New World – Looking at Achievements and Player Activity

It’s never occurred to me before to look at game achievements as a way to see over player advancement and what’s being focused on. It’s an interesting thought that only occured to me because Steam insists on showing me recently attained achievements with a poorly updated percentage of player completion. It also takes the extra step to add a glowing golden highlight to anything under ten percent or so. This is why I even noticed. New World is so new that there has been many more glowing ones than I’m accustomed to. If anyone is curious and wants to look for themselves, the global stats may be found here.

The first thing I did was double check the veracity of my statement about skinning being much easier to level than the other gathering skills. Right now, the max skinning achievement is sitting around 10% completion. One in ten players.

This is followed by mining at a measly 0.3%, harvesting at 0.2%, and fishing and logging at 0%. At the very least, that suggests that I was on the right track, though I did find some inconsistencies in my assertions.

I did specifically notice that Starmetal does grant a good deal more experience than other metals like iron. It’s also a lot less common, but it may be worth looking at a starmetal route for levelling if you’re interested in pushing that front. I may test a few routes and report back next week if I find anything interesting.

We can also get an idea of the levelling progress of players as well. The progress achievements are given every 10 level up to the current max of 60. It’s more of a curiosity than anything else, but we can see that the majority of the population has yet to hit level 30. This could be applicable to companies that limit recruitment to certain level ranges. While there are valid reason to do this, anything 30+ is currently a pretty small market.

Another fun set are the the time played achievements. New World can get a bit grindy, as all MMOs do, and I was curious, with all its record concurrency numbers, just how many of those players were willing or able to invest large amounts of time. It’s a bit biased because they don’t begin until 80 hours, which is not an insignificant amount of time. It’s also only been two week since launch, so people with eighty hours have played the game about as much as a full time job for two weeks.

Even more amazing is that tiny sliver of players that have somehow hit 320. At the time of publication the game will only been live for around 330 hours or so. That tiny sliver of people have literally kept the game open since launch. I doubt you have to be actively logged in an playing. It probably runs off the Steam “time played” metric which counts things like sitting at the title screen as well as sitting in a server queue.

We might could imply that it takes roughly 80 hours to reach level 40, or 160 hours to reach level 50, but I doubt those numbers are quite that strongly correlated. I know plenty of people between the 80 and 160 hour mark (according to Steam) that are only in the mid to high 30s.

This also suggests that the vast majority of people are playing the game in a more casual manner, or simply don’t have the time to play it as much.

I thought it was interesting, anyway.

Y’all take care. I’m gonna go stare at resource maps for a while.

New World – Differences in Gathering Skill Gain

Something I’ve been observing in New World lately is the rate at which skill gains happen. A lot of the gathering skills, for example, increase at roughly the same rate. Larger nodes and higher level nodes give slightly more, but the difference the lowest gains are only about half the highest. At least, that’s been my observation so far. You also do not get more experience from nodes in higher level areas.

This is especially true of mining, harvesting, and logging, though I’ll admit I’ve not done much of the latter. The advantage is the it’s always worthwhile to stop and grab stuff you see out in the wild. It always yields enough experience to make the effort worthwhile. This helps prolong the games “oh look, a piece of candy” method of dragging you through the wilderness. It also helps that you need the lower tier materials to craft the higher tier ones, so they’re always relevant.

You need 4 fiber to make one linen, 4 linen to make one sateen, and 4 sateen to make one silk. It doesn’t exactly make sense realistically, but it means there’s always a demand for the lower tier materials. Given the effort involved, this also helps encourage people to purchase materials instead of gathering it themselves, providing a market for them. I’ve seen several cases where it’s even cheaper to buy the refined results instead to the base materials to make it.

