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February 10, 2009

Comments

Jason

Apparently you didn't get the memo this morning.

F2P games suck and you must be a fool for thinking otherwise.

*cough*

Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

Alysianah aka Saylah

Nope, not cool enough for that memo and apparently, I'm becoming a martian in my gaming tastes. :-) But that's okay I'm having fun in the games I'm choosing to play.

Jason

If we ever get Episode 78 released (real life ftl), you'll hear how crappy of a time I had in Wizard 101. What a crapity crapcrap of a game that is.

Sure, I spent a good 3 nights straight playing it nonstop, but that's besides the point. I can only believe what the rest of the blog-o-sphere tells me.

I'll make sure you get a copy of that memo as well as the one about those TPS reports you keep screwing up.

*cough*

Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

Sente

I am very much on the same page here - I am happy to pay for convenience so that I can rather enjoy the time playing than spending much time grinding to get some kind tool or resource that is not really an achievement. I never understood why getting a horse (or some other mount) in some fantasy MMOs would require 30-40 levels and some large amount of in-game cash to obtain.

It is a simple horse, a transport, every farmer would have one!

Obtaining a horse in Runes of Magic was a quite simple choice really.

I am interested if you have any more details on the xp and tp boost from the furniture. I only have a few items in my standard room and I am frankly not sure when and how I would get a boost from it.

Alysianah aka Saylah

@Jason - I'm going to laugh my ass off and can't wait to hear it. Oh the shit they're going to give you over playing W101. Initially, I didn't post that I was playing. It felt like going to see a Disney animation alone - no kids or boyfriend! That duck yer head and hope no one notices kinda fun.

@Sente - They need to do more work on translating that game. I swear the adjectives are damn confusing and they switch 'em on ya. Later in the week I'll try to write something that speaks to that specifically. Honestly, if I stopped farting around I'd be in my 20s by now. But bumping around doing nonsense in between leveling is what I do. I'm enjoying having a game in which I can do that again. I did it some in W101 but there's not as much opportunity for as I'm finding in ROM.

Alysianah aka Saylah

@Sente - In the meantime you should go and download the mod ExtendedXP. This will let you see the gain and how much it's contributing to your leveling.

I have pictures, research, examples and what-not ready for a post on macros, mods and customizing the ROM UI but I haven't had time to write it yet.

If you use Curse Gaming it's on there but I'm not a fan of downloading clients just to perform download so I used the Euro forums which have the real heavy hitters for modding already at work on things for ROM. http://forum.runesofmagic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=78

Tesh

*bookmarks*

I might just have to try this ROM thing out. If I can ever make the time. Giving players choices is a theme that I keep harping on whenever appropriate, so it's nice to see some devs getting it.

Alysianah aka Saylah

I think for anyone professionally or personally invested in MMO design should take a peak. Sure there are the incentives to spend real money but the flexibility in character progression/customization is very interesting.

Tesh

*ow*
Stop twisting my arm! I'm still in Krokotopia, for crying out loud! ;)

Alysianah aka Saylah

LOL - It's not going anywhere. It's not even releasing until mid March. There's plenty of time to check it out. Copying or not, they really have nailed several of the core UI elements and brought in features that we've been getting via mods. Blizzard started doing the same thing and I think it's a good move, while leaving plenty left for the modding community.

I would also like the level of stat customization I have in ROM in other games. Their motivation of course were finding ways to get you to spend a dollar here and two dollars there. However, in doing so, they've introduced massive amounts of class customization, tweaking and twinking. Someone needs to now copy them and roll these features into a subscription model game.

Longasc

You do not need this "tool" called horse. But you want it.

I am against money for ingame items. It starts out with little things, and soon you pay for this, that, everything. It is not a good idea.

This does not mean that it must be impossible for people to gain a horse without extreme grind... I do not like that either. But buying it for real money? Jesus, no.

Tesh

You don't need to play the game, either, but you want to. Either way, you're paying for something you want.

