Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Proof that internet feminists have no chance against sexism in gaming

Internet feminists often rally against the outright sexist and objectifying avatars in video games. Here is a "great" collection of completely non-protecting armor which serve no other purpose than make the female avatars look sexy. Feminists believe this is because of the laziness and irresponsibility of developers who can't make good games and fill the gaps with eye-candy at the expense of women. The infamous Anita Sarkeesian has a collection of sexist tropes (reused cliches like the Damsel in Distress) and believes that devs should stop using them in the name of equality.

While I really don't like sexist outfits as it damages game immersion and believability, I realized that internet feminists are wrong about their "trope" thing and they have zero chance to get rid of sexism in gaming. No, it's not my opinion, it's proven by Black Desert Online.

BDO female armor is silly, but not outright sexist. While it rather look like stylish party dress instead of armor, which is dumb for a tanking class, it checks out only a few fields on the female armor bingo:

Look at these "armors" on the other hand:

Ouch, they are absolutely horrible for protection and clearly serve no other purposes than sexist eye-candy. Yet, they can serve no tropes or sexist purposes at all since they aren't in the game by default. You can't find or craft any of these abominations. There is no situation when they appear. They are simply non existent, therefore no design could be made around them.

These "armors" come from the item shop. You have to pay $20-30 to buy one. As they are purely cosmetic overlays and your stats come from your in-game armor, buying them have absolutely no in-game purpose. Yet people buy them in large quantities as evidenced by their widespread presence in the game world. Since the latest ones greatly outnumber the older ones we can assume that many players bought several costumes and wear only the latest.

The point isn't that if only every second player bought one, the devs made $10-15 million on them, making them probably the most profitable game assets. The point is that players consider game+sexism $20-30 more valuable than the very same game without sexism. Ergo, profit oriented devs have no choice but to make their game sexist. The only choice they have is to limit this sexism for players who are not interested in it, just like BDO have no stripper-looking NPCs, I find female NPCs completely well-dressed and non-sexualized. Games with no sexism at all can only happen for non-profit developers.

Sorry feminists, you are simply outmarketed. Games aren't made sexists because of sexist tropes in the heads of the devs, the tropes come from the need to somehow integrate stripper looking characters into the game. I mean it's not "I'm lazy so let's use the centuries old Damsel in Distress story and design a passive, weakling Damsel" but "boss told me I need to put this stripper into the game because it pays for my salary how the hell should I do that for a game where every character is a soldier or terrorist?! Oh, wait, she'll be the hostage!"

BDO devs didn't do that, so the stripper gear is just there with no connection to anything, with no one trying to explain why it is there. You don't get it by accident and you don't see it on NPCs. You just see it on idiots when you are in cities and bother to stop and look instead of just minding your own business.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This is a huge negative for Albion Online

Destabilizator wrote:
Did you hear/know about Albion Online? It's full loot MMO, not that different from EVE, currently in final beta (release eta 3-4 months). What I wanted to point out is that they are currently trying to come up with a system of GvG and meaningful open world PvP and similar systems - it looks to me like you may want to throw your analytics/theory skills into work there. Unique opportunity to make up a system that would get implemented. Thread with some discussion and you can also catch ppl/devs on Discord.
It's clear he wanted to encourage me about Albion Online, but got the very opposite result. I'm much less likely to even give a chance to the game. Why? Because in EVE I learned the hard way that devs working with players is a horrible idea.

On the first look, it's a great idea: instead of just pulling something out of their butt, they are constantly in discussion with the future customers to make the best product for them. Many companies do it with great effect. But games are very different from other products/services. In other fields the different customers have common interests. I want a car as comfortable and safe as the next guy and the more he enjoys riding the car the more like I will. In games we will be competing against each other. The more he'll like the game, the more likely I'll be pwned by him. For this reason he won't lobby to make the game universally better, but to make the game cater to him and to his buddies against everyone else.