Skinning, however, is the odd man out on gathering. Much like weapon mastery, the amount of skinning experience you receive varies with the level of the thing you’re skinning. Yeah, you can go right outside a starting city and skin wolves for about 100 experience each. Tons of them. They’re everywhere and super easy to kill. If you go to a higher level area though, say around level 35, you can easily get 600-700 skinning xp each. This makes it somewhat unique in that it’s extremely easy to level skinning compared to the other skills. I thought maybe this applied to some of the more odd creatures, like bears that can be mined and wolves that can be logged. I don’t remember it being as pronounced, though. Certainly not like skinning.

Maybe I’m missing something, but the net effect is that the other skills feel excruciatingly slow by comparison. Made much worse probably by the fact that skinning is already maxed while the others seem stuck in a post-100 no man’s land.

Then there’s fishing, which probably seems slow just because I don’t do it a lot. All of the other gathering skills are easy to do on the go, while questing, or just wandering around. Fishing on the other hand is somewhat more stationary, though there is something to be said for chasing hotspots. The best results and the best fish are difficult to get without constantly packing up and finding a hotspot with actively jumping fish.

Duty calls elsewhere, though. Y’all take care. Don’t spend all your bait in one place.

A Little Twitch on the Side

I’m going to skip writing about New World for a day. Four days on the same topic is a bit intense compared to what I usually do. In the week leading up to New World’s launch, I was slowly putting a plan together to try something I haven’t in a long time; streaming.

There’s a lot of reasons I never bothered. The first was that early attempts to do something as simple as record video for YouTube proved to be too much strain on my PC. Older games and non-3D games tended to be okay, but there was a noticeable issue with trying to render graphics and encode video at the same time. I just figured there wasn’t much point in trying to stream if I could barely encode to a local drive.

The second major barrier has always been network connection. I live in the middle of nowhere, and this has consequences. There’s only a single non-satellite provider to my address, and with a low population density we tend to get passed up on upgrades. We do live on a major highway, though, and there’s a cruel irony to knowing that some of the lines that run in front of the house are fiber with no local uplink. We have had an upgrade or two in the last decade though, so I figured maybe, just maybe, the current state could handle the burden.

It only recently occured to me that with a laptop that’s almost as capable as my desktop, that I could easily play on one device and encode/upload on the other. Considering how cheap USB capture cards are, I figured it was worth at least trying. After monkeying around with cables and adapters I managed to actually get a video signal and go live. On my end, at least, everything seemed to be fine.

I had my oldest child pull it up while I was live to see if it was at least working, though I ended up inviting my best friend to watch it and see what the quality looked like while I played New World, thought it was also so he could get an idea of what the game looked and sounded like. That test at least suggested it was possible, though I had to reconfigure my sound setup a bit. My mic audio was getting lost somewhere along the way.

I don’t know if there’s any long term plan here, it was more to see if I could than anything else. The reality of my current work schedule heavily limits what I can do. I get about 40 minutes or so that can be streamed on a weekday, and that’s only because I’m actively making an effort to do so. So far I’ve spent that time on New World, because it happens to be what I’m playing.

So I guess we’ll see. Maybe it’ll be something I continue doing from time to time like blogging. Maybe it’ll just be something I did. At the very least I enjoyed the puzzle presented by getting all the various inputs and outputs sorted out and set up, and it’s nice to know it’s at least possible now.

Y’all take care. Check it out, or don’t. My best friend informed me that I sound much more “country” on stream than I do in person.

New World – Grinding Crates and Stockpiles

Since I do mostly gathering and crafting, as a general rule, the refining agents that come from crates and stockpiles in camps and on farms are pretty important. If you’re doing cooking, they also tend to be extremely important, as certain ingredients only come from the “provisions” version of them. Some of these items, like sand flux, command a higher price than many of the items they’re used to make. Of course, silver ore sells for many times what silver bars do as well. Markets are weird. The bottom line is that they can be quite valuable.

The main problem with all this is that it tends to take a lot of effort. They don’t refresh very quickly. There tend to only be maybe eight to ten in any given area, and they can be quite spread out. It’s not that hard to run from farm to farm or camp to camp and clean them out, but it’s a lot of running around and can be a bit slow.

