the starter weapons are all consumable. In this case, if you walk into a map with one suit of great armor, balanced right with good gun and die, you lose that whole setup. You better have 50 or better walking into the map because chances are you are going to die a lot.

Now lets take a step back. If you buy weapons and armor with Aurum (real money), and suck like  me, this can rack up quite a bill. See the water starting to swirl around the money drain? Yep, I did as well, that is why I crossed Dust off my list of games to play when in the mood to shoot someone with a sniper rifle. If you want to have fun playing with a few buddies, look to the Borderlands franchise or Black Ops II. Your wallet will thank you in the long run.

That’s how the grenade bounces.

I didn’t really go too far into detail about Defiance’s Arkfalls that function much like rifts in Rift (its rifty!) neither did I mention Dust’s “multiplayer events.” Those will come in time. I am patiently waiting for Defiance to be launched Monday April 2nd. In the meantime, I have been playing Tera with a few friends and getting shot up here and there in various other games.

For now I am going to take a pass on CCP’s Dust 514, but I will let it take up space on my PS3 hard drive. Defiance has piqued my interest and won my money at the moment. It is much more financially beneficial for me, as a gamer, to pay once to play a game like the Guild Wars 2 model. Even If I invest in content like the season pass, I would rather do that than to burn money on every death against other players with the RMT “real money advantage.”

Who Dust 514 is for:

Someone with deep pockets or the Black Ops crowd looking for a science-fiction rush.

Someone looking for an multiplayer shooter and has a science-fiction itch.

Some looking for the most visually striking shooter on the market.

Who Defiance if for:

Anyone looking for a solid online shooter experience with friends or solo and loves to party at the apocalypse.

Someone looking for a fun game that has a lot to offer and plenty of stuff to do (who also has the science-fiction itch.)

Someone who played Fallen Earth and was extremely dissapointed. Now is your time to cash in, someone got the end of the world right for a change.


 

 

 

MMORPG X, Y and Z

Posted by Inktomi Sunday March 10 2013 at 11:28AM
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I found this in my travels across the internet. I am currently writing an article to respond to Anita's Tropes video. Just wanted to leave this hear as some humor. I did add a last panel at the bottom and edited it for the website blogging rules. Understand, as a highlighted blogger, I cannot have profanity in my posts.

Enjoy.

 

On The Record for The Elder Scrolls Online

Posted by Inktomi Saturday February 16 2013 at 12:09PM
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I am a man of my word and have no problem saying that I am wrong. But I do think The Elder Scrolls Online is going to be a smashing success and I have have tp open up my big mouth about it. So one the recond, this is my official stance on the game.

After reading some posts from different readers around the site, I just decided to make my point and say no more about it until the game is released. Here is the catch: Zenimax Media owns Bethesda, Zenimax Online Studios, id Software and a bunch of other companies. The guy who was a big part in the success  of Dark Age of Camelot is Matt Firor. RvRvR is the focus as Nilden said in this thread. I made the relationship apperant earlier in the thread. 

Now I am one to definately speculate. At this point, with the information we have seen and heard through videos interviews, articles and information on the TESO website everything we say is complete speculation. 

So here is where I stack my chips up: THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE WILL BE A SUCCESS.

So now I am all in. I've been signed up for the beta and currently in that check email everyday mode. If they ask for some type of payment, I will pay it. Not a big deal. I really feel that this game will be the success I expect because of a few reasons.

1) The leadership of the Zenimax Online Division who is creating this game.

2) The way that all previous Elder Scrolls IP were handled and the quality of the products. Bugs aside.

3) The way that Bethesda and Zenimax embrace their customer base. The quality of their customer support and service of their product.

4) The background has an incredible amount of content to draw from without having to take from other sources.

5) The TES community has always been great. I feel as though I am never going to have nothing to do and no one on the server. Full servers do mean wait times, but one can't have it all.

6) One server. I loved EVE for that reason.

I could go on, but I will not bore you with the countless reasons why it will be great. I did put a lot on The Secret World, and did feel let down by the time I got out of the first beta weekend, but I just have a feeling about this. Sometimes I just get a feeling about a game, I am not right all of the time. It takes a lot for me to buy a game on release day, I hate feeling like one of the herd. 

