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Economy

EVE Vegas 2014: Region Commander turns EVE into a huge spreadsheet

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, PvP, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

It's often said that sci-fi MMO EVE Online isn't so much a game as a giant online spreadsheet and that people pay a subscription fee in order to have a second job they don't get paid for. While that's little more than a joke to the majority of EVE players, there are those for whom EVE is genuinely played on a massive spreadsheet. In a guest talk at EVE Vegas 2014 earlier today, players Javajunky and Gossamer DT from the logistics division of one of the game's largest coalitions discussed the monumental amount of work that goes into the industrial and organisation side of running a nullsec alliance or coalition.

During the talk, Gossamer DT discussed an interesting piece of custom software he develops called Region Commander that was designed specifically for organising player empires. The tool keeps track of starbase tower fuel, maintains a blacklist of players who have been kicked out of the coalition, and allows organisers to create and assign tasks to players in their command. Players who want to contribute to their alliance's industrial backbone can log into the system to take on work tasks due for completion, and the tool updates in realtime. The only thing missing is a punch card and a paycheck.

Using this tool, players have managed to combat the logistical and organisational challenges that would naturally make coalitions of thousands of players infeasible. Many third party tools have been criticised in the past for providing gameplay advantages to those who use them and increasing the gulf between new and experienced players. Players already have tools to help with mining and trading, and even ones that parse data from your ship scanner into useful information for your Fleet Commander. It's clear that whether CCP or the playerbase approves of these tools, this djinn won't be going back into its bottle.

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Darkfall makes plans for a localized economy

Fantasy, Darkfall, Economy, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

darkfall
The Darkfall team is deep in preparations for the creation of a "localized economy package" to boost this critical part of this fantasy title. "For us, as well as the community from what we see, a functional economy is the stepping stone for a proper sandbox, so our attention is focused on it," the team stated.

In a forum post today, the goals of these plans were outlined. This package will include new raw materials, additional recipes, a better inventory system, tiered clan vaults, nerfed instant travel, quicker land travel, beasts of burden, and a focus on localized markets instead of a worldwide trading system.

This economy update is tentatively planned for either December 2014 or January 2015.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

Pathfinder Online's latest alpha patch is live

Betas, Fantasy, Economy, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Pathfinder Online

The mysterious roaming Stress Test, a beast no one can confirm seeing.  There may be one hiding in this header.
After no small amount of hand-wringing, the latest alpha patch is live for Pathfinder Online, with the intent of eventually cracking open the servers for stress testing. It's a pretty important patch even without the aim of a stress test, though, as it expands the map size to its full early access scope and fixes a variety of issues with advancement and the game's overall systems. Even if you didn't get to play recently, the development is humming along.

Obviously those who didn't get to play also didn't get to experiment with the game's recent auction house functionality, which is explained in depth on the official site. Setting up an auction requires a starting price and a minimum price. Over the auction's duration, the price slowly decreases from the starting price down to the minimum; if no buyers are found at that discount rate, the auction ends unsuccessfully. Check out the full development blog for more details.

EVE Evolved: Features coming in Oceanus and beyond

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been almost four months since EVE Online switched from publishing two major expansions per year to releasing ten smaller updates, and so far it looks like the new schedule has been a huge success. Rather than forcing the industry overhaul out the door in Kronos before it was ready, CCP was able to push it forward to the Crius release window seven weeks later and the extra development time meant the feature launched in a very polished state. It may be too early to tell if the new schedule's success can be seen in the concurrent player graph for Tranquility, but the numbers have remained steady for the past few months in what is typically the annual low-point for player activity.

The Oceanus update is scheduled to go live in just two day's time, adding several graphical upgrades, more difficult burner missions, an experimental new notification feature, and other small improvements. The scale of the update seems to be on par with the recent Hyperion release, consisting of mostly small features and minor iterations on gameplay. While we're told that CCP is still working on large projects behind the scenes, the new release schedule means they won't be rushed out the door and so we may not see them for some time.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I summarise everything we know about Tuesday's Oceanus update, and take a look at what's to come in further releases.

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Analysts estimate Blizzard's lost investment after Titan's cancellation

Business Models, Economy, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

Titan's official cancellation notice yesterday didn't come as much of a surprise to MMO players; after all, the game had been backburnered more than a year ago, its staff transferring to Warlords of Draenor and other Blizzard projects. But the cancellation means Blizzard might never fully recoup its seven-year investment in the game, and that has some analysts worried.

"Development costs for Titan may have amounted to tens of millions, perhaps $50 million or more," says one such analyst, Billy Pidgeon, as quoted in a GamesIndustry.biz piece yesterday. Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter upped that estimate: "My guess is 100 - 200 people at $100,000 per year, so $70 - 140 million sunk cost. It's pretty sad that it took so long to figure out how bad the game was. I expect them to go back to the drawing board." Still another industry observer, David Cole, argued that the current games market simply no longer tolerates seven-year development cycles and high overhead.

