Greedy Goblin

Thursday, May 5, 2016

BDO: Amity and quests

As I've said, main levels are gained from grinding. (Combat) skillpoints are gained both from combat and quests. But Contribution Points and bag space come from quests. The main questline and the default "kill 10 wolves" (mixed with "kill wolves until you get to know their weakness") quests are fine to get enough CP to activate the nods where you happen to level and allow turning in trade coins.

"Life" quests give the majority of CP and you'll need a lot of that (soft cap is around 300) for your industry, unless you want to live from grinding mobs forever (you probably don't). Many life quests are activated simply by turning them on at the top of the quests interface. These range from "go to other NPC and give a gift" to "get 10 Maple timbers" (that's actually repeatable and the NPC stands 5 feet from the market NPC in Heidel).

Other quests are opened when the NPC likes you enough. This is called "amity". You can raise amity by a "chatting" minigame, which is hard to start, due to translation mistakes in the UI. So I actually make a guide here instead of linking, just to let you start it. You can hone your "chatting" skills later after you can actually defeat this monster. By the way, like in EVE, being "social" means socializing with NPC agents. Socializing with other players is called "PvP".

At first, you need to collect "knowledges", things to chat about. You get them from other NPCs. When you see a little ? on the minimap, that's an NPC you don't know. Talk to her and you get at least get to know her (get the knowledge of that NPC) and usually she offers this or that knowledge for a few energy points. Some NPCs refuse to talk to you until referred by another. You get to know monsters by killing them until you learn their weaknesses. You learn places by visiting them. Finally some topics are told by NPCs if you do quests or raise enough amity. The one in the picture offers three knowledges at higher amity. Each NPC has a favorite topic and when you talk to them, you see it on the left side. That box also contains all the knowledges of that topic, with the unknown ones replaced by ????????. If you have many unknowns, your options will be limited and you are advised not to try the minigame for anything else than getting to 10-50 amity. Playing the minigame costs energy and you run out of that very fast if you do life quests. Energy replenishes 20/hour.

So, on the top you see the the task. There are 5 types, you can get the details here, I just get you started:
  • Spark interest: Mouseover knowledges, and select ones with high percentage in the yellow box
  • Fail to spark interest: opposite
  • Get accumulated favor: to get it, you both have to spark interest and get high favor, which is the second line in the yellow box. So the example knowledge isn't the best for this goal with 0-0.
  • Get maximum Favor: similar to accumulated, but if you fail a topic, the counter resets, so you must have a chain of knowledges that provide the goal in one run
  • Talk freely: lucky round, sure win
After solving the minigame, you get amity and can quit and keep it or risk it and get more. If you choose the first and play again instead, you need to sacrifice energy points again.

There is one more thing to talk about: knowledge combos: the first is that if your chance is higher than 100% at one knowledge, only 100% is displayed and some extra goes to the next knowledge, so a 60% knowledge will have more than 60% chance to succeed if it's after a 100% knowledge. Secondly, some knowledges have special effects, for example this one has "After 5 turns, Interest Level will be reduced [sic] by 10 for 3 turns." This means that if it's the first knowledge in the chain, the 6th, the 7th and the 8th will get +10 Sparking interest, greatly increasing their success chance. You don't have to count, because the tooltips of the inserted knowledges will show it - partially:

Same combos exist for favors too. When you see only 4-5 slots in the minigame, some will be visited twice. Good luck with the minigame and remember, if it's too hard, you probably miss important knowledges, come back later.

Finally: the amity shop. The shop of the NPC or some items in it are locked until you reach the needed amity. When you buy these items, you lose the amity, so you have to raise it again to buy. As the minigame costs more energy at high amity, it's dumb to raise it to 300 to buy 3x100 amity items. Raise it to 100, buy one item, repeat. I made my first "big" money for buying the lowest horse saddle from the stable master for 10000 (or 15K?) coins and 100 amity and sold it for 35K coins in the marketplace.

Finally a headache-stopping advice: the annoying battlecries at every single attack is under "dialog" and not "combat sound". Turn that off and your head won't hurt!
A question: can you (and how) transfer coins or items from one player to another?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Black Desert Online leveling

There is no point copy-pasting BDO guides from the internet. But I want to talk about what's ununsal for a former WoW or EVE player that can lead you away screeming, like I screamed when I tried out BDO the first time. Luckily I was desperate enough for a new project to give it another try and do hours of reading before trying to play again. Even the pre-start experience is bad: the classes are gender-locked and if your class is set female, good luck customizing an avatar that doesn't look like a stripper. And high heels on a combat avatar after Jurassic World?!

First thing first: the default controls are atrocious. I don't know if the game was originally developed for consoles or whatnot but the dozens of skills were supposed to be activated by pressing various combinations of directional movement keys, 3 modifier keys and the mouse buttons. For example my main damage skill should be activated by S + Right mouse (WASD movement). Screw that! After you did the training quests that include some of these combos, ESC-Settings-Input and set proper keys for "Hotkey 1-10" and pull the spells and items to your hotbar and never look back! Unfortunately the old "combos" still work, so you can still activate them accidently, but that's not that obtrusive. Also in ESC-Settings-Game disable the "General notifications" which is a really annoying bunch of spam informing you that this and that player achieved this and that great achievement or bought this or that epics, probably to push people keeping up with the Joneses.

After you managed to start playing without your head exploding because of the controls and you stopped feeling stupid because of the heels, you notice that something is very different from standard, level-based MMOs: quests barely ever give XP. Grinding isn't the "best", but the only way to level up. Sure, if you do quests, the mobs killed give XP, so you don't have to abandon questing to level, but make sure you turn off non-combat quests or you never level up (quest menu, top icons).

Quests reward contribution points that you can use for industry purposes later. Now just use them to upgrade the nodes where you fight monsters for more drops and to rent gear from NPCs. You can't lose contribution points, you get them back when returning loaned items or withdrawing from a node. Quests also reward items, inventory space, skillpoint and knowledge from the world (more about that tomorrow). I recommend doing the main questline (the one of the Black Spirit) and any quests that tell you to kill whatever you want to kill.

Grinding itself is also very different from what you learned in MMOs: monsters are tightly packed and very quickly repop. So you can't clear a zone so if you don't outlevel the monsters, you must skirmish their zone edge. All your skills have AoE component, so you can (and practically must) fight numerous enemies. Looting must also be done during the fight and unfortunately there is no AoE loot (in 2016). Luckily monsters can't outrun you, so you can pass through a zone full of monsters unless they can oneshot you.

There is no point up-engaging, red monsters don't give as much more XP as their time to kill increase. There are no dedicated tanks and healers, everyone has some self-upkeep abilities and must evade monster attacks, therefore movement is very important and that's why the involvement of movement keys in skill activation is a very stupid idea. You can encounter "violent" monsters, they are elite versions of the normal ones and aren't really worth killing, XP and loot wise, but they are good practice for bossfights. Since bosses and elites are usually immune to various abilities, it's a good idea to pull normal monsters along with the big one to use the abilities that give you combat resources, drain life or build up combos.

You can click on the map or press the location icon of a quest or select the nearest NPC from the button next to the minimap and your character autoruns to that location. As soon as you can, buy a horse from the stable master and use it for faster transportation. Don't bother with the capturing minigame, you'll have enough money very soon. Be sure to park the horse out of the combat zones or monsters eat it. You can always locate your grazing horse by right-clicking the horse icon. If you press Alt during location clicking, you can create a multi-waypoint path (good against autorunning into ravines) and if the route meets its end in a full circle, you can autorun it again and again to level up your running or horseriding (have carrots in your inventory for your tired horse).

Your main income source during leveling will be monster drops. Sell cheap crap to vendors, sell coins to "trade managers and expensive items on the marketplaces which are available in the capital cities. The trade managers will buy very low if the source of the coin isn't connected, one more reason to use those nodes.

Items have weight and you have limited slots. So warehouses in cities are must be used. Click the "Storage" icon on the NPC search interface. Surprisingly, silver coins also have weight, but they can also be held in warehouses and you can use the stored money for buying on the marketplace. Storages of different cities do not share, but you can transport between them.

I still don't know if I'll have a project in the game or just play it once for the sake of playing, but so far I like it.

PS: if I stay in the game for long, I'll spend real money to buy something non-stripper looking for her!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What is a "fair game"?

You now see two warning pages against EVE Online and World of Tanks. I no longer play World of Warcraft and League of Legends among many games I used to play but stopped, but you see no warning page against them. I posted why I stopped playing them (one being an on-rail quasi-single player game, the other is a zero-depth twitch game), but no way in hell I advise you against them. If you like them, go have fun! The two I'm warning against aren't genres I don't like, I like them both a lot. They are not badly made games, they are pretty high quality. I warn them, because they are unfair games and this isn't obvious on the first look. I mean after a few minutes gameplay you can figure out that you can't expect great battles and grand strategy in League of Legends. But you can play EVE or WoT for years with only a vague "something isn't right" feeling that sucks the life out of your play. If you grab a piece of paper and write pros and cons, the pros are dominating the page and you supposed to enjoy the game, but you can't.

The definitions of a "fair game" are:
  • The game mechanics are clear and well documented.
  • EULA and other game rules are also clear ("don't be a jerk" is clear for a decent person)
  • Both set of rules are universally enforced, there are no exceptions, VIPs, special cases
World of Warcraft fits this description. You can read up every encounter of spell. The GMs are professional and distant, but quick to act against exploiters and harassers. There is a combat log to see what happened in the fight, it's always clear what went wrong (it's never "I got unlucky"). WoW is "what they offer is what you get". It's not for everyone, it's clearly not for me, just like women's clothes are not for me, but it doesn't devalue women's clothes shop.