One of the nice parts of New World, though, is the returns you can get from just wandering around and exploring odd areas of the map. My brother and I were running from Windsward to one of our gathering areas when we decided to take a rather scenic detour. One that seemed to have an unusually high number of crates and stockpiles along the way.

We sat on it for a couple of days, but finally gave the more “official” version of our route tonight. I must say, I was quite impressed. Now, I wondered briefly if I should share this information. After all, I could be putting myself in competition with others. However, the crates and stockpiles are the one thing that doesn’t have to be competed for. I have very little to lose, and the community has much to gain.

We started from the town in Monarch’s Bluffs. There really isn’t much between town and the fishery, the first large circle, but there’s quite a bit in that area. A lot of the little docks, shacks, and houses have at least one box in them. Except the southernmost dock connecting the two shorelines. It’s actually quite dense just by itself.

If you follow the coastline to the south, though, there are a number of little enemies scattered about with a box nearby. Many of them are near rocks or bits of ship.

Most of the action is in the second large area. There are several small camps, shipwrecks, and stuff through here, many with one or more boxes to be had.

It really pays to take it a little slow and just explore the exploration of these areas.

For the red areas, the enemy level is typically around level 8. Not a threat to most characters, and since we’re pushing 30 it was trivial to deal with them. We just slowly worked our way through looking at everything.

Having said that, the yellow section of the route is around 24/25. There are a few named mobs and sometimes a very high mob density in that area. There are also fewer boxes, generally speaking, but still enough that it was worth doing. There’s actually a five-man dungeon thing at the end, but we didn’t fool with it.

Hopefully somebody finds this route relatively useful. I had fun exploring it, and it yielded a large number of refining agents, gear to tear down for repair parts, and even a cooking recipe at one point. That was in the larger higher-level area though.

Y’all take care. May the RNG be ever in your favor.

New World – PvP

It really is a testament that New World actually managed to get me involved in PvP. It’s something I typically go well out of my way to avoid. I haven’t exactly done a lot of it here either, but the first major conflict on the server happened to be the city I was set up in. I figured I would chip in on the effort a bit.

It helped a lot that this particular defense had a few good leaders and a small zerg army at their disposal. That allowed me to flag up and move with a large group to figure out what I was supposed to be doing and where. I didn’t even realize there were missions when I began, but I caught the pack on the way out the door.

The missions themselves are extremely simply and uninteresting. Stay alive in the designated “defense zone” for a minute and a half, gather x amount of resources, kill x amount of critters, and perhaps the most involved and slightly more interesting one, collect a thing from one box and take it to the other box.

The last one is only interesting because it actually involves a little thought and effort on your routing and the overall terrain. In my experience one or both of them tend to have poor cover. At least in the zones I’ve done it in. I believe all faction PvP quests take place in the same area as well, increasing the general level of conflict.

Something I haven’t done a lot of is actual PvP combat. The few times that happened I would describe the result as roflstomped. This involved some confused directions to divert to the fort, where an entire enemy team was waiting to smash anything coming through the door.

The fort seems to have some strategic value as well. It allegedly boosts the regional influence gain from the PvP missions, meaning that it’s easier to keep or take control of the region if you hold the fort.

While the zerg is effective, I actually enjoyed the more guerilla style warfare of a two-man team a couple of days later. It was easier to travel, route, and coordinate with a small voice-chat team. I wouldn’t say the combat went much better, really, but I had much more fun doing that. There wasn’t actually much fighting that day. It was just small skirmishes.

I can say that getting credit for a PvP kill awards a considerable amount of experience compared to PvE content. It’s also surprisingly hard to accomplish. For me and my build anyway.

