24 March 2018

WildStar: The Value of Pure Soulfrost

I know I'm about two years late but I finally finished my reputation in Arcterra. Now I can finally spend my soulfrost on anything! But what comes afterwards? How do I spend soulfrost from contracts after I've bought everything?

Arcterra What's That?

Arcterra is the last daily area that has been added to WildStar. Map-wise it's a completely new area that is placed deep in the arctic continent of Nexus. As such it's a huge snow landscape, obviously containing ancient eldan constructs but old osun constructs as well. This area is famous for rewarding you the famous item level 85 and upgraded item level 90 gear but also for the first class set which was previously only available in the genetic archives. It's also very

Where Do I Get Pure Soulfrost?

Pure soulfrost is rewarded for almost anything you do in Arcterra. Killing mobs, doing dynamic events, killing bosses, participating in events and even from doing the challenges. So basically, just play the map. It stacks up to 1000 per inventory slot and cannot be sold or traded. It is soulbound.

Once you got the pure soulfrost you can use this to buy different items such as customes, toys, pets, mounts, mount fashion, rune foci and class sets, rune bags, housing decor, housing unlocks such as music and skies, equip and more.

Determining the Value of Pure Soulfrost

Now let's get to the actual interesting part for those who are through with Arcterra. If you happen to get soulfrost or maybe you're even interested in farming it as this area is more fun you might want to use these for something interesting. Now of course trading post may make certain items better than others the EU trading post is nearly dead. So I'm gonna go with the vendor prices. Additionally, the soulfrost bags contain 10 gold items in it but their drops need to be researched.  Thus I'm going to skip this bag as well.

So, we'll look through all the items that are sold and we're gonna categorize them by their soulfrost buy price and gold, silver, copper sell price.

Here's a table copying my spreadsheet listing how I've categorized the items. It contains the name of the item or category, the pure soulfrost you have to spent for it, the sell price or the amount of copper you gain for selling the item and the rate that determines the worth of the soulfrost by dividing the amount of copper you gain divided by the amount of soulfrost you have.

On a side note: I will list the Spellslinger and light armor items as this is my main. The prices don't change between classes and armor types so you just need to find the respective one for your class and armor type.

Example: Soulstorm Pistols cost 325 soulsfrost and give us 5 gold 68 silver 96 copper. That's a rate of 56896 / 325 = 175.06 or about 1 silver 75 copper for each soulfrost.

ItemCostValueRate
Soulstorm Pistols32556896175.06
Soulweave Chestpiece30050800169.33
Soulrange Generator25040640162.56
Soulweave Leggings30045720152.4
Soulweave Coif27540640147.78
Soulweave Boots25035560142.24
Frozen Echo30040640135.47
Soulblown Coil25032512130.05
Soulblown Booster25032512130.05
Soulweave Mantle27535560129.31
Soulweave Gloves25030480121.92
Soulblown Energizer2502438497.54
Imbuement 5005004556291.12
Imbuement 5505504556282.84
Imbuement 6006004556275.94
Tier 2 Mount2004192.09
Tier 3 Mount2004192.09
Tier 4 Mount2004192.09
Tier 1 Decor111
Pure Class Focus - Minor3501120.32
Decor510.2
Pure Class focus - Major8751350.15
Tier 3 Decor1520.13
Tier 2 Decor1010.1
Tier 4 pet12540.03
Housing biome10030.03
Tier 4 Music10020.02
Tier 4 Housing15020.01
Tier 3 Color15010.01
Tier 5 mount 75050.01

Turns out I can directly copy this from my spreadsheet. I feel amazed.

Conclusion

Good thing I already sorted the list using spreadsheet magic. So the result is obvious. The best item to gain the most from soulfrost and that also defines the value of pure soulfrost is the item level 85 weapon you can buy from the soulfrost vendor.

20 March 2018

Game Genre: Collect-a-thon

It's been a while since the last post. I'm still researching several big topics for theorycrafting. Since I'm working solo and have a job at the same time and I want to play games as well don't expect it anytime soon.

Anyways I've been playing Hollow Knight for a while now and recently I looked up for 3D metroidvania games. I found a a post where people called Banjo Kazooie a metroidvania.
I disagree and here's why.

The Collect-a-thon

Collect-a-thons were the top games back in the old days. With titles like Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, Spyro the Dragon, Donkey Kong 64 and many more. We even got an attempt of reviving the series with Yooka & Laylee. So let's go into it and analyze these genres and what's typically for them and why people may mistake these.

