Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Leave of Absence

Some of you may have noticed I have not posted here for a little over a week. There is a combination of factors, but the short of it is I am no longer able to commit the time to this blog to keep it regular. For that, I am sorry, but I figured you should know.

Honestly, MW:O has a lot of potential, but most of that is not being realized at the moment. I could continue to talk about how statements about future patch notes are not reflective of what those patches contain over and over, but that doesn't seem much fun. On top of that I have accepted a much more active leadership position within my group on EVE Online, and so have had next to no time to dedicate to MW:O. Sorry folks, but it happens.

I hope you all enjoyed my posts.  I may come back and continue to contribute what I can. I may also start an EVE blog, who knows. Either way, see you on the battle field.

If you are interested in EVE Online, or play it and are interested in FW. Please feel free to contact me.

If you want quality MW:O blogs, I recommend my friends over at TheMittani.com. They seem to be doing a stellar job!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Under the Rug

New features and announcements are always great for games. Hype drives this industry more than most anything, and PGI knows it. Five million dollars was raised for MW:O through the founders program, many of whom bought in in order to join the closed beta. That means that a fair chunk of the five million dollars was raised by people who had no idea what they were actually buying, only that it was MechWarrior, it was going to be free 2 play, and there were Atlai. That is the power of a little hype.

However hype can be dangerous, while it is great to announce this grand new thing, sometimes things don’t work out quite like they supposed to. In that event a development team must come forward and inform people about the error, or never mention it at all, and hope for the best. Sadly, the later seems to be a fairly common strategy, even though in a day of fanatic bloggers with little to talk about such things rarely go unnoticed.

One thing is true about the transition to open beta, PGI has become far more focused on the here and now, and have all but lost sight on the future roadmap, at least publically. Many of the things that came out of the first open beta patch were simply to address the concerns of the moment, with disregard to long term objectives. This is compounded by the fact that we have gone from a roadmap that laid out content up to three months in the future, the majority of the discussion has shifted to a one to two week scope. Part of this is because the player base has become so impassioned about things, and so demanding on the one week cycle, the addressing concerns is taking up a fair chunk of the development cycle. Another cause is likely the flurry of stuff there is to talk about now, almost makes looking forward moot.

However, throughout this process it has been easy for PGI to allow things to slip away, and vanish into the aether. This gives them the ability to drop the feature, or take their time outside of the three month plan they originally established. In some of these cases the playerbase have lost sight of it in the midst of LRMs, Gauss, and DHS issues. With others however, a small sect of the player base have continued to meddle, and ask about things “best left alone” and PGI have responded with deafening silence. In the midst of AMA’s and Ask the Devs, one question continues to be asked, but never addressed, and I feel that this is a valid time to add my voice to the call for the answer to the question of Doctor Who? Direct X 11.

Little history lesson: At some point in late September it was asked on the forums “When are we getting DX 11?” This question was responded to by PGI with “October 2nd.” Now for those of you who can remember, October 2nd was the day that the monster patch was originally designed to release (the one that was latter to be referred to as “Patchmas”). Nearly a month went by before that patch finally was released, and with it the new CryEngine. However, no DX11 was anywhere to be seen.

So where did it go? Was the report that it was coming a mistake, confusing the new engine for DX11 support? Did something go wrong? Clearly PGIs understanding of the new engine has been incomplete (it takes them over two weeks to tweak bloom levels). Is DX11 coming or not? These are all fairly straight forward questions, especially for a feature that was matter-of-factly announced for a month ago. And yet, in spite of it being asked on several forum posts, and in nearly every Ask the Devs, no one at PGI has addressed it, or mentioned it, even once since that post stating it would be ready by the 2nd.

It isn’t about what is talked about; it’s about what is being avoided. Please PGI, release information about DX 11, your updated roadmap through the end of the year (at least the features already listed in the now outdated upcoming features/content threads), and demonstrate to us that your vision has not faltered, in spite of recent road blocks.  

