Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

Open World PvP and the Psychology of a Carebear

 

uologo

Note:¬†This isn’t an article meant to argue there shouldn’t be open world PvP, or that PvPers are bad people. ūüėČ

ArcheAge has opened up a can in the MMO community, being the spark of many PvP/Anti-PvP conversations. This seems to be because there are a number of folks who want the kind of sandbox AA¬†is, but they don’t want the PvP that comes with the sand. I completely understand this, because I¬†am in the same camp. I don’t, however, let that sully my fun and prevent me from taking part¬†in the AA experience.

I¬†openly state that I’m an anti open world PvP player. I wear my carebear cloak without shame. I don’t live by the creed “Red is Dead,” and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to engage in battle with reds who creep into the East over the past week. But I won’t.

That’s always just the way it’s been for me. But I never really questioned why until I read the article at Gaming ConjectureWhat’s So Bad About Open World PvP?

I decided to write a bit about the experiences and psychology that go into creating a player who doesn’t enjoy open world PvP.

The Defense

This article states that there’s really no substantial loss to being killed in AA open world PVP. Well, nothing but your pride.

…Getting killed in a PvP encounter in Archeage offers no consequences for the loser unless they are on a trade run, in which case you lose your trade pack and the resources involved in obtaining that, and losing a boat to pirates whilst sailing effectively amounts to a repair bill.¬† This is in stark contrast to a game like Eve where every defeat means a lost ship and flying home in your pod.

The article¬†ArcheAge ‚Äď PvE After Level 30 on Endgame Viable¬†¬†echoes this sentiment.

Let me reiterate that unless you’re carrying a trade pack, there is absolutely no reason to fear death in ArcheAge. Particularly a PvP death, because you lose no experience or even health. All you have to do is run back to where you died. Or run somewhere else. Exactly the same as if a PvE mob killed you.

Now, neither of these statements make me want to rush out there and start spraying the blood of the  enemy faction all over the place. But they do speak the truth Рthe risk of loss when PKed in AA is low, especially compared to other PVP oriented games.

The Question

Gaming Conjecture takes it a step further and asks the question that nudged me to write this article.

So, what exactly are people worried about with regard to Archeage? Having to walk from the respawn point?

I sometimes feel that what’s partly at play here is a sense that the people who kill you are doing so to spite you in some way. That you are the butt of someone else’s joke. A figure of fun for them. I may be totally off the mark here, but I sense that some seem to think that PvPers who gank people are not nice people, that they are people who are looking to ruin your evening. I genuinely believe that’s very rarely the case.

This got me to thinking about myself and why I’m so anti-PvP. For years, I simply avoided it. Didn’t¬†go into structured PvP ¬†often.¬†Refused to play a game at the first hint of open-world-PVP being a feature. I won’t touch games like Rust and Day Z because… nope.

I stopped to ask myself… why? How did this negative response become a normal reflex?

Some History РUltima Online

I think it’s different for everyone. My aversion to PvP started very early on.

It was somewhere around 1999 Р2000. I was a college student who never knew much about the Internet until then (yes, there was a time without the Internet and MMOs for me!). My sister and I had one computer (which I bought for school purposes *wink* *wink*) and we were just learning about the world of online gaming.

We started with MUDs and then moved into games like Dark Ages and eventually Ultima Online: The Second Age. These were the days before the Renaissance expansion, and it was fully open world PvP. There was never a debate about it¬†— if you wanted to play UO, you dealt with the PvP. That’s just how it was.

Death in UO
Death in UO

PvP had consequences and major loss in UO. When someone killed you, they could rob your warm corpse for everything you had, kick your pet dog around, and use your horse for glue. All the while, you ran around as a frantic ghost looking for a wandering healer to bring you back into the world with only a death shroud to your name.

Yes. Those were the days you went naked into the mines so that if someone ganked you while you were gathering ore, all you’d lose¬†was the ore and a pack horse (if you had one). Yes. That was the game that taught me to fear every visible¬†player character when outside of town and run away from everyone at first sight.

This kept me out of harm’s way. But it also left an emotional mark on me in regards to MMOs. Because I avoided everyone, it¬†kept me from making friends and meaningful connections with other players. It essentially turned me into a solo player from the very beginning¬†of my MMO experience.¬†And being a naturally shy person, it was difficult for me to move beyond this mindset even as games began to evolve.

A little while after, UO split into two worlds – one with open world PvP, and one that protected you from open world PvP. I don’t know if there were already issues with this ruleset even back then to initiate this change. But suddenly, I had a choice! There was a world where gankers paid the price for trying to butt into my sheep sheering time!

That knowledge of choice was powerful. I was no longer forced into a ruleset to simply play the game I wanted to play. And from that day on, I only chose PvE servers or games that allowed you to decide whether someone can come along and beat you up for your lunch money.

Some Psychology

Looking back at the question, there has to be more than just that, I decided. Sure, I had some fearful PvP experiences with my first real MMO. But what else is there that really makes me reject PvP so violently?

Personality, perhaps? I am a slightly competitive person (deep down… shhh….), but at the same time,¬†I’m a perfectionist. I like to do things that I perform decently well at (PvE). Chances are, I wouldn’t be all that great at PVP. So, if¬†I’m going to suck at it and get stressed over it… I’m just not going to do it. It’s not fun for me. I play MMOs for relaxation and enjoyment, not to feel stressed.

Feels Like It...
Feels Like It…

Some people like PvP for the challenge, and that challenge is fun to them. I don’t get the same rush or excitement¬†from it.

In fact, I’d feel terrible¬†about PKing¬†someone in an open world environment if it wasn’t in self defense.

I game by a “Do Unto Others” sort of mentality. I try not to¬†treat folks in a way I wouldn’t want to be treated myself. I don’t want to be ganked while trying to achieve my PvE goals, so I’m not going to do that to someone else. That’s just how I roll.

For instance, in AA… This weekend, I¬†saw a¬†Red player who managed to make it all the way to the starting area in the East so he¬†could purchase a snowlion mount in his color¬†preference. He saw me and shrank back, since I could have attacked¬†him, though he could not strike at me first. I took a step back, letting him know I wasn’t going to ruin his day. All he wanted was a snowlion mount, and he wasn’t bothering anyone. Seeing I wasn’t going to hunt him down, he rushed in, bought his mount and scampered away.

No one needed to die there. What’s the point in that aside from being a griefer?

In Closing

So, that’s what makes a carebear like me tick. Personality and experience both played a part in developing my automatic negative reaction towards the idea of open world PVP.

But I do ask myself if my response is justified.

Do I have the idea¬†that PvPers are all bloodthirsty ganker-trolls that are out there just to get their kicks by victimizing my easy-going questing in danger zones? Yeah. I guess I really do see it that way. Sometimes that really does happen, and those people do exist, even on your own faction in AA. Looking at the overall feel of the¬†AA community, the same-faction killing, and attitudes on forums doesn’t bathe any of this in a more positive light.

Should I change the way I view this? Should I learn to have thicker skin, live with the potential of the risk, and not let it bother me if/when PKing happens? Maybe so.

So far, I’ve been quite content in playing AA the way I have. Sure, it’s inconvenient not to be able to quest in zones unless they are at peace.¬†But like mining naked in UO, it keeps me safe from the risk of being PKed… even if the risk is more perceived than actual loss.

I’d love to hear thoughts from PvPers… maybe even some psychology from your side of the spectrum!¬†

uodeath
*sigh* Time for a corpse run.
Posted in ArcheAge, Bragtoberfest, Gaming, MMORPGs

Bragtoberfest: ArcheAge Thatched Farmhouse Complete!

 

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This is a brag that I’ve had to be very patient to obtain, and is a real and true brag for me. I finished building my thatched farm house in ArcheAge last night!¬†

It took about two solid weeks of gathering and tree farming, including some nights where I broke down and bought the labor point potions. I gathered and processed all the materials for the packs by myself. At 10 stone, 5 iron and 5 lumber packs (about 3K raw stone, 1.5K iron and 1.5K wood logs), it consumed my gameplay and labor almost 100%.

I’m happy that it’s finally done, because that means I might be able to do other things in game now (like fishing).

About the House

The house is small, similar in size to the other small houses, but has a fairly good amount of land to farm around it. On the front is a water barrel that¬†allows you to draw water for your crops without having to run off to the well all the time. Inside, there’s a fireplace that you can interact with and light. When lit, I also had the ability to use Memory Ink to scribe my house’s location in my travel tome, allowing me to port back to my house whenever I need to.

I can open and shut the doors and two windows, which is pretty neat. And, of course, decorate inside.

Applying the last lumber pack to complete the farmhouse.
Applying the last lumber pack to complete the farmhouse.

The Farmer’s Workbench

Between the scarecrow farm and the farmhouse, I have plenty of farming land. I pulled up my small garden and used it to create the Farmer’s Workbench. This¬†isn’t actually a workbench — it reminds me more of the crafting mannequins in size — and must be placed outside the house.

I was pleased to see that the built-in shop allows me to purchase items with vocation badges that I usually find at the¬†Blue Salt vendors –¬†fishing supplies, farming supplies, pet potions, etc. This makes fishing much more convenient for me!

The bad side? My dreams of growing seed bundles for worms was quickly shattered. It seems these bundles require a much higher level of gathering than I have. So it’s going to take a long time before I’ll be seeing any of this.

Future Plans

Seeing that I’m almost broke now, the first thing I need to do is pad my pocket with a bit of gold again, just to feel more comfortable about where I’m sitting. That’s probably going to be through mining – I’m almost to the next proficiency level! Farming will be a thing, helping to work up the gathering skill. I’d like to work up my alchemy over time, too, which is directly tied to farming and mining. And, of course, fishing.

I’ve been neglecting my guilda stars quests, though I have enough for another farmhouse or boat if I want one. Seeing that I can do my sport fishing in freshwater lakes, I may not be in such a rush to secure the fishing boat. It’ll probably be just as difficult and expensive to make as the farmhouse was, to be honest.

Posted in ArcheAge, Bragtoberfest, Gaming, MMORPGs

Bragtoberfest: ArcheAge Executioner

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The Bounty Hunter cloak

I don’t know what it is about ArcheAge. I don’t find anything about the game to be absolutely amazing, yet, I log in each day, work towards my goals, stick around in world longer than I mean to, and usually have fun doing what I’m doing. That’s a good thing, right?

I’m pleased with my progress seeing that I’m playing fairly casual as far as leveling goes. I earned level 41 last night, and am already very close to level 42. Crafting does more than you think to boost experience!

Mining Win

ScreenShot0234I reached my previous goal of earning a rank up in mining. This wasn’t very hard to do as mining pretty much consumes most my time and labor in this game right now. I have two more stone packs to make to finish what I need stone-wise for my farmhouse, then I can move on to iron, which I have in spades.

This is the first skill I raised in proficiency, and I think it’s a pretty neat system. I need to research more on how it works, because I know you’re limited in the number of skills you take to certain levels.

Judge’s Gavel

I continue to serve on jury duty whenever I get the chance. The queues are getting longer and longer, which is a good sign of people slowly making their way into the level 30+ bracket and opening jury duty. After serving in the court 10¬†times, I found a neat little gavel item in my mail. It goes in the weapon slot, but is more cosmetic than anything else, naturally. Just thought it was funny and needed to post a screen of it. ūüôā

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Judge’s Gavel reward

Becoming an Executioner

ScreenShot0265
New Title!

After reaching level 40, I unlocked the quest for the bounty hunter’s cloak. This required me to hunt down two pirates, both whom put up a good, solid fight. A kind spectator assisted me on the first fight, while I died landing the fatal wound to the second pirate, earning my cloak and my first title.

I’ve been wanting a title in ArcheAge as they seem a bit more hard to come by (if you’re not a dungeon runner or founder). “Executioner” isn’t my first choice of titles, but it’ll do for now.

Level 40 Woes and Adventures

While questing and leveling isn’t my first choice in activities at this point, once the LPs run out, I have nothing else to do but quest. Due to mining and crafting, I’ve out-leveled the next questing area, Ynystere, by about 10-12 levels.

I only enter this area when there’s a peace time, as I have no interest in PVP. This does limit my questing time, and when I’m there, I blow through quests as fast as possible, not reading text like I normally would. Kinda sad that I do that, but it’s the cost of trying to play it super safe, I guess.