Collecting Pointless Objects

"Now then, in line with Banjo tradition, your challenge will consist of collecting as many pointless objects as possible" 
~ Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
 Is a collect-a-thon about collecting pointless objects as rare sarcastically states in their 3rd installment of the Banjo-Kazooie series? Well let's see at our examples.

Super Mario 64 Collectibles

In Super Mario 64 we've got five collectibles.

  • Yellow coins that increase your coin score and health reaching a score of 100 rewards a star
  • Red coins that increase your coin twice score, health twice and collecting all eights gives us a star
  • Blue coins that are timed and give five times as much coin score and health.
  • Stars that are used to progress through the worlds and levels
  • Keys that are used to progress through sections of the game.

Banjo Kazooie Collectibles

In Banjo Kazooie we've got ten collectibles.
  • Honey combs to increase your maximum health
  • Red feathers that are used for the flight ability
  • Golden feathers that are used for the invincibility ability
  • Eggs that are used as ammunition
  • Notes the primary currency for abilities and progressing the open world
  • Jigsaw pieces/Jiggies the primary currency for unlocking more levels
  • Cheato Pages are used to unlock cheats for the game
  • Honey to fill up your health
  • Jinjo's collecting five of these will give you a jiggy. Each level has them.
  • Mumbo Tokens these are required for unlocking transformations at Mumbo

Spyro the Dragon Series Collectibles

In the series of Spyro the Dragon, not counting only the first three, there are 12 collectibles.
  • Crystal Statues collectible to progress the first installment of the series
  • Diodes collectible to progress the second installment of the series
  • Dragon Eggs another collectible required to progress later worlds of the first installment
  • Red Gem main signature collectible and currency but also required to progress adds 1
  • Green Gem main signature collectible and currency but also required to progress adds 2
  • Blue Gem main signature collectible and currency but also required to progress adds 5
  • Yellow Gem main signature collectible and currency but also required to progress adds 10
  • Purple Gem main signature collectible and currency but also required to progress adds 25
  • Orbs a currency to progress the second installment of the series
  • Skillpoints can be found, gained and unlocked, increases your health and unlocks lore when all have been collected
  • Spirit Particles required to unlock temporal power ups
  • Talismans another currency to progress the second installment of the series

We could go through other games too but I think you already notice something. These collectibles are not useless. There's always something connected to them.

Conclusion

So, collect-a-thons are all about collecting objects. You need to collect objects to progress the game. This is the aspect that makes the game differ from others. At the same time we see this mechanic used for different purposes. However there's always a limited amount of the progress oriented currencies and they cannot be farmed.

Different Purposes

Furthering Access
Future content or levels require you to collect a currency. If you don't have enough you can't enter new areas.

Unlocking Abilities
Collecting a currency allows you to learn new moves that either help you gain more currency or make the game easier.

Improving Status
Similar to abilities but more on the passive side, collectibles may be used to increase your chances of surviving, like health upgrades.

Resource
There may be collectibles used to fill up your resources. These usually aren't limited and can be collected over and over.

Sub-goals
Sub-goals, inception or whatever you want to call these, these collectibles are there for you to do things to get the main collectible that furthers your progress.





 

07 March 2018

MMORPGs and Replayability

I love playing WildStar and I really enjoy playing it, but let's face the truth. It won't run forever. Without it accumulating thousand of players that also spent money there's no future.

Power Creep

Like many multi massive online role play games, WildStar too started off as a game with gear grind. Don't worry gear grind is still in it. The problem with these games is that there's something called power creep. Power creep is when the player gains strength throughout their journey in the game without the gain being balanced. This means that you get more strength, abilities, powers, damage and you're overpowered in the earlier content you're through with already.

So, what's the problem here? Well, since you're done with the old content, nothing interesting drops there anymore and it provides no challenge.

Content Is Live - Content Is Love

Thus, to keep the player entertained new content needs to be added constantly. A good example for this is World of Warcraft. There have been so many add-ons already and for a good reason.  The way the game is designed if there's no more content the game will die. At some point you have reached the end of the chain of content. You get the best gear and highest item level and the only content that is still relevant to you is the last content that has been added.

Fighting Power Creep 

So if you want older content to stay interesting we need to implement some way to keep the earlier content challenging.

