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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

In response to Richard Aihoshi's: F2P or not F2P

Posted by Inktomi Monday June 29 2009 at 11:56PM
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I was going to comment on the forums, but the writing demon took over my keyboard so I decided to write a full article on it. 

I have been working on a project for F2P and a virtual currency series. I feel that long term there will be certain changes and effects on how we spend money on the internet and predict that there will be one universal online currency one day. I've been doing ALOT of research, to the point that it is killing my gametime, but again this supposedly is fun to me. I read Richard's stuff alot, some stuff I agree with and some I don't. I take a "take what you can and leave the rest" attitude in whatever I do; especially in gaming, journalism and culture.

 I saved an article that ingame advertisiing would reach $1 Billion by 2014. HERE

So the big powers that be in the advertising world and the game companies are going to throw millions of ads in our face between now and then while we are bashing someone head in. Big deal. Again, one this I do agree with is that games is a HUGE business. However, the western world just doesn't seem to love (many like, but don't love) the game that you feel that is clawing at your pockets every chance it gets. It's just not fun, I'm sorry. I don't mind seeing an ad, but don't take away from the experience, that happens with TV and quite honestly, I hardly watch TV but will watch an uninterupted DVD with in-movie advertisiing. Because it doesn't take away from the movie itself.

The clearest way that a community or society speaks is by patronism. If you notice the top 10 most popular games on MMORPG.com are listed as follows. 7 pay to play games, 1 free to play, 1 free to try then subscription and one unreleased. I don't think that ST:TOR is going to be free to play. And the sole free to play game, imo , is by itself a great game, I ran it for a few months before I moved on. You don't see any f2p games in the hype column either. This community has spoken and not even said a word. They spoke with their time and money, which is univeral in any language.

The Gamer Society that I know like to have their costs up front, know what they are paying and hope they know what they are getting. I particually do not like to be coaxed into a situation with words such as "free" just to be stuck with costs to progress ON TOP OF the time I am spending to progress (grinding, leveling, pvping etc) in a game. I would like to say, "Ok, this is what I'm playing, what I want to do in this game and this is how much it's gonna cost me." Very simple math that doesn't have me looking for my credit card and have to balance a checkbook every time I want to get a new ( Insert Macguffin here ). I feel that in F2P games, for my time and money this game better be worth it. Some are, mind you, but most are not and I can say for myself I am tired of getting burned, I'm very wary these days. Most AAA rated MMO's except for a chosen few, are subscription based, we are paying for quality and I will  never mind that, I am sometimes even wary of them.

Free to try is a powerful tool, it gives people the chance to fall in love with something before you have to marry it. And yes, when we put down a credit card number we are commiting to a monthly charge and in some cases it's not easy just to close an account. There is an individual that has had some problems in cancellling his Chronicles of Spellborn account and that is a nightmare. I for one liked the method they used, to play the game until a certain level then "poop or get off the pot". That worked for me and I left that game uncommited.

On DDO going online, the game was losing customers slowly but surely. I interviewed players from all stages and it was a split, half was going to continue or start playing the game and the other were quitting or not going back. The dichotomy there was plain as day, whether they stay long term only time will tell. That is the only thing inevitable in that scenario, time will pass and people will speak without saying a word. I personally think that it was very shrewd on what turbine is doing, they see the effect of f2p has on many other games and are trying to capture that market share. When I figured out that if I was going to play DDO, then I would be paying 15 for VIP then having to spend money to open content, I changed my mind. You can't bleed me dry, it's one or the other, I'll pay your sub or buy content. Sorry, I work off a budget.

I for one am investing in a few F2P games, one of them is Free Realms. I have a 3 year old nephew who I love dearly, sometimes when I watch him we play Free Realms and Spider Man: Web of shadows (he loves it). Where SOE gets my money is through, "Uncle Frank, I want to race a car." I promptly buy him a racecar of his choice. "Uncle Frank, can we do this" and out comes my credit card again for a monthly sub. Yeah, it's only 5 bucks, but I feel a little resentful that I have to pay $5 bucks AND get pinched for every othe crazy whim that a little 3 year old has, AND THEY HAVE A MILLION OF THEM!

Wizard101 is doing the exact same marketing scheme. That's how they get to the parents wallets is from the big pair of ___ eyes that you just can't refuse. Children have been always been very successful on weaseling money out of adults, And game companies continue to exploit it. I don't mind, I'm never cheap when it comes to familt, although if it was just $5 bucks or even $15 bucks it would be ok, because it's quality time and the costs are capped. For everything else there is the word no.

Today China banned the use of virtual money for trading in real goods. So that blows my Universal Virtual Currency theory right out of the water. But you also have to consider, why did the Chinese government (china the home of RMT) shut down a mulit-billion Yuan business? Was the fact that people were using that money to gamble, were people getting ripped off, laundering money? Were Chinese workers being mistreated and forced to work in bad "sweatshop" like environments? These are all activities surrounding the RMT market. Obviously something wasn't right there and The Chinese Government has spoken.

The game that is courting me now is Ryzom, I dl'd it for FREE, I get a 21 day trial and only $11 bucks for a sub. Thank you Boo Turk-aye! WOW that was a good deal and I am getting alot of game for $11 dollars. The game is very good quality and has alot of things that most F2P's don't have, for one is a content editor. I also have friends in LOTRO that are beating me up to go there, "cmon we have a big guild" they say. But even at a price of 9.95 for the software and 9.95 a month, I can't commit. I am happy with getting something free and trying something new for once.

So I don't knock getting something for free, just make sure everything is on the up and up. Don't hit me with hidden fees, don't lock content behing the cash shop, don't let millions of bot in to spam the trade channel, don't give me terrible customer service, don't force feed me stuff that I need to buy to advance, if I want it I will earn it. And don't tell me that I go to work to earn it, I go to work to pay my bills, whatever I have left over goes to my interests.

Don't tell me that something is inevitable, that means I don't have a choice. There are many things that I don't have a choice such as rent, food, heat, electricity, family and sleeping. I have a choice when it comes to my methods personal fun, being books, movies or games.   And for those I let my time be the judge and let my money do the talking, for everything else I have a blog. 

Any questions or comments feel free to email me.

Play safe,

Ink

Trine Demo, Fun with Physics.

Posted by Inktomi Sunday June 28 2009 at 5:38AM
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     Hey everyone!

    I don't know why I'm up this late, yeah I know why. I was too busy playing Trine. Tonite, when I got home I was doing my regular webcrawls for news. I spotted on Kotaku.com the demo download link for Trine, a game that I've been tracking for awhile. DEMO HERE, or go to Gamesplanet. Thanks Kotaku! And it is confirmed that Trine will be released Friday, July 10th.

    First off, this is not a MMORPG, but I am a gamer through and through. I feel it's such a good, fun game that you'll appreciate it. This review is subject to change and will be revisited once the game is on full release. And if you have a complaint about reviewing a demo, people review a beta, it’s the same thing. The demo gave me just enough to make a lasting impression.

    Trine is a downloadable action platform game , that pays tribute to Lost Vikings and Earthworm Jim. Developed by Frozenbyte and Nobilis, Trine is set to release this month, you can download the demo at this site and pre-order on Steam and Gamesplanet. 


Using physics in a fantasy based setting, the player navigates through different screens or “rooms” where you can use three different characters, the knight, the wizard or the thief. Each comes with different abilities that interact with the environment and other characters abilities as well. Using these skills to defeat enemies, collect items and solve puzzles to progress through the story. The 3 Amigos are switchable at any point using the 1,2 or 3 button on the fly, taken into consideration they are still alive. Energy potions, mana potions and experience pots are bountiful but not all easy to get to. I found the most useful character for me, was the thief.


Equipped with bow, arrows and a grappling hook, she nimbly jumps and swings over most obstacles. Most useful in rooms with pits, snares and suspended platforms she can hook onto almost any reachable surface to quickly get you past some unreachable places. Her weakness is the fact that she has no hand to hand melee abilities but can shoot from afar. For most brawling and bruising I would use the warrior.


Tough ole bugger he is, comes equipped with a sword and shield that can hack through most breakable barriers and makes use of skeletons and other nasties rather quick. He’s heavy in full platemail, so if he falls on something most likely it’s dead; I guess that’s a simple law of physics. If you are the hack and slay type then he’s your frontman unless you need to solve a puzzle that needs some finesse, that’s when your wizard comes in handy.


The wizard is the most interesting of the three. He has to abilities from the start, he can use levitation to pick up any loose object in the environment, and there are A LOT of loose items lying around. He's not a total weakling, he can create a large crate out of thin air and drop it on somethings head. The levels are setup very interactive, and if you don’t have a crate handy, then he can make one this ability to help things along. Very cool!

 


The graphics are rich and colorful, painstakingly designed by the developers. I felt like I was pausing at every screen and room just to take in the background, the environement looked and felt alive. From glowing vegetation, moving clocks and bright windows I never felt as if I was looking at the same background twice in a row. I don’t recall in the hours that I played that I recognized anything from room to room. Frozenbyte did an excellent job.
Graphics: A


Character design is simple enough, however if you pull in friend to coop with you, that opens up more interaction between characters and environment. Looking at some gameplay video, it seems to speed up the game and flow through the puzzles faster. If you press I you bring up an inventory where you can upgrade skills as your characters collect experience and leve, also 3 different slots for different equipment and weapons.

