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Posted: Apr 6th 2010 12:24PM Ripper McGee said

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FYI, the tweet that leads to this article specifically mentions these as being F2P systems, although the article itself never states that and Wizard101 isn't free.

Issue with the tweet, not the article, although it falls under the "Free" header.

~Ripepr

Posted: Apr 6th 2010 12:27PM Beau Hindman said

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Well, Wizard 101 is a freemium game, something that qualifies to be covered in a FTP column. It's much more than a trial and can be enjoyed for quite a while before having to pay.

It is a fine line to walk, though, between "truly" FTP and "freemium." It will be interesting to see how the types of payment work out for more games. Many now think that freemium (or "velvet rope") models will be the norm in the future, and I am beginning to see that logic.

Beau

Posted: Apr 6th 2010 1:32PM Ripper McGee said

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Freemium is an adequate term, I suppose, since it's a hybrid subscription model/RMT game with a non-expiring evaluation. There's a little something for everybody. I do think F2P and Freemium games will be the norm for the Western market. My own game will be F2P, in fact, although it's not a full-fledged MMO, per se.

~Ripper

Posted: Apr 6th 2010 2:03PM Seffrid said

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The exploration system in Free Realms sounds like a copy of SOE's long-established system in EQ2. Similarly, the hirelings in DDO are very similar to the henchmen in Guild Wars. In that sense while they are both tried and trusted systems they aren't original to the games mentioned. They are in my view good features for an MMO (although I haven't played Free Realms).

The point about the armour appearance in CoS is an interesting one. I have a nagging suspicion that for every player who is delighted to be able to retain the same appearance while improving the stats, another ten will bemoan the lack of variety or sense of achievement represented by getting upgraded looks to go with the upgraded stats. My own view is that the best solution is to have a second set of appearance slots as in EQ2 and LoTRO so that you can equip the best stats while fixing or upgrading your appearance as well as opting for social gear entirely as you prefer. I also think that armour/clothing dyes should be a standard feature these days both for the benefit of those who use them as well as those who craft them.

I don't know Wizard 101 but am not a fan of F2P games - or wouldn't be if such a thing truly existed. In reality, of course, it's becoming increasingly clear that so-called F2P games are either cut-down versions of the real thing for those who don't use the cash shop, or even more expensive than subscription games for those who do. DDO seems to have got the balance about right but then it's very much a hybrid having been designed and operated as a subscription game in the US and Europe before the US version only was converted into a mixed F2P/subscription (VIP) game.

Posted: Apr 6th 2010 2:13PM Beau Hindman said

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Well, Sef, it might be increasingly clear to you, but not to me. I can assure you that most F2P's are indeed free to play. The cash shop generally represents options that can be paid for, just like additional character slots or limited editions in the pay-to-play world.

It is general knowledge that F2P games typically make most of their cash on the few that spend extraordinary amounts, enough to make up for the most that do not spend anything. As someone that has spent a long time playing a lot of these games, I can assure you that the only money I have every spent has been for fluff items and the occasional XP pot. So yes, while "Freemium" games could be seen as cut-down versions, or extended trials, I promise that most FTP's are truly free. :)

Beau
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Posted: Apr 6th 2010 2:35PM Dblade said

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Beau, rebirth as it currently is is flawed though.

Mabinogi offers paid rebirths in the cash shops, as well as a "free rebirth" every 3-4 weeks or so if you are smart and set your rebirth age at 17. Since current level doesn't matter as much as your stats and abilities, you can pay about 40 bucks a month for rapid fire levelling to outstrip any free player.

That's what drove me out of the game, because the gap between cash shop spenders/old timers and newer players in base power was ridiculous.

The idea is okay, but the implementation in gameplay isn't.