Pidgeon stresses that it's not all doom and gloom, however: "Blizzard has cancelled several games in various stages of development in the past. Costs for unreleased games can be significant, but launching substandard games can harm the reputation of a successful publisher such as Blizzard. Expenses for development can be considered R&D, and benefits can include invaluable training, IP and technology that can be applied to other games."

EVE Evolved: Has the industry revamp worked?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
When I was first introduced to EVE Online back in 2004, a big part of the attraction for me was the promise of a huge player-run economy in which the only real laws were those of supply and demand. With only a handful of tech 1 ships and modules available to build and everything made out of the same basic minerals, science and industry were pretty easy for new players to figure out. Over the years, more complexity has slowly been added to industry via features like Starbases, Salvaging, Capital Ships, Tech 2 Invention, Planetary Interaction and Tech 3 Reverse Engineering. Today's industrialists have to contend with hundreds of different items that are often arranged in sprawling component manufacturing chains, which can make it hard to figure out exactly how to make a profit.

The recent industry revamp attempted to solve this problem with a full user interface overhaul and a revamp of material costs and manufacturing prices. All of the relevant information for using a blueprint was packed into a slick new combined Industry UI, allowing new players to find the info they're looking for in-game rather than through websites or opening dozens of item info windows. It's now been almost two months since the industry revamp went live, and while the market for many items is still going to take several months to fully stabilise, the dust has finally begun to settle. So what's the verdict? Has the industry revamp worked?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I consider whether the industry revamp has been successful, how easy it is to make a profit in the new system, and whether it's worth setting up your own industrial starbase.

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The Daily Grind: What's the ideal MMO gold sink?

Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, The Daily Grind, Humor, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD
I realize that asking "what's your favorite gold sink" is a bit like asking "what's your favorite way to eat poop," but I'm confronting an MMO reality here: MMO economies generally spiral out of control when the currency poured into the game isn't drained out at the other end somehow, whether it's through decay costs or housing maintenance or people leaving the game forever and literally taking their gold piles with them. Obviously, this last one is not ideal.

I was impressed at Neverwinter's recent move to auction rare companions off to the playerbase, a system that won't solve the inflation/duping problem in one pass but could, given time and repetition, drain money from player moguls voluntarily and reward them with prestigious but non-game-breaking and effectively worthless trinkets.

That's my favorite kind of gold sink. What's yours?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

HEX is not Hearthstone: A look at HEX's closed beta

Betas, Economy, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, HEX

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It's been a while, HEX. Last time I saw you was E3 2013. I hadn't yet started to play Hearthstone, and truthfully, I doubted it could hold a candle to you. In a lot of ways, I was right. It's so much simpler, it's less complex, and at the time, it felt less imaginative. But my card game days are behind me. I don't have the kind of time I used to, so Hearthstone's faster games and accessible drafts (called "arenas" in HS) reminded me of the things I love about the genre while allowing me to keep my grown-up schedule intact and being easy on my wallet.

Just the same, HEX, when I got the closed beta invite to see you again, my heart skipped a beat. I was ready to drop some big money on you, but I've been burned a few times. While I've been in betas and alphas for other games, there's been a trend of letting people pay to play unfinished products. I've been burned, and while I don't regret the experience, I do regret the purchases at the moment. I mean, when a game suddenly disappears from the market, it does make you question your decisions, so I decided we should go out a few times first before I really invest in you.

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Trion clarifies ArcheAge's head-start housing situation

Betas, Fantasy, Economy, Game Mechanics, Launches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, Livestream, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Housing

During its livestreamed pre-launch discussion of ArcheAge earlier this week, Trion Worlds clarified a number of issues that will affect players early on when the game enters its head-start period tomorrow. Top priority in a sandbox? Where you hang your hat. Housing will open at the beginning of the head start period, so early players will naturally secure the best properties. There is no limit to the number of houses an account can own, although accounts are taxed "exponentially" after they acquire three and up.

Also of note:
  • The game plans to launch with the eight ten original beta servers.
  • The "patron" subscription is indeed $15; 1250 credits cost 1 APEX or $10. For scale, consider that a character slot costs 1000 credits.
  • Trion vowed to continue its efforts to deal with chat spammers and botters.
  • Everyone, even F2P players, can access the auction hall.
As to the controversial labor point system, Trion says all characters will begin with zero points.

[Thanks, JunkiesNation.]

Guild Wars 2's trading post is reworked from the ground up

Fantasy, Economy, Patches, Previews, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

gw2
It seems as though you are not really a Guild Wars 2 player until you have had a good rant about the trading post at some point. Those rants might become scarce with this month's patch, as ArenaNet has reworked the game's auction house to be more user friendly.

