File Under: Eyebrow Raised

The following two bits of random news caught my eye yesterday.

Breaking News: Cataclysm heroic dungeons were too hard, long

There is a new Cataclysm “post mortem” interview with Scott “Daelo” Mercer that just went up. It is a PR puff-piece so whitewashed they had to run over to San Bernardino to pick up more lime, but it did contain at least one visible kernel of truth in the pile of bullshit:

Q. What didn’t work out as planned or expected?

Initially, we started off the Heroic dungeons at too high of a difficulty. The difficulty level rather abruptly changed when compared to the Heroics players experienced at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. This major change caught many players off guard, and frustrated some of them. The difficulty also increased the effective amount of time required to complete a dungeon to a longer experience than we wanted. With the release of patch 4.3 we’re now in a much better place.  We’ve always talked about being able to complete a dungeon over lunch, and the Hour of Twilight dungeons get us back to that goal. End Time, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight  all provide epic play experiences to our players, but at the real sweet spot of difficulty, complexity, and time commitment.

This is a drum that I have been beating for a week shy of a full year. It is not especially relevant these days – does anyone really care or disagree at this point? – especially given the Mists announcement back in October that heroics were going back to WotLK-style. But it is always nice to have some measure of extra closure on things.

Dust 514 is F2P, for real this time

Last month, I pooh-poohed David Reid’s speculation that EVE could become the biggest game in the world by the end of 2012 via the “tens of millions” of Dust players. While Reid is (one of) the most filthy, vile marketeer(s) in the history of videogames, the latest news via Eurogamer is that Dust is in fact F2P:

Eurogamer can megaphone that Dust 514, the exclusive PS3 MMOFPS that will exist within Eve Online, will now be free to download and free to play.

There was going to be a $10 to $20 cover charge for the game on PSN, but that has now been scrapped.

“It was a relatively confusing proposition,” executive producer Brandon Laurino explained to Eurogamer, “and we wanted to make it unambiguous that this is a free-to-play game.”

Laurino goes on to stress Dust won’t be Pay 2 Win – “There is no micro-transaction that you can do that gives you an unfair advantage over someone who hasn’t paid anything” – but a few paragraphs later this happens:

Items available include vanity goods to customise appearances with; boosters that save time, such as double skill point (SP) boosters; variants of weapons that aren’t necessarily more powerful – “side-grades” that look or play differently; services like character respecs; and lucky dip treasure boxes. “It’s what has emerged as best practice,” Laurino said.

Oh, I see.

I suppose there is room to say things like double-XP potions and the like don’t actually count as P2W. And maybe they will actually get the weapon side-grades balanced right. But… “lucky dip treasure boxes?” TF2 has those crates you unlock with keys or whatever, but I would never accuse TF2 of taking itself particularly seriously. I am always skeptical when someone feels the need to hardcode lottery tickets into their game… do they have no faith in the product itself to engender poor financial decision-making?

All that aside, it is pretty big news for Dust to be launching F2P out of the gate. I do not have a PS3 and I believe launching Dust as a PS3-exclusive (i.e. no PC version) was the worst idea in the history of ever, but this is something I am definitely keeping my eye on. As I said in an earlier article on the subject, Dust would have been the perfect vehicle to transition someone interested in the EVE concept from the fence to being podded in-game. We will have to see how the game actually plays, but being F2P gets a lot of feet in peoples’ doors.

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Posted on March 6, 2012, in Miscellany, WoW and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Some people are still saying (in the WoW forums at least) that the initial heroic 5 man tuning wasn’t too hard. You can find some people who will believe, or at least say, almost anything.

    • They were not too hard… but they were too long even when they were not too hard. And if you actually failed here and there, it could easily become multihour run.

      There is a reason people farming guild xp were running exclusively Lost City of Tol’vir – that one actually had reasonable amounts of trash; and people often dropped Grim Batol on sight.

  2. I have attributed the tuning of the Cata heroics to Blizzard listening to the desires of a group I call “The Informed.” I commented on this on my own blog a few months back. Cheap plug if you want to check it out:

    http://xintiammo.blogspot.com/2012/01/bloggers-and-forum-trolls-do-not-form.html

    Essentially Blizzard did what the vocal MMO community (bloggers, forum posters, fan site operators) wanted them to do. We said we wanted more difficult content, they gave it to us. The problem is, while we are loud, we are also few. The “average” player that doesn’t read blogs, post in forums, or run a fan site looked at Cataclysm as a huge change from what they were familiar with in Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard could not put this “genie” back in the bottle and raise expectations on this group. So that is why Pandaria is returning to the Wrath model.

  3. Right there with you on the Dust being PS3 only…I don’t own one but I thought the same. Were it on PC I would happily play it, I love the idea of being a mercenary in the EVE world, but I am not willing to get a PS3 and deal with PSN to get it. Oh well, CCP’s loss, pretty sure because it is so limited it’s going to crash and burn..or remain fairly small.