Posts tagged F2P

Turbine Tries to Explain Epic Story Flip-Flop

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In a post that should have come before Sapience made the admission that the epic story would no longer be free, MadeOfLions tried to explain the reasoning behind the changes made with the Helm’s Deep Expansion.  I was pretty harsh on them for this announcement mainly because they didn’t admit the real reason behind the change.  I still don’t think this announcement is really true, but it as at least a better attempt.

I’m not going to re-write the entire post, but I do highly suggest you check it out.

I have issues with a couple of parts of it, first with regards to Isengard.  MoL says that epic story was developed assuming the Epic Story would be only included as part of that expansion, not free like it was.  That’s fine if its true, but that part was never communicated to the community and with the changes to Moria and Mirkwood, as well as Rohan, not to mention multiple Turbine quotes on the subject, we became accustomed to the free epic story.  I don’t understand why the story behind Rohan’s development wasn’t told, but perhaps that’s just because MoL wasn’t a part of it.  It almost seems to me like Turbine is trying to forget Rohan completely.

The other issue I have is that MoL claims the only way they could deliver the story and big battles in all their glory was to charge for the story, I just don’t get that rationale.  If I were to buy the expansion I’d get the story, so why wouldn’t you want to make it as good as possible?  Linking the story to the expansion doesn’t impact those who buy the expansion at all, if purely inflates the amount of people who buy the expansion.  Personally, I think it would’ve been better accepted to charge for Big Battles then the epic line using that same logic.

The final thing I posed to MoL on the forums was why if this is such an epic story with these massive battles that forced Turbine to make the hard decision to break their promise, are they only allowing 2 months to test it?

The reality of MoL’s post is that Turbine doesn’t have the team to do all the things they say they can and have in the past, and unless they start bringing in more money we will continue to see changes with this game.

 

LOTRO Helm’s Deep Pre-Order Debacle

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I don’t really like making my first post in a long while a rant, but I just couldn’t help it.  There are so many things I feel are wrong with this announcement that I needed to write about it.  I have been expecting this news pretty much any day since the middle of June, so I can’t be terribly surprised it came yesterday.  I’m also not surprised by what was actually in the announcement, but I was really hoping that Turbine would change its model from previous expansions.

Sure, Isengard was their best expansion ever, and one that I snatched up the legendary pack for immediately.  However, we’ve never heard a peep about how Rohan did and one can only guess that it didn’t do all that well.  I know from my own highly scientific polling, most people were either not getting the pack or using their Turbine points for it, like I did.  What Turbine failed to do with that pre-order was include items that people really cared about and wanted.  After 6 years, I think players are getting tired of titles (does anyone still care what title they show?) and have more cosmetic items then they know what to do with.  Combine that with the fact that we can only show off one horse at any given time, it makes it hard to really need all these extra things.

With Helm’s Deep, I was really hoping they’d include some other sort of item in the pre-order packs.  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what that would be – but I feel they should have tried something to switch things up from a model that clearly isn’t working.  One highly controversial item that would’ve tempted me is the rumored XP item that has been leaked.  I personally would love a way to bring a couple of my alts up to level cap but the prospect of leveling them is more then daunting and not something I have any intention of doing.  That to me would be the perfect “convenience” item, paying real world money to shorten my time in game.  And while they may not have learned anything about previous pre-orders bonus items, there’s more later about a trick they did pick up on

Next up would be the pricing, I again was hoping for something more along the lines of the Mirkwood model.  Not necessarily as confusing, but the base pack around $20 with a fluff option for another $20.  Instead what we got was a base of $40, a few more cosmetics for $60, and a horrifically overpriced Hobbit themed add-on for $40.  That hobbit pack includes:

  • 3 Star Lit Crystals which is 1195 TPs in the store
  • Scroll of Delving which is 195 TP
  • Relic Removal scroll which is 195 TP
  • and a Premium Relic pack which is 2000 TP (updated for all characters this is 3495)

So that totals 3585 TP, which is roughly $35 and if you’re in the US toss in an extra $13 for the movie ticket and it’s a pack valued at around $48.  It does appear that these items will still apply for your level 95 LIs, but no answer from a dev to the forum questions on this explicitly.  Even though the community has answered that store versions currently are not level bound, I would like a blue-name clarification that it will be that way with Helm’s Deep as well.  Clearly, if you’re not in the US this pack is not a good deal, and even in the US if you get a sale and/or a double point weekend (or stipend) it is probably better for you to pass on this.  After a twitter comment, if you play multiple characters, the relic pack is actually 3495 TP for all characters, so this does become a $63 value which is a better deal.

