Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Should the EU Crafting System become more design based?

In the past year a great deal of effort has been spent on upgrading the crafting system in Entropia Universe and making it more appealing to the masses rather than just a niche profession. While I understand many of the changes were necessary due to the introduction of limited weapons, equipment, and armor I find it odd that crafting still lacks any creativity from the user's side.

Ok the basics of crafting are as follows: Get a Blue print (BP) ->place BP in proper BP Book -> Check the recipe in the BP to see what materials are needed -> Collect the materials either through auction, sellers, or acquire your own through hunting, mining, and crafting components -> Find appropriate machine -> place all items in machine -> select quantity or condition -> then get ready to click away and your end product is either produced or you get a failed attempt.

While finding the materials and producing something that has value to the community do present a challenge there has always seemed like something was missing in crafting. Then I thought of my own job (drafter/designer) and I realized the missing element was the design aspect of crafting. While a true design concept in crafting would be difficult to implement in a RCE MMORPG like Entropia Universe I kept thinking wouldn't it be more interesting to add it in small steps. Now I can hear everyone screaming "NO NO don't make it more complex than it already is" but would it not be more interesting if you could produce your own blueprints utilizing current components?I think adding a bit of a twist to crafting that might bring it that creative spark it desperately needs.

Ok for example a Crafter decides that they want to develop a new weapon. That Crafter already knows the recipe for a Jester D-1 carbine but they want to experiment with that recipe and develop a new variant of the Jester D-1 so they go to a prototype build machine (<- total concept there is no such machine in EU) and start to add components and different materials to the already existing Jester D-1 frame work. After a few failed attempts they produce a prototype weapon with a BP that has the new Recipe. The Crafter can either sell the prototype and BP or decide they want to craft weapon themselves. This would add some variation to crafting giving users some control over items they produce and it could be a very lucrative puzzle to figure out if you build a prototype with potential. That is what the fictitious characters in some of our adjust, improved, and modified weapons and equipment descriptions did. Characters, like Roman Ram, tinkered with existing technology making it better. This could add new skill sets(inventor, developer, designer, etc) to construction plus utilize some existing skills in the Science and Information categories that seem to have no other use than boosting your overall skills average.

Ok well that was a basic explanation of what I mean by adding a design element to crafting in EU. I think this would give Crafters a little more freedom and allow them to be a part of the creation process in EU. It would at the very least add one more facet to the Crafting profession which could add some creativity to it and lessen any monotony.

Let me know what you think? If there are systems like this in place in other MMOs and are they successful or more of a headache? Would this be to big of a change for Mindark or the player base to adjust too or would it add a little more depth to the Crafting profession?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Virtual Malls Profitable?

Today Mindark announced via Press Release that their recently auctioned Malls are big successes.

"Before the malls were put on sale there was some speculation in the media if this would be a profitable venture for the avatars of Entropia Universe. We are happy to announce that it certainly is.

Within just two weeks of purchasing the Twin Peaks mall from Onkel RobRoy Bob, NeoMaven sold 29 of the 32 mall shops, resulting in not only a recovery of the entire mall purchase price, but a substantial profit as well."

Complete press release here
I wonder why the other two mall owners weren't asked to comment. Possibly because their malls went for twice as much and have ~50% occupancy rates. Might they still be profitable someday? Of course. But announcing that the malls were "certainly" profitable might be a bit premature, don't you think?

Cash Cards and Virtual Banks

There's a buzz right now, and it's not all positive, about Mindark's current auction of five banking licenses inside EU. The common refrain among players? Why are they focusing on "banks and cash cards" when other needs are obvious - storyline development, infrastructure, and bug fixes to name a few.

See what's happening here? Cash cards are being lumped in with the banking licenses. And that's unfortunate because the cash cards were a huge win for Mindark. How quickly we forget...

In the summer of 2006, Mindark announced that players would be able to access their PED using at any ATM using an EU branded cash card. A fairly simple bolt on technology for them, but somewhat groundbreaking stuff for the players. Why groundbreaking? In the past Mindark was often criticized for the discrepancy between deposit times, which took a few seconds, and withdrawal times, which took an average of four months. Players demanded faster withdrawal times, and with the new cash card system, Mindark delivered. And then some.

The roll out had a few hitches, but the bottom line was that you could now withdraw your PED - instantly - as cash at nearly any ATM in the world. The holy grail had been achieved. The difference between withdrawal and deposit times had been completely eliminated, much to the chagrin of Mindark's critics.

A few months after the successful roll out, a payment processor somewhere downstream, CU-Connect, became insolvent. Several other CU-Connect clients were also left in the lurch. Now there are a bunch of us running around with a useless cash card in our wallets, and Mindark is focused on the Next Big Thing.

I don't understand the banking licenses and why we need them inside Entropia. Maybe more details will be revealed and I'll have an "aha!" moment. In world banking, at this point, seems to be designed for media consumption.

But I do understand how critical the cash card system is. Not only for me, selfishly, but as a marketing tool. An Entropia virgin dropping $500 for the first time on a virtual gun needs some assurance. Some assurance that if she wants to give us all the finger and cash out tomorrow, she won't have to wait four months to get her cash back. That's important. That's critically important.

