The PvE Sandbox; or how PvP is ruining my MMO’s one by one.

Does it exist?  And if so where can I find it?  That mythical game with no PvP.


I am reading over at The Ancient Gaming Noob about how Rift is now traveling invariably down the same path that crashed Warhammer and Fallen Earth.  That is, turning your MMORPG into an a  competitive 3rd person whack-a-skill-watch-the-dps-meter-and-create-some-macros paradise.  Granted, Rift is not there yet, because they haven’t, say…changed their entire damage and armor mechanic because it wasn’t good for PvP, or scaled their XP progression primarily around how many matches it would take to cap level.  But its the beginnings of those paths.


I’m beginning to wonder if its a foregone conclusion for any MMO that decides to saddle itself with the burden of PvP.  Its like a cancer that eats away at the heart of the game.  I wonder how many developer hours are wasted on balancing and fine tuning classes/skills/macros/3rd party support that could instead be used to generate new content.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-PvP, or World of Tanks would not loom large in my life.  Nor would I have spent as long as I did in EVE.  But the games I play for PvE content always seemed to be subjugated for some bizarre PvP dominance, as it that were the lifeblood of the games players.   And perhaps it is, which leads me, for yet another reason, to ask the question about the PvE sandbox.  Even TOR does not seem immune to its effects, as the earliest indications of patch 1.1.2 indicate.


Just for once, I’d like to see some PvP players crying a developer said “no” to their desired changes on the reasoning that it would disrupt the rest of the game world who are playing (::gasp::) an MMO.

State of My Game: November

I’ve been thin on content lately my friends – I had a large family wedding this weekend and this week a dear friend passed away, so I have been neck deep in friends and memorial arrangements.  Here’s where I’m at:

EVE Online 

I should be back in the fold as of tonight.  I have plans and alot of future posts planned about those plans, so stay tuned.  Mostly I’m excited to strap into that badass Command Cruiser and put it to good use in the coming PVE events in Incursions (when it finally drops I suppose).  Also on the docket – T2 missiles and projectile weapons.  Its time to diversify into the world of Minmatar.  Kudos to EVE Online’s re-sub discount, its one of the reasons I’m back.

Fallen Earth

I am back in here as well, working my way through some content to catch up with my brother.  Mostly I have my eyeballs on crafting though, as usual.  I have a severe case of motorcycle envy, and and even worse case of submachinegun/shotgun envy.  I’m trying hard not to blow all my points on Pistol to have one  *now*.  Kudos to Fallen Earth for their re-sub discounts.  Its one of the main reasons I’m back.  Seeing a  trend here?

Star Trek Online

I am around 700 skill points shy of my Nebula and Akira.  After that, I have no idea what, if anything, I will be doing in the game.  I continue to be intrigued by Diplomacy though.   Part of my slow progress in the game has been spending time (without spending Credits, because I know I will need them for the non-free Tier 3 ship) stringing together enough Diplo XP to open up more missions.  I’d really love to see them spend more time in that category.  I enjoy the space battles and land battles, but I need the exploration and conversational stuff thrown in to break up the monotony that can come from having an MMO where your skill bar has less than ten buttons on it instead of the normal thirty or so.  One other request Cryptic – and a small thing I never thought I would miss – color code the quests by level.  As it currently stands you have no way of seeing, until the quest is in your log, its difficulty relative to you.  Gimme that old “grey to red” colorscale to help me sort them all out, m’kay?

Rifts: Planes of Telara

There may or may not be an Alpha.  It may or may not have an NDA.  I may or may not be in it.

Everquest II

I haven’t been playing but I’m excited.  My wife and I’s ten year anniversary is upcoming.  She asked me last week what I wanted.  And I jokingly said “play some games with me.”  She pursed her lips and replied “one night?”  I said, “one for each year of marriage.”  She frowned.  “Okay,” I admitted, “I’m open to some negotiation here.”  If it happens, and it looks like it might, this would probably be where we would play.  No extra money, its pretty vanilla in terms of system, not alot of grieving going on, etc.