I am not here to defend the game, or be a fanboy. Ok, maybe just a bit of a fan boy. But if we didn't have fans, would any sport become popular? I am rooting for my favorite team. If there was a football jersey for the elder scrolls, I would be the biggest nerd waiting for the game to be released. 

And if I am wrong. For some crazy reason I hate the game, or the community says its a flop-it is not easy to prove subscription numbers and revenue for a private company-I will hang it up, cash out, admit defeat and walk away. A game that I have been waiting for for years now is finally coming to reality. If they can't get it right, then I am officially finished with MMO's. I will stick to my single player rpg's, online shooters and strategy games. The Elder Scrolls Online just may be the one game to finally, finally take down The World of Warcraft from its nine (?) year run.

Did I just say wow-killer? No, I didn't. Wasn't me. Nope. I'll deny it to the end. But until then, we've got some time under my belt for the game to be released. Let's see how it goes, shall we? I am just going to leave this here.

Top Five Things The Elder Scrolls Online Should Have

Posted by Inktomi Tuesday January 29 2013 at 11:14PM
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In my last post I had spoken in length about getting into using mods for Skyrim. I promised that I would come back with a detailed description or how-to. Don’t think this is a cop out but I would have to direct you to the S.T.E.P. Project. They have a really detailed wiki and did a great job putting together a list of must-have mods to take your Skyrim experience to the next level. I followed their guide and have currently been playing a very stable, attractive and fun custom built Skyrim. Now with over 150 mods and running smooth. 

From working with the modding community I have put together a list of what we feel would be great takeaways for Zenimax Studios upcoming release of The Elder Scrolls Online.



5) Complete control at character creation.
Who doesn’t like choices? Easily the best part of any Elder Scrolls game is the character creation screen. It is a lot of fun to play around with the sliders and make either the most fearsome or rediculous looking character to chase necromancers with.

One of the most popular Skyrim mods this month is the new Race Menu by Expired. This mod gives an easier to navigate character creation screen. By adding more choices and making it simpler to tweak even the look of your character you can look at your warrior when he is smashing Alduin and say, “Man, look at that perfect nose!”

4) Let em' get crafty!
There are just so many mods for all the Elder Scrolls games that add armors, weapons, scrolls, potions and spells. Your can practically craft anything now, even unique armor and weapons.  At the Nexus there are mods that give you the ability to craft cold weather gear that synergize with other modifications that give you a good reason to craft them. Other than looking cool, that warm cloak you just crafted from the bear claws and the bear skin you got from that bear that tried to have you for lunch, you are really going to need it soon. I will tell you why later down the post.

In a recent interview with TESO’s Creative Director, Paul Sage, our own Bill Murphy gets the skinny on crafting and how it is going to be an intergral part of The Elder Scrolls Online. Paul says that, “but nevertheless, crafting is going to be a very vibrant and detailed part of the game’s overarching economy and it won’t be the same-ol’ same-ol’ crafting we’ve grown used to in recent MMO offerings.”

In my opinion, EVE Online has the best crafting system on the market right now. CCP’s single-server economy depends on crafting in certain sections of the game and could actually hurt in the long run if one does not partake in it at all. I hope Zenimax stays true to their word and builds up crafting enough to make it just as important as questing and dungeon delving.

3) Real Lighting.
It doesn’t take a supercomputer to run a game with decent graphics if you have kept up to date on some of the latest hardware improvements. My rig is strong enough to run the brilliant ENB graphics improvements and keep up a very respectable 30 fps. Sometimes my FPS may drop during certain larger scale battles, but I would give up a few FPS here and there to keep my incredible lighting setup. I can walk into a room and the way the light flickers makes a big difference.

I am not asking for super details on all the houses, castles and grass, but the right lighting makes a big difference. Recently I have upgraded to Sydney’s and Daemonui’s Realistic Lighting Overhaul. With this new mod along with darker dungeons and True Vision ENB I can really be glad that I spent the extra 300 gold on that Candlelight spell.

2) Crime, Punishment and Payback.

True economics is the balance of goods, services and limited resources. In most MMO’s there is never a real shortage of anything. Sure, it might be harder to come about certain objects or ingredients, but in the long run if you wait long enough and fight hard enough to bop something over the head, it will give you what you want.