With the exception of the wizard and the thiefs grappling hook, the knight and thief are simple creations of the theme, easy to use and very necessary with the mechanics. Although I can see further expansions and additions of new characters, new weapons and armor  with different abilities to interact with old ones, there is a ton of room for growth here. This adds the rpg element to platformer, not new, but very well done.
Character design: A


The mechanics of Trine is where it shines, we saw how fun physics could be from games like Halflife. And how Valve innovated those mechanics in Portal, where you were able to fly, jump and make yourself dizzy with a gun that didn’t shoot. Trine ties that together with on a side scrolling game play that never gets boring, ever. You find yourself dropping boxes for weight, swinging fist-like hammers to break walls and occasionally having your character pole-vaulted across the screen to either land on someone or simply get to the other side.

Some of the puzzles can be real brain teasers that require multiple character abilities to solve and I wasn’t able to get to all the goodies stashed around the rooms. I’m just not that good yet. Honestly the controls were very easy to use W,A,S,D and left and right mouse click. Also, you’re never at a point that you cannot see what you’re doing because the screen moves with you back and forth, your cursor is where most of the action takes place from.
Controls and Gameplay Mechanics: A


Now I’m not going to get into detail about the story, that’s for you to find out. Sorry, no spoilers here. But it is narrated between loading screens and during gameplay from someone who sounds like he should be narrating a children’s story on TV. A soft, soothing paternal voice that get’s you interested right away from the start. Trine has a good story so far that I haven’t heard in its entirety and I’m sure that I’m not going to get it all in the demo. So I still score the story that so far is very interesting, original and well told by our trusty narrator.
Storyboard: A


You can download the demo for free, which is a plus. As any good game usually comes with a no-risk demo and this  is actually a very small one (461 MB). I haven't run into many bugs, so it's a clean play as well.The Demo only gives you two levels but I kept on dying and had to restart many times, it's not an easy game either. Five hours, I was hooked! There are savepoints that you can continue from and that you can resurrect characters from, once. If you run out of people then it is going to be very hard to finish the level, and if you are staring down the barrel of a bunch of skeletons with just the weakly wizard, good luck. If you lose all three then you have to restart from a save point.

 Due to be released this month, downloadable first for PC then farther out for PS3, your spending a whopping 40 bucks. This is a pro-polished game from an indie-developer that's well worth your money. I feel that $40 is fair and if it keeps these new developers in business to create this type of product, then I am definatetly going to invest in this game and support the devs. I can’t wait to play this with a friend or two, it’s a blast. I feel that Trine along with Frozenbyte and Nobilis will be around for awhile.

Price and Availability: A


It’s easy to see why Trine won Gamespot’s Editors Choice Awards for Best Downloadable Game from E3. This is a well made game both graphically and creatively. It’s not the first and only platformer to ever use physics to solve puzzles; they just do it really well. The replay ability of this game is yet to be seen and cannot just be judged by the limited demo, but from what I have seen so far this one is going to be a hit. I’m almost sure that the full scope of Trine will be when you play co-op via the internet and that will be the judge in the long run. Most platforms suffer from lack of replayability because once you beat it, you beat it. Unless the makers of Trine can capture that addictive quality and that air of competitiveness like the old Mario Brothers games I can see it having a problem with staying power. But for the experience and the addition to your gaming library I definitely would recommend it and you have to try the demo for yourself.
Game Player Average: 4.0, A must play.

I hope you can find time to give your MMO a break,

Play safe,

Ink

 

The Power of a Good Review.

Posted by Inktomi Thursday June 25 2009 at 5:35PM
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I have the POWAHHHH!!!11

The Power of a Good Review.

   Hey everyone! 

   Just stopping in on some thoughts, I have recently finished up my summer class and I'm getting ready for two straight months of summer fun, beach bumming and gaming! But what about the future you ask? In two months I start a new semester and many new games are going to hit the market, farther out many more. My Poor College Student Fund is not going to be able to support them all, not enough POWAH! 

    So what do I turn to for guidance? Reviews of course! When you want to see that new Transformers movie, you read reviews, same for resturants, cars, electronics and whatever else you can find. I find that certain reviews are honest to the point of brutality and some are not so much. But along the lines I always find the ones that are the most exact, I have to read a few then make my decision. It's part of being an educated consumer. 

    When it comes to putting some money down on, we always want to know what's up. I forgot that recently when I registered for a college summer class. I made sure that I took one adjoining my RL buddies class, he was taking a higher level course so I chose to stick with the beginners level, everything is about leveling up, even in life. However I didn't do my "homework" on the teacher. My teacher was...

   Ruth Silverman and she rode a broom to school. 

Ruth Silverman, Sociology Professor.

         Unfortunatly, I found out aboutRatemyprofessors.com too late to be able to check her profile out and found out how bad she was. The revies were on the money and she was a horrible teacher, for many reasons that I will spare my readers. If you want to read how I really feel then go to the site in a few days after I get my grade. I don't want to risk getting graded any lower because of a review, and you know it's going to be negative. Reviews don't always have to be positive to be good.

        This brings up my point, anytime you read a review, take it into effect that it's that "one persons" opinion and point of view that they are writing from. Someone else might have a different point of view, a different "experience" that might be closer to your own type of "interpretation". This website is very good for indepth reviews on older and new MMORPG's.

      Example: Beau Turkeys' reviews of Darkfall. Honesty, yes. Brutality, no. Helpful, yes. Is what he says in his reviews along the common thread, yes. Proof, YES! The best thing he did was actually Stream his gaming on Ustream, that gave me the best "hands on" type of review you can get. And alot of certain things that he wrote in his review were true. The low level of graphics, sparse areas, arrogant and angry community. All rang true and is the pattern that I have read before about Darkfall. Which to me, gives a level of  credibility. Unlike the contriversial review from Eurogamer.com, where the guy played it for a whopping 2 hours, most were spent on the character creation screen.

     Last night Tasos from Darkfall Online posted that there will be a huge patch coming with the opening of a North American server. The facts surrounding the transfer of characters, clients and fees are all a little cloudy at this part. It seems that they are charging people to move, but not there stuff. They are charging new players and old players for the client. There is a thread here that talks about it, read it for yourself, I'm still confused.

          This is an explanation of whats going on from Tobolds MMORPG Blog: "If you want to play on the new Darkfall US servers on release, you will have to buy the game again, even if you already paid for the European version. You *do* have an option to not pay, reuse your Euro client, and transfer your character to the US servers, but only at some point at least 3 months after release." With that being said I will continue to save my fitty bucks.

    There are certain reviews that I read and take heed, and some that I don't. Take Age of Conan as an example, got really bad reviews from some, good from others. Recently I finished up the Age of Conan 7 day preview and didn't say a word about it. For the simple fact that I didn't get a chance to play it extensively and I know that it is taboo to review a game off of a free trial. Well, at least here it is.

      I unstalled the client and I will not subscribe to the game; Not for any other reason is that it isn't for me, from the story to the combat, it wasn't my cup o' tea. Not that anything I read about the game was bad, nor was my experience was bad, just that from my taste in games I don't think that I was fair enough to write a review becuase it would just pertain to people "like me".

    I did recently write something about Aion after finishing up my second beta event, comparing it to WoW. That brought me some flak and I was labeled a flip/flopper. Well, first off, I do like the game alot. But my "experience" with WoW and Aion are similar, so I simply connected the two together. And for people that never played WoW, they can't make the same connection, and for that I am sorry. Paragus wrote one of the best "beta" reviews of Aion I have ever seen, It is on the money and worth a read.

       My official standpoint on Aion is: I still am going to buy it come september, but don't know if It's going to be HomeBase for me. I want to read into the endgame part of Aion, see then how it launches, beta test Champions Online and then make up my mind. So, if anyone knows someone who plays a level 50 on a korean or chinese server, speaks english and doesn't mind me taking up some of there time please let me know.

   In closing, reviews are really helpful because it creates an air of experience and trying before buying before committing your funds. However, they all need to be taken with a grain of salt, not everyone's experience is going to be the same. So if you have any questions on how exact the review is, read more by the author, check on some other reviews from other websites. Compare and take your time. Nothing is written in stone or has to be overnight and everyones opinions are going to be different. And if you don't like what a reviewer says about something that you know to be different, THEN WRITE YOUR OWN! 

   Seeing an opposing view is sometimes the BEST way to really compare and judge a reviewer, in my opinion; take it for what it's worth. As for what I am doing. I am getting ready for some off time, I am going to keep looking at my coming fall semester and will go over my teachers with a fine tooth comb, not making the same mistake twice. As I'm sure you don't want to be caught with a bad game, I don't want to be caught with a bad teacher.

  Also, I have found a really fun game for very cheap,will be playing it and reviewing it myself as I get deeper into it. Although, this time I am playing this game a little differently, I'll tell you all about it another time.

Until then...

Play safe,

Ink

OTX Gameplan's Top 50 Most Anticipated Games....contains no mmorpgs?

Posted by Inktomi Wednesday June 24 2009 at 12:12AM
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- courtesy Gamasutra.com

The Demographics

1,000 gamers

Between ages 13 - 59

Tested Via webs offers.

Average score for all three metrics is 100

Halo:ODST has an intent rating of 8 times higher than the average game at 878, to give you an idea.