Pirates of the Burning Sea

Goes F2P this month, and it will be on like Donkey Kong.

The Reincarnation

I continue to urge you to this free warhorse of a game.  Its been going on for over a decade now, and is fantastic.  We are currently neck deep in a two front war, and about to open a third.  Its my third or fourth set leading our guild, and we have truly grown into a veteran war guild.  Despite the two front war, we have lost only one mage to each of those opponents, while slaying multiple foes on each front in response.  And another two will probably be dead before the day is out.  If you like strategic PvP, this is the place for you.  I imagined that would apply to alot of you EVE pilots out there…

So that’s it.  Add in my long reading list and my neglected novel for NaNoWriMo, and you’ve peeked inside my world this month.  Was it good for you?

State of My Game: September ’10

Well looks like I have shingles for another week – this according to my latest doctors visit on Monday.  I’ve also been told that I was lucky that we caught it early.  Normally shingles on the torso manifests around one nerver branch – with the rash covering perhaps a rib or two.   Mine is vertical from the top of my shoulderblade to midway down my back, wrapping around all the way to the front.   This week the fun has been numbness and itching, which don’t go well together.  Because it itches, and you try to scratch it, but you can’t feel anything.  Oi.

Anyway, onward to the games  (its more fun this way – if you see a game you dont play/dont like, just skip to the next one!):

EVE Online

I’ve decided to rest this one for awhile.  While there is alot still on my training list and I’d like to do planetary interaction, I just can’t seem to get motivated to do much more than change skills and sign in once a week to run a mission or two.  That’s still plenty of entertainment for $15, but I have other areas that would be probably more fun and productive.  My one big regret here is that this means the corp will probably sell that big beautiful Damnation they were building for me…

Star Trek Online

I swear I’m going to get that Akira before my sub lapses in February.  Consider it my other yearly goal or something.  Plus I want to see these new diplomacy missions.  Sadly enough though – I watched the AMC Star Trek Movie marathon last week (two weeks?) ago, and even that didn’t movitate me to play…

Champions Online

Free game time, for anyone (not just past account holders – new players will have access to the whole game) from today to September 7th.  That will be just enough time for me to check in on my favorite superhero and teleport around a bit.  And probably just enough time to get bored with the game again.

Fallen Earth

 Last night I went to cancel my subscription because my free time was out and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of my brother since he bought The Guild 2 (for the unfamiliar – its like a medieval version of The Sims).  I could have played some solo and been fine, but after 3 solid weeks of adventuring in the game, I was ready for a little break.  That turned into a big break when…well more on that later.  Anyway, as it turns out, they had billed my card for the month’s sub one hour and forty five minutes before I logged in to cancel.  I was *that close.*  Last night I was pissed about it, grumbling, and considered asking for the money back.  This morning though, I was of a more philosophical frame of mind.  The studio could probably use my money, I like what they’ve done, I’m not sure I’m really done with the game yet, etc.   Let it never be said that I’m not a generous person!

The Reincarnation

 And this is the reason I haven’t logged in to much in the MMORPG world lately.  My favorite free game heated up again when we got into a major war.  A three way alliance of guilds, totaling 77 players, taking on the servers favorite guild of villainous backstabbing players, totaling 30 in number.  Not fair yes, but the enemy brought it on their own head – running their mouth, trying to sneak spies into other guilds, leftover hostility from betrayals last set, etc.   I give them credit,  they were losing tactically just by shear numbers, but they made up for it strategically and diplomatically.  At first they war dec’d everyone, which caused us all to waste turns and trip over each other.  You can’t share battle reports and spell logs if you are not allied, and most of the other guilds weren’t going to ally for any number of reasons.  Then yesterday they simply disbanded their guild, leaving us to rebuild our enemylistings and battle morale issues from some of our guys who were ready to be done and thought that should be the end of it.   Thus far we’ve gotten 7 of them and only lost 1 of ours, and we have perhaps another 6 of theirs on the ropes that will go down in the next couple of days.   It will still make for a tough Armageddon though because we haven’t been able to drag down many of their top mages.  I’ve enjoyed being the guild leader again this set, particularly with all the diplomatic hurdles and hoops I’ve had to jump through.  Makes me want to play more Vanguard!


