Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (Mai 2016)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWhen reading through the Steam community hub of Funatics’s game “Valhalla Hills“, I saw a post by a player saying that Funatics was recently acquired by InnoGames. The post is in German as well as most news postings I found about this happening. However, an English post that I found specifies that Funatics had to close as a company and the team was hired by InnoGames.

Either way, in case you don’t know or don’t remember, Funatics is the company who made the Cultures series. The Cultures games are still among my favourite games I ever played. They were also part of the developing teams around the Settlers games.

But let’s take a look at this acquisition. Funatics is a company that focussed mostly on building/simulation games. InnoGames is a company that makes browser-based and mobile games. I did take a look, but while those browser-based building games usually look nice and all that, but for me, at least those games are hardly ever appealing. Mostly because there is often a cash shop included which lets you speed up your game which is running in “real time” (“wait 15 minutes to harvest X” and so on). Maybe their mobile games are different and I am not doing them enough justice now, but I don’t play on mobile devices. When I am outside of the house, I am working or doing other real life-things and I made a decision at some point to not put a game on my mobile device, because I want to enjoy the outside world. :p

Cultures 8th Wonder of the World

So, while I am of course very happy for each and every team member who does not find themselves without a job, I am sad to know that the company that brought me the Cultures games and who were my “entry back into gaming”, so to say (after playing on the C64 as a kid and on the gameboy as a teenager), is no more. And that the kind of games they will be making from now on will probably be rather far away from what I like to play.

On a positive note: The publisher of Valhalla Hills said that they will try to finish the second DLC for the game, as the special edition you could buy included the first two DLCs free of charge and so far, they have only released one. I got Valhalla Hills and ended up not liking it at all, unfortunately. There’s just nothing of that Cultures charm left. So for me, at least, it doesn’t matter whether they will ever release another DLC or not, but I know I am not “everybody”, so I am still happy to see that they will try to get it out. :)

Something more positive: Civilization VI was announced! This certainly came as a surprise and everything I have read about the game so far sounds great. Especially the part about city districts and being able to see when somebody builds a world wonder. I don’t know yet if I will want the game for the fill price, as there will also be lots more DLCs and I am still not swimming in money. So I might wait for the price to drop a bit, at least.

Now on to the negative part about Civ VI – there always is something negative, right? The graphics. I have seen so many complaints about the graphics so far and to be honest, this was also my first reaction towards them. I guess enough people complained that the art director spoke up and explained why they changed the look of the game.

I think the graphics will grow on me. In fact, I don’t usually mind the graphics much at all, but this style just reminds me of “cheap browser/mobile” games which also makes me think of a “dumbed down” and easy game, so people can play it easily on a tablet etc. But that’s not what Civilization is! So seeing those graphics and having those associations in mind is a bad thing. On the other hand, from all that I have seen so far, it is exactly not what is going to happen to the franchise! There are many things coming that sound amazing and I am looking forward to seeing what else they will reveal. So yes, I am actually quite certain that once I am playing the game, I will not mind those graphics at all. In fact, it may even be easier to see what is going on on the map. Still, those trees… no. Just no. The rest I will get used to, but those trees are awful.

Atlas Reactor Solo game with Rask

Atlas Reactor recently switched from “free to play” to “buy to play”. The main concern people had was that the player base will be too small, as people will not want to blindly buy a game without trying it first. Now Trion Worlds announced their “recruit a friend” programme. If you get referred by somebody, you can try the game for free for three days. If the person you refer buys the game, you get some rewards. In case you do want to give it a try, here is my referral link. I don’t really care about the rewards, but hey, if you want to get three days of a free trial and end up liking the game, I also would not say “no” to those rewards. :p But please note: The game is free to try this weekend anyway! Additionally, the game is still in beta, so everything is subject to change as usual in betas.

“Bookahneer’s Geekwatch” is the place where we take a look at all those little pieces of gaming news that have attracted our interest and/or talk about what’s recently been in the spotlight of other fansites.

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