We still don’t know all that much about the expansion, even with the flurry of press articles.  If you actually think about those articles – what additional information came out that you didn’t know prior to the article?  At least with this expansion we don’t have to worry about the price and/or inclusion of an Instance Cluster since there is none.  However, at this time we still have zero information about the availability of using Turbine points to pay for the expansion, something we learned very quickly with the Rohan launch, later that day even.  This part doesn’t make sense to me since Sapience said they held off on the announcement to figure out a way to make the Hobbit pack international – so they had all this ready a good time ago and had to know this question would come immediately.  And after thinking about it a bit more, the fact that they’re floating the story that they didn’t announce the pre-order based purely on a freebie tie-in for a portion of the community is also a tad insulting.  If they really wanted to announce it, they would have (like they’ve done before) and make changes or inclusions along the lines.  But based on these prices and the fact that I’m sure there are many lifers like me with a healthy stash of TP, I highly expect the TP price for this expansion to be very high.

Getting back to Turbine learning their lessons, they did have an ace up their sleeve that they didn’t roll out until specifically called out on it, and this of course is that the Epic Story line which has been available for Free for a long time now (not quite since F2P launch) will only be available to those who purchase the expansion.  Here is Sapience’s initial response to the question as well as his follow up justification for the change.  <Update> Significantly after the fact, a slightly better explanation has come from MadeOfLions.  <Update> Initially I jumped to the greedy thought, but I’ve now come to realize what really bugs me isn’t that they’re being greedy (I still think they are) but that they’re not being honest or consistent in why they’re making the change.  If they had admitted it was a business decision to make the change, I would have been totally fine with it.  However, they are claiming that because Big Battles are such an integral part of the story, they need to charge for both of them.  Never mind that Helm’s Deep isn’t that big of a part of the books that LOTRO is based on (unlike the movies) as posted elsewhere but Turbine previously has included new technologies for free since they are so integral to the Epic Story line.  Legendary Items, many skirmishes, and Mounted Combat were all new technologies that significantly changed the game but since they were tightly integrated into the Epic Story line they were included for free.  No matter what real reason you think is driving this decision, the public answer clearly doesn’t make sense or justify what they’re doing.

The final piece of this announcement that truly boggles my mind is the date, November 18th.  If we look at past expansions, Rise of Isengard had almost 5 months of closed beta testing, without an instance cluster, before its launch, Riders of Rohan had 3 months but still pushed that launch a month and split up its instance cluster into 2 pieces to be launched significantly later.  This expansion will only have 2 months of closed beta testing, which is incredibly short considering that they’re introducing a “new” instance and rewards system as well as a complete and total revamp of EVERY class.  They haven’t updated every class at the same time since Moria, and not since Mirkwood have they actually succeeded in rolling out any kind of instance cluster at launch time, let along one that’s using “new” technology.  History shows us that both of these are both things that Turbine historically has trouble with so you’d like to think they’d want to make sure they did it properly.  I look at this in two ways, one cynical and the other incredibly pessimistically.  The truth is probably neither of them, but we’ll never know that.  From the cynical side, this is done to ride the wave of the Hobbit build-up to the second movie and get in before the holiday season kicks off in full gear, and was a date set by WB long ago.  Even if it launches at that time, I expect numerous patches and various things to be quickly closed off due to bugs and/or exploits.  As for the pessimistic view, this game is turning into an easy daily facebook style game, where difficulty has no place, so they don’t have to worry about class interactions or Big Battle difficulty at all.  They can just make sure classes work on their own and make the battles super easy and they’re done and ready for launch.

Riders of Rohan was the first expansion I didn’t pre-order on the day it was announced, and in fact I waited and bought it with Turbine Points.  Initially I wasn’t even planning on buying the Helm’s Deep expansion at all, even with Turbine Points, but now I’m not so sure since they made the epic chance.  Part of me thinks this is a clean time to part ways, but after almost 7 years in this world that is a hard thing to do.  Depending on how they handle things going forward I may cave and buy it with Turbine Points, but this announcement has really shown me how little Turbine understands the community.  The Player’s Council certainly has their work cut out for them.