Chart tracks three key measures: aided awareness of a game, the intent to purchase it, and the intent to pre-order the game from retailers. Gamestop anyone?


Ok, I agree with many of the games that are in the top 10, I'm even looking forward to Assassin's Creed 2.

 And wouldn't care usually but it's been all over the net today and I had to comment on it, it seemed odd.

So without 1 mmorpg on the list, that means that Star Wars:The Old Republic is rated as a below average game? The Hype Meter here is at 8.52 based on 1842 votes, that's double of who they say they "tested" online. I don't know who they talked to but something doesn't seem kosher here. 

Hmmm, I'm so tempted to make a forum post with a poll for top ten games with mmos added in. Maybe it would be a jilted survey because this IS MMORPG.com

What do you think?

Play safe,

Ink

Aion, World of Warcraft's Pretty Girlfriend.(Official!)

Posted by Inktomi Sunday June 21 2009 at 4:38PM
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I have a pretty girlfriend, that’s beside the point. When we go places together it’s interesting to see people’s reactions. First off, I have been called handsome, but I’m nowhere near a pretty boy. I am a large, bald, tattooed and angry looking New Yorker. My lady on the other hand is the upbeat, attractive person that makes people smile; I am the one that scares the guys away. However, in certain instances my intimidating looks come in handy, and others her bright smile and big brown eyes wins people over. The point I am trying to make is that everyone responds to different visual images differently.

               This brings me to Aion’s strongest point, the graphics. More importantly, the character creation, which is the most creative I’ve ever experienced in an MMO. I participated in Closed Beta 1 and just tonight finishing up closed beta 2, I leveled an Asmodian (darker race) to 11 and was suddenly bored. I am a hardcore leveler, and was forced to stop just when my character just got interesting. So I decided to mess around with the character creation tool. Another thing about me, I have a soft spot for goblins, yes, goblins. So… I made some … goblins.

She just wasn't into me.

I was very happy with the results, yes he’s tiny and packs quite a punch. So I leveled him to 11 as well; fun, fun, fun. I watched a few people stop and check me out, even got a few LOL’s and a few complimentary whispers. It’s funny how people will react to something visually, other players were happy with my goblin. So, I made more…

I couldn’t make a green one as Elyos (light side) but I was able to make a red one. I didn’t have the time to level him to 11 as well, but I did see people stop and look in the starter zone. I was onto something!

Let’s touch on the mechanics of Aion, I’ll just say it is superior to most games just considering the flight aspect and a great combo system that they have in place. It is what Age of Conan wanted to do, but couldn’t quite nail it. NCSoft did, and quite well. Along with certain movements it feels almost like Streetfighter except I don’t have to make those moves, it just helps certain chances of hits, blocks and dodges. No longer is it just mashy-button til death mode, this time I really have to react. So far,  I was impressed.


Visually, the game is head and shoulders above almost all of the mmorpgs on the market. The game actually feels “alive”, I had spiders coming out of trees, huge birds in the skyline and the water effects almost look real. Aion, is very clean and very “pretty”, most mob designs contain over 3-4 different colors, the backdrop is georgous  and the human realism in character design is stunning, unlike WoW. Also the transparent minimap is a plus to have as well.

Left: Me, and yeah...not my girlfriend but a good rendering of Eva.

WoW, does suffer from too cartoony, exaggerated graphics, but it has that gritty masculine quality that most macho players (like me) respond to. However, content wise…my vote goes to World of Warcraft. Aion has the same addictive feel to it but doesn’t pack the lore punch that WoW does. Face it, many people already knew the WoW story from the original Warcraft series, and Blizzard did a bang-up job bringing it to a massive scale.


Aion, unfortunately is lacking that punch, the lore is basically good vs. evil angels. Paradise Lost, Dante’s Inferno and even The Prophecy; stories have been written and re-written about the classic tale of the heavenly Chosen Ones and The Fallen. Been there, done that. I read a lot of the quests and wasn’t too enthralled on what I was reading, plus the dialog is really small so it was hard to read a lot of the material. The cut scenes are nice and give quick visual details on the plot of the quest you are on, especially the Ascension quest. Very cool.


In closing: I like the game, but I am not knocked over by it. I’ve done the same thing in WoW ,FFXI and Runes of Magic, level up to the end, grind for the best gear and kill other players. Again, been there, done that and I have the T-Shirt. My advice to my readers, If you are done with WoW, totally finished, burnt out and kaput, and don’t mind repeating the same steps; or if you are playing an older MMO and need something new and flashy (a pretty new girlfiend). Then Aion is a very visually pleasing game, and one worth trying out. If you are ‘tweening games ™ or a story driven immersion player like
Beau Turkey, then I would recommend you to "play the field" and keep an eye out for other titles that are on the horizons.


I have a a gut feeling that Champions Online is going to be a big sleeper hit this fall.


Until then…


Play safe,


Ink

 

 

Tabula Rasa: When Loyalty Pays Off.

Posted by Inktomi Friday June 19 2009 at 1:49PM
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               Trista, who is a good RL friend of mine and who follows (critiques) my blog sent me this article posted on the Aion Beta boards. Reading it gives me a new respect for NCSoft the way they handled loyal players of the failed Sci-Fi MMORPG Tabula Rasa. This was the brainchild of billionaire game designer and eccentric Richard Garriot, who I will go more into detail in a minute. As posted by Ayase, Community Manager of NCSoft:

As a dedicated Tabula Rasa subscriber, you were promised a cornucopia of Aion benefits:
Aion beta event access
Aion preorder benefits
30 free days of Aion, including digital client
To be specific, you will receive all the same benefits as someone who has preordered the Aion game:
Access to all closed and open beta events
Headstart access
Character and server preselection access
Several in-game digital items, including the Dark Cloud Hat, Amulet of Lodas,
and the Ancient Ring of Wind
For complete details on the preorder benefits, see 
http://www.aiononline.com/preorder.
You will also receive 30 days of Aion game time and the digital client.
An access key for all of the above has already been applied to your NCsoft Master Account. If you haven’t done so already, all you have to do is log in to your NCsoft Master Account and activate your code! The next beta event is this weekend, starting on June 19, 2009.

Not only did NCSoft go out of its way to actually create an in game ending for players of Tabula Rasa now they are giving them a $65.00 value at retribution for “stick-to-it-ness.” A $50.00 retail game and a month free of playtime is extremely valuable in game-time, not to mention that people are stealing money from other players to sell in game time in exchange for realspace money, :::cough:::EVE::::cough::::

At the announcement of cancellation NCSoft also made Tabula Rasa free to play before the imminent shutdown in February, which seems to be the norm for companies that are shutting down servers for an MMO they deem as a financially failing proposition. As we have read recently The Matrix Online is suffering the same fate, it makes me wonder if SOE will do the same for the players as NCSoft did for the Tabula Rasa, crowd? I’ll keep an eye on this and keep you posted.

               The ending sounded quite interesting as quoted from Gamasutra.com, “Will become overrun by an unstoppable tide of alien enemies, with humanity's only response being mutually assured destruction.” They also were rewarding a 2,000% increase in experience gain so players could level faster. I didn’t get that from Hellgate:London. X( Boo…

               Now they give them a new beginning, Aion. Which is starting its second closed beta phase today, players of the Aion Beta will get to try out the dark Asmodian race from level 1-10. I will be in on that beta and you can look me up through Inktomi or Panzer, my tanking class that I am looking to make when Aion goes retail at the end of the summer.

Above, Richard Garriott, Space Cowboy


               Back to Tabula Rasa, I was reading a post on the MMORPG.com forums from
Aryslan, seems there is a petition posted on the internet for players to sign to bring back Tabula Rasa. I think the return is unlikely because there has been a case filed against NCSoft by Richard Garriot who is sueing NCSoft for over $20 Million in lost stock options. Mr. Garriott was fired on the heels of the announcement of the shutdown of the game he worked to create while he was while he was still in quarantine from his space flight.

         “Ok, I know that you are busy killing of spacecooties, but YOU’RE FIRED! Oh and by the way SELL ALL YOUR STOCK NOW!” What I understand about this case was a timing issue and he was forced to sell stock when it was down, I feel that he may have a case, however all the details you can read in gamepolitics.com.

               I’m really not clear of all the legal mumbo jumbo surrounding the case and the details of his contract with NCSoft, but the chance of Tabula Rasa returning during a multi-million-dollar legal battle is slim and none, and slim is out to lunch. Don’t feel bad, there was a Hellgate:London Revival planned that was stomped by a legal snafu between Hanbitsoft and Namco Bandai, so I just resolved to move on to the new game of choice.

               Kudos to NCSoft for extended customer support for loyal subscribers and great focus on customer retention. Grats to Tabula Rasa fans that stuck it out, and on that note I’ll close with an old saying; “When a door closes, a window opens.” And out that window is Aion, see you in the beta!

Until then…

Play safe,

Ink

Enter the Nemesis.

Posted by Inktomi Wednesday June 17 2009 at 11:45PM
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 Enter the Nemesis.

               What does Lex Luthor, The Joker, the green goblin, Dr. Octopus and Dr. Doom all have in common? At one time, all of them were the bane of a superhero’s existence. Who found out that Superman had a weakness to kryptonite? Who almost did in Spiderman’s Aunt May? Who actually makes a story really interesting to read, it’s the supervillains of course. Hero’s like Ironman, The Hulk and even superteams such as the Fantastic Four and the X-men would have boring jobs if it wasn’t for the eternal bad guy.

