Peaking at D4

Interesting Reddit conversations around a Blizzard Survey that was sent out in German for Diablo 4, PCGamesN have a good post that summarizes the translated details from Reddit.

Given how I only just touched on Battle Passes in my The FOMO carrot post there is a clear steer in that direction for D4. Admittedly these surveys are sent to judge player opinion on pricing and bundled content in the case of different versions of the game they are proposing.

While I have no big problem with versions giving early access, I can imagine that if you are a player that seeks out Server Firsts or leader board  rankings, 7 days head start over the bulk of other players will be a must.

However when it comes to the other things on that list they are likely baked into the game model already so we can expect them in the final release.

Platinum

An in-game currency for cosmetics  I wonder if it will have a daily outfit rotation to truly mimic the Fortnite model or be more of a static shop?
Time limited store items may encourage folks to spend Platinum more freely, harness that FOMO power once again. Real world Seasonal event items also play into this with outfits, pets, mounts, transmogs and dyes.

Battle Pass

Battle pass being bound to seasons looks like it could be the model that D4 delivers if this survey text is to be believed. Originally seen in free to play titles , it has now crept into games that have an Upfront game cost too, this falls in line with their Call of Duty approach.

If there wasn’t already enough reasons to be disappointed with Activision Blizzard, not even mentioning Immortal. Unless something changes I may have to think long and hard if I want to even entertain playing the game.

Duck Duck Go Mobile App

So I’ve been running the Duck Duck Go app on my phone for about a year now. I felt that the the trade off between using Chrome (where everything is always logged in but tracked ) and DuckDuckGo, boils down to convenience, yes I may need type my credentials more frequently but for the amount of benefits it gives me it’s feels  worth it.

Browsing

90% of my browsing is just looking stuff up, random stuff, IMDB, Just watch, I’m not even logged into a site to see most stuff.
However we all know that even the most basic searches using a big Search engine is likely to be tied to your account, tracked via cookies ad profile ID, then you will be seeing adverts for things related to that search hours and days later.

By default DuckDuckGo will use it’s enhanced privacy protection to block many trackers, However there are other baked in features that can be set to automatically wipe your tabs and/or browsing data, either on a timer or when you exit the app.

If this isn’t a feature you want to occur all the time you can list a site as fireproof, so it avoids this fate

But not only does DuckDuckGo give you a browser it also offers two additional tools that you can sign up to be part of (at the time of writing this 

Duck Email

Big business means Big data, your data to be exact, our inboxes are swamped with marketing emails of one kind or another. Each of them is a tiny self-contained bundle of ways companies can track you.

They will track

  • is your email address still valid
  • did the email reach it
  • did you open the email
  • did you scroll or interact with the email in anyway
  • did you click a link/image in the email

One of the features they have started rolling out is a email forwarder that sends emails to an email address of your choosing but it removes tracking data from emails (the 3 elements in the list above).

Also at anytime you can generate a random email address that will do the same, only it’s not giving out your duck address but still linked to it.
Lastly you can response to emails and they will go back via DuckDuckGo not giving away your actual email still.

App Tracking Protection

So the latest feature that is being trailed is Tracking Protection from your installed Apps. I love how simple the idea here is, DuckDuckGo setups up a local VPN, the checks happens on your phone, the data never sent out to anyone else. Then the app and you can control what apps use it or don’t make use of it. Some apps that have this tracking nastiness baked into them break completely so you have to toggle those apps off.

Think all those tracking cookies are rough?
Then when you see the quantity of data that can be captured and supplied via app tracking about you and your device, it’s frankly scary.

Revised About Me

The theme for the second week of Blaugust is Introduce yourself, I’ve always tried to maintain an About Me page on more recent interactions of my blog, not much changes on there, I think the biggest change was when I updated it to say I wasn’t 30 something anymore 😛

Now looking at the page I see there is an least one glaring change needed, but I’ll take this time to expand and revise that content via a blog post.


I am Kris (yes named after that one, he was popular in the 70’s OK) and I have been going by the name Welshtroll since about 1998, which was when I permanently got access to the internet at home. Before then it was at other peoples houses and at college. As for the origin of the name it was likely sourced from a good foundation in mythical creatures and AD&D.

I am based in the UK, South Wales to be exact, where I live with my wife (FlyinPinkMunki) and our two sons, upgraded from one as part of the 2021 Surprise DLC Bundle.

I am a programmer by trade, my first job was as “new blood” brought into work on a aging CICS/COBOL financial mainframe system.
I was a lot of fun and working within the confines of an older system required you to be far more creative and cleaver with how you approached development. Once I moved onto working in C# the scope of my work was a lot broader and varied and soon widened to include Visual Basic to support on premises applications.