 

The Secret World did NOT go Free to Play

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I woke up this morning to all sorts of articles in my RSS reader and twitter pretty much blowing up with news of the new model Funcom has adopted for The Secret World.  However, I have a slightly different take on it.  And I personally think this is a great move by Funcom and one that I really didn’t see coming at all.  Not only did I not see it coming, but I don’t see it as invalidating their previous public comments on going F2P, which is always important.

There are still lots of questions out there, but here’s what we know so far about the model:

  • You still have to buy the box for ~$30
  • There still is a subscription option which includes the following:
    • Daily 10% experience booster
    • $10 monthly store credit
    • Cosmetic item of the month included with the current DLC
    • 10% store discount

In addition to these benefits, two others were announced for those who bought in to the game early on:

  • GrandMaster pack holders (ie Lifers) will get an additional 10% across the board store discount
  • Those who bought the Initiate pack will get a credit of 1800 points of store credit

The interesting part of this model, and why I’m not calling it F2P is that all future updates (TSW calls them Issues) will be purchasable DLC by everyone.  That’s an important statement there, the DLC will NOT be included in either the subscription or the GM Pack, however we are led to believe that the $10 monthly allotment will more then cover said DLC cost.  The CM (community management) posts have mentioned a $5 price point for the DLC, which would still leave half of your point allotment available for fluff.  Each of the previous Issues (1-4) have included not just quest content but also system changes, which will be included for free for those who have bought the game.

I personally LOVE this move for a couple of reasons:

  • it isn’t a F2P model
  • they benefit from all the haters claiming they’ve failed
  • assuming the DLC costs less then the monthly allotment, a subscription is MORE valuable
  • Lifers get tangible benefits
  • They know the pitfalls – aka power items and lootboxes which “won’t” be in the store
  • players still have the choice of what they want to play and pay for
  • what they’re including in that initial $30 is a HUGE amount of content including instances, raids, and role-play options

In addition to all of this, there are a couple other goodies out there:

  • If you purchased the Initiate pack you’ll be granted 1800 points
  • Issue 5 content will be included if you purchase in December
    • otherwise it will be the 1st DLC available starting in January

When comparing my lifetime subscriptions (I have 2 for MMOs), I will take TSWs anyday – assuming the DLC price will remain around that $5 price point.  I fully expect it to wiggle a bit based on what’s in the update but it should stay under that $10 allotment.  Compare this to LOTRO (my other lifer):

  • LOTRO requires me to buy expansions which TSW doesn’t have
  • both offer store point allotments
  • TSW offers a stackable store wide discount for both subscribers and lifetime members

The only potential downside I see to Funcom’s model is a hinted at 6-month lifetime for your accrued bonus points.  As long as the DLC is LESS then the monthly allotment, this really isn’t and issue and also prevents the problems LOTRO is running into right now with lifers sitting on more points then they can spend.

Why am I so excited for this change?  I now have the option to exercise one of the coolest part of TSW, the cosmetic system, to its fullest.  I will now have a monthly allotment of points to spend on not just those toys, but also things like the Albion Theatre.

If you’d like to rage or praise this change, there is an official thread posted but like all threads I’d suggest you think before posting as this isn’t a model we’ve seen before in an MMO.

All of this positivity is of course based on the fact that I honestly do trust the Funcom development team much more then the Turbine team, but I’m curious what pitfalls do ya’ll see?

 

Mounted Combat in LOTRO Purely a Gimmic?

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Don’t get me wrong, I actually really enjoy mounted combat and like the way it was implemented.  I was holding out hope that we would see the system grow and evolve over time as an integral system to the game, like Skirmishes and Legendary Items.  However, according to Aaron “Rowan” Campbell that might be quite a stretch for what they have planned for the system.

In an interview released by the folks over at LOTRO Reporter:

they get a preview of two of the three man instances.  If you don’t want spoilers on the instances themselves you can watch the first little bit and then the Q&A session starts at around the 48 minute mark.

