Planetside 2: A Roadmap to Respect or to Rudeness.

Planetside 2 just released its Roadmap site. It’s quite a nifty idea, allowing players to vote for which game features they want to see implemented. There’s a lot of very promising game ideas there that make me quite hopeful for the future of Planetside 2. Given how much time I spend at spawnpoints, I’m particularly pleased that farming spawn-points will be becoming less optimal.

However, it is also true that SOE is notorious for launching terrible game-changes on players without warning, so anything that allows us to head the awful stuff off at the pass is a wonderful thing, and I hope to see a similar system implemented for other SOE games.

So… Speaking of terrible ideas that need to be squashed:

We’d like to add the ability to display a taunt on your target’s killscreen and play a taunt animation on demand with your avatar.

  • Ideally we might want the ability to customize a killscreen that allows you to display even more stuff, like a short message and a custom background to go along with the taunt animation

No. What on earth, SOE??

I have heard that Planetside 2 wants to be considered an e-sport, and to attract pro-gamers. Judging by how many pro-gamers League of Legends has had to ban recently for disgustingly unpleasant behaviour, pro-gamers do have pretty strict requirements for having systems in place for abusing opponents and team-mates. I am sure many pro-gamers would appreciate the ease with which they could use the proposed Planetside 2 system to rapidly abuse far more people than they could do by hand.

The pro-gamer culture appears to be a completely toxic one. But as long as companies are lining up to sponsor the pro-gamer teams, without also demanding a good standard of behaviour, pro-gaming will continue to be a foul-mouthed misogynistic, racist, homophobic example to the rest of the gaming community. A proud symbol of everything that is wrong with gaming culture.

You don’t need to go there, Planetside 2. If you want to be an e-sport, start by displaying some sportsmanship. A fallen opponent should be respected. That’s the attitude you should be encouraging. That attitude leads to a better community, happier players, and less CSR calls.

EQ2 : New Erollisi Day Achievements

Today I noticed a couple of completed achievements in Maltheas’ log that I had no recollection of getting. “A Rose By Any Other Name…” and “Make That A Bouquet”. After a little rummaging, it looks like these were received for my rose-throwing efforts in the Erollisi “My Romantic Reputation” quest over the past few years. I gained the achievements automatically when I logged in after the patch on the 17th, and just didn’t notice. Hurrah for achieving things without even realising, and that new achievement track has company! There are now a range of Erollisi achievements. At least I *think* they’re new. I don’t remember them, and the web has no mention of them to be found. I’ll feel quite silly if they’re from last year..

Winter may still hold Norrath (and Norwich) in its icy grip, but the joys of Spring are not far away, and soon the thoughts of Adventurers everywhere will turn to love. For Maltheas, that will be love for whatever new quests and recipes come in as part of the Erollisi Day event! He has taken part in every step of the Erollisi saga, through her many years of absence, to her triumphant (and tragic) return. He’ll try to find the time to complete some of these new Erollisi Day achievements though.

EQ2 Erollisi Day Achievements

Three of these new achievements give furniture rewards, though the rewards themselves have apparently not yet been patched in, and I couldn’t view them.

Cherished Confections

  • Bake up a batch of Erollisi cookies
  • Bake up a batch of Erollisi cupcakes
  • Bake up a batch of Marssipan (their spelling)
  • Cook up some taffy
  • Craft a box of assorted white chocolates
  • Assemble a basket of perfect pomegranates

Reward : Bow Mounted Red Rose Garland


Lovely Laquer

  • Craft an Erollisi Day bed
  • Craft an Erollisi Day chair
  • Craft an Erollisi Day tapestry
  • Craft an Erollisi Day couch
  • Craft an Erollisi Day rug
  • Craft an Erollisi Day table

Reward : Heart Mounted Purple Rose Garland


Rose-Tinted Obsession

  • Craft ten Erollisi Day decorations featuring roses

Reward : Heart Mounted Red Rose Garland

Star Trek Online : A Guide to Recruiting Duty Officers

Here’s to the Finest Crew in Starfleet!!!

I love Star Trek Online’s Duty Officer system. Recently however, to my fright, I discovered that some of my fleet buddies didn’t know how to get their hands on a great crew, and it occurred to me that they might not be the only ones. And so I present my little guide to getting your hands on “The Finest Crew in Starfleet”. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to assume you know the basics of DOFFing.