Yes, yes, yes.  I’ve really enjoyed it so far.  The limited races and classes has actually *helped* my game.  I know I can’t create mulitple crafting alts.  I know I can’t hoard my gold, I need to spend it on gear.  I’ve discovered two new classes that I passed over before that I really really enjoy (Warlock and Inquisitor).  I really like the new twists they put on the starter areas (yay no more annoying little girls in Feydark!)  though I still really do miss the trial islands.  And I’ve come to accept the fact that I like the Neriak and Gorowyn starting areas best, despite my earlier Gorowyn gripes.  The change up in skills was not as bad as I thought, and the new appearance flexibility goes way beyond what I imagined (you can be using a sword and board for group play and yet look like you are dual wielding axes, etc).  Some of the RP skills I liked (Summon Food and Water for example) are actually still available, but are considered “fun” spells now and can be purchased rather than given automatically.   Plus, I ran into someone who had transferred their level 90 over (a Shadowknight, what else?) and we had a good time talking as he ran me through Darklight Woods to the tune of 6 levels and 7 AA points.  While dumping a mound of gold on me (would have been platinum, but there’s that pesky cap on money).   I don’t know if this is representative of the whole game or not – but our group consisted of him with an active account, me with an inactive account – and two brand new players.   That’s a great sign for the game I think.

All that – and more than anything, all I want to do is shell out for a Station Pass.  How said is that?  All these good games, many of them for free, and I still want to spend money.  I guess the F2P systems works somehow then.  Perhaps alot like it worked for Wizards of the Coast when 3rd edition DnD dropped.  The Core Rules were free – but everything else cost ya.  And it made them truckloads of cash.

The downside is that it also made them greedy – hence no free stuff in 4th edition (I wish someone would take them to court over this, because I think they would win considering their public pledge that Dungeons and Dragons would henceforth, always and forever, be free).  But that would never happen to our friends in the MMO industry would it?



That’s the first time I’ve laughed out loud at game text in a loooong time.  Not entirely sure, but I I think it could be a subtle jab at WoW (Warhammer 40k developers – take note!).  I haven’t logged on in two days now, both from feeling ucky and from losing my brother to The Guild 2.

Hopefully I can manage to get in tonight.  I’d love to do some of that Iron Man stuff in the new EQ2X…

Game (and Health) Updates

Well, its been a pretty miserable week.  I have discovered that shingles carries with it a host of unknown reactions.  I’ve experienced pain, true, and not to the level that some have I know.  But I’ve also had odd things happen – random long term repeated muscle spasms, burning sensations in random places, sweating on the side with the rash but not on the side without, numbness, restlessness, and trouble concentrating.

So between trying to get  the bare minmum done to keep my job afloat, sleeping alot, and taking alot of meds, I haven’t had a whole lot of lucid, pain free time.  But I did manage to log a decent number of hours last week, mostly playing with my brother as he rediscovers the world of Fallen Earth.


I managed to pack in five levels, along with my first real sword, first real gun, and first real horse, all crafted by yours truly.  All quite satisfying.  But Fallen Earth itself, while fun and at times quite beautiful, is basically in a state of permanent beta.  The first time I pulled the trigger on my shiny new revolver – nothing happened.  Sometimes my character randomly holsters his weapons and tries to go fisticuffs on a mob.  I activated a clone mutation buff and ended up trailing sparkles for the next half hour.  And the lack of information, while at times exciting, can also be frustrating.  I finally, after completing four of the sector one towns, broke down and bought the only weapon crafting book I was missing.  Only to get it in the next town.  So I sold it for a pittance with storage space at a premium.  Only to discover a short while later that you can turn in sets of books you are not using for XP.  Oi.

In between, I logged some time in the new Free to Play version of Everquest 2.   I am terribly excited about it and fully intend to ride that horse till its dead.  I will probably also pay for a silver membership at some point.  I have some station cash from buying the last EQ2 expansion, and I hadn’t really found anything to use it on, and it would be nice to lift some of those restrictions.  I have found the renewed starter areas to be well done – kudos especially on reducing the annoying factor in the Fey starting area from an 11 to about a 2.

