Greedy Goblin

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Albion Farms and focus

So far it seems I'm staying in Albion Online. If you want to try it out, here is my referral link! Warning: The game is still in beta, so it can change. "Change" in video game development is a politically correct term for "nerfed to the ground to cater to paying morons and slackers". Continue on your own risk, don't blame me! The game currently looks the most fitting to the "player can make an impact on the game world" hope. This promotional video tells what the game is promised to be. Of course there is a chance that it will become a "get everything from running piss-easy instanced dungeons", but one can hope.

So in Albion Online you have your private island where you can craft at disadvantage against open world buildings. That's not really encouraging, but farms are. There are 4 types:
  • Farms for normal crops: carrot, beans, cabbage. You can cook food for yourself, your buildings from them, or feed them to animals.
  • Gardens for herbs which are used for potions
  • Small and large kennels for small and large animals and mounts


After you built it, you must get seeds or baby animals. There is an NPC merchant near your first placed farm and there are seeds on the marketplace. Always check all 5 cities before doing expensive purchase:

When you have the seed or baby, go to the middle of the farm, dismount, so the mount range covers the farm and walk to the various segments of the farm to maek placement by clicking the item in your inventory and pressing "place":

If you planted seed, it will grow on its own. If you placed a baby animal, it needs food to grow. Use normal crops. The animals don't care about the tier of the crop, they eat carrots just as happily as cabbage. You can create the food on your farm, or you can buy it on the marketplace. While you can shop around, don't forget that crops have significant weight to transport. Simply place buy order for crops if you are into growing animals. It's unlikely that you could find crops for your animals on the first days of your game, so you must design around self-sufficiency. You can recognize a fed animal by having crops under it:
There is more on that window: watering for plants and nurturing for animals. If the animal has a hand above it or a plant has a water sprinkler, it could use some extra care. Extra care does not affect the gains. It increases the chance that you also get a seed or an extra offspring. On the example the base chance of getting a baby horse is 84%. So after every farming cycle you have to buy 16% new baby horse, which costs 2K silver if you buy it from the NPC vendor. This is the material cost of growing the horse. If you nurture the horse, the chance increases by 20%, so you save 2.5K silver. The extra care takes focus points, depending on how proficient you are in that type of farming. It costs me 70 now with horses. You get 1000 focus per day if you have a premium account, which is 36K/day savings on horses for me.

It's very important to know that this is the same focus you can use for any kind of crafting or processing. For example I could use 9 focus for returning 35% of the materials of a Travertine block. I could save 5.8K/day if I'd use my focus crafting Travertine Blocks. Every kind of crafting can be boosted by focus:

Onwards to alts and pay-to-win, since Albion is a buy-to-play+premium+gold trade game. If you spend money, you get silver. Today you can pick such game or a rigged "fair" game. For 2500 gold you can activate one month of premium time for an alt. You can buy extra accounts. An alt can have its island too. You can have as many islands as many alts you buy. You don't have to level these alts, you can just use them to create and upgrade the island, then walk to the board on the pier and set your main as co-owner:

Then go to the farm boards and set them to public so they can be accessed by the main

This way your main can visit and manage as many farms as he pleases. However it's beneficial to level the farming of your alts to the point where they can provide extra care for the crops or animals. Even with 90 focus per horse, you can save 800K per month. Ironically, you can use that money to buy gold (currently 120 silver) and keep being on premium. If you build a house, you can place a chest in it and use it to exchange items between alts.

Finally, a warning: since islands are available to everyone and eventually every random casual can build it up, the products of islands will be sold at a price that provide casual level income. Aka: pennies. While islands can be very lucrative at game start when hardcore grinders are needing food, potions and mounts while no one is there to provide it, the time will come when tending your farm will provide unacceptable silver/hour. However I will revisit farms to see if there is some high level item worth producing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Albion city workshops: not just for ripoff

So far it seems I'm staying in Albion Online. If you want to try it out, here is my referral link! Warning: The game is still in beta, so it can change. "Change" in video game development is a politically correct term for "nerfed to the ground to cater to paying morons and slackers". Continue on your own risk, don't blame me! The game currently looks the most fitting to the "player can make an impact on the game world" hope. This promotional video tells what the game is promised to be. Of course there is a chance that it will become a "get everything from running piss-easy instanced dungeons", but one can hope.