I don’t think I’m likely to ever participate in the actual “wars” themselves. I’m not guilded, and a poor candidate to be selected anyway. There have been one or two so far, but they’re apparently hard to fund. Several potential wars have already failed because there wasn’t enough money to pay for the declaration. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. Since we were the defenders, that could be biased.

That’s about all I’ve done for hard PvP. I’ve also seen a lot of soft PvP as well. The game seems engineered to encourage it. In this context, it’s mostly about access to spawns and resources. Since any player harvesting a node causes it to despawn, all players are essentially in competition for those resources. I’m not exactly a fan, personally, as it’s a very old-school method of management that encourages a toxic “me first” atmosphere, even among friendlies. This is especially true with the more limited resources.

I’ve seen a fair bit of trollish behavior too, usually from other factions. Old school tricks like running hostile mobs through a fishing group in the wild and things like that. It’s a particularly cheap way to engage in PvP because there isn’t a lot of opportunity to defend yourself in that situation. It’s quite one-sided. I’ve been meaning to check and see if that’s against the ToS or not. I don’t mind reporting them if it is.

More than anything I’m impressed that the game managed to get me in PvP at all. I don’t mind participating from time to time, but I’m not sure how interesting the system really is. Outside of grinding faction standing and tokens, it feels absurdly repetitive and not particularly productive. Perhaps once the economy is more established and funding is worked out, it may become more relevant. Right now it seems easier to just let the conflict state happen and have the standing reset when war isn’t declared. This seems to be par for the course so far.

Y’all take care. Watch out for those war hammers. They hurt.

New World – Crafting

There’s a lot that can be said about New World’s crafting system. It has a lot of moving parts. I can only assume this is from an attempt to tie the various PvP, PvE, and Gathering/Crafting elements together.

In a cradle-to-grave sense, all crafting begins with gathering resources. There isn’t really a lot to be said about gathering. It’s a straightforward whack-a-node system. The respawn timers are short enough that you can farm or grind within a certain area, but long enough that sharing means losing out on a lot material. In a field with several hemp spawns this might not be too bad, but for skinned animals like bison, it’s intense. There’s no lockout timer on things like skinning, so if you shoot a bison from a distance and another player is closer, they’re the one who get to skin it. For a very limited spawn area and quantity like bison, things can get a bit cutthroat.

I have discovered that many nodes/creatures have various rare drops as well. Some are used to guarantee a certain stat bonus or skill mod, and others are just uncommon and rare crafting components on their own. Any ore node seems to drop gems from time to time. Many animals have special “parts” like fangs and feet. Items like Fey Iron are rare iron node drops that’s so rare I’ve only received it once myself. I can only assume stacking gathering luck bonuses on gear would help make this easier.

Most refining is pretty straightforward as well, though the refining skills are separate from the gathering one. Can’t level mining by smelting a huge stack of ore. The lowest tier materials like iron or rawhide are typically refinable on their own. The higher tiers tend to require the lower tier materials, an agent such as tannin or flux, and sometimes additional materials such as the ore or charcoal seen here. Leather and cloth tend to be a bit more simple than the metals.

The refining agents can only be obtained from PvE content. The various farms, enemy camps, and whatnot have crates and chests scattered around that typically give 6-12 of a single agent. They have a slightly more lengthy respawn timer than the nodes, but you can easily find six to eight, sometimes more, in any given camp. If you’re really motivated, you can simply run from one camp to another grabbing them and get a decent little stockpile. It’s pretty random, but there is a faction consumable that can convert one type to another. I personally haven’t had to do that just yet.

Skilling up at the lower tiers isn’t too bad. Things really start to slow down around 100 or so. The two main things that come from higher refining skills is that you get the higher tier recipes, and you get bonus materials added to your result. A slight increase in efficiency. I believe most of mine are somewhere around 7% bonus at the moment, which is nice when crafting the rarer materials.

