Monday, October 31, 2011

The horror that could be:

When we recorded episode #13 this weekend I mentioned an article entitled, "Who Killed Video Games?".  The article go through the money considerations of development of facebook games and smart phone app games.  Basically, big companies are purposely making their games operate in such a way that the user is more inclined to pay extra money to get access to material.  This may include speeding up the users procession through a leveling system, or providing new and better content for users willing to spend real money.  This brings up the topic of "micro-transactions".  Definitions of micro-transactions vary depending on who is asked, but I will be using the following definition for my brief discussion:

Micro-Transaction:  V. the act of paying or exchanging a small amounts of a nations legal tender (or currency) for                                    a digital non-real currency.
                            can also be referred to as a noun, as in, the option to enter into a  micro-transaction.

Considering that, lets reflect for a minute on the introduction of micro-transactions in the world of Eve by CCP.

"Welcome to the Noble Exchange, here you can buy goods with your Aurum!  What's Aurum you ask?  Aurum is a new currency in New Eden that is acquired by liquidating PLEX!"

This is, with some paraphrase, what capsuleers were greeted with, when the Noble exchange was introduced.  The Nex was CCP's attempt to implement micro=transactions to Eve.  What shall follow is a breif explanation of why this was bad.

First off, CCP did a bad job explaining what the Nex was, and what types of items would eventually have for sale.  Many Eve players have been players of other games, games in which the introduction of micro-transactions ruined the game.  The lack of qualifications over what types of items that would be sold in the Nex.  CCp should have made sure that nothing would be sold in the Nex store that would give any pilot advantage over the other in a fight.

There were some other reasons why the player base was upset, and they are not all insignificant.  But what CCP actually did wrong, was that they used PLEX.

This was a wrong decision for several reasons.  First of all, the concept of micro-transactions is that they are cheap, $10 is an expensive micro-transaction.  $15.00 for a PLEX is just down right unreasonable.  On top of that, a single PLEX converted to Aurum was not enough to buy any one item in the store.  All items were priced so that about 1.1 PLEX were needed to buy any item.  This also agered teh player base, and as for micro-transactions, it now cost $30 of micro-transaction, which is not considered "micro" by most people.

What CCP should have done. to improve it.

Obviously CCP should have better communicated pricing of items, and made official statements regarding the constraints of the types of items as novelty aesthetic only products.  Secondly, CCP should offer 7-14day PLEX options at a lower price point that could, in fairness, be exchanged for less Aurum than the current 30-Day PLEX, but would encourage pilots who wanted items from the Nex to purchase PLEX.  I believe the items should be refrfered to as PLEX-30 or old PLEX, PLEX-7 for 7-Day PLEX, or PLEX-14 for 14-Day Plex.  If only the 7 or 14 day options were introduced, they would probably be called New PLEX.

What CCP did right: Introduced a 1-PLEX option on the website for $20.00  This is still only right in concept as the $20.00 price tag is out of line with their other #PLEX * $15.00 options offered.  

From here out I will endeavor to explain the horror that could have been if CCP had decided to implement a true micro-transaction system as seen in other games.

Yes, you will all hate it, but the point is that you’re supposed to hate this idea.  This is what could have been done to make Eve more like other games with micro-transactions.  These games’ creators are evil bastiges, but there is still hope that CCP is not as evil as it is incompetent.  With luck World of Darkness will work out better for them.

CCP could have introduced their micro-transactions  with the overhaul of the training system.  The current system relies on real time training of skills which are prerequisites for using ships, modules, implants etc.   Most MMORPGs level through grinding to gain experience points and those are used to level.  The overhaul involves combining the two, if you’re reading this and have never played Eve, try it or this won’t make a whole lot of sense.

Combining the two would involve the introduction of experience points.  These points would be gained through actions in the game and there would be several different types of experience that could be gained.  For each NPC you destroy you would accrue X number of combat experience, killing players would net you a percentage of their combat experience.  Building ships, successful T2-bpc invention, etc would net a capsuleer industry experience.  And there could possibly be one or two other types of experience.  These experience points would be applied to skill in their category so combat experience could be spent on : 
     Spaceship command
     and other combat related skills/catagories.  

Industry experience would be applied to: 
     ship construction in Mechanics

I haven’t worked out experience for Corp management and leadership.

These experience points would not be applied as skill points towards skills, but as time modifiers, and they would be consumed in time along with the skill training.  Initially experience would not be transferrable, but experience farmers would eventually arise.   This experience would allow for up to 30%-50% faster training, or a decrease of up to half the training time modifier.

The micro-transactions part of this would be that players could purchase skill points in the desired area.  PLEX could be used, but a cheaper dollar amount item would be better.  This would allow players who play a lot to progress faster than those who let accounts train for years without logging in, or allow players who are eager to get to bigger ships, to get there faster for a price, a price that would be reasonable and attractive to the impatient.

CCP could have done what!?
Whew dodged a bullet on that one…

Feel free to comment, would love to hear what you think about Nex, or my proposed money grubbing plan that was not used thankfully.

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