"The first iteration of the trading post didn't do a great job of exposing its offerings to users, and that's something we've worked hard to improve," the team posted in a new features pack dev diary. To facilitate this desire, the team rebuilt the trading post using a new browser engine.

The improvments to the trading post include a revamped user interface, faster loading, better browsing and search functions, clearer categories, and a cleaner buy/sell screen. The end result is "an objectively better product" for all users, according to the studio.

How RMT is changing RuneScape's economy for the better

Fantasy, Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser

RMT has a bad reputation for promoting the seedy underbelly of online gaming, but some MMOs are trying to turn that effect around, like RuneScape. According to developer Jagex, a pair of RuneScape players recently took advantage of their game's Bond system (akin to PLEX or CREDD) to fund their trip to the RuneFest fan convention in October. The studio detailed other positive effects of the Bond system in a press release this morning, explaining that the system has improved the game's economy:
Since their September 2013 debut, around 2.3 million Bonds have been purchased; more than 80 percent of those Bonds have been redeemed for membership, with 27.6 million membership days obtained to date. The introduction of Bonds also had a swift and dramatic effect on the levels of gold-farming in the game, which plummeted by 81 percent within weeks, and also helped bring a more stable in-game economy for players. Over the past year, more than 316.5 billion in-game gold pieces have been sunk into Bond trades by the community.
RuneScape VP Phil Mansell said that over the last year, "nearly 20% of RuneScape players [paid] for their membership subscription through their in-game efforts and half of the premium RuneCoin currency comes from bond redemptions."

[Source: Jagex press release]

DCUO sells base item packs

Super-hero, Economy, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, Promotions, Housing

dcuo
If you're the type of person who would rather hop on the express lane to interior decorating in a superhero setting, then DC Universe Online is rolling out the welcome mat for you. The MMO is now selling theme base item packs in its marketplace.

These packs all contain housing items that can be obtained in the game, so it's a trade-off between spending time and effort to get them or to pay for the privilege of snatching them up all at once. Two of the item packs revealed are the Dynasty Starter and Greek Statues collections.

[Thanks to Demonxaphan for the tip!]

Neverwinter auctioning off five Sergeant Knox companions

Fantasy, Economy, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Promotions, Neverwinter

neverwinter
The famous Sergeant Knox, Neverwinter NPC questgiver extraordinaire, will be available as a special companion. For a short time, players can bid on one of these purple-quality companions through the auction house.

The catch is that there will only be five such Sergeant Knox companions put up for auction during this event, which means that only five (or fewer) players in the game will own one, at least for the time being. As a gold sink, this will undoubtedly be quite effective to suck some of the excess money out of the economy. This special auction will take place from September 11th through the 14th.

EVE Evolved: Wormholes should be more dangerous

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
When unstable wormholes began forming all over the EVE Online universe in 2009's Apocrypha expansion, players approached them with extreme caution. The promise of riches in the form of new loot and Tech 3 cruiser components was balanced by the incalculable risk of facing a powerful new enemy in untested circumstances. Between the Sleeper AI that had been reported to melt players' ships in seconds and the player pirates taking advantage of the hidden local chat channel to sneak up on unsuspecting victims, we had no idea whether any ship we sent into a wormhole would ever make it back out again.

The risk of venturing into something truly unknown made wormhole exploration the single most exciting thing I've ever been a part of in an MMO, but the past five years have completely eroded that danger. Farmers now know exactly what to expect in every wormhole site and can efficiently farm Sleepers with the minimum of effort or risk, and PvP alliances can rapidly cycle through systems to find weak targets to attack. We've mapped and tamed all of the wormhole frontier, systematically reducing the risk to the lowest possible levels under the current game mechanics. Tuesday's Hyperion update aimed to shake things up with a few disruptive changes designed to keep wormholes dangerous, and I think it's a definite step in the right direction.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at some of the changes in Hyperion designed to keep wormholes dangerous and ask what more could be done to keep things interesting.

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Latest Pathfinder Online devblog emphasizes player-driven economy

Fantasy, Economy, New Titles, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Pathfinder Online

Although players in Pathfinder Online's Alpha 7 run will earn 5,000 XP per hour (in order to help them test more things), the latest devblog warns that things will get decidedly harder once gameplay starts after Early Enrollment. At that point players will face a "cold start," beginning the game with only simple peasant clothes, a club, and 1,000 XP to spend on initial feats. Everything else, from feats to gear to cash, will grow from that.

The devblog also details the player-driven economy; by design, nearly everything characters use will be player-crafted. Mobs will drop only starter equipment, coin, salvage, or -- the rarest and most valuable -- recipes. Players can only upgrade gear past the starter level through crafting, and gear can be crafted with certain key words that add bonuses when combined with specific slotted feats. For full details, and a look at what Pathfinder devs are doing at PAX Prime, check out the official site.

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