Having the higher tier recipes, however, is not enough. You must also have access to a sufficiently advanced station to do the work at. I can only assume the controlling guild gets to choose the active projects, which can be started once per day. They work a lot like community quest boards. Various tasks are generated for players to perform and doing them adds a little bit to the completion progress. In a well populated city this tends to get completed in a few hours, but the less populated centers can take a bit longer.

It’s possible to see the different tiered stations if you look at the details on the map, though I’ve heard that this information isn’t always accurate and can take a while to update. You can also see the tax rates, which is nice.

The result of all this for me has been the requirement to move materials from one city to another in order to refine advanced materials or craft higher end gear. In this image you can see that most of the refining stations are only tier two. This means that we have to go to other towns in order to prepare the materials, even for the stations with more advanced crafting. In this case that’s engineering (tools, physical ranged, and ammunition) and arcana (potions, coatings, magic weapons.)

This hasn’t been a huge issue so far. Each town has its own separate storage. I’ve ended up with a hub city where most of my stuff is stored and several satellite stations in nearby cities. I can store my refining agents in their appropriate satellite areas to save space at the hub, and only bring back the final materials. I personally work mostly in three different locations, though I’ve gone to a fourth before as well.

As for how this happened, it was a deliberate strategy by our faction to get access to higher tiered stations sooner. Since you can only do one per day, there’s a coordinated effort across multiple towns and guilds to specialize.

I find the crafting system itself a nice balance of grind, customization, and complexity. A lot of information is provided up front, taking some of the guesswork out of the process. In most cases, there’s a fixed primary material and a few others that can be changed. The leathers and metals, for example, can be switched out in order to increase or decrease the final result. As you make these changes, you can see the displayed gear score range change accordingly.

The special resource slot allows you to control what stat bonuses or special perks the gear has. This can and will occur randomly on their own, but you can force a specific one to save time or resources. You can also use it to create custom gear, such a plate armor with an intelligence bonus. It doesn’t remove all the RNG from the process, as you can force a perk or a stat, but not both.

Adding azoth increases the displayed chances of getting bonuses and gem slots. Which ones increase and how much depend on how much azoth you add, and there’s an upper limit on how much you can use. This tier 3 robe, for example, and only take up to 30.

The advantage of all this means that it can be easy to create situation armor sets for activities like gathering. These screenshots were taken while I was browsing through my options and creating a set of skinning gear while also upgrading a few stray pieces. The amusing part of this is that skinning wolves is where you get the drop that grants the skinning bonus. It’s fairly rare, but I’ve accumulated several and figured it was time to start a set. It should, in theory, make gathering the materials for another set somewhat easier.

Taken as a whole, I personally like the way it works. It’s intuitive enough that it didn’t require hours of reading or research to figure out, and flexible enough to make gear suited to whatever build you have in mind. Most of the effort is in doing the legwork to get the base components.

Y’all take care. Don’t spend all that azoth in one place.

New World – A Week In

I feel like I have a lot of ground to cover when writing about Amazon’s New World. I think it makes sense for me to break my thoughts out into various individual themed posts, rather than write a massive all of text about all of it.

I’ve spent most of the last week playing the game, which is a bit of a compliment. Despite not feeling particularly strong about the concept before hand, it has a subtle way to latching on to various aspects of sandbox gameplay that makes it hard to ignore. It feels a bit like UO and a bit like SWG, and I like it.

There’s one minor detail I’ve grown quite fond of, though, and it’s the sound design. There are a lot of unique and interesting sounds to be heard, and it works well within the PvP setup of the game. I personally find the sound of the musket quite satisfying, but to each their own.

I haven’t had a chance to look at the housing system to see what’s up with that. Housing is somewhat expensive. A decent little nest egg of money is acquired from NPC quests, but the more likely and repeatable town board and faction board quests have significantly lower money rewards. Usually in the one to six gold range for the ones I’m normally doing. The base purchase price of the smallest houses, by comparison, is 5,000 gold. Not including whatever taxes cost on top of that. Most of my money has been made selling bags in the 800+ gold range, but even then I cannot afford the smallest house.

