How Much Do You Pay for Your Hobby?

Posted by on Mar 28, 2012 in Blog, Everquest | 3 comments

This question popped up recently on the Everquest boards: How much have you spent over time on your MMO habits? As of this moment, the moment I am writing this, I don’t know the answer. But I’ll be getting there. Let’s find out first what qualifies as MMO related expenses. There is the purchasing price for games and expansions plus subscription fees as well as cash shop purchases. Further, we have the cost for gaming computer, perhaps adjusted for use outside of gaming. Add the cost for your internet connection, again modified for non-gaming use. Fan fair visits certainly count here as well, so do books, magazine and webpage subscriptions. Maybe I am even going to attempt to calculate how much power I’ve been using to play.

Let’s go through this list of games I posted a while ago. I come up with 16 games I paid for. Add 4 for things I bought and have deleted (DAOC comes to mind). Expansions I’ve bought to the best of my knowledge only for EQ (11), EQ2(6) and WOW(3). Makes for a  total of 40 units at $50 each or $2000.- over 12 years. I’ll make a well educated guess for subscription fees and call it 2 accounts for the entire time. That’s 12 years, 12 month, $12 per month (considering rebates and lower rates in the early years), times two or $3456.-

Hardware cost is difficult to compute, since I am computer literate and tend to replace and upgrade parts between rebuilds. But usually, a part I replaced the year before I completely replaced my computer usually ends up inside the new computer anyway. I recall 4 distinctive computer towers, one CRT and 3 flat screen monitors during that period. The towers cost me $1500, $1200, $1000 and $1000 each (=$4700). Monitors were $800, $400, $250 and $250 (= $1700). Add perhaps $1000 for replacement hardware and things like surge protectors, uninterruptible power supplies and routers. And then there are 12 years of internet connection at $40 per month. And if I am honest to myself, 75% of those cost are for gaming, the remaining 25% for other uses.

Fan faire visits almost don’t register, since I’ve been to only one as a paying visitor. And that one was within driving distance from my home. Call it $200.- total. Books (Prima Everquest Guide !) and other print items account for $100 max. And occasionally I’ve maintained subscriptions for ZAM, Magelo, Ventrilo servers, or Guildportal. I am estimating this to be around $400 for the whole period. And since I am usually subscribing to the games I play, I doubt that I have spent more than $200 in item shops.

My UPS software tells me the combo of monitor and computer doesn’t use more than 500 W, which translates to $.05 per hour or roughly $100 per year. If you are a perfectionist, you’ll also have to take air conditioning into consideration, especially if you live below the Mason-Dixon Line. I’d estimate that at twice the cost of electrical energy, but only during 5-6 month per year. Call it another $100 per year.

Games & Expansions $2000.-
Subscriptions $3500.-
Computer Tower (75%) $3525.-
Monitors (75%) $1275.-
Other Hardware (75%) $750.-
Internet Connection (75%) $4275.-
Power & A/C $2400.-
Other $900.-
Total $18625.-
Monthly / 144 $129.-

People usually mention that going to the movies or to bars or concerts is more expensive than playing MMO’s. However, if you have to take hardware cost and internet connection into consideration, the comparison isn’t that clear cut anymore. $129 per month translates to $30 per week, which gets you to the movies more than once and restaurants and concerts are in reach as well. Given, you could save some on computer hardware, that second subscription and by not jumping onto every new game that comes around. But then again, those are all choices we make and as long as it keeps us happy…

 


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Learning and Leveling Curves

Posted by on Mar 23, 2012 in Blog, Everquest, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 0 comments

I have been playing Everquest again for a few days now, and only for an hour or two at a time. It’s like a return into your home town. You know all the places, but most of it just doesn’t look right. That’s why the user interface feels so clumsy for the first few hours, but it becomes familiar again after a while. But not without wondering how much MMO interface design has evolved over time. There’s a reason everything is called a WOW clone: A good interface begs to be copied.

Something else feels awkward about the game: Myself. I’ve gotten my beastlord to level 12 and was sent to Blackburrow for some quest. Fun, fun, fun! I’ve spend a lot of time there in the past and I know the place well. However, I got myself into trouble when for some reason I had something like 6 gnolls on me, with more joining later. I had completely forgotten how aggro works in EQ, lulled into safety by some passive grey-con mobs. If I want to continue playing this game, I have to put in a good amount of time, to get these issues figured out and have them become second nature again.

All this made me think about the learning curve in MMOs. I’ve trained most of my MMO skills in Everquest. I learned about the need to pull in the Field of Bones. I learned crowd control in Solusek Ro and Karnor’s. Swarm kiting was all the rage back then, which I learned in Mayden’s Eye. In other games, different skills are required, like finding a rotation and priority lists or selecting the right companion for every occasion in SWTOR. And of course different classes require an entirely different set of training as well.

Players learn their classes as they level. Usually, the game becomes more challenging the higher the level requirements are and new techniques need to be found and deployed to master the content. All of a sudden, resistances are needed, characters have to move away from area damage, deal with a fully choreographed encounter.

In the end, the leveling process in an MMO is a big learning process as well. At the level cap, players will have learned to deal with a multitude of situations happening within a game. But now what? Is there still some challenge left? Can the endgame keep the interest of players who love to expand their skills? Or does the game stop right there, at least for some of us, it does.

 


© Disclaimer: Everquest
© Disclaimer: Star Wars: The Old Republic
This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with LucasArts, BioWare, or Electronic Arts.
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
Game content and materials copyright LICENSOR. All Rights Reserved.


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Vanguard SOH Going Free-To-Play

Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in Blog, News, Vanguard | 0 comments

Vanguard SOH producer Andy Sites just announced in his Producers Letter that Vanguard is going free to play this summer. No hard time lines have been set, yet. It is planned to have a subscription and item shop model similar to Everquest, Everquest 2 and DCUO. Sony Online Entertainment has also put a transition team together that consists of developers familiar with the Vanguard property and the world of Telon.