If Zenimax should build a real criminal system into TESO. If you commit a crime and get caught you will be a wanted man. Not only by NPC’s that mindlessly chase you down, but a warning should be sent to other players in the area that a pickpocket is on the loose. I have to point at CCP for their revamping of EVE's bounty system. Bounty hunting is now a viable part of the game and players fly around looking to make money off of people who have committed crimes and have bounties put on them by other players. This makes an Assassins Guild an attractive option for players looking for an excuse to hunt and kill other players.

Like they ever needed one.

1) True Immersion 

Yeah, I said it. Not because I am looking to play make believe with my character when he strolls into The Bannered Mare looking for a bowl of soup and a bottle of Nord Mead. I buy food because I need to. Hey, remember that warm bearskin cloak we made earlier? Well, I need to wear that because it is really cold in Skyrim, and if I don’t stay warm I will die.

Oh but wait, I can’t buy the mead and soup because it is  a snow storm outside and it’s 12:00 of Last Seed and the shops are closed. So I am hungry, thirsty and now I am getting tired, so my encumbrence is lowered and I am moving slower. I am in really bad shape if I don’t build a camp soon and might die from exposure. And I am scared I will die because someone will loot my stuff. I am feeling real panic here and do you know what that is? True immersion. Because when you get comletely absorbed in the well being of your character, then you have reached the point of complete immersion into the game. That is something I haven’t felt in an MMO for a while now. Most of the reason I don’t play them as I used to.

The list of mods that I have installed that gives me the experience I just laid out for you is Chesko’s incredible Frostfall, the camping survival mod. Cloaks of skyrim by Nikinoodles not only gives me the ability to wear cloaks which should have been in part of the original Skyrim. They are not only for aesthetics, they can be made to brave the elements. Just saying, make me responsible for my actions and my decisions really mean something.

Both Isoku’s Wet and Cold mod and Perseid's Realistic Need and Diseases adds that edge of desperation to the game. Getting stuck out there in a freezing rainstorm with no food or water, you might  as well just start up from your last save if that happens. But have no fear, both Frostfall and Camping Kit of the Northern Ranger give you the ability to build a campfire and pitch a tent so I can make it through the cold and lonely nights of Skyrim.

There are so many things that I would love to be part of The Elder Scrolls Online. Everyone has their own wishlist for a game that they are anticipating. At least I got a chance to build the type of RPG I want to play because of the incredible wealth of talent from the Elder Scrolls modding community. Without Bethesda’s Creation kit none of it would ever be possible, I understand that, and I know there will be no Creation Kit for the online game. Zenimax should take real hard look at what people want in their games by what is built and has become popular. Put all the body mods that provide half naked and naked girls aside, and realize that your fanbase has taken what you given us and improved on it and customized to our own specs.

Make that happen and you will have the most successful MMORPG on the market.

Good luck Zenimax, I am pulling for you. 

Skyrim, Modding & You - Part 1: Tools of The Trade.

Posted by Inktomi Friday January 4 2013 at 5:29PM
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Happy New Year MMOers! It's nice to be on break and getting a chance to do some ininhibited gaming. I have not gotten into any new MMO's recently, I am biding my time. Instead, I have picked up an old pastime of mine, which is modding single player games.

NOT MMO RELATED! Yes, but no in a way. As online gamers, we ask for a few things in our games; really we come to expect a lot and complain when we don't get it. We want individuality, fairness and the ability to create. Many games do not give us that, but if we sacrifice online playing to customize a game to our liking, then we would enjoy it much more, right? Best of all, they are all free except for the game itself. Yeah, yeah, I know you can get the game free too, but I am not that cheap. I always support my favorite developers.

Help me out here.

I have been modding Bethesda games for as far back as I can remember. Morrowind to the teeth, Oblivion to the point that it was not Oblivion any more. Many others, such as Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, Homeworld, even Doom 3 Sikkmod, gave that a whirl. 

Doom 3 is still Doom 3, just prettier. If you haven't played Doom 3 yet, get it cheap and run through it with Sikkmod for a much more graphically intensive experience. And graphics is what I am aiming for in my latest build for Skyrim. But before I go into the guide which I am writing for both you, fearless reader AND me as well. I've found plenty of "best mods for skyrim" articles, but not many good "how to" or DIY Guides.