The other thing any player is quick to notice, is that you end up running around quite a lot. You can recall once an hour, but cannot fast travel outside of town. On top of that, fast travel uses a resource called Azoth, which is far easier to spend than to replace. Most town to town teleports cost around 80 to 100 azoth. With a current cap of 1000, plus its additional use in crafting, it’s easy to burn through it.

Crafting is also an interesting beast. The ability to replace lower tier ingredients with higher tier ones for a better result is something I quite like. It typically boosts the minimum and/or maximum gear score when you do this. There are also a variety of additional items that drop in various places and ways that allow you to add a specific bonus to a piece of gear. Otherwise you rely on RNG to give you one, if at all.

On top of all these things, it remains an absolutely beautiful game.

Not one without its flaws, though. Unlike many others, I waited most of a day before I attempted to log in. This means I was able to select a lower population server, and have only encountered a login queue one time. I started at 12th place too, which was nice.

There is a still a great deal of intermittent lag too. The game occasionally stops and just shows a red “Lag Detected” in the middle of the screen, preventing you from moving or doing anything until it catches up. Not a bad way to deal with lag, I guess, but a frustrating one at times. Nothing you can do but stare at the screen until it catches up. Considering the number of concurrent users has it sitting in the number two slot, just behind CS:GO, I’d say it’s doing pretty well.

I have also run into a selection of other odd bugs. UI elements that won’t go away once triggered. Incorrect tooltips. My quest log slowly crept off the screen at one point. The player interaction menu occasionally breaks, preventing you from doing things like trading until you relog. That sounds like most of the big ones. Nothing horrible or awful, mostly just minor nuisance problems. On the whole, not a bad experience. Still a smoother play than, say, Cyberpunk.

Over the next couple of days I’m going to go into a bit more detail about some of the systems. Crafting and PvP are on the short list.

Y’all take care. Don’t give in to the corruption.

New World – I Guess

The machinations of billing and pre-orders for Amazon’s New World continue to confound me. I received a Steam key this morning regarding a pre-order that I continue to find little to no evidence of ever placing. Considering I’ve played the game as far back as 2016, it’s always possible I simply forgot somewhere along the way, but you would think that I could at least find some record of having placed it.

Contacting New World support also failed to turn up anything useful, as according to their records I pre-ordered 9/27 at 8:01 AM, something I most certainly didn’t do. In fact, I wasn’t even awake at the time. There is no record of it in my Amazon or Steam purchase history other than the $0 download of the alpha back in 2016.

Either way, evidence continues to mount that I own it, whether I like to or not. The jury is still out on whether or not I’ve paid for it. Their records indicate that I haven’t been billed yet, but their records of pre-order date are also obviously flawed. Why would I have received a closed beta invite if I’ve only just pre-ordered?

Out of an abundance of caution and paranoia I changed my Amazon password. Not that I suspect foul play, but one doesn’t take chances with this sort of thing.

I went ahead and set up the install this evening before I left the house, but haven’t yet decided how into it I am. I enjoyed the beta well enough. I haven’t really found myself in an MMO-oriented mood lately. Most of what I did in the beta was running around gathering, exploring, and doing some odd missions here and there. I didn’t “finish” the story content of the beta. I didn’t do any PvP. I didn’t really feel compelled to do those things.

I didn’t even do much in the way of crafting. Normally I do gathering as a means to play with crafting. That weird sort of self-sufficient drive to do it myself instead of paying for it. I’ve found that increasingly lessened as I get older though. Much more willing to simply pay rather than spend the time doing all the work myself.

Still, in the beta I did mostly gathering just because I was enjoying wandering around grabbing random odds and ends. I did mess with crafting a bit. Trying to do a little something at each crafting station just to see how things worked and came together. Taken as a whole I liked it but didn’t find it compelling.