               This is part of a refreshing new game mechanic that Cryptic Studios new superhero game Champions Online is going to bring to the MMORPG player this coming fall. The Nemesis System allows players to design their own arch-villain from top to bottom. This AI controlled NPC is part of the players hero background, as they progress through the game the arch-fiend shows up in their story arc to thwart their plans of do-goodery and make their lives all around miserable. Well, what is a bad guy good for? Not only will players be able to design the nemesis costumes and character design, but give them their own power sets, minions and even their personality. Very cool.

               This new mechanic has already been a staple in the pen and paper version. This enables players to actually design their own content and will continue through the game outside of regular gameplay. So as many mmorpg players have complained in the past, “I am so tired of killing ten rats and then going back to get a quest to kill ten wolves.” Well, fear not my budding young superheros and superheroines, things are going to get really interesting really soon. Picture your on a regular “mission”, as they are called in Champions Online, and the regular ho-hum kill X and bring back Y for Z mission turn out to be an epic battle with…WHAT THE HECK IS THAT???? Well, that’s the monstrous denizen from planet Zikkzerey that is here to make sure you don’t kill even one rat, it actually is here just to kill you. Have you stopped yawning yet? Because that’s the type of surprises that I’ve been looking for in a game for a long time.

               In a recent article series posted on the Champions Online website, a three part series going into detail about the character created nemesis system. Lead Designer Randy Mosiondz goes into detail about the new system that has the internet abuzz about Champions. “We wanted to start with some basic Nemesis plots which incorporated the Champions Online universe flavor. As we continue to develop the game, we want to develop more Nemesis plots that are more tailored to a player's individual Nemesis.” My feeling on this is that it will continue throughout your characters lifetime and be a never ending source of content.

               Bill Roper, writes on content today in his post on Champions Online Daily News. He claims that there is a ratio of 500 minutes or work in order to create 20 minutes of playtime. While a hardcore gamer putting in 150+ hours of game play can run through a year’s worth of work in a few weeks or a month. He might be right in his assumption; gamers like me are always looking for more after we get to the end. Bill says, ”It’s one of the reasons we’re very focused on creating new ways to allow players to create their own content. The Nemesis System in Champions Online is the first step for us towards that."

Enter the nemesis. Who will be your arch-rival?

Play safe,

Ink

 

 

                Welcome back to the conclusion of the DDO F2P interviews, as I usher in the same group from this past weekend I also want to welcome Mindspat to the group discussion. Mindspat is a member of MMORPG.com who’s been playing on Ghallanda since Dungeons & Dragons Online went live. Again I want to welcome everyone back; joining us again is Jerry Snook from DDOCast, Mike, Aaron, taiara and the infamous Agent Smith who’s been quite active in the “Oh snap, ddo is F2P” forum thread.


I first want to refresh everyone, recently Turbine Inc. has announced that their popular subscription based MMO, Dungeons and Dragons online is going to be changing to a free to play model with a cash shop coming this fall. I got in contact with a few DDO “veterans” to ask how they felt about the changes. Here is what they said…


Inktomi: What do you think about the possible new barrage of new players coming into DDO Unlimited as free to play members? Do you think it will attract new players and bring old ones back?

 

Jerry: I’m looking forward to it. DDO could use some new blood. Going F2P will put DDO at the absolute top of the Free MMO hill, instead of DDO being somewhere in the middle (commercial-success-wise, I mean) of the pay-to-play pile.

Mike: I feel it is a good thing. People who play daily complain about the low population and they wish more would join. It will definatly encourage grouping and keep people on the game more with guilds starting to form. Some people who played seem to be excited about the possible population boost.

Mindspat: I think it will absolutely remove many barriers that existed with the game. One of the main issues is a psychological attachment many potential players have that makes them believe a Subscription based MMO is to have open world content where anyone can stumble upon your quest and potentially ruin an evening of fun.

Aaron: I can see it garnering new players, old players to a lesser extent. I hope that it brings more popularity to the game and incentive for Turbine to take the game further.

Agent Smith: I seriously doubt it will make the game more of a success, DDO has had plenty of free trials but so few players even complete the trials. It is just not a good MMO and despite the many things I enjoy about DDO it is very lacking as an MMO and F2P or P2P doesn't change that. But honestly, this move by turbine is not about making DDO a success, clearly this is a way to develop and test an RMT system for use with their other games/projects.

Taira: The game as it currently exists would be attractive to a new player, who hasn’t seen the content it does have. Its problems would be with older players who have seen the content for three years and haven’t seen an update for 10 months assuming a September release for free to play.

Inktomi: Turbine did mention that there will be gear sold in the cash shop, “Gear is available for gamers who would like to improve some aspect of their in-game experience right away.” I know you probably started out with gimped lvl 1 gear and a terrible weapon. How would that make you feel to see someone getting it easier and not “paying their dues?”

 

Agent Smith: The Monty Haul nature of DDO has always been a problem and this is likely to make that worse. On the one hand it at least gives new players the chance to compete with older vets who always gear up their alts but then again it is easy to see by what Turbine has said about the cash shop already they have no bones about selling 'easy' as the IGN article quoted them saying you could buy in quest resurrections which breaks a key element of needing to complete a dungeon without re-entry for full credit.

Mike: They give you shoddy gear at first, but dungeons give you money and gear like crazy. If people want to get gear at level 1 that’s fine with me, it would seem people would do it just to get to end-game faster, or try and catch up with people. It can hurt the economy no doubt about that, but it’s not very hard to get good gear

Aaron: Don’t see it as a game changing option as most players get access to decent items quickly in the game any ways in addition to all longtime players outfitting their new players with items and money from their older characters.

Taiara: Specifically, the availability of lowbie “twink” weapons is not likely to change the in game experience. Most experienced players have a set of equipment for lowbie characters currently and additionally have tomes that they use at level one. This would appear to allow everyone to twink their lowbies. I’ve run twinked and untwinked on servers other than my home server of Sarlona. The gear that is available at the low levels is secondary to player skill.

Jerry: I’m not too concerned about it. It’s true that new players will have equipment advantages that were not available to people who played back in 2006, but the best gear comes later in the game, for the most part. The early parts of DDO aren’t nearly as challenging as it gets later on, so I don’t think this will be a big issue.

 
Inktomi: Do you think that the cash shop would unbalance the game, take away from the DDO immersion? What do would you like to “NOT SEE” in the cash shop?

 Jerry: I hope Turbine doesn’t add things like stat tomes (which give your basic stats a permanent boost) and things that take the challenge away from the dungeons. It could unbalance the game, but it all depends on what the final product is. Kind of too early to tell.

Aaron: I do not see any of the introduced mechanics thus far to be a threat to game balance.

Mindspat: There is no reason for balance. The only function for balance would relate to the time spent in The Content; referring specifically to instanced quests. The only thing that needs to be balanced is how long it takes players to get through different aspects of the Dungeons; this is why Turbine has decided to remove the pre-existing effects present on Wounding of Puncturing weapons. I suppose that the one item which has the greatest likelihood of appearing on the Item Mall that Should NOT be is the current version of Wounding of Puncturing which is being removed from the game – it seems this was always the intent, to make it more exclusive.

Agent Smith: It will not only unbalance the game (which truthfully is already quite out of balance) it will break the game. For instance, selling resurrections; it is a key design element that if you die in an adventure you must leave it and re-enter at substantial penalty (of course at certain levels some classes can resurrect you provided there is no party wipe). With them selling this in the item shop it is like selling a 'no lose' since you can just get back up and do whatever knowing full well dying means nothing, it also invalidates classes with the resurrection to a degree.

Mike: The one thing I’m upset about is that they are taking war forged away and making people pay for them, that are the only thing that ticks me off. I'm not a big PvPer and the only PvP is in Taverns. I feel it won't unbalance the game, seeing as everyone in a party gets all the experience and get different items set to their level and class at the end.


Taira: I don’t think there would be any unbalance from selling equipment, so long as the equipment sold is inferior to equipment that could be obtained from quests or raids. Plat sales would certainly have an inflationary effect on the auction house.



Inktomi: Did you know a game called “Puzzle Pirates” makes $50.00 a month ARPPU on average from players? That over $230,000 a month, do you think that was a smart move from Turbine or very risky?

Jerry: That’s crazy! $50 per month is outrageous, can’t imagine spending that on one game myself, especially month after month. That said, I think this is a VERY smart move on Turbine’s part.

Aaron: I see it as a move that has greater potential benefits than it does drawbacks. The improved access the general gaming populace will have in and of itself is a commodity sought for in games, and with the model turbine has, it’s about as low risk as one can hope for.

Mindspat: It’s very easy to distort statistics to give a view that supports the desired objective. Is that $50.00 per month from ARPU or ARPPU? When the bulk of the revenue is actually generated by something as low as 2-3% of the millions of players who ever spend money it’s very easy to get misty eyed by a narrow presentation of numbers. (Its ARPPU spat.)


 At this point I want to really focus on what taiara details about the DDO economy, because it made a lot of sense to me.