Paying in pieces as opposed to a sub just means you have more control over how you're paying and for what.

Tesh

Saylah, your blog ate my comment again.

Long, the need/want dichotomy is a false dilemma. You don't need to play the game, you want to. You just pay for it with a sub (buffet model) vs. paying for the stuff you actually consume (a la carte model). That's the point; offer consumers choices rather than railroad everyone into the same business model.

Alysianah aka Saylah

@Long - I'm with Tesh, I'd rather decide for myself. If you don't want to use cash you don't have to use it. Similarly, some players actually considered the 5K gold grind for epic mounts an achievement they valued. There's no need to force us all down the same track. It's impossible to please us all. You choose your track and I'll choose mine.

I'm not worried about defending this model because I think more games are going to go in this direction. I'm just glad to see games I'd be willing to play offer me these options. Much like any gaming genre people who don't like these options won't play these games.

In the one-size-must-fit-all-world of gaming, people who never raid for whatever reason still have their subscription dollars going to fund content they will NEVER EVER SEE. Their game play is often impacted and offset by game features they're not interested consuming.

I think you fear is unfounded. W101 is a perfect example. It's not a little this and a little that. There's a standard list of things that can be purchased with cash and that's it. They don't try to nickle-n-dime you along the way. There's no huge long term advantage to the cash purchases and almost all of the items are also purchasable with in game gold. I see no problems here or cause for fear or concern. I believe the real issue is that players who prefer and can afford to have access based on sweat-equity, would of course, prefer to remain in the top tier - top of the heap. :-)

Alysianah aka Saylah

P.S. @Long - you clearly haven't played WOW if you claim a mount is "wanted" and not "required". TBC introduced areas that are ONLY ACCESSIBLE VIA THAT FLYING MOUNT. Now when they decided to do that I had the choice of not participating or accessing content in an expansion I'd paid for and dropping a profession I'd held and leveled since day one(tailoring), simply because the devs decided to make a flying mount required to access areas. I didn't make that choice they did. And they also set the cost of these items that cause the gold grinding and gold buying.

That along with other gold sinks were really the tipping point for me and mine. Daily Quests because the grind had high end raiding guilds publicly admitting to buying gold to offset the grind. Daily Quests = homework = 2nd job = chores = not paying for that kind of gaming experience. I made my choice with my credit card and unsubscribed. I personally held two WOW accounts. Kids got bored with it too and another 3 accounts were unsubscribed.

So as I said on Tesh's blog. Devs get to make their choices and as a consumer, I'm now making mine. I'm not grinding dumb shit just 'cuz. It's not fun. It's not gaming. It's not RPG. I want to decide what's more important to me - not anyone else, just me. I'm not the type of person that purchases one-size-fits-all. It just took me much longer in my gaming life to insist on more singularity in choices too.

Longasc

I am pretty sure you can afford the flying mount. It is more that you WANT the epic mount, isn't it.

Longasc

Forgive me, I am lazy today - but I think you can demand a more elaborate answer.

I totally agree that daily quests can become a boring daily chore if you do it for money or just to raise faction on a daily basis.

I also unsubscribed, for several more reasons. I do not like the whole EQ levelling system in general, I prefer the style of Ultima Online.

But paying selectively for content like for paying for different pieces of a buffet just scares me.

How far do you want to go? Just set up things so that they do not become a daily or mandatory grind, make it based on luck and moderate the luck issue with something like the tokens handed out in raids.

But make content buyable? Special Sword, maybe only available through the store? How far do you want to go? Place coin slots at every entrance/next level exit of a dungeon?

I suggest playing a game that does not demand excessive grind. Or is just plain boring with the same stuff to do every day, WoW is not really that grindy anymore, so much I have to admit, even if I dislike the game.

The classic model is that you buy access to content.

The new model cannot be that you buy content and do not have to play to get it. This is what buying items is all about. The other issue is areas, dungeons, zones, whatever. Would it not be odd to buy them, instead of buying the full package?

Can you slice the World of Whatever into tiny pieces that you can buy at your leisure? For example, only buy the tropical areas as you do not like the "antarctica" snow content?

Singularity of choices boils down to buy what you want.

Play the game and just get what you want, and if you have to super silly things to get it, forget about the game.

I really wanted my Necromancer to become a "god walking amongst mere mortals" in Guild Wars, but the last few achievements were pure silly grind, and I just had to stop playing.

OK, this is more an achievement than content... not really a good example.

I just wonder that you would want to invest money in a game where acquiring the thing you want is intrinsically boring.

Tesh

"The new model cannot be that you buy content and do not have to play to get it."

Wait, whut? I buy pieces of the game that I want to play with. It's that simple. If I don't want to play with it, I don't pay for it. I *want* dungeons in something like WoW to be individually monetized, so that if I don't want to go there, I don't have to pay for it.

I'm not sure what you're getting at there.

"Would it not be odd to buy them, instead of buying the full package?

Can you slice the World of Whatever into tiny pieces that you can buy at your leisure? For example, only buy the tropical areas as you do not like the "antarctica" snow content?"

Actually, that's exactly what Wizard 101's Access Passes do, and it's brilliant. I can buy perpetual access to pieces of the world, effectively micro "Guild Wars" purchases, in a very granular way. They got $30 from me that Blizzard will never see under the sub model.

"I just wonder that you would want to invest money in a game where acquiring the thing you want is intrinsically boring."

This is very diagnostic, Longasc. I don't buy games to *get things*. I buy games (or pieces of games) to *play them*. That's the essence of what Saylah is arguing when she says that a horse is a tool. That's exactly what it is; a tool to enable someone to play the game. I've said before that I'd buy the "old world" of WoW if it were sold as a standalone bit of software, because I want to play in that content.

The reason I'm giving companies money isn't to have the most elite of loot, it's so that I can *play the game*. It's a very different philosophy from the typical WoW loot-crazy lemming. When you divorce the loot treadmill from the monetization model, wonderful things happen.

Alysianah aka Saylah

@Long - Nope, I must have good content and options. And I know it's possible because I have it in W101. You can play forever at no cost in the first world or you can subscribe and access the other worlds. You can choose to purchase gear with in-game gold, wait for random drops or buy it with in-game gold. Each player is making their own chooses and this has worked perfectly for me.

I want it all if I'm going to hand over money: compelling content, less grind, options for obtaining gear and RMT conveniences.

And no, at the time there were no dailies and I couldn't afford the flying mount for a while so I was just shit out of luck completing tailoring and accessing certain quest areas.

Alysianah aka Saylah

I'm with Tesh and my posts will explain, I'm paying to play - consume content. I don't measure my success or achievements by the items I collect. They are tools and I'm only willing to put a certain amount of energy into acquiring tools. I like fluff items. I get a kick out of vanity items. I'm much more likely to grind for something fluff than a weapon or armor. I want to have adventures. I don't include farming the sword of whatever inside the same instance a dozen times doing content. Give me a quest chain instead where I need to accomplish the content once for the reward. The other version is BS smoke and mirrors designed to stretch content. I dont want to pay them to allow me to grind the same stuff so they can stretch content. Nah, not doin' it. I'd buy it for $5 and be on my way.

Alysianah aka Saylah

Another point... The reason why RMT works in EVE Online via the Time Cards and in W101 via Crowns is that they're not games where gear is greater than all. As such, how you acquired your gear/equipment is fairly irrelevant. If you don't have the skills and the strategy to play the game, it's all for naught. Players talk about wanting games where the player has to show-up to make a difference - skill and strategy. However, too many are tied to the item-lust to really let go of that model. Item-lust supports the treadmill. Randomness and sweat-equity support the treadmill.