Update: I often say that I am pessimistic so that way I am either correct, or presently surprised. Less than 24 hours after I posted this, PGI announced the following:

After integrating CryEngine 3.4 we noted a number of issues with the DX11 implementation that we didn’t feel were acceptable to push out to production. We have worked with our partners to address the key issues, these have now been resolved and we are enabling DX11 internally for testing. Once it passes QA it will be enabled on production, we appreciate the fans patience while we work to ensure the DX11 renderer is just as stable as the DX9 renderer.
This perfectly answers this question, Thanks! Now please continue to be communicative and work with the players who are trying just as hard as you to make your game great! :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Heat Level Critical: Shutdown Imminent

Just a quickie – this was built as an extension of Signs and Portents 

The current notion of the community is that heat is generated too quickly, or dissipated to slowly. I explored this idea in Heat Levels Critical http://dbefored.blogspot.com/2012/10/heat-levels-critical.html. Simply stated, the heat dissipation system works on a ten second cycle, whereas most weapon systems work on a 2-4 second cycle (however, they generate in those cycles the same amount of heat that they should over a ten second cycle).

Double heatsinks (DHS) were expected by the community to help alleviate the problem by providing heatsinks that took up two additional critical slots, but that dissipated twice the heat (hence “double heatsink”). However, when DHS were released to us, it seems that they did not improve the engine heatsinks, which was not intended. Let’s assume that the pilot managed to fit ten DHS into their mech (which is quite a few given the critical requirement, especially if you also demand three critical slots). That should provide him with effective heatsinks of forty; enough to run most of the current high heat builds. However, due to this bug; the pilot only had thirty effective heatsinks. Thankfully they are fixing this problem in the next patch. Or are they?

With the change to DHS to a 1.4 coefficient instead of a 2.0, the efficiency of each DHS changes dramatically. While the engine will gain additional efficiency, it will only be the equivalent of four additional heatsinks, not the ten as was expected. At the same time the ten heatsinks you have fit on the mech above also reduce in efficiency, dropping down fourteen, an equivalent, a loss of six. The addition of four heatsinks from the engine does not compensate for the six lost from the DHSs on the mech itself. It would appear that any mech that has more than seven DHSs will LOSE efficiency after this “fix” is put in. This is pretty sad, considering many players analysis has shown DHS to be a bad option in a vast amount of situations (including some of the most heat intensive builds).

EDIT: In case it isn't 100% clear, I think these changes are stupid. Flat out miss informed. If the balance of heat was SO far off in TT to require 3x heat gathering, and 1.4 heat dissipation, how was the TT considered "balanced"? However, I want to wait and see before making a deeper dive into this topic. I do want to go on the record saying: stupid.

Signs and Portents

Disclaimer: I am not a member of PGI staff, nor have I had any meaningful conversations with PGI about their theory and game design, I am reading the writing on the wall, based on my observations and knowledge of game development. Chances are, some is right, some is wrong, and some will come as great amusement to the PGI staff. In this post I am including information that has been stated by PGI, that information is as accurate as their word is ;-), everything else is my personal commentary.

PGI as a company has been very communicative to its players, almost to a fault. They have since early in closed beta shown the players timelines, plans, and ideas well in advance of their implementation in the game. This comes as a double edged sword. On the one hand, the player base gets excited and passionate about the game, allowing them to maintain interest where a fair bit of the features are still barely on the drawing board. On the other hand, development can be unpredictable, and things change. Timelines alter, things are cut as practice shines a harsh light on theory, and external pressures drive priority shifts in the company. It is very easy for the player base to feel cheated, or outright lied to, when their pet feature gets pushed back or lost into the void. Unfortunately, that has happened quite a bit recently.

This is compounded by the fact that PGI describes features, content, and balance changes that are supposedly going to be released, but is fairly tight-lipped about the theory behind those changes. This then puts it on the players, and analyzers such as yours truly, to attempt to read the tea leaves and dig beneath what is being said, to try to understand the decisions behind them. Spoiler alert: I both like and dislike what I see.

Tomorrow is a very important day for MW:O, it marks the first content patch since the beginning of open beta, there has been a couple of posts that discuss the nature of this patch, and some future plans and this is a really great place to begin our investigation.

  • New DHS values (1.4) applied to all heatsinks, including engines.

This change was foretold in this http://mwomercs.com/forums/topic/66075-heat-and-double-heat-sinks-dhs/ post and this simple change tells us a lot about what PGI feels about heat. To put it bluntly PGI disagrees with the community that heat is imbalanced, or at least in the same way the community does.
I was going to go into this here, however it became far too long, so I broke it out into its own post. I am already fearful as to how long this post will be as it is.
  •  A fix for the glowing mechs and HDR blacking out screens.

The glowing problem is pretty new, only after the latest CryEngine upgrade came in did bloom become overdone, but even before they “fixed” that it didn’t darken your screen. It is obvious that they still are tinkering with their understanding of the new CryEngine, and that they are basically wasting development time trying to get it back to a state it was before the change.
  • A rollback of some netcode changes, hitbox detection improved, but still needs work on faster mechs.

Another example of two steps forward two steps back. A close examination of their recruitment site http://piranhagames.com/Careers_General.html shows that they are actively hiring net code developers. I guess all I can say is let’s hope they find them soon.

This also makes me wonder what point they are rolling back to. Before the latest patch one had to lead quite a distance to have the hit be registered against a fast mover. I considered the current implantation better than that; however I agree it wasn’t awesome to watch Jenners using their teleport function as they rocketed past you. I will say that we will see on this one; however I do not expect anything promising until a while after that job posting goes down.
  • Centurion CN9-D.
  •  Artemis

I bundle these two together because they really are all about the same problem, the YLW. One of the effects of the YLW was the removal of the Centurion variant it was built off of. This reduced the number of free Cent variants down to two, which is not enough to unlock higher pilot skills in the current backwards advancement system. They stated that the CN9 would not be ready prior to the Artemis’ release, and that the Artimis was part of the ECM/ECCM package. The fact that this is now being released ahead of the ECM package is an indication to me that the YLW, and the outcry related to it, is the direct cause of this being released now. It is important to note however, later in the post indicates that ECM is working, however unbalanced, and so it has been delayed.

On a side note, from saran.net about the CN9-D:
The D variant of the Centurion is the first of many upgrades using Star Leaguetechnology. The chassis was re-engineered to use Endo Steel construction techniques. Next the power plant was changed from the standard engine to an extralight engine. In the process the maximum speed was increased to 97.2 km/h. Finally, the weapons were upgraded. The Autocannon/10 was upgraded to an LB-X Autocannon/10 and an Artemis IV fire control system was added to the LRM launcher. The two Medium Lasers were retained.

The Artemis itself appears to help missiles lock and hit as long as line of sight is maintained (not indirect fire). I have no idea how it will be changed, if any, for MW:O.

  •  Cockpit Damage FX
I am guessing this means that we will get cracks and such on our cockpit when we are damaged there. This is likely something they have been working on for a bit under “neat immersion features” that finally is ready to go. On a side note: has anyone seen the “cockpit lights dim when you take heavy hits” feature? I haven’t really noticed that.

  •  Missile Door Toggle/State Lights (Open, Closed, Destroyed)
This is a feature that has been asked for quite a bit by missile pilots, and I think will end up being more of a pain for them then they realize. What this seems to do is allow the pilot to keep their pods open, and thus reduce lag time for shooting weapons. However, when the pods are open, they take extra damage, so I expect to see streak kitties get their ears knocked off in record numbers after the patch.

  •  Trial Mechs act like purchased mechs and stay locked until match ends. Reduces suicide farming, AFK players.
They tried so hard to fix this problem without making this change, but it was inevitable. However, this post  seems to imply that there is a major fix coming for the new player experience. I find it interesting that this is not expanded upon yet. The post was made five days ago, but the changes are still not detailed. IMO the new player experience may be the single most important thing for MW:Os development right now.

  • Phase 1 Matchmaking. Max pre-made group size is now set to 4.
PGI I am not angry, just disappointed.

There are some other details teased at the bottom of the post. Of them, the camo sounds to be the likely to come out the soonest. According to the post, Bitchin Betty is already in, but has to be turned on by a cfg file I failed to find :/. However, I think it is hilarious that there is a feature in the game that is censored by the forum word filterJ.