Horizontal Progression

Guild Wars 2 did this by having no gear progression (also known as vertical progression). With vertical progression the player needs to play content to gain power which is required to progress through the content. Horizontal progression, however, challenges the players pure skill. Every additional content adds new mechanics or combines old mechanics requiring the player to always improve themselves throughout the content. The good thing about horizontal progression is that you reach the best gear quite early in the game and yet all content stays equally challenging.

Scaling Difficulty

Another way would be to provide different difficulties. In Diablo III the content won't ever get too easy. Well, at least the greater rifts. You can keep increasing the difficulty to compensate for the damage increase you gain.

Downscaling

Downscaling is the progress to lower the players stats to the point they're equal to another player that plays on this level. The biggest problem with downscaling is getting it right. Most often decreasing stats isn't everything. Unlocking abilities, skills, passive effects and much more make it hard for simple downscaling to work. However if you're getting it right, this is a good way to go.

Loss of Interest

Thanks to our procedure(s) the content is now always equally challenging regardless of your gear. Yet, having done all the content and gotten everything from it, why bother running it? Just for the fun enjoying it? That might go well a few times but on the long run that won't work.

When I was brainstorming and discussing this with other fellow WildStar guild mates it has shown to be the hardest step to reach the goal of replayable content. Of course, people do something just for the fun, but if you want to keep them enganged you need to implement a goal for them.

The problem with most goals is that they're either short term or long term but not for infinity. Well, at least attempts of long term goals resulted in grinding.

Skins and Unique Items

If you have several players who like skins, implementing these as dungeon rewards is a good way for people to keep running it. Same with achievements. Both of these only apply to a certain handful of players who are interested in said content. There's a problem with this though. Even if you tell an achievement hunter to run a dungeon 100 times or add 50 item skins to a dungeon, at some point the player will be done with these leaving them without a goal.

Backtracking

Another option would be to say, every time you find an item in a later content you have to rerun the older one to imbue or improve this item. This will most likely increase the amount of people running the older content assuming they didn't quit the game yet. This will probably tick players off having to redo over and over again. The other problem here is that there will be players running it when it came out and stop until the next content update comes.

Renewing Special Effects

During the brainstorming I had this idea of implementing special effects like auras and armor or weapons looking different but running out of energy over time requiring you to run the content again to keep the effects up. Apparently some game developer I don't know the name of (sorry D:) already had this idea. I don't see much wrong with this except it only applies to a portion of the player base that is interested in their looks.

Unique Materials

I'm doing a game design course right now and I read through a game design document of someone else that was about making a game with it's focus on mining and fishing. This brought me another idea. If the instances have unique materials that are required not for gear but consumables, chances are high that people will keep on running the content to craft those. Also a good option would be soulbound or account bound crafting using those materials. Keep in mind traders might not be able to run those dungeons for those materials then.

Instance Bonuses

Just like Guild Wars 2 giving away gold for running 8 different dungeon (paths), giving a bonus to gold gained from a certain raid wing or WildStar providing bonus essences to certain dungeons having these bonuses switch through. If the bonus is worth the time, it will most certainly attract all kinds of people. Sometimes certain currencies are not as interesting to the player however there might always be one primary currency that the player will need for all their goals. Whether it's better gear, skins, achievements or building something.

Conclusion

I hope this brainstorm and discussing, I did, helped some people develop their own opinion and ideas. Whether or not it is possible to add replay-ability to content from MMORPGs is a question I cannot answer as of yet. Aside from all this, it's your choice to leave power creep in or to compensate for it. Yet, it would be cool to see an alternative game. I know I called Guild Wars 2 out for having a horizontal progression but technically it doesn't. I guess I could make that another topic for another time.

01 March 2018

My Power Napping Experiment

I've recently had enough of having no time to do anything so I decided to do an experiment.

Time

Since I've started a full time job I've been thinking a lot about time. Well I've always been thinking about time. What exactly about time? Well here we go.

