Now THAT’s what we play EVE Online for

An op was posted for 18:45 yesterday. As usual the announcement didn’t specify what we were going to do exactly, only that Ryzak Freemoon would be FCing and that getting a fight was deemed likely – they almost always promise the latter though.

Form up began on time and Ryzak told us that in order to further increase our chances of actually seeing some action we’d leave our shiny Tech II ships at home and go with Feroxes and Ospreys. As we didn’t get many good fights lately in part because the opposition couldn’t match our fleet’s strenght and thus didn’t engage us at all more often than not this seemed like a sensible choice.

Unlike myself Lakisa actually likes to fly logistics, so she quickly bought an Osprey and fittings from the market and joined the logi squad. I had a Ferox ready to go, so I jumped into that.

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Fill her up stat, and also wipe the windshield while you’re at it

First we took a couple of south bound jump bridges, then we gathered at a titan waiting to bridge us even further.

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I’m still amazed by how small normal ships seem next to those things

On the far side of that bridge Ryzak linked a destination system for a bit of old-school stargate travel. And then, once we got there, another one. Battlecruisers aren’t exactly fast, so our trip all the way down to Scalding Pass took quite a while. When some more minutes passed upon arrival while we waited for things to unfold people started to wonder if we had made a long trip for nothing yet again.

But the fleet warp finally came, we jumped into the target system and warped to our objective, a reinforced Brave Collective jump bridge, to finish it off.

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Our fleet and swarms of drones shooting the Ansiblex class jump bridge

At first it looked like the locals would just sit tethered on their citadel and watch. They undocked a couple more carriers, but didn’t actually try anything. We pulled in our drones in anticipation of a bombing run, but other than that we just kept shooting.

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Inside the orange glow of a HIC bubble to prevent them from warping on top of us

However, just before before we finished the thing off an Eagle fleet of Brave and friends landed right at the edge of our bubble and the fight began.

The fleets started to trade blows right away. We fired a few more shots at the Ansiblex to destroy it, then killed two Ospreys and focused on their Basilisks next. Meanwhile they killed our Claymore and one Vulture, thus wiping some of our fleet boosters off the field. Not a very good start for us. That our logi wing had some problems with keeping their capacitor chain up and running for some reason didn’t help matters.

We then managed to turn the tide somewhat though. We killed six Basilisks and a Scimitar within two minutes. They managed to destroy ten Feroxes during that time, but that was an acceptable tradeoff since they were now running pretty low on logi while we still had a lot of DPS left.

Alas, at that point a TEST Muninn fleet appeared on grid, and we knew full well that it wasn’t us they came to support. Now we had to GTFO, as it were, if any one of us was to survive.

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Burning out of the bubbles while praying that the capacitor won’t run dry early

Despite all odds quite a lot of us managed to get out, and Ryzak warped us off. But some, myself included, didn’t have enough cap left to make the full warp distance, so we didn’t land with him and the others, but in the middle of nowhere where we were safe for the moment, but couldn’t help our comrades either.

I could hear on Mumble that there was already fighting going on again, so I bookmarked my current position – you never know when you might need such a safespot – and warped to Ryzak. Big mistake!

While I was already in warp he gave command to our booshers to use their micro jump fields and move our fleet out of harm’s way, so I knew that I’d be nowhere near them once I came out of warp. Sure enough, when I landed I was right at the edge of a bubble and the nearest ships were all hostile.

Panic!! As soon as I could control my ship again I immediately aligned away from the bubble, kicked my microwarpdrive into full gear and started looking for something to warp to roughly in the direction I was going. I can’t tell you how extremely lucky I was to spot an asteroid belt almost right in front of me, what with space being infinitely vast and all that. I selected it and hit the warp button as hard as I could. Meanwhile quite a few enemy ships were blinking yellow on my overview, which means that they had me locked but didn’t shoot yet. I was still too far away for them to use their tackling modules on me, but that was only a matter of seconds now.