 

Taiara: In order to make that much money from current subscribers, Turbine would need to drastically change some game mechanics. Most players I played with were long term players. Their assets were measured in the millions of plat, and the equipment costs for each character were beyond belief. For example, on Sarlona, each of my 10 characters had a +2 or +3 tome for each attribute, and the auction house values of the tomes were about 500,000 plat. Each of my 6 melee characters had at least 2 greensteel weapons, the material costs of which were a couple of million plat. My main melee characters also had raid crafted items that were also millions of plat. Since DDO hasn’t raised its level cap since mod 6 in February 2008, most hard core players have been grinding loot since then. The consumables a long term player would buy currently don’t cost that much from in game venders. For example, a stack of 100 heal scrolls, a high level consumable people most often complain about, cost my haggle bard like 12,200 plat and would keep my UMD melee healed for like a week. Repair costs were never that big of a deal. DDO doesn’t really have any money sinks, so I would presume current characters could live off their loot and resources for quite a while. Turbine could change this in two different ways. First, if they substantially increased the costs of repairs and consumables, in a few months the casual players might need to use the DDO shop. Secondly, if Turbine only sold consumables in the DDO store, this would cause the players to use the DDO store. This would not be popular with veteran players.

Inktomi: Last question and I want to thank you all for cooperating so far. What changes would you like to see in DDO from Turbine in the future?

 

Jerry: I would like Turbine to really focus on new quests and locations for us to explore. There’s plenty to do in DDO, but people who have been playing a while are in need of new content. I would like to see Turbine bring more of the Eberron campaign setting to DDO as well, which is something I am sure they plan to do. I’d also like Turbine to do more to promote this game through things like banner ads, publicity and even getting the game noticed by non-MMO players. It’s always seemed kind of head-scratching that Wizards of the Coast is involved with DDO but the two companies have never really cross-promoted each other’s products.

Aaron: Larger environments that operate more along the lines of a DnD module within a given world.

Agent Smith: I think it is too late for DDO, that train left the station when they sold what is really a co-op game as an MMO. It should have gone live as a Guild Wars type sell the game, sell MODs every few months or possibly like most RTS games are arranged and run. In trying to pass DDO off as an MMO DDO was doomed from the start, it is a testament to the dedicated D&D fans that it lasted as long as it did.

Mindspat: Turbine has lost all respect from me and this is related to the lack of transparency and deceit. What they did by parading the patch notes for module 9 was to secure subscribers in effect to prevent canceled accounts by portraying a historical process of Patch Notes to Live which they never intended to deliver. This in effect is fraudulent.

Taiara: Even though I cancelled my subscription, I do want DDO to continue. I still have numerous friends who are playing (and no doubt wasting the DelScorcho fortune) and I know they still enjoy the game. The biggest change that needs to happen is that Turbine needs to be more honest with its players. The free to play model was been in the works for some time; however, the developers were suggesting the upcoming content would be released in February. The reason it hasn’t been released is that turbine wanted it to be an additional draw for the new free to play system. Knowing that, they were still suggesting the mod was right around the corner, which was profoundly deceptive. The events of the past few months have cost them quite a few subscribers. Many of the people who still subscribe are watching the developers to see whether they can trust Turbine. So in the future, Turbine needs to be more up front with their players.

Mike: Make Warforges free and give me a damn cloak animation!!!

 


And that wraps up my interview session; I want to thank everyone for stopping in and lending their support to my blog.

 

This was a bold move on Turbines part and unfortunately there will be some stiff competition coming this fall with an allstar lineup of AAA games such as Aion and Champions Online to name a few. However, Turbine’s recent decision may spark a change in the way many companies approach struggling games in order to increase their audience. At this point Turbine is going to face some tough scrutiny from the old players as mentioned in the interview and new ones as well. They are not going to be the only F2P on the block so they better come locked and loaded this fall with new content and a fairly balanced cash shop. Remember, RMT might not be for everyone but you don’t know until you give it a try; DDO is going to be on my “to play” list this coming fall.


Until then…

Play safe,

Ink 

 

 

 

Community Outlook: Player Feedback on The New F2P DDO .feat Jerry Snook from DDOCast.

Posted by Inktomi Sunday June 14 2009 at 1:48AM
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      Hi everyone! With the recent announcement of Turbine Inc. taking their popular MMORPG Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) from a subscription base to a free to play, RMT model, I’ve taken on a rare opportunity. Instead of playing the game for a short time and giving you my feedback, I decided to reach out to the DDO community to hear what some actual DDO veterans feel about this recent change.

               I was received with some positive and not-so-positive feedback; however everyone was wonderful and very cooperative. I also had the rare chance to interview Jerry Snook who runs the longstanding and popular DDOCast, a weekly podcast exclusively for about the world of DDO. I want to personally thank everyone who responded and cooperated, this was a great display of community effort.

               Due to the in-depth answers I received, I am going to be breaking up this article in two parts, but not to worry, nothing was changed. Only some names were changed to protect the innocent, lol! Joining me today is Jerry Snook from DDOCast, MMORPG member’s Mike, Taiara,  Aaron, and the infamous “Agent Smith” from the MMORPG forums.

 

Inktomi: I want to thank you all for collaborating on my blog, mMO’ MONEY. Let’s start out with some chest puffing here, what server do you play on, what race, class and level are you? Are you a long term member, returning or just starting out?

 

Aaron: Argonessien, long term, recently returning after several month hiatus.

Taiara: In three years, I’ve played all races to cap (16) and all classes excepting monk to cap.

Jerry Snook: I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons Online since June of 2006! I have characters on all five DDO servers, but my main server is Sarlona; my main is a currently level-capped Drow Cleric named Mockduck.

Mike: I am a returning player playing the Trial, I currently play a level 3 Fighter from the Thelanis Server.

Agent Smith: I played DDO the first month and a half and left because there was just so little content. My latest stint with the game was late last year, I played a few months from late 2008 through early 2009.  I had a level 16 melee hybrid that was my main for some time and a couple casters that I was working on as well. 

 

Inktomi: Awesome! That’s some roll call; can you tell me what you liked most about the game?

Jerry: Without question it’s the combat.  There is simply no other MMO, even three-plus years after this game has launched, that comes close to DDO’s real-time combat. The graphics. Personally, I’ve not been a big fan of the so-called “cartoony” graphics seen in some other popular MMO’s.  DDO looks like I always imagined D&D to look like.

Agent Smith: DDO has a great real time combat game that is, I think, more interesting than the typical MMO's hotbar + auto attack model.

Taiara: The active combat system and the player community.

 

Inktomi: I’ve heard good things about the combat system, sounds very interesting. Can you tell me more about the community?

Jerry: The community!  DDO has a mature, fun and open player base.  Intelligent folks, RP veterans, skilled twitch gamers, casual fun types and everyone in between.  DDO also encourages grouping in a way that many other games do not.  Soloing is very possible in DDO, and Mod 9-Eberron Unlimited will make it even easier with dungeon scaling that lowers monster hit points based on the size of the group, but this game is all about hanging out with friends and other players. 

Agent Smith: Additionally, I think DDO really shines at letting you build a unique character that suits your preference and playstyle even if the 'leveling' is not necessarily up to spec for an MMO.

 

Inktomi: Have you played any other free to play games with a cash shop? Which ones and how did you like it?

Aaron: War Rock was the most recent game with a cash shop which I found it entertaining to play.

Mike: I have played many Free to play games. I liked Runes of Magic, seeing as some of the things in the cash shop could be purchased with in-game items. Atlantica was also good, but it seems to slow down around the mid-30s.

Jerry: I’ve played Shaiya, Chronicles of Spellborn (which is really a “freemium” game, but I played the free part of it), Shin Megami Tensei Online and 9Dragons.  I enjoyed all of them in their own way, but none of them hooked me enough to keep me playing more than a few months.

 

Inktomi: Considering you all played DDO as a subscriber, how do you feel about it going to the free to play microtransaction model? They are offering Turbine Points as currency for their cash shop, unlocking certain content and making items available to all users. Will you use the cash shop?

Taiara: No, I won’t continue my subscription with the change. I am going to be purchasing Aion, and monitoring the Upcoming Star Wars Knights of the Republic MMO.

Agent Smith: I think it is a ruse, DDO as F2P is a desperate act and not likely to be anymore successful than it was a sub based game because it is now very dated, as an MMO it is still flawed in terms of being 100% instanced, having no real PvP or RvR, no housing, no crafting, and a static world where you never adventure with more than 6 people at a time. I have no interest in cash shop free games.  Even if I were to ever play a RMT game, something I would not do, I would not use a cash shop.

 

Inktomi: Whoa! RMT is not for everyone, what does everyone else feel about the RMT element in DDO?

 Aaron: Personally find it as a good compromise as I can remain a paid subscriber and have access to all core elements of the shop without cost external to the monthly fee. Also find it as a good concept for trying to garner a larger player base. Use of the cash shop will depend on the kind of items available, for certain will look through the aesthetic options available.

Jerry:   I think it was very smart for Turbine to give VIP subscribers 500 Turbine Points per month to spend at the store.  This will get people to check the store out, for sure.  I expect that I will use the cash shop more for cosmetics than items, but it all depends on what will be offered. I’m very excited to see what this new business model does to the game.  This model literally offers something for everyone, from the uber-casual player who won’t pay to the veteran who had put hundreds of dollars in Turbine’s hands already.  My ultimate opinion on the DDO Store depends a lot on how it works and how much it costs. 

