Respecification, or how I learned to love my build

Single player games often have many avenues if approach, if you play the game in a certain way you get an achievement, for example not killing any enemies, not losing any team members or completing on a certainly difficulty. What to play in a different fashion then you just head to the main menu and click New Game and try your hand at a different path, making the polar opposite choices to your last play through and most of the time this will earn a different achievement.

Torchlight 2 Achievements

Massive Multi-player Online games are strange as this re-rolling only happens at the players choice and generally not to try something slightly different on the same class. This is where Classes come in as being unique in that they offer a different wedge of the skill pie, but players don’t generally want to roll a new character to make a different skill selection.

Of course the investment of time can’t be compared to your usual single player title in the same manner.

The danger with skill selection is that’s it’s easy to pick a power that doesn’t work well for your build or perhaps in a group that power becomes obsolete. In Single player games your next skill point is just around the corner, yet with MMO games it could be a day or so away.

Enter the Respec.

This is achieved differently depending on the MMO, for some it’s an externally purchasable item using real world money or some cash-shop equivalent, certain games may not even offer the service.

I tend to prefer the respecs that are done in in the game doesn’t tend to break the immersion.

The Elder Scrolls Online lets you undo all skill points that have been spent, which depending on your level and how many skills you have, it costs 100gp for each skill, so 50 skill points will cost you 5000gp.

The City of Heroes\ Villains games achieved this in-game, Terra Volta Re-specification Trial for heroes, or Tree of Thorns Re-specification Trial for villains. These Trails could only be used to earn a respec 3 times. But they were also handed out after power set changes and you earnt them via the Veteran Rewards program. In a much later update you could be bought from the market ingame.

Star Wars The Old Republic allowed you to respec once a week for free, more could cost you credits.

Planetside allowed you to unlearn a skill once every 24 hours, additionally if the skill selected had any dependant skills those were also unlearned and the points freed up. After major skill changes full respecs were given out to player for use at any time.

For reference their are games that I have played that don’t offer a respec, The Secret World, Eve Online, Planetside 2 and Guild Wars stand out as being games that never really needed the functionality or it would undermine the mechanics of the game if implemented.

#Respecification #ElderScrollsOnline #SecretWorld #OldRepublic

An empty Battlefield

Despite the bug fixes that have been applied to Battlefield 4 the game still suffers a strange imbalance between the classes. Maps feels a little too big, the Time to Kill is quicker, the netcode looks to behave rather oddly at times with players making impossible shots, after playing 5 or so maps the game starts to lag and stutter and requires that the client be restarted.

The biggest problem we encounter is that fighting as a group/team/squad is nearly impossible to organise as auto-balancing, crashes and the seemingly absence of the functionality that existed historically to place players with the same tag in the same squad/side.

Combine that with the fact that the multiplayer serves a continuous stream of vehicles and aircraft all boils down in the pot to deliver a game that is far worse than any of the previous Battlefield games in my opinion.

New old stomping ground

I usually play PS2 weekly, either with the FRR group on Fridays or over the weekend, this is enough to sate my Auraxium cravings.However the reasons around BF4 listed above act as a catalyst in bringing my outfit back to the realm of PlanetSide 2.

Just at the right time it seems as SOE embark on another round of WTF changes. In the recent series of patches SOE have really focused on making non-subscribing members aware of the fact with an annoying popup that shows in game as a notification.

Thrown on top of that the fact that all members were given a double XP weekend, the gloves look to be off when it comes to targeting freemium players.

I was a paying member for a number of months and to be honest unless something changes in the business model there is no real incentive for me to pay a monthly subscription the benefit doesn’t match the cost, plus that subscription money will be going to pay for my TESO.


Not plumping for the pre-order gubbings to cut some cost off the game purchase but I’m really looking forward to immersing myself in the land of Tamriel. I played in the beta and it really did feel like a game I could enjoy, with it’s lack of nag screens and cash-shop sales.

As it officially launches tomorrow I’ve heard good stuff about the pre-access launch already, so finger crossed it’s gonna be a smooth ride.

SOE back down

Well it would seem that the voice of players has spoken and SOE have listened, more information can be found in this post from Smedley.

The key parts for me are points :

3) We’re keeping the 500 SC included with the subscription instead of going to the "pick an item" system. We heard you. You didn’t like the change. The only change we are making is that we’re now going to make you claim it monthly. You can still hoard it though :) I realize this is a bit of a pain but honestly it’s the best compromise we could come up with that solves the problems I mentioned in the other thread.

This sounds like a good compromise that will hopefully ensure that silent players aren’t just hoarding station cash (not that see why this is a problem to be honest and Turbine have been issuing Points to lifetime members for years).

This of course ties in nicely with point 4 so members may pick up more items with increased frequency.

4) we are going to be giving our members a 10% discount in our marketplaces.

This will reduce more of the items into the range of the monthly Station Cash amount I suspect.

SOE backlash reponse

Well it looks like the negative reactions to the SOE announcements for Premium members has spurred Smed into a new post.
To be fair it would have been nice to have alot of this information beforehand during the initial briefing, however it doesn’t do much to get me on board with the new thinking.

The goals of our plan are very simple. Let players buy anything they want up to 2000 SC. It’s fair to say that there aren’t a lot of high priced items in the Planetside 2 shop, but that’s kind of a good thing too. It’s just when you look at it from the perspective of someone who’s plan is changing they are right to ask “why is this good for me?”.
We are discussing the feedback we’ve been getting and we are making some decisions regarding this today. Particularly around Player Studio items (yeah that was a bad idea) and we’re talking about bundles as well. I promise that we are listening.