And then I was in warp. The blinking stopped and I zipped off grid. Holy crap, that was close. I wasn’t safe yet though. They’d surely seen where I warped to and might give chase, so I initiated warp to my safespot – told you it would come in handy – as soon as I landed. Shortly after the rest of our fleet gathered at a safespot too, so I warped to Ryzak and was finally with my mates again moments later.

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At a safespot, aligned and ready to warp should someone pay us a visit

Our FC wasn’t quite done shooting stuff yet. Apparently TEST had called it quits by then, fully expecting us to cut our losses and run home I assume, so only the Eagle fleet was still hunting us.

Once we knew that the outgate wasn’t bubbled Ryzak warped us there and then had our own dictor bubble it. You see, a bubble that has been activated when you were already in warp can’t catch you, so we just zipped through while anyone chasing us would get stuck and have to slowboat almost 20km in order to use the gate.

And chase us they did. We jumped through right as they landed and started pulling range on the other side, ready to lock and shoot.

Finally they came through, and the carnage began once more. In terms of firepower they had the clear advantage, and they knew it. Their dictors kept chasing after us, making sure we were always bubbled. We killed stuff, but were losing Feroxes fast in the process. At that point Ryzak declared on comms that we’d stay and fight to the end. Hell yeah!

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I had my MWD and even hardeners turned off, conserving all remaining cap for my guns

And then, all of a sudden, they warped off. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

Turns out a Fraternity Muninn fleet had arrived on grid to save what was left of us. Pretty late to the party, but the funny thing is, who knows if we had gotten a fight at all had they been with us from the beginning. Anyway, thanks guys.

And thus the battle was over and the survivors headed home, Lakisa and myself, quite incredibly, both among them.

We lost about two thirds of our Feroxes, half of our Ospreys and pretty much all tackle and support though. Still, the battle report is slightly in our favor ISK-wise, we achieved our objective by destroying the jump bridge, and, most importantly, we had a hell of a fight. This is what we play EVE for indeed!

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Why I don’t play a ‘healer’ in EVE Online

You can’t really say out loud that you don’t want to fill the logistics role in an EVE Online fleet. If you do you’re immediately identified and called out as a killboard whore. Mostly by people who don’t want to fly logi either, naturally.

That the folks at CCP still haven’t found a way to make logi pilots appear on killmails is one deterrent to do it, yes. People like green entries on their killboards, and I’m as guilty of that as (almost) anyone.

That’s far from being my main, let alone only reason for not wanting to be a space healer though.

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So many targets…which I need to completely ignore

I don’t mind playing a healer in most MMOs. I’ve actually very much enjoyed playing one in Everquest II, SWTOR and FFXIV, among others. While I never had one as my main character – that position was mostly held by a tank – I usually prefer playing a healer over a DPS class. So I’m obviously not averse to filling group-beneficial roles, nor to actively keeping my teammates alive.

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Healing people by shooting them with a big-ass cannon? Count me in!

In EVE it’s different. To me flying a logistics ship is extremely unfun, probably the most unpleasant kind of activity I’ve ever experienced in the game. So what are the differences to playing a healer in other MMORPGs?

One major aspect for me is the way targeting is handled in EVE: there’s no distinction between friendly and hostile targets. A target is a target is a target.

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The tiny symbol at the bottom of each circle is all to tell someone who’s in your fleet from someone who isn’t – and someone not in your fleet isn’t necessarily a foe either.

So should you happen to have both friendlies and hostiles locked you need to be extremely careful as to not accidentally repair the hostiles or shoot the good guys. As you can only target so many ships at the same time anyway – and usually don’t have any weapons either – you mostly end up locking only friendlies when you’re logi.

Problem solved, right? In my opinion, no. The thing is, this makes me feel like I’m not really participating in the battle at all. Oh sure, I’m doing my part – and an important one at that – by keeping my mates alive, but doing that and absolutely nothing else doesn’t feel right to me.