To make it worse, no player is as invested in a game as the monetizers: RMT-ers, streamers, ad-riddled blog owners. For them it's not a game, it's a job. So they will not only tell their opinion on every occasion, but will also try to silence others and corrupt the devs, either socially (by becoming their real life friends) or flat out bribe.

We saw how bad this can get in EVE where Goons gained immunity against even the grossest of EULA violations and how they managed to nerf competitive play out of the game to turn it into an "all of our adclickers are Sov-holders" play. Then we saw how blatant RMTers corrupted the devs and gained control over the whole political landscape with their illicitly gained ISK. None of these could happen if CCP followed the good corporate policies and kept the decision makers away from outside influence. The results are devastating: since the last expansion (which flat out catered to the RMT-ers), 1/3 of the players left in 3 months. With this rate EVE will be dead in a year.

I'm afraid this will happen to Albion Online, except they won't even have a chance to start up. The monetizers will get their voice heard and the game will be unplayable for normal players to begin with. The best corporate-community relations I can imagine is "We make the game we want. You play it if you want or play something else if you don't like it." While I'm not happy about the P2W changes of BDO, the way they ignored player protests actually made me more likely to stay with BDO.

Social people are attracted to "open, friendly" groups, ignoring that such groups are open and friendly to their competitors too, turning the system into nepotism/asskissing contest. The only systems we can trust are objective and meritocratic. I want devs to listen to their own expertise and the sales charts instead of to me.

Monday, August 22, 2016

BDO downsizing

I have full Tri gear. I don't think that +5APDP will make or break my playing. I'm #2 in wealth with 1B in the bank. I don't have a BDO project in sight. So I realized that no matter how efficient my moneymaking scheme is, I'm wasting time with it. Even 15-20M/hour income is bad if I don't need the 15-20M.

So I dismantled my wood workbenches and stopped making crates. After selling the remaining crates, I removed the nodes connecting Ancado, Ephiria and Trent, gaining 40 contribution points. I re-invested them into work nodes as simply selling what the nodes produce is much simpler and has even higher silver/hour. I also stopped crafting gems via alchemy, so the profitable market of Magic Crystal of Infinity - Assault and Power are all yours. I also will cook nothing else than beer for my workers.

Many people can't do this, not in games, not in life. While they already achieved more than most around them, they keep grinding because they "need" more. No you don't need that TET sword for +1B which is 50-80 hours clicking even for my income. For a grinder, it's closer to 200. With 40 hours/week normal work hours, it's 5 weeks. Does that +5-10 AP really worth 5 full weeks of working hours?! No, not playing, don't tell me that grinding Sausans is entertaining. Moving crates between the storage and the trade manager is much less annoying and I still got enough of that. You also don't need to TRI your accessories. Or buy a new car when the old one is comfortable and safe. Downsizing is the key to get what you have the least: time.

And now, finishing this, I do what I didn't for weeks: actually hop on my horse, put on that 450 APDP gear and get out to the World exploring and questing.

Oh, and I turned off life quests and most exclamation marks disappeared. I want to see the story, not cook food for XP when I'm already Master 3. The combat is funny with my gear. I can't kill stuff fast, but not even pure red monsters can damage me. And that's after putting on some AP accessories.

Of course I didn't forget Red Battlefield that I didn't see for ages. While everyone says "DP is useless" and "high AP will oneshot anyone", I was more than fine with my 325DP, 2997 HP and 26 damage reduction from gems. I mean "2-3 on me and potions can keep me topped" fine. Or "CCing the highest score enemy from the server topguild in the middle of their group and live for 15-20 secs" fine. As usual, the "common opinion" is dumb.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Lenny and his citadel lies

TMC interviewed Lenny (it seems they accept content from everyone willing to give them recently) and he announced he is attacking the market Fortizars near Jita because he wants to build new hubs all around EVE for the good of all.