Now I still work in the financial sector and still technically focused, despite my title change, a lot what I do is still the same as when I started out in the industry, but then I’m much better at it.

When I’m not working, I can be found playing some form of game, whether it be a Video game, Table top or Role Playing.

 

Elite Dangerous : Exobiology

When the Odyssey Expansion released for ED in May last year, it brought with it ability to leave your vehicles and move around on foot. SPACE LEGS FOR ALL!

Walking around delivered a mixture of missions that can be undertaken, like those you see on your ship they are randomly generated and the factions within a system issue them, you can accept them from a mission board like on ships, or you can go speak to a contact face to face, which is a nice touch after years of being stuck in a ship.

When a war occurs in a system you can act as a merc, siding with one faction for the on-foot conflict zone, these are populated with AI troopers, players in the area will of course show as fighting along side them.

One of the new activities to occupy your time while on foot didn’t require missions as it was a new form of exploration, Exobiology, and I adore it. Not an activity that everyone will enjoy, seeking out the various organism on remote planets can be  rather frustrating and always time-consuming.

That said there is something truly wonderful being stood next to some fledgling alien organism, on a plant at the edge of a solar system, which it’s self is at the edge of the bubble.

Big Blue Thingys

Despite being my favourite feature the game annoyingly sucks at two core things to help make Exobiology easier, namely these are:

  • Firstly listing out your discoveries so you can so check what you have documented and from where (same problem as system/planet discovery)
  • Secondly once you have collect enough samples of an organism for analysis, I wish it would mark it on the Detailed Surface Scanner somehow.

Once I was aware of them I have been trying to get around these two problems so I can scan a planet fully at a pace that suites me, as I said I like to be organised, so Trello is currently housing the data so I don’t forget between play sessions.
Much easy to see what I have and haven’t completed.

The FOMO carrot

For many online games encouraging a continual influx of first time players is good, but retaining players is the most advantageous since those player are already invested.
Of course this isn’t anything new and many games now contain systems that encourage players to log in and stick around for daily activities, events or rewards.

If you have played these games you only just need look at your inbox during Christmas time, almost every title has some kind of event on, maybe some unique skins in the game store, a special unlock if you sign in each day.
It gets to the point that you have to prioritise your time and energy on those you actually want to participate in, which you need to reinstall.

Personally I used to get easily pulled into these traps, Daily login rewards are the most frequently implemented tactic to draw you back into a game, while time limited events keep you engaged for longer, spending more time inside game, and ultimately that is the real cost of these systems, your valuable time (and Hard Drive Space).

Some games of course do it better than others, some wrap the whole thing up in pomp and ceremony that obfuscate the fact from players.

The harnessing of player time

In games where players are your content (PVP), not only do you need to encourage that returning player mentality, there also has to be more impetus to play for longer periods. That where the motherload of all mechanics the “Battlepass” is the system of choice, often a dual tiered reward system, a free tier and a paid tier, where you can pay a cost for more possible rewards.

With the promise of better rewards or XP, unlocks/skins that you can only get via that system, the Fear Of Missing Out now weaponised against the players and comes with a price tag, but not only could you miss out by not purchasing the battle pass, but if you don’t put enough effort in then you also miss out. A 2 pronged attack.

To ensure early adoption of the paid Battlepass, there is normally a boost of some kind that means that players could reach the upper tiers easier and faster, plus those players that purchase don’t want to waste their money so will be sure to login to grind, secured content.
However If you don’t buy the paid version then no XP boost, means if you want to unlock free tier content you have to grind more, which ultimately means you are giving more content for free.

The event calendar

I have played World of Tanks on and off since beta, I occasionally dip a toe back into the Wargaming title once a year, but every year I return, the shine wears off faster and the business model shows a little clearer.

WOT - Event Calendar

The last time I was playing it was very apparent that there is a continual drive to ALWAYS have an event for players to participate in, often they have win conditions like “Rank in the top 3 for damage in 10 battles” or  “each tier of this event you complete reduces the cost of this Premium Tank by 10%”.

For a good player these are achievable without breaking a sweat, for more standard players it becomes much harder, everyone on the server is trying to achieve the same thing, players use tanks that are better at achieving their goal, better ammo & equipment.
Even player’s approaches to matches then alter, not going for a win but purely aiming for their daily goal, you find people throw matches to ensure they check that box for their reward.

This ultimately ruins the game for those trying to play the game normally and undermines the goal the company are trying to achieve, which is retaining players as it just pisses them all off.