I don’t expect to play much of it this week. I’m sure the launch will be a mess, as they usually are. Not really meant to be a negative statement about New World as much as a general statement about the reality of large scale product launches. Initial server loads for the new shiny MMO will be somewhat intense.

Amazon Web Services could get some really good PR if they manage to make it work though, if New World has the ability to draw as much power as required to keep things smooth and stable. I guess it depends on how much of Amazon’s overall weight is being thrown into the game, and if the people at the top have considered how best to monopolize on the opportunity. I guess we’ll see, but my expectations are low.

As it currently stands, I’m not exactly in a hurry to get in up front. I’m thinking about spending considerably more time in character creation than I normally do. I’m just not feeling the draw or excitement that one might expect for a “new” product. It also doesn’t help that the release period also includes my wife’s birthday. Not a good time to be even remotely engrossed in something else.

Y’all take care.

Back from Vacation

My somewhat impromptu vacation turned into a bit of a communications blackout, it seems. This is what happens when I disrupt my routine. It was a much needed break, though. It gave me time to sort a couple of things out and provided some interesting perspectives.

Thanks to a kind soul on the Steam community boards, I managed to finish all the Borderlands 1 achievements. I guess I can check that off the list of things nobody should bother to do.

I found myself spending a great deal of time watching Twitch, which is a considerable change in behavior for me. I usually just use it to check out the odd potential purchase. It’s a very convenient source of actual gameplay footage. Instead I just kinda kept it open on the second monitor. Nothing overly exciting or interesting, Borderlands challenge runs and speed runs and the like, but it was a convenient source of background noise that didn’t demand a lot of attention.

I spent some time playing Borderlands 2. Doing things I never bothered with before like completing the second playthrough and all that. Not sure I’ll bother to 100% it though. Seems like an awful lot of work, but we’ll see.

I did discover that enabling the higher end PhysX settings, while graphically interesting, makes many of the established skips quite difficult or impossible. Many of them require getting on top of cloth pavilions. The advanced cloth physics make these, and sometimes their supports, non-collidable. I managed to make do with grenade jumps and the like a few times, but I assume most of the streamers I’ve seen have this on its lowest setting. I’m sure performance is a reason as well.

I also spent a fair amount of time trying to locate a GPU for my oldest child’s desktop. It continues to seem absurd to me that after a lifetime of steady price decreases for tech components, the various supply and demand pressures have reversed that trend. Motherboards I purchased for $75 years ago now go for double that, and I’ve been avoiding replacing my own GPU for much the same reason. It would appear I purchased mine right around five years ago, before things got quite so intense.

Still, my oldest was running with onboard video only, so it should be a very nice boost to performance.

I noticed a very strong presence of questionable and fake products as well. Usually easy pick out because they feature no visible branding. I’m sure that legitimate cards exist as well, but it’s one of the areas in which I’m more than willing to pay for a product with known branding. I really need to replace my own GPU as well, but not at the current market rates. It continues to amaze me that a GPU I paid $206 for five years ago is now selling new for over double that. It borders on the absurd.

Y’all take care. If you invent time travel, go buy bulk GPUs five years ago.

Rambling Thoughts – Preorders

I mentioned pre-orders in a post about fandoms and identity the other day. There has been a narrative in the vocal online gaming community that pre-orders are bad. That buying a game before you know how good it is or isn’t is giving in to hype or letting the company win. There was certainly a time that I agreed with that, to a point, but as I get older and circumstances change, I find myself further and further from that point.

If I know I will want to play/watch/listen to/read something when it becomes available it justs saves me time to pre-order it when I make that decision rather than leave it hanging. I don’t see it as any different from paying water charges or property taxes for the forthcoming year in one lump sum, something people do as standard. No-one accuses people who do that of being crazed fans of utility payments with no self-control or sense of perspective. It’s just a practical choice often preferred by those who can afford it while those who can’t are channelled into the less-convenient route of monthly or quarterly payments.

bhagpuss

Bhagpuss’s comment reflects something that’s closer to my current view, thought I find habits die a bit hard. Years spent avoiding pre-orders by default means that I typically react the same way. “It’s not out yet? I’ll just wait then.”

