Free-to-Play Faux Pas – Time Limited Gear

Recently I’ve popped back into All Points Bulletin since it’s gone F2P.  I like what GamersFirst has done with it.  Unfortunately they have hit what I think is the major Free-to-Play faux pas, time limited gear.

Now I get that they need to make money somehow.  I do.  But having gear which is limited in real-time which confers no bonus to be unless I am playing is the antithesis of a major reason why F2P games are so attractive.  Namely the ability to pick it up every now-and-again and not feel like you’re wasting money.

In APB I can unlock a gun for 10 days.  10 consecutive, real-world days.  Early on some players were having connection issues to the servers.  Dropping every 5-10 minutes kinds of issue.  As such I decided to just set the game aside for a week or two to let GamersFirst fix the problems.  I returned this week to glorious, hours long gangland warfare.  But my gun unlock had expired over a week ago.

APB is not unique in this.  This is a common model for other GamersFirst games, War Hawk being the example I tried a year ago.  Runes of Magic does the same thing on some of its items as well.  In APB it isn’t so bad since the unlock wasn’t for real-world money, just in-game currency.  The real-world money unlocks are thankfully permanent.  But, really, if the item I am unlocking can only be used when I am active then the time-limit should be for 10 real-world game-play days.  If it confers some benefit while I am offline then, fine, 10 consecutive real-world days is fine.

Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates does just this.  To play the parlor games you need a parlor badge.  The badge is good for 30 game-play days.  I log in during a 24-hour block, that uses up one game-play day whether I log in once for 5 minutes or a dozen times for 5 hours.  I’ve bought a parlor badge and had it last 9 months because I only logged into Y!PP a few times a month.  Meanwhile to get a steady job at a stall requires a worker badge.  That badge is also good for 30 days.  But since my toon works at the stall regardless of me logging in during any given day it lasts 30 consecutive real-world days.

Y!PP’s system makes perfect sense.  You’re not punishing your on-again-off-again customers for not playing.

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Xena and Xara Come Home!

For the past few weeks I have been hit with a mild case of the wuzzies.  Every time I had to venture into Petco I’d go sneak a peek at the ferrets.  Ok, it was longer than a peek and I was hardly sneaking.

Late last week I located a local ferret shelter that was active and had some ferrets up for adoption.  After much hemming and hawing (the majority on my part) my wife and I headed down to take a look and pick out a ferret.

The woman who runs the shelter, Donna, had picked out a few potentials for us knowing that we were already ferret owners.  First were two single boys.  A silver named Chesterton and a sable who’s name I didn’t catch.  Both were big boys, around 2 years old and mellow.  Probably tuckered out for the night.  In the cage with them were two girls, Xena and Xara.  Both are blazes, or pandas, can’t quite tell which yet.  Cute as can be and quite active.  Xara was described as a trouble-maker with Xena being a tad more mellow.  They were one of the bonded pairs that Donna would not split up.

My wife, who had said she only wanted one as we wanted to stick with a 3 ferret limit, suggested the girls.  They were a tad younger and girls are easier to handle when it comes to illnesses later in life.  On the other hand I was drawn to Chesterton because he was a beautiful silver and reminded me much of Samson.  The choice was up to me.

In the end I picked Xena and Xara.  Not because I wanted two (I would have happily walked out with 5 which is why my wife was riding herd on me) but because in the end Chesterton did remind me of Samson.  I didn’t want to replace Sammie.  No ferret can replace Sammie.  It wouldn’t have been fair to Samson’s memory or to Chesterton to pick him based on his resemblance to Samson.

So here’s the best first-day picture I could get of the new girls.  Xena’s the one on the ramp.  Xara’s the blurry one to the right.  Honestly, this was the clearest picture of her because she just wouldn’t stop moving for 2 seconds.  Oh, and Fex’s nose at the bottom of the frame.  He spent a good hour just watching them as they settled into the bottom of the cage.

Xena and Xara

Google+ vs. Facebook – Post Security

Thanks to a recent invite from a former coworker of mine I’m able to play with Google+.  At its most basic operation, creating a post, I like what I see in terms of security when compared to Facebook.  It’s two simple concepts that show the different approach to what gets shared and what doesn’t.

First here is Facebook’s post box:

Quick, who gets to see this post?  Who is excluded, if anyone?  We have no clue.  Yes, we can highlight the lock to see what this post is set to but that requires active participation on our part.

Now here’s the same portion from Google+.

Quick, who gets to see this post?  Who is excluded, if anyone?  It is going to my friends and family.  Who is excluded?  Everyone else.  I don’t have to expand that box.  I don’t have to mouse over anything.  If I am posting something that, for example, my coworkers should not see I know with a glance that they aren’t, or more crucially, are able to see this post.

Furthermore Facebook’s default is to include everyone at a certain level (public or friends) unless excluded.  With Google while there an option similar to “Friends”on Facebook (Your Circles) we can select specific circles, everyone else is excluded.  This means to send something to friends and family on Google I just add those two circles.  On Facebook I have to set it to Friends then exclude all groups I don’t want to see it.

IE, Google+ is opt-in, Facebook is opt-out.  It is a subtle difference but as anyone who has filled out a form and had to uncheck “add me to the mailing list” knows, it’s an important one.

Hopefully this is a sign of Google’s take on our privacy.  One I hope they will not forget, like Facebook did, as time goes by.

A Tale of Two Combat Systems

As I’m sure everyone knows by now Funcom’s Age of Conan has gone F2P.  A good move, I approve.  Because of this I decided to give it another go.  I popped back onto my trial toon, a level 5 Dark Templar, and started mucking about.  After about 10 minutes I was ready to throw things at my monitor in frustration.  Why?  Because I play a Warden in LotRO.

LotRO’s Warden uses a system called Gambits.  You have 3 basic moves (Spear, Shield, Fist) which combine into special moves, Gambits.  Once you’ve built a Gambit you can fire it off with another button press.  So, for example, if I want to put a DoT on the mob I am fighting I would do Spear, Shield, Fist then fire off the Gambit.  I need to place a HoT on myself?  Shield, Spear, Shield, execute.  Taunt an enemy?  Fist, Spear, execute.  The system is very fluid, quite challenging and excellently tuned to a keyboard MMO player such as myself as I never need more than 5-6 keys to access all of my powers.  I just have to remember all the sequences.

In AoC they have combo moves.  In AoC you have 3 basic moves (at the start).  They correspond with the direction of your attacks.  Upper Left, Upper Right, Middle.  To execute a combo you need to chain those basic moves together.  Sounds like the Warden, right?  Slight difference, you have to choose the combo you want to execute ahead of time.  For a keyboarder like me this is horrible since 1-3 are taken up by the normal moves.  I have to mouse click the combos I want.  Clunky as hell once you’ve had any experience with LotRO’s Warden.

Now, if I’m wrong and there’s a way to do the LotRO style I’d love to be proven wrong.  I could probably go far in AoC if that’s the case.  But without that I can’t see AoC being something I could enjoy.  It saddles the worst aspect of traditional MMOs (tons of skills, limited keyboard space) with an additional system which doesn’t help in any way.