Why did we make this change? There were a few reasons really.
First and foremost we wanted to let players get some of the larger items on the marketplace. People complain the other way on this all the time – they complain that the 500SC isn’t enough for them to buy enough stuff. So we thought this would be a positive change.

Currently players save up, I fail to see how SOE could be so blind to think that players wouldn’t save Station Cash, if you price nearly everything out of their price range!
Was it to encourage them to purchase more Station Cash then, well given that globally people are looking for what they can get “best value for money” and to tighten their belts, players just saved that monthly cash to pick up the items they wanted, when they wanted or when on sale.

Second – it helps us deal with some internal issues regarding accrual of balances of SC for people who aren’t playing or spending. There are a lot of people who play and have SC in their wallets and don’t spend it ever.. this accrues over time and it’s a problem. Before the jaded among you cry out that this is really the most important reason – please don’t judge just yet. It’s actually not but I don’t want to hide the fact that it’s a part of it.

So firstly you make the monthly station cash reward too small to be able to purchase many of the items, then in the next breath you say that people are accruing balances of Station Cash. This appears to be a self inflicted problem.

Third – we have a problem with a disparity between our console titles (which can’t use Station Cash) and our PC Games. We can’t do the same kind of promotions as easily on the PS3 and PS4. We’re a lot more limited because we can’t use Station Cash on there. So when we have a 3x sale on SC we have to do something different for our console titles. It’s a pain in the neck to deal with this.

Woohoo, so is a big real reason for migrating to a nerfed system, to cater for the Console version of the games. Glad to see that we the PC players are first to be thrown under the wheels. Nevermind the hours of play or the recruiting of new blood for the game.

We are considering (and are likely going to move forward with) a plan that means if you subscribe to one of our games you are a subscriber to all our games (this applies to PC titles only btw).. all for the current $14.99 a month. That’s a benefit most companies simply can’t offer because they don’t have our portfolio of games. The goal would be to let you pick an item in each game you play. Some of you might say “well who cares..I only play Planetside 2. How is that a benefit to me?” My answer is simple – we’ve got a great lineup of games, some of which aren’t announced yet that cater to a lot of players. We have EQN and EQNL coming along with other….. games… that PS2 players might just like :)

But what if don’t want to play Everquest.
I’ll hold my breath for the other games that are coming along, but given the EQ heavy portfolio I can’t see this being an option I ever want to take.

Source : PS Forums

So it looks like I will be cancelling my subscription this month after all.

How to remove a key driver of membership

Today premium players of Planetside 2 (and Everquest 2) receive an email bursting with platitudes outlining a change in the membership benefits. Here is the notification,  that begins with a lovely generic “dear … member” so you could half believe it to be a spam email.

The Email

2014 Membership Update – New Benefits for Valued Members


Dear PlanetSide 2 Premium Member,

We regularly evaluate our offerings at SOE to ensure we are consistently delivering great games and products, while also offering exceptional value to our players. Given that we just started a new year it seemed like the perfect time to add more value!

The week of February 3rd, 2014 we will be making a very important change to Premium Membership in PlanetSide 2. The current benefit of receiving 500 Station Cash (SC) monthly will be replaced with a new benefit that allows you to select one single item valued up to 2000 SC each month. Nearly all items within the games’ Marketplace will be available for this selection. Player Studio items, bundles and additional exclusions may apply. This new benefit must be claimed each month that you are a member as it will not carry over to subsequent months.

We appreciate our customers, especially our valued members, and therefore are excited to bring you this additional value.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you in game soon.


Sony Online Entertainment LLC

Cynical Me

It is very hard for me to remain neutral when this announcement follows a large sale in Planetside 2 over the last week, which urged the community to use Station Cash to pick up some in game items, getting players to spend on cheaper than usual items.  Now this alteration has arrived via email tell us that next sale, you’ll not have built up any Station Cash just for being a member.

On the face of it the concept is straight forward and almost looks like an improvement, they are giving premium players a “benefit”(token) that will allow the purchase of one item from the in-game store up to the value of 2000 station cash, this must be claimed within 1 month.

Sadly this change is removing the flexibility that acquiring stations cash grants you:

  • It can be stored for use later on
  • Can be used for booster perks, especially the 6 month boosters than appear on very rare occasions
  • Can be stored to purchase a bundle deals of multiple items at a cheaper rate
  • It can be used to purchase a number of smaller items and get change.

The reasons

So far the reasoning behind this isn’t clear, there are rumours abound that it could be laying foundations for when the Playstation 4 is enabled to play some of the SoE titles. On the flip side I hear comments that it could be to stop people being subscribed to PS2 and EQ2 and earning 1000 SC per month.

The fear that many people are highlighting is that due to the current pricing structure and the fact the new 2000sc token won’t give change, the in-game store prices may become inflated.

and effect

The announcement thread on the official forums is slowing growing in size as many players are pondering the ramifications of this change, many just want answer to questions, some are cancelling their membership, additionally some are asking for a refund as one of the key components of the Membership is going to change in February, which isn’t good for persons who have just paid for 12 months membership in advance.
There are a number that appear to indicate that they were considering subscribing but the Station Cash was seen as a major factor in their decision, without it they are less inclined to do so.
As for me, if nothing changes by February 3rd I shall be unsubscribing along with other players.
Another question is, could this lead to us seeing other companies swapping to an alternative system for monthly rewards in the future?