There are a number of practical reasons for this. One is that it’s often been hard for me to extrapolate my financial situation into the future combined with the fact that I can be quite forgetful. If I pre-order something months ahead of time, I have a tendency to forget about it in the intervening time. Having a random $60+ surprise charge was something extremely problematic.

While this is arguably negligence on my part, given the variety of technological solutions, I avoided the problem entirely by not putting myself into that position. It was easier to just wait until it was out. Fortunately this is also no longer the case either. As I’ve gotten older and got a better grasp on the household financial situation, I find that it’s just not the issue that it was when I was younger. While not ideal, if I did forget, we have more than enough in savings to cover any weird surprise charges.

It’s also slowly become the case that $60 isn’t as much as it once was. Sure, I don’t want to be buying every game that hits the street, but once every few months is hardly a problem. If the money remains after all the bills, obligations, and necessities are taken care of, I fail to see a problem.

As an additional note, not all platforms wait either. Amazon does, for example, but Epic Games does not. If you pre-purchase through Epic you’re charged immediately, which also eliminates this problem. Of course, if you change your mind, you’ll have to try and request a refund, so it cuts both ways.

Another reason I have cited to defend this behavior is the inevitable “it might go on sale in a couple of months.” Typically more of an excuse than a reason. This does occasionally work out. I paid significantly less than retail for both No Man’s Sky and Cyberpunk 2077 due to their rather rough release.

In reality, I think it’s something akin to “Steam Sale Syndrome.” The idea that everything on Steam goes on sale sooner or later, so you may as well wait. For what, to maximize the number of games I can buy? Rather surprisingly, I’ve actually played about 66% of my library, though in some cases that just means I tried to launch it. Having said that, steamdb.info says that my average playtime is just under 30 hours per title. This is likely being driven by a couple of dozen titles with several hundred hours playtime, but that still seems acceptable.

What about the argument that the game company “wins” or is somehow tricking you into buying a broken product by getting you to pre-purchase? First, I have yet to see a game that’s perfectly balanced and bug free at release. It’s just not a realistic expectation. I remember buying Morrowind off the shelf and being unable to play it for a week or two while I waited on a patch. A manual patch at that, back in those days.

In the case that I know I’m going to enjoy a product, even if its release state is rough, then I fail to see how the corporations are “winning.” They didn’t make me pre-purchase it. I get to pick and choose which games and companies I feel are worth the alleged risk. in reality, if I get so much as six hours of enjoyment out of a full priced game, I have easily matched the cost of seeing a movie. The wife and I going out for a nice dinner and a movie would easily cost more than this, usually just on dinner alone.

The other part of this is that we purchase things all the time without being certain of product quality. Let’s take books for example. While typically less expensive than your typical game, you can’t exactly know that you’ll enjoy it until you’ve read it. Yes, you can make some assumptions based on author, genre, and so on, but surely it happens that people buy a book and didn’t enjoy it as much as they expected. It happens. Of course, you can’t really resell or trade a digital purchase quite the same way you might with a book, but I think the analogy more or less works.

Having said all that. I’m not telling anyone they should or shouldn’t pre-order. I’m saying everyone must make that choice for themselves, based on their own tastes and circumstances, and shouldn’t be ashamed of knowing what they like. My circumstances have changed, and my behavior with it. I’ve been much more likely to buy DLC at full price, and even went so far as to pre-order Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. I can afford to do so, and I can be reasonably sure that I’ll get at least 20-30 hours of playtime out of it at a minimum. Most of my Borderlands titles are actually over 100 hours each. It seems reasonable to assume I’ll enjoy it enough to get my “money’s worth” out of it, and likely much more.

Y’all take care. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments.