Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: Entropia Universe

So last week, I wrote about Mindark's Entropia Universe, and how some people are profiting immensely from a video game. You can read about it here.

After 30+ hours of game play, I think it's about time for a review.

The Good:

- Incredible, cutting edge graphics, if you have the hardware to run them.

- Familiar User Interface (UI) / standard UI conventions working correctly and bug-free.

*Personal Note - Basic UI conventions is a HUGE reason why games get abandoned quickly. At this stage of the digital era, it's unacceptable to have basic things working as intended. A prime example was the bug-ridden disaster that was SWTOR's auction house upon release.

- Player driven economy based on real currency.  This was all covered in my previous article, found here.

- A complex, skill based system that rewards patience and time investments accordingly.

- Friendly, knowledgeable community.

The Bad:

- Investment and an understanding of what a cost/benefit analysis can do for you.

In order to get anything out of EU, you have to put something into it.  This means not only time, but cash as well - it takes money to make money.  As harsh as that sentence reads, that's the way of the world.  Trying to break into EU with no monetary investment is certainly possible - but is nothing short of retarded.  You'll spend hours just to earn $.10 - $.20 CENTS.  Work an hour of overtime and put that into the game, and save yourself time.  Also, cost/benefit analysis charts for the win; Grinding 100 hours of start-up cash in-game is stupid if its the $ equivalent of an hour's worth of work.

- The harsh reality of failure crosses the digital medium and echoes into real life.

You will lose money for months before you start earning a profit.  Instead of your $, you will be indirectly purchasing character skills through your time in game.  These investments in your character, although no longer directly monetary, are represented by the skills you increase.  Better skills afford you potential to earn money.  Eventually.

- Everything has real world value.

Want a pair of cool shades?  Or perhaps a purple pimp hat?  That'll be a $1.00.  Soon you'll find yourself in your best dress, and then you'll realize you bought pixels on a screen and can never recoop that loss, unless you turn around and sell the clothing for a profit.  I'm sure many players dive into this pitfall.

- Easily circumvented death penalty.

If you couldn't tell from my Risk vs. Respawn articles, I'm a fan of things being a little more hard core.  In EU, the only penalty is decay on your equipment - which costs money.  However if you're going to die, just take your equipment off.  If you're naked, you don't get penalized.  No cost deaths.  And you usually revive somewhere close-by if your hunting smart.

- Daunting leveling / learning curve.

People are stupid.  There is a lot of misinformation out there because the rumor game gets played and people inadvertently distort the truth.  Example:  I need about 5000 skill points in a skill before I can really use it to make money.  After 30 hours, I have 500 points.  If it was easy to make that skill level, everyone would play this game.  But I was initially informed killing level 1 creatures was the best way to skill up.  I get confused after watching my skill raise over a period of time.  I notice a trend:  I get 1/4 of a point for a skill hitting a level 1 creature - I get a full point hitting a level 3 creature.  Same risk on both creatures, same amount of swings to kill them.  Why, if that's the case, would I kill level 1's?  Because some jerk told me it was faster.  It's not.  Yet they still try to argue.  Even after they are proven wrong time and time again.  Idiots.

In short, there's a lot to learn - and an awful lot of stupid people out there who think they know better.  Trial and error is your friend.  If what you experience after some testing is different, do it your way - not theirs.

- Bugs.

In my brief time playing EU, there has been over a dozen bugs introduced via patches.  That's dangerous for most games, but especially ones that thrive on real-world economies providing their players money to invest.  My favorite bug is the 'revival' one - when you normally die, you respawn somewhere relatively close by.  Instead, now you respawn somewhere literally minutes of running through high-level territory away.  Very annoying.

- 100% Grind Fest, be it mining or hunting, you're grinding in this game, or you're not playing this game.  There's no in between.

The Balanced:

- The game provides you with everything you need in order to succeed.

While not cost/time efficient, you COULD make money playing a video game without investing anything other than hours upon hours of your own time.  Aside from that, the game has a fantastic economic interface the shows you pricing trends, expected sales, markup values, bids, buyouts, and overall sale numbers.

- You can throw $20 into the game and play for months doing more or less whatever you want, unless you're stupid.

There's a way to start succeeding with every profession and a minimal investment.  I've stretched $7 30 hours, and I'm starting to break even.  The possibilities are endless if you're willing to do the footwork and experimentation to figure out the best way to have fun and profit!

- Quick-response support

With thousands of dollars being transferred every second - the customer service better be top notch, and for the most part - it is.

-Some math required to play and understand the game and how your investments reflect on your character.  Efficiency is everything.