Mike: From what i read, you can also purchase stuff from investing time into playing the game. Also, from what they are telling people, i can purchase Adventure packs like i would purchase a D&D adventure book at my closest Hobby shop.

 

Inktomi: Mike, I’m very glad you brought up the costs of pen and paper D & D, being an ex-hobby shop owner myself, I can tell you that for $15 you are barely scratching the surface. If you compile the prices of books, dice, modules, figurines, pencils and visual aids (like maps) a player can’t get by on $15 a month. Just the cost of Doritos and mountain dew is over $15 bucks combined! Anyway, Turbine is offering members subscription benefits as a DDO VIP, is anyone planning to be a VIP?

Mike: Depending on how much the payment plans are going to be, i might go into VIP, but for now i'll stay Free to Play and purchase what i want.

Aaron: I am planning to be a VIP.

Jerry:  I will absolutely be a VIP!  The VIP program is pretty similar to what us DDO veterans have been paying for already, with the addition of the “free” Turbine Points.

Agent Smith: Not considering, in fact when I heard this announcement I uninstalled the game and threw away the discs knowing I would never bother with it again. Turbine hired a new VP of Operations not long ago specifically to aid their console move and working projects and because as they had said RMT is the future.  They most certainly didn't do that to revive a 3+ year old failed game - this is about using the remaining DDO community or whoever comes along because it is free, to develop and test an RMT system that will be used in other projects.

 

Inktomi: That’s some theory Mr. Smith, are you upset due to the fact that they are closing down The Matrix Online, and now that you threw away DDO, you don’t have a place to go?

Agent Smith: I seriously doubt it.

 

               At this point I decided to give the crew a rest, tune in tomorrow when we go more in depth about how a cash shop is going to affect DDO player’s long term and some changes that these vets would like to see. Also, Taiara gives us great first hand commentary on the economics of DDO, and on that note, I also try to sell some tinfoil.

Until then…

Play safe,

Ink

 

 

EVE Online Players Rocked Again By Financial Crime

Posted by Inktomi Friday June 12 2009 at 3:25PM
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"The point is ladies and gentlement, that greed - for lack of a better word - is good. Michael Douglas,1987

     Tsk, Tsk, Tsk or should I say, Isk, Isk, Isk. Reported today from "The Escapist" “Xabier”, member of Dynasty Bank, a player run financial institution has embezzled 80 Billion Isk of players invested funds. Dynasty Bank has recently released a statement to players and has since the realization of the crime has stopped taking deposits according to Manalapan. Who posted on Eve online forums today “ What we DO know is that he has missed a dividend payment on a personal bond, and his bio now states “Thanks for all the fish”. According to my handy dandy Virtual Currency Chart the EVE Isk is worth .0000004 of the US dollar. Which is totally incorrect according to Akaidos.


"The going isk rate is really based off the going rate of 60 day Game time cards which cost 32 bucks US. The reason is since CCP sells GTC they have a actual monetary investment in stopping isk sales online. If you buy isk from say ige.com within 2 days CCP will have removed the isk from your account thus everyone just sells GTC and thats why the "gold seller" price is so low. Currently the GTC are about 700million isk.
700,000,000 / 32 = 21,875,000 not 2.5million but that would actually mean the guy stole MORE Real life money worth so you must have dropped some zeros though simple math mate next time use a calculator. (My compututation were off the Currency Chart Number, check the math. Thanks - Inktomi)
200,000,000,000 / 21,875,000 = $9142 - Akaidos


 $9,000?

      Thanks for all the fish? So for every 700M  EVE Isk buys me one 60 day game card worth $32 USD, what does that really mean? It means that Xabier stole a whopping $9000.00 in USD. And that means he's playing EVE free for the next 31.5 years. YAY!

 

 

 Now wait, I’m not discounting player efforts and what I have read about EVE, money is not easily made. Often by mining that takes a very long time, in certain star systems it can also be very dangerous. People have been known to fall asleep mining only to wake up with their ship destroyed. So the ISK has some value ingame, nevertheless 80 or 200 billion is still a lot of money to active players. Although I read in certain articles that the ISK can fetch much higher values, how does that work? Is the VCC accurate?

But to become a virtual criminal for $9000.00? Just To lose all those relationships, playtime, your account and to live forever in the hearts and minds of all MMORPG players as a total loser, it doesn’t seem worth it. Most likely he’s got it scurried away somewhere, which is a tactic used by many white-collar criminals. Case in point was last years Wall Street Scandal involving Bernard Madoff that made off with over $60 Billion in investors money. And he is going to rot in jail for the rest of his life for it, but what is the downside for players that commit virtual crime?

  Not the first time…

                 That EVE players have been rocked by white-collar crime such as ponzi schemes and theft. August 2006, one of the largest online scams in history took place when “Cally” stole over 700 Billion in ISK that according to Ars Technica can be worth $170,000.00 USD. I am a little confused on how that can happen. Is that according to the trading value of the ISK compared to the USD at the time? I don’t have any data going back that far to compare. I suggest reading “A Deadly Dollar” by Jim Rossignol.

Don’t trust a Guiding Hand.

               2005, we read about a band of mercenaries infiltrating a Alliance and robbing them of over $16,500. The Guiding Hand Social Club took a year to plot and plan the downfall of Ubiqua Seraph. Taking a year to fulfill this “assassination” contract out, placing agents at every level within the target corp. “Istvaan Shogaatsu” Someone should hire the guy who masterminded this all, that takes time and patience. Those are skills that would be invaluable at certain levels of government. These were a list of materials stolen from Mirial:

  - Modulated Deep Core Miner II BPO

  - Covert Ops Cloak II BPO
- Armageddon BPO
- Prophecy BPO
- Malediction BPO
- Arkonor Crystal II BPO
- Scordite Crystal II BPO
- Numerous lesser tech II BPOs
 - A few billion ISK in minerals.
- 717 million taken from corporate wallet.
- Two billion taken under the guise of a loan from the executor.
 Our net gain from this massive heist is roughly estimated at over 20 billion ISK. -  Shogaatsu

 Whats that all worth in real life? 

Above, Istvaan Shogaastu

 BoB, spelled backwards.

  The Spy Game has been a longtime profitable “ingame job” in EVEspace for years. We all know of the famous GoonSwarm takeover of Band of Brothers soveriegnity space. The leader of the Mittani in his interview with Nick Breckon of Gameshack quotes on the metagame intailed in spyops, “Communication becomes a game in itself. "I'd get 20+ [reports] a day and, at one point, had 35 separate Trillian windows open," he explains. "AIM for Americans mostly, MSN for the Euros, and ICQ for the Russians."

                This hit could of partly be caused by the fact that Band Of Brother’s was once help out by dev’s from EVE Online themselves. Which was a pretty big scandal back in 2007, reported from kotaku.com. “The concern is that Band of Brothers (and possibly other large alliances) have received ill-gotten assistance from the Developers or GMs in the form of blueprints, ships, etc...People care about rampant cheating by those whose job it is to STOP cheating. By conveniently ignoring this issue, you are only reinforcing the belief that CCP has something to hide.”

 

 

 I am not criticizing EVE or the players, I am going to look at the developers and the GM’s of EVE that do not have a system in place to govern players or protect people from this type of behavior. At least investors have the SEC and the NASD to look over the shoulders of Wall Street, without them Wall Street would be a very bad place. Even with laws, people do still commit heavy duty financial crimes.

I was reading an excerpt from the book Virtual law By Benjamin Tyson Duranske and in one article he states that “real world financial institutions can guarantee some or all of the virtual world applications.” Is CCP responsible for the loss of players funds? I’m sure they have plenty of laws in the EULA protecting them from lawsuits from characters from what happens ingame. But where does that leave you? The player in the Wildest of all Wild West Shows in Space, is it caveat emptor or buyer beware, with the explanation of don’t “QQ” EVE is a hardcore PVP game.

 

                In my opinion, if EVE went RMT but kept the player driven economy, offer a realtime bank with fees and some financial safety then new players might be more comfortable with starting a new game that is as dangerous as EVE puts off to be. Look, I don’t mind being on either sides of the PVP coin, I can appreciate a good pirate every now and then, corporate or otherwise. But to put my trust a banking system and innocently be ripped off, it’s happened in real life for years. No thanks, I’m not going to tolerate it in my funtime.

 

Play safe,

~Ink


 

Inktomi on Inktomi

Posted by Inktomi Thursday June 11 2009 at 2:37AM
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 It’s 1:43 am and I’m having a bit of trouble getting to sleep. It’s been a long day so far and I have a big day tomorrow. I am just writing to write myself to sleep, plus to vent some frustrations and maybe add a little transparency to myself so please bear with me.

My name?

Inktomi, was a very successful but failed internet search engine company in California. It was also the breakout stock of my stockbrokerage career back in the 90’s. It is also the name of a God in the Lakota Indian folklore, spelled Iktomi, the spider trickster God of the Lakota Indians. He is also depicted as Anansi in the Book American Gods and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Two books I would suggest to read, a lot of fun and Gaiman is an awesome author. I liked Anansi’s personality, funny, sarcastic and practical; he pulled no punches and got things done, his way.