Two modules are teased, but no details given so they make grilled cheese sandwiches, and French fried respectively until PGI says otherwise.

The only real thing I have to say about Conquest is that I predict it won’t be released until at least matchmaker phase 2, it just wouldn't make sense otherwise.

Over all, this patch appears to be a “placate the masses” patch. It appears as if they had learned their lessons from the patch prior to open beta, and did a better job separating out their features so they can release what is ready, and not hold off dueto features that are not fit for prime time. However, due to the high demand of a week patch cycle, and the pressure to keep up with it, has caused this patch to be largely a squeaky wheel fixer. I am fearful that valuable development time is being taken away from actual development, and reassigned to problem fixing, which is a dangerous thing to do in a beta (until of course you are near feature complete). What is also troubling me are the things not being discussed, however I will have to break that out into a post of its own.

UPDATE: Some updates have come from the latest Ask The Devs post. Amid the ice cream questions, some of it is even relevant.

  • Paint schemes and other vanity stuff is likely to come out 20th or 27th (This is apparently VERY important, he answered at least three questions about this!)
  • NARC is bad (officially now!) and is being worked on. No ETA.
  • The missile pod change will be as I described above.
  • ECM will likely do more then just jam or counter NARC/TAG 
  • Garth is a light mech pilot (no wonder they thought tripping was broken ;-))
  • Forest colony update TOMORROW (How was this missed in the original post?)
  • Weapon grouping is coming to Mech Lab
  • Trial Mechs should change every two patches (so we are due for a change tomorrow)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Open Beta Survival Guide: Starting Fresh

This post is meant to be a follow up post to Open Beta Survival Guide: Preparation which was originally written three weeks before Open Beta started (although at the time I thought it was just a handful of days). Now finally Open Beta is upon us and this guide will serve as your guide introducing you into the world of MW:O.

Step 1: Prepare for the Beta

Like most things first you must register, download and prep your computer for the game before you play it. However, while you are doing this I recommend taking the time to prepare yourself for the game. If you have never played a MechWarrior game before (MechAssault doesn't count), this game may seem foreign  confusing, and a bit unresponsive. These are part of the game experience. Mechs are lumbering machines and do not turn on a dime like you may have seen in some other games. Getting a feel for how your mech handles is a key part of the game.

To prepare yourself, you should watch the tutorial video and read the starting guide on the MW:O website. However this does not give you all of the information you will need to be a master MW:O pilot. In particular you will want to know how to set up your weapons groups, target enemies, and manage your heat. You will likely spend a fair amount of time in trial mechs that are notoriously heat inefficient. 

Furthermore, I recommend setting up TeamSpeak 3 at this time. While you may not always choose to be in groups, likely there will come a time where you will want to, and you will want it ready when that occurs.

Step 2: Learn to Love the Trial Mechs

Like it or not, without spending money you will be resigned to trial mechs for the first several hours of gameplay. Trial mechs are exactly the same as the mech variant it is based off of, and these varients come directly out of the table top game BattleTech, which MechWarrior is largely based off of (you will likely see people discuss the table top rules, referring to it as 'TT'). 

The following are the differences between "trial mechs" and "bought mechs"
  • Trial mechs receive a reduced CBill reward
  • Trial mechs receive no experience
  • Trial mechs have no customization (load-out, skin, in cockpit items)
  • Trial mechs have no rearm or repair bills
  • Some bought mechs have CBill/Experience boosts (hero mech, founders mechs)
Because of all this the trial mechs are an excellent time to learn the game, and take point for your team (you do not have to pay repairs, where others might).

It is worth noting that you may skip the trial mech phase by purchasing MC with real money. Doing so allows you to purchase a mech outright, however any customization you wish will need to be purchased with CBills. Some players are opting to purchase the hero mech Yen-Lo-Wang so that they can use his 30% CBill boost to quickly obtain enough for their fleet of mechs. The choice is up to you.

