October 2009 Archives

...asking "if <something intelligible> comes out of my nose when I sneeze, is that normal?", you're on The List.

This is one of the many things I hate about being on-call 24/7 -- if I get a call at four in the morning, it might be for work, so I can't ignore it.  And, of course, at 0422 I wasn't exactly thinking straight so I ran in to check my email to see if something was going on instead of listening to the voice mail first.  Fun.
You might remember that I have blogged about Hulu in the past and I'm a big fan.  Well, it appears that the major media companies behind Hulu (or at least News Corp, surprise surprise) have decided they need to charge for content on the service, and there will be some sort of fee model next year.  This isn't something new for them -- News Corp made the same decision with the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, so it's not surprising to see them think this is going to be a great idea which will make them a ton of money.

What it's really going to mean is that people just go back to bittorrenting shows.  Seriously, you want to charge for broadcast content you give out free over the air?  Come on.  At least with Hulu they got to show ads and generated some good will.  This is a stupid move, and from the stuff I've seen with the actual Hulu people, I think they realize it -- unfortunately, they don't make the content and they don't pay the bills necessarily, so nobody cares.

Is "free" the way to go?

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No doubt, if you've been watching the news about MMOs recently, you've heard about Dungeons and Dragons Online's new business model.  From that article, it certainly sounds like game's fortunes have taken a turn for the better as a result.  I've heard a lot of people embracing this free model, and recently at FanFest CCP made it clear that Dust 514 is going to be free to play, with a microtransaction model.  Is this the way to go with everything?

I'm not sure.  The idea of getting a better deal if you pay more causes a reflexive hiss from me, because I'm not a huge fan of the idea that if you are better off in real life you should be better off in a game.  I don't like RMT at all for a similar reason, but I realize that it's impossible to completely eliminate.

On the other hand, I have no problem buying a game, and then buying an expansion for it that gives me more content with a normal game, like Sins of a Solar Empire or Dawn of War.  How is that any different?  Well, I think in the case of an MMO it strikes me as a way to increase peer pressure to pay more.  If I want to go to one of the extra dungeons in DDO now, I have to buy it to stay with my friends.  That's the same problem I have with World of Warcraft and similar MMOs, where you have to buy an expansion in order to get 10 extra levels or go into the new area -- only now, you have to do it more often in order to keep up.

Of course, the counterpoint to this is that you may pay less for all those little microtransactions every month than you would with a subscription.  That's a fair point, but the problem still remains.  When I play an MMO, I want to be on an even keel with the other players, and I don't want to have my play with my friends segregated because I don't want to sink a bunch of extra cash into the game.  The free expansion model is something that attracted me to Eve (aside from the actual gameplay elements).  I've been thinking about how you'd translate that model into Eve, and I admit I'm having a hard time thinking of anything that I'd be satisfied with that would also be a valid funding model.

Pay extra for access to nullsec regions?  Pay extra for the skills to use tech 2 items?  Then suddenly it becomes something you have to pay for to compete (and Eve is nothing if not a competitive game) or to go where your friends are, and neither option really appeals to me.  Paying real money for tech 1 BPOs?  That sounds like the model they are using for Dust, and it actually doesn't sound too bad -- but I think those BPOs are going to be wildly expensive, because I don't know that there are really that many in the game (well, and there's a bunch already out there that people got for free), which sounds like it's not going to be a good funding model from CCP's point of view.  Ultimately, I think Eve's current model suits it best -- a subscription model to keep everyone "fair," despite the fact that multiple accounts or PLEXs can give you an advantage, with additional fees for things that don't give you any real game advantage, such as getting a new character portrait or transferring characters between accounts.  Anything they added to sell on a microtransaction basis would have to be similar -- new clothing patterns or building designs for Incarna, for instance -- or I suspect a large portion of the player base would be upset.
Looks like CCP has posted video of one of the coolest parts of FanFest -- DJ Margeir and his 16-piece symphony orchestra.  I tried taking a few pictures of this while I was there, but they didn't come out super-great.  This is well worth listening to.