When playing a healer in the aforementioned games I at least contributed a mixture of damage, debuffs, buffs and cures in addition to pure healing. I felt very much in the fight, just as much as when playing any other role.

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FFXIV’s Astrologian being a good, very fun to play example

Another problem in EVE is that you often find yourself in situations where you just can’t save people no matter how good or fast you are. If the enemy fleet has enough alpha (i.e. first-volley damage) and their pilots are disciplined enough to lock and shoot the same target all at the same time, it dies. That’s just disheartening. Now sure, if your fleet is the stronger one it’s the other way around, but that doesn’t comfort me when I’m sitting in a ship with no weaponry whatsoever because literally all I can do is sit there and watch.

In SWTOR’s Voidstar PvP battleground a tank player and I once held a door against waves and waves of attackers for I believe almost five minutes (don’t ask me what our team’s other six players were doing). They couldn’t take the tank down while I was healing him, and they couldn’t kill me either when they tried, while our combined DPS brought them down one by one. I’m still proud of that match, and the tank player even commended me afterwards although he contributed just as much as I did.

He’s impressed and I’m pleased as punch

Of course I’m comparing a big fleetfight to 8vs8 battleground PvP here, but even in small scale PvP something like this just couldn’t happen in EVE. Because you know what? You usually can’t repair yourself as a logi, and even if you can it’s with much less efficiency. Hence a single logi doesn’t do you much good, so if you’re going to use them at all you need at least two. Better make that three or four. Damn, now we need a couple more DPS ships; we can’t heal the enemy to death, can we? Oh, and boosts would be great too. And just like that you’re not really talking about small scale PvP anymore because your fleet is suddenly 12+ strong.

So let’s recap. As a logi pilot in EVE…

I don’t feel like I’m actually participating in the fight because I have to pretty much ignore everything but locking my mates and activating my reppers in time. Incoming damage aside the enemy fleet might as well not even be there.

I contribute absolutely nothing else to the fight, I just make bars go up.

When my fleet isn’t being shot at I’m not even doing that, essentially turning me into dead weight.

When I’m being shot at I can’t even repair myself, I’m completely at the mercy of others.

And, yes, I also don’t get much recognition in terms of killboard stats for my efforts.

This is why I’m not flying logi in EVE. I don’t even have the Logistics Cruiser and -Frigate skills trained to 5, and I sure as hell won’t train a FAX alt. Let me fly booster, boosher, scout, whatever, but I will. not. fly. logi! Life’s too short for something as unfun (to me) as that.

Officially not a bad egg anymore

In March last year I talked about how I “achieved” getting to a security status of -10 in EVE Online, the worst you can have. Turns out shooting at people in low sec – a lot – makes other people as well as the NPC empires not like you very much.

Once you’re at -2 or below police ships of the corresponding NPC faction will attack you on sight in certain high sec systems. From -5 downward this applies to all of high sec, additionally other players can attack you anywhere with impunity.

All of that we already knew before we started the life of a pirate. One thing we didn’t know, though, is that the police doesn’t just attack you when you go near them – say, at a stargate, where a bunch of them always keeps watch – they also actively hunt you down wherever you go in their space. We learned that the hard way when I had the glorious idea to run Abyssal sites in high sec despite our sec status.

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Oopsie, my bad

When we joined NC Dot last May, Lakisa and I acquired a bunch of clone soldier tags to buy ourselves amnesty from CONCORD, EVE’s almighty uber-space-police. In null sec your sec status doesn’t matter, but unlike pirate corps, who just never enter high sec with anything but a very fast ship or their pod, null alliances take any shortcut they can get when moving around, especially when flying slow ships. We’ve been in that situation a couple of times since then, so it was the wise thing to do indeed.

Of course we only spent just as much as necessary to get to above -2. It gets more expensive the higher you want to go, and this was enough to move freely anywhere in New Eden again.