My Rig

OS: Windows 7 64 Bit

Intel Core 2 Quad 2.83 Ghz

6 Gigs of DDR2 Ram

Nvidia Geforce GTX 560 (not overclocked)

2 Monitors, 1 HD 1080p

1.5 Terabytes of space for what I don't know.

That is my midrange machine. Works great, less filling and is going to give me the ability to play Skyrim with hi-res graphics.

I played Skyrim to death on the PS3 which I (cough, cough) got as a gift. Since the PS3 has been officially frozen out of all DLC, I felt the best way to really enjoy the game was to play it on PC (masterrace.) Just so happened that Steam had a big winter sale and offered me Skyrim, the Dawngaurd DLC and the tiny Hearthfire DLC for $40.00. Well worth the money, IMO.

On with the show!

Tools of the trade. PS: Always read the readmes

DO NOT GET MODS FROM THE STEAM WORKSHOP! Some are not fully supported, some outdated and most are also posted at Skyrim Nexus. Nexus has set the gold standard in the modding community for years now and I fully support them. Save the link, you are going to use it a lot if you follow this guide.

1) Buy Skyrim, either through Steam or dowload from somewhere or by discs. This is a steam-centric guide, so anywhere you see Steam, just ignore the steam part and focus on the path filename.

2) Installation of Steam (skip if not using steam) Many mods will tell you that putting mods in a \My Program Files folder is not recommended. Keep in mind, I did this from a format and a fresh Win7 installation and Steam installation. So everything is in my C:\Games\Steam folder. 

3) Install Skyrim and additional DLC. DO NOT INSTALL HI RES TEXTURE PACKS! You're going to get better ones from the community. The ones from Bethesda have caused many a crash or CTD.

4) Run Skyrim until you reach character creation. Close it up. That is your test stop if you are testing mods for compatibility. PS: Your are going to be starting a fresh game of Skyrim. I do not recommend adding Mods for games in progress. If you decide to and works seamlessly, good for you.

5) Steam Install: Right click on Skyrim, hit Properties, go to the Updates tab and under Automtic Updates turn it to Do not automatically update this game. I will show you later on in this guide how to update without wrecking your "build." Run from Steam again and adjust your graphics or let the game adjust them for you. This is the last time you will be running Skyrim from Steam or the regular .EXE.

6) Test the game and see if it runs.

7) Download these tools:

8)make sure you have updated Skyrim to the latest 1.8.151.0.7 or higher build. Install and run BOSS. It should open up a browser screen showing what mods you have installed and the condition. Don't worry about dirty edits, just look for anything red. You should see none since this is a starter build.
 
9) Install 7zip if you don't have it. Then follow directions and install the above tools to the folder where your Skyrim game is installed to. It should be in C:\Games\Steam\steamapps\common\Skyrim
 
10) If you are installing Wrye Bash and doing a full Python Install, run the installer twice and there is another .dll they need to install for you. The Wrye Bash executable will be in the \mopy folder. Make a copy of that and send it to desktop. Heck, make a copy of all of them and put them on your desktop. One further, make a folder on your desktop and drop them all in it. Keep it clean because modding is like home improvement, always keep your tools handy.
 
10 b) Read teh readmes. Wrye has an extensive, yellow and indepth readme online and has been keeping it updated for years now. Really talented team.
 
Mess around with your new toys. Read up around on some bonus websites I am posting below, and play some vanilla skyrim, for this is the last time you will.
Come back tomorrow when we start cleaning house and then start wrecking the joint. 
 
Disclaimer: These software licenses are protecting by the GNU Public license and by no means am I getting any compensation or recognition for their support. The just taste great together.
 
Dedicated to Knots the Inane, where ever you are.

Æstrolocus: The Beginning.

Posted by Inktomi Tuesday December 11 2012 at 12:33AM
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The Races.

It has been years that this is rolling around my head. Something that hasn't been done before and I feel that is something that the game developers need. A shot in the arm for creativity.

We have seen enough Orcs.

We have had our fill of Elves.

Everything is Human...boring.