Posted: Apr 6th 2010 2:43PM Beau Hindman said

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Dblade:

Outstrip as in how? I understand that leveling faster might seem as some kind of advantage, but only for the individual. Dungeons/loot..all that is limitless and so everyone has equal opportunities to get at them. With PvP I can understand a bit, but again this is a choice as to participate or not, and again all players have equal opportunity to participate. We could get into an entire discussion about what "competition" means, but that should be for another time/article.

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Posted: Apr 7th 2010 2:43PM Dblade said

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Beau, once you start getting abilities up to the numerical ranks, the free rebirths just don't cut it. You can level from 1-30 and spend all the AP on just one rank increase to one ability, and there are a ton of abilities that interrelate or need to be ranked up.

The free rebirth becomes too slow, and heaven help you if you dont set it to age 17 each time. Paid rebirths can cause you to level 3 times faster, and you start to see the gap in mid-levels. Especially in PVP. I did elf/giant and it was pointless beyond a certain point because the paying players maxed out so many skills.

I think the mechanic is interesting, but the cash shop really makes it unbalanced with being able to buy more chances to level.
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Posted: Apr 6th 2010 2:38PM Seffrid said

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I think we've disagreed over the quality of F2P games before Beau, and obviously hold different views on what constitutes fluff items and the significance of those as opposed to the standard features to be expected in any subscription game such as mounts, bank and inventory slots etc. DDO Unlimited, for example, has adventuring content that you are completely locked out of unless you pay for it.

In my view most FTP games are only truly free if you are prepared to play them without at least some of the features or content that you expect to receive automatically in most subscription games. If you disagree then fine, we are each entitled to our view.

For me another important aspect of F2P games, however, is whether you have to pay once for cash shop items per account, or whether you have to pay separately for each character. As an altaholic I'm not prepared to pay per character mount, for example, whilst I don't have the same problem with paying once to unlock a feature across the whole account.

Posted: Apr 6th 2010 10:35PM whateveryousay said

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"DDO Unlimited, for example, has adventuring content that you are completely locked out of unless you pay for it."

Pfft, I know! And what about this "World of Warcraft" game everyone keeps talking about? Did you know they want me to pay over 80 dollars for the game and it's two expansions, PLUS 15 bucks a MONTH to unlock their adventuring content? Total scam. But I will say that their free to play content is spectacular none the less. /sarcasm

What's my point you might ask? While I totally agree with you that a game like DDO can't be considered 100% free to play, what is given to you at absolutely no cost what-so-ever is pretty damn generous. Not to mention fun as hell. I suppose if you are a hardcore mmo gamer then pay to play is a better method to go. But if you happen to be a casual gamer, or even someone like me that jumps back and forth between the line of casual and hardcore, free to play has many advantages over pay. In a game like WoW, as I mentioned above, you have to pay for the game and it's expansions, plus the extra 15 a month. Sure, all the content is available to you, but unless you plan on going from level 1 to 80 in less than a week, and don't really give a crap about enjoying the majority of that content you payed for in the early levels, then the end result isn't going to be very cheap for you. Let's be clear on one thing though, and this is just my opinion of course, but, end game isn't the only game. So skipping over all the little things along the way just so you can have a shot at those lovely end game raids isn't exactly the motivation I need to say to hell with it. Back to my point, free to play games give you the advantage of doing things at your own pace and your own time. No rush, no commitment, and no real loss in the end. In exchange for this huge benefit you're asked to maybe throw some cash their way in exchange for some things that may or may not be of definite value to you. I know in some cases (recently with allods and the perfumes) those items are of exceptional value, sure, but the programmers often balance this by allowing items like this to be traded in game, which then allows you to essentially buy them with in game currency. It's not a perfect system, i'll admit, but it's one that works on many levels while allowing many to enjoy the game without giving too much back in return. You have good points too, especially about the alts and having to pay for each one to have the items you need. Your argument is always going to be valid, but then again, so is mine.
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Posted: Apr 6th 2010 3:07PM BaronJuJu said

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Good article Beau, I agree witht the stitching system in Wizard 101. It is by far one of my favorite systems in a game and I wish more MMO companies would take this idea under consideration. The ability to mix and match looks with functionality cannot be over stated and I hope to see this ability pop into more games in the future.

