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Community Discussion: Blog by Nathan Evrard | Nathan Evrard's ProfileDestructoid
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About
Besides being extremely handsome and agitating, I also enjoys writing about all things business related. My education consists of Bachelor's degrees in both Management and Marketing along with a good education from the school of hard knocks.

My true business passion lies in small business and all things virtual. My very first college paper was an economics paper on virtual economies and was poorly written. Now my writing is merely sub par. My inspiration and interest in all things virtual really started with the book Play Money by Julian Dibbell. It is a fascinating look into the underground economies that run behind the scenes.

My online work includes a business blog called Gerbil Voodoo that covers all things business related and a blog title Video Game Mojo. My online portfolio also includes two e-commerce stores, angrybirdsmarketplace and tissottimepieces. Both of which are partnerships with a good friend of mine who does most of the heavy lifting.

Feel free to drop me a line telling me how awesome I am or more realistically how awful my writing is. Hope to hear from you soon!

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To pretty much everyone he was known as Jerry Seinfeld. But to his fellow soldiers he was known only as “Gonzo”. He had earned that name for his fearless action on the battlefield. As an assault soldier it was his job to lead the charge and he never backed down. He didn’t take the time to think about the inevitable future he faced. That future came during “Operation Patient Law”.

The enemy was playing hide and seek in the Subway system somewhere in Europe and it was XCOM’s job to bring their game to an end. The four man team set out with Seinfeld at the helm. He was the most seasoned soldier on the battlefield and he was deadlier than any two soldiers combined.

The mission started out as normal, moving along slow and steady flushing out the enemy and destroying them as they showed up. Most members of the team had taken some damage up to this point but it was nothing too crucial and it looked as though they were about to finish things up before heading home.

There was one lone enemy hidden a subway car and the commander decided he wanted this alien brought in alive. This would have been child’s play were it not for the group of three Mutons that had been hiding in the back corner of the subway.

As “Gonzo” moved forward to stun the lone Sectoid it was already too late. His positioning left him with no cover and three enemies bearing down on him. It took all three Mutons working together but in the end it did not matter. Jerry “Gonzo” Seinfeld was dead.

From this moment on the mission was not about capturing or defeating the enemy. It was about revenge. The remaining members of the XCom squad set to work and in cold precision finished off every last enemy. Upon returning to the base the victory felt shallow it had everyone including me as their commander wondering what we were fighting for.

Seeing Seinfeld’s name on the memorial quickly answered that question. We were fighting for him and all of the others who had joined him on the wall. Lt. Bill Dozer, Rk. William Wallace, and Sgt. Kofi Kingston were also on the wall. The list of names is still growing but there are still those brave men and women who fight for everyone on that wall.



Brave soldiers such as Danica Patrick, Gwen Stefani, and Taylor Swift will continue to lead the charge against the alien invasion. It is more likely than not that some if not all of them will end up on the memorial. When that day comes we will listen to the bag pipes and mourn there loss. Then a new group of soldiers will step up to the line because we are the world’s last hope. We are XCOM.[/img]
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With the release of Guild Wars 2 much of my time in the past several weeks has been spent traversing the world of Tyria. During my travels one of the more interesting things to me is the chat that takes place between the players in the game. My previous MMO experience includes eight or nine different games but only one of those ever held my attention for any length of time. That game was Dark Age of Camelot (DA0C) by Mythic Entertainment. No matter which games you play however the chatter is still the same though it has gradually changed a bit with the games themselves. Without further ado here are some of my favorite MMO terms for better or worse.

BAF – Bring a Friend

Does this mob (monster) bring help when he is attacked? This is one of the first terms one learned especially in earlier MMO’s. It goes along well with the term Aggro (Aggressive) which refers to mobs that immediately attack you when you run near them. It always seemed a like a term that could survive in the real world. “Hey come 2 my party.” “Can I BAF cuz my BFF wants to come?”

INC – Incoming

Perhaps one of the most important terms to learn especially when working in dungeons with a team. As soon as someone yelled INC you had better be ready. The result of ignoring this message meant certain death for you and your group. It’s always the worst when a group of mobs randomly spawn right next to your group while everyone is AFK (away from keyboard) to use the bathroom.