They could just as well design quests/instances where completing one occurrence successfully grants the reward and you NEVER have to go back unless you want to go back. But a lot more content would have to be provided to support that model. This is all tied into the same thing. I don't want the treadmill. Preferably I want to do content once. Multiple times for grins only, my main objective being to move on to the next adventure.

I'd be fine paying a sub and no RMT if there is no grind/repetition of content. However, if there is that's fine since many people are okay with that model. I want the option of choosing not to grind for a mount, a decent set of armor, a weapon or whatever. Just let me get what I need to be on my way. And no, you can't solo in crap unless you find rez'g in the nearest graveyard fun. Yes, I'd spend $15 to stop walking at level one and that's exactly what I did in Runes of Magic.

Now who does that choice hurt? No one that I can see. Others can grind for the in-game gold version or daily quest rewards versions. Why would it matter to anyone else if I, and others like me, decided that $15 bucks was a small price to pay to be more efficient day one at level 1?

Longasc

OK, so it is not about gear/items, but more about content in ... what form, that you can get through buying it.

I am just re-reading your article, btw! :)

But basically you just said, you want the option to spent either time ("farming") or money ("buying/RMT") on an item. The keyword being CHOICE.

Hum... why not. But where do you set the limit?

Basically, the developer could offer you everything, the most precious stuff costing so much that not many people would buy it, but rather try to get it ingame.

Can you not imagine the social effect if you BOUGHT your gear and then meet Knight Longasc in not so shiny armor, who spent time ingame to get it?

Now imagine this supposed Knight Longasc spewing hatred due to gear-envy on the unsuspecting Lady Saylah! :)

Guild Wars tried to be grind-free, but the most shiniest gear and achievements, that are not really *needed* to play the game actually demand extensive monotonous grind.

Somehow we do not get rid of the grind, unfortunately.

While I am in general in the purist boat that nobody should buy anything ingame for money and would be willing to shell out my monthly subscription fee, for the sake of the discussion I will assume that we have a MMO where you have the choice to buy stuff/content or playing to get it.

I smell intense social tension, envy, hatred, and even some people quitting because they feel betrayed if people can buy everything they "worked their ass off" for. Not that silly grind would be something admirable, but I hope you get my point.

I suggest a model where getting the basic must-haves does not cost you much time.

Guild Wars comes to mind, only fancy gear costs lots of gold and thus time.

Equipping Heroes is subject of debate, as you can just give them what you find or if you equip them with full runes and maximum stat gear, and not only that, but fancy weapons of your choice.

But besides that, no need to buy gold for basic needs.

Would you like that? No need to shell out real money. I suggest you try Guild Wars, I have played it for years, longer than WoW and almost as long as Ultima Online. GW2 has been announced and not much happens in GW1 anymore, but I think it is still worth it.

Bottom Line, I still dislike the thought that the armorer does not ask me for 1000 gold but for 2 $/EUR or something like that if I want a new armor.

Longasc

OK, so it is not about gear/items, but more about content in ... what form, that you can get through buying it.

I am just re-reading your article, btw! :)

But basically you just said, you want the option to spent either time ("farming") or money ("buying/RMT") on an item. The keyword being CHOICE.

Hum... why not. But where do you set the limit?

Basically, the developer could offer you everything, the most precious stuff costing so much that not many people would buy it, but rather try to get it ingame.

Can you not imagine the social effect if you BOUGHT your gear and then meet Knight Longasc in not so shiny armor, who spent time ingame to get it?

Now imagine this supposed Knight Longasc spewing hatred due to gear-envy on the unsuspecting Lady Saylah! :)

Guild Wars tried to be grind-free, but the most shiniest gear and achievements, that are not really *needed* to play the game actually demand extensive monotonous grind.

Somehow we do not get rid of the grind, unfortunately.

While I am in general in the purist boat that nobody should buy anything ingame for money and would be willing to shell out my monthly subscription fee, for the sake of the discussion I will assume that we have a MMO where you have the choice to buy stuff/content or playing to get it.