General Recruitment

The basic recruitment missions used to be randomly found in the zones around Stardock or Qo’nos. That changed at some point, and now you can pick them up at any time from NPCs at your faction’s Academy. The Personnel Officer has most of them, but there are also race specific ones for Vulcan, Andorian, and Tellarite, from NPCs of those races. If you’re on Team Klingon it all works much the same, with Orion, Gorn, and Nausican-specific recruitment being on offer. For most of these missions you simply get given some DOFFs, but the general recruitment one will grant you a pack of DOFFs to open, trade, or store instead. The General Recruitment mission is the only one that costs 1000 Dilithium. The others are simply free officers, though they do have a long duration and cooldown. I generally leave them to my alts, freeing Arkturos Reh to deal with the more lucrative tasks.

Star Trek Online - Personnel Officer

Exploration Clusters

Exploration Cluster missions are the core, from which many wonderful things will follow. Each cluster has a series of 7 DOFF missions which follow on from eachother. You can recognise these because they will be marked as being part of a chain by ending with 3/7, or whichever stage of the series they belong to.

The next step in the series will not always be available. However, as I discovered with glee, you can double your chances of finding them by clicking on the “Department Heads” tab, and seeing what your Operations officer is offering. Nevertheless, it’s going to take a fair amount of time, and many visits, to get to the end of the chain.

The final (seventh) one will award a unique blue DOFF that you will only ever get one of. Welcome them to your crew, where I am sure they shall serve with distinction, but they are not our end goal.

Having completed the mission chain for the cluster, you will now have unlocked the cluster’s Support mission. For this mission you want to get your critical chance as high as possible, for it is only on a critical that you will get that cluster’s unique purple DOFF. Don’t worry though, for a regular success will still gain you a refugee, which we’ll be needing later. The Support mission can be repeated, when available, as much as you like, and you can have multiple copies of the purple DOFF. Some are more useful than others, but they’re all worth having.

Eventually, you may end up with so many copies of a cluster’s purple DOFF that you can’t make good use of them all. They’re bound to you, so you can’t sell them, but you can trade them in to the Personnel Officer at the Academy for three random unbound blue DOFFS. What you get may or may not be useful to you, but at least they’ll be different!

If, like me, you’re working on Fleet Projects, you need a good supply of low-end officers to feed to them. When you end up with any blues you don’t want, you can trade those in for 3 greens, which can each be turned into 3 commons. Thus one purple can be turned into 9 greens, or 27 commons.

Asylum Missions

You should be getting a refugee every time you attempt a Cluster’s Support mission. You may also get the occasional refugee from other recruitment missions at Starfleet Academy. These will be your currency for the Asylum Missions.

There are Asylum missions in quite a few locations, but they all work in the same way. They will either appear in your “Current Map” section, or under the jurisdiction of your ever-helpful Operations officer. The Asylum mission is for a specific race, Vulcan for example. The Vulcans will grant one of your refugees asylum in return for you taking one of their officers under your wing. You can offer up any of your collection of refugees, but depending on the race of the host, there will be certain favoured traits. Like any DOFF mission, you want to pick the candidate who matches as many of those as possible to raise your success chances.

The mission will remove the refugee from your roster, and you’ll receive a new officer of the relevent race, with the quality depending on your success result. Some races have rather difficult to fill trait requirements, but it’s still worth having a go even if you don’t have any refugees that fit them. If you’re doing Cluster Support missions regularly, you’ll have enough refugees to throw at every asylum mission you encounter.

There’s a lot of them, though they’re somewhat rare and have a cooldown. Here’s where you can find them:

Andorians : Sirius Sector, Andoria
Vulcans : Sirius Sector, Vulcan
Humans : Sirius Sector, Sol
Betazoids, Tellarite, and Rigellian: Sirius Sector
Caitian and Saurian : Alpha Centauri Sector
Bolians: Iota Pavonis Sector
Trill and Benzarite : Beta Ursae Sector
Bajorans, Cardassians, Karemmans and Paradan : Throughout “Cardassian Space” (Alpha Trianguli, Beta Ursae, and Zeta Andromedae)

Consular Authority

These are four similar small mission chains within Cardassian space (including the associated exploration clusters). One for each of the Bajorans, Cardassians, Paradans, and Karemmans. Once you complete the chain, you will sometimes encounter a repeatable “Officer Exchange” mission. These are a little similar to Asylum missions, in that you will lose the officer that you use for the mission, but they use regular officers rather than refugees. I tend to only use common DOFFs for this, though you might want to plug a green into it for a better chance at a higher quality result, if you happen to have spare greens with the right traits.

