Monday, December 10, 2007

Version Update Cynicism

Greetings fellow Entropians and newcomers alike.

Well VU 9.1 is on its way and it will show up much faster than many of us would like. I have been around to see my fair share of Version Updates. It got me to thinking in the past year or so my attitude about VUs has changed and in my eyes changed a great deal.

I used to look forward to the new content and bug fixes Mindark would implement. I always wondered what new thing would pop up to improve my experience or make me look at Entropia Universe, or Project Entropia for the old timers, in a new way. My attitude pre-Version Update was usually on top of the world and much to my wife's dismay I would chant "VU day! VU day!" in utter excitement (yes I am still a child at heart lol) I understood that every VU would have its hiccups and issues but most of that was something I know I could work through and I think most people who enjoy EU could work through also.

Something changed within this past year. Version Updates brought about big changes many of which could not be seen in any participant's interest. Yet most participants worked through it and still continue to do so to this day. Those VUs have left a community wide cynical streak which I find even myself falling into. I find that excitement building and want to chant "VU day! VU day!" again but its soon tempered by recent Version Update experiences where I find myself saying "careful what you wish for you might just get it and not in the way you think"

Version Updates have turned into a mixed bag of emotions for me. Excitement tempered by cynicism which can turn into dread at the realization what certain so called "improvements" can and will do to the loyal community Entropia Universe continues to host.

Are many of us just becoming to jaded by the Version Update experience? Am I just loosing that "child at heart" view of Entropia Universe and now all new content will come at a cost?

I don't want to have such an attitude but lately it seems like every step forward in things that enhance the Entropian experience come with a cost that makes us take two steps back.

I miss that excited anticipation Version Updates would bring and the crazy looks my wife would give me all the while wondering who the hell is this grown man running around chanting "VU day! VU day!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

3D Internet, the way of the future?

What is the evolution of the Internet?

I have been pondering this question for some time now since I started posting on Blogtropia. While I see many people joining websites like MySpace and Facebook I can't help but think those 2D sites are just one step away from creating a 3D virtual self. Are MMOs like Second Life and Entropia Universe on the cusp of something huge?

MindArk is partnering with CRD(Chinese Cyber Recreational Development Corp.) on a very ambitious 3D project which looks to me like a stab at making a 3D Internet a reality. Second Life already boasts having real world corporations present in its virtual world. I think its only a matter of time before the walls come down and your avatar will move about from world to world as freely as people visit different websites today.

There are many obstacles to hurdle on this Internet evolution but I can envision the benefits in bridging my real world career with a virtual one. I am a Designer/Drafter and I work mainly with 3D CAD (computer aided design) software. I can see the benefits of forgoing a world wide conference call and having the Engineer (China), Designer(South West USA), Marketing (North East USA), customer (Europe), and Manufacturing plant (Australia) all signing into a 3D environment to fit test and modify certain R&D projects on the spot and in real time in 3D. Talk about cutting costs when all affected parties have an immediate say on a project rather than waiting for emails and conference calls and red lines to be interpreted.

As bandwidth increases and more computers are capable of generating decent 3D graphics I think its only a matter of time before a 3D Internet weasels its way into our lives just like the current Internet already has.

Think about how this would impact your job, entertainment, and life. Computers and T.V.s are slowly becoming one, everyone is tapped into there mobile this and that, smart homes are not a thing of the future, the 2D Internet and 3D virtual worlds cannot be far behind in some form or fashion.
What do you think the internet will evolve into?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Version Update 9.0: The Emotional Roller-coaster

Everyone get your tickets and line up you are about to be subjected to the thrill ride of the year and we like to call it......

Version Update 9.0.

Ladies and Gentlemen before we start our ascent on this emotional roller coaster please take your seats and lock yourselves in and take a look at some previews of things to come.
Preview I
Preview II
The "OOOOOs and AHHHHHs" abound. Of course there are some mutterings of dislike and uneasiness but its too late now we are all locked in and nearing the drop.

Everybody raise your hands and scream!!!!!! its October 9th and the Version Update 9.0 is finally applied.

"Ahhhhhh! weeeee! O-my! Get me off this crazy ride! More decay! more armor parts! systems are revamped! avatar creation skewed! Ohhhh no whats next?!"


I guess that is how a great deal of us felt after the VU9.0 was released. The "previews" had most of us looking forward to what implementations the MindArk development team envisioned. Unfortunately the added decay and search for a new armor part left many feeling out of sorts with the new VU and it overshadowed any new design and graphics changes implemented by the MindArk Development team. It also brought to life a black hole in the way MindArk communicates with participants. Its always been an issue with long term players that MindArk just quite doesn't get there with communication and this VU solidified that issue whether you were a veteran of Project Entropia/Entropia Universe or brand spanking new. I think most of us just want and open dialogue with MindArk and some reasoning behind implementations whether they be good or bad. Simply dropping huge changes with little or no reason and no open dialogue is costing MindArk customers. Entropia Universe is growing and as it grows and the participants adapt to the changes I think the MindArk needs to take a look at their "Adapt or Die" approach and learn from it or some other MMO RCE developer will.

Ahhhhh now back to the ride "weeeeeeeeeee ahhhhhhh!"

Needless to say the search for new foot guards kept the majority of people with now incomplete armors sets busy looking for compatible armor parts. The added decay to equip clothing and armor which was of great contention and "the straw that broke the camel's back" for many a player was revised by MindArk and lessened but not totally done away with. Many reasons were given as to why these changes needed to be in place but somehow "a little to late" kept popping into my head when I saw MindArk trying to quell the community uproar.

"Whoosh!" around a turn we go mini updates are flying left and right, people are disenchanted and vowing to never come back, MindArk Support is trying to calm the crowd..................then suddenly a strange note appears, then a statue, the a black pulsating orb and the ride slows a bit.