One thing to keep in mind is that you are not playing a cheapened version of the game at this time. You are playing with real mechs, in real matches. Trial mechs can provide a lot of good to even experienced players. I would recommend starting to play with others as soon as possible, as teamwork is huge in MW:O. Pugging (playing in random public groups as opposed to pre-built ones) can be quite frustrating if you don't understand what you are doing and how to properly fall into a team. If nothing else, spend some time with on the MW:O public TeamSpeak servers to learn the ropes. I have found that almost all of the people you will meet there are helpful, and willing to train new players.

The two most popular TS servers are:
  • Comstar Relay North America (Comstar NA) Available Slots: 512 Man TS3 server Address: na1.mech-connect.net Password: WordofBlake
  • Comstar Relay Europe (Comstar EU) Available Slots: 512 Man TS3 server Address: eu1.mech-connect.net Password: hG5!4Dg*
Admittedly most people current stay on the EU server. During closed beta that was THE unofficial TS server, so many people still stay there, in spite of their timezone.

Step 3: Choose Your Niche

MW:O has a strong focus on class warfare. Light mechs are not weaker then assault mechs, however they often fill different roles. The moral of the story is that if you pilot a light mech like an assault, you will be chewed up, and vise versa. One of the good things about trial mechs is they provide you with one of each mech size category (light, medium, heavy, and assault). Diversify during your trial time to discover which works best for what you need. Mechs can be expensive with MC, and so knowing what mech you want in order to prevent buyers remorse is very important. Do some research, and ask other players for help in order to ensure you are happy with your choice. DO NOT JUST BUY A COMMANDO BECAUSE IT IS CHEAPEST, and do not save up for the Atlas because more expensive = more power. Try to find the mech that will suit you. 

Step 4: Buy Your Mech, Find Your Home

Unless you're a founder, or are willing to purchase a lot of MC, you will likely be spending quite a bit of time in your first purchased mech. Now that you have a mech of your very own you have to pay attention to things like rearming, and repairing. Missiles and rounds must be reloaded after all, and some mechs will have a lower cost per drop then others (generally laser focused mechs will be cheaper). However, I would say that you don't need to make too much of a choice based on that. After all if you are in a mech that you find fun, then the money will come in time (you are having fun after all). It is better to do what you enjoy, then try to grind the "most efficient" path towards riches (especially if those riches are simply to be able to get the mech you enjoy).

Early on you shouldn't worry about the advanced upgrades like Ferro-Fibrus armor, double heat-sinks, and Endo-Steel internals. Most of the time these are designed as minor upgrades that cost more then they provide in the long run. As you run your first few missions attempt to upgrade your layout without relying on upgrades, and update your mechs experience often. The choice of where to put the xp is yours, eventually you will need to get all of the basic xp efficiencies.

Step 5: Set Your Path

About the time you upgrade your mechs basic efficiency you will stand at a crossroads that will define where you are heading as a MechWarrior. If you choose to be more versatile, you should buy a different mech that fills a different role, and begin the same process with this new mech. If you instead choose to specialize, begin to upgrade parts of the mech to get the most out of your chosen role. At some point you will want to buy two other variants of the same mech type, and build up enough experience in them to complete all of your basic upgrades. This will unlock the very nice advanced upgrades for your chosen mech. Slowly but surely build up your weapon of war until it is tuned exactly how you like it.

Word of warning: Not all upgrades are good in all situations. For example, double heat-sinks cost over a million CBills to switch over, and can even be a downgrade for heavier mechs, where critical slots are vital. Also, Ferro-Fibrus armor is in every way worse then Endo-Steel, and should be avoided except under extremism circumstances. In this game, research trumps money; strategy trumps bruit force.

MW:O is a game with a lot of potential, but for that potential to be realized it will take a lot of work both from PGI, and its players. Teamwork, cooperation, planning, and strategy will win the day. This is still beta, and things are prone to change. I look forward to seeing you on the battle field. Stay informed MechWarrior!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Well here we are, patchmas has finally arrived! 

We have waited long enough for this patch, lets just jump straight into what it does, and what there is to say about it.

  • Jenner JR7-K
  • Raven RVN-3L
  • Cicada CDA-2A
  • Cicada CDA-2B
  • Cicada CDA-3C
  • Cicada CDA-3M
  • Awesome AWS-9M
New stompy mechs yay! The Cicada is new medium mech. At 40 tons it sits between the Raven and Centurion in size. In general the Cicada's main focus is speed. The slowest Cicada stock mech goes 113 KPH and the rest clocs in at a blazing 129.6 KPH.

The 2A is an energy weapon specialist with six energy hard-points  however the stock version sadly only uses two of these. Given the current heat system I wonder how many Cicada's will be able to use all six without causing themselves to transform into slag.

The 2B seems to trade one one of their energy hard-points to move several of them to the arms. Honestly, this seems to be a superior build. Given your speed, the additional flexibility of having arm mounted hard-points seems important. Furthermore the chances are most builds wont use all six hard-points. I could be wrong, and if I am please correct me in the comments below.

The 3C is the dedicated ballistic platform. Four ballistic hard-points are supported by one energy hard-point. It is the slowest stock Cicada, but that should be able to fixed by dropping an XL engine in it. I suspect that this will be the "scout" Cicada. Load up a tag and four AC/2s on chain-fire and rock mechs long enough for the rain to fall. That sounds really fun actually...

The 3M will be a pretty decent brawler. Four energy points are supported by one ballistic point. Slap on four lasers and an AC to rock the target as you strafe around at over 120KPH. Could be scary, could also be a pretty nice counter to LRMS and Gauss-cats.

All of Cicadas can be fit with AMS, but none can have jump-jets. It is clear that the main role of the Cicada is to move quickly and get behind the main force and strike and the squishy LRMS and GAUSS.
New hero Mech: Yen-Lo Wang
The first hero mech came out and it is based off of the old CN9-AH, however it replaces the arm ballistic with energy hard-points, which many people see as the entire point of the AH mech in the first place. The mech itself costs 3,750 MC and can not but purchased with CBills. Yen-Lo Wang sports a custom skin (which is not at all as described in the stories), and has a built in permanent 30% CBill bonus. the CN9-AH has been retired and replaced by this mech. This part is a bit confusing. Paul stated that the AH was in the game to test for the Yen-Lo Wang mech without tipping their hand what the hero mech would be. I see this as a pretty big mistake. They already have the other mech built and worked out, and yet they are taking it away and forcing you to pay MC to replace it. I would not be surprised if public outrage caused them to reverse this decision, and honestly I think the game would be better for it. I say, let them have the AH and fall in love with it, that may drive them to get the YLW for the CBill bonus and skin. Make the player fall in love, then offer them a way to invest in their ownership. This is why skins and cosmetic items work so well in F2P games in the first place! Taking something that people had, and then blocking behind a premium fee feels a bit slimy, but I digress.

Honestly, the mech itself is not what I find interesting, but rather what this means for the game. First of all, this sets a precedent for future hero mechs. Up until now there was nothing that altered your in match experience that required MC, this changes that. Now if you want to fight with this variant load-out, you must purchase this mech for MC. No other way around it. Secondly, this shows that hero mechs will likely have the kind of bonus that we see with the CBill boost, we now have two examples of mechs with bonus CBills, so this is likely going to become a norm for hero mechs. Thirdly, this CBill reward is HIGHER then the Founders mechs, which demonstrates a power creep into the system. The F2P premium model encourages PGI to continue to make the next thing better then previous things, to keep people buying, and this demonstrates they have taken the bate. I would not be surprised if we continue to see this convenience "power creep" continue as time goes on. I may write about this more in the future. Moving on!
Ferro Fibrous, Endo-Steel, and Double Heat Sinks
I lump all of these things into one category: make things more efficient at the cost of more critical slots. They have made it so that the excess critical slots can spill over intelligently throughout the mech. A couple of notes is that it seems that in general Endo-Steel is far more efficient then Ferro Fibrous, Double Heat sinks probably are not working as intended (they do not seem to be working as double for many people), and Double Heat-sinks charge EVERY TIME you swap between them and normal heat-sinks (although I think that may be true for all three, the DHS is far more expensive, and so a bigger deal).
New skins and cockpit items

Also, the skin does not work on founders mechs or the cicada mechs at this time.