In the picture below, I sorted my DOFFs to only show common officers with the required traits of Honourable and Teamwork, and happened to have a candidate with both. That gives me a 14% chance of a purple and a 44% chance at a blue Karemman officer. Otherwise, I get a green, and that’s still an upgrade. I’ll take those odds today.
Star Trek Online Officer Exchange Duty Officer Mission

A few other DOFF sources

The above are my main sources of good officers, but there are a few other missions which will provide new members for your crew. The list below is not an exhaustive one, and new methods tend to come in with every update.

Cardassian Agents

There is a long mission chain over in Cardassian Space called “Ghosts of the Jem’Hadar”, that rewards a one-off purple Cardassian at the end. Once you’ve completed that chain, you’ll unlock a repeatable mission called “Provide Sanctuary to Anti-Dominion Cardassian Agent”. On a critical success, that’ll award a Cardassian of random quality.

Klingon Defectors

There’s a pretty rare mission you may come across called “Instigate Defection”. That’ll award a blue officer on a success, or a purple on a crit. The best thing about this mission is that you’re getting officers from the opposing team’s races, meaning they’ll often have very different trait selections to what you can usually get your hands on.

Right, hopefully that’s enough to get anyone who was not on the path to purple DOFFs well underway. If you have any questions about finding DOFFS, DOFFING in general, or anything else to do with Star Trek Online, I’ll be happy to try to answer in the comments, or update this post accordingly.

GamersFirst Café Claims : Making Moola, or just Making Mocha?

I was reading an article on Massively a little earlier about GamersFirst’s new merchant site. My interest, hey, where are you going??? Sigh. OK, well I hope you come back once you’re done over there.

Yay, you came back!! Right, where was I? Oh yes.

My interest was piqued largely because GamersFirst is the publisher of Fallen Earth, which is quite good, and APB, which is also a game that exists. That, and the quite extraordinary claim that appears below.

GamersFirst Premium Cafe Service

“GamersFirst’s Merchant Center : Two great ways to make money!”

Well, that sounds good. I quite like money. Tell me more!

Way 1: “Sell unique game items to your online visitors. Whether this is your first time selling game items or you already offer hundreds of game products, we have the right items for your customer demographics. We offer several great games in all key genres and many market-proven game items for each of them. Our team of experts will assist you every step of the way. Getting started has never been so easy.”

Way 2: “Sell unique game items and exclusive game perks to your café customers. For a limited time enjoy FREE access to our Premium Café Service. Offered only to gaming cafés this service provides every PC in your café an undisputedly superior gameplay experience than is possible on a home PC. After you’ve attracted players with your exclusive café benefits, upsell them on unique game items to maximize their gaming.”

Hmm. Those sound quite similar. In both cases, you’re reselling in-game items, but method 2 requires you to own a café.

Hold on. “this service provides every PC in your café an undisputedly superior gameplay experience than is possible on a home PC.”??? How wonderful!!! And this miracle can be achieved at no cost to your café (for a limited time). But what is stopping me from taking whatever is causing this superior gameplay, and using it on my home PC, bringing about a universe-threatening paradox loop? How is this free scheme creating undisputedly superior gameplay experiences, and why is nobody disputing it? I feel a dispute coming on, but first, lets try to figure out what this scheme actually does.

Once you’ve signed up you will have access to our exclusive Premium Café Service as well as our entire catalog of game items and currencies at bulk purchasing prices. Premium Café Service gives your café a distinct edge over both your competition and home PCs. The most loyal and valuable players will be drawn to your cafe, and from there you can choose to sell them their favorite game items for maximum player value and cafe profits.

All that is necessary to get started with Premium Cafe Service is a set of basic network details so we can connect your entire gaming cafe to our premium network. Since this this is an absolutely FREE service, there is nothing to pay. You simply need to set it and forget it.

Your players will have the best gameplay experience possible at your cafe. You can use this to your advantage to attract more players and to also raise prices. You are free to choose how to include Premium Cafe Service in your business model.