I smell intense social tension, envy, hatred, and even some people quitting because they feel betrayed if people can buy everything they "worked their ass off" for. Not that silly grind would be something admirable, but I hope you get my point.

I suggest a model where getting the basic must-haves does not cost you much time.

Guild Wars comes to mind, only fancy gear costs lots of gold and thus time.

Equipping Heroes is subject of debate, as you can just give them what you find or if you equip them with full runes and maximum stat gear, and not only that, but fancy weapons of your choice.

But besides that, no need to buy gold for basic needs.

Would you like that? No need to shell out real money. I suggest you try Guild Wars, I have played it for years, longer than WoW and almost as long as Ultima Online. GW2 has been announced and not much happens in GW1 anymore, but I think it is still worth it.

Bottom Line, I still dislike the thought that the armorer does not ask me for 1000 gold but for 2 $/EUR or something like that if I want a new armor.

Tesh

Long, that armorer asks for *either*; that's the point.

And yes, there can be social trouble, but only from those who are tied to the loot lust sub grind paradigm rather than those who just play the game. That's not the entire market, and again, that's the point. Players who want these sort of options are not being served by Blizzard, Mythic or Turbine. Sub nuts still have their WoW, and if they don't like something else, they don't have to play.

ROM won't take WoW's lunch money, but they can be profitable by offering something that WoW doesn't.

Alysianah aka Saylah

Sure, I'd sub to a game without the need for massive grinds and no RMT. It's just that right now what I see is either or, so I've decided for the "or" side of the bargain is all.

GW was much too static for me but I'm hoping that GW2 is GW + more open world MMO that is less grind focused. I hope that NCSoft is still able to pull GW2 out of their hat.

In truth, I did expect some rage or disapproval when I first purchased items in W101 and posted about it. It felt like cheating initially but it freed me to just play in such a profound way, that I wanted to share how it changed my mind and put it out there for others to debate. It was the first time in a long time where I was playing only to see the content. And since all the obligatory grinding was gone, I got to make selective choices to grind vanity items - rare drop no combat pets and cool looking clothes. :-) I really felt freed by having made that choice in the face of the alternatives that exist.

That said, I did realize that KI would have a problem with replay-ability. You do content once and move on so how to you keep players around? You must churn out content quickly, at least faster than the Blizzard pace and they are doing that. A new xpac released a few weeks back and another is slated for this summer. They make excellent re-use of content. I can tell that a lot of things are just re-skinned and maps are common in a zone. However, they add special theme and flavor that distracts from it and keeps you focused on completing the content.

Ultimately, of course I'd pay a sub without RMT if a game that didn't have flagrant abuse of content re-use via grinding.

Tesh

You *can* replay through content in W101 by playing as a different school (or even with a different build, blasted respec absence)... but that's neither here nor there in the comparison between business models, since you can do the same sort of alt action in WoW. (They do have different starting zones there, but once out of the noob areas, it's repeat, repeat, repeat.)

W101 really needs some "keeplayable" elements if it wants to build a community and sense of world. As it is, it's just a thoroughly fun multiplayer game that you play through and maybe revisit for kicks. No crafting or economic subgame means little reason to just putter around for a lot of people.

I love the game, but that's one of its long-term shortcomings (an odd phrase, looking at it); it's pretty tied to content generation for retention, even with canny reskinning. It looks like ROM may have those "alternate activities", or at least, more than W101.

Alysianah aka Saylah

Supposedly player housing is coming. I'm not sure how well that will work if they're concerned about children being lured into private spaces. Maybe restricted accts can't have or access these things. You're dead on about the lack of puttering activity. There's no reason to log into W101 unless you're going to level.

As much as I'd like to see the content from a different class, I already have a blend of 3 and am only interested in one other. Completing the content is a bit too intense for me to even thinking of rolling any alt anytime soon.