And as for EVE?  Well my sub lapsed halfway through the week, and I haven’t renewed it yet because I knew I wouldn’t be logging on during the week.  But I do plan to set that puppy up again.  I had just finished PI training, so its time to move back to the corporate stomping grounds with a satchel full of Amarr Starship Datacores and start grinding missions again.

Meanwhile, I continue to be intrigued by all of your great posts.  I will in the next day or so try to add in a few more blog links – there are some of you that have been active here that I havent added yet, and I need to do so.   And my health continues to be day to day.  I woke up this morning in a hell of a lot of pain, took alot of ibuprofen and went back to sleep – only to wake up an hour later in more pain that I started with.

Rest assured I will be doing some limited posting this week, and hope to return full bore next week.  So many games, so little time…

Narrowing The Field

Well my brother is now back at home, and the both of us of course signed up for the two free weeks of game time for Fallen Earth, because, well…we’re not picky.  We’ll play anything that’s free.  Well any MMO that’s free.  Unless its on Facebook I guess.  But I digress…

We started out with the same difficulty we had last time.  There are just so many choices in Fallen Earth, its hard to know what direction to move your character in.  After some reflection from my last time in the game, I had decided that I didn’t want to wait for crossbows to turn into rifles or BB guns to turn into real guns.  I wanted to do melee, and since I harvest like an hard case from Hoarders, I had to do crafting too.

Hey buddy, why the long face? Do you need a new sword too?

Enter one of the new things that has been added to Fallen Earth – character templates.  Not only for basic archetypes of characters, but to emulate the six factions in the game as well.  When they did that, they covered just about all the bases.  Even more ingenious – the templates are set up to use about 90% of you AP – leaving you a little reserve to customize your character.  This one change alone has improved the game by leaps and bounds.   I would love to see this model of character development put to use elsewhere.  It has helped us too to know who should craft what and when.  With the welcome addition of airsoft rifles, I have abandoned pistols altogether.  I went from carrying 6 weapons, unsure of what to do, to carrying 2 weapons that I am pleased to use (ok, well, plus grenades, but…).

With that little trauma out of the way, we have set about deciding to explore a little more of the world.    The world itself is still a nice change of pace, and certainly a little prettier than I remember it being before.  I did not check to see what my settings are on though, I may be able to bump it up and make it even nicer.  We’re currently in Clinton Farms so I can finish up a few quests to catch up to his level, but I think other areas are in store.  One other thing about the world – though the uneven distribution of resources is a pain sometimes, I think ultimately it will make for a nice dynamic economy and trading system.  Especially now that they have increased the spawn and drop rate of those harvestables.   Which is good because I need a new sword badly.

In particular right now, we need to explore how to lay hands on more skills.  I have only one melee skill, and the time on it is such that I get to use it once in any given combat.  Add to that fact that combat itself is rather clunky – or at least just inelegant, and I worry about the long term.  Course, since I primarily seem to enjoy gathering the components to craft, maybe it shouldn’t worry me all tha much.

Perhaps the funniest moment of the evening was seeing some people from a guild/clan call the Holnist Militia.  Presumable these are fans of the postapocalyptic movie The Postman, directed by/produced by/starring Kevin Costner.  While not a good movie, the post-apoc (PA) genre has few entries and some hardcore fans.  In the film, the Holnist Militia are badasses of the highest order, a solid paramilitary organization.

But my brother and I didn’t start with the failed film.  We started with the novel the film was (really, really) loosely based off of, by David Brin.  The novel won some awards and is excellent stuff.   But alot of the characters, groups, and actions aren’t the same.  Which led to the following comment from my brother.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you do your homework when selecting a guild or clan name.

Fallen Earth “Review”

(ETA: I *know* I hit PrntScr a number of times in the two weeks, but the folder is empty.  Whether this a bug in the game, or some version of user error, I don’t know.  In any case, my apologies.)