Its an bird, its a plane, or is it just an interactive advertisement like the one I just saw on CSI: New York featuring a Second Life mystery? Ahhhh.......... the Egg and the emotional roller coaster continues.

Evolution of an Avatar in armor pre VU9.0/post VU9.0/after the mini updates:








Without all the other implementations, looking at the previews and my avatar in armor after the VU9.0, I have to say I am pleased with the results except I can't wear my sunglasses under my helmet anymore. I like the armor updates and I think as time goes by and the other graphics improve Entropia Universe will finally evolve in to a much cleaner looking and hopefully smoother running MMO. Its hard to say what the new CryEngine will do to the Entropia Universe when its implemented but hopefully MindArk will finally realize having an open and honest dialogue with the community who supports their jobs will be paramount from now on or we will all be in store for another emotional roller coaster when VU9.1 rolls around.

I can't say I am totally happy about all the changes implemented in VU9.0 but there have been many Version Updates in the past where I had the same concerns and I am still here plugging away trying to make the best of it. I just hope my concerns and those of the community are not falling on deaf ears that would be a shame since I think Entropia Universe has the potential to become an awesome MMO so long as MindArk doesn't overlook those who stuck by them through thick and thin.

Whoosh! now back to the ride where will it take us? Its anybodies guess.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Operation MindArk: Revolution Calling

For a price Id do about anything
Except pull the trigger

For that Id need a pretty good cause
Then I heard of Marco. X
The man with the cure
Just watch the EBN
Yeah, you'll see there's something going on

Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in P.A.
its just a power mad town
But the time is ripe for changes
There's a growing fear
That taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due

I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now Ive seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when every ones a crook?

Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
[there's a] revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through

I'm tired of all this bullshit
They keep selling me on EBN
About the CRD plan
And all the shady resellers
Begging for my cash
Swiss bank accounts while giving the
community the slam

They're all in the TV interviews now
Or The Entropian magazine, million dollar stories to tell
I guess Warhol wasn't wrong
Fame fifteen minutes long
Every ones using everybody, making the sale

I used to think
That only Entopria's way, way was right
But now the holy PED rules everybody's lives
Gotta make a million doesn't matter who dies

Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
[there's a] revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through

I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now Ive seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when every ones a crook?

Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
[there's a] revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through


Base Lyrics by Queensryche from the best CD ever, Operation Mindcrime modified and dedicated especially for Entropia Universe Version Update 9.0

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My so called Virtual Life invaded my real life today

Hello fellow Entropians,

Well some time ago I got an interesting loot while hunting and in an effort to share more with the Entropia community I posted the virtual loot here on Entropiaforum and said I would share with the rest of everyone once I received my real life item. Which I initially speculated would be a rolled up poster in a shipping tube. Needless to say today when I checked my mail I was surprised to see a box from Sweden with some weight to it (pictured to the left with my original PE card reader covering my address....yes the card reader still works ;) )

So I figured I would document the opening for Blogtropia Readers and the pictures in this post are what exactly what I saw upon examining the contents.




Here are the contents spread out minus the poster. It contained a copy of the Entropian Magazine, some Post cards, and a real life PED(Project Entropia Dollar) card. I was quite surprised and totally thrilled but the best was yet to come.


The Poster yes! The Poster! is totally awesome and right up my alley. I have been working on some Concept Robot designs for the EntropiaUniverseConceptCorner Blog and was running into a bit of concept block and this poster has given new life to the project.



Definitely a thumbs up for this Mindark. Thanks a million.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Event or System Stress Test? You make the call!

Hello Fellow Entropians new and old. Well the sun has risen or is rising or will rise for The Animal Kingdom event sometime today. My initial response to reading the first EBN (Entropia Broadcasting Network) messages was "finally a reason to sign on an incentive a motivational tool" just like what I spoke of in my last post. Needless to say I was jazzed to get home and sign on and hunt some of these mobs just to have a chance at maybe some decent loots.


The first couple of days were spent hunting Eomons in teams. The lag was intense but I initially chalked that up due to the large amount of avatars and mobs in one location. Overall I was surprised at how EU was handling the traffic and other than a couple of loots being lost to the lagging loot server hamster it was negligible. I thought to myself "Awesome this will be the event to top all events!" the reason I thought this was this was one of the few times and Event was held for all levels of participants in EU. We had high level Exos, high level Armax, full range of Eomon and a robot invasion of the oil rig in PVP2.


The weekend showed up all to quickly and just getting close to the Event mob spawns was a lesson in frustration due to intense lag. Its about this time I really started to think about what was really going on even though I was in trying to deny it because "Its an Event man! Mindark wouldn't screw with their biggest motivational tool.............would they?" Packing tons of mobs, tons of avatars, and tons of loot transactions into some of the laggiest areas in Entropia Universe, like Twin Falls seems to me more like a system stress test than an actual Event. I tried to remain optimistic and each day tried to hunt the Event mobs which became increasingly difficult and frustrating due to lost loots or crashing. Large events in the past never seemed to suffer so much........there was lag but never this extreme.


I guess if they would have given us a disclaimer like: Mindark is currently doing a system stress test and we need all avatars to hunt mobs in extreme lag with the possibility of loosing some loot due to the lag. I don't think many people including myself would have participated in the so called "Event" I guess it was a smart tactic, they got enough of my PED and got to test the system, but at the same time I can't help but wonder why the event just sort of fizzled into a quagmire of lag, glitches, and CTDs instead of something truly unique (like Events in the past) even if it is a system stress test of some sort.