"David Simmonds said at least one bank interested in the Entropia banking licenses (which he wouldn't name, other than to say it's one of the biggest in the world) might also begin handling transactions for the cash cards."

ATM Marketplace

The cash card system has been down for nearly 60 days as of this writing. Here's hoping Mindark doesn't get stupid and wait around for their new banking partner to rescue the cash card program. The two are not related. And just because many players get them confused isn't reason for Mindark to.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Are Hanger owners being neglected by Mindark?

Hangar estates are one of the oldest properties setup in EU strictly to make some extra PED yet they have been shoved by the wayside to make room for Land Areas, Malls, Shops, and Banks.

Many people have reasons for buying a Hangar some were waiting on eventual space flight, some to make some extra PED shuttling people to and fro, and some just on the speculation that real estate, even virtual real estate, will go up in price. Current Hangar prices range in value from $5500.00 USD to $7000.00 USD and look to continue to rise as demand outweighs supply.

I have witnessed many things since Club Neverdie(one of the two destinations pilots can fly to) was introduced, from a concerted effort from most pilots to get a decent passenger/pilot Que system in place, to Rogue pilots breaking those rules and paying for it in reputation loss and animosity from the so called "Pilots Mafia" .

I have yet to see any improvement to the hangar system or other options for people to get to where they want to go from the developers. So I have to ask myself are Hangar owners being neglected by Mindark and just what can Mindark do to improve the current situation to make it better for pilots and passengers?

Well each VU(version update) I see new content added, new malls , new banks, new crafting interfaces, many many things yet hangars remain as they were pretty much since the beginning. So in essence I think pilots and their profession have been over looked by Mindark. I was a Hangar owner once, while I liked having a ship, ultimately I lost faith MA would put forth a decent space flight addition and to make any PED owning a hanger otherwise, was a lesson in patience. I was one of the people who purchased their hangar in hopes of actually flying around the Entropia Universe and visiting other places. Land Areas, Malls, Banks, and limited item introductions made me realize upgrading the current space flight system in EU is probably low on the MA priority list so I opted out, a pilot no more. I could be wrong...........please Mindark......please prove me wrong on this one.

Before I sold my Hanger I did give much thought on how Mindark can improve upon the current space travel system in general. First off pilots need, and need it now, a ticketing type system or a travel terminal where they can sell their commodity (flights to Crystal Palace Space Station and the Asteroid resort Club Neverdie) Secondly pilots need to be able to use their cargo holds instead of just an eye candy compartment make these usable and give the pilots and ability to shuttle personal cargo from hunters and miners for a fee. All goods once delivered to the surface could automatically transferred to the owners online storage. Thirdly and I am sure this is in some development stage make more places for pilots to go but only after the ticketing system is in place. On a couple side notes there have been some ideas about automating the flight service entirely. Last but not least its been promised for a long time bring space flight to the people and more options to and from Calypso and the outer regions of the system.

I feel for pilots, I used to be a Hangar owner myself and realize just how much Mindark could improve the system which would make it better for the Pilots and the passengers. Its a win win situation MA stop neglecting the Hangars and their owners.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Entropia Universe Glossary

While exploring the Entropia Universe you will come across many abbreviations specific to places, items, names and the such. Here are some of the most common:

ADJ - Adjusted
ATH - All Time High
CH - Critical Hit
CHA - Critical Hit Ability
CND - Club Neverdie (Player owned location inside EU)
COS - Chance Of Success
CP - Crystal Palace (Location inside EU)
EBN - Entropia Broadcast Network
EF- Entropia Forum (Player run dicussion forum)
EP - Entropia Pioneers Forum (Player run dicussion forum)
ESI - Empty Skill Implant
EU - Entropia Universe
HA - Hit Ability
HOF - Hall of Fame
HP - Hit (or Health) Point
IMP - Improved
JASON - Jason Centre (City inside EU)
(L) - Limited
LA - Landgrab Area (society owned land)
LG - Land Grab
LMS - Land Management System
MA - Mindark
ME - Mentor Edition or Mind Essence
MF - Mindforce
MOBS - creatures/robots
MOD - Modified
OLA - Outback Land Area (player owned land)
PA - Port Atlantis (City inside EU)
PE - Project Entropia (original name for EU)
PED - Project Entropia Dollar (In world currency)
PEC - Project Entropia Cents
PK - Player Kill
PM - Private Message
PotE - Protector of the Empier (event prize armor in EU)
PVP - Player Vs. Player Mode
QR - Quality Rating
RCE - Real Cash Economy
RT - Revive Terminal
SC - Shop Container
TP - Teleport
TT - Trade Terminal
TWINS - Twin Peaks (City inside EU)
UL - Unlimited
VU - Version Update

Help improve this list - post a comment with something we missed.

Entropia Universe FAQ


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hello World

Blogtropia. Did we pick a name that's self-explanatory enough? These pages will contain critical analysis of all things related to Entropia Universe, it's economy, Mindark, other MMOs, and related tidbits. Our aim is to spark a few conversations, and give the outside world a peek into the hotly debated issues that are typically reserved for Entropia insiders.

Blogtropia is written by a handful of passionate players, industry spectators, pundits, investors... it seems wearing a lot of hats is an inescapable consequence of life inside EU.

Thanks for checking us out.