Free Torchlight? Great game, shitty distribution.

A free copy of Torchlight sounds good to me, so when the offer below ping’ed my email I started jumping through hoops to get it. Several resets, installations, and such later and I still have to wait for a key. Stuff it.

My advice to people is: unless you’re already using Arc (a steam style launcher, which is perhaps used for Champions Online or the StarTrek game?) for games don’t bloody bother.

When you have a problem – try their facebook link, which tells you to try the Support site, which has a different login to be created (wtf?), or open a ticket, which then links to an article which confirms that you’ll have to wait for a key AFTER you login to the game. Huh?

Too many hoops to jump through, a process too unclear, and frankly there are better ways to run a promotion than this malarky. Skip this and do something else.

I’m willing to bet thumping your head on the wall while listening to One Direction’s back catalog on a freighter ship bound for Iceland in winter is better than this crap.

Aside – Why in a god’s green earth does each game, game distributor, reseller, or whatever need a separate “launcher/service” to star their games? Blizzard get a pass because you can run the apps from the icons easily, and they’ve got 3+ games in the market that are current. I accept Steam happily too, although I’ve only two games on Steam at the moment.

Especially when they try to run in background and start when the PC does by default. We don’t need 5x different launchers sitting in the background chewing CPU and bandwidth, so stop frakking making these games use them. At least make the “optional” check boxes deselected.

TLDR = IF I WANT TO PLAY YOUR GAME I’LL CLICK THE ICON. DOLT!

See you online in a game which knows how to give things away, understands that hoops are painful, and at least tries to help. But Torchlight is (apparently) free at the moment, and you’ll need to see how much pain you’re willing to go through. I certainly think the game itself was great when it was released. Great game, shitty distribution.

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Grumpy TyphoonAndrew today. I pity the virtual monsters I’ll meet tonight.

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Play for free, Up to level 13

A few weeks ago Blizzard announced that D3 was going to have a free play option for low level characters (FAQ here). I’m not sure why I missed this initially, but perhaps the silly work and wow cycle was as much eye candy as I could take in.

Regardless, this is offering which I think is a benchmark for game distribution in today’s market: give the player an opportunity to see if they like your work. Do not expect that people will pay to test if the game sucks. They won’t. If they trail it, then they can pay for the full thing when it makes them happy, if not then they get caps and limits that might keep them interested periodically. That demo might be a week’s grace, or a level limit, or whatever style is suitable. Either way you get players who wish to play, not players who are angry about getting some of the money’s worth.

A long time ago I played and loved Master of Orion 1 and 2. When MoO3 was released I pre-purchased that game and regretted it straight away. It was a poor imitation of the old game, with bright and shiny graphics which did nothing to distract from the shitty actual play. A total waste. Since then I’ve been a mad and angry purchaser of any game product. Temple of Elemental Evil was a similar experience as while the game was technically playable the crash rate and list of things that when SNAP! was too large.

So now I rant about free to play capped options with furvor and wrath.

For Diablo 3’s free play option they chose a max level number like unlucky 13 for the free players. That is just too much fun. Well done guys, it made me smile.

The demonically-besieged world of Sanctuary needs heroes. Now you can join in the apocalyptic battle for FREE via the all-new Diablo®  III Starter Edition.  Available exclusively via Battle.net®, the Starter Edition allows you to fight your way up to the Skeleton King boss in Act I, and advance all the way to level 13, without having to purchase a copy of Diablo III.

Diablo 3 is enough of a game that I think I would have purchased it away way, especially as it has no ongoing subscription; but I might have avoided it early on if I hadn’t had a Blizzard annual pass. I feel the same way about trialing GuildWars2 – play it if its free to see if its good, but otherwise I’m not interested in paying box price to evaluate software anymore.

I generally assume that most games released are not worth it until I read staggeringly good reviews from multiple sources, and a friend says its good, and it is released. A little while ago I said “I’m planning a short return plunge into WoW briefly before playing Diablo 3, and possibly SWToR. I’ll wait till Panda-randa is released, then decide if I pick it up.” Now that more details are about I’ll probably buy MoP in advance. It is good enough and close enough that it is a low risk.

I still don’t like Pandas though. Perhaps that means I’m looking forward to killing a few.