The first question revolves around Mounted Combat instances and Aaron’s answer is:

“It is something we’re thinking about, but is not in our current plans”

So there you have it, mounted combat instances will happen around the same time we see a new PvMP map.  Now while you may suggest that this just means near-term, Aaron also states later on that they have very detailed and lengthy plans for the game’s future development.  I realize that this is fine for many of you, but it really puts a bit of a sour note on the whole Rohan expansion for me.  When looking at the expansion now, you really can’t consider MC (Mounted Combat) to be a new system, it is purely a side game to keep people occupied and have them learn something else.  These mounts really won’t grow with us, nor will they be integral to our character progression at all, unlike systems introduced in other expansions.

Not to mention the shear lunacy of the cosmetic pricing of the war-steeds, coupled with the high cost of the expansion, and one could argue that this was Turbine looking for another way to earn money without having to solve some of the more complicated problems.  They probably realize that cosmetics are a huge revenue stream for them, so why not put in a new kind of horse and charge people per character to do any customization on it.  And unlike their other cosmetics which can be stored in an account wardrobe, everything we do to our horses must be done for every character.  I think many people would have been quite content with mounts 3.0 that allowed you to obtain account bound (or store in a wardrobe) cosmetics that you could wear around on mounts that would behave like the existing horses.

One of the main reasons I’m frustrated by this is that I just don’t feel LOTRO is evolving as it ages.  Sure we get little things here and there, but there’s not much of an actual progression.  The only progression we have is the story (which I do enjoy) with everything else seemingly becoming more grind-tastic.  If you look at this expansion as we know it now, all it really brought was more story and landscape, with some underlying mechanical changes.  The way we actually play the game and what our characters can do hasn’t changed at all.  I was really hoping that Mounted Combat would be that new mechanic that allowed you to really customize how your character played and have that actually matter.  The reason why I tied this systems to Instances is that Instances are the only reason they’d need to make changes to the system to make it less of a DPS race.  If you don’t have instances, there’s no reason to worry about things like agro and healing.  Like I’ve said before, even the raid war-band can be solo’d and that along with this announcement show me that they have no intention of improving the system beyond what it is now.  I was looking for Mounted Combat to provide a broader gameplay experience like other systems that have been implemented since launch.  While you may argue about the utility of it, you can actually do a significant amount of tweaking using the Legendary Item and Skirmish systems to customize how your character plays.  And while it is technically true that you don’t need to skirmish to play the game, it is a pretty significant portion of the end-game content.

Sadly it looks like I’ll add one more horse to my ever growing stable of horses I’ll rarely ride.

 

LOTRO Bullroarer 3rd Round of Patch Notes for Update 9

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These are pretty short and sweet, but in addition to these there have been two posts clarifying the Hobby Horse fiasco, and I have to admit I’m not sure I like their response any better.

First xRaina comes out with the following post, where she also confirms the horse will not be live AT THIS PRICE, so I expect 1995 TPs:

From what you appear to be saying, something with a high price would have to have more of a use to it.

So this to me indicates the uber mounts or better gear is now on the table.  I’m really not sure how you can possibly add more use to an item without breaking that concept.  We shall wait and see, but comments like this from the Community Team will not go over very well.

As for the tone of her previous post on the feedback requested, she says:

The reason I don’t read the rants is that I can’t figure out what to tell the developers you don’t like from rants.

While I do get that point, I think the goal of the rant is to express frustration and dislike for some system, so while not directly useful they do a VERY good job of setting the tone of the community.

As for the actual patch notes themselves, a couple big things jumped out at me:

  • Race specific loot in the Ettenmoors
    • This won’t be your actual gear, but race specific trophies
    • Yay, more stuff to fit in our bags!
  • Changes to the Warden Interrupts are better but still not totally right
    • Each interrupt gambit will have their own Cooldown which ONLY applies to the interrupt portion
      • The cool-down appears to be independent of whether or not the interrupt actually works
      • while this is better, you can still put trigger your interrupt CD if you try to use Wall of Steel for defensive purposes or Onslaught for DPS.
  • No mention of the Hytbold instance issues
  • No mention of changes to the Yule festival

I’m not real sure what to take about all this, I like a lot of what’s coming with Update 9 but there are a lot of big flags there that cause me concern.

 
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