A day has 24 hours and a week has 7 days. This means we have 7 * 24 = 168 hours a week to spend the way we like. If you work 40 hours a week that's 128 hours left. So we lose 40 / 168 = 0.2381 or 23.81% of our week to work. Now, of course, you need to sleep as well. The minimum sleep required is often said to be 6 hours. So that's 6 hours on 7 days or 6 * 7 = 42 hours. So we spent at minimum 42 / 168 = 0.25 or 25% of our week asleep. Now, some people may need more sleep some may need less sleep. If you're a longer sleeper you'll need maybe 8 hours. That's 8 * 7 = 56 hours a week. Taking this into perspective we get 56 / 168 = 0.3333 or 33.33% of our week. Isn't it good that we're doing home office? Unfortunately, we don't. In my case even worse, I have to drive up to an hour every day to work and back because I don't like living in the city. So that's 5 work days and 2 hours each for arrival and departure. So, 5 * 2 = 10 hours a week for traveling.

Of our 168 hours we have 168 - 42 - 40 - 10 = 76 hours left. That's only 76 / 168 = 0.4524 or 45.24% time left.

Comparison
  • 25% of our week is spent sleeping at minimum
  • 23.81% of our week is spent working
  • 10 / 168 = 0.06 or 6% of my week is spent traveling to work
  • 45.24% of my week is spent for free time + needs like eating

Too Much To Do

Now this is partly my fault but I kinda got myself into the situation where I want to
  • working on a leaderboard in a game
  • raid in two different games
  • play those games
  • play and stream more games
  • write these blog posts
  • study game design, engineering and development
  • work full time
  • help a teen and a child in math
  • do other projects (programming wise)
  • learn magic
As you might have noticed due to my disturbed frequency of Youtube publishes, streams and blog posts I can't keep up with it anymore. So I need to get time somehow. There are three options I have.
  1. Give up work, I can't do that because I would have no income anymore
  2. Give up some dedication, I don't want to do this though
  3. Siphon the time from another activity
And this is where power napping came to my mind.

Power Napping

So, I've heard and read about this every now and then. People that say they sleep less and have more time for what they want to do. Well, how does it work? According to information it's as simple as distributing your sleep over the day. This means you will sleep more often every now and then throughout the day but sleep less in total.

Now that sounds very interesting but I couldn't push myself to do it. Until Sunday that is. On Sunday I finally started to give it a try.

Science Behind Napping

On my search I read some information on the sleep duration, purpose and how it benefits us. I found the following information.

60-90 Minute Nap
Plays a key role in making new connections the brain and solving creative problems.

30-60 Minute Nap
Improves decision-making, memorizing or recalling  (e.g. vocabulary or directions)

Up to 30 Minute Nap
Resets the system, gain a burst of alertness and improved motor performance.

Additionally longer sleep times improve memory and creativity.

My Personal Plan

I've read about people creating or using a power napping plan that helps with napping and let's them have a schedule. I also gave this a thought and this is what I came up with first.

Since I don't want to lose any of the advantages I want to build each type of nap into my daily routine, while leaving the amount at minimum. I've decided to go with an one and a half hour long nap, an one hour long nap and a half an hour long nap. That's a total sleep time of 1.5 + 1 + 0.5 = 3 hours.

Next question is "When?". First I thought about starting with one and a half continuing with one and last but not least finishing off with a half, however, sleeping a whole hour at work will definitely cause problems. So I swapped that with half an hour. The next plan is when exactly. Since I wake up for work around 6am to 6:30am I would say half an hour earlier than that should do s we got 4:30am. Since I have three sleeping cycles it would make sense to distribute them evenly. Since a day has 24 hours that's every 24 / 3 = 8 hours. So that then would be:
  • one hour and a half at 4:30am
  • half an hour at 12:30pm
  • one hour at 8:30pm
I've set up an alarm and calculate in up to 30 minutes for the time it may take to fall asleep. I'm a light sleeper so getting woken up from the alarm is no problem.

 Problems Arose

At first I forgot to use the alarm and I overslept.
When I created this I didn't take things into account. I have raid at 8:00pm. So what happened? The hour got shifted back on days I'm raiding.
I can't seem to fall asleep at work for those 30 minutes. The sitting position is very uncomfortable for this, with clothes, sometimes bad temperatures and constant noises it's hard. Though, I've read about using a face mask and earplugs.

Conclusion

Usually if I sleep less than six hours three days in a row I'm all tired, grumpy and just want to sleep. It's Thursday already and I feel awake as ever. At least if it's not at work when I am supposed to have taken my 30 minutes nap. I'm gonna continue this experiment and I'm very excited about the results, especially on weekends. I might consider making a vlog instead of using the blog. Depends on the interest of people.
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I'm a junior game developer and software developer and I created this blog to share my ideas, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.