If you open the zone map of a city, you see more than the buildings you regularly use: marketplace, chest, island merchant, repair station. The cities are large and full of buildings:

These buildings are player owned. There are plots that you can buy in an auction and build a building on it. This feature has a bad name because most building owners set very high tax rates to rip off the morons who don't think about alternatives but use the first.

However there is another business model and let me introduce LadyValeria, one of the practitioners of the mutually beneficial trade. I never met her in person or know anything about her, but I've found her building, marked on the map above:

9% tax isn't that high, only 7 silvers for a Travertine block. "But my island building is free!" Yes, but city plots have an advantage, material returns! You get 15% of the material back from processing or crafting, and the price 233 Sandstones and 116 Limestone blocks are higher than the 2101 silvers LadyValeria gets, so it's better for me to use her building instead of my own:

However, if you use transmute feature, you get no material return, so your own processing building has a point:

The lesson for today is to not ignore the buildings of other players in the open cities, just because most of them are operated by scammers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Albion island beginner guide

So far it seems I'm staying in Albion Online. If you want to try it out, here is my referral link! Warning: The game is still in beta, so it can change. "Change" in video game development is a politically correct term for "nerfed to the ground to cater to paying morons and slackers". Continue on your own risk, don't blame me! The game currently looks the most fitting to the "player can make an impact on the game world" hope. This promotional video tells what the game is promised to be. Of course there is a chance that it will become a "get everything from running piss-easy instanced dungeons", but one can hope.

Talking about "get everything from ... instanced": islands. Every premium account using character can have an island. You can buy and upgrade it at the island vendor in any Royal city center:

You can visit your island from this merchant or from any travel agent. You can visit other character's islands if they gave you permission. You can give permission to others from a board on the island. But it's currently not important, you have one island at start. What is an island good for?
  • You can build crafting and processing buildings in it that you can use or let others use it for a fee. However, your buildings on the islands have no resource discount. More about this tomorrow.
  • You can build farms and kennels to harvest crops and raise livestock. It will be discussed later.
  • You can build houses and hire laborers. It will be discussed later.
The level 1 island has one building plot, in the middle. The other levels have farms, more buildings and 2 small building spots:
Level Price (K) Farms Buildings
2 18.8 1 2
3 62.5 2 4
4 187.5 3 6
5 625 4 8
6 1250 5 11

Farms are technically buildings and can be built the same way as others. To build, you first need to check or set your hotkey, because Sandbox Interactive in their infinite wisdom did not add a "build" interface element on the default screen:

Then press the key and a red building shadow appears. Move yourself to the center of the plot and it turns green:

Press the "build" button and you get a construction site. Click it and it brings up the interface on the left. Go and get the materials it needs. Please don't farm rough logs yourself, just buy it. Carry them back to the construction site, and start pressing that hammer icon on the interface. For some weird reason, one press only gives 30 materials, so your next 5-10 minutes will be "click button, wait 30 secs":

Wonderful, you have a good-for-nothing novice (T2) building. Time to upgrade it. Click on the face of the operator and select upgrade. It needs more materials which work the same way as building, except with a different interface (why?):

On the top of the management, there are three bars: usage, damage and food. You won't see damage in your private island. Usage bar refills over time. If it is low, you are overusing the building, build another one, because depleted buildings need extra food to operate. Food decreases with use, you must refill it:

Congratulations, you can now craft on your island. It doesn't mean you should, please wait for tomorrow's post. Please note that travel between the island and its creation city is free, to other cities it's the same cost as between that city and the creator city. So select the city you want to use carefully, because you are locked to it then.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Albion: my great horse business

So far it seems I'm staying in Albion Online. If you want to try it out, here is my referral link! Warning: The game is still in beta, so it can change. "Change" in video game development is a politically correct term for "nerfed to the ground to cater to paying morons and slackers". Continue on your own risk, don't blame me! The game currently looks the most fitting to the "player can make an impact on the game world" hope. This promotional video tells what the game is promised to be. Of course there is a chance that it will become a "get everything from running piss-easy instanced dungeons", but one can hope.

