Paeroka’s Ponderings: Splitting your game in two

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnA few weeks ago, Daybreak Games announced H1Z1 being split into two games, H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Hill. Is splitting your games in two about to become a trend now?

The first time I read it recently was with The Repopulation and Fragmented. But those two games are not the first that get this “treatment”. Landmark was originally just supposed to be a sandbox with tools for the community to create buildings and other things which could be transferred over to the MMORPG Everquest Next if they were done well enough. Over time, Landmark got more and more features that made it less of a “tool” and more of a game, like combat. H1Z1 and Landmark/Everquest belong to the same game company, Daybreak Games, so maybe that is where the H1Z1 developers got the idea from in the first place.

And then there is Godus and Godus Wars with Peter Molyneux saying that he had envisioned it to be two games from the beginning on.

Landmark Alpha in March 2014

Now they all mention more or less different reasons for doing those splits: Some say it was always imagined to be two different games, others say that one game will help with the development of the other game.

What I’m wondering is: Is it really a good idea to do it like that?

Unless they get more developers, development has to be split between those two games resulting in each game getting less attention per se. I get it for The Repopulation, because here Fragmented is supposed to be the basis for The Repopulation with the new engine (probably a bit like Landmark is to Everquest Next). And since they more or less did not have a choice than to move to a different engine, they need to find something which could give them some extra income in the meantime while also giving us, the backers, something to do as long as we are waiting for the new version to come out. With Godus and H1Z1, I’m not so sure. Is it really necessary to split? Are the playerbases – well, the H1z1 one, at least, so diverse and different in tastes that you need to make such a split? So, on the other hand, if that is the case, then it could also be a good idea to split your game, as that allows the developers to cater more to a specific kind of playerbase and they can focus more on specific features relevant to each game instead of trying to squash it all into one game and make it work.

The Repopulation
Near Freedomtown. The city you ended up in after the first tutorial zone.

If I’m being negative here, I would say they all just want to grab as much money as possible. However, this does not make sense for The Repopulation and Godus. In the case of The Repopulation, it seems to be more their way of trying to earn money while working on porting their MMO to the other engine. So yes, it is about making money, but not about making more money. That reason does not apply to Godus either, because if you buy Godus Wars, you do get Godus as well for free. In this case, I would go with them probably trying to get away from the vastly negative reviews that Godus had gotten and sort of “hiding” behind Godus Wars now, a new game which just happens to give you Godus as well. I haven’t given Godus Wars a good try yet – only logged in for a few minutes – so I will refrain from saying anything, bad or good, about the game, but the current state of the reviews does not look positive either. Everquest Next still seems to be so far away, that I would say Landmark is like Fragmented. Not a way to make more money, but a way to make any kind of money while development is ongoing.

This leaves H1Z1… The Massively post quotes them saying it was something the community had wanted them to do. However, both games are “buy to play”, so there is more money, as you would have to buy both if you want to play both. I hope that it was not done just to get more money for those two games, but also because they want to give the playerbases games tailored to their needs.

At the end of it all, the big question is probably: Is it for the best each of these games? And can the developers adequately support both game modes to please the community? If that is the case, then it is a smart choice to split your game in two.

I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them, so “Paeroka’s Ponderings” is where I will try to give these rants a place.

Wildstar Free-to-play beta (Blaugust Day 12)

This is exciting! Wildstar’s Free-to-play closed beta has officially started and since I am currently subscribed to the game, I get to participate. Now, excuse me while I’m still wearing my rose-coloured glasses when it comes to Wildstar. I have not quite left the honeymoon-phase yet with that game, so my opinion may be biased.

At the same time, this is just a quick glance at the features summary and how they are going to go forward with their free-to-play model. A “first impression” if you will. My favourite change has nothing to do with the change of their business model: Currently, you can sprint for a limited time when you’re not in combat. Once this patch arrives, you can sprint for an unlimited amount of time, as long as you stay out of combat. I cannot wait for this patch! I always sprint as often as I can and my thumb will get some much-needed rest when it doesn’t need to constantly hit the button for sprinting. :p But let’s focus on the cash shop.

WildStar new character creation screen

What I can tell you right now is that there is a distinct lack of “buy weapons or gear here”. Although to be honest, that was to be expected, right? There is always discussion about what exactly “pay to win” is (and, of course, that pay to win is bad!), but if it’s max level items and at a reasonable price even, then yes, the majority would agree that this is pay to win.

Wildstar will follow in the footsteps of Rift or Lord of the Rings Online and will basically be a freemium model. Or free-to-play with optional sub (called Signature in Wildstar), rather. As far as I know, there won’t be any content restrictions (like in Rift – Lotro DOES restrict content as you need to buy quest packages there). Whenever you buy something in the shop (or pay for a sub), you will gain loyalty which will give you additional rewards. This is very much like Rift and their loyalty system.