I am not a bug, my name is Frank, and I keep my last name anonymous for business reasons. I worked on Wall Street from 1995 until 2008 when the good ole economy took my firm (they closed down) and my game store business. I’m not going to get sentimental, it happened and I moved on. I decided to return to school, after having much criticism by my friends and family I decided to leave the brokerage career. Meanwhile I re-immersed myself in games  and have reserves that I use while working on the side at a friend’s shop; I am also a college student who is studying the social sciences leaning toward journalism, sociology, economics, technology and popular culture. I write from the standpoint of a poor college student, it keeps me humble.

On Wall Street.

Funny to think about it but I’m studying the same skills that I used as a broker which came in handy, heck I built my career around watching trends, research and staying ahead of the learning curve. Not easy, and if you want to know what Wall Street is like. Go pvp for 8 hours straight in any battleground, it’s tiring after awhile. That’s why I decided to take a break, and after stepping out of the fishbowl; and to see how dirty the water was made me hesitate to jump back in.

On gaming.

I worked for Funcoland for 3 years as a store manager before stumbling into wall st. I had a great time, made some money and was my first glimpse of the economic power of fun. I liked watching people’s faces light up when they picked up the game that they’ve been waiting for months, and was there for them when they sold it back to me. “This game sucks, why did make me buy it?” they would ask me. I never had an answer; I always felt sheepish and referred to Game Informer magazine like they really were an honest publication. They are rubbish, imo.

The business of games.

During my “adult” career some friends and I opened a real life game store. We specialized in card, board and pen and paper RPG’s. We did well for a few years, however the local ny and world economy sent us into a tailspin and we had to close. In the meantime I met with a lot of gamers face to face, got to know their habits, outlooks, lifestyle and their families. This one father took me aside and told me, “Frank, you are doing something good here. You give these kids that don’t fit in anywhere else a place to fit in.” I’ll never forget the look of appreciation and admiration in that mans eyes. Now I’m getting sentimental.

Why I am so possessed/obsessed/driven by the gaming market? This paragraph is dedicated to Beau Turkey.

Honestly, I can’t tell you. But I will tell you what I feel about the industry; it is going to grow exponentially over the years. The tech is going to enable you to immerse yourself fully into any world you can imagine. And it will all come at a price that we all will be willing to pay. And I'm looking for my niched, since my adult life enables me to see things from the economic side, the social side and sometimes, through the eyes of a little boy that can’t behold the wonder that these companies create.I figure I'll make a carreer out of it.

Over the years I have made some very wealthy people wealthier through investing in technology and VIDEO GAME COMPANIES. I can tell you I have had some serious conversations about video games. When big money is on the line, things that are often laughed off and scoffed get real serious, real quick. Through my writing for MMORPG.Com I get to explore sides of my own, the adult and the boy, I take both seriously. 

I also want to bring a better consumer awareness to a place ridden with half-hearted opinions and jaded attitudes. My blogging is not about me at all, it’s about you: the consumer, the gamer, hardcore  pvp player when the wife is out and the parent that is going to GameStop YET AGAIN for their child.

I write about the business of fun, which is fun for me to write. If it’s not fun, then it’s work and at work someone usually pays you. If I could get paid for what I write while having fun, then I might be set for life.

Ok, I’m getting tired. Mission Acomplished.

Goodnite and play safe,

Frank

Dungeons and Dragons Online is going free to play.

Posted by Inktomi Tuesday June 9 2009 at 7:59PM
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Dun...dun...dunnnn....

Update!

Indepth interview with Fernando Piaz, Executive Producer of the DDO Unlimited project posted on Industrygamers.com. Fernando says Turbine is not scheming to get subscriptions from people, full article HERE.


"What we'd say is try it!" responded Fernando. "Of course, there's a point in time where every player will ask, 'Will I pay for the next level sigil or content or do I quest to get it for free?' As they play they get favor points, which nets them store points. If people want to get all of the content without paying, they can; this isn't about backdooring into getting a subscription."

"We have a running joke in the marketing department betting how long before someone goes from level one to 20 without spending a dime (my money's on 34 days, by the way)," said Mersky. "This is not a scheme to get subscriptions; we think we make some of the best online worlds on the planet and we want people to enjoy them. If you look at the whole entertainment industry, it's going to a more flexible model, whether you're buying just one song off an album or recording something on DVR to watch on your own schedule.

"We go to a lot of these conventions and there has been talking about free-to-play OR subscription. And we say, 'Why do you have to choose one over the other?' That's where our model now sets the tone."

"That's where we see us making waves, showing that you can have top tier content in a free-to-play model," added Fernando.

We've always felt that sanctioned virtual item trade in MMOs has been a missed opportunity, considering that it happens anyway and the proprietor of the game doesn't see a dime. Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited will not have such trading, and Fernando noted that high level items weren't for sale in order to maintain "balance."

"We've made convenience items available, and it's reflected in what we have in the store; the endgame is not buyable in the store. The things in the store are rudimentary like a +1 sword, which might work in a pinch, but you're probably not going to use it at level eight, let alone level 20."

- courtesy industrygamers.com


Turbine announced today that is is switching over it's established franchise MMO Dungeons and Dragons Online to Free to play status. The new game will be called Dungeons & Dragons Online™: Eberron Unlimited™ (DDO Unlimited) 

After reading the gamasutra article and the DDO website announcement I can bring you a couple of points about the changeover. 

1) There will be a cash shop, driven by players using "Turbine Points" which is the currency bought with your cash, through paypal, credit card and POS cards coming soon.

While the best gear can still only be found by adventuring in-game, the store offers a bevy of convenience items, in addition to premium adventure packs, extra character slots, hirelings, potions, unique character customization, and much more than this page will allow us to list! - courtesy Turbine/hasbro/wizards of the coast.

2) There will also be DDO ViP's.( for $14.99 a month)

DDO VIPs are players who want unlimited access to all of the content DDO has to offer. This newly optional subscription program also allows its gamers to enjoy a number of other exclusive benefits, such as a monthly grant of Turbine Points, priority access to servers, the ability to play all classes and races, additional character slots, a shared bank slot, and much more. The cost of becoming a DDO VIP is only $14.99 per month - courtesy Turbine/hasbro/wizards of the coast.

Monthly subscribers, now called VIPs, will receive 500 Turbine points per month - Warcy.com

3) There will be gear sold in the cash shop.

Gear is available for gamers who would like to improve some aspect of their in-game experience right away.- courtesy Turbine/hasbro/wizards of the coast.

4) There will be a cap on content that is unlockable from the Turbine Store.

Frankly, that all depends on what kind of gamer you are. Free content is widely available for low-level characters and becomes sparser as a character's level increases. However, additional premium adventure packs are available for purchase through the DDO Store. Once the adventure pack has been added to your account, it will be permanently available to all your characters. - courtesy Turbine/hasbro/wizards of the coast.

5) But they are adding content to the game.

Brand New Content & Features - DDO Unlimited will deliver a new class, increase the level cap, introduce new adventure packs including a new 12 player raid, major combat improvements and more! - courtesy Turbine/hasbro/wizards of the coast.

6) This is on the heels of the NWN MMO announcement from Atari, formally a Bioware franchise, now solely Atari's new project. Cryptic Studios could be possibly involved with the game, as per Variety.com weblog.

Details about the project are unavailable, naturally, as it is an unannounced title. But this reportedly was the primary reason Atari was interested in acquiring Cryptic late last year. (The developer is currently working on “Champions Online” and “Star Trek Online”.)

They are also expanding the level cap to 20 and adding many new features, such as hirelings, template characters, new raid dungeons etc. Which could be the kick in the pants that the game needs to survive over the long term. I also dug out an old review that was recently updated by a member of MMORPG.COM, Stephanie Morrow.

Her final words on the game," Give it a try for yourself if you have not yet with one of the free 10 day trials, and perhaps you'll find the game is for you after all."

I have no opinion on the game since I've never played it. However, reading recent articles from Aihoshi on RMT being inevitable. You can clearly see that an experienced company like Turbine is following a trend that is not going to end soon. This announcement is on the heels of a recent price slashing of the core softwareand the monthly fee  for their extremely popular Lord of the Rings Online.

Could Turbine be one of the many companies to start taking their MMO's to RMT or just responding to the "new economy?" Is this an experiment or the shape of things to come?

Only time will tell.

Play Safe,

~Ink

 

 

 

Aion, Last Impressions.

Posted by Inktomi Monday June 8 2009 at 3:20AM
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 This was taken in the last few seconds of the beta in Elyos Square where everyone came for a dance/wing/duel party. Thank you to Cake, you weren't a lie. 

      I really can't get any more thankful than I already am. It was a blast this weekend and I feel that it was just a glimpse of whats to come. What made this more fun was the people, the community was great and eneryone was really cool. As far as the game is concerened, we just scratched the surface with content and mechanics. This game is polished! I feel that NCSoft learned from everyone elses mistakes, yet they are bound to make their own, they hit almost all of the stops. They had every element that I liked from other games and even some new ones. 

     I don't think giving details on what I thought was good and bad about the game would really do it justice. And yes, there were things about the game that I did not like, but weren't breakers for me.  This is something that if you haven't played, you need to try out for yourself. If you have and love it or hate it that's your choice. I would of liked to hit cap this weekend, however I had some RL social stuff going on, buddys bday and theirs a new woman in my life. So I did as much as I could with the time I had, and it was enough to make a buyer out of me. 

