Archive for June, 2012

Free to Play?

Posted: 2012/06/26 by Nick in Ranting
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In the grown-up world, we have a concept known as Risk.  Governments, businesses, and individuals should, if they’re smart, understand Risk and how to assess a risk, mitigate it or avoid it, or at least understand the cost if you have to take the hit.  Back when I was a Project Manager, Risk was my bread and butter.  No matter how much you plan things out, you still need to have  a Plan B for when (not if) something goes sideways on you.  So, I’d have a plan for if the network guy got re-prioritized, or a key developer got sick.  Governments do the same thing.  I guarantee you that somewhere in a desk in the Pentagon or Langley, there’s a document outlining a plan to invade England, just in case.  They’ll never admit it, and it’s unlikely to be used, but if it’s ever necessary it’s good to know someone has put a little thought into it.

So, someone did an interview with one of the BioWare staff.  During this interview, the designer said something and people are taking this to mean that SW:ToR is going Free to Play and the doomsayers are saying dooms, and the forum trolls are trolling, and the podcasters are going blind trying to read the tealeaves.

Let me break this down for you.  BW is a business.  They will do what they can to maximize profits.  If they can make more money on the game by going F2P, they will.  The question is, where is that breakpoint?  The current subscription model brings in (monthly) X revenue for Y cost, yielding profit X-Y=Z.  Going to F2P will bring about a one-time cost,W, to convert the game, servers, etc to support the model (not trivial, by the way.  Just ask the DCUO guys).  I don’t know the amortization period of a game,  so I’m just going ignore that for now.  After converting to F2P, their revenue goes to X2 and the cost is Y2, so the monthly profit is X2-Y2=Z2.  So, there is a breakpoint where Z2 > Z  (adjusted for the Amortized W) and it becomes more profitable to go to F2P.  So, they have a plan for this, just in case.  They’d be crazy not to.  The fact that someone admitted to this plan’s existence is hardly worth the drama that’s going on.


With 1.3 coming down the pike, and the servers humming with new life, I thought it would be fun to start a new toon.  After seconds of soul-searching, I settled on rolling another smuggler.  I have a smuggler, Shekky, but I created that gunslinger to run with my funny little hunny, and since she hasn’t been playing much, the character is pretty idle.  So, She’Quii, the son of Sh’Eckee and Elara was born.

The problem is that I’m pretty tired of the planetary storylines.  So, after finishing Ord Mantell and Coruscant, I have limited myself to levelling in Warzones, Space Missions and Class Quests.  If I ever get the uninterrupted time, I’ll also do some flashpoints.  To keep things fresh, this guy’s a Scoundrel, and uses the Scrapper tree.

So far, it’s going surprisingly well.  You don’t level quite as quickly as you would if you maddogged quests, but I hate Taris and was very pleased to fast-forward past the place.  Space Missions are always fun, and I’m finding PvP as a Scrapper is a hoot.

The scrapper in general is an entirely different animal from the Gunslinger.  It’s an entirely different style of play.  Whereas a Gunny will want to get in cover and plink away at folks, a Scrapper wants to get a backshot and then throw away the gun and punch his victim to death.  It’s actually quite amusing, and in PvP it catches people by surprise.

Oh, the other good thing about this levelling strategy is that you _never_ run out of rested XP.  I’m not sure, however, how gear will work out.  There are defined bands of PVP gear and the lockboxes are pretty useless.  Usually I get Strength or Willpower gear, so they are not a viable strategy for gear.  I think I might have to rely on Flashpoint drops, which is fine by me.  Once 1.3 hits, the LFG tool should make getting groups easy.  The XP boosts for different game modes will be interesting, too.

Anyhow, I’ll post an update as I see how well this works.

Easy as Pi

Posted: 2012/06/15 by Nick in Uncategorized

And now, a brief message about the character transfers…

I have toons spread out across 3 servers.  My Republic toons were on Krayt Dragon, and my Imperial toons were on Bergeren Colony and Telos Restoration Project.  This week, BW offered me free rides off of KD and TRP, and is consolidating other servers to Bergeren Colony.  I know there’s a lot of worry out there about the transfers, so I thought I’d post my experience with the process.

The TRP toon, a Level 25 Warrior, moved right over.  Took all of a minute to do the move.  No guild, no legacy on this guy, so it was quite simple.

The KD toons were just as easy.  Fortunately, my guild, Covenant of the Phoenix, had officers on to handle ginvites, and all my names and legacy came across as easy as can be.  Literally, the transfer process took about 5 minutes.

After logging into the new server (you have to reset the server screen after the transfers, it doesn’t automatically update), I logged into each toon and had to re-do my chat setup, activate the correct UI layout and join chat channels.  Friends lists got cleared, but there’s no way to do anything about that.  Setting up my chat screens and channels took the most work, but still, I got everything done in under an hour.

Before moving, be sure to retrieve any items from the GTN and clean out your mailbox because these won’t follow you to the new server.  If your character or legacy name(s) are in use, you’ll need to rename yourself, but since nobody in their right mind names all their toons “Shekky” or some variant thereof, I had no problems at all.

So, my experience was very positive.  All my guys are now happily on servers with lively communities being built, people to sell to, and lots of fun to be had.  I give BW high marks for this one.

For those of you fretting about the move, I say do it.  If you’re part of a guild, make sure you have a plan.  CotP has a VERY organized officer corps, and they made the move very smooth on our members.

If you’re still worried, consider this.  BW is consolidating servers because nothing destroys an MMO better than the perception that you don’t have other people to play with.  With a player base spread out over more than two hundred servers, there were a lot of folks for whom this was the case.  I know that on TRP, Sh’Quii was often the only character on the fleet.  That’s not a happy situation to be in.

Furthermore, consider that this is a server merge.  They are giving you the illusion of choice, but if you don’t move, you will quickly find yourself alone in the galaxy.  There will come a point where you simply run out of things to do as a solo player, and they will probably close your server down.  Take my advice and make the move.

People bemoan the lack of “Open-World PvP”, but I never get a straight answer when I ask, “What is it?”  About the closest I get is some nostalgic talk about the Tarren Mill/Southshore battles that used to take place in WoW.  Apparently, these were fun.  Since most of the times I had the opportunity to see this “epic fun battle” I was leveling a toon through the zone and was easy fodder for pretty much everyone with  a red name over their head, I humbly disagree.  At best, my quest-givers were all dead when I hit town and I had to wait around for them to respawn, at worst, I’d find myself flagged somehow and ended up sitting in a graveyard for a the rest of the evening.

In short, my experience with Open-World PvP was not exactly positive.  I’m pretty sure when folks say, “I want Open-World PvP,” what they really mean is, “I want to roll around ganking lowbies until someone logs onto their main and gives me someone to fight.”  This is essentially griefing, and I realize that if there is no other way to get PvP, this might be all you have.  But, if you have other avenues, is this really necessary?  SWTOR launched with 3 and is soon to have 5 Warzones.  What’s the problem?  You can get a fight just about any time you want, server balance issues aside.  I know Ilum was a bust, but you can go their now and hunt people who are going after armaments.  You can go to Outlaw’s Den and go after people hunting chests.  There may not be a lot of people there, but there won’t be any until the PvP folks start going there… Is it that folks are afraid of a free fight?

So, am I wrong?  It could be I’m missing the point, but I think there are plenty of PvP options, other than you don’t get to grief lowbies.  I consider that a good thing.  Do you define Open-World PvP differently?

For my part, if you want a PvP fix, go get some in Mount&Blade.