Overall I am happy Mindark thought of every level of hunter in this "Event" well when they could actually hunt and loot the beasts. I am still trying to wrap my head around why this event was so anticlimactic towards the end. I have no idea if Mindark was testing the system but it seems like it or instead of improving Entropia Universe since the last Eomon migration and Atrox Queen Event they have in fact made it digress I sure hope this is not the case.


So I have to ask all my fellow Entropians, was it an Event or a System Stress Test? You make the call!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Bucket Theory and Motivational tools

I think sometimes we all underestimate just how much money Mindark can funnel out of EU just soley from decay of usable items. Its like poking a small hole in a large bucket of water if you get enough small holes it will drain a lot of water out of that bucket. The more people play and decay the more PED(Project Entropia Dollar) is funneled off the system.


I think when Mindark's financial numbers fall short we will see events happen, like the current one called "The Animal Kingdom", which plants more people in chairs in front of their computer decaying away in Entropia Universe. Uber items and the new repairable weapons are motivational tools to keep people depositing and playing just like the events and huge All Time High Hall of Fame loots.

Its a fine line though if you release to many great items well they become not so rare if you don't release enough good items people will think its impossible "so whats the point" Mindark has to keep that carrot close enough to smell it yet far enough away only a few actually get one now and then.

When you take away the gleam of MOD MERC, MOD FAP, IMP MKII, and others you start to see what they are and mean. They are purely motivational tools to continue participating in the Entropia Universe. Sure in the hands of the right hunter an IMP MKII is an efficient weapon but they make up any loss in that one hunter's efficiency by the 50-100 other hunters not hunting as efficiently trying to loot another IMP MKII. Also most high end items would be considered a "windfall" for those willing to sell them at the current going rates.

So you have to ask yourself now and then what is it that motivates you in Entropia Universe? To some its looting great items or resources, others its being a Land Baron in its many forms, others its all about the "sale", some its all about fun and socializing, and others its all of the above. MA needs to keep all these different personality types happy while still being financially successful. As long as people participate in Entropia Universe one thing will always remain constant, that bucket will never be full and it will always take more money to keep it from draining.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Animal Tamer Extraordinaire......well maybe?

OK I broke down the loots have been miserable and the grind far to boring these days. So I went out with my trusty Rattlesnake ME whip and went looking for some animals to wrangle. So this is my quest, my one day trial into the world of becoming an Animal Tamer Extraordinaire........well maybe?

First thing I noticed a Rattlesnake ME whip is not the best whip to tame with when you are a beginner since it has way to much damage potential. So you usually end up killing the mobs you can initially tame before you can get their spirit and health low enough to even attempt to tame them. I have been saving my fruit and always find sweet stuff when mining so I had a good supply of nutrio bars which are refined from the fruit and sweetstuff. Its a good thing because from what I have read tamed animals in EU eat a lot and often. OK so I head out and hit a couple different mobs that are able to be tamed and come to the conclusion that it will have to be a Daikiba with a maturity level Old.

The search for Daikibas begins.

After a few unsuccessful taming attempts I finally tamed a beast. It was, to my surprise, a Daikiba Mature. I had to run him all the way to the stable which was interesting needless to say but I am always up for a challenge. Once there I tested the stable feature and then whipped out my brush it was time for some serious taming and trust building. While using the brush and getting the Daik to perform the actions is painfully slow there is some satisfaction increasing your taming skills and watching your pets skill increase too. I spent maybe a good hour working on the Daik and I was able to get him to a level so I could finally name him and thus"Blogtropia" was born in EU lol. Once you hit level three things became very repetitive and slow and I soon realize why so many people break the EULA and use Mouse clicking applications to gain skills on things like taming, scanning, and crafting. I decided long ago I would never use one of those applications but taming my little Daikiba "Blogtropia" is trying my patience. Now if he could continue to grow and learn new things it would enhance the interactivity and be worth the long pauses between clicks otherwise its just about as fun as scanning or picking ones nose.

While I am not highly skilled in taming and I could always try to tame higher maturity beasts once you reach level 3 its the same with those. Maybe in the future this profession will expand and it could possibly be one of the most innovative professions in Entropia Universe but until that time it looks like its just one more way to waste money.

While experimenting in taming I came to one conclusion and hopefully Mindark will implement or have a Gold partner system with an Mouse Clicking Application (normally called and Autoclicker or A/C) until that time some of the avatar functions like taming will leave you with a hungry Daikiba and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome but I guess you can call yourself an "ANIMAL TAMER EXTRAORDINAIRE" up to level three that is.

Got to go my Daikiba is hungry again...........now only if Mindark would design a modified pooper scooper I would be set.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Banks and Policy Changes nothing new here.

I was reading through this thread on Entropia Forum Clarification about Entropia banking operations and I realized that really there is nothing new here.

This seems to be standard operating procedure for Mindark. When they have an agenda to push, which in this case is the new Banking licenses, they will do what is necessary to make it work and be successful.

When I first heard they were releasing the Banking licenses I knew well in advance changes like this would be implemented. My only surprise is that they came this late in the game after the licenses were sold.

Its a fine line for MindArk, where do they draw the line for officially licensed business opportunities and those which are thought up and acted upon outside the realm of their control? I don't envy them in the tough choices they need to make on this.

The Banks, Malls, and Land Areas have been big press for MindArk and I can see them doing everything in their power to unsure that these high dollar items are successful so when they develop the next big thing internal and external investment will be more apt to deposit and buy into the idea. I mean really could you see the how big of a flop it would be if a player ran Bank or loan type service outside of the licensed banks outperformed and out profitted and officially licensed product by MindArk? It would make big news but not necessarily in favor of other high dollar investments in Entropia Universe.