I see. So when you say “undisputedly superior gameplay experience than is possible on a home PC”, you just mean that the players might get a discount on your item shop. That’s not really what gamers are talking about when we talk about “Gameplay”. I believe you may be trying to confuse us by using buzzwords. In fact, that entire passage I quoted seems like an attempt to flimflam cybercafé owners into signing up for a service that is only free for a “limited time”, getting much-needed promotion for their stable of MMOs. Most of that stable, it might be said, should have been put out to pasture some time ago. This program is not going to allow you to sell customers their “favorite game items”, unless their favorite game items are inside GamersFirst games, which, when you put it like that, doesn’t really seem all that likely, does it?

Unlike our competitors, we don’t enforce any price point restrictions on our merchants. You are free to price them as your market dictates without any outside interference.

Well, that’s sure putting gamers first, GamersFirst. I don’t really trust the whole reseller part of the MMO market. It feels like an unnecessarily holdover from more traditional and material forms of trade. In an MMO, I already have a direct relationship with the manufacturer, so why would I want to buy through a middleman who would be extracting profit for themselves? More to the point, why does that make sense from the point of view of the MMO developer? I can see the benefit of selling cards in Walmart, so that relatives who are not internet savvy can get a present for their MMO-loving kin, but selling ingame items or subscriptions through a 3rd-party website seems utterly counterproductive to me.

It is ALWAYS supercreepy to listen to discussions between middle-men, as it is we who are usually the commodity and resource being discussed. Regular folks aren’t really supposed to look at merchant sites like that, where being able to overcharge us without oversight is seen as a positive. We might also wonder why home owners are being promised an undisputedly inferior gameplay experience to the cafe folks. Fortunately, I don’t imagine that claim has any more actual truth to it than the one it logically follows from.

Anyhows, there’s no deep meaning to this post. Marketing people write meaningless and deceptive guff that looks insane to anyone outside its intended audience. I just enjoy the irony of seeing it done by a company called “GamersFirst”.

The GamersFirst Merchant Site.

Star Trek Online – In the Breen Midwinter

I did a little video a few weeks ago about how I was working towards earning the Breen Chel Grett Warship in Star Trek Online. Simultaneously, I was also trying to earn our fleet a Chel Grett hologram for our Starbase. I am proud, and incredibly relieved, to say I managed to complete both tasks today.

Star Trek Online Christmas Breen Chel Grett Starbase

The starbase hologram project took 250 of each of the Q’s Wonderland resources. I mostly gathered them through doing the Christmas duty officer missions, but an fair amount of snowman fighting and snowball digging needed doing as well. A modest task for an active fleet, it was a race against time for me to get this done before the end of the winter event. Failure would have meant it would sit in a project slot until next Christmas, preventing any other decorations from being queued.

Less painful was my daily trip around Q’s icetrack. 25 day’s worth of Q’s autographed pictures were needed for my own Breen Chel Grett Warship. A high price, perhaps, but rather cheaper than any equivalent Admiral ship. I stuck with my task, and so it is that I now own what is undeniably the coolest ship in Starfleet.

Star Trek Online - Breen Chel Grett Warship
Tactical Stations : Level 4 and Level 2
Engineering Station : Level 2
Science Station: Level 3
Universal Station: Level 1

The Chel Grett Warship is more or less a high end escort-vessel. I love the manoeuvrability, but I’ve never been a huge fan of tactical bridge officer skills, and I’m missing not having more science or engineering abilities available. Nevertheless, this is a ship which packs a punch.

As I’m trying to go for the complete Breen experience, I’m using the Breen Absolute Zero set from the Breen featured episode series. One of the Absolute Zero set bonuses improves transphasic ammunition, so naturally I’ve gotten my hands on some transphasic mines, and I’m using my old favourite, the Breen Transphasic Cluster Torpedo. Alongside that, I’ve decked it out with some Polaron gear I’ve been saving. All in all, I’m finding it a pretty effective set up, though I’m sure it would do yet better in the hands of a tactical Captain.

All in all it’s a quite excellent ship which plays very differently to my other top-end rides, and it’ll be coming out regularly, I’m sure. My heart does belong to my Caitian Atrox Carrier for now (I must get around to showing that off in a post soon!), but sometimes it’s nice to Captain something that doesn’t fly like a brick.

The Secret World goes subscription-free!!

As 12/12/12 12:12 hit (though an hour early, as they were going on Norway time) a bombshell hit. The Secret World, inspired no doubt by the success of Guild Wars 2, is going subscription free. Like GW2 you still need to buy the game, but beyond that, you can play without further costs if you so choose. But is it safe?