With all the hullabaloo in the last year over review processes and what constitutes a review, I’m hoping the quotes keep me out of trouble.   Nevertheless, this IS my review of my time in Fallen Earth, if you have a problem with it, just save yourself some heartache and move on.  The review comes in four parts: The Good (what I liked), The Bad (what I didn’t like), The Ugly (what needs work), and The Tilt (the x factor, stuff that doesn’t fit elsewhere).  Ready or not, here we go:

The Good

For all the supposed bugs and problems, once I was in the game itself, it was an incredibly stable platform.   I crashed only twice in two weeks, and once was due to my internet connection going down.  Compared to other games, this is great (I still disconnect once a night minimum from EVE – “socket closed” my foot…) and a good start.  The tutorial does what it should do – guiding you through the basics of the game and letting you practice.  The storyline was an added bonus I thought – it meshes well with the rest of the game.

Speaking of storyline, the lore and the atmosphere are fantastic.  It easily gives a solid vibe thats a mix of Wild West and Mad Max, and that is not a bad combo for post-apoc at all.  Contributing to this is the sheer amount of stuff you can find, use, and create in the game.  Kudos to the developers for not creating this smorgasbord, and then artificially limiting it by making some items clearly better than others.   People were using everything from closet rods to rusty dress sabres to golf clubs as melee weapons.  Armor is not quite as robust, but there are still several options available.

Quest hubs are easy to find and not overwhelming in their sheer number of arcs and tasks.  In the three areas I visited, the tasks were spread out 360 from the township, allowing for a good flow of traffic and keeping any one place from getting to crowded – many games don’t even attempt this basic design philosophy.  Quest rewards and drops themselves are good, I found myself equipping and using a mixture of both to good effect.  And as a sideline to this – transportation done right.  No instantly jumping across the entire play area, and fast travel has economic and logistic limitations beyond a “once and done” ridiculously high cost for a mount. 


The Bad

This can be summed up in two words:  Crafting and Economy.  Crafting consists of picking a recipe, hitting a button, which sends it to a queue with a timer.  The timer can be shortened if you stand around an area where a workshop is.  But since you can’t do anything else in that space, other than perhaps to chat or sell off extra stuff, your best bet is to head right back out into the big bad world and keep collecting things.  The only time the workspace benefits you is for long time items when you log off.  The crafting queue keeps rolling even if you are offline, much like EVE’s manufacturing slots – which is fine for a factory building a starship, but is a little hokey when you think about grilling your chicken salad while offing radiated mutants.  The queue also holds up to 25 items, further encouraging the queue and go mentality.  Even more vexing for crafters – every single crafting skill is based off of one attribute – Intelligence (with a minor bump from Perception).   Since your attributes govern your max for tradeskills, that means that you might as well throw some bullets in the queue with your chicken salad, because as a crafter, you are equally good at producing both.  It may be that at higher levels, the sheer time of the recipes limits your specialization – but devs should never underestimate the amount of time players are willing to waste on a game.

This ties directly to the economy.  Unless you are a hardcore PvP player, its well worth the invested points to bump your Intelligence so that you can produce your own gear rather than buying it.  The vendors sell the same items you can make, often for a huge markup over the cost of the materials – which are literally lying around on the ground for you to pick up, free of cost.  Since crafting requires no time investment seperate from adventuring,  even if you hate crafting, its not a burden at all to max it out.  Particularly if you plan to use gas powered vehicles (so you can make your own fuel) or guns (so you can make your own bullets).  There’s alot of speculation about what this does to the economy in crafting.  The only check and balance in place is that you can buy any mat from the right vendor for a set price.  So the auction house prices for mats will never inflate, tied to that max number as they are.  I’m guessing that they are betting that players will pay money to acquire particular items now as opposed to waiting a few hours, days, or weeks to craft the item (and yes, some items take that long).


The Ugly

While the game is stable, or at least was to me, there are a number of irritating bugs – items you should be able to craft not updating correctly with your skill, requiring a re-log.  Running to a harvesting node on the map, only to find that its bugged and no longer works.