By this change in policy MindArk is making all of us aware of the risk of using a loan system outside the realm of the Banking licenses. Plus they are covering their collective asses by basically saying if you get scammed "to bad so sad" and to the people offering these services if you have one complaint well you are a "scammer" and your account is locked. I don't know if the reward outweighs the risk in this instance. If I had a lot of PED(Project Entropia Dollar) tied up in Entropia Universe I wouldn't want to risk that when at any one time someone can cry "scammer" and have my account locked. Just look at the Hangar owners and all the troubles they go through when someone breaks rank and tries to be competitive and that is just for a few PEDs here and there, these banks will be big money.

I can see both sides to this and in reality nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to policy changes within the Entropia Universe. In fact I expect them especially when big money and big press is at stake and MindArk is pushing an agenda. Why would any of us expect less?

We all choose to be a part of Entropia Universe through the good and the bad. Mindark employees are just as human as we are and bound to make mistakes like we all do. Big Money can give you tunnel vision and I hope they take a step back now and then so they don't loose complete touch with people who sign on day in and day out.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Irrational Entropia

(Preface: There's a palpable buzz about inflation inside Entropia Universe these days. Read some players thoughts here. )

Yesterday I was talking to the wealthiest person I consider a friend. His family's net worth is pushing half a billion. He asked how much one would have to deposit to become a high level player if you were just now joining. I'm not sure what the right answer is, but my best guess was $100,000 and he promptly told me what a tool I was for playing such a game.

I'm not sure what market Mindark is going after. Many people assume it's the ultra-wealthy. But I think few of them can be arsed. They know how much money they have and they don't need to flaunt it online, when they can do their flaunting IRL and actually get laid from it. I think their new target market has become addictive personalities. And maybe that's a winning business plan. Just because they've failed to gain any traction in the gaming space for five years running doesn't necessarily mean continuing down this same path won't suddenly start working. After all, they're the experts.

The real question, which has been enumerated dozens of times, how many new players will they be able to find who will enthusiastically join a game where $20,000 is the absolute minimum investment. And that's just to become a very average player that probably won't last 60 seconds in PVP.

Maybe they'll surprise us all. But I think Sony, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Linden Labs, and the US Government are conspiring against them. I bet champagne popping after the bank auctions closed was a lot of fun, but the coming hangover could prove to be a bitch.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Virtual Banking Licenses net $900k for Mindark

Today concluded the auctions for five banking licenses inside Entropia Universe. The licenses themselves netted over $400,000 for Mindark, and each license winner is required to maintain a balanced of $100,000 in their account to ensure their services. What you may not hear in the hype is that these would-be banks primary service will be lending in game funds using only virtual items as collateral. I hesitate to use the phrase pawn shop with all its negative connotations, but I'm struggling to find an alternative. Suggestions?

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Truth

Eighteen months ago I made the following promotional video for Project Entropia, along with McCormick. If you haven't ever had a chance to watch it, it's worth the three minutes.



Monday, April 23, 2007

Is it a sign?

Hello Fellow Entropians and newcomers alike.
Well I started my usual Sunday routine I get up, let the dogs out, boot up the computer, removed the crusties from my eyes, and as I sat and mulled over just what the rest of the weekend had in store for me, I decided to check the new posts on Entropia Forum. Much to my surprise I see a post under the UberLoots section named "Modified EWE-40 Mercury". At first I thought it was a hoaxer because it was named Mercury instead of Mercenary but when I opened the post there was the "screenie" and in bold blue a Mod Merc (Modified EWE-40 Mercenary) was indeed in that global loot message.
A BIG congratulations and Thank you to the DarkStar Society for sharing proof of their find with the rest of us. I hope this encourages everyone to do the same, including myself.
Hopefully Mindark took stock in the fact that there was an uptick in hunting the mob(creature) that dropped this awesome weapon and maybe, just maybe, renewed the faith of the likes of not only me but every other Entropian who thought we would never see something like this again.
Is this a sign from the powers that be (Mindark) that we will see items much like this Mod Merc in future loots or is this just happen chance?
So I reach out to you fellow Entropians and newcomers alike.
  1. Is this a sign of things to come?
  2. If you are a newcomer will this affect how you participate in Entropia Universe?
  3. Has this renewed your spirit in hopes that such and item might pop up in your loot?
  4. Is this the advantage and reason to hunt big mobs now or am I reading to much into this and this is nothing more than a one time deal and we won't see an item like this again for another year?
Mindark, you have my attention and I think many others too. I guess only time will tell just how long you can keep us glued to to our screens and on the edge of our seats.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Taking Action

The problem....

I've been talking to people, and most of them seem unhappy with their gameplay experience in EU. The game has taken an evil path, that forces us to double or triple our cash deposits into the game to keep playing.

Most of them struggle with the current problem of bad loots, and reselling. Both combined are a deadly factor that kills any enjoyment the players used to take in the game. The current drop rates on items such as ML35, MK5, DOA Strikehammer, etc... is too low, and there was a skill nerf recently, that makes it 10x harder to skill up making it hard to play without constant depositing.


Balance in the future

Mindark talks about adjustments now, so that the future can be more balanced. Well, im sure they have their reasons to do so, but maybe the nerf was a bit too dramatic? It used to be ok to skill, but nowadays its really tough. While everyone likes a challenge, maybe most of the players lack the cashflow to keep up the progress. It would be ok if items still dropped, since you could sell the loot to keep skilling, but items seem to have stopped dropping. Combine this with agressive reselling, and you got yourself a very difficult challenge to overcome.

While talking about market tactics, lets take the example of Feodora Hat. There's no point in trying to strangle that market, because its an item that crafters are constantly making. Therefore the price is uncontrolable, and if any reseller tries to do some manipulation, he will end up with hundreds of Feodora's in his hands, and wont be able to make a profit this century.

Another problem is the droprate of blueprints.

There are a bundle of high level Blueprints that never dropped. There's a full book of Weapons BP's, with about 50 different weapons... And only 5 are usable.