One last thing that caught my eye:
We've also made changes to the economy of the game. Firstly, we standardized MC to C-Bill pricing. Secondly, we've lowered engine prices and item prices have been increased. This all adds up to, Mech costs being the sum of it's parts. While it doesn't follow the canon pricing, it is close.
Given my last couple of posts, I wonder if some folks at PGI read my blog. That would be kind-of awesome! They even used a chart! Although admittedly theirs is a bit more polished :)

Over all, you can tell why they felt so strongly they were ready for open beta, after this patch I am inclined to agree. If they spend this week fixing the few bugs that still are kicking around (and the new ones that cropped up), and are conservative with their patch next week, I would say its time for a nice open beta release.

Oh one last thing, they released their tutorial video, and while it is good it is just a video. Give us an area where we can drop and move around in our mechs without fighting enemies. Better yet allow a group to drop in to explore the maps, skirmish, and train. Videos don't cut it. Sorry.

Edit: someone on the forums pointed out that the mech that was removed was the CN9-AH not AL, sorry and it has been corrected.

Friday, October 19, 2012

League Of MechWarriors: Part 2

First of all, let me start off by saying I am sorry for the delay of writing this. Between work becoming busy unexpectedly, and my lack of good data about comparisons between the real life conversion rates of the two games, I decided to push this off until I could do it right. In the end the data not only supports my theory, but more so than I even predicted.

In part one I compared MW:O’s virtual currency economy with that of League of Legends’ (henceforth known as LoL). My evaluation was that based on average results in both games, the reward you receive per hour is roughly equal, if your goal is to get new unlocks as fast as they come out (although admittedly the climb through the backlog is currently much greater for LoL!)

Today I will look at the currency exchange between real life money and the game money, to calculate exactly how much your time is worth in each game. First of all I made a thing:

The MC cost for each mech type is the same across its variants (which should be a warning flag that things are going to be a bit wonky). To compensate for that, I took the average of each type for math purposes. The CBills per MC row calculates how much your MC is worth in the various types. For example, if you buy an Atlas with MC you are actually getting a higher CBill/Dollar value then if you were buying a Jenner. This almost makes sense; however the Raven and Centurion are the two most inefficient purchases, in spite of the fact that they are not the cheapest mechs. In a lot of ways the ratio seems arbitrary, almost sloppy. It would be nice if the ratios lined up, or at least valued bigger purchases (although, the Atlas is the most efficient).

Dollars per mech is the cost it would take if you bought this in MC. For the purposes of all MC calculations I decided to go for the $30 bundle, because I am guessing it will be the most popular (it is the earliest one that you can get an Atlas with). Because as of right now you must own three mechs to get elite with any of the types, I also included the cost to unlock the ability to get elite with just MC (three times the Dollars per Mech Column).

Finally I calculated the average dollars per hour. For this estimation I decided a player received, on average, 100k CBills per match, and managed to get five matches in an hour for a total of 500k CBills per hour YMMV. As you can, the time you spend working towards the least efficient mech is worth about $0.69 and the most efficient is worth just under a dollar an hour.
You may think that this is very small, but actually this is very good returns for your in-game time compared to other video games. Compare League of Legends below.

This calculation was much easier. In LoL, you earn about 2.3 IP a minute for a win (it caps after just over an hour), with a small bonus at the end. For this chart I assumed a match took 30 minutes (for easy math, sorry). Based on this calculation you are earning about $0.21/hour while winning, and $0.14/hour while losing. This is not only less then MW:O, but it is FOUR TIMES less. Which means your time in MW:O is worth four times as much as your time in LoL.

What is the implication of this? An optimist could say that MW:O is good because it rewards your play, however a pessimist would say that the dollar is devalued in MW:O. It certainly seems to me that it is a game that wants you to earn things through in game (read: free) means rather than paid means. I don’t have to explain how this might seem bad from a business perspective. It is entirely possible that right now the high price of mechs is actually driving their sales down, making it far more efficient to just get the CBills for the purchases. The standard F2P model right now is to give the combat items for cheap, but to charge out the guns for the cosmetic items. At this rate we may be looking at $60 monocles skins again, and that won’t end up good for anyone.