Every Albion Online guide to "get rich fast at game start" says: grind like crazy to get enough money to buy your island (it's an instanced farm), plant carrots. The carrots take a day to grow. While waiting, grind some insane crazy more for the next island upgrade and to be able to pay for the foals. During farming you must buy seed from NPC for silver and plant it. Foals are the "seeds" of riding horses. When the carrots grew, harvest them, you get farming skill that allows you to "plant" the foals. They need the carrots as food to grow. The next day you can harvest the horses and sell them for a fortune. You can plant ox calves instead of horse foals to get transport oxes.

Of course that isn't what I did. At first I started days after the servers came online, by the time most people had their horses and many farms were operational creating horses. Secondly, when everyone is farming horses, you shouldn't be farming horses, you should be trading horses! Let's look at the map:

The southern continent is the "Royal", where the zones are either completely safe (blue), or limited PvP (yellow, red), where killing players costs you reputation which will lock you out of cities. The black dot is Caerleon, a safe city in the middle of red zones and we don't care about it for the moment.

The green dots are NPC cities where players can trade. The private island teleports are here. You can use instant travel between these cities for a small fee. The red dots are starter towns. You can instant travel between them too, for a larger fee, but you must travel on foot between towns and cities. So the horse breeders listed their horses in the cities. Some traders arbitraged between the cities using fast travel. What people ignored were the starting towns. Probably because starting towns have newbies who can't afford a horse.

Except they bought gold for $, they traded the gold for silver and didn't even know of the cities and wanted horses and oxes now. So I started buying horses in the cities and moved them to the towns. Fast forward Saturday: 2M cash and 100 horses and oxes listed in towns.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Weekend minimoron: bagged

There is instant travel option between Thetford and Fort Sterling, so our specimen wasted 7K over not spending 30 secs "traveling". Unless he makes 840K/hour (hahahaha), his slacking cost him dearly.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Albion: transporting in PvP zones

So far it seems I'm staying in Albion Online. If you want to try it out, here is my referral link! Warning: The game is still in beta, so it can change. "Change" in video game development is a politically correct term for "nerfed to the ground to cater to paying morons and slackers". Continue on your own risk, don't blame me! The game currently looks the most fitting to the "player can make an impact on the game world" hope. This promotional video tells what the game is promised to be. Of course there is a chance that it will become a "get everything from running piss-easy instanced dungeons", but one can hope. Besides playing, I make myself useful reporting bugs and making suggestions.

So, after getting millions in days by buying and selling in the safe zone, I went more risky. Mostly because there isn't real risk, as the game is in beta and all progress will be wiped before release. So I figured out to do a transport run to the middle city of the royal continent. You see, the game World is huge and most land is free PvP, capturable zone. The southern continent is not:

The red dots are the starter towns. The green dots are the nearby cities. There the workshops are player owned and everyone else pays tax to the owners. You can travel between them in safety. The black dot on the other hand is Caerleon, a safe city in the middle of red zones. There are 4 zones: in blue you can't be attacked, in yellow you can be robbed from backpack items, in red you can be robbed of gear, in black the robber isn't even penalized. You guessed, the prices in Caerleon are pretty high. So I figured I bring some stuff from Lymhurst, the green dot on the right.