I wanted to write a long and detailed analysis disproving everything he said and explaining what he is likely up to, but then I realized that I already wasted too much time with that once great game that was completely destroyed by dev corruption. Also, an anon commenter summarized the problem perfectly already. So I just write a quickie:

His stated goals (new hubs) benefit absolutely nothing from his actions (destroying offshoring Jita citadels), nor the new hubs are serving any plan about Jita citadels. His interview is a mess and he could claim that "I'm evicting a C6 wormhole corp because I want to monopolize on Delerik PI" without being less of a nonsense. Whatever he is up to in Jita is totally unconnected with whatever he wants with the new trade hubs.

The reason behind his unconnected plans is the same as it was behind his WWB adventures: to paint himself and IWI as valuable content creators in order to prevent CCP from banning IWI for open RMT. Please note that he does not even claim an in-game goal, he does it for the good of the game. He is so good for the game that only 1/3 of the players left since he entered the scene! The only valuable part of his interview is "The reality is, all the bankers are members of various separate alliances and IWI is a job. We are friends in IWI but there no back-door wheeling and dealing because IWI is solely focused on the customer and providing the services that we provide." He don't even bother to deny that they are an real-world RMT organization with no in-game affiliation.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Skewed RNG and socials

Enchanting in Black Desert Online is a pretty annoying minigame. In order to upgrade your gear, you have to farm or buy black stones and shards which serve as resources. Nothing new so far, WoW had this with justice points and whatnot. However you don't just go to some vendor with your old gear and the stones, you need to use them in a gambling fashion: first you put one stone and a useless piece of gear to the enchanting interface and hope to fail the enchant, because that gives you a bonus. You repeat until enough bonus is collected (and curse if you succeed to enchant the useless gear), then put in your good gear with a more expensive shard and hope that you succeed. If you fail, you put in another stone. Sometimes you even end up with gear losing level or totally destroyed (accessories).

The minigame is annoying and the whole process is hated by everyone. Why do the devs use it instead of an "insert X stones and gear, get level" method with X being the average stones needed now. Same input, same output, less annoyance for the players.

The secret lies in skewness of the chance distribution. This means that the individual outcomes aren't evenly distributed around the average. Skewness does not mean being rigged: it is not biased against any participant, nor its average result is wrong. Let me explain it with coinflips where you want to get a head. You have 50% chance for it, so on average you need 2 tries. However if you give coins to 1024 people and ask for their experience about this "game":
  • 512 will tell "I did it in one toss"
  • 256 will tell "I did it in 2 tosses"
  • 128 will tell "I did it in 3 tosses"
  • 64 will tell "I did it in 4 tosses"
  • 32 will tell "I did it in 5 tosses"
  • 16 will tell "I did it in 6 tosses"
  • 8 will tell "I did it in 7 tosses"
  • 4 will tell "I did it in 8 tosses"
  • 2 will tell "I did it in 9 tosses"
  • 1 will tell "I did it in 10 tosses"
  • 1 will tell "I did it in 12 tosses" (bonus internet points for those who understand why not 11)
So if you are a social, who makes decisions not by facts but by the opinions of "friends", you will be convinced that you need less than two tries to get a head. After all half of your friends said it can be done in one try, 1/4 of them did it in two and only 1/4 needed more. If you are good at maths or just don't give a damn about the opinions of people, you realize that this game has lots of small winners and few big losers.

The result is simple: socials underestimate the effort needed to enchant their gear and keep farming, believing that the upgrade is just around the corner, just like it was for their "friends". Also, they don't believe me when I tell them to just go to the marketplace and buy their gear, selling their stones. The marketplace is full of the gear of the "lucky" people who got it cheap (or "free", since the stones you farmed yourself are free, right). It stays full as the dumb people rather "try their luck" than accept a one time high cost. The result is obvious: they have crap gear and they are broke while I am full of upgrades and money.

It sucks to be a social!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Is it me, or is it the gamers?

Back in WoW, where I started blogging about my in-game focus: gold, I never considered myself very rich. Sure, I didn't have problems with repairs or buying consumables like the morons and slackers, but buying all the vanity nonsense was impossible for me (not like I wanted to). Every playing session I improved my income and blogged about it, no wonder my blog got more and more visitors and had a strong gaming focus.