Of course it’s perfectly safe. No one’s entirely sure how it works.

I don’t like to contradict anyone in a hat as splendid as the Stationmaster’s, but we do have a fair idea of how it’ll work. It’s a pretty generous deal by the looks of things. You get the full game without limitations, with none of the punitive nonsense you get in some F2P games (Looking at YOU, SWTOR). Going forward, we’ll be paying for content DLC, or what we used to call “game updates”, though some of those will still be core to the game and free to all users.

You can still sub if you want to, of course:

New Membership Available

For those who want to get the most out of their Secret World experience we have an optional Membership available. Being a monthly subscriber, for the same cost as before, now gives great benefits. For being a member you get the following:

  • Time Accelerator (Clickable item which increases experience gain for defeating monsters by 100% for 1 hour, 16 hour cool-down – only usable by Members and Grand Masters)
  • $10 worth of Bonus Points (given out every month)
  • Item-of-the-month gift (given out every month)
  • 10% discount to everything in the in-game store

The Grandmaster pack includes all these benefits and gets an additional 10% discount to everything in the in-game store, for a total bonus of 20%. So being a Grandmaster is better than ever!

Through the month of December we have a special offer where we give 30% off on the first purchase on the 3, 6 and 12 month Membership plans.

Not everyone will have the choice of course. Some people paid $250 for a lifetime Grandmaster membership. It turns out that all they really got for that was the opportunity to lose the choice of whether to play for free or not.

I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again. In these times where games go F2P or subless within a year of launch, Lifetime subs are a terrible idea. We shouldn’t buy them, and companies should not even be offering them. Lifetime subs are a gamble, and the odds on it paying off are getting longer every year.

Anyhows, for everyone who didn’t buy a life account, this change is a 100% positive no-grumbles thing. At least it is so long as it attracts enough new players to compensate for all of the folks, myself included, who will now cancel our subscriptions, and simply buy the updates when they come along. That sounds like that’ll work out a lot cheaper, and will free my limited gaming funds for keeping an eye on an extra MMO.

There’s an official FAQ on all this over here.

Update from Twitter, where we’ve been having quite a discussion on the topic of lifetime accounts. This is a rough paraphrase of what I’ve been saying there:

For me, the decision to get a lifetime sub is based on whether or not I think that’ll get me most value for money. So it’s always bizarre, when an MMO suddenly goes F2P, to hear all the folks saying they go lifetimer as a form of charity, so they don’t mind. I only wish I could afford to be so charitable. My buying decisions have to be based on personal economics. And it’s becoming increasingly obvious that lifetimes are a bad deal. If you care about getting a bad deal. You might not, it seems.

Yes, lifers now get $10 of shop credit a month, but shop items are not what lifers thought they were buying when they signed up. If some lifetimers like what the bait has been switched for, that’s great, but that does not mean that all lifers are obliged to be happy about it, or that we shouldn’t point out what is a fairly shady move.

I suspect it’s partially due to a peculiar psychological affect. Humans tend to value money less once they’ve spent it. You shrug your shoulders and move on, and that is certainly very healthy for the temper, but it is not a good way of encouraging companies to play fair with us. For me, it’s very clear. I have $150 more than I would have done if I’d gotten a lifetime account, which I can use for other goods and services.

At the very least, customers deserve to be told, at the time of purchase, what their lifetime subscription would be turned into in the event of the game becoming subscriptionless. Surely we can agree on that?

Star Trek Online – The Fastest Game On Ice

By Q!! It’s been a while since I made a gaming video, but I suddenly got the urge today. Star Trek Online’s Christmas event is well underway, and Q is welcoming all comers to his Winter Wonderland. Therein, you can if you’re feeling energetic, decide that you will undertake to win a footrace on his icetrack on no less than 25 separate days during the holiday season. If you do, you’ll earn a rather lovely Breen Chel Grett Cruiser.

Let’s join Arkturos Reh, as he takes his daily trip around the icetrack! If your bandwidth can handle it, I recommend using the little button at the bottom to whack it up to HD.

Edit: Turns out I’d totally forgotten how to edit videos, and forgot to switch the output to widescreen, leaving ugly black bars and wasted space everywhere. After an overnight re-upload, the situation is rectified!! Huzzah!!