The plan was simple: I loaded the cheapest horse with materials which are cheap in the safe zones but expensive in Caerleon. If I die, I lose 30K. If I arrive, I make over 100K. It went spectacularly, I not only arrived, but did so by travelling trough hostiles. On the picture you can see the criminal character count, next to the mail reporting my first stupidly overpriced sell:
The trick: whenever I saw a baddie, I turned my horse towards him. He ran so fast into the woods as his sprint spell allowed him. How could he know that all I'm armed with are tier 2 armor, a harvesting sickle and 500 leather?! He had expensive gear to lose, he came to gank a miner or woodchopper, not to fight someone who seems to be looking for a fight!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Market UI without typing against mistakes

In every game the market UI is a long table full of numbers. You must scroll and find the one you want to accept. You can easily get lost between hundreds of 1-2 item orders. But the horrors start when you want to set up a new order. The new order interface is usually on a different window, so you first have to check the existing orders, memorize the price you want to make and type it into the proper window. A mistype can be very expensive. The more user unfriendly the interface is, the more people won't bother and just click "OK" on the first option, making traders very rich and them frustrated.

I saw worse and better implementations (Albion Online has outright horrible), but all of them are such multi-column tables that are several pages long. And all of them need lot of typing without mistype or you can lose a lot of currency with a click. Instead, I designed a market UI where you don't have to type at all (after you selected the item) and it's practically impossible to make a mistake. This is the buying verstion, which combines simple buy and setting up buy order:
  • The blue arrows are sell orders. Their position tells their price and their size tells their volume. You can click on any of them to select and then you get an information page and an option to buy that order. There is a clickable volume field where you can type how much you want to buy. All volume fields on the interface are the same. If you want to buy more than the order maximum the "Buy this" button greys out and the volume field turns red.
  • The red arrows are existing buy orders, you can click them for information too.
  • The huge, unselectable arrows on the two ends are showing the volume of offscale orders. The scale must be centered on the relevant field, otherwise it will be rendered unusable by a few extreme orders. However those arrows inform you that orders exists outside of the scale. If you are unhappy with the automatic scale, you can move it left and right with the side arrows on the bottom numerical scale or zoom in and out with the middle tools and with proper hotkeys.
  • The gray arrows are highest significant buy order and lowest significant sell order on nearby markets. The information upon selecting has location instead of issuer and no option to buy them
  • The dark blue arrow is your own sell order, if you select it, you have "Cancel order" instead of "Buy this".
  • The huge unselectable green arrow is the traded volume and price at the last day that informs you about the state of the market.
  • The red selection tool, marked by the green star is the cheapest instant buy element. Its left arm is on the cheapest sell order, the right arm moves automatically as you adjust the volume. You can do it by rolling the mouse wheel or clicking any volume field and typing if you insist. The selection tool enlarges enough to cover enough orders to buy the needed volume. Below the tool there is an information field where you can see the volume and the totals and a buy button to buy the selected items.
  • The black arrow is your possible buy order. Its size represent the volume, it's the same as every other volume fields. So when you roll the mouse, this arrow grows together with the cheapest instant buy selector. If you click anywhere, the arrow follows you, except it can't go higher than the right arm of the instant buy selector, as it would be stupid to set up a buy order that's more expensive than instant buy. If you click on any existing buy orders, your arrow jumps 1s above it. There is a field to set up exact price, it's needed when the market is empty so you can't move in relation of other order. You can finalize the buy order by clicking the button on its information field.
Selling items uses the same interface, except the selection tool is blue; it's above the slider and span over buy orders; its information field is above the tool, the button is blue and say "Sell". You have a possible sell order arrow above the slider with blue "Set up sell order" button and when you select a sell order, it jumps 1s below it. When you select a buy order, you get the option to sell to that order. Since buy and sell are different color and upside down, you can't mix them up.

You can't place wrong order by accident. The instant buy/sell selection tool gives a limit on one side, if you make mistake on the other side (try to sell 10x higher than you mean), it would visually be out of scale. If you'd input 10x higher volume, you'd get a huge arrow and huge selection tool, dominating the field.

I will offer this interface design to the Albion devs, but any game dev is free to use it.