From time to time, I’d poke my head into Rookborne Basin. This area is on level for me, and seems to be at peace more often than Ynystere for whatever reason. The problem I have with that is that without questing in the lower level area, my gear is so far behind that I have trouble surviving a normal on-level enemy.

Last night, I was able to snag a level 40+ sword and bow, which gets me up to speed on my weapons. But armor was still an issue. When Ynystere turned peaceful¬†(right before bedtime¬†–ugh), I made a beeline there, searching for any quest that would offer me an upgrade to my armor.

Eventually, I had to turn to online guides, which informed me the quest that I wanted for half the armor was located all the way near the end of the zone. Good going.

So I scooped up that, then researched where to find the second half of the armor. I found out it was on the West continent, as it seems leveling in 30+ zones is split between the two continents – something I didn’t know! Thankfully, Halcyona was also in peace time (are the two zones linked, or was I just lucky?). So, I learned how to use the Worldgate, which deposits you on the other side of the world. I targeted the armor quest, got it done, and have a small upgrade, which I hope will be useful.

While armor isn’t a ¬†big deal to me, since I’m more here for the crafting and farming, I’d still like to have an up-to-level set for whatever I need to do.

This was also the first time I moved into areas that work through the tension system. When in peace phase, it’s interesting to run around questing next to reds of the enemy faction. No one can kill each other, so it works like a normal non-PVP zone for about two hours before PVP opens up again. I was a little nervous at first, sharing the same space with reds, but so far, I haven’t had any griefing or bad behavior from them. It seems like everyone is set on getting quests done during peace time.

Looking Forward

I’m getting closer and closer to completing my farmhouse. I’ll be so glad once I place these final two stone packs and I don’t have to use all my labor just to mine. I’ll probably still mine some because it’s good money, but I can turn towards other interests, such as fishing.

I learned that fishing doesn’t quite work the way I thought it did — apparently, the info I was reading was from early alpha, and things have changed since then. I have soooo many vocation badges after working to build this house… they’ll go to good use for buying chum and lures eventually!

My next big brag will be when the farmhouse is done. I’ll let you know about it when it happens!

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Posted in ArcheAge, Bragtoberfest, Gaming, MMORPGs

Bragtoberfest: ArcheAge – Hands Across the Water

 

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In my previous post for Bragtoberfest, I noted that this week’s ultimate goal was to earn the scarecrow farm in ArcheAge. This is a quest that requires you to create a trade pack in your home land and travel across the war-zone ocean into enemy territory to attempt to deliver it. Actually, to complete the quest, you only have to get within a certain radius of the trader NPC. Turning it in is actually a bonus.

Ambivalence

Do Want!
Do Want!

I’ve been putting off this quest for a long time. I don’t have a boat, aside from my personal rowboat, and I knew trying to make the trip on my own in this boat would be difficult at lower levels. I kept going back and forth on whether I wanted to complete this quest at all — once I had my thatched farmhouse built, I’d have farm land, afterall. But building it, especially the lumber packs, was slow going because all I have to farm with is my small garden and public tree farms, which allows only 5 trees at a time.

I am a part of a trade guild, so I mulled the idea of asking for help. But I’m new, and I haven’t provided much to them, so I felt bad to ask them for anything first.

Last night, I finally gathered all the materials I needed for the trade run previous to the scarecrow run, and was making that long, long trek across the East continent. Just as I was coming in for the turn-in, someone in my guild asks if anyone is doing the scarecrow farm turn-in. Much to my delight, a guildie was ready and willing with a clipper to set sail. I piped up and said that I needed the turn-in, too, though I needed time to finish the quest I was on, and craft my next pack.

First Clipper Ride

I have to give props to my guildies in <The Consoritium> (Lucius server). They were quick to group, patient to wait for my arrival to their ship, didn’t make fun of me when I didn’t know how to even board the ship (my first time interacting with one), and were pleasant and supportive the whole ride.

We didn’t encounter pirates or enemy faction in the waters, thankfully. The worst we had was some seabugs, which would have been a challenge for me to solo at my level, should I have decided to do this run by myself. On a clipper, the ride was shorter than I thought it would be. But soloing with a tradepack in a rowboat would have taken sooo long.¬†I was so glad I didn’t attempt it.

There were three of us turning in our packs on the enemy shore. We were nervous as we pulled in, despite having two higher level folks there to protect us. We made it within the radius of the turn-in for the quest completion, then decided to brave the reds for the full turn-in for Guilda Stars.

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I recognized the dock as we pulled up to it, seeing I started on the West side originally. I was about level 8-ish¬†when I reached that point in the West quests. So while we did encounter reds on the docks, most of them were so low leveled, they were probably more afraid of us! We weren’t there to make trouble, though. We got our turn-ins, they kept their distance, and we recalled home without any issues on either side.

Success!

Now, for the next challenge.

Finding a Place to Farm

I confirmed quickly that there was no room near my farmhouse to place my new farm. There were some areas where it was just on block too wide – so, so close to fitting. My next door neighbor’s taxes run out today, but I knew I’d have another week to wait, and no promise I’d be able to snag the lot. So, it was back to searching for a place to put my farm.

Even on the Lucius server, that was becoming a challenge.

On Saturday, when I was searching for a place to put my farmhouse, I ran across the Mahadevi Pumpkin Farm. The land indicated it was for Scarecrow Farms and Thatched Farmhouses, but a bug prevented me from placing my farmhouse. When I ran through it, it had a TON of open land.

Last night? Not so much.

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The pumpkin lights up!

As I ran through the fields, all claimed by farms, I sometimes chaffed at people who weren’t ¬†placing their farms in ways to conserve land and provide the most coverage for everyone. I was ready to give up when I saw it — the perfect spot on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. And to my shock, it had just enough room for my farm!

I was stoked and surprised that such a prime spot was still open. It wasn’t super far from the crafting stations, either. Needless to say, I plunked my farm down there with glee. My goals for AA were slowly becoming a reality!