Because the high end Bp's for those weapons are nowhere to be seen... or in this case, they never dropped. For several years now that crafters have been expecting the high end crafting blueprints... And here's how things are at the moment:

- If a level 9-10 BP drops, then the crafter that loots it has the monopoly on such item. As only 1 drops. Like the Evil BLP amp. Only 1 BP looted so far, in 5 years.

- The BP drops, but there's no resources available to craft the item.

- And if there are resources, the Chance of Success in crafting such item is too risky, as we are talking about 50-100 dollars per click, and usually you will need materials for 10 attempts, in order to make 1 - 5 items, with no guarantee's it will happen. Sometimes you fail all attempts.

Again, there is a reason BP's don't drop. In armor and guns case, it should be obvious that Mindark fears to put out something unbalanced, so they are still studying what would be appropriate for a lvl 9-10 armor. Crafted items should never be better then looted gear, and that makes sense. Loot should be a treasure, craft should be a means to get the treasure.

(L) vs Unlimited

Limited can have some good stats. Take Modified Korss (L). Its a great weapon no doubt. But for it to be profitable, you will have to loot it yourself. And there's no guarantees it will be. Because if you don't, you will have to buy it, and they usually sell for a % that takes away a big chunk of the profit you'd get by using one.

Because (L) has something unlimited doesn't. When the decay eats your weapon, you can never use it again. So, dmg/pec will only matter in (L) guns if you buy them for their TT price, or close. Anything above it and you are automatically rising the dmg/pec, considering decay+ammo burn+percentage.

Im a non (L) guy. I really like the fact that i can repair my equipment an infinite number of times. It feels like im not dependant on the market. Maybe that's why MA wants the future to be (L). So that everyone is part of the market, making it a well oiled machine.

The HighEnd Unlimited Gear

Improved Mk2, Mod Merc. The two most prized guns in the game. There's a myth that if you get one, you will profit beyond your imagination. That's false. Not even with those guns profit is guaranteed. What's guaranteed though, is that their are far more economic to hunt with because they decay alot less then most guns, have a higher speed and a better dmg/pec considering the ammoburn. This creates an illusion:

Profiting with those guns requires: several hours a day hunting, good loot management, good skills, and luck above all.



Last known Mod Merc or Improved Mk2 dropped years ago. And to make a small estimate, if 20.000 players log into the game and hunt 100 creatures in a day... thats 2 million loots per day. Now, Mindark says they got +500K players registered. 20K players per day isnt really a big number. So in 1 year... you have ~730 million loots (in this scenario). This past year, no mod merc, mod fap, improved mk2, improved fap has dropped... that we know of.

Adjusted fap has been found twice, Supremacy armor has dropped considerably, 2 parts of eon are known, and a few of shadow armor as well. But those only allow you to hunt bigger mobs like daspletors and aliens... that don't drop anything good, and are constantly overthrown from the Hof list by 5K exa's, 8K argo's, etc...

There's always the chance that mod faps and the likes have dropped, but such items draw attention and the community is tight. Usually if someone owns a mod merc or a mod fap, people know who that item belonged too, even who looted it back in the days. So... If such an item was looted this past year, theres 95% of chances it would of been known by the community.

Perhaps its the only future in EU. I can understand that. It would be stimulating to everyone though, if things still dropped. Players without goals are as good as beer without gas.

Hunt for your Life

I'll say it again. A Mod Merc + Mod Fap will only make a difference if you got high skills and hunt ALL DAY LONG.

Most players have a life. Few of them are willing to participate in EU +8hours a day. So why does Mindark fear these items dropping so much?? And i started this blog entry complaining about ML35's and Mk5's... Guns that compared to such good items like the Mod Merc's are total crap. Slow reload and high decay. What if everyone had a mod merc..or Imk2?

Well, then the lootpool would not generate so much income, as everyone would be hunting more economically, which would automatically adjust the loot. Meaning that those items would become less efficient and profiting in the broader scenario. So why don't they drop?

Note

I really don't see Mindark suffering any bit if they include 5 of each good items like Adj V1, Mk5, etc per month, in loot. They have alot more players, alot more depositers, loot is now attributed in different ways, you can't trap creatures anymore, there are bigger markets and other professions other then hunting / mining / crafting..

They would only stimulate player's desire to loot one themselves, keep a hand on the inflation, and show that good stuff can still be acquired if you are lucky.

As many have said, including the previous blogpost, there isn't that feeling of "massive" in the tip of your fingers anymore, everytime you click to loot a mob. A 40K ATH can be a great feeling, but having an improved mk2 instead would be absolutely mental, for most players.

While i'd scream with a 40K ATH, i'd totally crap my pants with an improved MkII.

J.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Everything that was once lootable still is, right?

Today while I was browsing new item stats at PE Wiki, I noticed that we have such a wide variety of items in Entropia Universe some of which have not shown up in a loot in years. (yes, YEARS!) So I started thinking about it even though its a running joke in the Entropia Universe community it has been stated on more than one occasion that ALL items still drop in loot. Here are is an older quote and an answer from a more recent Q and A session from Marco, a well known and respected Mindark Official.

Marco quote from a long time ago:

The economy concerning rare items will always be limited, as the items are just that-rare. Contrary to some beliefs though - every item can be found, even a Mod FAP or an Mod Merc or an Imp Mk2.

Sep 01, 11:11 2004 - Stratics HoC


Here is a answer from one of the last Marco Q and A sessions on Entropia Forum 09-06-2006:

*The Question: Item drops, previously it has been said that all items will always drop, from the mob they dropped from before, just the frequency changes. Fair enough - but clothes stopped dropping, as did toys and certain high-level stuff. Is it still possible to loot all post-gold items? Not just mod/imp/adj stuff, but other stuff that we don’t see anymore?