You can also pretty much pay for everything either with NCoins (the currency bought with real money – 400 NCoins cost $5 according to the account website) or with Omnibits. The latter can be gained by playing the game. This is similar to Trove where you can also buy a lot of things with the money-currency (here: credits) or a special kind of game-currency (here: cubits). The big question here is how easy it is to earn omnibits and thus, how easily you can buy things in the shop.

One thing that no free-to-play game can live without is lockboxes, I think. I don’t like them, but I’ve come to accept them as part of that business model and I can tolerate them as long as they don’t shove any of that in my face… like having a locked box drop and being unable to open it. I fear this may be the case here in Wildstar with lockboxes from adventures and veteran dungeons – this seems very similar to what Guild Wars 2 is doing with their lockboxes.

As I said, this is a very brief first impression of the shop and what they’re going to sell there. Except for the locked boxes possibly dropping, I did not see anything “bad”. On the contrary, I have seen things I want to buy, but nothing where I feel I need to buy it.

I will show you some parts of the shop in the gallery below but keep in mind: This is beta! I strongly assume that everything is subject to change!

 

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

A new Gechi!

With the recent news that “The Elder Scrolls Online” will switch to a buy-to-play model on March 17, bookahnerk and I decided that we do want to explore that world. I had tried the game in beta and while I loved the world design, I wasn’t sold on the game itself, especially with a monthly subscription fee.

I am quite glad that they decided for the buy-to-play model as opposed to free-to-play. You buy the game and you get everything you need in order to enjoy the game immediately. In our case, we even got two copies that still included codes from the pre-order edition (“explorer packs”, I think) which allow you to play every race in every alliance. Originally, one faction has three specific races. But I wanted to play an Argonian and I wanted to play on the starter island of Daggerfall Covenant. I know it probably won’t matter in the long run, but still, I was very happy that I had that freedom now. Otherwise, I would have made an orc for the time being.

SWG Gechi Trandoshan

But back in Star Wars Galaxies, I fell in love with playable reptile species. No, I never “really” played SWG. I just played their free 2 week trial. And I was very close to buying the game and subscribing, but then decided against it, because it was a rather old game, I only had limited time and did not want to pay for yet another monthly subscription fee. Anyway, the game’s random name generator (or just a general one? I don’t remember if the game had one… ^^) had suggested “Gechi Rosix” and I really liked it.

Skyrim_Gechi

I also had an Argonian in Skyrim, but I did not play that game too much. I just really loved having another reptile as a playable character. Why aren’t there more games offering a race like that? We got tons of furry species (cows, wolves, cats, …), after all.

Anyway, when Elder Scrolls Online was announced, the first thing I did was check whether Argonians were playable. But as I said, I did not buy the game – until two days ago. Media Markt had the game for 15 €, so I immediately ordered two copies and we went to pick them up yesterday. I just checked their website again and they are out of that version. But guess what? You can preorder the “Tamriel Edition” for the super sweet deal of 49,99 €. I actually expected them to sell that “Tamriel Edition” for more than you can probably get the game before the switch, but I did not expect such a high price. If you’re German and want to buy a copy for the cheaper price, it seems that Saturn still has a few copies left!

But back to my Gechi, the argonian templar.

TESO Gechi Argonian I do feel nostalgic, even though the Elder Scrolls universe and the Star Wars one couldn’t be more different. But the character still feels the same!

So, here we go. On to new adventures – for 29 days, at least. After that, there’ll be a 3 week break before Zenimax switches to the no-subscription fee model. :p

Guild Wars 2: A FAQ for new players

You may already know the first version of this FAQ. I decided to rewrite it, update it and put newer screenshots in. So here is the new version. A very special thank you goes to Tasha Darke for reading through it all. I was hoping for a few bits of corrected grammar but she gave me very valuable feedback on top of that!

This FAQ is mostly for those who have just recently heard of Guild Wars 2 and now want to know more. If you have been following the game for years or even just months, if you have pre-purchased the game and if you have already played it, you are welcome to read it as well, but you will find a lot of information that you already know.

Since the game is still in development a lot of things are subject to change (yes, believe it or not, ArenaNet is handling the Beta Weekend Events like a real beta and is still changing things around). Also, new information comes out every now and then which might outdate what you can read here. If you notice any of that – or just errors that I’ve made – please comment (with sources if possible).

I am going to use the same categories that I have used for my “Rift vs. Lotro vs. WoW” posting already.

If you only want a very short overview, the following will hopefully be enough. There are lots of links leading you further down my posting if you want more information!

Before we start, we need to get two questions out of the way (as suggested by Pyzlnar on Reddit):
“Yes, you can jump!” – and no, this game is not an Asian-grinder and it is not made by an Asian company. It’s made by ArenaNet who is located in Seattle, Washington, USA (though they do belong to NCSoft but they only work as a publisher here while ArenaNet is the developer and thus, actually makes the game). Guild Wars 2 will also feature an open world and will not be heavily instanced like Guild Wars 1 is. Again, thank you, Pyzlnar, for these suggestions. You were right, they’re clearly missing and should be the first two points in any GW2 FAQ. ;)

OMG! When’s the beta? How do I get in?
If you have pre-purchased the game, you are automatically invited to all beta weekend events planned to take place roughly once a month until release. Do not confuse it with a preorder, though. Pre-purchasing means you pay the game in full! Beta keys are also available through giveaways and competitions from a variety of fan and gaming websites.
Wait, what?