I had been gathering logs all week, with the idea to save up for the lumber packs I’d need for my farmhouse. I had enough to make the lumber pack for the farm, and decided I’d more than make that up once my farm was built. So I did it, and it’s done. Welcome to my farm plot “Awesomeview”. XD

I was amazed at how many trees I could fit on there. And in between, so many other little plants could thrive. In fact, I held back from farming it all because I need to save LP for mining.

Next goal of Bragtoberfest: Reach 10K mining skill in ArcheAge. I’m getting pretty close!

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Now THIS is what I call a farming location!

 

Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

ArcheAge: Loving Jury Duty

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On Jury Duty in ArcheAge

I got called to Jury Duty and I’m so excited!¬†

Wait… no. I mean in ArcheAge. Not in real life.

ArcheAge Justice System for Criminals

AA has a rudimentary justice system built into the game. If you’ve done something bad (murder, attacking same faction, uprooting, theft) and get reported for it, you earn crime points. After earning so many crime points, after your next death in PvP,¬†you can stand trial.

You will stand before a jury of your peers who will judge you based on your crimes and sentence you accordingly. If you can prove that you are innocent (for whatever reason), the jury may let you off the hook. Or, they can choose your sentence and send you to jail for a certain number of minutes. After you’ve done your time in jail, your record will be cleared of crime points, and you are released upon the world again.

Unlocking Jury Duty

So how does this work for someone on the jury?

I unlocked Jury Duty through a questline, and have served about 4 different times already. I really enjoy the system (even if I don’t think justice is really served), and wanted to explain how it works in detail.

Once you reach level 30, you must have 0 crime and infamy points to have access to the quest that opens Jury Duty. You receieve this from an Honor Point Collector. He will send you to your faction’s courthouse – the Nuian courthouse is in¬†Marianople, and the¬†Haranian is in¬†Austera. I won’t go into the quests because they’re pretty standard.

Serving on the Jury

The Jury Queue
The Jury Queue

Once you unlock the ability to serve on the Jury, you are placed in the jury queue. Yes. Another queue. In the game, this time.

You can see your position in the queue by pressing the “C” button to view your character profile. There, you will see a new stat called Trials Served. Next to that is a Standby box. Mousing over that box will tell you your position in the queue. This counts down over time until you are finally prompted to join the jury for a trial.

This will be a pop-up box. You have so much time to respond to the pop-up before the trial begins. If you don’t respond, or respond too late, you’ll be tossed back into the queue.

Once you respond to the prompt, you are teleported to the courthouse and placed up on the jury platform. Yes, you do get to see the other 4¬†other people in the Jury, as well as the criminal that you’re passing judgement on. The trial is carried out over the trial interface and the Trial chat channel.

The jury has 5 mins to look over the list of crimes. This gives you a record of what crimes were reported, who reported them and the reporter’s comments.

When you’re ready, you can click the Give Verdict button. Once all jury members click that, or time runs out, it will progress to the Plead stage.

The defendant is given one minute to plead the case. They’ve probably already been pleading since the case started.¬†Sometimes, the defendant has good reasons for what they do, such as proving they were killing bots. Sometimes, the goal is for the defendant to charm or amuse the Jury into a lower sentence. Sometimes, I’ve even seen defendants trying to bribe the jury to an innocent verdict. Don’t know how well that works, though.

After the Plead stage, it’s time to judge the criminal. The interface changes, providing five boxes to click. The first is Innocent, while the rest are Guilty, with a range of sentence times. These can be anywhere from 2 minutes to over 100 minutes. I think this varies depending on the number of crime points and reports.

My first case - this guy got 183 mins in jail for all of this!
My first case – this guy got 183 mins in jail for all of this!

For example, the guy above had an option a max of 183 mins in jail. While, someone who threw a few assaults, a few thefts and had a much lower crime point score may only have a max of 13 mins in jail.

I’m not sure if everyone must come to a consensus of Innocent for the defendant to be innocent. That’s happened on on of my trials, though, so it’s not impossible.

Once all the judgments are placed, the Judge NPC announces the sentence. Then, you are transported right back to where you were in the world before the trial began.

Pretty simple! A neat system. A lot of fun!

Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

Another Weekend in ArcheAge

The night view of Arcum Iris.
The night view of Arcum Iris.

Note: I preface by saying I’m not a PvPer. I’m only playing AA for sandboxy reasons.¬†

I dedicated a lot more time to ArcheAge this weekend. I leveled from 19 to 31 on my Lucius kitty during this time, which by-passed my original Tahyang launch character.

This was what I was hoping for...
This was what I was hoping for…

This makes me a little sad, because I’d have loved to stay and play on Tahyang, being that is the RP server and all, but there’s simply no land at all in the safe areas. Not even land for one small scarecrow, much less anything more grand like a farmhouse. The moment I realized that both labor points (LP) and loyalty points are shared across all characters on my account, I have almost quit logging into Tahyang all together. I spent a little while running around in futility, hoping to find some tiny bit of land open for my tiny farm. No luck = return to Lucius.

There’s nothing wrong with Lucius. I just feel that the community aspect of Tahyang is stronger and would have liked to remain there. I’m coming to peace with the fact that it’s going to be a long time before land opens up on the founding servers. Especially since my Lucius kitty is now higher level, far richer and I’ve come to enjoy the Outrider build more than the Blighter.

Having a Plan

So, I spent some time figuring out my overall plan of action for ArcheAge. I’m currently guildless (looking for a guild on Lucius East that fits my style and philosophy), not a PvPer, and eventually, I’d like to fish, and maybe work up to a fishing barge of my own (long term plan).

I set down some stepping stones this weekend that went like this:

  1. Earn 50 Gilda Stars
  2. Buy Thatched Farmhouse
  3. Find somewhere to place the farmhouse
  4. Gather and craft materials to make the farmhouse
  5. Transform the small scarecrow farm into a Farmer’s Workbench
  6. Make my own worms for fishing
  7. Farm and gather materials to keep my fishing rods working
  8. Fish, and in the meantime, work up Gilda Stars for the Fishing Barge (ultimate goal)

That’s an awful lot of hoops to jump through simply to become a fisher. Ah well.

State of the Game

Bots! Bots! Bots!
Bots! Bots! Bots!

