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?


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.


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


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.


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.


"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.