How much does the game cost? Which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
You will have to buy the game itself but there will be no monthly fees. Without monthly fees, the follow-up costs are basically voluntary as there will be a real money shop (called “gem store”), but stuff you buy there will not give you more power and thus, won’t be required for the gameplay. Gems, the shop’s currency, can be bought in the game’s auction house (here called the Trading Post) for in game gold. Nothing is known yet about security like authenticators. There will very likely be system for account restorations in case you were hacked.
More on costs and security

What can I play and how do I play? – Races, professions and combat mechanics
You will be able to choose from 5 races: Norn, human, asura, charr and sylvari. Each race can be each of the 8 professions (often also called “classes”) in the game: Engineer, Thief, Guardian, Warrior, Elementalist, Necromancer, Ranger and Mesmer.

There is no holy trinity anymore! “Holy trinity” refers to characters that tank (the foes focus on the tank and leave the other players alone), characters that heal and characters that deal damage. In Guild Wars 2, every profession is self-sufficient up to a certain point and you will be able to play with any combination of professions without having to wait for “another healer” or “a tank”. Professions can interact with each other through their skills and support others.
More about races and professions

What does the game look like?
In short: Gorgeous, artsy, picturesque if you ask me. As with all games’ graphics, this is very subjective. Have a look at the various screenshots you can find online and decide for yourself if you like it.
Pictures and videos outsourced to below in order to keep the part up here short.

What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
First things first, there will be no regular raids in this game as you may know them from WoW or SWTOR! Instead, dynamic events in the open world that scale for up to 100 players. There will be several dungeons to play which will each have a story mode and the more difficult explorable mode. There will be no standard quests for playing either. The closest you will get to regular quests will be your personal storyline.
More about PvE

Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
There are 2 modes of PvP – Structured and World vs World.
Structured PvP, also known as Conquest, is somewhat similar to battlegrounds (WoW) or warzones (SWTOR) except everybody will be max level and have all weaponry and armor available to them straight out of character creation. So no gear advantages. 2 Teams (hot join or premade) fight it out on different maps for Glory, a currency which can be spent on better looking equipment and other (as yet unannounced) rewards.
World vs. world vs. world (frequently abbreviated to WvW) is the second mode. Three worlds (servers) will fight against each other for guild recognition and bonuses which affect the entire world. Players cannot fight players from the same server,as there are no factions, and while characters are buffed to have the basic stats as a level 80 character, gear and traits are not levelled (but you do earn experience in WvW which means that you can level your character in WvW). Servers will rotate every two weeks.
More about PvP

Grouping and socialization
In Guild Wars 2, you will be able to join more than one guild with one single character (I assume you will be able to create more than one character. So don’t misunderstand this sentence ^^). If you want to read our opinion about it, go here. If you don’t, well that’s just as well. ;)
Grouping will be in the game but it will not be forced on you like it is in other games. For example, you can attack a mob that another player is currently fighting. As you both contribute to the kill, you will both get the same amount of experience points and loot that you would have gotten if you had fought the mob on your own! In other words: Kill-stealing will not be possible!
More about Grouping and Socialization

I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
The first thing that comes to my mind is the personal storyline. When creating your character, you get asked a few questions and can choose between different answers. That determines the starting point of your personal story. Other choices later on will further determine how your story evolves. You can bring a friend along to your storyline. But it will essentially be your story.

Guild Wars 2 will also have achievements. So that’s something you can do. You can also roam the world on your own or play a lone wolf in WvW – though I’m not sure how viable the latter is, apart from escorting the odd caravan. ;)
More about stuff to do solo

Crafting
There are 8 crafting skills to choose from and you can have two at a time: Weaponsmith, Huntsman, Artificer, Armorsmith, Leatherworker, Tailor, Jeweler and Cook.
Every character can gather all resources provided you have the correct gathering tool equipped which can be bought from merchants for gold or karma. A resource node can be used by several players, so it is not possible to steal such a node from under another player’s nose.
More about crafting

Fluff
There will be mini-pets just as in Guild Wars 1. Activities have also been announced but there haven’t been any recent details on them. “Bar brawl” was one of the activities mentioned, for example.

You will also have a home instance which is an entire district in the capital city of your character’s race. The home instance automatically changes with your personal story but you can’t change anything yourself (like putting furniture in).

Also, you will be able to change the way your armor looks. And there will be 400 different dyes in the game. Each piece of armor has 1 to 3 areas that can be dyed.
More about fluff

That was the short version. Its bigger brother will follow now, which also includes links for further reading. Most of the information can be found on ArenaNet’s blog or in the official wiki for Guild Wars 2.

Click here to see the full entry