Posted: Apr 6th 2010 6:39PM AlamoeJones said

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I loved exploration in Free Realms. The adventurer job in there was, oddly, the first character I maxed out in any game! More games need to reward those players who would rather explore than fight. I should probably go back and see what other goodies I can earn.

Posted: Apr 6th 2010 9:02PM GaaaaaH said

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Would you prefer DDOs hirelings or Guild Wars' Heroes system?

Posted: Apr 7th 2010 1:35AM cray said

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I'm a Guild Wars player and Henchmen and Heroes have totally killed the multi-player aspect of Guild Wars. Granted GW is predominately instanced game and it is hard to call it a MMO. So adding Heroes in 3rd campaign (Nightfall) put the nail in the coffin and made PUGs totally irrelevant.

I'm a firm believer that MMO games shouldn't make their games solo-friendly. Don't confuse this as not being able to play alone, I just think it shouldn't be an easy thing to do for the WHOLE game. At some point you need to acknowledge the rest of the community.

Seems like developers waste a lot time trying to balance the difficulty between solo-play and group-play and it gets harder to do as the game progresses. I've seen difficulty scaled, but it gets abused for 'farming'.

I would be very impressed if a gamer actually beat an MMO without henchmen,. Soloing should be a hard task, but accomplished if the player is good enough. How many one-man armies (solo players) were there in old days of Everquest? Probably a select few then, compared today 75% of any modern MMO has one-man army. Basically todays MMOs are on the verge of becoming online RPGs

But I've heard how soloing is a result of people who don't have time to play with others, need to find a really good RPG to play. The problem is most RPG games are on consoles, and they don't do justice compared to MMO games for PC. So all these solo-centric players unintentionally turning MMOs into online RPGs.

I'm not dissing casual players, I happen to be one, but I've always managed to find someone in-game to play with. Most of the time I have a (real-time) friend to play when we get together. Even then we both search in-game for PUGs.
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Posted: Apr 7th 2010 2:07AM whateveryousay said

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@Cray

"But I've heard how soloing is a result of people who don't have time to play with others, need to find a really good RPG to play. The problem is most RPG games are on consoles, and they don't do justice compared to MMO games for PC."

No, the problem is that the developers are looking to tap into so much of the gaming market (for obvious reasons *cha-ching*) that they are willing to sacrifice many of the fundamentals of mmorpg's in order to cater to those that would otherwise look past these games because they require teamwork and socialization. And who needs all that when you have Facebook?

The other problem (and this has been one of my biggest gripes since I first started playing mmo's on PC) is that developers constantly make teaming up with other players more of a burden than an advantage. Probably the most ridiculous thing they do on a regular basis is put in experience penalties to anyone that ends up in a party. Instead of getting 100% experience for killing that monster you get 50% and your party members get 50% (or less if there are more than two people in the party). It's horribly pointless when I could get the full experience for my kills doing the exact same amount of work, there's no added incentive. Developers always like to throw this lump of garbage out as an excuse too, "Well, when you are in a party you have the ability to fight much more powerful enemies which brings in better experience and greater loot." Sure, that would be true, except that fighting stronger enemies, even in a full party, still requires a lot more work than most people are willing to put in, for fewer kills no less. Let's not forget that most of these games also have experience penalties for trying to fight monsters (or what have you) that are too far out of your level range. Basically you are getting screwed from all sides no matter what, all for being in a party instead of soloing like everyone else. Eventually, you turn to the masses and do like the rest, or grow bored and stop playing altogether. Parties should be getting experience bonuses, not penalties. You should be allowed to retain your 100% experience rate per kill AND be granting all the other members in your party with the same 100% rate for every enemy you down. Just killed a boar and got 50xp? Well guess what, every single member in your team got 50xp too. That alone would raise the party rates in all these games with no problem at all, but sweeten the deal even further. Have half a full party? 150% rate for every kill! Have a full party? 200% EXPERIENCE PER KILL!