This move has been expected for a good while now, fueled by the announcement that Everquest Classic is going free to play as well.


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Big Bear Butt Writing Challenge

Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in Blog | 8 comments

A fellow blogger at The Big Bear Butt has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged his readers with a little writing contest. Goal is to post an article, paragraph, poetry or limerick containing these words:

  1. juicy
  2. slender
  3. vain
  4. shaft
  5. torch
  6. star
  7. hidden

Here’s my entry.

Quest
Hello stranger, glad you showed up. I could use some help getting some juicy apples for me from that orchard yonder. You know, the one past the old mine shaft, hidden behind those slender birches. It wont be in vain. I’ll have some reward when you return.
Reward(s)
1 torch
1 blue star


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Everquest Nostalgia

Posted by on Mar 14, 2012 in Blog, Everquest | 0 comments

Sometime in early 2001, I went to the computer store to look for yet another computer game, since I had grown bored of the most recent one. I had seen the box of Everquest, Rise of Kunark before, but had put it back into the shelf for one reason or another. But this time there was also “Scars of Velious” standing right next to it. Seeing the second expansion of a game gave me pause. Guess there must be something to it, I thought and grabbed the Kunark box.

A bit later a new dwarf named Tomlin appeared outside Kaladim on the Vazaelle server. I had yet to discover the newer full screen interface and could see the world only through a window less than half the size of my screen. Things were confusing, but I managed to kill some skeletons and some goblins. But of course I got lost, had to search for my corpse and got saved by some friendly player who saw I was in distress. Eventually, my dwarf grew up a bit and found his way into Greater Faydark, which he left almost immediately for Lesser Faydark at level 6 or so. There he meet some brownies…..

The story from here on is the same as many others have experienced the game. Getting your first set of banded mail, experimenting with other classes and general exploration of all continents. There were my first steps onto Kunark, wondering how to get to that level 14+ zone while dodging monster spiders and giant dogs. The boat trip to Velious was fun, seeing the gnomish steam boat. Going out exploring as a non caster was always interesting and dangerous, since you’d better find a bind point fast. I had settled to play a bard, which I turned into a Vah Shir bard once Luclin came around.

I joined a small casual guild, left them for a bigger guild, which imploded to form another more “focused” raiding guild and joined a newly founded raiding guild by the time Planes of Power went live. That’s where I meet my wife through frequent grouping and raiding. More expansions came out, but so did Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft. The guild collapsed, but we played on for a while, before succumbing to the lure of World of Warcraft. That was around the time of Omens of War. My wife held out a while longer, but eventually moved to WOW as well.

We had short appearances during veterans weekends and I took the opportunity to return to Fippy Darkpaw for a short while, but have stayed away since. Now Everquest is going free-to-play on March, 16th, 12 years after its introduction. I will be there. I finished the download of the regular client a couple of hours ago and I am waiting for the doors to open. I don’t know if I will start on the new server or revisit my old toons. Most likely scenario: A new beastlord on the new server. I certainly won’t be a frequent visitor, but free-to-play will give me the opportunity to drop in every now and then, just to see how things are faring.

It is some investment to get re-aquainted with the game and the user interface. Or just imagine the geography. I will probably manage the classic Norrath maps, a bit of Luclin and Planes of Power, perhaps even Ykesha. But after that, I don’t even remember the zone connections anymore. Yes, I know, things have gotten simpler in the game, but it has become a huge world. I guess it’s still the biggest world out there in MMO terms. And a nice one to go back to. See you on Friday.


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WTF, Taris?

Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 in Blog, Featured, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 0 comments

A few days ago I finally managed to get my Sith Marauder to Taris. I had some trouble at first getting oriented at the landing site, but nothing really to post about. A few initial quests yielded me some decent amounts of crystals to artifice and things looked good. Until I arrived at the “Border Assault Post”.

Damn, I’ve seen that place before. It looks just like one of the Republic outpost on Taris. And as it turns out, the whole map is identical to the Republic map. Which shouldn’t be much of a surprise, since it’s the same world and both sides are competing for this world. However, all the quest hubs are now in use by Imperials instead of the Republic and there are different mobs throughout the area. No pirates, like on the Republic side, and the Cathar and the Taris Militia are exclusive to the Empire map.

I just got quests leading me into the starship Endar Spire, but I fear the story which presents itself there will be very different from the Republic one. Just like the other quests throughout Taris. It’s not just a different point of view, the events in the stories differ. Which annoys me to no end. I’ve seen a few story elements within class quests which just didn’t fit together with other class quests. Most obvious to me is the complete absence of the Twi’lek matriarch of the Consular line within the Jedi Knight quest line. Or the differences around Nem’ro the Hutt between the Imperial Agent and the Bounty Hunter quests. Nemro’s located on the left side of his palace for IA’s and on the right side for Bounty Hunters. He’s got lieutenants for the IA where there’s just a single accountant around for BH.

This really makes me wonder, if I should head over to some SWTOR role playing sites and check out hat they have to say about the poor development of lore. In the end, it’s just another piece of the puzzle that is Bioware. I keep noticing issues where I keep thinking that they went designing the game all by themselves as a company who makes single user games, without much consultation of experts from the MMO world. They could have learned a thing or two. And somewhere down the road, when they finally notice the errors of their ways, they will have to create some very clumsy stories and explanations to make the lore between the classes and the factions consistent.


© Disclaimer: Star Wars: The Old Republic
This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with LucasArts, BioWare, or Electronic Arts.
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
Game content and materials copyright LICENSOR. All Rights Reserved.


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