Camping

Thanks to game such as Call of Duty and other First Person Shooters this term has a negative connotation to it. The term refers to waiting in a certain area for a specific mob to spawn so you can kill it. These are generally quest related mobs and often require multiple people to take down. It was an integral part to early MMO’s as only the people who first engage the mob would get credit for killing it.

Corpse Run

Yep, you read that one right. In Guild Wars 2 when my character dies the penalty is a broken piece of armor and the cost of a trip to the nearest waypoint. In older games such as DAoC the penalties were much more severe. Upon dying your character would lose a percentage of experience earned for that level while other games such as Runescape also had your character drop items and money that anyone could come by and pick up. The only way to gain back a part of your experience or your goods was to make your way back to your gravestone. This was often extra difficult because people tend to die in hostile areas and, in the case of Runescape, you may be doing it without your best weapons.

Woot!

It’s the unofficial victory term used in MMO’s across the globe. After beating an extremely difficult boss it is not uncommon to see the chat screen filled with Woot’s. It provides a sense of accomplishment for everyone and essentially says good game while patting everyone on the butt.

WTS/WTB – Want To Sell/Want To Buy

Guild Wars 2 has one of the best in game trading interfaces in a game to date. The trading post works more like the stock market than anything and it is a step up from the traditional auction house offered in other games. However, there was a time when auction houses didn’t exist in MMO’s or had very limited functionality. Any time you entered a major city in DAoC you would immediately start seeing messages saying WTS or WTB nonstop. You would think this would be annoying but given the nature of earlier games it really just added to the feeling of being in a major city. It felt like walking through a busy market in any city with vendors constantly shouting about their wares. You occasionally see people shouting about this in Guild Wars 2 but it is extremely rare and somewhat pointless.

LD - Link Dead

Perhaps nothing encompasses the early MMO experience more than going LD in the middle of a major battle. One second your tank would be whopping on the bad guy and then suddenly he would stop and sit there unmoving while getting beat down. This was the beginning of certain doom for the rest of the group. Upon returning the game the tank would come back and say “LD” and everyone would nod understandably. Fortunately that is pretty much a thing of the past though now we have nothing to blame our horrible dungeon beat downs on.

What are your favorite MMO terms?
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With Guild Wars 2 ArenaNet has decided from the beginning that the long term health of the economy is one of the primary concerns for the game. Within the first week the company banned over 3,000 for a karma (a type of in game currency) exploit that could have had a rather adverse effect on the economy. The exploit came about as a coding error on the side of ArenaNet.

The result was that items that should be selling for 35,000karma were selling for a mere 21 karma. Some gamers took notice of this and began buying these items up and selling them to vendors for in game gold. Exploits like this, if left unchecked can lead to a few rich individuals and, in the long term, an unbalanced economy.

Exploits aside the developers and economist, John Smith have a tricky job to do in order to keep the economy constantly in check. Fortunately, they have one fantastic in game tool at their disposal, the trading post (TP).

The trading post serves as the auction house for Guild Wars 2. It connects buyers and sellers with each other much the same as in other MMO’s but with a few very important differences. For starters, the TP is set up so that people can use it from anywhere in the game world. This results in much more activity as people are not stuck sitting on materials waiting for a chance to sell them.

The second benefit of the TP lies in the bidding system. The TP works much more like a stock market than an auction house. Sellers can choose to set their item at any price and wait for the item to sell or they can choose to dump the product right away by matching a buy offer. This allows for more dynamic trading as you are not stuck buying or selling stacks of items. Rather as a buyer you can place a bid of 20c for 100 items and the order will be filled as the inventory comes along.

The most important part of the TP however, is that there is only one trading post that is shared by everyone playing the game. This means that the TP has over 2 million people using it as opposed to several thousand on any given World of Warcraft server. The result is a supply and demand that is much more even across the board. However, there are still situations where supply will far outweigh demand and thus drive prices too low.