Marco's Answer: Most items, that aren't "special" (like from campaigns or events), can be found, however, some are very rare.


So one would gather from the quote and answer to the question given above that every once in a while things would still drop in loot even those things which seemingly have stopped dropping like clothing and/or pre gold items and/or very good repairable items .

Now I understand Entropia Universe, formally known as Project Entropia, is an ever evolving and growing system. Some old items may not fit in line with the current direction Entropia Universe is heading. What gets me and anyone who spends any time in Entropia Universe is that most participants still desire and hope to loot such items that are, shall we say, very rare to the point of being non existent in loot. One of the things I hate the most is when a new players asks me if they can loot a Meckel and Loch ML-35 (good mid range weapon) and I all I can tell them is at one time it was possible but these days it seems near impossible. What does that tell them about Entropia Universe? That near impossibility to loot something which would actually make many a player participate even more in Entropia Universe is turning them away or making them participate less.

Above and beyond all things that Mindark has implemented, my biggest complaint is the restricting of great items in loot whether it be to inflate their price or push the new limited item system is just wrong in my opinion. Also stating that they "can be found" is misleading when Mindark controls what items drop and when. Its not like we have hidden hunting items in Entropia Universe. Maybe Mindark lost all the good items and that's what they mean. Another thought with the banking licenses for sale if there are very few items worth going to a bank to get a loan for, just how successful are those banks going to be?

It used to be that sharing your Hall of Fame loots and Global loots on the many EU forums was exciting. When I saw my first Modified Meckel and Loch in an uploaded screen shot of a loot window all I could think about was I want a loot window like that. While I never did loot such an item it was always in the back of my head each time I looted a creature that might possibly drop such and item. Every loot window was an edge of your seat experience. When I would loot decent items I would share just like others had with me. With the lack of great items loots these days sharing those achievements has turned into mostly "look at my stack of 100K animal oil" which I am happy for the person and send my "Congratulations" accordingly but I am sad also because loots with high value used to contain some of the best and most coveted items in Project Entropia/Entropia Universe. I myself have stated I won't post another screen shot of a Hall of Fame unless its a milestone or has a great item in it. Needless to say I have not had any hunting screen shots to upload recently.

Great hunting loot window screen shots from days gone by:





Recent hunting loot screen shots:






Notice a difference? I sure do.

OK this goes out to Mindark prove to us that what you say is true and all those items still drop. Drop a Storm coat here and there, let a Modified Mercenary pistol go every now and then, and drop the holy grail of First Aid Packs, THE MODIFIED FAP. People will still buy the limited stuff and dropping items like this on a more regular basis will bring back the excitement and hopes and dreams a lot of us still have, while we still have them.

Personally I have always thought you will get more bees with honey than vinegar. While I don't mind supplying crafting with animal oils and robot parts I think regulating non limited item loots to the point of non-existence is only going to cost you loyal fans of Entropia Universe. In my book you say what your going to do and then you do what you said. It builds confidence, loyalty, and trust between the participants and the developer.

So Mindark put your money where your mouth is and lets see just how lootable everything still is.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Non-Winners

Wasn't planning on posting today, but I just read a Blog entry by Seth Godin that rings so true for the current state of Real Cash Economy MMOs. Had to share it.

"Many systems only work when there are a lot of entries but just a few winners. Whether it's the US Open or the economics of the local gym, it's the effort and expense of the non-winners that supports the benefits of the winners. These pyramids are getting more common because of the winner-take-all nature of our world. Digg wouldn't work if there were only a few stories a day submitted. It's the stories that don't make the front page that make the front page winners succeed."
If you buy into this, then success in Entropia, or any other system, seems pretty simple. Become one of the winners, now. Or stop participating.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Resellers, Scammers, and Leeches

MMORPG's, which stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Games, have a recurring problem of resellers, scammers and leeches. While its only annoying in games where credits are only monopoly money... In games tied to Real Economy its more then that, its a cancer that eats the game from within. In Entropia Universe, reselling and scamming is quite a problem. Why?

10 PEDs = 1 Dollar

Resellers:

Reselling is a double edged sword. While as an owner of a coveted item, I will see its value grow in time due to the reselling of other copies of the item. But as a potential buyer, I may be priced out of something I want due to the rise in value that reselling can cause.

There's also a growing curve that is stepper on high end items, due to their rarity. For mid-market items, the curve is smaller, but some resellers will strangle the market with some agressive techniques, forcing you to pay fortunes for an average item.

Why then, would you buy it, you ask?

Simple. Progression. In EU, as you build your character and evolve in skills, you will want better and faster gear. As in any other game. You will also want to hunt bigger creatures, and mine better resources. This means that some milestone items in a player's rise will be driven to insane prices because resellers know players will want them.

Natural inflation is one thing. But in my opinion reselling inflation is ruining the game, cornering players budget's and halting their progression. If players sold their items to others that would use them, then inflation would be natural, showing their true value. But the big problem is that resellers buy items cheap from players that want to get better gear, and sometimes sell them for double the price.



They act like personal pawn shops, which are never good in my book. They profit out of people's desires to progress their character, and other people struggling to pay their prices. Most resellers in Entropia don't even play the game as it was meant to be played. They just limit themselves to buy and sell things, placing a virtual tax on players' progression.

Eventually, you will see most items you desire in their shop at outrageous prices. If players that would sell the same gear to others wishing to progress offer theirs at a lower price, resellers would immediatly buy those as well, forcing players to pay their prices.

Its a hard problem to dodge, and everyone resells once or twice eventually. There really isn't a problem with some indirect reselling. But people that do it for a living are ruining the game in several levels.

Lets take an example. Marber Bravo, a popular long range rifle choice for tag-the-mob. This gun had an ongoing price of TT+30 peds just a few months ago. Right now the value has gone up to +250, and its rising. I've looted a few of these, meaning that I am a beneficiary of that inflation. But, someone else wanting to get one is going to pay overpriced because of the market choke Bravo's are suffering at the moment.

While I may enjoy getting +200 peds then usual due to some reseller buying all the Bravos and trying to sell them for +300, I believe this kind of practice (Market cornering) is wrong, and its being done in all levels in EU. Next time I want to upgrade my gear, I will be looking at something that's been artificially inflated to the price of rocket fuel.

If you become a dirty reseller, you might earn money, but you will also be making everyone's game experience more expensive, which means you have no soul, and few people will like you.

Scammers:

These come in various colors and flavours. Even as best friends for years that stab you in the back and leave you hanging while they run away with thousands of dollars worth of equipment.

Many have been the stories of players that have lost whole set's of gear due to these backstabbing s.o.b's. Its sad really. Most players will lend their gear to their friends out of goodness of heart, and all they get is a nice whack in the head, a "thank you sucker". And that's too bad, because in 99% scamming cases, Mindark will not help.

MA doesn't help in scamming and hacks as a way to protect themselves. Makes sense, as they can't verify the authenticity of the scam/hack and most of the times, by the time they do it, the gear has already been sold and resold.

There are ways players can use the system and play MA for a fool. Im not gonna mention them, but most of them are rather logical. Therefore Mindark cuts the problem by the root. So, if you don't want to lose your stuff, don't lend it out. Even if its to someone you've known in game for two years. It doesn't matter. People will scam. If a deal sounds too good to be true, its because it probably is. Be cautious.


A common trust based scam is when someone says "selling skills, you provide the transfer implant." Scammers can then take the ESI and run. Might be funny, but with today's ESI's, you might lose hundreds of dollars in one go. So get some collateral before handing over anything of value.

More sophisticated scams include tricks with trading window, so ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION to what you are confirming. Check, double check, and triple check your trade summary.

If you are a victim of scamming, you should report it to Mindark nonetheless. Even if they won't return your items, if they receive enough complaints about certain players, they will lock and eventually ban them.

Leeches:

"Can i have 1 ped? plssss i need to repair my items.."

Want peds? Deposit. Work for them. Go sweating. Find fruit and dung.

Other players are investing several thousand dollars a month in this game, most of them to pay the super inflated prices of item reselling.

Why should they give you free money? If you can afford a computer to play this game, then you can afford to pay for your own addiction. Because in the end that's what games are... Addictions.

He who wants to have an addiction, needs money to support it.

I rest my case.

J

Friday, March 30, 2007

Kept in the Dark

Skills, equipment, weapons, armor, the stats, the meanings, the vagueness, why are we kept in the dark on such things? Should Mindark open the information vaults or would that make Entropia Universe less fun?

Ok we have all read the forums with an endless amount of theories and spent many chat sessions regarding the finer points of whether one weapon is better than another. On one side of the coin you have Mindark who knows everything and on the other you have the players who are doled out tidbits of information and stats every now and then just to keep us theorizing some more.

One of the main things that attracted me to Entropia Universe was the fact nothing was "spoon fed" to me and it was up to shrewd players to figure things out for themselves. Well its been a while since I started and much of the information we have has either never changed or if it has it just opens up new theories and confusion. While the real me has hypothesized what certain things mean in game and I have my theories on what they do, my avatar is still left in the dark. To this day skills and stats on items have very little additional meanings and pretty much have the same meaning they did when I first stepped off the ship from an avatar standpoint. With any game of progression you learn things along the way in real life and those observations are usually met with some affirmation in game that benefits your avatar and the real you, its a dual learning experience.

What we have in Entropia Universe is new types of skills that unlock at certain milestones which really don't shed any light on the profession you have choosen, it just adds another mystery to the countless other mysteries we already had. Some stats on equipment and weapons lead credence to skills in showing which ones are needed to use the items efficiently but beyond that their vague descriptions only lead to more questions.


Information is a commodity and a way of gauging progress in Entropia Universe. Just like skills, helpful information should be valued yet we have no real way of gaining additional hard facts or knowing for sure if our hypotheses are correct. Information and the skill system should go hand in hand for example: As your avatar becomes more skilled you should be privy to more factual information. That knowledge is thus only useful to someone with the skill to decipher it properly so you either play or pay to gain the valuable information. There are many ways Mindark could improve upon the skill system to incorporate information milestones which could either solidify our theories or make us rethink how things work. I am all for a mystery now and then but eventually that mystery should be solved leading to some type of resolution. Those mysteries that are never solved tend to lead to conspiracy theories or mass disinterest.

So I pose this question to those within Entropia Universe and those who might have insight from other MMOs: Would this extra information add depth to our avatars and give validity to theories or even more speculation as to what skills really mean or should this be left "as is" a mystery we never quite figure out?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Life Imitates Entropia?

Lambert International Airport, St. Louis, Missouri (Insert: Trade Center building Treasure Island City, Amethera)

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Main Entropia Universe Profession

While most of us think of Hunting/Mining/Crafting as the main Entropia Universe professions one takes precedence over them all. Its called Trading and to become successful in Entropia Universe one must learn its "ins and outs".

Most of us already immersed in the Entropia Universe think of trading as a side note to everything else but if there was no trade there would be no RCE(Real Cash Economy)whether it be via shops, the in game auction, selling and buying posts on forums, or peer to peer trades in game. Everyone is looking to buy their goods (resources, equipment, services) at the lowest prices while those selling are looking to get the best prices on what they have to offer. The economy in Entropia Universe is a small microcosm of the way trade works in real life.


There are many different types of traders in Entropia Universe and I will try my best to explain just exactly what they mean and why some trading is frowned upon while other types are not even given a second thought.