A new type of quest – a tracking quest – is being tried out in the game, which basically involves traveling a bunch of way points before hitting the quest goal or target.  This is beyond irritating, especially since more than one that I did led me in a circle back to nearly where I began – and that was one where I was following a blood trail.  Apparently he was delirious enough from the blood loss to cross back and forth over the same area (ie, the enemy camp) several times.

That great variety of gear?  Yeah, that doesn’t exist with transportation or with ranged weapons.  Until you hit the second tier of areas, the only thing you will be wielding is zip guns or crossbows.  Apparently regular bows no longer exist.  Or throwing weapons.  And no one has thought to go back to muskets and arbesques yet. 

Combat is vaguely SW:G-esque.  You can zoom in with a scope on someones head, but why bother, when its not going to do any more or less damage then hitting them in the torso would, and it takes alot more time to aim and you have less of a chance of hitting your target when they start moving.  Switching between first and third person takes some getting used to, but isnt bad.  Switching weapons though, is a nightmare.  Only equip what you plan to use, would be my advice.  If you want to carry other stuff, fine, just lleave it in your pack.  Other than aiming and shooting, you can use the occasional skill.  At level six, having finished one crafter starting town, one combat starting town, and one support starting town, I had one skill for melee, one for pistols, and none for rifles.  Its not a bad thing necessarily though – its a tried and true system, and combat involves a lot of duck and weave movement, so trying to track whack-a-mole buttons is tough.  Still, its missing something.

The six factions are so badly stereotyped its almost impossible to empathize with any of them.  Its basically the treehuggers, the barbarians, the scientists, the military, the do-gooders, and the merchants.  And I must be missing something somewhere.  The best gear is supposed to  be faction gear – ie, the barbarians (ChotA) have the best melee weapons, etc.  And to gain faction with one group means losing twice as much with the opposing factions.  Which means your group/guild/gang/whatever will eventually be KoS in each others home towns…how is that supposed to work exactly?


The Tilt

With all that, I’d love to tell you that FE sucks and you should go do a different game.  But I can’t.  Its just too darn fun.   There is something great about the game itself that transends alot of the individual elements.  Some of it was visual – at level 6, I at least *looked* like a badass mofo.   Some of it is the character potential – the MMO market is ready to go classless, and this game is a great example of that.  I know its harder to balance, but seriously, its time for someone to get it done and get it done right.  One of the things FE is supposedly implementing to help with gimped characters is remapping – only this remapping will be done slowly – over the course of a week or two.  This keeps PvP from going nuts, but still allows for a surprise – pull your best healer off the line for a week and watch your opponents surprise when the meet him next!   And it promoted experimentation within reason – a big, big deal.  Players will play what they want, secure that they can make corrections or tweeks later, but few people will go out of their way to try outragious combos because it will suck away their play time.

And then too, is the setting.  This is a truly unique game right now, and it has a nice niche that will hopefully allow it to survive until it finds its footing.  The community is helpful and has their big-boy pants on, which is nice.  Part of this charm may fade too – the game truly feels post-apocalyptic right now, but as more and more player guides and maps and such come out, it will lose some of that mystique, and losing that will hurt this game more than it would say, your stock fantasy adventure. 

Final Tilt:  This is a game developed by a smaller company, and is a labor of love.  As a result, they listen to feedback (GM’s are on and vocal 24/7), are actively improving the game’s mechanics and content.  Given who they are, what they have accomplished here is that much greater.  Its worth buying the game even if you don’t keep going beyond the first month, because it rewards the gaming community in the long term to encourage this sort of approach and dedication to game making.

So, get to it.


TL;DR Version:  A flawed, but fun game, with a bright future ahead of it.  Give it a try.

Fallen Earth: What kind of game is this exactly?

One of these things is not like the others.
One of these things is not like the others.


Snagged one of the free 15 day trial keys for Fallen Earth today.  My brother bought the game at the beginning of the week and has been loving it and gave me a head’s up.  As its been patching today I had a few minutes to skim the patch notes.  And I begin to wonder exactly what kind of game this is…

How exactly would one equip….nevermind, just…nevermind…