This is where the benefit of having one TP really comes into play. Since the TP is connected to everyone this means that the in game economy can be manipulated quite easily on global scale. Within the first three weeks of the game ArenaNet noticed a glut of materials on the market including sticks of butter, wood logs, and wood dowels. The result of course was too much supply and prices that were bottomed out.

Their solution to this problem was quite novel. They created temporary in game recipes that required large amounts of these items. The results were almost immediate. The price for sticks of butter jumped 1000% from 2c to 20c in only a couple of hours. Green wood logs and Soft wood logs saw an increase also from 10c to 17c and 4c to 16c respectively. All of them have been holding steady near the 10c mark since then.



Not surprisingly up this point the Guild Wars 2 economy has been fun to track. The game updates that are presented by the actual in game economist really provide a more in depth view of the inner workings. If the ArenaNet team continues to put this much care and attention into the game then the long term outlook for the economy, and in turn the game, looks quite promising.

Read John Smiths State of The Economy Report Here.

Note: Much of the data was derived from my own tracking but the rest was filled in via this great site here.

Crosspost From Video Game Mojo
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Video games have long been reviewed and given scores (grades) to let people know how good they supposedly are. This should be an objective process but as many people know there is a definite subjective element at play. Over the course of the last several years the defacto scoring metric has become Metacritic.

The site aggregates critic reviews alongside user reviews for direct comparison. To get the final Metacritic score for critic reviews the site uses a special formula to weigh the reviews that are included in the metric. The end result is a score that unfortunately can affect the wages that game developers get paid.

Going into this particular analysis there were two theories that were going to be tested. The first is based on the average review score. On Metacritic games are scored on a 0-10 basis. Given these numbers the average score should theoretically fall at the 5 mark given that that is the mid point or average of the range. My theory going in is that this is in fact false and the average score will actually be much higher.

The second test revolves around user scores vs critic scores. It was my belief going in that user scores would be lower. This stems not necessarily from more stringent reviewers but rather from hatred towards publishers such as Electronic Arts.

The study used a simple random sample of twenty games from both the first person shooter (FPS) and role playing game (RPG) genre. The genres were graded separately from each other and broken down in various statistical forms.

Descriptive Data




Score Comparisons



Tests

The data above simply represents the breakdown of the numbers at our disposable. It does not however give us an answer to the questions that have been pondered up above. To do that we need to do something called a hypothesis test. The first test simply compares the average score to the theoretical average of 5.



The second test compares user reviews directly to Metacritic scores.



Conclusion

The formulas used above may look quite confusing to some and that is understandable. Ultimately, the tests we performed told us two things. In the first test the result simply states that yes, the average user score is significantly greater than 5. In the second test the results tell us that the average user score is less than the critic score. To be more specific however, in the world of statistics we don't say that we are correct but rather that we fail to prove that we are wrong.

CrossPost From Video Game Mojo
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Introduction

Yesterday marked the first day that ArenaNet allowed me to view the trading post in Guild Wars 2. Though most people may not share my excitement on the subject it was of great joy to myself. Given my education in business and my interest in gaming it is a natural transition for me to study both at the same time. Going forward it is my hope to keep weekly tabs on the market and track it long term.

Breakdown

Being so early in the life cycle of the game some of the data is not very surprising. The prices listed on both of the charts presented work by listing the lowest tiered items on the left and moving up the tiers to the right. Given this set up, an economy that is steady should look something like this:



However, as can be seen above and below the current Guild Wars 2 data does not follow this trend.



As with any economy things are driven by supply and demand. With an influx of new players lower tiered items such as copper ore are in high demand while higher tiered items such as iron and silver have less demand. This results in a very interesting situation where teir 1 copper ore is worth the same amount as tier 4 platinum (Pro Tip: Sell Your Copper And Buy Platinum Now!). This will of course even out over time but there is a chance to make some easy money for anyone paying attention.

One note about the charts. They do not contain data on the top tier items Orichalum Ore and Gossamer Thread. This is because these items rarity has them trading a premium (425 and 850 respectively). Placing them on the chart simply renders it useless for our purpose.