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Where does this gate lead? Doesn’t matter, I’ll take it. Because I can!

There’s a catch of course. Sometimes we shoot stuff in low sec too, so if you stay in the negative there’s always the danger of hitting -2 again.

Fortunately all that blasting NPCs to bits I talked about yesterday isn’t only lucrative, it also has a very positive effect on your sec status. You’re getting rid of pirates – or in my case rogue drones – for the greater good of the galaxy after all.

A couple of hours was all it took…

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Finally one of the good guys again

And thus the last trace of my pirating days has pretty much vanished from the history books. Whether you look me up ingame or on the killboard, as long as you don’t bother to examine closely whom I killed and where you’ll never know that I was a bad egg once.

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Some good deeds don’t rectify a lot of bad ones? In EVE they obviously do.

Good things come to those who wait

The first capital ship I bought in EVE Online was a Thanatos class carrier, a bit over ten years ago. I still own it today.

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Somewhere in Period Basis, July 2009

This is remarkable because, rare exceptions aside, you buy or build every ship in EVE fully expecting to lose it sooner rather than later. Don’t undock what you can’t afford to lose isn’t the most important advice given to new players for nothing.

I did undock my carrier all right, but until very recently I didn’t actually utilize it the way I had intended when I bought it – namely combat. Instead I mostly used it to haul my assets whenever I needed ship replacements or my respective corporation moved their base of operations. I basically had what the community refers to as a suitcase carrier.

This limited and, frankly, quite lame usage of the ship wasn’t by choice though. My dream and main reason for buying it had been to send swarms of fighters to blot out the sun and bring destruction to my enemies.

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I wonder where I got that idea from…

Unfortunately carriers were in a pretty bad place in that regard for a long time. They just weren’t that effective, mainly because you couldn’t control your fighters very well. Also, since carriers had additional bonuses for remote repair modules and the ability to fit a Triage module, carrier pilots were basically always relegated to the logistics role. I hate flying logi (I’ll save my reasons for that for another post), so I didn’t use the carrier at all most of the time.

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Topping up POS shields, oh what fun

In 2016 capital ships were finally reworked quite heavily, and two results of that were the creation of Force Auxiliaries, aka FAXes, which inherited the carriers’ remote repairing capabilities and thus assumed the role of capital sized logistics ships, and a complete revamp of how fighters work.

The consequence of those changes is that carriers are now purely offensive ships, and fighters got a whole new control scheme and even some new abilities.

Alas, the ship class is still not used in PvP very often compared to all other capitals. I think this is mainly because everyone and their mother seems to own a supercarrier these days (incidentally known as mothership back in the day), which pretty much does everything a carrier does, just better. When we take out caps in NC. there’s usually a fleet of titans, supers and FAXes, and a second one for dreadnoughts and a couple more FAXes. Poor old carrier.

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Titans check, supers check, FAXes check, dreads check…carriers: zero

But! Alliance leadership is adamant that we all krab a lot whenever there are no fleets going on, which in EVE terms means earning lots of ISK by engaging in PvE activities. To give us more ‘incentive’ to do so our SRP (ship replacement program) doesn’t cover pure DPS ships anymore, so if you lose your Eagle or Muninn in a fleet fight you need to earn the 400+ mil to replace it yourself.

So after all this time I finally started to use my carrier for combat. It’s only against NPCs, but it makes me pretty happy nonetheless.

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Watching from afar as fighters make stuff go boom

It’s also freaking profitable.

For a very long time my main means to earn ISK in EVE has been running level 4 missions in high sec. Hence I have a lot of experience with it, and I know pretty well how much I can earn by doing it. Spoiler: it’s not all that much.

The measuring stick for how effective you are when shooting NPCs is ticks. The game pays out accumulated NPC bounties every 20 minutes, which is called a tick. When mission running I was lucky to break the 10 million mark every now and then, 15 when I got one of the really good missions.

