Daily Archives: September 27, 2013

SOE Tentatively Returns to Selling Content for Station Cash and Removes Equipment Unlocks

One of SOE’s big EverQuest II free to play fiascoes was, in my opinion, getting themselves in a position where they had to stop selling expansions and subscription time because they had devalued their RMT currency, Station Cash, so badly.  As the big chart over at EQ2 Wire showed, if you timed things right you could have ended up paying as little as $1.25 a month for a Gold level subscription back in the day.

Likewise, expansions could be had for a pittance compared to their list price in the face of sales at both the Station Cash and the Station Cash Store ends of the business.

So all of that clearly had to go, leaving me with the big question about what to spend all my Station Cash on.

Well, there was a change on the expansion front today as a new Producer’s Letter announced that SOE would begin selling the Age of Discovery expansion for Station Cash.  You can buy it as one big bundle for 4,000 SC, or as individual pieces totaling up to 7,000 SC.

  • Beastlord: 2500 SC
  • Mercenaries: 1500 SC
  • Tradeskill Apprentice: 1000 SC
  • Reforging: 1000 SC
  • Dungeon Maker: 1000 SC

According to the Producer’s Letter, the Age of Discovery expansion will cease to be sold for anything besides Station Cash as of October 1, 2013.  However, The Chains of Eternity expansion, and the upcoming Tears of Veeshan expansion, however, will require some real world money to purchase.

Still, this is actually something of a big step for their cash shop as it gives players something substantial to purchase.  I know some people love mounts and cosmetic gear, but it is nice to have something with some “heft” to it in the shop.

Who you calling, "fuzzy?"

My only cosmetic purchase, a bunny hat

In addition to that, and something that might actually get me back into the game to spend some of my Station Cash, it was announced that both Free and Silver level accounts would no longer face gear restrictions.  So when I go back to take a look at EverQuest II, my first in-game alert won’t be about how my character can’t wear his currently equipped gear.

This seems to be part of an ongoing loosening of the free to play restrictions on the game.  Previously SOE removed the restrictions on races and classes (except for the Freeblood vampire race and, of course, the Beastlord class) and has tinkered with things like bag slots before.

Free and Silver accounts still face restrictions on skills, character slots, and in-game mail access.

In turn, in order to set Gold level accounts… the classic $15 a month subscription option… apart from their lesser brethren, SOE will be boosting coin loot by 15% and mount speeds by 10%.  The former sounds okay, but mount speeds are already almost terrifyingly fast at this point, does anybody really need another 10%?

All this goes in place on October 1, 2013, along with a new Station Cash item that will boost your character 280 AA points.  Add in the whole Try and Buy a Heroic Character option and it seems like the EverQuest II team has been busy stirring the pot to get more people back in game.

If Your Friends Crossed the Rubicon, Would You Cross it Too?

-Why do certificates have what is essentially their own tool?
-Why do I have to open the tool in order to “claim” certificates?
-Why do I have to claim certificates at all?
-Why is the display of certificates chopped up into both type (defenses, gunnery, harvesting, etc.) AND rating (none, basic, standard, improved, and elite)?

Me, in a comment to a post about a silly certificate

My post a couple weeks back looking at the lack of expansion excitement appears to be getting a little more out of date.  Companies have been stirring.  Details have been leaking.  Announcements have been made.  Promises have been broken.

Yesterday’s big thing… for me and my fellow internet spaceship pilots at least… was the announcement of Rubicon, the next EVE Online expansion.

We all have that same splash screen image

We all have that same splash screen image

As is the case with EVE Online expansions, Rubicon doesn’t look like typical MMO expansion.  You can’t just add a new region of space, a new race or class or some such, thread it together with a story line and call it a day in EVE.

Sure, looking at the Rubicon site or watching the replay of the announcement (which is on that page), or looking at the summaries at The Mittani or EVE News 24 if you want more details and clarity (I think EN24 wins on the clarity front), it sounds like we are going to get some new stuff.

There are going to be some new ships and some new deployable structures and a new battleship missile module.

But a lot of what was announced sounds suspiciously like, “Yeah, we’re going to fix a bunch of stuff, some of which you have been complaining about for years.”  Welcome to New Eden.

This is why EVE Online “expansions” are free.

And while fixing stuff sounds like a “well duh!” level of effort, it can also a perilous journey.

EVE is, like no other MMO I have played, an ecosystem where unintended consequences can seem more the rule than the exception.  Who could foresee, for example, that the Orca would become the high sec suicide ganker supply ship?

And CCP has learned to tread carefully… for the most part… when making changes.  CCP can influence behavior.  They made tech moons valuable null sec property, which lead to a null sec cartel being set up, where enemies agreed to not fight over these moons.  Then CCP changed moons and redistributed them with Odyssey, and the war in Fountain was on, leading to the largest battle in the history of the game and the shattering of one of the biggest null sec alliances, which subsequently retreated to low sec.

So CCP has to show some care.

And some of the changes and updates for Rubicon seem pretty safe.  Revamping the current certificate system seems pretty non-controversial.  It fit a pattern I referred to as:

…a random, half-baked, over-complicated feature tossed into the game and left to stew for  a few years… that sounds like the standard CCP process.

The new Interbus Ship ID system, which will help players figure out where they are on the ship training tree and where they can go next, seems like a good idea as well.  EVE has a reputation with being miserly at doling out useful information to new players.  There is the steep learning curve, which maybe they can sort of explain away, but then there is the sheer bloody minded refusal to display simple data, like how many rounds of ammunition a given weapon can hold in its magazine and how fast it will shoot that ammo.  Moving away from that, even a little bit, is good in my mind.

And I suppose an integration with Twitch for streaming isn’t necessarily bad.  We’ll see how many more people end up disclosing vital intel by streaming their fleet ops I suppose.

But the rest of Rubicon… well, things will happen.

Ship rebalancing always changes up what ships people use and how they used them.  And throwing in a couple of new ships is always a crap shoot.  Will they be over-powered and suddenly dominate every gate camp operation?  Or will they fill no solid role and end up as something for ship collectors, role players, and the occasional eccentric?  And will it make that TIE fighter sound when you fly it?

Sisters of EVE Frigate

Sisters of EVE (SOE) Frigate

But it is some of the other items that I think will really spice things up, and not necessarily in the way CCP envisions.

Being able to control customs offices in high sec space… actually making them player owned customs offices… is clearly going to lead to conflicts over control of them.  But how far and wide will that go?  Will the struggle be limited to high sec entities looking for a bit of passive income?  Or will The Mittani be announcing “POCO-geddon” when things get quiet in null sec, leading to an all-out invasion for control of that aspect of the game?  You may say that the ISK wouldn’t be worth it, but that leaves out the value assigned to tears in some quarters.

And then there are the new personal deployable structures.  They sound interesting on paper.  I bet the siphon unit, which will steal resources from mining stations, will get deployed all over in hopes of picking up some resources from unwatched operations.

On the other hand, I suspect that we will see a such personal deployable structures become priority targets.  During the live presentation it was stated that for these structures, CONCORD won’t be getting involved.  You will be able to shoot them up in high sec without your ship being automatically destroyed by the NPC cops.

And, in EVE, when you say, “You may shoot another player’s things in high sec space,” you have to expect the response is going to be “SHOOT ALL THE THINGS!”

Rendered in internet standard language

Rendered in internet standard language

I expect scanning for these structures will become a new sport and hilarity to ensue.

So while I do not see anything in Rubicon that will mean much to me at this point, I do see lots of possibilities for changes to how people play the game.  That is excitement enough for me.

Unintended consequences; coming to you on November 19, 2013.