Freeloaders in SW ToR

Star Wars: The Old Republic

It’s old-ish news now that SW-ToR is going free to play, where a freeloader can get almost all the content, and the raiders pay our way. I started thinking about what it might mean. For me its a win-win that is very attractive – I plan to freeload on it.

As a positive the populations on the servers will increase, and that may assist with keeping a sense of community and an economy flowing. Having five times the players in a zone is a great thing when you are looking to “live” in a setting.

What I don’t understand is how the “all but raids” free play will generate revenue. Tobold posted a similar thought, and the comments seems to think this too. So what do the SWToR Devs know that we don’t?

My thought is perhaps the raid content will soon be the defining feature, and the next set of raids will be good enough to act as a revenue stream. If the devs can create compelling raids for raiders there is an angle. They might be so good that people play for fun for free, but pay for raids. That would be a big call. Raiding in WoW is considered good enough to generate revenue, and a segment of these serious raiders are likely to be targets for that strategy if it is right. An advantage is that money is no barrier to entry to the rest of the game right up to raids, so many people can have high level characters who are raid ready. A disadvantage is the raid history so far, so the content will need to be amazing, and then also well communicated to the wider community.

It does ignore though that there is an opportunity cost of a free game, where the time spent playing is not played elsewhere. Free is not enough for some players when they miss out on something that is valuable, even when it costs money (I’d rather eat good food that costs something, than free junk).

Or if not raids then what else? Vanity gear and pets? Rubbish. Sure they get money, but its still not enough to keep the game floating for 1-2 years.

Pay to win model where good gear is purchasable through a backhanded cash sale? Even worse, and would be a kick in the guts to the subscribers.

Cross server grouping is free

The cross realm grouping feature is released from Beta and staying free to use – its being reported by all the typical news services for wow.

I’m very pleased. I wrote a few blunt and direct blog posts earlier about how insane it was that a “social” aspect of the game is released to a premium membership, and this choice appears to validate that view. Now I really have no idea if it was community pressure, the change in subscriber numbers, or just a good ethos at the head office that saw the free service; but it stands as a point where a darn good choice was made instead of a money-hungry one.

Kudos to the people who made and backed that choice. These types of choices enforce rather than erode the spirit of the community.

Now they will hopefully expand the options into other areas and aspects of the game. Tier -1 content (BWD, etc), old instances, perhaps even cross-faction using the same “mythos” that allows the caverns of time to work. I can see a serious issue with battlegrounds, but anything with a closed group is reasonable.

Not a traditional free to play model

A quick thought – if wow is Free to Play then can I cancel paying my subscription and then only login to the game on an existing toon that is level 1-20?

ie. Can I choose to suspend paying per month for a while, then move back to a subscription when I choose? No.

Clearly not, so its not true F2P, although I can understand why offering the model is a reasonable hook to players. There is a gulf between this form of free to play, and the form offered by Champions Online. I guess in an industry which is this competitive it stands to reason that marketing will bend what we think of as traditional F2P models. Perhaps that is even a good thing.

Are there many players left who have not already tried wow?

Honor Valor Justice Conquest Trading

Just in from the patch notes for 4.1 – swapsies on Honor, Justice, Valor and Conquest points. Yes you read that right, we will be able to switch lower-end point rewards amongst each other, which in effect makes participation in different forms of gameplay more desireable for those looking to gear faster, or in a more flexible manner.

Honor is now purchasable from the Justice Commodities Vendor at 250 Honor per 375 Justice.
Justice is now purchasable from the Honor Commodities Vendor at 250 Justice per 375 Honor.
Conquest is now purchasable from the Valor vendor at 250 Conquest per 250 Valor.

What I really like is that it offers more than one path to get to a basic gear readiness.

This a good change to let players spend points they may have, which are otherwise wasted. It also offers a path to upgrade alts, and it offers players who may have not considered playing another style a way to get quicker entry.

It won’t help you if you’re already max’ed out with gear, but then clearly that is not the goal. It will also potentially create scenarios where a player will be in pvp gear with basically no pvp skill (which is not a new scenario), and pve players who only have played pvp. Is this a risk? Well yes, of course, but the impact of this will be an interesting experiment in freedom of choice.

Happy gearing.

ps. Please send snarky observations about how easy the game is, or how this is broken the backbone of the challange to spam@whine.com – I mean really there is enough going on in patch 4.1 to make every player slightly nervious, and to expect a game not to change is just silly. I grant you that sometimes I break that rule too – to blog is to whine a little.