Again, I want to thank MMORPG.com, you really came through.

All the best,

Frank

RMT, P2P and Gamer's Code of Ethics.

Posted by Inktomi Friday June 5 2009 at 2:57PM
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   Hey everyone, tha is just a bad joke. Beta starts in 5 minutes.

   I just wanted to write some stuff before the Beta started, I am excited and have been online most of the day. With the weather conditions here being like that of England, it isn't hard to stay in a day or to. Anyway, I was out running errands and while stopping by my friendly neighborhood starbucks I overheard a convesation between two people. One mentioned a "code of ethics", I think they were businesswomen of some sort, and attractive.

ANYWAY... it rang in my head and I compared it to the recent problem of RMT vs P2P games, how it differs and why players like it/dislike it.

In my opinion, I feel that it all adds up to ethics and cultural diversity. Correct me if I am wrong, the average MMORPG player feels that if you do not get into a game and earn every piece of armor and equipment, weapons, spells, mount and trinket by "playing the game" that it imbalances the game, you didn't "earn" it. Hacking isn't cool, especially when you are on the wrong side of the hack, and people that use exploits should be banned immediately.

That is a code of ethics, an unwritten rule or set of values imposed by the community. The GM's might ENFORCE the rules, but we impose them on other players. 

Ok, now take the western civilazation, Capitalists, Individialists and competitors. We demand an level playing field, simple rules and very cut and dry examples of pass/fail. We want to be rewarded for our efforts at every step. That is alot of the reason wow became most popular MMO, becuase it constantly rewarded the player.

On the other hand, the eastern community is also capitalist, however relies greatly on group functions and sense of community. They rely greatly on accomplishments and would rather the group be rewarded than the idividual. And of course that spurs competition and the like. But it still varies greatly from the western philosophy, it always has and probalbly always will be.

The bottom line is that parts of RMT or the idea of RMT has a beneficial effect for the easterners and that's fine. It could be that they bring RL accomplishment into the VR worlds, if you can't pay for it then you should work harder at your job. That is just a quick theory, I may be wrong. If someone can add or clarify please, would be great.

But on the other side of the world, we don't want our RL to seep into VR, we just want to pay our flat fee (pass/fail) play a game and be let our efforst ingame decide our fate.

I am going to elaborate more on this in the future, I need to do more research on the east/west attitudes towards gaming and I'll get more.

But for now, it's all about Aion!

Play Safe,

~Ink

The Final Fantasy Effect.

Posted by Inktomi Thursday June 4 2009 at 5:48PM
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    Hey everyone!

I hope everyone has enjoyed this E3 week so far, it's been fun to sit, watch from a distance and read all the announcements coming from the other side of the U.S.

I was especially surprised when I read about the new FFIV Online game that (allegedly) is going to be PS3 exclusive and also for the PC. Being a longtime Final Fantasy Fan and also a FFXI veteran I feel it is my duty to play this game. I've read alot of posts about 4GET AION FFIV WOOHOO! This doesn't change my strategy, I'm not easily thrown off of my course because someone puts an oasis in the distance.  Then it occured to me...

How the hell am I going to play all these games? Worse off, how the hell am I going to pay for all these games and if they are "exclusive" titles, means I have to buy the console and AHhhHHhHHhH!

How much is this going to cost me?

So I broke out the calculator and added it up.

$3,170.00

Or $265.00 a month spread out over a year, that's a small car payment.

I could break it down but I'll just sum it up to the cost of 3 consoles, extra peripherals, software (games), xbox live gametime, monthly subscription to the 3 (only 3) MMO's and expansions plus tax. This is not taking into the effect of the time I'm going to be spent playing, reason being this is only a hobby and noone takes off work to play video games. Right? ... Hello? ...  Am I alone here?

The good part is that that number is spread over the course of a year, starting from today, this weekend I'll be on the Aion Beta (THANK YOU MMORPG!) which is free and monday starts my Vangaurd subscription.

FFIV will be played, no doubt about that, but I also realize that there is alot of games I want to experience and will let you in on a few.

1) Champions Online: $60.00 and I'm going to give Bill Roper one last good 'ole college try. It gets a 3 month sub off the bat.

2) Aion: Will it be the wow-killer? No, but will keep Team Blizz on it's toes. $60 + 3 Month Sub.

3) Dragon Age, Origins. Don't want to hear it, it's going to be that good. $60.00

4) Assassin's Creed 2: Big fan of 1, $50.00 - $60.00

5) Jumpgate Evolution: Looks fun, but will have to blow me away at the beta.

6) Insert either Diablo 3, Starcraft 2 or dream game here. It depends on what get's released first. 60 bucks.

          So, just from now til the end of the year I'm dumping roughly $400.00 into my "hobby" and in the world of hobbies that really isn't that much. But what about the people that these games are originally aimed at, the 7- 17 year old that is still in school, without a high paying job and an allowance. Well, the obvious answer is the parents, right? Now as a parent, I am just saying...I bought the xbox AND the ps3, my daughter got her wii so we could balance it out that she didn't get a resentment to her brother. I bought them every game he wanted that came out AND I pay for his wow card every month. 

          "For that money, I could be driving that ( insert dream car or boat here ) and be they'll be happy with one game like I was when I was a kid", a good father would grumble to himself as he rides the train into his 9 to 5 job in the city. Noone said having kids was easy, but what about dad's hobbies, do they go to the wayside?

          Seeing this recent flood of interesting titles has the gamer in me, the little boy that eyes lit up when I unwrapped my Atari 2600, jumping for joy. However, as an adult that has to plan, balance his checkbook, pay bills and budget it all out, I cringe and wince.

          This is where the Gamer Society comes in, where we need not sloppy opinions fast to bash or preening "fanboisms" that just want to people please. We need a core group of honest players that are going to get on these games and put them through rigorous testing while keeping costs down; writing honest and indepth reviews are important but also keep the economic sence to it. Finding the best deals and ways to cut costs for the working parent, the recent college graduate and the budget gamer all in mind.

Is anyone with me, any ideas? Thoughts, hopes or vomits? Or am I alone here again?

Talk to me,

~Ink

Sandbox: what it really means. (To me)

Posted by Inktomi Wednesday June 3 2009 at 1:21AM
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 First off I would like to thank MMORPG for our Aion Weekend Beta Keys! This is going to be a great experience for all of us to get a first taste of the game that we all have been raving and ragging about. I’m looking forward to actually playing with some of the people that I see on the site, playing with some old friends that will be there and our new “sandbox.”

A box full of sand ... sounds fun.

   Lately the term sandbox has become a catchword in the MMOG community as a way to describe an open virtual world. Some of us, namely the editor of the site Jon Wood feels that it is misused and isn’t a correct term to describe an open world game. I agreed with his theory until today when I turned a page in my sociology textbook in college. And yes, I take summer classes, I want to graduate sooner. This paragraph I found made the term sandbox fit perfectly as a MMOG description: The book is called “City Scenes” by J. John Palen

A new “function”

               A sandbox us a place where adults park their children in order to converse, play or work with a minimum of interference. The adults, having found a distraction for the children, can get on with the serious things of life. There is some reward for the children in all of this. The sandbox is given to them as their own turf. Occasionally, fresh sand or toys are put in the sandbox, along with an implicit admonition that these things are furnished to minimize the level of noise and nuisance. If the children do become noisy and distract their parents, fresh toys may be brought. If the occupants choose up sides and start bashing each other over the head, the adults come running, smack the juniors more or less indiscriminately, calm things down, and then, perhaps in an act of semi contrition, bring fresh sand and fresh toys, pat the occupants on the head and disappear once again into their adult involvements and pursuits. - Palen

I was floored.

               I had to read it three times, to make sure that it really meant to me what I thought it did. I urge you all to do the same, then move on so I can make comparisons that you can identify with. The adults in this scenario are of course the game companies and their staff of forum, pr and online game managers. They are responsible for running the show and create the box, the sand and the toys. 

 

We, the gamer society, are the children here. We come to the sandbox and play with others while the adults are busy creating a better sandbox, more toys and refining the sand (we hope). As the community complains about the sand or the toys the adults grudgingly try to fix the sandbox as best as possible, and if we are all good hopefully we get some new toys and a bigger box. 

 

 

 

Crocadilly tears.

               However, the adults cannot just run to every crying child and not that they should, because if you know children, you know how prone they are to break down in crocodile tears. They are busy at work, the serious business of making money and we are taking our playtime as serious as we can. Everything is fine as long as we are playing nice and not beating each other over the head. If we don’t play nice or start breaking the toys, or messing up the sand so that other members leave the box that brings quick reaction from the adults. They can’t have certain people chasing all the other children away, and then they will not be able to keep such a large box going. It better be a fun sandbox, because the children are very fussy and are quick to tell others not to play. Even if they are still sitting in it; Isn’t that funny?

               Now, reading this entirely, do you think the term still applies? I think it applies more than ever, but my last question on the subject is, would you rather pay for a sandbox, the sand and get all the toys included or would you rather get free sand, free box and pay for the toys? It all counts on how many people that actually come and play with us; the more the merrier the adults say as they work on improving the existing box and create better ones.

Play safe and hope to see you in Aion,

~Ink

 

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