I want to note that on Lucius, prices of items such as Worker’s Comp potions and APEX are through the roof now. There’s no little 5-6 gold for a LP potion anymore. They’re pushing closer to 15 gold each, which is not a price I want to pay. APEX was ranging up to 70-80 gold each on the low side. Prices were a bit cheaper on Tahyang, but still more steep than I’d want to pay. This all means that F2P characters are going to have a even harder time reaching that APEX goal, if they can at all.

Bots have become a huge problem. In one of the early level mining areas, I reported over 20 auto-mining bots. They just stand around, defying the AFK timer, and mine a node when it pops. Myself, and other miners in the area, have taken to nudging them off the nodes, hoping to put them out of the reach of their goal. Since there’s collision in the game, a few good shoves with a mount pushes them back and usually does the trick for a little while. Still, it’s a real shame to see, especially since reporting costs 25 LP each time. I reported using the support website… I don’t have that kind of LP to blow.

My Progress

My first goal of the weekend was to earn 50 Gilda Stars so I could purchase my farmhouse. This was slow going because you only earn these as part of the main quest line, which is a linear progression throughout the zones every few levels. Other quests are scattered along the same path to help you work through the zones and level.

By the time I got to level 25, I was fed up with doing all the side quests and just made a straight beeline for the main quest points instead. Luckily, level 25 was enough to face the enemy at the end of this quest line.

I have to ask, is that really the end of the main quests? At level 25ish? I expected something that would carry me through to level cap. However, I do remember them saying that these quests are nothing more than a tutorial, which I can believe.

Anyhow, I had exactly 50 Gilda Stars at the end of it all, and I bought my farmhouse. Two goals down.

Now, comes the fun one… find land to actually put the farm on. I knew one thing for certain — I was not willing to compromise my safety and pleasure by building in war zones. So, my search was on all across the East for a spot large enough for a farmhouse. Seems the areas that are actually marked as areas for farmhouses are bugged. There’s tons of land there just wasting away, with lovely views, much to my frustration.

I searched every area I came across, and slowly my hopes began to fail. The very last area I searched was in Arcum Iris, which is the starting area for the Harani. It’s a desert/savannah type area, and is by far NOT my idea of a place to settle. However, I found a lot of open area in the very last place I looked – south of the Parchsun Settlement.

This was the best I could get.
This was the best I could get.

Not the most visually pleasing place, I understood why it was passed over. But I also knew if I didn’t grab a spot, then I may not get one. So I placed my farm on the eastmost edge of the settlement and began the long, long process of gathering materials to make it. I’m thankful I did place the farmhouse now, because a day or so later, most of the open area in Parchsun has been taken. There’s enough room here and there for small gardens, but very little room (if any) for houses.

The one good thing about this location is that it’s near a quarry. Unlike smaller houses, the Thatched Farmhouse requires 10 Stone Packs, 5 Iron Packs and 5 Lumber Packs. That’s 3,000 units of raw stone and 1,500 units of raw lumber. The iron I’m not worried about.

Now, if this was a normal game, this wouldn’t be a problem beyond just time. But in this game, once your labor points run out, you literally can’t do anything. Seeing to the fact that I’m refusing to pay out the nose for LP potions (aside from what I can buy with loyalty points in a few days), I’m limited by the regen, even with a Patron sub. Then, not only do I need to have LP to mine the nodes, I need more LP to process them into the stone packs.

So yet again, I burned through close to all the LP I had stored up over the week. I’m also trying to save some LP for harvesting the trees I’m going to need by the time I get to the lumber part of the building.

Yes, I do realize that the farmhouse is supposed to be more challenging to build than a normal small house, and I accept that. I also know I should “get a guild” and work with other people on this… but I’m stubborn and want to do it on my own until I find a guild that matches what I’m looking for. Maybe I never will, in which case, I’ll just continue solo on this server.

However,¬†I still feel the pinch of the lack of LPs, even as a paying customer. This is super annoying — there’ll be a point where all I can do is idle AFK to regen the points because I simply can’t do anything else (aside from quests) until I earn more LPs. ¬†Again, this aspect feels like a Facebook style game that requires you to go away a while before you can play again.

I’m not sure if this going to be a game breaker for me in the long run. I do acknowledge that building the Thatched Farmhouse is a labor intensive project, so it may get better once this is completed (if I can).

On the bright side, I also unlocked the ability to serve on a jury last night. But I’ll save that for another post.

I'll leave you with this boat I saw in the harbor...
I’ll leave you with this boat I saw in the harbor…
Posted in ArcheAge, MMORPGs

ArcheAge – F2P is NOT for the Casuals

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Note: This article is aimed towards F2P folks who want to play the sandbox elements of the game, and not for those who are playing to PVP. 

I spent pretty much all weekend playing ArcheAge — mostly afraid to log out due to queues. Also, needing as much labor points as possible. I worked my main up to level 21 and completed several of the trading quests in order to get my donkey (such a loooong quest for a F2P player). I also rolled an alt on one of the new servers to experience life on the East side.

In all of this, I’ve come to one conclusion: If you’re a casual player who has only a few hours to give this game here or there, the F2P model may not be for you. If all you want to do is quest and PvP, you’ll probably be fine. If you’re interested in the sandboxy crafting, gathering, farming, building, fishing, etc… you’re going to have a much more difficult time. This is all due to the labor system.

The Labor System

In AA, everything revolves around the labor system.

Want to open that loot bag? Costs labor.

Want to feed your animals? Costs labor.

Want to harvest your crops? Costs labor.

Want to make and turn in a trade pack? Costs labor.

Want to report that bot? Yeah. That costs labor. (Though I heard you get labor¬†back if it’s a legit report.)

About the only thing that doesn’t cost labor is questing and PvP. But to me, questing is just a way to gain experience while I wait for my labor to regenerate.

How do you get labor? It replenishes over time.

If you’re a Patron (paying player), you earn 10 labor points every 5 mins while you’re logged in, and 5 labor points every 5 mins when you’re logged out.

If you’re F2P… you get nothing when you’re not logged in. You get 5 labor points every 5 mins when you’re logged in.

You can also purchase Worker Compensation potions from the in-game store for real cash, or spend your gold to buy it in the auction house from someone who bought it for real cash. You can only use one of these every 12 hours per character, and this can get really costly over time if you’re income is low (which it may be due to the fact that labor is capped at 2000 points and only replenishes when you’re online).