Jwalk

I absolutely love how everyone throws the word "grind" around, when they don't actually understand the meaning of it. Let me clue you in on something, its the playerbase that makes the content "grindy". Of course if you want to play a purchase-everything game thats on you, but throwing around the word "grind" because you don't have the time commitment, or attention span to play a game that gives you a sense of "prestige" is just silly.

Alysianah aka Saylah

@Jwalk - so you're the authority on the word grind? You sound like only what YOU consider to be a grind is in fact a grind that there is no sense of subjectivity to the word. WRONG. It's like using the word "like", "love", "hate". What constitutes those words is subjective to the person using the word and as much as you'd like to own the definition of grind, fortunately for the world at large, you don't.

And who cares about prestige? I'm playing to have fun. Besides which, clearly these games better hope people spend some money right otherwise they'd be out of business wouldn't they? You don't think they develop and run these games out of the goodness of their hearts now do ya?

My point still remains - if I'm going to spend $15 a month, I just as soon decide on what I value for that $15 versus the blank check subscription. It's all real money so don't kid yourself.

Dave D

A problem though is not many games will be foresighted enough to balance sweat, gold, and money equity. Most will just designed the game to subtly force the players to spend real money and deny them any real choice.

That's because f2p have very little economic incentive to make the free experience good beyond the starter or restricted levels. They want long-term users to be spending money, and you can't do that if its possible to grind your way instead.

I do agree that if they could balance it, it would be an excellent system. But if they balance it too well, people won't pay for things, but play for them instead. Too poorly, and non-RMT assisted play is worthless.

Alysianah aka Saylah

@Dave - Yep, I totally agree that balance is the key for them to achieve a wider audience. There are players for whom RMT is the payment style like in Asia. From what I've read they think nothing of it like we think nothing of paying subscriptions.

For games that are fine with only one audience or the other there will be little incentive to do it better. I do think however, that if one game succeeds and by example shows that they can reach a wider audience, others will make a more concerted effort because they are businesses and all want more market share.

Wizard101 is a small game by comparison to other MMOs yet they've achieved a nice mix. What we don't know and I'm not sure we ever will is what is the mix in player spend - subscribed, playing free, buying with gold vs. buy crowns (RMT).

Ravisher

Would be nice to ACTUALLY see an average calculation on how for instance RoM plays out if one only buys the necessities (such as a mount) and avoids playing for "accelerated" xp and whatnot which we usually call cheating in other games. If a game is too much of grinding it´s something wrong with the mechanics and one should fix this rather than adding an "accelerate" function, especially a "paid for one". RMT is an easy way to lure in the kids who does not see the actual montly cost of their gaming - better with a fair (lower than today) upfront cost, as well as a lower monthly fee.

Saylah

@Ravisher - Can't agree with you on accelerated XP being a cheat when many of the MMOs now have those options. Blizzard has their buddy program for boosting XP across linked accounts. EQ2 has been handing out XP boosting potions to veteran players FOR YEARS. They've also recently added them for cash purchase in their newly launched item shop. I believe COV/COH also has a buddy XP boosting program. This isn't anything new. That's a misconception.

RMT can't lure in children to play and then bait and switch them into spending real money since children don't have access to credit cards. The parent would have to execute the purchase for them. And if the parent isn't monitoring the purchases then it's not really the game's problem. :-) Besides which this isn't a game for kids. They won't fare as easily in ROM as they would in WOW. There's a bit more strategy and tactical decision making in ROM than what you'd encounter at the same level in something like WOW.

What RMT does is let me decide what I see as a convenience and worth a small payment to have, versus what you consider a convenience. Why should one definition rule over another? I'm happy making my own choices while others make their own. I have a post coming up in a couple of days that lays out exactly what I spend each month. Without taking advantage of any sales on diamonds and RMT items. It's less than a WOW subscription. When I take advantage of sales is WAY less. In my opinion, it's all win.

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