Sadly this will never happen. It's all going the same route, phase out teaming and make every mmo solo friendly. Because that's what being a massively multiplayer game is all about. Soloing.
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Posted: Apr 7th 2010 6:24AM (Unverified) said

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@Cray:
"The problem is most RPG games are on consoles, and they don't do justice compared to MMO games for PC."

Lolwut? :-o
You just lost your Gamer Card right there.
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Posted: Apr 7th 2010 7:48AM (Unverified) said

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"But I've heard how soloing is a result of people who don't have time to play with others, need to find a really good RPG to play. The problem is most RPG games are on consoles, and they don't do justice compared to MMO games for PC. So all these solo-centric players unintentionally turning MMOs into online RPGs."

Um, no. The best RPGs have been released for the PC. More recent ones have been released to consoles as well, which can be seen as "superior" versions simply because of hardware limitations, but most true RPGs are released for the PC, and many for the PC exclusively.

For example, one PC RPG, without a heavy graphics overhead, is the amazing Avernum series. Never heard of it? That's because all five games were crafted by one man through his company, Spidersoft (short for Spiderweb Software), as well as FOUR other RPGs, each containing more dialogue than several full-length novels.

On an equally old-school note, the best AD&D-based games were PC only. I'm referring, of course, to the popular Baldur's Gate series and the amazing Planescape: Torment, which also had incredibly in-depth stories. And there was the impressive Neverwinter Nights, which not only had a long campaign with several expansions, but also had an immensely powerful set of campaign-creation tools that have even been used to make hugely multiplayer persistent campaigns, on a level similar to small playerbase MMOs. And there were the very popular Elder Scrolls games, which again included powerful campaign-creation software. Oh, and that Avernum game I mentioned? Yeah, that guy made games with campaign creation software, too.

Maybe that's why you haven't found "decent RPGs" outside of MMOs? The best RPGs on the PC have something that their console counterparts can never hope to match: player-created content. And that content tends to far outlive support for the base game.
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Posted: Apr 7th 2010 7:51AM cray said

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@Amana

How did I lose any 'gamer cred' with that statement? Explain to me why you think experienced RPGers would rather play a Console RPG over a PC RPG?

Any experienced RPGer knows the genre is/was best suited for PC style of play (mouse & keyboard).

I quit playing consoles when the very first Playstation came. I been a PC guy since. RPGs were at the time very much PC-centric (in America). But the SNES and Genesis changed that and PC RPGs got less and less, but some of the core PC gamers grew up ( career, marrigage, have kids) became casual gamers.

I know a lot gamers grew up playing RPGs on consoles and did so for a very long time, during the 90's RPGs on PC really flourished. I played FINAL FANTASY back when it first came out on NES and loved the RPG genre. I soon sought out similar games. When I got older, my brother showed me his Dungeons & Dragons (I forget which chapter) game on his PC and I was blown away be shear depth and intricacy of a PC RPG game and I never went back to a console for any RPG game.
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Posted: Apr 7th 2010 8:16AM whateveryousay said

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@onetrueping

Cray didn't say THE BEST rpg's are on consoles, he said MOST rpg's are on consoles. There's a difference there, try and learn it.
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Posted: Apr 7th 2010 2:55PM Dblade said

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If we are talking offline RPG games, the pc is much weaker. All of its pc-only non-mmo hits came from over ten years ago. Most modern ones are pc/console combined. I definitely do play console games over pc ones. Try games like Persona 3 and 4, Final Fantasy 13, Disgaea and Phantom Brave, and even portable ones like Knights in the Nightmare, The World Ends With You, or Monster Hunter.

PC's strength is in MMOs and mods, not offline games.
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