The other day, after running a couple anomalies in my carrier, I got this:

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Now, this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. While doing missions I also looted and salvaged most of the wrecks, which a Marauder class battleship can do pretty much without slowing down mission progress itself. In null, since we’re living in a drone region and most drones don’t drop any loot, the ISK is all you get. Technically I could salvage those wrecks, but the time investment isn’t worth it. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that I now earn much, much more per hour.

And it’s quite fun too, believe it or not, because wih the new fighter controls it actually feels a bit like I’d hoped when I bought the carrier all those years ago.

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Rogue drone battleship under concentrated fighter squadron fire

The irony is of course that of all points in time I could have chosen to start doing PvE content in null sec I’m doing it now, mere weeks after CCP has decided to make such things more dangerous by giving us delayed local chat in null. Some timing, eh?

I’m pretty confident that it’ll work out all right though. We always have a response-fleet up, intel channels are used religiously and I have my own cloaky scout to give me some additional intel too. To be honest, I don’t quite get why so many folks have managed to lose their ratting ships in null sec before the blackout at all. You just need to be aligned and the moment you see someone you don’t know appear in local you warp off. Doing that cuts into your ticks though, and we can’t have that, can we?

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Warping to safety after a hard day’s work

Anyway, I’m really happy that I finally use the carrier to actually blast stuff to bits. If all goes well I might even have the ISK to buy its big brother and use that for PvP someday. It’s always good to have goals, isn’t it?

Looking forward to Lost Ark

I don’t often get hyped for a game before I can actually play it, at least not anymore. As we all know sky-high expectations almost inevitably lead to disappointment, so I’m trying not to fall into that trap.

The gaming industry has given me a helping hand with that in recent years. There just weren’t many game announcements for me to get excited about, sadly. Of course I’m looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077 though. I mean, who isn’t? But even in this case I’d describe my current feelings as mild to medium anticipation rather than anything resembling hype.

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More Keanu is always a good thing though

So nobody was more surprised than myself when I stumbled upon this video review of a Korean game called Lost Ark, and somewhere in the middle of watching it I already wanted to play that game right fucking now!

The funny thing is, I’d actually been aware of the game’s existence because I’d read about it over at MOP a couple of times, but somehow I hadn’t quite grasped what kind of game it actually is. The fact that we can’t play it here in the west without jumping through some serious hoops surely helped with filing it away under not interested without a second thought.

Thanks to Quin’s review I now know that it might be the almost perfect game for me.

LostArk_Gameplay

Lost Ark seems to be, at its heart, an Action RPG like Path of Exile or Diablo. So far, so good for my taste. However it has some qualities that no other ARPG I know does, most of which borrow heavily from MMORPGs. My favourite genres rolled into one nice package? Count me in!

Keep in mind though that I haven’t played it myself. All knowledge I have about the game comes from the videos linked throughout this post as well as a few others, so I might have misinterpreted some details. Also, most of the videos aren’t exactly recent and stuff might have changed already.

Anyhow, here’s why I’m anxious to play the game and hope for a western release, which unfortunately hasn’t been officially announced yet at the time of this writing.

LostArk_Map

The game world is huge and can be traversed and explored quite freely. It’s not an open, seamless world however, as the individual areas are all instanced. Still, I think compared to its peers this one should feel much more like a world rather than just an assortment of zones. The fact that you travel from continent to continent by boat and discover islands and who knows what else during your journeys adds a real sense of exploration and adventure, which is also lacking in most ARPGs.

LostArk_Fishing

Lifeskills! OMG, the game has lifeskills. There’s a whole talent tree that’s seperate from combat stuff and solely dedicated to six different forms of gathering: herbing, fishing, mining, archaeology, woodcutting and hunting. Apparently each character can learn all of them, but I assume that if you want to get really good at one you need to specialize.

What little I know about the skills themselves does sound pretty cool, obviously the devs weren’t content with doing your typical run-of-the-mill stuff. Mining, for example, doesn’t just let you mine rocks, you can also learn the ability to blow up certain obstructions and thus get access to resources you couldn’t reach otherwise. Or how about fishing without having to hold your rod all day, placing traps and bait instead? I like it.

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One thing I really dig and that I haven’t seen on this scale in any RPG whatsoever until now is epicness, for lack of a better word. Here are two good examples (I can’t for the life of me manage to embed the videos with a predetermined starting point, so I’ll just use links for you to click):

Watch at least 30 seconds of this clip for some epic siege goodness. A bit later on there’s more cool stuff as well.

Here you will see about 25 seconds of environmental destruction and oh crap moments. I highly recommend the video as a whole too, as it is an entertaining summary of how the first few hours of the game look and feel.

The only games I’ve played to date that have this kind of in-engine epic moments are the Uncharted titles and GTA V, but even those don’t have literally hundres of units on screen. Scattered across various videos I’ve also seen player characters riding zip lines, floating platforms and mine carts, jump over ravines, mount strange beasts and lots of other crazy stuff. Pretty impressive. Also, this:

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Then there’s the fantastic training room which lets you check out every subclass or ability before you make your decisions. You can spawn waves of mobs and even bosses so you can actually test everything in a somewhat real environment instead of just hitting thin air or training dummies. This is so great, I wonder why hardly any RPG has something like it.

What about content? There’s reportedly lots of stuff to do for PvE- as well as PvP-oriented players. Dungeons, raids, world bosses, instanced PvP, island PvP (whatever that is) and more. You can also have an island of your own, but I couldn’t find out what you can do with it.

Progression systems are supposedly more akin to those of MMOs than ARPGs, but I don’t know what that means exactly. Some people even feel that Lost Ark isn’t an ARPG at all, but rather an MMORPG that happens to be played in isometric perspective. If so that’s fine by me too.

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There are also some cons. Aren’t there always?

Many activities in the game are gated by a minimum ilvl. I hated that in FFXIV, and it will almost certainly piss me off here too at some point.

A lot of abilities have quite long animations which lock you in place. Since there’s a total of 12 classes with even more to come I just hope I’ll be able to pick a couple that suit my playstyle.

There’s other bits and pieces like genderlocked classes or weird pathfinding, but nothing too serious or even gamebreaking from my perspective.

Overall the game sounds right up my alley. I really hope it comes to the west, and soon. You hear that, folks at Smilegate? That’s soon as in soon, not as in soon™. Can’t wait!

A shoutout to Quin69, TheLazyPeon and ZiggyD for their awesome videos. Thanks guys!

MMOs didn’t invent The Grind

Several times over the last couple of years I’ve read the sentiment that more and more grindy game mechanics are creeping into single player games of late, and that the success of such mechanics in the MMO genre are to blame for this development.

I disagree. In my opinion The Grind has been an integral part of video gaming since, well, the advent of video games.

First off I’d like to make clear what I mean when I say grind in this particular case, since grind, like P2W or casual, seems to be a rather subjective gaming term.

By my definition to grind in a video game means doing the same thing over and over and over again in order to reach specific goals.

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Don’t ask what I’m doing with an icebear on a boat, you don’t wanna know

Let’s play a little game. Name the first five video games you’ve ever played, as far as you remember. If you’re around my age (which is 42) your list probably looks similar to mine:

Pole Position, Asteroids, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt.

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Why is a game about shooting at marshmallows called Asteroids anyway?

Pole Position is the only one of those that I played on an arcade cabinet first, steering wheel and all. The rest I played on the Atari 2600, my first home-gaming device. Like pretty much every game of that time they all were originally developed for the arcade though.

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Consequently these games had to encourage players to spend as much money as possible, and their gameplay design very much reflects that.

You always had a limited number of lives or tries, and the difficulty was always high enough to ensure that even very good players couldn’t possibly beat the game with just a few bucks spent.

At the arcade, whenever you decided not to continue by spending more money, in my case usually 1 DM for another set of lives, or if you had no continues left you had to start over from the very beginning.

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Obviously the games’ console ports didn’t require you to insert any money, but since the gameplay usually remained unchanged you still had to go back to square one whenever you’d spent all lives and continues.

So that’s what we did. A lot.

During the mid- and late-eighties the huge success of home consoles and computers ushered in a new era of video games. More complex genres were devised, the ability to save and load game states became more common. Nevertheless a lot of new releases still followed the arcade formula for many years to come.

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This is one of my all time favourite games, the Amiga version of Turrican 2. I bought it shortly after it released in 1991 and still play it from time to time on an emulator, believe it or not. I’ve probably seen the end credits about 30 to 40 times. How often I’ve played the first stages, however, I have absolutely no idea. It must have been hundreds of times.

My enjoyment didn’t suffer from it though. The game has nicely designed stages, superb music and slick controls. Advancing further and further with each try was motivating, it was more of a fun challenge than tedium and repetition. Even after I’d beaten the game I challenged myself to get better still, my measuring stick being the amount of lives I had left when the credits rolled. I believe my record was 32 (you start with three).

Going by my definition this is a prime example of grinding your butt off, as it were. And as I said, if you intended to beat pretty much any game during the eighties, and a great many games during the nineties as well, this was the only way to do it.

I think the fact that this type of gameplay-loop still persisted long after the arcade’s heyday – and still exists today – clearly shows that there’s more to it than just making people throw more money into coin slots. It seems human beings just like the kind of challenge I described in my example above. Many of us do, anyway.

So this is it? The grind has always been there, and that’s a good thing? Well, not quite.

The grind we encounter in a lot of games today is missing a key element: the aforementioned challenge to progress further than last time.

We don’t do our dailies or fight our monsters again and again because we didn’t manage to beat them before. We do it because the games withhold our rewards if we don’t. Rewards, I might add, that didn’t even exist in games of old. I guess in the end it’s a matter of taste which kind of grind is the worse one – or better one.

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Yes, yes, I’ll do what you’re all asking…again

Anyhow, MMOs aren’t to blame for the latter kind of grind either. Endless slaughtering of non-challenging mobs just to level up has been around for ages, for example. Whether you played Final Fantasy, Ultima or any other RPG, chances are you’ve encountered a boss you just couldn’t beat at some point, so you had to go and get some levels before you tried again. Or how about killing the same bosses over and over for specific loot drops in Borderlands or Diablo?

This is getting kinda long, so I’ll try to get to the point.

The way I see it there’s always been grindy mechanics in video games. Some are specifically meant to keep us playing and paying, but most of them are mainly there because we actually like doing repetitive tasks and/or running against walls until we finally overcome them.

The former type is found in pretty much every MMO out there, yes, which is no wonder since those are and always have been about keeping people engaged and playing for a long time. But they definitely didn’t invent that stuff. I wish people would stop making that false argument to cast a poor light on the genre for whatever reason.

I love scavenger hunts in MMOs

For the better part of two weeks I’ve sunk quite a lot of time into the Traces of the Black Spirit event in Black Desert Online. It asked players to visit five of the game’s cities and find and examine 20 traces the Black Spirit had left in each of them.

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What do you mean, you didn’t see anyone? Fell asleep while on duty, did you?

At first I didn’t think much of it gameplay-wise. I intended to do it mainly for the rewards, specifically the Advice of Valks (+80) you could earn by finding at least 80 traces total, an item greatly helping with enhancing stuff to high levels.

My plan was to look around and find as many as I can for a while and, once I’d grown tired of that, use a video guide someone would surely have created by then to collect the rest.

