Daily Archives: February 22, 2010

Free is the magic number

There’s been Alliddle bit of a fuss over the cash shop in Allods, and mbp has a series of posts covering the initial furore and developing some interesting thoughts on the whole financial approach of the Free to Play model (which really needs a better name, like Pay Different Amounts Possibly Including Nothing to Play Various Aspects, but PDAPINTPVA isn’t really as catchy as F2P).

I’ve long held that MMOGs could do with pricing plans in addition to flat rate subscriptions; £10/month is great for one game you’re really dedicated to, not so good if you want to dip in and out of games here and there. I’ve lost count of the number of blog reports from open betas of MMOGs saying “it’s not bad, I had fun, but… I wouldn’t pay £10/month for it”. A more direct relationship between cost and time is an option, but possibly starts having a psychological effect on players; someone going AFK or otherwise slowing down your dungeon group isn’t just costing you time, but also money, and there’s the prospect of being taken to the small claims court because you stood in the fire, wiped a raid and cost your guild £42.50. It used to be a standard model though ($6/hour plus the phone call for Neverwinter Nights), it’d be interesting to see if it did still work.

Rather than taking the old “time is money” adage literally most Free to Play games have an item shop, making their money by selling in-game bits n’ pieces. There are any number of options here; potions or items to make your character more powerful temporarily or permanently, cosmetic fluff, access to certain in-game areas, additional races and classes, XP boosting items to speed your progress, etc etc. The structure of the game can dictate how essential or merely desirable these items are; a purchasable mount might be a nice-to-have in a game with a fairly small world, or all but mandatory if most quests involve around travelling a vast continent that would take hours on foot. I’m not familiar enough with Allods to get a handle on exactly what’s being charged for and how necessary any of it is (though I might grab it just out of curiosity; no publicity is bad publicity and all that), but some people are using it as a stick to beat all item shops. That’s daft, though, item shops aren’t bad per se, *bad* item shops are bad (Captain Tautology saves the day!) In the five months or so since Dungeons and Dragons Online went Unlimited I’ve dipped in and out, averaging about one night a week, mostly with Van Hemlock & similarly Irredeemable Waifs. I’ve spent something like £20 in that time on a few different things; unlocking the Drow race (entirely optional, but necessary for my totally unique character concept of a Drow who’s actually quite nice and wields two scimitars), several adventure packs and a couple of container items (most fundamentally the collectables bag to stop my main backpack overflowing with moss, documents, glittering dust, idols, primitive tools, cheese, sandwiches, socks, geese and tangled slinkies). I couldn’t really justify a £10/month subscription, but with sensibly priced items Turbine get a bit of cash and everyone’s happy.

Press Release: Squire Online.

Squire Online is an exciting next generation MMO from the creators of GrindFace and Ant Farm Online, where you take on the role of squire to a hero of the seventh age, armed only with your wits and a small sack barrow.

It’s the Grindeenth of Grindember, in the year of Our Lord 1337, and you start your adventuring life as a squire in the small town of Grindburg, in the kingdom of Dross. There are many heroes in the world, too many some might say, and they are each so powerful that they can destroy whole towns with nothing more than a baleful glare. Yet there is one problem: they cannot move. Due to the alarming and preposterous dimensions of their mighty armour, the heroes of the world are no longer mobile. Were it even possible for the immense joints of the cumbrous fragments of armour to move freely, our heroes would not have the physical strength to shift such weight, especially when attempting to wield a weapon that could double as the hull of an ironclad warship. Even those heroes wearing only cloth armour cannot get far: wrapped in so many ponderous layers they find themselves held rigid like a scarecrow in a clown suit, and can only totter short distances by hopping from one locked-straight leg to the other.

And so the heroes of the world are stuck, fuming and straining with the sweaty, bulging-veined, squashed-dough face of one who is constipated with destructive power, like geriatric Super Saiyans.

Enter the squire and his sack barrow, able to wheel a hero from location to location, you are responsible for manoeuvring your hero into harms way and then, through a complicated series of levers and pulleys, operating your hero’s weapons.

Game features:

  • Start the MMO with a level 1000 Hero of Ultimate Heroism equipped entirely in epic equipment!
  • Level your squire and invest points to improve their skills:
    • Negotiation (Stairs).
    • Avoidance (Gravel Driveways).
    • Dodge (Bollards/Raised Curbs).
    • Curse (Low ceilings).
  • Gain unique and amazing powers!
    • One Wheel Cornering.
    • Super 180 Reverse.
    • Sack Barrow Charge.
    • Fallen Hero Scoop and Scoot.
    • Impersonal Sponge Bath.
  • Find new and exciting equipment for your squire!
    • Anti-hernia Girdle.
    • Head-mounted Periscope.
    • Buy increased capacity for your hero’s Port-A-Bucket[TM] in the Cash Shop, and save yourself the in-game downtime of having to clean poop from off of everything.
  • Upgrade your sack barrow with greater manoeuvrability and lifting capacity, and discover the ultimate upgrade, the Hero Shifter 3000 forklift!
    • Hydraulic and Pneumatic systems for animating your hero’s armour with increased power and response times.
    • Shopping Basket attachment.
    • Magic Tree Air Fresheners are available in the Cash Shop in a variety of scents. Neutralise the odour of your sweaty angry hero for bonuses to diplomacy with the various in-game factions.
    • Your hero comes with various mount points which you can use to personalise them and add further bonuses. Add freshly laundered underpants to their helmet spikes to gain extra righteous fury for use in combat, for example!

Squire Online will be wheeling its way onto your PC in Q4 2011.