That part of it left a bad taste in my mouth being obviously Pay to Win, and going against the idea of playing this game for free. Again, it follows the Farmville or mobile app mentality of wait for points to replenish, or pay money not to have to wait.

What does that mean for the causal player?

My new donkey, Zemi. :)
My new donkey, Zemi. ūüôā

If you only have an hour or two to toss at this game, and you’re F2P, you’re not going to have squat when it comes to labor points. I was logged in for as much as I could be over this weekend, because I started to feel the squeeze on my points when I began my trading quests. At first, I didn’t realize how fast it was going. Oh… mining a node? That’s 10 points here or there. Looting a bag? That’s 2 points here or there. Crafting that armor, which is part of a quest… that was 100 points a pop!

At the end of the night, I crafted up my trading pack for my donkey quest… made it all the way to my destination and found out I didn’t have enough points to turn it in! So… all I could do was stand around and wait for them to regen (about 20 mins for me), so I could simply complete a quest. That was frustrating!

I quickly saw how this works. I wanted to craft some hereafter stones so I could warp around rather than spend so much time on the road. Only… that would cost me at least 50¬†points… which is 50¬†mins of waiting. That means I have to travel everywhere by mount, which takes much, much longer. I stopped mining nodes and looting bags because I just didn’t have the extra labor points. I needed to save it for harvesting my crops and animals… and then make sure I have the 60 to make my next trade pack and 60 more for the turn in.

The trade pack alone is 2 hours worth of being logged in.

I decided I wanted to try my hand at fishing. Except, to fish I need worms. You’d think this would be a simple thing, but no. To get worms, you have to process seed packs on the farmer’s workbench. A farmer’s workbench requires you to own land. Can’t own land if you’re F2P. Yes… I could pay the extraorinarly high fee to buy them from the auction house, but I’m hardly making the gold as it is.

So no fishing for me, either! (Each time you cast¬†the rod, that’s 5 labor points, btw…)

This whole labor point system feels like a glorified MMO version of Farmville. Yes. I said it. But it’s the truth.

I’m enjoying the game… but the F2P aspect is crippling to me based on the way I’d like to play it. No land for a personal farm means running all over the continent to use public farms (if they have room), and being limited in how much I can grow. No teleportation means I spend most of my time running around taking care of crops for trade packs and not leveling. Low labor means I’m limited in what I can do unless I try to stay logged in as long as I can. Over the weekdays, that’s not viable for me.

My solution (the only solution I can see): I splurged for a month of Patron status. Yes… yes, I did. I figured if I’m going to play this game and give it a fair shake, I need to not feel crippled by the limitations it places on me with F2P. I’m giving Trion a month to capture me. If I progress and feel like there’s just not much to it later on, then I’ll at least know I tried it out to the fullest.

Queues are still a pain… I’m sitting in one right now after switching from one server to another. But they’re working on getting them under control. They opened new servers (I actually got a garden plot on Lucius!) and they locked down character creation in most of the original servers. We’ll see if Patron status gets me in more quickly or not.

Update on My ArcheAge Progress, And Why I Eventually Left

Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

Trying to ArcheAge

My new AA character
My new AA character

So, ArcheAge launched this week for the F2P folks (like me). You may have known that. Here’s where I try to play this game… try being the key word.

What’s My Number?

You’ve probably heard the stories of long, frustrating server queues. They are not an exaggeration. I’m trying to play ArcheAge, but it’s been difficult enough just to get on a server, much less make progress here.

On launch night, I waited in a 2 hour queue… which wasn’t terrible, I suppose. Not good, either. I came home last night to log in, thinking the 2 hour queue would be lessened by the slowing of the first day rush. Nope.

Last night, I faced a 6 hour queue. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a 6 hour queue at any launch… ever. I spent more time doing webcomic art and playing Sims 4 than I did playing AA due to that. And when I did get in, I only had half an hour to play before I needed to hit bed.

6 Hour Queue
This = 6 Hour Queue

I’m not writing this to complain about it (I realize I choose to sit in a 6 hour queue), but more to warn folks… this is the state of the game. And, so far, I’m not seeing any signs that new servers are being released¬†to fix this issue. They did update servers to increase max capacity by 20%. We’ll see how this works tonight.

In fact, the community rep on the forums responded to a player by saying folks with Patron status are only seeing wait times of 60 to 120 mins on the most populous servers at peak time. As if that’s pretty acceptable. And those are the folks who paid to have a faster queue.

When I Could Play…

So I rolled a new character (Aywren) on the Tahyang sever, West faction on Tuesday night. Having a shorter queue then, I was actually able to get some stuff done. I chose Tahyang because I heard that was the unofficial RP server, and I’ve learned that when I don’t roll on the RP sever, I usually regret it later (like in GW2).

Got my horse back!
Got my horse back!

I spent most the time on Tuesday speed-running the content that I finished during beta so that I could get to something new that I hadn’t done. I was able to do this easily, and was level 11 before the first night was done. So, now I’m working through content that’s completely new to me — glad that I held some back for launch.

I also spent a long time agonizing over what skill combinations to play. I knew I wanted to try melee DPS, but wanted something that would work for a solo player. I ended up going with Blighter¬†(hate the name), due to the ability to DPS along with the hope that invisibility will help get me out of tight spots later in the game (such as unwanted PVP). I’m open to tweaking this later, since I don’t know how comfortable I am playing rouge-like characters. For now, I just wanted to end my search for a class… because there are so many choices that it’s maddening.

I also joined a large, growing guild, who seemed to have the same gaming temperament as I do. As a F2P player, I’m hoping I might get to experience farming and such with the help of the guild — I know there’s already guild plots in world for us to use if needed. I also wanted to offer my time and skills to bettering something in the game, and joining a larger guild seems like a good move.

I managed to get my guild invite last night, so now I’m set up for gaming this weekend. Hope that the queues will be kinder and actually give me some time in world to flesh out my experience and help me decide if this is going to be an on-going game for me.

Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

ArcheAge Beta: First Impressions

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ArcheAge is the one game that I’ve been keeping an eye on this year. I love sandbox MMOs, and I don’t mind themepark MMOs, so a combination sounded like something that I’d have a good time with. I wasn’t, however, going to plunk down cash for a Founder’s Pack just because… well…¬†there’s no way I’m spending that kind of money on beta access to a handful of events for a game that’ll eventually be free to play.

Luckily, I got an invitation to join Beta 3 for free. All thoughts of Founder’s Pack prices aside, here’s my first experience with ArcheAge.

Starting Out: Character Customization

My ArcheAge Nuian
My ArcheAge Nuian

I played for about 2 and a half hours last night, because technical difficulties left me sitting at the Connecting… screen for about 45 mins before I could get in. Whatever was going on, they fixed it, and I was able to get into character creation.

Folks who prefer uber-realism may dismiss the style as somewhat anime. It does have a Korean feel, but I found the semi-realistic-anime style appealing. This game and the characters are attractive and fluid to me. Your mileage may vary.

You can choose from four different races at character creation. There’s an adequate number of customization options, though some seem subtle to me. At first, I thought I was going to roll a cat-person¬†Firran, but I couldn’t make a character that didn’t look odd to me. The combination of fur on their back and unfurred skin on the face and neck kinda wierded me out… not to mention the females’ heads seem to connect to their necks in an awkward way. They have very cool racial kitty mounts, though!

I eventually just rolled a Nuian, which is what passes as a normal human, I assume.

Once that’s complete, you choose from one of six primary skillsets. I went with Battlerage. I don’t know a lot about how skills work yet, aside from assigning skill points every so often, but there seem to be builds in this game, which is exciting to me — it reminds me very slightly of Guild Wars 1 in that aspect!

archeage skills

Story, Quests and Environment

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Sample ArcheAge Cutscene

Once you’re done with character creation, you’re instantly thrown into an intro movie that tells you a (somewhat muddled) story of your race’s history in the world. These in-game cutscenes remind me of the painted Guild Wars 2 intros¬†— you know,¬†the ones with the static-yet-moving pictures. It seems most of the main storyline uses this kind of cutscene art. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s obviously not as dynamic as full cutscenes. Of course, the main storyline appears to be mostly about telling the story of the past (so far) and how it connects to your character in this new world the people have escaped to.

The main story itself is nothing amazing (yet), though I give the team an E for good effort. I’m interested in the mystery it’s trying to provide, even if it’s not the smoothest tale I’ve ever seen unfold. For a sandbox, it provides¬†more story than some themepark games have, and it attempts to make your character the center of the tale… unlike some other games (*cough*GW2*cough).

In that way, it reminds me a bit of FFXIV — it even has an intro movie that flashes between action and a supposed emotional departure of the people from their previous world. This fully-rendered movie is well animated, but it just lacked… something… It¬†didn’t quite tug at my heartstrings the way FFXI and FFXIV’s intro movies always do. In fact, though it was pretty, it seemed rather confused at the story it was trying to tell. I get the jist of it, but it’s just… muddled.

The localization is well done. Though it’s missing the personality¬†and quirks of GW2 and FFXIV, the translation is strong and clean compared to some¬†of the F2P translation-imports we get. The writing in this beta is miles ahead of something like… Dragon’s Prophet (even after the game’s final “release” in English).

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ArcheAge Quest Interface

Quests are given in the basic¬†“!” over the head style. Talking to NPCs launches a similar interface to games like Neverwinter and ESO — minus the voice overs. I don’t know if voice acting is coming for quests or not, but this method was acceptable to me.

I did like that the quest interface allowed you to just just to grab the quest quickly and not need to click-click-click if you didn’t want to read all the text. Of course, I read it all (like I always do), but it was nice for those who don’t, or those who are just rolling an alt and want to get through quickly. I also like the addition of a “Back” button for dialogue, just in case you missed something or accidentally clicked ahead!

Like GW2 cutscenes, different characters will pop in and out of the quest interaction screen if more than one needs to talk to you. I also liked that you can see other characters running around the quest giver, often blurred in the background. It makes it a bit jumbled, though, if there are people with mounts standing in front of you.

Using Arrows for Quest Indicators
Using Arrows as Quest Indicators

Accepted quests are placed in a quest journal. You also see them marked on your mini map (optional) and little arrows on the ground point the way to your objective (also optional). I really like the arrow style of quest tracking. It doesn’t get as confusing as following a sparkling trail, that sometimes gets lost in routing, etc.

The environments were beautiful and impressive. Everything, including the NPCs and creatures, felt organic. Sometimes, when you walk past NPCs, they have talk-bubble conversations. Though they aren’t voiced-over, they do add to the feeling that NPCs are going about their daily lives.

The music is hit and miss in this game. Some of it sounds perfectly lovely and fitting for the environment. Some of it just makes me wince — way too quirky and anime sounding.

Overall, I really liked the open-world feel to the game, even if the questing was obviously a bit generic and on-rails. This didn’t bother me, though, as I found myself leveling quite quickly — I was level 8 without trying very hard by the end of the night.

I also find myself disappointed at¬†bedtime (work comes early), as I wanted to continue my journies! This isn’t an I’m-totally-addicted feeling, but rather a gentle interest in this world and the mechanics here. I never got that feeling when I tried ESO and WildStar — perhaps they were just trying too hard… or perhaps I’m just too oldskool. ūüôā

Combat

Combat is your normal¬†tab-targeting. I only played a melee character, so I can’t talk much about casters and their experience. This wasn’t another one of the action-based combat systems that seem to be so popular lately. I don’t remember ever being rooted to the ground to attack — but most of my skills are instantly launched and close range. I read that magic users¬†are rooted when casting, however — may need to try one out.

It’s all pretty standard. I didn’t see any telegraphs or dodging, and that’s actually fine with me. I think combat is more centered on the classes you choose and the combination of skills you choose. Again, that points back to games like Guild Wars 1, which I can totally get behind.

I won’t be able to test this until I get to level 10 to really unlock the multi-class system. Looking forward to seeing how that works.

Mounts and Boats… Oh My!

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OMG SO CUTE!

ArcheAge knows what ¬†you want and doesn’t wait to give it to you! I got my first mount from a quest at level 6. I was dumbfounded by this. When I logged out last night, at level 8, I’m currently on a quest that gives you your own row boat to use!