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The Heidel Herald reports: Multiple Acts Of Vandalism Around Town

However, as it turned out the folks at Pearl Abyss knew full well that most players would opt to go the lazy route, so they’d decided to make things a littler harder: The traces changed locations every day!

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Apparently the cleaning personnel has been working double shifts

I guess there were about 40 possible locations in each town, so if you didn’t manage to find all 20 on the same day – and I sure didn’t – there was quite a bit of searching to do. It did get tedious at times, especially once you’d found 15 or more in one place, making it ever harder to remember where exactly you’d found them and where you might not need to look anymore.

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It’s Getting Worse – Now The Culprit Is Using Waterproof Markers

While that probably doesn’t sound like a lot of fun it actually was, at least to me. It shouldn’t have surprised me either because I’ve always liked scavenger hunt type quests in the games I’ve played.

The main reason for this is that they make me look at those worlds with different eyes. When I have to search for something I see so much stuff I’d never noticed before.

It’s a testament to the enthusiasm and love for detail game designers incorporate into their work. For example, have a closer look at the topmost screenshot’s uncropped version (click to enlarge):

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Hello?!? Jeez, I think his lance is the only thing that keeps him upright

I definitely hadn’t noticed those barrels full of swords, the sword rack or the toolbox before, nor the stabilizing crossbars running beneath the walking planks.

Now, I get that those details aren’t there to be actively noticed and admired – though the person who made them would certainly appreciate it. They mainly serve as props to give the scenery more believability and realism, and as far as I’m concerned they do a hell of a job.

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Why is all that stuff lying around here? Someone call the safety officer!

Over the years I’ve participated in quite a lot of scavenger hunt types of content, and they’ve always had this effect of fleshing out the world and making it feel more real to me.

I cannot even count the quests that made me trek all over Norrath to look for hidden doodads in Everquest II. The most notorious ones are probably the dragon language quest I already talked about and Knights in the Round, which had you collect 50 (!) statues scattered across the game’s already pretty huge world at that point in time.

The hunt for Datacrons in SWTOR kind of falls into the same category, although finding those often wasn’t the challenging part, but actually getting to them. I’ve heard a lot about jumping puzzles in GW2 and how much some people loathe them. Well, at least the jumping mechanics in GW2 are, you know, good. I’ve always wondered how Jedi, bounty hunters and the like even survive, let alone do their jobs properly while being as stiff and nonathletic as an arthritic 80 year old. Snark aside though, it was still fun, and the stubborn controls added to the challenge.

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WoW called – it wants its trademarked giant shoulderpads back

A Halloween event in APB Reloaded made players look for (and shoot) pumpkins for various rewards. Not only did I see some funny graffitis and other details I’d missed before, I even found some really good hiding spots I hadn’t been aware of. So in a way the event had a lasting impact on my normal gameplay.

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Obviously not this one, hiding behind pillars always ends badly

While we’re in non-MMO territory, the GTA series always had boatloads of collectibles to find, and San Andreas was the title where I spent the most time looking for them. I sprayed over rival gang graffitis in Los Santos, made photos of specific places in San Fierro, collected horseshoes in Las Venturas and went pearl diving in the ocean. The worlds of Rockstar Games games (heh) are always brimming with detail and atmosphere, so it’s no surprise that I stumbled upon more funny stuff while doing this than I can recount.

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GTA V, meanwhile, has the most stunning views on offer

This particular BDO event lasted for three weeks, but I had found all 100 traces towards the end of week two. It was a lot of fun, but I’m also glad that I now don’t have to be quite as focused while playing anymore.

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Time to stretch my legs. Why isn’t there a sun lounger up here? Clearly a design oversight!

Sometimes I’m close to giving up when doing these scavenger hunts, especially when there’s a huge number of things to find. Like I said, it can get tedious. But I usually pull through, not only because I want the rewards, but also because I like the feeling of satisfaction when I’m done.

Besides, who knows what other secrets I might uncover if I just keep looking?