First on the list is the flat out Trading profession. Its a skill less profession (as far as gaining skills from Mindark) but it does require real life skill, tenacity, and a good eye to spot the best deals in the market place. A good percentage of the traders (what I like to call Value added Traders) perform services in Entropia Universe. It can stem from someone consolidating resources to refining certain resources for a better than average return either in their shops, on the auction, or other peer to peer trading. A good deal of the Crafters out there benefit from players who consolidate resources. Most traders work within the confines of the going market price and make their PED(Project Entropia Dollar) from either holding onto resources so when the market price rises they make PED or snapping up small amounts of resources which are hard to sell otherwise at below market prices. Most beginning Traders will start out in this type of trading because it requires a minimal investment and over time its possible to save enough PED to move onto higher priced commodities.




The next on the list I like to call the Player Trader which comprises the bulk of the Entropia Universe participants. The main profession of the Player Trader is not strictly trading. They either Hunt, Mine, Craft, or perform so other type of service. They basically sell whatever they acquire from participating in their chosen profession. I call myself a Player Trader because I tend to sell most resources and items I loot via the auction and I usually keep the markups at or below the market prices. Market Prices can be determined via web sites like http://e-pec.info/forum/index.php, http://www.pe-trade.net/ , http://www.peauction.com/index.php, or with the latest Version Update 8.11 we can now see pricing history directly in the Entropia Universe(examples shown above). The Player Trader is what leads me to saying "Trading is the main Entropian Profession" since everyone whether they are conscious of it or not participates in buying and selling goods and/or services pretty much everyday they play EU.

Next, I will only touch upon this since its such a heated subject across the Entropia Universe, are Resellers. Its such a "gray area" between all the different types of trading. Reselling, by many, is considered the worst even though the majority of the population does resell at some point in time and in some fashion. This will be gone into more detail in another Blogtropia post so I don't want to go into great detail but my definition of a "Reseller" is someone who takes advantage of rare items and resources in game and in turn raises the price a great deal more in hopes that someone out there is willing to pay that price. If an item bounces from reseller to reseller to reseller it can dramatically increase prices especially if that item continues to remain in demand and rare. While we all love to hate the professional resellers in Entropia Universe, many including myself ride on their coat tails when it comes time to upgrade or when we happen to loot a great item or resource. There is a very large "grey area" when it comes to Player Traders and Resellers. While I would hate to generalize I think the animosity towards Resellers is the belief that they offer nothing and take out everything but like I said that is for another post for another time.

To sum it all up to participate in Entropia Universe means you will be trading or selling your resources, items, and/or services. That means the number one profession in Entropia Universe is Trading - its a huge part of what everyone does almost every day. The question is what type of Trader do you want to become?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Final Entropia Exploit

I think Mindark does a good overall job of dealing with exploits that pop up in the system. In years past their response was sluggish, but that improved drastically. Such exploits' existence is inevitable in a game where the envelope is constantly being pushed. There's real money involved, and its a free download, so you can bet EU will host a good number of would be cheaters with nothing to lose. The only variable is how Mindark deals with them.

Last year we saw countless well known players locked, short term and long, for attempts to cheat the system. From the "101 Auction Bug" to hardcore use of hunting bots, Mindark made it clear that they would show no tolerance for those trying to cheat the system.

Mindark should be applauded for their crackdown. But this trend of behavior compels me to ask - why doesn't Mindark eliminate the final exploit that their software specifically enables?

I'm talking about Follow Bots.

Follow Bots are a simple exploit. A player logs into EU on a second PC with a secondary avatar (which is illegal). They equip an expensive FAP (med kit), turn on an autoclicker, and then command their secondary avatar to follow their primary avatar. Whenever the primary avatar gets hurt, the Follow Bot automatically heals them. One player is now driving a team of two.

At this point, the primary avatar can walk around and hunt without Armor, and without ever having to stop to FAP themselves. This technique allows those who use it the ability to leverage their $25k FAPs to exploit the system. How? By not paying armor decay. By not having to FAP themselves, reducing a mobs regen. By not having to employ the services of a medic.

Consider these screen shots. Here you can see one of the games most highly regarded players employing a medic. I am not implying that he is using a Follow Bot in these screen shots, but if someone were to do so, this is what it would look like.

Here you can see the scan of our player, blasting away without the need to wear armor (which decays at a high rate) or stop to heal himself (during which time he can't be firing, and during which time the mob's health regenerates). He is hunting the biggest mob in the game, the Daspletor, naked. You read that correctly, the games biggest mob does not require armor using this method.


And here you can see a scan of a low skilled avatar. Low, that is, in everything but his medical skills, which seem to be quite robust for such an inexperienced avatar. This avatar has also been entrusted with a $25k FAP, the most sought after item in the game. I'm sure that in this case it was just a friend who was doing the FAPing all day, but it does a good job of illustrating how the exploit could be used.

Follow Bots have existed in EU for quite some time. Their ability to track and follow the primary avatar's movements are quite sophisticated. The irony being, of course, that Mindark built this sophistication into Entropia. The Follow command is rarely used for any required activities, and it's removal would not be missed by many.

Hunting big game in EU isn't usually profitable. But when such an extreme advantage can be leveraged, you have to wonder when the proverbial dung is going to hit the fan. An ATH to a Botter is only a matter of time.

I can hear the objections already! Of course you can lend your FAP to your brother and make him follow you around for a 16 hour hunting session. (I'm amazed at how many EU players have patient, inexhaustable brothers) But if you find that without the Follow command he is no longer willing to mindlessly FAP you for 16 hours a day, put on some damn armor or hire a medic. Either of those options drive the economy and deny Follow Botters the benefits of this final Entropia exploit.