In EVE I earned a titan-worth in the first 3 months of my play while most players rat anoms even years after starting. Then I earned a titan in every 2 months. Then every month. In my final months I earned one in less than 3 weeks. I couldn't reasonably spend my wealth in-game, so I spent it unreasonably, funding a blogging project for ideological reasons. I've seen some CCP report that the total in-game wealth is 3000T (if you have the link, please comment). If I didn't spend a dime on GRR, I'd still have 3T in the wallet of my abandoned account. If we assume 100K players for EVE, I have 100x more than the average player, which is pretty nice. It was also big enough to fund a project threatening enough for the largest in-game group to seek corrupted dev help against me as they couldn't fight in-game. While my business model wasn't trivial, I fully published it and still could use it for years.

I started Black Desert Online months after it started. It's a no-loss MMO, the longer you play, the more wealth you have. In 2 months I got to #1 wealth. Not "pretty nice", flat out the richest man on the server. My "business model" was simply using the industrial parts of the game instead of grinding like the masses.

You see the running theme here: in every successive game I made more and more money with less and less effort. I don't know if I got more and more proficient or the competition got worse and worse. We sure can't blame the games as nerfing would only mean that everyone gets currency easier. It wouldn't affect my position compared to the competition.

I'm afraid it's the players who got worse and worse over time. The simplest evidence is that I always posted my moneymaking methods, if I was some exceptional genius, my advantage would disappear when my secret gets out. Also, other players report pretty good results with simple tasks like WoW garrisons.

If my goal with blogging was to spread knowledge, I failed. Players are much dumber today than they were 10 years ago. It's not an old man's "back in my time men were men" nonsense. It's simply that 10 years ago mostly college educated people used computers, therefore playing video games were mostly connected you to other people with university degree. Now every Tom, Dick and Harriett uses computers so you can easily bump into someone in a video game who would never get into your sphere in the real world, like a 12 years old kid, a literal basement dweller or a housewife on welfare.

I'm not sure if there is a comeback for video gaming. I mean once upon a time TV was the entertainment for everyone, while now educated people don't even have TV sets. It's easy to imagine a future where only low class people play video games while educated people have some other form of entertainment. However there is hope, in the form of HBO/Netflix model. They are "TV" in the sense that you consume video content in your living room, but only a collection of high quality shows for (relatively) high price while the masses consume crappy shows for "free". Maybe this will happen in games too, with $100/month subscription premium games and free-to-play crap for the masses. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The WoW Legion TV show

I watched my girlfriend doing the WoW Legion intro quests and scenarios. Surprisingly, I liked them a lot. They were well-written and immersive. The Legion really invaded Azeroth and the adventurers really fought back.

However I saw no reason to do it myself as the content was already "consumed", despite I didn't touch the controls. WoW completely became a TV show instead of a game. The "player" is a passive consumer who has no agency in the story. Unless you choose to avoid some content, you will complete it, regardless of "skill". Sure, some players complete it faster than others, but at the end, everyone will "be the hero". Rewards will be given out, but will be obsoleted in a month or two. Nothing you do will affect the world, other players or even your own character.

I never understood while people watch streams of others playing. Play the game yourself! - I said. I now see the reason: most games are rather TV shows which are best consumed fully passively, not being bothered with and distracted by clicking keys. In the same time the oblivious morons and slackers can make themselves believe that they are actually heroes, exceptional players achieving all the stuff on the screen instead of simply passively receiving it.

This also explains why WoW has so rapidly changing player numbers. When new content is out, lot of viewers return to experience it. When it consumed, they move to the next "TV show episode", while avid fans "re-watch the episode".

I'm not being judgmental here. There is nothing wrong with running such shows. The "idle games", which don't even have formal player action are popular forms of entertainment. Good luck with it Blizzard. But of course it's not the entertainment for me.