World of Tanksmatchmaking is completely undocumented. There is not even a token promise that it won't put you into unfair situations. After lengthy research I've found that it's totally unfair, rewarding bad performance better than good. There are also no logs to verify that spotting, hitting and penetrating are working as they should. I believe they aren't, but can't prove it. The point is that in WoW I can prove that my crit chance is actually the crit chance from my character page or not by parsing few hours long combat logs.

EVE Online is nepotism paradise. If you are an "important content creator", you can get away with anything from suicide bully to open RMT and you get to influence the development to favorize you. If you are not VIP, you are out of luck and there is no limit how far your enemies can go to attack you in real life with the company doing nothing or even with devs participating.

Please note that pay-to-win isn't an issue here while it's documented. A game selling sword of uberness openly is a fair game. It doesn't mean you have to play it if you don't like this mechanic. Just like you don't have to play a game which allow someone outearn you by "playing" 20 hours a day. But they are clear what they are selling, take it or leave it. You are a grown person not living in the insane asylum, you should be able to figure out if the offer is good or not. In the cases of unfair games you can't until you made some extensive research and found the inconsistencies. For those you can only trust in the experience of those who already got burned.

I'm not sure if I'll like Black Desert Online. But I really hope it won't have hidden tricks and my "don't play" list won't get longer.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Black Desert Online, round 2.

As I've said, I've hated BDO first time. But I got awful lot of good advices (advantage of being high-traffic blogger) and now can start again. It's still not my favorite, but I can manage now.

I'll write detailed guides of what I've learned, so if there is a project after all, you can start the game much more smoothly than I did.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Minipost: This was the worst game experience ever

... and the worst spent 30 Euros. I bought Black Desert Online and positively hate it. I can't even tell what I hate the most of it:
  • Is it the complete lack of in-game tutorial?
  • Or maybe the lack of written manual? I've found third party manuals but they are either for older versions and the interface has changed or simply bad. I think the nodes and workers are somehow important, but I cannot figure it out how to use it.
  • Is it the lack of quests to direct or obvious clues how to interact with objects found during exploring? (compare it with EVE: asteroids are obviously for mining, rats are obviously to be killed, wrecks to be looted and salvaged)
  • No, the thing I hate the most is the combo-based combat system. You must press combination of hotkeys to call out a spell while holding the crosshair on the hostile(s). To make it worse, most of these combinations include movement keys, so if you try to move during combat, you usually activate some completely inappropriate spell instead of moving ... and die.
I don't care how deep and meaningful the endgame can be. I don't care how great project I can conjure up later. No way in hell I'm going to spend a minute more with these abomination.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The death of subscription gaming

I've checked EVE Central to see if there is any change from the old trend, but no. PLEX is 1B while skill injectors are 635M, so the 1 month old data is still right and actually it's even more right today: an SP farmer pilot gets 570M/month for a few clicks. Please note that two SP farmer alts get enough profit to PLEX the main pilot who don't have to sell skills. So you can play like you did last year without paying anything. Perfectly free to play.

This isn't an EVE post. CCP did nothing for these prices, these are completely player set. It's the players who offer so much money (ISK or real) for the injectors that it's profitable to just run SP farmer alts. Even worse: one with 1B ISK (farmed or PLEX-ed) can choose to PLEX his account or buy 1.57 injectors to receive 0.63M SP (at least 20% is lost when injecting over 5M SP). As this is the equilibrium price, we can conclude that for the average EVE player 0.63M SP right now is just as valuable as 1.8M SP over a month plus 1 month game access.

The naive gamer opinion is that the Golden Age of fairTM subscription or buy-to-play models were destroyed by short-sighted suits who know nothing of gaming. Now we have unquestionable proof that the average players value in-game items much higher than access to the game and those who are ready to give up some in-game advantage (by extracting the SP) for free to play are a minority. It's not just some whales are being stupid, the average players demand more in-game stuff to be available for $.

With this result, the "everyone pays the same" model is dead. Well not completely, it can exist as a niche thing for "pure" gamers who demand "fairness", but they can upkeep only indie games and not AAA ones. Why? Because if someone would create a "fair payment" good game, someone would make a clone of it and the players would abandon the first for the second, where they can buy progress with their wallets.

I know it's hard to face the truth and easier to just blame "evil suits", but it won't change the facts: we, the players killed subsription gaming.

Little EVE business PS: people are creating the wildest conspiration theories why PLEX prices are crashing. Not like someone didn't predict it long ago. Short version: since Goons fell and the whole politics is in turmoil, it's no longer sure that New Jita will be built in time. Every month old Jita is used, about 15T/month is sinked out of the economy, instead of the usual +10T/month ISK increase. As a result, the remaining ISK will be more valuable. Therefore every half-decent speculators are selling everything and "invest" into ISK. This of course means dumping PLEX deposits too.

PS2: my miniproject is complete, post will be up on Monday, then I try out Black Desert Online.