Bizarre Coincidence

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I got a letter from this guy today wanting to know if I want to sell my house.  A get-rich-quick scheme from a late night infomercial?  Genius, how could it fail!?  Somehow, I suspect this guy is a bit behind the curve and is going to end up sadly disappointed.

Sad thing is, if I'd gotten this a month ago I might have been desperate enough to follow up.  Thankfully, I don't need to sell my house to the first douche to come along now.

Back from FanFest

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Well, after a very long day of travel yesterday, starting at 0330 Iceland time and ending at 2100 Chicago time (well, at least until my drive down to Champaign this morning), I'm back home.  Many apologies for not really blogging about anything during FanFest (having been a bit busy) and my thanks to Marc for picking me up from the airport and Sam and Gracie for putting me up for the night -- I don't think driving home after that would have been such a good idea.

FanFest was as good or better than last year (Caldari theme = win), but the highlight of the trip was definitely the 4x4 tour, which was amazing -- it was great to get out of Reykjavik and see the rest of Iceland, which was gorgeous.  I took over 100 pictures I think, and I'll probably put them up on a Picasa album or something, since posting them in the blog would be a bit cumbersome.  However, standing on the same rock where the Althing was first held was a pretty awe-inspiring experience (even if it's not particularly much to look at right now -- just a big rock with an Icelandic flag), and the natural wonders of Iceland -- from the Golden Waterfall (Gullfoss), crystal-clear waters and glacial ice to geysers and steam vents -- are beautiful.  The true power of the planet's natural processes is fully on display in Iceland like I've never quite seen elsewhere, though places like Mt. Rainier (pictures of which I'll also post one of these days) certainly show limited aspects.

Highlights from FanFest itself for me were the various presentations by the content team, where I heard a lot of very good stuff about what they see needs to be done with Eve -- especially fleshing out the backstory and a significant amount of world-building, something I've been waiting for for a long time.  When they get around to uploading those videos to CCP's YouTube channel, I highly recommend checking them out.

Most of the information on the upcoming expansion -- Dominion -- wasn't too much of a surprise, since informaiton has been coming out in dev blogs pretty regularly over the last few months.  In this case, a wise move from CCP since the systems being changed are pretty core to the game for a wide swath of the player base.  The big thing people were waiting for was news on Dust 514, which came during the big presentation on Saturday.  To be fair, I am not especially excited about it, since I am not the target market, and the presentation didn't really do that much for me.  It looks like an FPS (and a serviceable one at that), but the truly innovative or interesting part of it isn't really graphics or physics effects but how it fits into Eve and how it works -- and the presentation didn't really have much about that.

The party Saturday night was good, though I preferred last years, really -- this year, they'd moved the lounge areas inside the party area itself, which was annoying.  I don't dance, really, as anyone who knows me will attest, and I much preferred sitting around and talking with people -- pretty much impossible when you're being bombarded with loud music.  They also made the decision to let in the locals for the party, which led to a very strange clash of crowds -- the women's bathroom, empty most of the weekend, was packed with women in clubbing outfits, many of which seemed confused as to why this party was filled with internet spaceship nerds.

Overall, a fun experience, and I wish I had more to say -- unfortunately, the last week is a bit of a whirlwind for me, especially with everything being rather hectic back home here, and I'm looking forward to getting back into my routine.  I wanted to get this post up though, and I may revisit this again when CCP puts out videos from FanFest and I can refresh my memory.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with this....


I think Oveur as Technoviking is the best part.

Return to Iceland

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Just so no one thinks I'm dead, I am back in Iceland for FanFest at the moment (which starts in about 15 minutes here).  I got here Tuesday evening and was pretty wiped out, and yesterday I was on a 4x4 tour of the Golden Circle (where I took a ton of pictures -- will be posting them somewhere when I get a chance).  I'll try to give more updates in the days to come!

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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