Go away Goblins.

Undead. Meh. 

Dwarves are done and done some more.

Half wolf-half man creatures between the races in Darkfall and the Worgen in World of Warcraft, interesting, but never done right.

What do you think about a game where all of the races are built around the horoscopic zodiac?

Taurans 

Leonites,

Scorpiters

Arians

Capricornians

Cancers

Librarians

Psisces (not a mispelling)

 

The Realms

  Do we need to look for a better selection of worlds? We have them around us. Mercury, Uranus, Saturn all provide an interesting background  we can build for each one of the races.

If you know anything about astrology, each sign is ruled by a planet. Scorpio is from Mars and is a planet that symbolized War. Remember your Greek mythology and Mars was the God of War? The canon is already there and ready used to flesh out these races and worlds.

There are also other astrological systems that can be used to build upon ours. The chinese zodiac is built around animals. The zodiac is also built around elements and different modalities.

Fire, Air, Water and Earth are the four basic elements of the zodiac. As we know from Rift, these elements take on a personality if put into the correct creative hands.

 

The Ability Pools

Everything has to work out to mathematically across the 12 signs and 4 elements. So that leaves us with the number 3.

Three ability pools. Not trees. Screw ability trees. Because we are not going to go with the traditional experience point unlocks. That just will not do. We are going along the same lines as the open skill system we have seen in Darkfall, Mortal Online and The Secret World. You want to learn it, then you have to earn it. We are also going with the mentoring system in Atlantica Online. Because now we can teach each other skills instead of some lifeless NPC. 

How do you learn from other players? From getting the ability used on you of course. Want to learn fire magic? Take a few fireballs to the face. Want to learn some technological methods, practice experiments. Want to learn some martial skills? Well, knuckle up buster and start swinging.

I was thinking along the lines of three modalities: Fixed, cardinal and mutable. Except we will simply call them magic, martial and science. Each one of these modalites will have skills attributed to the four elements. Now we are getting into the realm of Magic: The Gathering. 

Fire: Destruction. Rules all DPS skills from Fire magic, to Martial Destruction and Fire science that creates bombs.

Water: Rules all healing. Water magic, Martial arts is self healing (nod to the martial artist in Anarchy Online) and Water Science can rehabilitate destroyed land. So, we can farm on it.

Air: Rules all agility and intelligence. Self explanatory. Dodging, buffing and Air science so we can create stuff that flys.

Earth: Rules all strength and defensive based skills. Tanking, growing and summoning earth creatures.

Now onto my last category because I am getting sleepy and need to get to work tomorrow.

The Alignments.

One of the my favorite parts of Dungeons and Dragons were the alignments. Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic. Now we have our three realms. Anything good cannot roll with anything evil and vice versa, but neutral can roll with anyone. INB4 you say, "well we are going to have nothing but a world full of neutrals." 

Well, that brings us back to our abilities. Your abilities depend on your alignments. Oh man, I know. What the hell are you thinking? I get it. But think of the possibilities of choices you make in the world have an affect on your character. Are you a Lawful Evil ( I will definately think of better names but these will work for now) Cardinal Fire magic slinging character with a minor in air which depends on your Lawful status. 

Let's look at your status.

Air: Lawful

Evil: Fire

And you just happen to do enough good things while helping your buddy level and that affects your fire magic. That is going to suck isn't it? But you can't do too many chaotic things to lose your lawful status. Now here is the kicker. How do you balance these alignments? This is where the questing comes in. 

Advancement

Quests? We don' nee' no steenking quests! Instead we will have acts. You will commit acts. Lawful acts, good acts, chaotic acts etc. These acts are only available from NPC's in certain areas that are ruled by the alignment of the planet and city. I'm feeling that Mars will hold the Scorpite main city which will be a place ruled by chaos and unspeakable evil acts. A place where it is ok to kill other players, non-stop. Sort of like a Darkfall in space.

On the other hand Lionites will have the Lawful Good City of OMG Sparkly-Twinkly-Me and that is where you go if you want to be some goody two-shoes with a big gold mace. 

Does this make any sense to you? Let me know because I am going to be brain-dumping more ideas as we go along. I have been sitting on this too long. Goodnight and thanks for reading.

 

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