Okay. I need to stop for a moment to talk about this mount quest. This was the most adorable mount quest I’ve ever done. Where ArcheAge may not always be brimming with personality, it sure knows how to make me beam¬†with delight.

It started with a quest to take a foal from the quest giver to the stablehand. I agreed, thinking I’d be leading a foal along on a halter or something. Nope! Foal in a barrel on my BACK! Have you ever seen anything so implausable adorable?

So I carry him over to the stablehand where he suggests that maybe I want a foal of my own to raise. At this point, I was going, “I DOOOOOOO!”

I was given the choice of foal colors — there are adult horses nearby so you can see what they look like. Then I was given all the instructions needed to care for my foal, bond with it, and watch it grow.

I was astounded by this. It actually did grow! I fed it, washed it, danced with it. And while this happened over an acceleratedly quick period of time (I assume this is Intros to Mounts 101), I still delighted in every moment of it.

I can’t say enough good things about the horses in this game. I don’t know that I’ve seen a game that does horses better! They are so fluid, life-like and beautiful. I was totally taken in and spent way too much time riding, rearing and enjoying my new mount.

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Look at him! Equine perfection!

Not only can you ride your mount, but your mount can follow along behind you and gain experience as you fight enemies. You can name them, and they have their own health bar and stats. I haven’t explored everything with my mount, but I can tell they can have their own equipment, and possibly an inventory as well.

Overall Thoughts

I haven’t gotten to the real sandbox part¬†yet – I heard those come further on in – but I like the way this game plays and feels.¬†ArcheAge isn’t perfect, but it’s the first beta¬†of 2014 that’s made me look forward to logging in again. I’m almost loathe to keep playing beta, as it’ll only spoil things for me — but I’d love to try out that hanglider!

I just have worries about it being so PVP-centric in the upper levels. I’m a carebear who will really just want to be there to build stuff, craft, raise animals, grow crops and such. I suppose the fact that it’ll be F2P is a big reason that I’ll be checking this out on launch, even if I do worry about the PVP elements.

I’ll update more as I progress through beta!

Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

ArcheAge and my Thoughts on Founders Packs

Update: See my first impressions of ArcheAge Beta Event 3 here!

 

archeageopenbetaI haven’t been following the progress on ArcheAge until just recently. It seems to be a sandboxy themepark blend that just released its founders packs last night. From what I’ve seen and read, this is a game I’d be interested in trying out — far more than ESO or WildStar. It looks graphically amazing, has tons of promised features, and will be free to play at launch.¬†While it does have some open PVP elements, as long as that’s balanced and not a total gankfest, the game has my interest.

What doesn’t have my interest? The cost of their founders packs.

Thoughts on Founders Packs

I’m on the fence about founders packs. I understand their purpose — to secure some Kickstarter-like funding during alpha and beta while “rewarding” the most interested players with early access to a game. At least, I think that’s what it’s supposed to be about.

But when I look over and see an alpha pricetag of $149.99… I just whistle through my teeth (if I could whistle through my teeth).

Call me cheap, but I’ll drop $10 – $20 on Kickstarters for games that have promise and a passionate team. Just about all my gaming friends have plunked down $15 for the Starbound beta, and some of them have put more time into that game than this year’s biggest MMOs!

I even dropped $50 on the Landmark alpha pack, and that’s not something I regret. It’s been rewarding to watch the game as it evolves over time!

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Landmark Founders Packs

That¬†was a different story, however.¬†Landmark offered a $20 option for beta. Even lacking other goodies, it’s an affordable option for someone dedicated to testing, supporting a game, and exploring the game’s secrets.¬†SOE also offered a money-back guarantee if you didn’t like the game.¬†This was the thing that tipped me over from “maybe” to “okay, I’m in.”

But where do gamers draw the line? 

When the cheapest founders packs are $49.99, I have to slowly back away. Sure, you get some in-game cash, a cool glider, 30-day patron status, and a neat title. Maybe all this adds up to something worth $50?

The problem is, I can’t really judge its worth since I’ve not stepped foot in the game and tried it for myself.¬†And if I don’t like it? Is that really a risk I want to take with my money?

Also… Why do they even ask you to sign up for beta if they’re just going to sell seats to it? It’s not like you can compete with the number of founder folks who are promised a spot.

Learning from Betas

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This game made me sad.

I’ve learned something important about MMO gaming this year. Actually, I learned it last year, when I put forward support for the Dragon’s Prophet alpha and beta, and walked away burned for time and some¬†cash.

What did I learn? Not every big-name MMO is going to be something I like and need to play. Gone are the days when I rode the hype for the next new MMO, back with the next new MMO title was far more rare than it is now.

I learned that genuinely bad MMOs can exist. Even (and I wince as I say it) MMOs that include dragon capture, dragon riding, scythes and a housing system. How could so many great-sounding features fall so flat? Yes, I’m still sour about Dragon’s Prophet. I wanted it to be wonderful! It… simply was not.

After that burn, I’ve been more careful where I put my dedication and time, especially when it comes to games with paid founders packs, pre-orders and beta. Especially those that¬†won’t be free to play in the end — ESO and WildStar, I’m looking at you!

The best thing ever? Getting to try free betas for the next-best-MMOs like ESO and WildStar. I was sad, but neither game excited me, especially not for a monthly subscription price. And yes, while it was beta and things will change, the overall feel and approach a game uses for storyline, questing, art and atmosphere will likely not change all that much from beta to launch.

Back to these Founders Packs

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ArcheAge Founders Pack Options

All this being said, I still don’t know where I stand with the idea of founder packs, especially for future free to play games. I don’t razz folks who really love a game, have the money to support it, and put their money where their mouths are.

On the other hand, what’s the message gamers are sending to companies when they shove $150 at them for the chance to play an unfinished alpha-stage game? It says that¬†this kind of pricing is okay and that gamers will take the risk.

Then there’s the question of how does selling founders packs differ from supporting something on Kickstarter? My answer for that? It differs by about $30 – $35 dollars in this case!

PS: If there was a $19.99 option I would have given it a shot. But this kind of founder pricing makes me worry where the game’s pricing on RMT will be headed at launch.