UPDATE: I'm going to edit myself on this topic. My point of view on future values was predicated on the real world idea that precious metals are constantly in line with each other. However, as has been pointed out to me on various forums their are many other things at work in MMO's that have an effect on raw material prices. As such the end result will most definitely not be an even curve in any future charts.
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When ArenaNet released guild wars 2 last week people, myself included, expected a solid entry into the massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMO) genre. Historically, the release of MMO’s are plagued with bugs and player exploits that drive down review scores. It has become clear however that very few people are disappointed thus far. MMORPG currently has the game listed as having the highest rating of any MMO on the market with a 9.09 rating. The next closest games are Funcom’s Secret World at 8.23 and Trion Worlds Rift at 7.41.

Aside from the game itself being highly regarded, ArenaNet has done a great job setting the tone for the future of the game. Over time MMO’s all face the same general issues that can have negative effects on the enjoyment of the game long term. The two biggest issues of note are the virtual economy and game immersion. These are both areas of concern and the Guild Wars 2 team has clearly considered the overall impact of these things. As a result they have made some interesting and very important choices in policing the game from the get go.

Setting up and enforcing standards is probably the most important step in shaping the long term health of an MMO. As with any game one plays these days Guild Wars2 has a EULA that players must agree to before participating in the world of Tyria. Unlike most MMO’s ArenaNet has decided to enforce these rules very strictly right from the get go.

One of the easiest ways for an economy to fail in an MMO is to allow player exploits to go unchecked. To clarify, exploits are not cheating but rather taking advantage of poor coding in the game world to receive a benefit of some kind. In the case of Guild Wars 2 some players realized that a certain vendor was selling an item for far below market value. The items were purchased with Karma (one type of currency) and then sold for in game gold. This resulted in a small amount of people amassing a large amount of wealth (the 1% so to speak).

ArenaNet immediately took action and banned over 3,000 players immediately. It should be noted that players can appeal the permanent ban and have it dropped to 72 hours. The point has been made however; exploiting the games economy in any way that may upset the balance of the game world will not be tolerated.

Before the Karma exploit the team was already hard at work swinging the ban hammer. The team was handing out 72 hour bans for both naming violations and improper use of chat in game. Most of the chat based bans seem to be based on racist or derogatory remarks. Some of the names that have been targeted include “Adolph Critler” and “Niegromancer” to name a few. There is a very large reddit discussion that includes feedback from the ArenaNet team that has much more entertaining information as to why certain players received their bans.

Another preemptive strike on the team’s part pertains to services that are purposely being kept offline by ArenaNet. The official Guild Wars 2 Forum has been down since the pre release of the game with no scheduled return date. The claim is that this is because of bandwidth usage. The more reasonable explanation is that they are essentially keeping the forums cleaner in the long run by avoiding all of the negative threads that are being posted in regards to bans and what not. Both GuildWars2Forum.com and GuildWars2Guru.com are probably very happy with this decision as they have both shot up towards the top of Google search results.

Another service that has been down since launch is the in game Trading Post (auction house). The explanation for this one again seems to stem from bandwidth issues. There may be some legitimate logic behind this. But as with the forums there is undoubtedly a strategy behind it also. If the Trading Post was fully functional from the get go it would be flooded with a huge supply of low level goods which would drive the prices into the floor. By waiting to fully launch the trading system it gives players some time to level up and thus will result in more variety in the items available at prices closer to equilibrium.

The real question of course is whether or not all of these choices made by ArenaNet are ultimately going to be better off for the game. And it would seem, from my perspective at least, that they are indeed on the right track. There are various discussions about the bans that were handed out in regards to the Karma exploit mentioned above. A quick search for the term “banned” on Guild Wars 2 Guru brings up numerous threads where users are asking if they will get banned for doing “x”. This is a good sign as it shows that people are actually considering their actions in game.

All of the actions taken thus far by ArenaNet have been controversial to some extent. However, everything up to this point has been geared towards healthy game and community for a long time to come. Overall, the launch of Guild Wars 2 has been nothing short of amazing and there is no doubt that many people will still be playing this game for years to come.

Fully linked version available at Video Game Mojo
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